Saturday, January 24, 2015

Catching up, because it's been awhile!

It's been a long while since I've done anything but post a review (and even those haven't been to frequent), so I thought it was time to do a few personal posts so you can catch up with me and all I've been up to for the past little while.

My life in Cats.
My life may have infinitely more baby dolls, sparkly shoes and tractors strewn about it, but if one thing is a constant it's my fuzzy kids. Thurman, Cheddar Cheese, Opal and Deliah may be considerably more harried then they used to be (lets face it, we all are), but they continue to have their way around the house just as much as Sybil. In fact, I'm pretty sure they are coming out ahead as I dress them up considerably less out of sympathy for their daily trials and tribulations.

I did say considerably less, not never.
Of course, having a baby in the house has it's perks.

Though it does mean you have to tolerate the baby.

Phone for you Dilly.
Caged beasts
Snuggle collapse!

Safari hunting expedition, lands cuddles.
Deliah turns 11 on March 27th, Cheddar turns 10 on August 31st, Thurman turns 5 on March 29th and Opal turns 3 on July 13th.  Though nobody acts their age, Opal is the worst as she still thinks she's a wildy beast, feral kitten. Albeit one who loves snuggles, but also scratching everything, tearing around the house and howling when she doesn't get what she wants.  My beloved copy of Landline recently had it's dust jacket defaced in one of her rampages. She's lucky she's cute.  Her name, when we adopted her, was Phantom, so I think we'll have to start calling her our Phantom Menace.

Speaking of cats! Over Christmas I found the most lovely children's book, Yoda: The Story of a Cat and his Kittens, by Beth Stern. I won't lie, what initially what grabbed my attention was that it was a picture book of a white Persian named Yoda, and I used to have a white Persian named Yoda. But what had me marching up to the till to buy it was the fact it's a book about adoption and fostering, with all the proceeds going to a rescue group. Beautifully illustrated with a great message for kids and adults alike, I highly recommend getting the kids in you're life a copy.

I have had to dial back my rescue work considerably, which has been disapointing. With a small child and 4 cats I'm way to overloaded to take on fosters, and way to busy to organize events or the like. But that doesn't stop me from trying to boost their tweets and facebook posts. Alas, one the few things I do on twitter of late!

But anywho, if I can inspire even one adoption I call my job well done.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcome to year 5!

It is hard to believe that this little blog has been plugging along for 5 years, but although my presence has been slim recently, and irregular since Sybil was born, I have still been reading, going to signings, events and even the occasional book club!

My annual read count was it's lowest ever for 2014, I came in at 61 books, nearly half of my regular numbers.  This was due to my six month attempt to work full time, somewhere on the opposite side of the city; thereby ensuring I was commuting 2+ hours a day, on top of an already long day.  Clearly that did this blog no favours (44 posts for the year, ouch), really it did no favours for any part of my life, which is why over Christmas I decided it was time for a change. I started with a haircut, and ended by quitting my job and taking a part-time baking job 3 blocks from my house.  It's been a week and it's already glorious. Great hours, enjoyable, active work that's leagues more energetic then a desk job, and a most excellent commute. The hope going forward, is that there will be more time in my life for all the things I love, including this blog. Plans include:

  1. Finally getting things up-to-date (looks askance at Reviews by Title page that is nearly two years behind).
  2. Catching up on some of the reviews. All may very well not be possible, as I've gotten far enough behind that some of these books really would need to be re-read to do them justice.
  3. Moving this little blog that could over to Wordpress and bringing it up to 2015 standards. Also making it more negotiable from an ipad, since I no longer have a laptop, and blogger is a bitch to use on an ipad.
  4. Getting back to chatting with all of you via this blog and also via Twitter and Facebook, where I have been very, very absent lately, due to that day job and commuting.
But enough about me! What have YOU been doing with your first 19 days of 2015? Any life changes??!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Heir of Fire, By Sarah J. Maas - Review

From Goodreads:
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

This series is intriguing to me, it sways back and forth a little between being powerful and being a bit silly at times, and I think it has a lot to do with the scope of it. Maas has said recently that it was sold as a six parter, which is awesome, but does mean there are lots of middling parts where things are being set up and developed. To me this is where things can get a bit silly sometimes. Rowan, for instance, is a perfectly good character with a strong reason for being included, but all the bits where Celaena contemplates his body or ponders their strange intimacy (they've seen each other pretty much buck naked but aren't sexually attracted to each other) are both unnecessary and a bit weird. It's an element I feel wouldn't be there if their "training" storyline wasn't quite so long. It was a similar trap I felt Maas fell into a bit with the first book with the somewhat pointless love triangle, and the rather self defeating "romantic" moments that often ended up nulling out some of Celaena's so-called awesome skills (remember how many times both Dorian and Chaol were able to sneak up on her?).  I think this series would be considerably stronger if attempts weren't regularly being made to shack Celaena up with someone.

However, outside of the Rowan weirdness, this was a great book. Maas branches out into multiple POV's, including an unexpected bad guy, making  a slower growing pains book, much more page turning then it might otherwise have been.

Chaol and Dorian are perhaps the biggest surprise for me.  I didn't think following them in the wake of Celaena's abrupt departure would be overly interesting, and at first it was not, but their path is the truly startling one, and where all the shocks at the ending were felt the strongest for me.

Although I wasn't left as much on the edge of my seat as last time, I am looking forward to part four with enthusiasm. It makes my book saturated heart happy to see some epic fantasy, with a long reaching storyline take a foothold in YA.  May it's success lead to more.

Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury, Sept 2, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers, Review and Giveaway!

From Goodreads:
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...

Every book in this series has been more impressive than the last, and after Dark Triumph I was both elated by the prospect of Annith's story and worried she couldn't possibly top Sybella's story. In fact, Dark Triumph was such a phenomenal story I couldn't ever seem to do it justice review wise and eventually just gave up.  So let me just take a moment to say that it was a dark triumph of writing and a spectacular book that deserves every ounce of praise it received and then some. However, I needn't have worried, Annith's story was the icing on the His Fair Assassins cake, in every possible way.

There are many aspects I loved about this series. It was a unique mix of folklore, history and fantasy, it has fabulously broken girls who kicked ass in all regards, it uses three very different personalities to flesh out so many views and experiences of religion and belief, and it tells a sweeping and engrossing story.  The way the three books came together in the end was extremely satisfying, watching each girl come into their own and take hold of their destinies was cathartic and exciting, and LaFevers threw in enough reveals and surprises to keep you on your toes throughout.

I particularly liked the way Anniths story intersected with the other gods and revealed more about the mysterious other disciples and groups. Although it's hard to say where she could take it, I would love to see LaFevers explore more of this world from other view points.

I won't say too much more, for fear of spoiling something, but Anniths revelation about Mortain is by far my favourite, and definitely fitting for the final piece in this highly enjoyable series. I can't rave about these enough to do them justice, but if you're looking for a story with both heart and some of the toughest female leads since Katniss, well then, look no further.

Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, November 4th, 2014
My Copy kindly provided by the publisher
Buy Mortal Heart on Amazon

Haven't had a chance to check out Mortal Heart yet? Have a Canadian address? Well then, this is your day! Enter to win a copy and wait no further to dive in.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Belated winner announcement!

I would be a huge liar if I didn't admit that 98% of my life is belated now that I not only have a wee child but also am back to work, full time! I know, so not an issue for the average joe, but I am a spoiled girl who was working 3.5 days a week for several years now, and so have been used to lots of time to getting life things done in. Sigh.

But the good news is flowing tonight! I have a winner for the Spooktacular Giveaway hope which had over SEVEN HUNDRED people enter! Barring a non-answer from her, the winner is......

Check your junk mail for an email from me!

I also have belated halloween pics for you as well. Because how could it ever be halloween without cats in costumes, I ask you... honestly, how could it?! Oh, and the furless child as well.

Que jaws music...Is that...????
Yup, Thurman!

Joined by Bat Opal
she was rather fond of her costume.

I mean, who wouldn't be?

Cheddar was less impressed with his.

Oh right, then there was the furless child.

She was prodigiously talented at Trick or Treating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!

Oh it is that time of year again! And although I didn't do my usual month of spooky reads I just couldn't give up the best hop of the year. I mean, we can't trick or treat anymore, so we might as well trick or tweet.

Two of the best creepy books I've read in the past while have both been Holly Black books, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and Doll Bones, so this year I'll be giving the winner their choice of those two books. Shipping to anywhere the Book Depository ships. Nothing required to enter, short of your goodwill and loving attention,( I am unworthy, I know), but for a bonus entry feel free to tweet this contest with the hashtag #FaveCreepyRead. Now sally forth and win all the loot!

But don't stop here! There are 293 entries to go!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare- Review

From Goodreads:
From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic.

From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.

Ok, for starters I hate this description of the book.  It's an ad, not a description, however I am far too lazy these days to ever write my own blurbs. Suffice it to say, this book has been described by the authors as "What if Tom Riddle wrote Harry Potter?"...
I want to pause a moment and let you ponder what that means, because it is a really, really cool concept. And it's also a cool concept written by two really stellar writers, so to say it's brimming with promise is to put it lightly.

The good news is it is really full of potential. The world is fascinating and has an intriguing scope, the set up is good and if you compare this book (book one of 7, just like HP), to the first HP, then it is fairly on track.  Obviously the big reveal at the end isn't as big as it could have been since they've campaigned on the twist, but it still works.

The bad news is that I expected some amazing things from these two writers. I expected Holly's dark, twisted world building and tragic characters that still shine with promise and verve. I expected Cassie's witty repartee and character building.  Granted I imagined it would come together slightly different then when they write separately but Holly is an old hand at corroboration and I just assumed she would have them sharing penmanship gracefully right from the get go.  The fact of the matter is, if I hadn't been told they were co-writing this project, I never would have guessed that either of them had a hand in it, just from reading it.

Part of the issue is a lot happens in a fairly short space of pages, so there just isn't the room for these characters to develop as much as I would want. Since there are six more books I imagine it's a problem that will be rectified by book the second, however it certainly dampens my need to read book the second any time soon.  But I worry that Black and Clare are either being too cautious or just don't pair well together writing wise, because I really didn't seen any of either of their styles in the pages of this book, which was really disappointing for me.

Possibly I read this book with too much excitement for it's potential, and too soon after the disappointment of Clare's final Mortal Instruments instalment.  Possibly it's just a mediocre book that's just fine if you don't read it too close to anything really good. Possibly, it needs book two before these authors catch their stride and start making magic happen. But possibly it's book one of a less than stellar 7 part series. I reserve judgment until I have more to judge.

The Iron Trial, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Published by Scholastic, September 5th, 2014
My copy kindly provided by the publisher