The Magicians – Lev Grossman

Title: The Magicians516f8erf1ul-_sx324_bo1204203200_
Author: Lev Grossman
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 402
Category: 9. Read a book in the fantasy genre
Format: Paper

Date Started: September 16th 2017
Date Finished: September 18th 2017

This is yet another first book in a trilogy, but in this case I really don’t see myself picking up the rest of the books. It was okay but I don’t think it was really anything special. Despite that, it has been made into a tv series apparently.

I was never a huge fan of fantasy growing up. With the exception of Harry Potter I never found a fantasy series I liked. As an adult I’ve been a little more adventurous. But in the case of this book I’s really one I could’ve missed. Which isn’t to say that it didn’t have great message  because it does. In fact in some ways it’s a much more realistic experience of magic in that it really is hard work.

Quentin is on the verge of adulthood, one of the smartest kids in the smartest classes at school. He’s selected to take a test for the most prestigious magic college in America. Brakebills. He gets accepted and thus begins his schooling experience. All of which is contained in this single book as well as his post schooling life. Honestly this is part of my problem with the book, it just feels rushed.

In addition to feeling rushed it feels like Quentin’s personality changes halfway through the book. This is one of the smartest kids in highschool only to start at Brakebills and forget everything he had learned in school and to suddenly seem like he was incredibly average.

I found it kind of hard to connect with the characters to be honest and that’s a real pity because characters are really what makes a great book for me .

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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Cannibal by Chuck Palahniuk and Other Short Stories

Okay, so this one is going to be a little different in format. Rather than just one short story there’s 4 here! Enjoy! All these stories were available online so I’ve included the links for you to read them if you wish. Before we jump in though, the first two on this list are definitely a little more gory than many people can handle so feel free to skip past them if that’s not your thing. (The quote above is from Chuck Palahniuk)

Title: Cannibal
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Genre: Short Story
Words: 2505
Category: 20. Read a short story, one with less than 5000 words
Format: Online 

So, if you’ve never read any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books or short stories then you are in for quite the treat. That being said, this one is not my favourite of his short stories. I won’t spoil this one too much because it is quite short and Chuck Palahniuk is known for his twists and turns. Go check out Guts if you like this one though, that is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. What I will say about Cannibal is, that I started reading it not long before I needed to go somewhere and lost track of time and was very nearly late to where I was going, only to have to find the last of the story on my phone and read it once I got there.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 


 

Title: Obsolete
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Genre: Short Story
Words: 4347
Category: 20. Read a short story, one with less than 5000 words
Format: Online 

This one is a little different to the other stories I’ve read by Palahniuk and didn’t hold my attention nearly as much as the others. Though I was still surprised by the ending at least. If this is your first time reading something by Palahniuk I would suggest picking something else to start with even if this one is comparatively tame by his standards. It just doesn’t fit together as well as some of the others I’ve read.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

 


 

Title: The Zero Meter Diving Team
Author: Jim Shepard
Genre: Short Story
Words: (????)
Category: 20. Read a short story, one with less than 5000 words
Format: Online 

This one was actually quite a sad read, unsurprising given the subject matter, though I was immediately drawn to it because of the subject matter. The Zero Meter Diving Team is the story of a trio of brothers and their experiences with Chernobyl, with one working there, one living nearby and being on the river at the time of the explosion and the third being part of the bureaucracy called in to help with the clean up. The imagery in it is beautiful, and the emotions are raw. It was just a great read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

 


 

Title: All Summer in a Day
Author: Ray Bradbury
Genre: Short Story
Words: (????)
Category: 20. Read a short story, one with less than 5000 words
Format: Online 

This was an unusual read for me. I’ve never read anything by Bradbury before (despite actually knowing his granddaughter), but I saw this and decided to give it a shot. The writing isn’t necessarily a style I enjoy but it was written quite a while ago so I don’t mind. What was unusual for me, is that it is about such an ordinary school yard occurrence except that it occurs in a science fiction setting in a school room on Venus. That being said, I definitely identify with the poor girl in the story (I won’t tell you more so I don’t spoil it).

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Jurassic World

Title: Jurassic Worldmv5bmtq5mte0mtk3nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjczmzk2nte-_v1_uy1200_cr6406301200_al_
Year: 2015
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Genre: Action/Science-Fiction
Date Watched: March 2, 2017
Category: A movie that’s been on your to watch list at least 12 months

Okay, so not sure what happened with this, I watched this at least a few weeks ago but for some reason never posted about it.

At this point it seems incredibly unlikely that you’ve never heard of, seen, or read Jurassic Park. I’m actually a huge fan of Michael Crichton books and will hopefully get to read at least one this year maybe even Jurassic Park since I haven’t read it yet. At any rate, if you’ve never heard of Jurassic Park the short version is, that someone decided to make a theme park full of dinosaurs recreated using DNA from fossils (and I think added with frog DNA?), naturally this all went horribly, horribly wrong with the Tyrannosaurus Rex getting loose and then other dinosaurs. In Jurassic World however, the park becomes a huge success with a large number of different dinosaurs to be seen, except, just seeing dinosaurs has become boring, nobody is awed or scared by that anymore so some scientists in their infinite wisdom create a new dinosaur. Indominous Rex.

From there the movie plays out very much like the original movie which is somewhat disappointing as it almost felt like I was watching Jurassic Park but with better special effects. Which isn’t to say that the special effects weren’t great or that the acting was bad, but it just didn’t feel new.

Honestly, I enjoyed the movie in the moment and it was visually exciting but the story just wasn’t great.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Just One Damned Thing After Another – Jodi Taylor

Title: Just One Damned Thing After Another25876872-_uy200_
Author: Jodi Taylor
Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure
Pages: 480
Category: 22. Read a long book, one between 100,000 and 250,000 words
Format: Paper

Date Started: February 22nd 2017
Date Finished: February 25th 2017

If you tell me this isn’t the coolest plot for a book series ever then I would probably be more than a little surprised. A series of books about historians who travel to the past and learn about history and obviously get into a bunch of trouble while doing it. And naturally they all live together and sleep together. Oh and there are dinosaurs.

Unfortunately the potential of this plot remains largely unrealised. I wouldn’t say that the writing is terrible, but it is often cliche and trying to be funny without actually being funny. But mostly my issue is the continuity throughout the book which for me is always important but even more so when you’re dealing with time travel.

Let me explain a little further. The first part of the book deals primarily with the protagonist’s arrival at St Mary’s and subsequent training. This part is all fine with me though it’s unclear how long the training actually takes. It’s then unclear how much time passes between this and subsequent missions, particularly before the final mission. By the end of the book supposedly five years and a half years have passed. However, at the end of this period the same staff are employed at St. Mary’s as immediately following the conclusion of Max’s training. My assumption based on hints in the book is that training takes 6 months, let’s assume one intake per year with approximately 10 students (only a portion actually becoming staff), so we would assume that there would be maybe 20-25 new staff members. Based on the indications that staff don’t last long at St. Mary’s I would also assume that some of these staff would have died in the course of 5 years, including some of the new staff. But, that is not the case, the staff has remained completely static. Not just that, but there is absolutely no indication of the relationship growth between characters that you would expect after 5 years of working together.

In addition, the plot itself is a little bit all over the place. I realise that this is the first book in a series and some things will naturally be unresolved, but you’re thrown from one historical event to another and never quite sure if the focus is meant to be the history or the politics going on back at St. Mary’s. Once tied together some of these events do make a lot more sense and perhaps this would be less of a concern if it weren’t for the timeline issues to begin with.

All that being said, the little history buff inside me is still fascinated by a world in which you can view history as it’s happening. There are so many places I would want to visit, so many things I would want to see. So in that sense I am torn between continuing with the series to see what else happens and letting it go because I was just so frustrated by the writing.

Where would you go if you had the chance to see anything in history?

Rating: 2.5/5

Descent – Julie Cannon

Title: Descent7835680
Author: Julie Cannon
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Pages: 208
Category: 4. Read a romance and/or erotica book
Format: Ebook

Date Started: February 11th 2017
Date Finished: February 14th 2017

Okay, yes, this is a trashy romance book. And yes, the only difference between this and any other romance book you pick up is that it’s the story of two women. But let’s be honest, sometimes what you want is a trashy romance book.

I wouldn’t say that Descent is the best I’ve read in this genre, or even from this author but it certainly follows the formula one would expect from the category. Two women meet, in this case they had met many years earlier and dated at school. There’s tension between them because of their past relationship but also because they’re two of the best mountain bikers in the world.

Honestly, for me at least this is a genre that is still somewhat in it’s infancy and Bold Strokes Books who published this book is one of the more established publishers out there. As a lesbian it’s refreshing to pick up a book with a relationship that’s more reflective of my own experiences even if it’s never going to be a bestseller so I really do hope that people continue to support authors in this category especially as ebooks make it a lot more accessible for everyone.

Sadly, the quote at the top of this article continues to be true. We still live in a world where there is a great deal of inequality. I live in a country where it is still illegal for me to marry my partner, many others experience much worse discrimination. Books like this normalise our experiences and can hopefully bring a little peace to those who have no one to show them their experiences are nothing to be ashamed of. My hope is, that one day there will be so many LGBT characters in books that young people will never need to search for them like I had to growing up.

Unfortunately, there’s absolutely nothing to make this book stand out within the genre as either better than it’s counterparts or worse. I probably won’t be able to tell you anything about it in six months . But if you’re looking for a nice easy read with some enjoyable tension and cuteness then this will do the trick.

Rating: 2.5/5

A Collection of Short Films

Okay, this post is just a little different. Instead of just one short I ended up watching 5, so they’re all here.

Title: Quadrangle612706385
Year: 2010
Director: Amy Grappell
Genre: Sexuality, History
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This one was an interesting watch for me as someone who is fascinated by sexuality and alternate lifestyle choices. Quadrangle is the story of two couples in the 1970’s who swapped partners for many years. The couples had children of their own and became close through a sailing club often drinking and smoking pot together with both couples experiencing relationship issues. There is a coldness about the film that made it a little uncomfortable to watch, perhaps because it was narrated by the daughter of two being interviewed. It does bring up fascinating questions about what it means to be a family and ultimately how we choose to love and live.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars


 

Title: Supporting Film maxresdefault
Year: 2015
Director: Douwe Dijkstra
Genre: Documentray
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This one is a film about film. It’s not very long and is sometimes a little hard to follow but it does offer many different perspectives of film from people who experience film in different ways, such as those who are hearing or vision impaired. Ultimately it is a lovely exploration of something we all know and love: film.

Rating: 2 stars


 

Title: It’s a Date606490254
Year: 2016
Director: Zachar Zazima
Genre: Romance
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This one was shown originally at Sundance and was quite short. Honestly though, it was just not the film for me. Nothing about what was happening made much sense, the animation was not a style I enjoy either. There is nothing I liked about this film at all.

Rating: 0.5/5 stars


 

Title: 9 Daysschermafbeelding-2016-06-07-om-14-29-45-2-1280x800
Year: 2012
Director: Issa Touma
Genre: War, Documentary
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

This film explores one man’s experience over the course of 9 days as the crisis in Syria began in 2012. This is one of the few films made by a Syrian about the Syrian civil war. While I would certainly recommend reading at least a little about the state of affairs in Syria before watching this film it is still one of the true portrayals of the experiences of Syrians. In the time since the civil war started almost half of the pre war population of Syria has been killed, with many more fleeing for their lives to countries that have been less than supportive of their plight.

Rating: 3/5 stars


 

Title: Last Letterslastletters
Year: 2016
Director: Nils Clauss
Genre: Documentary
Date Watched: January 28, 2017
Category: Short

Of the films I watched this one touched me the most, even though it was one of the shortest. The film consists of interviews with some of the family members of those lost in the sinking of the Sewol Ferry on April 16 2014 off the coast of South Korea. Many of those who died were teenagers on a school excursion. In total 304 of the 476 individuals on board died, with 250 of them students. The picture at the top of this article shows a classroom memorial that is still maintained for them, with families and friends visiting and leaving notes on their desks and blackboard. The cause of the accident was found to be a combination of things including human error and unsanctioned changes to the boat, ultimately this knowledge offers little comfort to those who lost their children or parents in the crash as explored by this beautiful film.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Jaws – 1975

01_jaws_main_0Title: Jaws
Year: 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Date Watched: January 7, 2017
Category: Film made before 1980

Okay yes, I know I’m incredibly behind on this one, but give me a break it was made fifteen years before I was born. And yes, the reason I never sought Jaws out was that I honestly thought it looked a little lame and not very scary. I was right on one thing, it wasn’t terribly scary, though a good reminder why the people patrolling our beaches should be proactive in their approaches to beach management.

Continue reading Jaws – 1975