Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekly Book Review (3)

This week's book is none other than Coram Boy by Jamila Gaven. A book that has won multiple awards and praise from authors around the world. I say: HAVE THEY NO TASTE?

I apologize for being completely juvenile as I review this piece of literature, but I cannot comprehend why it was given such praise. To me, it was a book that has its high points but many more low points than high.

The first 100 pages are riddled with reasons to put down the novel and read something more substantial. It was very disappointing to me that the one positive character that I had began to like was never revealed in depth, and dies in the end. (Poor Thomas should have been more focused on.)

In fact, all the most boring characters are the main ones. Alexander, the quiet one who has to struggle against his father for his dream of becoming a musician. Melissa, the other quiet one who falls in puppy love with Alex as a child. Meshak, who is a schizophrenic and completely in love with Melissa. Yes, the same old story in a different town. (or rather, same old city with a different name) Meshak is horribly perdictable, Melissa stays in one place her entire life and Alexander does exactly what you expect him to do.

What about Thomas? What happens to his family, one that is struggling, though happy? Oh, that is apparently unimportant.

Once again, I apologize to anyone that enjoyed reading this book. For me, it just didn't fly. The language used made every page seem as though it was useless. There was no point in reading something that made every characters actions seem normal.

I personally know that a novel is missing something when my favourite character is the villain. Unfortunately in this story, there wasn't a truly defined villain, however Otis, the slave peddler who has almost no part in the plot was surely the character with the most substance. He somehow escaped the gallows and lived to become a successful man that held parties periodically. It seems to me, that if his character was explained more in depth, he would surely be my favourite character.

I just wish that the story would end in tragedy. Alas, Aaron, Melissa, and Alexander are reunited in the end. What a horrible ending.

My advice: no matter what the critics say, don't read the book. 3/10.

PS. My version would have had Otis as one of the main characters, instead of his pathetic son. My version would also have Aaron dying in the end and coming back as Meshak's angel. Talk about irony?

Feel free to comment if you disagree with my thoughts. Oh, and please answer to the poll I've put up. All opinions are welcome :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tea Vs. Coffee

I'm a big fan of staying at a coffee shop for hours while curled up with a book, sipping a pot of perfectly brewed coffee. My only complaint is that coffee is sometimes too strong and I end up with bags under my eyes the next morning.

Tea, on the other hand, happens to be a fact of my life. I have at least two cups of it everyday. My only complaint is that tea sometimes isn't strong enough for those accidental items of procrastination.

Oh, the conflict.

I think that I must debate each of the pro's and con's of each drink to fully understand which is superior. This might take a while...

Coffee (Pro's):
  • In 2004, coffee was the top agricultural export for 12 countries (tons of business:))
  • Reduces the risk of various diseases such as: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhonsis of the liver and gout (check wikipedia for more info on that)
  • Coffee has tons of anti-oxidants
  • Low calorie unless additions are made to the liquid.
  • High in Caffeine leading to the best sleepovers and 2am assignments possible.
  • Making it is a matter of pouring water and coffee into a machine and pressing a button. It is impossible to overcook it. And improbable to make it wrong.
  • There's something comforting in drinking a nice cup of coffee while chatting with friends.
Tea (Pro's)
  • There are more than a hundred different kinds of teas. (If you count each kind of herbal tea)
  • Tea has been around since around 2737 BC (crazy long ago)
  • Tea leaves contain around 200 chemicals and healthy things like flavanoides, amino acids, vitamins (C, E and K), caffeine and polysaccharides. (check wikipedia)
  • Tea has been proven as a great digestive aid. (drink a cup of tea after dinner!)
  • The role of tea is well established in normalizing blood pressure, lipid depressing activity, prevention of coronary heart diseases and diabetes by reducing the blood-glucose activity. (taken straight from wikipedia)
  • Tea has virtually no calories and tastes great without sugar/milk.
  • Green tea has only 10-20% of the caffeine in coffee. This allows you to drink it after dinner and still be able to sleep.
  • There's something comforting about drinking a flavourful cup of tea and reading.
  • I'm drinking a cup of green tea as I write this.
Coffee (Con's)
  • Because of its high caffeine content, coffee has lead some researchers to the realization that it may cause the temporary clogging of arterial walls.
  • Excess coffee consumption may lead to a magnesium deficiency or hypomagnesaemia, and may be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
  • Coffee is addictive because of caffeine and "coffee junkies" have the same symptoms of drug abusers.
  • One scientist theorizes that the smell of coffee beans/coffee restores appetite.
  • Coffee usually tastes better when flavoured with sugary and fatty ingredients.
  • Coffee is usually much more expense than tea is.
  • Coffee leaves stains, tea removes them.
  • Coffee should not be consumed after 8pm because of its excess caffeine. Believe me, it will be very hard for you to fall asleep.
Tea (Con's)
  • Tea has a tendency of becoming predictable. Coffee is different every time.
  • Because it does not contain as much caffeine, tea won't allow you to stay up for as long or with the same sense of being awake.
  • Because of its lack of calories, tea won't fill you up.
  • Sometimes, when time is of the essence, the tea bag is forgotten and hot bitter water is created. (Yuck.)
  • Likewise to the previous point, the kettle is sometimes neglected, leaving screaming boiling water in the kitchen.
  • Throwing the tea bag into the trash (or compost) is sometimes a nuisance.
  • You must wait for at least 2-3 minutes before the tea bag has soaked through the water and creates the true mixture. Weak tea is never happy tea.

Please, correct me if I'm wrong... but based on these points, tea has clearly won. What do you think, should tea have won? Are there more pro points for coffee that I have neglected? Please comment your thoughts and/or feelings.

The Beverage War must continue. Tea has won this battle... but will it win the war?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekly (or not so much) Book Review numero dos

I wish to apologize for telling the world that I would write a weekly book review and then writing one once a month. You see, the past month has been especially busy with things like vacation on the brain.

Therefore, I wish to make it up to my "readers"- which is apparently my parents and their friends (not that I'm complaining). The most recent book I have read will probably be extremely familiar to my mother's friends. It involves a blog and a paper clip...

You guessed it, One Red Paperclip by Kyle Macdonald. The inspirational story of a man who decided to play Bigger or Better until he is offered a house. He made it after only 14 trades and one year.

It sounds pretty insane, and it is. In fact, I'm sorry to admit that the insanity of the story is just about all this book has going for it. It's a very easy read because the language isn't very extraordinary. However, the language aside, you will not be able to put it down. Shock value can do that to a reader, can't it?

If you are looking for a happy-go-lucky story that may keep your interest for a few days (or in my case, a few hours), this book may be the one for you. That in mind, you may just want to go to his blog and read it from there instead of making the effort of visiting your local library.

My rating for this non-fiction story: 7 out of 10 for effort. It's certainly worth looking him up on Google. Just don't waste the $17.95 (Canadian) it costs to buy his book.

By the way, WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF TRADING A PAPERCLIP FOR A HOUSE? I could be living in my own place by now. Besides that, now that the story is told and published, I can't even steal the idea for a fiction story. Perhaps I could trade it for something bigger...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Quest Begins

"Life is for living, so get on with it"

I read this headline off a newspaper encrusted with ice , a few minutes ago (Yes, I am back in Montreal) as I walked back from Becky's house. Of course, it was too dark to read the article. It always is.

I can't help thinking that this headline was meant for me. I've been spending way too much time engrossed in unimportant things lately. I need to "get on with it", at least that's the way it seems.

Disappointment has been the name of the game in the past month. Disappointing events have been happening time and time again. Obviously, the only person worthy of such disappointment is myself. I've spent too much time being disappointed, and not enough time acting on these feelings.

I've been scared to admit my disappoint me to my friends. Because of this fear, I've also felt more alone than ever. I've been afraid of living and I need a second chance.

That reminds me of Easter. Today is the day that Jesus rose again. He promised a new life for anyone willing to follow him. He has promised me a new life.

Spring is in the air, isn't it? I mean, there is still ten-foot piles of snow and icicles hanging from every roof, but Spring has still sprung. The quiet whispers of forgotten warmth and new life lingers in the freezing wind. (Why is the wind so frigid?)

My birthday is only months away. My sixteenth will be so sweet, I can smell it. The only thing I must change before then is my life. I must begin a quest to change my life. To Live My Life.

It seems possible, perhaps even plausible. After all, I've been changing my life since the day I was born. All I have to do think, believe and act.

Get Ready, World. The rest of my life begins today.

Why don't you live too? We can change our lives together. We can change the world together.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Here I am, in sunny Lakeland Florida, enjoying the warm weather while most of my friends have to cope with the snow.

For them, I have a special message: "HAHA! YOU'RE IN KNEE-HIGH SNOW AND I GET TO GO TO THE BEACH!"

While I'm here, not only can I brag, but I can also visit the wonders of Busch Gardens. A few days ago, my family and I went, returning with sunburns, new sweaters and a whole bunch of pictures! My brother and I went on some of the craziest roller coasters and got to see a whole bunch of animals too! Here are a bunch of pictures:
There you have it! Not only did I get to see Lions and Tigers and Bears, I got to see Rhymenoceroses and Hip Hopopotamuses too!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The List

I've always enjoyed music; however I haven't had my own unique tastes in music for very long.
In this short period, I have compiled my own library of approximately 700 much-loved songs. Today, I would like to share 10 of these songs with you. I'll also add a little blurb explaining my reasoning for including each song. (They will be in no particular order, I've never been able to pick favourites when it comes to music.)

I call these 10 songs "The List"...
Warning: If you wish to take a glimpse into a teenager's mind, please continue. Some of these songs are not for the faint of heart.
  1. "Pain" by Jimmy Eat World:
    1. Although, I did choose this song because it happens to be the most played song on my playlist, it is one of my favourites for other reasons as well. This song is not only "catchy", it has all the perfect requirement for a great pop-rock song. There is good rhythm, strong lyrics and vocals, easy-to-learn guitar chords... what more does a song need?
  2. "Paperthin Hymn" by Anberlin
    1. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for good lyrics. (Perhaps its simply because of my poetic nature) This song has strong lyrics with a nice sweet melody and hard rock undertone. I can listen to it many times and never get sick of it.
  3. "Wine Red" by The Hush Sound
    1. Anything by the The Hush Sound is fantastic, and it is difficult for me to choose my favourite; therefore I've selected Wine Red because of its popularity among my peers. Up beat, Indie and pretty darn unique, Wine Red is a mix of vocal harmony (a man's and a woman's), keyboard, drums, base and guitar. It's amazing how fantastic so many instruments can sound together.
  4. "What Do We Know" by Thousand Foot Krutch
    1. Once again, it was extremely hard for me to choose my favourite TFK song. If you enjoy rock and roll, good and loud, go download many Thousand Foot Krutch songs. What Do We Know is one of their softer songs, however it contains all of the TFK trademarks. Great lyrics and a catchy rhythm, this song can always make me smile.
  5. "Keep the Car Running" by Arcade Fire
    1. I've always been surprised at how amazing a band from Montreal can sound! They experiment with a copious amount of instruments as well as a strong vocalist to continually catch my ear and keep me listening. Keep the Car Running has a beat that is sure to get your toes tapping and vocals that are never too harsh.
  6. "Welcome Home" by Coheed and Cambria
    1. If you have ever heard Coheed and Cambria live, you know how awesome their guitarist is. Welcome Home has been described by my father as "So late seventies" and in part, I can agree with him. That definitely does not take away from the fact that this song has strong vocals, as well as strong guitar. Watch out! This song is "explicit", although that will never stop me from listening to it.
  7. "Fences" by Paramore
    1. "Get up and dance" is the message that I get from this song. In fact, if you haven't at least bobbed your head by the end of Fences, there must be something wrong with you. The singer of the group is of the female variety, which gives uniqueness to the group and the remarkable lyrics that Paramore songs always include make this band a perfect match for me!
  8. "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service
    1. Different from my normal rock/alternative music, this song always makes me bob my head, tap my toes and sing along. I guess some would categorize The Postal Service as Techno, and they would be right. From the first few seconds of the song, there are background beats that reel you in.
  9. "A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White" by Underoath
    1. It's true, I like screaming. Shocking, isn't it? In my defense, this song has amazing lyrics and a good sound, no matter what my mother might think.
  10. "Glow" by Alien Ant Farm
    1. This band is simply enjoyable to listen to. They have a light sound and easy to sing-along vocals. It's great to be able to listen to them and just let go.
There you have it! A list of 10 of my beloved songs! Enjoy them!