Monday, December 29, 2014

Movie Review: Arthur Christmas

Rated PG
Theatrical release: November 23rd, 2011
DVD release: November 6th, 2012
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:
The 3D, CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas, an Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation, at last reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child's question: 'So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?' The answer: Santa's exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic - a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns. -- (C) Sony Pictures


I know Christmas has already passed, so it seems rather useless to be reviewing a Christmas movie now. Still, I discovered the movie that may quite well be my new favorite Christmas movie of all time (or, at the very least, have tied with The Grinch and The Santa Clause). This has been a long time coming too because I've wanted to see Arthur Christmas ever since it was first released, but it just never happened. When I saw that ABC Family was showing it as part of their 25 Days of Christmas, I was excited to finally get to see it, but I definitely wasn't expecting to be as in love with it as I was.

There's just something about the humor in the film that is pretty much perfect as far as I'm concerned. I've pretty much been pushing it on everyone as much as I can since watching it, and Grand Santa is probably my favorite version of Santa Claus that has ever existed. There's not much to say about it other than that.

It may be late in the season now to be watching Christmas movies, but I'm going to recommend this one anyway. Personally, I still think it would be awesome to watch it. I'd probably watch the movie year-round, but I at least recommend checking it out when next Christmas comes around.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Life Post: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you're all having a great day, even if you don't celebrate the holiday. My Christmas has been pretty great although it mostly happened yesterday. My dad's side of the family got together, and when we came home, we opened all of our presents. We usually open them in the morning, but apparently my parents didn't want to deal with everyone waking up at different times.

My favorite present by far is my new Olaf sweater. Perrie from Little Mix (i.e. one of my favorite people in the world) has the same sweater and posted a picture of herself wearing it about a month ago. I said something about absolutely loving it, but I was completely blown away to open it last night. My mom apparently bought it from somewhere in Europe. She image searched the picture of Perrie to find it. I didn't even think my mom knew that was something you could do on the Internet. Anyway, I was beyond shocked, and even wore it to midnight mass. My sister got a different Olaf sweater, so we were matching.

I got some other awesome stuff as well, but just listing it all off would be boring. A few highlights is the How to Train Your Dragon 2 DVD. The first movie is on my all time favorite movie list, but I never managed to see the sequel in theaters, so I'm beyond excited to actually have it now. My Little House DVDs are also now complete. (I thought they were last Christmas and then discovered there was one season I didn't have. Now I really should be set though.)

In addition to the sweater, my mom bought me some Little Mix stuff that you can only get in the UK, which meant it had to be shipped, and I'm so thankful for that since I've been looking through their store forever trying to decide which item I wanted the most since it was all expensive with shipping.

Then I got a Keurig to take to my dorm since I've only started drinking coffee this past semester. It's nice because this means I don't have to go to Starbucks every single day, but the Starbucks on my campus also sells K cups that I can buy with my meal plan money. So it's even more convenient since I can fix it in my room, and I'm assuming I can get more coffee out of buying those than buying actual drinks at Starbucks every single time.

And then the last gift I'll mention is the Harry Potter mug that my sister actually painted. The most impressive part is that my sister painted a grim inside as if it's tea leaves. I tweeted about how cool having a mug like that would be months ago, and somehow my sister made one yet claims to have never seen my tweet. It's just this really strange coincidence. She also painted a lightning bolt and glasses on one side and the world "Always" with the "A" a Deathly Hallows symbol on the other side. It's really cool.

Anyway, I'm going to have to wrap this up because my sister is very insistent that I go see her immediately. I have no idea why, but I suppose I'll go find out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Life Post: Secret Santa and Other "It's Almost Christmas" Things

There's no way there's only two days until Christmas. I refuse to believe that. I've been watching Christmas movies almost every day since a goal of mine this year was to watch more Christmas movies than I have in the past several years, and at first that seemed to be convincing me that it really was Christmas time. That doesn't seem to be working anymore though. I can't believe it's the twenty-third. It doesn't feel like it.

It also feels kind of weird knowing I wrote a life post only two days ago after I was posting them so far apart. Not much happened yesterday other than waking up half an hour before I was supposed to be at the dermatologist and then getting there late. We were still in and out really quickly though, so that was all good.

I also posted my gift for the Avatar fandom secret santa yesterday, and I received my gift. Last year I never actually got my gift, so I'm so excited that I did. It's such a fun story too. My secret santa did a great job. The person I made my gift for hasn't commented on their present yet, but I really hope they like it.

As for the rest of my day, I think it's going to consist of baking butterbeer cupcakes (which hopefully turn out well), watch more Christmas movies, and editing my new Hunger Games fanfiction Move On and Recover (I want to start posting it really early in January). I'm definitely a bit nervous about those cupcakes, but I'm hoping for the best.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Life Post: Still Catching Up

I finally feel like I'm getting caught up on everything I was behind on during school. However, my blog doesn't really show that since I've only posted here a few times. I did get the End of Year Book Survey up today, which I wasn't expecting to get up until much closer to the end of the year because of other things I wanted to post. That thing took me forever. More than two hours I think, and it's not like it was writing. Most of it was just formatting and looking up book reviews in order to link them. In other words, much more tedious to me than just writing.

Since my last life post, I've gotten another one-shot posted, and I've gotten some awesome feedback on it, which is great. I had so much fun writing that one. I plan to get back to editing Move On and Recover (i.e. the newest Hunger Games fanfiction I'm working on) tomorrow, which has already been partially beta read. I'm hoping to start posting it as early in January as I can manage, but some of that depends on how much time my beta readers have. It's the holidays, so I have no problem with that coming first for all of them.

I've been really good about getting Youtube videos up lately. I finally reviewed the first half of season four of Supernatural. (I'm actually almost finished with season four already, so look out for another review soon.) I also reviewed Mockingjay Part 1 over there, which was basically me just gushing over how great it was. And yesterday I did the Ultimate Book Tag and answered some questions about books/reading/etc. It's made me feel incredibly productive. The long upload time here at home makes me feel like it takes more work to get videos up than it actually does though. My Supernatural review started uploading first thing when I woke up and wasn't done until past midnight. It was ridiculous.

It's hard to believe that it's now actually the week of Christmas. I've been watching Christmas movies and all of that, but it doesn't feel like the holiday should be quite this soon. It's also the first day of winter, which I'm only excited about because I want more daylight. Somehow I'm still surprised about how early it gets dark every single day.

End of Year Book Survey 2014

The End of Year Book Survey has been hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner for five years now. It's a way to kind of sum up what you've read over the course of the year. This is my second year participating. You can also read my 2013 edition.

2014 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 77 (as of December 21st; My best guess is that I'll finish one more before the year is out.)
Number of re-reads: 1 (This is hard for me to say for certain, but I'm fairly sure that the only book I re-read was Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I don't re-read books as often as I would like.)
Genre you read the most from: This is also difficult since I never sort my books by genre. My best guess is fantasy, but contemporary seems pretty close.

Best in Books

1. Best book you read in 2014?
I added exactly one book to my all time favorite's list on Goodreads this year: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?
I don't think I had any huge disappointments this year where I'd built a book up to something it didn't live up to, but I was hoping to like Matched by Allie Condie more than I did. I did like it and want to continue the series (I just bought the second recently.), but I thought I'd like it more based on the premise.

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read in 2014?
I read Candide by Voltaire for my humanities class, and was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.

4. Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did) in 2014?
I've gotten people to read a few different books this year, but I can't think of one in particular. I'm going to go with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. That seems like an obvious one since the movie also came out.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender in 2014?
Best series I started would the the Piercing the Veil series by C.A. Gray which starts with Intangible. I actually read the entire series this year, and it was all really great. It would almost be my "best series ender" too, but I have another in mind... (Also, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson almost got this.) Best sequel is going to go to Unsoiled by Lelia Eye, which I have yet to write a review for since I just finished it a few days ago. Poison Tree by Kacey Vanderkarr is another one that I'm still in the middle of, so I can't really officially give it the "best sequel" title yet. For best series ender is it really going to be surprising that I say City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare? I loved that book so much that I did a four part video review for it and each part is at least 17 minutes long. It was ridiculous.

6. Favorite new author of 2014?
Maureen Johnson. I'd been following her on Twitter for years, so I'm happy to have finally read one of her books. Technically I read Let It Snow a long time ago, but that's not quite the same.

7. Best book from a genre you don't typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is one I never would have picked up if it wasn't assigned in class. Mostly because I had never had a good experience with Ernest Hemingway before reading it.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
I think I'll have to go with City of Heavenly Fire again.

9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
We've already established that I'm terrible at re-reading, but I have to say City of Heavenly Fire again (and the other TMI books I read this year) because I've already re-read parts of it whenever I start getting emotional about particular scenes.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
I could go on and on about Alec Lightwood, so let me just leave you with this:
“I did not make a pie,” Alec repeated, gesturing expressively with one hand, “for three reasons. One, because I do not have any pie ingredients. Two, because I don’t actually
know how to make a pie.”
He paused, clearly waiting.
Removing his sword and leaning it against the cave wall, Jace said warily, “And three?”
“Because I am not your bitch,” Alec said, clearly pleased with himself.” 

12. Most beautifully written book in 2014?
 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2014?
Again, going to go with Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2014 to finally read?
So many. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson is definitely one since it was sitting on my shelf for ages.

15. Favorite passage/quote from from a book you read in 2014?
See questions 11. I could also pull out multiple quotes from Fahrenheit 451, but I feel like I'm overusing that book at this point.

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2014?
I've read a lot of self-published books with "unknown" page numbers on Goodreads, which makes this a bit of a guess. Shortest: Rumspringa Break by Kristina Ludwig. Longest: Currently, City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, but I'm reading No Higher Honor by Condoleezza Rice, which will beat it if I finish it before the year is over.

17. Book that shocked you the most?
I need to stop saying City of Heavenly Fire.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)
Magnus and Alec from The Mortal Instruments series, including City of Heavenly Fire although I read more of the series this year. I said them last year too, but since the series is over, this is my last chance! It's been such a long time since I've shipped a couple from a book this much. Simon and Isabelle were also so close after CoHF.

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
I'm a huge fan of friendships in books, and I've been lucky enough to read about enough great ones this year that I'm struggling with this. As much as I want to avoid answering The Mortal Instruments anymore, I'm going to choose Clary and Simon for this.

20. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you've read previously?
Ignoring The Mortal Instruments, I'm going to answer What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen for this.

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?
Maybe The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read it for a school paper, but I chose it because I felt like everyone put me had read it, especially among English majors.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments. Technically I had read about him last year, but it was in the books I read this year that he really solidified himself as one of my favorites.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I've read a lot of great self-published books this year that were debuts, and I've mentioned them each already. I'd say it's a tie between about three different books.

24. Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year?
The Piercing the Veil trilogy by C.A. Gray.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?
Beastly by Alex Flinn since I haven't mentioned it yet, and I love Beauty and the Beast retellings.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?
City of Heavenly Fire had me crying for the last, like, three or four chapters nonstop.

27. Hidden gem of the year?
Again, all of the great self-published books I read this year. There were a few misses too, but I did find a good amount of really great ones. I'll go ahead and say Reflection Pond by Kacey Vanderkarr since I'm reading the sequel now and loving it.

28. Book that crushed your soul?
Yet again, City of Heavenly Fire.

29. Most unique book you read in 2014?
I'll say Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther because it seems to stick out among the other books I read this year. I think it's the only memoir other than the book I'm currently reading, which is also entirely different.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it)?
City of Heavenly Fire made me experience every emotion to the extreme.

You blogging/bookish life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
There are several great ones I could say, but I'm going with Nose Graze.

2. Favorite review you wrote in 2014?
This was a video review, but doing four different videos for City of Heavenly Fire was memorable.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I wrote about death, and apparently that drew in a lot of people. I think it might have gotten hits because I used a John Green quote as the title to be honest.

4. Best event you participated in?
The release day blitz for Impossible by C.A. Gray.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
I've had a lot of really great "I'm so glad I'm an English major" moments this year, even if I've also had moments of insane stress levels.

6. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My review of Silence by Natasha Preston. I'm really surprised because it's self-published, but it seems to be a fairly popular book for a self-published book, so I guess that's why.

7. Post you wished got a little more love?
I'm almost definitely going to be skipping over some posts that I was actually really happy about. I do wish more people read by Legend of Korra review though because I love that show, and I love fangirling all about it with others.

8. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I've found so many Etsy shops with amazing book-inspired items. I've started a list of things I want. It might be a problem.

9. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 60 books, and as of today (Dec. 21st) I've read 77. Yay!

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn't get to in 2014 but will be your number one priority in 2015?
I have the sequel to Matched setting on my shelf. It's going to be my first of my goal to finish as many series that I've started as I can in 2015.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?
Sarah Dessen's newest book. Even though she already has one book out that I haven't read yet.

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?
I've felt so out of the loop with book releases lately (and everything else) due to school. The fact that I have no idea about any 2015 debuts is really making that obvious right now.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2015?
These are already out, but the Star-Crossed series by Rachel Higginson had it's two final books come out this year, and I desperately need to get to those. (That's one of my favorite series of all time.) As for actual releases, I'm going to say the third book in the Shade of London series by Maureen Johnson even though I still have to read the second.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015?
So many things. I want to catch up on series I'm in the middle of, or make progress at least. As for blogging, there are so many things I want to do but never do. I've wanted a new blog design for years, but I have no idea if that will happen. I'm also currently working on creating another blog (which isn't going to be predominantly about books), so I have that in progress.

6. A 2015 release you've already read and recommend to everyone?
I'm not cool enough for that.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Life Post: Winter Break is Here

Wow, it's been a while. It had been more than a week since I posted anything before the Reign review that I posted this morning. Finals were crazy, and I feel like I've been rushing to catch up with all of the things I got behind on ever since winter break started. The odd thing is that I've only been on break for about a week now, but it kind of feels like it's been longer. It doesn't seem like I was only taking finals last week. I have to keep reminding myself what day it is.

My finals went pretty well I think. I only know what grade I got on one of them so far. I just now thought about this as I was writing, but more grades may actually be up. I should check, but I haven't bothered so far.

As for how break's going, I've gotten quite a bit of writing done. My Avatar fandom secret santa gift is ready to be gifted when the gifting period begins. I've also posted one other one-shot so far, and I have another one to post tomorrow once I finish up editing it. It's been nice to get both of those finally completed as they were each pushed aside and only worked on in small increments for what was probably a couple of months. I haven't actually worked on either the Hunger Games fanfiction or original story I've been writing since break began, but that's coming once this one-shot is up tomorrow.

Keeping up posting about what Youtube videos I've put up here, I've posted two since my last life post here. I participated in the Project for Awesome again this year, as I have for quite a few years now. I made a video about This Star Won't Go Out. I highly recommend checking them out even though P4A is over. I also posted a review of Korra two days ago finally.

Speaking of Korra, the series finale is posted online tonight. I can't believe it. I'm not watching it until tomorrow though because I don't think I could sleep afterwards if I watched it tonight. I'm kind of just trying to avoid thinking about it because I know the end will turn me into an emotional mess. It's just so hard to process the fact that it will be over in just hours.

Reign Review: Season 2 Episodes 9 and 10: "Acts of War" and "Mercy"

I know I'm incredibly behind on this. Episode eight was reviewed over on Youtube, but even then it's taken me two weeks two review episode nine and a week to review episode ten. I'm slowly getting caught up on these sorts of things now that it's winter break though.

Having this long gap in between seeing the episodes and writing a review might have been a good thing though considering the subject matter. I thought that it might kind of seem like I was avoiding the reviews in order to not write about the rape scene, but while I wasn't, I do think this had the nice effect of giving me time to process everything that happened.

Normally I would write about everything more or less in the order it happened (except for my frequent sidetracks). In this case, however, I want to talk about the rape scene before anything else, because otherwise it's just going to be looming over this review. I just need to finally get out all of my thoughts in a way that isn't a few tweets in the couple of days after the episode aired.

I was extremely worried about the rape scene from the moment we found out there was going to be one. I didn't know if it would be portrayed in a realistic manner, and I was really worried about how it would play out. Two weeks after the scene aired, and I still don't know entirely what to think. The biggest positive for me is that they seem to be trying to keep the aftermath of the rape realistic for Mary. I give them props for that. (And for having Adelaide Kane provide a hotline at the end of the episode.) They didn't just shove the rape under a rug and have Mary easily capable of pretending like it didn't happen. I also like that Catherine has mentioned her own rape because that provides a more realistic treatment of what happened to her as well. I know I had seen some criticism in the past about them throwing out that Catherine had been raped and then just never mentioning it again, but now it is being mentioned.

The scene itself really shook me up. I had a hard time thinking about anything else for a couple of days afterwards. It was very difficult to watch. I really don't know what else to say about it. It's one of those things that's so terrible that I just don't really have words. The biggest thing I want to say is that I thought Adelaide Kane's acting of the immediate aftermath for Mary was amazing.

I guess that overall I'm still not sure if I really think the scene was a good idea. I'm going to hold off judgement on that until the entire season airs and we get more of how it affects Mary, but so far I'm more on the optimistic side of how they seem to be handling it. We'll see.

I'm also not sure what to do about the fact that she killed all the men who attacked her. Like, there's wanting revenge, but wow... Of course, I keep reminding myself that everyone kills people in this show. I guess thinking about that makes it a bit less shocking.

Now, let's try to talk about the other things that happened in these episodes. The things that are harder for me to recall because they more or less got overshadowed.

The next biggest thing in these two episodes for me was all of the Castleroy/Greer and some Leith stuff. I've made it no secret that I ship Greer and Leith, and I'm not all that into Castleroy and Greer being married. As soon as the Protestant stuff popped up and we found out Castleroy was Protestant, I thought it could very well be hinting at an end to their marriage. Now, they're still married, but they're going to be living a part for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Greer and Leith are in the same castle. I'm definitely sensing this going down a similar path to one I was envisioning all along. That being said, I'm not thrilled by the idea of Greer possibly cheating on Castleroy. I do like the guy even if I don't want him married to Greer, and I don't condone cheating of course. Still, I do want this concluded with Greer and Leith together somehow. I'm kind of expecting Castleroy to get killed for being Protestant, but we'll see.

Claude is really growing on me. I quite like her. She's so much like Catherine, and we all know that Catherine is my absolute favorite character. At first I just couldn't get behind Claude as a character. I think it had a lot to do with her seducing her half-brother. That's a bit off putting. Oh, and killing your younger sisters as a young child. That's downright terrifying. I'm starting to pick up on a lot of aspects of her character that I like though. I hope she sticks around for a while.

Conde being in love with Mary wasn't surprising, but I'm also dreading this story line. Conde seriously needs to work on this "falling in love with married women" thing he has going on. Has he ever been in a relationship where the woman wasn't already married? This is especially coming at the worst possible time as far as Mary's concerned. I don't know what they're possibly planning to do with that because Mary can't even sleep in the same room as Francis anymore. What do they expect her to be able to do about Conde's feelings for her? That's just shaping up to be the biggest mess imaginable, and I don't like it. I don't think that's a story line that's at all needed after what Mary just went through.

Narcisse breaks and agrees to do whatever Francis wants. That's cool and all, but I just see it backfiring at some point.

And the last thing I'll mention is Henry's "return." This show really has a thing for ghosts. I don't get it. I still don't know if the twins or Henry are supposed to be real ghosts or figments of Catherine's imagination. I'm leaning towards the later as this show has yet to actually show a ghost that was real. However, I also don't want this to be a sign that Catherine's going crazy. As has been well established, I love Catherine, and I just don't want to see that.

I know I've definitely skimmed over some things without mentioning them. Since this is a review of two episodes instead of just one, I feel like it's impossible to get everything in. I think I covered all of the biggest things I wanted to mention though. Now we get the mid-season break. I guess to continue processing what all just happened. I think I might really need this month.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Life Post: In the Midst of Finals Week

Since I don't actually have any finals today, I figured I should blog for the first time in five days. Funnily enough I'm feeling much less stress now that we're in the middle of finals week. I still have three more finals and two papers to turn in, but they're not even bothering me that much. The papers are basically written. I'll still go through and edit them a bit, but it's nothing that has me stressed out. As far as the finals go, I was most worried about Spanish, but I figured out that even if I get a 0% on the final I'd still get a B in the class. Since I'm fairly certain I can at least get above a 0%, that has me feeling a lot better. With my other two finals I'm not sure about what grade I need, but at least one of them is just like the next test of the year instead of being cumulative and over everything, so that's always a bit less stressful.

I also think I'm going to finish editing my gift for the Avatar fandom secret santa today. I'm still a bit iffy over how I actually feel about it. It's the ending I think. I'm not too proud of it, but I had to end it somehow. This isn't something I can make insanely long because if it got out of hand I'd never have it ready in time. Overall, I think it's pretty decent though, so I'm not too upset about how it ends.

I've also kept up editing my original story I've been working on while I was editing the secret santa gift, and I think I'm going to finish up a new draft of that sometime this week as well. I don't know how I managed that on finals week too, but somehow I did.

That's really all I've got since I last posted. Most of my time has revolved around finals and, if not that, writing/editing. It's going to feel amazing once finals are over. I really hope I start getting even more writing done. In addition to the original story and the secret santa gift, I have three other fanfictions sitting around waiting to be edited and posted. It's kind of crazy.

Oh, and I almost forgot mentioning any Youtube videos here. I did post a quick phone vlog because I feel bad about posting so little, but it was nothing significant.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Life Post: The Semester is Almost Finished

The end of this semester is continuing to consume everything else. I feel like I've hardly had time to breathe lately. Today was the last day of classes though. Now I just have two papers to write and finals to take before I am finished for the semester. Just one more week! Hopefully during break I'll get better at actually blogging again (and everything else I've been neglecting).

In my last life post I mentioned that I'd started writing my Avatar fandom secret santa gift. Well, it's now written, and I'm just editing it. Writing is pretty much the only thing besides school that I've been doing lately. I'm actually not sure how I feel about it yet. When I finished writing it, I thought it was terrible, but now that I'm editing it I'm starting to feel like it wasn't quite as bad as I had thought. That's a good sign I suppose. It definitely seems like it'll be ready to go up ahead of time though, which is great.

After my continuing failure to post my Youtube videos here as separate posts, I'm going to try out mentioning them in these life posts. Then I can just put down all of them that I've posted since the last one. So, since my last life post I have posted a video about my Thanksgiving day, a tag about the web series Job Hunters, and my wrap-up and TBR video that I do monthly about what I read the previous month and will read this month. Writing that all down makes it look like I was more productive over on Youtube than I was here recently, but I guess two blog posts since then isn't all that bad in comparison.

Anyway, I still have finals to prepare for, and I have yet to study or anything today. I'm actually quite behind on what I need to get done, and I want to watch Disney's A Christmas Carol on ABC Family tonight. I've wanted to see it for a while, so I'm going to push off Reign to tomorrow in order to watch it. I'd like to have my work done by then.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Legend of Korra Review: Book 4 Episode 9: "Beyond the Wilds"

I haven't reviewed Korra here in a couple of weeks because I reviewed episodes seven and eight over on Youtube.

Apparently Ryu wound up with the airbenders at some point over the three years. I can't decide whether I think he got tired of his mother and left on his own or if his mother dragged him there kicking and screaming, but somehow he wound up as a tour guide. I'm kind of in love with the idea of overly proud parents going along on a tour led by their children. Also, Ryu makes a terrible tour guide, but at least he seems to have a bit higher of a drive to actually do something than before.

The thing that got me is how fast they realize Ryu hasn't come back from giving his tour. If I remember correctly, not that much time had passed. How closely to the airbenders monitor each other?

I didn't think about this before, but someone on Tumblr (I wish I still knew where the post was) pointed out that it shouldn't have been that easy for Bolin and Varrick to get into a room with a bunch of world leaders. At least they were actually harmless. If that were reality though, I feel like Lin would be firing some people.

We hear Fire Lord Izumi (she has a name, guys!) speak for the first time, which we all know I have been not so patiently waiting for. I'm still hoping we get to see Zuko again, but I can settle for just getting to hear his daughter speak if that's all we get. I'm actually quite fascinated in the different between the Fire Nation in the first series and this one. While it's quite frustrating from a viewer's standpoint not to have her help bring down Kuvira, it also makes a lot of sense. (It could also be taken as a broader political statement outside of the show if you wanted, which wouldn't be a first for Korra.) What excites me most about this entire thing is that she does agree to help with border security, and that could totally lead to her showing up again if they wanted. (I can hope and dream.)

Another aspect of this episode that I've been waiting for is Bolin and Opal reuniting. I may have gotten a little too excited over it. And when Bolin lied to Opal it was tough to resist banging my head on something. As it was happening, I was just like, "No. No. Bolin, you did not. Please tell me you did not." I'm excited for him going with Opal and Lin to the Swamp though. Because, guys, they're going to meet up with Toph, and then we're going to have Bolin, Toph, Opal, and Lin all fighting together. Is that not amazing? Bolin gets to meet Toph. Toph who is his hero. I may or may not be freaking out about it just as much as Bolin would be. Part of it is just getting to see Toph again, and part of it is the thought of the four of them taking on Kuvira. I'm ready for it.

The Korra, Mako, and Bolin hug deserves a mention too. I'm always a sucker for group hugs, and now we have one with the Krew except Bolin's missing and one with the Krew except Asami's missing. I really need all four of them in a group hug before the series is over. I think that's a reasonable request.

Asami agrees to work with Varrick, which was something I didn't expect, but I'm exciting for anything that can allow Asami to live up to her full awesomeness potential. I'm ready to see what amazing thing they come up with that saves the day.

I also most certainly did not expect Korra to confront Zaheer. I didn't even give much thought to Zaheer still being around. The idea of him helping her because of a common enemy was an interesting one though, and I continue to be very interested in the idea of Zaheer being so spiritual yet a villain. I wonder if he'll play another part in the last episodes or if this was the last we'll see of him. That also may have been the end of Korra's spiritual struggle, so I'm wondering if the rest of the series will just be focused on taking down Kuvira or if another spiritual problem will pop up. I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Review: The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler

Published: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Crown Forum
Read from October 27th to November 16th, 2014
Synopsis from publisher:
As in a play, presidents, vice presidents, and presidential candidates perform on stage for the public and the media. What the nation’s leaders are really like and what goes on behind the scenes remains hidden. Secret Service agents have a front row seat on their private lives and those of their wives and children.

Crammed with new, headline-making revelations, THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents by Ronald Kessler tells that eye-opening, uncensored story.

Since publication of his New York Times bestselling book In the President’s Secret Service, award-winning investigative reporter Ronald Kessler has continued to penetrate the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, breaking the story that Secret Service agents who were to protect President Obama hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia and revealing that the Secret Service allowed a third uninvited guest to crash a White House state dinner.

Now in this new book, Kessler presents far bigger and more consequential stories about our nation’s leaders and the agency sworn to protect them. Kessler widens his scope to include presidential candidates and former presidents after they leave the White House. In particular, he focuses on first ladies and their children and their relationships with the presidents.

From observing Vice President Joe Biden’s reckless behavior that jeopardizes the country’s safety, to escorting Bill Clinton’s blond mistress at Chappaqua, to overhearing First Lady Michelle Obama’s admonitions to the president, to witnessing President Nixon’s friends bring him a nude stripper, to seeing their own agency take risks that could result in an assassination, Secret Service agents know a secret world that Ronald Kessler exposes in breathtaking detail.


This book reads like pretty much any tabloid you would pick up in the checkout line of a store except it's about those protected by the Secret Service, who aren't mentioned all that often in the tabloids. This book really doesn't have all that much to offer. I read it because I was intrigued by the idea of it enough, but I don't think I'd make the same choice again. It felt more like a waste of time than anything else.

The author clearly has a bias that comes across in the writing. Every single person talked about seems to be a straight up villain or a saint. It's also all over the place and jumps around. You never know who the author is going to be talking about because it changes so frequently. I'm also pretty sure that the author complained about how the Secret Service is run more than anything else. It kind of felt like the author wanted to write a book all about how the Secret Service is doing a terrible job because it isn't being run correctly these days, but he didn't think it would sell so he wrote this instead. For the most part I hardly even felt like the book fit the synopsis.

If you're someone who has a guilty pleasure about tabloids and want something that involves politics, then maybe you'll get some enjoyment out of this. Most people won't I don't think, and you definitely shouldn't go into it expecting much of anything at all. It's also not something you read and trust all that much at all. If that sounds like you're kind of thing than maybe you should pick this up.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.