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Book Review: A Mistborn Novel Book #2 – The Well of Ascension

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

Yet another summer has come and gone, yet as we lament its passing, we can still look back upon those months with fond memories of the books we read, and look forward to the books we still have yet to enjoy in the months to come. For many of us, this will prove to be a challenge, as some of us will be returning to school, others getting back to work, and the sunny beach weather will gradually transform into the chilly snow globe that is Canada’s more natural state. But remember, time as we know it was created long ago from the human need to organize an otherwise chaotic world, so even in the chaos that is our daily lives, we have the power to use that time to our advantage. Now, before I ramble on for too long, let’s get to the review!

The Well of Ascension
A Mistborn Novel #2: The Well of Ascension

By Brandon Sanderson

stars-5

The first book was amazing. I had a hard time putting it down for even a second. I didn’t think it would even be possible for Sanderson to write anything that would top it… and yet, somehow he did it. The Well of Ascension is a brilliant masterpiece, and I’m not just saying that either. I don’t know how he does it, but right up until the very end of the book, I honestly had no idea what was going to happen. I was even sure to read it very closely, to see if I could pick out any of the subtle hints that would give me the answers to some of the major plot points, yet every time I found my mind being blown by something that should have been obvious, yet somehow wasn’t.

 

**Warning: The remainder of this review may contain some spoilers, although I will do my best to be as discreet as possible with regards to any major plot points.**

The second book takes place a year after Vin killed the Lord Ruler, which may have brought freedom for the many skaa who had been oppressed by his rule, but it also through them into chaos. With the Lord Ruler, they at least knew what to expect in life, and what was expected of them. Now, they were without direction, and to make matters worse, certain noblemen have taken it open themselves to try and put themselves in the Lord Rulers place. Elend Venture, however, has a different idea in mind.

Now the new king of Luthadel, he seeks to create a government that will give the people the power to affect their own change. He has big ambitions, and even bigger ideals, but unfortunately, neither the skaa or the noblemen are ready or willing to go along with it. Most of Kelsier’s crew are still warming up to him, not used to taking orders from a nobleman, and Vin is doing her best to act as Elend’s bodyguard, while at the same time trying to deal with a lot of her own problems, most notably of which is the mysterious thumping that fills her head night and day.

Politics, assassins, betrayals, mind games, prophecies, a complicated romance, a plot riddled with unexpected twists and turns, combined with some of your favourite characters from the first books and some new faces you quickly grow to love, and with a dash of Sanderson’s uncontainable wit, and you’ve got a book that someone will have to tear from your hands to get you to stop reading it. It’s really hard to put my feelings for this book into words that would do it justice. You’re just going to have to read it to understand… no pressure or anything :)

Now, no book is perfect, and I tried to find something about it that I could pick on… but there was nothing. I mean sure, he killed off some of the characters I really liked, and he threw in all these little hints that I felt I should have noticed after the fact, but those are just some of the things that mark him as a great writer. No one wants to read an obvious story. The obvious has already been done. We want to be thrown for a loop, taken on a completely unique journey where the possibilities truly feel infinite, and that’s exactly what Sanderson delivers.

To learn more about The Mistborn Trilogy, and other Sanderson novels, you can visit his website at www.brandonsanderson.com . If you’ve already read the book, I’d love to hear what you have to say about it. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below or on the blogs facebook page, and as always, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Favourite Books For 2015, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From “Good Golly” To “F*** You”: How Did We Get Here?

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

Every now and then, my mind will pick out something at random from my everyday life and analyze it from every possible angle. Usually it drives me nuts, especially when it happens at one o’clock in the morning when all I want to be doing is gently drifting off to sleep. But every once and a while, the random thoughts and questions that plague my mind cease to be a hindrance and instead allow me to see the world around me with eyes that have not been clouded by what others want me to see.

I watch a lot of television. I won’t deny it. I’m the kind of person who will watch just about anything once, just to see if it’s worth my time to see it through to the end, and nine times out of ten I get hooked. Much of what I watch varies depending on my mood; if I’m feeling stressed, I’ll watch a sitcom. When I feel like my life is a little too mundane, I’ll dive head first into an action packed drama. Heck, even though I’m not big into chick flicks, I won’t hesitate to pop on some Gilmore Girls when I start feeling all nostalgic for the days I used to hang out with my sister like that.

Growing up, and all the way up until high school, I watched a lot of old television series, and when I say old, I mean OLD. I’ve seen most of the original Lost in Space and Outer Limits series, I’ve watched every single episode from the original Star Trek and every other spinoff it inspired later on, and I never set foot on the bus for school in the morning before watching at least one episode of either Mr. Ed, Green Acres, The Adams Family or All In The Family. I can’t say for sure where this love of mine for the classic’s came from, but I’m pretty sure my dad had something to do with it.

What I love most about old television is that it provides us with a glimpse into what the world was like during the years before we were born… well, at least before I was born. Granted, they’re not always the most accurate portrayal, as television tends to embellish certain details for the sake of keeping the audience entertained, but sometimes you can glean the most about a society from what they don’t show on television. Most broadcast companies were much more stringent back then, being very selective about what they would and would not allow to air, a fact which has changed a hell of a lot today, and not just in what watch, but in what we read to.

The first show I ever saw on HBO was the Pillars of the Earth mini series, based on one of my favourite Ken Follett novels. My friends had warned me that the kind of stuff that HBO airs leaves very little to the imagination, so I should brace myself. Based on my experience, I think that was a bit of an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against HBO. I’m anxiously awaiting the next season of Game of Thrones to come out on DVD, and my boyfriend finally convinced me to watch Rome, which in my opinion was a series that was too short lived, much like Firefly. Honestly, I love what HBO has to offer, but the question of why I love it so much is what has got me thinking; how did we get here?

Frankly speaking, if someone from the 1950’s were to be transported to the present time, and the first things they had access to were our books and television, I can’t help but debate whether they would be more amazed by how much our creativity has evolved, or terrified by it. Our creative culture is rife with sadism, masochism, gut wrenching torture, explicit sex, and violence in just about every fathomable way, shape and form. Our hands are no longer tied by censorship, at least nowhere near as much as it used to be, and clearly we’ve taken full advantage of it. Granted, it makes for very interesting and thought provoking stories, but the fact that those are the kinds of things that we get a thrill out of now makes me wonder; just HOW did we get here?

I’ve only been alive on this earth for 23 years, but even I can remember the days when we still got in trouble for swearing if we were under the age of 13. Now, people drop the f bomb pretty much every other word, as if it were the normal thing to do. Swearing has become a part of everyday speech, much like saying hello, or pleas and thank you. I wouldn’t call myself a conservative person, but even I cringed a little bit whenever Debra from the show Dexter went on one of her little ‘fuck’ tirades. It’s as if there is no longer a division between the categories of swear words and regular words. They’re all just words now… although I suppose swear words have always been regular words, just infused with our own subtext and connotations, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Regardless of whether it’s in books or on tv, our language and our attitude towards what was once considered obscene and unwatchable, has done a complete 180, and I just can’t help but wonder what it was that led to such a drastic change, and even more curiously, in what direction it will continue in as we continue to push the boundaries of our imagination.

As always, I welcome any and all comments and opinions, so feel free to leave them in the comments box below this post. Also, as a heads up to all of you wonderful BookNerds, I am halfway through my next novel, and will likely be posting a review for it within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned, and as always, happy reading!

Cheers,

BookNerd  

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Reflections on Life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book review: Night Over Water

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

I’m usually rather tentative when it comes to purchasing things online, since it’s not as easy to know exactly what you’re getting when all you have is a picture and a brief description to go off of. Still, when you have an amazon gift card in your grasp and a list of several books you’ve always wanted to read… well, it doesn’t take much more convincing than that. So, I now have three more Neil Gaiman books to add to my collection, which I will hopefully get to reading sooner rather than later.

That’s something to look forward to in the future though. Back to the present time, I am both excited and relieved to say that I have finally finished reading a book I borrowed from a friend of mine well over a year ago… I would also like to apologize to said individual, if you were looking for it at any point forgetting that it has been in my possession. I kept it safe and sound all this time, so there is no need to fret over its wellbeing, and I shall return it to you as soon as humanly possible.

Night Over Water by Ken Follett

 

220px-NightOverWater

Night Over Water is one of those books that ten years ago, I would never have had any interest in reading at all. What kind of book doesn’t have magic, dragons and epic battles? My reading bubble was very small back then, limited to books that at least on some level resembled Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia. It wouldn’t be too far off to say that I was a shallow reader, for which I am rather ashamed, but I am happy to say that I have improved a great deal since then, and this book is proof of that.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but what I love most about Ken Follett’s writing is that no matter how big or small the character is, every single one of them is integral to the over-arching plot, each thrust into a complex situation that reveals not only the type of person they are, but which also serves as a reflection of the time in which they exist.

Night Over Water takes place during World War II. The Germans are advancing on Britain. Some choose to remain behind and take part in the war efforts. Others, for one reason or another, support Hitler’s fascist ideals and hope to curry favour with him and help to create the world he envisioned. Then there are those who seek to escape the destruction and bloodshed, and those are the ones who have found themselves aboard the Pan American Clipper as it embarks on its journey towards America. You would think being in the sky would be much safer than being on the ground, but it just wouldn’t be a Ken Follett novel if that were the case. Scandals, lust, politics, thievery and sabotage abound as the lives of characters coming from various walks of life intertwine with one another, and not always for the better.

I have to confess that this is one of those books that I couldn’t just sit down and read at any time. For me, I had to be in the right mood and with the right mindset before I could dive in, and that’s because even though it’s a fictitious story, it is based on a very bloody and heart wrenching part of human history. Also, even though I watch a lot of television that’s filled with sex and violence, it has a very different feel to it when you’re reading it in such detail, which is another mark of a Ken Follett novel. When I am in the right mood though, it’s a hard book to put down.

Overall, I enjoyed it. Admittedly, war themed novels are not usually to my liking – I would go into why, but I don’t feel the need to start a debate on ideologies at the present time – but this novel focuses less on the war and more on how the lives of these characters – from the rich to the less well off – are affected by it instead. There are also some interesting perspectives shared on the various political ideologies that were both popular and unpopular at the time, which is something I found to be most intriguing.

That’s one more book I can add to my read shelf. If you have any questions about the book, or if you have read it yourself and would like to share some of your opinions on it, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post, or on my blogs Facebook page. As always, I look forward to hearing from you, and until next time, happy reading!

 

Cheers,

BookNerd

 

August 10, 2015 Posted by | Favourite Books For 2015, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Good Omens

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

First off, to all my Canadian followers – heck, anyone who’s a fan of sparklers, fireworks and celebrating where you came from – I hope you all had a happy Canada Day. In all honesty, it has been a very long time since I’ve done anything to truly honor the occasion. I usually just spend that evening consoling my dog as the fireworks next door drive him into a barking frenzy. This year, being my first summer spent in Ottawa, I decided to do something special, and ended up joining a friend of mine in taking part in the creation of a Human Flag in downtown Ottawa. I’m always up for trying something new. Granted, it seemed like a rather strange way to spend my time at 9am in the morning, but after seeing the picture they took, it was totally worth it.

Downtown-Rideau-Living-Flag-2015

It’s always amazing to see so many people coming together to volunteer for something like this. Granted, we still could’ve used a few more people to fill in the spaces, but it still turned out pretty incredible.

Ok, down to business. As is almost always the case with me, it takes me time to get through a book. I tell people that I’m a very detailed and thorough reader, and that’s why it takes me a bit longer than most. Yes, that is one reason. I think another reason is because I’ve never been a fan of reaching the ending of things. What I love about books that come in series is knowing that there’s always going to be another one, but even they eventually reach an ending point. I was pretty much curled up in my bed in tears when I read through the last Harry Potter book. Just the other day, I watched my boyfriend play until the end of The Last of Us, and the fact that the game ended on a cliff hanger made me more upset than all of the other stuff that happened throughout the game. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very heart wrenching game that made me tear up more than once, but the only thing that bugs me worse than something coming to and end is when the ending only leaves you with questions! Great game though :)

There is a point in all of this, and that point is that as much as I love reading books, I’ve learned to take my time, because I know that no matter how great of an ending it might have, it will still have an ending… That being said, I have finally managed to read one of my greatest literary obstacles: Good Omens. I say it’s a literary obstacle because for years I’ve been meaning to read this book, and I only just got around to it about a month ago. All I can say is that I honestly regret not getting around to it sooner!

Good OmensGood Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

stars-5

Angels, demons, the apocalypse, and the fate of the world resting in the hands of an eleven year old boy, who also happens to be the anti-Christ. This book has been around for over 20 years, and yet there’s still nothing quite like it out there. It’s not your typical ‘good vs. evil’ story. In fact, they make it very clear that it’s not so much a case of angels being inherently good or demons inherently bad, they just both have their jobs to do in order to keep the world running. I know, it seems like I only have positive things to say about the books I read. Well, give me a bad book, and I’m sure I’ll be able to pick some good things out of it to. That’s what I like about books; no matter what the intention of the author is, I can feel free to interpret it any way I so choose. Of course, there are some books that even I cannot salvage any words of praise from… like Twilight. It is possible to write a good romance story about humans, vampires and werewolves, but I have yet to read it.

Ok, back to Good Omens. There is very little to critique about this piece of work. The writing is amazing, the characters are brilliant, and the storyline is the perfect level of comedy and drama without going over the top. Admittedly, there were a few points where I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what was going on, but I think it’s because the book isn’t written from solely one perspective. It’s constantly jumping back and forth from one characters viewpoint to the next, even within the same chapter, which sometimes makes it hard to keep up. The good thing about that is you get to see the events occurring through various eyes, allowing you to connect with all of the characters on some emotional level. I figure if I were to read it again, I would be able to follow it much more smoothly, but that will have to wait until I finish going through the rest of my library.

In conclusion, a great read, and if you love a good satirical and speculative fiction, laced with the combined wit and sense of humour of Gaiman and Pratchett, you should definitely add this book to your collection.

As always, I welcome any thoughts you may have on my review, or perhaps you have an opinion about the book you would like to share. Either way, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, or visit my blogs facebook page and comments to your hearts content. Either way, until next time, happy reading everyone!

Cheers,

BookNerd

July 2, 2015 Posted by | Favourite Books For 2015, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books vs. Video Games: Do These Things Make Us Violent?

I read to live and I live to read. That's my circle of life.

“I read to live and I live to read. That’s my circle of life.”

Greetings Fellow BookNerds!

I was posed a rather interesting question the other day, one which I was surprised I had never given much thought to before. It has been an on-going debate for years about whether there exists a direct link between video games and violent behaviour in youth. There are numerous opinions on the matter, but it’s one of those issues you can’t just throw into any specific category and expect that to be the only answer. Much like the chicken and the egg quandary, I don’t think we’ll ever know with one hundred percent certainty whether or not video games make us more violent.

As one who has grown up with three brothers, all of whom were avid video game players, and having played a fair share of those same games myself, I can safely say that not one of us has experienced any kind of violent reaction from all those hours of gameplay. In fact, and not to brag or anything… well maybe a little, but each and every one of us as done quite well for ourselves. My youngest brother, inspired by the games he has played, is even studying graphic design and computer programming at university.  

Of course, like most things in life, video games should be played in moderation. As much as I love peanut butter cookies, I’m not about to sit their and eat them for 24 hours a day. I know, apples and oranges, but you know what I mean. Here’s a better example: I love listening to Josh Groban, but I’ve made the mistake time and time again to get hooked on one of his songs, and then play it over and over again until I get sick of it. You have to mix it up with other genres. It’s the same with video games: instead of constantly playing first person shooters, mix it up with some Super Mario or Kerbel Space Program. If you’re that afraid that video games might make you more violent, then play one of the hundreds of other non-violent games out there.

 One of my favourite video games right now – ok, I’m mostly just watching my boyfriend play it, but I love watching him go through the story, it’s fantastic! – is Witcher 3. It’s possibly one of the most graphic games I’ve ever seen, yet the characters are incredibly well rounded and memorable, it’s designed in a way where even if you haven’t played the first two, you still know what’s going on, and the graphics are phenomenal! Is it a violent game? Well, there’s no doubt about that. I cringed a few times when they did a close up of the enemy heads being sliced off. After seeing all of that, do I feel like cleaving off someone’s head with a sword? No, I most certainly do not. Why? Because I know it’s fiction!

If anything, I find video games to be rather therapeutic. I’m sure most of us have experienced those moments where someone pisses us off to the point where we picture ourselves punching them in the face over and over again. When those thoughts of aggression plague my mind, I wait until I get home, and then I take it out on my enemies in a good old game of Heroes of Might and Magic (for those of whom this game may be before your time, look it up, and then pick up a copy for cheap off of Steam or Good Old Games). Just like artists pour their emotions into their paintings, and musicians into their music, we gamers channel our negative emotions into slaying virtual monsters.

Aside from that initial question, that person also made a comment about how it’s better to read more books and play fewer video games. Well, to that I say pick up a Ken Follett or Game of Thrones book, and then see if you’re whistling the same tune. The majority of todays modern books are loaded with gory violence, very explicit sex scenes, and language that even those who drop the F bomb every other word would cringe at the sound of. So no, in the battle of books vs. video games, I would not say there’s really much of a difference content wise in this day and age. Besides, there are a thousand other reasons why our society as a whole is becoming more violent, and I’m pretty sure that how much time we spend on our computer or x-box 360 is pretty far down the list.

These are just my thoughts though. If you have your own opinions regarding this ongoing debate, I would love to hear them, so feel free to post your thoughts in the comments, and until next time, happy reading!

 

Cheers,

BookNerd

 

 

 

 

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Reflections on Life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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