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!

Bout of Books

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

Bout of Books

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.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Film Review

Everyone raved about this movie. I mean, it was the highly anticipated Marvel movie of the summer, how could it not be hyped up? And maybe it was all the hype, but I knew I had to see this movie. People were saying they’d seen it multiple times, and with Fan Expo on my horizon, I definitely felt like I had to watch it before the event, where I’d surely get spoiled. I hardly ever see movies in theatres unless I desperately want to, but this one came on as feeling a bit forced. The hype, the possibility of being left out of a lot of stuff at Fan Expo… I had to see it.

Guardians of the Galaxy follows Peter Quill as he gets abducted from Earth and years later finds himself traversing the galaxy, finding treasures and selling them. Quill stumbles upon an orb that is wanted by Ronan, who is a crazy threat to the universe – if he gets hold of this orb, he will destroy everything. Literally. So Quill bands together his crew of misfits to “guard the galaxy” from Ronan.

I’m not a fan of Marvel. I’m a nerd and I’ll admit that without feeling ashamed. I’ve only ever watched Avengers all the way through without getting totally bored out of my mind. That being said, Guardians of the Galaxy was probably my favourite Marvel movie I’ve seen.

The effects were pretty cool, and the copious 80s references (including the entire soundtrack of this movie) were glorious. The dialogue was witty; I was surprised to learn that Joss Whedon wasn’t one of the writers for this one.

But I still don’t like the whole “superhero” plot. It seems too easy, too overdone. I know this entire review is an unpopular opinion, and I understand why people like Marvel films, but when 45% of the movie is build-up and the last 55% is the huge, climactic fight at the end, it seems to me like there could be a lot less fluff and fighting, and a lot more plot or character development. I’m not a fan of the fighting, so when I go into a superhero movie, I look for other aspects that I may like, like the music or the dialogue, or the philosophies being suggested. And when I come out of a Batman movie, for instance, I get those things. I didn’t get enough from this film.

On a scale of 5 stars, I’d give Guardians a solid 3. Cool effects, had me laughing at points, but I still found myself checking my watch the entire movie, wondering when it would finally be over.

Bout of Books – Reading Update!

Bout of Books

So I think I’ve already almost beat my reading record for the last Bout of Books read-a-thon I participated in, which was in May. That being said, May I had a lot going on and read maybe 500 pages. It wasn’t a great week for me. So far if I keep up my pace, I could do much better than 500 pages in 7 days. So I’m quite satisfied with where this is going.

On Monday, day one of this read-a-thon, I read about 90 pages of Marie Phillips’s The Table of Less Valued Knights and the first chapter, so 8 pages, of Cammie McGovern’s YA novel, Say What You Will. I sat down and read all of this straight, which doesn’t sound like very much, but for me it’s quite a bit to sit and read all at once.

Yesterday, I read more of Say What You Will, I got to page 44. I’m really liking where this story is going so far; it feels very honest. I also got 50 more pages into Less Valued Knights. That novel is hilarious! It’s very funny and reminds me a lot of Monty Python. If you’re a fan of those movies, I really recommend you read The Table of Less Valued Knights.

I also participated in a challenge yesterday where I got to talk about one of my more recent OTPs, a post which you can view below this one!

I’ll keep you updated as to where my reading takes me!

“KILLER LUNCH” w/ Random House Canada: Friday, August 15th

This past Friday I went downtown Toronto, as I was invited to an event at Random House of Canada. Three crime authors (Tess Gerritsen, Lorenzo Carcaterra and Chris Pavone) would be there promoting their new/upcoming titles, and us bloggers would chat with the authors over lunch. Seeing as how this would be my first ever blogger event, I was really excited to see what it would be like. And I have to say, I was very impressed with the set up.

The entire office was set up like I’d just walked into a crime novel, totally setting the atmosphere. I went with my friend, Christine, who is also a blogger, and we loved the look! There was caution tape all over the place and “chalk” outlines on the floors. There was even bloody hand prints on the bathroom mirrors! The lunch table itself was set up with evidence – detailed descriptions of how these things were used in a make-believe crime. 

 

Among the handful of bloggers were some booksellers and employees of Random House, who all took a glass of champagne and toasted as the authors joined us at the table. Throughout the lunch, the authors swapped seats, giving everyone around the table a chance to talk to each of them about their upcoming books, how they got started writing, and what inspires them to write. Gerritsen, Carcaterra and Pavone also each got a chance to stand up and address the entire table of book-lovers alone, telling us about their first publications and why they are so inspired to write crime above all other genres of fiction.

At one point during his speech, Chris Pavone said something about working in publishing that was very touching. He said, “Every day we come into work hoping to fall in love”. And as a bibliophile, this really hit home. Sure, publishers are hoping to read a manuscript that they love and have to share with the world, but as a blogger, I experience the same sort of urge to love the books I am sent to read. When any reader picks up a book, they’re hoping that they discover a new favourite character, or a plotline that really inspires them. Pavone’s words really spoke to me.

The lunch itself was really delicious, and for dessert there was a “killer carrot cake”! 

 

After the lunch, everyone at the table was invited to approach the authors individually to sign their new books and ask any other burning questions they still had. We were also encouraged to take any other books in the office that were lining the room written by these three authors. Needless to say, I think I came home with seven signed books that afternoon, plus an extra crime ARC. 

Overall, I am really excited that I got to attend this amazing event, and I really anticipate similar events held by Random House in the future!

  

(L to R: Chris Pavone, Tess Gerritsen and Lorenzo Carcattera at the Killer Lunch, Fri. Aug 15, 2014)

Bout of Books, Day 2 Challenge: OTP!

So the challenge for the second day of the Bout of Books read-a-thon is by Infinite Ink, and she is asking people to talk about their OTP. Which I have no problem doing.

OTP, for those who don’t know, stands for One True Pairing (the couple you “ship” the most). Honestly, my OTP will forever be House and Wilson (from House MD), but since this is a read-a-thon, I’ll talk about my literary OTP.

And there are many. But today, I’ll talk about a book that I read recently and loved the dynamics of the couple. And that couple is Sloane and James from Suzanne Young’s The Program. That being said, I tried the sequel and it caused mental vomit, so I had to get rid of it. The first book is the only one that exists, in my eyes.

But back to Sloane and James.

I love how the entire novel is just them being together. I loved their back story – their sweet, realistic story of how they got together. I love how they stayed together despite a lot of tragedy. But most of all, I loved how throughout this novel, Young never made the conflict with their relationship. The conflict was something else entirely that they fought together. There was no lame love triangle, as there are in so many YA novels these days. Sloane and James are just in a successful relationship that is filled with passion and love, and they are fighting against the world they live in – not each other.

I guess that’s why The Treatment made me so angry. I was so upset that Young took this perfect romance and turned it into… well, I’ll not rant. But it stopped being as real and charming as it was originally and became the stereotype of YA fiction.

It was refreshing to read such a real connection between two people.

My internet… *cries*

It’s day 6 without Internet.

I’ve been getting by. I’m a survivor. I know I can do this.

There are tons of books on my shelves to be read. I can write. Get some things done around the house…

OH WHO AM I KIDDING.

I’m at the local library stealing wifi because a blogger can’t NOT blog. And during BOUT OF BOOKS, too? This is killing me.

But alas, I have finally found a means of connecting to my lovely readers. For now, at least.

Anyway, the point of my writing today is to let you all know two things:

  1. I have an EMAIL ADDRESS now! Finally. So if you want to email me about books, recommendations, business inquiries, etc. Please email me at michellewidmann934@gmail.com. The 934 stands for Platform 9 3/4… teehee!
  2. I am holding a giveaway! My laptop is dying as we speak *sobs harder* so I’ll post about this in more detail when I have time to blog (likely tomorrow), but I went to a lunch at Random House of Canada and got a book signed for you guys – so I’ll be giving that away starting THURS AUG 21! The giveaway is to celebrate my hitting 200 subscribers on YouTube. What up! I’ll link you to the giveaway every day on Twitter, etc. until it starts. And probably throughout the giveaway, as well, to be honest.

So as I said, laptop dying, no time to type, best wishes to all and I hope to get back on here tomorrow evening!

*sobs*