Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Into the Jungle - Review of Disney's The Jungle Book (2016)

This is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. - Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

On April 22nd 2016, my friend Andy and I went to the pictures to see the new live action version of Disney’s The Jungle Book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite my initial reservations about a live action remake of such a classic film.  It had been done before and not very well but I thought I would give it a chance and I’m glad I did.  I have never read the book of Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling so I can’t compare it to that like many reviews I have read, however I am a huge fan of the animated version from 1967 and was interested to see how it differed.

First of all, the wolf pack that adopts Mowgli at the start of the film has a much bigger role in this version.  They feature throughout the film and are integral to the plot, rather than just letting Mowgli go off with Bagheera and never seen again.  Their wolf law of the jungle is also featured to bring the animals together in unison against the tiger.

Which leads me on to Shere Khan, the tiger in question.  In the cartoon version he is comical, although less so than Kaa, and polite and charming although mean and unkind and he isn’t particularly ferocious.  In this new adaptation, he is exceptionally ruthless and dangerous, he kills for sport rather than the need to eat and he does not appear to have a single redeeming quality or anything that might evoke sympathy from the audience.  Even the fact he is hunting Mowgli out of revenge for his father blinding Shere Khan and burning him with fire is down to the fact he attacked Mowgli and his father in the first place.  He invokes fear and terror in both the other jungle residents and the audience and his voice is dangerous silky thanks to the velvet tones of Idris Elba.  He is also petty in his killing of Akela just to lure Mowgli back to the wolves. He’s not content that Mowgli has left which is seemingly what he wanted, he wants to kill Mowgli just for the hell of it.  

Baloo and Bagheera, there are no major differences in the characters of these two.  Bagheera continues to be the straight man to Baloo’s comical antics, but both of them clearly have Mowgli’s best interests at heart (well after Baloo has gotten his honey stash that is).

King Louie, oh where do I start? First of all he’s been changed from an orangutan (because they aren’t native to India) to a Gigantopithecus.  He is HUGE, bigger than any other animal in the film.  He is also much less comical than his animated counterpart, Christopher Walken sounds almost like he comes from a 1950's mob and is pretty intimidating.  His genial attitude towards Mowgli quickly vanishes when Mowgli tells him he can’t give him the fire he craves.   He’s also pretty cold when informing Mowgli of Akela’s death and he brings the ruins down on top of him by angrily chasing Mowgli, not being tickled by Baloo.  It also appears that he is killed by being buried whereas the cartoon simply has the ruins fall down all about him yet leaving him unscathed.

Finally let’s talk about Kaa. In this adaptation, Kaa is a female and again, like Louie she is absolutely enormous.  I thought Nagini from the Harry Potter films was huge but Kaa could eat her as an entree.  She is voiced by Scarlett Johansson and she has a sultry, almost sexy sound.  She is enticing and alluring and I can clearly see how Mowgli was hypnotised by her.  Her eyes have the same hypnotic qualities as the cartoon version but this Kaa is much more sinister.  My only complaint about Kaa is she isn’t given enough screen time.  In fact for anyone who has ophidiophobia, simply skip scene 8 on the DVD as this is her only scene in the film and her fate is unknown following Baloo’s rescue of Mowgli.

The voice castings are perfect.  Ben Kingsley brings a calming presence to Bagheera and the comic genius of Bill Murray is perfect for the amiable Baloo. Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito are well suited as the wolves who raised Mowgli and I’ve already mentioned the others.  

The only things that bring the movie down for me are Mowgli himself and the songs.  Mowgli is played by Neel Sethi and he isn’t the best child actor I’ve seen.  However to be fair, this is his first movie and can be forgiven a little for this, after all everyone has to learn their trade at first so maybe he can improve. But at times he is wooden and not nearly as engaging as the CGI animals he interacts with.

As for the songs in the movie, oh please! Fortunately there are only two (not including the end credits).  Christopher Walken has a terrible rendition of I Wanna Be Like You, it’s simply horrible and as for the version of The Bare Necessities, well just no. It’s unarguably the most well know song of the film, which is probably the reason Jon Favreau felt the need to include it but whilst Bill Murray is passable (although he’s no Phil Harris who voiced the 1967 version of Baloo), Neel Sethi is dreadful, out of tune and doesn’t seem to know the words.  The film is no better off for including these songs and would work by just including an instrumental in the background.  However over the end credits there is a beautiful rendition of Trust In Me by Scarlett Johansson which I now prefer this to the 1967 version.

All in all, I enjoyed this movie and consider it an acceptable live action adaptation of an old favourite and as a Disney fan, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other fans and don’t feel it spoils the original in any way.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Musing Mondays - reading for the #readthemallthon & what book I wish I'd written

Musing Mondays - August 29, 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/I bought the following books in the past week: 
I'm still in the midst of Read at Midnight's #ReadThemAllThon this week so my current read fulfills one of those challenges. It's also the book I got in the July #owlcrate. I am reading devouring This Savage Song. I started it first thing when I got up yesterday morning (most people use coffee as a means of waking up, for me it's a half hour of reading and a cold shower.) and I only have 81 pages left to go. I have been waiting ALL DAY to get home from work so I could finish reading it!

I had planned to read as much as I could over my lunch hour, but one of my coworkers and I got to chatting away about all sorts of things (specifically a research/writing project he is working on revolving around Barbara Gordon's Batgirl, which I am really looking forward to) so I didn't actually get any reading at all done. And then I'd been hoping to have time to write this post while I was on the public service desk in the afternoon, but then my manager and I got to talking about schedules and unions and building codes and the Ontario Government elaws portal so that didnt't happen either, so I decided I would write this post first and THEN I would finish devouring my book. I am so, SO enjoying this book. Absolutely loving it, everything about it. I am so thankful that I got it in the Owl Create or I might not have been aware of it until much later. Next on the docket after I finish this one is Saga Vol. 3  which I should also manage to get through tonight, and then Just Girls.

More books were purchased last week...I keep saying that I am going to stop buying books until I've read all the ones I already have/already have out from the library. That never seems to actually have any follow through. This time I made one of my usual mistakes, I wandered over to the book aisle in Walmart. I found two books that I'd been wanting for ages but couldn't justify spending full price on when I knew I wouldn't get to them for awhile. They were very cheap though so I could hardly pass up such good deals! So what did I buy last week?

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

It was only $5! I've been wanting to read it ever since I first heard about it, now I can. Goodreads summary:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - by Ransom Riggs

This movie-tie-in edition was on for $7.50 which is definitely a good deal. I've heard nothing but good things about this book and have been wanting to read it for years and I figured with the movie coming out and me wanting to see that I figured now is a great time! Goodreads summary:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  Which book do you wish you’d written, yourself?

I actually feel kind of blasphemous for saying this, because I am such a HUGE Potterhead and I do love J.K. Rowling's writing, she is my favourite author; I wish I had written Harry Potter and The Cursed Child myself. That was honestly my first instinct when I saw this question. I know that J.K. Rowling didn't write this on her own, even if I hadn't known that going into the script I would have known from reading it. It doesn't read like anything else she's written and more importantly it doesn't read like her Harry books. One of my first reactions as I was reading the first few acts was that it was reading like a fanfic...and not a good fanfic necessarily (at least in the beginning, I loved the book overall but I did have problems with it...). 

I wish I'd had the chance to write it, first and foremost because that would mean I'd been writing with my writing idol and what book fan doesn't wish for just that chance? But I also think I could have written a really good story within the parameters of Cursed Child's plot. Maybe that's just me having a big head but it's how I feel. I definitely feel like I could have written Harry better than he was written in this book. I honestly can't believe he'd grow up to pull some of the things he pulled in this book. And there are so many problematic things with the portrayal of Hermione in this script! Hermione who was/is/always will be a feminist icon gets the short of the stick in this regardless of the fact that she's the Minister for Magic! But now we're getting away from the fact that I wish I'd written it and into my analysis of it so on that note I am going to end this.

Unboxing - #owlcrate August 2016 - Fast Times at YA High Box

August's Owl Crate arrived last week, but I haven't had time to sit down and write the unboxing post for it until right now (I'm writing this on Sunday morning, if you're reading this it's at least Monday morning!):

I wasn't sure what to expect from this box actually, aside from the fact that I knew there would be something HP in it, and something related to Eleanor & Park. I wasn't sure what genre the book was going to be or whether or not I'd like it, and having looked in the box I'm still not 100% about the book, but I'll try anything once! On that note, let me show you what I got!:

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

1. Harry Potter "Golden Trio" print by Suzanne Draws

As a Potterhead who finally got around to framing and hanging all of her her prints and posters a few months ago (in advance of Angie's arrival before our trip to Disney I finally got off my ass and did that and now my basement is a glorious, geeky gallery of awesome!) I LOVE this item. It's a gorgeous drawing and it happens to be the exact right size for the next spot I needed to fill on my wall. I've already framed it and hung it, see:

Now I just need to get around to finally covering the horrible paint job the previous owners did in the early 2000s...

2. Decomposition notebook

I've actually been wanting to get a notebook to keep in my messenger bag and this one is the perfect size and also hard enough to stand up to everything else that lives in the bag. Now I just need to remember to put it, and a pen, in there! It's 100% recycled which I love, and it's got geeky doodles all over the covers!! It's perfect.

3. Buttons

There were 2 buttons in the box this month, these remind me of the sticker from last month's box. I actually absolutely love both buttons. I used to have a collection of buttons like these I wonder if they're still floating around somewhere. Anyway that was off topic! So the two buttons, the first is a "Chapter Raptor" button, and I think that's hilarious and I'm not going to call myself a bookworm anymore I'm going to insist on being called a chapter raptor instead! Much more bad ass. The second button makes me so so happy, it says "Hogwarts is my Home" and it's by Taryn Draws.

4. Eleanor & Park necklace

I must confess that I have not read Eleanor & Park, I have read Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl which I really enjoyed, and I just got the audio book of Carry On on sale on Audible last week. So I would like to read it eventually. That being said I'm not much of a jewelry wearer so maybe I will see if I know anyone wants it, or maybe I'll try and sell it (I have an entire box of stuff from subscription boxes that I keep saying I will do that with but I have no idea where to start...) or maybe do a give away on here. We will see. It's a really nice necklace! It's just not my type of item.

5. Custom Stress Relieving Patterns Adult Coloring Book by Blue Star Coloring

I LOVE colouring books! And more specifically I love Blue Star's colouring books! Their Stress Relieving Animal Designs book was my first one and I still love it, I want to get more of theirs! They have such great designs in them. I've already started one of the designs in this book.

6. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

It's not one of my usual or preferred genres, it's realistic fiction which I need to veer away from but I don't avoid it completely. In fact the last realistic fiction novel I read (The Fault in Our Stars) totally and completely destroyed me emotionally and I loved it... So I'll read it, but I don't know how quickly I'll get around to it! Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…
Overall thoughts on the box this month? I'm happy with it!! Aside from the necklace I loved and have a use for all of the items. While the book isn't something I would probably have picked up myself in a book store, I do love getting exposed to things I wouldn't normally choose for myself. Expanding my reading horizons FTW!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

#ReadThemAllThon Update - Got my Boulder Bagde & other updates

Today is the start of the 3rd and final week of the #ReadThemAllThon and I've only earned two badges! Ack! Well technically I've earned three but I decided to read 2 books for the Rainbow Badge and I've only finished one of those so far so I'm not counting it yet. I finally earned the Boulder Badge last night by finally finishing Berlin Game which I started last Sunday. It took me all week to get through because I didn't read at all during my lunch breaks this week. Also because we've been so busy at work I haven't had the chance to do my copyright course coursework at work so I have to do it at home so I haven't been reading as much in the evenings as I normally could/would. Which is also why I haven't blogged or Tweeted as much this week so I'm behind in earning CP there as well.

Once I did get reading yesterday I polished off not just Berlin Game but right after I read the second volume of Saga in under an hour so I'm now 2/6ths of the way to earning the Cascade Badge. This morning I started reading This Savage Song, my selection for the Flame Badge (read a book with a red cover). Oh! Finishing Berlin Game also allowed me to cross off the "read a book originally published in the decade you were born" part of Book Riot's Read Harder Challenge. It was originally published in 1983 and the copy I read was actually printed in 1987! So not only was it published the decade I was born I read a copy that was printed the decade I was born, I find that very amusing.

So where am I in terms of CP collecting? Well my lovely shiny Magikarp 97cp at the end of my last update and I've now added:

+ 20 for earning the Boulder Badge
+16 for the number of pages in Six-Gun Snow White (168)(one of my selections for the Rainbow Badge)
+ 35 for the number of pages in Berlin Game (352)
+ 10 for tweeting the #ReadThemAllThon hashtag (including this post which will auto tweet when I publish it)
+ 16 for the number of pages in Saga Vol. 2 (168)

So Magikarp is now at 194cp which still puts me 256cp off evolving him. It also means I am 2/8ths of the way to reading my way through the Indigo League. Goal for today is to finish This Savage Song, Saga Vol. 3 and start reading my second book for the Rainbow Badge, Just Girls. If I can make all that happen I'll only have to get through 4 novels and 3 graphic novels before next Sunday...that's 2,741 pages in a week, I can do that...I hope. 392 pages a day give or take, I'm sure I can manage that! Especially if I can cross off at least 675 of those or thereabouts today! I better get reading!

I will also endeavor to post 1 book review a night this week to up my CP count that way. As I'm not playing pokémon go that limits the amount of CP I can earn from non book related activities, but I want to attempt to max out what I can earn so I'll also try and tweet more this week.

I also have to write an OwlCrate unboxing post so I'll get that written today and set it to publish tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

My Top Five Inspector Morse episodes

My Top Five Inspector Morse episodes

What springs to mind when you hear the words Inspector Morse?  Jaguar, music, drink, crossword puzzles, Lewis?  All these and much much more make up the man that is Inspector Endeavour Morse and I happen to be a huge fan.  I am currently working my way through a Inspector Morse marathon on DVD, or should that be Morse-athon?  Each episode or case shows something new or intriguing about the character or characters as even Sergeant Robert Lewis develops as the series progresses.  However I thought I would list my top five episodes and a little bit about each of them and why I enjoy them more than the others.  Some of these I haven’t yet got up to in my current viewings but I have seen every episode already many times, hence why they appear in the list.

5. The Sins of The Fathers

John Thaw as Inspector Morse with Lionel Jeffries as Charles Radford
What could be more appropriate for Morse than to investigate a murder at a local brewery.  Radfords Brewery owned by the admirable Lionel Jeffries (I still see him as Dick Van Dyke’s crazy father from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but that’s another story) is in trouble and on the verge of a takeover from a rival brewery Farmers led by the equally admirable John Bird.  Our first murder victim (as there is usually more than one in Morse) is Trevor Radford, current managing director of the brewery and son of the owner Charles (Lionel Jeffries). Morse investigates the family and soon discovers the financial troubles of the firm and the fact the victim's wife Helen was having an affair with his brother Stephen.  He quickly becomes the prime suspect but is eliminated when he too is found murdered at the Brewery.  Add in the seemingly unrelated murder of a local solicitor Nelson and Morse is suitably baffled.

Whilst this is not one of the more popular Morse episodes, I enjoy it. I particularly enjoy Morse’s disdain for the upper class family such as the Radfords.  Despite being well educated and often berating Lewis for his misuse of the English Language, he has little time for the Radford family and their airs and graces.  The only one he seems to genuinely like is the wife of the second victim, Thelma Radford.  She is no nonsense and knows full well about her husband's infidelity and chooses to ignore it.  She knows she is looked down upon by her in laws because they didn’t deem her good enough to marry their son but she trumps them in the end by taking their only grandchildren away. Lionel Jeffries spends most of the episode convincing us he’s losing his marbles along with his hearing but in the end he shows not only the sense and spirit to save the brewery but also the intriguing story that helps Morse solve his son's murders. It is the difference in Morse and Lewis and the way they speak that cracks the final twist in the case for Morse.

4. The Wolvercote Tongue

A brilliant cast line up including Kenneth Cranham, Roberta Taylor and Simon Callow as guides and experts leading a group of wealthy American tourists around Oxford.  We start off the body count with one of the tourist, Laura Poindexter found dead from a heart attack and a valuable jewel missing, the Wolvercote Tongue, which she had been planning to donate to Theodore Kemp’s (Simon Callow) museum.  Next thing we know her husband disappears shortly after Morse discovers he would inherit his wife’s fortune and a body is pulled out of the river.  Lewis assumes it is Mr Poindexter and calls in Morse, only for them to discover it is Theodore Kemp.  The plot thickens.

John Thaw as Inspector Morse with Simon Callow as Theodore Kemp
I really love this episode as it keeps you guessing all the way through.  Suspicion naturally falls on the tour guides and the other tourists in the group, only for us to discover that amongst the jealousy, infidelity and drunkenness, the first death, the theft and the second death were all unrelated, only unfortunate timing joining them together.

One of the most entertaining features of the episode for me is Janet Roscoe.  She provided the comedy value in her never ending complaints about the tour and tour guides until finally at the end of the episode she announces she and her husband are being moved to another tour only for her husband to announce he’s staying put and she can holiday without him.

3. Deceived By Flight

Daniel Massey as Anthony Donn with John Thaw as Morse
Written by the Oscar winning Anthony Minghella, this is easily one of the best Morse episodes ever.  Centered around a cricket match of the old boys of Oxford before they head out on a world tour, it is full of intrigue and twists and turns that truly make a great episode.  The victim Anthony Donn is an old friend of Morse, although they haven’t seen each other for a good few years.  At the start of the episode Donn calls Morse and they meet up for dinner (bag of chips in the park, great dinner as far as I’m concerned).  Donn seems to be wanting to tell Morse something but can’t and instead tells him a story from a book on Zen.  Later when interviewing an arson suspect, Morse receives a call from Donn but tells his officer to take a message instead which is that Donn had remembered what is was he wanted to tell him.  Tragically just after this, Donn is found dead in his room at the college, apparent suicide although Morse is not convinced. Morse interviews all the cricket team including Rowland Marshall, a cripple who coaches the Clarets Eleven (the cricket team) and the victim’s wife Kate who he quickly forms an attraction to.  Throw in a seemingly married couple who are hiding something and Lewis undercover as a porter to take Donn’s place in the cricket match and this episode is clearly a winner.  

Despite not enjoying cricket as a sport (something Morse and I have in common), this episode is really enjoyable.  As well as the serious drama side of things, you have quite a lot of light hearted moments, such as Morse getting called by a childhood nickname of Pagan and then Lewis using the term when introduced to Morse as part of his undercover guise. Also Lewis following a suspect and getting whacked on the head with a cricket bat and being teased by Morse when acting as porter and giving him 50p to watch his car at the college.  It almost seemed a shame to spoil these moments with having to investigate the sad demise of his college roommate.

2. The Remorseful Day

I was struggling whether to include this episode at the top of the list but it was edged out just by my overall number one.  The Remorseful Day is the final episode of Morse and his final ever case as I doubt I’m giving away any spoilers here when I say that it marks the death of Inspector Morse as he is finally taken away thanks to his love of the drink. This differs in some way to the books where he dies from diabetes related illnesses but it is tragic none the less.  The actual crime he has to solve kind of pales into insignificance as the viewer is more focused on Morse and his gradual declining health.  He has only just returned to duty following his illness in the previous episode The Wench is Dead and so Lewis takes a more central role in the actual solving of the case. The moment Morse collapses in the grounds of the chapel, done in slow motion to the sounds of a choir singing is heartbreaking as you know this is the beginning of the end of the great detective.

The title of the episode, whilst obviously linked to the name of the character, comes from the final verse of a poem by A.E Housman which Morse himself quotes in the episode.

Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found
How hopeless under ground
Falls the remorseful day

1. Masonic Mysteries

I put this at the top of my list, just pushing The Remorseful Day down to second place, because it is another episode centred around Morse himself rather than the murder itself.  Much like The Remorseful Day, the viewer is less interested in who actually committed the murder, and much more interested in why Morse is being targeted.  Let me explain.

John Thaw on back row third from left, (note Colin Dexter
 author of the Morse novels just in front of him) with Ian McDiarmid
as Hugo DeVries in the black up front
Morse arrives at a rehearsal of The Magic Flute with his current lady friend Beryl Newsome.  They are arguing about his erratic driving and she asks one of the other cast if she would take her home instead of Morse and ending her relationship with him there and then.  During the rehearsal Beryl is called away to a telephone call and Morse is sent to fetch a missing medallion so they are both away from the rest of the ensemble when a terrible scream rings out.  Morse rushes from the prop room to find Beryl murdered and stupidly picks up the knife lying beside her when everyone else rushes into the room.  Bingo! Murder suspect number one is Chief Inspector Morse.

Another DCI, Jack Bottomley is brought in to investigate the case and is assisted by poor old Lewis who is having to bounce between his loyalty to Morse and the evidence pointing to the fact Morse is guilty.  The Masons feature heavily in this episode as Bottomley himself is mentioned to be a Mason and the opera the Magic Flute we are told by Morse is a Masonic opera (I cannot confirm nor deny this as I have no knowledge of opera or the Masons).  

What I find most gripping about this episode is how the murderer constantly frames Morse.  How he always seems to stay one step ahead of him, he always seems to be able to point everything back at Morse who is even arrested until Lewis finally clears him and he sets about discovering who did actually kill Beryl and why he was framed.  Cue the entrance of an old nemesis of Morse (not from an episode we have seen but earlier in his career) played wonderfully by Ian McDiarmid (yes the Galactic Emperor) and this episode is clearly my favourite and one I can watch time again and still enjoy over and over.

((All images copyright of Carlton TV and taken as screenshots from the DVDs and video found on YouTube))

Musing Monday - the #ReadThemAllThon, a Book Haul & "Beach" reads

Musing Mondays - August 22, 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/I bought the following books in the past week: 
At the moment I am reading my 4th book for the #ReadThemAllThon. This one will earn me the Boulder Badge. It is the first book in a trilogy of trilogies that I have wanted to read since I was about Berlin Game it's by Len Deighton, it's a Cold War era espionage tale. We've owned the books my whole life, they're my mum's and I grew up seeing them on the book shelves in the basement where my play room was the bright white covers with simple, bright, block letter fonts and crisp colourful cover images were what always caught my attention. A few years ago though I was shifting some books around on a shelf upstairs and I came across them again and read the back and realised that the plots actually sounded like something I would really enjoy which is what renewed my interest in them. So now I am reading it for the #ReadThemAllThon and because it fits one of the challenges for this year's Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.
6. The book is called

Here's the summary from Goodreads:

East is East and West is West - and they meet in Berlin…

He was the best source the Department ever had, but now he desperately wanted to come over the Wall. ‘Brahms Four’ was certain a high-ranking mole was set to betray him. There was only one Englishman he trusted any more: someone from the old days.

So they decided to put Bernard Samson back into the field after five sedentary years of flying a desk.

The field is Berlin.

The game is as baffling, treacherous and lethal as ever…
I also wanted to tell you about the book haul I brought home last week. In celebration of my second anniversary of working at the library I work at I took the day off work. We decided to go to the Mandarin for lunch but we got there before it opened so we went down the block to Chapters and I ended up spending $85 and got myself 6 novels and 1 graphic novel out of it. So what did I buy? Well there was a sale on new reissue paperbacks of classics so I decided that at 3 for $10 I would finally get around to a few I've always been interested in, among other things.

1. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

2. Tarzan of the Apes

3. Dracula

4. Alice (The Chronicles of Alice)

5. Red Queen (The Chronicles of Alice)

6. The House of Silk (Not pictured)

7. Saga, Volume 6 (Not pictured)

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  Name a favorite book you’d take to the beach.

Well, I am not one for the beach first and foremost, and when I do go to the beach it's because I want to go in the water. So I've never actually taken a book to the beach and I don't think that I ever would really. But I do ALWAYS take at least one book when I travel, usually I stick to new to me books that I haven't read before. If I had to choose a favourite to take with me though I think I would take Outlander. It's long enough to keep me occupied, and it's one of those books that I can pick up flip through and start at any point without losing any enjoyment.

Friday, 19 August 2016

#ReadThemAllThon Update - Got my Thunder Bagde

Well I'm 4 days into the #ReadThemAllThon (head over to Read at Midnight to learn more about this event) and I've earned my first badge today. I finished reading my selection for the Thunder Bagde/Vermilion City challenge, a book with thunderous hype: Ready Player One. I had the day off work today so I finished reading it this morning before going out on some errands. I'll be writing a review of it, maybe tonight if I feel like it, or maybe this weekend. If I leave it until the weekend I'll have a couple of reviews to write and post.

In addition to finishing the first badge, I'm also 1/6th of the way to earning the Cascade Badge from the Cerulean City challenge. In my sign-up post I said that I was going to read volumes 1-5 of Saga because I had them on loan from the library where I work. But when I was out today we stopped into Chapters and I saw that volume 6 had been released so I bought (along with 6 other books...book stores are dangerous for me okay...) it and I'm adding it to that portion of the challenge which will add +15cp to my projected total.

So where am I in terms of CP collecting? Well my lovely shiny Magikarp started at 10cp and I've now added:

+ 20 for earning the Thunder Badge
+ 37 for the number of pages in Ready Player One (374)
+ 14 for tweeting the #ReadThemAllThon hashtag (including this post which will auto tweet when I publish it)
+ 16 for the number of pages in Saga Vol. 1 (160)

So that means that my Magikarp is now at 97cp which still puts me 353cp off evolving him. It also means I am 1/8th of the way to reading my way through the Indigo League. Now I think I'll go back to reading the next book, one of my two choices for the Rainbow Badge/Celadon City challenge to read a diverse book, Six-Gun Snow White.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Musing Monday - The #ReadThemAllThon & sequels I have not read

Musing Mondays - August 15, 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 super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…the #ReadThemAllThon / I'm currently reading: 

I've always wanted to do a read-a-thon, the idea of just reading as much as possible in a set period of time has always been appealing to me but until now I've never had the opportunity to participate in one before. So when I heard about the Pokémon themed #ReadThemAllThon there was really no question about whether or not I would participate. I've been a Pokémon fan since the Blue and Red versions were released in North America and I've played at least one game from every generation sign-up post.
since. The read-a-thon officially started yesterday, and you can find out more about it, and more about what I plan to read for it in my

The first thing I did when I woke up yesterday morning was to start my first book, I've started with Ready Player One in search of earning the Thunder Badge. In order to earn as many extra CP as possible in the challenge I will be posting reviews of each book on here as I finish them, which I am excited about because it gives me an excuse to debut the ratings graphics I created. As of this morning I am about half way through it, it's super engrossing! I got so into it this morning I was running late and had to play catch up to make sure I still left the house on time.

Summary from Goodreads:

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  What sequel do you have yet to read?

Because of how big my TBR list/pile is (and it's forever expanding) there are a very large number of sequels that I have not yet read. They haven't been read yet for a variety of reasons but the most common two are either, I've had so long for the sequel to come out that I need to reread at least 1 previous book in the series to feel comfortable reading it; or I started reading it but something else grabbed my attention so I switched to that and then forgot to switch back.

So here's a short list of 5 sequels that I have not read, and the reasons that I haven't:

1. The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Plus the other 2 sequels in the Seven Realms series. I read the first book in the series, The Demon King back in 2009 when it first came out. By the time Exiled Queen was published the next year I had read so many other things either for pleasure or for school that I knew I'd need to reread Demon King before I could read it. Well the entire series has now been published and I still haven't gotten around to re-reading Demon King but Exiled Queen and the other two sequels are sitting on my shelf waiting for me.

2. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovich

This is the second book in the 6 book Peter Grant/Rivers of London series. This series is one of many that has been described as Harry Potter for grown ups and so far the only one with that label that I actually agree with. In fact the first thing I said to Angie when I was reading Midnight Riot/Rivers of London back in 2013 after grabbing it in a flash sale at the Book Depository was that the main character, Peter Grant, made me feel like it was what would happen if Dean Thomas had grown up to become an Auror. As with the above series they're all sitting on my shelves waiting for me to continue reading them. I started Moon over Soho twice and got distracted away from it both times. Hopefully the 3rd time will be the charm and I won't get distracted.

3. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

I want to read this book, but at the same time I don't you know that feeling? It's the second book in The Wicked Years, the sequel to Wicked which I slogged my way through back in either 2009, 2010 or 2011 (it was pre-Goodreads but I can't remember exactly when), and when I say slog, I mean it, it was a very slow read for me which is unusual. I wanted to like it but I just couldn't get into it enough to read it faster, which is sad because I really like the world of Oz and I was really excited about reading from the Witch's perspective. So because of how long Wicked too for me to get through I just never got around to reading the sequels even though we own numbers 2 and 3. Maybe one day I will.

4. The Magician King by Lev Grossman

Another series that I picked up because everyone calls it Harry Potter for grown ups. I am annoyed by the comparison though because by the end of the first book in the series The Magicians I wished I had never bothered picking it up. I wanted so very, VERY badly to fall in love with this book and series based on the comparison to Harry's world and because based on the summary it should have been everything I wanted and loved, it has elements from HP, Chronicles of Narnia, and Fionavar all of which I love dearly, but I ended up absolutely hating this book. The first half of the book was glorious and everything I hoped for and then it went sharply downhill because the characters were horrible, pretentious, and just frustrating beyond all baring.  So needless to say I will probably never read The Magician King and I am 100% okay with that.

5. Strange Fate by L.J. Smith

You want to know why I haven't read this one? The 10th and final book in the wonderful and fun Night World series? Because it hasn't been published yet! The author has only been promising it since 1998. Now thankfully I haven't been waiting quite that long myself because I only discovered and read the first 9 Night World books in 2008 when they were re-realsed as 3 compilation volumes. But still, that was 8 years ago! Which means the book was supposed to come out 18 years ago, and yet it's still not even apparently on the horizon even though the author keeps promising. I have seriously given up hope at this point of ever having this series concluded and it's very sad, because I really did love the first 9 books. I used to regret that I hadn't discovered this series sooner, but now that I've been waiting 8 years for it to end, I'm really glad I've only been waiting 8 years instead of longer. :(

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Pokemon Indigo League #ReadThemAllThon Read-a-thon Sign Up Post

Disclaimer: obviously I don't own Pokémon, that's all Nintendo & Niantic owns PokemonGO

Found out about this challenge from Flavia the Bibliophile's blog, and being a long time Pokémon fan who has a huge TBR pile to read if I want to finish my reading challenges for this year I thought what the hell a read-a-thon could be just what I need. So I headed over to the #readthemallthon's home at Read at Midnight to find out more about it and how to sign up.

So, what do I have to do?

Between Sunday 14 August to Sunday 4 September I have to read 8 books in specific categories to earn gym badges based on the original gyms in Kanto's Indigo League.

Sounds easy right? Well I've tried to pick books that fit into my lists for my main two reading challenges and in all but 3 cases I have been successful. But given my choices I'm going to have to read about 3557 pages in 3 weeks. Which will be challenging, especially as I'll be in the middle of a few Copyright classes. But I am *always* up for a challenge :D

Pewter Gym: The First Book In A Series
This Rock-type gym is the first gym Ash and the Pokemon player ever encounters. Finish this challenge to win a Boulder Badge.

My choice: 

Berlin Game by Len Deighton

Also fulfills: 

The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge's "read a book originally published in the decade you were born" requirement because it was originally published in 1983.

At 352 pages it offers me 35CP.

Added bonus: I have literally been eyeing this book series since I spotted it on my parents shelves at about the age of 8.

Cerulean Gym: A Book That Might Make You Cry
This Water-type gym has a badge that looks like a droplet of your tear, so read a book that will rip your heart out. Finish this challenge to win a Cascade Badge.

My choice: 

The Saga series, v1.-v.5 by Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Also fulfills: 


At a combined 776 pages for all 5 volumes they offer me 77CP.

Added bonus: I have had these sitting on my desk at home for ages, once I finish reading them I can take them back to work.

Vermillion Gym: A Book With Thunderous Hype
Vermillion City is the home to Lt. Surge and his many Electric-type Pokemon. For this challenge, read a book that’s been hyped all over bestseller’s list and the internet.  Finish this challenge to win a Thunder Badge.

My choice: 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Also fulfills: 

The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge's "read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel" requirement AND the PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge's "science-fiction novel" requirement.

At 374 pages it offers me 37CP.

Added bonus: I borrowed this from my office mate Melanie about a month and a half ago and I promised her I would read it next after I finish Career of Evil.

Celadon Gym: A Book That Focuses on Diversity
Celadon Gym is one of my favourites, because of it’s colourful Grass-type aesthetics. Read a diverse book and you will earn yourself a Rainbow Badge.

My choice: 

Just Girls by Rachel Gold

Also fulfills: 

The PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge's "book based on a Fairy Tale" requirement because it is, quite obviously, based on Snow White.

At 168 pages it offers me 16CP.

Added bonus: None.

I'm going to go for two with this gym:

My 2nd choice: 

Just Girls by Rachel Gold

Also fulfills: 

The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge's "read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender" requirement because there are two main characters, one who is transgender, and the other is a lesbian.

At 254 pages it offers me 25CP.

Added bonus: It's from the public library and my hold just came in today so I'd have to take it back by the end of the #readtehmallthon. Plus I actually was the one that requested they buy it for my reading challenge anyway.

Fuschia Gym: A Book With A Great Romance
I’ve always been confused by the fact that a Poison-type gym has a heart-shaped badge. Can someone explain please. Read a book that features romance prominently and earn a Soul Badge.

My choice: 

Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter

Also fulfills: 

The PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge's "romance set in the future" requirement.

At 320 pages it offers me 32CP.

Added bonus: None :)

Saffron Gym: A Book With Fantasy/Supenatural Elements
Saffron City is where all the Psychic-types hang out, so for this challenge, read a bool with fantasy, magical realism, or paranormal elements. Finish this challenge to win a Marsh Badge.

My choice: 

War of the Dwarves by Markus Heitz

Also fulfills: 

The PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge's "book translated to English" requirement because it was originally written in German.

At 743 pages it offers me 74CP.

Added bonus: I'll be able to justify buying the third book in the series.

Cinnabar Gym: A Book With A Red Cover
Cinnabar Island is famous for red earth and Fire-type Pokemon. For this challenge, read a book with a red cover. Complete this challenge to win a Volcano Badge.

My choice: 

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Also fulfills: 


At 464 pages it offers me 46CP.

Added bonus: I'll have read my first OwlCrate book, hopefully before the second one arrives haha.

Viridian Gym: A Book With Post-Apocalyptic Setting
The final gym is home to a Team Rocket Leader (OK, if it’s been out 10+ years you can’t cry spoilers) and Ground-type Pokemon. For this challenge, read a book featuring a ruined, post-apocalyptic Earth. Finish this to win yourself an Earth Badge.

My choice: 

Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Also fulfills: 


At 360 pages it offers me 36CP.

Added bonus: I'll be able to justify buying the rest of the series and I won't have to run the risk of needing to re-read Maze Runner because I only just read it last week.

Extra Points & Fun

Figured if I'm going to jump into this, I am going to jump in with both feet even though I'm not playing PokémonGO (which is a whole other post on it's own). Because, ya know, reading 3500 pages or so in 3 weeks isn't enough of a challenge for me. I'm going to pick a pokémon to try and evolve and also aim to write reviews and tweets to earn extra CP an effort to try and become the Pokémon League Champion:

  • Each participant can choose one Pokemon, and will start with i) 10CP (Combat Power) for a Pokemon that can evolve OR ii) 50CP for a Pokemon that cannot evolved e.g. Lapras.
  • For each 10 pages they read during the challenge, their Pokemon will gain +1CP. That’s +10CP per 100 pages!
  • For each gym badge/book completed, they will gain an extra +20CP.
  • For each review you post of a book you read during the Read-a-Thon period, gain an extra +20CP.
  • Each time you tweet under the hashtag #ReadThemAllThon on Twitter, gain +2CP.
  • Each time you post a photo of your book + a Pokemon (via Pokemon Go camera function) under the hashtag #ReadThemAllThon on Twitter, gain +5CP.
  • When you are 150CP, your Pokemon can evolve, earning you gain an extra +50CP. If your Pokemon has a third evolutionary form, it can evolve again at 400CP and gain you an extra +50CP.
  • If you choose a Magikarp, you can’t evolve until you get to 450CP, but you will gain an extra +120CP when you have a Gyarados. Basically, if you think you can read loads of books, choose a Magikarp.
  • Whoever owns the Pokemon with the highest CP in the end, wins the title of Pokemon League Champion and will earn a prize (to be announced), as well as bragging rights.
So who's my pokémon? Well, I'm a glutton for punishment apparently:

Yup, I went Magikarp, SHINY Magikarp of course because Red!Gyrados is freaking awesome. All the points for me?