Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What I'm Reading Now: April Edition

I've been enjoying this feature more than I expected. I find myself powering through a book or slowing down so that it can be on my What I'm Reading Now post! So here we go. What am I reading currently?

On my Nook: After the End by Amy Plum - this went on sale recently and I picked it up. So far it is fascinating. Juneau has been raised in Alaska, believing that World War III in 1984 destroyed the rest of humanity. But when her entire tribe is kidnapped and she sets out to find them, she discovers that everything she thought she knew is wrong. I've just barely started it and I'm hooked.

On my phone: A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont - according to GoodReads I rated this before (and rated it well), but I didn't leave a review and I honestly don't remember reading it, so I figured I'll read it again (maybe?). Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books of all time, so I'm always up for any kind of retelling.

In print-fiction: 29 by Adena Halpern - I actually just finished this (but haven't started a new one yet, so it's the closest I have). For her 75th birthday Ellie wishes to be 29 for a day - and her wish comes true! What follows is a hilarious, touching romp through the lives of Ellie, her daughter and granddaughter, and her best friend as they all deal with the various things that come of the clock being turned back even just for 24 hours.

In print-non-fiction: The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived by Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan, & Jeremy Salter - I bought this ages ago and am finally getting around to reading it. I like parts of it. Others... not so much. It really depends on the writer of the essay. There's one style that I'm not a fan of, but since they're not signed I have no idea who it is. Other essays are thoroughly enjoyable. Definitely an interesting look at fictional characters that have influenced our world.

On audio in my car: The Young World by Chris Weitz - I just finished this one as well and I'm going to be writing a 10 Things I Loved post about it, so I won't say too much, but just note that I loved it and am dying for the next book!

On TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel - I was late to the Buffy and Angel party only watching the series for the first time a few years ago. Of course I fell in love. Having read a couple of books and essays recently about Buffy I was reminded how much I enjoyed it and how much I didn't really remember from only having watched them once. So I popped open my DVDs and started in again, bingeing through the series (alternating between the shows as appropriate) and I am reminded of how much fun the show is and how serious, touching, and sweet the series is too. I also forgot how much I hate Angel and Buffy together and how much more I liked Angel once he got his own show :)

So many more things being read...ready to attack even more!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Once Upon a Time - Lily

4.20 "Lily"

Tonight we learn more about Emma's past and just how intertwined her life has been with Lily. Lily has been getting all kinds of information about the fairy tale world from the Sorcerer's Apprentice. Rumple and Will team up to get Belle's heart back, and Regina finally makes it to New York to try to rescue Robin from Zelena's twisted clutches.

This was rather an expositional episode. The flashbacks were informative, but not shocking, especially after all we've learned in the last few episodes. On a side note, it's a nice touch that Lily has dark hair and eyes while Emma is so fair... just sayin'

Emma did discover that, despite how angry she is with her parents, she still wants them to be part of her life and that she's willing to take some pretty extreme measures to protect them.

And I just want to say that Emma and Hook saying good-bye was way up there on the adorable meter.

Loved the Emma and Regina road trip! I just adore Regina as a character now that she's really found her footing as a character and is good without being saccharine.

I've been very up and down on the whole Belle/Rumple relationship, but she and Will are moving awfully fast and technically she's still married to Rumple. The writers just haven't given us any reason to accept Will and Belle as a couple, other than convenience (he was there and not connected with anybody and they needed someone to make Rumple jealous). I need more than that. I mean, I could potentially eventually understand it, but we need WAY WAY more about Will and what Belle sees in him before I'm buying them as an actual couple.

When Regina went to Belle and asked for her help to stop Rumple I kind of had the impression that Belle allowed her heart to be taken in order to help. I guess Regina never actually asked though, and just took it and didn't return it.

That story line felt very odd to me with Rumple and Will working together and the heart and everything. I don't know. It just felt more like the writers trying to convince Rumbelle shippers that the ship has sunk than an actual plot point moving the narrative forward.

And Maleficent needs to stop wearing that color lipstick for reals.


Okay. So if the Sorcerer's Apprentice is the one who told Ruby everything, then shouldn't she be angry with the Author? I mean, I understand her anger and desire for revenge against the Charmings. Because really they did ruin her life. And saying they're sorry isn't enough. I really can't wait to see how that meeting goes down. But I am dying for the reunion between Maleficent and Lily.

And then there was Robin Hood the unobservant. Why go out of the way to show that he knew what the pendant looked like to have him be the stupidest man alive and not recognize that his "wife" is wearing it constantly even while they were, apparently, making a baby together. I just don't buy it. I'm annoyed at that.

It is a perfect move to get him locked into his "code of honor" but honestly Robin. Sometimes I just want to shake him.

A lot of stuff set up for a rousing last couple of episodes for this season, though. That's for sure!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Once Upon a Time - Sympathy for the De Vil

4.19 "Sympathy for the De Vil"

Well, we knew this was coming - first we got Ursula's backstory (and lost Ursula, what's up with that?) and then we got Maleficent's backstory (well, at least a little bit more of it) and now, Cruella. I was really curious as to how they were going to turn someone who seems to be a very bizarre and straightforward villain into a more rounded character. I mean, how do you explain someone who wants to kill and skin little puppies? The answer shocked me. And ... made me happy?

But let's come back around to Cruella in a moment. First a couple of other observations.

Did anyone else feel like Maleficent really sounded like Regina when she was talking to Cruella. I had glanced down and had to look back up to assure myself that it wasn't Regina talking.

And who'd have thought we'd see the day when Emma would choose to trust Regina instead of Charming and Snow. I am kind of feeling like Emma's story is pushing toward "darkness" a little too quickly, though.

Regina gets Belle to help her fool Rumple. Rumple, surprise surprise, has a dark heart after centuries of betrayal, evil, and selfishness. Here's my question: How on earth will turning Emma dark reset his own heart? I would think it would be one more thing stripping away the love?
Regina has all the sass

Also, Regina had the perfect bit of sass in having Belle compare Rumple with Will. Ha.

And three cheers for Henry showing some real agency and getting out of his binds like that.

Cruella on the phone: "Blasted birds. I'll show you what angry looks like." HA and HA.

I also really don't understand how killing one person in defense of her child could turn Emma dark. But I guess, combined with her anger against her parents, it's heading her that direction. AND I guess it was a very conscious decision. But even so. Anyway. I'm really curious about Gold's twisty turny plan as he plays serious puppet master.

Now Cruella.

Can I just say how ... refreshing her story was? Okay, maybe that sounds bad, but hear me out. I was literally rolling my eyes at the opening scene and even noted: Of course, another evil stepmother story. What a surprise. The whole thing just didn't make sense to me. There didn't seem to be any reason for the mother to be locking Cruella up in the attic. I was really annoyed that she was just another misunderstood and traumatized little girl.

So for her to be a straight up evil psychopath? Refreshing.

I do still have some questions though. Like, why marry not once, but twice more? Okay, so maybe the second husband because you're lonely and you think maybe there was just a thing with Cruella's dad. But when he died WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU MARRY A THIRD MAN?

There were a number of things in Cruella's history that felt more like blinds for the audience to hide the reveal rather than actual story points that make sense once the reveal comes.


I also have many many questions about the Author. What drew him to Cruella's realm? (ooh. back to the realms in a minute) Why was he there? How does it work? Does he write what's supposed to happen or what he wants to happen? Did he start out writing the "proper" way but then become power hungry? In the flashback the Author is actually pleasant. I liked him. Up 'til now he's just seemed creepy. I need more information.

I'm also pretty sure that there is something about using the quill or the ink apart from each other that will play into the larger solution. Maybe. Unless they only brought it up to explain Cruella's new look. But.

Also! How did Cruella get out of that realm?

Realms! They've obviously been playing with and expanding this idea since the beginning of the show, but this is the clearest explanation that we've gotten. It also means that basically no literature or time period or movie is beyond our grasp (though we've suspected that since Frankenstein amirite?)

But I really like the idea that this is just a quasi-time realm. Kind of like a perpetual Gatsbian period.

So lots of fun reveals but lots and lots more questions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10 Things I Loved About A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

There are three Londons. Well, four if you count the one that has been cut off because of the dangerous magic. And Kell is one of only two Travellers who can cross between the worlds. His home is in Red London where he serves the royal family, carrying letters to the rulers of the other Londons. Grey London is dreary and nearly magic-less, yet intriguing despite, or perhaps even because of this. White London is ruled by those who have fought their way to power. And everyone wants a piece of the Travellers. When Kell is betrayed he finds himself forced to band together with aspiring pirate, Lila, when their worlds collide. They're both in danger and they'll need each other if they want to survive - though that might be a lot harder than it sounds.

You can check out Victoria Schwab's website, follow her on Twitter (where she is frequently hilarious), watch her on YouTube, or see what she's posting on Tumblr.

And now, here are my 10 (non-spoilery) things I loved about A Darker Shade of Magic:

  1. The Premise - There are overlapping worlds that are uniquely different yet have select similarities and crossing points? There is magic and only a couple of people whose, well, basically DNA but not passed down genetically, allows them to cross between these worlds? There is a London that has been closed off because magic became chaos and corrupted it? There are crazy rulers and shapeshifters and cross-dressing aspiring pirates? Um yes please, I would like them all.
  2. Kell's Coat - I wants it. This coat turns inside out into dozens of different coats. EACH WITH THEIR OWN POCKETS. Seriously people, let's figure out how to make this. I suppose we'd need magic for that, though. Too bad we live in grey London.
  3. Lila - She is undoubtedly my favorite character. Here is a female with AGENCY people. She knows what she wants and she goes after it. She is occasionally rescued, but she also does the rescuing sometimes. She wants to own a pirate ship. There's some major cool factor right there. She can be selfish, but she also cares. I want more Lila.
  4. Kell - He's dealing with a lot. He's somehow strong and vulnerable and caring yet tough. His upbringing has been both an asset and a liability when dealing with others. I think my favorite part of his character was his penchant for smuggling little objects and artifacts like music boxes.
  5. Barron - He's really the only secondary character that I felt any connection with. I loved his relationship with Lila. And I wish there could have been more of him.
  6. Creepy Villains - especially the twins. Total creep factor there. And don't even get me started on the black magical goo - that sounds really lame, but it's absolute creep-fest in the book.
  7. The World - It's hard enough to develop one new world, but to build three of them? And, if I'm reading the signs right, a fourth for the next book? That's crazy pants. And Schwab pulls it off. And she pulls it off well. Each London is markedly distinct, not only because of the variations of magic ability, but in culture, political make up, architecture, etc. Really well done. Kudos.
  8. Magic Rules - Anytime there is magic in a book there have to be rules as to how that magic works. And it's really obvious when this isn't well thought out. Here, it is. Very well thought out. With specific rules, balances, consequences. I'm really looking forward to seeing this developed even more in the next book.
  9. More Books - Oh yes. She is working on ADSOM2 and I am super excited because I want to know what happens next.
  10. Cliffhanger but Not - So there is definitely a conclusion to this book. The story wraps up. BUT there are plenty of threads left floating and some unanswered questions. Some very big unanswered questions. And plenty of material for another book. So yay! Something to look forward to!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Once Upon a Time - Heart of Gold

4.18 "Heart of Gold"

This week we get Robin flashbacks aplenty! Way back when he first becomes Robin Hood and back to when he left Storeybrook with Marian and Roland. And we learn more about Gold and Will along the way along with a return to my favorite character of all time (could you hear the sarcasm dripping there? there seriously needs to be a sarcastafont). Zelena comes back and we find out that Robin is free after all so yay! But Zelena could kill him at any time so boo!

But first we got a glimpse of the royal family dealing with the immediate fallout of the truth coming to light. I'm disappointed that David and Snow are trying to justify what they did. They really can't just argue or excuse this away. What they did was wrong and if they don't claim that, then they can never overcome it. Hiding it is what got them here in the first place.

Also, the author is super creepy. Not happy at all that he's already connected up with Rumple. If there's one thing that this show has touched on it's that you can't get your happy ending through trickery. Regina could make Henry love her by putting him under a spell, and Rumple can't get Belle to love him by coercing the author into writing him the ending he wants. It just doesn't work that way. There has to be a cost, right?

I"m not sure why Regina asked Rumple what happened to him. And I know there are people who don't agree, but Rumple, despite a few positive choices, has a pattern of decision making. His response that he "lost everything" sounds awfully familiar. He lost his family, he lost his son, he's lost things over and over. Because he becomes power hungry and selfish. The thing that kills me is that he puts his finger on it later in the episode when he talks to Robin. He says to take advice from "a man who has pushed away every chance of happiness because it was never enough." So why? Why does he keep doing it and walking away from true happiness? There is so much room for his character to grow and it's annoying that there isn't movement forward. I think the writers are trying to put Gold and Regina as foils of each other, but it's leading to a stagnation in Rumple's character.

I was sure that Will was going to come back from Oz with Robin. Never having seen Once Upon a Time in Wonderland I'm not clear on where things fall in Will's timeline. Is this before or after that? Did he end up in the forest with Robin? Anyway. I thought it was interesting that they ended up helping each other out. Especially with Will basically giving Robin his code (more on the code in a moment).

But I also wonder what kind of side effects that potion has because Will is kind of a jerk. And Rumple seemed more repentant before he drank it.

Back to the code. I understand having honor and a code. But surely there should be some sort of parameters to that? I mean, risking everything for basically nothing? But at the same time, Robin does ask for something in exchange for it. But he can be a little too altruistic at times.

I was amazed that Marian was able to find an identical fancy little bottle with the red heart stopper but then


Oh. My. Werd.

I really didn't see that one coming.

It's pretty clear that Zelena is not a favorite here. BUT I do have to say that her taunting of Rumple was my favorite bit of her so far on this show. AND this means that ROBIN IS FREE! YAY!

AND this means that they get to kill Zelena off AGAIN!


But here is my big question: How has Robin not seen the six-leaf clover pendant? I was looking for a chain or something when he was having that tender moment with Miriam/Zelena and I couldn't see any evidence that she was wearing it. Also, I guess this means the two of them haven't been ... intimate since they got back together? Because I think he would have recognized it since he has it in the flashback? There is not enough explanation about this pendant in my opinion.

And Zelena kissing Robin? EW.

And Regina makes her very biggest stride forward. She sacrifices her own happiness for someone else. Actively and sacrificially. She knows she can't trust Rumple. And she can't betray Emma. She's not that person anymore.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

10 Quotes I Love from Taylor Swift

I've been a Taylor Swift fan for a while, and the thing that has always captured me the most is her lyrics. There are so many clever turns of phrase, the perfect marrying of words, emotions caught in sentences. So I thought I would share some of my favorite short phrases here. I got creative this month and combined them with images. I'm quite happy with the way they came out!

Each quote includes the song title and album as well as any attribution required for use of the photographs and our website. You'll also find the link to the original photo, the creative commons license, and the full song on YouTube (linked to Taylor Swift's Vevo channel whenever possible). Please feel free to share any of the following images, as long as you also provide a link back to this post and proper attribution. Thanks!

Photo by Tom Hall
Text added by Rebecca T
"Mary's Song (Oh My My My)" Taylor Swift by Taylor Swift
Photo by TempusVolat
Text added by Rebecca T
"Back to December" Speak Now by Taylor Swift
Photo by Gwenael Piaser
Text added/recolored by Rebecca T
"Stay Stay Stay" Red by Taylor Swift
Photo by micadew
Text added/recolored by Rebecca T
"How You Get the Girl" 1989 by Taylor Swift
Photo by Meg Wills
Text added by Rebecca T
"Last Kiss" Speak Now by Taylor Swift
Photo by Marc Biarnes
Text added/recolored by Rebecca T
"Red" Red by Taylor Swift
Photo by Aftab Uzzaman
Text added by Rebecca T
"The Story of Us" Speak Now by Taylor Swift
Photo by Mo
Text added/recolored by Rebecca T
"All Too Well" Red by Taylor Swift
Photo by Kevin Dean
Text added/recolored by Rebecca T
"Bad Blood" 1989 by Taylor Swift