Archive | February, 2016

Just a Quick Update on Canadian Reading and What I’m Reading and Why

29 Feb

If you at all follow what I’m reading – you might notice more books on mental health in the next little while. I don’t want anyone to worry about me; I’m trying to better understand mental health issues and be more empathetic. If you follow me on FB, I do post things on First Responders, Mental Health, PTSD, and related issues. I want to let people know that if you confide in me, I will do my best to keep that confidence. I think the term “mental health” is a loaded idea – and that even though there are issues in my own family, we all handle them in our own way. For me, I get walking depression – but if I’m able to exercise and do art (in addition to getting food and adequate sleep, hah), I can control it. I can check my mental attitude.

The Big But though, is that I know how my mind works. What I’m able to do doesn’t work for everyone. Honestly, when I did the ASIST First Aid suicide course last year, it made me realize that 1) Real Empathy is Hard 2) I hate being vulnerable.  Don’t get me wrong – I can share stories and really talk about myself like a boss (I understand you because I blah blah blah…) but to really try to tap into someone and get them to open up is a genuine skill I’m trying to hone.

Anyway, enough about that for now. For Canadian Books by Canadian Authors – if you like something YA and Steampunk, try Maddie Hatter and the Case of the Deadly Diamond. If you want Alternate History that is technically fantasy, try From the Mountains of Ice. If you want Historical Fiction centering on Winnipeg – try Ravenscraig. I’m not done Ravenscraig, but I probably will be later this week and I have two more local authors to talk about in March when I get to their books. I’m pretty all three of the lady authors above are Canadian – at least they’re through Canadian publishers. I don’t really do that much background checks if I can’t figure it out quickly.

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Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

29 Feb

Addenum: Yeah, I accidently posted this on pages, not the main feed. It’s been like this for a month. I have been really busy with work (as per the norm, evidently). I have since seen the movie a second time. Not gonna change it – I originally saw the movie end of December 2015; saw it again although I wanted to go see something else.

 

 

Yeah yeah, late to the party. In short: I thought it was fun. I thought it also had its problems, but I’m not about to go into the faulty science. Star Wars is meant to be epic fun – essentially an epic recycled into space because I’d argue it’s a science fantasy over a science fiction. That being said, that just because it’s fun doesn’t mean we can’t ignore certain plot holes or criticisms.

In general from what I’ve gathered on social media: The biggest criticisms have been aimed that it’s too similar to the original film that started it all, and that the new heroine is a Mary Sue.

I’ll agree that it’s very similar to the original source material, but it was done in an entertaining way so it didn’t really bother me. I’d probably be a bit more nitpicky watching it again, but I’m not the sort who goes to see the same movie multiple times in a theatre (this might be why most media is never aimed at me). I didn’t have a problem with Rey’s character – though I will admit, she’s way more boring of a character than Finn. Finn – you get the idea that he’s genuinely scared and wants out. Rey – well, I could do without all the cliffhangers involving her and her past, but, eeeeeh. Personally, I think Rey is somehow a descendent of Obi Wan Kenobi. Before anyone starts griping she was too powerful, a Mary Sue, etc. – can I point out that she was 1) Not an obnoxious character 2) There are such a thing as Canon Sues. I’ve talked to other aspiring writers about them in fiction; in general we’re all agreement that even if you have a character who hits all the tell-tale signs, it depends on the writer as to what happens. Personally, I don’t do the ‘glory hallelujah they haven’t screwed her up’ dance because we have two films to go – but when everyone is flocking to Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen as good role models (sidekick and PTSD respectively) I guess it’s cool to see stuff in the mainstream people can’t be dismissive about. Honestly, I wasn’t super excited to hear about all these spin-off movies, but if they keep up with the quality of The Force Awakens, I’ll be entertained.

My actual main gripes were: Cliffhangers (but we know more films are coming) that the Millenium Falcon was just there, in easy to fly-away mode, and that Finn didn’t get immediately eaten by tentacle monster. Now, I think Finn is my favorite character. Maybe tentacle monster needed to digest the others. Just, the bit with him seemed like the others gotten eaten in half a second, Rey got to come up with a convoluted plan.

Another criticism out there is Kylo Ren is kind of being played off (at least in the fandom) of an emo white boy. I like that they didn’t try to do Vader 2.0 – the fight between Kylo Ren and Rey at the end was really sloppy but you could tell it wasn’t between two masters of their craft. Kylo Ren was entertaining; and you don’t see the raging villains like him being played as the big bad. Personally, if I was in charge I’d probably make it so even though he tried to fall to the dark, he never could, and make Rey go dark, but that’s probably too much for a mainstream audience.

There has been a lot of talk about Carrie Fisher (mostly that audiences are surprised to see she aged, like everyone else does) whether or not Lupita Nyong’o’s casting was racist (I thought it was strange how an award winning actress would be cast as a voice, and we never got to see her. Honestly; Maz’s design didn’t do it for me) but I think there’s going to be talk and criticism no matter what casting choices were made.

The most fun part for me though, isn’t the excitement of my nephew or the toys or whatever; it’s that a coworker of mine likes pointing out she hasn’t seen ANY Star Wars and she somehow thinks bragging about this is going to save her. Thing is; we work hard but when we have down time at work, we watch tv. Movies. She will watch it. But I’m waiting for another coworker to come back from her Mat Leave. I pointed out I watched 50 Shades of Grey (obviously not at work) for her. Of course, I tried to make all of them watch a Riddick film like, two years ago and I got grousing. We’ll see what goes down in the next few weeks, I guess.

As for me, I guess I should get to writing in an actual block of days off.

2016 First Reading Challenge

1 Feb

So I finally had some time off this month – not as much off as I wanted, and I was busy, but to be fair it was like my Christmas Holidays, going and visiting friends and family. I picked up some more paper and ebooks (kobo is having a 50% sale on a bunch of titles until midnight! Code Jan1650 – so far almost every title I tried it worked!). Back to either a busy day or, more likely, a quiet one, depending on what the transfer workload is in the morning. If you’re in the Winnipeg area and going to the St Vital Children’s Hospital Used Book Sale, you might see me there volunteering – I have no idea what part I’ll be working (I think I was non-fiction and or cooking last time) but I’ll be there Thursday and Friday helping out.

 2016Challenge

 

Okay – New Reading Challenge

A Book You Can Finish in a Day – Mabel the Mafioso Dwarf

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read – Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben

A Book Published Before you were Born – Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander (1966!)

A Book You’ve Read at Least Once – Alex in Wanderland

 

Okay, Alex in Wanderland is a bit of a cheat, as I beta’d the rough draft I want to say about six years ago. Ron doesn’t normally change a heck of a lot of the plot despite my smart assery. I think for this year’s reading challenge, I’m going to make it a point to read and review more Canadian books – especially the ones from indie or small houses. For January, take your pick between Mabel the Mafioso Dwarf or Alex in Wanderland; both are by Winnipeg authors.