Tuesday, 29 October 2013

GINS: Round Table Discussion (Task #2)

Today I had the chance to get together with a few classmates to talk about our global issue novel studies. We each are reading a separate novel, but we were able to all answer a few guiding questions and compare.

Click these links to see my classmates Alyssa, Jada, and Ivana's blogs.

Thanks for listening! Have a great day.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Global Issues Novel Study: Task #1

For the next while, I am going to be participating in a novel study exploring various global issues within our society. Click here for more information. The novel I have chosen to read out of the various options is War Brothers by Sharon E. McKay. So far I have read 20% of the novel, enough to begin to analyze the content.

What is the main issue being addressed in your novel?
In the book War Brothers, the focus is on Joseph Kony's army of abducted child soldiers, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). There are many references in the book to this event, even though neither of our characters have yet been taken. "He is sad because he grandfather was taken by Kony." Joseph spoke in a matter-of-fact voice. Tony's mouth dropped open. They took him as he was walking home from school, and that is the last anyone has heard about him. He was just a little younger than us, then." And, "Kony can't get us, you know. We are safe." 

Why did you choose this piece for your project?
I chose this book because the fact the children the age I once was have had their childhood stripped from them. The topic of child soldiers just makes me extremely angry. At their ages they should still be innocent and not have to go through all the things they have and seen all the things they have seen. 

What background knowledge do you already possess on this issue? 
Though I do feel strongly about children not being abducted to become child soldiers, I don't know much background information on the issue. I am aware of Kony and his army of abducted children, but the details I know are few, and obscure. 

What questions do you have as you begin to read?
My main question I had while reading was how the two boys will become abducted. I am unsure how Kony's child army operates, so I was totally clueless as to how this will happen. Also, since Jacob's father is wealthy and he goes to a school with extra guards, how will he become part of the LRA? I also wondered what "cassava" is. When I looked it up, it turned out to be a woody shrub that grows in Africa and South America and is also the root of tapioca. I was also curious to another aspect of their culture, religion. It mentions how many people are Christian (Oteka and Jacob included), and how the witchcraft from the medicine man goes against their religion, but what other religions are prevalent in their society? And is Kony targeting those people? My last detail I noticed was that Bella, the maid, was described as being very, very old at over 50 years old. This shows that diseases mentioned like AIDS really affect their life span. Here, very old is around 90 years old! That's a huge difference in years. I had more questions too about why this difference might be so large. 

What characters have been introduced so far?
So far we've been introduced to both Jacob and Oteka, the two young boys who are the focus of the story, and from what I understand, both get taken by the LRA. Oteka's story is very interesting and sad, and Jacob's is much less sad, and he as a person is often both naive and ignorant so far from what I have gathered. I think that his experiences in the novel will change him however. We also have met many more characters such as Ethel and Bella (maids at Jacob's), Jacob's father and his friends, Tony (Jacob's friend), Adaa (Oteka's honorary grandmother), Oteka's deceased family, and the medicine man Oteka visits. And of course, we've heard lots about Joseph Kony. 

Right now I am still getting a feel for the culture, setting, and characters, but I am very much anticipating when the deeper issues begin to be explored. Thanks for reading!

Book Spotlight!

The first one of these I did was back in March 2013, but since May, I haven't continued it. So I decided I would spotlight a book today. I chose this book not because it was my favourite book, but because I am not planning on doing a review and still wanted to share my love for the book I am doing a spotlight. It is also not super well known, so I want to tell more people about this book!

Goodreads Synopsis:

After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song "Chopsticks."But nothing is what it seems, and Glory's reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along....

Sounds intriguing, right? It is. It's awesome. Told mostly in pictures with some type, IM's, and news clippings, this book leaves many things up for interpretation. As it says in the synopsis, it is up to the reader to decide. This made the book extremely beautiful, poignant, and powerful, and it's enjoyable to follow the clues and look closely to make sure you haven't missed anything that would've destroyed your understanding. Though it is super quick, don't speed through it - pay attention to the little things. Overall, it's a beautiful story, so give it a try. 
My Rating: 4/5 stars.

I recommend this book to teenagers that like books with visuals and 'clues', or are reluctant to read. If you like a type of book that doesn't tell you everything and that leaves many things up for interpretation, this is also a great read! Really though, it's super short, so give it a try. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Top Ten Character Names I Love

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which they will post a topic and then participants will make their top ten according to the topic. It's super easy to link up, so feel free to go to their site and join in the fun!

Top Ten Character Names I Love
October 22, 2013
  1. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore from Harry Potter: The perfection! Ahhh. I mean, let's just stare at this name for a second. To some it may be too long and complicated but to me it's perfect. 
  2. Sybella from Grave Mercy/Dark Triumph: I love this variation on other classic names! It's original (I've never heard of it, or seen it used in any other book), and yet it still holds all the grace of Isabella or Annabella. I love the sound of the "s" and "y" together and it's just so beautiful!
  3. Isla from Isla and the Happily Ever After: To be fair, I've never read this book. But the title name! It's lovely and beautiful. I absolutely love the combination of "eye" and "la". 
  4. Severus Snape from Harry Potter: This name is absolutely perfect for the character of Snape! I have no idea how J.K. Rowling comes up with these flawless representations of her character. 
  5. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter: Yet another Harry Potter reference... I'M SORRY. But really, this name... love it. Luna means moon too, which is super cool, and the nickname of "loony" really ties into the story too.
  6. Lissa Dragomir from Vampire Academy: Now technically her full name is Vasilisa, but I prefer her nickname. It's simple and pretty, yet ancient and magical-sounding. 
  7. Caelena Sardothien from Throne of Glass: I know it's a long and complicated name, but I honestly love long and complicated names. Doesn't it sound lovely?
  8. Felicity from A Great and Terrible Beauty: I don't totally love her last name, but her first name though! For some reason I actually love the name Felicity. It sounds so Victorian and just ugh. 
  9. Scarlett March from Sisters Red: I have always loved the name Scarlett, and the character in Sisters Red really fulfills and embodies the name. 
  10. Sturmhond from Siege and Storm: Cause HOW could I not. I'm sorry but he's flawless. 
As you may have noticed, for some names I chose to include the last name, for others I chose not to. This depends on whether I love the last name or full name as a whole as well.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this post! Have a great day. (:

Litspiration Challenge: Books and Songs #1

Hey! I got this idea from Raeleen from padfootandprongs07 on Youtube. Basically, I'll be showcasing books and songs that remind me of each other, whether in the lyrics, tone, or even just the rhythm of the song.

*I do not claim any of these songs, they are not mine!! Please give full credit to the respectable artists!*

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Be Here by Parachute
Whenever I listen to this song, those lyrics just scream "Puck Connelly" to me.  Well she wants to get in/and she wants to get out/but the city it calls her name. That line in particular really describes Puck's thoughts and situation. Her brother, Gabe, is leaving her for the mainland, and sometimes Puck feels as if she wants to escape as well. But ultimately, she chooses to stay because Thisby is her home and it as if the island calls to her, exactly as it says in the song. The scars that she hides/with those stars in her eyes/like the echoes they're all the same. This fits Puck because she still feels her parents death and the sting of Gabe leaving, but she hides them. The stars in her eyes represent her spunk to me, and her vision of being in the Scorpio Races. The final lines I included in my snippet are cause it's all been done before/yes it's all been done before. This fits as well because The Scorpio Races occur every year.

The Program by Suzanne Young: Mad World by Gary Jules
This song is insanely sad, both in the lyrics and the notes on the piano. It talks about someone being unhappy with our society, the way people seem to have no expression and the "daily races" go on and on, day after day. It digs into the deeper meaning of someone being depressed, which is a perfect reflection of the book The Program. In the book, depression and suicide is an epidemic, and if you show signs, you go to a facility to be 'cured', which is really just wiping your memories. The main character, Sloane, is depressed because her brother was depressed and committed suicide as a result. The lines in this song perfectly represent her feelings before the cure. Also, her brother committed suicide from drowning, and one of the lines says I want to drown my sorrow/no tomorrow/no tomorrow, which resembles the novel in a way that is almost eerie.

Vampire Academy/Frostbite by Richelle Mead: Kill of the Night by Gin Wigmore
The tone and rhythm of this song just screams Vampire Academy! The song, excluding lyrics, represent the main character, Rose's, strong, tough, and feisty attitude is clearly portrayed. Also, the lyrics relate back to the story as well, and have a dual meaning. The more literal meaning is the fact that the evil vampires, Strigoi, are in fact dangerous and do want to 'tas
te the way that you bleed', as it says in the song. The chorus of the song also represents how in the sequel, Frostbite, different Moroi (moral, good vampire) families are being hunted down. The more abstract meaning I got out of the lyrics was also about the character Rose. Being very confident, witty, and beautiful, she is kind of a heartbreaker at St. Vladimir's Academy. The final lyrics I included say "what do I do with you boy? I'll take your heart to kick around as a toy", which really describes her and Mason's relationship in the second book. She dated him for the wrong reasons, and she used him and led him on a bit. She learns from this through her development, but the song is a good way to describe her more figuratively before this development.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
The mood of this song immediately reminded me of The Maze Runner. It's super intense, with really harsh beats. In this book, the characters have to survive on their own in the maze, so it is a very hard and harsh life. This song brought out the anger and urgency of the characters thoughts, and intensity of their situation. The first line is also "I'm waking up to ash and dust," which reminds me of Thomas waking up at the very start of the novel as well, forgetting who he is, as if his mind is full of dust.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers: Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson
Sybella D'Albret is an extremely damaged character. Her father is evil, doing things only for his own selfish needs, and stopping at nothing until he gets what he wants. As a result, Sybella grew up with this surrounding her, and was a victim to her father and step-brothers torturous deeds. Sybella hides so many shadows, deep inside her, that she doesn't dare to show to anyone. That is, until the character Beast comes. This stanza really portrays this relationship. Or will you stay/even if it hurts/even if I try to push you out, will you return/and remind me who I really am/please remind me who I really am. Sybella does try to push people away so they are not tainted by her dark past, and often feels overshadowed by it, as if she is not anyone except her past. It is Beast who does remind her of who she is, and the lyrics in this song are as if written to their situation. Everybody's got a dark side/do you love me/can you love mine/nobody's a picture perfect/but we're worth/you know that we're worth it/will you love me/even with my dark side. When Beast and Sybella fall in love, she wonders if he could ever love her because of her history and the things she's done. She is not innocent either, and has killed many men in her lifetime, and wonders if he will be able to love her nonetheless. Finally, the rock instrumentals in the background seems to really bring out the battle, both literal and figurative, inside of Sybella.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Breath of Life by Florence + the Machine
Though the lyrics in this song are not a perfect representation of the story, the tone definitely reminds me of a certain character. Queen Levana, the villainous ruler of the Lunar colonies on the moon, returns to earth to try and force Prince Kai into marrying her to forge an alliance. She is purely evil, cold and unfeeling, doing everything for her own selfish wants. The song I chose has a creepy, eerie kind of tone to it, while also being intense as well, a very good representation of how Queen Levana comes across in the books. Florence Welch's strong vocals really add to the feel of the song, perfectly embodying the strength and power Queen Levana holds behind her delicate exterior. To get a dream of life again/a little vision of the start at the end. These lyrics remind me of her because she is returning to earth again, as if to witness the 'life' there. The "vision of the start at the end" seems to me as if she is returning to the place where everything began with her need to control earth (the start), yet the 'end' to me would represent her finally achieving what she wants, or destroying any shard of good left in her.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: Miss Invisible by Marie Digby
This entire song tells an excellent story of Annabel's life after her best friend Sophie accuses her of doing something she didn't and rejects her. Once so noticed and popular at Sophie's side, she is now cast aside, ignored by everyone. This song really gripped me as relating to Just Listen because all the pieces seemed to fit. The book often describes Annabel eating her lunch alone each day, and there is one time where the author explicitly states how Annabel pretends to look busy so people won't see how much she wants to cry on the inside. I included a snippet too that talks about how the person in the song retreated to their current state from all the bullying and taunting, which again is very prevalent in Annabel's case. I also included the final lines of the song because it's so perfect to what happens with her and Owen. Gradually, they begin sitting closer and closer together on that one wall, until they start to talk and that's how their relationship begins.

Hope you enjoyed this challenge! Thank you for reading. (:

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Delirium by Lauren Oliver Quiz!

I just recently finished reading Delirium by Lauren Oliver, and I loved it! This is a short, fun quiz to test your knowledge if you've read the book. Click here to see it and take the quiz! Also, you can comment telling me what you think about the quiz, and also your blog link if you have one.

Have an excellent day! :)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

So I've been behind on everything and haven't done a review in forever. I honestly can't even remember the last time I did a review, and for what book. I recently read this book at the end of September and loved it so much that I thought I'd post a short review (more like me gushing and fangirling to an a ridiculous level).

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: Paranormal
Pg #: 322
Reading Span: September 28 - 30
Rating: **** (four stars)

Vampire Academy starts off with our two heroines, Rose and Lissa, being taken back to St. Vladimir's Academy after two years on the run. An evil group of vampires, the Strigoi - the immortal and dead ones - are after Lissa, a Moroi or mortal vampire, and a princess at that. Back at the school, Rose is trying her best to protect Lissa. As a dhampir (both human and vampire), it is her duty to keep the Strigoi from forcing Lissa to become one of them. Dark things are happening at St. Vladimirs - but the mystery is who's behind them.

Gahhhh this was good! I'd heard it was fantastic, but I didn't really think it was my 'type' of read. It was. I wouldn't say the plot was very fast-paced. There really wasn't a ton of action until the end. However, it really worked because it was constantly kept entertaining. Also, the mystery was pretty consistent throughout the novel, so it was sprinkled into the more contemporary, real-life kind of circumstances. I also didn't mind that there was minimal action until the end because I absolutely love reading about boarding schools. Ever since Harry Potter, they've just fascinated me for some odd reason and I am never bored reading them. However, I didn't feel like this element of the book was used to it's advantage. I never heard about any of their classes, really. I feel like there was a missed opportunity there, but potential for the future.

The characters in this book were good as well. Rose was a very strong character. She's strong-minded, smart, witty, and confident. She owned absolutely everyone in this book with her fantastically hilarious remarks and come-backs. Her tough attitude really makes her someone you don't want to cross. That being said, I also found her to be shallow and just plain rude sometimes-- I can't believe how selfish she was about Lissa! However, often she was naive, selfish, or immature. It annoyed me that she expected to be taken seriously when she was so irresponsible about certain things. On a different note, I also loved Lissa. She was so different from Rose with her more sweet and gentle personality, but she was true to her beliefs which I really liked as well. My other favourite character was Christian, because he was so mysterious and different and him and Lissa together was awesome. I was so happy when they finally got together.

Now, I will probably get hate for this, but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyways. I didn't love Rose and Dimitri as a couple. Everyone gushes over them but I was kinda like, nope, not feeling it. It just seemed very basic and typical of the YA romances nowadays and I felt like I was that person watching it happen with their arms crossed, rolling their eyes at the stupidity and swooning. That sounds harsh. Anyways, it wasn't horrible and I like both their characters, I just didn't really believe it.

One thing I really like about this book is how the mystery is slowly building, and finally at the end you find out the real truth. Up until the last part of the book, you don't know why it's so important that Lissa and Rose leave the one place that should be protecting them. This really keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end.

My one sort-of complaint is that I am still super curious on pretty much everything. It feels as if Vampire Academy was only a few chapters of a book, not a full novel. It went by in such a blur that I feel as if I have just barely gotten a taste of the world. I am loving the vampire lore, but I really want more of it! And when will I get to see some real strigoi, hmm? I also am very curious to see where the romance goes (fingers crossed for no love triangle!) and find out how some of the loose ends get tied up. Plus, I can't wait to see more of the characters!!! I am starting the second book today, and am hoping to finish the rest of the series relatively soon.

Thanks for reading this review! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Identity Poetry Anthology

Recently in school for the last weeks, I have been working very hard on a poetry anthology expressing my identity. Hope you like it! :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

October TBR

I can't believe it's October already! If you saw my September Wrap-Up, you will know that I have declared that I won't be continuing themed TBRs (I will figure out later how I will do it instead). However, I have been planning this theme for ages and it seems only obvious I would choose it for this month. This is really the only time of year that I feel like reading this, and I love it when my books match the time of year! So here are my choices...
  1. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
  3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
As you can see, the genre is dark or creepy books. Not necessarily horror-- Just something creepy and related to Halloween. Many of them have other elements in them as well, such as romance or dystopia. 

Usually I have four books in my TBR. I can't guarantee I'll definitely read it, but I would absolutely love creepy/dark book suggestions. If you don't have any, or even if you do, please let me know if any of the following sound like something I should check out. 
  1. The Devouring by Simon Holt
  2. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  3. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
  4. Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
  5. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting 
  6. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (this one doesn't completely fit the theme but it reminds me of Halloween, okay?)
More suggestions?

Thanks so much-- Please comment on this post if you have ideas.