Real-Life Brand Names in Books

Hello dear readers, I hope this post finds you well.

I came across the idea for this week’s post a few months ago when I was listening to/reading a book for a book tour I was participating in.

If you’re interested in the review for it, you can read it here: Crossing in Time by D.L Orton

If you like this discussion type post, make sure to follow me on social media for more!

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This post is nothing against the author or the book Crossing in Time. I thought it was decently written, but it just happened to be the first time I heard real-world brand names used in a book before.

Often mentioning brand names is much more subtle. In movies we rarely get any mention of them, but we see them subtly as part of the story. In books, at least in my experience, we almost never get them.

I don’t often read books set in our world. Many of the books I read are fantasy, so they are set in made up worlds.

When I was reading crossing in time, Walmart was brought up and I actually stopped for a second. On one hand I thought it was brilliant because you did a page’s worth of explanation just by using the word Walmart because everyone can imagine what a Walmart looks like.

You could debate whether or not it is a lazy storytelling device, but that is an argument for another day. Personally I think it’s a touch of brilliance if it is used in the proper type of story.

On the other hand though, I actually had to stop reading for a minute because I did not like my reality being used in this story.

It felt weird and made my skin crawl.

I had never experienced it before, but I knew right away that I wouldn’t like it.


What is your opinion on real-world brand names being used in books. Is it a lazy storytelling device? Does it make your skin crawl? Let’s talk about it in the comments, and make sure to follow me on social media!
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I’ve Almost Reached My 2020 Goals…and it’s only May. Also…a future giveaway!

ALLLL the way back in January, I set some goals for myself on what I wanted to achieve for my blog in 2020. Some were social media based, some were more content based.

I’ll sum them up quick below, but if you want a refresher, read my 2020 Goals here.

If you want to chat about all things book related, make sure to follow me on social media!
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Goals – SOcial Media/Reading

I keep track every Sunday of the progress of my social media channels, so here are the goals and the current standings of each of them.

12 Books Read6 Finished (though I have two more that are halfway done and don’t expect this to be too difficult.)
325 Twitter Followers304 Followers (I expect I’ll hit 325 by the end of the month)
150 Instagram Followers131 Followers (This might take longer, but I should have it met soon!)
25 Facebook Followers16 Followers (I’m not totally sold on Facebook yet, but its slowly growing)
300 Blog Followers232 Followers (The furthest of my social media goals, but I am growing at a steady pace and don’t expect too much issue with this one.


I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I have been increasing my social media presence in different ways, and I have been seeing results.

I don’t imagine I will meet all the goals by the end of May, but I expect to have most of them reached by the end of June or July for sure.

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GOALS – Content

I wanted to explore more content for my blog, so I came up with some goals for myself for that as well. Again, here are the goals and their current status.

Host 2 giveaways (one for Christmas and one for hitting 300 followers)
Haven’t started, but I have plans for a Christmas one floating in the back of my head. Might hold off on the 300 follower one until I reach all social goals.
Host 1 contest for writers
Rough planning has commenced but nothing concrete.
Have 5 collaborations with authors or other bloggers this year
Already at 3 and have a few in mind to get started on soon.
Create a blogging award (not specifically for book bloggers)
Not done, but in the early stages.
Create new look for this blog
Done and I like the new look!
Create a blog mascot
Has changed slightly, but it is “done.”
Make significant progress on my bookHave done significant planning and writing has commenced.

Not as far along on the content goals, but I am making good progress seeing as its only the fifth month of the year.

Once I hit all of the social media goals, and one or two more of the content goals, that’s when I’ll host a giveaway. I have a few ideas in mind but nothing set in stone yet.

The Battle of the Wizards: Dumbledore vs. Gandalf

Hello dear readers, I have come back with another literary showdown between two old-ass characters. These two gentlemen are some of the best known characters in all of literature in my opinion.

They’re very similar in terms of appearance: wear grayish robes, long beards and long hair. Both of them are also much older than a normal human should be.

Obviously they are both strong in their own worlds, and it is probably impossible to determine just how strong they are, so their “power levels” against each other won’t be considered.

What I will consider are 5 different things:

  • Their importance to their respective stories
  • Their role as a teacher/guide
  • Their legacy after the story
  • Their power within their own stories
  • Their “badassery”

If you have any other ideas for a VS. battle between two authors, two books, two series, two characters, or two anything, let me know!

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Round 1: How important are they to the story?

It’s obvious that both Dumbledore and Gandalf are important to their respective stories. They both serve as a mentor to the main characters, and really help drive the story along. The question is, who is the more important character? Whose story would be so vastly different without them?

Dumbledore is the headmaster of Hogwarts, and arch enemy to Voldemort. He is believed to be the most powerful wizard when he was alive, and was the oldest character we knew of. BUT, if you strip away the layers, Dumbledore isn’t the only one driving the story forward. Sure, he is the main reason Harry is able to defeat Voldemort, but without the rest of the Order of the Phoenix, a lot of the story wouldn’t be possible. The events of the books could have gone on if Dumbledore wasn’t in the picture.

Gandalf is basically a god in Middle Earth. He is of some level of power where he is more powerful than pretty much anything we see in the Lord of the Rings world. He sets Bilbo off on his quest, and then guides Frodo and the rest of the fellowship on their journey to destroy the ring. Though there are plenty of events outside of his control, Gandalf is a key factor in the ring being destroyed.

The winner of this round: Gandalf

Though Dumbledore is crucial to defeating Voldemort, the rest of the Order of the Phoenix could have done some significant damage on their own. Even if they were unable to “kill” Voldemort, they could have at least detained him theoretically.

Gandalf on the other hand is the sole reason that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is able to happen. He puts Bilbo’s quest into action, which puts the Ring and Frodo into their paths. If the Ring hadn’t been found and destroyed, the entire world would have been overtaken by orcs.


Round 2: Who is the better “mentor”?

Obviously Dumbledore and Gandalf are the respective “mentors” in their stories. They influence the main characters and help shape them to be the people they are at the end of their stories.

Dumbledore is literally a teacher, and shows Harry the ways to defeat Voldemort. He teaches him literal magic, and helps not only Harry, but everyone around him as well. Though he is absent at times, and neglectful at others, he ultimately knows how most scenarios will turn out. Whether this could be seen as abuse, or teachable moments, Dumbledore shapes the lives of the trio a lot more than they may realize.

Gandalf, though not technically a “teacher” is similar to Dumbledore in that he shapes those around him. He especially guides Frodo and the other Hobbits, but his teachings don’t stop with them. He influences the other members of the Fellowship as well. He doesn’t have any formal lessons that he teaches, but he does impart his vast knowledge onto those around him.

The winner of this round: Dumbledore

I think Dumbledore takes this round quite easily. He is a literal teacher and his “lessons” are much more obvious than Gandalf’s. Dumbledore literally teaches Harry about the Horcruxes and other magic as well. Not only that, because he knows what is going to happen in most of the books, he helps guide those around him and let them learn from what needs to be done. I think the lessons that Dumbledore teaches are more impactful than Gandalf’s.

Gandalf doesn’t so much as teach as he does provide a sense of security. He is seen as a guiding beacon to the Hobbits, which is what they need on their quest.

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Round 3: Their legacy

The actions that both Dumbledore and Gandalf take have long-lasting effects on the story. Even in death, their legacies can be seen after the stories are done.

Dumbledore dies before the story is over, but because of what he did, the Order of the Phoenix was able to defeat Voldemort and his army. Though he doesn’t do much after his death, Dumbledore inspired hundreds of students and was known to be one of the most powerful wizards. We don’t hear much of his legacy once the story is over, but we can only imagine the long-lasting effects of his actions. Who knows, maybe he will continue to help those at Hogwarts through his picture that is put up on the walls.

Gandalf does make it to the end of the story, after coming back from the dead once. He eventually leaves the realms of men, and takes a ship with Frodo to the west, with the elves and other ring-bearers. We also don’t get much of his legacy after the story, but even through the books we don’t see the long lasting effects of what he does. He has a pivotal role in destroying the ring, so I guess you could say he is much more important than Dumbledore is.

The winner of this round: Gandalf

Gandalf is just on a bigger scale, which gives him an advantage. He literally helps save the entire world, and for that he is definitely more important. His actions leave much longer-lasting results for his story than Dumbledore’s do. Whether he knew it or not, him choosing Bilbo meant that the Ring of Power would be found, and eventually destroyed.


Round 4: Who is the bigger badass?

When you’re an all-powerful wizard, chances are you’re also a bad ass. You’ve got spells to use that would knock the average person’s socks off. You’ve got a cool pet, or you make some pretty sweet fireworks. There are plenty of things that can make you a certified bad ass.

We see Dumbledore show this several times. Going toe to toe with Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic, stopping Grindewald, sacrificing his life to destroy a Horcrux, escaping with the flames of his pet phoenix, living till an ungodly age for a human, and just being Dumbledore. He often knew how things would play out before they came to be, and he did it all with plenty of flair.

Gandalf on the other hand, has some wicked fireworks at his disposal. I mean he made one that turned into a dragon. If that were possible I would definitely go to see that. He is friends with the lord of all horses, and is older than some of the other gods in the world. He goes toe to toe with a Balrog, is best friends with the Lord of all Horses, and saved the Mountain Eagle King a time or two.

The winner of this round: Dumbledore

This was a tough choice, but taking into account the two wizards in their respective worlds, I have to give it to Dumbledore, and only by a hair. It’s his attitude that is putting him over the edge. I’d say they are basically on the same level, but Dumbledore offers just a hint of style that Gandalf doesn’t really show. Plus, Gandalf is most often dealing with mortals, and it doesn’t give him a true chance to shine.


Round 5: How strong are they?

Head to head, Gandalf would win this round no issue. Nothing short of Avada Kadavra could stop him, and we aren’t even sure that would work. So, instead we will compare how strong they are in respect to their own worlds.

Dumbledore is immensely powerful, stopping two dark wizards; Grindewald and Voldemort, and surviving to be around 150 years old. There’s no power scale or anything that we can base him off of, but we don’t get to see any wizards that could stop him in his prime. Plus, he was the wielder of the elder wand, the most powerful wand in all of existence.

Gandalf on the other hand is an immortal spirit, older than almost anything we see in Middle Earth. He could destroy the ring and have defeated Smaug singlehandedly most likely, but knows it is not his job to do it. Instead, he knows he needs to be a guide along the path instead of the one paving the way. He defeats a Balrog and stops Sauruman, and wields one of the rings of power.

The winner of this round: Gandalf

Gandalf is just an anomaly in his story. There are so few that are near him in power that he could kill thousands in an instant.

Dumbledore is a great wizard in his own right, but he does not stand that far above the rest. One or two other wizards could probably take him down, while it would take something of equal power to stop Gandalf.

THE WINNER IS: GANDALF


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I think this was a close matchup overall. It’s tough to compare them considering their different stories, but I think Gandalf is the better wizard comparatively, because he is just so much above the rest of his world.

What do you think? Do you think Dumbledore or Gandalf is the better wizard? Let’s talk about it in the comments, or send me a message on social media.
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Literary Showcase: Canada Edition

Hello my dear readers, I have a new recurring post idea that I want to start today.

We all know how many books are out there. I mean every day there seems to be another book being released, from another brand new author.

With this recurring post, I want to highlight some books that are written in certain countries around the world, as well as some authors you should check out.

I want to give less well known and indie authors a chance for the spotlight, as well as highlight the fact that they were written in certain countries.

Since I am a maple syrup blooded Canadian, that seemed a good a place as any to start with some featured books.

I’ll likely only give you a few books and a few authors per post, but depending on the country there may be a few more or less.

If you think of any other authors or books that need to be featured, let me know in the comments, or shoot me a message on social media.
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Aubrey McKee is the the first in a series of five autobiographical novels by Alex Pugsley. Aubrey McKee tells the story of a boy growing up in 1970s and 1980s Halifax. The second novel, which follows the narrator’s arrival in Toronto as a young man, is forthcoming. 


In the novel How a Woman Becomes a Lake, it’s New Year’s Day, and in a small fishing town called Whale Bay a woman goes missing. Vera had set out on a walk with her dog, and her husband Leo took their boys on a boat to write their New Year’s resolutions. In the weeks that follow, Vera’s absence sets off a chain of suspicion within the town. After Leo moves south, the detective investigating the case becomes obsessed with the missing woman. 


In Mysterious Dreams of the Dead30-somethingMike Shintani decides to address the mysterious circumstances of his father’s death when he was 15 — after perishing in a plane crash, Mike’s father’s body was never found. Mike finds a diary written in Japanese, which sets him on a pathway to finding out the truth of his father’s mysterious life. 


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Samra Habib is a journalist and photographer. Her first book, We Have Always Been Hereis a memoir about her childhood in Pakistan, arriving in Canada as a refugee and coming out as a proud queer Muslim woman. Habib is also the creator of the photo documentary project Just Me and Allah, in which she travelled the world to document the diverse stories of LGBTQIA Muslims.


Teresa Wong’s first book Dear Scarlet is a moving graphic memoir about the author’s experience with postpartum depression. Written as a letter to her eldest daughter, Wong offers an honest and tender account of motherhood, family and mental health.


Do you know of any other Canadian authors or books in the making? Let myself and my readers know by leaving it in the comments, or share it with us on social media.
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The Hunger Games vs. Divergent

Hello dearest readers, today we have a matchup for the ages! Two very popular YA series pitted against each other.

On one hand, we have The Hunger Games series, the other the Divergent series.

Both series will go head to head in a battle of five different categories, but only one series can come out on top.

If you have any ideas for a future vs. battle, let me know in the comments or on social media.
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The World Before the Books

The world of the Hunger Games is a small dystopian nation split into 12 different Districts, each responsible for producing a certain resource. Meanwhile, each of the 12 Districts needs to give a tribute each year for the Hunger Games – a battle royale mainly used for entertainment, but also to make the Districts submit to the government.

Divergent on the other hand is a relatively happy society. People are sorted into one of five different factions based on their personality. There are outliers called “Divergents” that present multiple characteristics for the factions. We find out later that they are in a sort of experiment and are being watched and their memories reset if needed.

This Round Goes To: Hunger Games.
Though I think Divergent has a better premise overall, it takes too long to learn they are being observed. We don’t get to find out till the final book. Hunger Game’s concept is going right from the start, so they take this round.


The Story

The Hunger Games focuses on Katniss surviving her hunger games, and another one, and then leading a revolution to overthrow the government. It has a nice progression to it, and there are only minor hints of the story being too ridiculous.

Divergent focuses on Tris as she trains to become a member of the Dauntless faction, her living with her Divergent nature, and then fighting in a civil war, before finally discovering she has been living in a social experiment.

This Round Goes To: Divergent
I loved the thrill that was the Hunger Games, but it didn’t explore the grittiness enough, and Katniss was more along for the ride than being a key player. Tris was a key player from the start, and though she had a lot of help along the way, she was never a background character in the story.


The Characters

The Hunger Games had a lot of interesting characters, some with some captivating backstories. We didn’t dive too deep into them, but when we did they were some of the best parts of the story. They were often damaged, hardened characters, and they played a key role in the story.

Katniss herself was a great protagonist in my opinion. She had a good depth to her, and I think she was a nice perspective for a YA Dystopian novel. She wasn’t the perfect protagonist that we too often get from YA novels. She had her flaws, she had her emotional struggles, but we got to see her get through them.

Divergent didn’t have a broad character list. Yes, we got to see a lot of different people while Tris did her thing, but they all felt like the same person. To me it felt like you could mold a few characters together and the story wouldn’t be lost at all.

Tris was Divergent, so we got to see her struggle with that reality, and her need to hide it from society. She had some depth to her, and she was a strong part of the entire story. She didn’t really take a back seat and let others tell her what to do.

This Round Goes To: Hunger Games
There was more diversity to the entire character list. Though both protagonists were a great part of both stories, the range of characters was what put Hunger Games through to win this round.

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The Ending

I’ll be honest. I hated the end of the Hunger Games. I felt like it was too rushed, and we didn’t get to flesh it out fully. I don’t think the characters got the justice that they deserved (Finn). I will admit that I am glad it wasn’t an entirely straightforward ending. With Prim’s death and Katniss killing the District 13 leader, I don’t think a lot of characters were expecting it to end that way, but it felt like the ending wasn’t true to the story, and the characters were just sort of left to deadlines and publisher’s demands.

Divergent wasn’t much better for me. Another series where I didn’t like the ending. I was fine with them all being a part of an experiment, and Tris dying in the end, but again the ending didn’t feel complete. Tris ends up dying, which isn’t common for YA novels in my experience, but she did have a change of perspective which is even more rare.

This Round Goes To: Divergent
The only reason Divergent wins this round (just barely) is because of Tris’ death and her change of heart. I liked that Katniss didn’t live happily ever after, Tris dies when she finally realizes she was in the wrong. I liked that a series wasn’t scared to kill its’ protagonist, so Divergent takes this round.


The Popularity

The Hunger Games was immensely popular with a lot of audiences, and the series seemed to take the world by storm for a few years.

Divergent, though seemingly popular with a younger audience, didn’t seem to get as much hype, though I think it was deserved.

This Round Goes To: Hunger Games


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The Winner: Hunger Games!!!

I think this was a close battle, despite Hunger Games taking the crown. They were both great YA series, and both had good and bad things about them, but Hunger Games pulled through because of the worldwide popularity it seemed to gain.


Do you think Divergent should have won, or is Hunger Games deserving of the crown? Let’s talk about it in the comments, or send me a message on social media.
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I Don’t Mind Spoilers

Hello my dear readers, I hope life is treating you as well as it can. If you’re reading this, you’re back for yet another Thursday Thoughts post.

This week’s topic? I don’t mind spoilers.

Seems pretty straightforward, so let’s get into it!

Everyone reads books, watches Netflix, TV, plays video games, or takes in some form of entertainment that can be spoiled.

Sometimes it’s inevitable. We can’t help things being spoiled for us. That new movie is just too good for strangers not to talk about on the bus, or that big sports game is flooding TVs everywhere you go, or even the series finale of your favourite show is being talked about all over social media.

It is very difficult to avoid them. Spoilers are everywhere you go in life. Sometimes they are obvious with articles or videos being made about them, sometimes they are less obvious, where spoilers are in memes.

But to be honest?

I don’t mind spoilers. I don’t mind stories being ruined for me. I don’t mind discussing the end of a book series with someone, knowing I am three books from the end. I want to know what happens at the end of the TV season, because the middle is often too boring.

I actually enjoy it. I enjoy spoilers.

I CRAVE to know the ending of whatever book, movie, or TV series I am taking.

If someone won’t tell me, I will look it up. I’ll spend hours clicking through the Wiki, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

I’m always looking up a character’s ending, or when this event happens, or when someone might die.

I can’t wait to find out the answer on my own by reading the book or watching eight more episodes.

I NEED to know what happens.


Very few people I know of are the same as me. Most people hate having things spoiled for them, because it ruins the fun.

It ruins the adventure, it ruins the surprise.

That makes sense to me, and I can agree that the moments I didn’t have spoiled for me get a larger reaction out of me. I remember literally fist pumping when Andolin Kholin (Stormlight Archive) dueled a bunch of shard bearers solo. That moment wasn’t ruined for me, and it was AMAZING.

But having things “spoiled” for me actually makes me more excited for a book. It makes me more excited to get to that point and see it unfold for me.


If you’re one of the few people who don’t mind spoilers, let me know in the comments. Please tell me I’m not alone!
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Owning Vs. Borrowing: Where Do You Stand?

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Hello dear readers, I bring you to the debate of the century. Having just borrowed my first book from the library in probably 15 years, this topic is fresh on my mind.

Before I went into the library, I was on the side of owning the book over borrowing it from the library. I loved having the physical copy in my hands, and then sitting on my bookshelf when I was done with it. It meant more to me knowing I could pick it up at any time and read a certain part of it if the urge struck me.

Now though, I’m not so sure.

Owning the Book

Let’s start on the side of owning the book.

There are some clear benefits right off the hop.

Always have the book available.
There’s no need to worry about being put on a wait list, or going out of your way to find a copy. It’s just sitting on your shelves. I love looking at my beautiful books, remembering the stories and the fond memories.

Get books NOW.
Depending on the book, there’s a chance you can get a book before its official release. If not, you can get the book the day it comes out…no long lines or waitlists. I can be at my favourite bookstore in 15 minutes, and a brand new book in my hands 10 minutes after that.

Supports Authors
Buying a book is more beneficial to authors, big and small. It supports them and gives us more books on the shelves.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

But there are some obvious cons to owning the book.


Not liking the book.
If you bought it and don’t like the book, it’s sort of a waste of money. Nobody will force you to read the book, but you won’t be getting your money back for it. There have been a few duds that I’ve given away as soon as I finished them.

Money Money Money.
You will spend a lot of money on books…trust me, I know. I’ve gone into a book store meaning to spend $20 and ending up with a bill over $100. No regrets.

Sustainability
In this modern world we live in, sustainability is a major concern. Buying more books means that more paper products are being produced. Though it’s not the worst thing in the world, it is a concern to think about.

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Borrowing the Book

There can be quite a few pros to borrowing a book from the library.

If you don’t like it, you can bring it back.
There’s no obligation to finish the book, and you don’t have to worry about the money you spent on it. You just have to bring it back to the library.

Every book you can hope for.
If your library is any good, you’ll have more options than you could possibly hope for. You’ll have books you’ve never even heard of just waiting to be checked out.

Free Space.
If you don’t own the book, it can’t take up room in your home right? I have lost hours of sleep rearranging books to make sure they all fit nicely together. And yes…I have a big stack of books in the corner of my room that haven’t been read yet. There’s never enough room.

Saving the trees.
By borrowing books, you’re stopping trees from being cut down. You’re reusing something that other people will then reuse over and over, without the extra waste.


BUT, borrowing from libraries can be a hassle.


Waiting lists can suck.
If you’re not lucky enough to be high up on the list, you can end up waiting weeks to read a book that you want. Some people are okay with that, but others need their books ASAP.

You don’t own it.
As much as you might love the book, at the end of the day it isn’t yours anymore. It belongs to the library and you don’t get to keep it.

You don’t support the author.
If you borrow books, authors get less money. This might not be such a bad thing, but if we want to keep reading the authors we love, they’ll need our financial support.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Where do you stand in this great debate? There are obviously pros and cons to both sides, but in the end I think I still fall slightly more towards owning the book. I like having the physical copy for as long as I want it, but I do see the benefit to adopting a healthy balance of owning vs. borrowing.

Let’s talk about it in the comments, or send me a message on social media!
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