Writing Prompt Wednesday: Whoops, I’m a stalker…

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We continue #GEEKMONTH by exploring the wonderful world of stalking people on the internet! This prompt comes from 642 Things to Write About.

You realize you have inadvertantly become a stalker.

It’s not like I’m showing up at his door and looking through his front windows to see what he’s watching on TV tonight, for God’s sake! I’m opening up a window and scrolling through my Facebook. And it just so happens that he’s posted about how he’s re-watching Breaking Bad for the third time. And that he’s got his friend over for the marathon. Better be a male friend, is all I’m saying. I check his profile about a hundred times a day, just to make sure he’s not In a Relationship. He’s the kind of guy who posts about his TV marathons, he’s definitely the kind of guy who would mention if he has a girlfriend. And the answer is not yet. Next time I see him, I’ll just ask him if I should watch Breaking Bad. Even though I’ve already seen it. Twice. It’ll spark a conversation, and next thing I know, he’ll ask me to go to dinner!

Huzzah!

…I know this sounds creepy, but I swear I’m not a stalker. People put their information on the internet willingly, what do you think people do with that information? They want to know all about you, so they go to your profile and scroll through. See what you’re up to recently. Just by going through his profile, I know he’s a Scorpio. He just got back from New York this weekend – went away on a trip with his family. He’s really into that techie stuff. And he’s going to a party downtown tomorrow night. Maybe that’s where I can run into him…

Again, I’m not a stalker. Why else would he post about the party and make it public knowledge? To benefit himself? No way. If that cute guy in Easy A taught me anything, it’s that keeping these updates public only benefits the noted, not the notee. And boy, am I about to reap the benefits.

Pitch Perfect 2: Film Review

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Released: May 15, 2015
Rating: ★★★

I was so psyched when I heard that there was a sequel to Pitch Perfect in the works. The music from the first film is played repeatedly on my iPod, and I quote Fat Amy on a regular basis. But did Pitch Perfect 2 hit all the same high notes? Actually, for me, it fell kind of flat.

The story in this film revolves around Beca (Anna Kendrick), but also focuses a lot more on Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) and freshman, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), whose legendary mother tells her all about how great it is to be a Bella. But this year, the Bellas have been put to shame, and the only way they can continue on as a group is if they win at Worlds. There is also a subplot surrounding Beca and her new internship at a music studio where she tries to impress the producer and get her name out there.

Story-wise, honestly, I found it incredibly cheesy. I guess the first one was cheesy too, but in a less obvious way. John and Gail, the commentators from the first film are back again, but this time they’ve returned with even more offensive slurs that I found hard to jump back from. Instead of having Gail tell John that he’s being sexist or racist, she’s now joining in on a lot of the action.

Pitch Perfect was all about being satirical and making a statement about the cliches that crop up in the show choir subculture. Pitch Perfect 2 was about showing the audience how much bigger of a budget they’ve got this time around. I was practically cringing. “Look, we’ve got Snoop Dogg! We’ve got the Green Bay Packers! We’ve got Pentatonix! We even got Obama!”

And it wasn’t so much about them practicing for Worlds, but rather a lot of having the Bellas do stuff. Watch the Bellas attend Aca-Boot Camp! Take in a montage of them doing boot camp things! Here’s Fat Amy singing as she canoes across a lake, and looks dumb while doing it! Pitch Perfect was better when it was focused on the witty dialogue and amazing music, and now that they’ve got money, there was very little of that.

Before I get into the good stuff, I have one more complaint. And that has to do with Fat Amy. This time around, Amy has a blatant romantic subplot. At one point, he refers to her as “Fat Amy” and her face falls. It would have been interesting for them to address the idea that maybe, even though she calls herself Fat, she doesn’t want to be looked at as “the fat girl” but rather “that girl I love”. But of course, that never comes up. Missing out on some good potential character development, guys.

But! Despite all my complaints, I actually did really enjoy this movie! I’m giving it three stars! The music was, as usual, amazing. Some of their renditions were heart-pounding. Das Sound Machine (the Bellas’ German opposition) is incredibly talented and creates some really awesome beats. The one-liners, particularly from the music producer Beca works for, and of course, Lilly, were hilarious. I also enjoyed the fact that while at her internship, Beca faces the fact that she hardly knows how to come up with anything original, thanks to her years with the Bellas, and has to learn how to rely on others and stay motivated to be creative. So that was nice.

Overall, I did like the movie a lot. I’d purchase the DVD and probably download the soundtrack (why haven’t I done that already?) but I felt like this time around, they tried too hard to be bigger and better that they should have focused more on plot and character development, and continued to write great dialogue.

Go check out Pitch Perfect 2, in theatres now!

Top 5 Tuesday: Cosplays

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You may have noticed in the About the Author section of this blog, I dabble in cosplay. I don’t spend a ton of money or spend time stitching together my costumes, but I find it so much fun to put on a wig and an outfit I’d never normally wear and head to a nerd con, where other nerds may recognize which character I’m dressed up as.

So keeping in the theme of #GEEKMONTH, here’s the Top 5 Cosplays I’ve ever put together!

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Kaylee Frye from Firefly

Why: This was my first ever cosplay, for Fan Expo 2012. It’s nothing particularly special, but it was my first one, and it’ll always mean a lot to me.

How I did it: I grabbed a vest, cargo pants, and a pink shirt, dirtied up my face a bit and tied my hair in pigtails. That was it.

Favourite moment: I was taking a picture of a guy dressed in an epic Master Chief cosplay, he took off his helmet and asked if I was supposed to be Kaylee from Firefly. I felt like I was doing something right and wanted to pursue this a little better on my next try.

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L from Death Note

Why: Fan Expo 2013. I had recently watched Death Note and was looking forward to cosplaying my favourite character.

How I did it: This one was just as simple as the first. Jeans, white shirt, but this time I needed to find a wig and make sure my black eye makeup was perfect.

Favourite moment: I kept in character all day, and my boyfriend at the time dressed as Light, so we were handcuffed together at the con. A few people asked for photos and it was a lot of fun!

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Eleven (Matt Smith) from Doctor Who

Why: Toronto Comicon 2015 was approaching, and I’m currently in the process of marathoning Doctor Who. How else could I cosplay when getting a photo op with Karen Gillan?

How I did it: This one took a bit more to put together, compiling pieces of things I already had. I owned the sonic screwdriver, and my friend gave me the fez for Christmas. My dad gave me the bowtie, knowing I’d want to cosplay the Doctor at some point. The jacket and shirt were already in my closet.

Favourite moment: A little girl dressed up as Ten was so excited to see another Who fan that she came over and gave me a slip that said “Emergency Bowtie: Because you never know when you’ll need the Doctor” (or something along those lines). It was adorable.

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Katy Perry

Why: Prismatic Word Tour 2014. I love Katy Perry – her music is uplifting, but honestly, her image makes her stand out for me. She’s just a little bit out there and has a sexy but quirky style that I wish I could pull off. So I took the opportunity to embrace my inner Katy!

How I did it: My shorts. I bought the wig and the crop top to recreate her “California Gurls” image. The bits you can’t see are the fact that I put on fake eyelashes and nails with cheetah spots (to celebrate “Roar”). The makeup was the hardest part.

Favourite moment: I got quite a few moms giving me disproving looks, thinking I was a young teenager, which is nice when you’re not a teenager! But I also got some compliments on the wig, which was my favourite part of the costume.

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Yoko Littner from Gurren Lagann

Why: Fan Expo 2014, I wanted to do a cosplay after all this time that was a little more epic. After watching a lot of anime, I decided the only female I’d want to dress as was Yoko because she is such a badass!

How I did it: I bought a lot of these pieces individually. I’m not talented enough to make my own! The shorts are mine, I got the top/boots/belt/arm bands/scarf from a cosplay maker, a wig from another individual, and the hair clip from a creator on Etsy. It came together really well!

Favourite moment: I figured this costume would be better received at Anime North, but there were a ton of people asking for photos. The best moment though was when I saw a guy dressed as Kamina (Yoko’s love interest in the show) and we got a photo together. Awesome!

So now you’ve discovered my closet hobby. To me it’s totally fun to dress up as my favourite characters and embody them for a day.

Do any of you cosplay? Or have some hobbies people think are a little strange?

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer: Book Review

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Off the Page

Obtained: Penguin Random House, ARC
Pages: 384
Publish date: May 19, 2015
Rating: DNF

I was under the impression that Off the Page was a companion novel rather than a sequel to its counterpart Between the Lines, and I suppose it is in a way. I wasn’t too lost while I was reading and the authors kept me up to speed with any possibly-confusing back stories. But as you can see by the rating, I didn’t finish the book and I have a few reasons as to why.

But first I want to start with the positives: the hardcover copy of this novel is absolutely gorgeous. The jacket, the cover itself, and once you peek inside, there are beautiful illustrations and the text is coloured differently to ensure that the audience knows which of the book’s three protagonists is speaking. I have an art class coming up where I need to bring an old hardcover book I’m willing to get a little ruined, and even though I didn’t like this book in particular, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt it.

I also thought the story was quite refreshing and new: we have Delilah, a normal human girl who had fallen for a prince, Oliver, in a fairytale book and helped him to escape the pages of the book (in the previous novel). In Off the Page we see Delilah and Oliver’s happily ever after as she teaches him how to be a boy in her high school.

There were just a few bones I had to pick with the book that made it unable for me to continue reading. To me, the writing was a little immature. YA lit can be for a young audience and still be smart and creative. I felt this book fell into all of the typical cliche high school plot holes that I could have imagined. I was also getting absolutely no character development from Delilah. She was just a love sick puppy over her new boyfriend and got mad at him for regular dumb high school things, causing drama, which died out by the next chapter, when she loved him again and the drama was forgotten. Which brings me to my final point of this review.

I put it down because I was offended. Delilah’s best friend, Jules, is a punk, vegan, feminist chick with a grown-out mohawk, and I really wanted to see more of her. The two girls end up going on a double date, and even though Jules is NOT that kind of girl, she apparently spends hours giggling with her friend and choosing an outfit and doing make up because apparently “it’s a girl thing”. They ruined the only character I liked in a single sentence. I won’t mention all of these instances, but for two female writers creating this story, I felt like all of the girls in this book were static, typical “girls” and these two women (one of whom I know is extremely talented) could have created far more dynamic characters.

Overall, I believe that if you read Between the Linesyou’ll probably get more out of Off the Page than I did. And if the story sounds interesting to you, I recommend looking into the series because it had me intrigued for a while. If anyone completes the book and finds out that the moral of the story was, in fact, that real life isn’t a fairytale and girls should stop trying so hard to make it so, please tell me and I will for sure give this book another chance.

Off the Page is available online at Chapters Indigo and Kobo.

Bout of Books 13: Wrap-Up!

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Bout of Books

I haven’t been able to post as much during the read-a-thon because of all the amazing books that came out this week that I had to review, but here is the general wrap-up of what I’ve read this week!

Lost & Found – Brooke Davis: 272 pages. Completed.

Off the Page – Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer: 145 pages. Put down for good.

Make Something Up – Chuck Palahniuk: 80 pages. Still working on.

I could get a few more pages into my Palahniuk book count, but considering all the stuff that has gone on this week, I’m pretty impressed that I read that much.

Did you hit your Bout of Books goals this time around? Will you be participating in the next one?

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis: Book Review

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Lost & Found

Obtained: Penguin Canada
Pages: 272
Publish date: January 22, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

I had literally no idea what to expect from this book when I first opened it. There was a girl on the cover, and the implication that someone was about to go on a life-changing adventure. Well, both of those assumptions I made were true. But I couldn’t have guessed how witty or enchanting the writing would be, or just how much I’d love the characters.

Lost & Found has three protagonists and switches between their points of view: there is Millie, the seven-year-old whose mum abandons her in a department store after her father dies; there is Agatha, an almost-ninety-year-old whose husband died and spends her days sitting inside shouting her neighbours flaws at them; and there is Karl the Touch Typist, another eighty-something who escaped the old age home after he realizes he and his wife (who died a while ago) didn’t go on any of the adventures they’d planned. Agatha and Karl meet up with Millie and go on a road trip to find her mother.

I know, with the amount of times I used the word “dead”, or variations of it, in that last paragraph, it sounds like a sad book. But it’s actually hilarious, and really cute! I read a few reviews beforehand of people who were not impressed with this novel because they couldn’t relate to the characters. But these three are so quirky and to be honest, messed up, that you shouldn’t have to relate. To me, I got more out of the book imagining it as the next Pixar movie (Karl’s story in particular really reminded me of Up). Not all literature has to be taken literally, or has to be relatable. It just has to have a great, captivating message.

Davis does a wonderful job taking these three very different characters and creating voices for each of them. I particularly loved reading from Millie’s point of view, because it was so interesting to see how an adult may see a situation versus what she pulls out of it as a young child.

Lost & Found is about these characters trying to find Millie’s mother, but it’s not. It’s about learning to cope with the inevitability of death, and enjoying life along the way. Millie’s favourite idea is that “We’re all going to die someday, and it’s OK!” It’s about the people in their lives that they have lost, people who have dictated their entire life and formed their identities, and how they are able to move on, and find themselves again.

Lost & Found is available online at Chapters Indigo and Kobo.

Writing Prompt Wednesday: 100 Years From Now

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To stay on the theme of #GEEKMONTH, I’ve chosen a prompt that gets us to talk about the future.This prompt comes from 642 Things to Write About.

Describe your city 100 years from now.

Toronto, 2115

We’ve run out of resources. We’ve run out of power, food, and fresh air. We’ve run out of places to go. We’ve run out of space for all the humans who kept repopulating. We’ve simply run out. The poor have died; the rich have fled the planet. There are few of us left, and we don’t expect to last much longer.

It’s funny. So many people thought there would be zombies, or a giant natural disaster, or a pandemic to wipe out humanity. Turns out we were our worst enemies all along.

Event Recap: Neil Smith

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On Monday, May 11th, 2015, bloggers and book fans alike came together at Type Books, an independent bookstore on Queen St. W in Toronto, to celebrate the launch of Neil Smith’s novel, Boo (full review here).

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The store wasn’t very big, so with no real room to mix and/or mingle, the event couldn’t last too long. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t do the author and his book justice. I ended up spending the evening in the blogger corner with a group of fine book enthusiasts as we sipped upon our signature drink of the evening, the “Liquefied Ghost” (vodka, cream, soda water and vanilla, featured below in the photo by nikkitheknack).

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Once the bookstore was hoppin’, Smith himself arrived and found a nice empty-ish middle-ground to plant his feet and talk about his book. After a short introduction, Smith gave his thanks and proceeded to read from the first chapter of Boo, putting on voices for each character and giving a true feeling of immersion into the book.

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Once he was finished what was nothing short of a genuine performance, Smith made his way toward the crowd and started to sign books. As I’ve mentioned a few times, there are moments when I meet authors and get totally tongue-tied. And maybe it was the Liquefied Ghost, but when it was my turn to speak, I wasn’t nervous at all! In fact, Smith was probably one of the most laid back authors I’ve met and was super nice to all of us bloggers as we discussed with him some of the topics in Boo.

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The signed page in my book is now being proudly marked by this adorably geeky ruler bookmark that they were giving out at the event.

I may not have spent a long time inside Type Books for this one (it was getting hot with so many people there to celebrate with Smith), but it was honestly one of the most fun nights I’ve had with an author in a while. Boo was incredible, and I’ll gladly go back and read his previous works now (a collection of short stories called Bang Crunch!). And I really recommend that you all do the same. But read Boo first. I really can’t rave about it enough; it’s probably my favourite read of 2015, so far, and I don’t see it losing that title anytime soon.

The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts by Jeff Rubin: Book Review

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The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts

Obtained: Penguin Random House, ARC
Pages: 320
Publish date: May 12, 2015
Rating: ★★★

In my media writing class, my teacher beat us over the head with environmentalism. I honestly hadn’t thought much about the topic before, so I really found her class interesting. Next thing I know, Jeff Rubin has this book coming out, and I wanted to learn more.

Rubin’s The Carbon Bubble is told in four parts. The first part introduces readers to where we currently sit with regards to the state of our economy and our resources. The following parts of the book report how these resources will be used up until we are in deep trouble. It isn’t until the final pages of Carbon Bubble that Rubin suggests how we may invite a “green future”.

First of all, I really enjoyed reading this book. I felt as though I learned a lot about my country and what was going on in the world. It was eye-opening. I liked the fact that Rubin began each chapter with a concept that readers could easily relate to, and then related that idea to one of his own, making a smooth transition for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the concepts discussed in his book.

If I had any pieces of criticism, it would be that Carbon Bubble could have been made a little more accessible to readers who were new to these concepts. Maybe this was not the intended audience, but I found it a bit of a struggle to get through some parts because the writing was dry and I’m not used to immersing myself in this sort of nonfiction.

Overall, I found The Carbon Bubble extremely educational and will probably give it another read once I’ve done some more research on the topic. If this sounds interesting to you, it likely will be and I recommend you read it.

The Carbon Bubble is available online at Chapters Indigo and Kobo.