Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Book Review-- The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Release date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Random House
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Thank you to Net Galley and Random House for providing this eBook for review!

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”
Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

Wow. Wow, did I love this book.
One day, the world just starts to slow down. The days get longer and longer. The earth suffers and mankind must find a way to adapt--or not.
But life goes on like 'normal', and The Age of Miracles is the story of one girl and her family during this very odd time.

The research the author put into this book was seriously amazing. The changes and effects are just fascinating.
I LOVE how much detail she actually went into. And it's NOT boring science-y stuff, either. It's interesting and cool and scary!

Julia is a wonderful character. Very real and easy to relate to.

The writing is fantastic. It sucks you in right from the start and doesn't let go until you're done. I'm VERY impressed with Ms. Walker's debut novel. It doesn't read like a debut at all!

The ONE issue I have with The Age of Miracles is that it's NOT an adult book.
This reads as a YA novel, through and through-- albeit a YA novel for older teens because of the subject.
I'm worried that this book will fall flat because the publisher is marketing it as an adult book.
I REALLY hope that doesn't happen because this wonderful, terrifying, sad, sweet novel DESERVES to be read, praised and remembered!

I'd definitely recommend this book for older teens, 15+, and to you young-at-heart adults, too.
The subject of this book would make for some GREAT conversation with your teens!

Monday, 18 June 2012

True Blood: Authority Always Wins

I can't. I just...can't.

It's killing me, watching this show I used to love and look forward to AGAIN go down the drain.
The first two seasons were amazing. Brilliant. Epic.
Season 3? Meh.
Season 4? Utter shit.
And now season 5? It's looking as bad as season 4, and we're only 2 episodes in.

The ONLY plot I care about is the Authority plot. IF they write it well, it has the potential to be fabulous.

The rest of the shit that's happening?
I don't care. At all.

Rev. Steve--Did we REALLY need to bring him back? There isn't enough drama with Jason, Jessica and Hoyt? Now we have to add a gay vampire American who wants to buy Jason? Really?!

There are NO puppies in True Blood!
Sam-- What the hell was that weird fight/break-up with Luna? Does anyone care about her at all? Anyone? Yeah, neither do I.
And the bit that made me finally throw my hands in the air and give up? THE DAMN PUPPY!
SERIOUSLY?!? What. The. EFF??
Dumbest plot EVER.

Terry-- Again, does ANYONE care about this? I sure as hell don't. Yes, Terry has PTSD. Yes, he has demons. Yes, Arlene is trying to help him work through all that. Can we not just leave it at that?
Now we have to bring in an old war buddy, someone setting fires and trying to kill the members of his squad, and Terry sleep-walking and having flashbacks and pushing Arlene around?

Get off the damn counter, Tara.
Alcide-- Okay, this plot I can tolerate. Because it's IN THE BOOKS. PLEASE let this develop the RIGHT way!

I HATE the character. Always have. Now she's an idiotic vampire with apparently NO self-control?
Oh just...get lost!

Pam-- Okay, the Pam/Eric flashbacks are kinda cool. Lets hope they don't screw those up.

Andy-- Don't care. Can we please just let background/minor characters STAY background characters?

There's too much shit going on and very little of it is good shit.

I'm not at all impressed, and I highly doubt I'll be blogging about this show again. It's just not worth it.
It'll just be post after post like this--full of ranting and venting and bitching.

RIP, True Blood. I'm only watching now for naked Eric, the Authority and Pam's hilarious lines.

It was nice knowing you.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Happy Birthday, Ajay Fry!

Today is Ajay Fry's birthday!

Me 'n Ajay! 

I adore this guy. I really do. He's funny and nice and just really, really great, and I'm so honoured that I'm able to call him a friend.

For his birthday, I wrote him a little something. I hope you like it! :)

A Poem For Ajay
by Christina

The day of his birth, our dear Ajay Fry.

And I'm here to tell you, about a helluva guy.
Lets start at the start, where things all began.
Born, bred and raised, into a cool genre fan.

He debuted in Toronto, but then moved away,
In Ottawa is where, his family did stay.
With nothing to do, boredom set in, 
His solace was humour, can't you tell with THAT grin? ;)

As a boy, TV beckoned, and he graced our screens,
On Lassie, on Big Wolf, on The Dark? as a teen.
His voice, also wanted! So fresh and so new!
Commercials, and radio, Arthur, Lulu, Caillou!

Never far from his thoughts, comedy was his heart,
The iNSTiTUTiON was where he honed his art.
So young but so eager, now a man at eighteen, 
A lifetime event--To China, he's been!

More voicework done there, a series of vids!
A month in a studio, taping English for kids!
The next stop for Ajay, to Toronto he flew,
(Holy cow, this is long...Next year, a haiku?) ;)

What? Oh, yes--Back to TO, our boy went to Humber!
A post-grad in comedy, Mr. Fry now less...dumb...er? (*facepalm*)
Almost twenty-one, and a proud college grad, 
A Phil Hartman award nom, I should probably add!

Some more humour training, Second City this time,
The world in his palm, the man in his prime!
A dream, to come true, YTV came a-calling, 
The new host of CRUNCH, (dude, that hair was appaulling!) 

He spent two years there, so loved by the kids, 
Until SPACE came along, and he found that he fit.
A true life-long fan, (his parents made sure!),
The programming was perfect, Ajay was allured.

He anchored The Circuit,  a co-host was gained.
With Teddy, the show changed, InnerSPACE is it's name.
The boys were a duo, like Robin and Batman, 
They bickered and bantered and gained many fans.

The duo, now a trio, adding Cynthia Loyst, 
And five nights a week, they ARE SPACE's voice.
A staple in Canada, Ajay's now pretty big.
But humble? Yes, always. He's proud of his gig.

He's now travelled the world, he's talked to the best, 
In sci-fi, in horror--Oh, the people he's met!
Emma Stone, (Ha! She flirted with our handsome host!),
Patrick Stewart, Matt Smith--but who does he love most?

With no hesitation, he speaks from the heart,
It's US, it's the VIEWERS, WE'RE the best part! 
At cons and events, the fans bring him joy,
Like Han has the Wookie, Ajay's our boy.

And outside of work, he also does stuff!
Plays guitar, web design, he's a huge gaming buff!
He likes movies and tacos and painting and art,
And don't believe Teddy, he DOES have a heart.

A personal note? Oh, I guess that it's time.
In this poem I wrote, for an outstanding guy.
I'm honoured to call Ajay a dear friend.
And I hope that he likes these words that I've penned.

He's quick with a smile, a hug, a kind word.
He gives his fans time, all us geeks, dorks and nerds.
You see, he's one of US, so he has much respect,
He has things in common, he easily connects.

My dear friend Ajay, happy birthday to you.
I wish you just happiness, in all things you do.
Dream big, never change, spread your wings and fly high.
The sky is the limit, on your day Ajay Fry.

Happy, happy birthday, my dear friend. 
See you in August! 

(Comments, pats on the back and much praise is more than welcome, of course!) ;)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Book Review-- The Mine by John A. Heldt

Release Date: Feb. 12, 2012
Author: John A. Heldt 

In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way.  
Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war.  
With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever.  
THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

Let's be honest here. When you pick up a self-published book--even if it has a kick-ass blurb--it's hit or miss. So when Mr. Heldt, the author of The Mine, contacted me and asked me to review it...Well, I was skeptical. I almost declined. But I love a good time travel story, so I went into it with low expectations.
Boy, was I wrong.

The Mine reminded me very much of both Stephen King's 11/22/63, and the movie, Back to the Future, but it takes a bit to get moving.

The beginning is slow. Joel, the main character, is difficult to like at first. He's cocky and arrogant.
But when he meets Tom, things change. I'll even go as far as to say....It gets magical.

Mr. Heldt can write. His way with words is absolutely wondrous.
His characters are vivid and beautiful and alive. I loved them all, but Katie especially found her way into my heart.

Through the whole book, the author had me asking myself, 'What would I do? How would I react? Could I survive being teleported 60 years into the past?"
It's actually fun...and a little bit scary...to sit and think about that while reading a story like this one.

The Mine asks some big questions. Joel lands in a time heading for war. His struggles with the decisions he has to make is heartbreaking to watch.

You WILL cry while reading this book. A few times. So have tissues close.
And the end is a thing of absolute magic. I LOVED it.

I truly wish that one of the 'big name' publishers had picked up The Mine. This book needs much more publicity and exposure than it's getting.
So I'll do my part to get the word out to as many people as I can, starting here.

PLEASE read The Mine. It's amazing and wonderful and fun and touching.
And after you read it, you'll feel really good about supporting an indie author. :)

I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to John A. Heldt for providing a copy of The Mine for me to review.
This is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

True Blood: Turn, Turn, Turn

Welcome to True Blood, season 5! And didn't it start with a BANG, right?!

For any newbies, I'll take a quick sec to tell you a bit about my recap posts--

Most importantly, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. My book and movies posts are spoiler-free, but my TV recaps are CHOCK FULL OF SPOILERY-GOODNESS.
You've been warned!

I WILL NOT be comparing the HBO series with the books.
Yes, I've read the books. Yes, I love the books. But the TV series has strayed SO far from the books that, in my opinion, it's pretty much pointless to compare the two.

There MAY BE CURSING in my True Blood posts.
Again, you've been warned. I figure if you watch the show, you can take a few swears. ;)

And lastly, I LOVE COMMENTS. So please, don't be shy!
If you disagree with something I say, tell me! If you have a theory you'd like to share, please do!

So, with that out of the way, let us begin!

True Blood, Season FIVE!

Bill and Eric: 
As Bill leaves a message for Jessica, Eric rushes around and cleans up the bloody mess the two made in Bill's office.
Suddenly, the two can feel through the bond that Sookie is in trouble. Eric reminds Bill that Sookie wants nothing to do with either of them, but Bill's heart wins out.
As he rushes out the door he's caught in a net of silver. Eric runs out after Bill, and he's caught as well.
Bill and Eric are now in the hands of the Authority.

Luckily, Eric has friends in high places.
It turns out his sister, Nora--another of Godric's progeny's--works for the Authority.
She helps them escape (er...and has some sexy time with Eric...HANDS OFF, BITCH!....whoops. Did I say that out loud?) and sets them up with new identities. Vampire Witness Protection program!

During the above-mentioned sexy-times, Eric's phone rings, and--although we're not told exactly what's said--we can assume that Alcide called Eric to tell him about Russell once again being free.

Eric and Bill are given their new papers--they're now Marcellus Clark and Ike Applebaum (LOL).
As Eric is saying goodbye to his sister, people start exploding.
Yep, the Authority has found our vamps.

Sookie and Lafayette:
Lafayette wakes to the gunshot and sees Sookie holding a dead Tara in her arms.
In runs Pam, who's looking for Eric. Sookie promises Pam all of her fairy-goodness help if Pam will turn Tara.
Pam agrees.
After giving Tara some of her blood, she has Sookie and Lafayette bury them both in the backyard.

Sookie finishes cleaning her kitchen (that kitchen sees a LOT of blood...and bleach), and then takes Lafayette to say goodbye to Jesus....who's body is apparently missing!

Back at Sookie's, Lafayette has a bath and shaves his head (after the camera ominously zooms in on a razor, making us believe there will be a suicide attempt!).

Alcide shows up at Sookie's door and announces that Russell is indeed alive and well and has crawled out of the cement.
He'll be on his way to kill Sookie, eventually, and Alcide tells Sookie she'll need to be staying with him now.
Sookie is on the verge of telling Alcide about Debbie when Lafayette comes in and interrupts her, gets in Alcide's face, shoves him a bit, and tells him that they don't need anymore supernatural bullshit in their lives.
Sookie agrees and Alcide leaves.
The two then settle in to wait for Pam and Tara to wake.
After a few hours, Pam finally wakes....but Tara doesn't.
There are tears from both Sookie and Lafayette.
When suddenly, BOOM! Out pops Vamp-Tara, who's now VERY fast, and who goes right for Sookie! (cut to end credits!)

Jason and Jessica:
As you'll recall, we left off last season with a naked Jason opening the door to a vampire-Reverend.
The Rev gives Jason a sob story and promises not to glamour our boy--Then promptly glamours his way inside poor Jason's house.
Everyone's favourite Reverend then comes out of the closet and declares his love for our sweet boy.
Jason, of course, is flattered...but not gay.
That pisses the Rev off. Just as he's about to make a snack of our boy, Jessica comes in, declares Jason HERS, and beats off the Rev. Woo hoo, Jessica!

Later on at Bill's, Jessica is having a party. With humans. And she's getting very flirty with one.
Jason shows up and joins in the festivities. When he sees Jessica getting kissy with the human, he leaves with one of the girls.

But surprisingly, Jason doesn't have sex with the girl! He even opens up and tells her what would happen if they did, and WHY it would happen. The boy has changed SO MUCH since season one, hasn't he?! (so proud!)

Sam is cornered by a pack of wolves. It's Marcus's pack, and they want to know where their leader is.
Sam turns into a bird and flies off to warn Luna. The wolves give chase and track Sam down.
To protect Luna and Emma, Sam goes with the pack and keeps mum about Alcide being Marcus's killer.

He's brought to a barn where he's beaten until an older wolf-lady arrives. Sam agrees to tell them where Marcus's body is after she explains that there are certain rituals and traditions that must be upheld when a pack-leader dies, and that if Sam talks, no harm will come to Luna or Emma.

The pack digs up Marcus and Alcide and Luna show up. Alcide confesses to the killing.  A few members of the pack bow to Alcide as their new leader. But more don't. They're pissed that he put a shifter before the pack. Alcide doesn't seem to give a shit.

Some of the pack then change....and start eating Marcus. (BLECH, DUDE!)

Terry and Arlene:
Terry's having a hard time with Patrick being around. Terry just wants to forget who he was in the past--hard to do with Patrick hanging around and Arlene and the kids asking questions.

Patrick then tells Terry--after they fight a bit--that weird fires have been claiming the lives of their former Iraq war buddies.

Other stuff:
Holly's boys come home from a hunting trip to find their mom in bed with Sheriff Bellefleur.
Andy helps a Judge's son out of a speeding ticket.

Best lines:
"Supersnatch"- Pam
"I am wearing a Wal Mart sweatsuit for ya'll!"- Pam
"I'm a gay vampire American." -Rev. Steve

Where's Jesus's body?
Will Jason and Jessica become an item?
Will Jessica break Jason's heart?
Are Hoyt and Jason over as friends?
How will Bill and Eric be rescued?
When will Russell come for Sookie?
What kind of vamp will Tara be?
What's with the weird fires Patrick was talking about?
Is that the last we'll see of Rev. Steve?
Will Alcide become pack-leader?
Will Sookie and Alcide be an item this season, with Eric and Bill out of the way?
How will Alcide react when he finds out Sookie killed Debbie?

Did you like the season 5 premiere?! What did you think?

Here's the promo for next week's episode, 'Authority Always Wins":

See you here next Sunday!