Monday, 25 July 2016

Musing Mondays - I like big books and I cannot lie

Musing Mondays - July 25, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…:

At the moment I am reading Nimona and I am about halfway through it after starting it just before bed last night. I'd heard of this book before in passing, never anything about it just that it was called Nimona and that it was a graphic novel and that one of the writers of Lumberjanes (another thing I've been meaning to check out) wrote it. I never actually thought about reading it, not until the Student Assistant in my office, Sophia, recommended it to me telling me that she thought I would like it because she had just finished reading our library's copy. I immediately went to grab it from the shelf, but it wasn't there, so I put a hold on it so our other Student Assistant would also be trying to find it for me. In the end it took about a week to find, we figured it must be missing, so I mentioned that to Sophia and she said she was SURE she'd seen it, so she went to where she'd seen it and it was there, it was just mishelved. It's been sitting on my shelf for the last few weeks waiting for me to get to it, and after reading In Odd We Trust this past Friday/Saturday I decided to have a graphic novel weekend and start reading it last night.

So far I am very, very much enjoying it and I fully expect to finish it if not tonight, then tomorrow morning before work for sure. It's fun, funny, colourful and cute. The synopsis from Goodreads does such a great job describing it:

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic."
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What’s your most favorite “chunky” book? (over 500 pages)

Several of my favourite books are "chunky" by this definition. I'm one of those book nerds who really cannot, at all, ever just pick one book. My number 1 favourite is a series, specifically the Harry Potter series and asking me to pick only one of those as a favourite gets you 5 minutes of waffling and an "I don't know I love them all, I can only pick one, probably Prisoner of Azkaban then if you're making me choose." reply. So to answer this question I turned to my "favourites" shelf on Goodreads and decided to pick 3 of those to list here as kind of a top 3.

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The 4th installment of the Harry Potter series clocks in at 636 pages in the Bloomsbury edition, which is the edition that I own. It's probably actually a 3 way tie between GoF, PoA and DH as for which of Harry's adventures is actually my favourite. This one has so much going on and it's all so exciting, this was where things started to get really complex, but still before it started to get really dark. You forget that when you only watch the movie and don't reread the book very often, there's soooooo much more going on in the book. Now I want to reread it again.

2. Outlander

So the first time I read this it was because I had to, that's right it was an assigned reading for a course in my undergraduate diploma. It was back in February of 2006, I remember that because I forced myself to read it over reading week. At 896 pages it's the longest of my 3 choices. In 2006 I was dead set against the romance genre, which, thanks to this book I now know was stupid, but at the time I had a different opinion. So being not at all interested in a romance novel I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this or not...but then I read the description, sword fighting, the highlands of Scotland, and fierce redheaded warriors it basically had everything I love in it, so I thought it wouldn't be too bad. Well it sucked me right in I absolutely freaking LOVED it. I have since reread it probably a good 12 times. But, I have never read any of the other books in the series, I tried reading the second one and I was just done as all get out after finding out who Jamie hooked himself up with after Claire had to go back to the 40s. People keep telling me I just have to push past that part, maybe I will try one day maybe I won't and I will just continue pretending this is a stand alone novel.

3. A Game of Thrones

I wish I had known about these books before they became an HBO series, but alas I did not. That being said I am thankful to the HBO series for introducing me to them because they are really, REALLY good books. I've never really gotten into watching the show, I read about the show regularly but I've never really watched it. I've read all of the books though, all of the very, very long books. The edition I have of this one is 807 pages. As a series opener it does a really good job of world building and stage setting, and of course being George R.R. Martin, you both meet and say good bye to a very large cast of characters throughout this one book. Definitely puts the epic in epic fantasy series,


Unboxing - #owlcrate July 2016 - Evil Box

I've been following Owl Crate for about a year now but I could never justify subscribing to it when I already subscribe to both the Marvel Collector Corps (as seen in my last unboxing post) and the Sci-fi Block; when I saw the theme for this month's box I knew I had to subscribe. A good vs. evil box with guaranteed Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter AND Star Wars items plus a brand new book is too much right up my alley to pass up. There was a 50/50 chance of getting either the good box or the evil box and I got:

evil #owlcrate ftw
I must say I am VERY, VERY pleased with this result. I actually squealed with excitement when I pulled that out of the box and then eagerly got to looking at what my items and book were.

Now I'll give you the low down on each of the items and my thoughts on them.

1. Harry Potter Dementor Funko!POP

Thrilled to see this one in the box. It's one of the HP Funkos that I didn't have yet. I had been waffling about whether or not I actually wanted to get it because in the pictures I had seen of it it looked too creepy. But actually seeing it up close really changed my mind. It's amazing, so detailed and just the right amount of creepy. He is now sitting atop my entertainment unit between my matryoshka doll and my Collector Funko!POP.

2. Death Star necklace

It's a cool necklace. It's made of carved wood which I think it great. I'm not usually one for jewelry (Angie will verify that), and when I do wear stuff it tends to lean away from anything ultra feminine  so this would actually be right up my alley to wear if/when I need a necklace. There's only one problem though, the chain is too short for me, boo. So I will try to put it on a longer chain, or I will give it to my cousin Evie for christmas, she likes Star Wars and jewelry.

3. Queen of Hearts magnetic bookmark

I don't tend to use bookmarks, in my own books that is, I always use a marker in a library book or book loaned to me by a friend (in my won books I unabashedly dog ear the pages). Usually though I just use whatever is handy for a marker, today I used my ticket from my trip to Disney in May to mark my place in a graphic novel, but I digress! Yes, I don't normally use bookmarks, but I am a HUGE Alice in Wonderland fan so this one is definitely one that I will use very happily.

4. "Am I not Merciful?" sticker

I could not place this quote but I love it, it's a fantastic quote. So then I reread the evil card that describes the items to see what book it's from, and it's from a book I've never heard of but am now definitely going to seek out. The book in question is, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

5. This Savage Song

This is Victoria Schwab's (aka V.E. Schwab) newest book. I have been wanting to read one of her books every since I saw A Darker Shade of Magic in one of the previous Owl Crates but I never did manage to get around to it. Now I have the perfect excuse for getting around to it :D. Definitely looking forward to reading this one. The summary is very intriguing.

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
As you can see in the photo above, the book came wrapped in plastic and there were a couple of more items hidden in the plastic behind the book:

That right there everyone is a hand written and signed note from Victoria Schwab herself describing the book and telling me to enjoy it, along with an autographed book plate and a teeny little colouring book of YA book covers.

Overall for my first experience with #owlcrate I really couldn't be more pleased! I was thinking about cancelling the subscription right away but after how happy I was with this box I think I will keep it going to see if I can hit good twice and be just as happy with the box for next month, because my Sci-Fi blocks can be a little hit or miss (this month's was such a miss for me that I am not even doing an unboxing.)


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tasty Tuesdays - Sweet vs Savoury and recipe for Rocky Road bites

Hi guys

Angie here again.  So the topic of diets and calorie counting comes up where I work on a daily basis.  I am on a team which consists primarily of women and it's inevitable that the subject of food and weight is alluded to.  I know of at least four people on Slimming World, of which I am one.  A couple are just watching their weight but not actively dieting.  Plus there are many more around the office in other teams who follow various plans and diets.

So whenever the subject arises, there is usually the debate over sweet vs savoury.  What's the thing you hate giving up most when dieting?  For a lot of people it's chocolate and cakes etc, the sweet group.  But I would say for just as many its the savoury side such as crisps and pastry etc.

I, for one fall into the latter category.  Ask me to give up chocolate and it's no problem, I don't even crave it and would happily walk past a Mars Bar without blinking.  But ask me to give up crisps and I'll turn into the Incredible Hulk.  I could never and would never give up savoury snacks for any diet and the beauty of Slimming World is that I don't have to, I only have to limit the amount I eat.  Moderation is the key.

But for all you sweet toothed lovelies out there, here is my (NON SW) recipe for Rocky Road

You will need :-

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 4 tbsps golden syrup
  • 150g butter
  • 175g digestive biscuits
  • 150g macademia nuts
  • 150g pink & white mini marshamallows

23cm (9in) square baking tin

        1. Line the baking tin with clingfilm

        2. Put the plain chocolate and milk chocolate into a large saucepan and add the golden syrup and butter.  Place over a low heat and heat gently, stirring constantly, until all the ingredients have melted.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

        3. Crush the biscuits into small pieces and then roughly chop the macademia nuts.  Add them to the saucepan with the mini marshmallows and stir until well mixed.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the chocolate has set.  Cut the rocky road into small bite sized squares to serve.

Nom nom nom!

Musing Mondays - Spoilers make me mad sometimes & if two of my fave authors would pair up it would be awesome

Musing Mondays - July 18, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I'm (still) really upset by (book/author/bookish-news):

A few weeks back, maybe about a month ago, (not sure really because I keep trying to forget but random things keep reminding me which makes that hard to do) I was scrolling through my pages feed on Facebook and I accidentally read a major spoiler for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I didn't plan to, I was looking at funny pictures and one was an interesting headcanon, then I made the mistake of reading the comments on that image, in which someone confirmed that that particular headcanon was now canon thanks to Cursed Child. And now it won't leave my head so I am still really angry about that. Sometimes I manage to not think about it but then something random makes it pop right back in there, and if it really is true it's basically ruined the entire twist of the play for me.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Finish the sentence: “If _____ and _____ were to get together and write a book…”

There are so many interesting options I can think of for this, but I think the combination that would really, really be awesome is:

If Rick Riordan and Patricia C. Wrede were to get together and write a book…it would probably the most sarcastic YA mythological book series ever written, with the most badass strong female character at the centre. Rioran specialises in YA modern mythological stories, with Percy Jackson being his most well known of course. These two number among my favourite authors, they're both probably tied right behind JK Rowling actually. One of the best things about Riordan's books is how funny they all are and how sarcastic his characters can be. He also writes pretty good female characters like Annabeth Chase, Sadie Kane, Thalia Grace and Piper McLean to name a select few. He's had a few female POV characters, but Sadie is the closest he's ever come to having a female MAIN character. On the other hand we have Wrede, who is known for her middle grade/YA fantasies like the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Cecelia & Kate, and Frontier Magic among others. The main reason I name those three series specifically is that they all have one thing that Riordan's books don't, really badass female characters as the main characters in the story. Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest series is one of my favourite characters of all time. She's competent, smart, sarcastic, and funny. So I think if you take two witty, sarcastic authors who both specialise in fantastical YA and mash them together they'd do a beautiful job with a mythological storyline and finally give me something I've always wanted, a Riordan book with a female main character.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tasty Tuesdays - An Intro and recipe for Special Fried Rice

Hi everyone, Angie here.   Taking my cue from Lauren as always, following on from her regular series of Monday Musings, I would like to present Tasty Tuesdays.  This is my weekly blog post all based on the subject of food.  We all have a relationship with food in whatever form that relationship takes.  I, for one, enjoy the wrong kinds of food and I enjoy them far too much.  But I am trying to change that currently, however I won't bore you with the details of that, at least not today.

Today I would like to introduce you to one of my all time favourite lunches for work which is a healthy take on the popular Chinese takeaway dish, Special Fried Rice.  Special Fried Rice consists of fried rice (no, really?!?) mixed with various vegetables and a mixture of meats.  Most Chinese takeaway restaurants serve many Fried Rice dishes, such as chicken, beef, char sui etc but the Special combines all the meats together and this has to be my favourite dish from a takeaway.  I would say I order it 9 times out of 10 on the occasions we order takeaway which isn't all that often any more, weight issues and the economy being what they are.

However, my weight loss group came up with a new and healthy version which is so surprisingly simple that I would say anyone could make it.  So just for you, here's my recipe but the beauty of this recipe is that any of the ingredients can be switched out if you don't like them and the results will be just as tasty.  But here below is my favourite and most cooked version.

You will need:-

  • 140g cooked rice
  • handful of frozen peas
  • handful of frozen sweetcorn
  • handful of chopped onion
  • handful of sliced mixed peppers
  • chopped ham
  • chopped cooked chicken
  • splash of soy sauce
Combine all ingredients in a wok and heat through

Optional: Beat an egg and mix through

Monday, 11 July 2016

Musing Mondays - Book Haul & Books-to-Movies Gone Wrong

Musing Mondays - July 11, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I bought the following book(s) in the past week:

Today I had to go into Toronto for a doctor's appointment. On the way back home I wanted to stop into Yorkdale Mall and visit the Disney Store (I bought a blind box vinyl tsumtsum hoping for the Cheshire Cat and sadly got Marie instead, boo, clearly I need Angie to pick my blind boxes she manages to pick the ones I want.) and on the way back to the car I decided I wanted to go into Chapters, the big book store in the mall. I really should know better than to go into a book store when I have so many books I need to read already, but there was one book I really wanted and I can never resist having a browse. I buy books all the time online, but for exploration and finding something unexpected nothing beats the library or a bookstore. I could easily, easily have spent well over $100.00 and indeed I kept picking books up, waffling about them and putting them back down. In addition to the one book I actually planned on buying I picked up 2 more, and then even though I kept picking up more I forced myself to cute myself off at 3. In the end I ended up with a comic book, the first book in a science fiction series, and a YA alternate WWII history.

My haul:

Valiant's most demanded hero steps out of harbinger and into an all-new adventure!
Orphaned at a young age, Faith Herbert - a psionically gifted "psiot" discovered by the Harbinger Foundation - has always aspired to greatness. But now this once ordinary teenager is taking control of her destiny and becoming the hard-hitting hero she's always known she can be - complete with a mild-mannered secret identity, unsuspecting colleagues, and a day job as a reporter that routinely throws into her harms way! Well, at least she thought it would When she's not typing up listicles about cat videos, Faith makes a secret transformation to patrol the night as the City of Angels' own leading superhero - the sky-soaring Zephyr! But flying solo is going to be tougher than she ever thought when Zephyr uncovers a deep-rooted alien conspiracy. Two-bit burglars and car thieves are one thing, but when the world needs a hero to stave off an full-blown extraterrestrial invasion, will Faith find herself in over her head or ready for her biggest challenge yet?
Rising star Jody Houser (Orphan Black) and explosive artists Francis Portela (Green Lantern) and Marguerite Sauvage (DC Comics Bombshells) pilot a new chapter for the high-flying hero that People Magazine calls "a superhero we can all admire."
Collecting: Faith 1-4
This is the book I knew I was going to buy because I have been jazzed about it for months since I first heard about it. Last Saturday I got an email from NetGalley about the books it was promoting ahead of SDCC and I saw that there was a partial galley of Faith available I promptly donwloaded it and read it and I was immediately hooked. Now that I have the entire book I shall devour it and then I will write a review here about it. 

Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.
Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, "The Scopuli," they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.
Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to "The Scopuli" and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.
Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.
I came across this book when I saw the latest book in the series on one of the "hot reads" tables, and the summary on that one sounded interesting so when I saw it was part of a series I decided to look at the series while browsing in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section. The summary of this book sounded interesting but what really sealed its fate in coming home with me was two of the review blurbs on the cover, io9's claim that it's a "Hollywood blockbuster in book form" because I do enjoy me some Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters; and also the fact that George R.R. Martin had two blurbs recommending it, one on the front and one on the back. I figured if GRRM enjoyed it, and I enjoy his stuff, then I might possibly enjoy a book that he enjoys, so we'll find out if that supposition is true when I read it.

Front Lines (Soldier Girl #1)
1942. World War II. The most terrible war in human history. Millions are dead; millions more are still to die. The Nazis rampage across Europe and eye far-off America.
The green, untested American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled—the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
But something has changed. A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.
As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering. Not one expects to see actual combat. Not one expects to be on the front lines.
Rio, Frangie, and Rainy will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. They will fear and they will rage; they will suffer and they will inflict suffering; they will hate and they will love. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.
New York Times bestselling author Michael Grant has created a masterful alternate history of World War II in Front Lines, the first volume in a groundbreaking series. 
Saw this one as I was browsing the YA section. I walked by an endcap display unit labelled "Not just for Teens" and the title caught my eye and made me wonder what war it would be about. I didn't even notice the tagline or the lipstick at first so it was a complete surprise when I opened up the cover and read the blurb from the dust jacket. I love alternate histories so just everything about this got me really excited. So instead of finally picking up a copy of Rainbow Rowell's Carry On (which I still desperately want...) I decided to make this one my 3rd book; probably a good choice I explained it to my mum and she said she wants to read it when I'm done because it sounds appealing to her too.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name a book that was turned into a movie, and completely desecrated (in your opinion).

I have, and used to wear often (especially when I was working as a Page at the public library) a shirt that reads "the book was better" which is in reality usually the way I feel about books that have been adapted into movies. That's not to say I don't enjoy movie adaptations, there are some, like the Harry Potter series that I thoroughly enjoy (not more than the books but I do enjoy them), the Hunger Games films are another good set of book-to-movie adaptations I enjoy. However I am supposed to be telling you about a book that was turned into my movie which in my opinion completely desecrated the book, so I will, but I wanted you to know I do tend to have strong feelings about book-to-movie adaptations. Specifically there are 2 that come to mind right away when I am asked this question. Those two are Eragon and The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)and their film adaptations.

I love the Percy Jackson books after the Harry Potter books finished coming out it was a nice series to begin digging my way into and Rick Riordan is a really fun writer. I love his world. I've read all of his books. So when the film adaptation Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief came out in 2010 right after I'd started reading the books I decided to watch it. I'd known that it was getting bad press for being a rather bad adaptation of the book but I watched it anyway. I definitely like a lot of other people (as evidenced by it's 49% Rotten Tomatoes score) had a few problems with it. My number 1 problem with it was the fact that the kids were all a good 4-5 years older than they were supposed to be in the book. That's supremely frustrating because them doing what they did at the age of about 12 was incredibly impressive. I also had a problem with the fact that they didn't even try to give Annabeth blonde hair. That being said I did like the casting of Logan Lerman as Percy, I just thought he was too old. They also cut some really great aspects, and really changed a lot of things (sometimes very important); this page does a really great job of outlining all the differences, and they are many. Overall though I wouldn't say it desecrated the book but it let's the book (and the book's fans in my opinion) down that's for sure. If you didn't read the book it's a good movie that can stand on its own as a fun popcorn flick, and I personally enjoy it as such instead of enjoying it as an adaptation of a book I like.

Eragon, oh Eragon. The book itself is not without its faults and flaws, it is not a perfect book but it is a good book and I did enjoy it once I got into it. And one day I will get off my butt and finish reading the series. One thing I will never, ever, do again though is watch Eragon the movie. Once was enough. It was just bad, painfully bad. I realised in the process of writing this that I threw away or donated the DVD at some point in the past because it was just so bad. The best part about the film was the CGI work on the dragons. I don't know how much stock a lot of people put into this, but it's only got a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes which to me is pretty telling and I really wish I'd known that before I'd decided to watch it. What's so sad is that it's got an absolutely fantastic cast, there's nothing at all wrong with any of the casting. But aside from good casting and good CGI there's not much else good about it. FanPop has a really good breakdown of all the differences so I'm not going to duplicate their work. This movie was definitely a butcher job in my opinion, so it's also not surprising that they decided not to make anymore films of the other books in the cycle.


Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Musing Mondays - Fun book titles & what I'll read next

Musing Mondays - July 4, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

Up next I think I'll (re-)read:

I found out a few weeks ago, thanks to the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook that an author I've liked since I was a teenager passed away on June 15 of this year. Lois Duncan, known as the "Queen of Teen Suspense" is probably best remembered for being the author of I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin which both had pretty well known Hollywood films made based off of them; I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997 and Teaching Mrs. Tingle in 1999.  It was actually those films that led me to her books, I've never read the former but I did read the latter, and two of her other books as well. I preferred the two others to Killing Mr. Griffin. The other two books of Duncan's that I read and enjoyed are Gallows Hill and Daughters of Eve.

So in honour of her passing, I've decided that I'll re-read both of these books. Reading these also has the added benefit of fulfilling a couple of the requirements for my 2016 reading challenges. Gallows Hill fulfills the "read a book you haven't read since high school" requirement from the POPSugar challenge, because the only time I read it was back when I was in high school, which means it's been at least 12 years since I read it. Daughters of Eve on the other hand I've reread at least once because I find it a very fascinating read; it fulfills the "read a book with a main character that has a mental illness" requirement of the BookRiot Read Harder challenge. One of the main characters in this book suffered from battered child syndrome, though it's never explicitly mentioned, her circumstances and actions do make it pretty obvious.

I won't be reading these books right, right away though because I'm still in the middle of my Gena Showalter read-a-thon, in which I am reading my way through all of the books in her 3 paranormal romance novel series. I am up to The Nymph King in her Atlantis series, so I am nearly done. Once I finish up with Gena, I'll definitely be going on to these two, at least that's the plan for now!

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your favourite book title?

Oh man, this is hard for me, I have been known to LOVE a good title, especially if it's punny, funny, any sort of play on words or amusing for any other reason.  So I'm just going to do a grid of some titles that I really love and then I'll do a numbered list with a reason for each.

 1. And Another Thing... (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #6) by Eoin Colfer - I wholeheartedly think Douglas Adams would have approved of the title of this final book in his beloved Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Published 17 years after Adams's last entry in the series And Another Thing as a title just perfectly fits the humour of these books. I can just picture Arthur Dent on a 17 year tirade with his finger in the ear shouting "And another thing!...".

2. This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson - What can I say? As a library professional the title this book amuses me to no end, as does the concept of library pros as super heroes. I really can't not love this title.

3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - The classic sci-fi book with the classic sci-fi existential question for a title. Seriously, what do androids dream about? If they do dream, and if they have trouble sleeping, I bet Dick is right and they count electric sheep to fall asleep.

4. Deadpool Killustrated (Deadpool Killogy #2) by Cullen Bunn - It's Deadpool so of course it has a fun title, just some simple Deadpool-y word play here with killustrated for illustrated but I love it because it's perfection.

5. The Loving Daylights by Lynsay Sands - When I saw this on the shelf in Walmart I HAD to have it purely because of the title. I am a big Bond movie fan, and Timothy Dalton is my favourite Bond. I absolutely love both Licence to Kill, and this book's namesake The Living Daylights so of course I had to have, and read, a book whose title was a play on that film's title. Also, it happens to be an absolutely FANTASTIC read, so much fun.

6. Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners by Laurie Keller - This is a fantastic children's book that uses Otters and fantastic word play (as evidenced by the title) to teach children the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated. It really doesn't get much better.

7. Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg - Okay, so I haven't actually read this one yet, it came in one of my Nerd Blocks and it *IS* on my 2016 TBR list because it fulfills a challenge. But seriously though I love the title of Pegg's autobiography. The obvious word play here on ne'er-do-well used to great effect because he is in point of fact a nerd who has done very well for himself indeed. Double A++ on the title good sir, I hope the book amuses me just as much if not moreso.

8. The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us about Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society by David Waltner-Toews - I had to use this book for a course reserve at work and it's become one of the most memorable items I've worked with. How could it not with a title like that? So much pun. So much word play! Obviously a play on Darwin's Origin of Species it is definitely attention grabbing. Even the chapter titles of this book are fun.

9. Spy in a Little Black Dress (Jackie Bouvier #2) by Maxine Kenneth - I love this title for the same reason that I love Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter because the title tells you exactly what you're going to be getting in this novel. In this case, a spy story about a female spy wearing little black dresses.


Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Secret Life of a Comper

Angie here.

Lauren seems to have been putting me to shame with her many posts and I have been lacking for which I apologise.  However I am here to kick off the month of July with a little recap of the last three months in a very enjoyable hobby of mine - comping.

Yes comping.  Comping is the hobby of entering, and hopefully winning, competitions.  The very first competition I remember winning was when I was a child, probably around 7 or 8 and I won a children's book called Ursula Bear (which is still available today I believe).  It was a spot the difference competition in my nan's newspaper and I remember the complete delight I had when I found out I had won.

Over the years I dabbled with entering competitions.  The odd Take a Break entry here, an occasional postcard there but nothing ever serious and certainly no more wins until I remember seeing an advert for a competitions listing magazine.  Don't ask me where I saw it but I did see it and I took out a subscription with Compers News and you can find out more about this amazing magazine here

The latest issue

It's a monthly magazine filled with listings of over 400 competitions and prize draws every month.  The difference between a competition and a prize draw is that by rights a competition should have some form of question that the entrant needs to get right before they have a chance of winning, even if it's something so simple as name the first three letters of the English alphabet.  A prize draw is simply the electronic equivalent of names in a hat where every entrant has an equal chance of winning.  However over the years the two have become one and the same and to be honest, it's never really bothered me if I have to answer a question or not.

There are various methods of entering a competition these days from the long standing postcard entries to text and online entries which are far more prevalent in this day and age of technology advancement.  There are still purchase necessary comps, which is when you have to buy a specific product to enter, mostly these are ones which have codes on the packaging which you enter online or by text and hope you picked up a winning packet of crisps or loo roll.  I try and only enter these kind of competitions if I will eat/drink/use the product involved.  I don't fancy having six bags of dog food in the spare bedroom with no dog to eat it just to win a cuddly toy.  That being said I developed an unhealthy addiction to Rice Krispie Squares last year during their Hunger Games promotion.  I was hoping for the main prize of a trip to the USA, but settled for a pin badge instead (and several pounds of extra weight).

This photo won me a year supply of hand wash
Also there are what we call 'creative comps' which instead of just filling in your details and crossing your fingers, there is usually some form of 'task' that needs to be done.  The most common example of these are the tiebreakers, but I find it quite difficult to come up with something witty that would make my entry stand out and not surprisingly I have yet to win anything from one of these types of comps, although to be honest I don't enter that many of them as my brain can't cope with the effort.  I do however enter photo comps from time to time, as I love taking photographs and don't mind making a fool of myself once in a while to try and gain a prize or two.

That being said most of my wins come down to luck.  The competitions I enter the most are simple prize draws.  Just enter my details, cross my fingers and hope that computer selects my name as the winner.  When I started comping as a hobby seriously back in 2004, the wins were very thin on the ground.  Maybe a t-shirt or a book a year, certainly nothing to get excited about but it was still a fun hobby and there was always the element of 'It could be me'.  However I never really told people what my hobby was, I guess I was embarrassed by it, people never really understood how it could be a hobby although my nan always entered Take A Break but never really with the idea that she could win, whereas I always entered believing I had as good a chance as anyone else (which I do). My philosophy is the only competition you can't win is the one you don't enter.  Certainly my family didn't really take me seriously, quite often I heard the cry of 'You'll never win, no-one ever wins these things'  Over the years they have changed their tune considerably, especially as my hobby has benefited them on occassion, in particular my niece and nephew have had toys and things although I still owe my mum a good prize. Now I'm more likely to hear 'What have you won now?' from them.

  My biggest win came just before I went on holiday in May when I was fortunate to win £3000 worth of kitchen appliances which consisted of a huge fridge freezer, a tumble dryer and a washing machine (which is actually the second washing machine I have won).  Other notable wins have been a bike for my niece, tickets to see Michael Ball in concert, £1000 John Lewis voucher and various other smaller prizes like DVD's, books, toys, t-shirts etc.

So here is a brief round up of the prizes I won in the last 3 months.  And I've already got a start on the next three months videos as I'm waiting on delivery of another book, a £10 cheque and a bundle of Le Creuset goodies arriving that I've already been notified I've won.

And then there is always a chance of a surprise parcel arriving that I have no prior notice of.  That's one of the joys of comping, you never know what the postman will bring.