Thursday, April 24, 2014

#CBR6 Review #11: Locke & Key, vol. 3 – Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

I am very much enjoying the Locke & Key graphic novel series, and am so glad that my sister is letting me read them (even before she has a chance to)! The plot keeps moving along at a not-too-rapid pace, yet every volume is filled with new mysteries, developments, and dangers that this poor family has to face. I find it all to be so riveting, but then, this genre is really right up my alley. If you haven’t read any of the previous instalments of the series, you might be a loss as to my explanation coming up, but here’s what the 3rd volume holds:

 More pages turned in Locke & Key means more keys found at the Key house Estate, yet none of them seem to be the one to the “black door” that Zach/Lucas/Dodge is looking for (whatever his real name is). He is relentless in his search, looking to the ghost of Sam Lesser for help, and treading on the Locke children as they get in his way; he does this all while simultaneously maintaining a friendship with the children, who are still trying to piece their lives together after the loss of their father.

Within this third volume of Locke & Key, the Locke children are faced with a cold reality, and that is that they are alone: their mother is with them, but is she really there? The kids are beginning to realize that their mother cannot help them, and that they must turn to one another when they are threatened, and must work together to try and find the key that the mysterious woman in the well house was looking for, before she can find it.

Along with the new keys (the Giant Key, the Shadow Key, and the Mending Key) that we see in Crown of Shadows, we also begin to see the repercussions of Kinsey removing all the fear from her head in the previous volume: she is not afraid of telling her mother what she thinks about her behavior, and she sure isn’t afraid of social ostracism at school, which leads her to make some interesting new friends that may put a wrench in Zach’s plans to get close to her in order to get closer to his mysterious goals.

As I said before, this kind of story is definitely my kind of thing, and it feels incredibly original and refreshing, yet still so dark and eerie. If you are a fan of the graphic novel genre, I would definitely give it a look if you haven’t already.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#CBR6 Review #10: Spirituality - A Very Short Introduction by Philip Sheldrake

One of the first readings in my new course of study focused on psychotherapy and spirituality, I embark upon a journey of discovering what exactly spirituality is, what it might entail, how it might be different in every individual person, and what exactly my own spirituality might be. The concept is complex, and reducing it down into a short little introductory book like Philip Sheldrake attempts is no easy feat. While he presents the diversity of interpretation and complexity that the term “spirituality” brings in the modern day, I left almost with more questions than answers. I understand that spirituality is a personal thing that each person has to discover and somehow define themselves in each of their own lives, but it truly is a baffling idea to even begin to study: where do you ever start? That’s the real question, I feel.

Sheldrake presents different contexts wherein spirituality may be found, how these might relate to different religions, life practices, and world-views. What he obtains in presenting the great breadth of the topic, however, he does at the expense of depth. This was designed to be a short introduction, after all, and therefore each idea that is discussed appears to just whip right by to get to the next one. I suppose that what it does succeed in, however, is intriguing some interest in delving deeper into whatever facet or spiritual mindset inspires the reader the most. As such, this is a quick and somewhat interesting read to begin understanding the complexity of spirituality in today’s world, despite maybe not being the most comprehensive as each subject is sped through with an apparent intensity to get to the next topic.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

One Direction Brings Me Joy (Did You Already Know That?): Come Take a Walk With Me...

Idiots... And I mean that in the most affectionate way.
First of all, I’ve talked about the whole concept of “ironically” liking something before and how I don’t like that phrase. What does it even mean? That you like something but in a “cool” way? Is it just a way of saying that you kind of like something but you don’t want to admit to fully liking it, similar to the idea of a guilty pleasure? Guilty pleasures are another concept that I don’t really subscribe to personally, because if I like something, I like it, and I’m probably not ashamed of it (I know I've talked about that a lot before too). 
And something that I’ve liked for quite a while now is One Direction, and not even in an ironic or guilty pleasure kind of way. Yep. I’m a young lady who absolutely adores a young, British boyband.
Liam's vocal range is actually
super impressive: he has an
incredibly strong singing voice. 
How did all of this happen? Let’s take a journey:
When I first found the music video for “What Makes You Beautiful” a few years ago, I thought it was hilarious and showed all my friends, like, “look at these little boys and their boyband and their silly song! Haha, it’s kind of catchy!” Then the song was on the radio and I said, “Guys! I heard the song on the radio! Hahaha, I wonder if they have any other songs that are just as catchy and cute?” This led to me acquiring their first album, and although the songs were pretty derivative, saccharine, sweet and stereotypically boyband-y, I liked some of them. Then the next single and album Take Me Home came out and I wanted to hear what that sounded like, so I acquired it as well… and fell absolutely in love with the album. It was so fun and catchy and cheesy, and it put a total spring in my step when I first listened to it while walking to the bus station! Take Me Home quickly became one of the most played albums in
Harry Styles gets a lot of
flack but I'm not sure
why: he seems so pleasant. 
my music library ("Heart Attack" is still the most-played song in itself, with "Kiss You" soon after that), and when Midnight Memories was announced to be released, I just happened to have an iTunes gift card and immediately decided to preorder it. And I fell in love with almost all of the songs immediately after I had the chance to hear them.

Somewhere along the way, one of my friends started to adore One Direction as well, even more so than I do (she’s actually gone to see them in concert, unlike myself as of yet), so now I have a friend to enjoy their music and ridiculous hair and fashion with (seriously, boys, you are so strange when it comes to that, and yet I like it). My friend also recently got me to watch the movie about the band, and I started to enjoy their goofy personalities, and felt a whole lot of unexpected feelings in regards to them all. I suddenly realized that I could identify every
Louis just so happens to be
my friend's favourite member.
one of the boys’ singing voices distinctly from the other. I know all the words to almost all of their songs and have laughed at a lot of the lyrics, all while still enjoying them immensely. I know how old they all are (not 17 like I have believed for about 3 years now), and have found myself thinking that some of them (see: all of them) are super cute, because I just can’t help myself. I have some bracelets with their names on them. The background on my phone is a photo of Niall Horan. My friend and I share pictures of the different band-members with each other whenever we stumble upon a nice one. I’ve learned to play many One Direction songs on my ukulele and have even recorded some covers of myself singing them… Things have gotten a little out of control lately. Or have they? I'm not really sure. 

The other day I stopped and asked myself why: why exactly am I focusing so much of my energy on this silly, manufactured boyband of absolute doofuses from Great Britain? 
Zayn has some of the most
beautiful eyes I've ever seen
and it's almost unfair. 
And the answer is, because their peppy music and seemingly lovely personalities make me happy. Dealing with a large variety of life stresses right now as well, it stands to reason that I am using their music and connecting to this positive presence as a means of release, to give me good vibes when surrounded by negativity and other tensions. And what’s so wrong with that?

Does it make me juvenile to like a band whose music is marketed towards younger girls? I mean, the boys themselves aren’t that much younger than I am (trust that I don't mean that in a creepy way). Does it make me uncool for something for liking such mainstream music? I really dislike those attitudes of musical snobbery that a person is somehow superior for only listening to old or indie or whatever kind of music they like. I enjoy a whole variety of musical styles and artists, so why does it seem to matter the most and color how I come across to people when I admit that I enjoy One Direction? Who knows.
Sometimes my friends call
me "little Niall" when I put
my blonde hair up like this.

At the end of the day, I don’t really know what I’m getting at here.
I’m just here to say, Hey! I like One Direction! In fact I like them a lot because they sing happy music and seem like nice boys and make other people happy too! And if you don’t like them, that’s totally cool with me as long as you aren't rude about it. 

All I know is that whenever I’m stressed out (which is apparently a lot lately) or feeling a little low, I can find a spark of positivity in the music of this puerile little boyband. So that is why I listen to them and why I like them. We all have our preferences and we all have our reasons. Now just learn to stop worrying and embrace the things that you love, even if other people think that it’s lame. Does it make you happy? Yes? Then enjoy it!

Do you think we should close with a song? I certainly do! Here's a cheeky little tune called "Happily" from their newest album (Midnight Memories). I hope you enjoy it:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

#CBR6 Review #09: The Mortal Instruments 4, City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

I told myself I was done with The Mortal Instruments books after the third one…. but then my friends and I were discussing how corny the movie was, and some things about the next few books were mentioned and well, my curiosity got the better of me (I’m weak, okay?). Considering how I already had the whole series up to this point already acquired on my reading device, I saw no problem in just taking a gander at what happened next to these characters I’ve already spent some time with, even though now the whole thing is a little tainted by the whole plagiarism and Weasley incest fanfiction thing that I was unaware of before (yeesh). And I have to say, given that this 4th novel in the series features Simon as a central character whose point of view takes more precedence than before, there is less adolescent moping about Clary and Jace’s “forbidden love”. Though, who am I kidding? The story is still wrought with their yearning for one another and difficulties communicating even though they don’t seem to want to live apart even for a second. Oh my goodness, just talk to each other instead of running from your problems! That seems to be the thing that bothers me the most about all of the characters: they don’t want to deal with things, they just want to mope and stew and see how things turn out without taking action when really they should be taking action.

All that being said, City of Fallen Angels is definitely more interesting in terms of plot than the preceding book in The Mortal Instruments series. This largely has to do with the fact that the threat of Valentine has finally been eradicated (or so we think) and so new threats and villainous personalities can be woven into the fabric of this supernatural world. Also, Simon’s character gets to grow and we get to see the struggle he has being a new vampire, which removes the focus from Clary and Jace. I know that those two are the main characters, but I’m getting tired of them. Also, the whole special snowflake thing about Clary not thinking she’s special but then being the most special of all, who every guy has a thing for even though the way they describe her is actually really creepy: they just keep talking about how tiny and vulnerable she looks? I don’t know. It makes me think of those girls in high school who are reasonably nice girls but for some reason every guy has a thing for her, and you ask a guy why everyone likes this girl so much and they give you extremely vague answers or explain traits that literally every girl has and you just leave confused as to what it is that everyone sees in her, you know what I mean? Okay, maybe I’m going off on a tangent here.

In any case, if you’ve read some of the other books in this series, by this 4th one you probably already know how you feel about them. I really like the concept and interpretations of some of the monsters and folklore in this series, but the characters really get on my nerves and their relationships are very stiff. So I don’t know how I feel about it anymore…

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Favourite Skate of the Day: Duhamel and Radford, 2014 Short Program

Just after their 3rd place finish at the World Championships, I remembered how much I adored Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford's short program skate in Sochi for the Team Skate event. Did you know that Eric Radford actually composed the music for the skate as well? It's beautiful, and just matches the skate and the unique choreography so well! The connection in their partnership is clear, the two of them land all of their jumps almost effortlessly, and this performance helped to solidify a Silver medal finish for Canada in Team Skate as well (which, of course, I was extremely happy about).

Unfortunately, once again, I can't embed this video, but you can find their stunning performance here