Mini Movie Reviews: Nonstop, Tron, The Lego Movie, and Mansfield Park

I’ve been watching new (to me, anyhow) movies and been slacking on the reviews! Here’s my one paragraph thoughts on four films…

Non-Stop

nonstopNon-Stop was pretty much a non-stop adrenaline rush, other than its slow beginning and then somewhat wrapped-up-with-a-tidy-bow-on-top ending. This, like Taken, is a Liam Nesson movie that really makes you think twice about traveling. It’s an interesting idea and I was really invested in what was happening, but the reveal was a little disappointing for reasons I can’t fully explain (not because of spoilers so much as I just don’t know to explain it!), and then the ending was kind of like, “OK, yay Liam Nesson saved the day, movie over.” I don’t know, I just would have liked to have been thought through a little more after an intriguing premise. Other than the suspense, another upside to this film was actually the characters.

(Note: This is the same director as the Liam Nesson film Unknown, which I have similar complaints about, though I liked Nonstop more.)

Tron

tronIf you go into Tron expecting it to be 80tastic, you’ll get exactly that. It was a little confusing too, especially in the beginning, and I would have been much more lost had it not been for my familiarity with Tron: Legacy. But the idea is interesting, and I really liked how these initial ideas were further developed in Tron: Legacy.

The Lego Movie

lego-movieI had zero interest in this movie, but I had many friends who insisted it was great, and more of an adult movie than a kid movie. Well, these friends of mine have kids, and I think maybe their opinion has been somewhat diluted by this. I enjoyed it pretty well at the moment, and it made me laugh, but with a heavy-handed message to parents and the crazy fast pacing, it didn’t quite reach “everything is awesome” level for me, and ended up more on the forgettable side. (P.S. Unikitty is awesome though. Hands down my favorite character.)

Mansfield Park

mansfield-parkFinally! This was the last Jane Austen novel I had zero exposure to, and I was finally introduced to Mansfield Park via the 2007 adaptation. I enjoyed it, but it felt so short, and I really want to see the slightly older version that has Jonny Lee Miller. But the actors and actresses in this adaptation were really good, and Hayley Atwell was the evil Mary Crawford! As a big Peggy Carter fan that broke my heart!

What movies have you seen lately? Have you seen any of these?

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Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

(Note: I think it goes without saying that there will be Lizzie Bennet Diaries GIFs below…)

When I found out that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series was turning into a book, this was my reaction:

lizzie-partyBut I admit, I was also slightly skeptical, because can you really write a solid book based on a web series based on a classic novel. Well, I think The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet pulled it off pretty well.

There were a few things that prevented this from getting a 5-star rating from me, and I’ll list those up front.

collins-multiplepointsFirst: this feels like a companion to the web series. I don’t think you should really go into reading this without knowing The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or at the very least Pride and Prejudice (but even then… it’s better to know the series). I would have liked to have seen it stand on it’s own a little better. Also, I was disappointed in some character moments that weren’t in the web series that felt unnecessary in the book. I’m not going to go into details, but some of it just didn’t really ring true for me.

Lastly, while it felt mostly consistent with the web series, it didn’t ALWAYS. There’s at least one instance that became really obvious when I decided to watch one of the episodes (I watched a few as I read the book, just to see how they played out in both and because I felt like it :)), in which Lizzie got her new phone. In the book, it’s emphasized that her phone started acting up after it was dropped on the marina pier on her day with Darcy and Gigi, but in the web series it sounded like her phone had been acting up for a while and she finally got a new one when her contract came up for renewal. Maybe it shouldn’t have bothered me so much, but considering that in the Q&A in the back the authors emphasized the importance of consistency between the two, I found that to be a little too inconsistent.

lizzie-researchHowever, I hate that that bothered me so much because the day where she hung out with Darcy and Gigi in the book (and was not described in the web series) was so cute and left me wanting more of those interactions! But then, of course, things got crazy with the whole Lydia thing. And thankfully, “the Lydia instance” felt a lot more balanced in the book. In the web series I think they dragged it out for weeks, which felt really disproportionate to other plot points in the series, so I appreciated less emphasis on it, yet still making the important points of what everyone learned from it.

lydia-lizzieThis book made me chuckle out loud a lot, which is also a definite high point for any book. (Though there wasn’t enough Lydia-isms or Fitz for me!) I think Lizzie venting about Catherine de Bourgh amused me the most.

fitz-lizzie-debourghAnd of course anything that showed more of Darcy was a plus, like the aforementioned day out with him and Gigi, as well as his letter to Lizzie. I do wish we had gotten more than just a couple of video transcripts about Lizzie and Darcy’s big moments on camera, and got more of her elaboration on them, though.

darcy-lizzie-touchI did feel like there was some additional insight and characterization to Lizzie, which I liked. I learned that she prefers a classic wardrobe over trends (which I think is obvious in the videos), that she drives a Honda Civic (me too!), that she majored in English for her undergraduate degree, and why she chose new media communications as her course of study for graduate school. Of course, I related to a lot of this which was largely why I liked these new tidbits! 🙂

Though both the web series and the novel have a couple of low points for me, overall, the novel is just as totes adorbs as the series overall! If you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth checking out!

hugs

4stars2Content advisory: A few instances of mild/moderate language, and mentions of sex but nothing graphic and no sex scenes. 

What are your thoughts of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet? 

Star Trek TOS Season 1: My Top 5 Fave Episodes

As my husband and I are going through our second full watch of Star Trek as a couple, I thought it would be fun to report on the highlights along the way. So I decided to copy the same format as Charlene at Bookish Whimsy, who is going through her first-ever run of Star Trek and sharing her favorite five episodes for each season. To compare, see what she said about her top 5 favorite episodes of the first season of The Original Series.

5. Shore Leave

tos_shore_leaveAside from Kirk’s annoying old rival and old flame with bad fashion, this was a pretty entertaining episode that I remembered from the first time around, but did not remember being as entertained by it before as I was this time around. And it feels like a precursor to the Deep Space Nine episode “If Wishes Were Horses.”

4. Space Seed

tos_spaceseedI’ve technically seen Space Seed twice before this rewatch, once during my first watch of the series, and a second time before I rewatched Wrath of Khan one time. I wasn’t impressed with it either time. Quite frankly, though this is blasphemous to say as a Trek fan, The Wrath of Khan has never done a whole lot for me either. This time, I don’t know what happened, but I was WAY more into this episode. You know what I think it for me this time?

intodarkness-khanThat’s right, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal as Khan in Into Darkness made me appreciate Khan as a villain, because I found him to be so much more charismatic than Ricardo Montalban. YOU HEARD ME. I have said it and will not apologize for it. Benedict Cumberbatch is not the original Khan, and Montalban was a great Khan for the original series, but for me, I could relate to Cumberbath’s performance much more. I almost believed him in Into Darkness, even though I completely knew better! He really was tricky; not clearly the abusive jerk I found Montalban’s Khan to be. And yet, watching Space Seed again, I bought into it better, even though he wasn’t Cumberbatch. They’re both Khan and they play different dynamics of him and they both look so completely different but WHATEVER. It’s OK.

I got off on a tangent, and all that is just to say I never dreamed this would make my top five favorite episodes of season one. But it did.

3. The Menagerie

tos_themenagerieThis is technically two episodes, but I’m counting them as one since they go together. Plus, they also feature the original Star Trek pilot, The Cage, which never aired. I technically like The Cage better since it’s one storyline instead of an interesting story within a convoluted storyline about Spock completely disregarding rules to help his old captain out, but again, since it’s not really part of season one, I’m going with The Menagerie instead. I have always found the idea thought-provoking: what if you were offered the chance to live out fantasies for the rest of your life? They wouldn’t be real, but they would be everything you wanted. Would you accept it, or fight back for reality? Those kinds of questions are why I love Star Trek to begin with.

2. The Naked Time

tos_thenakedtimeI just love this episode because it is so much fun. Sulu runs around like crazy fencing, Spock has emotions, an officer named O’Riley serenades the whole ship with his off-key rendition of an Irish tune. Sometimes, you just need a fun episode. However, there is also a pretty poignant scene with Spock when he breaks down, full of emotion.

1. The City on the Edge of Forever

tos_cityontheedgeHow Kirk, Spock, and McCoy end up back in time is a little convoluted, but really, there is just something special about this episode. (Charlene agrees because it’s her #1 pick too!) Again there’s a question: Would you allow events to unfold as they must to save millions, if it means watching someone you love suffer? It’s good stuff, people.

And just for fun, here are my two favorite aliens featured in season 1…

tos-season1-aliensThat’s right folks, it’s a dog wearing an “alien” costume and (presumably) a man underneath some sort of lasagna-looking rug (I refer to this creature affectionately as Pasta Puppy) that are my favorite aliens of season one. Forget the introduction of the Romulans or the Klingons and forget the Gorn. This is where it’s at.

I also wanted to say that this season my favorite character has actually turned out to be Scotty! After my first time watching the original series I really loved Spock, and Spock is great, but Scotty didn’t take crap from anyone in season one, which I respect.

tos_scottyIf you’re a Star Trek fan, let me know what your favorite episodes of the original series, season one, are! 

The Top 10 Book Characters I’d Want With Me on a Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island. I considered quite a few factors while compiling my list, and I think it turned out pretty solid. This week’s list is not in any particular order.

1-3. Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick from The Hunger Games trilogy

Finnick-Peeta-KatnissI think it’s pretty obvious why I want Katniss and Finnick, because they can help with our survival needs on the island, and I think Peeta can too since he did, after all, survive two Hunger Games. Plus, I feel he needs to be there to soothe Katniss. Though really, they probably won’t be finding the situation all that grim since none of us would be trying to kill each other (or at least I hope not!).

4. Pine Sap from Tiger Lily

For starters, Pine Sap is from Neverland and is therefore used to limited resources. But also, the guy is extremely patient and will build houses for everyone! He’s definitely the kind of guy who would be helpful to have on the island.

5-6. Mal and Sturmhond from The Grisha trilogy

With his hunting skills and survival ability, Mal seems like an obvious choice for someone who would be handy to have on the island. Then Sturmhond would not only be entertaining, but also knows a lot about the sea and could maybe even find a way to build a boat for us.

7. Lizze from The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

lizzie-bennetI want Lizzie on the island with me because I want someone that I have things in common with, and because I need someone from my world who can bemoan with me the first world problem of being stuck on a deserted island with such limited resources. While Lizzie actually claimed she would do fine on a deserted island surviving off of clams and coconuts, she did also add “as long as there’s WiFi.” Needless to say, I think she and I will need to help each other out. She’s also intelligent and can probably contribute some ideas.

8. Justen from Across a Star-Swept Sea

Justen is a scientist and doctor-in-training, so basically he would be super helpful on the island. I also really like his personality and would be happy to be in his company.

9. Peter from The Chronicles of Narnia

PeterprincecaspianmovieI chose Peter because I think we would need a leader on the island, and I think Peter would be perfect for the role. Sturmhond might try to overthrow his authority, but Peter will stand his ground and prove himself to be the most capable for the job. Besides, Sturmhond needs to focus on building that boat!

10. Seraphina from Seraphina

Though I don’t have quite as much in common with Seraphina as I do with Lizzie, I feel we would get along and that I would enjoy her company on the island. She is also smart and could probably help solve problems that arise.

So what book characters would you want on a deserted island with you? 

Writer Blog Hop: My Writing Process

Many thanks to Andrea Brame for thinking of me and tagging me for this Writer Blog Hop! Andrea and I met at a writing convention last year. We ended up sitting next to each other for one of the breakout sessions and chatted a bit, and then we were placed in the same group to share the first few pages of a story we are working on. Let me tell you, it was one of the most terrifying things, to be so intimate with other writers to share a part of your WIP (or in my case, one of my many possible WIPs since I was suffering from serious writing ADD at the time… oh wait, I still do…), but you’re all in it together so that makes it pretty neat. Anyhow, this blog hop is a chance for writers to tag others about their process, and I’ll be tagging a couple more writer friends at the end of the post.

What am I working on/writing?

That’s a fabulous question, and if I was a good writer, I’d have a real answer. Instead my reply is that I am somewhat procrastinating on making serious edits/revisions on my NaNoWriMo novel Earthbound that I have referenced here many times. After being tagged for this blog hop I did finally start going through some of  my chapters again and brainstormed possible things I might want to add, particularly after reading Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell over a weekend (it’s a real quick read if you want to check it out). While I am procrastinating on planning out my revising/editing process for this story, I’m also trying to decide what story I want to focus on next, because I have so many half-baked ideas. I want to pick something, plot it out, and focus on it for real, like I did with Earthbound, because that was the most effective I have been at writing out a story ever.

editing-llamaHow does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

Is it cheesy to say because I wrote it? Because seriously, every story is unique because of the author behind it, so long as they’re putting their heart and soul into the writing and not just trying to copy old ideas and tropes. My worldview, my perspective, my personality, my passions all go into what I write, and that’s what makes it different. I don’t write like John Green or Suzanne Collins or Leigh Bardugo or anyone else in the YA market. I write like me, Amy. Whatever that means. Maybe one day somebody can explain my writing style to me.

I don’t think this is unique in YA, but I will say what is important to me when I write, and that is that I don’t like to boxed into one category (like contemporary, dystopia, sci-fi, etc.) and I always believe in a hopeful ending. Hopeful does not mean happy necessarily, it just means hopeful.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because those are the ideas that pop in my head and won’t leave me alone. Almost all the main characters I dream up are basically in the 16-18  year range (though sometimes college-aged ones pop in there). I don’t know why, but apparently something about that point in life calls to me in my storytelling. When you’re that age, you’re on the verge of figuring yourself out, still idealistic enough to believe that you can change the world, and still passionate enough to possibly do it. Perhaps I write about people that age because I went through so many changes in that point in my life and sometimes I wonder what other people experience during this time, and how it impacts their lives. And I write in general because people and places and ideas pop into my head and nag me. They beg me to write their story down  and share in their emotions, the good and the bad.

How does my writing process work?

It’s been inconsistent and basically, it’s a mess. The first “novel” (it’s technically a little shy of novel word count) I wrote took YEARS. And I think it still needs serious work to see the light of day (but I want it to, one day, because I love the idea and characters so much and I think others will too). But basically, I started it many times, at one point I finished it, then I started many rewrites, and I finally finished one of those, and I honestly went through these process once or twice more until I got to the current version of the story.

The last novel I wrote took a month (thanks NaNo) for 51k of groundwork, plus a few more months to increase the word count by another 10,000 to make it a better story (and again, it still needs a lot of work, and probably about 10,000 more words). The other two I’ve written took longer than a month but less than years. The best writing I’ve done has been due to some plotting and planning, so I’ve learned that I need to do that even though I so badly want to be a pantser and just write and write and have marvelous ideas flow out of me. But when I try that, I always flame out about chapter 2. Seriously. Or 3 or 4 if I’m really lucky. So I have to get serious about plotting, otherwise the writing process abruptly stops. And there’s also this…

writing-tangledHonestly, some days if I wonder if I’m cut out for writing, if I’m wasting my time, if my real talents lie elsewhere and I need to move on. But then I read about others’ writer’s doubts, and they all struggle with the same things, go through the same slumps and stages as I do, and the fact that I am constantly haunted by stories that need to be told is a pretty good indicator that I am a writer. Except I need to actually write to be a writer. So I’ve got to keep pushing myself. And that is the eternal struggle.

Now I’m tagging Cassie and Annie to share about their writing processes and look forward to reading their responses!  Hope you’ll keep your eye out for their posts as well!

If you’re a writer, how does your process look for you? 

Double Review: Siege & Storm and Ruin & Rising

I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow and Bone when I read it on vacation in May, and was excited that I would get to read the second and third books of the trilogy so soon. And thankfully, I was not disappointed.

grisha2&3I am not really going to talk about each book individually, but here were the highlights of both of the books for me:

– Sturmhond *highlight for spoilers*/Nikolai and his humor and his personality and basically everything about him.

– The pacing in Siege and Storm was amazing! It started with a bang and never let me go.

– The plot was always thickening, the stakes always raising… basically, Bargdugo is excellent at crafting a riveting story.

– The FEELS.

– The ending was absolutely perfect. To remain vague… Part of what happened, I had wanted since the first book but didn’t think was possible, a couple parts I wanted since the first book and thought them possible and were glad they happened, and the rest I couldn’t have dreamed of. It was all just great, exactly what it needed to be… not perfectly happy, but happy with a cost and a perfectly satisfying conclusion for the reader.

I did have a few small problems, however…

– The pacing of the first half of Ruin and Rising was slow and weird for me. The whole first part with the Apparet and being underground just old quick for me and I was ready to move on.

– For some reason, I started to like Alina and Mal’s relationship a little less with each book. *highlight for spoilers* I was still rooting for them overall, but I don’t know, it just became less appealing. While reading, I almost wondered what it would be like if Alina did start to like Nikolai, even though I didn’t want her to flake out on Mal either. I know, it’s so complicated. But I am happy they did end up together at last. By the way, I don’t understand anyone who is Team Darkling. He’s so evil, why do you love him?! But I digress… 

– Even though these books did give me feels, I still felt slightly distanced from the characters (which I mentioned in my review of Shadow and Bone) for reasons I can’t really express. I think I just never really connected with any of them fully. I find the storytelling and the world of The Grisha Trilogy its strong suits, and while I liked the characters, they’re a bit weaker in comparison to the overall story or in comparison to the characters of, oh let’s say The Hunger Games, where I was completely emotionally invested in virtually all its characters. I wanted that with these books, and never got it. But to be clear, I did care about Alina, Mal, and some of the others and their well-being, it just wasn’t quite to the extent that I fully hope for.

The amazingness of this trilogy really outweighs my complaints though, and I would highly recommend this series to anyone thinking about checking it out. Each book gets 4.5 stars from me.

4-5stars-editThese books were also extremely quotable! I shared many quotes from them on my Tumblr if you’re interested in checking them out.

Content advisory: Mild language, violence, and a somewhat fade-to-black, very discreetly, not-at-all-graphically written sex scene. 

Also, check out these reviews that I enjoyed and are a more eloquently written than this one:

Sana’s review of Siege and Storm

Charlene’s review of Ruin and Rising

Brittany’s review of Ruin and Rising

Are you a fan of The Grisha Trilogy? What are your thoughts on the series as a whole? Or have you started and not finished (then what are you waiting for?!)? 

My Top 5 Favorite TV Shows & Top 5 Favorite Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows, so I decided to do my Top 5 of each. These are kind of in order, starting with my absolute favorite, though sometimes the numbers can be shuffled a little bit depending on my mood!

My Top 5 Favorite TV Shows

1. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

deep_space_nine_crewWhen I first started watching Deep Space Nine, I had just come off of the best of times for The Next Generation, and starting all over again with a new Star Trek series definitely had its growing pains. But THEN… the multiple episode story arcs, the obstacles the characters had to overcome, how dark the overall tone of the show became and yet how it actually thrived in humor as well (minus those Ferengi episodes… but no show is perfect…)… simply put, I fell in love with it. The characters, their struggles and stories, the station… and then the ending was satisfying and yet left me wanting more. Just thinking about it makes me want to binge it watch it all NOW.

2. Babylon 5

babylon-5Simply put, Babylon 5 blew me away and I was not expecting it. There are many similarities between it and Deep Space Nine, yet the production budget was clearly lower. But the characters, their story arcs, the overall story arc for the show… while Deep Space Nine did an extraordinary job in very similar ways, in some ways, Babylon 5 honestly outshines it (until its last season… but we won’t talk about that…). The writer/creator of the show actually had the story planned out in advance, as well as contingencies for characters leaving the show, and the thoughtfulness of it really shows (again, until… well, you know…). If you love science fiction or simply amazing storytelling, give this one a chance. (And it’s not too similar to DS9, I promise.)

3. Star Trek: Enterprise

Star-Trek-enterpriseEnterprise doesn’t get a ton of love from the Star Trek community, and it’s too bad. I can understand in some ways… the first season had more misses than hits, some of the characters had vanilla personalities and static arcs, and it didn’t move forward with the Trek timeline. But seasons three and four (er… minus the-finale-that-shall-not-be-named) were so strong. The show got Deep Space Nine level dark and heavy fast and I ate it all up. I also enjoyed seeing the rough stuff that had to happen before Star Fleet could become what it did.

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation

star-trek-the-next-generationThe Next Generation was seven years of hits and misses and everything in-between, but I have got to say, there is something about this particular group of characters that will stay with you always. Apparently the cast all got along really well in real life (and still do when they’re together for conventions!) and I think that helps their dynamics. Plus, there are some really fabulous episodes of Star Trek in the show that explore humanity, love, and make you think a lot.

5. Fringe

fringe-castIf you have read my blog for a while, then you were probably here for my journey through watching Fringe seasons 1-5 (you can read my general recap for the show here). It had some low points, but overall it was really strong and intriguing, and I don’t think I ever felt so deeply invested in a show before. I was listening to episode recap podcasts (The Fringe Podcast by Golden Spiral Media, in case you’re curious) nearly every day, my husband and I were deciphering the glyphs given between the commercial breaks of each episode with the glyph app, we would exchange theories at the dinner table, and simply put I was completely into it. I loved the main characters so much and the storylines were just so interesting.

My Top 5 Favorite Movies

1. Inception

inception (1)Inception is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite movie. Every time I watch it I have new questions, feel so wrapped up in Cobb’s mind, and am amazed by how these complex strands are tied together at the end. It blows me away every single time and I feel like it is the standard for its genre of film (however you would even classify it, because I sure don’t know). It challenges my view of the world and inspires me to create. Simply put, I love it.

2. Pride and Prejudice

pride&prejudice-2005Pride and Prejudice (2005) was my very first exposure to Jane Austen, and how thankful I am to have discovered it. The film is beautiful visually, and watching Matthew Macfayden and Keira Knightley as Darcy and Elizabeth is just perfection to me. It gets to me every time. I used to watch this movie so much I almost got tired of it for a while, but after a break I am back to loving it just as much as I did before.

3. While You Were Sleeping

while-sleepingWhile You Were Sleeping may be a 90’s rom-com, but I have loved this movie for well over a decade now, and it will always be near and dear to my heart. I actually don’t care for most romantic comedies, but While You Were Sleeping feels pitch-perfect to me every time. It’s witty, charming, and interesting, and even if the look is aged, the story doesn’t feel aged. I will always adore it.

4. The Dark Knight

the-dark-knightI love what Nolan did with Batman, and the second film in his Dark Knight trilogy was, in my opinion, the strongest and most intriguing. When I watched The Dark Knight for the first time I was in college and minoring in psychology, and I was so blown away by how much a superhero story captured the psyche of mankind. Every time I see it I am struck by how dark, challenging, and bone-chilling it is. And Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker? Quite possibly the best villain to grace the big screen EVER.

5. The Phantom of the Opera

phantom-of-the-operaThe Phantom of The Opera was the first musical I truly came to love. I think it is a gorgeous movie and I love the music and the story. Every time I watch it or listen to the soundtrack I get caught up in it all over again.

What are your favorite TV shows and movies? Let me know if you’re a fan of any of my favorites! 

Reading Since Blogging

I know there have been a lot of posts from others about how blogging has affected their reading habits, and I wanted to talk about how it’s looked for myself. This all started when I was thinking about how I rate books. I have wondered before it I was too picky with my ratings. Last year I only gave out three 5-star ratings, but I also only read like 20ish books. I know this is shocking to most book bloggers, but I’ll get more into that later. I’ve only given two 5-star ratings so far this year, but I’ve already read about the same number of books as last year. And I’ve also have given out quite a few 4.5’s, which to me is for for books that don’t have quite all the punch of an exemplary 5-star book, but are still pretty dang awesome.

I think I’ve become both more critical and forgiving as a reader over the last year or so, if that makes any sense at all. I can spot the tired tropes and phrases and recognize weak plot points or weak character traits, but I also find myself looking for the good in every book if I can. As an aspiring author myself, I know that behind every book is a story that was once a burning idea in the author’s heart, so even if maybe they did not execute as well as we might have liked, there is something in the story that called to them, and maybe we can spot just a glimpse of that. That’s why I haven’t given out any 1 stars since I started blogging, I believe. That and I’m pretty careful about avoiding or dumping duds.

One of the other big changes has been the speed at which I read, and this has really crept up on me. Before I started this blog, I didn’t always have a “current read.” I didn’t know what Goodreads was. I read just a handful of books a year when the mood struck me. I never felt like I was a slow reader, that is until I started the blog and compared my reading speed to other bloggers. I figured other bloggers were spending a lot more time reading than I was, which was (and still is) probably true. I usually don’t spend more than an hour a day reading, and more often or not I actually skip reading completely on weekends. Basically, most of my reading happens during my lunch hour at work. I do sometimes read outside of that, and I think maybe I have done more of that this year than last, but not enough to explain the significant strides I’ve made in my reading speed. I think, simply put, I am just flat out reading faster. Which is a definite bonus, because I can enjoy more books that way.

belle-libraryAnd lastly, I do believe that reading has helped me when I write… though I admit, the more I read the less I tend to write. I’m still struggling to find that balance. But when I do write, I think the words just come out better. And that is definitely awesome! Now just to find the balance of writing/reading/blogging that I have been struggling with…

What about you? How have your reading habits changed since you started blogging, or in general? 

Dreamcast: Seraphina

Recently I decided to try my hand at dreamcasting a YA book as a possible new feature here on the blog, starting with The Scorpio Races. Due to my love for Seraphina, I decided I wanted to try my hand at dreamcasting it. There are a lot of characters in Seraphina and I feel I barely scratched the surface with my choices, but it’s hard to come up with so many people (and the right people)! But here’s what I did come up with…

Kaya Scodelario as Seraphina – Josh Hutcherson as Kiggs – AnnaSophia Robb as Princess Glisselda

kaya-josh-annasopI don’t feel the need to elaborate on any of these choices. I don’t care if Josh is Peeta; he can totally be Kiggs too. Moving on.

Jeffrey Combs as Orma

jeffrey-combsI’m sorry if you haven’t seen enough Star Trek (specifically Deep Space Nine and Enterprise) to know the awesomeness that is Jeffrey Combs. Here you see normal Jeffrey Combs to the left, and kinda creepy Jeffrey Combs to the right. I’ve just got to say this guy has got the range, the wit, the everything needed to play the often deadpan and ornery Orma. Other, more well-known possibilities I considered for Orma were Gary Oldham and Paul Bettany, both who would be great. But really, I love Jeffrey Combs.

Helena Bonham Cater as Lady Corongi

Helena-Bonham-CarterCrazy lady who (highlight for spoilers) is actually an old man dragon in disguise? Helena’s your woman!

Sam Claflin as Earl of Aspig

sam-clafinNeeds to be creepy to some and charismatic to others? Totally perfect for Finnick!

Michael Caine as Viridius

michael-caineMichael Caine has played Scrooge and Alfred and many personalities in between, so I think he would be fabulous as the well-meaning but often cantankerous Viridius.

There’s so many other characters but I just didn’t know how to cast them! Let me know if you have suggestions! How do you feel about the choices I made? 

Review: Tiger Lily

When I kept seeing positive reviews of a Peter Pan retelling called Tiger Lily, I was quickly intrigued. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Peter Pan necessarily, but fairy tale retellings intrigue me so I wanted to check it out. And after all…

Peter_Pan_wonderfulUnfortunately, I didn’t really feel the magic. I imagined it as best as I could, and apparently I was able to inspire up my first bookish wedding inspiration post that so many of you enjoyed, but as I read, I felt that Anderson was glossing over delightful details of Neverland, and everything just fell flat for me.

GR-tigerlilyI feel the need to point out that each of the characters were unique and complex, they weren’t two-dimensional or flat at all. And yet, I felt zero connection to them. I’m sure part of it was because I couldn’t relate to them, but there have been characters I have connected with despite having nothing in common with them. I think part of the problem was also Tinker Bell as the narrator. She would say exactly what everyone was thinking and feeling (it seemed terribly convenient that she can could read their minds), but even still I didn’t actually feel with the characters at all. I was concerned about Tiger Lily and Pine Sap and Moon Eye in the sense I didn’t want bad things to happen to them because they’re human beings (fictional, but still), but I never connected to how they felt or cared too much about what happened in the end, so long as it was too terribly tragic (though early on I feared it might be, since that is the mood of the book).

And really, what was I supposed to want to happen? Like Seraphina, this book felt like it lacked a direction, a plot, a goal for the main character, except much more so. The world and the characters were much less interesting to me than that of Seraphina (even though had the potential to be so amazing!). I tried so hard to enjoy the ride, but everything felt so somber and flat and strange. What did I want for Tiger Lily and Peter Pan? I understood their connection, sort of, but I didn’t really understand when they formed it or why. *Highlight for spoilers* And I certainly didn’t care about them ending up together (though I did feel bad for Tiger Lily when Peter flaked out on her for Wendy, because really it is just sad in general when such a thing happens). And just when I thought their relationship might be interesting, like they go off on a three day journey, it was boring and felt ultimately pointless.

Maybe the point was *highlight for spoilers* was the betrayal that would come after. But that didn’t really make me feel anything either. It just confirmed both parties were kinda lousy people when you got down to it. I understand not wanting to make every MC a hero/heroine type, but at least make them likable or interesting or something. What happened with Peter Pan did affect me some, and then I was happy that Tiger Lily was finally able to love Pine Sap. But other than that, I just don’t know. 

But still, I don’t understand what the reason for the journey was, ultimately. Why did I read this story? What did I glean from it? The answer is I don’t really know.

The writing was lovely in some places. But in some places, as I somewhat alluded to before, I felt like there wasn’t a real richness to the prose. Almost all the character interactions felt so stiff to me, especially with them being explained to us by Tinker Bell instead of us actually getting to watch it unfold for ourselves.

I enjoyed reading it sometimes, but most of the time I felt like I was just trying to get through it, waiting for it to get better. Because of this, I am having a hard time giving it a firm rating. Based on how I have rated previously, it would be 3 stars, but I’m starting to think I have rated some of my 3 stars too high, so this book (and one or two other 3 star books I have rated) might actually be closer to 2.5. So, I’m remaining non-committal. Sorry if that bothers you. It actually bothers me too.

For a similar review (I’m not the only black sheep!), see also: Allie @ Little Birdie Books’ review of Tiger Lily

Content advisory: References to sexuality and rape