Joe Abercrombie stole my heart with “The First Law” trilogy, which might be the best fantasy story I’ve ever read — dark, with great characters, perfectly written. And finished! (Yeah, it’s a big thing in the modern world!) Recently, I sort of got tired of the genre and was more inclined towards finding a sci-fi, horror or even non-fiction book to read but the magic of Abercrombie’s name and the generosity of amazon, that was selling “Half a King” for just $3, made the decision to pick up this book much easier.

Sooo… okay, it’s really, really well written and very cinematographic. I don’t have a livid imagination and usually when I’m reading a book it’s just about flipping the damn pages and consuming the information about dragons and spaceships — there are no particular images in my mind. But it’s easy, even more me, to see what’s happening in the first book of “The Shattered Sea” series. The problem is that despite being fast-paced and catchy the Yarvi’s adventure is predictable and, fairly, quite ordinary. All what-a-twist moments are obvious and can be spotted from a mile off and all the character behave exactly like you’d expect them to. The characters themselves are bland at best, annoying at worst. Yarvi, yeah, I got that one of your hands is dysfunctional, would you please shut the fuck up stop mentioning it all the time?

At the end of the day, “Half a King” is not a bad book but unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations. Luckily though, the first novel of a new trilogy “The Age of Madness”, which is a direct continuation of “The First Law”, came out just recently, so, fingers crossed, it’ll be as smart and fierce as the books I liked =)

I feel a bit ashamed because our trip to Ottawa happened almost two months ago and I only now decided to look through the catalogue of pictures, find a few that don’t look too terrible and write something up =)

Surprisingly, despite being the capital of Canada this city doesn’t seem to be a popular touristic destination. I asked several people at work and almost no one ever visited it. We’re thinking about spending Christmas somewhere in a bigger city than London and choosing between Ottawa and Montreal we decided on former. The reasoning was that it’d be better to spend more time in QC and visit Montreal and Quebec City later, on a same trip, and we’d find enough things to do in Ottawa anyway.

Honestly, I kind of liked the capital. It still feels like a big city but at the same time it’s much, much calmer and quieter than busy Toronto, with its crowded streets and people running somewhere. Also Ottawa is definitely the city of castles. A walk down Wellington street, along the river, will be accompanied by views like this:

Unfortunately, some of the sights were under construction, so one had to be agile and creative to get a decent photo =)

Speaking of sight-seeing. The only place we got to visit was The National Art Gallery — and it kept us buys for 4 hours probably. It has a decent collection of paintings, including some of works by Van Gogh, Klimt and other famous dudes. A couple of rooms dedicated entirely to the works of the Group of Seven (that shouldn’t be a surprise probably, they were quite productive =))

Then Nastia went to a Glenn Miller Orchestra concert and I embarked on a trip to my first NHL game. Ottawa Senators haven’t been gathering crowds on their home games recently, the game was against the Sabres (sounds exciting, eh?), so it was easy to buy a ticket. I liked the game anyway ^_^

On the third day we walked to Quebec. Our first time somewhere outside Ontario. And yeah, we literally walked =) There’s a city on the opposite bank of Ottawa river, Gatineau — which is already in Quebec. Two provinces are connected via a few bridges here and there.

It’s not that it was a breath-taking adventure but it was super interesting to be at a place where signs are in French, announcements on buses are in French and convenience stores clerks (we had to get some coins to get on the aforementioned bus) speak French. With the bus we made a mistake though, because what looked like Gatineau’s downtown on google maps turned out to be a mall in the middle of nowhere, so we just wasted some time and a few dollars.

Just some random things. We didn’t get to see the canal skating — it wasn’t cold enough, but I’m pretty sure that it should be exciting. There is a lot of French-speaking people in Ottawa. Living down here it’s very easy to forget that Canada is a bilingual country, and the contrast in this aspect between the capital and Toronto, for instance, is stark. Also it must be a stereotype but the closer you are to the French speaking part of the country the tastier pastry becomes =) We ate almond croissants at the same place 3 days in a row, every morning, those were the best almond croissants I’ve eaten in my life and I swear to Takhisis, I’d eat them again and again =)


Babylon is a weird anime. It was always almost about to show something great but never actually did that. It lured me in with promises of a plot built on political intrigues and serious discussions, kept me intrigued until the end of the first arc shamelessly exploiting the story of half-mad Magase Ai, made a twist moving everything to the US (and yeah, mentioning Halifax and Hartford was a cute touch) and abruptly shut the door, whistling “Evil Never Dies”, leaving me wondering what the hell it was about.

Maybe I’m just dumb but it’s not clear, for example, what that suicide law was. What did Magase want to achieve through this law? What were the relationships between her and the mayor of Shiniki (probably he was still just one of her puppets but still)? Discussion about such fundamental things as “what’s good and what’s evil” or what justice is did have their charm and almost Evangelion-ish vibes sometimes but, honestly, felt more forced and awkward than anything else.

Eventually, Babylon turned out to be about nothing =( Another anime that’ll go to the infamous “hmm… yeeaah, I think I watched it… but not sure I remember anything” category.