Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 2015 Recap

And so the first half of 2015 is officially on the books. I hope everyone's been having an awesome reading year so far! I didn't get a whole lot of reading done in June, but I really enjoyed the two books that I did read. The Melissa also returned to us in June and is currently obsessing over Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist series, which she hopes to have reviewed soon. :) And GoT wrapped up its fifth season, the finale of which still stabs at my heart like Valyrian steel whenever I think about it. :(

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Discussing Game of Thrones Posts:

Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Mid-Year Rewind

I say this in every monthly recap post, but time really does speed up the older you get, or so it seems to me. 2015 is zipping by especially fast, and I'm in serious disbelief (and probably some denial, lol) that we're already halfway through ANOTHER YEAR.

Before starting this post I took a quick look at the goals I set for myself in January. I was happy to discover that I accomplished one—a reread of Maria V. Snyder's Study series—and have been diligently working on another—reading books that have been sitting on my shelves for far too long.

This item wasn't listed as a goal, and I can't believe I forgot to include it as one, but I'm really proud of completing the Game of Thrones episode recaps. The show premiered before I started blogging, and so I didn't begin recapping until Season 3. Not having the first two seasons in the archive always bugged me, and I was determined to remedy that before Season 5 got underway. Revisiting the first two seasons brought on some major nostalgia, especially when you realize just how many characters have left us since Episode 1!

I had hoped to be able to say that I'm on track with my 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge, but I am not. Normally I would be incredibly annoyed by this, but I've been in a general life slump lately, and I need to stop beating myself up over things that I sometimes can't control. The spirit has been very willing to read, but the body cannot usually stay awake long enough to read for an extended period of time. So both body and spirit must utilize whatever time we can and savor every precious second of it.

If I had to pick my favorite reads from the first half of the year, I'd go with A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series, Half Wild by Sally Green, and The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. ACOTAR left me with a pretty severe book hangover, and I may recover just in time to be emotionally wrecked by another Maas book, Queen of Shadows, later this year.

I'm still attempting to cope with the fact that Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven King, the conclusion to The Raven Cycle, has been pushed back to early 2016, and thus I will not be naming it my favorite book of 2015. So the field for the top spot is wide open, and I hope to come across some additional contenders over the next six months. My plans are to keep chipping away at what's on my shelves, as well as to keep chipping away at my Goodreads goal. I'll do my best to meet it, but without pressuring myself unnecessarily like I have in the past.

Are you working towards any particular bookish goals this year, and how are you doing with them?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fandom Mashups (8)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
In your adventuring, you've encountered a dragon :O but you have no clue how to figure out if it's a friendly dragon or a human barbecue. Who do you take with you to investigate?

  1. Charlie Weasley (Harry Potter): Charlie works with dragons for a living, so his expertise could literally be a total lifesaver.
  2. Eragon (Inheritance Cycle): Eragon has a special bond with dragons that might come in handy here.
  3. Seraphina Dombegh (Seraphina): Not only is Seraphina also extremely knowledgeable about dragons, but she's also an all-around awesome character who would be an absolute asset to this team.
  4. Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon): Hiccup has learned a lot from hanging out with his dragon buddy Toothless, so he should be pretty helpful in determining whether the dragon in question is friend or foe.
  5. Daenerys Targaryen (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones): She isn't called the Mother of Dragons (one of her many, many titles, lol) for nothing. This lady is a mom to not one but THREE dragons, so if anyone can sort this out, it's Daenerys.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (88)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
If You Had to Use One, Which Unforgivable Curse Would You Use?

Only if I found myself in imminent, extreme, mortal peril from an attacking wizard or witch or had to help someone who was in such danger, I'd try Imperio first to see if I could get the attacker to stand down that way. If that didn't work, then I'd escalate to Crucio, but just to distract the other person enough to make a run for it. I really don't think I could bring myself to ever cast Avada Kedavra, even if my life depended on it.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
The Sin Eater's Daughter (The Sin Eater's Daughter #1)
By Melinda Salisbury
Scholastic Press
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

To Sum It Up: Twylla has always had a destiny. First, she was the Sin Eater’s daughter, who would one day carry on the family tradition of atoning for the sins of the dead so that they may rest in peace. Then, Twylla became daughter of the gods with the ability to kill traitors of the kingdom with one touch. She lives in the castle with a cruel and unforgiving queen. W hen the lines between truth and legend become blurred, Twylla must seek out the truth in order to save the kingdom and herself.

Review: My sister Allison actually tried to pry my hands off this book in the library, and after a silent and intense struggle, I was the champion. My triumph was short-lived. Despite the stunning cover and super alluring blurb, the book did not live up to my expectations. To be fair, my expectations were quite high, but there were issues with this book that I had a hard time getting past. The characters were inconsistent and not very likeable and the plotline was smushed into the last thirty pages of the book.

The biggest issue I had with this book was the characters. Let’s start off with our “heroine” Twylla. She was way too self-pitying, and too much of a coward to do anything to help herself. Twylla spent nearly the entire book letting things just happen, neglecting what she knew to be right in order to stay safe. This was extremely annoying as a reader. Additionally, I thought she was quite dimwitted and too easily manipulated. Next, love triangles often annoy me and this book was no exception. At first, I thought the Prince was okay, and that slowly turned into utter annoyance. I thought he was a melodramatic brat. Then we have Leif, who I grew to like during the duration of the book. The friendship that developed between Leif and Twylla was really nice, but then out of nowhere it turned into something else. The transition between friendship to romance was awkward. And the end. Don’t get me started. I had a moment of extreme outrage. All I can say without completely ruining the whole book is that some things were completely out of character. It seemed like certain things were thrown in for extra drama and to make the love triangle more of a triangle.

As I said earlier, Twylla did absolutely nothing until the last thirty or so pages of the book. This resulted in a rushed feeling to have a climax and resolution despite the lack of action throughout the rest of the book. Also, the end seemed a bit of a stretch and somewhat unrelated to the rest of the book. I felt as though the book was 80% exposition. If the first chunk of the book were condensed to the last chunk of the book and vice versa, I think everything could have worked out a lot better.

All in All: This book was a pretty quick and easy read, but I was far from lovestruck with it. I don’t see myself continuing on with this series.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fandom Mashups (7)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You've been approached to travel into space in search of new worlds and civilizations and you get to pick a team to take with you: who do you take?

All three of us had some time to sit down together and collaborate on this week's post, as well as for the next few weeks of mashups! Here's our team for this week:

  1. The Tenth Doctor: He's super duper pro at traveling to new planets, and: DAVID TENNANT!
  2. Professor Charles Xavier (X-Men): One, he's great at diplomacy, which is perfect for fostering peace with any new friends we meet. And two, language won't be a barrier because he can communicate telepathically!
  3. Han Solo (Star Wars): If things should go awry, Han can fly us away in the Millennium Falcon if necessary.
  4. Ripley (Alien): Just in case we meet any hostile life forms looking for a fight.
  5. Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story): To infinity and beyond!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (87)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Which Death Eater Would You Be?

If I were a Death Eater I would hope to be Regulus Black. Regulus is already my favorite Death Eater and I admire and respect him very much. I would like to think that I would be intelligent like him and realize my mistake in following Voldemort. I would also like to think that I would be brave enough to sacrifice myself to spite the Dark Lord by stealing his Horcrux and replacing it with a fake, lol.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Loot (16)

We're about halfway through the year, and I'm pretty proud of how much I've cut back on my book spending over the last six months. But, it was my birthday last week, and I decided to treat myself to two sequels that I really, really want to read: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson and Half Wild by Sally Green.

My awesome co-workers very kindly gifted me some Amazon gift cards, which I will put to good use soon, and some Game of Thrones goodies (they know me so well, lol!).

Ally, The Melissa, and the rest of our family circle further spoiled me with an Olaf mug, a jigsaw puzzle of Cinderella's Castle, an adorable Star Wars notebook, and a Snoopy bag. They also added to my steadily growing GoT Funko collection.

I also went to the library last week for a few books. It had been so long since I'd last been there, I had to renew my library card. :/


Rook by Sharon Cameron
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld


Half Wild by Sally Green
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Discussing Game of Thrones: Mother's Mercy & Final Thoughts on Season 5

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Mother's Mercy.”

Oh man. I don't know where to start with the last recap of the season because . . . . So. Many. Feelings! A lot of them angry—I'm still extremely emotional right now. Episode 9 is usually the showcase episode, but we really had three crazy episodes in a row. And this one was just nonstop with the twists and . . . the deaths.

Stannis Pays for Last Week's Episode. Big Time.

Melisandre sees the ice melting and is all like, see, Stannis, it was totally worth burning your daughter alive because the way to Winterfell is clear now. She tries to go in for a hug but gets rejected. And then the bad news floodgates open: nearly half the men deserted after last week's horror because, you know, normal people realize that sacrificing your daughter so you can be King is wrong or whatever. But the bad news gods aren't finished with Stannis yet: Selyse has hanged herself. And then Stannis gets told that Melisandre was spotted riding away with one of the few remaining horses. Even after all of this, Stannis continues his march to Winterfell.

Sam Wants to Leave NOW?

At Castle Black, Jon describes the Night's King turning the dead Wildlings into White Walkers to Sam, who then hits Jon with a request to leave for the Citadel in Oldtown to train to become a maester. Sam wants to take Gilly and baby Sam with him because they're not safe at the Wall, and Sam couldn't bear losing them. Capital timing, Sam. Look, I love books, too, but Jon needs you HERE and NOW. Have you seen the murderous looks Olly has been giving Jon? Oh boy—I'm already starting with the Olly hating.

Stannis's Last Stand

What remains of Stannis's battered army finally approaches Winterfell. Inside the walls, Sansa is running around, trying to reach that broken tower to light the candle. Pod spots Stannis's banner and runs to tell Brienne, who's been watching that tower but now has a chance to avenge Renly right at her doorstep. And so she abandons her post to go beat Stannis's ass. Stannis orders a siege at sunrise but the Bolton men are already there. And, unlike his men, they're fresh for battle and highly organized. Cut to injured Stannis, surrounded by dead Baratheon men everywhere, fighting to the very end. And then Brienne shows up. Stannis doesn't deny murdering Renly with blood magic. She asks if he has any last words, and he says go on, do your duty. The last shot is of Brienne raising Oathkeeper, but unless I actually see the body, I don't assume a character is dead. So I'm not entirely convinced that Stannis is a goner yet.

A Snowy Leap of Faith

Ramsay delights in delivering killing blows to Stannis's dying men. Back at Winterfell, Myranda and Theon catch Sansa outside of her room. Myranda aims her bow at Sansa, and just as she's about to release the bowstring, Theon grabs her and she falls off the walkway. Good riddance, bitch. Theon and Sansa have a split second to make a dash for freedom because the men are returning from the battle; the two clasp hands and make a jump for it. This was my favorite moment in the episode!

Arya Goes Berserk

Meryn Trant is beating three girls for fun but one doesn't seem phased. He kicks the other two out and punches the remaining girl, and when she gets up, it's Arya! She was wearing a different face! She then stabs Trant in both eyes, and that's only the beginning of her stabbing spree. I averted my gaze from the TV for most of it and thought for a moment that she had shoved his eyeballs in his mouth. She's all like, I'm Arya Stark, bitch! before she strikes one last time. Back at the House of Black and White, Arya returns the face she borrowed. Jaqen is not pleased with what she's done; he says that she stole from the Many-Faced God and owes a debt. Jaqen drinks poison and dies as Arya screams. But then the Waif turns into Jaqen. Arya keeps removing faces from the body, finally revealing her own before going blind. Seven hells this was insane!

Why You Shouldn't Kiss People Goodbye

Jaime and the rest of his party are leaving Dorne. Prince Doran, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes are there to see them off. Ellaria asks Myrcella for forgiveness and kisses her. Big. Mistake. On the ship, Jaime tries to tell Myrcella that he's her father, and she tells him she knows, and she's glad. Then the poison kicks in and she starts bleeding profusely from her nose before collapsing in Jaime's arms. Cut to Ellaria still standing on the dock, bleeding from the nose, watching the ship. Ah, but she has the antidote.

It's the Cleanup Crew!

Everyone who didn't hitch a ride on a dragon last week is just sitting around the pyramid, wondering what to do. Grey Worm walks in and isn't happy to see Jorah. But Daenerys's remaining allies need to band together to find their queen. Daario starts giving orders, and . . . everybody break!

Guess Who's Back?

It's Varys! Aww, Tyrion missed him.

Nap Time for Drogon

It's time to check in on Daenerys and Drogon. She tries to get him to fly her back to Meereen, but the little guy is all tuckered out from his big adventure. Daenerys walks off a little and comes face to face with a Dothraki rider. Quickly followed by a whole freaking khalasar! Where in seven hells did they all come from?

The Ultimate Walk of Shame

Cersei finally confesses to the High Septon. Well, sort of. She admits to fooling around with Lancel but vehemently denies the twincest. She still has to stand trial for the charges she denies AND has to atone by walking naked through the streets of King's Landing with that bitch-faced septa trailing behind her and saying "Shame" all the way back to the Red Keep. The common folk are brutal, hurling every insult imaginable at her and pelting her with gods know what. When at last Cersei reaches the Red Keep, covered in filth and her feet bloodied, Qyburn rushes to cover her with a cloak as Pycelle and her uncle Kevan look on stonily. Oh, and Frankengregor has joined the Kingsguard.

And Now His Watch . . . Shit, I CAN'T Say It!!!!

Davos is back at the Wall, pleading with Jon for more men, when Melisandre turns up. Jon asks about Stannis, Davos asks about Shireen, and they get zero reply to either question. Later, Jon reads some bad news then gets summoned by Olly. He tells Jon that one of the Wildlings from Hardhome claims that he knows where to find Benjen. It's a total fucking trap as Thorne and some other bastards are waiting to stab Jon "for the Watch." And that little shit Olly delivers the last blow. Fucking. Olly. Jon wasn't the one who ate your mama and papa!!!! I knew from reading A Dance with Dragons that Jon's own men were going to shank him, but this scene still made me really, really, really fucking angry, as evidenced by how many times I've used the f-word so far. Ally and I watched the episode together, and we were texting each other at midnight about how wrecked we still felt over this scene. I also still had plenty more Olly hatred to spew. I REFUSE to believe that Jon Snow is dead. REFUSE!!!!!

Final Thoughts on Season 5

This season diverged the most from the books, which makes me wonder which, if any, of the changes were a glimpse into future story arcs in the novels yet to be published. As much as I love Jaime and loved the Jaime/Bronn team-up, I found the Dorne plotline lacking. Aside from that one skirmish, the Sand Snakes weren't given a whole lot to do, and Ellaria Sand's character was altered dramatically from the books. Her rebelliousness seemed to have been borrowed from Arianne Martell, daughter of Prince Doran in the books and a character who has yet to appear in the TV series.

In the books, Ramsay marries Sansa's friend, Jeyne Poole, who is being passed off as Arya to help bolster the Bolton claim on Winterfell. With the HUGE change to this story line on the show, I'm extremely curious to know: what's going to happen to book Sansa?

Of course the Tyrion/Daenerys meeting this season was MONUMENTAL. It's still so surreal to me because readers have yet to see it take place in the books.

I really hate that Jorah got greyscale because I like his character, as portrayed by Iain Glen, a lot. This also throws a bit of a wrench into yet another book plotline because it's a different traveling companion of Tyrion's who contracts the disease, and in A Dance with Dragons, this character has a significant plan in motion that in turn could potentially affect Daenerys's bid for the Iron Throne.

Jon never went to Hardhome in the books, but we got one hell of an action sequence on the show! Just what is that Night's King up to, besides creating an army of White Walkers? See, this and all of the other unanswered questions above are the reasons why I am DESPERATE to read The Winds of Winter. Not that I'll get all the answers, of course, because things move so slowwwwwwly in the novels. But I need something, damn it, before Season 6 starts! And now the GoT recaps are ended until next year.

Peeps We Said Goodbye to This Season

RIP: Mance Rayder, Janos Slynt, Ser Barristan Selmy, Maester Aemon, Rattleshirt, Hizdahr zo Loraq, Shireen Baratheon, Selyse Baratheon, Myranda, Meryn Trant. We probably also said goodbye to: Stannis Baratheon, Myrcella Baratheon. And nope, I'm still not acknowledging what happened to Jon Snow!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
By Scott Westerfeld
Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Darcy Patel is fresh out of high school and on her way to New York with a book deal in hand to embark on her career as an author. As Darcy learns to navigate the publishing world, she also faces the pressure of revising the draft of her soon-to-be-published novel Afterworlds as well as delivering the draft for a sequel. Interweaved with Darcy’s story is that of her Afterworlds protagonist Lizzie Scofield, the lone survivor of a terrorist attack that leaves Lizzie with the ability to see ghosts and cross over into the afterworld.

Review: Scott Westerfeld has long been on my list of must-read authors, especially with all of the love I’ve seen for his Leviathan series. But Afterworlds ended up being my first Westerfeld read/purchase when I spotted a pile of signed copies last December at my local Barnes and Noble (the store permanently closed its doors two weeks ago. *sniffles*). Out of curiosity, I read the jacket blurb and knew I was going home with a copy because the two main characters were named Darcy and Lizzie. I took that as a sign from the Pride and Prejudice gods that this purchase was meant to be.

After waiting my usual months and months before getting around to actually reading a book I had to buy, I plucked Afterworlds off the shelf. Or lifted with both hands, more like, because this baby weighs in at almost 600 pages. The book’s heft intimidated me at first; at the rate I’ve been reading lately, I figured I’d need a few weeks to finish. I was most pleasantly surprised, however, by the novel’s crisp pacing in both narratives. It wasn’t long at all before I found myself utterly engrossed in the pages of Afterworlds and utterly annoyed whenever we had to spend time apart due to work, meals, sleep, etc.

Another lovely surprise about Afterworlds was its narrative structure; actually, my mind is still kind of blown away by it. In the novel’s “real” world we have Darcy, who wrote a novel in thirty days during her senior year of high school. She’s signed a six figure publishing deal and deferring college for a year so she can move to New York City and work on revising Afterworlds and then get cracking on its sequel. Each chapter of Darcy’s journey into the YA publishing world, told in the third person, alternates with a chapter from her book. Darcy’s Afterworlds is told from the first person perspective of Lizzie Scofield, a teenager whose brush with death forever alters her; Lizzie is now a psychopomp—someone who guides spirits to the other side—and she sees ghosts all around her. Lizzie takes an interest in one ghost in particular, and the ensuing attempt on Lizzie’s part to unravel a mystery and possibly serve up some long overdue justice makes for page-turning reading. I’ve read a few story-within-a-story novels before, but not one with alternating genres. Westerfeld is truly a genius here, effortlessly switching gears every chapter. I would have gladly read either tale as a standalone, so to be able to read both of them in one novel is a unique reading experience indeed.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as jealous of a fictional character as I was of Darcy. She’s just out of high school and has already authored a novel, sold it and a yet-to-be-written sequel, and has relocated to Manhattan from Philadelphia to write full time. In other words, Darcy is living my dreams! As much as it appears that she’s on the fast track to success, though, Darcy has her doubts about how Afterworlds will be received and her ability to find the same magic that propelled her to write her debut novel in thirty days. Her path to publication is absorbing to read about, especially considering that you’re literally watching Darcy’s work unfold before your eyes.

Afterworlds the novel-within-a-novel is just as compelling, so much so that I enjoyed both halves of the book equally. Here again my envy kicks in, as I must credit Darcy with penning an impressive debut. After surviving a terrorist attack at the airport by pretending to be already dead, protagonist Lizzie is permanently able to cross over into the afterworld and see ghosts in the “real” one. She’s startled to discover that the spirit of her mother’s murdered childhood friend Mindy has been with them for years, and Lizzie makes it her personal mission to seek peace for her new friend. The search is riveting, as Lizzie learns that not all psychopomps like her want to help the dead. This Afterworlds is a paranormal that brims with suspense, the type that makes you a little wary of turning the page because there’s a good chance that danger awaits Lizzie on the flip side of it. My only tiny issue with Lizzie’s story was the romance, which felt very insta-lovey, and even by the end of her last chapter, I still couldn’t buy it. But because this is a fictional work written by a another fictional character, I wonder if perhaps the way the romance was portrayed was intended to show an area in which Darcy needed to grow as a writer. Or maybe I’m reading too much into this.

Whatever the case, I was too awed by Scott Westerfeld’s prose and how he essentially wrote two damn fine novels in one to dwell on much else. As far as I know, Afterworlds is a standalone, but Darcy’s publishing contract does call for a sequel, which I would read in a New York minute.

All in All: I absolutely loved the clever and creative narrative format of Afterworlds. I easily lost myself in both stories, and those nearly 600 pages whizzed by all too soon. Highly recommended if you’re looking to try something a little bit different.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fandom Mashups (6)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You've decided to host a slumber party! Who do you want to invite over?

A slumber party sounds like the perfect opportunity to assemble some of my favorite fictional female characters for a fun girls' night in! So here's the guest list:

  1. Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle): I would invite Blue to any party, because she's so awesome and I want to be her BFF.
  2. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice): With Lizzy present, the conversation will never get boring.
  3. Lisa Simpson: I feel like she would totally understand my extreme geekiness.
  4. Hermione Granger: Imagine ALL the book fangirling that would go on!
  5. Alexia Tarabotti (The Parasol Protectorate): We'll make it a slumber/tea party, since Alexia loves tea as much as I do.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Dance of Dragons

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Dance of Dragons.”

For Once Melisandre Isn't the Cause of a Fire

At Stannis's snowy camp, Melisandre is staring into the flames. She goes outside of her tent to find actual flames erupting everywhere, courtesy of Ramsay's twenty men. In the daylight, Davos briefs Stannis on the damage: food stores burned, siege weapons destroyed, horses lost. Needless to say, the attack is a gigantic blow to Stannis's campaign, which was already on very shaky ground because of the harsh weather. The army is still a long way from Winterfell, but also too far from the Wall to consider returning there. Plus, retreat is not an option for Stannis.

An Icy Reception

Jon returns to the Wall with the Wildlings who survived last week's wight/White Walker craziness at Hardhome in tow. After a stare down with Thorne, the gates are opened, much to Jon's visible relief. As the Wildlings file through the gates, Jon tells Sam the mission was a failure; Sam assures him otherwise. Jon spots Olly watching and gives him a little smile; Olly gives Jon a death glare. I neither like nor trust that kid. Sam scoots when Thorne approaches him and Jon. Ever the bearer of compliments, Thorne tells Jon that he has a good heart, but it'll get them all killed.

I Smell a Diversion

Stannis is sending Davos to Castle Black to demand food, supplies, and horses from Jon. When Stannis takes the Throne, he'll supply all the men the Night's Watch needs. Davos protests that as Hand of the King, he can't abandon said King, but Stannis commands him to go. Davos asks if Selyse or Shireen should go back to Castle Black with him for safety, but Stannis says his family stays with him. Before departing, Davos says goodbye to Shireen and presents her with a stag that he made for her.

Bronn Says Hello to the Floor

In Dorne, Jaime meets with Doran, Myrcella, Trystane, and Ellaria. Jaime tells them about the necklace that arrived in the viper's jaw. Myrcella says that the necklace had been stolen, which prompts Doran to give Ellaria a look. When Doran toasts King Tommen, Ellaria purposely spills the contents of her goblet on the floor. Myrcella is to return to King's Landing with Trystane, who will take Oberyn's place on the Small Council. Ellaria is outraged and storms out. Jaime asks about Bronn and takes responsibility for Bronn punching Trystane. Areo Hotah then escorts Bronn from his cell. Bronn is relieved to hear that he's being released, but not before Areo delivers a solid sock to Bronn's face as punishment for what Bronn did to Trystane.

Arya Switches Targets

In Braavos, Arya is peddling her seafood, preparing to take out the insurance scammer until she spots Meryn Trant. Mace Tyrell has arrived to negotiate with the Iron Bank and does nothing to keep a low profile. Arya follows Trant all around, and not too subtly for someone training to be a Faceless (Wo)Man. As if Trant, a member of the Kingsguard, isn't going to notice the same girl selling seafood popping up everywhere. At night, Trant and two soldiers go to a brothel, where Trant's disgusting preference for younger girls is revealed. Of course Arya has followed him and has seen everything. She goes back to the House of Black and White and tells Jaqen that the Thin Man, her original target, wasn't hungry today.

Ellaria Makes a Choice

Doran gives Ellaria an ultimatum: swear allegiance to him or die. With the Sand Snakes looking on, she kneels. He warns her that he doesn't believe in third chances. Ellaria then goes to see Jaime, who's trying to write with his left hand. I thought she was going to stab him or something, and I still think she's got some trouble planned for him before he leaves Dorne.

Why, Stannis? WHY?!!!

Stannis visits Shireen, and what follows is the worst father/daughter talk in the history of ever. He's trying to tell her that he's about to sacrifice her, something that's always been a possibility, but DAMN if it wasn't gut-wrenching to watch it actually play out in this episode. The poor girl asks how she can help her father. Seven hells. He asks her to forgive him. Next we see her being led to the stake, clutching the stag Davos gave her. Amid Shireen's horrible cries for her father and mother to save her, Selyse changes her mind and has to be restrained by guards. After the efforts made this season to make Stannis a somewhat more appealing character, they were all for naught because man do I f**king despise him now.

Let the Great Games Begin

In Meereen, it's the start of the Great Games. Daenerys is appalled by the fighting and gets an even more shocking surprise when Jorah shows up to fight in the second round. He gets knocked around pretty hard, what with only having one non-greyscale infected hand. He's facing the end of a sword at one point when another fighter takes out his opponent. So Jorah is one of the last two men standing. He wins and looks up in time to see one of the Sons of the Harpy behind Daenerys. Jorah hurls a spear that takes out the would-be assassin. But there are plenty more Sons; in fact, it's an ambush! There are Harpies EVERYWHERE. One kills Hizdahr as Jorah, Daario, and the Unsullied try to protect Daenerys, and Tyrion saves Missandei. But they're still outnumbered and end up surrounded when Drogon shows up! He torches the place as the Sons of the Harpy nail him with spears. Daenerys tries to remove some of them and climbs on his back. And off they fly, ditching Daario, Jorah, Missandei, and Tyrion.

In the Next Episode

It's the season finale! I've got some bad feelings about what's going to happen to some of the characters . . . .

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (86)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
You have to battle a dragon in the Triwizard Tournament. Which one is it?

Hmm . . . I can't say I'm really enthused by the thought of battling any dragon. I'm not feeling very confident about facing the Hungarian Horntail or the Chinese Fireball, so that leaves the Common Welsh Green and the Swedish Short-Snout. I think I'd take my chances against the Welsh Green and just try to make it sleepy like Fleur did.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Return of The Melissa

I'm back! I know, I know. I bet you all thought I was abducted by aliens and banished to Mars. Thankfully, they have returned me to my homeland, so I say, huzzah! Do try and contain your excitement, as you must have missed me very much. Cancel the parade, as in alien culture they are considered vastly rude. You may shower me with your undying love and devotion though. ;)

After a rather long and highly stressful school year, I am more than ready to start writing some posts for the blog. I haven't had any spare time to read, but now that I'm on summer vacation, I look forward to catching up on all the great books I've missed out on. I plan on cranking out a whole bunch of reviews, rants, and rambles, so I hope you guys are as excited to read them as I am to write them!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

* This review contains spoilers for the previous book, The Name of the Star.

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)
By Maureen Johnson
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: After almost being killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory is trying to move on with her life. Therapy isn’t really helping, she’s seriously fallen behind in school, and she’s in Bristol while her friends are back in London. But then Rory’s therapist suddenly recommends that she resume her studies at Wexford, and, as Rory soon learns, her return to London has been carefully orchestrated. Her recently acquired ability to dispose of ghosts with her touch makes her a very valuable asset to the Shades, the secret ghost police, especially since a new supernatural threat seems to be developing around London.

Review: I loved The Name of the Star, the first book in the Shades of London series, so it’s beyond me why I waited so long to pick up the sequel, The Madness Underneath. Especially since it’s been sitting on my shelf since its release, and the third book in the series was published a few months ago. Let’s just say that after reading this, I won’t be waiting too long to start The Shadow Cabinet.

It only took a few pages of The Madness Underneath to remind me why I enjoyed the previous book so much. Rory is a fantastic, lively narrator. She tells the best, and often hilarious, anecdotes. I love her narrative voice, and it’s the heart of the humor in a series that can also be dark at times. While writing my review for The Name of the Star, I felt more than a little weird for admitting that I laughed as I read a book about a ghostly Jack the Ripper copycat. I did laugh, though, because this series is an eclectic mix of comedic and chilling moments. And this particular book almost had me in tears at one point—and they were not tears of laughter.

As much as Rory is still a masterful spinner of yarns and quick with a quip in The Madness Underneath, she’s very much struggling with the aftermath of the events in The Name of the Star. The details of her scrape with death at the hands of a homicidal ghost have of course been skillfully covered up, because you can’t just go around telling everyone that a ghost stabbed you. Not unless you want your sanity questioned. So not only is Rory dealing with the trauma of the attack, but she can’t even reveal the truth about what happened to her to most people. When she returns to school at Wexford, the scene of the incident, she’s unable to focus on her studies and is in danger of flunking out. Rory’s plate is just so full, and it’s tough seeing her go through this.

For all that Rory has to keep to herself, there are three people with whom she can speak freely about ghosts: her friends in the Shades, i.e. the ghost police. I practically cheered aloud when Rory reunited with Boo, Callum, and Stephen. Especially Stephen. See, I’m rather taken with his character. While I wouldn’t call him angst-ridden, he is on the serious side—and most deserving of a spot of happiness.

There were two little things that didn’t work for me: I still couldn’t find Rory and her school mate Jerome convincing as a couple, maybe because I’d love to see Rory with a certain someone else. *ahem* There was also something that I was surprised Rory, who’s usually very perceptive, didn’t pick up on sooner. But, The Madness Underneath was still a thrilling read, and I will be acquiring a copy of The Shadow Cabinet very shortly!

All in All: I repeat: why did I wait so long to read this? The Madness Underneath boasts another fantastic story from Maureen Johnson with ghosts, a secret ghost police force, and an ample amount of humor.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fandom Mashups (5)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You have to infiltrate a secret lair of evil to learn more about them and shut them down. Who do you bring to sneak in with you?

  1. Valek: Valek has tons of experience as a spy/assassin, so he would be invaluable here.
  2. Rose Hathaway: Rose broke into a prison once, so a secret lair of evil should be a piece of cake for her.
  3. Arya Stark: Hanging out with the Faceless Men has taught Arya all sorts of skills that would be useful in this scenario, and she certainly wouldn't hesitate to take down a bad guy/girl or two. Or two hundred.
  4. Agent Peggy Carter: I love her! She's smart, she's resourceful, and she kicks major ass!
  5. Jace Wayland: Hello, Soundless rune! And there's all that Shadowhunter training, too. He also strikes me as the type of character who loves walking into situations like this one.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Discussing Game of Thrones: Hardhome

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Hardhome.”

Ice Queen

Daenerys is not happy to see Jorah. Or Tyrion. Tyrion works his magic with words and tries to talk his way into a job as Daenerys's adviser. She asks him for his advice on what to do with Jorah. Tyrion tells her that he thinks Jorah is in love with her. Jorah gets his life spared but gets kicked out of Meereen as some really, really sad music plays. Then he looks at the greyscale that's spreading along his arm.

No Confession Here

A mean looking septa demands Cersei's confession, but Cersei remains defiant.

Cat of the Canals!

Arya gets her first big mission since arriving at the House of Black and White. She's gathering info on a man who runs a shady insurance scheme. After bringing the intel back to Jaqen, he hands her a vial of poison.

All Lies!

Qyburn visits Cersei and informs her of the crimes she's accused of—that's quite a list! She asks if there's been word from Jaime, which there has not. Qyburn goes on to tell her that Pycelle sent for her uncle Ser Kevan, who is now Hand of the King. Ser Kevan won't see her. She begs Qyburn to get Tommen to come see her, but Tommen won't see anyone and also won't eat. Qyburn says that there's a way out, which Cersei takes to mean confessing, which she won't do. The evil septa returns and Qyburn leaves, but not before letting Cersei know that the work continues . . . presumably in that creepy lab of his!

They're Alive!

Theon brings Sansa another meal in her room, and she demands to know why he blabbed to Ramsay about her escape plan. Theon/Reek says that there is no escape. He recounts what Ramsay did to him, but Sansa has no sympathy because of what Theon did to her family. He agrees that he deserves what's happened to him. When talking about the boys he killed, Theon slips and confesses that Bran and Rickon are alive.

A Feast for the Crows

Roose is discussing Stannis's impending attack. He feels that they're better equipped to handle a siege, but Ramsay wants to take 20 good men and bring the fight to Stannis first. Maybe Ramsay will die—wouldn't that be nice?

Discussing Dads

It's a Tyrion/Daenerys tête-à-tête! I'm still trying to process the fact that they've met on the show. They talk about their respective fathers. When the topic switches to Varys, Tyrion tells her Varys has done what he's had to do, but she probably owes her life to the Spider. Tyrion gets a job as her adviser! He suggests that maybe Daenerys would be better off ruling where she is and skipping the return to Westeros, where she won't have support from most of the great Houses, but she's prepared to see an end to that system.

One Last Fight

Jorah is ready to jump into the fighting pits so that he can fight for his beloved Queen. I do not see this ending well for him.

Not Even for a Drop of Water

The septa dangles water in front of Cersei to get her to confess, but Cersei won't break. The septa dumps the water on the ground, and once she leaves, Cersei scrambles to drink it.

Watch That Kid

Gilly is tending to Sam's injuries again when they're interrupted by Olly. He questions Sam about Jon's decision to save the Wildlings, and Sam replies that they need everyone to fight the White Walkers, including Wildlings. Sam urges Olly not to worry, Jon always returns; um Sam, I *don't* think Olly gives a crap about Jon's safe return.

ACTION!!!! And It's Only Episode 8!

Jon and Tormund arrive at Hardhome. There's a ton of Wildlings amassed there, and they don't look thrilled to see Crows in their midst. Rattleshirt pisses off Tormund, who beats Rattleshirt to death. Yeah! The elders gather for a chat, and Jon makes his case for the Wildlings to join forces to fight the White Walkers. He presents the dragonglass Sam gave him. Things get awkward when a Thenn asks where Mance is; Jon says he put an arrow through him. Tormund has to quickly explain that it was an act of mercy. Jon Snow drops an f-bomb! Most of the elders are persuaded to go with Tormund, except for the Thenn, of course. F**king Thenns.

The Wildlings that are ditching Hardhome assemble to board the boats. My favorite moment: Wun Wun the giant's "conversation" with Dolorous Edd! BAHAHAHA! What's not funny, however, is the freaky white mist that suddenly descends, followed by . . . WIGHTS! Hell ERUPTS all around. I really feared for Dolorous Edd for a moment there. I loved the epic shot of Jon drawing Longclaw out of its scabbard!

Jon spots the Four Horsemen of the Ice-ocalypse and runs for the dragonglass. He passes by Wun Wun the giant, who's flicking wights off of him like mosquitoes. Wun Wun also stomps them. Jon and the a-hole Thenn from earlier end up facing an actual White Walker, which disposes of the Thenn in a matter of seconds. Jon is disarmed and taking a whupping until he finds Longclaw and smashes the White Walker into icy shards. So Valyrian steel also kills White Walkers!

But here's the Night's King! That dude who turned Craster's baby son into a White Walker baby last season? And a sh*t ton more wights have joined the chaos! Realizing that this situation has turned hopeless, Jon, Tormund, and Edd run for the boats. Wun Wun walks. The Night's King makes his way to the edge of the water and has an intense staring duel with Jon. His Royal Ice-ness lifts his arms and BAM! All the dead Wildlings rise as icy undead!

In the Next Episode

Thorne, Dorne, poison, and (fighting) pits! Good times!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (85)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Who Would You Take to the Yule Ball?

If I was lucky enough, I would be going to the Yule Ball with Sirius Black. I am not ashamed to say that I have the biggest book crush on Sirius Orion Black! I love, love his character and it would be a dream come true to go to the Yule Ball with him. Usually I hate parties, especially fancy ones like this, but I would make the exception for Padfoot. I think I would have a lot of fun with him and maybe we could even double-up with James and Lily.

Monday, June 1, 2015

May 2015 Recap

Work has been supercrazybusy lately, and it's been really tough finding time to do anything but work, eat, shower, and sleep these past few weeks, lol. I try not to think about how off track I've fallen with my Goodreads reading challenge; I know it's a goal that I've only set for myself, but after failing last year, I really wanted to stay on course this year. I have a 3 day weekend coming up in 2 weeks, so even if I spend my extra day off doing nothing but reading, that would be perfectly fine with me! :D

Reviews Posted:

Discussing Game of Thrones Posts: