Tag Archives: reading

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

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Bonjour! I’ve got a whole bunch of things to tell you about my Florida trip, and a bunch of pictures to put up. If you don’t care then skip right down to the book stuff labelled BOOK! Deal? Okay.

Before we get to the fun stuff, I’d like to give a quick shout out to my awesome little sister Britt. Her twitter account is hilarious, and you should follow her @brittfingland. Tell her I sent you. And I guess if you’d like to follow me I’m @lfings. But you should really follow Britt. Sometimes she tweets embarrassing things about me, so there’s that. Mostly she’s just hilarious without having to make me look like a doofus. I do that myself.

Alright, let’s start the vacation with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visiting Harry Potter World was one of my life goals. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but Harry Potter is a big deal for me as well as Britt. My sister took all of the pictures from our trip so photo cred goes to her.

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Britt and I hanging out at Flourish and Blotts just like any other day. It’s not just for spell books, you know. That’s me on the right if you’re curious. This was in the expansion, Diagon Alley. Every store you could imagine was there, including Ollivanders, Madame Malkin’s, and even Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. They also have Knockturn Alley, a detail that in my sisters words, “took it from 9 and 3/4 to 10!”. Knockturn Alley features Borgin and Burkes, featuring the vanishing cabinet, from within which you can hear a bird chirping.

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That scarf that’s being knit? The needles move by themselves. All of the store windows have moving displays, there were others with cauldrons being stirred and quills writing on parchment. You can also purchase wands (which we did, I got Hermoine’s and Britt got Professor McGonagall’s) which come in either interactive or non-interactive. We got the non-interactive ones, but the interactive ones are really cool. They come with a map that shows where the wands work (pretty much everywhere) and what spells to cast (how to move the wand) in order to make something (like water shooting out of a fountain) happen.

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Just hanging out at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix don’t you know. Britt and I went through a lot of work to get this photo as people were sitting on the front steps of the house eating. Don’t you people know where you are sitting?! There’s a whole row of houses with numbers other than twelve for you to eat in front of. Sheesh.

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Hopping a ride on the Knight Bus.

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The Sorting Hat! I was so excited to see this beauty. He was just hanging out in the castle, waiting for someone to come along and pull a sword out of him. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks. This is a family friendly blog.

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So we were in a store and my dad says “Linds, get over here, quick!” So I run over and who do I see? Captain America! I was too late for his picture that time, but I was first in line the next time he came around. He took the time to talk with me for a while about where we were from and if we had gone to both Harry Potter parks, since I was such a huge Potter fan. Let me tell you, I was more excited about getting a picture with a guy dressed up as Captain America than I would have been at meeting an actual celebrity.As a side note, if you’re wondering why I’m wearing jeans and a sweater in Orlando it’s because it was 9 degrees Celsius. Definitely not shorts weather, no matter how Canadian I am.

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All week I had been making alligator jokes, and then I found this sign at our hotel. Said hotel was beautiful by the way, the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Orlando, I’d definitely recommend Rosen Shingle Creek, it’s minutes away from Universal and every thing about it is beautiful. None of us encountered a single staff member that didn’t look genuinely happy to be working there, and the food was fantastic. Oh, and there is a Publix just across the street which, as it turns out, is a pleasure to shop at just like they advertise.

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Looking for the alligators from the above mentioned sign.

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I found one! Not at our hotel though. We went on an airboat ride through a swamp by the Everglades, which was so fun. I love the smell of open water, and the feeling of wind whipping through my hair. After the ride I got to hold an alligator, which I was ecstatic about (almost more excited than when I hung out with Cap). Did you know alligator skin feels rubbery? I always thought it would be scaly.

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Busch Gardens had some super fun roller coasters, and some super majestic cheetahs.

IMG_0971This rhino crossed in front of us so close I could have reached out and touched him. I didn’t, because I happen to value my life and don’t want to be impaled by a rhino horn. But I could have.

Okay BOOK! For those of you that skipped right to here, welcome. For those of you who made it through the vacation photos, congratulations. Fun fact: I originally typed BOOP by accident and now I have images of cute kittens booping each other on the head running through my mind.

I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss due to a recommendation from a friend who has an eerily similar reading taste in books. I’m so glad he recommended it, because this was one of the best books I have read in a very long time.

The story is about Kvothe, who throughout the book is telling his life story. The story of how he was raised by parents who were the leaders of a travelling troupe of actors and taught by a private tutor that travelled with them. How he was orphaned at a young age and left homeless. How he was admitted to the University as a young teen, how he made enemies of powerful professors and students alike, how he made friends from every station of life, and how he met what he hopes to be the love of his life. Kvothe’s story is fascinating. But what is even more fascinating is that he tells it in his own voice.

This is the story of a man telling his story. Sure, there are parts where we flash back to the present, and don’t get me wrong those bits are just as fascinating, but the majority of page space is spent on Kvothe’s story telling. And he is one heck of a story-teller.

So much of what makes a story good is in the details. The more I know about a character, a place, an event, the better. I want to know everything from what the character eats for breakfast to what kind of grass grows in their front lawn. Maybe it’s just this problem I have where I can never get enough of a good book, but I need to know. And if I don’t know, I make it up. That’s why world building is so important in fantasy stories. The more intricately described a world is the better. I don’t care if the only thing that makes the fantasy world different from our Earth is that it’s now the future and the moon has been exploded into two unequal halves, I just need to know why. And where. And what, when, who and how. Tell me everything!

Some of the best stories I’ve ever read have been the best because the author puts in the time to give me an intricate image of what their world looks like. Harry Potter, for example, has so much information about the wizarding world. And J.K. Rowling releases more pretty often on Pottermore and in interviews. It’s just never-ending Potterness!

Tolkien is another author that creates the most beautifully intricate worlds. He almost pushes the limit of how much detail you can include and still have a readable story. I mean, I love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but do I really need to read four pages about what a sword looks like? Yes, yes I do. But that’s because I’m a weirdo and normal people don’t want to deal with that.

Rothfuss has created a world of magic and mystery, of unseen evils you can sense creeping in the night. It’s filled with magical guilds and creatures of all kinds, new crafts and trades out world will never see. Crafts and trades that Kvothe just so happens to learn.

Kvothe is good at everything except romance, which would be annoying if he wasn’t so darn likeable. He is educated in magic, the arts, and pretty much anything else you could think of including music. He uses this education to his benefit, it saves his life more than once. He is apparently a pretty good fighter, having defended himself and another from terrifying spider-like creatures that seem to indicate a greater evil approaching. That happens during non flashback scenes though, so I’m not really sure what’s going on there. I’m also confused as to how Kvothe came to be known as the greatest swordfighter, magician, and musician of all time; how he became known as a hero and kingkiller. And why he has to pretend to be an innkeeper named Kote. Hopefully all my questions will be answered in The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles (this series). It’s sitting on my bookshelf right now, waiting for me to finish rereading the Gentlemen Bastard’s books so I can get to it. I want the next one to answer all my questions, but I also want more of everything. More magic, more music, not drama, more mystery, more drunken bar nights with Kvothe and his friends.

What do you guys think? Have you been to Universal or Busch Gardens? Is world building important to you when reading?

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today. Have a great week!

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The Magicians Trilogy – Lev Grossman

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This! This series was so so good. And then it wasn’t. And then it was again. So it all worked out.

The Magicians, the first book in the series, was awesome. It drew me in so fast, I read it in a six hour car ride. My parents got me The Magicians for Christmas three-ish years ago, and I LOVED IT. It’s about supposedly normal teens who are admitted to a school of magic (Muggle borns at Hogwarts, anyone?). The students grew up reading books about a magical land called Fillory, and upon graduation find out that Fillory exists, similar to the Narnia stories. They find a way to Fillory and end up, you guessed it, being named Kings and Queens of FIllory. There’s even a tree that grew from a clock, like the lamppost tree in Narnia. The author is clearly aware of the similarities though, he brings up the Narnia books at least once.

Like the Narnia stories, adventures ensue and the characters have to face danger after danger to save Fillory. **SPOILER ALERT** People fall in love, people die, and the story ends. Honestly, my favourite part of the story was when the teens were in school. The bonding that goes on is just so fun to read about. Don’t get me wrong, the whole story is great, but the first chunk where the students were at school was my favourite. There’s so much (mostly) good-natured teasing and sarcasm going around, it’s entirely entertaining.

The second book in the series, The Magician King, well… it was terrible. I hated it. It let me down completely after the great first book. It’s worth reading, if only to understand what is going on in the third book. Let’s just skip the second one all together and head right into the third book, The Magician’s Land.

I have seen people praise this book as “the best ending to a series ever” and I’m calling major b.s. on that. However, it is a good book. It wraps the story up nicely, tying up any loose ends as well as introducing new characters. The story takes place several years after the first and second stories, the original characters who were teens in the beginning are now in their thirties. It was pretty interesting to see how they grew, their personalities and their relationships with each other developed. It’s hard to explain the third book in a series when I haven’t even told you the characters names, but just trust me when I tell you it’s a good series. The characters are all likeable in their own way, if only because of the absolute unlikeableness they posses. Yes I realize that statement contradicts itself, but that’s life. It’s all about contradictions. Look at me, getting all philosophical.

Take this as you will, really it’s just a bunch of nonsensical rambling about a book series that I enjoyed, but I think you should read it. It being The Magicians trilogy, not this blog post. Clearly you’ve already read the blog post if you’re here. Clearly I stopped making sense a few sentences ago, and am in need of some sleep. Goodnight friends!

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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim – David Sedaris

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Well hello again! Sorry it’s been so long, you know the drill; school was crazy, I had midterms, and then it was reading week and I was in Florida hanging out with Captain America. Yup, you read that correctly. I’ll put up some pictures once I get organized.

I read Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris while in Florida. I’ve heard good things about Me Talk Pretty One Day, also by Sedaris, so I thought I would give this a try. Here’s the best way to sum this one up: it was okay.

From what I understand, this is supposed to be a humour book. Sedaris is supposed to be a humourist. I was supposed to laugh. Preferably out loud. And did I? No. No I did not.

Honestly, I found this more sad than funny. Sedaris’ family doesn’t trust him with stories about their lives because they know he’ll write about them. One of his sisters spent the majority of her teen years in a juvenille detention type school where the people in charge putted golf balls into the teens mouths. All of the stories about his father were about how his dad let his family down in some way or another. His mother, well honestly he makes her sound pretty great.

One of the saddest stories was when David stayed at the home of one of his sisters. She and her husband have two parrots, one belongs to her and one to her husband. Her parrot likes to repeat phrases the sister says, at the time of his visit it was repeating daily affirmation phrases. ***SPOILERS*** The story ends with Sedaris creeping downstairs to where the parrot is kept and repeating “please forgive me” over and over again, feeling bad for publishing stories about his family. That’s just depressing. I realize every family has its problems, and the only information I have about this guys family is from this book, but man are they weird.

There were a few stories that were humourous, most of the stories about Sedaris’ brother and the stories about his time as a house cleaner were quite entertaining.

It boils down to this: if you liked Sedaris’ previous books you’ll probably like this one. I’ve never really read essay style books, and this wasn’t the best introduction to them. It’s not something I would read again, and it didn’t turn me on to the rest of Sedaris’ works. Sayonara, Sedaris.

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Land of Love and Drowning – Tiphanie Yanique

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I hated this book. HATED. It was so twisted and disturbing, and not in a good way. I picked this book up because it was on nearly every “best books of the year” list I saw and the description sounded interesting. It seemed like my kind of book. Romantic relationships, familial relationships, magic, all sorts of twists and turns. And to be fair, it had all of that, but in the worst way possible.

I don’t even want to get into the plot because even though I read this over Christmas it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I think of it. Some of the issues I had include parental sexual activity with children, incest of the sibling variety, manipulation, et cetera. On top of these issues, the characters were completely unlikable. Every single one. They were manipulative, which I already mentioned, adulterous, mentally unstable (can’t really blame them for that one when their parent was sexually abusing them), lying, strange, obnoxious, and just icky. Blech.

Basically the book is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, focusing on a set of siblings. When the sisters’ parents die, the older sister is left to look after her younger sister and to look out for their half brother. The little sister and little brother are inexplicable drawn together and bad things follow.

Okay I’m not even going to go past that because it just really disturbed me and I don’t want to get into it. I realize this is almost embarrassingly short but nope I just can’t do it. I’m definitely willing to acknowledge that this is an important book. It deals with racial, sexual, and ethnic issues. It takes place during the time of the U.S. taking control of the VIrgin Islands, during World War Two, during the depression. The plot covers all of these issues and more. I am more than willing to acknowledge that there are people who will very much enjoy this book. And that this book should be read. But it just wasn’t for me. Despite its dipping its toes in magical waters, this book was much too real for me. Sexual abuse, poverty, racism, and sexism among other things all combined to make a story that I just couldn’t escape in.

Have you read this book? Did you hate it too? Is there a book that you hate equally as much as I hated this one? Tell me in the comments!

Now that we’re through with the book related things, I’m going to cheer us (read: me) up a bit with a fun dad joke! Wahoo! Today’s bad/dad joke comes to you from a seven year old who told it to me at work…

What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear!

Ha! Okay bye.

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One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories – B.J. Novak

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Happy Christmas Eve! I’m currently on the way to my grandma’s house out of town for Christmas. I’m so excited I only see her and that side of the family a couple times a year, so it’s always an adventure. I’m usually super excited for Christmas, last year I even painted Christmas trees on to my nails. This year I haven’t been as Christmasy (it’s a word, don’t judge). I think it’s because we only have about 4 inches of snow and it’s been super warm lately, which normally I would have absolutely no problem with but it just doesn’t feel like Christmas in my city. My grandma’s city has had plenty of Christmas weather though so hopefully that will be a little better. In other news, my face is still sore. Getting better though!

Okay so I don’t normally enjoy short stories, there’s just never enough for me to feel fulfilled. I loved B.J. Novak in The Office though, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did. Not only did I immensely enjoy this book it opened me to the possibility of reading other collections of short stories. I’m going to get into my favourite bits of this book, but seriously just read it!

Novak does a really good job of reinventing several legends, like the Tortoise and the Hare, and creating new legends like the invention of the calendar. The calendar story is one of my favourites, actually. Several of the stories’ have characters that intertwine, which always makes me happy, and these were also some of my favourite stories. Like the girl who gives great advice, which is quite introspective.

Many of the stories have classic morals with modern twists, many of them are commentaries on modern society (with hilarity woven in), and many of them are just hilarious. If you are looking for a last minute gift for your fellow book lover or just want some easy reading over the Christmas break I would definitely suggest this book. I don’t have enough good things to say about it.

I’m going to keep this short because, you know, Christmas Eve, so I’ll see you on the other side! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

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