Monday, February 27, 2017

ARC REVIEW: Tricked by Jen Calonita (Fairy Tale Reform School #3)

Author: Jen Calonita
Series: Fairy Tale Reform School
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genre: Middle Grade/Fantasy*
Publishing Date: March 7, 2017
*This book is considered MG and YA by different sources. Based on story complexity and characters, I would put it in Middle Grade.

I received an e-copy ARC courtesy of Sourcebooks via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

4/5 stars
G for Good, clean fun!
Recommend to younger readers who enjoy adventure and fantasy. This would make a great classroom or family read. Though the main character is a girl, the story will definitely be enjoyable to boys as well!
If you liked Rump by Liesl Shurtliff, The Ever Afters by Shelby Bach, The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull, or the Shrek films, you'll love this series!

Overall Impression:
Calonita once again delivers a fun fairy-tale themed adventure with strong, capable characters and a valuable theme. You know what they say; third time's the charm.


This book is Aunt Approved!
As an aunt with 16 niblings between the ages of
0-13, I wouldn't hesitate letting them read this book!
Things are changing at Fairy Tale Reform School.

At least, that's what Gilly's heard through the Enchantasia rumor mill. Word is, notorious trickster Rumpelstiltskin has taken over management from Headmistress Flora, and he's locked down the school tighter than the Pied Piper's pants. Not that this news concerns Gilly. She's been released from FTRS and is now suffering through attending Jack of All Trades School, where she gets to learn about different kinds of shoe leather and ways to measure feet. Truly riveting stuff.

But when Gilly's little sister Anna gets whisked off to FTRS thanks to her troublemaking new friends, Hansel and Gretel, Gilly knows she's got to get Anna out of there. There's only one thing to do; make some serious trouble and get thrown back into FTRS.

It's time to out-trick a trickster.

A villain is running FTRS!

Well, a real one, not like the reformed Evil Stepmother, Evil Queen, Sea Witch, and Big Bad Wolf who have been on the payroll up to now. And of all the trials Gilly has faced, the fact that the trickster Rumpelstiltskin has usurped Flora as head of the school isn't even the worst of it:

It's that her little sister Anna is thrown into FTRS and his clutches.

Anna's story has been slowly building from the first book and I like the direction it's taking. Calonita is taking her time revealing the little sister's development, and I love it! I can't wait to see where Anna winds up and I love watching how it effects Gilly's own development, having to watch her sister make mistakes but not being able to stop her. Just like Gilly has learned to make her own choices -and accept the consequences- she has to learn to let others do the same.

I've loved this series since the very beginning and this third installment is just as good as the rest. The more Gilly and her friends develop -and save Enchantasia from evil- the more they learn new ways in which to develop -and more evil to save Enchantasia from!

The world of Enchantasia and its Fairy Tale Reform School is a modern-ish, sort of whacky fantasy land. It's magic-tech and renaissance-style modern conveniences reminds me a lot of the Shrek franchise and the movie version of Ella Enchanted. From the instant news notifications of Happily Ever After Scrolls!  to the Pegasus Post mail service, Calonita puts a clever twist on tons of familiar things to fit them in her fantasy that readers will get a kick out of.

One of the things I love most about Calonita's world is how she's developed beloved fairy tale characters, from the reformed villains, to Little Red Riding Hood, to the Princesses themselves: (Cinder)Ella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White. In their own ways, each of these characters has grown through the experience of their 'fairy tale', developing and empowering them in different ways. Often, one or more of them lend their own bit of advice to the story's overall theme.

After two books and two Enchantasia-saving adventures, I was glad to see the adults around Gilly and her friends recognized their abilities to help defeat the villains. Granted, the adults weren't happy about the kids taking on a villain, but recognizing the students' stubborn determination to do it anyway, they helped where they could. The teachers of FTRS, the Princesses of Enchantasia and, most importantly, their parents take the kids seriously, and I think this is a great thing for kids to see!

The adults in the story don't serve up answers or solutions on a silver platter, either. Wolfington (aka Big Bad Wolf) especially likes to offer advice and guidance that insists they make their own decisions, based on what's right vs. what's wrong. In the end, Gilly and the others always find themselves on the side of right, but it's very important that they struggle with those decisions and it's their own choices that led them there.

There's enough in this story to entertain all kinds of readers: adventure, mystery, fantasy, and spies! Gilly's motley crew consists of all kinds of personalities -including my personal favorite, mischievous Jax, who may or may not remind me of Chase Turnleaf- a hyperactive fairy, a pirate-obsessed sweet thief, a jewelry-loving ogre, and the Evil Queen's little sister. I personally think the covers for this series are GORGEOUS but they are a little girly, so I want to stress THIS IS A GOOD READ FOR BOYS, TOO. If they can get past the cover, and don't mind a girl narrator, they will love this story.

Gilly is a great character for kids to look up to. In turns tough-as-nails, mischievous, and funny, she always stands up for what she knows is right, she protects her friends, and she looks out for her siblings. She does have flaws. She makes mistakes. But Calonita does a great job of letting her and her friends learn from their mistakes, without losing a step of the fun story.

Every book so far has had a good core theme that are especially great to stress for kids. The theme of Tricked would be: Don't let what people say or think about you stop you from being yourself.

In addition to the great but subtle moral fiber of the story and the encouraging development of all the characters, this series is just pure fun!

Have you read the Fairy Tale Reform School series yet?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Post 003 | A Weekly Recap!

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

The Sunday Post is a weekly chance for me to recap on what's been happening on my blog, in my reading, and my personal life, plus what posts you can expect from me in the coming week.

 Last Week on the Blog 

 This Week on the Blog 

 What I'm Reading 

Beauty by Robin McKinley
I've tried reading this book twice before, but could never get past the first three pages. Not a great hook. It's a really slow beginning but two friends have recommended this, so I'm going to push through.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (audiobook)
The Queen of Hearts and I have some bad history. She threatened to chop off my head and I had nightmares. But I admit, this 'origin' story by the Lunar Chronicles author is very interesting, mostly because our future hothead is such a sweet, mellow girl. Every once in a while, though, she loses her cool and I start to see that terrifying woman.

In Such Good Company by Carol Burnett
I used to think I didn't like nonfiction but lately I've come to realize that I don't like dry nonfiction. Just like with fiction, I prefer my nonfiction books to have palatable personality, so I'm moving into memoirs.

 In Real Life 

I spent four dollars in the 'Retrocade' section of a local arcade. We're talking Asteroids, Centipede, Galaga, Q*bert, Ms. Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Dig Dug. The whole time I felt like I was living in Pixels or Ready Player One. Plus, I totally managed to enter Level 3 on Q*bert. Since I don't easily pick up on video games, this is definitely a win. Next time I'm taking more money. I must ensure my name stays on the scoreboard.

 New Additions 

I'm watching my spending right now, but I did purchase a copy of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and, yes, it's gorgeous.


Found this last week. Completely adore it. I'm already going through The Blacklist withdrawals so until it returns April 20, you can expect to see plenty more of this guy around here.

  What's new with you? 

Friday, February 24, 2017

REVIEW: Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Author: Joanne Harris
Publisher: Penguin/Random House
Genre: Magic Realism/Literary

2/5 stars
PG-13 for domestic violence, sexual content, language
Recommend to: Due to an ending in direct conflict with its own theme, I probably won't recommend this to anyone.

Overall Impression
While I loved the quirky, eccentric characters and the luxuriant writing style within this book, it resolves in a hypocritical conclusion that taints the supposed theme of uniting people together. And no matter how much you enjoy a book, an unsatisfactory ending can ruin the whole of it.

Greeted as "an amazement of riches ... few readers will be able to resist" by The New York TimesChocolat is an enchanting novel about a small French town turned upside down by the arrival of a bewitching chocolate confectioner, Vianne Rocher, and her spirited young daughter.

The Review

By page 9, with the line 'Old habits never die. And once you've been in the business of granting wishes, the impulse never quite leaves you.' I was hooked. Hooked. In my mind, our heroine Vianne Rocher took on the image of a subtle fairy godmother, just trying to spread a little good in the world, and I fell quite willingly into these pages.

I love the quirky characters: Old Armande with her childish glee and impish rebelliousness; Luc with his stutter and journey of self-confidence; Roux; Anouk; Josephine; I loved them all. Chocolat blends the small-town eccentricities and happenings of Gilmore Girls with an easy vein of magic realism that tastes reminiscent of The Night Circus.

They're all interesting characters, with their own quirks and demons to overcome, but the one who most intrigued me was the nemesis in the frustrated and misguided priest, Francis Reynaud.  Chocolat is told from dual perspectives between he and Vianne, so we become quite familiar with him, his own struggles, his frustrations, and his flaws. As the story unfolds, we are fed bite-sized pieces of his backstory and the events that led to his current state. He intrigued me. He was broken, misled, trying to do the right things for all the wrong reasons and utterly failing, so I was watching his development pretty darn close.

Heavy issues and topics are gently courted on the luxurious comfort of fresh chocolates, which were described so vividly that I almost didn't need to have a box of them at my side while reading. (Almost, I said. Almost.) There is tragedy and its aftermath, self-doubt, domestic violence, the sorrow of death and the joy of life, but all told in a lighthearted lilt that keeps it from ever becoming too heavy. It is, fittingly, so like the chocolate Harris describes:
...the brief resistance of the chocolate shell as it meets the lips, the soft truffle inside...There are layers of flavor like the bouquet of a fine wine, a slight bitterness, a richness like ground coffee; warmth brings the flavor to life...  -Page 298
It's an interesting story and beautifully told, but!

The ending was in direct conflict with the unifying theme of the story, which destroyed the 'light hearted, feel-good' vibe I'd had up to that point.

My main issue with Chocolat is that what seems to be a story unifying a town divided by their beliefs -a story of righting wrongs, repairing relationships, self-awareness, and mending wounds- turns out only to unify the outcasts together against the town's supposed 'villains', completely destroying the theme of unification.

The town of Lansquenet doesn't come together. Its people don't overcome their differences and become stronger and happier for it. The status quo is merely overturned, building up the confidence and strength of the outcasts and granting them rule over the previously accepted class, who in turn become the outcasts. There aren't any reconciliations between the two groups, even within families, and that's what I expected to see. I waited the entire book for the characters of the town to find some common ground and start fresh and they don't. Instead, the townspeople merely swap out one bigotry for another and Lansquenet isn't any more united or better off as a whole than it was before.

I had hoped Chocolat would be a wonderful story of overcoming differences to join opposing sides together, buit disappointed, leaving as an aftertaste not just the luxury of divine chocolate, but the sour pinch of prejudice.

This does, however, lead to some interesting discussion on my Book vs. Movie comparison coming in March, so don't miss that!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ten Favorite Movies You've (Probably) Never Heard Of | Worth Watching

When I make a new friend, one of the first things I do is introduce them to a specific list of my favorite movies. I don't know why or how, but a lot of the movies my family would watch over and over again when I was growing up are incredibly obscure titles that almost no one has heard of, but they are so Worth Watching.

1.) Undercover Blues (1993)

Genre: Action/Comedy
How I Discovered It: Growing up, a local store had a $5 VHS movie bin -yes, VHS tapes- and my family would raid it for new flicks. None of us had ever heard of this one, but it had Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner and that fantastic cover so we took a chance.
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Kathleen Turner, Stanley Tucci, Saul Rubinek, Larry Miller, Obba Babatunde, Fiona Shaw, Tom Arnold.

Jane and Jefferson Blue work for the FBI. Or is it the CIA? While on a long-earned break for maternity leave to spend time with their newborn, these espionage eccentrics wind up taking a case involving stolen explosives and Czech terrorists in scenic New Orleans with their little girl, two suspicious police detectives, and a vengeful second-rate mugger in tow.

Jane and Jeff are one of my favorite movie couples EVER. Seriously, if I could pick any fictional relationship for myself, it would probably be this one.

Plus, Stanley Tucci! Tucci is a magnificent character-actor and this was the first thing I ever saw him in. He plays a low-life, back alley mugger who insists on the name 'Muerte', vows to take the Blues down if it's the last thing he does. No matter how many teeth he might lose in the process.

Only one friend was already familiar with this movie. When we sat down to watch it, she kept saying pieces looked familiar. Come to find out, it's a favorite of her dad's played in the background at home a lot. She doesn't watch very much television, so she'd never actually seen it all the way through.

2.) My Blue Heaven (1990)

Genre: Comedy
How I Discovered It: That $5 movie bin again.
Starring: Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Joan Cusack

Gold-hearted mobster Vinnie Antonelli winds up in Witness Protection in his own special brand of hell -the suburbs. While waiting to testify, Vinnie keeps himself amused simultaneously infuriating and playing matchmaker to his uptight FBI handler and the local DA. Can the clean-living locals handle this not-so-reformed, smooth-talking mobster?

Martin and Moranis are a fantastic duo and their characters Vinnie and Barney an interesting twist on the 'buddy cop' story.

3.) Oscar (1991)

Genre: Comedy
How I Discovered It: Friends of the family. This was an all-time favorite of theirs and they loaned it to us, insisting we watch it. We didn't want to give it back and found a copy of our own as soon as possible.
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Tim Curry, Peter Riegert, Kurtwood Smith, Don Ameche, Chazz Palminteri

Angelo 'Snaps' Provolone is one of Chicago's big-name gangsters in the 1930s but to make amends with his father he swears to fulfill the old man's dying wish -to go straight.

The movie takes place over the course of this momentous day, when Snaps does everything he can to stay on the straight and narrow but everything insists on going wrong. Between suit fittings and elocution lessons parades a hilarious madhouse of misadventures and revelations from his daughter's secret suitor coming to ask for her hand, to the police stakeout watching his every move, to the arrival of a woman pretending to be his daughter, to rival gangsters.

Snaps is determined to keep his promise but, even hardened gangster that he is, the stress of his first day going straight just might kill him.

The only trailer I could find for this I didn't like very much; it only focused on one aspect of the movie, so instead here's a clip of the beginning, to give you a taste of what you're getting into:

4.) Last Action Hero (1993)

Genre: Action/Comedy
How I Discovered It: When my sister and I were about 14/15 and the family desperately needed something new to watch, my parents decided we were old enough to pick a movie from The Drawer. In one of their dressers, they kept all the movies we weren't allowed to watch yet and as we aged, they'd pull out whatever movies they deemed now appropriate. This one of the first.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, F. Murray Abraham, Austin O'Brien, Art Carney, Charles Dance, Tom Noonan, Robert Prosky
Bonus: Ian McKellan appears in a small role as Death

Tagline: This isn't the movies anymore.

Thanks to a magic ticket, Danny Madigan is transported into the world of his favorite movie series, the Jack Slater action films! All kinds of chaos ensues while Danny and Slater try to thwart the schemes of the latest film's villain and wind up bringing all that silver screen trouble into the real world. Danny gets a dose of real life amid the fun and explosions; after all, the good guys might always win in the movies, but what happens after the credits roll?

I like this one not only for the fun concept and great action, but because it handles really well some darker aspects of what life would really be like in an action movie.

5.) The Medallion (2003)

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Comedy
How I Discovered It: A locally-owned video rental store featured $1 Monday Movie Rentals and we went through a lot of their films. This was one of the good ones.
Starring: Jackie Chan, Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, John Rhys-Davies

JACKIE CHAN! My family are big fans of Jackie Chan and this is one of our favorites. It's a little ridiculous, featuring supernatural elements and melodramatic bad guys and lots of Matrix-esque fight scenes and special effects, but it's so much fun.

The Medallion is a source of supernatural power that can only be used by a child born every 1000 years and the villain Snakehead is determined to get his hands on both. Hot on Snakehead's trail is Hong Kong cop Eddie Yang, grudgingly reunited with an old partner, the slightly bumbling Interpol agent Arthur Watson, and an old flame, tough and high-kicking Interpol agent Nicole James. When Eddie dies protecting the child, the boy uses the Medallion to resurrect him and, with his newfound powers, Eddie hopes to save the people he cares about and stop Snakehead once and for all.

6.) Mickey Blue Eyes (1999)

Genre: Comedy/Crime
How I Discovered It: This was another obscure favorite of family friends. I only first saw this a few years ago, but it's definitely a favorite. I think this is actually the only one on the list I don't own yet.
Starring: Hugh Grant, James Caan, Jeanne Tripplehorn

In the same comedic vein as Oscar, an innocent art-house auctioneer determines to get on good terms with his future father-in-law -he just wished he'd realized the man was a major mobster before he agreed to do a 'favor'. Mistaken for a fellow mobster, 'Mickey Blue Eyes' gets in deeper and deeper with the mob as he unwittingly opens up the auction to launder money, tangles with the FBI, and tries to keep it all a secret from his fiancee.

The taglines alone for this film should make you want to grab it!
"They've created a mobster." & "A romantic comedy you can't refuse."
But adding to that Caan's brilliant and easy tough-guy persona and Grant's hilarious attempts at the same makes this a golden comedy.

7.) Silverado (1985)

Genre: Western
How I Discovered It: This was a favorite film of a friend's family and I fell in love with it. One of the rare films I've discovered that my family doesn't actually like. Why, I have no idea. I should make them re-watch it because they love Linda Hunt in NCIS: LA.
Starring: Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Kevin Costner, Jeff Goldblum, Linda Hunt, Rosanna Arquette
Bonus: John Cleese as a Sheriff. In a western.

Growing up on a steady diet of John Wayne films, classics and obscure titles, I ate up this more modern attempt at the Wild West. What I love most about it is how authentic it remains to the John Wayne-style western, in story, character, and feel. Each of our four cowboys have great depth, personality, and back stories and that, above all else, is what really makes this film work for me. While the story is good -villainous cattlemen, revenge, and a crooked sheriff- it's the characters that make it great. It's a refreshing new(ish) Western that isn't all shoot-em-up, with plenty of action, shady characters, a dry sense of humor and, at it's core, the classic western theme of standing up to make your own justice when it can't be found anywhere else.

8.) Main Hoon Na (2004)

Okay, so we've gone from simply 'obscure' to foreign flicks, so I don't fault you for not knowing this one.
Genre: Action/Comedy/Drama Oh, and Bollywood
How I Discovered It: I mentioned to a friend that I always wanted to watch Bollywood and it turned out she was something of a connoisseur. This was the first she introduced me to and it's still my favorite. ^_^
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Sushmita Sen, Sunil Shetty, Zayed Khan, Amrita Bao

I adore this film! It's something like True Lies meets Grease, I kid you not. Like the trailer says, this movie has EVERYTHING. When Major Ram Sharma's father is killed by a terrorist scheming to frustrate relations between Pakistan and India, he is assigned to protect the school-age daughter of a General working to ease tensions between the countries. Sent undercover as a student in the school, Ram is vigilant for attack but has an ulterior motive. Before his father died, he revealed that Ram has a stepmother and a younger brother, who attends the same school. Between battling terrorists, cheesy action scenes, and even cheesier explosions, Ram tugs at our heartstrings as he struggles to form his own relationship with his estranged family without revealing his identity as the older son who ruined their family. Oh, and he falls in love with the new chemistry teacher, complete with violins and music numbers.

The title means I'm here now/Here I am. This is both the best Bollywood film I've seen and one of my favorite films ever, Bollywood or not. Loosely based on the legend of Ramayana, this is a fantastic genre melder, switching between ultra-military action film to a family/school drama, which sounds ridiculous, but they make it work so well.

Not all of this is in English, but you get a good gist of the film from it.  

9.) Clue (1985)

There's a 50/50 chance you've seen this because it's something of a cult classic. However, I'm sure there's a lot of people younger than me who have not had the pleasure of watching it.
Genre: Mystery/Comedy
How I Discovered It: Family favorite, definitely from Mom's side, but possibly from Dad's too.
Starring: Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Lesley-Ann Warren, Eileen Brennan, Christopher Lloyd, Micheal McKean, Martin Mull

It's not just a game anymore.
It was a dark and stormy night... Based on the board game, Clue is a ridiculous murder mystery about a dinner party turned deadly. When seven guests are invited to a reclusive mansion, they realize they all share the same secret: they're the victims of a blackmailer getting rich off their hard-earned money.
The lights go out. A shot rings out.
When the blackmailer is murdered in the dark, panic and hysteria ensues as the guests ban together to find the murderer and survive the night. But who's the killer? And where's the weapon?
This zany, darkly hilarious, screwball comedy is one of the most quotable films of all time -at least, for my family- with brilliant performances by an all-star cast, three separate endings, and a script that plays with every mystery trope it can and never, ever gets old.

10.) Rio Bravo (1959)

Another 50/50, simply because it's an older movie and for some people that seems to be synonymous with 'bad' or 'outdated', which is a shame. John Wayne westerns were standard fare growing up. This one and McClintock! were our go-tos, but this is the one people don't always recognize.
Genre: Western
How I Discovered It: I believe this was a recommendation from my grandpa when he heard we were going through John Wayne movies.
Starring: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Breannan, Ward Bond, John Russell
Bonus: With Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson on the docket, you got to know there's singing.

The whole town thinks Sheriff John T. Chance has bitten off more than he can chew when he arrests the brother of a powerful and amoral rancher for murder. While assassins and hired gunmen stream in for the final showdown, Chance hires the only two men crazy or desperate enough to pin on a deputy's star -the town drunk Dude, once a deputy and good shot before he got his heart broke, and Colorado, a wet-behind-the-ears gunslinger with good aim and little experience. The crew rounds out with Stumpy, an elderly deputy with a limp, Feathers, the card playing former girl of a cheat, and Carlos and Consuela, who run the local inn. It's a small force to take on a powerful rancher, but boy do they do it in style!

So there they are! Hopefully, there are a few titles here that intrigue you. These are my golden favorites and they're gems that definitely shouldn't stay hidden. If you watch any, I'd love to hear what you think of them!

What are your favorite obscure films?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Book Blogger Hop | Feb 17-23

The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer's permission, I relaunched the meme on February 15, 2013.

I'm going to play with a new meme this week and Book Blogger Hop looks like a fun way to connect with other bloggers. So here goes. ^_^

Can you read and watch TV or listen to the radio at the same time?

(submitted by Elizabeth @ Silver's Reviews)

I CANNOT watch TV and read at the same time. I always get distracted by the bright pretty moving pictures, even if it's something I have zero interest in. (Actually, I hate when they have TVs playing in restaurants for the same reason. Unless I'm going to a sports bar to watch a basketball game, I don't want the distraction.)

Music, however, is 50/50 for me. Sometimes I can listen to music while I read, but commercials have a tendency to pull me out of The Zone, so I prefer my own music. I tell myself I can put music in the background and still read, usually when I'm obsessing over a new album or artist. I tend to get pulled into whichever holds my interest more and ignoring the other.

There is one exception:
If I associate a song or artist with a specific character, book, or story line, this is a beautiful sweet spot. The music serves as a soundtrack for my reading and turns it into a 'stereophonic, multimedia event!'
For example, while participating in a blog tour for The Ever Afters series, I featured the music playlists the author used while writing each character, so I loved listening to that on repeat. With the I Am Not a Serial Killer series by Dan Wells, I really listened to the lyrics of a song called Monster by Imagine Dragons for the first time and I think it's the perfect theme for John Cleaver, so I listen to that a lot while reading those. Any of The Blacklist tie-ins are obviously enjoyed with my Blacklist OST in the background. (Here's a similar version on YouTube.)

Can you multitask read?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Post 002

Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

 Corny Joke Monday 

via The Geek Strikes Back
But you know what? I forgot to share last week's Corny Joke. So I'm putting that here too. Because it's the best EVER. ^_^

 Last Week on the Blog 

 This Week on the Blog 

EDIT: I got ahead of myself and posted the wrong week's schedule. I'll be reviewing 84, Charing Cross Road soon, but not this week. The planned Discussion Post is linked with 84, so it too is postponed. Sorry for the confusion!
Sunday Post Recap/Meme
Ten Of My Favorite Movies You've (Probably) Never Heard Of List/Worth Watching
Book Blogger Hop Meme
Chocolat by Joann Harris Review

 Internet Shenanigans 

Anyone seen The Lego Batman Movie yet?
I saw it last week and loved it. I haven't laughed that hard in ages. I was going to write up a review for it, but I luckily discovered an absolutely FANTASTIC one by Dave at Comic Book Herald. I agree with everything he says about it and he says it 10x better than I would have. So go read that.

 In Real Life

This one is actually total awesome sauce! So I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day when I spy this news article:
I sat there for five minutes trying to figure out why this guy looks so darn familiar and finally went and read the article. It's a great article about some awesome programming going down at the Driftwood Public Library in Lincoln City, Oregon-

-which is when I slapped my forehead. Duh. Driftwood was my library. It's still my true library, in my heart, though I'm hundreds of miles away now. This is the library I grew up in; the library where I made friends with all the librarians; the library where I met most of my friends growing up, thanks to the MOST AWESOME children's librarian EVER; the library where I joined my first writers group and then formed my own; the library where I first started volunteering, that made me want to work in a library, and whose annual writing contests pushed me to write and publish.

So the guy whose face is expertly photoshopped onto King Henry VIII's body is the circulation supervisor, who always made sure I had a meeting room to meet with my crazy, awesome, teens-only writers group and never told us to quiet down when we got a little loud.

This library -and all of the people who work there- were pivotal to my development as a reader, a writer, and a person. I was a shy, quiet, little kid with no friends when I innocently signed up for a library card and my first Summer Reading Program. Thanks to Driftwood and the librarians, when I left I was a young woman not only with a voracious reading habit, but years of writing experience, a personality, job experience, and a few of my best friends.

So if people ever ask you why libraries are important -this is why.

 New Additions 

Avis Blackthorn: Is Not an Evil Wizard! by Jack Simmonds

Good Wizard. Evil Family. Magic School. What could go wrong?

Avis Blackthorn's family is the most evil family in all of the Seven Magical Kingdoms. The problem? Avis isn't evil. Not one bit. His magical wizarding family will do anything to make Avis's life a misery. Even the horses that pull the flying carriages don't like him.
But he has a way out at last... “Hailing Hall School for Wizards” -- a sanctuary, a place for good wizards, where he can make some nice, normal friends, learn magic and live a normal life, finally escaping the notoriety of the Blackthorn name... or so he thinks.

Is anyone else thinking this is basically the Draco story line we all wanted?! This showed up in an InstaFreebie last week and I could. not. resist. It could be a while before I get to it, but I'm really interested to see how it is.

Young Does Disney, Vol 1 by Jonathan YoungJonathan Young is fantastic. He's covering DISNEY SONGS as metal & rock, and he's always talking about pizza. There's literally nothing wrong with this, guys. Go subscribe.

My aunt was weeding out her VHS collection and, since I've still got a VCR, I snagged a couple:
  • Slipstream: I have no idea. It's from 1989, it's a sci-fi/adventure, it's got Ben Kingsley, F. Murray Abraham, Bill Paxton, and MARK HAMILL. I'll let you know when I watch it.
  • Stargate: Yes, I admit I'm a little Spader-crazy right now, but I grew up watching Stargate SG-1 and I didn't have a copy of the original film. And yes. I get the giggles watching Spader as Daniel Jackson.


I'm rediscovering the joy of using GIFs in reviews. They amuse me oh so much. I got to use this one in one of next week's post:
Now you have to come back to check it out!

  What's new with you? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thursday Quotables | 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Thursday Quotables, hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies, is a weekly feature to highlight a great quote, line, or passage discovered during your reading each week.

Author: Helene Hanff
Publisher: Penguin Books
Book Club Read

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene's sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.

My Quotable comes from page 8. The unmistakable personality in the writing of Hanff's letters tickles me pink but I laughed out loud when I read this epistle.

14 East 95th St.
December 9, 1949
I sent that package off. The chief item in it was a 6-pound ham, I figured you could take it to a butcher and get it sliced up so everybody would have some to take home.
But I just noticed on your last invoice it says: "B. Marks. M. Cohen." Props.
ARE THEY KOSHER? I could rush a tongue over.

Helene Hanff

So far, this book is fantastic. I can't wait to finish it, but I'm looking forward even more to my next book club meeting to discuss it! ^_^

What Quotable captured your attention this week?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

COMIC REVIEW: The Blacklist: The Gambler (No. 148)

The Blacklist: The Gambler (No. 148)
Writer: Nicole Phillips
Artist: Beni Lobel
Publisher: Titan Comics
Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Media Tie-In

PG-13 for action/violence, moderate language
Recommend to fans of The Blacklist.

The Gambler. Collecting together the first five issue story arc of the comic and introducing a brand new villain, created exclusively for the comic by the writers of the TV show.
Someone is targeting the FBI with a series of planned attacks including framing them for the murder of a leading political activist. Red at first suspects that a dangerous, media-manipulating Blacklister known as the Lobbyist is responsible, but comes to realise that there is someone far more sinister and deadly behind the scenes manipulating events for his own nefarious purposes... via Goodreads

The Review
First off, Titan Comics is freaking AMAZING, you guys. The artwork here is incredible. Lobel has obviously taken great pains to capture the exact features of the characters and the effect is absolutely breathtaking. So many of their most recognizable expressions are perfectly captured on the ink and page!

But this isn't the first time Titan has done such an amazing job. They have several different tie-in comics in their docket, but it wasn't until after I read The Gambler that I realized I've praised Titan before. Remember those Doctor Who comicsThat's right. I read the first volumes of the Ten and Twelve comics and my biggest praise by far was the quality of the artwork and the authentic flavor of the writing.

Ladies, gentlemen, and Blacklisters -that was not a fluke. Whatever Titan Comics is doing, they are DOING IT RIGHT. (And The Blacklist tie-in novels? Titan Books.)

But we're not here to talk about the other amazing stuff Titan has done. We're here to talk about The Gambler.
Really, I knew this was going to be epic when I read the foreward from showrunners John Eisendrath and Jon Bokenkamp:
So how did Red's story really begin? Who were his allies? His enemies? What were the pivotal moments in his life that transformed Raymond Reddington into the Concierge of Crime?
With this comic series, we're attempting to answer some of those questions.

Uh, Happy Birthday. And Happy Hannukah. FOR ALL ETERNITY

Because not only do they promise us insight into the past exploits key to the development of one of the most fascinating anti-heroes ever, they actually deliver. We get a significant event of Red's backstory, veins of it running all through the story, until it suddenly takes over. Granted, we don't get answers to big questions like 'Why did Red turn to crime?' or 'What IS his connection to Liz?' but we don't really expect that. This is developmental stuff, how Red came to be, what really makes Red Red and I love every panel of it. (Seriously, I've read it twice already.)

Red really gets into the action on this one and those are always my favorite stories. (Remember my Top Ten episodes?) This Blacklister is personal and Red lays it all on the line. While the story leaves us asking more questions than it answers -in the grand tradition of The Blacklist- it's one heck of a ride and worth every minute. It's a high-energy story, convoluted and delicious, with fantastic twists, great interactions between Red and Liz, and a phenomenal Blacklister -created exclusively by the TV writers for this comic, I might add. It's explosive and addictive, just like the episodes. I finished it and immediately wanted to read it again. (Which I did.)

Nicole Phillips -said by Eisendrath and Bokenkamp to possess an 'encyclopedic knowledge of the world'- does a phenomenal writing job. The artwork, the dialog, even the pacing and ambiance of the story is so harmonious with the show that it immediately became inseparable in my mind. The transformation from screen to comic is so seamless, the script so in-sync with the series -this is magic right here, guys, and not the Hollywood variety. This is the magic of an amazing story and characters; the magic of artists so inspired by their subject that their work shines. I didn't spot a single inconsistency with the canon in these pages. My gosh, even the inflections of the characters were spot-on!

I really can't give The Gambler enough praise -and I'm totally burying the lead!

Two words for you:
Young. Red.

What unfurls here is a wonderful, deep-probing arc fully worthy of the show, and seeing young Red running around the world up to no good made it even better -and that part would never make it on screen. Seriously, who could play a young Red and measure up to Spader?

So, is The Gambler a To Read or a Not To Read?

There is one thing my super fangirl senses picked up on. It's on the cover. Right here:
Every Blacklister listed on the cover has already been revealed. We've got Madeline Pratt, Pavlovich, Milton Bobbit, The Kingmaker. The Gambler is even obscured by the spine. But this half-written name -I'm guessing 'Sandpiper'- is utterly unfamiliar.  Is it significant? Is it a breadcrumb? When will we meet this Blacklister and do they hold the key to unraveling the enigma that is Red?