Once Upon a Time Catching Up – Part 2

Catching Up Part 2Update:

A couple weeks ago (here), I let you in on my goal to completely catch up on the show Once Upon a Time before the season 3 premiere which was yesterday (September 29). After my update post last week (here) in which I was on track to meeting my goal, I pretty much fell completely off the tracks. I was caught up in doing other things and I barely watched any episodes before Saturday. The result – I didn’t finish. That being said, I currently only have 2 or 3 episodes left to watch in Season 2, so I should be all caught up and on track for next weekend.

Thoughts:

I am still completely loving this show! The characters are complicated and ever changing; the fairytale links still make me say “Oh, that’s who he/she is;” and the writers are fantastic at cultivating suspense. I find that through many episodes I am on the edge of my seat waiting to find out how a particular storyline will work out. I am really glad I decided to watch through the series in order, because I can see how missing an episode here or there could lead to a lot of confusion. I also find that I am really thankful for the opening recap – it lets you know which characters and storylines the episode will focus on.

Last week I noted that one of the things I loved about the show was the character development. Let me expand on that aspect a bit more this week. First off, I really love “complicated” characters. What exactly do I mean by that? In short, I like the characters that fall somewhere in between on the good guy/bad guy spectrum. In this type of story, you often have your characters that are clearly “good guys” (outside example: Harry Potter, Ron, Hermione). Then you have your characters that are clearly “bad guys” (Voldemort, Bellatrix). When done well both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are complex in that they have back stories that explain why they act the way they do, the “good guys” may not always make the right decision and the “bad guys” may have good qualities.

My favourite characters (especially when they’re really well developed) are the characters that defy easy classification. They’re the characters that you are convinced are bad…until all of a sudden they do something that makes you reconsider…then they’re bad again…but would an evil character really do that?… (I think maybe you get the point now?) One of my favourite examples of this type of character is Snape (and also the Draco family but that tends to take more explanation on my part). Another example is Jack Sparrow (You never really know what side he’s on). I love how these characters demonstrate the complexity of good and evil and how they’re unpredictable. But my favourite part is hoping for their redemption – hoping that the good that shines through every so often will be allowed to break through completely.

Now you may be saying: “What does this have to do with Once Upon a Time?” So let me get to it – this show is full of characters that fall into this category. The “good guys” and the “bad guys” are all really well developed and have the complexity I was talking about earlier. But the “complicated” characters? Amazing. Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is probably the most obvious entry in this category even though many of the characters themselves would probably classify him as a “bad guy.” Then there’s Hook (just introduced this season). Maybe even Regina/Evil Queen? (I honestly don’t know what category she belongs in). I know, I know, how can 2 or 3 characters make a show “full” of complicated characters? Many shows don’t have any…so the fact that Once Upon a Time has more than one and they’re all done really well? Major bonus.

One thing I didn’t love about this season: the resolution of the Pinocchio/August Booth story line. I understand why it happened and I can appreciate the twist. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Now I’m off to finish the last couple episodes. Let me know if you enjoy this type of post (where I talk about what I’m watching). Maybe I’ll do occasional updates on my thoughts throughout the season.

Keep Smiling!

P.S. The huntsman/Sheriff Grahame appears in an episode this season. I’m still not over what Regina did to him.

“Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Experimenting with Graphic Novels

I had hoped to post my first book review today but, as of writing this post, I haven’t finished either of the books I was planning to review. I should be able to finish one of them by Friday, but since I have a few other things going on this week, and I don’t want to put together a rushed review, I decided to postpone. In place of a review, I thought I’d talk about a type of book I only recently started seeking out – Graphic Novels.

I’ve read graphic novels in the past, but they’ve never been high on my reading list and I would only rarely go searching for one. About a month or so ago, however, I started watching Amy Dalen’s segments on Geek & Sundry (you can watch one of Amy Dalen’s Video’s here). She talks about comic books primarily, and her segments got me thinking about experimenting with graphic novels. So, one evening when I had time between my Grad school edits, I spent a few hours looking up different types of graphic novels, and reserving a number of them from the library website.

I then spent a weekend reading nothing but Graphic novels. I enjoyed some more than others, but the experiment showed me that graphic novels can be really enjoyable and fit into many different genres of literature. I generally thought of graphic novels as primarily telling stories of Superheroes and science fiction (don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying this is a bad thing since I enjoy both of those genres). I now found that they cover genres from classics, to fairytale remakes, to mystery.

And the artwork is fantastic. I have always loved illustrations. When I was little, my favourite illustrators were the ones who went out of their way to add in detail. A mouse that appeared on every single page; a border that portrayed a side story (Jann Brett was one of my favourites); secret clues that helped solve a mystery. I’ve continued to love and collect children’s books that feature beautiful illustrations. The illustrations are often one of my favourite parts of the various graphic novels I’ve read recently.

Without further ado, here’s a summary of some of the graphic novels I’ve read recently. I’ve read adaptations of childrens, or young adult novels such as The Lightening Thief (adapted by Robert Venditti), and Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (adapted by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin). I’ve also read adaptations of classics such as Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice (both adapted by Nancy Butler), and Dracula (adapted by Gary Reed). Both of the Austen adaptations were fantastic but I found Dracula a bit disjointed. The adaptation was generally good, but if I wasn’t already familiar with the novel I think I would have found it a confusing and somewhat disjointed.

Now, I feel I should preface these next two novels with a disclaimer, so here goes. <Megra12 Disclaimer: I am, and always have been, a HUGE Nancy Drew fan. I am not ashamed of this.> Now that’s taken care of, in my first trip to the library I borrowed two Nancy Drew graphic novels. Nancy Drew Girl Detective: The Demon of River Heights (Stefan Petrucha) and Nancy Drew Girl Detective: The New Case Files: Vampire Slayer part 1 (Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney). I enjoyed them so much I was disappointed I’d only had two brought to my local library. I have since requested more and I’ll most likely end up reading the whole series. In the past I’ve had mixed feelings about spin off Nancy Drew series (I was especially against the ones that saw Nancy break up with Ned Nickerson. Shame on you authors), but so far I love the graphic novel spin offs.

Do you read any graphic novels? What are your favourites?

Keep Smiling!

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” – C.S. Lewis

Once Upon a Time Catching Up – Part 1

Catching Up part 1I’ve just finished watching Season 1 of Once Upon a Time. Actually, since I’m writing this Monday evening and you won’t be reading it until Wednesday, I’m probably also part way through Season 2, but I digress. I thought since I told you about my plan to catch up (here) before the premier of Season 3, I would give you an update on my progress and what I think of the show so far. So, progress first. As I said, it is early Monday evening and I have just finished Season 1. This means that I have 22 episodes to complete by Sunday evening. Which leaves <*Insert drum roll*> an average of 3 episodes a day (including today and Sunday). If we don’t count Sunday, I’m still at the same 3.6666 we discussed last week – not bad, not bad at all.

Now onto the more exciting, “what do I think” segment of this post. Am I loving Once Upon a Time as much as I thought (and hoped) I would? YES! DEFINITELY! (Oops, sorry for shouting there, I just…um… I really love this show. I’ll try not to let it happen again.) If I wasn’t loving it, I probably wouldn’t be through the first season yet. From the very first episode I was hooked and it just keeps getting better the more episodes I watch. Would you like to know some of the things I’m loving about it? You would? Great! (for those of you who said no just now, yes I heard you, but I heard more yeses)

<Megra12 Disclaimer: I am going to try to avoid any major spoilers in the rest of this post, but no guarantees. We are going into the third season here, so I’m not going to go out of my way to be cautious but I also don’t want to spoil it for those of you I convince to watch it. Consider yourself warned>

1. The show flips back and forth between the present in Storybrooke and the past in Fairytale land (I think technically it’s called the Enchanted Forest? Not 100% sure though). This is done brilliantly. I find that shows that jump back and forth between the past and the present often have a hard time preserving the flow of the story and the whole thing ends up feeling disjointed. This is not even close to the case with Once Upon a Time. Sure, the writers break up the story by jumping back and forth, but they do it in such a way that you don’t lose the flow of the episode. The jumps back to fairytale land fill in information that you need to understand what’s happening in the present (either character development or plot information). I found that by the middle of the series, as soon as a new character was introduced in Storybrooke, I wanted a scene that would tell me who they were in Fairytale land. To keep you guessing, sometimes that flashback clip would appear right away and sometimes you had to wait a few scenes (or in some cases episodes) before you found out who they were.

2. Character introduction. I know, I know, I just mentioned this in point one, but give me a chance to explain. The gradual character introduction is fantastic. Some characters you find out about really early on (Snow White, The Evil Queen, Prince Charming, Rumpelstiltskin, Red Riding Hood (and her Granny), and Jiminy Cricket). Others are introduced gradually throughout the season. And even the main characters are more fully introduced as you go on (the episode that gives Red Riding Hood’s back story takes place halfway through and is amazing). The character development of the main characters is also handled really well. Even if you’re pretty sure you know how a character is going to react to something, the writers make sure that you never really know for sure. Rumpelstiltskin is always a wild card (in both Storybrooke and Fairytale land).

3. The Fairytale adaptations. None of the fairytales is exactly the way you remember it. I mean, in most cases the basic plot is the same so that you can recognize the story and the characters, but there is often a twist, or they present information in an unexpected way. Yes, Prince Charming has to rescue Snow White from a poison apple, but it takes the entire season to get to that point and they have many more interactions and rescue scenarios first. There is an unexpected werewolf in the Little Red Riding Hood story. Many of the characters know each other and interact in each other’s stories. Sometimes stories themselves overlap in unexpected ways.

4. Mayor Regina Mills aka Evil Queen Regina. For those of you who have seen the show just saying that should suffice.  She is a brilliant villain; in both Storybrooke and Fairytale land. Her character is developed in such a way that… well, let’s just say I am somehow continuously blindsided. I find myself thinking, “even Regina wouldn’t… OMG she did!” on a very regular basis. You’d think I’d learn. Despite the level of Evil she has reached by the end of season 1, I somehow doubt that we have reached the limits of her evil. I have yet to forgive her for what she did to Sheriff Graham aka The Huntsman. For those of you who haven’t seen the show, I won’t say anymore, except that I was not a happy camper at the end of that episode.

Season 1 ended with the curse broken – Sort of. And, if you thought breaking the curse would solve all of problems for the people of Storybrooke, you were wrong, wrong, wrong. All I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t have to wait months before starting season 2.

Keep Smiling!

The Thing about Rainy Days

The ingredients for a lovely rainy day experience.

The ingredients for a lovely rainy day experience.

Rainy days can be a disappointment. They can cancel beach days, barbecues and other outdoor plans. They can keep people inside and hidden. They can make children (and, let’s be real here, some adults) hyper and restless. They can be grey, dreary, and sad. In stories rainy days often are used to set a certain mood – days where hopes for a romantic walk are dashed. Rainy days make the perfect setting for a funeral or some other somber event. I can’t even count the number of times a character makes a comment about how the weather seems “fitting.” Too much rain can cause destruction and loss.

But here’s the thing. A rainy day does not have to be a negative event. The coming of rain can signify hope and salvation if your setting is one of drought. A timely rain can halt the devastation of fire and bring renewal. Where fall and winter rains may be cold, sharp and angry; a spring or summer rain may be gentle and soothing. In a story, rain that falls after an intense battle or some other form of destruction, can symbolize a new beginning. The trouble is over and the rain will come and wipe away the traces. Rain can mean new beginnings, growth, and happiness.

Rainy days can be wonderful, cozy and relaxing. I woke up Saturday to one such rainy day. I think Saturday rainy days, with no plans and no agenda, may be one of the best kinds. You can wake up slowly to the sound of the rain outside the window, or on the skylight. I think rainy days practically beg to be reading days (though not quite as much as do cold, snowy days in late November). There is nothing quite like cuddling up in a comfy chair, wrapped in a blanket, with a hot cup of tea (or sometimes coffee or hot chocolate) and a good book. Sometimes I’ll put music on in the background, sometimes the sound of the rain is enough of a soundtrack.

This past Saturday I planned on spending a good part of the day cleaning and organizing my perpetually cluttered room and desk. Instead I spent the day reading (both books and blog posts). I also thought a bit about this blog, and some posts I’d like to try out in the future. I watched a bunch of book blogs, and put far too many books on reserve at the library. At first glance, my day contained very few adventures (until later in the evening when I went to babysit my neighbours 5 children, but that’s another story). But I think that adventures come in many shapes and sizes. An inside, rainy day, just provides the setting for a different type of adventure; one filled with hot drinks and imagination.

What about you? Can you find enjoyment in rainy days? What is your favourite rainy day activity?

Keep Smiling!

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

September Library Haul

September Library HaulSince I finished my Masters, I have been enjoying the freedom to read for recreation. In addition to being a student no longer, I am also currently unemployed. As a result of the combination of these two factors, I have been making frequent trips to my local library. Don’t get me wrong, I use visit the library regularly as it is, but over the last month or so my library card has received quite the workout.

Some of my library trips are brief. I request books online so that I only have to go in and check them out. (Huge time saver!) This time, after returning one huge stack of books, I let myself wander the stacks. I had no list and no reserves to pick up. It was one of those days where I just walked up and down the stacks to determine my reading choices. My wanderings still had some structure. I was in the mood for fantasy more than mystery, so I focused on those types of titles. Other than that, I selected books based on the title, the covers, and the synopses.

Rambling aside, here is my most recent library haul (with a couple others that I picked up the time before).

1. Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. 

Right after I finished my major paper for my masters and while I was waiting for the defense date, I went on something of a Graphic Novel spree. While on that spree I was also really interested in reading something by Neil Gaiman. This book came up in a suggested reading list at some point during my online library browsing and I thought I’d check it out.

2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente; with illustrations by Ana Juan

I actually picked this one up because a YouTuber I follow recommended it. Unfortunately I can’t remember who recommended it but if I ever figure it out I will post an update.

3. The Emperor’s Knife, Mazarkis Williams

This one is full out fantasy. Different world. Knights and Princes. Assassinations. And a plague that consists of a geometric pattern that spreads across the skin and basically threatens the existence of the Empire. The cover reminded me of video games like Skyrim, or Assassins Creed.

4. The Restorer, Amanda Stevens.

I have to admit I picked this book up for reason only slightly related to the book itself. This is the first book in The Graveyard Queen series and I just read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and enjoyed the setting so the graveyard aspect drew me in. Also, the cover has a weeping angel statue on it, and I’m a Doctor Who fan.

5. Finding Camlann, Sean Pidgeon

This one is not directly fantasy, but it has to do with King Arthur. It looks like there’s an archaeological discovery that sends the main characters on a quest to find out more about the origins of the King Arthur stories. I really like this type of historical/mythical/archaeological quest stories, so that was a big draw for me. I think the library had this one faced out and the cover art was the first draw.

6. Hellbent, Cherie Priest

I was actually drawn to the Clockwork Century series by Cherie Priest but the first book was already checked out. So, I decided to try a different title to check out the author. This one has vampires, a “certifiably crazy sorceress,” a murder, and a quest for some relics. I find Vampire books can be hit and miss, so I’m a bit concerned about that aspect.

7. Bedtime Story, Robert J. Wiersema.

A young boy apparently starts reading a book that draws him in to the point where he is waking up in the story. A story which was apparently created to steal the hearts and souls of young children. Um…okay…interesting hook… we’ll see if it pans out into anything good.

Here's another picture so you can see all the Book Covers

Here’s another picture so you can see all the Book Covers

Hopefully in this list of books I’ll find a few that I really enjoy. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll all be good! I will try to review a couple of them over the next few weeks. Have you read any of these? Or is there one in particular you’d like me to review? Drop me a note in the comments!

Keep Smiling!

“Nothing is pleasanter to me than exploring in a library.”  — Walter Savage Landor

A “New” Favourite TV Show?

A New FavouriteSummer 2011 (or was it September?) previews started to appear on CTV for a new show. From the moment I saw part of the trailer (I don’t like watching commercials so I initially missed the first half), I was pretty sure it was a show I was going to want to watch. For the next couple of days I made a point of paying attention to trailers because I just had to see the full trailer. I finally saw the whole thing and, from that moment, I was hooked. I felt like I couldn’t possibly wait for the show to start, waited eagerly for the official premiere date and watched the preview every single time I heard it.

Yep, it was a bit ridiculous; but you see, I love fantasy and fairytales. You may have now realized (or you may be saying “Just tell me already!”) that the show I awaited so eagerly was Once Upon a Time. I was pretty sure it could easily become a new favourite.

Then they announced the series premier date. Sunday October 23, 8:00 p.m. My reaction: Yes!! It’s finally starting. Wait, Sunday nights? I’m busy (youth group leader) Sunday nights. It can’t be Sunday nights. I’ll never get to watch it! It’s not fair! (At the time we had a couple of temperamental VCRS and no PVR. And I always forgot about watching online).

Fast forward two years and I have seen maybe a handful of episodes. Yep, the show I awaited so eagerly became a show I never got to watch. Then a show that, once my Sundays freed up, I always forgot was on. Now previews for the third season have begun and I am so far behind it isn’t even funny. The few episodes I have seen I’ve loved (though I’m super annoying and ask a million questions so that I can understand what’s going on). I know that if I can just remember to watch, it would creep onto my (way too large) list of favourite TV shows. But alas…

Wait, what’s that you say? There are ways to watch back episodes? And I really should know that since I watch repeats on DVD and such all the time? So really, what you’re saying is that I don’t have an excuse to not catch up and give it a shot at favourite TV show status? Funny you should mention that, since I just recently came to that same conclusion and last night I (finally) watched the first episode of season 1.

It was amazing. The only reason episode 2 didn’t quickly follow was because I decided that I should probably go to sleep. (I know, since when did I get all responsible? It was only just past midnight after all!) I’m going to need to up my episode intake to (way) more than one episode a day. There are 44 episodes total. I have until the season 3 premiere to catch up. When is that you may ask? Sunday September 29. So that means, counting today and the 29th I have 12 days. Assuming I watch every day, that means I have to watch an average of 3.6666 (how about we call it 4) episodes a day. No problem! Throw in a couple marathon like days and I should be able to finish no problem. Maybe… psht, who needs sleep anyways…

Worst case scenario, I PVR the first episode (yep, we have a PVR now!) It’s not like I’ve ever watched the season premier on the day it aired.

Let me know in the comments if you watch Once Upon a Time (and if you’ll be checking out the spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland). If not, is there another show you’re looking forward to this fall?

Keep Smiling!

“Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” — Mary Margaret Blanchard, Once Upon a Time

Hello Autumn, Goodbye Summer

It is the middle of September. I am not entirely sure where the beginning of September disappeared to, but here we are. October is just around the corner, and summer is slowly fading to a memory. Though most days are still getting fairly warm (and last week had a couple scorchers!), you can feel the autumn weather creeping in. The sun may still be warm when it shines, but as soon as the clouds arrive or evening comes, the autumn chill comes back. It’s always a little sad to see another summer disappear, but I also find it exciting. You see, I love autumn.

I love the cooler days and evenings. I love pulling out my sweaters, blue jeans and scarves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost equally excited to pull out my spring and summer stuff in April and May but autumn is probably my favourite season. Now I say probably because I can easily point out things that I love about all seasons. Whereas some people may yearn for the comfort of a climate where it stays relatively warm, sunny and predictable, I love my Southwestern Ontario seasons. I love snow, and vibrant fall colours, hot summer days and the gentle sunshine of spring that wipes away winter’s chill. But out of all of these, autumn is probably my favourite. I thought I would share some of the things that I love about autumn.

1. Cooler Days and evenings. As I mentioned earlier, I love pulling out my fall clothes. I have a minor obsession with sweaters and jackets so fall and winter are the times when I actually get to wear my collection of cosy wear. I also think that it is easier to put together outfits in the fall. During the hottest days of summer (especially when you don’t have air conditioner), you want to wear as little as possible. Sometimes you can create cute outfits with summer clothes, but I just feel like autumn gives me more options.

Photo Credit: Megra12 2012

Photo Credit: Megra12 2012

2. Baking. I love to bake. Though seasonal baking occurs year round in my house, the summer sees much less than any other time of the year. This is simply because of the heat – when it’s 30+ degrees outside and close to that inside, turning on the oven is just not a great idea. I have to really want something to endure summer baking. But autumn cools things down just enough to make baking bearable again. Over just the last couple weeks I’ve already made three types of cookies. This leads me into the next couple sections…

3. Pumpkins. Pumpkin chocolate cookies (which I just recently made), pumpkin pie, pumpkin spiced lattes (both those from Starbucks and the tea ones I make at home), pumpkin loaf, pumpkin stew… need I really go on?

Photo Credit: Kathleen Fowler

Photo Credit: Kathleen Fowler

4. Apples. I love fruit in general, but apples probably take the place of my favourite. Living in southwestern Ontario means that the coming of fall also indicates the coming of fresh apple season. I will eat apples all year round but they taste the best in September and October. There is absolutely nothing like tasting an apple that has been picked earlier that day. This year I am enjoying the apples even more since the weather last year led to a very small apple crop that ran out very quickly. Fresh apples, apple crisp, applesauce, apple cider… all of this talk of apples is making me want one. *leaves keyboard to get apple*

5. The colours. The world gets painted in beautiful colours in September and October. Vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. Autumn is the last opportunity for the trees to impress us with their beauty before they stand bare for the winter. And they do it so splendidly.

I could list more reasons in support of Autumn, but I think I’ll leave it there for now. Maybe I’ll share more with you in the coming weeks as late summer deepens into October and November. What are some of your favourite things about autumn? Or if there is nothing you like about this time of year, then what season do you prefer?

Keep Smiling!

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.”  — Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

Introducing: Library Day Friday

Photo Credit: Ryan Hyde/flickr

Photo Credit: Ryan Hyde/flickr

I am a reader. I have been for as long as I can remember. I have read good books, bad books and great books. I have a never-ending reading list and yet I continually re-read books. You know that person who trips over her feet because she’s trying to walk and read at the same time? That’s been me. You know that girl who always has a book or two stuffed in her bag, even when there seems to be no opportunity to read it? Yup. Guilty as charged. I find it difficult to walk by a bookstore without going in. I rarely enter the library without glancing at the featured reading shelves. Pick a cliché to describe a reader and I’ll probably be able to nod yes to the charge. Books are a constant in my life and even when I’m in a reading lull, they hover and beckon.

I believe that reading and adventure often go hand in hand. I have had adventures inspired by books I’ve read. I’ve sought out books to read based on my everyday adventures. Above all, books contain adventures within them. In books I have travelled to far off places. I’ve travelled in time. I’ve defeated dragons. I’ve ruled kingdoms and I’ve solved mysteries. I have experienced the feeling of exhaustion that comes from finishing a particularly engaging book.

I am that weird creature that occasionally talks to books, yells at the characters, and frequently cries while reading. Sometimes I even cry on re-reads. Sometimes I cry more than the first read through. I don’t even know how many fictional characters I have “fallen in love with.” Gilbert Blythe will always hold a special place in my heart.

Photo Credit: Craig Sunter/ Flickr

Photo Credit: Craig Sunter/ Flickr

By now you may be wondering: “What is the point of this blog post?” Well dear readers, I would like to include these reading related adventures in this blog. Reading is an integral part of my life and stories of my meanderings would be incomplete if books were not included. Fridays will be the day when I let you into the Library part of my world. There may not be a reading related post every Friday but I will try to confine them to Fridays. Library day Friday posts will include Book Hauls, recommendations, reviews, discussions of my favourite authors, genres and series, and any other book related topic that strikes my fancy. Book Hauls will include both books that I buy and books that I borrow from my local library because I think that Libraries are magical places where books you would never see in the store somehow find their way into your hands.

If you have any suggestions for me to read or review, let me know in the comments! If you have any reading related topics that you want me to post about on let me know in the comments! If you are interested in seeing new Library Day Friday posts as they are published, don’t forget to Follow!

Keep Smiling!

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” — Roald Dahl, Matilda

And Hippopotamuses Like Me Too!

Looking for some lunch

Isn’t he cute? Photo Credit: Megra12

I love Hippos. I have for as long as I can remember. We have a picture of Little Me in front of the Hippo habitat at the zoo. Hippos are a bit of a strange animal for a little girl to like. They’re not furry and they don’t really say “Please cuddle me!” But what can you do, they have been on my list of favourite animals since a very young age. Other little girls may have loved horses; I loved the River Horse. *Insert Side thought here.* This love of Hippos may have started with a record I had as a little girl called “There’s a Hippo in my tub” *End side thought*

Over the years, I have acquired various Hippo trinkets. I have a pink Hippo in a tutu, a stuffed green Christmas Hippo, a small stuffed pink Hippo with hearts for nostrils. I have a beautiful ebony Hippo from Uganda and a realistic looking Hippo figurine from my Grandmother. I love the fact that Abby on NCIS has a Hippo named Bert. I get supremely annoyed when stamps or figurines that claim to be Hippos have snouts that resemble crocodiles. Yep. I think Hippos are adorable.

Look there it's Megra12 hugging a hippo!

Look there it’s Megra12 hugging a hippo!

With the stage set, you can now appreciate my excitement over the conversation I had with a Hippo a couple weeks ago. No, the Hippo was not stuffed or a figurine. Yes, he was talking to me! (I know you were wondering, don’t pretend you weren’t!) Okay, so we didn’t really have a “conversation” per se. Mostly it was one-sided. But I was the only one there and he was definitely popping up and looking at me. And he went back to his nap under the water when I walked away.  But look at me getting ahead of myself.

A couple of weeks ago my mom, cousin and I were at the Toronto Zoo. We did so much walking but we saw almost all of the sections. The only “stop” on the around the world zoo tour that we didn’t visit this time was the Indo-Malaya section because we just didn’t have the time or the energy left at the end of the day. We saw so many of my favourite animals, including a snowy owl and arctic wolves. I enjoy seeing so many different types of animals, but being a lifelong Hippo fan, seeing the Hippos is always one of the highlights.

Aren't their tales fantastic? Photo: Megra12

Aren’t their tales fantastic? Photo: Megra12

When we entered the African rainforest pavilion I was looking forward to seeing the Lemurs. *Insert side note here* I started liking Lemurs when I was a bit older due to the television show Zaboomafoo. Oh Zaboo you were so adorable. *End side note* I was also looking forward to getting to the other side of the pavilion because I knew that was where the Hippos lived. I always forget that the pygmy hippos live inside the pavilion. And on this zoo adventure the pygmy hippos, especially one in particular, were one of the main highlights.

When the exhibit with the first pygmy hippo was crowded, I wandered away to look at other exhibits (I don’t really like having to fight for space if I can help it.) I watched the Lemurs for a bit and then I found him. He had a bit of a mustache (which is why I am referring to him as *he*), and he was relaxing in his little pond when we had our little chat. When I first approached, he was chilling under the water in his hippo pond and I figured that was all I would see of him. Then he popped his head up over the water and started moving around a bit! I was chatting with him a bit (yes, if you’d walked by you would have heard a strange gal chatting out loud with a hippo), and he was looking back with his cute hippo face. After a bit my mom and cousin found me and it was time to move on (you really can’t stay and chat with a hippo all day). *Megra12 note: Here comes the exciting bit! Pay attention!* As I was turning round the corner I said, “goodbye hippo friend!” and he turned and looked at me opened up his mouth to say goodbye and then popped back under the water for the rest of his nap!

My friend the pygmy hippo. Isn't he adorable? Photo: Megra12

My friend the pygmy hippo. Isn’t he adorable? Photo: Megra12

See! I told you. That Pygmy Hippo and me connected! It was super duper exciting and that has probably been the main zoo story I’ve told to people over the past couple weeks.

What’s your favourite animal? What is it that makes you love them? Let me know in the comments.

Keep Smiling!

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The Change a Night Can Bring

My pre-wakening thoughts this Labour Day morning consisted of deciding whether I wanted Pancakes or French Toast. Since I don’t really like pancakes, this was an odd internal debate. The debate abruptly disintegrated when my mom told me the news. Fire had destroyed the main building of the St. Jacob’s farmers market.

As it was. Photo credited to Ben Babcock/Flickr

As it was. Photo Credited to Ben Babcock/Flickr

It took me a few minutes to understand and accept what she was saying. It wasn’t possible. She was wrong. I grew up going to that market and I still go frequently. Especially this time of year as the Ontario apples and apple cider that I love and anticipate begin to make an appearance. It’s a historic building. It supports the livelihood of so many families. It can’t possibly have burned down.

St. Jacob's Market Fire 2013

Gone. Photo Credit to Michael Hiemstra/Flickr.

But it had. News stories, Facebook, twitter, phone calls. All of them confirmed the news. Fire doesn’t care about the significance of its prey. The building is gone.

Thankfully no one was injured. And fire fighters were able to contain the fire and stop it from spreading to surrounding buildings. Some people commenting on news posts have speculated that box stores will go in place of the market. But that thinking underestimates the importance of the market to this community. Woolwich Township mayor and the people who own the market have said they will rebuild and will do everything they can to get the market going as soon as possible. The process won’t be easy, especially for those who have suffered the most direct losses.

When I fell asleep last night I never imagined the shock that morning would bring. The market will never be the same. We will mourn the loss of the market that is being referred to on Twitter as ‘beloved.’ We will ache with those whose livelihood has been threatened. But we are an industrious community. Previous generations highlighted, and memorialized this quality. The other parts of the market remain and will re-open. Slowly the community will put the pieces back together and the market will be rebuilt.

It is true that today there are people suffering all over the world. Many face disaster and devastation greater than that faced in my community today. World wide events do not negate the immediate and local events. We live in a day with unprecedented access to a global community. But our world is made up of small communities. It is through our smaller communities that we gain direct experience of the world. We are divided by many things. Sometimes we are reminded that we are not merely individuals but a community. Sometimes we are reminded that we are united by many things.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”  — Fred Rogers