Friday, 21 August 2015

Censorship and Reviews

I wanted to put a pause on the book reviews and writing posts to talk about something that is very dear to me. Censorship is something that is a constant struggle throughout the world either with books, movies, websites, etc. But something I experienced this past week was censorship with a review.

My family and extended family went up to Blue Mountain this past week to have a family vacation. We rented these condos (because that's basically all that's up there) and hoped for the best. When we got there our condo was a disaster with a curtain railing about to fall out of the wall and a kicked in screen door just some of the many issues. I immediately posted a review on TripAdvisor stating at the beginning that this was a "first impressions review" and at the end that we were waiting to hear from management about what was going to happen.

When the review finally posted we were in a different room that had downgraded the second bed for my brother and I to a futon where you could feel every spring. The condo was clean and in a lot better shape than the other one so that was good.

Then, something happened. My dad and I went off for a walk while everyone else went to the pool and I got a phone call from my mom. "You need to get back here right now." Apparently management saw the review and were not at all pleased. They had confronted her about it and upset her so much that she wanted it taken down. I did it because she was so upset about it, but it also made me upset. What right did they have to confront her about something I had written? This bothered me even more because it was completely factual (including pictures) and I had only written what was true. When we looked up other reviews on TripAdvisor they hadn't received very many good reviews and many people said to stay away due to deception on the company website.

We were told that earlier a group of university kids had whipped through there but that is no excuse to allow those rooms to be rented out until safe. what if that curtain rod had fallen and hit one of us as we went to bed? They should have taken the extra time to make sure that the room was safe and rentable.

I will not say who this company is as I don't want to upset my mom further, but I think it's a sad day when we post true reviews and are harassed by the company simply because they don't like what they hear. Reviews are meant to be opportunities for consumers to find the best places and share their experiences, while companies can learn what to do better.

Next time I will wait until I have left to leave a review, but I will still leave honest reviews about places I have been.

Quote of the day: The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

From Goodreads: With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

Ahhhh this book! The Invasion of the Tearling, start to finish, was amazing. Just, amazing. I loved the dual narrative, although it was kind of confusing as to why this connection to Lily had only started now and not earlier when she had received both the sapphires. BUT it was still great to get the backstory on the Crossing. 

It was kind of sad to see Kelsea becoming something darker than the young innocent she was when she first became queen. It was good to see her struggle though and try to figure out what type of queen she would be. I think that this made her a much more relatable main character and a much more likeable one as well.

I loved her relationship with Pen. They are so perfect for each other and I totally called this when I read The Queen of the Tearling, but I don't mind at all! It's a slow relationship and you can see Kelsea trying to experience love and life as a regular woman of her time. It was great to see her experimenting, but also beginning to fall for Pen. I'm really excited to see where this relationship will lead in the next book!

Lily's narrative was intense. Like, scary/dark intense. It really makes you hope the world doesn't come to that in thirty or forty years, but then I don't live in America so I don't think the America of The Invasion of the Tearling would affect Canada. I like that Johansen made spousal rape and the dark secretive world of the rich so blatant. Stuff like that happens now, and the world that Lily lives in would definitely have those actions as the norm. It was great to see how far, technologically, we could come in Johansen's mind, but it also showed how far we regressed as a society. The Crossing became something that I cheered for and wanted Lily to be a part of because her life was just getting to be so terrible. 

It was also good to see the potential for how Lily and Kelsea's lives could be linked. It really makes me excited for the next book! I seriously hope they reveal who Kelsea's father is because it's getting to be something important.

Overall this book was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy/historical novels. I definitely give it a five out of five stars!

Quote of the day: And Kelsea wondered suddenly whether humanity ever actually changed. Did people grow and learn at all as the centuries past? Or was humanity merely like the tide, enlightenment advancing and then retreating as circumstances shifted? The most defining characteristic of the species might be lapse. - Erika Johansen, The Invasion of the Tearling

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Goodreads:Serefina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation - and burden - that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother's hopes.

The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin's arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina's darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

I'm not quite sure what I expected from Deep Blue, but this wasn't it. I did expect lots of action and mermaids (obviously) but this wasn't quite what I was looking for. You definitely get the cliché main character ruler who doesn't want to disappoint her parent, parent dies in battle, and she must rise up. You get lots of mythology (which is cool) and it's modern day so you also get the struggles of what is going on with the ocean with fishing and pollution (which is also cool).

Serafina is an interesting character that I want to love so much, but she is just the ultimate cliché. There is the cliché that I mentioned above, as well as the added fact that she is a princess who chafes against court, rivalry with one of the ladies-in-waiting, feels like she doesn't belong, duties of a ruler, etc, etc. The romance I feel like is going to be very predictable as well. I'm going to put out my theory here so *SPOILER ALERT*. I think that Blue is Mahdi in disguise. Serafina is totally falling for Blu and he confessed to hiding his true self as well as describing his "ex-girlfriend" which could definitely be Serafina. This is definitely a set up that can be seen a mile away. *END OF SPOILER ALERT*.

The plot of trying to save the oceans from a major monster who could destroy the world is very intense but I feel like Donnelly could pull it off if she does the rest of the series right, with significantly fewer clichés. The fact that Serafina and five other mermaids have to come together to do this also sets up the series for one that will be long (very clever marketing strategy), especially since they all separated at the end of the book. I'm not sure if I'm going to follow the rest of the series, but I feel like there's a lot of potential here and I want to see where it goes.

Quote of the day: "Whatever you do or dream you can do - begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it." - Jennifer Donnelly, Deep Blue

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Goodreads: Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

Wow. I was really lucky that I bought this book so I could continue it immediately after The House of Hades. This was also a really intense follow up. The end was near and I really wanted to know what was going to happen. 

I must say, I was disappointed with the amount of Percy and Annabeth. I know there was a lot of them in the last book, but I wanted that to continue on in The Blood of Olympus. I must say though that all of the characters that were focused on were necessary to have that focus so I suppose there is that. I was excited to see more Nico and Reyna too. It was good to see Nico come to terms with himself and grow to accept who he is and it was also good to see Reyna come to terms with her past. These two characters needed each other so I was really happy they got to spend a lot of time together.

Leo's plot line was sad, and also very much needed. I felt like he had been stuck as the odd man out for so long that it was good to see him get his happy ending, and Calypso as well. He got his act together, knew what he had to do, and did it!

Again, so much love for those Greek settings, but it was also great to see the series come to an end at Camp Half-Blood. The series came full circle, which I'm hoping was planned by Riordan because he did a really good job of it. 

All the characters seemed to pull together and grew in all sorts of ways. After following Percy Jackson for so long, it was like watching my babies grow up to defeat even bigger and badder monsters than last time!

The ending was very intense, but seemed slightly anti-climactic somehow. It wasn't quite as insane as I was hoping for it to be, but it was still a very good final fight. I was happy to see everyone settle and it was also exciting to see the Roman and Greek demigods put aside their differences. I think it would be cool to see how Percy handles college and I want another series, but I also don't because I feel like poor Percy and everyone has had enough troubles to last a lifetime!

Overall I was very content with this as the final book in the series. Everything got wrapped up quite nicely.

Quote of the day: "Hey, I'm a Poseidon kid," he said. "I can't drown. And neither can my pancakes." - Rick Riordan, The Blood of Olympus

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

Goodreads: At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

I'm just plowing through all of these books! I have two more books to review after this from my recent book haul, and two more to read. I have just been on a reading rampage!

The House of Hades was a really intense book. I was so happy to see more of Annabeth and Percy because they are just perfect. It was also great to see Leo kind of mature on this trip and grow. Rick Riordan definitely knows how to make a character grow. The plot was really intense because you could feel the pressure of all the demigods trying to get to the Doors of Death in time. The last battle was also crazy because you didn't know if Hazel would be able to step up or not (she was fighting against an immortal sorceress after all). So much was happening in this novel that I don't know if I could cover everything.

Plot. This was amazing. It carried you along without rushing but not dragging either. It really made you get into the story and not want to stop. I think I finished this novel in three days (darn work) because I just couldn't put it down!

Characters. Obviously the characters are amazing. I would have to say that I really like the new cast of Greek demigods as well as the addition of Roman demigods. My favourites are definitely Percy and Annabeth so I was really happy to see more of what was happening to them and what they were going through. Their journey coincided well with the others' so it all came together quite nicely at the end.

Setting. The setting was so phenomenal! And I'm not saying that because I went to Greece little over a month ago. Okay, maybe I am. It was just so cool to see Riordan incorporate real Greek landmarks where the Greek gods had left their mark. He also did that with Rome/Italy in The Mark of Athena, but it was neat to see places where I had been incorporated into the text (as it always is!).

Overall this was a really intense novel in the Heroes of Olympus series. I think Riordan did a really good job with keeping the story going and maintaining interest in what happened to these characters. Definitely a must read if you're keeping up with Percy Jackson!

Quote of the day: "Yeah, well," Nico said, "not giving people a second thought  . . . that can be dangerous." - Rick Riordan, House of Hades