Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Going Dark

After sitting through my last statistics II lecture last night and coming up to my 2 final accounting lectures, it's heads down until the semester and exams are over in 2.5 weeks.  From here until Aug 5th, I'll be locked in my home office studying, with little time for much else (aside from, you know, my job). 

See you on the flip side. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

My first Lowry experience was when we read The Giver in sixth grade, and I adored it (it remains one of my all-time favorites and started my obsession with all things dystopian/utopian). Later that year, we had to choose an author we'd already read and do a report on another of their books. My aunt had just given me Number the Stars for Christmas when she'd heard how I'd loved The Giver, and so the choice was easy. I loved it then, and I loved just as much this time around.

This story takes a child's perspective on the war and the treatment of Jews. At the same time, there's no "talking down" to the intended audience. It's just a "real" portrayal of the events from a young girls point of view. Lowry nails her level of understanding and misunderstanding, never making her younger than she is or failing to give her credit for her level of maturity.

While much of the events of this book are tame in comparison to what came in later years of the war, I think it's an important story to tell. It's a story of how people risked their lives, even in the face of death, to do what they felt was right. Small or large, every action was a risky one and took courage. I think that's what Lowry conveys in this book. That no matter how insignificant you think your actions are, you can always work to change the things you think need changing.

The diversity of Lowry's work and her ability to write (well) about such a broad range of themese is really interesting to me, and I'd recommend her books to anyone.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Like losing an old friend (Harry Potter DH- Part 2)

*no spoilers*

Back in 1999 my Mum, ever eager to feed my reading habit, presented me with a book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  At the time, I was really in to romance novels (unbeknownst to my Mother), and so the colorful, childish cover of this newest book didn't appeal much. But, while spending Christmas at my Dad's in Northern Ontario, I cracked open the book one night and began to read.  

From that moment on, Harry Potter, his friends and the fantastical world that JKR created have been a very special part of my life.  For 12 of the 26 years of my life I've been anxiously awaiting the newest book or the next movie, and to this day, even though it's been 4 years since the last book was released, I spend a lot of time discussing all sides of the story with friends. I feel like I know these characters, liked I've lived in their world, and like I've grown up with them.  My attachment to this story goes beyond "my favorite books".  I can't explain it, but these characters, their world and its author are important to me.

So, when I woke up on Thursday morning, I felt more than a twinge of sadness knowing that, that night was the last ever time I would get to experience something Harry Potter for the first time. Does that make sense? Yes, I will always have the books to re-read and the movies to re-watch, and I love them all, but there's something special about the anticipation and experience of the first time.  Watching interviews with the cast and crew talking about their final shoots for the movie and seeing footage of their goodbyes on set just broke me down.  I was weepy all day. Literally.

With 2 packages of Kleenex in hand, my husband and I attended the midnight premiere one last time. Now that I've had some time to process, all I will say is this.  Perfection.  I could start dissecting every scene and comparing each to the book like many people seem to be doing, but I don't see the point personally.  The movies can never be what the books are, so I treat them as separate aspects of the Harry Potter experience and appreciate them for what they are on their own.  DH2 conveyed the conflict, emotion and intensity of the end of Harry's story perfectly, and I can't complain about a single part.  It gutted me emotionally and I cried for nearly two hours, but I loved every single second of it. 

So that's it. It's over. I have to admit that it feels like I've lost an old friend.  But I will continue to re-read this story until I'm old, grey and withered and have to have my grand-children read it to me.  It has taught me so many lessons and given me hours of escape to a world so rich with detail and emotion that I can't believe it came from one woman's mind. And so lastly, to her I say....

Thanks, Jo.  For all of it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver is one of those writers I would like to throw in the faces of all the YA nay-sayers. Some of the passages from Delirium literally gave me goose bumps and proved, beyond any doubt, that there are some brilliant people writing in this genre.

What's that you say? You need an example? Can do!

"I run for I don't know how long. Hours, maybe, or days. Alex told me to run. So I run. You have to understand. I am no one special. I am just a single girl. I am five feet two inches tall and I am in-between in every way. But I have a secret. You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist. And there are many of us out there, more than you think. People who refuse to stop believing. People who refuse to come to earth. People who love in a world without walls, people who love into hate, into refusal, against hope, and without fear. I love you. Remember. They cannot take it."

And just one more...

"Somewhere deeper in the city a motor is running, a distant, earthy growl, like an animal panting. In a few hours the bright blush of morning will push through all that darkness, and shapes will reassert themselves, and people will wake up and yawn and brew coffee and get ready for work, everything the same as usual. Life will go on. Something aches at the very core of me, something ancient and deep and stronger than words: the filament that joins each of us to the root of existence, that ancient thing unfurling and resisting and grappling, desperately for a foothold, a way to stay here, breathe, keep going."

I mean, come ON people! That writing is perfection.

Delirium is just an awesome book! I enjoyed every single word, from page 1 to the end.

I tried to go in with a very open mind and few expectations (ignoring the comparisons to The Hunger Games that seem to run rampant) and I'm so glad I did. I was able live the story through fresh eyes, with no bias, and authentically experience Lena's journey and growth. And oh, but I how I adored that journey. To be truthful, I didn't like Lena in the beginning. I thought she was spineless and brainwashed. But as the story progressed I realized just how "real" the brainwashing was to her, how it was her norm, and I respected her for her growth. What I found interesting was that she never really stops believing that Love is a disease... she just sort of accepts that she has it and that it's worth having.

Alex was an interesting character to read. While I didn't fall for him myself, I loved the relationship and I loved that they fell for each other. I appreciated him for his flaws and for his honesty, but with himself and with Lena. The relationship felt real and in no way perfect.

The story itself is such an intriguing one. So many elements that will make for great reading in the coming novels. I think Oliver left us in place that will make for an incredibly exciting, and very different, book 2... and I can't wait!

Delirium was a really great book, and definitely one of the best of 2011. I can’t wait for Pandemonium.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Canada Day with The Tragically Hip!

The best way to spend Canada Day is with great friends, beer and The Tragically Hip.... and that's exactly what we did this year.

6 of us jumped in a borrowed van and headed to Toronto for the concert which also includes Buck 65, Hey Rosetta,  Broken Social Scene and Weezer.  We tail-gated in the parking lot for a while, drinking beer, playing Frisbee and chatting, and then headed in to the actual concert.

Lots to do and see, prizes to be won, games to be played., and Weezer put on a great show, but the highlight was definitely The Hip.  They are just unreal live.  This was my fourth or fifth time seeing them live and I swear they just get better.  Definitely my favorite band of.all.time.

Here's some pics from the day.

We sucked at Frisbee, but it was still fun.

Bubba (sporting 1 of 6 new pairs of sunglasses we came home with) and Blake.

We staked out a spot in the grass with our towels.... it was comfy enough that I had a nap between bands.



Love the random creeper looking over Bub's shoulder

The Hip!

If you don't know who The Tragically Hip are.... I feel sorry for you.  ;)  Check them out.