Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kickin' It Old Skool Blog-a-thon

 photo STTNG519TheFirstDuty8_zps5b015c6a.jpg

Remember when blogging was fun? Or have you never experienced blogging at all?  Do we have a treat for you!

Join Jamie and I this December with the Kickin' It Old Skool Blog-a-thon!

We are reviving the fun of blogging and living it all December long.  Want to join in?  You can! Newbies, old hands, and everyone in between is invited to play along.

There are 2 rules, but I'm sure you can work with them:
1. Be Nice
2. Have Fun

You can do it! 

We'll give you prompts every day throughout December channelling the old skool bloggin' fun.

ST:TNG 6.16 Birthright (Part I) ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

Data beings to dream and Wolf goes on a wild goose chase in 6.16 Birthright (Part I).

Images Source: TrekCore

Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ... *

Birthright (Part I)
Season 6, Episode 16

  • While The Enterprise is helping Deep Space Nine with an aquaduct, Data and Dr. Bashir conduct an experiment which leads to Data having his first dream; plus Worf is approached by an alien who says his father is alive.

What I remembered about this episode:
  • I remember the dream Data has, and the whole obsession of trying to understand what it meant and the multiple attempts to recreate it though painting. I'd often tried to draw my own dreams around that time, I wonder if this episode influenced me to do so!

What I see differently:
  • I barely remember the Worf story in this one, it's one that I'm assuming gets resolved so there isn't too much to remember. It was really cool to Data's journey though, and the whole dream and symbolism discussion is one I am just as interested in now as I was at the time of first watching.
  • It was also cool to see Data have a positive interaction with a visiting doctor/scientist with Dr. Bashir. I forgot how much I enjoy his character, but it was also so refreshing to see someone who was earnestly curious but also very respectful of Data.
  • It's heartbreaking that Data access a part of his programming accidentally that was intended to be when he hit a certain developmental stage, one of which it's unclear if he can, or will, ever achieve. But who is to say that skipping to this stage can't create the reality of achieving it anyway?
  • I'm a little surprized it's a 2-parter (and the third two-parter of this season so far). I think this easily could have been 1 episode with the Data storyline and 1 episode with the Worf storyline, although they do both start on DS9.

What I take away from this episode
  • I think the idea of a culture of one as a concept really stuck with me. As well as that looking to your own history and knowledge to understand your dreams, and even creating your own symbology, really fascinates me.

* In an effort to find a way to still be able to share without being overwhelmed, I've simplified my re-watch posts. I've had a few bumps in my Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch and I was looking for a way to still enjoy the experience of watching while also being able to share thoughts and memories of the episodes without being overwhelmed. With a mere 36 episodes left out of 178 I really want to make the push to see this project thought. I hope these new style posts fit that bill.

Images Source: TrekCore

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm Reading: November 2013

Where did the month go?  I had originally planned on doing 2 updates for November but as it's already the 25th I think it's a one-update month.  The good news is: lots of great books to enjoy!  Here's what I've been reading, and what I'm looking forward to, this month.

Recently Released

4 to 16 Characters

Published by Lemon Sherbet Press on November 7, 2013 / / GoodReads / Source:

Reading 4 to 16 Characters is the experience of diving into the complex world of Jane Shilling.  Make that worlds.  To the outside world she's a friendless misfit who recently lost her mother and has a father who has turned to alcohol to numb the pain.  Jane turns to the online world and disguises herself in many different identities, from someone who is popular & perfect or others that are emo & suicidal; each characters shows a different part of Jane that she wants to be or needs to express.  The book is written in her created world of multiple personas, and we experience it as such through chat logs, emails and online posts.  I'm a big fan of nontraditional narrative styles, so I was thrilled to dive into the complicated world she creates. The ability for Jane to manage so many created identities, and speaking though them, is fascinating.  Which moments is she speaking the truth?  Is she ever speaking the truth?  This writing style makes it a very engaging reading experience, as the reader can interpret what Jane is trying to say through each persona.   Although we see things entirely from her perspective, Jane isn't an accessible character, and sometimes she isn't very likable, but I enjoyed her realness.  And her smarts.  The unconventional narrative style could take a bit to get used to, but it's worth it.  There is so much heart in the outpour of emotion of Jane.  You feel her pain, her angst, her frustration and it all feels so real.  I was very impressed by 4 to 16 Characters and would strongly recommend it for readers who enjoy books that focus on complex characters with strong, emotionally driven stories. 4 out of 5 stars.

Finished Reading

by Veronica Roth
Book Three in the Divergent Series

I am so glad I stuck with the Divergent Series. I was close to calling it quits with Insurgent last month, but I stuck with it through and through, and it was so worth it. Allegiant was a great read, a powerful book that made me think and also made me feel. It challenged my perspective of the characters and world, but stayed true to the story at the same time. I did find that I took a while to get used to the different perspective and pacing, and was even unnerved by this but again am glad I stuck it through. Overall the series was bold, powerful and increasingly touching. I loved the themes it played with and the imperfect characters, that really came to life here after I felt I wasn't quite "getting" them in the last book. This one swept right in and brought them to bigger life in a trying world, and in doing so let cemented them in my heart. Very powerful.

Harlequin Exploration Continues

I'm continuing my Harlequin exploration which started a few months back, but after last month's reading of a title from the Intrigue series, I thought I might mix things up try some of the shorter books that are often offshoots of the different themed sets to see how they faired.  I chose two titles from the Harlequin Nocturnal Cravings Dark Hunter's Touch by Jessa Slade and The Darkest Embrace by Megan Hart as well as Cake by Lauren Dane which is part of Cosmo Red-Hot Reads.  I really thought I would be more like to enjoy the first two titles being part of the Harlequin Nocture, which is their paranormal line, but neither of the books really worked for me.  I liked the world of Dark Hunter's Touch which involved phae, but I felt the focus was more on constructing the world and how it worked and very little time spend on the two people in the story.  On the flip side, The Darkest Embrace, spent the entire time with the couple but was so dark with some very disturbing ideas it through me right out of the story.  I might take a break from the Noctures, I know they need conflict in the stories but the choices are too dark for me.  Not what I was expecting there.  Last up we have Cake, which was set in the regular world and follows and art student/courier and the artist she flirts with.  This was much more up my alley, and I can see why it's Cosmo related: the female protagonist is way more proactive, a lot more fearless and has tons of confidence.  While I didn't connect to everything in the story, it was really nice to see a character that knew what she wanted, and went for it.  I'll certainly continue to read titles from the Cosmo Red-Hot Reads selections. 

Currently Reading

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
Book One in the The Maze Runner Series

The Maze Runner has been on my to read list for ages, and I was so excited to finally start reading it and got about halfway through before I had to return it to the library (so sad!), but it's already come back up in queue and I can't wait to finish reading it and see where the story goes.  If you are unfamiliar with The Maze Runner, the set up is a guy wakes up in what looks like an elevator chute with no memory, but in a place that's all young guys totally isolated on their own, and a full-scale maze on their grounds.

On the Horizon

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan

I know it goes against the phrase "Never judge a book by it's cover" but the truth is I picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson because of it's cover.  It looks completely trippy and kind of science-fiction like, although I don't believe it is either of those.  The first time I saw it was actually years ago, but I didn't read the first time I got it out of the library and now am looking forward reading it, in eBook version.

I've now more than doubled the number of books I've read in 2013 from 2012.  I still have a rather ambition number of ones I want to get through by the end of 2013 but I keep reminding myself to not just read them, but enjoy them them.  Here is hoping both happens!

Happy Reading!

Want to stay connected? Let's be friends on GoodReads!

Monday, November 11, 2013

ST:TNG 6.15 Tapestry ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

Picard gets a chance to see his life if he made different choices in 6.15 Tapestry.

Images Source: TrekCore

I've had quite the hiatus, but it's time to get back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch. We re-sume with ...

Season 6, Episode 15

  • Picard is brought to Sick Bay when his artificial heart bursts and appears to kill him, but Q gives him the opportunity to re-live his life and make different choices.
Character Focus:
  • Picard is the focus here as the story entirely revolves around him. We see what his life was like when he just graduated from The Academy, how he has changed over the years, and what his life would have been like if he had made "safer" choices.
  • Q also plays a big part here (obviously), although we don't see too much of him. We've already seen him this season in 6.06 True Q where he mentors an Earth-born Q about the ways of the Q.
  • Although this episode is almost entirely devoid of the regular cast, both Riker and Troi interact with a future, safer version of Picard which is interesting to see as they refer to him as someone with lofty goals, but not much follow through. .

Images Source: TrekCore

What I remembered about this episode:
  • I remember being fascinated while I watched this episode. To see Picard's past was a huge treat, and I'm pretty sure we knew from a previous episode that he had an artificial heart as Pulaski had to save the day and fix it (2.17 Samaritan Snare).
  • I remember not thinking that Picard would be the crazy get into fights kind of person, and the horror of him being someone that was seen never having the potential to be a Captain.
What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
  • This one feels a bit different watching it and being older, because I can actually reflect back on choices made and opportunities seized or passed up; where as when I watched it when I was younger it was purely conceptual.
What feels different now, than then:
  • On re-watches, episodes like this have less tension as there isn't an actual worry that Picard would make it though and be okay. But with that in mind, you can focus more on all aspects of the story, and it was interesting to see that the relationships he had with his friends couldn't be sustained with his current personality.
  • It's an interesting message in a way as it counters the common idea of hindsight being 20/20. Not so much.
What remained the same:
  • It's so brilliant that Picard laughs when he eventually gets stabbed by the Nausicaan, because in a different episode he says that this happens and that there is a bit of confusion as to why he would laugh at this moment. When we see it here, it can be interpreted that he is laughing because he knows he will live his life as he knew it and there is a odd, comical but tragic relief in that moments.
What I see differently:
  • When I realized which episode this was (less than 30 seconds into the ep), I was so excited as I love this one. But as it went on, it felt a little sad in a way as it clearly had the No Risk, No Reward mentality; but also I wondered if it was also saying that risk like that are only to be taken when you are young.
  • I also saw differently that one of the big themes of this episode is friendship, and knowing who has your back. From that perspective it was shocking to see Picard step in and throw his own friend out of the way of a fight as opposed to backing him up.
Great Quotes:
  • "I refuse to believe that the afterlife is run by you. The universe is not so badly designed." - Picard
  • "Please, spare me your egotistical musings on your pivotal role in history. Nothing you do here will cause the Federation to collapse or galaxies to explode. To be blunt, you're not that important." - Q
  • "There are many parts of my youth that I'm not proud of. There were... loose threads - untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I... pulled on one of those threads - it unraveled the tapestry of my life." - Picard
Left off at:
After seeing what his life would be like if he made safer choices, Picard decides that it would be better to die after living the life he had. After re-enacting the big fight with the Nausicaan, he wakes up alive in current day (and rank) on The Enterprise.

Images Source: TrekCore

A Bump in the eBook Transition, Or...Where Have All My Tree Books Gone?

One of the oddest transitions with my recent move is not having my tree books (aka physical books) around me.  I didn't think that would be odd as I read almost everything on Kobo and therefore decided to put are in storage.  In fact, all but 6 books or so book I have are in storage and of those 6 most reference or non-fiction. The only fiction book I have is one that I've not read: The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty, and I bought on a bit of a lark at the grocery store when I felt super-entitled to a treat just for me.

But it's weird to not have have piles and piles & shelves and shelves of books.  It's weird, but I've been doing okay.  Mostly.  At least I was was until yesterday, when I found out my library card has expired and can't borrow any more eBooks until I renew it!  Time to get myself to my local library.  And maybe say hi to some tree books while I'm there.

My Year in Books: 2020 Edition

What a year it has been. This truly has been a year like no other. I started off blogging and even got out to do an awesome book haul at Bo...