Thursday, 21 August 2014

Throwback Thursday Book Review: Sabriel

Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: September 30, 1996 (first American edition - Originally published 1995)
Source: Gift.

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

With Sabriel, the first installment in the Abhorsen trilogy, Garth Nix exploded onto the fantasy scene as a rising star, in a novel that takes readers to a world where the line between the living and the dead isn't always clear—and sometimes disappears altogether.

I absolutely loved the world building in this one! I started reading this one as part of a read-a-long (which I totally failed at. AGAIN). I read this one a long time ago (junior high?), but I remembered hardly anything, so it was basically like reading a new book.

Sabriel is a likable character. It's really easy to feel for her and see where she's coming from. She knows so little about what she is supposed to do on her quest and her only source of information is a bit questionable and also often prevented from passing along information. She goes through so much and I really wanted her to succeed (the consequences if she does not are dire indeed).

The other characters are interesting as well. There are only two we get to see a lot of: Mogget and Touchstone. I loved Mogget. Probably because I have such a soft spot for animals, especially cats. But also because of the mystery surrounding him. And a few times we get to see another side of Mogget and I personally found it fascinating! Touchstone was just alright for me. He seemed trustworthy and dependable, but he has a lot of guilt, which translates into a I'm-not-worthy attitude that got a little grating.

As I mentioned earlier, I loved the world building in this book. The concept of Death is a tricky one, but I though Garth Nix handled it beautifully! It's really original and captivating and intriguing. The living portion of his world was also great. I loved the bizarre separation of the Old Kingdom and those across the wall and those caught between the two, like Sabriel.

The only thing I didn't love about this one was the romance. I found it to be rather sudden. Not instalove (thank goodness), but it appeared suddenly for me without much build-up. The romance by no means ruined the book, but honestly, I think the book would have been just as good without it. 

Overall, I did really enjoy this one. The world building was some of the best I've read and our heroine definitely did not disappoint. It's always great when a book is just as good the second time through!

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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Title: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Release Date: July 11, 2014
Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis

I'm not really sure how to feel about this movie.On one hand, I think, for what it was, it was well done. On the other hand, I found it very depressing. Not quite "The Grey" depressing, but not a happy film by any means.

This was actually my first Planet of the Apes film (I live under a rock, ok?). I asked my bf for a preamble to prepare me and this is what I got: "Apes get really smart and pissed off." After watching this movie, that seems like a pretty good nutshell description.

Like I said, I think for what it was, it was well done. The graphics were excellent, to the creepy-realistic level on the non-human characters (I don't like to just call them Apes, since humans are also apes). There was a ton of fighting. That's what I found so depressing. This was basically a war movie, just with one side composed of non-human apes. I'm not a fan of war films, so I think that's why I didn't end up loving this one. I guess I had higher expectations for the non-humans.

I also got totally distracted by certain things in the movie. Cesar really reminded me of Sean Bean, with his world-weary eyes and all that. Also, I'm pretty sure chimps would have a difficult time riding horses. They have a really high center of gravity, which is not helpful to riding a horse. But I suppose it's not fair to get hung up on that point when I've suspending my disbelief for chimpanzee's who speak English and group-social orangutans. But it was so distracting.


I also wish there had been some badass female apes. There is only one female ape character and she needs saving. There is a decent female human character, with her doctor skillz, but that's it. This one definitely failed the Bechdel Test.

If this is your kind of movie, I think you will really enjoy it. I enjoyed it, but won't be rushing out for the DVD.

Moral: There's always a couple of A-holes who ruin everything.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Fall Movie Challenge

I just discovered the Fall Film Challenge from quirky pickings. I always joke that I live under a rock because there are so many films I've never seen. So why not attempt a challenge to watch a few more? Going to start this baby September 1st. I feel like this is going to be a little tough and will definitely push me out of my movie comfort zone.

one. any action/adventure flick. - The Incredible Hulk (So behind on movies)
three. any awarded an oscar for best cinematography. - Life of Pi
four. any drama/biography/documentary.- Julie and Julia
five. any awarded an oscar for best film editing. - The Social Network
six. any science-fiction/fantasy flick. - District 9
seven. any starring an actress whose last name begins with the letter g. - The Grudge (Sarah Michelle Gellar)
eight. any set during any holiday. - Halloween
nine. any from internet movie database's top flicks list. - Amelie
eleven. any starring an actress whose last name begins with the letter k. - Epic (Beyonce Knowles)
twelve. any shot in london, england. - Hugo
thirteen. any awarded an oscar for best original score.- Finding Neverland
fourteen. any adapted from any novel. - The Giver
fifteen. any awarded an oscar for best original screenplay. - Midnight in Paris
sixteen. any awarded an oscar for best picture.- The Artist
seventeen. any featured on american movie classic's fifty great movie quote's list.- Clerks
eighteen. any romance or comedy.- The Decoy Bride
nineteen. any sports flick. - United
twenty. any thriller or mystery. - The Woman in Black
twenty-one. any starring an actor whose last name begins with the letter u. - Priest (Karl Urban)
twenty-two. any shot in a country you've never visited. A Royal Affair (Czech Republic)
twenty-three. any shot in wilmington, north carolina. - The Crow
twenty-four. any western or war film. - Texas Rangers
twenty-five. any from american film institute's greatest american movies of all time.- Taxi Driver

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Book Review: Jex Malone

Title: Jex Malone
Author: C. L. Gaber & V. C. Stanley
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: June 18, 2014
Source: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review.

A famous case. A missing girl. If they find her, will they be heroes? Or dead?

Bored out of her mind during a summer with her police detective father in Las Vegas, Jessica (aka "Jex") Malone starts doing what she does best--snooping. When she meets three new friends who share her passion for crime, from the geek to the fashionista, suddenly, the stifling desert days don't seem so long.

Her dad is never around, just like when her parents were married. But Jex's crew, the Drew-Ids, take the pledge of eternal secrecy and then get down to the good stuff--digging through the cold-case files in Dad's home office.

One of them, the thirteen-year-old case of Patty Matthews, is still a mystery. Finding Patty, who vanished into thin air, became such an obsession for Jex's father that it destroyed the Malones' marriage. So not only is this a big deal, it's personal.

Jex is determined to find out what really happened, and her excitement is contagious. Soon her friends are all on board and so is the missing girl's brother, the hunky Cooper Matthews.

But as they dig up more and more troubling information--more than the cops ever did--they also get the clear message that someone out there wants to prevent the truth from coming out. That somebody is also prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to prevent it.

Jex isn't afraid; after all, she's a cop's daughter. But maybe she should be.

Laced with humor, toughness, and real CSI investigation techniques, Jex Malone could be the Nancy Drew for a new generation--but with a chilling twist. These wannabe detectives are on the brink of finding out the fate of poor missing Patty. But will they disappear without a trace, too?

Jex Malone is the latest in a long line of girl detectives (although I think Nat deserves most of the credit). To be 100% honest, I never read Nancy Drew as a kid (I was too busy reading Saddle Club and Pony Pals), but I did find myself enjoying this one.

Let's start with my favourite part of this book: diversity. While our heroine Jex and her new crush Cooper may have both been white, Jex's friends did show some diversity. Deva's parents are Indian, Nat's family is Jamaican and I think Cissy is Latino. So it was nice to see a bit of diversity in YA.

I did have a few issues with this one though. These girls are insane. Lots of the stuff they did made no sense to me at all. There was a lot of sneaking around and withholding of evidence from Jex's dad, who is a police officer. Although I'm sure that evidence would never stand up in court, which Nat should have known if she was as smart as we're led to believe. And the whole thing at the end was beyond silly for these girls. Maybe that's the adult in me talking, but I just couldn't get behind these girl's crazy ideas.

I also wasn't a huge fan of some of the characters. Deva annoyed me with her spoiled-rich-girl thing, Nat was so nosy, especially when she first meets Jex and Cissy just kind of faded into the background most of the time. And Cooper was okay, although I have no idea why he didn't get these girls to leave him alone instead of following them on their crazy plan.

Overall, it was fun to follow these girls on their crazy adventure, as long as I ignore the fact that I had no clue why they were being so crazy. I did guess the ending, although I never know if this is because the ending is obvious or if I am just good at guessing.

NOTE: This review also appeared on Megan Likes Books, a blog also run by me.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Growing Up With Games

BF's mom and her partner have been out visiting. Friday night, BF's brother and his girlfriend also came over after we had all gone out to dinner and we decided to play some games. I was actually shocked at how little game experience they had. Neither of them had ever played played Yahtzee before!


So this all got me thinking about growing up with games. I grew up with lots of games and I'm sure it has affected me in the way I view games, and other things besides. We did play a few board games; I distincting remember Monopoly, The Farming Game, Risky Business, Risk and Trouble. However, we played a lot of cards growing up. Every family event, the cards were brought out after dinner. Every family reunion, we have a Smear tournament! I remember starting out with Go Fish, then endless games of War, Cheat and Speed with my cousins. A family favourite is Presidents and Janitors (aka Asshole). We played lots of Rummy and 31 with camping (along with Trouble). In more recent years, my mom has fallen in love with poker and will play it any chance she gets (including in Vegas tournaments) or even just watch it on TV. In short, I grew up playing board and card games from a young age. Maybe this was because I grew up with 4 television channels right up until I was in high school.

So what about BF? He is a very savvy gamer, despite his mom not being into games at all. Well, one story she told is that he would all but force her and his brother to play Monopoly with him. One other major thing in that BF played a lot of chess as a kid, thanks to his dad. He even went in tournaments. He also learned poker from his dad.

What about you? Did you grow up with games or did your family do other things together? Do you think this affected how you feel about games now? Also, any board or card game recommendations would not go amiss!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Last night I convinced the BF to go to the movies with me. I've been dying to see Guardians of the Galaxy since it came out and we were supposed to go on Friday, but ended up not going, so last night was it (plus Tuesday nights are cheaper). We arrived right at the showtime (we were delayed because we had to eat ice cream first) and unfortunately, it was sold out. However, I convinced BF to wait 40 minutes until the next show and we are both so glad  we did. This movie was awesome!


I really enjoyed this movie. First, I'm a big fan of Chris Pratt. He is adorable in Parks and Recreation and he was really great in Guardians. Starlord is a funny character and I think Chris Pratt did a great job. I loved all the main characters. Gomora (Zoe Saldana) had all kinds of things to prove and was pretty tough, but also kind, as we saw with her interactions with her crazy-ass sister Nebula (Karen Gillian!). Drax (Dave Bautista was cute for a hell-bent-on-revenge kind of guy. Rocket (voice by Bradley Cooper) was so funny, he came close to stealing the show I think. But my favourite was Groot (voice by Vin Diesel). Groot was adorable and I just loved him so much! Best Vin Diesel character ever!

Also, great villain in Ronan the Accuser. He was great and scary with his creepy face paint and I really wanted our heroes to succeed against him. I also enjoyed Karen Gillian's portrayal of Nebula. It's the first role I've seen her in since her days as Amy Pond and it was a nice chance to see her play something completely different.
The one thing I didn't expect were the feels! I was crying within two minutes! What kind of movie is this!? I didn't go into this movie expecting to cry (twice), but there you have it.

Seriously, one of my favourite Marvel films so far!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Review: A Study in Silks

Title: A Study in Silks
Author: Emma Jane Holloway
Series: The Baskerville Affair #1
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source: I received an ecopy in exchange for a honest review.

Evelina Cooper, niece of Sherlock Holmes, is ready for her first London Season - except for a murderer, missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse. In a Victorian era ruled by a ruthless steam baron council, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Evelina has secretly mastered a coveted weapon - magic that can run machines. Should she trust the handsome, clever rake who speeds her breath, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything she would ask?

This book really should have been a home run for me. I love steampunk and Victorian manner and mysteries. But this one fell a bit flat for me and I can't quite put my finger on why. I think it is at least partly because there was so much going on. Steampunk aspects, magic, political intrigue, murder mystery featuring Sherlock Holmes, young woman forced to reconsile her past a future. It was a lot.

I had trouble getting into and staying with this one. I think the pacing was a bit off, as the book felt really long (I guess it was over 500 pages) and didn't really pick up for me until the final third. I think it would have been more manageable (and possibly enjoyable) if we had just followed Evelina, instead of diverting to follow Lord Bancroft or Tobias or Jasper Keating. I think this was mainly done to give readers more information about the mystery, but it made the book very long.

I did like the main character Evelina. She smart and resourceful, but still has some insecurities and vulnerabilities. The rest of the characters were certainly flawed individuals. I really felt for Nick, although he did some things I certainly didn't like. Tobias was an interesting character and I felt for him as well, despite (or because of) his weaknesses.

I wasn't entirely sold on the Sherlock Holmes aspect. As I mentioned before, it felt like too much when combined with steampunk and magic. This might have been a personal preference though, as I tend to favour more streamlined stories.

Overall, I did enjoy Evelina and the enjoyed the final third of the book, once things really got going, but I found a large portion of the book to be a bit of a slog. I think this might be one you have to try for yourself.

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NOTE: This review also appeared on Megan Likes Books, a blog also run by me.


I just looked and my last post was in May. Whoops! I've been rather busy this summer and my home has been a bit upside-down lately, with my boyfriend simultaneously completing his Masters degree in immunology and preparing for his MCAT exam for medical school (which was last Friday).

As you may have noticed, I changed the blog name again. Yep. My logic is that since I don't have many readers, now is the time to do it. I also plan to start including more book reviews and also sewing stuff. Hope you enjoy.

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