Books And Candy

perksI found this Halloween-themed tag on Bookish Serendipity and it looked fun! It’s about candy – specifically, the types of candy that remind you of certain books.

Delicious.

Let’s get started.

1. Apples
Ah, healthy food. It is deep, meaningful, and probably won a lot of awards but, um, it really isn’t your thing.

Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a YA classic, and while I’m glad that I now understand all the pop culture references to it… it just wasn’t my thing. I’m picky about YA contemporary, especially the angsty stuff, so I can’t say my apathy towards it the miseducation of cameron postparticularly surprises me.

2. Milk chocolate
This is the book that you’d recommend to absolutely EVERYONE.

I talked about Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan on Monday and as I wrote the review for
it, I kept thinking, “Meh. This book wasn’t as good as I’d hoped/been led to believe… If I could recommend only one LGBTQ+ book ever it would be The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth!”

Actually, let me rephrase that. If I could recommend ONLY ONE BOOK EVER, it would be Miseducation.

girl in the arenaMy blogging friends Matt and Lifelong Fangirl have been reading it lately, and I’m sorry if I’m irritating you two with my excitement and incessant “Have you read that part yet?! What about this part?!” questions, but… it’s amazing, but not that well known. So I don’t often get to fangirl about it.

3.Black jellybeans
WHY DO THESE EXIST?!

To be honest, I’m not sure how or why I even finished this book. It was a Hunger Games ripoff that started well enough but fell flat on its metaphorical face by the end. Ugh.ash

4. Chocolate kisses
Aww…this novel had the best romance.

I’m REALLY picky about love stories. And I don’t usually like love stories that are the main attraction (…no pun intended, I swear!) and not, like, mostly adventure or sci fi or historical fiction with a love story thrown in as a subplot.

0-545-16044-8So if you catch me fangirling over any love story ever, know this: I must have been EXTREMELY impressed by it. And this is the case with Ash by Malinda Lo. Whilst reading it I had a RIDICULOUSLY HUGE smile on my face and… gah, Ash and Kaisa are amazing together. OMG THERE IS SO MUCH CHEMISTRY BETWEEN THOSE GIRLS.

5. Gummy spiders
Eek! You made sure to check under your bed every night for a week after reading this scary one.

Chris Wooding’s Malice is actually a children’s book. But to be honest, I wouldn’t a game of thronesrecommend to little kids unless they want to be terrified forever! The story is told in both prose and illustrations and IT’S SO GOOD.

P.S. It’s part of a duology; the sequel is Havoc,
if you’re interested.

6. Jumbo lollipop
This took you forever to get through, but hey! You did it!

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin is super loooong. Oh, and it’s about ten thousand times more violent than I was expecting. But was it worth reading? Definitely. I mean, I’m still not over the DEATHS OF SEVERAL MAJOR Ella_enchanted_(book_cover)[1]CHARACTERS IN THE FREAKING FIRST BOOK, but whatever.

7. Cotton candy
Admit it, you loved this when you were younger. (You probably still do.) Think: children’s or MG fiction.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is one of the bestest books on this planet and no one can convince me otherwise! It sparked my interest in retellings, especially fairy tale retellings, and it’s so funny and well-written and just generally an amazing book. I first read it when I about eleven years old and I love it to this day.

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I’m tagging:

(Come on, Cait. You really should do this one! I mean, it involves FOOD. Food!)

Link back to this post or put the URL of your post in the comments down below so I can read your responses! And, as always, feel free to participate in this tag whether or not I listed you!

And now, I have two questions for you. First of all, what is your favorite candy? I like Three Musketeers, Twix, Tim Tams, Hershey’s Kisses, white chocolate… basically any chocolate, honestly.

Secondly, what’s the most delicious book you’ve read lately? I just finished the recently-published Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. This year, I’ve given only three books five-star ratings – and it’s part of that teeny-tiny group. Yay!

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Reading The Rainbow: Boy Meets Boy

reading the rainbowReading The Rainbow is an original regular feature at Musings From Neville’s Navel. I’m a queer bookworm who loves to geek out about books and LGBTQ+ topics, so why not talk about both subjects at once?! Basically, I review books with queer characters and/or themes, discuss the pros and cons of each, and tell you which stories are worth your time!

boy meets boyTitle: Boy Meets Boy

Author: David Levithan

Genre: YA, contemporary, romance

Length: 185 pages

Published by: Alfred A. Knopf

Date of publication: 2003

Source: I own it

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other. The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

Oh, what’s this? A Reading The Rainbow post? YES, FINALLY!  I introduced you to this feature way back at the beginning of freaking August, but then… I got distracted. I didn’t forget about RTR, I swear, but there were so many other things I wanted to blog about! So I did. And this feature was pushed aside.

But not anymore! I have resolved to work a little more steadily on it… hopefully.

Anyway. Time for my first review! I chose Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan because I read it just a few months ago and the story is still fairly clear in my memory. Let’s get started!

I first heard of Boy Meets Boy several years ago, but I put off reading for quite a while because I’m picky about love stories and… well, honestly, most of my favorites are about queer ladies! (I’m definitely biased here, but I tend to think girl/girl couples have more “chemistry” than guy/guy or guy/girl couples. Just my two cents.)

Well, guess what?! The romance was actually lovely and cute and many other positive adjectives. And that’s good, because it’s kind of the point of the book. Paul and Noah are alternately adorable, awkward, confused, and frustrated with each other. It was very adorable, and very fun to read.

It’s also a very quotable book! Mostly, it was funny; sometimes it was unexpectedly deep. Here are a few I enjoyed:

“I don’t believe in doing hugs halfway. I can’t stand people who try to hug without touching. A hug should be a full embrace.”

-~-

“Sometimes the space between knowing what to do and actually doing it is a very short walk. Other times it is an impossible expanse.”

-~-

“‘With you, I wanted to like just you. Then, after you, I wanted to like just the girls. But every time I’m with one, I think the other’s possible.’
‘So you’re bisexual.’
Kyle’s face flushes. ‘I hate that word,’ he tells me, slumping back in his chair. ‘It makes it sound like I’m divided.’
‘When really you’re doubled?'”

My favorite, however, is this one:

“Mrs. Benchly explained a little more to me – the whole boys-liking-girls thing. I can’t say I understood. She asked me if I’d noticed that marriages were mostly made up of men and women. I had never really thought of marriages as things that involved liking. I had just assumed this man-woman arrangement was yet another adult quirk, like flossing. Now Mrs. Benchly was telling me something much bigger. Some sort of silly global conspiracy.”

I had to take a break from reading at that point; I was laughing too hard to continue.

On a completely different (and not-related-to-writing) note, THIS BOOK HAS A COOL COVER. I love adorable covers, and minimalist covers, and this one is both. Yay!

Next, I’d like to talk about the length of Boy Meets Boy. It’s under two hundred pages and I spent maybe an hour and a half, tops, reading it. So that’s a plus, right?

Well… yes and no. If you’re looking for a quick read, it’s great. But if you’re looking for a quick read with a ton of depth, you won’t find it here.

And this brings me to the section of my review where I talk about problems I had with the book. I mean, overall I liked the story and everything, but there were some characters who I wanted to know more about. And I wished some scenes were longer, too.

And I know I talk about Lois Lowry’s The Giver way too much on this blog, but: That is a REALLY good example of a short book that crams in loads of amazing characters and scenes and basically packs a heck of a punch for a book that’s only around one hundred and eighty pages long.

Basically, I finished Boy Meets Boy and realized I wanted more.

My other big problem with the book was the… oh gosh, I don’t even know how to describe it. I guess I felt like it didn’t always do a good job of describing what being gay really is. There were some non-stereotypical characters, to be sure, but there were also a lot of walking stereotypes.

Call me a grumpy bookworm, but sentences like “the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance” made me roll my eyes so far into the back of my head that I thought they’d never come out again. Some of the attitudes/ideas/stuff in this book were really weird, like “all gay kids love to dance” and “gay people are always artsy.” Like, yes, some queer people do like those things/are good at those things, but I don’t feel that it was portrayed as a thing that SOME like. It was more like, “Everyone likes this stuff!”

And that’s really odd, because Levithan is gay and so you’d think he wouldn’t write that way. I’ve read only one of his other books (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, written with Rachel Cohn; not recommended) and thought the similar weird attitudes in that book were just due to his cowriter. “Maybe she’s just a clueless straight person,” I thought, but that doesn’t explain some of the stuff in this book. I am confused.

Anyway. Enough of that. Time for me to wrap up this review!

I would recommend this book to…

  • Younger teens
  • Fans of contemporary YA fiction
  • Anyone who wants to read a non-angsty LGBTQ+ story
  • Those who like love stories – especially super-adorable ones!
  • Anyone who’s looking for a quick read
  • Fans of David Levithan’s writing

So, what’s my final verdict on Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan? I think it’s so short that if you think you might like it, you may as well try it – the pages just fly by. However, it just wasn’t the sort of book that I can’t stop raving about, and if you’re new to the LGBTQ+ genre (especially LGBTQ+ YA) then I definitely think you should read other, better books first. It’s a cute novel, but it does have its problems and it was over all too quickly.

Rating: 3/5 

Also, some follow-up questions! I’d love it if you could answer these in the comments:

  • What do you think of this new feature, Reading The Rainbow?
  • Have you read Boy Meets Boy? If so, what was your opinion?
  • Do you have suggestions for future reviews? I already have LOTS of ideas but I always appreciate recommendations and would love to hear about more LGBTQ+ books, especially those that are soon-to-be-published!
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Senior Year Saturday: 5 Schoolish Things I Did This Week

senior year saturdayWelcome to Senior Year Saturday, my newest regular feature! Essentially, I talk about any and all things related to my final year of high school, from homework and extracurriculars to updates on college planning and thoughts on graduation. And more! (Such as that dreaded feeling known as “senioritis.”) Enjoy!

Happy Saturday, everyone! I haven’t done an SYS post in a while, so I thought I’d write one today. Here are some of the school-related things I’ve done lately!

P.S. Previous Senior Year Saturday posts can be found here.

1. Applied for housing at the University of Iowa

The residence halls at my future college are known as Living-Learning Communities, and they’re organized around interests/majors. My top choice is the Honors LLC, because A) I’ve been accepted to the honors program and B) I think being around such studious people might help me to work harder because… sometimes I am not very motivated. Oops.

My second choice is the Writers’ LLC. It’s not #1 mostly due to location… it’s a little further from my classes and from the dining hall!

I’ve also begun the roommate-finding process, which is done online and mostly involves matching people based on temperament and study habits. My ideal roommate would be a quiet, creative, super-open-minded nerd, but… we shall have to see about that. I haven’t yet found anyone who seems particularly interesting.

2. Studied The Great Gatsby for American Literature

My brother and I read this over the last few weeks. Or, more accurately, my brother read it and I just answered analyze-y questions and stuff because I read it this past winter and it’s one of my favorite books – so I didn’t really need to reread it to refresh my memory!

I did forget how much I loved that book, though. GOSH IT’S AMAZING.

Oh, and we’re probably going to watch at least one of the film adaptations sometime next week. I’m excited! Wow, it doesn’t take much to make me excited, does it?

3. Forgot about P.E.

Um. I meant to be more diligent about running and whatnot, but I’ve only once in the last three weeks or so. Oops. I don’t like running… and it’s COLD now, so I don’t always want to bundle up just to go outside.

But I shall try to do better. [Tiny noises of self-motivation]

4. Raised my hand too often during college Spanish class

This makes me feel like Hermione Granger. But hey, my participation points will help to make up for any points I lose in conjugation assignments. (I am not very good at conjugation.)

And on Tuesday, my incessant volunteering-answers-routine worked out really well, because we played vocabulary jeopardy. I knew a TON of the answers, so my team ended up winning and getting Snickers candy bars as prizes. Worth it.

5. Discovered that I hate writing essays for scholarship applications

I’ve already received several scholarships from the U of Iowa – some are automatically awarded if one’s SAT/ACT scores and GPA are high enough. But I’m also applying for their top scholarship, which totals $40,000 over four years.

Anyway, I keep procrastinating on my essays for the application. Or I write something and then hit backspace and start all over again because it just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel me enough. I write essay-ish blog posts all the time, but that’s different – I can be sarcastic and weird here. In my essays, though? I feel way too stiff and formal and not like myself.

Blergh.

On the other hand, the essay’s topic is pretty broad (“tell us about an idea you find fascinating and describe how it has changed/altered/impacted the way you think and live”) and that makes things a little easier. I’ve chosen to write about Roald Dahl’s children’s books and how they’ve influenced me as a budding writer of kid’s/YA books.

Oh, and one more thing: I’ll soon ask some people to read my essays and give me some comments/feedback, so let me know if you’re interested! I don’t need a ton of people for this – five would be fine, seven is probably more than enough.

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If you’re still in school: What have you been learning and doing during these past few weeks? I’d love to know1

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Top Ten Series I Want To Start Reading

Hello, readers/minions. I have something horrifying to tell you.

…I haven’t read anything in like a week. Actually, it’s been longer than that. It’s been eleven days. Why haven’t I read anything?

  • Because I’ve been busy doing other things
  • Because I’ve been super tired lately
  • Because I’ve read one hundred and eighteen books thus far this year and so I think I deserve a break
  • Because I’ve felt rather blah lately and that affects my reading habits

Fear not, though. I’ll probably pick up a book before this week is out. I usually have a few “reading blahs” every year; this March I had one that lasted for two weeks. It happens.

Anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying that this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt (hosted at The Broke and the Bookish) is rather apt… since I’ve thought about books quite a lot lately but haven’t actually read any in a while.

This week’s prompt is “top ten series you would like to start reading.”

1. The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson

THE FIRST BOOK ALONE IS ONE THOUSAND PAGES LONG. And it has nine planned sequels! OMG. I really love long high fantasy novels…

2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

I look forward to reading these three books because they’re paranormal/urban fantasy and they take place in Europe! (Prague, to be more specific.) Oh, and because I’ve heard so many lovely things about them.

3. The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

shadow and boneRussian-inspired high fantasy? Never seen that before. So I want to try it. Also, these books have really beautiful covers. I like shiny, pretty covers.

P.S. Don’t confuse the first book of this series (Shadow and Bone) with the first book in the series above (Daughter of Smoke & Bone)!

4. Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman

My blogging friends raved about the first book, These Broken Stars, soooo… I guess I’ll just have to read it and see for myself!

5. Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

These four books are actually stacked (along with many other novels) next to my bed, waiting for me to read them! But. As I mentioned above, I’ve experienced the reading blahs as of late and haven’t yet read them. But I should. Because werewolves.

6. Legend trilogy by Marie Lu

DYSTOPIAN NOVELS. Enough said.

7. Micah Gray duology by Laura Lam

Historical fiction and fantasy, set at a cirus? YES, PLEASE. Also, these books feature an intersex main character – yay for diverse YA fiction!

8. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams

I tried to read the first book a few years and couldn’t get into it, but maybe my reading the false princetastes have changed? I hope so. Offbeat science fiction sounds fun.

9. The Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

So, um, this series might be on this list because the cover of the first book is so incredibly beautiful. The high fantasy plot is just a nice bonus.

10. Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore

Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words loves this series and since I’ve loved all her other recommendations, I’m going to try this series. It’s high fantasy… of course. Most of the books on this list are. Hmm, I wonder which genres I like? I don’t know…

Which series would you like to begin?

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DOCTOR WHO Series Eight Review: “Flatline” (Co-written With Kate @ The Magic Violinist)

Today I’m reviewing last week’s Doctor Who episode, “Flatline,” with Kate at The Magic Violinist!

Before we begin, I’d like to say that writing this review was AWESOME, for two reasons:

  1. Kate and I have been blogging friends for over two years now, and she’s a really fun, cool person, and this makes her a nice co-reviewer.
  2. I was unexpectedly impressed by this episode and I HAVE A LOT OF HAPPY THOUGHTS ABOUT IT.

Without further ado, here’s our review!

P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s eighth series here.

-~-

Kate is a 14-year-old homeschooler, author, and fangirl. She’s recently discovered the productivity trap that is Pinterest and is loving it. She writes to survive and will often yell at her characters if they aren’t behaving. It doesn’t usually help. She tends to get a little more emotional about fictional events than is healthy, and is still not quite over “Doomsday.” She blogs at The Magic Violinist.

-~-

Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!

-~-

Engie: Kate and I opted to write our review in the form of a conversation, so… here we go! Kate, what was your opinion of Clara in “Flatline?”

Kate: Other than the bits involving Danny, Clara was great and adorable. I loved how she introduced herself as the Doctor to Rigsy) and her overall personality wasn’t bland or annoying.

Engie: Yeah! I loved Clara in “Flatine.” I think this is probably her best episode yet, and honestly… in that story, she reminded me a lot of the RTD-era companions: Rose, Martha, and Donna. Which was cool, because they’re some of my favorites.

Kate: Same here!

Engie: Clara actually DID STUFF in this episode! And she wasn’t a plot device!

Kate: I KNOW! She wasn’t useless! I was so happy about that. The Doctor and Clara were a TEAM, finally!

Engie: Twelve treated her really well, too. He wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t belittle her as much as he’s done recently. I was getting tired of that…

Kate: YES. I feel like they finally clicked in this episode. Once the TARDIS started shrinking, he realized that he actually needed her.

Engie: Also, in that scene where he says, “You were an exceptional Doctor. Goodness had nothing to do with it”? He wasn’t criticizing her. He was talking about himself.

Kate: I loved that line.

Engie: I love that this incarnation of the Doctor is finally starting to realize that sometimes he’s a jerk. When Clara said that she’s the Doctor now, so she’s going to lie and get people’s hopes up for no reason, Twelve was like, “…ooops, do I really do that? Um.”

Kate: Ha ha, it’s time for him to face the facts! And Clara’s good for that, I think. Like when she slapped him in “Into the Dalek.” She was trying to wake him up from his delusions.

Engie: Exactly! She reminds me of Donna a bit in that respect, I think. But it didn’t work well when the Doctor just ignored her. Things were different in “Flatline,” though.

Kate: Agreed.

Engie: Speaking of the Doctor being a better person… I’ve been watching some Tenth Doctor episodes with my mom lately (I’m determined to make a Whovian out of her yet!) and we’re currently watching “Human Nature” / “Family of Blood.” It’s one of my FAVORITES, and I was so, so, so happy to notice the parallels between Twelve in “Flatline” and Ten in those earlier episodes. Compare:

“He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing… the fury of the Time Lord… and then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind… 

He wrapped my father in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star. He tricked my mother into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy. He trapped [my sister] inside a mirror. Every mirror. As for me, I was suspended in time… We wanted to live forever. So the Doctor made sure we did.”

- “Family of Blood”

-~-

“I tried to talk. I want you to remember that. I tried to reach out, I tried to understand you, but I think that you understand us perfectly. And I think that you just don’t care. And I don’t know whether you are here to invade, infiltrate, or just replace us. I don’t suppose it really matters now. You are monsters! That is the role you seem determined to play, so it seems that I must play mine – the man that stops the monsters.

I’m sending you back to your own dimension. Who knows? Some of you may even survive the trip, and if you do, remember this – you are not welcome here. This plane is protected. I am the Doctor and I name you The Boneless!”

- “Flatline”

Kate: YES! I hadn’t even thought of that!

Engie: I love awesome Doctor Who monologues, and angry ones? Wow. Earth may not be his home planet, but he cares about it a lot and he won’t let anyone destroy it… and when they try, boy does he become FURIOUS. And TERRIFYING. And protective…

Kate: I love when the Doctor gets protective. It’s a good kind of angry, and shows that he ACTUALLY cares what happens to these people. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that he does.

Engie: And now for something completely different! What did you think about Rigsy?

Kate: Rigsy reminded me of Mickey in this episode. Mickey cares about his gran; Rigsy cared about his aunt. In both cases, the companion had to team up with Rigsy/Mickey to beat the monsters. And the Doctor went from thinking he was a “fluorescent pudding brain” to something of a hero, et cetera. I liked him, but maybe not enough to bring him back for another episode. He was a good one-timer.

Engie: I doubt we’ll ever see Rigsy again, but… I liked him. He was NORMAL.

Kate: Yeah, this was a nice break. Good old fashioned alien hunting.

Engie: I’ve grown tired of all this “impossible girl” and “born to kill/save the Doctor” stuff. I much, much, much prefer it when the Doctor likes someone (and choose to travel in the TARDIS or at least have some Earth-based adventures with them) because they’re ordinary. I love when they’re special to him not because of what they were born to do, or because their entire life has been one ginormous paradox, but just because they’re their own unique selves.

Kate: You couldn’t have put it better!

Engie: Oh, and when Twelve told Rigsy, “Your last painting was so good it saved the world I can’t wait to see what you do next,” I think my heart just melted a little.

Kate: HE WAS ACTUALLY APPRECIATIVE OF SOMEONE. HE GAVE HIM A COMPLIMENT.

Engie: Yes! And one more thought about Rigsy – at the beginning of the episode everyone thought he was this hoodlum who made worthless art… or not even real art, honestly. Graffiti. But as it turns out, neither of those things are true at all. I guess I just really love when Doctor Who is about completely ordinary people because… no, Rigsy doesn’t know how to operate a sonic screwdriver and he doesn’t have a TARDIS, but you know what he is capable of? Defeating aliens with spray paint. He can totally do his part to save the day, even if it’s not the method most people would use. And now we should probably talk about something else, because this review is already really really long and we haven’t even discussed, like, the hand part…

Kate: YES, THE HAND SCENE. Best part of the entire episode, hands down. (Pun totally intended.) I laughed so hard, I’m surprised my dog didn’t wake up.

Engie: My brother hardly ever laughs at stuff, but even he was giggling so much! Now, what about the monsters of this episode?

Kate: I thought they were terrifying! They’re not obviously scary. If someone happened to glance up at them, they wouldn’t LOOK creepy. But we Whovians know what they’re capable of, and they leave us shaking in our boots. Monsters that can attack us through the walls or floor? How is anyone supposed to feel safe from that?

Engie: I thought the monsters were a brilliant idea! There’s actually a math-y book called Flatland and though I’ve never read it – math isn’t really my thing – I know a bit about it, including its setting. It takes place in two dimensions, and at some point during this series I thought, “Flatline? Flatland? Could they be similar? NAH. That would be too hard to film!” Well, I was wrong. The Boneless were SO COOL because they were SO WEIRD. Good job, whoever-wrote-this-episode. (A quick Google search reveals that Jamie Mathieson was the author. Never heard of him.)

Kate: I’m mostly just glad to have a break from the Daleks and Cybermen. If I hear one more robotic “EXTERMINATE” this season, I might just have to throw myself off the TARDIS.

Engie: Ha ha, I understand that feeling perfectly!

-~-

Engie here. Time for the conclusion, and for our thoughts on this episode overall!

I think “Flatline” was one of this season’s better episodes, though I could’ve done without the random Danny appearances. I am very bored with their relationship. I’m glad they came up with some new monsters for the episode, and I think they were very good ones. A world where even the floor isn’t safe? Terrifying. And Missy is intriguing, especially after seeing that she’s watching Clara for some reason. I’m curious how that’s going to turn out.

I was EXTREMELY impressed by “Flatline.” It’s by far my favorite episode of series eight thus far, and it just might be my favorite out of series six, seven, and eight combined! (I didn’t like series six and seven very much, so…)

I loved Clara’s character development and mini story arc. I enjoyed seeing a healthy relationship between Clara and Twelve, one that was (mostly) free of belittlement. The Boneless were very unique monsters, and I enjoyed Rigsy as a minor character! YAY FOR THIS EPISODE! It strongly reminded me of RTD-era Doctor Who (AKA decently-written Doctor Who!), which is always a plus in my book.

Oh, and one more thing before we wrap up this review: Kate, who do you think Missy is?

I honestly have no idea who Missy is. I looked up some theories online, but they just made me more confused. People have predicted everything from her being River Song, to Idris, to the parts of Clara that have died in her alternate lives. I don’t know what to think.

Ha ha, I feel that way too! At the beginning of this series I was really into the Missy-theories stuff, and now? I HAVE NO IDEA WHO SHE MIGHT BE. But I enjoy asking other Whovians who they think she might be, so…

Thanks for reviewing with me, Kate! It was a ton of fun!

-~-

What is YOUR opinion on “Flatline?” I’d love to know!

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First Reactions To “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies” Film Trailer

Well, this is embarrassing. The trailer for the final movie of The Hobbit trilogy, The Battle of the Five Armies, was actually released back in July… and here I am writing a post about it in October!

Oops. In my defense, though, I thought I read some interview in which Peter Jackson said the trailer wouldn’t come out until, like, November. And maybe that’s true. Maybe more trailers – longer trailers – will be released later on. Actually, I’m pretty sure that will happen. But I don’t mind, because I’ve been dying to talk about the last movie, and I want to do so now.

P.S. You can find my earlier film trailer reaction posts here.

Warning: Spoilers ahead, so read/watch at your own risk!

0:12 – Don’t do the sad face, Bilbo. Because then it makes me sad, and also makes me feel like I should hug you forever and ever. (This is a common problem I have with fictional characters.)

0:20 – Does this scene make anyone else want to be a dragon, or is it just me? Like, does anyone else ever have those days when you just want to SET THINGS ON FIRE? (Yes, my day was like that, in case you’re wondering.)

0:29 – SO MUCH PRETTY SCENERY.

0:33 – I don’t like the choice of music here. This is Pippin’s song from The Return of the King and it’s, well… Pippin’s. I hope we hear something new in the actual movie (or in its credits). Don’t recycle old music!

0:38 – KILI. YOU ADORABLE DWARF, YOU.

0:45 – I’m so confused. Is Gandalf dead in the third movie? Why?

0:48 – This is exactly what my room looks like, if you were to replace gold with books!

0:52 – FIGHTING DWARVES. DYING DWARVES. I’M GOING TO CRY NOW.

1:04 – I’m pretty sure this cart-thingy wasn’t in the book, but I totally need one of these. It would be very useful for all my trips to the library.

1:11 – I had to rewind this bit because I thought Bard said “peas” and not “peace.” WILL YOU HAVE PEAS? OR WAR?!

1:14 – BIG SCARY DEEP VOICE OF DOOM. I am impressed.

1:17 – Pause the video right here! I swear, Legolas makes the bestest faces.

1:24 – This is what I always imagine myself doing when I read high fantasy books. I know they say the pen is mightier than the sword, but… I really want a sword.

1:32 – I know this is supposed to be a DRAMATIC POSE, but it really, really reminds me of a class picture. Therefore, I am amused.

1:38 – “Will you follow me… one last time?” NO. BECAUSE I DON’T WANT THIS TO BE THE LAST TIME.

After watching this trailer, I reached a very important conclusion – namely, that I AM NOT READY FOR THIS MOVIE AND NEVER WILL BE. I will probably sit in the movie theater and cry. (So if you’re reading this and you’re one of my non-Internet friends and you want to see this movie with me, consider yourself warned. There will be sobbing. Lots of it.)

What’s your opinion of the trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies?

And who else isn’t ready for this movie and will probably cry in the theater? BECAUSE I NEED TO KNOW THAT I’M NOT ALONE IN THIS.

Posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

DOCTOR WHO Series Eight Review: “Mummy On The Orient Express” (Co-written With Alexandrina Brant @ Miss Alexandrina)

Good evening! I’m a lizard woman from the dawn of time and this is my wife and I’m* reviewing the latest episode of Doctor Who, “Mummy on the Orient Express,” with Alexandrina Brant from Miss Alexandrina. She’s a pretty cool blogger and we have more than a few interests in common, including books, photography, and Quidditch!

*SORRY NOT SORRY. I saw my chance and I took it, all right?

P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s eighth series here.

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Alexandrina Brant is a second-year psychology and philosophy student at Reading University, England, which means she alternates between planning experiments and critiquing history. When not polishing her fantasy romance novel about time travel, she’s cosplaying steampunk, singing, and playing Quidditch for the university team. She has authority in writing this review because she’s River Song’s doppelganger, hair and all. You can catch her blogging at Miss Alexandrina. She tweets prolifically @Caelestia_Flora. Yes, her Twitter username is Latin.

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Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!

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Hey, Engie here. We didn’t do anything particularly special (such as a list) for this episode review, but I hope you’ll like it anyway. Oh, and Alex’s thoughts are in italics.

I have a lot to say about this episode, and that’s because I have a lot to criticize. I’m not going to beat around the bush – the writers tried to do a lot, and they didn’t reach the mark.

My main irritation? Clara. What happened to all that lovely character-building her job as a teacher at a London comprehensive gave her? Now she just wants to bang about with the Doctor some more. Companion fever.

Yeah, I didn’t understand her character motivations in this episode at all. She just had a HUUUUUUGE argument with Twelve, but now everything’s fine? It was resolved quite poorly, and in my mind it nearly destroyed most of the character-building she’s accumulated thus far in series eight.

Actually… not too long ago, I found this awesome fandom-y blog called Forever Young Adult and their review of “Mummy on the Orient Express” really said it all. Allow me to quote a paragraph or two because it is just so spot on:

“Someone needs to tell Clara that it’s not nice to make people get their hopes up and then dash them like that. I knew this wasn’t really the end of her time with the Doctor, but a girl can dream. Regardless, the fact that she’s gone from enjoying being with the Doctor to hating him to being OK with leaving to being wholly on board with adventure again in the space of three episodes is giving me whiplash.

I know there are rumors of Jenna Coleman leaving at Christmas, but must the showrunners play the ‘Will she? Won’t she?’ game until then?”

And then the equally wonderful blog Feminist Fiction had this to say:

“It was just yet another example of the show’s complete inability to follow through on its emotional narratives. The general quality of this season had me hoping we were past the days when Amy and Rory lost their baby and then never seemed to worry about it again, but apparently not. The overarching story is not allowed to interrupt the Monster of the Week. The story wanted Clara here, and so Clara was here.

It wouldn’t even have been hard to be consistent. Open with a montage of time passing and Clara missing the Doctor. Have the Doctor show up and insist that he needs her help.”

I didn’t originally intend to quote so much of others’ reviews, but I read them and was just like… YES. Writers, please make up your minds about Clara because this isn’t fun anymore. I watch Doctor Who for the fun space adventures. I don’t watch it because I want to see people yelling at each other, only to get back together very soon.

Twelve lacks Ten’s grounding. Ten may have had youthful eccentricity, but he also knew when to say something straight out. As in “Robot of Sherwood,” Twelve tried to be funny by bringing argumentative comments into basic conversation. I don’t find this funny. Maybe I did once or twice: Eyebrows. Not noticing when Clara changes her appearance. “I’m not your boyfriend.”

But if this act was tiring by episode three, it was going to be tired in episode eight.

Agreed. I don’t even know how to describe it, but… well, Nine is my favorite Doctor and he’s also a little rough, a little argumentative. But he never irritated me as much as Twelve has so far. I do like some aspects of Twelve’s character, but he also seems to pick a lot of fights over NOTHING. I guess that’s the difference between the two incarnations of the Doctor. One is angry because the world is ending; the other is angry because his companion has a boyfriend and occasionally wants to live a normal life.

Whilst the script had strength to it, the Orient Express wasn’t the right location for those dynamics (anger, but restrained and kept together, in the way Clara is great at doing). Plus, there’s that scene when they talked whilst trapped in the carriage – that was almost a third draft I’d write. OK, cruel comment. But the thought stands – Doctor Who gripped me more when there were less emotional complications. Even Martha put the alien-fighting before her feelings.

On the other hand, I liked the character of the mechanic Perkins. Great character. Very rounded. Very witty. His choice to walk away is very poignant – reflects Clara and her ‘return,’ and foils past companions. I’m always intrigued by the lives and deaths of these almost/non-companions.

PERKINS! While I didn’t appreciate/notice him much at first, by the end of the episode he was definitely one of my favorite parts of that particular story. I loved the companions written by Davies, but have never liked (let alone loved) Moffat’s companions… instead, I always get way too attached to the almost-companions. I wish Perkins had decided to stay…

The concept of the Foretold was an idea I didn’t like at first, but it was nice to later have some solid proof, instead of phantoms and this Foretold legend nonsense. Even if the sarcophagus wasn’t a real sarcophagus as we know them, it helped with the tension – there was dramatic inversion there, too, with the fact that something from which Egyptian mummies are said to awaken is only on the ship train for the purpose of capturing this ‘mummy.’

I expected this episode’s villain to be really cheesy and ridiculous, but… it was actually quite interesting. I guess I’m intrigued by seemingly supernatural creatures/objects that actually operate using plain old science. I mean… it appears to only one person for a few seconds because it’s charging itself (like a battery!) using their energy! Cool!

I felt that there was so much unresolved in the episode. Let’s start at the beginning:“Is there some sort of fancy dress thing?” says Maisie’s gran. I don’t know. If this is the future, you’re technically all in fancy dress. If they’re all dressing up for fun, why not have them break character, especially whilst they die? And if it’s the future why are there solely humans?

Excellent questions, Alex, but since I really have no answer I’m going to talk about something else because, um, I want to fit it somewhere in the review.

Specifically, I want to talk about THIS:

I’m not sure whose idea it was to have a jazz cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” on the show, but… it actually worked? It was interesting, and amusing, and the full version (shown above) is actually quite pretty, so why not listen if you haven’t already?

(Also, I think one can make the case that the song really describes Clara at this point. I mean, think about it. She’s furious at the Doctor, but at the same time I think she’s rather addicted to this whole time-traveling lifestyle. She doesn’t want to stop…)

(…I just really like finding songs that describe characters, OK? It’s a writer thing.)

I felt the setting was a cop-out. I only knew that it was in the future when I went to watch the episode again and BBC iPlayer’s description said “speeding among the stars of the future.” How poetic. The writers are using their openings for flash and drama, but no in media res landings. I wonder what the episode would have been like if the Doctor and Clara arrived on the train only to be faced with a dead body.

That would have been an interesting change, to be sure. And probably a better one? The setting was very flashy and dramatic, but there wasn’t much substance. Which describes most of the episodes since, like, series seven at least. They all have beautiful cinematography and lots of explosions and people running about, but nothing DEEP happens. The characters do a lot but they never seem to do anything important.

I guess that for me, the best thing about the setting was Clara looking cute in her flapper-ish dress. And OMG THAT HAIR. But still. Contrary to what you probably all think, I don’t watch Doctor Who for pretty girls. If they’re in an episode, that’s a plus, but what I really want are decently-written plots. Preferably with in media res landings, Alex, now that you mention it.

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Engie here. Time for the conclusion, and for our thoughts on this episode overall!

The more I think about “Mummy on the Orient Express,” the more I want to write huge paragraphs of why I didn’t like it. I’m overexaggerating, but I was disappointed.

Overall, there was too much exposition, too much let’s-talk-about-this-again blah. The beginning and most of the story were better the second time around – the ending just infuriated me further. I do wish it would have been any space train, for the use of the Orient seemed a cheap trick to dash off the aesthetic of the era. I might have been more impressed if it the train was the background art, not the forerunning piece. 

I feel bad for giving it three out of five stars, but it was one of the lesser episodes of this series.

Indeed. I feel like “Mummy on the Orient Express” was an OK episode on its own, but in the context of series eight as a whole, it was terrible. Clara’s motivations and development weren’t handled well, and Twelve was an arrogantly, poorly-written jerk, and I guess I’d hoped things would be better than this at this point in the series. Blergh.

Oh, and one more thing before we wrap up this review: Alex, who do you think Missy is?

I originally was leaning towards the view that she was the TARDIS, even before I heard of that theory on the web, but now I’m not convinced. With the inclusion of Chris Addison’s character at the end of “The Caretaker,” she seems more like the head of a (semi-)physical institution at least. I’d love for her to be someone from Classic Who, like Romana or The Rani, but that’s unlikely. I currently think she’s someone new.

Yeah, I’d love to find out that she’s someone from Classic Who, but I have no idea, so… I don’t know. We’ll find out soon enough, anyway. Just a few more weeks until the finale!

Thanks for reviewing with me, Alexandrina! It was fun!

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What is YOUR opinion on “Mummy on the Orient Express?” I’d love to know!

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