Saturday, April 22, 2017

Parks and Recreation Review: 1x05 "The Banquet"

One aspect of Leslie's character that I like as of season one is her idealism and the way she's constantly trying to do what's right. It's that character trait that leads to her being portrayed as naive at times, yes, but I like that she's maintained her high ideals about government even as she's working within the government and that she's always trying to do the right thing.

Seeing her almost go along with her mother but then decide against it because she couldn't do it says a lot of positive things about her, and I appreciate having that in a main character.

Does anyone have an explanation for how Leslie's hair suddenly grew back in the next episode though?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dragons: Race to the Edge Review: 4x10 "Twintuition"

This was probably my favorite episode for the twins this season. (Though I have to say that this entire season has been a good one for them. They've had some great moments.) Their dynamics really shine through in this episode and make me appreciate their relationship with each other, which is never dealt with in a deep manner all that much.

I also like the emotional journey that Tuffnut is forced to go through when Macey is lost, with him eventually being willing to sacrifice Macey for his friends and sister. Again, we don't often get much of anything that's "deep" from Tuffnut, so I'm glad this episode exists.

I also loved the final scene, with the twins holding a funeral for Macey and Hiccup standing off to the side rolling his eyes. There couldn't have been a better way to end this episode.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dragons: Race to the Edge Review: 4x09 "Out of the Frying Pan"

This episode was intense. I don't often get edge-of-my-seat worried during Race to the Edge, partially because of the nature of the show and partially because there's a movie set after the show that assures me the main characters will live. However, sometimes things manage to be intense enough that that flies out the window.

That's how I felt watching the struggle to get the egg to the right place in the volcano before everyone was swallowed by lava. I think it was more the scenes taking place with the group outside the volcano than the scenes actually inside the volcano that I found the most intense (which might be kind of odd). Watching Astrid and Throk try to get into the volcano themselves and almost die in the process was the big kicker. For a minute at the end, I thought they might actually kill Throk off, and while that wouldn't have been a huge heartbreak, it definitely managed to affect me.

The arrangement for the egg was pretty cool too. One has to wonder how long this tradition has been going on if that elaborate thing was built and these dragons have been trained so that each generation knows what to do with that egg. I also have to wonder how it stays intact if it fills up with lava time and time again, but I guess that's something I have to try not to think about. It looked cool at least.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dragons: Race to the Edge Review: 4x08 "Gold Rush"

I don't have any particular strong feelings about Dagur as a character. I like him fine, but I don't feel particularly attached. I think it's cool that he's on the "good" side now, but I can't say I feel particularly excited whenever he shows up. (That isn't to say that I hate having him around either, just that I feel pretty neutral.)

What I really loved about this episode was that it contained a lot of development in terms of Dagur and Heather's relationship. I've enjoyed seeing Dagur come to realize what he actually needs to do to be a good brother, and it's nice to see Heather begin to accept him as her family. While it's bittersweet to no longer have Heather running around with the main characters every episode, it had to happen eventually. I like that she and Dagur get to work on building back up their home instead of Heather being off by herself if she leaves the riders.

Of course, one of Dagur and Heather's main goals now is to find their father. The fact that the show has even brought this possibility up despite his death being taken as a given earlier hints to me that they're planning to do something with it. Is Heather and Dagur's dad going to play a role in season five? I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case after this episode, which also raises the question as to just what sort of character their dad would be. I even wonder if we might have met their dad without knowing it was their dad, and that could lead to a lot of different theories. I'm definitely thinking about it.

Shadowhunters Review: 2x09 "Bound by Blood"

It only took a month to get this review posted (despite having written it earlier). Whoops.

I'm sure I wasn't alone in imagining that Clary's blood oath would become a problem sooner rather than later. Still, I wasn't expecting her hand to start dying and turning black. I assumed that death would be involved if she didn't do what was asked of her, but I that was an interesting touch.

Izzy and Raphael making tamales was probably the best "small detail" from the episode. I also really liked Raphael sharing the fact that he visits his sister. Aside from the audience learning something personal about him, him being willing to tell Izzy something so personal is clearly a big deal. I bet the list of other people who know that about Raphael consists of Magnus.

Alec storming into Raphael's apartment was sad largely because I hate watching characters who love each other (i.e. Alec and Izzy, not Alec and Raphael) fight. I'm glad that the disagreement that Magnus and Alec had was short lived, and I really appreciated this scene for what Magnus says to Raphael about seeing how he feels when he's not getting high off of Izzy's blood. Raphael probably took that as a blow, but even in that moment I fully believe that Magnus is looking after Raphael's best interest.

While I view Raphael as a compelling character, it's also true that I would never stand behind quite a few of the decisions he makes, and one of those is to bite Izzy and then continue to do so. I know Izzy encouraged it, but that doesn't justify Raphael's actions in my view. That places a negative air over Izzy and Raphael's entire relationship and, so far, has prevented me from liking them together. What I'm hoping for most out of this storyline is some character development for Raphael. (I'd say from Izzy too, but at this point, I don't see how this will result in significant character growth for her. Without a doubt, it will be her overcoming something difficult, but I don't see a significant change. That's perhaps the largest reason I still feel distaste over this storyline.)

The Seelies and vampires being the groups most willing to kill Clary is no surprise. Really Clary is lucky that her dad (because let's be honest, Luke is actually her dad) and Magnus represent the werewolves and warlocks because otherwise she probably wouldn't have been as lucky as she was. (If you think about it, it's rather remarkable how many powerful people she has on her side considering how little time she's been part of this world.)

Having already seen the mid-season finale, a large part of me wants to continue going on, but I think the rest of what I have to say is better left to that episode's review.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Race to the Edge Review: 4x06 "Dire Straights"

This episode managed to scare me a bit when Hiccup was close to drowning, which isn't typical with Race to the Edge since I'm never worried about any of the characters (or at least the main ones) dying. During that scene though, I was on the edge of my seat. They really managed to create tension there despite viewers knowing that he had to survive.

Toothless swimming down and looking through the glass, refusing to swim up because he wanted to stay with Hiccup, was the most heart-breaking thing. I don't know that I've properly appreciated Toothless so far in my reviews for this season, but he is the absolute best. Toothless is the primary reason I feel in love with How to Train Your Dragon when it first came out. Moments like this remind me why that was.

The Submaripper is also such an intense dragon that you wonder how they'll come up with something to top it in the season finale.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reign Review: 4x03 "Leaps of Faith"

I'm getting behind on Reign reviews despite being caught up with the episodes. Because of that, they're blurring together in my mind somewhat, so here's hoping that I can successfully remember what happens in this episode and not another episode.

Gideon's suggestion that he marry Mary came out of nowhere for me. Why did he suggest it when he did? It felt rather odd. Maybe he just thought that enough had happened to finally convince Elizabeth that it was something that could work, but it was strange. Actually, I'm surprised he would actually ask Mary to do such a thing, and I'm surprised at how close Mary came to taking the offer. Maybe that's because, historically, I knew it wouldn't happen, but it's also just not something I can see Mary doing as a character. Despite Gideon's comments about her being born into a job that Elizabeth angled for, Mary has always taken being queen seriously and shown countless times that she considers Scotland her highest priority.

Lady Lennox meeting Catherine would be a sight to see. I imagine that, if we were to see more of her, she would become a similar presence in Mary's life (at least similar to Catherine in the earlier days of the show). As things with Mary and Darnley move forward, I wonder if she'll stay in England or move to Scotland. That could be a source of plenty of conflict.

I feel very nervous about Lady Knox and how her "romance" (if one can even call it that) with James is going to affect her. Considering how terrible John Knox has been, I don't see him as being the forgiving sort, and I can't imagine him being kind to his wife if he finds out something's going on. And since this is TV, he'll eventually figure out that something is going on. I'm glad that we've seen that James is conflicted about the entire thing because I feel plenty of sympathy for her watching it all play out.

That priest thinking Claude was holy was one of my favorite moments of the episode.

It continues to amaze me how much Leesa is like Catherine while she continues to oppose Catherine at every turn. Despite her hatred, Leesa is undoubtedly the most like Catherine of all of Catherine's children.

From the first time Narcisse suggests getting a girl for Charles I was nervous. Considering everything happening with him lately, that was destined to be a disaster. I remember fearing for her safety before the episode even got to the scene with them together, let alone after that. It was very worrying, but I'll say more on it when I'm reviewing the episode where you learn a little bit more about where he took her.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dragons: Race to the Edge Review: 4x05 "Saving Shattermaster"

I hadn't given much thought to Dagur's fate before watching this episode because, to be frank, he's just not a character that I give much thought to, but the fact that he was alive wasn't all that surprising to me.

My favorite aspect of this episode was getting to see Heather and Dagur begin repairing their relationship. They're still not 100% there, but I think this episode made it clear that they will be some day. Dagur coming to realize how to actually create a relationship with his sister is probably my favorite part about his character growth so far.

While it's bittersweet that Heather leaves the Dragon Riders, it was bound to happen sooner or later. We still get to see her later in the season, so I don't feel like I can complain. I'm interested in seeing how much she appears in the next season.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Race to the Edge Review: 4x04 "Not Lout"

Spitelout is definitely Snotlout's father. Tell me that you can't imagine Snotlout giving his hypothetical future child the same advice his father gave him in this episode?

If the show was prone to doing deep, emotional episodes, I bet we'd have something that really delved into the inner workings of Snotlout's brain. As it is, this episode did a really good job of showing us how Snotlout has these deep-seated insecurities without losing its humor.

It was nice not only seeing Snotlout's insecurities acknowledged but seeing him overcome them and realize that he should do what he, not his father, wants.

This season has done a good job showcasing the relationships between the characters as well. How the rest of the group dealt with Snotlout in this episode was nice to see, including Hiccup letting him act as the leader because he could see that Snotlout needed that confidence.

It's not that I don't think their friendships was shown well in the other seasons. Season four just really seems to have showcased them, and as someone who has such a deep appreciation for fictional friendships, I've enjoyed that.

Parks and Recreation Review: 1x04 "Boys' Club"

Andy trying to clean the house for Ann might be the first time I've felt anything at all positive towards him. I wouldn't say I hate him as a character, but I feel rather indifferent right now. I definitely don't like him, but it was nice to see him actually doing something for once. Or trying to, at least.

I enjoyed the story about the gift basket, though I had to roll my eyes at how quickly Leslie cracked on that one.

While I get April being young enough to not fully grasp the consequences of her actions, everyone else finding that video so funny was lost on me. For one thing, they're older, but I also just feel like any possible humor that video had went over my head. A teenager doing that and finding amusement doesn't surprise me, but it's not something I'd find amusement in. (Actually, I personally probably never would have to be honest.) I'd imagine most adults wouldn't either, but maybe I'm just weird.

My favorite aspect of this episode was probably Ron helping Leslie out during the hearing. I like how their friendship is being developed and how, despite what he says, Ron does seem to do kind things every now and then.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Dragons: Race to the Edge Review: 4x03 "Midnight Scrum"

Hiccup's unwillingness to tell his father that he has a bounty on his head was one of those things that's super frustrating while watching, yet it also made sense coming from Hiccup. Plus, what would the drama be if he'd actually told his dad?

It was cool getting to see Berk's 400 year anniversary. Actually, I wish we could have seen more of that celebration and possibly heard more of Berk's history. That would have been interesting. I love learning about the histories of other worlds in stories, which is most likely connected to my enjoyment of real world history. It would have been a cool addition to this episode, but I get why it didn't happen considering the nature of the show.

Something I find interesting is how many bounty hunters manage to get close to Hiccup when Viggo has been unsuccessful in getting to him himself. Viggo seems to be adequately full of himself for a villain, but apparently he suspected a lone bounty hunter or two would be able to capture Hiccup when Hiccup manages to evade Viggo's entire army on a regular basis. Of course, one bounty hunter was able to get Hiccup to the island, but I thought it was interesting that Viggo thought this plan might work considering how capable Hiccup has proven to be at getting out of such situations.

The bounty hunter who does manage to capture Hiccup is suitably mysterious, and it's presented in a way that makes me wonder if we'll ever see him again. We've seen him twice now, and he doesn't seem to be a two-shot villain either. Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but I swear we'll see him again, and I think it might be in the third movie. We know he's working for Drago, who was the villain of the second movie who is supposed to also be in the third movie. While Krogan wasn't in the second movie, I do have a slight suspicion that Krogan might be a character in the third movie. This isn't a theory I'm terribly tied to at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised if that turns out to be the case. If so, I think it's pretty cool that they introduced him through Race to the Edge.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Book Review: Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices 1) by Cassandra Clare

ISBN: 1416975861
Published: August 31st, 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Margaret K. McElderry
Received: purchased
Read from February 19th to February 23rd, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.
The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them...

Review:

The most interesting aspect of the Infernal Devices for me, from the very beginning, was getting to read about a fantasy world that I was already familiar with but now it was set in Victorian England instead of modern-day New York City. Of course, if a fantasy world exists in our time, it must have existed earlier, but it's not as common to read about in modern fiction (at least not in my experience).

This book also has a steampunk feel, including automatons that are essentially robots except infused with demon energy. It's those automatons, I believe, that most set the Infernal Devices apart from the Mortal Instruments in feel. I can't imagine having seen automatons in the first series. It's an interesting contrast since in the Mortal Instruments we don't see any combination of magic and technology, yet here we have it more than a century earlier. Perhaps the automatons played a role in that? It would be an interesting connection.

To be honest, the characters were probably the least interesting part of the book for me, which is the complete opposite of how I feel about the Mortal Instruments. I knew from the beginning that I would find Will a frustrating character (And having already finished the second book as I edit this review, you don't have to tell me what happens with him later. I'll discuss it in that review.). Jessamine and Henry have the most memorable personalities of all of the characters, but for the most part, they all seem mostly the same. Even Magnus seems to have a far more muted personality in this book than in the Mortal Instruments, and I'm not sure if that's meant to be because of the time period or not.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series largely because I'm interested in seeing what happens with the automatons. They're creepy in a way that makes them rather fascinating, and I'm hoping that stays true during the second and third books.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Race to the Edge Review: 4x02 "Gruff Around the Edges"

The twins are fun characters who I enjoy, but this was one of my favorite episodes of the season, which I never would have expected from a twins-centered episode. Part of the reason for that is the twins' humor.

I also loved how this episode showcased some of the relationships between the characters. This might have been one of the deepest looks we've gotten at the twins' relationship, and I aww'ed when Hiccup referred to Tuffnut as one of his best friends. Tuffnut being surprised by that was also a nice moment. Stuff like this also always makes me sentimental, so I couldn't help but think back on the first movie and how things have changed.

The chicken needs recognition in this episode too. I love that it was the chicken going around and warning all of the dragons what Gruffnut was up to. A chicken was seriously one of the biggest foils of his plans. It was great.

I wonder if we'll ever be seeing Gruffnut again or if he's destined to be gone for good. I don't think I'd mind another appearance, primarily because I now associate him with a really good episode.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dragons: Race to the Edge Review: 4x01 "Defenders of the Wing: Part 2"

Back when I first watched season one of Race to the Edge, I filmed a review. Then, I didn't do the same for seasons two and three. I basically explained why that was when I filmed a recent review for Parks and Recreation. Essentially, reviewing an entire season felt like trying to pack too much into one review and I didn't want to do it anymore, but at the same time, I felt like reviewing each episode might be too much.

Season four of Race to the Edge was recently released though, and I'm dying to talk about it. I still don't want to do one review for the whole season, so I'm going to review one episode at a time, though I am sure that I'll have more to say about certain episodes than others.

I'll also go ahead and say that these reviews will be different, in a way, than other reviews because I've already watched the entire season. (I mean, I had to. Spoilers were all over Tumblr, and I needed to see it for myself.) Because of that, I know everything that happens later in the season and am re-watching each episode to review it. I'm going to keep spoilers for following episodes out of my reviews (hopefully not screwing up by not realizing that I'm referencing something that happens later), but I may mention things every now and then that I don't think are major spoilers.

Now, on to actually discussing the first episode of season four.

One of the first thoughts I had while watching this episode was something along the lines of, "Wait. Queen Mala's voice is familiar... Is that Adelaide Kane? It is. It definitely is." I then paused the episode to Google it to see that I was, in fact, correct.

I hadn't realized it was her while watching the end of season three, but I have a good idea why I realized it now: For anyone who doesn't know, Adelaide Kane plays Mary on the TV show Reign. I watch Reign, but it had been on hiatus for nearly a year, during which time I watched the previous seasons of Race to the Edge. Reign came back on air a week or two before season four of Race to the Edge was released, so her voice was more immediately recognizable to me.

I have to admit that it became a bit distracting to me each time Queen Mala appeared this season because I kept thinking about how it was the exact same voice as Mary. It doesn't help that both characters are queens and therefore speak in a very similar formal and authoritative way. (Despite Adelaide being Australian, both characters also have English accents.)

That probably seems like a pointless thing to get caught up on, and it really is. It wasn't something that should have bothered me that much, and while re-watching this episode, I was less distracted by it than before. It was something that kept coming up during the season for me though, so I thought I would mention it.

As far as the rest of the episode goes, I enjoyed it.

One of my favorite aspects of the episode was that the Gronkles were the dragons to save the day. I feel like Gronkles are often treated as one of the least impressive species of dragon, so it was nice to see them have some time in the spotlight.

This episode also establishes Mala and her people as allies of the Dragon Riders, which isn't unexpected. However, it opens the door for seeing them more throughout the season, which wasn't exactly something I was expecting. I thought Mala and the others would be one-shot (or two-shot, considering) characters.

I liked getting to see Mala realize that the Dragon Riders weren't enemies to dragons, since her refusal to listen to them at the end of season three was so frustrating. Plus, they have a common enemy in Viggo, and it's not like either group needs to become enemies with anyone else.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Reign Review: 4x02 "A Grain of Deception"

One thing I'll currently give Reign: I'm liking season four heaps and bounds more than I liked season three. That being said, we're only two episodes in, so I shouldn't get too excited. My current satisfaction with it also likely has a lot to do with lowered expectations after last season.

There are still plenty of things the show is doing that I don't like, though I've accepted that that's going to be the case. In this episode, for example, Greer is packing up to leave, which is unsurprising. Even after last episode, I didn't have high hopes that she would stick around after all of the show's efforts to isolate Mary from every other female character. I went on and on about how angry that made me feel last season, so I won't say all of that again.

That being said, I liked most of this episode. Elizabeth's storyline is probably my favorite at this point. I enjoy seeing what's happening in England. I really want to see her successfully one up John Knox though.

Mary's conflict with James has also been handled rather well. I enjoy watching them try to trust each other but struggle with it.

It's France, I think, that's the weakest link, which is more or less what I expected after the first episode. While I don't want Spain to take over because of my attachment to the characters, I'm not wrapped up in the storyline like I perhaps should be.

As far as Charles is concerned, I'm confused more than anything. I have no idea what's up with him.

So I guess that I'm not entirely thrilled with this episode, but I wasn't expecting that from Reign this season anyway. I still think they're doing a better job with this season than they did the last one, so I hope that that at least will remain the case.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Parks and Recreation Review: 1x01 and 1x02

Graphic Novel Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang

ISBN: 1616551844
Published: October 30th, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Received: purchased
Read February 16th, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Fate of the Fire Lord!
Avatar Aang travels to the spirit world to parlay with an ancient power, bringing Fire Lord Zuko ever closer to discovering the truth about his mother's fate—and his own past. Yet Zuko's sister Azula is becoming increasingly dangerous, threatening to ruin everything that Zuko, Aang, Katara, and Sokka have struggled to achieve on their search!
Review:

Note: You might notice that I didn't review Part 2. I read all three parts so quickly that I decided it would be better to wait until after reading Part 3 and review the entire thing.

The story of The Search drew me in much more than The Promise. Maybe that was because it explored a longtime mystery of the Avatar fandom or maybe it had something to do with the writing. I'm really not sure which was the bigger factor. All I know is that I was more eager to pick this one back up each time I set it down because I wanted to know what happened next, and that was in spite of figuring out each plot twist before it happened. I still wanted to see it unfold.

That being said, there were elements of The Search that bothered me. I'm annoyed by how many of the characters treat Azula. I'm not saying they should have trusted her, clearly that's not the case, but there is something very visibly wrong with her, and none of them seem to acknowledge that. She's been in a mental hospital, but all of the characters talk as if she's rational and just evil.

Spoilers for the ending follow:

How things end between Azula and Ursa in this story also left me feeling unsatisfied. Maybe the story was meant to be about Zuko and Ursa more than Ursa and Azula (or even Zuko and Azula), but then why would Azula come along with them in the first place? Azula and Ursa never actually have a conversation. They exchange a handful of words with each other at most before Azula runs off. I would have felt better if they had actually spoken with each other. I'm not saying that all of their problems needed to be solved by the end, but what we got felt like a complete avoidance of anything as far as Ursa and Azula are concerned. That was disappointing.

This story also made me dislike Ursa as a character when I hadn't before. I did wonder in the beginning why Ursa wouldn't have come to see Zuko if she knew he'd become Fire Lord, so I figure that a story had to be developed that would explain that. Seeing Ursa give up her memories of her children still annoyed me. Maybe she was trying to give herself peace of mind, but she left those kids with Ozai after he was about to kill Zuko. She couldn't have possibly believed that they were safe (Zuko especially), and to erase all of her memories of them... It really made me lose respect for her, which is why I'm glad that the "I wish I had loved you more" line was in the story because I think Ursa was exactly right when she said that.

Zuko also seems to accept what Ursa did far too well, and I would have really enjoyed seeing more with Ursa and Zuko that provided more resolution for Zuko. He didn't really seemed bothered by her actions at all, which made no sense to me. I think this story would have benefited from being longer and allowing time for Ursa to actually have a conversation with Zuko and Azula at the end.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 376-380

Those episodes with the robot Naruto were...strange. There's no other way of putting it. I can't say that I particularly enjoyed those episodes, and I was glad to get passed them and get back to the fight with Obito.

This is another set of episodes where the review is going to be very brief. I enjoyed episodes 378-380, but I don't feel like I have much to comment on right now because it doesn't feel like a ton of stuff happens that lends itself to discussion. A lot of it was 'cool', yes, but I can't talk about it at length.

Mostly, I think I'm just looking forward to continue watching and seeing what happens next.

Graphic Novel Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Part 1 by Gene Luen Yang

ISBN: 1616550546
Published: March 20th, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Received: purchased
Read February 15th, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
For years, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have burned with one question—what happened to Fire Lord Zuko's mother? Finding a clue at last, Zuko enlists the aid of Team Avatar—and the most unlikely ally of all—to help uncover the biggest secret of his life.
Review:

It took me years to finally read this. That's pretty ridiculous considering how much I wanted to know what happened in it. However, The Promise wasn't my favorite, which did soften my enthusiasm when I picked this one up.

However, The Search had a better start than The Promise. It's probably helped by the fact that it centers around Ursa's fate, which is a question the fandom had for years before this graphic novel came out (and that I didn't get answered for myself until now because I somehow managed to avoid those spoilers). I've wanted to know what happened to Ursa as much as everyone else did, so the story already had me interested in it for that reason.

One aspect of The Search that I enjoyed in Part 1 was Zuko reflecting on family. Immediately, I was looking forward to seeing how that carried out through the rest of the stories and seeing what happened between him and Azula.

Speaking of Azula, I would have liked to see that they were doing something to help her and not just keeping her locked up. We never really get evidence that they're doing anything at all, and that bothered me.

Still, Part 1 was a promising start, if a little predictable at times. It made me want to keep reading and see how the story would play out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Life Post: Baking a Cake

I meant to create a post for this video last week, but here we are. At least I'm finally doing it. I baked a cake last week from scratch. It was the first time I'd done that, though I'd made cupcakes before.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Shadowhunters Review: 2x07 "How Are Thou Fallen"

Writing this review might be a little difficult. You see, I enjoyed most of this episode a lot, but the last Malec scene left me feeling a little iffy. At first, I hoped that they'd do something at the beginning of the next episode, but one of the showrunners discussed it on Twitter, and that's not happening.

But, before I go into that, let's talk about the earlier events of this episode.

Clary deciding to run off with Cleophas frustrated me (I really need Clary to start listening to Luke and actually talking to him because she'd be a lot better off at this point.), but I really like what they've done with Cleophas as a character. I can't wait to see what happens with her over the coming episodes.

As soon as we saw the angel, I suspected he was an angel. I told myself I was probably wrong though because I figured we wouldn't see an angel for quite a while in the series. Considering how the appearance of angels is described in the book, I was interested to see how they'd make them look in the show. Valentine mentioned that the angel wasn't in his true form, and I'm going to assume that he still wasn't in his true form once his wings appeared. I wonder if we'll see an angel in "true form" anytime soon.

I still don't feel all that great about the Izzy yin fen storyline, but I don't feel like I have much more to say about it after this episode.

Simon and Maia continued to be adorable in this episode. I love their dynamics so much, and I can't wait to see them continue to get to know each other. Also, who else was surprised that Magnus and Maia know each other? I was, but looking back on it, I feel like I shouldn't have been. I'm crossing my fingers for more with the two of them in the future.

This episode was also the first time in a while that we've seen Simon and Jace interact at length. I'm very amused by how Jace, despite supposedly being annoyed by Simon, took so much time to talk to him about the "right" way to talk to girls.

Magnus and Alec were adorable for most of this episode. My heart could hardly handle Alec giving Magnus that present or what Magnus told Maia at the bar. Those were by far my favorite scenes of the episode.

That being said, I am bothered by the last scene with the two of them. I don't like that Alec didn't really stop to listen to what Magnus was telling him. It cuts off, so we don't know what they say to each other after that. However, what you show on screen and what happens off screen are important decisions, and I don't like this one. It created a hazy consent situation that makes me very uncomfortable, and the contrast between the Malec scene and the earlier scene with Jace and the fairy only makes it worse.

That's an even bigger shame because of how great the rest of Magnus and Alec's scenes together were and how great they've been so far this season. I don't want them (meaning those making the show) to screw it up now. I'm crossing my fingers for the next episode.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Shadowhunters Review: 2x06 "Iron Sisters"

It was exciting to see the Iron Sisters in this episode after their appearance had been hinted at. I'm also excited about the change of Sister Cleophas being Luke's sister. After Jocelyn's comment earlier in the season, I think most of the fandom figured we would see her in this episode. However, I had assumed that Luke's Iron Sister sister would replace Amatis (or be Amatis), so I was a little surprised when Cleophas mentioned her as well. Now I'm going to excitedly wait for Amatis to appear on the show as well.

I also wasn't expecting Cleophas to be a member of the Circle (especially not still a member of the Circle), and I'm wondering how that plot twist will play out. (It also has me thinking about Amatis and if her backstory will be the same if we see her.)

Izzy's storyline with the yen fin has, in fact, become a drug addiction storyline. I still don't get the purpose of this or where they're going with it, and I'm not sure that I like it. It was probably my biggest problem with the episode. That being said, maybe once it plays out I'll come to a different opinion.

So many other aspects of this episode were fantastic.

Maia and Simon's friendship was something I've been wanting to see in the show for ages, and this episode definitely gave us that. Their dynamics are spot on, and I can't wait to see them become even closer friends (as well as Maia meeting the other main characters). She seems to be starting to develop feelings for Simon, which I don't really have feelings for either way at this point (as long as that love triangle doesn't play out the way it does in the books), but I can't wait for them to have more scenes together. And for more of Maia in general.

Both of them searching for Luke and discussing what Luke meant to them was also heart-warming. I loved it. (Though I'm still frustrated that Luke was only in the last episode for several seconds.)

We've been waiting for Magnus and Alec's first date for ages, and it did not disappoint. I love the dynamics of their relationship so far. It's also wonderful that on their first date they confront the very conflict that led to their breakup in the books. I feel confident that that won't be the case on the show, which is awesome. They were adorable.

Also, I have to say how happy I am that the show explicitly discussed Alec's lack of experience with relationships and how, while it was initially surprising to Magnus, Alec wasn't ridiculed for it. I feel like that never happens in TV shows, books, movies, etc., so that was nice to see. And, of course, it was great that Alec was able to accept Magnus' past experiences without it driving a wedge between them. The two of them having respective experiences and being able to accept each other was so, so important.

When Jace interrupted them, I laughed out loud. I wasn't expecting Jace to show up at Magnus' house and ask to stay in this episode, though it does happen at one point in the books. I'm very excited to see this play out as Jace and Magnus' dynamics can bring a lot of humor to the show. It should be fun for however long it lasts.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Shadowhunters Review: 2x05 "Dust and Shadows"

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this episode. So mixed that I've stalled writing this review for as long as I can. I just don't know what I want to say. I didn't hate this episode, but it's not what I had hoped to see following the previous week's episode. On top of that, it didn't manage to draw me in. I'd say that this was my least favorite episode so far this season.

While I get that Clary is in mourning and desperate, I don't like how the story of trying to raise her mom from the dead was handled. Clary bringing up the possibility and arguing for it was fine. I get it. My main frustration is how the show decided to play it out.

If I try to think of what I would have preferred to see, it would be entirely different. Perhaps Clary could have brought up the topic of bringing her mom back but this could have led to an episode that focused on the other characters supporting her (Luke in particular) instead of her seeking out a warlock to raise her mother from the dead.

Luke is lagely absent in this episode, which was by far my least favorite part. We could have had an entire episode focused on Luke, Clary, and even Simon and Jace and how they're all grieving. Doing something like that while incorporating Clary's desire to bring her mother back (without her actually going through with it) would have been a much better approach in my opinion.

On top of all of that, I'm not a huge fan of the near rape scene when it felt unnecessary, though I appreciate that Clary saved herself instead of being saved by Jace.

As soon as Aldertree handed Izzy the ointment it seemed like they were going for a drug addiction storyline, and I was confused as to why. What purpose is it serving? Aside from the problematic aspects of it, I don't understand it from a story-telling standpoint either.

The only reason for it that I can fathom is that, if Aldertree is Sebastian as some fans have speculated he is, getting Izzy addicted to drugs is a good way to show he's bad news, but there are a million other ways that could have been better.

After all that negativity, I'll throw out some of the things I did like:
  • Magnus opening up to Clary and Simon about his mom. I like this for several reasons: We got to learn more about Magnus's past, and it shows that he has placed trust in Clary and Simon, as I don't believe those were details of his life that he would have shared with just anyone.
  • Alec and that warlock child were adorable. Him complimenting her gills was such a sweet little moment.
  • Alec's face when Iris referred to him as Clary's boyfriend.
  • I mentioned in an earlier review that I hoped to see Simon tell his mother that he's a vampire.
Overall, despite the tone of this post, I wouldn't say this was an episode I hated. It was, however, one I wasn't thrilled about, and my problems with it outweigh what I loved about it. 

Fingers crossed we get more of Luke in the next episode.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Book Review: Legend of Korra Book 1: Air: The Art of the Animated Series by Mike Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Dave Marshall

ISBN: 1616551682
Published: July 17th, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Received: Christmas/bought
Read from January 23rd to 27th, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Return to the world of Avatar!
This handsome hardcover contains hundreds of pieces of never-before-seen artwork created during the development of Season 1 of The Legend of Korra. With captions from Mike and Bryan throughout, this is an intimate look inside the creative process that brought the mystical world of bending and a new generation of heroes to life!
* Captions by creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko!
* Follow-up to smash hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender!
* Never-before-seen artwork! 
Review:

I loved this book as much as I loved the Avatar one. I love that, with Korra, they did one book for each season. That allows them to focus more on each episode instead of having to broadly encompass the entire show within one book.

While I love the art in The Last Airbender, the art in Korra is a whole new level, and it's some of my favorite art ever. When watching Korra I've always focused way too much on the background paintings, so I love having so many of those paintings in this book. They're gorgeous.

This is another book that I would highly recommend to Avatar fans. Not only is it great for learning about the process of creating the first season of Korra, but it's just pretty to look at.

Which Deathly Hallow Would You Choose?

If the Deathly Hallows were real and you had the opportunity to own just one of them, which would you choose?

For me, it would be the Cloak hands down. I feel like that's the most "acceptable" answer though, so I feel the need to argue that it really is what I would choose for myself and not something I'm just saying.

The wand is extremely violent, and all of its past owners have ended up dead. Maybe I could keep my possession of the wand quiet, but I'd rather not be involved in that mess at all. I'd be good with my own 'normal' wand. I'm sure it would work just fine. There's nothing I'd want to do that would require the Elder Wand.

As for the Stone, I don't think I have any desire to bring back the dead. In fact, it sounds rather terrifying. The story of the brother hanging himself over it scares me off, but even without it, I don't think I'd go for it. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd interacted with ghosts in the wizarding world, but I doubt it. The Stone feels different than that.

The Cloak is appealing. It would be neat to become invisible every now and then, and it doesn't seem to have any negative consequences unless you get yourself into something you shouldn't while invisible. Since I don't plan on doing anything particularly dangerous with the Cloak, I think I'd be safe. While I'd be sure to be careful with it, I think it would be a lot of fun. Far more fun than the other two Deathly Hallows at any rate.

Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose and why?

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Shadowhunters Review: 2x03 "Parabatai Lost"

Book Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series by Mike Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko

ISBN: 1595825045
Published: June 1st, 2010
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Received: Christmas/bought
Read from January 20th to 22nd, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A stunning masterpiece of animated storytelling. 
Avatar: The Last Airbender has been syndicated to more than 120 countries around the world, inspiring millions of fans and industry professionals alike and garnering numerous industry honors--including wins at the prestigious Annie, Peabody, and Primetime Emmy awards.
Join series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at hundreds of pieces of concept, design, and production art--most of which Nickelodeon has never before released to the public--as they take you on a guided tour through the development of this smash-hit television series. Learn how Avatar: The Last Airbender took shape, from the very first sketch to the series finale, and beyond!

Review:

I'd been looking forward to reading this book since it came out. (Yes, that long.) It didn't disappoint either. This book was an excellent look at the process of making Avatar.

Avatar has been my favorite TV show since 2005, so needless to say, I love getting a look into the process of its creation. Also, I love the art in Avatar. I always have, and I loved getting to flip through the book and look at it all. It's amazing to see the progression through all three seasons as you read the book.

This is a book I would recommend to any die-hard Avatar fan who wants a closer look at how the show was created and animated. It has a lot of great art that makes it fun to flip through and look at.

Incorporated Review: 1x08 "Operational Realignment"

I've been staring at the screen for trying to figure out how to start this review because the first thing I want to talk about is Theo, but I don't know what I want to say. I just upset with that storyline, and I don't think I have anything else to say about it as of right now. It's hard to put what I'm thinking into words.

Watching Ben lead Spiga directly to the evidence that proves he's the killer also made this episode a frustrating one, though in a very different way. It was one of those situations where I wanted to explain to the characters (or just Ben in this case) what's going on. I liked the way he blackmailed Hendrick because he knew that he might not bring him back. I also liked seeing how conflicted Hendrick was as he wants to protect his daughter.

(Also, did I miss something about Hendrick's wife? Because there wasn't a wife in this episode, but considering how strict Spiga is about reproduction, it feels like there should be. Is there a story there, something I forgot from an earlier episode, or is she just not a concern for him like his daughter is?)

Laura's storyline was the highlight of the episode for me. I like the fact that she seems to be finding herself over the course of this season, which isn't what any of the other characters' storylines really revolve around.

I also wasn't expecting her new "boss" to have a connection to Julian, and I'm wondering how that will come into play in the future. There's no way that it won't somehow.

As for future episodes, at this point I'm hoping for a turn around with Theo's story, but I'm worried there won't be one. I think that's my biggest concern at the moment.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Incorporated Review: 1x07 "Executables"

Warning: There is discussion of rape in this video.



Book Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

ISBN: 0553535919
Published: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Received: Blogging for Books
Read from January 4th to 13th, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

Review:

(I just noticed that Henrietta refers to herself in the synopsis as the "first female sorcerer", which confuses me since she knows from the beginning of the book that she isn't. She's just supposed to be the first since Joan of Arc, not the first ever... Oh, well. Moving on.)

A Shadow Bright and Burning has me conflicted. There were certain aspects I liked and others I very much didn't like. I'm going to briefly go through some of those things, trying to keep it brief since I also filmed a video review for this book where I touched on most of this already.

I did like the plot for the most part. I found it intriguing, and I particularly enjoyed that it's set in an alternative Victorian England where everyone knows about magic and the sorcerers have to be acknowledged by Queen Victoria or lose their powers. Henrietta, the main character, has to confront a lot of sexism as a female sorcerer, and I enjoyed seeing how she confronted said sexism throughout the book

That being said, I do wish there had been more female characters. Aside from Henrietta, there are less than a handful of female characters who play important roles, and only one of them has more than two or three scenes. As I greatly enjoyed each of those characters, that was disappointing. I did enjoy most of the male characters as well, but I would appreciate a greater female presence, especially when so much of the book involves Henrietta confronting obstacles she faces being a woman.

Speaking of the male characters, I liked most of the "good guys", but I couldn't stand Magnus. Since he's the first of the boys that Henrietta befriends when she comes to London, this really impeded my enjoyment of the book. Henrietta spends more time with Magnus than anyone else, which annoyed me when I was far more interested in all of the other characters more than I was Magnus. I wish she had spent more time with the other boys, especially the two who she spends so little time with that I can't recall their names but who I loved as characters. To me, Magnus was to conceited and all around obnoxious. I thought so from the first scene he was in, and he never managed to win me over. (What's particularly ironic is Henrietta starts off having a negative impression of Blackwood that's much like my impression of Magnus, but I never disliked Blackwood.)

After reading the first book, I want to read the second, but I'm not so sure how I'll feel about it. It's a situation where I think it's up in the air whether I'll like the series or not. A lot hinges on where the second book takes the story and if I like the path it takes. For right now though, there's enough that has me intrigued to keep going.



I received this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Shadowhunters Review: 2x02: "A Door into the Dark"

The show this season is doing a lot with the prejudices of the Shadowhunters against the Downworlders. While that's an aspect of the books, the show seems to be running with it, and I'm excited to see what they have in store.

The scene where Clary is under a spell had me uncomfortable because, even though I figured there was a spell or something similar involved, those weren't the sort of things you wanted Clary to be saying. I'm glad that she managed to get to Jace and tell him that was a spell, but I'm wondering how much Valentine has managed to make Jace doubt at this point. I fully expect him to still be questioning everything and not be sure of who to trust.

We get more information in this episode about Valentine experimenting with demon blood and the baby, and Jocelyn shares a flashback with Clary of when Jonathan was a baby and killed a flower, complete with entirely black eyes. I don't want to dwell on this for too long because I feel like I'll only begin to talk about spoilers from the book, and I don't think it's relevant to this particular episode. If I don't bring up Jace having demon blood for a while in my reviews, it's probably because I'm avoiding discussing the events of the books.

I appreciated how much interaction we got between Izzy and Alec in this episode. While I feel bad for Clary having to stay behind, I appreciate the scenes that were focused on the Lightwood siblings. They did a great job of portraying their relationship, just like always.

Ever since we got a little bit of information about it, I have been dying to see the Simon and Magnus parts of this season, and I wasn't disappointed in this episode. The dynamics between the two of them are fantastic. When Simon referred to Magnus as being his "Downworld sponsor" I was probably as excited as Simon was. I'm hoping we get a lot more of the two of them this season even if the other characters are around as well. I'd love to see them become closer friends. I think their personalities work well together on screen, especially to provide light-hearted moments.

Clary goes through a hard time in this episode, not feeling like she fits in with the Shadow World. I appreciate that the show has done this. Suddenly finding out you're not human is going to be emotionally difficult, and it would be unrealistic if that was never addressed. While it somewhat feels like it came too late considering this is season two, I have to remind myself of the actual time frame of the show. With that in mind, this episode was probably spot on when it comes to when Clary would begin to have these feelings. Her mom's awake, taking away one preoccupation, and now she can't go out, leaving her with more time to dwell on what's bothering her.

Dot still being alive was talked about within the fandom, so I don't think anyone was particularly surprised to see her. I am glad that she's still around, though I do wonder about her fate after the end of this episode. Things can only get worse for her.

I have to say that I'm almost surprised at how quickly things with Jace seem to be moving. I thought it would take longer before any of the other main characters managed to get close to him. I like it so far though, and I can't wait for the next episode to see what happens.

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 371-375

This review will be a short one as the bulk of these five episodes was fighting. I've enjoyed them, but it doesn't leave me much to comment on.

I admit to having mixed feelings about Team 7's reunion. The scene between Sai and Sakura nearly broke my heart. I'm with Sai on not trusting Sasuke, and the fact that Naruto and Sakura so easily welcome him back as an ally makes me uneasy. I do understand it from a psychological standpoint–it's what I expected from them–but even with the knowledge from spoilers that I have, I don't like it.

Speaking of Sai, I felt bad for him when all of the teams were having their moments, Team 7 especially, and Sai was all by himself. We haven't gotten much of Sai recently, and he's one of my favorite characters. I feel like he gets the short end of the stick at times.

Since I don't have that many spoilers about what happens next (most of what I know happens further on), I'm curious to see how the next several episodes are going to play out.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Incorporated Review: 1x06 "Sweating the Assets"

Wow. This episode was intense. So intense that there were quite a few times where I had to look away while gory things were happening on screen. I know I bring this up a lot with this show, but as someone with a blood phobia, parts of this episode were impossible to watch. While this episode was difficult for me, I'm very happy we got to see what happened to Laura. I didn't expect to get an entire flashback episode about her. I figured that we'd learn what happened to her but that it would primarily be second-hand, with her explaining it to someone or something like that.

So I suppose that we've now got all of Ben's backstory up to joining the company, and we've got Laura's backstory. While Laura's was told over a shorter time frame than Ben's, I'm glad that we got to see both sides of their stories. I'm very fascinated with Laura as a character. I can't wait to see where she goes since she's grown up behind the wall and only has horrific memories of the red zone. I'm glad that now we have even more context for how she views the red zone.

I mentioned in my last review how Julian and Laura's friendship was interesting to me, and now I'm even more intrigued that the first time they met was him saving Laura's life. That creates some interesting dynamics between them.

This episode also allowed us to see more of Spiga's cruelty with them killing everyone who can tarnish their reputation, even the family members of their employees.

(Also, who else is very curious about what actually happened to Laura's father? I definitely am. I'm thinking that he had to 'betray' Spiga somehow. Maybe he tried to bring down the company.)

The characterization of Laura's kidnappers was interesting. You can see that they're desperate, and the fact that they were a family, complete with a mother and nephew, was an interesting set of dynamics to create. They had humanity in them even if that doesn't justify their actions.

Now that Laura's out in the red zone, I can't wait to see what happens to her or if anything does at all. For all we know the next episode could open with her back in the green zone, but I'm hoping that we get to see more of what happens to her while she's removing the girl's appendix.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Shadowhunters Review: 2x01: "This Guilty Blood"

I'm so happy to be talking about new Shadowhunters episodes again (maybe how long it took me to get this review up doesn't show that, but I promise it's true), and I'm glad that season two will be longer and give us more episodes to talk about.

There is a slightly different tone in this episode than there was in season one. You can tell that some things have changed with the production, and while they seem to predominantly be for the better, it did make it a little difficult for me to believe that almost no time had passed since the season one finale. I feel like that was a natural consequence of a season break and the changes made though, and it wasn't something that detracted much from my enjoyment of the episode.

My primary difficulty in believing no time had passed was the scene between Clary and Jocelyn in that greenhouse thing. It was strange to me that they were having that conversation right then and in that building when it didn't seem like a natural progression from the scene of her waking up. Again, though, I know that was because of the season break, so it's not something I'm dwelling over.

I like that the show has shown us immediately that Jace isn't on Valentine's side. They're also doing an excellent job of showing how abusive and manipulative Valentine is. While that's something that's hard to watch, I like that they're not shying away from making it clear that Jace has been abused and is now being abused again by Valentine.

Victor Aldertree is an intriguing character. We haven't learned anything positive about him yet, and I wonder if it will stay that way or if he'll show a better side later in the season. I could see it going either way, but I do like the idea that he's now in the Institute and overseeing things for the Clave. It's clear that he won't be as swayed as past heads of the Institute, and that will make everything more difficult for the main characters.

When Luke's pack locked Simon in the storage unit I was so frustrated. I really feel for Simon. He has nowhere to go. Going to Luke was his last option and then he essentially gets kicked out of there too.

Of course I have to discuss the Malec in this episode. It was perfect. I loved Magnus insisting that Alec's actions at the wedding were for himself and not Magnus, and the fact that Alec went to Magnus and apologized had me absolutely melting. I'm so excited to see what's in store for them over the rest of the season. I sense that it will be good things even if there's tension at times. I'm very optimistic about how their relationship is being handled.

The end of the episode, of course, is Jocelyn attempting to kill Jace and Valentine jumping in front of the arrow. I have a feeling we'll see Valentine using this to manipulate Jace in the next episode. (Note: You're only reading this now, but I wrote it before episode two aired, so I've seen what happens now.) He has already been trying to convince Jace that Jocelyn doesn't love him, and he'll use this as proof (and not be entirely wrong). I'm sure he'll build up his sacrifice as proof that he's the one who truly does care about Jace. That's probably why he jumped in front of the arrow at all. I have no doubt that Jace will struggle with what happened in the next episode. While I am sure it will undoubtedly make for a great episode, I know it will be one of those storylines that's frustrating to watch.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

ISBN: 0062282719
Published: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Received: purchased
Read from December 20th to 31st, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

Review:

Bad Feminist is one of the best books I had read in a while, and I knew going into it that it would be. Early last year I attended a reading that Roxane Gay did at Butler. There she read some of the essays from this collection, and I loved each of them that she chose to read with us then.

While there are some smaller points that Gay makes in the book that I would disagree with, she still manages to argue those points well. It feels strange to refer to a book such as this as "well-rounded", but that's the best term I can think of to describe how many different types of emotions Gay manages to hit. Parts of the book had me laughing out loud and others had me crying. I loved all of those parts equally.

I highly recommend Bad Feminist. It covers a lot of ground, and I love the central message that there's no way you're going to pull off being a 'perfect feminist' and that feminism itself can't be perfect, but that doesn't mean we dismiss feminism entirely because it's central message is important and worth fighting for.

December 2016 Wrap-Up and January 2017 TBR

Monday, January 16, 2017

Life Post: First of 2017

We're more than two weeks into January, and I haven't written a life post this year. There are several different reasons for that, and this one is probably going to be short.

It doesn't feel like we're two weeks into 2017. My allergies have been extremely bad recently. Enough that I've gotten nauseous twice over the past several weeks and, well... Plus I've been getting headaches almost every single day. No medicine I take actually seems to help, so the past couple of weeks haven't been the greatest based on that alone. But then you add in what the news has been like and various other things that have happened and 2017 hasn't really gotten off to the best start.

That's mostly why I haven't written one of these posts. This one's already all negativity and no positivity, and I didn't want that. I also didn't want to just keep on going on forever without a post.

Here's hoping my allergies decide they're ready to calm down sometime soon. I think there's a better chance of that happening than anything else I'm hoping for, but we'll see.

Incorporated Review: Episode 4: "Cost Containment"

One thing I appreciate about this show is how they're able to focus both on the "present" and "past" in a way that seems natural and is easy to follow. I wasn't expecting to see this many scenes taking place before the "present" of the story, and I'm surprised at how much I like that method of telling the story.

Because Aaron spent those earlier years in the red zone, the flashbacks are also a great way to allow us as an audience to see more of what life is like within those areas. I almost feel like we see more of the red zone than we do the green zone in this episode.

Ben uses male birth control in this episode, which fascinates me endlessly. Within the green zone, we've been told that women have an IUD inserted that can only be removed when they're approved to have a kid, so my assumption would be that no one in the green zone needs any birth control other than the IUD, as the IUD is either present or they're trying for a baby. (Although there might be other methods of birth control as options and you're just required to choose one.) Aside from the fact that this world has actually bothered to create male birth control, I wonder if its primarily for use within the green or red zone. My assumption would be that it's for the red zone considering what we've seen in the green zone, but I also imagine it's very difficult to get ahold of there. That raises a lot of interesting questions to me about how often the male birth control is used and by whom.

We meet Roger's brother Mitchell, whose brain has been damaged after he had an implant that was supposed to help him. If we were going to see this in anyone's family's past, I'm not surprised that it's Roger's. I wonder if we'll see Mitchell more or if he was merely a one-shot character. I also have a lot of questions about these brain implants. Are they something frequently implanted, that rarely goes wrong, and do other characters we know have any? Or was Mitchell one of the earliest to have one inserted and that's why it was such a failure? I'm hoping we learn a little more in the future.

How is it that Spiga isn't already trying to make crops salt-tolerant like Inazagi is? I did some Googling, and this is apparently something that some scientists are working on now. When it would be so beneficial in the world of the show, I'm kind of surprised that Spiga isn't at least making attempts towards it already. Although, maybe they are and just haven't had the same breakthrough.

Theo's storyline in this episode was by far the saddest part of the episode. As soon as Spyder got excited to see him, I knew that, whichever way the story went, it was going to be incredibly sad. That final scene between them got to me more than any other scene in the show has so far.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Eyewitness Review: Episode 10: "Mother's Day"

From the very beginning of this episode, I felt so much relief because Helen had finally realized that Ryan was the murderer and was chasing after him. While the episode still managed to hold onto the tension, I felt more at ease knowing that the truth was out than I had over the last couple of episodes.

Philip's mother was one character whose life I never worried about, so seeing her get killed was quite a shock. I'm pretty upset about it, and I'm not sure how I feel about the ending that creates. It's great that Philip gets to stay with Helen and Gabe forever, but I kind of got the sense that this was to create a happy ending, which made the murder of Philip's mom feel even crueler.

Other than that though, I liked the ending that we got in this episode, especially with Philip and Luka's relationship. At this point in time, we don't know if the show is getting renewed, and to be quite honest, I'm not sure that I want it to be. This episode felt like an end, and I fail to see how they can extend the show beyond this point in a way that would be good. I think continuing with the show would force it to become something it originally wasn't, and I think that will only hurt it. I'm much happier having a concrete ending that feels like it's where it's supposed to end. That's what this episode should be.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Film Review: Rogue One, Directed by Gareth Edwards

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I sat down in the theater to watch Rogue One. While Force Awakens had been steeped in mystery, Rogue One was a new type of new Star Wars film. This one was meant to stand alone, not set up a series, but even beyond that, I wasn't entirely sure what the movie was going to be. I'd watch a handful of the various trailers, but for the most part, I'd tried not to seek out that much information about it.

After watching the movie, I think this is the best way to differentiate between Rogue One and other Star Wars films: The original Star Wars trilogy follows the hero's journey almost exactly. In many ways, the other Star Wars films are like fantasy films but in space. To me, Rogue One breaks that mold. Rogue One is a war movie, like any war movie set here on Earth, except in space. To me, that's the difference.

This gave Rogue One a very different tone than the other Star Wars films, but I liked that about it. It made it unique within the Star Wars universe, but it was able to be unique while still feeling very much like a Star Wars film.

The characters were by far the best part. Bodhi and Cassian were my favorites though I loved all of the heroes. While each of them have great personalities on their own, the way they interact with each other makes them even more enjoyable to watch. I don't know how one could not fall in love with them over the course of the film, and I was on the edge of my seat worrying for their safety throughout much of the movie.

We also get cameos (and appearances that are a bit more than cameos) from familiar characters, which were all done quite nicely. I liked the role Darth Vader played, which was enough to get excited about him being in the film but not enough for him to overshadow new characters.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed Rogue One, especially for the characters it provided us with. It was a fun film and one that I recommend.