Sunday, May 29, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Only You/An Untold Story

5.22/23 "Only You" & "An Untold Story"

Sorry this is so late! I thought the finale was from 8-10, not 7-9, so I missed the first half and, since I only have antenna and ABC makes you wait 8 days to stream on their website I had to wait to watch it, and then I had a wedding, and then I just felt so incredibly uninspired by the episodes that I haven't really wanted to even write this. BUT here it goes - My last Once Upon a Time recap (yes, I know that the series is continuing with another season, but I have no desire to watch it anymore, even to make fun of it). So to all of those who have followed along with my ranting - thanks for reading! You'll have to tell me if anything absolutely ridiculous happens next season :)

So in this season's finale people get sucked through a portal and trapped. Again. Because why not? Where they meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I don't know why I'm surprised that we'd add another world at this point. And Emma decides that the best way to keep Regina safe is to... keep her out of everything? While Henry goes on an impulsive teenage mission to save everyone by destroying magic without thinking through the ramifications. And Rumple runs around chasing power somehow still believing that he's doing it for Belle.

I'm not really sure I understand Henry's sudden (very very very sudden) decision that all magic is evil and must be destroyed? I mean, this is the Henry who was just complaining about not being able to be all heroic and was finally figuring out how to use his gift as the author in a constructive way? Oh, wait. I forgot and was looking for some sort of consistency in the writing. hahahaha.


Henry and Violet are very adorable though. And I really liked getting some quality Henry time in on the story line, even if he was being reckless and heedless.

But. After Henry runs from Storybrooke to New York and Emma and Regina find him in the library, I cannot fathom what on earth would ever make them think that it would be okay to leave Henry and Violet alone in the library and that he would actually listen and stay put? Emma and Regina aren't that stupid, writers. I promise you that.

Side rant: I was really really ticked off that they gave the librarian the line, "people usually just want that YA stuff." First off, I 100% know that tons of people go to libraries for many many many other things than young adult literature. Second, I feel like that was really demeaning and dismissive to young adult literature - as though there is something wrong with wanting to read "YA stuff." That was totally uncalled for and unnecessary to anything related to the plot, story, or anything else.

And Henry's speech at the fountain was pretty adorable, too.
Also, did I miss something? How did Henry bring the pen back from the Underworld? Wasn't it destroyed? And if there are all of those other storybooks, then are there other authors floating around? Do they have an author club or Facebook page Henry could join to get some help?

And hasn't Henry heard just a few people on this show talk about doing things for "the greater good" when trying to justify a bad decision? Has he never read Harry Potter?!

I did like the revelation of how much Regina still struggles to keep herself on the good path. It was nice to see her show how much she has changed, because her first instinct now is to stop herself from doing anything evil.

Which is why I'm so angry at how quickly Zelena turned so perfectly good. I mean, Zelena did things just as bad as the Evil Queen. So how is it that Regina has to fight constantly while Zelena is all prancing around being completely trusted 13 seconds after "resolving" her mommy issues? Her easy change completely undermines the real struggles that Regina and even Killian have fought through over the last seasons.

I did like the bonding moments between Regina and Emma and how Regina didn't automatically go all dark because Killian was brought back.

More on Regina in a moment.

There WERE some good quippy lines in this episode.

When Regina and Emma are going after Rumple and Emma says they don't have magic and Regina says, "I still have a fist." and Rumple's response: "Didn't you see the sign?" when they go into the room were delivered hilariously.

I also loved that when they find out people got pulled through a portal, Regina's just like "Again?" with more exasperation than any real surprise.

And when they're talking to Jekyll about why Hyde is bigger and stronger and he says the alter-ego presents itself how the mind perceives it's darker half, I about died laughing when Hook said, "Perhaps next time try an aggressive bunny rabbit."

Speaking of Jekyll and Hyde (rolls eyes so hard I fall over backwards) I'm not sure I understand why there was the big struggle to keep Jekyll from drinking the potion - why did Hyde have to become Hyde first, if the whole point was for them to separate anyway? That made no sense to me whatsoever.

And I really don't understand Hyde's desire to turn Storybrooke into a refuge when that is quite literally (as they explain to us in one of the expository speeches) the purpose of steampunk world - a "place of refuge" for outcasts or runaways from other stories. Oops. Sorry, once again looking for some internal logic to the show.

And finally, Regina's spectacular decision to separate the two halves of herself. Gah.

First of all, Regina uses all of her talents to help people - even the ones she hones as the Evil Queen - how many times has her slyness or her ability to distance herself or even her ability to think like a villain helped to save lives? And the struggle she talks about is basically just called being human.

I understand that she's done horrible things, but all of those things are also what have brought her to where she is now. Henry wouldn't probably exist. She wouldn't have met Robin and enjoyed a brief period of happiness with him at all. She wouldn't be friends with Emma. SO much of Regina's personality is tied up in what she perceives as her evil self. It's Regina's conflict, her remembrance of what she's done, that helps her to be strong and survive and protect those she loves and do the right thing now!

Did anyone else notice her evil self sort of reach back in, like it was going after something inside her? I'm really afraid that Regina will have lost her spark, her self!

And, just throwing this out there, if you've only got one dose of that potion left, wouldn't it have been a better idea to give it to oh I don't know RUMPLE and then kill the dark side and leave the good side who would probably be able to wake Belle? Except that probably wouldn't work. But it seems to me a better idea than Regina taking it.

Of course, I guess we're due for more Regina time rather than more Rumple time, which, if I were watching next season, would probably excite me.

I would like to say that it was pretty obvious that the Evil Queen wasn't going to have been destroyed. I really felt like that was ridiculous and predictable.

One final note - did anyone else notice the extremely obvious placement of the wedding dress between Hook and Emma when they were having their cute moment at the end of the episode? Because I was laughing so hard at it. And wondering if maybe they'll leave them alone just for a little bit next season.

And... there you have it. So. What were your thoughts? Are you intrigued enough to hang on for another season?

And once again, thank you to everyone who's come to read and comment or let me know on Facebook you're reading. You guys are what kept me going this season and I will now have to find a new show to recap next year!

May you all live happily ever after :)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Blog Tour: The Turning Point by Freya North

Today we are proud to be one of the stops on the blog tour to promote The Turning Point by Freya North.

"Rich, romantic, beautifully drawn and utterly compelling" Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author
 Life is short. Sometimes you have to take a chance…
Two single parents, Scott and Frankie, meet by chance.
Their homes are thousands of miles apart: Frankie lives somewhat chaotically with her children on the shoreline of North Norfolk, while Scott's life is in the mountains of British Columbia. Distance divides them – but it seems that a million little things connect them. A spark ignites, one so strong that it dares them to take a risk.
But fate has one more trick in store…
There are some truths about life and family we only learn when we grow up. There are some we never thought we'd have to.

What I loved about this book was how real the characters felt.  The author did an amazing job of making them seem real by describing little realistic details and quirks about them.  I cracked up when Frankie worried that her love of Duran Duran may considered a deal breaker for Scott when she was about to welcome into her home for the first time.  As Duranie, Duran Duran is never a deal breaker unless you hate them, lol.

I appreciated that this was a story about two independent people falling in love and respecting each other by not pressuring one another to change who they are.  This was a love story, a story of true love, not a mere romance novel. The point of view changes periodically throughout the course of the story between Frankie, Scott, and their family which really fleshed out the familiarity you come to feel for all the characters. I strive to provide spoiler free reviews but I must caution you to have a tissue handy for this book.  The synopsis promised a trick and a trick you get.  Don't let that put you off  though, definitely pick this book up.  It's the perfect book to escape with this weekend.

****/5 stars

For more on The Turning Point by Freya North, please visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour and visit the author's website.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Little Lit: Almost Super by Marion Jensen

Rafter Bailey can't wait to get his super power. He knows exactly the power he'd like to have, but when his power arrives precisely at 4:23 pm on February 29th, just like every other Bailey's has arrived he doesn't get quite what he'd hoped for. In fact, he and his brother Benny get the most useless super powers anyone in their family has ever had. How are they supposed to help defend the world against the evil Johnsons if the only thing he can do is strike a match on polyester? As the conflict between the Baileys and the Johnsons escalates, Rafter and Benny might have to actually join forces with Juanita Johnson in order to save the world from an even bigger threat.

What I Liked:

  • I found this a fun and really fast read. I can see why it's been compared to The Incredibles.
  • I liked Rafter's ability to plan and coordinate and the ways he could see problems in a different way.
  • Benny is so feisty! I loved him.
  • Juanita was a fun character as well and I liked the perspective she brought that added a nice twist I hadn't been expecting.
What I Would Have Liked:
  • I wish Rafter had used his strategy skills more. There were places where he could have had the opportunity to really showcase this strength and he didn't, which I found a little odd.
  • There were places the narrative felt a little rushed. I think there could have been a little deeper development of the characters, which would have strengthened the story overall.
  • I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes stories that play with the superhero trope.
  • I think this would be a good option for middle grade kids who don't really like reading, because it is fairly short, the chapters keep things moving, and there isn't a lot of complex vocabulary.
  • But I think any kids who like superheroes would enjoy this book.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What I'm Reading Now: May Edition

It's been a busy month, but enjoying the books I'm reading right now. Here's a quick look at what I'm reading now!

On my Nook:
The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery - I finished the Anne series and moved on to the next one available on my Nook. Montgomery just has this way of making her characters live so vibrantly.

On my Phone:
Ghost Bird: The Academy Omnibus Part 1 by C. L. Stone - I haven't quite figured out the appeal of Stone's books, but I find them a lot of fun to read.

In Print-Fiction:
I just started the third book in Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz series, Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia. The series is a fun middle grade romp and I'm looking forward to learning more about the world.

In Print-Non Fiction:
I finally finished Alexander Hamilton and I haven't started anything new yet, but next up I think is going to be another Milne book that I have still checked out from my library.

On Audio in My Car:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling - I can't believe I'm almost done with the series! I love it so much! There are so many amazing things in this series.

On TV:
I'm still working through Star Trek: The Next Generation and am about half way through the third season. It's really interesting seeing it all in order since I've seen a lot of episodes but sort of randomly. Definitely get to see the character development more this way.

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Last Rites

5.21 "Last Rites"

This week one half of a couple decides that power is more important than love and that controlling others is more important than keeping the trust of his significant other. And no, I'm actually not talking about Rumple and Belle (though it continues to be true of them, too). This time it's Hades and Zelena! So Zelena decides that she can believe that Hades has changed despite virtually not knowing him at all and having virtually no evidence to support that change. And Regina decides to trust Zelena and is, shockingly, not wrong? But she loses Robin in the process. Meanwhile Killian tries to move on and has to team up with Arthur in order to take care of his unfinished business.

Okay, so I'm kind of upset over Robin's death. But last week's teaser said the "heart of Storybrooke" died and, even though Robin's a great guy and everything, he's not the heart. Sorry. So I'm glad Henry's not dead, but I feel annoyed by that? I kind of feel, though, that I would have been annoyed no matter who died, because I'm just annoyed with the show in general.

We'll get to my conflicted feelings on Captain Swan in a moment.

I want to know why Zelena is so sure that Hades has changed. His entire line in all the time that he has known her is revenge, revenge, rule the world, revenge, kill everyone who hurt me, rule the world. Of course, the revenge and kill everyone who hurt me parts were Zelena's byline until recently (and I'm really annoyed that she changed so quickly when I think about how hard Regina has had to work and struggle to change and to earn the right to be trusted and Zelena has one hug from Cora and *poof* is all happy go lucky saved and changed?), so I guess I can understand why she wants to trust him. And, of course, in the end she realizes she can't trust him and that Regina does actually have her best interests at heart.

And this was where I knew he was doomed
from here
Robin's death just seemed like a sideline in the midst of the kill Hades story, which is one of the things that annoys me. It just felt completely unnecessary and pointless. Pretty much from the moment he told Regina that she was his future I knew he was doomed. Just because they would need to kill someone off. And, to be honest, though Robin is nice, I never really connected to him and though I liked him with Regina, I rarely felt any real chemistry between them. So the death sort of lost its impact. In fact, I didn't even tear up at the funeral and I am the biggest crier in the world.

Also, just pointing out that basically all Hades and Zelena did was stand around while Hades shot blue light at the broken lightning bolt.

I do love that Belle's father is a florist in Storybrooke - that cracked me up. But I don't understand how Belle's father can give her True Love's Kiss after selling her to Rumple and then getting angry when she fell in love with him and now refusing to wake her? How is any of that love? Much less love strong enough to break a sleeping curse. I mean, if Emma and Killian can't get True Love's Kiss to save his life in the Underworld, then that certainly should not be enough. And why on earth would Rumple think that Belle would ever be okay with him beating up her dad to wake her up. Because it doesn't seem like he's entirely given up on winning her back and I'm pretty sure that would break things even further.

Even at the end Rumple is still all, this is my kingdom mwahaha and running after power while Belle is sleep cursed. Here is where I don't understand people who are still pro Rumple. I am not against people being redeemed, obviously. But it's all based on actions and choices. Regina has consistently made decisions moving in the right direction. It took time and she backslid a lot, but she was making regular progress. Same with Hook and many of the other villains.

But Rumple always - always - chooses power over love, even when his relationship with Belle is on the line. Every. Time. And every episode confirms this. He occasionally makes a good choice or helps someone, but the pattern is selfishness. So how can he ever be a good partner for Belle?

And shouldn't someone have dustbusted Hades up or something? It seems really dangerous to leave a pile of god-dust just laying around.

Arthur is dead! *dances*
One thing I really disliked about the Underworld is the way they let people off the hook for so many things. Like Cora - She shares a tender moment with her daughters and suddenly everything's okay? It sort of counters a lot of the premise of the show. And now Arthur. All the terrible things he did and he's just an okay guy who's going to help bring order to the Underworld?

Okay. So I am really conflicted over the Killian thing.

Honestly, aren't they the cutest!
from here
On the one hand I am SO HAPPY he's back with Emma and their reunion was pretty much the most adorable thing of all time. SO CUTE.

BUT I'm really conflicted about the whole Zeus/Hades thing and that Zeus was happy Hades was destroyed and decided to reward Killian by bringing him back to life? But if Zeus is lord of the dead, how does Zeus have that power? and it's all just so argh! I really wish they had stayed away from the mythology because the whole thing has just made me want to flip tables.

What could possibly happen in the finale next week? I feel like there's no story left for another episode, much less another season. I'm pretty much planning on not watching Season 6, but I have a feeling something is going to happen next week that will suck me into this train wreck again. We shall see.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry

Fourteen years ago, Ariel’s parents took her to the forest to cut down a Christmas tree—and never come back. When a three-year-old is found at a Wal-Mart, it takes time for authorities to connect her with a missing family over a hundred miles away.

Then Ariel's mother's body is found in the woods. She's been stabbed 19 times. Since she had a rocky relationship with Ariel's father, everyone figures he just snapped. Ariel ends up in foster care, and eventually a failed adoption leaves her with a new name: Olivia.

Now a human bond found in the woods has changed what everyone thought was true about that day. He was killed along with her mother, and it was the killer who took the girl to the Wal-Mart.

Now Ariel/Olivia is determined to uncover the truth.

But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Prior to this book, it’d been a year since I read a contemporary YA novel.  Nothing out there was really speaking to me but then I read the synopsis for “The Girl I Used to Be,” and I remembered the girl I used to be in the 90s, a teenager who loved YA mysteries from authors such as Lois Duncan and Joan Lowery Nixon.  This novel was similar in tone to those books and it was a nice throwback for me.  What I loved about “The Girl I Used to Be,” was that it was a great mystery that kept the suspense going but it was not gory or grizzly.  I also found the characters and their lifestyle to be very realistic and relatable.   

Olivia does not have any superpowers, nor was she wealthy, she’s just a regular young woman, working hard to keep roof over her head while dealing with extraordinary tragedy.  I also adored Olivia's neighbor, Nora. Check out the author's website for the touching inspiration behind Nora and other elements of the novel. 

I felt the ending was a tad rushed but it was still a satisfying conclusion.  I recommend it for readers 13 and up.  ****/5 stars

Head on over to the publisher’s website for a chance to win a copy of “The Girl I Used to Be,” along with April Henry’s backlist titles. 

Special Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Once Upon a Time - Firebird

5.20 "Firebird"

I am so done. Put a fork in me I'm done and if the previews for next week are suggesting what I think they're suggesting I will have absolutely zero reason to ever watch another episode. Because I can't.

So tonight they decide that it will suddenly be a good idea to make a bargain with Hades because he's just proved so trustworthy and Regina has decided that a moment with Zelena has suddenly made her super trustworthy. Killian and Emma go off on a quest (sent by Hades) to find ambrosia to save Killian's life and Rumple pulls the old switcheroo on his dear old dad taking another opportunity to choose power and revenge over love and forgiveness.

Look. I know that Regina has changed a lot and been through a lot, but she's also suspicious and realistic so I find it really odd that she would just so wholeheartedly throw her support behind Zelena. I'm not saying distrust her, but she's dating Hades for pete's sake, so maybe hesitate just a moment before sending them off alone with your boyfriend's daughter? I dunno that seems like it would be not the greatest plan especially because there's no proof that Hades isn't planning on stabbing you all in the back.

from here
Also, how on earth can Zelena and Hades, who have known each other approximately 90 seconds, have true love's kiss while Emma's heart is true and she and Killian have consistently and repeatedly sacrificed everything for each other and yet somehow don't get it? That is completely inconsistent and makes me so angry I'm basically spitting.

Also, also, when did the Hades actor get so bad. He was super stilted and awkward tonight.s.

from here
I liked Henry's plan to help people move on by using his author powers. What a great way to use the time while they had to wait. And Cruella as the evil ruler with Emma Caulfield by her side is hilarious.

As for Rumple's little plan to defeat his father. I understand why he wouldn't want Pan coming back. I'm pretty surprised Pan would ever think that would actually happen. What I don't understand at all is why Rumple had to wait so long before doing it. Wouldn't it have made more sense to do it right away so he could make sure that he didn't miss the portal? Or was he behind the plot to keep the heroes locked in the tower. But why? What would he have to gain from that? Basically nothing, right? I don't know. And even if he was behind it, it wouldn't have precluded him from leaving any earlier. It felt like BECAUSE PLOT except there wasn't even a plot reason for that to happen.

Question: Does Emma now wear contacts? Or did she get lasik surgery? Or do they sell contact solution at the Underbrooke pharmacy? These are the really important questions I have.

Okay. Emma and Killian. First of all, how did they not realize that the fire thing was a test. Pretty standard fair people. You'd think they hadn't gone around saving people for the last almost five seasons.

All right, I understand that Hades would trick them and try to keep them there. That's a very Hades move. Though I would have liked some sort of smirk thing when he turned to face the camera right before going through the portal. A little gloating moment. Or something. Unless it wasn't actually him, but I find that highly doubtful. Highly.

from here
I'm guessing that Killian didn't come back up with Emma because he's off to find the magic rock bridge so he can move on? Was that even in the same place though? I'm super confused by that. Couldn't he at least have come to say goodbye?

But also Why. Why on earth would they keep Killian trapped in the Underworld after all of this. Just. Just why. This is how I reacted to Emma getting on the elevator without Killian:

I REFUSE I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE FOR HER TO LOSE HIM LIKE THIS. NO NO NO NO NO. I can't. I'm so done with this show. I am so very done. TRUE LOVE'S KISS SHOULD HAVE SAVED THEM. You know what I am just done. I don't even want to watch it anymore if they can never let Emma ever be happy. First Graham then Neal and now Killian. It's just not. Like I'm so mad I just want to I can't even talk I am so angry right now.

I seriously can't. And if they kill off Henry the way the previews for next week are suggesting, then I will have zero reason to go on with this show.

So, I was super happy with tonight's episode, can't you tell? Check in next week for more angry rants because at least I don't have to suffer in silence.