Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas On Board the Oasis of the Seas

Just coming up to 2 months on board now. I still struggle to remember what all I've done so far. I finally got to get off for real and visit Labadee. Unfortunate because with over 1700 kids on board this week there was no way I was going to be able to get on the zip line. I now know why crew don't get off in Labadee very often. There really isn't a whole lot to do. If you want to do any of the activities (zip line, coaster, water slide) or go swimming and/or sunbathing, it's a decent port. But there's no where to really go shopping. All the shops are artisan market type booths, which I'm sure probably have some cool things, but I have no need or room for anything.
I had my first lesson this week. It went, ok, I guess. I'm still not very comfortable with it, especially not the boogie boarding part. I have one month to get better at it. Hopefully I can. Unfortunately didn't get any time to actually practice because we did have so many lessons and doors. Plus side to lessons is we get extra commission from them. 
This week was the Christmas cruise, so as I already mentioned there was 1700 or so kids on board. We got to help wrap the presents for all the kids in the youth programs, which was kind of fun. It was weird because we thought everything was going to be super busy, but it turned out it was only the flow rider that was crazy. The rockwall got pretty busy on sea days, but the zip line was pretty dead for most of the cruise.
Last Saturday we got another new crew member, which was nice. The only thing he hasn't done is zip line, so at least he can still do flow rider lessons. But unfortunately we were still down 1. This Saturday we're losing another member, he's being transferred to another ship, which sucks for us but it's nice for him, he'll be closer to home and the same time zone. He also only joined us aa few weeks ago. In his place we're getting oone of the guys back who left 2 weeks into my contract. It's crazy that I've been here long enough for people to leave and come back from vacation
II didn't do too much outside of working this week. Mostly just chilled in our room.. We went out for dinner twice, to Sabor and Johnny Rockets. On Christmas Eve we did Christmas carolling on the promenade. That was kind of fun. 
On Christmas Eve they also had our crew Christmas dinner. It was really good. I got roast beef, and I was super excited to eat strawberries and grapes. They also had ice cream and you could make sundaes and it was delicious. For Christmas from Royal we each got rolling  backpacks that say Oasis of the Seas Crew on them. Super nice to do that for us, and they're pretty heavy duty bags as well. Apparently we're also supposed to be getting tablets in early 2015, which is also super cool. 
On Christmas  we had our  Sports Staff gift exchange, as well as glow party. In addition to that I had late gangway and doors so I had a very busy Christmas night. The glow party wasn't as packed as they thought it was going to be. Could've been because it was on a different day and time than usual. Who knows. It was fun though.  For our gift exchange we had to get a $25 general gift and then we picked numbers  and got gifts in order.  Some people put more effort in than others but that's to be expected. I gave and got candy, which isn't too bad for me. And Bry gave and got alcohol haha. Luckily I didn't end up with booze. Usually when people play that game they steal gifts but we didn't have enough time so we just kept what we picked. We also got a gift from our manager, good quality toilet paper. Apparently that's his thing, either toilet paper or toilet seat covers are his Christmas gifts. Since I knew this, and he's from England, I found Union Jack toilet paper at the Best of British store in Fort Lauderdale last week. He loved it. 
Christmas in Mexico was weird. it was like 27 degrees. And there was no snow. I didn't like it. I haven't been super homesick or anything so far, but for whatever reason turning on facebook and seeing everyone's Christmas posts made me super upset.
I bought internet on Christmas so I got to facetime home, which was nice. Got to talk to my sister since she was visiting. We talked for close to 3 hours, probably would have ended up talking longer but I had to work. Also had to do laundry in the morning so I couldn't call until about 1. I finally got to open the presents my mom sent me, they've been sitting in my room for about a week and a half and I haven't been allowed to open them. I am now officially going to be known as "the Canadian", because I got a Canada tshirt and tank top, as well as a necklace, and I also just bought myself a pair of Canadian flag earrings that are super cool. Other Canadians love meeting me, it's awesome.
I'm supposed to be getting mail today, it was supposed to be 2 packages, one from my sister and one that I ordered, but my name is only on the list once. Which is slightly unfortunate. I'm hoping it's wrong.  Last Saturday I got a little package and my name wasn't on the list, but it could have been classified as a letter, I'm not really sure. Since I wasn't expecting a package and it was from China, I took it to security to have it checked. They told us when we were in training that if we weren't expecting a package to have it checked by security. If it had been from Canada and I recognized the return name, I would have just opened it, but I was slightly concerned. Turns out it was glow in the dark stars. Found out they were from Heather, doing a test to make sure things got to me haha. So if anyone is sending me a package not from Canada, give me a heads up :)  I know surprises are nice but just to save me from panicking haha. 
I finally went to the gym last week. And by that I mean Bry dragged me to the gym and I almost died. It was good though. Haven't had time to go since, unfortunately. I did however finally go running on the track yesterday. I ran for almost half an hour, which I was quite impressed about. And then today my legs hurt.  We haven't managed to go practice Spanish yet though. We signed up for Rosetta Stone but since it's only available in the training rooms we need to find time to do it. Myabe after the busy cruises are over.
I got to do the parade! My role is to ride a bike. There are 4 of us from sports staff assigned to bikes, however there are only ever 2 bikes that work. So the first week I actually rode the bike, almost crashed into a penguin and a guy on stilts, but it went alright. We're also supposed to help carry a dragon and dance at the end. This week I was just the dragon, and no one told me when I was supposed to go dance or whatever so I didn't really do anyting.  I'm hoping I can do stilts or something, it's super lame to go just for  5 minutes. I want to do more! Haha. 
I'm now officially trained on zip line launching, however I haven't managed to make it back up there since I finished my training.
I can't think of much more that happened over the last couple weeks. So I guess I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

More of Megpie's Oasis Adventures

I get to be in the parade! That's the most exciting thing I think that's happened over the past few weeks. Also, Guardians of the Galaxy is on our crew tv channel. I have glow party again tonight, and I hope I can remember the dance and actually take part this week. 
I've met several Canadians, most of which are just as excited about it as I am. The best one was meeting people who's sister in law is from Midland, and I actually know who she is. I've also had a few kids doing a scavenger hunt who needed a picture with a Canadian crew member. 
I've been able to get out onto the wave a few times this past week. I'm actually noticing improvement, which is awesome. Still wiping out quite a lot though, but it only *sometimes* results in water up my nose. We had training for flowrider lessons, I'm not very good at it at all, and they want us in lessons by next week. I don't think that's going to happen. 
I also got training for zip line launching this week. It's not hard, just a lot to remember, like what order to do things in, and it seems like a bit of a pain. I might like landing better, aside from it hurting my elbow. It's also fun on landing, because when it's slow you can watch things happening in the aqua theatre. It just gets really hot on the landing platform, launching has a bit of roof for shade. 
Update, I did manage to get on stage for the dance at Glow Party this week! There was not a lot of people at the party though. Which kind of sucks, because then you start wondering why you're even bothering. The next one will be the Christmas cruise so it should be packed. 
Speaking of Christmas, Bry (my roommate) pointed out yesterday that it was only 2 weeks until Christmas and the next time we were in Mexico, it would be Christmas. And then it would be our 2 months. Which is crazy to think about. Exciting, but crazy. I should hopefully get my Christmas package from home tomorrow. I thought I was going to get mail last Saturday but I didn't, which was kind of sad, so I really hope I get it tomorrow.
We have 4 staff members leaving tomorrow. 3 were planned, the end of their contract. The fourth has a family emergency. So unfortunately we're going to be down a member this week, and hopefully we get someone next week or Christmas will suck. Our new members are also 1 new hire and 2 new to the bigger class of ship  so they're going to need a lot of training. 
I don't really feel like I have much to report from the past few weeks. The only show I went to see was the aqua show again. That one's easy to go see because as long as we don't have doors after, there's always seats in the front row. The last one we went to the cast had entirely too much fun splashing us. We don't mind though, and guests think we're crazy. But it's actually a really good view.
I finally bought myself a pair of Ray Bans. Which I was super excited about. That's been my most expensive purchase so far. I also had to buy a new watch because apparently the flowrider likes to destroy watches. My old one is still kind of alive enough so it's going to be my flowrider watch, so I can hopefully keep this new one for longer. They have random sales on the Promenade for jewellery or watches, bags and sunglases and things like that, so I got 10% off my watch, plus our crew 20% discount which was nice. Bry got the best deal on her watch though, it was regularly $585, 75% + 20% off, under $150.

So far things are going alright. I miss real food. At least it's not boring, though sometimes the days feel really long. I think that's all I have for now. Stay tuned for more updates.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Weeks 3, 4 and 5 on the Oasis of the Seas

I had planned on having a post up for Saturday of the end of week 4. That did not happen. I haven't written anything over the past 2 weeks. Mostly because I'm lazy, but also because I have actually done a fair bit over the last couple weeks. 
Let's see, the end of week 2, I managed to get off in Fort Lauderdale, and found a post office (ok, Office Depot, but they have stamps and mail things), as well as a Walgreens where I bought a few things I needed (laundry soap, bathroom soap, contact solution, chocolate). It's only about a 15-20 minute drive and the shuttle/taxi thing only costs like $2 each way, so it's not too bad.
So far I've determined that Eastern cruises are much more, turbulent, for lack of a better word haha. I think we're further out into the Atlantic so it's rockier. The sun also sets sooner in the Eastern so we usually end work a bit earlier.
I've managed to get taken out on the flow rider, which sucks when it happens. You're relatively dry, loading someone in and they latch on to you, won't let go and you can't break their grip and end up on your ass and soaking wet. And of course everyone laughs. You also get splashed when people wipe out right in front of you. Which is sometimes funny, and nice if it's super hot, but when you're already kind of cold, it sucks.
Didn't get off in any of the ports week 3. I was hoping to visit Labadee and Falmouth this week, however I think I have stuff I'm supposed to do so maybe not. It's hard when you have enough time to sit around and be kind of bored, but not enough to get off and explore without stressing about being back on time. I managed to get off in all 3 ports week 4 though. Didn't do too much, wandered Nassau and found free wifi at Dunkin Donuts, went to Emerald Beach in St Thomas as well as looked in some shops, and went to lunch and shopped a bit in St Maarten. There are so many things that I see that I want to buy, but I have to keep telling myself I don't have the space and I have time. I have however bought a bunch of postcards. Probably almost 40, to send as well as for my collection. By the end of like month 2 I'll have forgotten which postcards I've sent to people or bought for myself.
I've gone out for dinner a few times, because sometimes it's hard to face the crew mess. It tends to be the same food almost all the time. One can only eat so much pasta and bread. I'm seriously going to get fat. I've gone to Johnny Rockets, which is probably my favourite. It's $6 for all you can eat off the menu essentially (minus the milkshakes, those cost extra but I don't care because they're delicious). Johnny Rockets is kind of like a 50's style diner with burgers and stuff. I've also been to Sabor, which is Mexican. There's not a whole lot there that I'm excited about but the quesadillas I had were pretty good. Plus it's cheap. Windjammer, isthe  guest buffet style dining room, we just need to make reservations and it's $3 to go, it was really good. Fun to go on formal night. Most recently went to Giovanni's, which is the Italian restaurant. Again, not a whole lot on the menu that I was excited about, and it's kind of expensive, but I suppose once in a while it wouldn't be terrible. The steak I had was delicious. I don't eat much meat in crew mess.  Except for bacon at breakfast. Again, going to get fat.
I've now officially seen all the shows. Actually watched all 4 during week 4. Rather busy week haha.  The shows on board are Oasis of Dreams, the aqua show, which is amazing. I could watch it every week. Actually watched it twice this week, the second time was the front row where you get soaked, but it's super cool to watch from there. There's also Frozen in Time, the ice show. Which is also a very impressive show. Didn't have the best view, so I'd definitely like to go see that again. There are 3 Canadians in both the ice and aqua shows, which I thought was fun. Another one of the shows is CATS, which is a full on Broadway style production. So it's almost 2 1/2 hours long. Phenomenal singing, dancing, set and costumes, but it's definitely not for everyone. I might go see it once or twice more but I  won't be seeing it every week. The last show on board is Come Fly With Me, an aerial/acrobatic/musical show and oh my god is it amazing to watch. It's another one I could watch every week. Starting hopefully next week the aqua cast will be putting on another show, which is about 25 minutes, and it's supposed to be more of a silly/comedy type performance. I've seen them rehearsing while working the rock wall (we have a great view of the aqua theatre), and it looks really funny.
I'm actually struggling to remember what all I've done. As much as I have done, it doesn't seem like that much, and my days all seem to be running together.
At the end of week 2 my emergency position was changed from basically being extra staff to be runners for things, to being assembly station leader. Which is just great, let's take someone who has no idea what they're doing and stick them in this position. And then for my second time being leader, we had the coast guard on board making sure everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing in case of an emergency. I was close to having an anxiety attack. Luckily we passed on our first try and they didn't ask me specifically any questions. Which, even though I would've been freaking out, after all the studying I did, I kind of wished they had.
I've gotten my picture taken with almost all the Dreamworks characters on board. I also bought myself a stuffed Mort. He's kind of creepy but makes me laugh. Somehow the ship managed to get a copy of Penguins of Madagascar in 3D, so we got to watch that this week. super funny, and I got my picture with the Penguins and got a free poster. I think my favourite characters on the ship are the Penguins and King Julien. I'm going to try and see how many pictures I can get with all of them over the course of my contract. Everyone thinks I'm a little ridiculous but I don't even care. It makes me laugh.
This week in Labadee I only got to get off the ship because I had to do lifeboat filling. Which isn't exactly a picnic. You are crammed into a hot and crowded boat with 369 other people in Haiti, which is like 31 degrees, and you sit there for like 20 minutes while you wait for everyone to fill in. And you're wearing a stupid life jacket and isn't the most comfortable thing in the world to wear. 
My job itself is going pretty good so far. I haven't gotten out much the past week to practice flow rider, mostly because we had so many lessons booked, and because of that I had to do a lot of doors. I'm finally being trained on zip line landing though. It's really not too difficult. I think I have to do one more supervised session on it and then I can be on my own. Then hopefully next week or the week after I can be trained on launching. I'm now also part of the glow party. Which means I get to dress up in a fluorescent shirt and dance around with people. There's also a choreographed dance that I'm struggling to memorize, but I also missed doing this week because no one told me when it was supposed to start. Whoops. Only downside to glow party is that it doesn't start till 11:30 at night. Which is when I like to be in bed. I want to be part of the Dreamworks parade but I'm not allowed. At least not until the other sports staff who are in it leave. Which I think should be before Christmas. 
I can't believe Christmas is in a month. There's already Christmas decorations up on the ship. It's going to be weird not having any snow for Christmas. As happy as I am to not have to deal with it, not having a white Christmas is a little sad. 
I also can't believe I've already been here for a month! Time seems to be flying so far. I had my 30 day evaluation. I meet expectations and they still want to retain me, so that's good. I apparently need to be able to teach lessons by 90 days or I'm not performing my duties and they can get rid of me. Only problem, I'm not a very good teacher. So I'm a little concerned with how that's gonna go. The cool thing though is that we get commission from the lessons. And even though right now I'm not doing lessons, I do doors so I still get included. We were averaging about $25 dollars a voyage, but our thanksgiving cruise this past week we had a lot of kids and a lot of lessons so I think we got over $100.
Im having a tough time remembering what else I've done and what I've written so far, so I think that's all from me. It's weird that I've only been here for a month, but I'm finishing week 5. Because we're counting by cruise voyages. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Oasis of the Seas So Far

So far, this has been a wild experience. Not just including the rollercoaster ride of emotions before leaving, and stressing out about everything once I got here. The ship is huge, biggest of Royal Caribbean's fleet, and it's hard to keep track of where everything is. I'm getting better, but I still get lost on occasion. I've also had a whole lot of training, safety and security training, and all the things about living and working on a ship, as well as job training.

Everything also just seems so unreal. It's November and it's 28 degrees out, I can walk around in the middle of the day when we're in port, even get off the ship, I just can't get over that I'm actually here. So far I've only managed to get off in Cozumel week one, and Nassau week two. Didn't do much off the ship, mostly just wandered a little bit through the tourist areas, hopefully as time goes on I'll explore a bit more. I'm definitely hoping to get back to Atlantis at some point.

My room is small, but that was expected. This is actually our second cabin, it wasn't ready when we came on so we were in the extra crew cabins. I've even managed to find a home for almost all of my stuff. And the some stuff that doesn't have a home is mostly because after the initial putting everything away, I've been super lazy. I have the top bunk, which isn't terrible. If you leave a chair at the bottom of the ladder it makes life way easier. There's a tv for both bunks, and a light and a shelf (our first room didn't have shelves and I was annoyed), and then we have our curtains. My room mate is American, also a new hire for sports staff so that's nice.

The sports staff department consists of 19, plus a supervisor and a manager. There are only 4 girls. I'm the only Canadian, a couple Americans (though one's leaving this week), 3 from England, Portugal, Spain, quite a few from Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Trinidad and Tobego, and I'm sure there's more that I just can't remember. They seem like a pretty good group of people, though they all seem to drink a lot.

The job itself seems alright. We run the climbing wall (5 decks high), zip line (82 feet, 9 decks up), and the flowrider (surf simulator). We also occasionally do set up for events and doors (scanning cards to check for show reservations). The hours vary quite a bit, especially with having to do doors, we can start anywhere from 7:45 in the morning, to not starting until after noon on port days, and we can be done by 6pm, or doing doors we can finish at 10:45 at night. We also sometimes get random hours off in the middle of the day, sort of like split shifts. It's not  horrible, it's just hard to get into a routine. We work 7 days a week, sometimes we can be "on call" and get a port day off, which so far isn't too bad because it's not like I have much I can do on my days off anyways.

We get to clock our hours practisin on the flowrider, which is kind of cool. We need to get good enough so that we can teach lessons. I don't suck as much as I did my first time but I'm still not great. At the end of every cruise our staff does what they call a flow show, which is a half hour show with them doing little skits and tricks and things. It's super cool. So maybe by the end I'll be good enough to take part haha.

All in all it's been a pretty hectic last 2 weeks. Stressful, and a lot to learn but interesting as well. Hopefully I get a few more chances to get off the ship in port and get to explore a bit.

I think that's all I have to report on my first 2 weeks on the ship. Stay tuned for more updates over the next 6 months.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Megpie's Newest Adventure

For anyone who doesn't already know, I went to school for Tourism & Travel and Recreation & Leisure. This has prompted me to contemplate working on a cruise ship on and off for the past 6 or so years. I finally decided to apply, and got the job.

The whole process has taken just over two months, from applying to interviews to being accepted and finally, receiving a date of employment. I leave tomorrow to fly to Miami, where I will stay the night and then get transferred to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to board the Oasis of the Seas. Funnily enough, when the Oasis was launched in 2009, I said "that's the boat I'm going to work on" and sure enough, here I am. I'll be working as sports staff, which basically includes working the rock climbing wall, surf simulator, zip line, and running any activities or theme nights.

I will be gone for almost 7 months, alternating between 7 night cruises of Eastern and Western Caribbean. Which means I'll be travelling to Mexico, Labadee in Haiti (Royal Caribbean's private destination), Nassau in the Bahamas (yay Atlantis!), Jamaica, St Thomas and St Maarten.

For the past 2 weeks since finding out I got the job, I've been flipping between being excited, nervous, sad to be leaving, stressing out about all I needed to do, and completely freaking out. I'm back to being nervous again.

I'm also sad because there were quite a few people who I wanted to say goodbye to before I left but I won't get a chance to. And I know I'll still have some ways to keep in touch but it'll be limited.

I'll try and keep up with writing blog posts while I'm away, but those might be limited as well.

my new home!

Wish me luck!

Brief Book Review: Jenny Colgan

In the last month I had the chance to read two of Jenny Colgan's novels. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris and Meet Me at the Cupcake Café. I originally found Colgan's novels because I was looking up books with cupcakes (because obviously cupcakes are the best and I love them) I then ordered Cupcake Café, found out my sister already owned an ARC copy, returned it and got Chocolate Shop. Both were cute, relatively "fluffy" books, but I enjoyed them. I'm putting them both into one very brief post, because I'm a super procrastinator and don't have time for two long ones.

I started off by reading The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, here's a synopsis.
As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandest dames of Paris.

It's a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime - to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate - and herself - than she ever dreamed.

Who doesn't love chocolate? Ok, I know there are people (crazy people!) who don't, but the vast majority do. I am one of those people so this book enticed me. I found her accident a little random, she fell at work and ended up losing two toes. Weird right? I mean it was something that put her in the hospital and back in touch with her teacher, but losing her toes? I just couldn't wrap my head around it.

I kept forgetting that Anna was originally from England, so she wasn't really as far from home as I kept thinking (ie Canada). I really liked getting to read about Paris, and I would have loved to have visited Thierry's chocolate shop.

The book wasn't bad, although I could predict most of what was going to happen, and some of the characters were a little far fetched. Basically if you're looking for something light to read, and especially if you love chocolate, this is a good book to grab.

I read Meet Me at the Cupcake Café second, and it was an adorable read.

Having grown up in an apartment above her Grandpa Joe's little bakery, Issy Randal has always known how to make something sweet. She's much better at baking than she is at filing, so when she's laid off from her desk job, Issy decides to open up her own little cafe . But she soon learns that her piece-of-cake plan will take all her courage and confectionary talent to avert disaster. Funny and sharp, Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is about how life might not always taste like what you expect, but there's always room for dessert!
For whatever reason, I was irrationally irritated by the main character's name. Her full name is Isabel, but goes by Issy, which I'm not sure if it's supposed to be pronounced like it's spelled or like Izzy. But I kept reading it Issy, which bothered me. Luckily that didn't stop me from enjoying the book.
For a while now I've wanted to have my own cupcake shop. Even though everyone else has told me it's a stupid idea. Luckily Issy had a lot of support (other than her d-bag of a boyfriend) and created this adorable little shop.
Speaking of d-bag boyfriends, he seriously needed to jump off a building. I hated him so much, and would tell anyone around me (mostly people from work), whenever he did something stupid. Fortunately I knew what was going to happen and she meets another lovely gentleman.
All in all, super cute book that made me really happy to read.
Both books were cool, they had recipes in them for you to try out, and I really enjoy books like that. I haven't tried any yet but hopefully I'll be able to soon.
Jenny Colgan has quite a few more books that I am really interested in reading now that I've read these two.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Brief Book Review: Rule of Thirds

I got Rule of Thirds from my sister for Christmas, it was even signed by the author. It was part of my sister's Book Buzz event last November, so she asked what book I wanted and she would get it for me. Since Rule of Thirds piqued my interest the most (I do love photography) that's what I chose. I finally got around to reading it and I was happy I chose this book.

Sixteen-year-old Pippa Greene never goes anywhere without her camera. She and her best friend/supermodel-in-training Dace long ago mapped out their life plan: Pippa will be the noted fashion photographer, and Dace the cover girl. But ever since last spring, things have changed for Pippa — and her junior year at Spalding High proves to have its own set of challenges. Not only is Vantage Point, the statewide photography competition, in three short weeks, but her mandatory volunteer placement lands her at St. Christopher’s Hospital, a place Pippa never wanted to set foot in again. With humour and pluck, she navigates her new role as a candy striper (watch out for Code Yellows), her changing relationship with her best friend (goodbye Honesty Pact), and — perhaps most stressful of all — her new love interests (yes, love interests plural).

Will Pippa make it to Vantage Point without having a panic attack? Will either one of the guys prove less sketchy than her last boyfriend? Can she and Dace figure out a way to dream big and be best friends? One thing is certain: real life is a lot more complicated than a photograph.

Pippa (real name Philadelphia, who does that to a child?) is currently in high school and part of the photography club and is preparing for Vantage Point, a big photography competition. She also finds out she has to do volunteer hours at the hospital she spent a lot of time at when her dad was sick. This book is basically about Pippa trying to navigate life, love and friendship in high school, while trying to avoid her panic attacks.

Pippa has two boys she's interested in, Ben and Dylan. Ben she meets through school and photography, Dylan she met when her dad was in the hospital and then runs into him again while volunteering. You start off liking both of them, and then you're not so sure you like either. And then if you're like me, you figure out what's going to happen with both of them and who she's going to end up with.

What bothers me with teenagers in books today, is that they're only 16 and are talking about sex and getting so wrapped up in that. When I was 16 that was the farthest thing from my mind. Maybe I was just weird, or I'm just old now and that's how kids are these days.

I like that even though this book revolves around photography, it doesn't focus on the technical stuff or use too much jargon. I feel like people who do take pictures would understand and enjoy it, but people who don't might have been put off.

Reading this book made me really wish there had been a photography club when I was in school, or even just that the photography courses were a little better. They didn't get really good until a year or two after I graduated. It also really made me want to take more pictures, but made me feel totally inadequate in my photography skills. Guess I just need to practice more.

All in all, Rule of Thirds by Chantel Guertin is a great read for any young adult. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Depth of Field, so as soon as my sister finishes that I'll hopefully get it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Upcoming October Movie Releases

There are a few movies coming to theatres that I might be interested in watching, as well as one that I'm excited about being released on DVD.

Starting with the movies being released in theatres, is The Judge on October 10

In "The Judge," Downey stars as big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town's judge (Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
This movie isn't normally one I would really be interested in watching, but it looked like it could be a cute sort of family movie. It also doesn't hurt that it has Robert Downey Jr in it. It should be interesting to see him in a slightly more serious role. This one may not be one I watch in theatres, but I definitely would like to watch it some time down the road.

Next up on October 17 is The Best of Me

"White people almost kissing"
Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, "The Best of Me" tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they've never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.

I think I may have seen one preview for this movie. But since it's based on a Nicholas Sparks book, it should be decent. Likely super depressing, but decent. I also love James Marsden. Apparently my movie choices revolve around pretty boys...whatever. If I find someone who wants to go see this with me, I'll go see it in theatres. If not, I don't think I'll be too concerned.

Finally there is Laggies, being released October 24

Overeducated and underemployed, 28 year old Megan (Keira Knightley) is in the throes of a quarterlife crisis. Squarely into adulthood with no career prospects, no particular motivation to think about her future and no one to relate to, Megan is comfortable lagging a few steps behind - while her friends check off milestones and celebrate their new grown-up status. When her high-school sweetheart (Mark Webber) proposes, Megan panics and- given an unexpected opportunity to escape for a week - hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year old Annika (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Annika's world-weary single dad Craig (Sam Rockwell).
I feel like this movie speaks to me. That's pretty much all there is to it. I hadn't even heard about this until I started writing this post, but after finding it I have decided I need to watch it. Not only is Keira Knightley fantastic, I kind of feel like this in the sense that I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. And her name is Megan, it's always fun when a main character has the same name as you :) haha.
Being released on DVD October 14 is X-Men: Days of Future Past

The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in 'X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.' The beloved characters from the original 'X-Men' film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past, 'X-Men: First Class,' in order to change a major historical event and fight in an epic battle that could save our future.
I actually got to see this movie in theatres, and you can find my review for it here. I really enjoyed it, even though at some points it was a little confusing (past and present crossing each other). I may not be adding this to my collection right away, as I don't own any of the other X-Men movies, but at some point I plan on buying it.

All in all, October is a semi decent month for movie releases.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Harry Potter ReRead: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I am ashamed to admit it took me almost 2 months to read Deathly Hallows (and almost that long to write this post...). Especially because when it was released I think I read it in around 7 hours.

If by month 7 (ok, 9) you still don't know what I'm talking about, here is a post explaining the reread. And again, if you have not read or even seen Harry Potter and don't want anything spoiled, stop here. But in case you don't care about spoilers and have no idea what this book is about, I'll supply you with a synopsis.

Harry is waiting in Privet Drive. The Order of the Phoenix is coming to escort him safely away without Voldemort and his supporters knowing - if they can. But what will Harry do then? How can he fulfill the momentous and seemingly impossible task that Professor Dumbledore has left him?
The epic finale to an epic series.

I still really like this book. It's depressing as all hell, but it's still really good. It finally puts together everything we've been learning about Harry and Voldemort from the past 6 years. It also shows how much Harry has grown over the course of the series as well. He's no longer a little boy, and doesn't want people to have to protect him anymore.

The deaths in this book were the most traumatic for me. Don't get me wrong, Dumbledore and Sirius were super upsetting, but, Hedwig and Dobby, and Fred, I always lose it over Dobby and Fred. And Lupin and Tonks leaving baby Teddy behind. Gah! So upsetting.

As depressing as this book was, it does have some funny parts too. It balances out the upsetting bits pretty well.

A few of my favourite lines

I always get super emotional at the battle of Hogwarts, when Minerva and Molly fight. I love that Minerva will do anything to protect the school, and Molly will do anything to protect her family.

I feel like I'm doing a horrible job at getting my thoughts on this book across. Probably because it took me almost a month to get around to writing this post.

Regardless, I still love the Harry Potter series even after doing this reread. I now want to re watch the movies, even though I know I'll be super annoyed with them as always. I'm very much "the book was better".

Even if you weren't participating in this reread, or haven't even read the books yet, it's never too late to read them. They're not just for little kids.

If anyone ever asks me if I still love Harry Potter "after all this time", I will respond with, "always".

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Upcoming September Movie Releases

September sucks a little bit for movie releases. There are no movies coming to theatre that I'm interested in, and there's only one coming out on DVD. There are also two TV shows being released on DVD this month.

Coming to DVD September 9 is Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Two years after the disastrous events in The Avengers, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) lives in Washington D.C., struggling to embrace and adapt to modern society. When a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is murdered, Steve must team up with Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), a.k.a. Black Widow, to uncover the assailant's plan, while also battling a threat from his past: the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) from Soviet Russia.

I love Marvel movies, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier was no exception. I also really loved that Black Widow made an appearance in the film. If you're interested in the rest of my thoughts, you can check out my blog post here. I'm torn between wanting to run out on Tuesday to buy it, and knowing I shouldn't spend money. I think buying it may win.

Both my TV shows are being released on DVD September 16.

Hawaii Five-0 season four, and Castle season six. Also from Castle, Raging Heat is being released on the same day.

Overall a fairly uneventful month for movies.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mini Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

I got to see Guardians of the Galaxy the first Tuesday after it opened (which shows how long it took me to write this post). I went with my best friend Amber who had already seen it, which normally I hate doing but she was trying to distract me from my life and that was probably going to be the only time I was going to be able to see it. She said it was just as funny the second time around. I thought it was hilarious. But before I get into the rest of my thoughts, here's the synopsis.

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.

Like I already said, the movie was hilarious. I wouldn't say it's your typical superhero story, partly because the Guardians aren't your typical superheroes. They all start out as a bunch of outcasts and basically all hate each other.

As usual, my favourite character in the movie was the non human. And as I say that I realize that most of the characters aren't actually human, but aside from being different colours, they look human. My favourite was Groot (or the tree, if you're unsure). He was cute, and even though he didn't say much ("I am Groot") he expressed himself pretty well. He just about kills me at the end though. Super cute.

I don't think I really have a whole lot to say about the movie. Other than it's really funny and you should definitely go see it. The cast is great as well. As a co-worker said, they took Chris Pratt, who usually plays the chubby, funny guy, and put him in the gym and now he's the buff, funny action hero. It's kind of awesome.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the Guardians again in theatres in 2017.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Upcoming August Movie Releases

Apparently August is mildly disappointing for movie releases. There is one movie being released in theatres that I want to see, and one being released on DVD. There are also 3 tv shows being released on DVD this month that I'm excited about.

Released in theatres on August 1 is Guardians of the Galaxy

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan.
I have to be honest, I'm not totally sure what this movie is all about. All I know is that it's Marvel, and it looks mildly entertaining. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to theatres to watch this one. I've already heard many good things about it.

Being released on DVD August 19 is The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

We've always known that Spider-Man's most important conflict has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

I did enjoy this movie. My review can be found here. I don't know if I'll be adding it to my collection yet though. I still don't own the first Amazing Spider-Man and there are other movies I want to buy before this one. So eventually I'll hopefully be getting it.

Also being released this month are seasons of 3 of my tv shows. NCIS Season 11 and NCIS: Los Angeles Season 5 are being released on August 19, and Elementary Season 2 is being released August 22. I didn't get to see most of these seasons live on tv, my job just didn't work schedule wise, so I'm hoping to be able to buy these all when they come out and watch them before the new seasons start on tv.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Harry Potter Reread: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I'm still super behind on my reread, but I finally finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I wasn't really looking forward to reading this one because of what happens. But in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can find the post explaining the reread here. I will also let you know that there will very likely be spoilers, so if you haven't read (or even seen) Half Blood Prince and don't want things ruined, leave now. But if you don't care about spoilers, or just forget what the book's about, here's the synopsis.

It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys' house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can't quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys' of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks' time? Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine...
J.K. Rowling charts Harry Potter's latest adventures in his sixth year at Hogwarts with consummate skill and in breathtaking fashion.
 Like I said, I wasn't super excited to read this one. I just couldn't seem to look past Dumbledore's death. Rereading it though, I realized we learn a lot about Voldemort and his past and what Harry needs to do. I like that Dumbledore gives Harry permission to tell Ron and Hermione what they learn in their "lessons". It shows that he trusts them and that they really do help Harry.

It sucks when Ron and Hermione are mad at each other because of Lavender. It just makes you want to shake some sense into them and tell them to hurry up and get together. I do however love the part where Harry and Ginny finally get together. Though on a side note, it's sad because I realized Harry didn't get to play in what would be the last Quidditch game for him at Hogwarts.

When you first read this book, Snape killing Dumbledore after he says "Severus, please" is absolutely heartbreaking and you hate Snape and think how could Dumbledore have ever trusted him?, he's evil, etc. But rereading it, and thinking about it, you realize Voldemort sent Malfoy to kill him. He didn't want Malfoy to become a murderer at 16. He was dying anyways. And as a Legilimens, Dumbledore was expressing all of this to Snape while he was standing there. His "Severus, please" was "please kill me so it doesn't have to be Malfoy". Which in itself is another level of heartbreaking.

It's sad that Bill gets attacked by Fenrir, but it makes me a little happier knowing that made Lupin realize that he and Tonks should be together.

The end just makes me really sad, when Harry says goodbye and breaks up with Ginny (even though "it's for some stupid noble reason isn't it?" is kind of funny) and when Ron and Hermione decide to go with him and not go back to Hogwarts. It really show just how good friends they are and how much they want to help Harry.

Overall this is just a super depressing book, probably #2 most depressing in the series (I think Deathly Hallows wins that). But it is an interesting one. You get to learn so much and see all the little details that have been woven in coming together.

This review is very late, but better late than never. So, stay tuned for the final reread (hopefully before the end of this month...) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Met Con Blue 2014

I signed up for Met Con Blue as part of Simon & Schuster Canada's Running Like a Girl Challenge. The post explaining what the challenge is can be found here, as well as my two update posts here and here :)


Met Con Blue is not a regular race. It is a mountain adventure race or mud race if you'd rather (or, insane). I've wanted to do the race for the past 2 years and this challenge motivated me to do it. I really, really wish I had trained more.

I am writing this a month after the race (bad Megan), mostly because I wasn't sure how to approach this post, and also because I was waiting for the official results and pictures (and also, huge procrastinator). Apparently I shouldn't have tried waiting. I've heard a lot of bad things about how the timing was off, because they didn't use chip timers (not totally sure what that means but I assume they're more accurate) and the website still says they're unofficial results, I also kept checking my watch for the time and when I thought I finished and when they said I was finished were different. So I don't even know anymore. I've also been told the race was longer than 5km and was actually closer to 7 or 8. I also was very disappointed with the lack of pictures. The company was stationed at 3 different obstacles and took over 10 thousand pictures, and yet I have 3. I understand that it's hard to get a bunch of pictures of everyone at each obstacle, but when they take 8 or so on one obstacle of the girl I know is next to me, is kind of a piss off. But that's my rant, now onto how the race went.

As I already mentioned, I should have trained more. I ran a bit here and there and hiked the mountain a couple times but didn't really do any type of hill or strength training. The obstacles themselves weren't as hard as I thought they'd be. There were only really 2 out of the 13 (or 14, can't quite remember) that I didn't do very well. In a way that was kind of disappointing, because I didn't find them a challenge. I also walked most of the way. I ran down the hill and on the flat parts but when it came to uphill I said "screw that" and walked. Which seemed to be what a lot of people were doing.

Trail map

One of the obstacles I couldn't do was the monkey bars (there were like 15 feet of them over water and they were pipe so they were slightly larger than regular monkey bars) so I fell into the water. This was the second last obstacle so that pretty much washed me off and made me less muddy for the end which actually made me kind of sad. The other obstacle was the quarter pipe at the finish line, and the first time I ran up I grabbed on but there was nothing to grip and the guys at the top missed my arms so I slid back down. On my second attempt the guys managed to grab me and pretty much just pull me up. Some of the other obstacles were crawling through a mud tunnel under a mound of snow, crawling through tubes, crawling through a mud/water pit under barbed wire, 8 foot wall (I was actually most worried about this one and it was a piece of cake. I actually helped someone over :) haha), a cargo net pyramid, and a slip and slide. The slip and slide was fun, until I realized I was going to over shoot the end of the tarp and hit the muddy/rocky bit at the end.

Battle Wounds!

My battle wounds from the race! Because apparently there was a crap ton of crawling involved, my knees got pretty scraped up. My forearms were also pretty bad from the quarter pipe, the bruising got quite a bit worse over the following days. There's also another mark I got which was inappropriate to take a picture of because it was a scratch right across my butt from the slip and slide. I was not joking when I said I over shot and hit some rocks, my shorts came up and it was painful. It took over a week to heal. I also got a sun burn. Because I didn't listen to my mother and forgot sunscreen. I was just super distracted and freaking out and totally forgot.

I look so dumb, but whatever. I finished!
So according to the Met Con results, I took 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete the race. I didn't have a goal, but under an hour and a half seemed like a pretty good result. Out of all the female 5k racers, I came 322 out of 713. Top half, I'm pretty proud of that.

Since I was running at Blue Mountain and that's where I work, everyone who was working that day knew I was going to be running by. The course went right by my "office" (the ropes courses) so my co workers could watch. One of my supervisors actually called over the radio at 5 minutes to 12 and said that I was going to be starting in 5 minutes and for everyone to cheer for me. When they told me that it made me so happy. Running by them was awesome though because I could hear them all cheering for me and it gave me a little bit of a boost. So, thanks guys!

Some things I've learned from doing this race, it's smart to train haha. I failed miserably on that part. But, I knew I wasn't going to do super awesome and I was just aiming to finish, and that's what I did. Also, I already had an idea but what I was wearing (spandex-y tank top and shorts) worked pretty well. It didn't get too water logged and heavy from the obstacles. Race day started out pretty chilly, and as I was waiting I was actually pretty cold. After we started and towards the end it started warming up, and I started warming up, so I was definitely glad I had just a tank top. I would, however, have liked to have slightly longer shorts. I think they would have helped when it came to the slip and slide, they might not have ridden up as much. I was just working with what I had, and didn't want to buy new clothes just to potentially have them ruined. I just wore regular running shoes and they worked fine, if I had a pair of the wet/dry shoes or whatever they are, those probably would have been nicer but mine did the job (and are still disgusting :) lol). I also know if I do this again, bring an extra pair of everything. Not just a shirt and shorts, but bra and underwear as well. I was soaked and disgusting afterwards and had really wished I had more dry things.

My swag!
I got a free shirt for signing up, a medal for finishing, and I bought myself a tank top (I love it!) and a dog tag.

I had a lot of fun running the race. I think not having a goal and just doing it to finish helped with that. If I had stressed too much about time or how well I was doing I don't think I would have had as much fun. If I'm around in Collingwood next year I might do it again. I am however going to be doing Warrior Dash July 20 at Horseshoe Valley Resort. And, bad Megan, I haven't been training for that one even though I kept saying how much I wish I had trained for Met Con. Oh well. Warrior Dash I believe is a little bit tougher, but the obstacles look like fun and more of a challenge. Wish me luck!

Thank you to everyone who has followed my little running journey, and thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for running the challenge and sending me my running kit! I had a lot of fun over the last couple months.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Upcoming July Movie Releases

I'm very behind this month. Good thing there's not a whole lot of movies being released this month. It's a tad surprising because usually July is one of the busiest month for movies. And maybe it's just that I think 90% of the movies coming out right now look like crap.

There's one movie being released on DVD this month and that's The Other Woman being released July 29

After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman (Cameron Diaz) tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he's been cheating on (Leslie Mann), she realizes they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered (Kate Upton), all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing SOB.
I thought this movie looked kind of funny. I never went to see it in theatres, mostly because I didn't think it looked funny enough to spend that much money on. Basically, if it comes on Netflix and I come across it, I'll throw it on and watch it, I probably won't go out of my way to look for it and watch it.

There are only two movies this month coming to theatres that I want to see.

First up was Earth to Echo on July 1

Tuck, Munch and Alex are a trio of inseparable friends whose lives are about to change. Their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. But just two days before they must part ways, the boys begin receiving a strange series of signals on their phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they team up with another school friend, Emma, and set out to look for the source of their phone signals.  What they discover is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a small alien who has become stranded on Earth.  In need of their help, the four friends come together to protect the alien and help him find his way home. This journey, full of wonder and adventure, is their story, and their secret.

I didn't really know much about this movie. I think I've seen one preview so far, and that was only because I told Josh I didn't have much interest in seeing it and he showed me the trailer. He actually said "how can you tell me you don't think that thing is cute?" haha. Which is true. It is adorable. I also feel like this may be a bit like ET. And I wasn't a huge fan of ET, and I'm not sure if that was because I didn't like the movie itself or because ET freaked me out lol. So I'll probably give this one a shot, but I may not go out of my way to go to it in theatres.

Lastly, being released July 24 is Hercules (The Rock version)

Now a traveling mercenary, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) must once again become a hero to help the benevolent king of Thrace protect his people from a savage warlord.

 I don't really know much about this movie either, but it looks interesting. I feel like The Rock will play Hercules fairly well. This is another one that I may not go out of my way to see in theatres, but wouldn't mind seeing if I did.

Overall, July's not a very exciting month for movies. Here's hoping August's a bit better.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Mini Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Weee finally got to see X-Men: Days of Future Past. Unfortunately in 3D but I'll get over it. And finally is actually a couple weeks ago. But this is what happens when you're slow and then your internet stops working for a couple days.

The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in 'X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.' The beloved characters from the original 'X-Men' film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past, 'X-Men: First Class,' in order to change a major historical event and fight in an epic battle that could save our future.

I'm going to start off by saying, this movie kind of hurts your head. I mean just look at the title, and the fact that you have old/original/present Professor X and Magneto and young/new/past Charles and Erik. It's also kind of clever and interesting. It's fun to see the parts where the movie takes place in the '70s.

I think it's funny that Logan is the one who goes back in time, not only because he can survive the trip, but because he's the one who looks the same between both sets of movies. Someone actually told me that Hugh Jackman didn't want to play Wolverine anymore and I said "so, no more Wolverine in X-Men then?" because he is Wolverine.

The movie had funny parts, and sad parts, and some really cool special effects. I've been hearing a lot that the favourite character was Quicksilver, and I have to agree that he was kind of awesome. There's a moment between him and Erik that's only really funny if you know that he's supposed to be Erik's son, but luckily Josh had told me not 30 seconds before, so I at least got the joke.

I feel bad for Logan though, because after he comes back to the future (it's only really his consciousness back in his past body) he's the only one who remembers the original past before he went back and changed it.

I originally thought from reading that the original characters were going to join forces, that they were actually going to go back and time and the two Charles and Eriks were actually going to meet and fight together. I was a little disappointed. It was interesting to see how they did do it though. I'm not going to tell you exactly how, I'll leave a little bit as a surprise.

Overall I did enjoy the movie, I don't know if I'll be adding it to my collection quite yet. I don't have any other of the X-Men movies so I might wait a little while, but I will be getting it eventually. Maybe I'll wait and see if they come out with a huge box set and get that. Or, get it for Josh and take all his copies haha. I would recommend seeing the movie though, it's got an interesting story line and mutant superheroes so what's not to love?

Friday, 13 June 2014

Harry Potter ReRead: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Wow I failed this month. Finally finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on the 12th. I started super late and just never got the chance to read. Hopefully I can catch up on Half Blood Prince. So, for anyone who still doesn't know what I'm doing, this Harry Potter reread started with my sister and some of her blog friends and I decided to join in. You can find the post explaining the reread in more detail here and you can also check out my reviews of the previous books.

Synopsis, in case you've never read the book (if you haven't there will likely be spoilers) or if you just forgot what the book's about.

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected... 
Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.

 The first probably 5 times I read this book, I'm pretty sure I hated it. Umbridge is horrendous and I think that's what made me hate it. But I think I completely overlooked how hilarious it is. I felt like every 20 pages I was laughing at something (ok until later on when people started dying).

Some of the lines I found hilarious
I also found I kept getting irritated with Harry liking Cho. Because I just want him to hurry up and get together with Ginny. Other things I got annoyed with and/or did not like: Harry being a twerp "oh poor Harry" the entire god damn book, Umbridge! Ughhhhh enough said, the end (Sirius), not enough Weasley twins after the middle of the book, Neville's parents, and everyone just not believing Harry and Dumbledore made me sad.

Things I did like: McGonagall kicking ass the entire book, more Ginny, Luna! wacko but awesome, Fred and George when they were actually in the book, any of the various scenes/lines in the pictures I posted, and the DA.

I'm going to mention, that I didn't change the colour of any of the pictures, it's just funny/different lighting

I also think I've learned why Neville has always been so atrocious at magic. The wand chooses the wizard, as Ollivander says in book one, but on page 700, we find out that Neville has been using his father's old wand. After this point, Neville becomes a much better wizard. In part, after fighting the Death Eaters he has more confidence in himself, but he also gets his own wand that chose him.

If you can get past how awful Umbridge is and how she makes Hogwarts such a horrible place, which is hard I know, it's actually a really good book. The trio is starting to grow up a little bit, there's more hints at romance, the story is starting to get a little bit darker, and Harry is finally learning more about his past and why he's the "Chosen One".

I don't think I really have a whole lot else to say about the book. Stay tuned for, I was going to say next month but I'll say the end of the month (I hope) for my review of  Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Thanks for following the reread so far!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Running Like a Girl Challenge Update: Run #1

June 4th was National Running Day. The Westin hotel at Blue Mountain Resort where I work was holding a 5km run in celebration of that. I decided to sign up for it as another run to do in June for my Running Like a Girl Challenge. This is a challenge being put on by Simon & Schuster Canada and my post explaining it can be found here.

My run did not go super fantastically, but on the flip side I suppose it wasn't completely horrible. The run started at 9am, got there just after 8:30 to register and stand around awkwardly while everyone else was talking to their friends they were going to be running with. I was supposed to have been running with a girl I worked with over the winter but she bailed. Ok fine, she got asked to work because they were apparently super busy, so I can't really be mad.

I haven't been keeping up with training, which I'm actually quite disappointed with myself about. I'm really not sure what it is that's keeping me from running. I want to run, but I guess I just get home from work and feel exceptionally lazy and would rather just sit on my butt and not do anything. But I really have no one else to blame but myself.

The run itself actually ended up only being 4.75km according to my run tracker on my phone. I suppose you can only get so close when you're dealing with the streets you have on a resort property. I ran it in just under 32 minutes, which I suppose is alright. I had to walk a little bit, probably around half a km, but I managed to make it to the 3km mark before I walked (since I knew from a previous run that I could, in fact, run 3km without stopping).

My running attire usually consists of my Adidas ultimate tee (I have 3, they're amazing), and a pair of regular Adidas capris and my trusty Adidas (yes, ok, I am mildly obsessed with the brand) running shoes that I've probably had for 4 or so years, and haven't actually seen that much use. Though on Wednesday I wish I had thrown on a tank top instead and had a good pair of shorts because it was much hotter than I expected. I still haven't gotten very good at figuring out what to wear based on the weather and how hot I'm going to actually get while running. I don't want to be cold while running so I usually end up wearing too much and get way too hot. I also want to get a pair of running shorts, because all of my shorts are big, baggy gym shorts that aren't so great for running, but I don't want to spend money on new running stuff if I'm not going to keep at it. It's a bit of a predicament.

My goal would be to be able to run 5km in 30 minutes or less. I know for my next run it will be much longer than 30 minutes, because it's not a typical road race. It's a mud race with obstacles. And again, haven't been training too much so we'll see how that goes. That race will be taking place on June 14th, so stay tuned for my recap of that run.

Thanks for following me on this journey so far :)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Upcoming June Movie Releases

Late again. I fail at keeping track of time and what I need to do. But this will be a short post as it appears as though there are only 2 movie releases in theatres that I am looking forward to, and none on DVD.

Both movies also happen to be released on June 13.

The first movie is 22 Jump Street

After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don't have to just crack the case - they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship. If these two overgrown adolescents can grow from freshmen into real men, college might be the best thing that ever happened to them.

I haven't seen too much in the way of ads or trailers for this movie. And I mostly only want to see it because I've watched the first one and it was pretty funny. Ok, and there's Channing Tatum haha. I won't be upset if I don't end up going to see it in theatres though.

The second movie is How to Train Your Dragon 2

The thrilling second chapter of the epic "How to Train Your Dragon" trilogy returns to the fantastical world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless. The inseparable duo must protect the peace and save the future of men and dragons from the power-hungry Drago.

I absolutely adored the first movie. Whoa, wait a minute, just read that synopsis and, TRILOGY??? That's super exciting. Ok. Sorry. Side tracked. But anyways, How to Train Your Dragon was adorable and funny and just all around awesome. And I'm hoping the second installment will be just as great. This one I'm hoping I can get to see in theatres (though not so excited of the probability of 3D).

Apparently Hollywood is only able to do sequels and remakes nowadays. At least that's what I find has been happening a lot lately when it comes to movies. That or adaptations. Or all of the above. Here's hoping July steps up and has some great movies.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mini Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I had intended to write a review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 soon after going to see it in theatres. Two weeks later...that's finally happening.

Luckily it was playing in both 2D and 3D in Midland so we didn't have to go see the 3D version, which, as anyone who reads this blog has come to realize, I hate.

We've always known that Spider-Man's most important conflict has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.

I very much enjoyed this movie. I've never been a super huge Spider-Man fan (especially not the first trilogy) but I liked The Amazing Spider-Man so I was looking forward to seeing number 2. I think Andrew Garfield has done a great job as Spider-Man. And I especially love Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey. The two of them have great chemistry together (obviously as they're actually dating).

There are quite a few funny parts in the movie, as well as a few more serious (and sad) parts. I'm not going to lie, I totally cried at the end. I like how Spider-Man doesn't just fight the big guys, he helps the little guys as well. The movie also managed to balance the action with a story line, which was good.

As a huge Marvel fan (but not so huge Spider-Man fan), Josh didn't have anything overly negative to say about the movie. Which is always a good thing.

Overall I thought it was a very good movie, and at some point will be adding it (and The Amazing Spider-Man) to my collection. I'm very much looking forward to the next, and final I believe, addition to the Amazing Spider-Man series.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Running Like a Girl Review and Update

I finally finished Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley. It took me a while to actually start reading it, but once I started it didn't take me long at all to finish it. Full disclosure: am writing this over a week after I finished the book. Bad Megan.

I received Running Like a Girl from Simon and Schuster, in exchange for participating in the Running Like a Girl Challenge. For a brief description check out my blog post. I'm going to start by giving you my thoughts on the book and then tell you how the challenge is going.

I actually really enjoyed this book. The first part (which is about 3/4 of the book) is about Alexandra's running journey. It was interesting to read about her trials and errors and her triumphs and barriers. Something always seemed to happen right before a marathon, she discovered she had a misaligned pelvis (a result of being hit by a car 4 years previous) and missed a month of training before her first marathon, and then she got tonsillitis before another one, while reading part of me felt like "really? So many things keep happening to her, is this actually real?" but obviously people get injured and sick and it just so happened that for her it was just before her runs.

She also went through quite a few ups and downs in regards to loving running. She hated it to start with (I mean really, who loves running their first time out?) and then after she ran the London Marathon (her first) she loved it and was so proud of what she had accomplished, and then that excitement wore off and she didn't want to run anymore and let herself go (so to speak) and then a friend asked her to do the London Marathon again 3 years after her first and she started to run again and love it again. Then again, after the race she felt like "what's the point?" she'd run a marathon (twice!) why did she need to keep running? She had proved she could do it. And up and down and up and down for quite a bit of the book.

The book is funny, she's very frank, she talks about in the middle of the run realizing she has to go to the bathroom and there is no way she's going to make it home and "oh my god what do I do?" and she talks about looking for the right shoes (and encounters some very rude store clerks) and the right bra.

She does have a very valid point, boobs are awful for running. Mine aren't as big as hers (as she says "a cartoonish size 30FF" pg 39) but they bounce quite a bit and make for an uncomfortable experience. She mentions the Shock Absorber bra, and how it completely changed her life, and when her first one bit the dust, after she reckons 250 miles or so, she took it apart to see how it was made. It was comprised of 72 different parts!
What I like about this book is that she's basically telling you things you should and should not do when running, but it doesn't feel that way. It feels like you're talking to your friend who says "I've been wearing the wrong socks for years and just found out you should wear double lined socks!" She's also incredibly stubborn and does not want to listen to her father's advice, regardless of how many marathons he may have run (19, as she's shocked to find out).
The second part of the book is essentially all research she's done and tips for running. It talks about the most common running injuries and how to avoid them. She also got to interview a few famous runners, and did quite a bit of research on the history of women's running. It shouldn't really have come as much of a shock learning how long it took for women to be accepted into the Boston Marathon, but it was surprising.
She's very right when she says the hardest part about running sometimes is just getting out the door. I usually have to do a lot of convincing and drag myself out the door to try and run. Once I'm out I (sort of) enjoy it, and then I get home and feel like I'm dying and never want to do it again.
So on that note, I'll tell you how this challenge and race preparation is going. Not well. I've gone out officially (meaning tracked and recorded my runs) 3 times. And they have not been too great. My most recent was definitely more walking than running and I still can't do stupid hills, which I'm going to be running up for Met Con.
I really don't have much faith in being able to do these runs. I'm getting kind of worried and am almost regretting signing up. As much as I want to do the race, I just don't think I'm good enough. I think it's a combination of things making me feel like this. The fact that I only have a month, and I procrastinate and think I have time when really I don't, plus I don't exactly have the most support in it. When someone is pretty much telling you you're stupid for trying to do this, you really start to think that. And I'm a negative person with no faith in myself to begin with. So this should be an interesting month.
I'm going to try and write at least one more progress post, and I'll write one after each of my races. So stay tuned for that.
If you're thinking about starting running I'd suggest picking up Running Like a Girl, it's very informative in a way that isn't overwhelming. Even if you don't plan on running, or are already a runner, it's a quick read and a good story.