review · tv

Pretty Little Liars and ALL the Secrets!

And damn do they have good clothes, too. …usually. I’m looking at you, Aria.

Over the last few months, I’ve been playing catch up on Pretty Little Liars, got through Season 5 just in time for the start of Season 6, and was able to watch live as we all found out the true identity of the Liar’s long-game tormentor, A. I actually watched this show live when it first started six years ago, but stopped before the first season ended. Why did I stop? Why did I start up again? What do I think about the latest but oddly not quite final plot twist? Let’s dive in. Expect spoilers.

Continue reading “Pretty Little Liars and ALL the Secrets!”

books · review

Recently Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Well done, ma’am. Well done!

This book was fantastic. Rich and unique descriptions, complicated and unique characters, an intriguing and unique plot — noticing a pattern here?

The description on the backcover of this book is wonderfully vague. It only barely hints at what’s inside and it’s great, because I went through this book free of bookcover spoilers or expectations and with no idea what was coming, which made it all the better when it happened. In fact, I’m even going to hide the last sentence of it under a cut, and pretty much everything behind the cut will be, well:

So, if you haven’t read this book and you like YA fantasy, read it. Karou is a fantastic, complex, flawed character and the people in her life are fleshed-out and real. Also, it made me really want to visit Prague again and see it with new eyes! It’s such a gorgeous, old world city. Likewise, this book is just beautiful to read and enjoy, and I am eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of the sequel, Days of Blood of Starlight.

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. Continue reading “Recently Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor”

movies · review

What’s Your Number Is a Pretty Good Movie

What’s Your Number? suffers from a stupid title,  some awful trailers, and release timing that forced it to live in the shadow of a much worse movie that people keep saying is great. Here’s the twist, it’s actually a good movie with relatable characters, some adorable moments, better realism, and a plot that doesn’t require its character to become deplorable assholes or mind-numbing idiots in the process.

The title is bad, but I don’t think France’s substitute of “Sex List” was any better.

Now, it’s not changing the world of rom-coms or winning any awards. But it’s a lot better than the trailers and title imply. It has some good comedy, a decent plot progression and resolution, and Anna Faris is really great comedienne, which is one thing that even the reviews that pan this movie acknowledge. Chris Evans as her co-star is adorable and enjoyable as well. And while I think this movie stands up on its own, it’s impossible to not compare it to Bridesmaids for a few reasons: the aforementioned timing of its release, everyone else does, and they do legitimately have similar plotlines. So here’s my breakdown on why I think WYN is not only a good movie, but why it’s better than Bridesmaids by a long shot. Some spoilers may happen, but let’s be honest, you all know how this movie ends already. Continue reading “What’s Your Number Is a Pretty Good Movie”

books · review

Recently Read: The Hex Hall Series by Rachel Hawkins

It’s been a sparse summer for posting, but a decent one for reading! So here’s a shot at a new series of posts on books I’ve recently read and my thoughts on them. I’ll try to stay away from spoilers, but it’s possible a few small ones may slip in, so be forewarned! Doing these is somewhat inspired by a blog I recently found called Young Adult Fiction and Whiskey Sours. Being a fan of both of those things, it was no surprise that I found the blog enjoyable, too! Check it out if you’re also a fan.

The US covers have this nice reflection theme going on for all three novels.

Summer of 2012 has been a YA fantasy-heavy summer for me. I blew threw the three novels in the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins. The first book, of the same title, starts us of meeting Sophie Mercer, a sixteen-year-old witch being shipped off to boarding school for supernaturals (or Prodigium, as they call it) who have trouble staying under the radar. On an island off the coast of Georgia, snarky Sophie’s journey starts off feeling very been there, done that. Young magically-inclined kid goes off to magic school and hijinx ensue, hmm, I’ve heard this one before… but, thankfully, it gets better. Continue reading “Recently Read: The Hex Hall Series by Rachel Hawkins”

review · tv

“Men at Work”: You’re Doing it Wrong

Last night, Brandon and I happened to catch an episode of the new TBS sitcom called “Men at Work.” You may recognize the name from the absolutely relentness plugging that’s been going on for the show. It wasn’t a show we

Shocking news: “Guy shows can be just as crass, penis-obsessed and vacuous as all those gal shows that started turning up last fall. More, even.” The shock is that someone said this with a straight face.

sought out, but it came on after a repeat of The Office, so we  sat through it.

And ugh. This piece of crap cannot be cancelled fast enough. Cliched writing, characters, stock jokes, and plots. Ripping off better shows. The only reason anyone is saying this is the guy’s version of Sex and the City HAS to be because that’s something the marketing for this show came up with, because it’s nothing like that at all, apart from having four male characters in one show. Continue reading ““Men at Work”: You’re Doing it Wrong”

review · thursday tropes · tv · writing

Thursday Tropes: Pretty Hurt

Part of my new attempt at a schedule, I’m going to aim to talk about a TV trope on Thursdays. I say “TV” because it’s largely inspired by the website TV Tropes, but these might come from books, movie, TV, games, any media or entertainment for mass consumption there is, really. Plus, Thursday Tropes has some nice alliteration to it.

I know, I know, today’s Friday, deal with it. I’m just getting this thing started! (Glee and The Killing spoilers ahead.)

Also, check out the new look! What do you think? The background is from Cutest Blog on the Block.

Continue reading “Thursday Tropes: Pretty Hurt”

review · tv · writing

T-Boned: The Uncomfortable and Ultimate Glee Fail

Spoilers, if you care.

A few weeks ago, while watching Glee:

Me: *bitch bitch rant rant*
Brandon: “We hate this show now, don’t we?”
Me: “Yep, pretty much.”
Brandon: “We’re still gonna watch it though, right?”
Me:  “At least until the end of the season.”

In its tradition of bringing public attention to tense matters facing high school students today, Glee explored a new dark side of teen bullying and homophobia: teen suicide as a result of bullying for one’s non-heterosexuality.

Continue reading “T-Boned: The Uncomfortable and Ultimate Glee Fail”

books · review

Our Trolls Are Different

Just like The Passage had a Backdoor Pilot, I found a book exemplifying Our Trolls Are Different! Though it’s almost more of a variation on Our Elves Are Better. (And no, it’s not Twilight, ’cause c’mon, we all know their vampires aren’t Better, nor are they really vampires.) A while back, I downloaded the free sample of a book called SwitchedBook 1 of Trylle Trilogy, to my Nook.

And be warned, here there be spoilers.

“Trylle” is a fancy word for troll in this book, and the main character Wendy is a troll — excuse me, Trylle — princess who was switched at birth with a human. The problem came in when her human father killed himself and her human mother went nuts, convinced Wendy was not her daughter at all and tried to kill her at her sixth birthday party. The mom went to the looney bin, and Wendy and her older brother live with their aunt. Apparently due to Wendy’s attitude and scholarly problems, they’ve had to move around a lot because she keeps getting kicked out of school. And she’s also learned she can persuade people into doing things she wants them to do when she concentrates on it hard enough.

Now, this is a pretty interesting premise. That’s all a great set-up for a really f*cked up life and some serious issues to explore through an urban fantasy setting. But the author, Amanda Hocking, gets in her own damn way too much with cliches, poor writing, and an abundance of tell don’t show. Taken as a whole, it adds up to a big fat case of Twilightitis.

Enter the mysterious handsome boy, Finn, who catches Wendy’s attention. Cliche, but fair enough–these YA paranormal books are expected to have a

I KNOW I've heard this one somewhere before...

romance plot or subplot. It’s not like I shirk it in the one I’m working on, after all. However, and stop me if you’ve heard this one, the handsome boy is unreasonably weird and rude and stalkerish towards Wendy, while Wendy is whiny, bitchy, and ungrateful to everyone around her, and obsesses over the guy who’s being a dick to her.

There are a few other points where it could, again, be a better book: Wendy confronts her not-real-mother in the asylum and it’s a decently interesting scene. Wendy and Finn get attacked by rival trolls in the street, and at this point she finally agrees to leave her aunt and brother for her ‘real’ family because these attackers will continue to come after her. And she does realize, on leaving them, how much she loves and misses these two people who have stuck by her through everything.

Then she finally gets to the Trylle homestead and troll society completely sucks. Since my sample ended a handful of chapters after she got there, I wasn’t able to see how this panned out. And while Wendy is a princess, her mother is an ice queen, and she learns that trolls as a species make a regular practice of stealing rich human children so they can be replaced with their own kids, and then when they hit 18 more or less, they steal their kids back, expect them to integrate and hand over their inheritance to the troll society. Not that her troll mom has made any effort to check in on her in the last 16 years, or make sure she was okay, or just check to see that no one else noticed her female troll baby had replaced an expected male human baby and that her human mother hadn’t tried to kill her or anything. Nope! Nothing of the sort. Oh, and trolls also have a hierarchy that places those stolen human children (who live with them, but are not regarded as family, or returned to their rightful ones) only just below the breed of trolls who are able to find the scattered troll children when it comes time for it.

To her credit, Wendy seems to find this all pretty despicable, and quietly promises that her troll mom will not see one cent of that money, which she’ll make sure goes straight to her brother and aunt.And she wanders around Trolltown (my name, not theirs) with no one really telling her a whole lot about who she is, what that means, etc. She’s just…seeing some pretty plants, and expected to know everyone around here without anyone telling her. Basically it’s like she just went and arrived at her destiny to sit around like it was any other day.

There was some build-up happening to some debut ball and her possible death being foretold, but I wasn’t interested enough to buy the book and keep reading to find out. Which shows how there were some serious flaws here–there were a dozen or more plot points that could have made this fascinating but it just wasn’t. All of the interesting things were ignored in favor of a Twilight-romance rehash, trolls who really should’ve just been called elves, the boring details of every day activities, and the awful headspace of the whiny Wendy.

Overall, not a book I’d recommend. Trylle’s trolls may be different, but they certainly aren’t unique.

movies · review

Bridesmaids is a Bad Movie

Spoilers ahead, if you care.

I finally saw the movie Bridesmaids last week. Brandon and I were both fairly excited to see it at last, having heard so much about how it was hilarious, etc, all summer when it was released. It stars a number of talented and funny ladies. It had a premise we can all relate to–the stress of being in a wedding, planning things, spending money you may not have, and dealing with the rest of life at the same time.

None of these dresses were even IN the movie, either, for that matter.

It should have been so good, but I sit here now wondering what the hell everyone saw in this movie. Look, I know we’d all love a female version of The Hangover. It was a really funny movie. And it was way better than this drivel, so why was everyone rushing to hand out that title to Bridesmaids?

The sequence in the movie that clearly had THE most thought put into it in terms of the steps to the joke, the build-up of the joke, and the “payoff” of the joke was the food poisoning joke. Yep, that’s the one where every pukes or sh*ts themselves in a ritzy fancy dress shop. Yep. THAT is the joke that had the most attention given to it. That should tell you something about how “good” the rest of the movie is.

The main character, the Maid of Honor played by Kristen Wiig, is a mess of a woman who at no point both realizes she’s a wretched person who got herself into her own hole and tries to dig up out of it. When Melissa McCarthy’s character shows up to literally slap some sense into her, Wiig seems to understand that she is where is because she hasn’t done anything to prevent it at this point. (A few things were not her fault: the food poisoning was not her fault but the restaurant’s; and I’d say her acting out on a plane when the Rival Bridesmaid gave her some unidentified pills and scotch to relax is at the very least shared blame.) She’s driven away her friends, lost her job, her apartment, everything because she’s let it happen to her without trying to change and do better. So in a tried-but-true pacing challenge, what she should do here is go to her estranged BFF who’s getting married (who booted her from both her life and wedding and rightly so) and apologize profusely, right? Or at least do something to make up for it? Hey, she’s a baker, maybe she should, y’know, bake the wedding cake free of charge! That would be a good start on making up for what’s happened.

Instead, she bakes a cute little cake for the Nice Guy she slept with and then blew off. And…drives by his house a lot. And…that’s it. That’s ALL she does to try for redemption. Makes a passing gesture to the person she knows the least and owes the least to of all the people she’s been wretched towards. She does NOTHING to make amends to her friend who’s getting married. Except for when the wedding day comes and the Rival shows up not knowing where the Bride is, and Wiig harasses the Nice Guy (he’s a cop) into helping her find the friend at…her own apartment. The Bride was at her apartment. No calling, no checking, I realize it was meant to be a joke, but seriously? Are you freaking kidding me??

One review I read afterwards claimed this movie gave some kind of insight into how women really act around each other, that the idea was we’re just as raunchy and gross as boys when there aren’t any boys around. Sorry to disappoint, but we’re not. Oh, maybe some ladies are, it takes all types, but generally speaking? Almost NOTHING in this movie represents how women act around each other and how we treat each other. In fact, I’d hope this movie represents not a shred of how anyone treats each other ever, quite frankly.

The female Hangover may yet come, but this, folks, was not it. It wasn’t even close. It was a poor comedy and a poor movie, and we can do better, ladies. And gents.

books · review

Feed by Mira Grant

Feed, by Mira Grant, Book 1 of the Newsflesh Trilogy

Feed, Book 1 of the Newsflesh trilogy,  is the post-apocalyptic zombie novel I’ve been waiting for. I love post-apocalyptic stories. They fascinate me; The Walking Dead is one my favorite tv shows and graphic novels for its excellent extended exploration of what happens after the world ends. The stories of the world wiped clean and regressing into the Dark Ages is old news now; even the story of how the world ends has gotten stale. You’ve got zombies? That’s cool (though my friend Auston will argue otherwise). But they aren’t really that interesting, they aren’t characters, they’re just a plot device. I’m not as interested in how your apocalypse happened or how you survived it, tell me what happens next. After The End, after Happily Ever After (or not), because that’s the interesting. Not how the world ends, how it changed.

Penned by Mira Grant, Feed takes place in 2039, after the zombies have risen, and the world beat them more or less back, but still lives and functions with the constant threat of outbreak. Because every living person is already infected, and it’s a matter of time until they become the undead themselves. In this novel, we follow Georgia and Shaun Mason, bloggers dedicated to the goddamn truth, as they and their friend Buffy are selected to become the dedicated press attachment of Senator Ryman’s bid for the presidency.

This novel came out in May 2010 in paperback, and I think I’ve had it sitting on my nightstand since about then. Shame on me, I know. What made me finally pick up and start reading Feed?

I also recently borrowed from a friend and read the five books so far released in the October (“Toby”) Daye series by Seanan McGuire. This series is about a half-faerie private eye and knight living in San Francisco, solving all manner of fae-on-fae crime. While I once overlooked this series for the ridiculousness of the main character’s name–let’s face, ridiculous names tend to plague the fantasy genre–upon this recommendation I tried it out and devoured the books in the space of about a month. What McGuire does best is fantastic world-building: she has done her research and built her world of faerie mythology soundly, constantly adding in new tidbits and interesting twists. The latest book, One Salt Sea, took place half in an undersea realm still filled with Faerie denizens new to both the reader and Toby alike and it was just excellent. These faerie have rules, traditions, politics, a long list of intriguing and very different races, ties back to any and all faerie stories you heard as a kid and as an adult. They’re mean and quixotic, they don’t think like we do, and yet they have to try since they live half in our world, and it’s this thin line that Toby straddles.

Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire, Book 1 of the October Daye series

What’s this got to with a book about zombies and bloggers? Well, turns out Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire’s pseudonym for this particular series. Once I knew that, I dove into Feed, and it has just as much excellent attention to detailed world-building as her other novels, with a great deal of thought (and consistency!) put into a world where the zombies have come and redefined everything about how we live our lives. There are security measures that have been planned, sections of the country that are more dangerous than others, how we eat out at restaurants has been addressed, and blood tests abound freakin’ everywhere because you could quite literally just suddenly become a zombie.

While the story has a slow build that may frustrate some, it’s got very worthwhile pay off, good characters, and it’s not boring while its building, either. Feed takes some really great risks that pay off, too. If you enjoy these things, and if you really like or are looking for some great world-building, I recommend the Newsflesh and the October Daye series alike.