Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Shadowhunters Review: 1x12 "Malec"

In my last Shadowhunters review, I mentioned that my review of this episode would probably be a video review because I was more excited about it than any other episode and I wanted to rant about it. Clearly, that hasn't happened because you're reading this.

Why is that?

Frankly, I think any video review I filmed right now would be incoherent ranting with frequent breaks of just me squeeing. In other words, it would wind up being half an hour of nothing other than me massively freaking out. So I decided a post where I can edit myself and hopefully become a bit more coherent was the better option.

If you don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, then you managed to miss out on my massive freak out. Yeah... Going back and re-reading those posts honestly puts a huge smile on my face. Or just thinking about it puts a huge smile on my face, and I've done nothing but think about it since it happened.

Guys, it was such a good episode, and I'm so happy that other people think that as much as I do. I have honestly never had such a strong reaction to any television episode save the series finale of Legend of Korra (and, admittedly, the Last Airbender series finale is the other one that came close). I'm so happy I watched the show alone. At the beginning of the wedding scene, I had to stand up (and almost tripped over my laptop cord in the process) because I couldn't contain myself. When the kiss happened, I found myself clutching my dresser-wardrobe-thing (I really don't know what it would be called) because I felt like I was going to die. (Is that cliche and overly dramatic talk? Yes, but it gives you an accurate picture of how I was acting as it all happened.)

It's hard to describe why I had such a strong reaction. (Other than the scene just being amazing obviously.) I read the books, of course, so it's not like I didn't know that Magnus and Alec end up together. But the thing is that Alec and Magnus are so important to me both individually as characters and as a couple. For a number of reasons that are probably best saved for another post or video.

It's true that I've read their story before (and freaked out over it in book form as well), but there's something very different about seeing it play out on a television screen. Even though books are the greatest love of my life, I'll admit that. Neither way is better than the other, but they're two very different experiences, which I think accounts for me having such a strong reaction.

Also, I'm pretty sure there were other aspects of this episode that I wanted to discuss? Let me try to calm down and figure out what those were.

Oh, Alec's scenes with Clary and Jace. I loved both of those. It's so nice to see Clary and Alec warming up to each other, and I want that to continue forever. It's also wonderful to see such a wonderful parabatai bonding scene with Alec and Jace. We haven't really gotten that all season, and I'm glad they worked that in there. Especially before the wedding scene because it really needed to happen.

I hope we get more great scenes between Alec and both Clary and Jace in the future. I can't see how they would not if they continued to do a good job with the story, but still, fingers crossed.

We got to meet Ragnor Fell, and he immediately died. I'm so torn because it was heart-breaking, yet I loved the side of Magnus that it brought out in the episode. Magnus discussing his past with "Ragnor" was excellent and such a great way to get aspects of Magnus' personality across to viewers when he's typically so reluctant to share it with people. It also struck a cord when, not that much earlier, Alec had accused him of flirting without any real emotion. That scene really helped establish for the viewers that that wasn't the case. (Something that would have been clear to book readers, but I'm not sure about the perspective of those who have only seen the show. Had that come across so clearly before?)

Simon's fanboying over the Malec kiss was fantastic. Unsurprisingly, I was in an excellent mood at that point as it immediately followed my massive freak out over the kiss, and I was dying of laughter. (To be fair, anything would have had me dying of laughter at that point.) I love Simon so much. He's always been closely behind Alec and Magnus as far as my favorite Mortal Instruments/Shadowhunters characters go. Plus, I think Alec needed to see some over the top enthusiasm right then considering what he'd just done. He may not be enthusiastic about showing it, but I'll choose to believe that he was thankful that someone was so outright supportive (in the dorkiest way possible).

I do kind of wish we'd gotten just a bit more Lydia in this episode. I appreciate that she gave in so easily when Alec told her that he couldn't go through with the marriage. Still, like I mentioned in my last review, it would have been nice for her to have the same realization that they couldn't get married. I'm not too upset about that though because I didn't really like how it played out.

What I wasn't expecting was for her to get attacked. I was hoping she would stick around in the story, even if it was only through guest appearances every now and then. Now I'm worried that she's dead. I have my fingers crossed that he only knocked her out, but we'll have to wait and see.

As for Hodge being a traitor, I don't think that's a surprise for anyone who read the books. I was waiting for that shoe to drop, and I look forward to seeing them play out that aspect of the story.

I can't recall anything else I'd like to discuss right now except rambling more about the Malec kiss. (For one, I want to say how happy I am that Alec initiated the kiss and came to the realization after pretty minimal pushing from Magnus in this episode because that feels so important for his characterization.) But I should probably refrain myself. I both have and will continue to say all of those things on my Tumblr, I'm sure.

I'm just so excited for the season finale, but I'm also nervous because the finale means waiting an entire year for season two. That's going to be difficult. Here's hoping that kiss is able to satisfy the fandom until then. (I think it'll do as good a job of that as anything else could.)

As for what I want in the season finale (other than more Malec), I really want a big focus on Jace being Valentine's son. I want that to be dealt with a lot in the final episode. Since I don't want to go into book spoilers only at the tail end of this review, I won't specifically say what it is I want, but I did mention it in my last review. That's still the biggest thing I want from the finale, but we'll have to wait and see what they give us.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Is Brave Underrated?

Today I want to talk to you about Brave. Brave as in the Disney/Pixar movie Brave. There have been way too many times that I've mentioned the movie and the people I'm talking to don't even know what movie I'm talking about. If they do, then more often than not they go onto say something about not liking the movie that much.

And the thing is: I just don't understand why.

Is Brave my number one favorite Disney movie? No. Is it my favorite Pixar movie? No.

That much is true, but it's still one of my favorites. It's up there, which is why I don't get why so many other people don't love it. I checked Rotten Tomatoes while writing this post, and it is certified fresh. Obviously someone is watching it and enjoying it. So why haven't more people seen it? That bothers me so much.

To be fair, all I needed to hear from the trailers was, "I'm Merida, and I'll be shooting for my own hand." Before I'd even seen the movie, I was already pretty certain that I would love it. That doesn't change the fact that the movie is fantastic. Plus, Merida is an official Disney princess, and so few people (at least that I've talked to) even seem to realize that she exists.

I wish I could change that somehow. It feels like people are missing out by not having seen the movie. Like I said, it's one of my favorites, yet it (and Princess and the Frog, another one of my favorites that too few people seem to even realize exists, but I've heard fewer people who have seen it dismiss it like I hear about Brave) seems to be far too underrated.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Life Post: At Least I'm Not Sick Anymore

I've been sick since my last post, and I didn't feel all that great for a while. I also went home for Easter break. The strange thing is, I'm feeling much better today, which would usually mean that I'd be up for writing more about all of that. For whatever reason though, I just don't feel like it. I think it's because I have quite a few different things I want to work on for school, and that's making it difficult to focus on anything else.

Since it's been a little while since my last post though, I wanted to post something. If for no other reason than to celebrate the fact that I'm barely even sick anymore (just a bit of a cough and that's it).

Over on Youtube, I also reviewed the latest episode of Shadowhunters. I'm about to lose my mind waiting for tomorrow's episode. I know I'm going to have so much to talk about after it airs. I can hardly contain myself. It's been just about the only thing I can focus on since last week.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I Used to Not Like E-Readers, but Now I'm a College Student

For a long time, I was against e-readers. I've loved books for pretty much as long as I can remember, and that doesn't just mean loving reading. I fully believe that there is something special about books themselves that comes from knowing what they hold inside of them. Because of that, I didn't want an e-reader. Despite being capable of holding more information than one could dream of fitting in a physical book, they weren't able to conjure up the same magical feelings as books for me.

They still don't. If I were given a choice between a physical book and an e-reader, there's a good chance I would choose the book outside of circumstances.

I did eventually get an e-reader though, and I think that college has made me far more enthusiastic about them than I was before. You can only lug tons of physical books between your dorm and your home so many times before you're sick of it. Carrying one e-reader that holds just as many books is nowhere near as tedious.

I won't go into that more here though. I wrote an article for College Lifestyles all about why I think e-readers are such a great item for college students. In that article, I lay out several of the reasons I've become convinced that e-books may be a better choice at least while you're a student. If you're a college student and are trying to decide whether an e-reader is right for you, I recommend checking it out.

Life Post: Almost Easter

It's been almost a week since I've posted here, and I don't have an excuse other than the fact that I've just been working on other things when I might have been writing a blog post instead. I have several different papers coming up in the next week or so. Two of them, in particular, have been a bit stressful, so I've been pretty focused on them. One of them has been easy enough to write. The other one, not so much. It's for a science class, which is out of my comfort zone, and on top of that, I'm struggling to figure out what the professor wants me to do based on her comments.

Anyway, Easter is this weekend, so that's exciting. I'm thinking of taking a break from working on both of those papers for the weekend, so maybe I'll manage to actually post again. Both of them are due within the week after Easter, so at least I'll be free after that.

For anyone interested, I wrote an article for College Lifestyles about why college students should invest in e-readers. My name still happens to be wrong in the article despite them telling me they were going to fix it, but oh well.

I've also posted a video review of Zootopia, which I loved, and I posted a video review of the last five episodes of Naruto Shippuden that I've watched. I'd really been slacking on videos lately, so at least I managed that despite not blogging.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Life Post: Busy Week and Big Exams

I was right about this week being a busy one, although I did manage to get things under much better control later in the week. The huge rush that came with the first few days of being back from break has subsided. For a few days I was definitely a bit tired and rushing to get stuff done as quickly as I could.

The biggest news of the week, though, is that I took the first of my two licensing exams to get my teaching license. (The one I took was secondary education pedagogy. I still have to take my English content exam.) I don't get the official score report back for ten days, but they give you a pass or fail when you finish the test. Technically, since it's not official, it isn't a guarantee that you passed or failed, but I mean, the likelihood that it's wrong it almost nonexistent, since the entire test is multiple choice and can be immediately graded.

Because of that, I don't feel too worried about going ahead and saying that I passed. Let's hope that's what the official report says too, since I've already said it in multiple places on the Internet.

Despite feeling terrified when I went in there, the test went really well. I struggled a bit with submitting the test at the end because I suddenly felt terrified after calming down during the test. But I really do feel like I knew the material well. It's nice to feel like you're college education actually led to something. It's also such a huge relief to have taken the test.

Shadowhunters Review: 1x10 "This World Inverted"

When the previews started coming out for this episode and I realized we were getting an alternate universe, I was pretty unsure about the whole thing. I didn't know if I would like it and how it fit into the story because I thought it had the potential to be too difficult to believe. To be honest, I do still kind of feel that way.

Unless there's something particularly huge I've missed, this is an entirely new aspect of the universe that the television show has added. That's not what had me so hesitant though. When I think about alternate universes in works such as this, my mind goes to Alternate Universe fanfiction or AUs. AUs are not my favorite type of fanfiction because such a large bulk of them are never that great of alternate universes. That being said, a few of my favorite fanfictions are AUs, so I know that it can be done extremely well. It's just that when I first hear talk about alternate dimensions my instinct is to believe it will be bad rather than good until proven otherwise. That's not an outlook that I think is typical for me when I begin reading or watching stories.

ETA (with spoilers for City of Heavenly Fire): There are alternate dimensions in the books. I've been reminded of that now. I didn't forget about Edom either. It's just that, for whatever reason, I wasn't picturing Edom as an alternate dimension in my head. I think because there were no humans left in Edom (and I think I'd forgotten that there had been humans there), so it just never occurred to me to think of them as the same thing as what the show was showing even though they are. Again, I don't know why, but I think the picture of alternate dimensions in my head only involved alternate dimensions with other versions of the human characters in them, and I just didn't stop to think about beyond that.

But as soon as you put Izzy in a Star Wars shirt and show a cheesy Magnus Bane commercial, you're probably going to get me to come around to your alternate dimension. I'm still not sure how I feel about this as an aspect of the story. On one hand, the fairies guarding these super secret portals to other dimensions does make sense. They're just about the only group of people that I think could successfully keep that secret for the entire history of the Earth. My biggest question is just: What does this mean for the rest of the story? Will alternate dimensions ever appear again now that Clary and Jace know that they're there? I'm not so sure if I would want them to appear again, but I'm not really sure either.

Anyway, moving on to other talk. I was pleasantly surprised that they made it easy to follow when we were in the alternate dimension and when we weren't because I was worried that would get confusing at first.

Just taking the alternate dimension by itself, it was really entertaining to see the other characters in that dimension. It almost makes me wish that we could have seen what Clary would have been like, although I suppose we got glimpses of that when Clary began to assimilate. I particularly loved getting to see Izzy in that dimension and the amount of Sizzy happening. Simon doesn't even seem to have a crush on Clary at all because his attention was on Sizzy, and I thought that was cute. And also a hint of what's to come I think.

Alec was also particularly interesting in the alternate dimension, although we didn't get to see much of him in there. That was just a tad bit disappointing.

Oh, and cosplay talk. I loved that.

As for what was happening in the "real world" I really loved the tension between Izzy and Alec in this episode. I think a big reason why it works so well is that we've gotten a clear picture of how close they are and how much they care about each other from past episodes. Because of that, it's clear that Izzy is really disappointed with Alec and that it's not just petty anger. I like that.

Although I do wish Alec would listen to her more and go against the Clave about this whole thing.

I loved how Simon helped Luke clear his name. Their whole elaborate plan was so much fun to watch play out. At first, I couldn't quite figure out what Simon was doing, but I think I caught on rather quickly.

One piece of the episode that has me confused is why exactly Alec tracking Jace makes their parabatai connection weaker. That doesn't quite make sense to me, and as far as I could tell, there wasn't an explanation in the episode. Not unless I missed something. I just really don't understand why that would be the case. Especially since you'd think that trying to track down your parabatai sometimes would be a typical thing. What if you got separated from each other while fighting demons and needed to figure out where they were? I just can't understand why that would be a side effect of it.

Whatever though. The end of the episode is Jace and Clary making it to Chernobyl in the "real world" which is exciting since it means that we're really nearing the big finale of the season. I was not, however, expecting them to find Jace's dad (i.e. Michael Wayland) there.


Now, when the episode ended, I didn't at all think about his dad being Valentine in disguise. Largely, I think, because I was more thinking along the lines that Jace in the book thinks Valentine's his father and recognizes the "real" Valentine that way. So if Jace recognizes someone who doesn't look like Valentine as his father than it decreases the chances that he thinks Valentine is his father. Although maybe Valentine stayed disguised the whole time?

I don't know. There are a million ways they could be taking this. However, the way that whole mystery of who Jace's dad is is handled in the books is perhaps my least favorite part of the books. Because of that, I really want them to change it, and maybe I'm too eager for that. Maybe that's making it harder for me to see them as building up towards a reveal of Valentine being Jace's father.

I hope not because I really do want them to change that aspect of the story. But there is also the question of where Michael Wayland has been the whole time we've been shown Valentine's lair in the past.

So, I have no idea what they're doing. I don't know if that's really Michael Wayland, but I hope the big reveal that they're working up to isn't the same one that was in the books. I'd prefer them going a different route, although I also have to admit that I'd enjoy seeing Jace learn that he's a Herondale in the end. I just don't want the stopover of him thinking he's a Morgenstern.

We'll see though. There are still three episodes left, and I will admit that the title of the last one (Morning Star) does kind of get me worried that it's referencing Jace finding out he's a Morgenstern. Who knows (other than the cast and crew of the series) what will happen though. I'll just wait and see.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cover Reveal: Artifacts by Pete Catalano

Hi, guys! Today I have a cover reveal for you of a new book published by Tantrum Books called Artifacts. Be sure to check out the rest of the post, which includes not only the cover but a synopsis of the book and a giveaway that can provide you with the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Artifacts by Pete Catalano
Publication Date:  May 17, 2016
Publisher:  Tantrum Books

After a friend fails English, thirteen-year-old Jax and his friends’ plans for summer at Camp Runamuck go out the window. But miraculously, the teacher offers a chance to earn extra credit. They must find several fake artifacts for a display on fairy tales at the local library.

But finding junk isn’t as easy as it sounds. And when Jax and friends discover the teacher has cut the same deal with over fifty kids, it’s a race to the finish in an effort to save their summer vacation.

When the search through junk uncovers the truth, that one of the artifacts they’re searching for is real and can be used to rewrite the endings of fairy tales; things get real pretty quickly!

To secure the artifact, the friends will fight fairy tale villains and compete against heroes and kids from class to see who can get their hand, hook, claw or fin on it first.

On the plus side, they’ve seen Home Alone like a thousand times.

Add this book on Goodreads

Purchase Links:

About the Author:

Pete Catalano's books are written for kids of all ages -- and adults who secretly never grew up. He lives in Charlotte, NC with his adorably funny wife and two neurotic dogs. Pete was a theatre major in college and tries to keep the 'suspension of disbelief' in his life as much as he can.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

War of Princes Series by A.R. Ivanovich Talk (Spoilers)

I said in my review of Lastland, the last book in the War of Princes series by A.R. Ivanovich, that I wanted to talk more about the series in another post where I could talk about spoilers to my heart's content. Then I wound up putting it off because I feel like I have so much to say that writing this will take forever. I'm finally doing it though. I doubt this will be everything I could potentially say since that would be far too long.

Also, if it's not obvious by now, this post will contain lots of spoilers for all four books, so don't read it if you haven't read those books.

I can't start talking about this series without first talking about the character. I loved all of them, even ones I would have expected to hate. I wasn't Dylan's biggest fan in the first book, even before his true colors were revealed at the end. But the way he works towards redeeming himself for the rest of the series was excellent, and I loved how it was always a constant battle over continuing to work towards being a good person and wanting to give up for him.

When Kyle, Ruby, and Sterling began to play a bigger role in the second book, I was pleasantly surprised. I hadn't really expected it, especially when it came to Sterling. I do wish that Ruby had gotten to play a bigger role, but at the same time, I'm glad that we learn in the last book about what she's been up to and how hard she's been working to save Haven.

Kyle being Varion was, it goes without saying, a shock to me. I did not see that coming at all, and I loved the tension it created for Kyle and Kat's friendship. I can't even imagine learning that your childhood best friend is a centuries old prince who may or may not be evil. That was handled amazingly well, and I love that, in the end, he really was her friend. Upon initially reading his death, I was both sad and disappointed because I wanted him to live, but that's one of those things that I've thought about a lot since I finished the book. Now I really think that's the way the book needed to end.

While I'm on the topic of Kyle/Varion though, I have to mention Carmine because I was so disappointed when she turned out to be a spy. That was another twist that I never saw coming. I had really been loving her and Kyle as a possibility before it happened. I think the biggest disappointment I have with the series was not getting to learn more about her motivation. It seems odd to me that someone who seems to be so much of an opportunist would betray one of the Princes, the most powerful people in the world, when she has become his actual friend. Staying loyal to him feels like the smarter option after all, and especially after the epilogue that brought all of that curiosity up for me again, I have so many questions about Carmine as a character and her story and whatnot that I would really like to be answered.

I saved Kat and Rune for last because I felt like I had so much to say, but now all I can really think of is gushing about how wonderful they both were as both characters and as a couple. I don't even know where to start. I just really love both of them in all of the ways. In particular, I loved Rune as a character so much. I loved the way he was struggling with freedom after living so rigidly for so long.

But one of the things I really loved was how devoted they were to each other. I really appreciated that the series didn't have a love triangle like so many other series. Instead, it's established early on that Kat and Rune have feelings for each other, and that just gets to be a steady thing throughout the series. I loved how much they loved each other and how much they were constantly fighting to protect and help the other. I thought their relationship was wonderful, and it was definitely one of my favorite relationships that I have read about in recent years.

I know there is more I could say. I could easily talk about the construction of the world and the different aspects of that that I loved. I think I've said enough for now though, so I'll just stick with having gushed over the characters. Because that's probably I'll I'd end up doing if I went on: gushing.

If you can't tell, I really loved this series. It was one of the best that I've read recently and one that I would highly recommend. I'm really glad that I decided to read it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Life Post: What Time Is It?

Today has been a nice reminder of how hectic the first several days after a break can be. Even though it's still the same classes and everything, it's like all these things that needed to be done piled up over the break and then get piled on you on the first day back. I've been adding things that need to get done this week to my planner all day long, and I've almost run out of room to write anything in on most of the days. So that's the kind of week I'm bracing myself for.

That's not to say that it's been a bad day. Just a busy one, and admittedly, a bit of a confusing one. I'm not sure I'm adjusting to the time change that well. I'm pretty much used to gaining or losing an hour whenever I travel between home and school, but the extra hour that changed because of daylight savings really seems to have thrown me off. I had trouble falling asleep, trouble waking up this morning, and I've spent most of the day really confused about what time it is. I was convinced that I wasn't going to show up to class on time no matter how many times I looked at the clock, but somehow, I managed.

I'm hoping that, at least, doesn't continue for the rest of the week. I'm not sure it will considering how busy the week's shaping up to be. That will probably make the confusion about what time it is continue for a while, but there's not much I can do about that.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review: Lastland (The War of Princes 4) by A.R. Ivanovich

ISBN: 9781939106599
Published: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment
Read from February 26th to March 10th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After a devastating attack on the Northern capital, Prince Raserion has taken everything from Katelyn Kestrel . . . everything but her will to fight back and save the people of Haven.
Out of the ashes of a burning city, Prince Varion, ruler of the Northern Kingdom, resurfaces, intent on ending the seven-hundred-year war once and for all. But he can’t succeed without Katelyn’s help. She has the powerful ability to find anything she seeks—even the enemy himself, Prince Raserion.
While the two armies gather strength for one final showdown, Katelyn finds herself on the frontlines of war, pinned between right and wrong, friend and foe, life and death. With Haven’s fate hanging in the balance, Katelyn’s struggle will not only decide her future, but the future of the broken Kingdom of Lastland.


As with all of my other reviews of this series, this one will be spoiler-free, which also means it will likely be brief. It's not that I don't have a million things to say; it's that those million things are all spoilers.

What I can say is that I loved this conclusion to the series. I can't say that it's one hundred percent the way I would have wanted it to end, but I would never expect that. I did thing it was incredibly well done, and the series continued to trend of keeping me on my toes as I read and tried to figure out what was going to happen next. There were quite a few things I had wished for in this book that did, in fact, happen.

One thing that surprised me was how much closure there seemed to be towards the end. I felt like the book gave the ending more time than most other books I've read, and I enjoyed that. I really liked getting to see some of the aftermath of the climax of the book. That being said, the epilogue got me curious again, and now I feel like there could be more to that story. It makes me wonder.

I actually think that I'm going to write another post on my blog where I just go on about spoilery stuff for a while because I think I need it. And spoilers for the series as a whole, not just the last book. Since I've been keeping all of these reviews spoiler-free, I feel like I have so much to say, so don't be too surprised if that happens in the next week or so.

Overall, I really loved this series. It was one of the best that I've read recently, and I think it's going to stick with me as one of my favorites. Katelyn and Rune are one of my favorite couples that I've read about lately, and the friendship between Katelyn and just about all of the other characters, but especially Kyle, was just as great to read about. And the story had me constantly guessing about what would come next. It was just all around a wonderful experience.

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

Friday, March 11, 2016

On J.K. Rowling and Magic in North America

You may or may not have seen (you've probably seen) the "stories" released recently by J.K. Rowling about magic in North America that are meant to be teasers for the Fantastic Beasts movie. And well... They weren't that great. I've read quite a few opinions on them at this point, and it's definitely something where I feel like other people have said what needs to be said far better than I ever could.

That's especially true when it comes to the controversy of J.K. Rowling's portrayal of Native American culture. As a white person, I think it's much better to point you to Dr. Adrienne Keene's blog posts about this on her blog Native Appropriations. Her posts have been linked back to in most of the other articles I've read about this, so it's a good place to start. I've actually been reading her blog for a long time now, and I highly recommend it in general.

As far as the recent Harry Potter controversy goes, she's written two recent posts about it. One was written when we only had the trailer for these stories that were being released:
It actually makes me kind of want to cry. Harry Potter was such a formative series for me, and holds such a deep place in my heart–and to see and hear this feels like such a slap in the face to me and other Native Potter nerds. It’s exactly what I worried would happen in my original letter to Jo. (source)
When the story itself was released, she wrote another post about her reaction, and it's that one that is perhaps the most important to read. If you read anything else on this topic, I would encourage it to be that post. What she says in it isn't anything I can emulate here, and I think I'm far better off sending readers to her post than trying to comment on it on my own.

One other article I will mention is one that I just read. It focuses on a lot on the various ways the stories were disappointing, including J.K. Rowling's less than stellar attempts to work with American history, and I would recommend reading it as well. I can't guarantee to you that I agree with every single point made, but I can say that I agree with the article in general.

As far as a personal reaction from me goes, I am disappointed. One thing I will mention just because it's what's been on my mind for today in particular is what this means for Fantastic Beasts. I have been pretty optimistic about the movie for a long time. I had hope that it would be good, but I would be lying if I said this didn't dent that optimism. I know these are just stories on Pottermore that, really, shouldn't hold that much sway on the movie, but with everything presented in them, I've become a bit worried about how the American wizarding world is going to be built in this movie.

Truthfully, I wasn't exactly thrilled with No-Maj when that was released. I don't think I talked about it online because I didn't want to dwell on it. I'm not against the US and the UK having different terms for certain things. Of course they would. In this case, it was more the term itself that irked me. I can't give you a reason why other than that I don't like the sound of it.

But I wasn't going to let that bother me. It was a small detail, and I didn't think it was worth getting upset over. It's only now that this other stuff has piled up on top of it that it's really starting to get to me. I still want to be optimistic, but I just can't manage it at the moment. And I can't tell you how that will or won't change before the movie is released.

After thinking about this, I think the problem (and I'm not the first one to mention this) is that J.K. Rowling really does feel disconnected from American culture as she was creating this. Whereas with Harry Potter she was intimate enough with British culture to create a world we all fell in love with, the magic seems to be missing from this. That being said, I don't know if she had Americans helping her with this or not. Either way, she was obviously the ultimate authority, and we wound up with what we wound up with.

There's probably a lot more I could say, but at this point in writing this, I'd really like to stop dwelling on it more than I'd like to continue going on about all of my negative feelings. I've done that enough already at this point.

Life Post: Spring Break 2015

I haven't written one of these in more than a week. Since then, I've come home for spring break, and spring break is also almost over. This week went by way too quickly. I wanted to get as much writing and beta reading done as possible this week, which I think I've managed. As far as writing goes, I've made a lot of progress with a new fanfic I'm working on, and I finished editing (just before I wrote this) a one-shot that I'm going to post in the next couple of days. I've also gotten plenty of chapters back to people I beta read for, so I feel pretty productive overall. I do still have a couple of chapters that I'd really like to get back to people before classes start up again though.

As far as everything else goes, this break kind of felt like a string of things I had to do before I went back to school. I had a dermatologist appointment, a dentist appointment, and a hair appointment. There's not much to say about any of that except for the fact that one of my fillings has to be replaced, so that will be happening in the summer. I'm not looking forward to it, but it's not like I have much of an option there.

The one thing I really haven't done at all over spring break is film any videos. I think I'm going on two weeks or maybe even three since I last uploaded anything on Youtube. I've just been so consumed with writing and beta reading. I really haven't done much else. I never did a wrap-up and TBR video this month though, and I need to. I can't remember the last time I didn't do one, and I don't plan to break that streak. It will just be really, really late...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Shadowhunters Review: 1x09 "Rise Up"

This episode was fantastic. I don't even know where to start

Just kidding. I know exactly where to start. It would be pointless to pretend like I don't want to talk about Alec and his characterization right of the bat. I think that last time I tried to hold off on the stuff I really wanted to talk about to get the other stuff out of the way, but I can't even do that this time. I just want to talk about Alec. (I mean, I always want to talk about Alec, but...)

I did tweet the other day and say essentially what I'm about to say here, but I'm all for talking about it again: Alec's characterization in the TV show so far has me so happy. It's just so perfect. I feel like anyone watching the show who hasn't read the books might have a hard time even getting why he's my favorite character at this point because he's really not coming across that well. Which is what I love so much. While I obviously love the Alec of the later books, what the TV show is doing right now feels so true to the Alec of the earlier books. On top of that though, it's been expanded on, and he has a storyline much larger than any storyline he had in the earlier books. So, basically, this is like a dream come true for me.

When I stop to think about the fact that we're going to get to see Alec's character development all over again and, not only that, but he'll be doing even more than he did in the books. It's just great. Wonderful, Fantastic. All of the positive adjectives. It just makes me so happy. Can you imagine what a large smile I have on my face right now? I'm just so excited about it.

So, yes, I am bouncing up and down in excitement because my favorite character is currently making every mistake he could make and hurting other people in the process.

That being said, I do have to talk more specifically about some of the stuff Alec does in this episode. When he told Jace and Izzy that he was engaged to Lydia, I legitimately laughed. I still can't watch that scene without laughing. I don't know if anyone watching it is worried that they'll actually get married, but I'm so unworried about that outcome that I just find it funny. Funny in a "it's also sad that Alec thinks he needs to do this" sort of way. That I don't find funny. The look on Jace's and Izzy's faces when Alec told them, however, was hilarious.

Magnus agreeing to help steal (or "borrow") Alec's stele only if Jace and Izzy agreed that Alec would never find out was also an interesting scene to me. Of course, I felt a bit like scolding Magnus for going along with it, but then you also know that it was extremely important. I don't know, but I'm more concerned about the portrayal of Malec in that scene. One of the things I think Harry is doing so well with Magnus is that it is very clear in the TV show how hesitant Magnus is around Alec almost. He's truly nervous about Alec not liking him back, and I love that so much. We get hints that Magnus in the books feels the same way. There's the scene where he rips the towel off his head when he sees Alec because he's insecure about how he looks in that moment. Obviously, a good deal of Malec in the fifth book came from Magnus being scared to open up to Alec. So all of it is there in the books, but I think being able to see Magnus' face and not just read his words like in the books makes it blatantly obvious that, while Alec's more inexperienced with relationships, Magnus isn't just super secure and confident around Alec, which I think it's easy to assume from the first book alone, if not the later ones.

Another interesting Malec bit from this episode was Alec's words to Magnus, which struck me because they seemed so self-assured. Like, we know Alec is running from himself really, even in that moment, but he manages to sound so confident with himself, which I found interesting. He knows he's turning down Magnus, and he really doesn't even try to deny that he's gay in that moment. He's almost honest about the fact that he is without directly saying the words. You know he's operating under the assumption that Magnus knows, and he doesn't act concerned that Magnus knows, even though he's gotten really fired up about people coming close (or outright stating it like Clary did) to the truth in the past. To me, that shows he's comfortable with Magnus in a way he isn't with the others. Probably largely because he both knows Magnus has feelings for him/isn't straight either and because Magnus has already proven that he's someone Alec can talk to without being judged.

Still, Alec has a long way to go considering the fact that he still thinks he can just stay married to a girl he doesn't love for his entire life and that it will work out fine. He's still in a deep pit of denial. It's just interesting to me how they're choosing to approach said denial, and I'm really liking it.

(Oh, and if I could never see the heartbroken look on Magnus' face when Alec tells him he's marrying Lydia again, then I would live a much happier life.)

Have I exhausted myself of Alec, Magnus, and Malec talk? Not really to be honest, but I'll try to move on anyway.

Let's go to Simon next. Simon who is also being portrayed wonderfully in the show so far, both through the writing and Alberto's performance. The immediate aftermath of his transformation is everything I wanted it to be. I love how you could tell how distraught he was and how much he's struggling with being turned into a "monster." This is one of the reasons I love that the transformation happened so early in the series. We get a lot of time to explore how he adjusts. I  think Clary also hit the nail on the head when she talked about how she'd been thrust into this new world and she wanted Simon there with her. I think it's very similar to the out-of-world reasoning for why I think doing this so early was a good storytelling choice.

Bit of a throwaway comment, but I just have to put it out there (again). I wonder if Camille is coming back and will ever play the role that she played later in the books. Because she's supposedly dead, but with the necklace and her connection to Magnus and the fact that she hasn't done anything she actually did in the books... I just wonder. It feels like she was gone too quickly, and each time they talk about Raphael being head of the clan now, I wonder. I don't know if she'll come back, but I wouldn't be surprised if she does. How they'll rationalize her not actually being killed by an entire group of vampires, I don't know.

From the end of this episode, it looks like we're going to have quite a bit of focus on Alec and Jace's parabatai bond in the next episode. I really wasn't expecting them to fight each other like that, and I'm really excited to see what this is going to do with their bond in the rest of the season. I think it's really great that the show is emphasizing that along with their disagreement. Hopefully, they really explore the fact that Jace and Alec are parabatai and the bond itself to lengths that the books never really did. I think that's what I'm looking forward to the most in the next episode. That and more vampire Simon.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 301-305

I've reviewed the last fifteen Naruto episodes I watched over on Youtube instead of here, so I think now would be a good time to write a review instead. It's also a good time for that because I quite enjoyed these five episodes. Naruto does have the good quality of the episodes catching my interest again right when I'm starting to get annoyed with the amount of filler. (I can think of only one stretch of filler that kind of broke away from that so far.)

Anyway, this set of episodes include quite a bit of fighting and war and whatnot, which is more or less what I want considering the point of the story we're in right now. I think what got me excited more than anything else was that so many of my favorite characters had a sizable role within this set of episodes. Actually, I'm not sure it's "so many" as much as it is "all" now that I look back on the notes I wrote down for each episode. So, of course, that's going to help me feel pretty satisfied with these episodes.

After thinking about everything, I think that's really all I have to say, but I don't want the briefness of this review to make these episodes seem bad. I did greatly enjoy the action within them. It's just that I don't feel like there's much I can say that goes beyond the fact that I thought all of the fight scenes were great, I was happy to see my favorite characters, the episodes were exciting, and things like that.

What I can add is that I'm very excited to watch the next several episodes. I know I've been saying that a lot in my Naruto reviews lately, and I think I mean it a bit more enthusiastically every time. I really am excited to see what happens next.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Shadowhunters Review: 1x08: "Bad Blood"

This episode definitely felt like a big episode full of important stuff, but when I look back on it, there really only seems to have been two big things that the episode built up. Even though Simon was unconscious for most of this episode, I think the plot of this episode revolved primarily and him and Alec. And kind of Lydia I suppose, but really, she plays a big role of advancing Alec's storyline.

I honestly don't even know where to start. I guess I'll start with Lydia. It's funny because the second she walks in she's abrasive and not all that friendly, yet I sensed that I would like her right away. After seeing one whole episode with her in it, I can tell that I was right. Back in my review for the first episode where the arranged marriage was first mentioned, I said that I wanted Alec's fiancee to be someone the audience could like. I didn't want her to be someone easily hated because that felt too easy. I said I'd much prefer being able to like her and for her and Alec to have the potential to be friends. From what I can tell, that's definitely what we're getting, so I feel very satisfied about that.

I'm going to step away from the arranged marriage stuff for a minute though. I feel like I need to save that for last considering.

First for a few smaller things: I loved Alec's and Jace's mentions of having the best forensic pathologist and then realizing that they were talking about Izzy. That was wonderful.

Also, I can't remember if Alec and Izzy know that their parents were Circle members in the first book or not, but I kind of forgot that that tidbit was even going to be a reveal in the TV show. I was taking the knowledge for granted.

The Malec in the show continues to be excellent. Magnus' face when Isabelle mentions the arranged marriage was great, and in the scene between Magnus and Alec, they continue to have great chemistry and have conversations that seem to perfectly encapsulate how their relationship should be at this point.

I'm still going to avoid going into too much detail about Alec though because I want to talk about vampire Simon first. I don't think I realized until I was watching the end of last episode how excited I was for vampire Simon, but seeing him dig his way out of the grave was excellent. And Alberto Rosende's performance continues to be amazing. He did such a great job portraying the emotions that Simon was feeling once he's awake and realizes that he's now a vampire. I am incredibly excited for Simon's story in the future episodes.

Now, finally getting back to Alec's proposal, which...okay. There are a number of things I could say. I wasn't expecting Alec to propose, but I figured Lydia would wind up being his fiancee one way or another from her first appearance when Alec shot an arrow at her. I just didn't think it was going to be Alec who decided she would be his fiancee until the scene itself. That being said, as soon as he came in to talk to her in that scene, I knew where it was going, and I didn't feel surprised so much as it happened.

And the thing is, I ship Malec obviously. Not only are Magnus and Alec two of my favorite fictional characters, they're also one of my favorite fictional couples. Never doubt for a second that I want anything more than them being together. That being said, I actually like what they've done with this storyline so far, and I look forward to seeing where they're going with this. Each decision they've made so far is something that I could say I approve of, even if part of me wishes Alec could just be himself and not get backed into an arranged marriage.

However, I've seen some people talking like they assume an actual marriage will happen, and I don't see that. I don't think this storyline will go that far. My guess is that they will be engaged, but someway or another, an actual marriage won't happen, whether that's from Lydia figuring out the truth and deciding not to go through with it, Alec admitting the truth and deciding not to go through with it, or something else. I just can't see them actually being married. (I mean, we have three episodes before an episode called "Malec" so...) Best friends forever though? I would be all for that. I'm seriously loving how Alec and Lydia's relationship has been handled so far.

Like I said before, I like that Lydia isn't being made out as a villain or some terrible person trying to force Alec into marriage (actually, I read a fanfiction with that exact scenario about a month ago that really didn't work well for me). I like that they're friends, and I like that Alec at least got to choose to become engaged to someone who's decent and had some level of autonomy in the decision. Based on what I've seen so far, I think Lydia is going to have a huge influence on Alec finally coming to terms with himself. Despite the advice she gives him to only fall in love with the work in this episode, I think that, some way or another, she's going to help him see that he needs to be himself and accept himself. Obviously, Magnus is already doing that too, and I think the two of them together are going to have the biggest influence on Alec in the coming episodes (which I guess would be kind of obvious all things considered).

So, while it would have been easy for me to be displeased with this storyline if I didn't like how it was being handled, I happen to really love how it's being handled. While it kind of is an attempt on Alec's part to keep himself in the closet, I actually think it will become an important step in his character development, and I'm looking forward to that.

To be fair, it's kind of hard for me to not be excited about having any Alec-centric storyline. Between that and now having vampire Simon, I am extremely excited for the next episode.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Life Post: Midterms

I'm probably making a mistake writing this so late in the day. Each time I've done this in the past I've wound up rambling about nonsense. When I wrote my last life post, though, I talked about how this coming week was midterms, and now the midterms have already happened.

For my online class, I had to schedule to take my exam in the testing center at the community college that my online class is through. (And made the stupid mistake of scheduling it for the same day that I had to take my only other midterm.) I'd never been to that campus, and I was more worried about getting lost than the test itself. In the end, I didn't get lost, but I also didn't park in the most convenient place considering where I ended up. It was easy to find, but man, the atmosphere just has to leave you feeling a little nervous.

You're in this room full of computers, and the staff members can see everything on each computer from their computer (and have to control it to get you into the test). You're not allowed to bring any possessions with you to the computers (there are small lockers) except what your professor has allowed you to have, and they check what you've brought before the test (and had to keep the notes I'd been allowed to write). I know why all of those steps are in place, but since I'm not used to that for my finals here at my...primary? (I don't know how to phrase it but where I go full time as opposed to this community college) I've never had a midterm like that.

All of that being said, I passed, and it wasn't like it was a bad experience. Just something that I wasn't used to. I'll have to take my final the same way, and I don't think it will feel as intense doing it the second time.

My other final felt very laid back in comparison and was like all of the other midterms I've taken in college. I can't tell you how well I did on that one since I didn't get to automatically see a score like I did my online test, but I don't feel like I did a bad job.

I do have a class tomorrow before it's officially my spring break, but it's not a midterm, which means that I kind of feel like I'm done anyway. Now I'm just dreading packing up the car tomorrow while it's supposed to be snowing and/or raining all day. Then I have to endure the long drive home. If anyone ever manages to invent teleportation, they will be my favorite person.

You know, I had planned to talk about the meeting and school visit I had earlier this week too, but I think I've written enough here already. It's not like I have much to say about other than what they personally made me think about, so that's not much of a big deal.