Sunday, April 24, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Sisters

5.19 "Sisters"

Family was the word of the episode. Zelena, Regina (werd how did I never realize they're names rhyme before, seriously I feel like an idiot), and Cora make up while David and James finally have their showdown. And that's pretty much it except PAAANNNNNNN shows up at the end. Oh Pan how we have missed your devious little face.

So, Regina and Zelena as itty bittys were pretty much the most adorable thing (boo that I can't find any pictures of them). But I'm not sure what I think about them having made up. Does this mean Zelena will be on the show more? Will I like her more when she's not just whine whine revenge revenge? And, the better question is will Hades still love the softer more lovable Zelena? Because I seriously doubt it.

from here
I am very conflicted about Cora being able to move on. I mean, she did make up with her girls and gave them back their memories, but think of all the other people she murdered and manipulated and and and yeah. I mean, I'm all for redemption, but it felt sort of cheap? And I know Regina and Zelena made up, but what about all the things Zelena did like pretending to be Marion for example? Can you just forget all of that because of one happy memory? I don't know if I can buy that quick of a turnaround either.

HOWEVER, I would really love it if someone made a parody of the White Christmas "Sisters" song using Zelena and Regina clips.

I'm not a big fan of the Hades/Zelena pairing. I think Hades is just being selfish and manipulative. But I also think that it is in great part because I despise the way they portray Hades - and no it's not because he's not like the Disney's Hercules Hades (though if you're going to nod to that you could get a little closer to it - I feel like the funny writers all left the show this season or something. There has been a serious dearth of witty banter and notable one liners when there used to be multiple clever lines an episode). Mainly I just really don't like the way they've written Hades. It's like the very worst cliched approach to him with virtually no nuance (except maybe him being in love with Zelena which I still kind of doubt). Blah.

from here
In the other family story line James comes after David for REVENGE. Because David ... stole his glory? Even though knowing what we do about James before he died, I doubt he would have won much of anything on his own.

I'm disappointed Emma didn't feel at all suspicious that it wasn't David, though. Lame.

The eagle cry when Cruella pulled up in her car was pretty much the funniest moment of the episode. Okay, I almost forgot - I will give her funniest one-liner of the night: "Why is everything in the woods with you people?"
Emma's face at this was hilarious as well
from here

WHY does everyone insist on taking the showdowns down to the dock. And really? Did they have to kill of James in EXACTLY the same way they killed off Gaston? I mean, that was just lame (too). And it was all over SO quickly. The secondary storyline didn't get much screen time at all because of how much the Zelena/Cora/Regina story took up. I didn't mind that one getting more time, but it would have been nice for the David/James story to get a little more time - maybe wrapping over into the next episode or something.

And Pan is back! But he and Rumple have no idea all the stuff that just went down with Zelena and Regina and everything. So I'm not sure what all is going to happen there.

The preview for next week makes me scared. Because if they kill off Killian in basically the same way they killed off Neal (and I'm sorry but that preview REALLY made it look like this could be a possibility) I will be so done with this show. I'm already this close to being done with it, but that would just push me over the edge.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

10 Things I Loved About The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst

Sophie has a pretty great life. She loves her parents and their bookstore. She loves her pet Monster. But most of all she loves helping distill dreams which are sold to the clients who come secretly looking for the chance to live out a fantasy. Sophie is particularly fascinated because she never dreams and is under strict instructions to never drink any of the dream potions herself. But when a stranger learns of their secret and Sophie's parents disappear, Sophie finds herself on a quest to discover the truth, making surprising allies and a few new enemies as she tries to save her parents and herself.

Here are my 10 Things I Loved about The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst.

  1. Sophie - She makes such a great protagonist. She is a very nuanced and complex character. She's shy and a little unsure of herself, yet also spunky and willing to do what needs to be done to save her parents. She has realistic reactions to the events that take place but doesn't let herself get pushed around, willing to stand up for herself and the people she cares about.
  2. Monster - MONSTER. Oh man, he is a monster worthy of Monsters, Inc. I love him so much. I mean, come on, he's smart, he's funny, he's loyal, he "helps" Sophie do her homework, he loves cupcakes. I want one.
  3. Ethan - I loved the development of his character. I found that his reactions to everything were so believable as well and I loved the development of his friendship with Sophie and his joyful embracing of the craziness they encounter.
  4. Mr. Nightmare - *shudders* A truly creepy antagonist. Perfect for the story.
  5. Glitterhoof - I won't say more because spoilers but hahahahahaha man I loved that character.
  6. The Concept - I loved the idea that dreams could be collected in, what else, dreamcatchers, and distilled down to be used by people who wanted to live in a fantasy world. And the idea that dreams could come out into the real world - both exciting and terrifying and Durst explores both perspectives.
  7. The Writing - I enjoyed Durst's writing style. She conveys all of the action and humor really well, the language is perfectly suited to the main audience and she has respect for middle graders abilities.
  8. The Humor - I laughed so much through this book. It's not a comedy per se, but it's just filled with situations and dialogue that are hilarious.
  9. The Crying - Oh man, no specific spoilers, but something happened toward the end of the book that had me actually sobbing, something I was not expecting when I started. It wasn't out of left field, though. It fit perfectly in the narrative.
  10. The Ending - I loved the way everything was wrapped up. The ending made me so super happy. It was very satisfying.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Ruby Slippers

5.18 "Ruby Slippers"

In tonight's episode Belle sets out to find a way to save her baby from Hades, Emma and the hero squad look for Auntie Em, and in a flashback to "sometime in the past" (I see that the writers have given up trying to make time work at all) Dorothy and Ruby try to find a way to defeat Zelena. Meanwhile David looks for a way to send Snow home to "chisel-chin Jr." (honestly Cruella has some amazing lines) and Hook comes to the rescue.

Okay, I'll start with the end - Zelena and Hades together? I mean, we saw it coming, so why did Zelena have to dither over it at all? No clue. When Hades comes to her at the beginning and she turns him down again I had to laugh at the way he said he could give her everything while handing her a dead rose. Because, yay, I'm sure she's always wanted one of those.

Hades' revenge on Auntie Em was harsh and when he tells Zelena that he did it only for her is a bunch of hogwash. He gets WAY more out of it like the crushing the spirit of everyone in his realm, ensuring that Emma and her group don't succeed in their current task, and preventing them from easily doing anything else to mess up his world. Plus the bonus of keeping Auntie Em there permanently. But no - he gets absolutely nothing out of it. uh huh. sure.

I'm super happy Belle realized that Rumple isn't her true love, but putting herself under the sleeping curse? I can't tell if that's brilliant or the stupidest thing she's ever done.
from here

Speaking of brilliant/stupid plans, Killian and David's plan to get Snow home fits right in there. I knew that David couldn't go back yet, though, because he hadn't had the confrontation with James. Because we ALL knew that had to happen. I love that David and Killian worked together to figure it out. Now they just have to figure out how to get the names off altogether.

And I would just like to say that I would be more than happy for a David Charming to come into my life anytime now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Little Lit: Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Ava Orlova hasn't had what you might consider a normal childhood. She was experimented on by the evil Ivan Somorodov, the same man who trained and tortured Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, until Natasha rescued her and turned her over to S.H.I.E.L.D. Ava grew up in isolation until she ran away. Now she's a teen living on her own in Brooklyn, trying to have a normal life, despite the weird dreams she keeps having about a boy she's never met. Her best friend drags her to a fencing competition and Ava finds herself face to face with Alex, the boy from her dream, and then finds herself on the run from someone trying to kill her and reunited with Natasha. As things start to spiral out of control Ava has to decide if she can trust Natasha after she abandoned her years before and if she has the strength to face the weight of her past before it catches up and destroys her.

What I Liked:

  • This fit well into the Marvel movie canon. I thought that Natasha, as well as Coulson and Tony (who make brief appearances) were written really well. I could hear and see them in my head.
  • I liked the format of the book with the official investigation transcripts. They did give away where part of the book was going, but it worked more to keep a certain event from being there just for shock factor.
  • I liked the revelations about Natasha's past that came out through the development of her relationship with Ava.
  • I liked Ava's character. I enjoyed her sass and completely understood her distrust of Natasha and struggle to trust Alex.
What I Would Have Liked:
  • I would have liked for it to be about Natasha instead of about Ava, but I can understand why to some extent. I'm just really glad that I read a review that said the book wasn't about Natasha  before I started reading. I think I would have enjoyed it less if I'd had different expectations going in.
  • I would really really have liked for the book to actually be copy edited. There were egregious copywriting mistakes throughout. Repeated lines, double or missing punctuation, sentences that were rewritten, but both versions of the sentence were still there. Stupid mistakes that ruined a book that deserved much more, especially being put out by such a big publisher and connected with Marvel by a fairly high profile YA author.
  • I enjoyed this. It was like watching a teen Marvel movie - which is basically what it was.
  • People who enjoy superhero movies or television shows should enjoy this, as long as they realize that this isn't the Black Widow origin story we were hoping for.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

"Christine Nilsson and her husband, Marcus, are desperate for a baby. Unable to conceive, they find themselves facing a difficult choice they had never anticipated. After many appointments with specialists, endless research, and countless conversations, they make the decision to use a donor.
Two months pass, and Christine is happily pregnant. But one day, she is shocked to see a young blond man on the TV news being arrested for a series of brutal murders and the blond man bears an undeniable and uncanny resemblance to her donor.
Delving deeper to uncover the truth, Christine must confront a terrifying reality and face her worst fears. Riveting and fast-paced with the depth of emotionality that has garnered Lisa Scottoline legions of fans, "Most Wanted" poses an ethical and moral dilemma: What would you do if the biological father of your unborn child was a killer?" -

Having never wanted children of my own, I had a hard time identifying with Christine and Marcus' desire to have children but I could identify with their quest for the truth which is the crux of this novel.  Marcus wants to confirm the identity of their donor by suing the sperm bank they used while Christine takes matters into her own hands.  

Christine's quest for the truth takes her and the reader on a wild ride.  It's not quite clear if the donor actually is the killer and I was guessing all through as to if he was the killer and the donor or just the donor and not the killer and what that all meant for Christine, Marcus and the family they're trying to build.

I would've liked a little more detail into Marcus' efforts with the lawsuit he filed.  The lawyer he met with raised some very interesting questions about the whole business of sperm donation and the regulations it does and does not face.  

In addition to using different means to find the truth, Marcus and Christine also debated the nature vs. nurture argument of raising a child who may be the biological product of a serial killer which was interesting and leaves the reader to opine for themselves.

The secondary characters were fabulous, Griff who unwitting aids Christine in her quest to find the truth about her donor is an endearing curmudgeon who I really hope Scottoline finds a place for in a subsequent novel.  

Most Wanted was a thrilling, entertaining and thought provoking novel.  Look for it in your local bookstore or at online retailers, you won't be disappointed.  For more on Most Wanted and Lisa Scottoline, visit her website.

Special thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for providing me with a free digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Her Handsome Hero

5.17 "Her Handsome Hero"

Tonight Belle has to save a monster from Gaston. And in the flashbacks, shockingly, Belle has to save a monster from Gaston. Meanwhile Emma, Snow, Regina, and Hook have to save ... a monster (but not from Gaston). AND in all three story lines the monster isn't really a monster (well, except arguably Rumple).

from here
I feel very conflicted by the Gaston story line. I mean, in the end he turns out to be the jerk with evil in his heart (in both the present and flashback), but he's not supposed to be likable, but it does make it more conflicting for Belle that he's not just a jerk. BUT I did figure out why this bothers me so much - it's because Gaston is a Disney creation - he's not based on any character in the original fairy tale. So when they mess with his character, they're messing with their own character for ... no real reason. (I feel the same way about Megara, but she is based on the myth, so I'm feeling differently conflicted over her)

Also this outfit is so gorgeous
from here
The fact that Rumple thought, for even a second, that Belle would agree with him destroying Gaston or using dark magic shows how little he really takes her seriously. And I loved that Belle took her knowledge of Rumple to get control of the dagger. Because she knows that he will kill Gaston if she doesn't intervene. She continually stays true to who she is, to her pure heart, despite her struggle with loving Rumple. And she consistently does so. Even when her baby is at risk, she refuses to make a deal with the devil because she knows it's not the right thing to do. She may be overly idealistic at times, but she's also fiercely intelligent, and usually makes the right decision in the end. tl;dr Belle is the best.

Side note: Every time Hades says "baby" it's the most creepy thing in pretty much the entire underworld. It's like he's going to eat it or something.

When Gaston whines to Belle, "You broke into my locker," he sounds like a peeved eighth grader or something. I'm convinced that Gaston was his own unfinished business. He turns away from the ideals that Belle tried to instill in him, and the book is there to try to remind him of that. His continual turning away from it is what is keeping him in Underbrooke. And his choice to continue to go after Rumple is what led to his own downfall.

from here
It is so great to see Snow finally making sense and acting like a real person again, with hope and persistence.

I am also really grateful that Emma finally expressed her frustrations and that Snow, Regina, and Killian helped her work through it.

from here

WAIT RUBY IS BACK THIS IS THE BEST THING EXCEPT IT MEANS THAT RUBY IS PROBABLY DEAD? I am so conflicted by this because I want to be excited, but I am also sad/scared.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What I'm Reading Now: April Edition

On my Nook:
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery - I had forgotten how much I adored this volume of the series. The Blythe and Meredith children are so much fun to read about. I've really been enjoying my re-read of the Anne books!

On my Phone:
Picking through the many items I downloaded for free, I started reading Equoid: A Laundry Novella. Though I haven't read any of the Laundry books and I'm only 8 pages in, I am finding the world intriguing, so I'm curious to see where this goes.

In Print-Fiction:
I just started Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, one of the books I've been meaning to get to but never did. Yay for working through my unread books! I pretty much just started it, but it is really interesting and I'm glad I finally got to it.

In Print-Non Fiction:
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Still. BUT I only have about 80 pages left, so I should finish it this month! It's so fascinating and I'm still really enjoying it, but I've just been moving really slowly on it for some reason. My next biography I think I'll go for something a little shorter to give myself a bit of a break.

On Audio in My Car:
I am on the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - it took me longer to get through this than I thought it would. I guess I've done less driving than normal. I'm enjoying it much more than I did last time, though. This has always been my least favorite, but I don't think it is any more (which means I don't know if I have a least favorite anymore).

On TV:
I've been catching up on one of my guilty pleasures: Pretty Little Liars. I can't quite figure out why I find this show so fun, but I do! I'm about a third of the way through S5 - so no spoilers!

What have you been reading lately?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Our Decay

5.16 "Our Decay"

Tonight Hades and Zelena are somehow now a couple? Because... what? and Hades shows his undying love by creating UnderBrooke and stealing her baby and telling her what her birthday is. Because obviously. Meanwhile Belle goes all mama bear and tries to protect baby Hood, is right about Zelena, and finds the truth about Rumple, proving that Belle is always right and should be in way more episodes as a character in her own right. Also, Henry is creating story book pages in his sleep and showing signs that he is an actual author.

from here
Belle is the best. She risked her life to save baby Hood and is the only one to call Zelena out. I loved when she told Zelena, "Nothing good ever came from trusting you," and then actually ran away with the baby. When Zelena says she just wants to feed baby Hood and Robin and Regina give in, Belle is sitting there like, really people? and was firmly in the rights to give a hearty I told you so (though she doesn't).

I was really quite impressed that Rumple came completely clean (though I'm not sure he would have told her about being the Dark One yet if he hadn't slipped up). And I was proud of Belle for saying she couldn't make any decisions right now. Yes, he told the truth now, but he's been hiding the truth about being the Dark One for a while. And can she really be with someone who admits that he loves power that much? Especially when he has, several times, chosen power over family? His description of himself as a better man but not a different one was pretty spot on. He is better than he was before, but his very make-up is the same (something I've been arguing for seasons). The question is whether Belle can live with that.

The thing that annoyed me the most about their interaction, though, was the way Rumple was very condescending and telling Belle how she feels. That just set my teeth on edge. Belle is strong and intelligent. And maybe she's not in love with the power loving Dark One. It will be interesting to see what choice she makes.

As for their baby, I really feel like there must be some loophole in that this baby is only Rumple's. It just seems like that should be a significant issue.

Also, I want this Dorothy outfit
Hades in the flashback was more like the Hades I was hoping we would get. I don't know if I buy his story though - he was laying the compliments on awfully thick. And he's a liar and manipulator, so I'm just not sure he's being honest, though it seems like he is. And I just don't feel sympathy for Zelena, though I think I would love to see a confrontation between her and Cora. Also, I do have to give props to Zelena for giving baby Hood up when she realized she couldn't protect her. However! If she can't trust Hades enough to go with him, why does she trust him enough not to come after the baby? That makes no sense.

And I'm just really annoyed by the True Love's Kiss thing crossing into mythology. I'm just not a fan of the way they are portraying Hades and his backstory. The myths are not fairy tales or fables - they should have a slightly different feel, like the Oz stuff and the Wonderland stuff is different.

Side note: when Hades blew the candles on I had to giggle.

from here
I find it amusing that Henry can't control his gift as the author. But I have to say that his reaction to their criticisms sounds more like a writer thing than a moody teenager thing. I'm pretty sure most writers have wanted to say something like that to "helpful" non-writer friends who always know what they should be writing. I was cracking up at that.

I love Emma Caulfield so much. And how amusing/sad is it that there is this haunting booth? My fear, though, is that by "haunting" Neal, Snow and Charming are embedding themselves further into UnderBrooke. (also Snow's horror at being a "regular in the diner in hell" was pretty funny)

And I'm all for them getting out of UnderBrooke, but I'm not really sure how Snow is proposing they do that. I mean, wasn't the whole purpose of the last two episodes to find out more so you could defeat Hades? Just wanting to isn't really enough (though, to be fair, it has worked more or less in most of their battles against villains).

I'm still waiting for the David/James showdown. And I'm not sure what I think about a Gaston-centric episode.