Saturday, 30 March 2013


In the words of Blur, woohoo! The other day (thursday, I think it was) I met and surpassed my goal of 25,000 words. Now, it's a small victory. A bittersweet victory. After all, that goal was supposed to be a february goal, and then I cheated and extended the deadline to March 31st. But I succeeded. And I am allowed to change deadlines, especially when they aren't gonna hurt anyone. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. Anyway... I just wanted to post an update on that. On the downside, the story is still not finished. I don't know if that's a bad thing... I know how it should end now, but it's taking long to get there. Oh well, I shall worry about my story's length when it is actually done. Have a good weekend, and Happy Easter!

Friday, 22 March 2013

"White Rose Rebel" by Janet Paisley

(Penguin, 2007)
Anne Farquharson was a Highland woman who fought to free her land from the harsh rule of the English. She knew she couldn’t live in their world, which King George was slowly enforcing onto her country. The English stifled their women and cared nothing for traditions. Anne did not want to become a meek and submissive woman. She did not want to have no say in how her clan was run. Neither did she want to lose her culture. So when Bonnie Prince Charlie sails from France to reclaim the Scottish throne, there was no hesitation for Anne. She rose up with him.
That was not the case for her husband, Aeneas. Their marriage was a fiery one, built on passion. There seemed to be no room for love, for when Anne gathered her clan, he joined the Black Watch. They argued. They fought. And through many misunderstandings, Anne went back to her first love, Alexander MacGillivray. But Aeneas did love her. Still, they ended up on opposite sides of the field in a battle between the Jacobites and the English, sometimes at the end of the other’s pistol.
The book was an entertaining read for the first part. It was a bit of a romp in the hay at times, but the sex didn’t really bother me. Looking at other reviews of this book, this seemed to be a problem for some people. Maybe it was gratuitous, who am I to say, but Anne was young. That’s what young people do. They have crazy libido. In any case, there was a bit of political intrigue there, too. There were the English antagonists, betting on how long it would take to stop the rebellion, being surprised when it wasn’t so easy, and being damn brutal. Which brings me to the second part.
The second part of the book, more towards the end really, was very depressing (Culloden – if you are even a little familiar with Scottish history I’m guessing you know what that battle meant). Janet Paisely mentions the word genocide in the afterword, and this really seems to be the case here. It was a little gruesome. It was very frustrating. I wished I could somehow get Connor from Assassin’s Creed III to come out and deal with the redcoats. But I couldn’t, so I just kept reading. The end didn’t completely satisfy me.
Despite that, I did like the book. It was engrossing. I enjoyed the characters, even if they were a little bit cliché. They had personality, which doesn’t make sense after what I just said but trust me it does. MacGillivray was probably my favorite. I’m not sure how much of the history was true and how much was made up, but I did learn something. I hadn’t really been familiar with Scottish history in the 18th century or the clan system either.
I wish I knew how to pronounce the Gaelic words tossed around and at least there is a translation that goes along with it on the page or in the back of the book. There was a bit of French thrown around too, which for people who don’t understand might make them scratch their head, but it’s not a lot and easy to guess the gist if you don’t understand.
My rating: 4/5
For another great book set in Scotland, but in an earlier time period, check out Jules Watson’s Dalriada trilogy. I highly recommend this series.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Game of Thrones Exhibition - The Night's Watch

The Night's Watch

The Night's Watch.
Founded eons ago, the Night’s Watch guards the massive wall of ice that protects the Seven Kingdoms from the wilds of the Far North. In recent times, the order’s ranks have dwindled and are now supplied mainly from the dungeons of Westeros. Driven by the appearance of demonic creatures known as white walkers, Lord Commander Mormont has led his entire force, along with Ned Stark’s bastard son, Jon Snow, north to find answers.

Ygritte's costume. Jon Snow's costume, and um, I don't remember the last one!!

Rattleshirt's mask and gloves. A wildling's waterskin. Ice picks.
Ygritte's boots. Dragonglass daggers.

That's it! I took a lot more pictures than this, of course, but if you can get to the exhibition, it would be great to see it for yourself. Don't forget to catch the premiere of season 3 on March 31st. I know I will be anxiously awaiting it! Do you think the Red Wedding will end the season??

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Game of Thrones Exhibition - House Targaryen

House Targaryen

House Targaryen. Words are blurry, so please, forgive me for
not remembering what exactly it says.
Hundreds of years ago after a mysterious disaster known as the [Doom?] of Valyria wiped out their homeland and killed most of the world’s dragons, the Targaryens invaded Westeros and conquered the Seven Kingdoms. Centuries of intermarrying [consequently?] produced the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. The cruel [tyrant?] was deposed by Robert Baratheon, who also eliminated most of the royal family before [taking?] the Iron Throne. Two surviving children, Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys, were smuggled to safety in [??I should know this anyway without squinting…] where only Daenerys remains. Now grown, she has [hatched?] three young dragons and sworn to reclaim the kingdoms that are her birthright.

Dany's two main costumes.

Two of the dragon eggs given to Dany on her wedding day.
Real life fact: The third egg was given to George R.R. Martin as a wedding gift.


Coming up tomorrow, the final post: The Night's Watch.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Game of Thrones Exhibition - House Baratheon and House Lannister

House Baratheon

The House information graphic was to the left.
I wasn't able to get a good pic of it because one woman stood there
forever reading it. When I did get one, it was too blurry.
Oh well. I give you this instead.
"Ours is the fury."
House Baratheon founded after the conquest of Aegon Targaryen, has ruled the Seven Kingdoms for the past several decades after Robert [won?] the Iron Throne from the Mad King Aerys Targaryen. The ancestral family seat of Storm’s End was held by Robert’s younger brother Renly – an insult to the older Stannis who was relegated to the [drafty?] island stronghold of Dragonstone. With Robert gone and Joffrey in power, Stannis has [commanded?] himself to [taking?] the Iron Throne from Joffrey, whom he believes is not Robert’s true son.

Robert's drinking horn and crown. Renly's crown. Davos Seaworth's fingers!?

House Lannister

House Lannister.

The wealthiest family in Westeros, the Lannisters of Casterly Rock ruled as kings in their realm until the Targaryen dragons conquered the continent. Over recent decades, the shrewd power-brokering of Lord Tywin Lannister has led the family to a lofty position. The marriage of his daughter, Cersei Lannister, to King Robert Baratheon brought the Lannisters to King’s Landing. Their power was further solidified with the ascendance of her son Joffrey to the Iron Throne, although whispers about Joffrey’s legitimacy abound. Cersei’s brother Tyrion, who has a genuine interest in the well-being of the realm, does what he can to keep his nephew’s imperiousness in check.

Ooh, look at the dashing Jaime Lannister in the left corner.
Costumes (from left to right): Cersei, Tyrion, Tywin, and Jaime.
Joffrey's duds are behind Cersei's (not visible in this pic).

Coming up tomorrow: House Targaryen

Friday, 15 March 2013

Game of Thrones Exhibition - House Stark

Map of Westeros.
Greetings! The Game of Thrones Exhibition is currently hunkered down in Toronto's Design Exchange. This week, I decided to hop on the train and go south to Canada's biggest city to check it out. The tickets were free and currently sold out, but you can still get in by waiting in the hold over line (or whatever it's officially called). I am a big fan of the books and the show so this was an opportunity I didn't want to miss. It takes about a half an hour to get through the whole show, maybe longer, depending on how many people and how long they stare at things.
The show features many of the costumes and props from the show's first two seasons, a small archery game, and a replica of the Iron Throne which you can sit on and get your picture taken on (bring your own camera and have someone with you to take your picture). There were some TMN employees who would randomly take pictures of fans on the throne and fix a nice promotional graphic to it which includes the start of the next season and the house you're rooting for. I got the chance for this, choosing house Stark. If you tweet it with the hashtag #GOTexhibitionTO, you can win autographed copies of the books (by George R.R. Martin, obviously, or not). I didn't tweet my picture because, unfortunately, being from Quebec I was not allowed to enter (I hate that I'm excluded from most contests because of this, grr).
In the next couple of days I'll post some pictures from the exhibition. So, if you can't make it to one of the travelling exhibition's stops (next up NYC), I hope you'll enjoy this little piece of Westeros  before the premiere of Season 3 on March 31st.

House Stark

House Stark -click for larger view.
Sorry for shadows, lighting wasn't the greatest.
The leading house of the North, the Starks served as the region’s warden for nearly 300 years. It was an early Stark ancestor, Bran the Builder, who fashioned the massive wall of ice that protects the northern boundaries of the continent. Lord Eddard Stark raised his five children ~~ prim Sansa, noble Robb, mischievous Arya, curious Bran, young Rickon and the bastard Jon Snow ~~ to share his sense of honor. Although the family has served the kingdom faithfully, Robb severed ties with King Joffrey Baratheon upon news of his father’s execution, and took on the role of King in the North.

Stark costumes (from left to right, and if memory serves correctly):
Arya, Sansa, Robb, Ned, Catlyn, and Bran.
Poor Rickon is left out as usual!
Stark shield in the top left corner, Arya's sword 'Needle', her wooden practice sword,
Ned Stark's huge sword 'Ice', and Catlyn's dagger to the right of 'Ice'.
Theon's letter to Robb Stark.
I hope this reaches you in time. My father has rejected the offer and plans to attack the North, raiding the shores and taking Deepwood Motte. Mobilize your army and make for the North before its too late. I ll write again when I can.

Coming up tomorrow: House Baratheon and House Lannister.

Monday, 11 March 2013

I Need a Break

Good evening!
I'm taking a break this week. I am not writing anything at all. I will even try to not think about writing or any of the other things that have been nagging me lately. My mind needs a time out. On the plus side, I am 3310 words from meeting my goal. That said, I should be able to reach that goal by the end of the month. Just wanted to put that out there. Happy writing to everyone else!
Sunset, March 8, 2013 (also posted on my Instagram)
It was nice to see the sun after about 20 days of clouds/snow.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Interesting Blog Talk

Hello! I want to share with you some interesting blog posts I've recently come across. They are thoughtful posts and worth your time. Here they are in no particular order:
  • When You Don't Look "Right" - an author's personal take on looks and culture and when they don't necessarily match the stereotype, something I am very familiar with (I commented on the blog post, if you're curious to know what I mean).
  • Breaking the Mold: Rainbow Rowell on YA and body image - an author's view of body image in young adult novels. She makes a great point when she talks about her own writing. I really appreciated this post.
  • Why I will no longer treat writing like a job - an author/agent's take on writing and well, treating it like a job (yeah, I am really helpful in describing posts, ha, I'm tired, get over it!). It was thought provoking.
  • Writing a Book for Boys - an author blogs about the way books are marketed and how boys have to be urged more than girls to read. Or something like that. Look, I said before, I'm a little tired! Read it, you'll see what I meant to say.
  • What's in a name? Defining New Adult - another author, but this one is writing about what they think the genre New Adult is all about. It's a relatively new definition and genre from all the things I've read on it so far.
  • Inspired Openings: Special Agent Edition - this post is a collection of what  makes a good opening in a book according to some agents. Really helpful advice here if you're looking to one day query an agent.
  • When the Twitterverse Finds Enemies - an author's well thought out post on Twitter rage and how people stand up for the lamest things. Well, see what he said, it's not exactly my best summary.
That's it for now. I hope you enjoyed some food for thought. Since my summarization skills are currently lacking, I will refrain from posting a review of Jack the Giant Slayer. If I am not too lazy I will post one real soon. If not, well I'll just say that I enjoyed the movie. Have a nice night!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Two Movie Reviews

I like movies. Who doesn’t? Well, I’ve realized that in my first post I said I might post movie reviews once in a while. Since it’s been a while I’ve seen a movie in the theatres (I believe the last time I went to the movies was in December – The Hobbit and Django Unchained – too long ago to give my thoughts, but I enjoyed both for different reasons), I thought I might share some thoughts on two that I recently saw at home.
Keira Knightley is an actress whose movies I always seem to want to watch. Maybe it’s because she’s in a lot of historicals, and being a history buff, I tend to gravitate towards those kinds of movies. But she’s also in a lot of movies that were adapted from literary classics (i.e. Pride and Prejudice). That being said, the last two movies I saw featured Keira.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Starring Steve Carell as well as Keira Knightley, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is a dramatic comedy about, well, the end of the world. An asteroid impact is imminent. People are preparing themselves to die and it looks like they are generally having fun. Except for Dodge (Steve Carell) who finds himself suddenly alone after his wife leaves him. We never see this wife (apart from in pictures, I think) and only hear his friends speak about her and try to comfort Dodge by joking how it took the end of the world for her to finally get up the courage to leave him (or something along those lines). Without giving away too much of the plot, Dodge finally meets his neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) when she cries outside his window on the fire escape. Funny enough, they have never spoken before then. Dodge was an insurance salesman and Penny was a free spirit type, so why should they have ever spoken before? But Penny had spoken to his wife, whom she thought was simply his roommate, innocently asking Dodge about his wife’s boyfriend. Well, that was a shock to Dodge. She also gives him mail that had come into her box accidently and which she never before bothered to return to him. In that pile of mail, Dodge finds a letter from his high school sweetheart, the only woman he’d ever truly loved, and thus begins a journey to find her before the asteroid hits, a journey that will involve a guilt ridden Penny.
I must admit, I shed some tears during this movie. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but it can be a little depressing. I really felt for Dodge and his loneliness. And when Penny finally reached her family by phone, it wrenched my heart. To have those last words with her family brought tears to my eyes. All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t one that I had wanted to see but when it came up one night on the movie channel, I decided to try it out. I generally like end of the world type movies and this one was a refreshing change. Usually these movies are all about the astronauts or the scientists trying to save the world and succeeding. But this one was about failure and about normal people and how the end of days might look like. It kept my interest the whole way through and was good for a few laughs. It made me think of what I might do in the same situation and coupled with the meteor hit in Russia and the asteroid pass in real life, it gave me an awesome apocalyptic dream a couple nights later. That dream was like watching a movie in my sleep. No better CGI than your own imagination!
My rating: 4/5
Anna Karenina (2012)
Anna Karenina, 2012
Keira Knightley stars as the title role. The movie is based on Leo Tolstoy’s work of the same name. Anna Karenina seems to be a woman perfectly happy with her life. She is married with a young son. So when she goes to visit her brother in Moscow, there should be no reason for her to want to stray, should there? Wrong. She meets Count Vronsky on the train and, gosh, he’s too dashing for her to forget. She then sees him everywhere. At a ball, where she dances with him all night, much to the displeasure of Kitty (her niece? I was never sure of their connection) who had been expecting the Count to propose marriage to her. Poor Kitty had just turned down an offer from another young man, Levin, much to Levin’s agonizing sorrow. The rest of the movie shows us Anna and Count Vronsky’s affair, the implications of it, and on the side, tells the story of Kitty and Levin.
I have not read the book by Tolstoy, so I don’t know how close this is to reality. I remember, very vaguely, learning about the book in my Russian history class, but alas, not enough to relate it to the movie.
My feelings about this movie are mixed. On the one hand, I thought the storyline itself was interesting and really gives us a view into Russian high society. To me, it wasn’t fair that Anna was the whore and outcast for being with Count Vronsky and he seemed to get around the whole affair without any consequences. And I believe her own brother was allowed to have a mistress without any judgment. But that was life. I get that. I knew that. What really bothered me about this movie was the weird setting. I don’t know why they set it on a stage. Why couldn’t they have just used real settings? I would have loved to see a real Russian setting. Real snow for god’s sake. Just when I thought I’d gotten over the use of a stage, it would bother me all over again. The horse race could have been so much better if they had used a real race track. The whole movie could have been a lot better if it hadn’t been set on a stage.
If I wanted to see a stage, I’d have gone to a theater. Movies shouldn’t be set on a stage.
Ugh. Okay. Rant over.
My rating: 3/5
Links (IMDB):
I'm supposed to go see Jack the Giant Slayer today, so maybe I'll post something on that later this week. I am also going to work on my From the Bottom of the Box Part II post. I had thrown that in my desk and forgotten about it! Until then, have a nice day!

Friday, 1 March 2013

New Goal

Okay, I'm a cheater; I've decided to extend my February goal into March. February was an epic failure. Well, maybe epic is too harsh. I did reach 57% of my goal. I suppose that is good? It's a pass in university standards, though it would have been a fail in high school. Anyway, I didn't have much time to write. Then again, maybe I didn't feel much like writing. But I don't think that the month was a total waste. I did get some writing done. And mostly, I planned out my ending way better than what I had already planned for it. So, now I am hoping to finish my story once and for all. I don't know if I can do it in March, but I will at least try to hit my word count goal.
In the meantime, I've got a lot of thinking to do about real life. I just can't seem to tell my mind to shut up so that I can have a clear mind to write. But anyway, I will have another post on my old diaries coming up real soon. Have a good day!