Thursday, June 30, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (131)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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 Could Change One Thing from the Third Film, What Would It Be?

I'm going to have to nitpick or something here, because PoA is my favorite film! I absolutely loved everything about it, from the gorgeous look of the film to the top-notch acting to Snape in a dress! This is Siriusly difficult. Ummmm . . . Malfoy looked like he was having a really bad hair day in this one? See—I told you I'd have to nitpick!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

2016 Mid-Year Rewind

OK, 2016—just where do you think you're going, huh? Well? You're going too fast, and you know it!

Here we are, in June already. I don't know if any of you feel the same, but much of the past six months have been a blur. It's been the usual struggle to find time to read and blog, but I told myself at the beginning of the year that I would just do what I could with the time I had for both. There are moments when it's harder to accept that adulting must take up the majority of the precious hours of each day, but overall I'm pretty satisfied with the number of books I've read so far in 2016 and with the blog's output.

I've read 18 books since January, which is 2 behind where I should be at this point in order to make my goal of 40. I'm behind, but not too far so. I'm determined to get my Goodreads Reading Challenge badge for 2016!

At the start of the year, I also made a list of books I hoped to read during 2016, and thus far I've read 9 of them. I've found that I really like having the list. I like having a solid idea of what I'm reading next with the flexibility to choose from several options.

On the blogging side, I finally made the inaugural NYC Reads post. And so far, it's been the only NYC Reads post, LOL. I promise there will be more, that this isn't yet another feature that I tried once and will never do again.

I've been slightly more consistent at writing discussion posts this year, but not much. Again, it comes back to lack of time. I have a list of possible topics jotted down in my trusty planner, but it's the actually sitting down and writing them part where I fall short. I've been trying to be better about sticking to a writing routine, even if I'm just scribbling down random thoughts (and believe me, they are very random, indeed) for 5 minutes. I'm hoping that this will evolve into regular discussion post writing sessions.

I'll wrap up this look back at the first half of the year by returning to books, and in particular, my First Half of the Year Faves:

The Raven King
Maggie Stiefvater

First Half of the Year Fave doesn't actually apply to The Raven King because it is my Undisputed Fave of All of 2016. AND I got to meet Maggie Stiefvater earlier this month, which truly makes 2016 The Year of The Raven King.

A Gathering of Shadows
V.E. Schwab

Victoria Schwab worked her magic yet again with this fantastic sequel.

A Court of Mist and Fury
Sarah J. Maas

Another phenomenal sequel. I'm still trying to cool off from reading this scorcher.

Poison or Protect
Gail Carriger

Speaking of heat, there's quite a bit of it packed into this novella. Lots of humor, too.

Lady Midnight
Cassandra Clare

It didn't take very long at all for me to become completely absorbed by this first installment in the newest Shadowhunter series.

How are you guys doing with your reading challenges, blogging goals, etc. for 2016?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Winds of Winter & Final Thoughts on Season 6


No, really, if you haven't watched this episode yet, YOU NEED TO BEFORE READING THIS!

Where do you even begin with the towering, epic, INSANE sixth season finale?! I just watched the episode again, and I still haven't absorbed everything that happened. I feel like the term "game changer" is a bit cliché, especially when paired with a show called Game of Thrones, but it's oh so apt here. This single episode irrevocably altered EVERYTHING.

The Great Sept of Baelor Goes Bye-Bye

The show wastes zero time getting down to the drama—and starting the body count. About the only preamble we get is quick shots of Tommen, Margaery, Cersei, and the High Sparrow/Septon getting ready for the trials of Loras and Cersei. Is that a new robe the Sparrow is sporting? Isn't that a worldly good, even though it resembles a burlap sack? Shame!

Let's talk for a second about the music in this episode. It was intense from the very beginning of "The Winds of Winter" and in every scene it accompanied and was just absolutely brilliant.

So many things are going on simultaneously: Loras's trial, Pycelle getting lured down into Qyburn's dungeon, and Lancel discovering the horrible truth of the rumor. Loras first: he confesses and renounces the Tyrell name, his title, everything. He's to join the Faith, and they brutally carve the seven pointed star onto his forehead. I really felt bad for Mace, who's been an oaf in just about every episode he's been in but who looks so terribly pained for his son here. Margaery confronts the Sparrow about mutilating Loras, and she also points out that Cersei, who's to stand trial next, is ostensibly missing from the assembled crowd in the sept. Lancel pipes in that Cersei's litter never left the Red Keep, and the Sparrow dispatches him to retrieve her. Cersei, meanwhile, is enjoying a nice glass of wine. She looks too calm for someone who could be sentenced to die, and get a gander at her getup: doesn't her dress appear rather armored?

Qyburn awaits Pycelle down in his office/lab/dungeon. And so do the Little Birds, who stab the hell out of Pycelle. Looks like the Grand Maester position just became vacant!

Lancel's adventures underneath King's Landing aren't going much better. Another Little Bird stabs him, and he realizes that he's surrounded by wildfire. And some candles that are about to ignite the wildfire.

Back up in the sept, Margaery knows that Cersei has plotted something big but can't convince the Sparrow that everyone in the sept is in imminent danger. The Faith block the exits as back underground, Lancel struggles to reach the candles in time. But he doesn't. There's an epic shot of the wildfire reflected in his eyes just before the massive explosion that utterly destroys the Great Sept of Baelor, everyone in it, and who knows how many others within the vicinity. The bell, which could be heard ringing at the beginning of the episode, is seen crashing to the ground, rolling, and crushing anyone in its path.

Cersei surveys all of this from her view in the Red Keep with a very satisfied look on her face. She just killed a bunch of her enemies in a single, devastating blow. We cut to Tommen, who's just staring out the window at the burning destruction.

Ah, but Cersei isn't quite finished yet. Septa Unella is her prisoner now, and Cersei sounds certifiably crazy while talking to her. Cersei leaves Frankengregor, whom we get a glimpse of sans helmet for the first time, to deal with the septa as she says "Shame" while locking them in.

There are still plenty of shocks to come in this episode, but one of the biggest ones for me was this: after taking off his crown, Tommen jumps out the open window.

Walder Frey's "Wit" Falls Flat

Old Walder is crowing about retaking Riverrun. Poor Jaime has the misfortune of suffering Lord Walder's attempts at conversation, during which Lord Walder jokes that they're both kingslayers. Jaime is not amused and reminds him that the Lannisters had to come mop up the Freys' mess.

Prophecy Fulfilled

Cersei's worst fear has come true: all of her children are dead. Qyburn tries to dissuade her from viewing Tommen's body, but she insists. He asks her what kind of funeral should be planned since, you know, the Great Sept of Baelor just got permanently decommissioned. She tells Qyburn to have Tommen's body burned and the ashes buried where the sept once stood.

What a Library!

Sam and Gilly arrive at the Citadel, which is behind the news on who's in charge up at the Wall. While this gets sorted out, Sam is allowed access to the Citadel's library, which, not gonna lie, I would live in. :D

Winter Is . . . Here!

But first, a furious Davos calls out Melisandre in front of Jon on what she did to Shireen. Melisandre counters that it wasn't only her who burned Shireen; Stannis and Selyse were to blame, too. Davos wants Melisandre executed. She goes on to say that she can help in the war to come against the White Walkers. Jon orders her to ride south and never return to the North unless she wants to be hanged. He watches her ride away from the Winterfell parapet and is joined by Sansa. They have the tough talk about her not telling him she asked Littlefinger to send the Knights of the Vale, and Jon tells her that they have to trust each other. Sansa lets him know that a white raven arrived from the Citadel; I got the chills when she said, "Winter is here."

Fire & Blood!

Lady Olenna, dressed in black, is in Dorne, the guest of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. Even in mourning, Olenna's words are razor-sharp as she puts down Obara, Nym, and Tyene. Obviously, all the ladies assembled hate the Lannisters, so it makes sense for them to ally against Cersei. And then, ta-da! Varys appears!

No Westeros for You

Daenerys breaks the news to Daario that he and the Second Sons are staying behind in Meereen to keep the peace. He accuses Tyrion of having convinced Daenerys to dump him, and afterwards, she does go debrief Tyrion on how the conversation went. Their talk concludes with Tyrion telling Daenerys that he believes in her, and her presenting him with the Hand of the Queen's pin. Um, I almost cried at the expression on Tyrion's face.

Revenge Is a Dish Best Served as Frey Pie

This scene—holy shit. Walder Frey is alone with just the servant girl who was eying Jaime earlier. He grumbles about his sons Black Walder and Lothar not turning up like they were supposed to, and the servant says that they are here. Lord Walder is confuzzled until she tells him that his sons are IN. THE. PIE. Like, he just ate them! The servant girl whips off her face, and it's Arya! She states her name and then proceeds to slit Walder Frey's throat, just as her mother's had been at the Red Wedding.

Just No, Littlefinger

Littlefinger intrudes on Sansa in the Winterfell godswood, admitting that he wants to sit on the Iron Throne. With her by his side. Then he leans in for a kiss, which gets denied. Sadly, Littlefinger is not one of the casualties of this episode.


Benjen has to leave Meera and Bran because he can't travel beyond the Wall due to the magic built into it to keep the dead out. He's left them by a weirwood, which Bran touches. WE RETURN TO THE TOWER OF JOY, AND THIS TIME WE FOLLOW YOUNG NED INSIDE! He finds his sister, Lyanna, dying, but first she makes him promise something. Lyanna whispers most of the specifics to her brother, but then Ned is holding a baby, and then the scene cuts to . . . Jon Snow! BEST. SEGUE. EVER!!!!!!!


Jon is trying to convince the motley assembled group of Northern lords, Knights of the Vale, and Wildlings that they need to work to together to fight the White Walkers. There's a lot of grumbling going on in the hall when Lady Lyanna Mormont rescues Jon's ass again, LOL. She gives this absolutely fearless, MAGNIFICENT speech, in which she also manages to verbally bitch-slap Lords Manderly, Glover, and Cerwyn. First Lord Manderly then Lord Glover admit that they were wrong in not answering their liege lord's call, and they bow to their King in the North—Jon Snow, the White Wolf! And then everyone in the Great Hall of Winterfell is hailing the King in the North! I. Almost. Fucking. Cried.

The Mad Queen?

Jaime and Bronn are approaching King's Landing and see the smoke. Visibly alarmed, Jaime spurs his horse, and he arrives in the throne room just in time for Cersei's coronation. Qyburn is sporting his own snazzy Hand of the Queen pin. Jaime and Cersei make eye contact, and he does not look very happy for her.

Ah, But Long Cersei May Not Reign

Because Daenerys, the Unsullied, the Dothraki, the fleet, AND the dragons are on their way to Westeros! Oh, and so are Tyrion, Missandei, Grey Worm, Varys, Yara, and Theon. Varys certainly got back fast from Dorne, lol. What a stunning closing shot that was, capping off one hell of an episode and one hell of a season, really. Bravo!

Final Thoughts on Season 6

As a reader of the books, I was very, very, very wary at the start of this season, knowing that the show was well and truly off on its own path now. Maybe because of that, this season just went all out with the plot advancement and the plot twists. While there were still plenty of quotable lines, season 6 felt less "talky" than its predecessors and much more action oriented, not that I'm complaining. Characters also seemed to travel at record speeds across Westeros and beyond, lol.

We got quite a few HUGE moments this season, starting with Jon Snow being brought back to life! Then we had the Sansa/Jon reunion, Daenerys lighting up the temple in Vaes Dothrak and leading ALL of the Dothraki, the White Walkers' origins, the Stark banners flying over Winterfell once more, the complete Tower of Joy sequence, every scene Lyanna Mormont was in, and the episode that pulverized my heart, "The Door." I know I'm forgetting others, but that's my point—there are so many to choose from! This moment may not have been on the scale of the others I mentioned, but one of my favorite scenes from the season was Brienne attempting to give Oathkeeper back to Jaime and him telling her that it was hers and will always be hers. ♥

So this was supposedly the last 10 episode season, which already feels short enough. With so much power shifting (and so many major characters dying, lol) over the course of this season, what are seasons 7 and 8 going to look like? Cersei vs. Daenerys? Everyone vs. the Night's King and the White Walkers?

And of course I must ask this requisite question: will readers get The Winds of Winter in their desperate hands before the start of Season 7? I'm more curious than ever to see how TWoW will differ from the show and vice versa.

For the last recap of the season, I usually list all the characters we said goodbye to in that season. This time, however, I also feel like I need to make a list of characters we said hello to again after not seeing them for quite a while, lol, so here goes:

Peeps We Said Hello Again to This Season

Bran Stark, Hodor, Meera Reed, Rickon Stark, Osha, Yara Greyjoy, Balon Greyjoy, Robin Arryn, the Blackfish, Edmure Tully, Walder Frey, the Hound, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr.

Peeps We Said Goodbye to This Season

Doran Martell, Trystane Martell, Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton, Balon Greyjoy, Alliser Thorne, Olly, Osha, Shaggydog, Rickon Stark, Hodor, the Three-Eyed Raven, the Blackfish, the Waif, Wun Wun, Tommen Baratheon, Loras Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, Lancel Lannister, Kevan Lannister, the High Sparrow, Grand Maester Pycelle, Walder Frey.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous book, Shadow Study.

Night Study by Maria V. Snyder
Night Study (Soulfinders #2)
By Maria V. Snyder
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Yelena and Valek find themselves in danger once again, and this time, not even their combined formidable escape skills may save them. Yelena is still without her magic and the target of assassins. Valek, meanwhile, is no longer certain of his once unwavering loyalty to the Commander of Ixia, and the Commander is no longer sure that he can completely trust Valek. As Ixia and Sitia edge closer to conflict, Yelena, Valek, and their family and friends race to thwart it, but their numerous enemies always seem to be a step ahead of them.

Review: Night Study is the second book in Maria V. Snyder’s new series featuring Yelena, Valek, and all the gang from her original Study series plus characters from her spin-off Glass series. So this is technically the eighth book set in this world that I’ve read, and it’s always a bit of a homecoming to return to it.

Yelena and Valek are one of my favorite fictional couples; their slow burning romance way back in Poison Study was just perfect. I can’t begin to quantify how much sentimental value this series holds for me thanks to these two and their close-knit circle of family and friends. In all seriousness, I’d read books about Yelena and Valek in their old age; they’d probably eschew retirement and still be running about Ixia and Sitia trying to save everyone.

As much as I love these characters, though, there were a few things about Night Study that I couldn’t quite look the other way on. The first was the book’s pacing; it took me almost two weeks to read this. While there was no shortage of action scenes, which Snyder has always written well and continues to do so, the story itself just felt slow moving in places. Valek goes off on a solo mission that for the most part seems better suited for a standalone short story. Although an interesting twist awaits at the conclusion of his mission, the path to it is somewhat circuitous.

While I liked the addition of Valek and Janco’s POVs in the previous novel, Shadow Study, the multiple POVs, which also include Yelena’s brother, Leif, didn’t work quite as well for me this time around. You will never hear me complain about reading from Valek’s perspective. Ever. And that’s not to imply that I’m going to complain about Janco and Leif’s chapters. Maybe it’s because every POV except Yelena’s is written in the third person, but Janco and Leif’s narrative voices don’t always come across as distinct from one another.

So on to what was awesome about Night Study. I liked seeing Valek conflicted over his loyalties. He’s been the Commander’s right hand man for years, but Night Study sees their relationship grow increasingly strained. The Commander is wary of Yelena, with her ties to magic and to Sitia, where magic isn’t banned as it is in Ixia, which also drives a wedge between Valek and the Commander. Valek would do anything for Yelena, his heart mate, even defy the Commander. Watching Valek have to make a difficult choice made for a very compelling plotline.

We also get the usual witty observations from Janco, a narrow escape or two or three, and a development that’s sure to elate longtime fans of the series. I know I almost melted. While this wasn’t my favorite installment in the chronicles of Yelena, Valek, and co., I’m still very much invested in their next set of adventures.

All in All: I found the pace at which Night Study moved on the sluggish side at times and would be OK with fewer POVs, but the swoony Yelena and Valek moments and a big revelation definitely helped balance things out.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fandom Mashups (60)

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:
FAE! In an enchanted forest, you've stumbled upon a magical realm of the Fae. 1 - Who are the Fae you hope to meet there? And 2 - Who are you travelling with to help you survive amongst this immortal and cruel race?

  1. RHYSAND (A Court of Thorns and Roses): Yep, nothing less than all caps for the High Lord of the Night Court, and my #1 Fae I'd like to meet! ♥
  2. Aelin (Throne of Glass): I would also LOVE to meet the Fire-Breathing Bitch Queen herself! XD
  3. MacKayla Lane (Fever): If there's someone I'd want watching my back while we're in the realm of the Fae, it's Mac!
  4. Julian Blackthorn (The Dark Artifices): Julian would be an ideal guide to have while we're on Fae turf. He wouldn't rush into confrontation with them, having half-fae siblings himself, but if things got dicey, he could go all Shadowhunter in a heartbeat.
  5. Grimalkin (The Iron Fey): Grim is a wise cat and has very good advice about surviving the Fae. That is, if you can ever get him to appear. Maybe I could bribe him with some yummy cat treats?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Discussing Game of Thrones: Waiting for the Season 6 Finale

Tomorrow is the sixth season finale for Game of Thrones, and seriously—where did 10 weeks go?! As much as I'm looking forward to the episode, "The Winds of Winter," I dread the wait for Season 7, which is also supposed to be fewer episodes. :/

With the show now having surpassed the books, tuning in every Sunday has become one big guessing game as to what's going to happen next. I love speculating, and I also love how anything really is possible in both the show and the books. No theory is too farfetched!

Going into tomorrow night, here are some of the things that are on my mind:

  • What's going to happen to Cersei and Loras? In the finale preview, it looks like Loras is going to stand trial before the seven septons. Tommen torpedoed Cersei's plan to have the Mountain fight for her in trial by combat, so what's she going to do? Does it have something to do with that rumor she and Qyburn were talking about a few episodes back? My curiosity has been killing me!
  • Will Daenerys finally set sail for Westeros? She has an army, ships, and three badass dragons. The time seems right.
  • We saw Varys leave Meereen on some mission; will he surface where he did at the end of the last book, A Dance with Dragons?
  • What's next for Bran? The Three-Eyed Raven is gone (and so is Hodor, *sniff* Still not over it.), so where will Bran go now? I'm also curious if we'll see any more of his vision of young Ned outside the Tower of Joy.
  • Sansa and Jon retook Winterfell, but as Jon says in the preview, they still have lots of enemies. It also looks like Littlefinger tries to collect on sending the Knights of the Vale to help in the battle against Ramsay. Creeper.
  • Are we going to see the Night's King and His Merry Band of the Frozen Undead? Are they going to knock on Winterfell's door? If so, please take Littlefinger with you. XD
  • Arya checked out of the House of Black and White and said she was going home. Does that mean Winterfell, which is totally plausible considering how fast everyone has managed to travel this whole season, lol.
  • Have we heard the last from Dorne? That story line seemed to wrap up early on in the season with Ellaria and the Sand Snakes taking over, but was that really it?
  • I have to say, I'm really not invested in Sam and Gilly's arc at the moment, and I have no idea how they're going to figure into the finale, if at all.
  • Now this arc, I am utterly invested in: the Riverlands. The Freys, the Brotherhood Without Banners, and the Hound are all back. From the preview, Jaime is at the Twins, and Walder Frey looks to be celebrating retaking Riverrun. Brienne and Pod are likely still around. What does this mean?! Every time I watch that clip where Walder Frey says, "The Freys and the Lannisters send their regards," I think of the Red Wedding. Is there going to be another massacre at the Twins, with the Freys on the wrong side of it this time? How awesome of a finale would this be if, like, Lady Stoneheart waltzed through the doors with the Brotherhood? OK, that's a lot of wishful thinking on my part, lol, but . . . how awesome would it be?! I find it very intriguing that Beric and Thoros have returned after quite a long absence. Or maybe Brienne will have a run-in with Stoneheart, like in the books?

Whew—that's no small number of story lines that are out there, and even with an extended finale, are they all going to fit in the episode? How are you guys feeling about the season finale—thoughts? Theories?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Loot (24)

I have been most spoiled in the past few weeks, first by the lovely Braine at Talk Supe, who presented me with these pretties when we got to meet in person last month:

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Storm Siren by Mary Weber

And I was gifted these pretties by the lovely Micheline of Lunar Rainbows Reviews for my birthday:

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas

The. Gansey. Mug. GAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Um, yeah, I obsess over sort of like Gansey. XD

So I've officially caught Hamilton fever thanks to Ally, lol. The family gave me the Alexander Hamilton biography on which the musical is based, and thanks to an Amazon gift card I received from one of my awesome co-workers, I was able to get the Hamilton book, which is about as close as I'm going to get to the musical for the next millennium. (Fingers crossed the touring production makes a stop here!)

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

My co-workers know what a book geek/planner geek I am and gifted these amazing goodies:

Another of my co-workers is a fellow Game of Thrones fan and knew I'd love this badass lunchbox:

She also knows how much I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, lol. And yes, the lunchbox was quite a bit fuller when I first got it. XD

My family lavished all of these prettifuls on me as well. I wasn't joking when I said that I was extremely spoiled recently!

Finally, the family also gave me a mystery Disney Tsum Tsum keychain, which Daisy the puppy apparently tried to eat before Ally had a chance to wrap it, lol. There's a hole in the outer wrapper on the left, and on the right, you can see teeth marks on the cardboard that was inside the package.

THIS is the face that tried to eat the Mad Hatter! Don't let the cuteness fool you! XD

Much love and thanks to everyone; you all know how to make this geeky girl feel very special. ♥

Monday, June 20, 2016

Discussing Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “Battle of the Bastards.”

Holy seven hells! First, I got this recap posted for today! Second, was this a crazy episode or what?! "Battle of the Bastards" promised to be a full hour of must-watch television, and was it ever!

But First Let's Check in on Meereen

I wasn't sure if the entire episode was going to focus on the North, and it did not. We open with Meereen still under siege by the masters. Tyrion has some serious explaining to do to a displeased Daenerys. He tries to point out that the city is actually on the rise, despite the ongoing attack. His queen is ready to destroy the masters and their cities, and Tyrion reminds her that her father had a similar plan in mind for King's Landing if Jaime hadn't killed Aerys. She argues that this is entirely different. Outside of the pyramid, the two sides face off. The masters tell Daenerys and her entourage to get out of Meereen and never come back, but they're interrupted by Drogon, making yet another appearance at a most opportune moment. He takes to the skies with his mother, and they're soon joined by the other two dragons. The Dothraki, led by Daario, charge against the Sons of the Harpy, while Daenerys and the dragons light up the fleet.

The Warm-Up Before the Main Event

Jon and Sansa come face-to-face with Ramsay, who says bloodshed can be avoided if they surrender. How fierce did Lyanna Mormont look in the background, staring Ramsay down as he spewed his BS? Jon challenges Ramsay to a one-on-one fight, which gets declined. Ramsay is almost giggling over his army's numbers vs. his opponents'. Sansa asks for proof that Ramsay has Rickon, and he hurls Shaggydog's head. The battle is set to commence in the morning!

Jon and his allies hold a strategy meeting later that night. When they're alone, Sansa tells Jon that he doesn't know Ramsay at all. She fears that Rickon will be killed before the battle is over because he's a trueborn male Stark heir. Jon and Sansa resume their previous argument about the number of men they have to fight, with Jon stating that it's not as though they didn't try to gather more. Sansa tells him that if Ramsay wins, she's not going back to him alive.

Outside, Tormund and Davos talk about how they both put their faith in fallen kings. Tormund points out that Jon is not a king.

Jon goes to see Melisandre in her tent and notes that she wasn't at the war council. He asks her for advice, and she tells him not to lose. Jon in turn tells her that if he dies, not to bring him back this time. Melisandre says that she serves the Lord of Light, and it's him she answers to.

Out walking, Davos sees a pile of old wood. In a find nearly as "coincidental" as when Jorah Mormont discovered the ring Daenerys had dropped in some grass, Davos spots the toy stag he had given Shireen Baratheon. Davos is a smart man, and if he hasn't figured out what really happened to Shireen already and who was behind it, he will very soon. I've been waiting for this to happen since the beginning of the season!

The Iron Fleet Must Have Had Some Awesome Winds!

Because Theon and Yara have already reached Meereen! Tyrion reminds Theon about the last time he saw him, at Winterfell, and the jokes Theon made at Tyrion's expense. Tyrion isn't completely buying into Theon being a changed man because of his recent experiences, but Daenerys is quite digging the idea of a woman ruling the Iron Islands. Theon tells Daenerys about Euron's plans, including the one where he marries her in exchange for his ships. Daenerys is a bit skeptical of Yara and Theon's plans, but Yara insists that she only wants the Iron Islands back. They reach an agreement, but the Ironborn must basically give up their way of life. So maybe now they'll have to start sowing?

It's Battle Time!

The much anticipated battle is about to begin. In between the two armies are burning crosses with bodies on them. Jon's army looks rather ragtag compared to the very organized Bolton lines. The tension is almost unbearable as you know that Ramsay is about to do something really, really twisted. Because he's Ramsay. Sure enough, he brings out Rickon. It appears that Ramsay is going to kill the boy on the spot, but instead he cuts the ropes binding Rickon's hands. When Ramsay tells Rickon that they're going to play a game, you know this isn't going to be good. All Rickon has to do is run to Jon, but of course it's not as simple as that. No. Rickon starts walking, and Ramsay reminds him that he needs to run. Because Ramsay begins shooting arrows at him. Jon spurs his horse into a run towards his brother, and just as they're about to reach each other, Ramsay's arrow kills Rickon.

Jon gets this crazy look on his face and rides for Ramsay. He loses his horse to archers' arrows and is right in front of the cavalary charge. Luckily for him and not for the last time during this epic, all-out, gruesome battle, he narrowly avoids death when his own men charge past him. The fighting is insane. It's complete chaos and bodies everywhere. Jon is in the thick of it, while Ramsay sits back commanding his archers.

The Bolton troops end up completely surrounding Jon, Davos, Tormund, and their men. They're literally being squeezed from all sides, and Jon gets trapped under the press of bodies. He gets free, but you don't need to peer into any flames to realize that this situation is dire. The Boltons just keep closing their circle, and there's nowhere for Jon and his companions to go. But, just as all hope seems dead, a horn sounds, taking even Ramsay by surprise. It's not that much of a surprise to viewers, though, when the Knights of the Vale ride in and turn this thing around. Littlefinger has turned up with Sansa, and the smug look on his face is gross. If Sansa thinks that he helped her out of the goodness of his heart or to somehow make up for marrying her to Ramsay, she doesn't know Littlefinger. There has to be some kind of price.

Ramsay, not calculating on the Knights of the Vale materializing at the eleventh hour, ditches the battlefield and rides back to Winterfell. Jon sees him getting away and pursues. Soon there's some knocking on the Winterfell gate, and it's Wun Wun. The poor giant is full of arrows and spears from the fighting, but he battles on. It's Ramsay himself who delivers the killing blow to Wun Wun. I swear, if Ramsay didn't die in this episode, I was going to rage quit the show. For like 2 seconds.

So now Ramsay is finally ready to fight Jon one-on-one. After shielding himself from Ramsay's arrows, Jon gets a hold of Ramsay and proceeds to beat him to a pulp. I actually thought Ramsay was dead. Jon looks up and sees Sansa, and he stops.


Rickon's body is brought back to Winterfell, and Jon says he's to be buried in the crypt. Sansa asks Jon where Ramsay is, and next we see Sansa pay him a visit outside of his cell. Ramsay is a bloody mess, which is just perfect for his hounds, which he himself boasted earlier in the episode hadn't eaten in 7 days in anticipation of Ramsay feeding his enemies to them. Ramsay, an arrogant bastard to the very end, sneers at the idea that his loyal hounds would eat their master. But they do, and at long last, justice is served to one of the most despicable characters ever.

In the Next Episode

IT'S THE SEASON 6 FINALE! NOOOOOOOO!!!!! I'M NOT READY FOR IT TO BE OVER YET! It's judgment day for Cersei and Loras. Walder Frey celebrates getting Riverrun back; wouldn't this be the perfect moment for a certain lady to crash his little party? Littlefinger acts like a creep. Davos calls out Melisandre in front of Jon. Daenerys and Tyrion have a chat—is it about sailing to Westeros? And dear gods, both the old and the new, please let us find out what that damn rumor Qyburn and Cersei were discussing in Episode 8 is all about!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fandom Mashups (59)

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 decided to take up Sword-Fighting, as one does, to help defend yourself against threats - and dragons. Who will teach you this noble art?

  1. Aelin (Throne of Glass): Hell. Yeah! A few lessons from this lady, and I'll be ready to take on anyone and anything!
  2. Brienne of Tarth (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones): Let's hear it for another lady who knows how to swing a sword! You don't survive the brutal world of Westeros (so far, at least, haha!) without knowing how to fight.
  3. Emma Carstairs (The Dark Artifices): One of the two main characters in the newest Shadowhunter series, Emma's weapon of choice is the Carstairs family sword, Cortana. And you'd better believe she's highly skilled at using it.
  4. Valek (Poison Study): Another assassin, Valek can show me how to sword fight my way out of any situation.
  5. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars): Broadening the definition of "sword" here, but lightsabers have always reminded me of swords. And I'd love to have Obi-Wan as an instructor!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Discussing Game of Thrones: No One

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “No One.”

Lady Crane to the Rescue!

We pick up in Braavos with Lady Crane playing Cersei again and acting out Joffrey's death scene. We find out that the actress has indeed taken Arya's advice on how to play the scene. Lady Crane goes backstage following a huge ovation from the audience to find a seriously injured Arya. Lady Crane patches Arya up and again offers to take her with the company when it heads to Pentos. Arya declines, saying that no one would be safe with her around, which we'll see the absolute truth of toward the end of this episode.

The Hound Has an Ax to Grind

The Hound catches up to the rogue members of the Brotherhood Without Banners who slaughtered Brother Ray and his community in the previous episode. And the Hound's justice isn't pretty.

The Varys & Tyrion Show Goes on Hiatus

In Meereen, Varys and Tyrion are about to part ways for the time being. It sounds like Varys is heading back to King's Landing, and when the two say goodbye, they genuinely look like they're going to miss each other.

Things Get Violent in the Red Keep

Qyburn informs Cersei that some of the Faith Militant have entered the Red Keep. Cersei, Qyburn, and Frankengregor encounter Lancel and some of his buddies outside. Lancel says that the High Septon, AKA the High Sparrow, has summoned her to the Great Sept of Baelor. Cersei refuses to go. Lancel orders her to order Frankengregor to stand down or there's going to be violence, and Cersei opts for Door #2, Violence. A truly stupid member of the Faith Militant tries to hack at Frankengregor and literally has his head ripped off for his efforts.

What the Hell Are You Doing Here?

Is Jaime's question to Brienne when they chat in Jaime's tent in the Lannister camp outside the walls of Riverrun. First, though, Bronn puts Pod in an affectionate headlock and comments to Pod that Brienne + Jaime could definitely happen. In the tent, Brienne reveals Sansa's plans to Jaime and proposes that if she can persuade the Blackfish to surrender Riverrun without bloodshed, Jaime will allow the Blackfish and the Tully men to go north. Jaime agrees. Brienne tries to return Oathkeeper to him, having fulfilled her promise to Catelyn, but Jaime tells Brienne that it's hers and will always be hers. I think I may have died a little there. ♥♥♥ Even Brienne telling Jaime afterwards that honor would compel her to fight for the Tullys and against Jaime if it came to that can't put a damper on the previous moment for me, LOL. What Brienne didn't quite count on, even after being warned by Jaime, was the Blackfish's tenacity. For a second it looks as though Sansa's letter to him is going to get him to change his mind about holding out at Riverrun, but nope. The Blackfish tells Brienne that he doesn't have enough men to help Sansa take Winterfell, and he's staying to fight for his family home.

What Rumor?! WHAT RUMOR???!!!

Cersei enters the throne room with her entourage of Qyburn and Frankengregor for a royal announcement. Ser Kevan blocks her from standing by Tommen and banishes her to the gallery. Tommen's royal announcement turns out to be a ban on trial by combat, which deals a devastating blow to his mother. As they're exiting the throne room, Qyburn tells Cersei that his little birds have investigated the rumor she told him about and found that there's much more to it. So now we all want to know: WHAT RUMOR?!

The Jokes Before the Storm

Back in Meereen, Tyrion attempts to get Missandei and Grey Worm to drink and make jokes. Even Grey Worm manages to crack a smile before all three hear an alarm sound. A fleet of ships has arrived, and it's not the Ironborn; these ships bear an image of a harpy on their sails.

Edmure Speaks!

After having no lines in the previous two episodes he's appeared in, we finally hear Edmure Tully speak again. He asks Jaime how he lives with himself after all the terrible things he's done. Catelyn is mentioned yet again during the conversation, in which Jaime compares Catelyn's love for her children with Cersei's. This scene was actually very powerful until Jaime declared how much he loved Cersei and that he had to take Riverrun to get back to her. No, no, no, no, no! Just no!

When we next see Edmure, he's approaching the Riverrun drawbridge and orders it lowered. The Blackfish vehemently argues with a Tully soldier against admitting Edmure into the castle, but as Edmure is Lord of Riverrun, the Blackfish loses this battle. As soon as he's within the walls, Edmure further orders the Tully men to surrender to the Lannisters. Brienne urges the Blackfish to escape with her and Pod, but he refuses and is prepared to die fighting. As Jaime watches Brienne and Pod's boat row away, a Lannister soldier tells Jaime that the Blackfish is dead. I'm a little skeptical of this because we didn't actually see the Blackfish die. Here's hoping that he got away once again.

Return of the Queen

Meereen, including the pyramid, is under attack from the enemy fleet. Grey Worm is mobilizing the Unsullied when they suddenly drop to their knees because Daenerys has returned! And the look on her face!

It's You Guys!

Look who's back—it's Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr! They've been gone since . . . Season 3? Very interesting. Can a certain lady's appearance be far behind? Getting back to the episode, the Hound runs into Beric and Thoros just as they're about to hang the Brotherhood men who evaded the Hound's ax of justice earlier. The Hound, Beric, and Thoros argue about who gets to execute these men, with the Hound being allowed to kill two of them in the end. Beric tries to recruit the Hound for the Brotherhood, mentioning how the cold winds are rising in the north.

I'm Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I'm Going Home!

It's come to this: one final confrontation between Arya and the Waif. First, though, Lady Crane checks on a sleeping Arya, who wakes up to find the actress dead and the Waif waiting for her. Arya jumps out a second story window. Mind you, she's still recovering from the nasty stab wounds the Waif gave her in last week's episode. A chase ensues through the streets of Braavos. Arya makes another leap and takes a horrible tumble down some stone steps, reopening her wounds in the process. Now bleeding again, Arya can barely walk and is leaving a bloody trail. The Waif doesn't even have to keep pace with her. Ah, but the bloody handprints seem to have been part of Arya's plan to lure the Waif to the tiny room where we previously saw her holed up—and where Needle is stashed. The Waif is all smug, thinking she's about to kill Arya, but Arya draws Needle and cuts off the top half of the candle in the room, plunging them into darkness.

Next we're back inside the House of Black and White, and Jaqen follows a blood trail into the Hall of Faces. It's not Arya's face that's been newly added to the collection, though; he sees the Waif's face on the wall instead. Arya points Needle right at Jaqen's heart and gets confirmation from Jaqen that he sent the Waif to kill her. It seems as though Arya has passed the Faceless Men's admission exam, but Arya doesn't want it. She declares that she's Arya Stark of Winterfell, and she's going home!

In the Next Episode

It's the not-to-be-missed Battle of the Bastards!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (130)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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:
Would You Have Wanted to Explore the Shrieking Shack?

My answer is yes, BUT—I wouldn't want to go exploring all on my own! I'm way too much of a wimp for that. I'd pass out if a spider got too close to me, and if I were by myself, how long would it take for someone to realize I was there? That's why you should always take a buddy on these kinds of adventures!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Burn Blog Tour: Review

I'm excited to once again participate in a blog tour for Paula Weston's The Rephaim series! This one's a little bittersweet, because we've arrived at the fourth and final book, Burn. Continue reading for my review of this thrilling series ender!

Burn by Paula Weston
Burn (The Rephaim #4)
By Paula Weston
Tundra Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Synopsis: Suddenly, Gaby remembers everything.

For a year she believed she was a backpacker chilling out in Pandanus Beach. Working at the library. Getting over the accident that killed her twin brother.

Then Rafa came to find her and Gaby discovered her true identity as Gabe: one of the Rephaim. Over a hundred years old. Half angel, half human, all demon-smiting badass—and hopelessly attracted to the infuriating Rafa.

Now she knows who faked her memories, and how—and why it’s all hurtling towards a massive showdown between the forces of heaven and hell.

More importantly, she remembers why she’s spent the last ten years wanting to seriously hurt Rafa.

Review: It’s time to show one last bit of cover love for The Rephaim series, as we’ve reached the fourth and final installment, Burn. The cover of Burn reminds me of the cover for the first book, Shadows, which makes perfect sense because we see the series complete a full circle here. And what a thrilling, non-stop tidal wave of a journey it is from the first page to the last page of Burn.

The previous book, Shimmer, ended with one jaw-dropping cliffhanger. After spending three books trying to piece her lost memories together while simultaneously dealing with demons from hell, protagonist Gaby now remembers everything. How she and her twin brother Jude ended up going their separate ways, what brought them together again, and how they both nearly died. All of it. Unsurprisingly, the past holds some very ugly truths for Gaby, particularly the incident leading up to Jude and the Outcasts walking out of the Sanctuary. I winced on Gaby’s behalf quite a few times.

Paula Weston has done a marvelous job pacing this series from the beginning, and especially so with Burn. The novel shifts back and forth between the present and the past as the gaps in Gaby’s memory are filled in. The startling revelations just keep flowing, but they never feel like info dumping. Rather, the book compels you to continue reading because you can’t wait for the next missing fragment of Gaby’s past to drop. I inhaled Burn in three days; I don’t get to binge read books too often anymore, but this book demanded that I not leave it for too long. You know a book has wholly reeled you in when you can never find an ideal spot to place your bookmark.

The ending of Burn was not at all what I’d thought it might be, and I loved how it caught me so completely by surprise. Before the series draws to a close, however, there’s plenty of its signature heart-stopping action. Hell is literally headed for Gaby’s beloved Pan Beach, and it’s going to take the collective efforts of all the Rephaim, both the Outcasts and those still loyal to the fallen angel Nathaniel, to even stand a chance of facing down the approaching horde. As bitterly divided as the two sides of the Rephaim have been, they also realize what’s at stake. Gaby herself has to come to terms with an extremely painful event in the past. She must reconcile the Gabe she once was with the Gaby she is now, and there’s nothing like impending destruction by demons to help put things in the proper perspective.

There are so many things I’m going to miss about this series: Gaby and her amazing strength, Rafa and his brilliant snark (I will especially miss Rafa AND his brilliant snark), the intense, knockout action scenes, the beautiful book covers, and, of course, Weston’s wonderful prose. Although Burn provides a very satisfying conclusion to The Rephaim, it also leaves open the definite possibility of another story. In Burn, the Rephaim learn that prophecy doesn’t necessarily translate to destiny and can be altered by free will, which further raises my hopes of reading more Rephaim chronicles one day.

All in All: The Rephaim series closes on a high note with Burn. Readers who’ve been with the series since Shadows are well rewarded, as Gaby finally has all the missing pieces to her past. The present story line offers its own surprises as well, meaning that you’ll be riveted by Burn from start to finish.

Find Paula Weston:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fandom Mashups (58)

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 were just killed (—wait, what?!) but you're not going to let that stop you from coming back. Pick 5 characters who cheated death to help you figure out how to return to the land of the living.

  1. Harry Potter: He is The Boy Who Lived, after all! XD
  2. Jon Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones): FINALLY, a Stark who survived (at least on the TV show)!
  3. Gansey (The Raven Cycle): Gansey's near death as a child from a hornet attack so affected him, he set out on an exhaustive quest for the mythical king whom he thought helped saved his life.
  4. Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender): I still shudder whenever I think of Azula hitting Aang with lightning at the end of Book 2. :/
  5. Feyre (A Court of Thorns and Roses): I know I could've easily gone with Feyre's sister-from-another-Maas-series Aelin, who's defied death countless times, but I'm still nursing a book hangover from A Court of Mist and Fury, and Aelin needs a week off every once in a while, lol. Besides, Feyre is also a survival expert.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Adventures at the Maggie Stiefvater Event in Orlando!

This past Thursday, Ally, Melissa, and I piled into the car and set off again on another bookish adventure: Maggie Stiefvater's tour stop for The Raven King in Orlando. This was the final stop on the tour, and it could not have been more AMAZING!

Meeting Maggie Stiefvater was a bucket list item for me. Not just an item on my bookish bucket list, but one on my overall, all-encompassing, life bucket list. I don't think this should be very surprising, given how much I've gushed about her books on here and pushed her books on all of you, lol.

I took a half day off from work so that we could get to the bookstore, which was about a 45 minute drive, plenty early. It was a typical rainy, humid Florida afternoon/evening for this time of year, and I know my hair looked like something you'd see on a wet dog by the time we got there. I'll spare you the pics of that horror. XD

We were still a little early when we arrived, so we grabbed a quick dinner then headed back to the bookstore, by which time it had quite filled up. Maggie was going to speak for a bit before signing books, and a small area of the store had been set up with folding chairs. We ended up standing on the side, which offered a perfect view of her while she talked. Maggie spoke for about 45 minutes, standing on top of the signing table the whole time, as you'll see in the pic below. And she was HILARIOUS! I still can't even. I can't even remember the last time I laughed so much and that hard.

After she'd finished talking, there was a brief Q & A. I am way, way, way too intimidated by those things in general, and I was especially intimidated by the prospect of sounding like an idiot in front of one of my favorite authors EVER. So no questions from this audience member. XD

Finally, it was time for the signing. The three of us were sort of freaking out about what we would say when it was our turn, because . . . Maggie Stiefvater! She asked me if I'd read The Raven King and which book in the series was my favorite. I told her TRK, but I love all of them so much. She said that's what she likes to hear, lol.

Everyone at the event received a book hugger, kind of like a slipcase, with Maggie's artwork on it, and you can also see a pic of it below. I didn't assemble mine and don't think I will, because I love how it looks completely flat.

Obviously, we all went home extremely happy. We were so glad that the tour stopped pretty close and that we were able to meet her. This was definitely one of the highlights of the year, bookish or non-bookish, for me!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Broken Man

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Broken Man.”

Ah, well, it's another late-ish recap from me this week.

Where in Seven Hells Are the Opening Credits?

Instead of the episode beginning with the credits, it immediately opens with a scene of a community building . . . a sept, maybe? Everyone is hard at work, including a guy chopping wood who turns out to be . . . Sandor Clegane. Yes, the Hound lives! And now the credits roll.

Hey, Ray

So the Hound was saved by this guy named Ray (had to Google that because I don't remember his name being mentioned? But then I am going to be a year older on Sunday so maybe it's just memory failure.), who leads this little community. Ray is a very charismatic, eloquent speaker, as we'll continue to see in this episode.

Margaery & Olenna Play a Little Pictionary

Having repented to the High Sparrow's satisfaction, Margaery is wearing her little antler crown again. She's also now dressed very demurely. In a moment of hella awkwardness, the High Sparrow lectures her about how Tommen has gone to him about Margaery's non-performance of her wifely duties. In addition, the Sparrow makes an oblique threat against Lady Olenna. When the latter tries to talk to Margaery alone, Margaery won't dismiss Septa Unella from the room. Olenna demands that her granddaughter leave for Highgarden, but Margaery turns the conversation around and tells her grandmother that she should be the one to leave straightaway. Margaery also presses something into Olenna's hand, and once the Queen of Thorns is outside and alone, she looks at the scrap of parchment, which has a drawing of a Tyrell rose on it.


Tormund is doing his best to try and convince the Wildlings to fight for Jon, even though they originally signed up to fight the White Walkers and not the northen houses. Jon warns them that they're still very much in danger from Ramsay. Wun Wun stands up and says, "Snow." Would you really want to argue with Wun Wun?

Olenna 1, Cersei 0

Cersei and Frankengregor pay Lady Olenna a visit. Cersei questions her about leaving King's Landing while Loras is still in a cell, which prompts Olenna to go off on Cersei. Cersei admits she's to blame for the mess they're in and says that they need each other. Olenna, however, is still planning on hightailing it back to Highgarden.

You Call This a Siege?

Bronn is back! And he's traveling with Jaime, of course, this time to the Riverlands to take back Riverrun from the Blackfish. The two guys are totally not impressed by they Freys' siege efforts so far, and when they arrive on the scene, the Blackfish is staring down from the castle ramparts at his enemies, who are threatening Edmure's life. Dear Uncle Brynden is like, eh, just kill him and get it over with. Jaime orders the Freys to feed Edmure and clean him up, and he's going to have a a little chat with the Blackfish.

Lyanna Mormont FTFW!

Someone give this girl her own TV show—DAMN! Lyanna Mormont, Lady of Bear Island, totally, utterly, and completely steals this scene, in which Sansa and Jon both woefully fail to make their case why Lady Lyanna should help them take back the north. Davos, however, proves much more adept at pleading their cause; his interaction with Lyanna reminded me a little of all his poignant scenes with Shireen Baratheon. In the end, Lyanna pledges the fighting men of Bear Island—all 62 of them.

Kingslayer. Blackfish.

The Riverrun drawbridge is lowered for Jaime, who gets absolutely nowhere during his brief conversation with the Blackfish. The latter is neither impressed with finally meeting the Kingslayer face-to-face, nor with Jaime threatening to bring a sizeable Lannister host down on Riverrun.

Not Even Davos Can Save This One

The next stop for Sansa, Jon, and Davos is House Glover, whose lord is resolute in his refusal to provide men. The pain of losing their castle to the Ironborn while Robb went south is still very fresh, and in this case, the north remembering backfires on Jon and Sansa.

The Broken Man #2

Yara and Theon apparently really did steal the fastest ships in the Iron fleet because later in the episode we find out that they've already been spotted in Slaver's Bay. Yara and the rest of the Ironborn are enjoying some, ahem, onshore revelry while Theon sits there miserably. Yara tells him that if he's so broken and can't go back to being Theon Greyjoy, he should end his life. Sisterly love, Ironborn-style.

Dear Littlefinger, Please Send the Knights of the Vale

Jon, Sansa, and Davos are back at their makeshift camp. Jon is worried that the snow will end their fight before it even starts, so they can't afford to lose any more time gathering more men. Sansa, however, doesn't agree, and at the end of the scene, she's writing a letter to someone. That someone has to be Littlefinger.

That's One Hell of a Speech

We check in with Ray, who's talking about his past life as a not-no-nice-guy to a rapt audience that includes the Hound. The Hound truly seems to be moved by Ray's speech, in which Ray says that it's never too late to come back. Three shifty looking men from the Brotherhood Without Banners happen upon the community and not so politely ask for horses and food. Ray welcomes them to stay for a meal but that's all that he can offer. The men leave, but the Hound senses future trouble from them.

In Which Arya Fails to Watch Her Back

In Braavos, two men are discussing the Iron fleet being seen in Slaver's Bay. Arya walks up to them and throws lots of coins down on the table, booking passage on a ship bound for Westeros the next morning. That's not a quick enough departure, however, as Arya runs into an elderly woman who turns out to be the Waif. The Waif promptly stabs Arya repeatedly, and when we last see Arya, she's stumbling through the streets, bleeding out badly.

The Ax Man Cometh

The Hound is still chopping wood when he hears horses. When he arrives back at Ray's community, he finds everyone, including Ray, dead, killed by those men from the Brotherhood. We last see the Hound grabbing his ax.

In the Next Episode

Cersei chooses violence against the Faith Militant. Jaime and Brienne meet up in the Riverlands.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (129)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. 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:
Would you rather be friends with Ron or Harry?

No offense to Ron, lol, but I think Harry and I are more of a fit personality-wise. We'd be snarky together and get in trouble together because of our snarky comments. Plus, we're fellow glasses wearers! XD

Monday, June 6, 2016

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
By Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Since losing her parents as a child, Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs has never given up on avenging them. She’s never believed that they were just two more casualties of the Dark War that claimed many other Shadowhunter lives and severely fractured an already strained relationship with the Fair Folk. Emma’s opportunity for revenge may have finally arrived, though, when a series of murders bearing an eerie similarity to that of her parents draws the attention of the both the Shadowhunters of the Los Angeles Institute and the faeries. It’s not only Emma who has a personal stake in finding the killer, either. Her best friend since childhood and parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, may regain the older brother his family lost to the faeries years before, but only if the Clave doesn’t discover the Shadowhunters’ forbidden involvement in the investigation.

Review: It’s a bit hard to believe that Lady Midnight marks my tenth Shadowhunter read. I’ve officially hit double digits with these books; that represents some commitment, indeed. And as beloved as the Victorian-era set Infernal Devices is and always will be to me, I still couldn’t help wondering for a nanosecond if this new Shadowhunter series, The Dark Artifices, would be able to stand out and on its own, especially considering the popularity of the previous Shadowhunter series. Well, after having read Lady Midnight, the answer to that question is a resounding YES.

This novel strikes a perfect balance between tying into the rest of the Shadowhunter chronicles and setting off on its own story arc. On top of that, there’s enough of a primer on the world and Shadowhunter history for newcomers who’ve never read any of the other books to be able to jump right in here. While I’m personally of the opinion that it’s best to read all of the books in order for the optimal reading experience, it’s not absolutely essential to do so.

Quite a few of the characters in Lady Midnight were introduced in the final Mortal Instruments book, City of Heavenly Fire, including protagonists and parabatai Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, as well as Julian’s siblings. We catch up with them five years later at the Los Angeles Institute, still very much dealing with the fallout from the Dark War detailed in City of Heavenly Fire that dealt a huge blow to the Shadowhunters’ ranks and all but severed any ties with the treacherous Fair Folk. I was really struck by just how deep the story was here and the multi-layered explorations of its themes of revenge and forbidden love. I’m not saying that I was expecting a shallow plot; when I was done reading I just had one of those aha moments when the power of a book’s storytelling hits you all at once.

Emma is touted as the best Shadowhunter of her generation, praise that has previously been bestowed upon one Jace Herondale. Fortunately, Emma isn’t merely Jace redux; she’s a character who’s all her own, and a pretty badass one at that. Emma is a proud Carstairs, determined to avenge her parents, and she wields the Carstairs family sword, Cortana, with both lethal precision and grace.

Family plays a HUGE role throughout the book, and oh how the Blackthorns melted and broke my heart. After the death of Julian’s father (by Julian’s own hand during the Dark War), the exile of his older sister, and the taking of his older brother by faeries, Julian has essentially been both mother and father to his younger siblings: twins Ty and Livvy, Dru, and Tavvy. In doing so, he’s had to give up his own childhood and adolescence. I think that anyone who’s ever been a caregiver, whether for someone younger or older, will empathize with Julian. The weight he carries on his shoulders shows at times, but make no mistake: Julian loves his family fiercely, and the Angel help anyone who tries to harm any of them. I absolutely loved the Blackthorns and their love for one another and for Emma, who’s always been an integral part of their lives. Well done, Blackthorn family, on plucking my heartstrings as expertly as Jem Carstairs plays the violin.

Although Lady Midnight features the usual assortment of paranormal beings (vampires, warlocks, demons, etc.), faeries figure largely in the novel. Their betrayal of the Nephilim during the Dark War has led to the Cold Peace; while the two sides are not openly fighting each other, any collaboration between them is not allowed. So when a faerie contingent literally turns up on the doorsteps of the Los Angeles Institute seeking help from the Nephilim, the Shadowhunters have an extremely tough choice to make, especially when the faeries reveal their bait. It’s Julian’s older, half-faerie brother Mark, who’s been their captive for five years. Mark’s return, possibly only temporary and which the Clave cannot find out about, rocks the Blackthorns. He’s a total stranger to them and they to him, a situation only worsened by the difference between the passage of time in the faerie realm and the mortal world. For Julian, Mark’s reappearance in their lives stirs up some bitterness over having been forced to fill in as the oldest brother/parent these past five years, as well as anxiety over the children, Julian’s children really, having their hearts irrevocably crushed if Mark cannot remain with them. Again, I found the Blackthorn family’s story absolutely compelling and poignant.

I can’t wrap up this review without mentioning that fans of the other Shadowhunter series should be thrilled by some very special cameo appearances in Lady Midnight. They’re just enough to satisfy your curiosity about what’s been going on since both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices ended but without upstaging the main characters here. The torch has clearly been passed on to Emma and Julian, and they make their predecessors very, very proud.

All in All: I am wholly invested in this new Shadowhunter series and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Fandom Mashups (57)

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 an uncharacteristic move, you're going bar-hopping tonight! Which fandom party people are dragging you away from a night curled up with a good book?

This would be uncharacteristic for me, indeed, because I'm such an introverted homebody! I think I would literally have to be dragged away from my book and out the door, lol.

  1. Adrian Ivashkov (Vampire Academy/Bloodlines): Adrian would be insulted if there was a party somewhere and you failed to invite him.
  2. Tony Stark: There would be no shortage of fun with Tony around! Maybe he'd let us take one of his fancy schmancy cars for our night on the town?
  3. Rhy (Shades of Magic): Rhy loves a good party, too, and wouldn't need much convincing to join this group.
  4. Aelin (Throne of Glass): I know she doesn't have much free time, but I hope she'd be able to come along for a well-deserved night off. Plus, no one would dare mess with our gang with her in it!
  5. Cole St. Clair (The Wolves of Mercy Falls): We are DEFINITELY getting into trouble tonight. XD

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May 2016 Recap

I'm happy to say that May was my best reading/blogging month so far this year! I got through 5 books! I'm still behind on my Goodreads challenge, but—5 books!

And I read some fantastic books in May. How could they NOT be when The Raven King, A Court of Mist and Fury, and Lady Midnight were among them? Don't even get me started on The Raven King because I won't. STOP. EVER. When you know a book is going to be your favorite read of the YEAR before it's even published, it's a pretty special book. TRK was spectacular in every possible way, and no, really, I need to leave it at that or I'm going to write another whole post about it.

I was a little hesitant to read A Court of Mist and Fury and Lady Midnight back-to-back because they're both hefty tomes, plus ACoMaF left me with one hell of a book hangover. I have this thing about reading books that I'm very eagerly anticipating one after the other; it's like I need some space between them so that I can properly appreciate each one fully. Don't ask me why I think like this; I just do, lol. But the yen to read Lady Midnight proved to be too strong, and in the end, I'm glad I followed my heart instead of my brain for once.

So it seems that books with blue covers ruled in May:

I loved all three of these books, but you know which one I'm choosing as my favorite for May, and, yes, all of 2016 even though the year isn't over yet:

In recognition of how amazing all three books were in their own way, I'm picking a favorite quote from each:

It was not that the women in 300 Fox Way weren't her family—they were where her roots were buried, and nothing could diminish that. It was just that there was something newly powerful about this assembled family in this car. They were all growing up and into each other like trees striving for the sun.

The Raven King
Thank you—for last night, was all it had said. No pen to write a response.
But I'd hunted down one anyway, and had written back, What do the tattooed stars and mountain on your knees mean?
The paper had vanished a heartbeat later. When it hadn't returned, I'd dressed and gone to breakfast. I was halfway through my eggs and toast when the paper appeared beside my plate, neatly folded. That I will bow before no one and nothing but my crown.

A Court of Mist and Fury
It was a sort of love few other people could understand. It was total and it was overwhelming and it could be cruel. He would destroy a whole city if he thought that city posed some threat to his family.

Lady Midnight

Finally, I saved the best part about May for last—I got to meet my soul sister Braine from Talk Supe in person!

We've been in the same city three different times in the past two years, and the third time was the charm for meeting up, at last. Braine, you are one lovely sweetheart of a lady; thank you for taking time out of your vacation to make this happen! We'll have to get together again one day! ♥

Melissa came along as my human GPS because she was much more familiar with the layout of the new parking garages at Downtown Disney/Disney Springs, whatever it's called now. I hadn't been there since most of the new construction was completed, and without her, I'd still be driving around looking for where I'm supposed to park. XD

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