Tuesday, 21 October 2014

More Interesting Mockingjay Promotions

Rather out of character for me, I planned a very last minute trip to New York City that I recently got back from.  While I was there, I saw this amazing poster set for Mockingjay, part 1 near Times Square.

Then I got an email about some new marketing they're doing for the film.  The following excerpts are quoted from the email:

DISTRICT VOICES is a five episode series on YouTube that brings to life Panem, the fictional world of The Hunger Games, through videos featuring popular YouTube creators. Each episode of the series was created with a different creator, whose channel content aligns with a specific industry from one of the districts of Panem.
The videos were concepted and developed with the team from the YouTube Space LA and filmed on location there, and around Los Angeles. They provide a window into an expanded world of The Hunger Games and deliver original content to the passionate fan bases of both the films and the individual YouTube creators. Presented as programming from CAPITOL TV, the government-sanctioned television network of The Hunger Games,...


View the DISTRICT VOICES trailer now and tune-in to Capitol TV each day this week starting at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT:
Monday, October 20 - District 8:  Rob Czar & Corinne Leigh, co-helmers of the ‘Threadbanger’ YouTube channel, show how to best make use of excess Peacekeeper armor.
Tuesday, October 21 - District 2: Shane Fazen, of the ‘fightTIPS’ YouTube channel, showcases the training and techniques required to be a Peacekeeper in Panem.
Wednesday, October 22 - District 5: Derek Muller, known for the mind-blowing experiments and scientific discussions on his YouTube channel ‘Veritasium’, demonstrates new ways in which the Capitol may generate its electricity in the future.
Thursday, October 23 - District 9: Jimmy Wong & Ashley Adams, best known for their ‘Feast of Fiction’ YouTube channel, demonstrate baking techniques from Panem’s Grain District.
Friday, October 24 - District 6: iJustine’s Justine Ezarik, gives a glimpse at the driving force that proudly supports the transportation needs of Panem’s vaunted Peacekeepers.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 opens in theatres everywhere on November 21. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Book Review: Of Bone and Thunder by Chris Evans

Pros: real war feel, lots of slang and specialized vocabulary, superb world-building, varied characters

Cons: tough read, slow beginning

Join the Kingdom’s ‘finest’ as they fight to keep their colony, Luitox, free from the Forest Collective.  But the FnC are hard to fight, hiding deep in the jungle and, though their arrows snipe the troops, they’re never there when the troops arrive.  Manned dragons fly overhead, ferrying troops and flaming suspected hotspots.  Some newly freed dwarves have enlisted but still bear hatred for their former slavers.  New technologies are invented as soldiers face a mostly faceless enemy.  The army must deal with privations and problems galore, even as the war finally rushes towards a conclusion.

This is a fantasy retelling of the Vietnam war.  I don’t know much about the war, but this makes me want to learn more.  If even a portion of what happens in this book is true it was a truly horrific event.  The book touches on all sorts of issues - racism, demonizing the enemy, lack of communication, the incorporation of new and barely understood technology, the horrors of battle, losing friends, those back home not understanding the realities of what’s happening, and more.

It’s a difficult read in that no punches are pulled.  War isn’t noble or heroic, it’s dirty, full of pain and desperation.  You’ll be seeing blood, puke and all other bodily fluids.  Don’t get too attached to any of the characters as the ones that make it to the end do so greatly changed by their experiences.

There’s a fair amount of slang to master, but aside from ‘rag’, short for dragon, which took me a while to figure out as there was no context for it the first time it was used, I picked it up pretty fast.  The book jumps ahead frequently, allowing it to cover more time and give a broader look at the perceptions and realities of the war.  You’re also getting several points of view: a grunt soldier, two thaums (a cross between a magic worker and a scientist), a dragon rider, people in different levels of command, a journalist, etc.  This also helps give a more varied view of the war.

The opening is a bit slow.  There’s an atmospheric prologue and some scenes with soldiers followed by a chapter that consists of a much needed info dump that explains the purpose of the war.  Things pick up fast though and draw you into the lives of the characters.

It’s a compelling read, and sometimes its easier to come to grips with the horrors of reality when they’re presented as somewhat removed from it.  History retelling aside, it’s a great book that will have you wishing that real wars were a thing of the past.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Regular posting starts again this coming week

Sorry for the lack of posts these past 2 weeks.  I was on a trip the past week and had intended to prepare the posts for it in advance, but a death in the family meant I was preparing for a funeral instead.

I'll be returning to my regular posting schedule this coming week.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Brief Hiatus

Due to a death in the family I'll be taking a brief hiatus from my blog.  I apologize that some of my reviews will be out later than intended because of it.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Shout-Out: Good House by Peyton Marshall

At the end of the twenty-first century-in a transformed America-the sons of convicted felons are tested for a set of genetic markers. Boys who test positive become compulsory wards of the state-removed from their homes and raised on "Goodhouse" campuses, where they learn to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. Goodhouse is a savage place-part prison, part boarding school-and now a radical religious group, the Holy Redeemer's Church of Purity, is intent on destroying each campus and purifying every child with fire.
We see all this through the eyes of James, a transfer student who watched as the radicals set fire to his old Goodhouse and killed nearly everyone he'd ever known. In addition to adjusting to a new campus with new rules, James now has to contend with Bethany, a brilliant, medically fragile girl who wants to save him, and with her father, the school's sinister director of medical studies. Soon, however, James realizes that the biggest threat might already be there, inside the fortified walls of Goodhouse itself.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Blast From the Past: The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist

Before I started reviewing books online I loved rereading my favourite SF/Fantasy books.  Since I don’t have time to do that anymore, this column is a trip down memory lane, where I’ll rave about books I love to read.  And then read again.  These aren’t reviews, as I won’t necessarily mention criticisms, they’re my chance to fan girl about books I love and hopefully garner some interest in some older titles.


After The Sword of Shannara trilogy, the Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist, was the series that cemented my love of fantasy.  While it uses a lot of what have now become common tropes, this series is well written and fun, with a lot of great battles and characters.

The series starts with an orphan boy, Pug, who's discovered to have magical abilities and is apprenticed to the duke's wizard.  But while he struggles to learn magic, beings from another world have opened a rift to his, and plan to invade.

My synopsis barely scratches the surface of what you'll find, and though the story starts with a fairly narrow focus, it opens up to cover numerous cities over two worlds as well as following a small group of influential people in a variety of circumstances.  There are elves, forgotten creatures with godlike power lost in the rift, magic, a thieves guild, warfare, politics, and a touch of romance.  As the books progress, so does time and new characters come into the books as the older characters increase or lose their powers and influence.

You've got to read them in order to understand everything that's going on, but my favourite book is Silverthorn, mainly because it focuses on Jimmy the Hand, a thief turned squire, whose street smarts and backtalk make him one of my favourite fantasy characters of all time.  He's clever and handsome and was my first book crush. ;)

The books have had numerous covers over their publication history, though the ones above are the ones I read and own.  I know that Feist re-edited them a few years back but haven't read what he changed/added.  I couldn't bear to see books that meant so much to me change.

And while I read several of the books that came after these, I can't really recommend all of them.  Some I enjoyed (like the Krondor trilogy and the Empire trilogy that he wrote with Janny Wurts), but none reached the same level of careful planning as the original trilogy (the publisher split Magician into 2 books due to its size, hence why there are 4 covers above).  In a few cases, the sequels directly contradicted or rewrote the history told in these books or had deus ex machina endings that ticked me off.

But the original saga is definitely worth reading.  And reading again.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sunburst Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic:

Adult category

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

On a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, a Hello Kitty lunchbox washes up on the beach. Tucked inside is a collection of curious items, including the diary of a sixteen year-old Japanese girl named Nao Yasutani. Ruth, who finds the lunchbox, suspects that it is debris from Japan's devastating 2011 tsunami. Once Ruth starts to read the diary, she quickly finds herself drawn into the mystery of the young girl's fate.
In a manga café in Tokyo's Electric Town, Nao has decided there's only one escape from the loneliness and pain of her life, as she's uprooted from her U.S. home, bullied at school, and watching her parents spiral deeper into disaster. But before she ends it all, she wants to accomplish one thing: to recount the story of her great-grandmother, a 104-year-old Zen Buddhist nun, in the pages of her diary. The diary, Nao's only solace, is her cry for help to a reader she can only imagine.

Young Adult category

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint

Lillian Kindred spends her days exploring the Tanglewood Forest, a magical, rolling wilderness that she imagines to be full of fairies. The trouble is, Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills--until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. Now she must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creates--from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People--to find a way to make things right.