Sunday, May 31, 2015

Colour me Rad

I was laughing too hard to stand up straight.
Ever since I first heard about colour runs a couple of years ago, I have wanted to do one.  I have seen pictures of people covered from head to toe in colourful powders and dyes with bright smiling faces and I thought to myself, I want to do that. It looks chaotic, it is most definitely messy, and I wanted to be a part of it.  I was able to cross this off my bucket list yesterday after participating in Toronto's "Color Me Rad" event.

I love being active and being outside.  From my courses in psychology, I know that nature has been found to positively affect a person's mood and this is especially true for me.  Just from being outside for a brief moment brings me such peace.  It's literally a breath of fresh air that helps me to un-clench and re-evaluate any negative circumstances.

Running is a newer activity that I have gotten into.  I definitely was not a runner in high school.  I was part of 4x100 relay team in grade 9 and it was not the best experience.  There were only 4 grade 9s and so I felt like I had to by default, but I am not fast.  I worked so hard, but knew that each race I was letting my team down.  I never looked forward to a race.  Long distance running was also a challenge and I only really did it to fill the requirement in PE.

During the second year of my undergrad, I decided that I wanted to become a runner.  Not because I liked running, but because I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to see progress, and both my mum and younger sister were doing a half marathon that year and I could barely run for 10 minutes straight.  Talk about feeling under par.  There is value in being able to regulate your activity and I feel accomplished every time I reach another goal.  Plus, my mum always said that I should be able to run away if I am ever being chased by a bad guy and adrenaline can only get me so far.

It's true that running can be painful.  My muscles don't always want to cooperate--especially if it's raining or windy.  But it's also rewarding and addicting.  The runner's high is a thing and I can now say I like running--I've learned to like running.  While I don't see myself doing a marathon or even a half marathon, a colourful 5k is a real treat.

~ Rae

A new friend and I modelling our dyed clothes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Mistborn Trilogy: A Review

I love talking to fellow book lovers about books.  When you've read the same, you can talk for hours about characters, plots and the like and when you are in need of a new read, they can give you recommendations of good books.  That's how I learned about the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.  A number of my friends have read the series and praised it as one of the better fantasy sets that they have read.  After finishing the trilogy, I must agree with their assessment.

The trilogy includes The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages but there are later spin-off books that take place within the same world.  This review is focused on the trilogy. 
Cover images of the three books.
Image via Google
Map of the Final Empire
Image via Google
In the first book, The Final Empire, the reader is introduced to a red and black world.  The Lord Ruler, seen as god, reigns over the populace of Nobles and the Skaa, the lowercase slave-like people with his police-like Obligators and Inquisitors. Ash falls daily from the sky, obscuring the sun and causing a layer of perma-dirt.  The skaa are forced to work in the ash while the nobles supervise.  Intermingling is forbidden and any mixed offspring will be killed.  At night, dark mists rise over everything.  Most people are afraid of going out in the mist, unless that is, they are mistborn.  Mistborns have the ability to burn certain metals within their stomachs and in doing so gain superhuman abilities/powers.  People who are mistings are able to burn on of the many allomantic metals, but mistborn can burn them all.

The scene is now set.  In the first book, we meet a group of thieves who, through a twist of events and the ambitious idea of a man named Kelsier, take on the task of overthrowing the Lord Ruler.  There is so much that I could say here, but I really don't want to get into the nitty-gritty and accidentally spoil part of the book. In sum, as they proceed forward with their plan, certain factors lead them to question whether the Lord Ruler should have been overthrown in the first place.  Does he in fact stand for a greater good?  And is there something worse waiting to attack?

As with the last few fantasy epics I have read, I found myself really enjoying the creativity of the world.  I felt like I was falling through the pages and into the ash covered world.  I could feel the skaa's frustration and I wanted to help them fight for their freedom.  I found, too, that the world itself was very unique from the fantasy series that I have read before.  Like the world found in the Death Gate Cycle, I can't say that I can compare it to anything I have read.

 I also really liked the characters.  I really wanted to follow their story and learn how it ended.  They were very distinct with their own quirks.  I found myself attached to young Spook in the third book.  He doesn't play as big roles within the first two books and when his perspective came around, I was cheering him on.  TenSoon, a creature called a kandra (they can ingest dead bodies and in doing so become a copy), was also one of my favourite characters.

Of the three books, the second was my least favourite.  It was like the interim period and there was a bit of a lull in the plot and I felt like I was waiting a long time before we really got into the main events in the story.  While I still enjoyed the book, it was not as engaging as the first and the third.  I know that some people are not a fan of books that switch perspectives every chapter or so, and so that could also be seen as a negative.  However, this strategy worked well for Sanderson's story and I can't see how he could have delivered the story as well without the changing points of view.

I think that this series has favourite potential.  I'm not a big "book favouriter," and my two main criteria are (1) would I read it again/have I read it again or (2) has it left my brain spinning, in awe and in a contented place.  This series satisfies the latter.  While I could predict at times certain events, there were many more that surprised me until the end.  And the way it ended.  Whoa.  Whoa-whoa! A definitely recommended for fantasy lovers.

Things I've learned about France (or at least Normandy)

Well there we go, my second European country. In some ways, very similar to England (a lot of meat and potatoes, fancy churches, pay toilets...