Sunday, July 30, 2017

Discussing Game of Thrones: Stormborn

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

Ah, yes. It’s already Sunday night again, and here I am posting another last minute GoT recap. For last week’s episode. XD

Do You Hear the Little Birds Sing?

After adventuring around Essos for six seasons, Daenerys is ready to get down to business and conquer Westeros, and it shows in her no-nonsense, I-am-the-queen demeanor. You can’t really blame her for grilling Varys with some very tough questions, though, because he did hire an assassin to kill her and her unborn son under Robert Baratheon’s orders. Tyrion, once Varys’s traveling buddy, tries to stick up for him a bit. Varys admits that he’s served under some craptacular kings, but at the end of the day, he represents the common people, and he believes that their best chance is with Daenerys.

A Familiar Face Returns to Dragonstone

It’s Melisandre! And she apparently has a new gig as Jon Snow’s publicist, because she urges Daenerys to bring him to Dragonstone. Tyrion is surprised to hear that Jon is now King in the North, and he concurs that Jon would make a good ally. Daenerys agrees to summon him—to bend the knee before his queen. The scene cuts to Winterfell, where Jon, Sansa, and Davos ponder over the message from Dragonstone, with Davos making the very, very good point that fire-breathing dragons would be incredibly helpful against the White Walkers.

That’s Dickon with a “D”

In King’s Landing, Cersei tries to rally some of the Tyrell bannermen, including Lord Randyll Tarly, father of Sam. Cersei argues that Daenerys has already left a path of death and destruction behind in Essos, and she’ll do the same in Westeros, just like her father, the Mad King. Randyll asks how Daenerys’s dragons will be stopped, and Qyburn pipes up that they’re working on a solution. Possibly involving zombie dragons? That would be cool! After calling Randyll’s oldest son Dickon “Rickon,” Jaime speaks to Randyll privately and proposes that if House Tarly fights for Cersei, Lord Randyll will be appointed Warden of the South. Randyll doesn’t seem too impressed and says that the Tarlys aren’t oathbreakers or schemers, and he’s known Olenna Tyrell since childhood.

That’s Not Looking So Good

Last week, we saw a glimpse of poor Jorah’s greyscale-afflicted arm. This week, we see the full extent of his condition, and it’s not pretty. Jorah asks how long it’ll be before he loses his mind, and Archmaester Ebrose replies that it’ll happen in six months or fewer. Sam asks Ebrose about Shireen Baratheon’s case, but unfortunately, Jorah’s is too advanced. Ebrose informs Jorah that since he’s an anointed knight, he gets to stay one more day at the Citadel before getting kicked out. Sam asks if they should sent word to Jorah’s family, and that’s when Sam finds out that Jorah is a Mormont.

It’s a Giant Crossbow. For Dragons.

Qyburn takes Cersei to where the dragon skulls are kept. It’s pretty creepy down there even though the dragons are long dead, and the skull of Balerion the Dread is absolutely HUGE. Qyburn says that one of Daenerys’s dragons was wounded in the fighting pits of Meereen, and that information has been used to build a weapon that kind of looks like a huge crossbow? Cersei appears to be pleased. I’m no weapons/engineering expert, and maybe they don’t realize how big the dragons actually are, but how is this weapon supposed to get enough altitude to reach a dragon if it’s airborne? The dragons are also moving targets, and it’s not like you can reprogram the trajectory on this thing.

Be a Dragon!

At a strategy meeting, Yara urges hitting King’s Landing with all they’ve got. Tyrion, however, has a different plan. He argues that Cersei will be expecting the Unsullied and the Dothraki to attack King’s Landing; instead, they’re going to take her by surprise with a Westerosi army supplied by Dorne and House Tyrell. Grey Worm and the Unsullied are going to attack Casterly Rock. This shuts everyone up for a moment, and all present agree to the plan. Yara and her fleet will escort Ellaria and the Sand Snakes back to Dorne. Daenerys asks to speak with Lady Olenna alone and promises that Cersei will pay. Olenna says that Tyrion is a clever man, but Daenerys is a dragon, and she should be a dragon.

Forget About Holding the Door. How About Closing the Door?

Look, I’m very happy that Grey Worm and Missandei love each other, and I hope nothing bad happens, especially with Grey Worm leading the attack on Casterly Rock. But I was perfectly fine with the scene ending with their kiss. I couldn’t stop thinking that the door was open the whole time, LOLOLOL.

Just When You Thought You’d Seen Some Really Gross Stuff at the Citadel

Sam tries to talk to Ebrose about a possible treatment for Jorah but gets shut down because the procedure is forbidden. We see Jorah writing a letter to Daenerys; um, should he really do that? Wouldn’t the letter carry greyscale germs or something? Sam turns up in Jorah’s room and tells him that he knew his father, Jeor, Jon’s predecessor as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Sam unwraps some nasty looking medical instruments and explains what he’s about to do—cut off all of the greyscale. I couldn’t even watch this part and will assume it was as stomach-churning as it sounded.

Hot Damn, It’s Hot Pie!

Arya is taking a break from her journey to King’s Landing and overhears two men talking about the dragons. Guess who works at this particular tavern? It’s none other than Hot Pie! He’s talking about baking and Arya mumbles about not doing something and he asks her if she’s been making pies. Frey Pie joke! On a more serious note, Hot Pie asks Arya where she’s headed, and she says King’s Landing. Arya thinks the Boltons still have Winterfell, and Hot Pie fills her in on the Battle of the Bastards and how Jon is King in the North now. Detour!

Sansa Objects. Again.

Jon receives Sam’s raven from the Citadel about the dragonglass and shares the news about with everyone in the Great Hall. Not as warmly received is the news about Tyrion’s message and Jon’s intention to accept the invitation to Dragonstone. When objections start erupting around the room, including from Sansa, Jon tries to stress how much danger they’re in from the marching White Walkers and how desperately they need the dragonglass and any other help they can get. Davos is going with Jon, and in the latter’s absence, Sansa will be the Stark in Winterfell.

Littlefinger Gets Choked Up

Down in the Winterfell crypt, Littlefinger slithers in as Jon is standing in front of Ned’s effigy. Littlefinger is being is typically oily self when he gets super creepy, and maybe a little bit stupid, and says that he loves Sansa like he loved her mother. That prompts Jon to throw Littlefinger up against the wall and put him in a chokehold, warning Lord Baelish that he’ll kill him if he touches Sansa.


And the reunions just keep on coming! Arya is camping and notices her horse getting jumpy. She looks around and senses something out there, too. Suddenly they’re surrounded by a pack of wolves, and NYMERIA IS WITH THEM. NYMERIA. Arya finds herself face-to-face with her direwolf, and at first Nymeria bares her teeth, but she calms down when Arya starts talking to her. Arya asks her to go home to Winterfell with her, but instead Nymeria turns away with her pack. It’s a completely heartbreaking moment when Arya realizes that Nymeria is not her direwolf anymore.

The Family Reunion from Hell

Yara, Theon, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes are sailing back to Dorne when fire starts raining down on their ships. Of course it’s crazy Uncle Euron, breaker of world records for rebuilding his own depleted fleet in no time at all. He even had some time to tell the shipbuilders to make his gangplank all scary looking. Euron is absolutely savage when he boards Yara’s ship. The fighting is intense! Yara tells Tyene to go below deck to keep Ellaria safe, but there are too many of Euron’s men for Tyene to fight. Ellaria tells them to kill her and her daughter, but they’re taken captive instead. No doubt Cersei is just waiting to exact revenge for Myrcella’s death. Back above deck, all of Yara’s ships are burning, and an endless stream of Ironborn fighting for Euron just keep boarding. The remaining Sand Snakes, Obara and Nymeria, try to take on Euron, but he’s brutal AF and kills both. Then it’s Yara vs. Euron. He’s wielding a wicked looking blade while she’s fighting with what appears to be a run-of-the-mill sword. She fights valiantly, but she’s no match for her uncle. Euron, now holding his blade at Yara’s throat, screams for Theon, who sees the carnage going on around him and has an utter meltdown. Abandoning ship, sister, and everything else, Theon jumps overboard

In the Next Episode

Euron returns to King’s Landing victorious. The Unsullied are on the move. JON MEETS DAENERYS!!!!!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Harry Potter Month: My HP Bucket List

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This awesome event runs all through July, and you can find more information about it here.

While trying to come up with some Harry Potter Month post ideas because, as usual, I waited until HP Month actually started to begin thinking about HP Month, LOL, I realized that I actually have a few Harry Potter-related life goals. Some of these are pretty simple, while some need a bit more effort to achieve, but a Potterhead can dream, can't she?

  1. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: OK, so in theory this one is pretty easy because I live about 45 minutes away from Universal Studios in Orlando. The main obstacle has been the cost; even with a Florida resident discount, tickets are not in my budget at the moment. Hopefully one day I'll save up enough to go.
  2. Own a Harry Potter mug: I like collecting coffee/tea mugs, and somehow, I do not have an HP one in my small yet steadily growing collection.
  3. Take the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London: Visiting England is on my non-HP bucket list, and if I ever get to go, I'd love to bask in all of the Harry Potter awesomeness that this tour offers.
  4. Attend a Harry Potter convention: I went to a local-ish comic con a few years ago, and it was a lot of fun. I can only imagine how amazing an all-HP con would be!
  5. Marathon watch the films: I'm talking one after another after another, (almost) straight through to Deathly Hallows, Part 2, with bathroom/food breaks as needed. And maybe a nap or two. XD
  6. Binge reread the books: Every year I tell myself that this is going to be the year that I read all seven books in a row, but sadly, it still hasn't happened. I can't even remember when I last read the series. It's been far too long, and out of all of the goals I've listed here, this is the one that I'm absolutely determined to reach!

Do you have any HP-related goals?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (174)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme created by Uncorked Thoughts and hosted by 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:
What Books Would You Recommend to Lupin?

Books I would recommend to Remus Lupin:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: I think this Muggle novel would be quite an interesting read for Lupin. With the somewhat negative view the wizarding world has towards werewolves, I think the themes of monstrosity in Frankenstein would be particularly meaningful to Lupin.
  2. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater: I think the relationship between Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah is similar to the relationship between the Marauders, and I think Lupin would really enjoy that.
  3. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey: I would recommend this series to pretty much everyone, but I think the idea of what makes a monster plays heavily into the series. I think that would be right up Lupin’s alley.
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I really have no reasoning behind this one; I would just really like to see Lupin’s reaction to it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Wand Experience at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This awesome event runs all through July, and you can find more information about it here.

Even though I’ve lived in Florida for nearly half my life, I am ashamed to say that I had not been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (let alone Universal) until last year. Boy, was it worth the wait! I can hardly put my amazement into cohesive phrases about what it feels like to actually step into the books. It was breathtaking to see that the abstract world I had grown up loving had become a physical place that was actually accessible to me. For any book lover, it was a dream come true. In those regards, the whole day is pretty much a happy blur to me that I really wished I remembered in greater detail. That being said, I will attempt to retell my wand experience.

If you’re not familiar with the park or its attractions, they have pretty much everything important that is mentioned in the books. You can actually go to Ollivander’s and they have this really cool interactive show where someone from the audience gets picked and they go through their wand ceremony. And by golly, I actually got picked! Now, before you all go: that lucky bastard, I have to admit that I am pretty much the unluckiest person ever when it comes to raffles, winning by chance, or any sort of fate induced contest. I was fully expecting some nice kid in the audience to get picked, but no, the lady picked me. And yes, I had the cliché awkward moment where I checked to see if she was pointing at the person behind me. So, that’s how I got suckered into buying a ridiculously expensive piece of plastic that I display quite proudly in my room.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Melissa's Comeback Post!

I have returned (as some of you might have guessed from our Harry Potter month announcement)! And by this point, I would not be surprised if no one remembers me. While I have written a handful of reviews and posts in the past couple of years, I have been unable to contribute regularly. Now that I have graduated college (woohoo!), I look forward to devoting some of my newfound free time to posting on a regular basis. I figured it was probably a good idea to reintroduce myself before I start posting so that you guys don’t think I’ve kidnapped Lee and sent her to Alaska to fight bears with her . . . bare hands. Bottom line: you’ll be seeing a lot more from me. Oh, and if anyone has any suggestions on what I should read, I would greatly appreciate it. It seems like an eternity since I’ve last read any YA books!

Monday, July 24, 2017

ARC Review: The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
The Apprentice Witch
By James Nicol
Chicken House
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: July 25, 2017

To Sum It Up: After failing her evaluation to become a full-fledged witch, Arianwyn Gribble remains an apprentice. She is assigned to the town of Lull to assist the residents there with any magical needs. Lull isn’t as quiet as its name implies, though, as something dark seems to be lurking in the surrounding Great Wood. Not only does it appear more and more likely that Arianwyn will ultimately have to face whatever is out there, even as an apprentice, but she’s also troubled by a mysterious glyph that makes her spells go awry.

Review: It’s quite difficult for me not to compare every middle grade magic book I read to a certain series that turned 20 this year about a certain boy wizard, especially when it comes to its appeal to readers of all ages. I try to keep my mind as open as possible, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be able to pick up books about witches, wizards, and the like again, and there’s just something irresistible about the possibility that magic exists.

Poor Arianwyn Gribble flunks her evaluation exam to be recognized as a fully qualified witch and is stuck at the apprentice level. Although she receives an assignment to help the town of Lull with tasks like dealing with unfriendly magical creatures, it’s not much of a consolation to Arianwyn, especially since her grandmother is a very prominent witch. Arianwyn is a very relatable heroine; she tries so hard to prove that she’s ready for the next step up in rank, but fate just keeps seeming to throw a wrench in her efforts. Readers will quickly find themselves cheering her on to succeed.

One of my favorite aspects of The Apprentice Witch was its magical creatures, even the pesky ones like snotlings. The vivid descriptions of the creatures were also one of the novel’s strong points; they were what truly made me feel like I’d been whisked away to another world.

Unfortunately, another area of the world-building was not quite on the same level. There’s mention of a war going on and Arianwyn’s father is off fighting in it, but the book doesn’t go into further detail about it. Lull is the novel’s focal point, and that’s fine, but I couldn’t help being curious about what was happening outside of the town.

Something else that became a bit distracting was the book’s quite liberal use of exclamation points in the dialogue. After a while, they lost some of their effectiveness because they kept popping up.

The book’s plot is fairly straightforward and doesn’t deviate much from its projected path. There is a certain charm, however, in watching Arianwyn gradually settle into her new life in Lull and into her new duties as its apprentice witch. Anyone who’s ever searched for a sense of belonging is sure to find a kindred spirit here in Arianwyn.

All in All: Younger readers will likely find Arianwyn’s adventures thrilling, but for me as an adult reader, they were missing a little something to make them as compelling as some other middle grade books have been.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Discussing Game of Thrones: Dragonstone

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

Sooooo, yeah—Game of Thrones returned last week, and this recap is . . . a week late. XD Unfortunately, I had to do some major adulting this past week, which prevented me from being able to sit down and rewatch the episode and write this recap until now. But hey—at least it's still posting before Episode 2, hahaha!

Walder Whaaaa???!!!

Season 7 opens with . . . Walder Frey???!!! The last time we saw him, he was bleeding out after Arya slit his throat. But here he is, addressing a bunch of male Freys? Ah, but watch all of those male Freys but Walder drink from their goblets. Hello—poison! Of course it was Arya, wearing Walder’s face!!! I absolutely LOVED her lines at the end of this scene, that the North remembers, and winter came for House Frey. Hell yeah, Arya!

Bran and Meera Arrive Late for the Reunion Party at the Wall

Cut to a creepy ass scene of the White Walkers on the move. Well, as fast as an army of the frosty undead can move. They have White Walker giants! I repeat: white. Walker. Giants!!!! It turns out that Bran was having a vision, and he and Meera have arrived at the Wall, at last, after how many seasons? Dolorous Edd is there to meet them, and he asks for some verification of Bran's identity. Bran replies that Edd was at the Fist of the First Men and Hardhome, and the Night King is coming for everyone. That's enough proof for Edd, and Meera and Bran are granted admittance.

Sibling Squabbling in Public is a No-No

In Winterfell's Great Hall, Jon is talking about dragonglass and how it needs to be mined to make weapons to fight the Night King and his army. Not only that, but everyone aged 10 to 16, male and female, will drill daily with weapons. Lord Glover balks at the idea, which prompts Lady Lyanna Mormont to once again stand up and get sassy. She informs Lord Glover that she isn't planning to knit by the fire while men fight for her. Jon goes on to say that the Wall has to be properly manned and looks to the Wildlings for help. Tormund says he’ll go to Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. The next item on the agenda is what to do with the Karstark and Umber castles, which would be next in the path of the White Walkers. Sansa argues that the castles should be given to loyal Stark supporters, while Jon declares that he won't strip both families of their ancestral homes. Jon and Sansa start getting into it in front of everyone assembled, much to Littlefinger's delight. Jon puts his foot down and brings both Ned Umber and Alys Karstark forward to swear their loyalty to House Stark. Outside and away from everyone, Jon and Sansa continue quarreling, and a raven arrives for Jon, demanding his presence in King’s Landing to bend the knee. Sansa expresses her concern over the threat from Cersei, while Jon insists that the White Walkers are the more dangerous enemy.

Cersei’s New Hobby: Cartography

Jaime finds Cersei watching an artist draw a giant ass map on the ground. Neither sibling needs a giant ass map to figure out that they're surrounded by enemies, but Jaime seems to be more alarmed than his sister. Not only do they need allies, but the Lannister troops need to eat in order to fight. With House Tyrell and their food stores allied with Daenerys, feeding an army could pose a huge problem. Cersei, meanwhile, is more focused on creating a dynasty and seems to be in her own little world.

How to Rebuild a Fleet in No Time at All

So Cersei’s solution to finding allies is inviting Euron Greyjoy to King’s Landing. Brilliant! Viewers will remember that at the end of last season, Yara and Theon stole a good chunk of the Iron Fleet while their uncle was being crowned King of the Iron Islands. Euron ordered that new ships be built ASAP, and looking at the size of the fleet he rolls into King's Landing with, the Ironborn worked quadruple time to make things happen. Euron is hilariously arrogant in front of Cersei and Jaime and gets in several verbal jabs at Jaime. Euron offers Cersei the Iron Fleet in exchange for her hand in marriage. She immediately rejects it, telling Euron that he's untrustworthy. Undeterred, Euron vows not to return to King's Landing until he has a priceless gift for the Queen to her earn her trust. Tyrion's head? Sansa's head? Both heads?

A Very Gross Day in the Life at the Citadel

All I can say about the scenes of Sam at the Citadel is EWWWWWWWWWW. Like, EWWW to the nth degree. I didn’t mind watching Sam shelve books or serve meals, but I so did NOT need to see him cleaning chamber pots. Or assisting Grand Maester Slughorn with an autopsy. It looks as though all Sam has learned so far is that training to be a maester is pretty, well, shitty when you're first starting out, and despite his best efforts to persuade ol' Sluggy that he needs access to the restricted section of the Citadel's library, Sam has to resort to "borrowing" someone else's keys.

Tell Us What You Want, What You Really, Really Want, Littlefinger

Back at the Winterfell courtyard, Brienne is sparring with Pod, and she knocks him down. Tormund, who has zero subtlety when it comes to getting flirty with Brienne, says that Pod is a lucky man. XD As Sansa watches the sparring going on below, Littlefinger creeps up on her and makes his usual creepy comments. Sansa shows little patience for his bullshit and is spared from further annoyance by Brienne's arrival. After Littlefinger slithers off, Brienne asks Sansa why he's still around, and she replies that they need his men.

Not on Arya’s Kill List: Ed Sheeran

Arya comes across a group of Lannister soldiers, one of whom looks a lot like Ed Sheeran, LOL. The soldiers invite her to share their meager meal with them, and she accepts, although she takes note of where their weapons are. As they talk, she’s surprised at how ordinary, and maybe even human, they are— they’re just men missing their families back home. One asks why she’s headed to King’s Landing, and she replies she’s going to kill the queen. The soldiers break out into laughter, and she joins in, but of course she's 100% serious.

Umm . . . I Don’t Like the Looks of This Place

The Brotherhood Without Banners plus the Hound reach a very familiar-looking farmhouse to the Hound— during his travels with Arya, he'd robbed the farmer, who had a young daughter, telling Arya that the pair were going to starve to death anyway. The Hound tries to deter the others from camping there but fails. It turns out that the farmer took the lives of both his daughter and himself, presumably to avoid the very fate that the Hound had predicted. There's some very witty banter between the Hound, Beric, and Thoros; I really dig this group. The conversation becomes serious when the Hound questions why Beric has been brought back to life so many times; what is his purpose? That's a really good question, since Beric's story line in the books is quite different from where it seems headed here. Thoros asks the Hound to look into the flames, which naturally the latter is loath to do at first, but when he does, he sees the White Walkers. Later, Thoros finds the Hound outside digging graves for the farmer and his daughter and helps him.

Dragonstone = Dragonglass!

After all the shit he's had to deal with thus far (sorry, I can't help making these terrible jokes), Sam finds some extremely useful information in one of the books he nicked from the restricted section of the library, courtesy of the keys he also nicked. According to one tome, there's a mother lode of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone. Sam dispatches a raven to Jon with the news. Hello, Reason-for-Jon-to-Meet-Up-with-Daenerys! Speaking of Daenerys, Sam is back at work doing thankless jobs at the Citadel when a scary-looking hand shoots out from behind a closed door through the slot where food bowls are put. I'd know the mellifluous voice that belongs to that hand anywhere: it's Ser Jorah Mormont behind that door! Oh man, just going by the hand, his greyscale must be horrible. He asks Sam for news of the Dragon Queen, Daenerys Stormborn, which is the perfect segue to the final scenes of this episode.

Well, It’s About Damn Time!

After practically living her entire life in exile, Daenerys Targaryen has returned to Westeros! These scenes of her and her crew making landfall at Dragonstone are incredibly powerful and emotional, even more so for the lack of dialogue until the very end. We see her making her way up to the castle, and it's a really long path; flying one of the dragons up there would've been a lot faster, LOL, but a lot less dramatic. Stannis’s war map is still set up, abandoned, and that's when Daenerys utters the sole line of dialogue in the Dragonstone sequence: “Shall we begin?”

In the Next Episode

Yara proposes striking King's Landing now. Wait—is that a wolf in the preview? IS THAT YOU, NYMERIA???!!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger

The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger
The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters #1)
By G.L. Carriger
Gail Carriger
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Publication Date: July 18, 2017

To Sum It Up: Max Barker is a sumage, only able to absorb then redirect the quintessence that other mages use to cast spells. He’s also stuck in a bureaucratic job that’s going nowhere until Bryan “Biff” Frederiksen arrives at the DURPS office. Biff is the Beta werewolf to his younger brother Alec’s Alpha, and he’s been tasked with getting the newly relocated pack officially registered. Max and Biff form an instant connection, but the past that Max tries so hard to bury beneath copious amounts of sarcasm may stand between them.

Review: Gail Carriger is a must-read author for me, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read The Sumage Solution. Writing as G.L. Carriger, the novel is a bit of a departure from the Victorian steampunk world of Carriger’s adult Parasol Protectorate and YA Finishing School series. The Sumage Solution is set in modern day San Francisco and is one smoking, scorching, smoldering paranormal romance. This might be the closest my Kindle Fire has ever come to, well, catching fire.

The Sumage Solution features a variety of paranormal beings, some of which, like kelpies, kitsune, and mermen, I haven’t read about as much as one of the book’s main supernatural species, werewolves. What I love about Carriger’s take on the paranormal is that you never feel like you’re reading yet another book about werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc.; her characters are always unique and often endearingly quirky, and they completely draw you into their story and their world.

Anyone who loves snarktastic characters, which I do, will love Max, the titular sumage and one of the novel’s two protagonists. Not only is Max a smartass, but he also doesn’t know when to shut up, and the resulting sass is hilarious. Beneath all of the razor-sharp sarcasm, though, Max tries to distance himself as much as possible from a horrible childhood growing up with a cruel father in whose eyes Max was nothing but a failure. Lacking a steady, supportive presence for most of his life, Max starts to panic when instant chemistry with werewolf Bryan (nickname: Biff) begins turning into something more serious.

Biff is the Beta of a pack new to the San Francisco Bay Area, and his Beta instincts to calm and protect are exactly what Max needs. Biff is also a man/werewolf of few words, which works out perfectly for the relationship because Max is always running his mouth. While the romance definitely has some absolutely torrid moments, it’s also sweet; you’ll root for these two to be together and to overcome anything that drives them apart.

I really liked getting to know the pack a bit and the sense of brotherhood between them. The bond is especially strong between Biff and his actual brother Alec, the pack’s Alpha. Biff has always looked out for his younger brother, and it’s touching to see Alec do the same for Biff here. (For a bit more about Alec, you can check out Carriger’s short story Marine Biology.)

Overall, this was a sizzling start to the San Andreas Shifters series. Gail Carriger has created another cast of highly entertaining characters, and I look forward to more of their stories.

All in All: Gail Carriger continues to make the supernatural feel fresh with her new paranormal romance. And yes, there is tea involved!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (173)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme created by Uncorked Thoughts and hosted by 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:
Which Character Would Be Your Study Partner?

Hermione. Without a doubt. We are both extremely driven when it comes to academics and don't settle for anything less than an A, lol. And yes, like her, I'd be more worried about getting expelled for being caught wandering Hogwarts after hours than being a late night snack for a certain three-headed dog. XD

Monday, July 10, 2017

Harry Potter Month: 20 Years of Harry Potter

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This awesome event runs all through July, and you can find more information about it here.

Wait—what?! It's already been twenty years since the release of the first Harry Potter book?! I guess that means I really am 40 because I was 20 back in 1997. XD

Ah, the summer of 1997. I was about to start my junior year of college at New York University and read textbooks on lovely subjects such as algorithms and the Assembly computer programming language. (In all seriousness, I did enjoy studying computer science—except for algorithms. I was completely lost in that class.) Being buried in schoolwork at the time, a boy wizard named Harry Potter was nowhere on my radar.

It would take another four years for me to finally take serious notice of this Harry Potter character, when a friend persuaded me to go see the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with her. After being completely, totally, and utterly mesmerized by the film, at last I understood why Harry Potter had become so beloved and such a worldwide phenomenon.

Although I've officially been a Potterhead for about sixteen years, it's still hard to believe that much time has flown by. One of the most eye-opening realizations for me is that my cousins were in elementary school back when they started reading the books, and now one is a newly minted college graduate, one is a college senior, and one is a college freshman. Now I feel really old, LOL.

HP has given me some very happy memories over the past sixteen years; no worries—I'm not about to bore you more than one of Professor Binns's lectures by listing all of them. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Reading the books for the first time
  • Attending a midnight showing of Half-Blood Prince
  • Playing the Lego HP games
  • Connecting with other fans through Harry Potter Moment of the Week and Harry Potter Month. ♥
  • Attempting to binge watch the movies with my cousins but never making it more than halfway through Prisoner of Azkaban. At least we ate lots of yummy snacks (and sometimes even full meals, hahaha!) during our attempts and had some awesome family time together.

What are some of your favorite HP-related memories?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (172)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme created by Uncorked Thoughts and hosted by 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 Face a Dragon or the Acromantula?

It's not even a contest—I'll take on the dragon EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Yes, I'd rather be barbecued or worse than face a disgusting, creepy, hairy, giant-ass spider. I'm cringing just thinking about Aragog. And then he had a whole family! *shudders* I love Hagrid, but not even he would be able to convince me that acromantulas are just seriously misunderstood creatures. XD

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Loot (29)

Welcome to a special book hoarding edition of Book Loot, LOL. No, not really—I had a couple of pre-orders and just waited until they all came in to put a post together.

I've already read A Court of Wings and Ruin, and it was fantastic. I bought The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue after reading the first five chapters through Epic Reads' emails and becoming hooked, while the Hamilton-esque cover of Alex & Eliza totally reeled me in. There are also two MUST-HAVE sequels in the stack: Lord of Shadows and Our Dark Duet.

The Hodor mug in the photo a little further below was a birthday gift from my bosses, who know what a huge GoT fangirl I am, LOL. The Season 7 premiere is almost here—and someone needs to get an HBO subscription ASAP. XD It's been on my to-do list; the premiere date seemed so far away for so long, but the wait is just about over!

For Review:

The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger
The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
Much thanks to Gail Carriger and Chicken House/Scholastic!


Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, & Robin Wasserman
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Harry Potter Month: Melissa & Lee's Intro

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This awesome event runs all through July, and you can find more information about it here.

Hello, witches, wizards, and Muggles alike! Another Harry Potter Month is upon us! We thought we’d do a quick intro-ish post to start things off.

This is Melissa’s return to Harry Potter Month after finally being rid of college, while Lee is back for a third year. Lee has kindly offered to let Melissa claim the points for this joint post to motivate her into writing more posts. Melissa is definitely not opposed to bribery. XD

We both took the Sorting Hat quiz back when Pottermore first started and decided to get sorted again on the updated site before writing this post. So here are our results:

Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw. (Thank goodness. There might’ve been an identity crisis if I got anything different.)
Ilvermony House: Horned Serpent. (Cool beans!)
Patronus: Salmon. (What?! A salmon! Out of all the animals out there, I get a salmon. Lee gets a majestic-looking bird and I get a generic looking fish. Typical.)
Wand: 10”, cypress, phoenix feather core, quite bendy. (I am quite pleased with my wand.)

Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw
Ilvermony House: Thunderbird
Patronus: Goshawk
Wand: 11”, black walnut wood, unicorn hair core, unyielding flexibility

Yay, Ravenclaw! I just feel…at home in Ravenclaw House. I also love the bird theme I’ve got going on, LOL, including my Patronus. Unyielding wand flexibility doesn’t surprise me because I’m quite bad at adapting to change. XD

Please feel free to share your houses, patronuses, wands, and anything else HP in the comments! We’re looking forward to chatting about all things Potter with everyone all through July!