Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Calgary FanExpo 2014

Once again I had the pleasure of attending the Calgary FanExpo.  Luckily I work for Chapters and was able to attend by working the Chapters booth.  It really is a easy gig, a couple hours of work and the chance to attend the expo for free.  I also purchased a VIP pass for the Sunday as well since my geek god, Bruce Campbell, was going to be attending. I don't have to tell you how much I was looking forward to meeting him.  Below are just some random thoughts about the expo, too busy rigt now to take the time to make this articulate. May come back and add things as I remember as well.


Thursday


  • First day of the expo was a preview event and where attendees could acustom themselves to the layout and see some of what the expo has to offer.  
  •  Helped with the setup and  than helped out for a couple of hours with sales and than took a look around.  
  • Dressed as Katniss which was for the most part a cheap and easy outfit to put together. Thanks to my pal Sarah for braiding my wig as I have never had to braid something before. Had short hair growing up. 
  • Bit of a fiasco with my bow didn't pass the very tight weapons committee and I had to destring it. Kinda silly as it was from a costume store and wouldn't know how to hurt someone with it, but I respect their decision and it was for everyones safety. 
  • It was a bit of a dissapointment in terms of costumes, nothing overly memorable, but it was only a preview night.
Katniss Rayment
 Friday

  • Today's costume was "Mrs Reynolds", a costume based on a character from an episode of Firefly. As I had a photo op with Felicia Day (she worked with Nathan Fillion) I thought it was an appropriate costume.  She was a truly sweet (and tiny) and charming women.  The photo op went relatively quick but there was a huge technology snafu and I ended up being there from 6:10-7:45.  It wasn't so bad as everyone was joking around and helping each other get their photos.  Geeks really should inherit the earth as it would be a much more peaceful place.
Felicia Day and Mrs Reynolds

The beautiful and tough Chelsea

Fun and funky Alicia (with Pat in the background)

  • Waited in line to see Tom Felton for a friend in order to get a photo signed for a friend. He was charming and sweet and took time with each and everyone of his fans. 

Tom Felton

  • Also grabbed a couple of Goosebump books and got them signed by the lovely smartass, R.L. Stine who was there with his lovely wife. I met him a couple of years ago at BEA and couldn't wait to get a chance to chat with him again.  He thought it was cute that my 5 yr old was obsessed with watching the Goosebumps show. He said he was going to be at BEA again this year and I promised to bring him cookies this time. Got to even get a photo with him, which totally made my kids think I was cool.
Me and R.L. Stine

Saturday

  • Today's costume was a "Greta" from the TV Show Chuck. Again a simple and inexpensive costume put together.  The boots were uncomfy but looked awesome, and I only wore them for part of the day. Working at the booth was crazy busy and I only leaved a couple of times.

"Greta"

  • Got to meet Barry Bostwick which was a little surreal. Can't believe he didn't have much of a line up, but it is entertainment and people are always about the here and now.  The first time I went up to the booth his volunteer mentioned they were just about to leave as he had to go to the bathroom. Barry said never mind, come on over.  And being the classy chick I said to him (And I do not lie) Go pee, go pee, I will come back.  Yup I told Barry Bostwick to go pee.  
  • When I went back we ended up having a 25 minute conversation about everything from sex to wine.  We talked about giving kids to much information or not answering their questions effectively. Told him about the time my son, Jake, asked what a Faggot was. Gave him a whole hour lecture on predjudice and so much more. His answer was "Mom, I know what being gay is, I just didn't know what faggot meant."  Asked him what Tim Curry was like and he went on about awesome a guy was. Than joked that he was a wonderful faggot.  He also signed my Rocky Horror poster. "Dammit Jennifer I loved you". Yup will be getting that one framed.

Charming Barry Bostwick (sorry crappy photo)
  • Also got to chat Max Brooks (author & son to Mel Brooks) about his fabulous book and about his Dad. Told him I got a kick out of his use of the work his dad did in "Free to Be You and Me" in World War Z as my dad loved to play that over and over. He said yup been there. LOL.  He also signed a copy of one of his books for me.
Signed by Max Brooks

Sunday

  • Today's costume was Xena (or how I joked most of the day what Xena would have looked like after marrying Autolyces and having 2 babies).
  •  Helped out a wee bit at the booth, but today was all about what I wanted to see and do.
  • Thanks to Chelsea my makeup was fantastic! Must remember to take her makeup shopping and than sit down with lessons from her.  I kept looking in the mirror because she made me look so much younger.
Old Xena (but hey I am 43 & had two babies)

  • Went to my photo-op for Bruce Campbell and I gotta tell ya, get the VIP pass, it is TOTALLY worth it. I only had to wait 15 minutes, compared to the probably 2 hour wait for regular pass holders.
  • When it came to my turn, I walked around the corner and he shouts out "Hey Xena how are you" . He also suggested we do a Xena pose and told me to take out my sword (FYI - a big no no, as no props or weapons allowed. But hey if Bruce says to do something, you do it.) He than shook my hand and I was out of there. If you ever do these photo ops, please remember, you don't get much time.
Hail to the King (Me and Bruce Campbell)

  • Funny story for you, you know I am always up for taking a poke at myself. Well as mentioned I am a huge Bruce Campbell fan. He was in the first horror movie that I ever watched (I was a bit of a wimp and would never watch horror movies) My pals Melissa and Tracy forced me to watch it when I was young women ( and well with the exception of from that day on being freaked out when I see tree roots) I became both a horror and Bruce Campbell fan.  I purchased my autograph ticket as soon as I go to the expo grounds on Thursday and kept it extremely safe all weekend long.  Sunday finally comes around and I have checked like five million times to see if its still in my badge.  Alicia and I took in the Felicia Day panel (and with a quick stop at the Chapters booth) and than we split up and I headed over to the line for B.C.  Went to pull out my ticked for the volunteer and bam nothing was there, I had lost it within the last 20 minutes.  I searched all over and no luck, it was gone.  Went to ask the photo op girls what I could do and I started to tear up. No word of a lie, this 43 yr old mother of 2, started to cry. The ladies were wonderful and got me to chat with customer service.  They decided the only thing they could do was charge me for an extra autograph (which was pretty cool as they had been sold out since Friday) so I paid it. Got it line and not 10 minutes later hear from my co-worker that my ticket was at the booth.  So now I have an autographed "If Chins could Kill" to me and another photo signed by him, which I am totally selling to make my money back.

Signed by Bruce Cambell - willing to sell : )

Soooo not willing to sell!


  • We had a great conversation where I told him I was nervous to meet him because I would totally say  something silly like, "Here's your sugar" and I tossed him a couple of packets of sugar. Thanks Kaylie and Alicia for bringing me replacements for the ones I lost. Also told him that I was worried he would be a total asshole and that I would totally regret giving up good wine to meet him. He looked up and I said, oh don't worry, I have kids, I didn't give up wine, I just drank the $10 shit.  Than he asked me all about me and what I did. This was really nice, but than I totally forgot all the things I wanted to say to him.  Ah well, it still was wonderful.
  • Attended the Felicia Day Panel with Alicia. Loved her before, even more now. Funny, self deprecating and very passionate about what she does.
  • Also went and got my copy of Dr Horrible signed as well as a still shot, that hopefully I will get a chance to have Neil Patrick Harris to sign at BEA

signed by Felicia Day

Signed by Felica Day

Favorite Costumes

Captain Hammer and Dr Horrible

Bowzer

Creepy Zombie chicks

My personal favorite - The Death Star

Even Darth Vader shops at Chapters

Chapters Booth is busting out all over with sales

Carrie

Sailor Moon

Not George R.R.Martin (co-worker Pat) Got asked over 50 times if he really was Martin

Guest Photos (you really have to sneak these for most of the guests)
From Lance henriksen's FB Page

From Lance henriksen's FB Page
George Romero

Anthony Daniels (C3PO)

- Now known as the Hot Dwarf

Adrian Paul and John Ratzenberger

Michael Biehn

Billy Boyd

Vendors

Didn't have much money to spend so I didn't spend to much time at any of the booths.  These are just a few of the ones I remember or picked up something at.

Hairpiece in picture of Felicia Day and Me from The Realm of Enchantments

Those Great Little Books
Rock Paper Cynic
Out of Chaos (They have the most adorable geek treats & yummy)
Brooks Medieval Faire

Pinznthings

Mike Perry www.mikeperryart.com
Mike Rieger

Make a Wish of Southern Alberta

Necklace made by Barry Bostwick and signed

Friday, April 18, 2014

Skinny Meals by Bob Harper

Skinny Meals
by Bob Harper
Ballantine Books (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-8041-7889-1
Buy from Indigo

Description: From Bob Harper, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Skinny Rules and Jumpstart to Skinny and the star of NBC’s ongoing smash reality show The Biggest Loser, come 100 delicious new recipes (all of them under 330 calories!), a month of new menu plans, and indispensable shopping lists and cooking tips that all follow Bob’s practical strategies for getting thin!

THE TASTIEST MEALS FOR HELPING YOU LOSE WEIGHTFAST!

In The Skinny Rules, super-motivator Bob Harper introduced the twenty nonnegotiable eating and lifestyle principles that pave the way to quick and permanent weight loss. Since then, thousands of fans asked for more guidance and inspiration! Skinny Meals answers the call, delivering 100 new Skinny Rules–abiding recipes (all of them under 350 calories!) and a month’s worth of new menu plans that will satisfy you at every meal. From an Apple Pie Shake for breakfast to Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce for dinner, Bob has done all the tricky calorie, protein, carb, sodium, and fiber counting so you can meet his Rules goals without even thinking about them! With easy, prepare-ahead strategies, handy shopping lists, and cooking tips, Skinny Meals is your ultimate guide to slimming down and staying fit. Just shop, chop, and enjoy!


The Good Stuff
  • Photographs make the recipes extremely appetizing
  • Practical and relatively easy to follow diet advice
  • Most of the recipes I ate were truly delicious and filling - well except for that pea guac stuff - ewwww
  • Handy shopping lists and plans for following his sample diet for a month (but be prepared the first shopping trip could be pricey)
  • Many of the recipes are now staples in our everyday eating. I look forward to my Quioaoatmeal every couple of days ( I triple the recipe and just reheat it when I need it)
  • Greek Waffle recipe (nom nom nom & seriously filling - didn't even want to eat lunch till mid afternoon)
  • Appreciated the mention of having water with every meal, even snacks
  • I hate the term skinny
  • Excellent idea to clean out your pantry and practical advice on what to keep in your pantry/fridge/freezer at all times, that will help you keep to the healthy eating plan
  • Promotes healthy eating as a way of life and not just some fad dieting book. This is how you stay slim people. Fad diets do not work. Eat in moderation
  • Comprehensive index 
  • The restock your pantry list is extremely handy
The Not So Good Stuff
  • Pea Guac - trust me - NASTY - but I think could be delicious if you worked with spices and maybe some garlic
  • Lot of prep work and lets face it all the fresh herbs, veggies and fruit is going to cost you a fortune (isn't it sad that to eat healthy and keep yourself fit costs so much)
  • Better suited for couples or for singles. Pain in the ass to figure how ingredients for making it a whole meal for a family (and lets face it my 5 yr old is sooo not going to try some of the stuff)
  • Hmm no mention of 3 glasses of wine a week - obviously this guy has either no kids or has a nanny (ok also reason I will never have  six pack abs)

Favorite Recipes

Greek Yogurt Waffles  (Seriously tasty and filling too)
Baked Quinoatmeal (enjoyed but used Almond/Coconut milk instead)
Pico De Gallo (this will now be a staple in the Rayment Household)
Pesto Quesadilla
Beef Chili

4.5 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die
by Danielle Paige
HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-06-228069-5
Suggested Ages: 13+
Buy from Indigo

Description: I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!



Random Thoughts
  • Really liked the intro, it hooked you in right away and left you not wanting to put the book down
  • Fabulous idea for a storyline, but felt this might have worked wonderfully as a standalone book rather than series material
  • Pleasantly surprised by a plot point near the end - really didn't see that one coming
  • Amy is a likeable character that you cheer for. She is tough, yet flawed and very realistic.
  • With all of the things I didn't love about the book, at least it kept me interested till the end
  • Great title and intriguing cover will get plenty to pick up the book
  • Story drags a lot and we are not really given a lot of clues as to why everything went to pot in Oz - or at least that makes a lot of sense
  • Intrigued me enough that I will read the rest of the series - unless the next book goes nowhere too. Pacing was off. It was very slow, than really fast paced. Just felt out of synch
  • Honestly I felt a little disgusted by making all the loveable characters from the Wizard of Oz into such horrible characters - just a little though, since it in a unique idea
  • I think this book has a lot of potential, just needed more work and again, this would have probably worked better as a standalone
  • Intriguing descriptions of the physical changes in the Tinman, Lion and Scarecrow - felt like something Tim Burton might have come up with

Memorable Passages/Quotes

"They were always predicting disaster around here, but although nearby towns had been hit a few times, Dusty Acres had always been spared. It was like we had cliche to shild us -- Tornado Sweeps Through Trailer Park,  Leaves Only and Overturned Barbeque. That's something that happens in a movie, not in real life."

"Girl gets whisked away to fairyland and all she can think about is going home? Sure, she missed her auntie Em. But you'd think her aunt would be happy for her to have gotten out of Kansas. Personally, I'd always thought Dorothy should have clicked her heels together and wished for something better than a trip back to Nowheresville."

"The top was clingy and it had some sort of bra thing built in that made my flat chest look a little less flat. Say what you will about these witches, but they valued style."

3 Dewey's

I received this as part of the Indigo Insiders program and am in no way required to read, review or try to sell

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle
by Dave Eggers
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-345-80858-5
Buy from Indigo

Description: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.


Random Thoughts
  • Mae starts out as a likeable character but by the end you want to smack her upside the head for being so naive and stupid
  • Fabulous book for discussions about privacy, power and social media
  • Characters feel more like archetypes than fully developed characters and you really feel no connection to them
  • Creeped me out on so many levels
  • To me it felt at times like an explanation on how the world of 1984 came to be
  • Made me think of the lyrics from "Lost Together" by Blue Rodeo "So much controlled by so few Stumbling from one disaster to another"
  • Really makes you think about your social media use and the importance of actually connecting with real people one on one in person
  • Enjoyed the scenes when she was kayaking 
  • Mercer - his commentary is bang on
  • As a parent you can understand the thought that the technology might help you protect your child, but pretty sure the risk to society as a whole, would not be worth it - but damn a chip in the little feckers would make my life easier (and fyi, I am joking)
Memorable Quotes

"Secondly, you just cannot worry about this. These people were practically cavemen. Everyone's cavemen ancestors were assholes."

"It's the usual utopian vision. This time they were saying it'll reduce waste. If stores know their customers want, then they don't overproduce, don't overship, don't have to throw stuff away when it's not bought. I mean, like everything else you guys are pushing, it sounds perfect, sounds progressive, but it carries with it more control, more central tracking of everything we do."

"But I always worried, what if someone was willing to use this power to punish those who challenged them?"

3.5 Dewey's

I recieved this from Random House as part of our insiders program and am in no way required to review or sell - you know I like to share -- now nudge nudge give me a smile not a frown

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1)
by Kelley Armstrong
Doubleday Canada (Random House)
ISBN: 978-0-385-67198-9
Buy from Indigo

Description: In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever


The Good Stuff
  • Once again Kelley delivers a fast paced (midway through), exciting story filled with unique characters and fabulous world building. The women is a born storyteller
  • Honestly people just might pick it up for the positively stunning cover - will be proud to have this one in my collection
  • Kelley has created an exceptionally unique world, that while fantastical, still has a feel of something real
  • Well developed characters
  • Snappy and snarky dialogue that made me laugh
  • Enjoyed the relationship between the sisters - very realistic (well they are nicer to each other than my two kids) and they have such a wonderful bond - even when they are snapping at each other
  • Excellent cliff-hanger - now um - when does the next book come out (damn this book isn't even for sale yet)
  • I'm intrigued by the emperor's bastard son, me thinks he will become more involved as the story develops
  • Totally creepy - reminded me at times of the white walkers from the Game of Thrones mixed with a little Japanese mythology - fascinating
  • Strong kick ass female characters and the male love interests are different (a little angsty like in most YA fiction, but not overly so) and you can see the attraction the girls have for them
The Not So Good Stuff
  • I struggled a little bit near the beginning of the story and was a tad confused but I kept going because I knew Kelley wouldn't disappoint
  • Remember I am a 43 yr old women who never had two boys like her so take the next comment with that in mind. I have a bad feeling there may be a love triangle involved (Not yet, jest have a nagging suspicion) And Kelley if you don't do that I will love you forever ; )
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Curiosity is what lets a young mind grow and keeps an old mind young."

"It was an old joke that emperors bred like rabbits because, like the rodents, so few of their offspring survived. It would not be nearly as amusing an analogy if you were one of those young rabbits."

"People made up those stories because it's what they wanted from their world. A place where goodness, kindness, and honor were rewarded."

4.25 Dewey's

I received this from Random House in exchange for an honest review

Be Jumpcredible! Jump Rope for Heart

My youngest is raising money for Jump Rope For Heart - so I am being a good mom. Ignore if you want : )

Be Jumpcredible!



Help me out!
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