Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham: Book Review

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When Random House of Canada offered me a reviewers copy of Dunham’s book, I could hardly contain myself. I am a huge fan of the show Girls, and her character is my favourite. Knowing she writes the show as well, I knew what to expect from a novel of her writing. Well, I thought I knew what to expect. That’s where I got let down. I think I just expected a little too much.

Not That Kind of Girl is Lena Dunham’s autobiography about everything that she’s learned thus far in her life. I’m not one to put down an autobiography simply because the author is still young; you’re never too young to have an experience that must be shared with the world. Only I didn’t find any of her essays particularly urgent. They lacked the feeling of “that story that absolutely needed to be told”. If you’re getting a book published, you should have something to say, and I felt as though Dunham said a whole lot of nothing.

The first chapter was quite interesting to me. She wrote about her sexual escapades that had me thinking about the issues of feminism and slut-shaming, thinking it brave that Dunham would spill her guts out about such personal matters and not be ashamed of them. That’s the way it should be. But as the book went on, the crazy exploits (not just sexual) kept on coming, and there was yet a lesson to be learned.

I don’t care if she chooses to skip out on work to do drugs, or she gets so drunk or high that she gets herself into some sexual trouble that could ultimately be very dangerous. But if she’s writing a book about it, there better be a point as to why I’m reading this book about it. If these are just stories and she hasn’t actually a lesson to teach, why should I read them?

On the plus side, I’m a fairly liberal person and some of the things Dunham has done makes me seem a bit prudish. So it did make me think about my liberal declaration and whether or not I should be uptight about some of the things that are fairly societally accepted as things to be uptight about. That was kind of interesting. I like being challenged in that way.

I also acknowledge that maybe I liked the sex chapter because I could relate, and I didn’t like the education one or the body image one because I really couldn’t relate. I was a good student who loved school all the way through. I never really had many concerns with my health or body image. So maybe that’s why I didn’t care very much – I just couldn’t relate, couldn’t sympathize, couldn’t emote the way she expected me to.

I got to the final section of the book – “The Big Picture” – before putting it down for good. I gave Not That Kind of Girl two stars on Goodreads. I still love Lena Dunham, but I’m going to keep to watching Girls and leave it at that.

NaNoWriMo 2014!

Yes, after many pestering friends have told me about NaNoWriMo and I’ve told them I’m too busy to participate… I’m finally NOT too busy to participate.

Don’t know what the friggity frack I’m talking about? Here, let me fill you in!

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place throughout the month of November. Ever felt like you’ve wanted to write a novel? Well, here’s your chance! All you have to do is strive to write a 50,000-word novel in one month and you’re a winner!

Now as much as I’ve always wanted to write a novel, and I constantly have about seven novel ideas on the go at any given moment, I’ve also been holding down a full-time job, or in university, or working hard to try and get accepted into university. I’ve honestly never had the time to dedicate to 50,000 words.

But now after having gotten through uni and working full-time, I’m back in college where the work-load is considerably lessened and I actually have some extra time to spend doing things I want to do. Like catching up on Doctor Who, or finally sitting down and writing that damn novel.

So I’ve decided I’m going to try my hardest this month to write out one of my ideas. Get the wheels turning, so to speak. It’s about time I’ve taken everything I’ve learned while reading my way to an English degree and use it to accomplish my own literary goals.

If you’re interested, sign up here! NaNoWriMo goes from November 1st-30th!

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews – Book Review

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As most of you know by now, the topic of gender and sexuality is one I find very interesting to discuss; there are so many fluid identities one can take in order to find one that suits them. So I knew I had to request an ARC of this new Simon & Schuster title and find out what Some Assembly Required was all about.

Although this book reads like a fiction at times, it is a true story about how Arin Andrews went on his journey to being transgender: first, realizing he is in the wrong body, then trying to decipher what this means, and trying to get his very religious family on board with this transition. But this story was told by the only person who could have told it – the one to whom the story happened. So I’m able to brush aside the writing stuff that makes me cringe a little to see the more important thing at hand: Arin Andrews and his inspiring story.

I think there needs to be more transgender books like this one, because to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever met a transgender person and therefore have no clue what it’s like to go through that transition and have to deal with society’s view of you in the process. This memoir taught me a lot about tolerance, about how to comfortably address someone who is transgender without being rude or ignorant.

I could also relate quite a bit to the novel – not necessarily the transgender bits, but the parts where Arin falls in love too quickly (some may say), or where he gets attached to others and makes his way around trying to find the perfect partner. I also had a bit of an identity crisis regarding my sexuality, but that’s all sorted out now. It just felt very real to read about this teenager who could comfortably confess his feelings to any number of people (regardless of gender or body type) and really, truly mean it every single time. I also related to being in a religious school system, feeling judged for not following the expected conservative norms.

This was a very quick read, and I think everyone should give it a try – you’ll definitely learn something new, and you’ll likely gain an insight regarding transgendered people.

Kitten Clone by Douglas Coupland: Book Review

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When Random House of Canada offered me the chance to review this new Coupland title, I knew I couldn’t refuse. Douglas Coupland has been one of my most recent finds – you know what I mean: those authors you just discover one day and have to buy all of their books, because they’re quite possibly the best author you’ve encountered in a while. And Kitten Clone had to be added to this growing collection of mine. It just had to.

The first thing I noticed about this book was the cover. That coloured bit in the photo above is a small jacket that covers everything but the title and the barcode. You don’t even see the book summary until you lift the flap up off the front cover – something I found very metaphorical about the way companies give us their title and an image, but not the dirty details about what lies beneath.

The book itself is really quite interesting. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of it – fiction or nonfiction? Bits of the narrative are told in the past and the future, but the present was all narrated by Coupland as he dove further into the depths of Alcatel-Lucent and what this company provides us with. This information about one of the leading companies on the planet could not be presented in any better way than through Coupland’s narrative. He explores what this constant connectivity is doing to us, the human species, and how it is affecting the way we think, let alone communicate.

Kitten Clone is a very short read, with a number of photographs to show the reader just how real this company is, and it is worth every minute of reading. It’s time we start to educate ourselves, and Coupland’s book is a great place to start.

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid: Book Review

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This book caught me straight from the cover, how could it not? It looks like a scrapbook from the mind of a teenager with immense wanderlust. And that’s what captured me. The reviews on the back of the book compare Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost to John Green’s Paper Towns, and I can definitely see the comparison, not only in themes but in the style of writing itself. That being said, I quite preferred Alsaid’s novel to that of Green’s simply because of the fact that this entire novel pushed forward at every moment, driving both the plot and my interest in Leila’s all-over-bright red-car.

Let’s Get Lost follows Leila on her solo, road trip mission to see the Northern Lights. But instead of giving us 300 pages of Leila, Alsaid gives us her journey from the perspectives of Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia. As the reader moves through the book, he sees how these four characters interact with Leila and their individual missions she helps them to overcome. Hudson is the first one we meet, as he is one of the mechanics Leila runs into – showing her the little treasures of his town. She later picks up Bree, a hitchhiker, hoping to get as far away from home as possible. After which, she nearly hits a drunken Elliot who has wandered his way into the road over a devastating prom heartbreak. And Leila is able to help Sonia sneak back into Canada to provide her second family with the misplaced wedding rings before we finally get the insight to Leila herself.

I loved the way this book was written – it kept the mystery that was Leila and the true purpose behind her journey to Alaska to see the Northern Lights, and the mini-adventures along the way were totally something out of a John Green novel. Alsaid was able to maintain his story’s charm throughout the book and keep me hanging on every word. I felt like I was there through every hardship. I also loved how the theme of getting lost meant something different to each person she runs into – sometimes getting lost means having to find your way home again, other times it means losing yourself in the moment to achieve something greater for your life.

Overall, I’d definitely say that Let’s Get Lost is one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a very long time, and I highly recommend it.

Fan Expo 2014

From Aug 28-31 of 2014, Fan Expo Canada took over downtown Toronto. People in costumes, super fans of sci-fi, and nerds of all ages infiltrated the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and I was so happy to be part of them. So I’m here to share my experience with you!

Day One:

Thursday was reserved for shopping before the crowds, so I hit the MTCC with my friends Christine and Caitlin and we tried to see as much as there was to see. I’m dressed as Marceline the Vampire Queen from Adventure Time, so here’s the photo of my friends and I with Jake and Finn! We ended up shopping a bunch, and took a ton of photos like the one above. It was the most relaxing day of the weekend, which was nice!

Day Two:

Friday was my alone day – I didn’t dress up. I met up with Christine and her boyfriend, Jeremy, and we had lunch between her photo op and autograph with Matt Smith! The rest of the time I basically wandered the floor, running into other friends and looking at stuff. I was able to catch a glimpse of Matt Smith from afar, too, which was cool!

Day Three:

Saturday was my awesome cosplay day! I have never put as much effort or money into a costume as I have with this Yoko Littner outfit from Gurren Lagann. My goal was to have one person recognize me, and I ended up being asked for photos all day! The picture above was taken and posted on Geek Inked Magazine’s Facebook page, which was cool. Besides the cosplay fun, I went with my boyfriend and his family and we met Steve Blum, a voice actor who did voices in animes like Cowboy Bebop and Gurren Lagann, and he was a great guy. 

Day Four:

I took my sister to her first nerd convention on the final day of Fan Expo! I dressed as Sailor Mars and my sister was Misty from Pokemon. We met up with our friend Sam (the raggedy Doctor), who introduced us to Nika (Amy Pond) for a while and got a chance to catch up. By the end of the day, Erika and decided to jump in line for a Nathan Fillion autograph, who shook our hand and signed a photo for her. She added his to the Veronica Taylor autograph she snagged earlier in the day.

Overall, the con was really fun and I can’t wait to get a deluxe weekend pass next year!

Feel free to share your Fan Expo experiences with me :D

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern: Book Review

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I had no idea what to expect of Say What You Will when I picked it up. Yeah, the summary compares it to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, but to be honest, comparing one book to another has never really been an adequate way of giving you a feel for a book, in my opinion. You could compare stories, but the styles would be different, or you can compare style, but the characters are not at all comparable. And Say What You Will is a beautiful novel that deserves its own recognition.

McGovern introduces us to Amy and Matthew, two seniors in high school who are very unique. Amy has severe physical disabilities that hinder her walking and speech, while Matthew suffers OCD and anxiety disorders that get worse and worse each day. But where Matthew lacks in mental abilities, Amy runs in stride and is one of the best students in her class. Juxtaposing Amy to this boy who is supposed to be somewhat of a mentor to her and watching this friendship that blossoms between them, creates a widely dynamic relationship. 

I have never read a book about a teenager with disabilities like Amy, so you can see where this book would be educational for me. But I also found it really interesting to see how making her friends with Matthew, and the fact that she feels sorry for him is a great way to depict the seriousness of mental disabilities. McGovern even writes in the novel that people will never blame a person for their physical disabilities, but they will blame a person for their mental disabilities, which seems to be the unfortunate truth in the world we live in.

As someone who struggles with her own type of anxiety, I could relate to Matthew’s character and the struggles he encounters, and the fact that McGovern doesn’t blame Matthew for his OCD and social anxiety is really comforting to me, and I’m sure also comforting to a large number of other readers. I am constantly told to “get over my anxiety”, and it’s nice to finally hear someone speak out and that it’s not that easy. 

By the time I was finished reading the novel, I was offended that it got compared to such other teen novels. Say What You Will deals with a lot of issues that YA novels deal with: friendship, romance, fitting in, etc. But it does so in such a mature way that I have not seen before, giving loads of character development even in the first few chapters. It feels very real. And it’s been a painful amount of time since I’ve read a book where I felt so strongly for the characters and what they were going through.

If not for the friendship and the YA aspects of this novel, I implore that everyone read it to learn how to be tolerant and less ignorant of people living with a disability – any type of disability.

Bout of Books Wrap-Up!

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Okay, so the Bout of Books read-a-thon ended this Sunday night, but due to my lack of internet, I was unable to post this wrap-up blog until today. So here is what I ended up getting accomplished in this week of reading!

Monday: The Table of Less Valued Knights – Marie Phillips (pages 65-150); Say What You Will – Cammie McGovern (pages 1-8).

Tuesday: The Table of Less Valued Knights (pages 151-202); Say What You Will (pages 8-44).

Wednesday: Table of Less Valued Knights (pages 203-308 — FINISHED); Say What You Will (pages 45-236).

Thursday: Say What You Will (pages 237-343 — FINISHED); S. – J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst (7 pages).

Friday: Kill Shakespeare, Vol. 1 – Connor McCreery (pages 1-70).

Saturday: Kill Shakespeare Vol. 1 (pages 71-148 — FINISHED).

Sunday: Didn’t read.

Total pages read: 741

All in all, I’m quite happy with the amount I read, especially considering that I was pretty busy all week, as well. I completed two novels and a graphic novel, and I was able to live up to my hopes and start reading “S.” – a novel which I only expected to crack open at some point during the week. I’m still currently reading S., and to be honest, am not expecting to finish any time soon, but it’s nice to know the book is on its way!

I also participated in two of the read-a-thon’s challenges, which was impressive since I had no internet for most of the week to even see what the challenges were.

I had a great time this read-a-thon and I can’t wait for the next one!

Bout of Books, Day Four Update

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Here’s the rundown, a very quick update more than halfway through the week. THIS is what I’ve accomplished:

Books hoping to read:

  • The Table of Less Valued Knights – Marie Phillips
  • Say What You Will – Cammie McGovern
  • S. – J. J. Abrams & Doug Dorst
  • Graphic novels: Mind the Gap, Umbrella Academy, Nowhere Men

Books finished so far: The Table of Less Valued Knights – Marie Phillips, Say What You Will – Cammie McGovern

Pages hoping to read: 500 (my last record for Bout of Books)

Pages read so far: 586

Bout of Books, Day 4 Challenge: If You Like This, Try This…

Today’s challenge of the Bout of Books read-a-thon, by Writing My Own Fairy Tale, invites me to recommend a book based on if you like another book, or movie, or TV show. So here we go!

If you like the HBO TV series Girls

You should try reading Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

Because Virgin looks at the real and raw nature of sex, and problems that women have to deal with, which are things I could visualize happening to the characters in Girls. The conflicts that are dealt with in the novel are those of a sexual coming-of-age and also talking about things that are usually kept hush-hush, which both of these stories push out into the public and suggest that they are allowed to be discussed – like virginity, pubic hair, or STDs.