Friday, April 29, 2016

Discussing Game of Thrones: The Red Woman

* Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen “The Red Woman.”

So I'm starting off the Season 6 recaps with a recap that's pretty damn late, lol. Ah, well. BUT—how about that season premiere, huh? Wow. Previous season premieres kind of eased you back into the world of ASoIaF, reacquainted you with the old characters and introduced you to the new ones, but Sunday's premiere took off like a missile and didn't slow down!

In Case You Forgot What Happened at the End of Season 5

At the Wall, Ghost is howling because, you know, Jon Snow is lying in a pool of his own blood outside in the . . . snow. Davos hears Ghost and goes outside to investigate, joined soon after by Edd and a few other non-traitorous brothers. They take their fallen Lord Commander inside and bar themselves in the room with Ghost. There's a knock at the door, and it's Melisandre. She looks kind of dazed, saying that she saw Jon in the flames, fighting at Winterfell. Next we cut to Thorne defending his actions to the Watch, arguing that Jon's decision to bring the Wildlings to Castle Black would have destroyed them all. Back in the room where Jon, Edd, and their small group are holed up, Edd is ready to get some revenge. Davos tells him that they're way outnumbered, but perhaps the Wildlings would be willing to fight since Jon saved them and all. And so Edd goes off to see what he can do on that front.

Just When You Think Ramsay Is Capable of Feeling . . . Anything

He orders Myranda's body be fed to the hounds. For a second it seemed like he actually felt some grief over her death, but nope. Then Ramsay has to hear it from his dad about Sansa and Theon escaping, and if they don't get Sansa back to rally the North when the Lannisters decide to deal with Roose's treason, they're going to be in some trouble.

Brienne Finally Saves Somebody!

Ramsay's men and their dogs are in pursuit of Sansa and Theon through the snow. The pair cross an icy river to try and lose the hounds, but they get found. Theon is ready to lure the men and the dogs away and tells Sansa to go north to Castle Black, where Jon is Lord Commander. News travels slow by raven. When Ramsay's men catch up, Theon lies that Sansa is dead, but the hounds sniff her out. Just when all looks bleak, Brienne and Pod turn up! Brienne goes berserk on the Bolton soldiers, and after some fierce fighting, during which Theon saves Pod, Sansa accepts Brienne's service this time. I got a little sentimental thinking of Brienne pledging her sword to Catelyn all those seasons ago.

A Very Sad Return

Jaime arrives back in King's Landing from Dorne. At first Cersei, still sporting short locks, is thrilled that Myrcella has returned home, but then she catches sight of the boat and the body it's carrying. A genuinely grief-stricken Cersei tells Jaime that Maggy the Frog's prophecy is coming true, and he's like no way, and we're going to get revenge for this.

Oh Yeah, Margaery Is Still a Prisoner

And so is Loras, whom we don't see this episode. Septa (Shame!) Unella has now trained her sights on Margaery, who insists she has nothing to confess and asks to see her brother. The High Sparrow interrupts Septa Unella's interrogation session, but despite his gentler tone, he's not there to show Margaery any mercy, either.

It's a Coup in Dorne!

Totally didn't see this coming! In the Water Gardens of Dorne, Prince Doran receives the news that Myrcella is dead, followed by Ellaria fatally stabbing him! Tyene kills Areo Hotah, and the other two Sand Snakes, Obara and Nymeria, take care of Trystane. And just like that, two characters are gone!

Tyrion Needs to Brush Up on His Valyrian

Tyrion and Varys stroll through the streets of Meereen, reminiscing about the time Varys smuggled Tyrion in that crate. No, no, I jest. They take in the wreckage that's become Meereen since the bloody day at the Great Games, when the Sons of the Harpy tried to assassinate Daenerys and she flew away on Drogon. Tyrion and Varys discover that the ships that Daenerys was supposed to sail to Westeros on have been destroyed as well.

Following Drogon's Leftovers

Jorah and Daario are looking for Daenerys, following the trail of animal carcasses that Drogon appears to have left behind. Daario isn't happy that Jorah is back, while Jorah's greyscale is looking pretty nasty—and spreading. Luckily for the pair, Jorah just so happens to find the ring that Daenerys dropped last season right before the Dothraki surrounded her.

Now That We're Cool, Can I Just Get an Uber Back to Meereen?

It's probably been a while since Daenerys walked this much. She has to endure the crude comments of two Dothraki who have no idea that she understands every. Word. Daenerys bides her time, finally speaking Dothraki when she's brought before Khal Moro. As a khal's widow, she's not to be touched, but asking to be taken back to Meereen is out of the question. Instead, Daenerys is to be taken to Vaes Dothrak to live out the rest of her days with the widows of other khals.

A Quick Check-In with Arya

And she's really not doing well. Still blind, she's begging on the streets of Braavos. The Waif shows up to pretty much beat Arya up with a stick and then call it a day.

Thorne's Ultimatum

Through the closed door, Thorne offers amnesty for the men of the Night's Watch who surrender before nightfall. Davos will be allowed to leave, with food, and can even take Melisandre if he wants to. Talk about an incentive to leave! If, however, Davos and the men don't surrender by the deadline, there will be bloodshed.

If You Thought the Shadow Baby Was Disturbing

Melisandre is alone in her chamber, looking very weary and sad. She removes her necklace, and when she catches her reflection in the mirror, it's that of a really, really, really, really old woman. Really, really old.

In the Next Episode

After a whole season away, Bran is back! Ramsay proposes storming Castle Black to intercept Sansa. Jaime faces off with the High Septon.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (125)

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:
You Accidentally Did Magic for the First Time. Where Were You and What Did You Do?

I'm not very skilled in the kitchen, so I'd say that's the likely place for me to have a magical mishap, lol. And I'd probably be trying to do something simple, too, like boiling water, and make the pot explode or something. XD

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous book, A Darker Shade of Magic.

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
By V.E. Schwab
Tor Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: With Lila off realizing her dreams of adventure and maybe a little piracy on the high seas, Kell lives practically confined to Red London. Once revered by its citizens, he’s now regarded with suspicion and even fear following the terror unleashed by the Dane twins of White London that has forever magically entwined the lives of Kell and his brother, Prince Rhy. Hoping to lift his brother’s spirits, Rhy hatches an insane scheme for the upcoming and highly anticipated Element Games, an event that also draws the attention of a certain sassy thief/pirate with a crazy plan of her own for the games.

Review: With a single book, last year’s superb A Darker Shade of Magic, Victoria Schwab instantly became one of my favorite authors thanks to her superlative storytelling talents. The best fantasy novels carry you away to other worlds so immersive and real, you don’t want to return to your own. It was with much anticipation that I returned to Schwab’s alternate Londons, and once again, the trip was an absolute blast.

When we last left off, Kell and Lila had saved Red London from the evil, evil Dane twins of White London. While Lila has sailed away on board the Night Spire to chase her piratey dreams, Kell finds himself living under the constant watchful eye of the royal guards and the mistrustful eye of most Arnesians. Even Kell’s adoptive parents, King Maxim and Queen Emira, have distanced themselves from him. The relationship between Kell and his brother, Prince Rhy, is also tested, with both brothers feeling guilty over the events that led to Rhy being brought back to life with dark magic and their lives tethered to each other. Unlike their parents, however, Rhy continues to treat Kell like his blood brother, and of course Kell would still do anything for Rhy. It’s not all gloom and doom between them, either; their snarky exchanges made me chuckle quite often.

As for Miss Delilah Bard, she’s found a place for her sassy self among the crew of the Night Spire, captained by the enigmatic Alucard “I’m a Privateer Not a Pirate” Emery. Alucard is a fascinating new addition to the series and just as cagey as Lila when it comes to revealing anything personal, though both try to coax backstories out of each other. In A Gathering of Shadows, Lila proves that she truly is suited to a pirate’s life and backs up every bit of the Bard bravado. Oh, she still swaggers like hell and gets up to some seriously crazy hijinks, even for Lila, but I have to give her credit for living every second like it’s her last. Which it very well could be when you look back at some of Lila’s previous escapades.

Schwab’s world-building in A Darker Shade of Magic was absolutely brilliant, and she works her magic again here. I love how the Arnesian language is sprinkled throughout and the meanings of words and phrases always made clear by showing instead of telling. The Essen Tasch (Element Games) brings guests from other empires to Red London, giving us a more expanded view of this world. The matches between the competitors in the games are riveting, not just because of all of the action but also because you feel like you’re actually there in the arena. Plus, it’s elemental magic that the entrants wield here. In between reading A Darker Shade of Magic and this, I binge watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, and let’s just say that I have a newfound appreciation for elemental magic, which is put on spectacular display during the Element Games.

Although the majority of A Gathering of Shadows follows Kell and Lila and all of the pomp surrounding the games, we also check in from time to time on a developing story line that becomes extremely significant by the end of the book. I simultaneously love it for its ingenuity and cringe at it because of what ensues. “Cringe” is probably an understatement; “scream” would be more accurate.

And now it’s back to the torture known as Waiting for the Next Book. In the meantime, I’ll replay my favorite moments from this one in my mind: the ones that made me swoon, the ones that gave me the chills, and the ones that awed me because they were written so brilliantly (i.e. ALL OF THEM).

All in All: This has quickly become one of my favorite series, which means that I’m pushing it hard to anyone who hasn’t read it. A Gathering of Shadows is a mighty sequel that astounds in every aspect: the flawed characters you love because they’re not perfect, the fantastic world, the witty banter, and the beautiful prose. And now I must go cope with this severe book hangover.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fandom Mashups (51)

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:
WEREWOLVES! You've stumbled across an actual pack of werewolves. Unsure if they're friendly or deadly, you decide to investigate. Who you gonna call - to check it out with you?

I haven't read a lot of werewolf books or watched many werewolf movies, so I really had to put my brain to work this week to put a team together, lol. I was still a character short, so I picked someone who's not a werewolf expert but who I think would be able to handle the situation regardless.

  1. Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender): Like I said, Aang isn't a werewolf expert, but he has encountered all kinds of creatures in his travels. His gentle personality would also easily win over any hostile wolves. XD
  2. Remus Lupin (Harry Potter): Lupin would be so great here. If the pack is friendly, he'd make fast friends with all of them. If not, he's got magic!
  3. Sam Roth (The Wolves of Mercy Falls): OK, I totally thought about putting Cole on the team, but I figured there'd be a good chance he'd go looking for trouble. XD Sam is much more level-headed and would give the wolves a chance to show that they mean no harm. I love Cole, but he'd probably annoy them until they wanted to fight, lol.
  4. Lord Conall Maccon (The Parasol Protectorate): Lord Maccon is a pack alpha and would know exactly what to do here.
  5. Luke Garroway (The Mortal Instruments): With two pack leaders on the team, we've definitely got this. Luke is also pretty easygoing, so I don't think we'll have a problem with two alphas working together.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Game of Thrones Season 6!

* Spoilers ahead if you're not all caught up on GoT.


What I'm not so excited about is heading into Season 6 knowing nothing, à la Jon Snow, about what to expect because there are no new books to read. I had it good for the previous five seasons, being able to compare book to TV series. I liked having some idea of future events, even though the TV show has deviated from the books in some significant ways.

One story line that the show remained faithful to was the Night's Watch literally backstabbing Jon Snow at the end of Season 5! I knew it was going to happen, but OMFG, it still hurt like hell to watch! I hope to the old gods and the new that somehow, Jon Snow and his beautiful hair aren't really gone, but on the other hand, I don't like the idea of, say, Melisandre doing her creepy ass magic to bring him back!

The GoT trailers are always an exercise in paying very, very close attention and absorbing every little detail. The Season 6 trailer below includes:

  • The return of Bran Stark, after not appearing at all in Season 5. (Hodor had better be back, too!)
  • The return of Yara Greyjoy, Theon's sister. It also looks like Theon goes home to the Iron Islands.
  • Jaqen H'ghar is back for another season! He warns a now blind Arya that she won't get another chance.
  • The terrifying Night's King! You know, the icy dude who stared down Jon Snow in "Hardhome?"
  • Jaime looking like he's about to rip the High Sparrow to shreds.
  • Margaery and Loras still being held in the dungeons.
  • Frankegregor! Is Cersei going to use him as a one man revenge squad? I'm thinking that Septa "Shame" Unella would be Cersei's first target. XD
  • Jorah's arm not looking so good. Damn greyscale.
  • Daenerys not exactly being welcomed by the Dothraki khalasar she ran into at the end of last season. But surely Drogon will save his mother!
  • Was that f**king Walder Frey in the trailer?!
  • The show's producers have teased a massive battle this season; perhaps involving Ramsay?

As much as I'd love to post the recaps at the beginning of the week, I really don't have a set day for them to go up because real life is just so hectic. But, recaps will be posted, lol! Looking forward to chatting with fellow GoT fans again this season! :D

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Raven Cycle Week 2016: GANSEY MUST LIVE!

This is my closing post for The Raven Cycle Week, and in case the all-caps title doesn't say it all, this is a topic of the utmost importance to me. The original title of this post was going to be "Gansey Must Not Die!" but I thought "Gansey Must Live!" sounded a tad more optimistic.

We all have fictional characters to whom we've become extremely attached, and if something bad were to happen to one of those characters, we'd be utterly crushed, heart and soul. Although I love each and every one of the main characters in The Raven Cycle, Richard Campbell Gansey III has always held an extra special place in my heart. I love him for his fierce loyalty to his friends and his unwavering dedication to finding Glendower. There's something infectious about his determination to discover the whereabouts of the sleeping Welsh king that makes you want to join Gansey on his mission, too.

There are some serious shadows surrounding our dear Gansey heading into the series finale, and I'm extremely worried about him. Of course I'm concerned about Blue and all of the boys and will be horribly upset if anything bad befalls any of them, but Gansey is the one who seems fated for misfortune. I cannot even begin to deal with that possibility.

You'd think that being a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones would have given me some kind of coping skills because beloved characters die all the freaking time in those books and on that show, but no. No, no, no, no, no. I already know that I'm going to require intense therapy after reading The Raven King just because it's the end of the series. If the unspeakable happens to Gansey, though, no amount of therapy is going to be adequate. Taking away any member of this extremely close-knit quintet of friends would be devastating, but taking away its core, its foundation? Unfathomable.

Please don't break my heart, Maggie Stiefvater. Please don't break my heart.

Do you love The Raven Cycle, too? Feel free to post this week on any Raven Cycle-related topic and add your link to the linky below! :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (124)

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:
Favorite DADA Spell

EXPECTO PATRONUM! I love the way Harry kind of bellows it in the PoA movie, lol. The Patronus Charm plays such an important role in the series, plus I just love the concept of the Patronus and the special meaning that it has for Harry.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Raven Cycle Week 2016: The Friendship

Welcome to Day 3 of The Raven Cycle Week! Today's subject is one that is incredibly dear to my heart: the epic friendship between Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah.

I love, love, LOVE the evolution of their relationship. It ranks up there with some of my all-time favorite literary friendships: Harry/Ron/Hermione, Will/Jem, Chaol/Dorian. That's some mighty fine company to be among, and Blue and the Raven Boys undoubtedly belong there.

While Blue initially harbored a deep dislike for all Aglionby students, and I totally understood her mindset, the more time she spent with Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah, the less she saw them as the usual snobby Aglionby types with gargantuan senses of entitlement. Being the new addition to a firmly established group of friends isn't easy, and I loved watching the quartet gradually expand to a quintet, as though the boys had been waiting for Blue to join them all along because she fits in with them so naturally.

My attempts to describe what exists between Blue and the Raven Boys will always be inadequate compared to Maggie Stiefvater's own exquisite words. This quote from Blue Lily, Lily Blue is one of my absolute favorite quotes from the series, and it perfectly captures the friendship:

"Orla wasn't wrong, of course. But what she didn't realize about Blue and her boys was that they were all in love with one another. She was no less obsessed with them than they were with her, or one another, analyzing every conversation and gesture, drawing out every joke into a longer and longer running gag, spending each moment either with one another or thinking about when next they would be with one another. Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn't all-encompassing, that wasn't blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she'd had this kind, she didn't want the other."

And I also just about burst out sobbing when my eyes encountered this quote, also from Blue Lily, Lily Blue, for the first time:

"Now he could see that it wasn't charity Gansey was offering. It was just truth.
And something else: friendship of the unshakable kind. Friendship you could swear on. That could be busted nearly to breaking and come back stronger than before.
Adam held out his right hand, and Gansey clasped it in a handshake, like they were men, because they were men."

These quotes leave no question that there isn't a single thing one individual in the group wouldn't do for the other, or two or three or four others. Yes, they tease each other and even occasionally argue with one another (Ronan is particularly gifted at this), but that's a grain of sand in comparison to the magnitude of their bond. If they find Glendower, I have no difficulty imagining everyone being selfless and asking him to help someone else in the group because that's just how Blue and her Raven Boys are. Theirs is the kind of friendship that endures anything, and even long after I've read the last word of The Raven King, I won't forget Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. (And Chainsaw!)

Do you love The Raven Cycle, too? Feel free to post this week on any Raven Cycle-related topic and add your link to the linky below! :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Raven Cycle Week 2016: Questions, Thoughts, and Theories About The Raven King

* SPOILER WARNING: This post contains spoilers for The Raven Cycle series.

It's Day 2 of The Raven Cycle Week, and who doesn't love conjecturing about series enders?

Ally is the queen of accurately predicting what will happen in a book, but alas, she's cramming for college finals at the moment. So you're stuck with me writing this post solo, and this is not my forté as it is Ally's. But onward we go!

Where the Bloody Hell Are You, Glendower?!

Richard Campbell Gansey III has been searching for his sleeping king for a good chunk of his young life, a quest that has been nothing short of exhaustive. But will Gansey and his friends, who've become just as invested in this journey, finally find Glendower? Will someone be granted a favor, as the legend says? Or will Glendower just be pissed off to have his centuries-long nap interrupted by a couple of meddling teens?

More Gray, Please!

I LOVE the Gray Man! He's become one of my favorite characters who isn't Blue or a Raven Boy, lol. I love that the Gray Man and Blue have sort of formed a bond, and I totally ship him and Maura, Blue's mom. I don't even care that Blue's father turned up in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I'm rooting for Mr. Gray all the way because morally ambiguous characters are absolutely my thing.

The Ship That Must Sail, Part 1

Blue and Gansey—there MUST be way for you two to be together! THERE. MUST! You've been growing closer with every book, setting my heart all aflutter. AFLUTTER! You're both incredibly smart; surely you'll think of a way to overcome the whole Blue's-True-Love-Will-Die conundrum. Come on, kids; you got this! I won't be able to close my copy of The Raven King if you don't get your completely deserved HEA!

The Ship That Must Sail, Part 2. Like, I Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Mean It.

PYNCH. GAHHHHHH! If Ronan + Adam doesn't happen, I'm gonna be angry. Hulk angry. My copy of The Raven King may go flying across the room in a fit of rage angry. This has been one of the most beautifully written story lines in the series, and that's really saying something because everything about the series is sheer perfection and brilliance. Pynch. Must. Sail.

But Will There Be One Final Reprise of The Murder Squash Song?

Ronan tortures everyone by singing this in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Of course I find this hilarious, and would it be too much to ask Ronan to dust off this ditty for one last performance? Or two. Or three.

Do you love The Raven Cycle, too? Feel free to post this week on any Raven Cycle-related topic and add your link to the linky below! :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Raven Cycle Week 2016: Chainsaw!

Welcome to the start of The Raven Cycle Week here at Rally the Readers as we count down the days until the release of the final book, The Raven King, next week!

When we did a week of Raven Cycle-themed posts back in 2014 (was it really that long ago?!) to celebrate the release of book three, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, we dedicated the posts to all of the human characters, lol. Poor Chainsaw the raven didn't get a spotlight, and fixing that was a top priority for the 2016 edition of TRC Week. And what a fitting way to kick off a week of Raven Cycle posts than by talking about . . . a raven? XD

I love when animal friends figure prominently in books, and to me, Chainsaw is as integral to the group as Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah all are. She also seems uncannily intelligent, but then, considering her origin, that's not surprising.

One of my favorite, out of a multitude of favorite, things about the series is how much Ronan loves Chainsaw. Usually Ronan is all sharp edges and biting comments, but he smuggled Chainsaw in his backpack and took her to school so he could feed her. Ronan also brought Chainsaw on an expedition to the local dollar store with Gansey and Noah in The Dream Thieves because Dollar City allowed pets. I still laugh my ass off nearly three years later at the way Ronan loosely interpreted the store's pet policy.

Chainsaw is one special raven, not only because of her bond with Ronan, but because there's just something extraordinary about her. I can't wait to see if my hunch proves true in The Raven King. Who knows? Maybe she's Glendower's pet raven, or maybe she's been Glendower all along!

Do you love The Raven Cycle, too? Feel free to post this week on any Raven Cycle-related topic and add your link to the linky below! I'll also be adding my own links just so they're all in one place. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fandom Mashups (50)

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:
Some crazy brainiac supervillain has imprisoned you in his fortress complete with puzzles, traps, riddles and deadly brain-teasers. Your only advantage? You have means of communicating with the outside world to ask for help. Who are you going to reach out to?

  1. Hermione Granger: I could probably get out of there with just Hermione as my lifeline, lol.
  2. Lisa Simpson: Lisa is another genius who'd help make short work of helping me escape!
  3. Indiana Jones: Indy knows all about these types of situations, so surely he has some expert advice to give me.
  4. Tony Stark: If Tony's super brain power can't figure out an escape route, which is unlikely, he can just blast his way into the fortress as Iron Man!
  5. Batman: We're calling on all of the cerebral superheroes for this one, lol. Batman has to outsmart evil geniuses all the time, so this wouldn't be a problem for him. I also included him just so I could make an awful joke about how if all else fails, he could maybe employ a BATtering ram to break into the fortress. XD

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (123)

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 Practice Magic with Harry or Dumbledore?

GAH! What a horribly tough question! Whyyyy must "Would you rather?" questions always be so difficult?! I want to practice magic with BOTH of them! :(

OK, now that I'm done whining, it's time to make a decision. I love Dumbledore with all my heart, but passing up the opportunity to take magic lessons with The Boy Who Lived? I couldn't. And I think I'd be too intimidated to be in the same room with Dumbledore, let alone practice magic in front of him, lol. I think I'd be more relaxed around Harry; he created such an awesome vibe in his DA lessons!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Four Years of Blogging!

As much as I'm a planner addict, I'm not the greatest at thinking about the future and scary things like long-term goals. Oh, the irony! So four years ago, I totally didn't foresee myself still at this blogging thing. At the time the blog began, I didn't have a specific plan in mind, like, "I'm going to try this for three months and if it doesn't work out, I'll pick up another hobby." Blogging has always been a day-to-day, week-to-week sort of thing for me that has since grown into a year-to-year thing, apparently, LOL.

I've heard other bloggers who've also been doing this for a while say that as the years go by, coming up with fresh ideas can become a challenge. I do feel that way sometimes, like— I got nothing! Plus I'm really bad at adapting to change. Status quo represents safety to me, but I also realize that it can lead to stagnation. Finding a balance between the two is tough, especially when trying new things terrifies you just a tad. But I'm working on finding that balance: continuing with what's familiar while also occasionally venturing outside of my comfort zone bubble.

And now to my favorite part of writing the annual blogoversary post: thanking each and every one of you for the time you take to stop by and comment or chat on Twitter or give me post-book hangover therapy on Twitter. Getting to know you over the past four years has been the greatest reward blogging has given me. I don't have many bookish friends outside of blogging, and being able to have this space to geek out over books with other readers who experience the same joy from books and reading makes me feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this community. ♥ ♥ ♥

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fandom Mashups (49)

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:
The world (barely) survived an Apocalyptic Event (which maybe you caused? Shhh!) and everything is in ruins. Oops! Your first job? Rebuild. Who do you call on to help you?

  1. Katniss Everdeen: Katniss has survived a dystopian world, and her experience could definitely lend a lot of insight into what NOT to do when rebuilding the world, especially in choosing leaders, lol.
  2. Hermione Granger: Not only does Hermione possess a brilliant mind for planning and logistics, but she also might be able to use some magic to help with all of the actual rebuilding.
  3. Tony Stark: Another brilliant mind here. Tony can pretty much build anything out of . . . anything. And he's like a gazillionaire; I'm sure we could convince him to donate to our cause.
  4. Superman: Because someone needs to do the heavy lifting for this project!
  5. The Tenth Doctor: So he can tell us what to do to prevent another apocalypse from happening, being able to travel through time and all. XD

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Reading Games: March Update/April Reading Goals

So we decided to hold a little contest among ourselves to each set a number of books we'd like to read every month. Anyone meeting her target number would receive a sticker on our poster board tracker. Well, here's what the board looks like after updating for March:

So I'm posting solo this month because Ally and Melissa are both loaded with school work, as usual, lol. Woohoo—I made my reading goal for the first time this year! OK, so it was set rather low to begin with to 2 books, but I made it!

There was a bit of protest when I went to claim my sticker for the board for March. Both Ally and Melissa were a tad upset that I made my goal and refused to hand over the sticker, even after I threatened to publicly shame them on the blog, as I'm now doing. XD In the end, I wound up taking matters into my own hands. I didn't have any stickers, so I used a stamp instead to mark this momentous occasion. I wasn't joking back in January when I said that all three of us are very competitive, LOL.

I feel like I'm setting myself up for failure with my April reading list since one of my intended books is pretty hefty, but I'm dying to read all three of these books ASAP:

Lee's April Reads:

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I'll report back next month with how I did and what I hope to read in May, and with any luck, Melissa and Ally will have some reading time again by then!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (122)

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:
Rename the Books from Voldemort's Point of View

I love these posts where we rename the books from a particular character's POV so freaking much! They're a ton of fun to do, and this week's was especially so!

  • Lord Voldemort and the View from the Back of Quirrell's Head
  • Lord Voldemort and the Evil Diary MWAHAHAHA!
  • Lord Voldemort and the Return of the Rat
  • Lord Voldemort and the Jolly Olde Death Eater Reunion
  • Lord Voldemort and the Prophecy - GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!
  • Lord Voldemort and the Magical Objects No One Is Ever Going to Find, Not Even That Potter Kid
  • Lord Voldemort and the Final Duel with That Annoying Potter Kid Who Just Won't Give Up

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Coming Soon: The Raven Cycle Week 2016

It's April, which means that Maggie Stiefvater's THE RAVEN KING RELEASES ON APRIL 26TH!!!! CAN YOU TELL I'M A LITTLE EXCITED ABOUT THIS?????!!!!!!!

Back when Blue Lily, Lily Blue released in 2014, we did a week of Raven Cycle-themed posts. Since The Raven King marks the end of the series, I couldn't let that go by without another week dedicated to one of my most beloved series. Unfortunately, Ally and Melissa will most likely be sitting this one out because they're both coming up on finals for the semester. I'm carrying on, though, and have tentatively set this schedule for the week of April 18, the week before the release of The Raven King:

  • Monday, April 18: A post about everyone's favorite raven, Chainsaw!
  • Tuesday, April 19: Questions, Thoughts, and Theories about The Raven King
  • Wednesday, April 20: The Friendship
  • Friday, April 22: Gansey Must Live!

If you love The Raven Cycle, too, please feel free to join in posting during the week of the 18th! This is all very informal; if you're interested, you're welcome to also post about any of the topics I've already mentioned or any of your own choosing, whenever might suit your schedule during that week. I'll probably put up one of those linky things, too.

I've been anticipating the release of this book since I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and now that it's almost here, I still don't feel prepared. I don't want to say goodbye to Blue and the Raven Boys! :'(

Monday, April 4, 2016

Review: Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
Whatever Life Throws at You
By Julie Cross
Entangled Teen
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: When Annie Lucas’s father accepts a job as pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals, they uproot from Arizona to Missouri. Not only does Annie find herself in a new city and a new school, but thanks to her dad’s new position, she’s in the frequent company of Royals rookie pitcher Jason Brody. Brody has the potential to be a pitching ace if he can overcome the bad reputation that’s followed him to the majors, one that will only be given credence if he and Annie get too involved.

Review: Whatever Life Throws at You falls outside of my typical reading fare as both a contemporary and a straight up romance, but it also has . . . BASEBALL. I love baseball! Lifelong New York Yankees fan here! Although the Yankees are referenced a couple of times in the novel, it’s the Kansas City Royals who are the featured team here. But still: BASEBALL!

I bought Whatever Life Throws at You almost a year ago, with the intention of reading it before the 2015 baseball season ended. That didn’t happen. We are, however, just in time for the start of the 2016 season! Even more coincidentally, the Royals are the current reigning World Series champs. So this turned out to be a pretty good moment to finally dust this off my Kindle shelf, coupled with just feeling like reading something different.

While we’re talking baseball, I’ll mention that you don’t need to know the ins and outs of the game to read this. The sweet, slow-burning relationship between protagonist Annie and Royals hotshot rookie pitcher Jason Brody is the book’s centerpiece. As a baseball fan, I really liked how the sport was worked into the novel, and I got very sentimental at one point when the Royals’ manager and close friend of Annie’s father reminisces about the Yankees’ 1995 season. It was a lovely trip back in time for me, too. I did think that a few elements of the game were stretched to suit the story, like Brody batting in a game against another team in the American League, which uses the designated hitter. I know I sound nitpicky and it probably won’t matter to most readers; I just happen to go full geek over things I’m passionate about, baseball being one of them.

I loved that Annie and Brody’s romance took its time reaching that point—not a whiff of insta-love to be found in this book. There’s also zero pressure from either side to take what begins as friendship to a level that the other isn’t comfortable with. The progression develops at a really wonderful pace; I’m quite impressed with how the romance was written.

Something that I wasn’t so keen on was the way Annie came across judgy at times. Brody’s reputation as a guy with a troubled past precedes him, but even after getting to know him better, Annie is still prone to jumping to the conclusion that Brody is living it up as a 19-year-old bachelor who’s just come into a sizeable payday. The book also feels a bit angsty when things start getting serious between Annie and Brody and both fear her father’s reaction if he finds out about them. I mean, I understand that every story needs a conflict and this is a significant one, especially since Annie is extremely close to her dad and he’s become a mentor to Brody, even outside of baseball. But, I don’t know, all the talk about how the long term wasn’t going to work out because Annie’s dad wouldn’t approve and the fact that Annie was still in high school while Brody was an adult got to me somewhat.

In the end, though, the truly irresistible romance made this an overall enjoyable read. And now please bear with me as I indulge in some bad baseball puns to close this review: the book as a whole is a solid triple; the romance between Annie and Brody: a bona fide grand slam homerun.

All in All: I probably wouldn’t have picked this up had it not been for the baseball, but I’m glad I did. I don’t think non-baseball fans needs to worry about being overwhelmed by the game’s lingo. Just sit back and enjoy watching the romance bloom.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Fandom Mashups (48)

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:
With all of the EPIC powers you learned last week, you've gotten a bit carried away and now you want to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Who do you choose as your loyal servants?

I went with some villainous magical (or sort of magical) peeps this week, since our goal is world domination, lol. And I'm pretty sure there's nothing loyal about this lot; I'll be keeping a close eye on all of them. XD

  1. Voldemort: I just think it would be funny to boss him around, but I doubt he'd tolerate it, lol. "Voldemort! Get me a cup of coffee NOW!"
  2. Loki: This guy would be so happy to cause mayhem throughout the universe.
  3. Darth Vader: Nothing says, "Outta my way, I'm taking over!" like Vader using the Force on you. So long as we don't build our base of operations on a space station, because those tend to get blown up when Vader's around, we should be fine. XD
  4. Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender): Azula is ruthless and power-hungry and would be all for taking over the world.
  5. The Brain (Pinky & the Brain): Does anyone else remember Pinky & the Brain? I. Loved. That. Cartoon. I wouldn't call Brain a villain and he possesses zero magic, but he is a talking, hyper-intelligent, genetically engineered lab mouse bent on world domination. I had to include him because as soon as I saw this topic, I thought of him.
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