Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Above

Matthew's father had lion's feet and his mother had gills, and both fled the modern-day city to live in underground Safe, a secret community of freaks, ghost-whisperers, and disabled outcasts hidden beyond the subways and sewers. Raised underground, Matthew is responsible for the keeping of both Safe's histories and the traumatized shapeshifter Ariel, the girl he took in, fell in love with – and can't stop from constantly running away. 

But Safe is no longer safe: the night after a frightening encounter in the sewers, Safe's founder Atticus is murdered by the one person Safe ever exiled: mad Corner, whose coup is backed by an army of mindless, whispering shadows. 

Only Matthew, Ariel, and a handful of unstable, crippled compatriots escape to the city that cast them out; the dangerous place he knows only as Above. Despite Ariel's increasingly erratic behaviour and with the odds against them, Matthew must find a way to rescue Safe from Corner's occupying army. But as his quest leads him through abandoned asylums and the dregs of urban poverty, Matthew discovers that the histories he's devoted his life to aren't true: Corner's invasion -- and Ariel's terrors – are rooted in a history of Safe much darker and bloodier than Matthew ever imagined. 

And even if he manages to save both home and Ariel, he may well lose himself.

I am so excited about this novel! It has dystopian qualities mixed with some fantasy and romance...bring it on! While the whole living underground in the sewers thing kind of reminds me of Enclave, I love the twist that the author has added by focusing on people who are born with genetic mutations. And the cover is gorgeous!! I can't wait to read Above...I just wish it was coming out sooner then this April! 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Book Review: The Gathering

Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island. 

Until now. 

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . . different. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.
In high school I was obsessed with Kelley Armstrong's adult paranormal novels, so when I discovered that she had started writing YA I was super excited! The Gathering is one of those books that is easy to sit back and get lost in. I fell in love with the setting, the characters (especially Daniel!), and the fact that this novel was different then your typical transformation tales. *Spoiler Alert* I really respect Armstrong for the fact that she felt no need to have Maya transform into a cougar within this first book. I was expecting it to happen throughout the novel, and was happily surprised for once that it didn't happen. I think that this really adds to the suspense and anticipation for the novels which will follow in the series. *End of Spoiler*

Another thing that I loved about this novel was the relationships between a lot of the characters. Maya's tendency to tease her dad caused me to crack a smile on more than one occasion. I was especially happy that for once that an author could present a female character having a male best friend without making either of them fall in love with each other. While male best friends are great for love triangles, I've gotten kind of tired of feeling bad for them when the heroine always tends to choose the mysterious new guy over the one that they have grown up with. Instead, the character of Daniel provided support for Maya without crossing into the boundaries of hopeless love, acting more as a brother figure at times than a friend. This one character portrayal alone really made me enjoy reading The Gathering so much more!  

Despite the fact that I enjoyed reading The Gathering, there were elements about the book that bugged me at times. One of the main things that annoyed me at first was Armstrong's style of writing. It's been a really long time since I've read any of her adult books, but I felt that she could have been a little more eloquent at times and used better sentence structure. As well, the book kind of gets by without any major climaxes in the plot. Sure there is some action near the end, but that is quickly resolved, leaving readers with more questions just as they reach the last page. Nevertheless, The Gathering is a good book to read for fans of paranormal novels who don't mind having to wait until the next book to get some answers. Kelley Armstrong's book Bitten remains her best book in my opinion, and I would perhaps suggest checking The Gathering out from the library rather than spending the cash. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Monday, 29 August 2011

Fan Expo 2011!!

So the weekend that I have been waiting for all summer long has finally come! This past Thursday marked the beginning of Fan Expo 2011, which ended yesterday night. For those of you unfamiliar with Fan Expo, it is basically the Canadian version of Comic Con, and takes place in Toronto once a year at the end of August. What I love about Fan Expo is the way it integrates so many of my favourite things into one event: Science Fiction, Movies, Art, Comics, and Anime! Not to mention the shopping! I always have to restrain myself and only bring a certain amount of money to make sure that I don't go overboard!

Cowboys and Aliens vs Carmen Sandiego!
This year I went to Fan Expo with my boyfriend (Tom), my brother (Duncan), and his friend Karol. To make things a little more interesting this year Tom persuaded me and Duncan to release our inner child and dress up in costumes for the day. Anyone who has ever seen pictures of either Fan Expo or Comic Con knows that these events can get pretty insane when it comes to costumes! The costumes that some people come up with are so creative and detailed that you can't help but stand in awe of their creations!

We decided to keep our costumes on the easy side with Tom as Daniel Craig from Cowboys and Aliens, Duncan as Waldo, and me as Carmen Sandiego! When I first arrived at Fan Expo I figured that know one would know who I was dressed up as and that everyone would think I was some lunatic in a red trench coat, but I was approached by tons of people all day wanting pictures and saying how much they loved my idea! People thought it was hilarious that Waldo and Carmen Sandiego were walking around together considering they are two of the most elusive figures in popular culture! Overall I'm so glad that Tom convinced me to dress up as it made the whole experience of Fan Expo so much more enjoyable!

Waldo with three Links
Some highlights from this years Expo included guest appearances from Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), and Hayden Panettier (Heroes). It was funny how well these famous stars blended in with the crowd, and at one point my friends and I were standing right next to both Hadyen Panettier and Kevin Sorbo! The artists at Fan Expo were super exceptional this year as well, and I came home with about two dozen business cards so that I can look up some more of their work from home. In fact, I've been thinking about starting a new weekly meme to help share some of these artists with everyone here on my blog because they are just so amazing! Anyways, I could go on for days about all the hilarious and entertaining things that happened at Fan Expo this year, so instead I will leave you with a few pictures from our day...and who knows... maybe I'll see some of you their next year!

                Darth Vader found Waldo... and the killed him!                              The Team Rocket Balloon from Pokemon!

Tom, Karol and Duncan with the guy from Reboot

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Gargoyle: A Story Telling Triumph!

An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time. 

The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept ... As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows, causing him to crash his car and suffer horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul. 

A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished. 

The Gargoyle
has been on my to-read list since it was first published back in 2008, and I am so glad that I finally decided to pick it up and give it a try! This is Andrew Davidson's first novel, and it is evident straight from the beginning that he put quite a lot of thought and research into his writing. The Gargoyle is one of those novels that skirts around the border that separates history and fantasy, and I absolutely loved the way that he adapted stories about famous people like Dante to fit into his work. At the end of the novel both the narrator and readers are left wondering whether Marianne's past was fact or simply the fantasy of a mentally unstable woman.

Despite the doubts regarding Marianne's past, she quickly became my favourite character due to the time  spent listening to her spin tales of deathless love. I thought that these interweaving of stories within the plot was a genius idea on the part of Davidson, and I craved more and more of them as The Gargoyle went on. I soon began to feel as if the action in between Marianne's storytelling was inadequate simply because I was desperate to hear more from her. Her stories made me feel like I was curled up in front of a fire listening to an old friend speak about love.

While I may have loved the history and storytelling aspects of The Gargoyle, it is not without its faults. The heavy subject matter and constant use of symbolism may make this novel difficult for some readers to enjoy. I myself found it a struggle to get through at times, especially during slow points in the plot, but I think that the effort was worth the read in the end! It's difficult for me to think of another book to compare The Gargoyle to, which I believe really highlights how unique a story it is. If you don't mind a book that makes you work a little then I definitely recommend you give The Gargoyle a try! 

Rating: 4 Stars

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Poetry to My Ears

One of the things I realize that I have sorely missed since finishing my English degree this past April is the reading of poetry for both enjoyment and analyzation. While novels are always a good source of pleasure, I think there is something to be said for the sentiment and meaning which poetry can provide within a few short lines. As a result, I've decided to try to dedicate more time to reading poems, and hope to share at least one of my favourites that I have come across each week here on my blog!

This weeks poem comes from Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), an English poet most well known for her poem entitled The Goblin Market. She is the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the famous Pre-Raphelite artist. Christina Rossetti was a devote Christian, which is often noted within her poetry. After rejecting two marriage proposals (because both men weren't Anglican), Christina lived the remainder of her days as a spinster, spending most of her time with her brother and his friends: Swinburne, Whistler, and Lewis Carroll.

The poem by Rossetti that I have chosen is called "When I Am Dead, My Dearest," and was written in 1862. Rather than supporting the traditional male notion of the ideal woman, who mourns at being seperated from her lover, Rossetti paints the picture of a woman who is indifferent to her supposed  'beloved'. Instead, the man is the one insinuated as being distressed and grief stricken, resulting in a reversal of gender roles. One of the reasons that I enjoy this poem so much is the sense of relief and peace surrounding such a terrible subject as death. Rossetti's rhyme and meter just make the poem float off the tip of your tongue!

When I am dead, my dearest
by Christina Rossetti 

When I am dead, my dearest,
  Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
  Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
  With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
  And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
  I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
  Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
  That doth not rise nor set,
Haply* I may remember,
  And haply may forget.

                                               (*haply = perhaps)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

"How Harry Potter Should Have Ended"

I'm not sure how many of your have heard of the group "HISHEdotcom" from Youtube, but once a month they post funny little cartoons to make fun of recent movies that have come out called "How _____ Should Have Ended." Yesterday they finally came out with a Harry Potter version and I was so excited that I decided to share it on my blog! It's not as funny as their usual videos, but they make a good point!  Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Follow Friday (1)

Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.
This week's question is:
If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

My mind immediatly came up with two answers for this question. One book that I've dreamed of being a part of ever since the first time I read it is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice! I would absolutely jump at the opportunity to be put in Elizabeth Bennett's shoes, if even for just a moment! Mr. Darcy just makes me want to swoon! In fact, I would be happy in almost any role in Austen's novel (except perhaps the character of Charlotte), just so I could experience Victorian England for a little while! 

The second option I came up with is X-men, which is actually a comic rather than a novel, but I've always had a secret desire to possess some kind of mutant power! Sure the human population may hate you, and your life is at risk from bad guys trying to take over the world, but in my opinion having mutant powers would be worth it! Whether its Shadowcat's ability to walk through objects, or Storm's ability to control the weather, I think it would be pretty kickass to be a mutant and work alongside Wolverine and Cyclops! Plus, I've always had a bit of a crush on Gambit...

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Am I the only one who was disappointed by Mockingjay?

After holding off reading Mockingjay for over a month now, (in order to keep up my anticipation and excitement for as long as possible), I finally gave in last week and tore through the final novel in the much beloved Hunger Games trilogy. To say I'm a fan of The Hunger Games is an understatement ... I was pretty much obsessed with the first two novels (to the point where my boyfriend rolls his eyes now at the mere mention of it) ... but I never expected to be let down as terribly as I was after I finally got to the last page of Mockingjay. For those of you who haven't yet gotten around to Mockingjay, I suggest you stop reading now. My review is about to get spoiler crazy, and I don't want to ruin your own reading experience by giving away important details of the plot!

Now before I start ranting and raving about what aspects I didn't like about the book, let me first take a moment to make it clear that while I may have been frustrated by Mockingjay, I still think that as an overall story it is excellent. Suzanne Collins once again took my heart on a wild rollercoaster of emotions, keeping me up late into the night with anticipation of what would happen next. Having built up such strong characters over the course of the series, I can't help but feel connected to Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Gale, Finnick, and the others. This sense of connection, however, also led me to become increasingly upset and irrated as Mockingjay drew to a close. Let me explain...

First of all, one of the biggest things that frustrated me about Mockingjay was that it almost seemed to be two books shoved into one. There were so many moments throughout the course of reading that I hoped Suzanne Collins would give more focus to, or spend some time expanding. For instance, the first part dealing with the rescue of Peeta could have easily been one novel, while the second part revolving around the mission to overtake the Capitol could have been another book on its own. Perhaps this is my own wishful thinking in order to prolong my enjoyment of the overall series. I was really happy to discover, however, that the filmmakers currently working on The Hunger Games share my vision, and plan to seperate Mockingjay into two films. I think this will really allow the plot to flow better, and allow the finer details to be a little more developped.

This feeling of a rushed plot was especially noticable to me when dealing with the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. Throughout the first two novels Suzanne Collins intricately created a growing bond between these two characters, only to have it fall to the wayside in Mockingjay. While I understand that part of this is due to Peeta's madness, I suppose I expected Katniss to be a little more understanding to the situation after having survived two hunger games with him. Although the final line of the novel was adorable and well placed, the only build up to their final proclamation of love was a small paragraph stating that "Peeta and I grow back together." This little blurb after an entire novel where they hardly talked to each other was not enough to convince me that Katniss genuinly fell in love with him. Perhaps this is Ms. Collins attempt to be more realistic with love, but I felt that Katniss settled for Peeta rather than fell head over heels. I guess I'm a hopeless romantic....

There were more points to my rant that I wanted to add, but after sitting at the computor for ten minutes I  am drawing a blank. I guess the only other thing I can say is that despite my disappointment and frustration Mockingjay was still a pretty amazing read. After I finished reading it I stayed awake for two nights in a row mulling over everything that happened, and that is usually a sign that a book has made a lasting impression. While I think that Suzanne Collins could have executed the story a little bit better, Mockingjay is as creative and ingenious as the other novels in The Hunger Games series.

What did you guys think of the novel? Am I crazy?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

DVD Review: Wild Target

For those of you in search for the perfect date movie, look no further than the wildly hilarious British film Wild Target! The plot revolves around Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy), a professional hitman whose routine is interrupted when he finds himself unwittingly drawn towards his latest victim, Rose (Emily Blunt). Instead of killing her, he becomes her bodyguard, protecting her from the very men who hired him. Along the way he picks up an apprentice (Rupert Grint), and learns that life is about more than being a perfect assasin.

I have to say that the casting for this movie was absolutely "on target"! Bill Nighy really brought out both the annoyance and heart of Victor's character. Ruper Grint's rendition of Tony, however, was my absolute favourite part of the movie! Grint was perfect as the foolish and naive sidekick (which probably helped from channeling the character of Ron), and it was great to finally see him in a role outside of Harry Potter!

Another reason that I loved Wild Target so much was that it presents the perfect blending of action and comedy. I'm a huge fan of British comedy, and this movie did not fail to make me laugh out loud on numerous occasions! If it wasn't for a trailer of this movie on a dvd I had rented a few weeks before, I probably would have never considered picking up this movie....which is a sad thought indeed! I have since bought a copy of Wild Target to add to my own movie collection, and it has become a hit with everyone I have coerced into watching it! I urge you to check out the trailer below... and if you find yourself giggling even just a little bit... then go out and rent/buy this DVD asap!

Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, 15 August 2011

Liebster Blog Award

So I woke up this morning and was so touched to discover that I had been given a Liebster Blog Award from the ever so fabulous TG from What I Read and What I Thought. Besides the lovely comments I sometimes get on my postings, this is the first time that I have recieved recognition for being a blogger, and I really appreciated it! In order to pass on the blogging love I have decided to continue in the spirit of the Liebster Blog Award and turn the spotlight on some of my own favourite blogs to read and follow! 

The Goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

The 5 blogs that I want to award are:

1. Alternate Readality: I have been in love with Jenny's blog from the moment I first read it! Her writing is always witty and fun, and she always comes up with amazing blogging topics which make me wish I had thought of them first! I am kind of shocked that she hasn't broke the 200 follower mark yet because she is just so wonderful, but I'm sure she will soon! 

2. The Paper Reader: Paper Reader is one of those blogs that I just have to check everyday to see what new things she has posted about. We have pretty similar tastes in books so I usually turn to her blog when I'm in need of some good reading suggestions. Her reviews are always honest, so I know that if she says a book is good that I will definitely enjoy it!

3. Chelly Books: I will admit right away that Chelsey is an old high school friend of mine, but her blog is just so cute and fun that she totally deserves this award! In fact, it is because of her that I first got started on a book blog of my own! I love how Chelsey's writing is a mixture of books and stories about her life. She is currently working on a degree in publishing so I'm always jealous of her thrilling stories about meeting people who work at places like Simon & Schuster and Harlequinn Teen! 

4. Book Chewer: The first thing that drew me to this blog was its name, which still makes me smile everytime I see it. Book Chewer is a great blog for those who love YA books as much as I do. Her reviews are always honest and straight to the point, and often sway my opinion when deciding what to read next!

5. Booklight Graveyard: This is a blog that I have just started recently to follow, but I am already in love with it! One of the reasons that I really respect this blog is because (as I've already said about pretty much every blog I've awarded), her reviews are honest and straightfoward. Her writing has alot of wit to it as well that sometimes even causes me to laugh out loud :)

So there it is! I hope you all take a moment to check out these blogs, for I'm sure that you will fall as deeply in love with them as I have! There are so many other blogs that I wanted to highlight, but I will save those for another time. Thank you again to TG for awarding me, and to all of my followers who continue to make book blogging so much fun! 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Book Review: Generation Dead

Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. She’s strong and silent…and dead.
All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same. Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that doesn’t want them.
The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the “differently biotic." But the students don’t want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn’t breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the “living impaired” from the people who want them to disappear—for good.
When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her. But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?

I had to sit and think about this book for a while before writing my review. Generation Dead is one of those difficult books for me to sort my feelings about because there were aspects that made me both love and hate my time spent reading it. To express these thoughts more fully let's start with the things that I loved about this book....

Things I Loved:
- That the author took a common theme of tolerance and made it new by applying it to a world where zombies exist
- Adam's POV, which quickly made him my favourite character. I feel like Daniel Water's writing as Adam was stronger, and almost wish that the whole book had been written with him as the main character rather than Pheobe
- I think the overall plot of Generation Dead was really creative, although it could have been executed in a better fashion

Things That I Disliked:
- I found the character of Phoebe really annoying! I know she was trying to make a difference and everything... but her mood swings drove me a little crazy!
- While the theme of tolerance was well placed in this book, I think the author took it a little bit overboard. It kept coming up over and over again! I got the idea the first time and didn't need to have it thrown at me every two seconds! 
- The book felt slow at times. I think a lot of the time Phoebe and Adam spent becoming friends with the zombies could have been condensed a little bit. I know the length of this process makes it a little more realistic, but it also makes the book a bit boring. Luckily the plot speeds up again near the end and had me gripped in anticipation of what was going to happen next.

So as you can see, there were aspects of Generation Dead that made me really enjoy it, but others which made me lower my opinion of the overall book. At the end of the first book I was really "dying" (pun intended) to read the second one in the series... but that was mainly because I was interested to see what would happen to Adam, and not due to my dedication to the actual series itself. While I wouldn't run out to the store to buy it, Generation Dead is a book to consider reading if you are a fan of zombie fiction. The only zombie novel I've ever read besides this one is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I have to say that Generation Dead is a real improvement on the genre! Nevertheless, I wouldn't go into reading Generation Dead with high expectations. It's an enjoyable read, but like many other novels out there, it is not without its drawbacks. 

Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming 
romantic comedy 

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends— the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art— and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

To be honest, one of the main reasons that I'm really excited about this book is the fact that it was compared to Anna and the French Kiss. I know it probably won't be nearly as good....but the story does sound really cute so I'm fairly certain that I will end up loving it nonetheless! I am also a huge fan of 19th century art....and just art in I'm interested to see how this author incorporates it in the book. Speaking of art...the cover art of this novel is gorgeous! Anyways, I will definitely be pre-ordering The Fine Art of Truth or Dare when it comes out in February 2012! 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

Over the course of my time spent on Blogger I have read dozens of mixed reviews for The Summer I Turned Pretty, and finally decided to check out this YA read for myself. I was pleasantly surprised! Jenny Han's novel is a classic beach read, and yet its moments of seriousness sometimes make it seem like more than just another fluffy teen romance novel. Her focus on typical teenage conflicts makes the story more realistic in my opinion. For example, throughout the story the character of Belly struggles with the fact that she is growing up, and that the summers of her childhood will soon become a thing of the past. This is something that I myself went through when I was a teenager, and still do sometimes when I reflect on the carefree summers I spent with my friends and family before reaching high school. While I am now far past the age of Belly in the book, I can definitely see how teen readers could relate to her conflicts about growing up. 

Not only is growing up a main concern of this novel, but also the need to maintain the bonds that tie friends and family together. *Tiny Spoiler Alert* The plot's focus on Susannah's struggle with cancer highlights the importance of never taking the people you love for granted. In an age where cancer seems to affect at least one person we know, Belly's story  reminds readers that they are not alone, and to appreciate the little things in life. *End of Spoiler*

In many of the reviews I read online of The Summer I Turned Pretty, one of the constant conflicts that kept coming up was an annoyance of Belly's character. While Belly was a bit childish at times, I didn't find her as irritating as I expected. Perhaps this was because I was well forewarned about this aspect of the novel? Or maybe I've just read other YA novels where the main female character was even more annoying? Anyways... One of the aspects that I loved about Belly's story was the way Jenny Han kept bringing us back in time to experience Belly's past summers spent at the beach. I think this made me more attached to her character, and allowed me to sympathize with her a little bit more. 

On the whole, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a perfect summer read and will have you scrambling for the sequel (I already have it on hold at the library!). If you go in expecting Belly to be super annoying as I did, I think that you will be able to overlook her irritating qualities and enjoy the story for what it truly is: the tale of a girl struggling to leave her childhood behind. 

Rating: 5 Stars

Monday, 8 August 2011

Book Review: Oryx and Crake

The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bedsheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes - into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradice Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

With breathtaking command of her shocking material, and with her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into an outlandish yet wholly believable realm populated by characters who will continue to inhabit our dreams long after the last chapter. 

What can I possibly say about Oryx and Crake that will successfully capture its brilliance
and charm? I will admit that the first thing that caught my attention about this novel was its cover, which I think is stunning, but the text itself quickly blew me out of the water! Atwood's style of writing is so powerful that I think any reader would have a difficult time not being moved by the intricate stories which she tells.  I have as yet only read two of Margaret Atwood's novels (the other one being The Handmaid's Tale) and several of her short stories, but she is quickly gaining ground as one of my favourite authors! 

Set in a dystopian world, Oryx and Crake follows the narration of a character by the name of
Snowman as he struggles to survive after a disease has wiped out the rest of the human population. His only companions are the children of Crake, genetically altered beings who were meant to become a race superior to mankind. Throughout the novel readers are sent back and forth through Snowman's memories as he reveals how this post apocalyptic world came into being. This narration was probably one of my favourite things about the entire novel. Snowman's words draw the reader into his world, simultaneously evoking both their disgust and their sympathies. 

The ending of this novel was also perfect, executed in a typical Atwood fashion that leaves you with a hundred questions and desperately wondering what happens next. While many people may find this lack of answers frustrating, I think it intensifies the overall novel by giving readers the chance to reflect on the plot and imagine for themselves what they think the outcome will be. Readers of Oryx and Crake will be happy to know, however, that this is only the first novel in a trilogy. While the next book, The Year of the Flood, will not give them the answers they seek about Snowman (at least from what the synopsis reveals), it will allow them to gain further explanations about what this post apocalyptic world has come to. 

Overall, Oryx and Crake is a brilliant work of fiction and has made the list of my all time favourite books! Lovers of dystopian novels will be absolutely charmed by Atwood's imagination and execution of the novel's plot. This review really doesn't do Oryx and Crake the justice it deserves, so I suppose the only real words of advice I can give is that this novel is fantastic and comes with one of my highest recommendations! 

Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, 6 August 2011

"For The Love of Trees!"

So for those of you who do happen to check my blog regularly, you may have noticed a lack of postings lately...That's because I just spent the most fantastic week up north with my family! A bunch of my aunts and uncles and cousins rented out 6 cottages at Lake Shebeshekong in Parry Sound. This was my fourth year spending time at this cottage with my parents, and each year more and more of my family decides to come up and join us.
Some of my cousins cliff jumping

Over the course of the week we did everything from tubing to cliff jumping to discovering a huge beaver dam! There is something about being up north that is calming while simultaneously bringing out the adventurer in you! One thing is for certain...when you are with my family there is never a dull moment! While we were out in the boat one day we even almost hit a loon (which sounds very tragic but was hilarious at the of those you had to have been there moments I suppose! Don't worry the loon survived!).

Lake Shebeshekong also happens to be one of my favourite places to curl up with a good book and soak up the sunshine! Luckily I brought a whole library up north with me and managed to whip through 3 books over the course of the week: Oryx and Crake, The Summer I Turned Pretty, and Hex Hall. I'll hopefully find time to post my reviews of each of these fantastic reads sometime this week!

Overall my time spent at Shebe with my family was one to remember! It was the perfect way to kick off my summer now that I am officially finished working! I now have a month left to cram in as many more fun days as I can before I get dragged down to London to work on my Masters... but I will definitely make every moment count!

Me curled up with a good book!
My boyfriend and I taking a walk on the beach