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Top Ten Tuesday: First Ten Books I Reviewed

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I write a fair number of long film and TV reviews on this blog, but it hasn’t been as common for me to give books the same treatment here due to the volunteering I do as a book reviewer who uses a pseudonym elsewhere on the web. By the time I’ve written those reviews, I’m generally in the mood to write other sorts of posts for my own site.

Saturday Seven is a now-defunct blog hop I participated in. We talked about all sorts of bookish things on it, and I sorely miss it.

Hopeful Science Fiction is a series I occasionally update here that is meant to highlight sci-fi/fantasy books that have uplifting messages. Today’s prompt is reminding me that I should keep this series going. It’s been a while since I added to it.

This week’s list will include a few long book reviews, but it will also have round-up posts I did that included micro-reviews so that this post is a reasonable length. I really need to write more full-length book reviews for this site!

1. Hopeful Science Fiction: The Lovely Bones.

I should warn you all that the opening scene in this book is about a young girl’s final moments on Earth, and she had violent end. The last thing I expected from such a terrible start was to see what happened to her after she went to the afterlife.

2. History Books About Ordinary People.

This is still my favourite type of history to read about.

3. Non-Human Protagonists.

Xenofiction is an awesome genre and we need more books about it. I’m quite excited that there’s going to be a movie made about The Art of Racing in the Rain!

4. Hopeful Science Fiction: Woman on the Edge of Time.

Woman on the Edge of Time is one of my all-time favourite sci-fi classics. I keep talking about it online in the hope that more people will discover it.

5. Cold and Flu Season Reads.

I’m so glad that cold and flu season has ended. This was a round-up I did about fiction and non-fiction books about all sorts of respiratory illnesses.

6. What to Read When It’s Hot Outside.

Now that those of us in the northern hemisphere are moving closer and closer to summer, I may have to reread some of these books.

7. Cold Weather Reads.

The Valley of Horses has been something I’ve reread the past few winters, and I still think it’s the best book Jean M. Auel ever wrote. Winter tends to be a difficult season for me for mental health reasons, so it’s crucial for me have some stuff to look forward to then.

8. My 4 Favourite Science Fiction Books About Life on Mars.

Wow, I’d totally forgotten I wrote this post. Here’s hoping we all live long enough to see humans actually staying on Mars at least temporarily.

9. Hopeful Science Fiction: Semiosis.

This was such a fabulous read. As you might have already noticed, I love stories about humans moving to other planets, and this was an excellent example of that type of tale.

3 Things I Love About Spring Hikes

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere now here in Ontario. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the photos I’ve been sharing there of our first flowers of the year.

It’s still a little too muddy and chilly outside to spend much time traipsing around out in nature,  but I’m hoping the weather will become nice enough to change that soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the joy of going on hikes or walks during this season. There are many reasons why this is the perfect time of year to do that. Today I’ll be sharing three of them with you just like I talked about my love of autumn hiking last year.

The Peace and Quiet

Toronto almost feels like an entirely different city in each of its four seasons. Things grow quieter here in the winter, especially once all of the December holidays have ended.

Summer is our busy, tourist season. There are certain parts of the city I don’t visit much at all during those months because of how crowded they are when kids are out of school and families visit Toronto. Tourists are always welcome here, but I’d rather visit familiar landmarks in the off-season than wait in long lines outdoors to see them in the never-ending heat and humidity of August.

Spring and autumn are transitional times. We don’t have as many tourists or warm weather at these parts of the year, but the weather can give us many unexpectedly beautiful days. It’s been my experience that there aren’t as many Torontonians venturing to a park or the woods in the in-between seasons for reasons I haven’t quite figured out yet.

At any rate, I like these quiet, peaceful days out in nature. Sometimes they start out cold and foggy but later turn out to have several hours of mild, comfortable weather in the afternoon. It’s always a gamble at this time of the year, but I like grabbing those few hours of decent weather when possible and using them to visit parks that haven’t yet begun to see their full stream of warm-weather visitors.

I’d also much rather go wander around outside on a day that is slightly chilly and overcast than one that may leave me sunburned or overheated by the end of it. To each their own on that topic, though.

The Outdoor Exercise

After spending the last several months exercising indoors due to a mixture of weather and health-related reasons, I can’t tell you what a relief it’s been to start doing some workouts outside.

There’s something so invigorating to me about feeling the sun and wind on my skin as I exercise. Watching all of the TV shows or exercise videos in the world can never replicate that sensation anymore than they can show what it feels like to greet a friendly neighbour you happen to run into while exercising outdoors.

Life isn’t always conducive to this, of course, especially when I had a sore foot a few months ago and needed to avoid slipping or falling while it healed.  With that being said, it’s a nice experience when possible, and I’m hoping to do it much more regularly now that I’m feeling like my old self and the sidewalks aren’t dangerously slippery for anyone who needs to be careful to avoid a fall.

The Scenery

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, spring is my favourite season of the year. Winter is cold, snowy, drab, and long here, so it’s always a relief when the temperatures rise and I begin seeing bright splashes of colour on the landscape again after the flowers begin blooming.

I’ve already paused more than one walk with my spouse in order to snap a picture of a flower or new leaf on a tree. Every bit of colour that’s added to the landscape makes me that much happier.

It’s going to be even nicer once I’m able to visit a forest that isn’t dormant at all any more! I can’t wait to see flowers, leaves, and grasses growing no matter what direction I look.

If you’re also a fan of hiking or taking long walks, what do you like most about it at this time of the year?

Hopping Through Life: A Review of Easter Bunny

Today’s post will be a quick review of the short film Easter Bunny in honour of the Easter holidays coming up this weekend. This film was created by Asa Lucander in 2012, and I enjoyed it so much I simply had to share it with all of you.

Feel free to watch it before reading my review if you’d like. It’s about two minutes long, and the plot follows a small, black rabbit who is bouncing and hopping through all sorts of different environments.

Easter Bunny from Asa Lucander on Vimeo.

One of the things that first stuck out to me about this short film is the fact that it has no dialogue. There is some bubbly background music, but anyone could understand the story just fine if they couldn’t or didn’t want to hear the music. I haven’t seen too many examples of short films like this, so it’s a treat every time I stumble across one.

I liked the fact that this storyline seemed to be created for kids and adults alike. Without giving away spoilers, there were certain things that happened during the course of the bunny’s journey that were definitely meant to make adults laugh while still being totally appropriate for even the youngest audience. It isn’t easy to appeal to such a wide audience range, but Mr. Lucander made it look effortless.

One of the questions flitting through my mind as I watched was why the bunny was called an Easter bunny since the beginning didn’t seem to have anything to do with that holiday at all. The answer to this question wasn’t immediately obvious, but I did like seeing what the filmmaker came up with to tie everything together.

Normally, I include constructive criticism in my reviews if there was something about the characters, dialogue, or plot that didn’t quite feel right to me. I believe in being absolutely honest in reviews while also treating the creator with the same kindness and empathy I always hope the reviewers of my work will have for me. There’s also something to be said for building up a reputation as a reviewer who doesn’t sugarcoat the things that didn’t work for you.

With that being said, Easter Bunny was perfect the way it was. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about it, and I will be recommending it to family and friends of all ages.  Two minutes was exactly the right amount of space to give to this plot, and I’m glad the creator didn’t try to shorten it down or stretch it out.

I don’t recall ever watching one of Mr. Lucander’s films before. Based on my experiences with this one, I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything else he’s created. He has a playful and creative storytelling technique that I enjoy quite a bit.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all of my followers.  If there’s another holiday at this time of the year that you celebrate, Happy _____ as well!

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: 10 Unusual Things About Me

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

It’s going to be so interesting to read how you all respond to this week’s prompt. This was one of the topics I was looking forward to the most out of the whole year!

1. I’ve Never Been Hospitalized

My mom had a (planned) home birth with me, so I wasn’t even hospitalized on the day of my birth. Home remedies and the occasional visit with a doctor for minor/temporary problems have been all the care I’ve required so far in life.

This is something that’s surprised more than one health care worker when they were taking my history. I have multiple relatives who lived or are living long, healthy lives while not necessarily following their doctor’s orders about exercising and eating a well-balanced diet, so I suspect some of my good luck with my health is due to genetics even though I try to take care of myself in general.

Photo credit: Peter Salanki from San Francisco, USA.

2. I’m Demisexual and Bisexual

Being demisexual means that I need to bond emotionally with someone before I become interested in escalating our relationship on a physical level. So I’ve been on dates with men and with women, but kissing and other things are reserved for folks I’ve gotten to know well.

3. I Have Unique Spatial Skills and a Not-Super-Accurate Sense of Direction

As much as I want to help, I may accidentally send you to the wrong place if you ask me for directions. You see, I use context clues like a big tree or that pretty, blue house on the corner as reminders of where to go next instead of remembering the name of that street or whether it’s north or south from my current location.

This system works well for me, but since it can be confusing for people who don’t live in my brain I try not to give directions to folks unless I’m sure I’m sending them in the right direction.

4. I’m an Animal Magnet

Animals love me, especially cats. The funny thing is, I’m terribly allergic to cats.  Maybe they’re so interested in me because I give them a lot of personal space instead of rushing over to pick them up and coo over them like a non-allergic person might do? All I want to do is avoid wheezing and sneezing, and all they want to do is be my new best friend. Ha!

5. I Started College Before Finishing High School

My high school had a dual-enrolment agreement with a few local colleges. I absolutely loved spending most of the day at college with adult classmates during my final year of high school. It was refreshing to meet so many other students who genuinely wanted to learn the stuff we were studying there. I’d heartily recommend this option to any high schooler who enjoys learning and has good time management skills.

6. I Was Homeschooled, and I Also Married a Fellow Homeschooler

This definitely wasn’t a requirement for dating me, but it was pretty neat to compare homeschooling experiences with my spouse when we first realized we had this in common. We both spent a lot of time visiting all sorts of museums, art galleries, and historical sites on homeschooling field trips. I still love learning and field trips to this day.

7. I Have a High Tolerance for Pain

Or at least that’s what a dentist told me once. Pain is such a subjective thing that it’s hard to imagine how my occasional experiences with it might be different from how others feel it.

8. I Like the Taste of Bitter and Spicy Vegetables

My grandmother sometimes makes an afternoon snack that consists of the following things:

  • White bread
  • Margarine
  • Thinly-sliced radishes

I believe she is at least partially responsible for the fact that I like eating radishes, spinach, and broccoli as an adult. Not every snack necessarily needs to be sweet.

9. I Keep a Digital Dream Journal

This is a pretty recent habit, but I’m enjoying the process of writing down all of the dreams I can remember. It’s interesting to go back and look for themes in them.

Lately, I’ve been having a ton of dreams about being back in school and studying for a dreaded biology exam on the anatomy of frogs and other various small creatures.  I wonder when people become too old for those sorts of dreams? My fingers are crossed that one of you will tell me it definitely stops at age X for everyone. Ha!

10. I’m the Only Person in Toronto Who Likes Pigeons

Yes, this is a little bit of an exaggeration. It’s based on the fact that pigeons have been nicknamed “sky rats” here and many people truly dislike them. I think they’re interesting creatures, and I enjoy watching them navigate our busy city and figure out where the safe places are to hang out, roost, and find food. Pigeons need to learn these skills quickly to survive city life, and in general they’re thriving here. That’s admirable in my opinion.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.