Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I'm Reading Now: December Edition

It's December! I'm wrapping up the year with some good books and thinking about what I want to do in the new year. Any reading plans for 2016?
If you're looking for a good book, here are a few suggestions.

On my Nook: Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte - I loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall so I dove into this one and I'm really loving it. Why on earth did it take so long for me to read Anne Bronte?

On my Phone: A Soul for Trouble by Crista McHugh - I originally thought this was a YA, but it's more a high fantasy with elements of romance. However, once I readjusted my expectations I really am enjoying it. And the way it's going, it seems to be the first in a series, so I'm looking forward to reading more.

In Print - Fiction: The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex - When I saw that the movie Home was based on this, I pulled it off my shelf. It's cute and different enough from the movie that I don't feel like I'm reading the same thing. If you're looking for a spunky young protagonist, a story of alien invasions, or a book about the importance of cats in your life, you should love this book.

In Print - Non-Fiction: It's Too Late Now: An Autobiography of a Writer by A. A. Milne - seriously. Everything I read by this man just makes me feel like he is my historical spirit animal. His autobiography is interesting and entertaining and informative all at the same time.

On Audio in my Car: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling - After my giant Series of Unfortunate Events reread I decided to go ahead and dive into Harry Potter again. It still has its old magic.

On TV: Jessica Jones - If you have Netflix and you like a darker, edgier show this one is for you. Also, David Tennant as Kevin Killgrave is horrifically and deliciously evil.

How about you? Anything you're trying to finish before the 31st?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Little Lit: The Third Twin by CJ Omololu

I heard about this book during a Twitter chat that popped up on my feed. I then got sucked into the fun that was going on there and my interest was piqued by the description. (Note: social media marketing, when done right, with people that actually care about the people not just the marketing, does work!)

So hold on for my mini review of CJ Omololu's The Third Twin.

When Lexi and Ava were little they invented Alicia. She was the imaginary third twin who ate the cookies in the pantry, broke the lamp, and generally took the blame. Now that they're teenagers, the twins use Alicia as an opportunity to go out with guys they wouldn't normally date or visit parties they wouldn't go to themselves. Lexi's ready to let Alicia go when suddenly ominous things start happening. Alicia starts taking on a life of her own and when the first body turns up Lexi doesn't know who she can trust. Is Ava involved? Or is there really an Alicia out there? And who wants to set Lexi up for murder?

What I Liked:
  • I really enjoyed the premise. I liked the way Omololu took the traditional "twin" story - identical sisters who switch places - and twisted it, adding the invention of the imaginary twin into the mix.
  • I liked the twists and turns, including one that really did shock me. Omololu certainly wasn't afraid to take some risks and it paid off.
  • I enjoyed the small, but not insignificant character development of Lexi as she comes to better understand herself through dealing with the various identities of her sister and imaginary twin.
What I Would Have Liked:
  • The ending twist was certainly a bit of a shock and it did work, but I would have liked it better if it had been set up just a little more throughout the book. I would have preferred to look back and see more clues planted throughout to make the twist more of a "how did I not see that; now these things make sense" than a "what".
  • I would have liked just a little bit more development of some of the secondary characters. Some of them are fairly important, but they fell a little bit flat for me, including Lexi's father and even, to some extent, Zane. It's not that they weren't developed, I just wanted a bit more.
  • Definitely worth the read and I will check out more things by this author in the future!
  • If you like a twisty turny thriller that isn't too gory, this is your book.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Once Upon a Time - Swan Song

5.11 "Swan Song"

SO. Um. Yeah. I'm feeling a little speechless after that episode.

Tonight the battle against the Darkness comes to a head, with Emma "I can't move my face" DarkSwan ready to sacrifice herself to protect her family. Meanwhile Snow and Charming and Henry act completely contrary to character and decide to sit around eating pie while waiting for their impending deaths as Regina makes all of my wildest dreams come true and finally throws Zelena out a window. In a rare wayback flashback we get a little more of Killian's backstory for no real apparent reason other than for Regina to make vague allusions to it all episode long. Rumple finally proves that I have, unfortunately, been right all along concerning the core of his character, and the set up for the second half of the season means we could see pretty much anybody who has ever been on the show and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

So, even though the flashbacks felt really unnecessary, I do have to say that the person in charge of casting is probably the most brilliant person working on this show. Killian's father was absolutely spot on.

I'm finding myself with actually little to say about this episode as a whole. There wasn't as much a unifying theme as there often is. So here are all of my random thoughts:

As so often has happened, I found myself typing the following early on in the episode: "Someone push Zelena out a window already would you?" When this actually happened I was literally cackling on my couch. Now, I'm sure this isn't the last we've seen of Zelena, because the writers like to torture us, but that moment was the best.

I hate that Killian was made a Dark One, but I love Killian as the Dark One acting wise. Kind of the way I love evil Regina and evil Rumple. The actors just play it up and I love seeing them pull out such a wide range. That was what I was really hoping for from Emma *sigh* Also, I loved that Killian's smoke was red.

Can I just say how tired the trope of the "good woman who saves the bad man" is? I think that's one reason that I actually am kind of really glad that Rumple twisted everything around to regain all of his power rather than just becoming the "hero." Because Belle doesn't fix him. His love for Belle doesn't miraculously change his character. I am both mad that she came back and fell for his lies again (though they were good ones) and very happy that she is not gone from the show. I'm just really scared we'll be stuck in that loop. I want her to be separate from Rumple so she can have crazy amazing adventures as herself, not as a plus one.

Rumple's ancient flip phone made me laugh so much. It was just a perfect touch.

Is it just me, or was it really super easy for the Dark Ones to trade all those souls. It would seem to me it would be a little more complicated to do something that major?

But here's my biggest pet peeve. I was so frustrated with Snow, David, and Henry. The three of them are like the most tenacious people on this show. They don't give up. Ever. I mean, come on. It was completely out of character for them to just shrug and go to the diner to "make the most of the time they had left" instead of trying to find a way to NOT DIE. How many other times have they faced the impossible and figured something out at the last minute. Maybe they could have stopped Emma from giving the sword to Hook if they were actually THERE. I'm sorry, but that's just lazy writing. It's like, hey, let's take the people who could most help Emma out of the equation so everything can go wrong BECAUSE PLOT.

Wait. No. I think my biggest peeve of the night was Emma being STUPID enough to hand the sword over the "Henry" when the door never opened and she KNOWS that Dark Ones can take on the shapes of others. That was just too dumb for words.

Okay. Now. Killian.

I am so happy that he turned around and made the right choice, and yes, I realize that it plays into the bad boy saved by the good girl trope, but he doesn't make the choice just because of Emma. He makes it because he wants to be a different kind of man (whereas Rumple doesn't want to be different. He likes his power). BUT the yoyo on his emotions/decisions since finding out he was a Dark One has been ridiculous. I'm going to kill you; I'm going to kill everyone you love; I'm going to make you suffer; wait, Nimue is hurting you. Never mind I'm going to sacrifice myself to save Emma because I remembered that I do love her after all. Oops.
It's just a little hard to swallow. Also, did they have to kill him? Again? I mean, Graham, Neal, Killian? Ridiculous.

And what do you think about the whole Underworld thing? At first I was thinking that maybe they were going to start dipping into mythologies (which I guess could still happen), but now it kind of looks like an excuse to revisit everyone who has died. I wonder who all we will see? And why did everyone go with Emma? I mean, it seems like it would have made more sense for someone to stay behind, like Snow and David, to, you know, take care of the babies? I get that the fairies have them, but wouldn't it be better for at least one of the four parents to not go into the underworld?

Crazy. What did you think? Who are you hoping we'll see in the second half of the season?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What I'm Reading Now: November Edition

Christmas is almost here, guys! Also, only one more month to complete any personal reading challenges you've set for yourself! I'm chugging along on mine. But here's what I'm reading right now.
On my Nook: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This is hilarious and I'm so glad to be reading it and I will be so sad when it is over. I really wish Pratchett and Gaiman had worked on more things together because they just create a really great story when they collaborate.

On my Phone: A Fairy's Guide to Disaster by A. W. Artoin - Finding this quite enjoyable, though there are some rough spots in the editing. The world building is pretty intriguing, though. I'm curious to see how everything turns out.

In Print: I'm actually in between books, but I just finished Naked Heat by Richard Castle - it's like reading an episode of the show - and I'm about to start Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid. Both of these are to help me complete the PopSugar reading challenge - I only have 3 more books to go on that front!

On Audio in my Car: I just finished The End, the final book in the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, and I haven't started a new one yet. I am absolutely and completely even more in love with that series after rereading (re...listening?) to the entire thing one right after the other. I've kind of just been reveling in that feeling. But I'm thinking an audio reread of Harry Potter may be next on my list!

How about you? Reading anything good right now?