Monday, February 20, 2017

Beating Zarkon's Arse in Amazing Animated Shows Since 2016 // Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2 Review

Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2 Review All 13 episodes of Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2, were released simultaneously, as is the practice with all Netflix originals, this, of course, resulted in copious binging on my part. I watched all 5 hours of the new season in two sittings, cause what social life, am I right?

If you follow me on Twitter (or perhaps even on my elusive, fandom devoted, Tumblr), then you've no doubt seen me yakking on about Voltron.

It's quite safe to say, I am completely obsessed with this show....


If you aren't currently suffering through recollections of my clambering fangirlyness, and still have no clue what Voltron is, or *gasp* haven't seen the first season, then check out my post on 4 Beautifully Addictive TV Shows for Every Lover of Animation, as it includes a mini review of Voltron Season 1.

Man, I thought the first season was brilliant, but Season 2 really blew it out of the water.


The animation was, once again, absolutely breathtaking, I mean just look at some of these screencaps:

Pidge in the trash nebula The Teleduv postioned above Zarkon's Command Ship Planet Olkarion Xanthorium clusters near the Blade of Marmora Communications Base Thaldycon Ice covered planet inhabited by mermaid-like aliens

Studio Mir, the company that animates Voltron, should be rather familiar to a lot of animation fans, as they also handled most episodes of The Legend of Korra. Though, that isn't the only similarity these two shows share. The executive producers, Joaquim Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, along with many other members of the Voltron production crew, have previously worked on Korra, and it's predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

To have either of these shows on your resume is impressive, as they are both considered to be among the best animated works of the 21st century. So, basically, you can expect a great show from these guys.

As with the first season, the plot is heavily serialized, in fact, it's even more evident this time around.


Season 2 also moves at a much brisker pace, a lot happens, many crucial elements are introduced, and we see some serious development with both the characters and the world.

At times it almost felt like too much was happening, there were so many new details, new reveals, that my head got a bit muddled.


However, this is mostly my fault, for, you know, binging the entire thing (a quick rewatch should fix everything). Honestly, this isn't really a bad thing to be complaining about anyways, I'd even venture to say that it's sort of a good thing? After all, I've always been that person begging for stronger plots in these types of shows.

Season 1 focused on introducing the main characters, establishing the villain, and building the world, the usual stuff.

This time, the story mostly centers around Keith and Shiro, their connection, and their pasts.


As a result, some of the other main characters are neglected a bit, but not in a way that was particularly noticeable or detrimental to my enjoyment of the show.

The world, which was nicely set up in the previous season, is greatly expanded on in Season 2. (How many times can one girl use the word season? So far 13 times and counting.^) We learn more about the Galra, the main baddy, Zarkon, and a little bit about the backstory of everyone's favorite five-cat robot, Voltron.

Many more planets are introduced, and with them, intriguing new cultures and characters.


I took quite a liking to most of the new species/races/peoples (I don't know what to call them???). One of my favorites is the mermaids (I mean they're mermaids, what else could you ask for?). I would love to delve further into their amazingness, but that'd be encroaching on spoiler territory, unfortunately. While some of these new species were a bit subpar, the majority were fresh, unique, and utterly awesome. The universe of Voltron has never felt vaster.

The Blue Lion and a mermaid

The second season's story takes a much darker turn than I was expecting,


but the rather serious storylines are always accompanied by a more light-hearted counterpart, so it never gets "too dark" (don't worry it's still suitable for children). The balance between serious and comedic is generally well handled, but, at times, the switching of tone did feel a bit jarring.

Speaking of comedic, I utterly adore the humor in this season.


There are so many gloriously funny quotes, that can really only be truly enjoyed in context. Though, I'm still gonna share some with ya'll (my Texan's showing), cause what type of cruel person would I be if I kept these gems to myself.

Here's my favorite, cause, you know, snarky and nerdy Shiro is the best:

"It takes more than a glowing alien wound, a fall from the upper atmosphere, and crashing into a hard pan surface, at what I'm guessing is about 25 meters per second squared, to get rid of me."Shiro (2.1)

Some Hunk of course (he got so many great lines this time! I would share more, but *spoilers*):

"Quit back lion Driving!" Hunk (2.11)

And we can never leave out some good ol' Klance Keith and Lance banter:

"You know I hate to agree with Keith, but it's a big fat ditto for me."Lance (2.3)

Personally, I don't feel like any characters really got any serious development this season.


Sure, we found out more about Shiro, and especially Keith (with him being the "mystery child" and all), but I don't think either of them were necessarily fleshed out anymore. As for the rest of the crew, no character development really came their way either, much to my dismay.

Honestly, in my opinion, Season 2 was mostly about further expanding the world and setting up the political climate of the universe (is that the right word???), so hopefully we'll see more character development in future episodes.

There's one last thing I'd like to hit, and that is the music, seriously, someone give me that soundtrack already....


(At the time of me writing this post, there hasn't been any news on a Season 2 soundtrack release, though, hopefully, that's changed.) Voltron's music isn't particularly flashy, but I adore it, it's so beautiful, and fits the show/mood perfectly, plus it has just the right amount of spacey, sci-fiy, giant roboty, vibes (adjectives have abandoned me). My absolute favorite song so far is Suppose to Be My Lion, which play when Pidge first finds the Green Lion in the first season. If there's one song you need in your life, it's that one.

All in all, Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2 really helped strengthen the franchise.


It had a captivating and well written story, and while there were a couple faults, they are more than a little forgivable. If you've seen the first season, than Season 2 is a must see, and if you haven't seen any Voltron, what are you wait for??? Here's a link to the show on Netflix to help you begin your descent into the hell hole that is obsession get started....

Spoilers
A lot of the time, fan theories are a bit... well... absurd, and consequently, I typically don't give them that much weight, though, I still find some of them to be quite enjoyable.

So, when the fandom started with the whole "Keith is Galra" business, I didn't really think too hard about it.


I mean, I liked the theory, it was interesting and offered a lot of neat possibilities, but, at the same time, a lot of other similar theories were going around, such as Altean!Lance, that, in my opinion, aren't even in the plausible ball park (but hey you never know, I could be very wrong). I ended up just lumping them all, along with Galra!Keith, into the fandom crack category, and thereby not giving any of them much mind.

After rewatching the first season, I did start to pay a bit more attention to the theory,


as there was some stuff that pointed to the possibility of Keith being Galra, but I still wasn't entirely convinced, as I could've just as easily been grasping at straws.

But then the show hit us with this:


The only way this is possible is if Galra blood runs through your veins.

Keith is Galra, Keith is part Galra, I repeat, Galra!Keith is canon. As you can see, I totally didn't overreact to this information *distant screaming*.

Looking back, the hints were definitely there.


First off, there's Keith's ability to operate Galra tech (none of the other non-Galrans were shown to have that ability), then there's Zarkon telling Keith "You fight like a Galra soldier," and of course, the infamous, purple-hand-burning, scene in Collection and Extraction, which was probably the most convincing piece of evidence. Either way, I'm definitely gonna be paying more heed to fan theories in the future.

As for how the huge character reveal was handled, I have some mixed feelings.


The dynamic between Keith and Allura after the reveal was really interesting, it explored racism (speciesism?) and whether, perhaps, it's justified to a certain extent sometimes. I understood Allura's reaction, after all the Galra did kill her family, decimate her entire race, and destroy her planet, but, at the same time, it's completely unfair to judge some simply based off their race and/or ancestry.

Allura's reaction could've been handled a bit better.


Her outright ignoring Keith once she discovered he was Galra, just made me feel extremely uncomfortable, though maybe that was the intention? There's also the matter of Hunk's possibly casual racism, in case you're interested, here's a great video by ShippersGuideToTheGalaxy tackling the topic.

Apparently the Voltron staff likes keeping Shiro in perpetual possible death mode.


They had the entire fandom in turmoil with the little "Keith, if I don't make it out of here I want you to lead Voltron" line in the trailer, and now Shiro's gone off and disappeared. Though, I will admit that I'm a bit curious and excited with the possibility of Keith piloting the Black Lion. Also, Lotor is a-coming, a fact which caused the entire fandom to descend into chaos, with people already shipping Lance and Lotor or as the fandom has already dubbed the ship, Lancelot (no comment).

The Olkari are by far my favorite species of all the ones that have been introduced so far.


Their civilization, their engineering abilities, their connection to nature *sparkly eyes* so coollll... (I suppose I am a bit of a Pidge after all). I couldn't figure out how to fit these into the post, but I still want to share them, so I'll leave them here:

The first appearance of the Olkari The Olkarion City in the Woods

Before I go, I'm just gonna share some new (very exciting) information....


According to this photo, from this Toyark post, we're getting Season 3 in September of this year (start the countdown!!!), and at least 54 more episodes, which is 78 episodes in total, meaning 6 seasons of Voltron!!! *cue loud fangirling* Please feel more than free to come scream with me about Voltron on my Twitter, Instagram, or in the comments below.

Anyways, I'm off to re-binge Season 2:



That was probably the longest post I've ever written.... (My hands are so tired.) Anyways, have you seen Voltron? What Lion would you pilot?
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Monday, February 13, 2017

It's My Birthday + Some Weird Little Reflections

I'm 15 today, and it's honestly a bit hard to believe. This birthday really crept up on me, I've been really busy lately, and I suppose I just haven't put much thought into the fact that I'd actually be turning 15 today.

That 15, the one that means I'll be going to college in 3 more years, the one that means I'm already halfway through my freshman year of high school. Age is a funny thing, our perception of it is forever changing. Ages I have yet to reach look so distant, so unfathomable, but once I've reach them, they feel so normal, so regular, both young and old at the same time.

I remember a time when high school seemed so foreign, such a large, scary, thing in my future, but now I'm a high school student, and I go to a high school everyday, it's normal, though, sometime I still have little freak-outs about how close I am to college and leaving home. Haha, I'm not sure where I wanted to go with this piece, if I ever really wanted to go anywhere, anyways, by the time you read this I'll be 15, what an odd thought.
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Monday, January 30, 2017

4 Beautifully Addictive TV Shows for Every Lover of Animation

4 Addictive TV Shows for Every Lover of Animation Here at Quartzfeather, when I'm not talking about books, I'm talking about animation. So my sweet peas it's once again time to endure my animation babble. (I have a weird habit of calling everyone sweet pea/sweetie/honey. Not sure where it came from, it's a persistent and repetitive habit that often earns me odd looks when it slips out in a convo with one of my peers.)

1.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

Synopisis:
For millennia, the evil Galra Empire has plagued the universe by conquering planets and destroying their inhabitants. The only known threat to the empire's power and plans is the legendary "Defender of the Universe" Voltron, a 100 meter tall robot warrior composed of five lion mechas whose pilots are known as the Paladins. At the crux of the war that ended with the destruction of planet Altea, Voltron was read more... separated by King Alfor of Altea in order to protect Voltron from falling into the Galran Emperor Zarkon's possession. King Alfor bonded the five lion's energies to his daughter Allura's life force and sent them across the universe to different locations until the time for the next generation of Paladins to appear and pilot Voltron arrived. Princess Allura, her retainer Coran, and the Altean Castle of Lions were hidden on planet Arus along with the Black Lion.

In the present, the Galra Empire's path of conquest and search for Voltron has led them to Earth's solar system. A group of space pilots – Shiro, Keith, Lance, Pidge, and Hunk – discover the Blue Lion and immediately get swept up into the Galran War. They meet Princess Allura, become the next Paladins, and reunite the five lions to form Voltron and combat Emperor Zarkon's nefarious schemes, with the hopes of ultimately defeating the entire Galra Empire.


The second this show took over my Tumblr dash I swore I wasn't gonna see it (I really wasn't looking for another all consuming obsession at the moment).


As you can see that plan failed, pretty badly.

If you're an 80's kid you might have heard of the original, the reboot does have some noticeable changes, but the two are still very much in the same vein.

Almost everyone who worked on Korra is on the Voltron team, which pretty much guarantees a good show.


The plot, unlike many animated shows is very serialized. This is mostly due to the fact that it's was released on Netflix, instead of on a TV channel, like Nick or Cartoon Network.

I've heard that the animation budget was through the roof, and I don't find that hard to believe, as the animation is pretty nice.

For me my favorite thing about this show is the personal journeys of each paladin.


Even cliche stereotypical cartoon types, like Lance, who flirts with every girl in sight, and is a bit full of himself, has a deeper layer. The girls in this show are totally badass. Allura, who in the original show was a classic princess-in-distress, can totally kick villain butt in the reboot. Also (view spoiler)Pidge is revealed to be a girl in episode 3 which is pretty cool.

If I have one complaint, it's the fact that so far, the villain's flobby and underdeveloped. However, we're only on season one at the moment, so there's definitely time for that the change.

2.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Synopisis:
The world is divided into four nations -- the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation and and the Air Nomads -- each represented by a natural element for which the nation is named. Benders have the ability to control and manipulate the element from their nation. Only the Avatar is the master of all four elements. The ruthless Fire Nation wants to conquer the world, and the only bender who has enough read more... power to stop them, the Avatar, has disappeared... until now. Aang, the long-lost Avatar is soon found by Katara and Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe. Now they must safeguard Aang on his journey to master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation.


This show is practically what animated TV legends are made of.


Since getting sucked into animation, I've heard so many good things about Avatar. And in my opinion all that hype is well deserved (but that live-action movie *shivers* oh tHE HORROR).

I finished the final season about four months ago (I actually pushed off watching the finale for like an entire week, mostly because I didn't want it to end), and I was tearing up so badly that my eyes were burning.

The world building is phenomenal, and all the characters are pretty well developed, even the villains.


(view spoiler)In fact, Prince Zuko who began as a villain character started growing on me when he was still hunting Aang. Whenever that general/admiral dude caused him trouble, I'd end up cheering for Zuko. But then I'd remember that he's trying to capture Aang, and so *confliction* Avatar is an absolute masterpiece, and yes it will make you cry. Honestly the only reason it's not #1 on this list is cause I missed the fandom by eight years, and for some reason being in a fandom always helps grow my love for a show, so yeah Voltron won in that aspect.

3.

Gravity Falls

Synopisis:
Twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to spend the summer with their great-uncle, Grunkle Stan, in the mysterious town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. Grunkle Stan has the kids help him run The Mystery Shack, the tourist trap that he owns. Dipper and Mabel try to adapt to the weird surroundings, but sense there is something strange about Gravity Falls and begin to unlock its secrets. When Dipper uncovers a cryptic read more... journal that offers insight into the town's mysteries, he and Mabel use it and their enthusiastic desire to vanquish evil, to battle the imminent mysteries that surround them.


I started watching Gravity Falls a couple months after it finished.


(I also managed to stay gloriously spoiler free until then somehow, which is miracle.) Unfortunately, because my late start, I pretty much missed out on the fandom, by the time I arrived it had already started dying-off.

My favorite thing about Gravity Falls' is the clues the creator, Alex Hirsch, scattered throughout the episodes.


Some were even in the intro. Being part of the fandom while the show was airing must have been a pretty cool experience, because you got to hunt for the hidden clues in every episode, and piece it together as the show went on.

This show's concept is great, all the characters are well developed and have awesome personalities. Dipper is my favorite, as he is more on the nerdy, thinker end (AKA me). Mabel was also a great character, she's a bit more on the whimsy and endlessly happy side of things. She and her twin bro, Dipper make the best duo.

Gravity Falls also has this fun balance between normal teenager woes (think crushes and boybands) and awesome weird out of this world stuff.


The show starts off mostly with self-contained episodes, but the plot begins to become more serialized, especially in season two.

4.

Dragons: Race to the Edge

Synopisis:
Dragons: Race to the Edge tells the action-laden story of what happens before How to Train Your Dragon 2, as Hiccup and Toothless explore an amazing world that they always imagined, but never knew, existed beyond the borders of Berk. In this all-new Netflix original series, the Dragon Riders discover the mysterious Dragon Eye, which is filled with ancient secrets that lead them to new lands filled with read more... undiscovered dragons. But the heroes find themselves pursued by marauding dragon hunters who will stop at nothing to seize the power.


I've gotta admit, one of the reasons Race to the Edge landed this spot on the list, is my unending love for How to Train Your Dragon.


It's not a bad show by any means, it has beautiful animation, and an awesome villain who is actually a serious threat, but in the story development area, it's not quite as up there.

But the villain, oh the villain. Unlike the other villains in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, that dude's got brain.


Viggo's crafty, definitely calculating, and can match Hiccup brain cell to brain cell. Which is refreshing when it comes to animated villains.

Race to the Edge was suppose to run for only four seasons, however season five and six were recently announced. Apparently Netflix wanted them to continue the show, which means that it's doing pretty good

In my opinion this show just get's better and better with every season.


I'm especially fond of a brother and sister duo, that unfortunately don't appear in the movies. I'm also really in love with the character designs in Race to the Edge, honestly I love them more that the HTTYD and HTTYD 2 character designs, which was a bit unexpected.

Have you seen any of these? Have I convinced you to watch any of them? Do you have any recommendations for me?
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Get Your Dictionaries Out Ladies & Gents // Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn Review

Unquiet Land Review I adore the Elemental Blessings series, every single book has a special place in my heart. There's a colorful and well-developed cast of characters, and a beautifully built world, what more is there to ask for?

Synopsis & Details:


Leah Frothen has returned home. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned by regent Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in… Leah finds she enjoys the read more... challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.

But when the regent asks her to spy on ambassadors from a visiting nation, Leah soon learns that everyone—her regent, her lover, and even her daughter—have secrets that could save the nation, but might very well break her heart.

Title: Unquiet Land
Author: Sharon Shinn
Series: Elemental Blessings #4
Publication Date: November 1st 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Ace!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

Unquiet Land, like the previous books in this series, takes a side character and delves deeply into their life and mind.


In this case, we are following Leah, who finally returns to Welce, after many years in Malinqua. Once back home, she quickly gets twisted up in political intrigue, as she reunites with her family, and the daughter she left behind.

There was some awkwardness concerning the love interest, as I'd previously pictured him as in his late 60's-70's (definitely too old for Leah). However, I eventually corrected my image of him, and all awkwardness was resolved.

One thing about Sharon's writing I've noticed, is that, she uses so many interesting words.


Everytime I pick up a book of hers, I need Google or a dictionary nearby, cause I'm forever searching up words. Some might find this annoying, but I actually quite like it (learning some big/unusual words never hurt anyone).

As with Jeweled Fire, a new culture is introduced in Unquiet Land.


This time it was the Karkans, their traditions are quite interesting to say the least... I'll just leave it at that to prevent any spoilers.

Unquiet Land wasn't quite as good as Troubled Water or Jeweled Fire, as it was a bit slow, pacing wise, but it's still a great addition to the series.


If you're a fan of Sharon's or looking for some wonderfully developed fantasy, than the Elemental Blessings series is definitely one to look into to.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


If you had an elemental blessing which one do you think it'd be? Elay (Air/Soul), Hunti (Wood/Bone), Sweela (Fire/Mind), Coru (Water/Blood), or Torz (Earth/Flesh)?
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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Quartz Gazette 2016 Recap // The Books, Movies, and Shows of 2016 + The Return of the Gazette

Quartz Gazette 2016 Recap Quartz Gazette's been a bit absent of late, mostly because I decided to retire it, due to my new posting schedule. However I ended up missing doing these recap posts, so it's back! A lot has happened since my last post and I'm not about to try to cover it all, so I decided, why not welcome this feature back with a recap of the year.

A lot has happened this year, I entered high school, sunk into so many more fandoms, and finally got my long dreamed of sewing machine.


2016 was (should I use present or past tense?) also the year where I discovered an interest in politics and the happenings of the world.

The 2016 election was the first one I payed close attention to. I'd been following it ever since the primaries (which were quite interesting.... I still can't believe candidate genital size was an actual area of contention).

Overall 2016's been a roller coaster of a year, both in good and bad ways.


I'm both eager and admittedly, a bit worried, to see what 2017 brings. Okay we're done with the sappy stuff, let's move onto the books. (I'll also be throwing in some movie/show love towards the end.)

So remember when I said I'd keep a better record of the books I read in 2016....


Well, I did do better this year, but there's still much room for improvement.... In 2017 I'm going to give All About Books' spreadsheet a go, we'll see how it works out.

Cassidy has read 95 books toward their goal of 200 books.

As you can see, my goal this year was not met (at all). I totally underestimated how much life would get in the way of my reading time.... My goal for next year will most likely be around 100, hopefully something I can achieve.

For the next bit, I'm gonna borrow some questions from Jamie's End of the Year Survey. I participated in the 2015 End of the Year Survey, and was planning on doing the same this year, but I ended up deciding to only pull a few questions. (I was too lazy to answer them all if I'm honest. It's hard to pick between all the great books I've read this year).

Carry On

Best Book You Read In 2016?

I don't know a single bookworm who doesn't despise this question, after all, forcing us to choose between our precious books is unnecessarily cruel.... However this year the question isn't quite as hard, mostly because there's a clear standout, that I've already reread at least three times. And that is... Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. If you don't have this book in your life, you need it. Also because there were so many other amazing books:

Notable Novels from 2016


The Beauty of Darkness

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

A lot of books have disappointed me this year (mostly due to the fact that I've become pickier), honestly there isn't a major standout, so I'll talk about a couple particularly disappointing ones.

Ever the Hunted: I was super excited to read this one, and was super ecstatic when my request was approved on Netgalley. However, I ended up DNFing because the story was flat and very tropey, also the romance was kinda getting on my nerves. Though that cover is still undeniably a beauty.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies: I'd heard so many good things about this book, and my expectations were pretty high. I put it aside around the 50% mark, intending to pick it up again, but after a month of it going untouched, I decided to DNF. (I just realized I DNF a lot of books about halfway for some reason....) I just never clicked with Norah, the book wasn't bad, just wasn't for me.

The Beauty of Darkness: This book earns the tops spot. Mostly, because, I'd already spent so much time reading the previous books in The Remnant Chronicles, only to get bored in the final book, The Beauty of Darkness. It's always disappointing for a final book in a series to fall short, much less one you'd already read 620 pages of.... I do intend to finish it someday, as I only have 64 pages left, but still, it was a pretty major disappointment.

Wolf by Wolf

Best series you started in 2016?

Wolf by Wolf was a welcome surprise. I'm beyond happy that I ended up finally reading it. It's just one of those books I knew I'd love from the first page. I really need to get my hands on Blood for Blood!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

It took me a bit to whittle the list down to one, as I'm a notorious cover judger and pretty cover gusher, however, in the end I had to pick Aristotle And Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because the topography is just gorgeous, not to mention the beautiful art.

Creativity Inc.

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2016?

I mostly picked up Creativity Inc. because, hello, newborn animation freak here. I loved learning about how Pixar functioned, how the structure of the company fostered creativity, and how the company has struggled. Honestly, this novel has made me want to work in animation so much more. Speaking of Pixar, I have a lot of their films to catch up on. I still haven't seen Toy Story, can you believe it?

Yuri on Ice

OTP of the Year (you will go down with this ship!)

Seriously, I'm suppose to choose??? 2016 has been a great year for shipping, and I am not picking between my ships, so enjoy them all.

The Ships of 2016


Cursed Child

Book That Made You The Most Mad?

To say Cursed Child made me mad, is the understatement of the century.... Just ask my family, I was yelling at the book the whole time I was reading it. The main cast from the Harry Potter series was out of character, the plot was a mess, the story and the twists (if you can even call them that) felt so damn lazy. The only good thing was Scorpius Malfoy, he is a precious cinnamon roll, and pretty much the only character I liked in Cursed Child. I mean Albus was fine, but sometimes he got on my nerves.

Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017?

We'll be pretending that says books, as once again, my flawed decision-making skills are becoming apparent.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love: A book about a girl trying to find a boyfriend using K-dramas? Say no more. I've only seen two Korean Dramas (Boys Over Flowers and Goong), but I loved both, and both left me in terrible show holes, so I've been avoiding K-dramas for the time being to protect my fragile heart. Also the mc is going to Stanford??? Color me envy green, cause damn, I'd love to go to that school, but there's no chance....

Once and for All: I can't wait to read this book because, SARAH DESSEN!!! Plus the mc is a total HEA cynic, and I love hanging with my kind. Also I am totally digging that cover.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue: Time-traveling and history, I AM SO IN. Don't even get me started on the unrequited crush on bff part, and freaking 18th-century Europe.

Rogue One

Best Shows & Movies?

Before 2016, I rarely watched shows or movies, I probably graced the theater with my presence like once a year. However, this year, everything changed, because I got addicted to animation.... So here are some of my favorite shows and movies of 2016:

Voltron: Legendary Defender: Tumblr is to blame for this one (as it's to blame for a lot of things). I never thought I'd like Voltron, I mean, the mecha genre has never interested me. But Voltron is different, it has a very serialized plot, well-developed characters, and it's not all about the fight scenes, not to mention the beautiful animation. In short, it's the perfect show to get addicted too.

Yuri on Ice: No, this show isn't what you think it is. In this case Yuri doesn't mean that... it's just the shared name of two characters, nothing more. Yuri on Ice's plot is quite simple, but the bonds between the characters are so strong and organic. The entire story is centered around Yuuri Katsuki, and how he develops and grows, both as a person and as a skater, throughout the show. The music is amazing, and the animation is beautiful (well some places it was a bit lacking, most likely due to budget constraints). Either way, I'd highly recommend it.

Zootopia: This one's still my favorite, even after Moana. I love how the film handled the delicate issues currently affecting our society, and the positive message it gave. I'm rooting for Zootopia, though I'm expecting Moana to sweep the Oscars, due to the fact that it's fresh in everyone's mind, has an amazing soundtrack, and of course, is a Disney Princess film.

Rogue One: One thing here doesn't match.... I don't see much live action, however I went to see this one with my brother, and absolutely loved it. Unsurprisingly, K-2SO was my favorite, gotta love that snarky bastard. As someone who's only seen two Star Wars films (this one and Force Awakens), I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I might actually check out the rest of the franchise because of Rogue One, (view spoiler)[though I'm still freaking salty over the fact that they killed off everyone].

I'm Joining the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge!

I don't do many challenges, as a lot of time, they just aren't my thing. However, I always like participating in FLYLÄ“F's and A Kernel of Nonsense's Comment Challenge. It's a great way to get to know other bloggers, and I'm so excited to get to know my partner this time around!

I Was Interviewed!

If you'd like to know a bit more about me, than check out my interview with Isobel @ Write through the Night. She asked so many great questions, and I had such a fun time answering them!

Well that's a wrap! How was your 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

In Which I Accidentally Ramble on About My Reading Habits // Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill Review

Ever the Hunted Review When I go into a book, I'm always anticipating a spark, a moment where the book fully grasps my attention, and I become invested in the story and in the characters. Sometimes it's gradual, and I don't realize it's happened until I've finished the book, sometimes I can pinpoint the moment, the exact chapter, where everything clicks, and the story just comes to life. Sometimes it's the first page, sometimes it's not till 3 chapters in, or sometimes it just never happens, like with Ever the Hunted.

Synopsis & Details:


Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to read more... her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

Title: Ever the Hunted
Author: Erin Summerill
Series: Clash of Kingdoms #1
Publication Date: December 27th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks HMH!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

I'm not sure if I'm the only one who reads like this (I only realized this about myself recently), and if I am, I hope my explanation of my odd ways makes sense. Either way, the main reason I DNF books, is just this moment never coming, and Ever the Hunted falls right into this trap.

In the 50% of the book, I read, I was bored most of the time.


The story was flat, and I never connected with the characters and their motivations, never really got pulled into the story. There were a couple exciting parts and questions that keep me reading, but after awhile they just weren't enough anymore.

I loved the concept of this setting, the magical system, the political conflict, all intrigued me.


However this book also felt like something I'd read many times before. It had its fair share of fantasy tropes, including the dreaded special snowflake, and perhaps even the stirrings of a love triangle (I didn't finish the book so it's highly possible that I'm wrong about the love triangle *shrugs*).

The synopsis was amazing.


It gave me the impression that Ever the Hunted would be a story about a girl torn between her emotions, struggling with the idea that the man she loved might have murdered her father. While we definitely got this storyline, it wasn't used to it's full potential in my opinion.

I think Britta was suppose to be older than the impression she gave me...


This kinda threw a wrench into the romantic plotline, cause the love interest is mentioned to have a beard many a time, and at the age I pictured her as, any dude who'd grown a legit beard, would have some years on her...

In summary, I liked the idea of this book, and the image the summary gave me, but in the end, the book just didn't work out for me.


However, I'd still urge you to give it a try if it sounds like something you'd love. Though if tropes annoy you, then this one's probably not for you.

Rating: DNF


What things do you like to see in fantasy novels? Do repetitive tropes bother you?
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Monday, December 12, 2016

A Thrilling Journey through the South Pacific 2000 Years Ago // Moana Review

I've been following Moana closely pretty much since it was announced, so I was extremely excited to see it in theatres. I went to a rather early showing on the release day, so the theatre was fairly empty, which was a lovely surprise.

Synopsis & Details:


An adventurous teenager sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master way-finder. Together they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering read more... enormous monsters and impossible odds. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she always sought: her own identity.

Title: Moana
Director(s): John Musker, Ron Clements
Studio: Disney
Release Date: November 23, 2016 (US)
Genres: Action, Animation, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars

Well, well, where do we start? How about the beginning?


Moana starts out by introducing us to the legend of Maui, this is followed by a montage of Moana growing up. This scene introduces Moana's island home, and establishes the first hurdle she must jump. The opening is well done, and slides us excellently into the story.

As a huge fan of Hamilton, I couldn't not mention the music.


Moana has a wonderful array of songs, my favorites being: Tulou Tagaloa, Where You Are, We Know the Way, You're Welcome, and How Far You'll Go (okay that's like almost all of them). They are all rather catchy, trust me they've been in my head since I've seen the film (and I'm currently aggravating the issue by listening to the soundtrack on repeat). I suppose my favorite would have to be You're Welcome, Dwayne is a fantastic singer, and this song is a great way to introduce Maui to the audience.

The animation is gorgeous, of course. The surrounding environment is lush and alive.


I found the water particularly impressive, water has been known to be tricky, and handling that much must have been quite the challenge. Speaking of water, the ocean was such a fun character. It never speaks a word, yet has so much personality and sass.

Moana has it's fair share of humor, including this wonderful quote, where Moana is yelling at the ocean:
"Fish pee in you all day!"
and of course, that tweeting joke *slight groan* (such a dad joke). The ocean was the center of plenty of gags, as Moana took full advantage of the personified ocean.


Despite being a bit afraid that the parents would fall into stereotype valley, I actually ending up really liking them, and their dynamic with Moana. While the father's role in the story, is definitely something we've seen before, and can definitely be considered a bit stereotypical, this film manages to make it feel fresh and new.

On the other hand, I did have some reserves with one of the villain characters.


(view spoiler)[I'm a bit on the fence, about that giant Hermit Crab. The song Tamatoa sings isn't bad, in fact I rather like it, however it felt a bit out of place.] I don't really have any other specific criticism for the film. I will admit though, that I left the theater, feeling as if the story was a bit lacking in some mysterious aspect, that I couldn't quite name. While I don’t feel Moana is as good as Zootopia, it's still a strong film, with a wonderful story, and great characters.

Short film segment: Inner Workings


Inner Workings is centered around a middle-aged man caught in the middle of a constant struggle between his heart and brain, the story is told in a quirky, sweet way. This short was adorable, but not quite as adorable as Piper, the short that accompanied Finding Dory (though I suppose comparing these two is a bit like comparing oranges and apples).

I found Inner Workings to be quite reminiscent of Inside Out, heck the color scheme is even a bit similar when it comes to the organs. However while there were many things in common between the two, Inner Workings is different enough to stand strongly on it's own. This short reminds you to not overthink everything, and let your heart lead sometimes.

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Have you seen Moana? If so, thoughts? Also who's your favorite Disney Princess?
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Monday, December 5, 2016

His Royal Highness Prince Overprotective Brother // Christmas at the Castle by Melissa McClone Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway

I went into Christmas at the Castle, looking for something cute and fluffy, which is pretty much what I got. Despite a couple issues I had with the novel, I enjoyed it overall.

Synopsis & Details:


A royal wedding. A meddlesome mother. An unexpected union. A European getaway during the Christmas holiday is exactly what veterinarian Katrina “Kat” Parsons needs. She can’t wait to be a bridesmaid in her childhood friend’s royal wedding, but she hopes to steer clear of the read more... bride’s arrogant older brother.

Crown Prince Guillaume wants his younger sister’s wedding day to be perfect, but he’s suspicious of Kat. He and his mother on are on high alert, afraid Kat is not just there for the wedding, but also to find a prince of her own.

But when Kat’s kindness and generosity prove them wrong, the prince realizes there’s more to her than he ever imagined. Can he trust his heart or will he lose the one woman he can’t live without?


Title: Christmas at the Castle (Ever After #3)
Author: Melissa McClone
Series: Ever After
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: I received an arc through H.C.L. Author Services, this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

The romance kind of comes out of nowhere, I'd seen the build up, but then it appeared a tad early.


In my opinion, it could have used a few more pages to develop.

Some parts of this book felt really cliche, and not in the good way (like with Kasie West's P.S. I Like You), but in a cringy-ish way.

At first Gill really annoyed me, his reasons for disliking Kat just seemed extremely immature.


90% of the notes I made while reading, were just me being a 100% annoyed, with Gill, thinking about how Kat, was a gold (royal) digger.

However he really began turning around towards the second half of the book, his POV quickly became my favorite after that.


As for Kat, I never felt like her character really developed, she felt a bit flat.

Christmas at the Castle had a couple really humorous moments, and the second half of the book was definitely better than the first. If you're looking for something cute to wave in the winter holiday season, then this one might be up your alley.

Rating: 3/ 5 Stars


What are you looking foward to this winter season? Are you anticipating any book releases?
About Melissa McClone
Melissa McClone’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University led her to a job with a major airline where she travelled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters. Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! Since then, she has published over twenty-five romance novels with Harlequin and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA award. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim and soccer practices, 4-H meetings and dog shows. She also supports deployed service members through Soldiers’ Angels and fosters cats through a local non-kill rescue shelter. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.

Blog Tour Schedule
December 4th
December 5th
December 6th
December 7th
December 8th
December 9th
December 10th
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