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 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.

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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.

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Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!

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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”

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“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!

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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!

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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 , , , , | 4 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!

Posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

I Can Travel Just By Sitting Still And Reading

“There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away…”

- Emily Dickinson

Hello there! Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday. This week’s prompt is “top ten places – real or fictional – that books have made you want to visit.”

Also known as THE BEST TOP TEN TUESDAY PROMPT EVER.

I don’t know about you, but “traveling” through books is one of my favoritest things in life. I open a book and am instantly transported to another place/time. Words are magical, people.

070517_LightningThief_vmed_11a[1]And very, very good books make me want to visit some of their settings for real… so if I had a TARDIS (that could travel in and out of books as well as anywhere in space and time), these are the ten locations I’d visit first.

1. Camp Half-Blood, Long Island, New York
(The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan)

I thought this place sounded SO COOL when I was twelve, and I still feel that way! Sure, it has a beautiful setting, bizarre training arenas (lava-covered climbing walls, anyone?), and unique cabins dedicated to each Greek god and goddess – but none of those things are what I love most about this place.

I love Camp Half-Blood because it feels like… like home, I guess. It just feels safe, and peaceful, and it’s filled with loads of awesome people.

There are actually real-life versions of the camp (and its Roman equivalent, Camp Jupiter) hosted by book-loving nerds, but they are either A) located far away from where I live or B) only for kids. (And not kids at heart.) THIS MAKES ME HAVE ALL THE SADS.

2. The Coldtown in Springfield, Illinois
(The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black)

In Black’s book, Coldtowns are walled cities in which vampires are quarantined… and most of the story takes place in Springfield’s Coldtown. It’s a dangerous place, and yet somehow alluring. I guess I like risks. Who knew?

3. Shadow City, New York City, New York
(The Kiki Strike series by Kirsten Miller)

Tunnels under NYC? Yes.

Tunnels that lead to decades-old abandoned hiding places? YES.

Tunnels and people (AKA Kiki and her posse) to explore them with? OH MY GOD YES.narnia-lamp-post[1]

4. Narnia
(The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

When I was little, I was very disappointed that I had only a boring closet and not a wardrobe. How else is one supposed to get to Narnia?! (Well, through paintings or by being summoned by Susan’s horn, I suppose. But those aren’t nearly as cool, right?) I swear, someday I’ll buy a wardrobe and sit in it for hours, hoping that it’ll take me to Narnia… where I’d visit Cair Paravel and then sail eastward on the Dawn Treader.

5. Westeros
(The A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin)

I PROMISE, THIS CHOICE ISN’T AS WEIRD AS IT SOUNDS. I would only go there if there were some sort of guarantee that I wouldn’t die a brutal death. Or die at all whilst there, actually.

Because underneath all that blood and gore and backstabbing (sometimes literally!), it really is a beautiful place. I’d love to visit Dorne, and Winterfell, and Highgarden, and the “Dothraki sea.” I want to meet queens and see dragons flying and eat the little lemon cakes.

2844406. Dublin, Ireland
(The Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy)

I am ENAMORED of this series at the moment, and I want to see where it’s set! And if I could I’d see the Sanctuary, but I can’t because… it’s made up. Sigh. Being a bookworm is very disappointing sometimes.

7. Henrietta, Virginia
(The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)

thought this was a real place, but now I’m not actually 100% sure! There is definitely a Henrietta in West Virginia, but the series is pretty clearly set in just plain Virginia. So. I’m not sure if I could ever go there for real but if I can, I will. In the books it’s described as this tiny, sleepy town set in the beautiful foothills.

8. The Underland, via the Central Park entrance in New York City
(The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins)

MORE STUFF BENEATH NYC! But very different stuff, actually. Like gigantic talking rats, and people who fly around on ginormous bats, and enormous cities built of stone. Why visit Panem when you visit the Underland?

9. New Beijing, Chinagregor[1]
(The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

I just really really really want to see what a dystopian Earth would look like… especially in some place that’s not the USA, because I’ve read way too many YA dystopians that are set there. So I’d like to see New Beijing! I’d imagine that the architecture would be quite different in the future, and there’s so much new technology, and there’s ROBOTS.

10. Alabaster Preparatory School, New York
(The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart)

Why are so many of these places located in New York?!

Anyway, I’d like to visit this (fictional) academy because it has old buildings and tunnels leading EVERYWHERE (I like tunnels, don’t I?) and secret societies. Also, it is inhabited by the brilliant Frankie Landau-Banks, which is always a plus.

-~-

Which bookish locations would you love to visit? And are they real or fictional? I’d love to know!

Posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

My Hero Monday: The Blogger Edition

My Hero Monday is an original feature (and now a link-up!) from the feminist blog A Girl’s Voice. In the words of its creator, Chloe, “It celebrates female heroes in our society, and promotes learning about new heroes.” My Hero Monday posts feature women both real and fictional, living and deceased. 

The full link-up schedule can be found at the end of this post – and if you’d like to join next month (I strongly encourage that you do so), you can find the rules and other information here.

This month, MHM has a theme: Bloggers! Chloe had this to say about the theme: “Choose a blogger who is your hero/inspiration/et cetera. Maybe they inspired you to create your blog, or they post really cool stuff, or help you, or just comment all the time and are a really good friend.”

This is also one of the few times when participants could choose to write about people of any gender, not just women. So that was cool!

Anyway, here’s my post. Enjoy!

P.S. You can read my previous MHM link-up post here, if you’re interested.

my hero monday

Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes

How long have they been blogging?

think Miriam started blogging in 2009, but she had a different URL back then. She’s since switched URLs and now self-hosts her site, too, but she’s been blogging in one way or another for about five years.

I think.

Correct me if I’m wrong!

Blog content:

She writes about many topics, including but definitely not limited to books, writing, LGBTQ+ issues, feminism, school, TV shows, poetry, music, current events, and more.

What makes them your hero?

I guess I see a lot of similarities between the two of us, and she’s the kind of person I’d like to emulate. She can joke around and then talk about something really serious. She has an EXCELLENT way with words, and she’s published four books already. She’s really smart. Et cetera.

Actually, I think one of the things I admire most about Miriam Joy is her passion for… well, things that most people would consider weird. Things like Celtic and Viking history/literature/language. (She just started studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic at the University of Cambridge, in fact; go check out her vlogs about that experience!)

As I just said, most people would think that’s weird. Honestly, think it’s weird. But you know what? I also think her love of those subjects is really cool. We shouldn’t be afraid to be incredibly passionate about something we like (even if it’s unusual/obscure/et cetera), and other people’s opinions of our interests shouldn’t matter – and it seems like Miriam understands that perfectly.

So, there you have it. I suppose I gravitate towards the highly individualistic people in any crowd, the ones who do their own (enthusiastically geeky) thing and don’t really care about what others think because VIKINGS MAKE THEM HAPPY.

P.S. Before I move on to the section about quotes… there’s something else I’d like to show you. Miriam vlogs in addition to writing and I LOVE HER VIDEOS. Here are just a few videos that will tell you a little more about Miriam!

This is from early 2013:

And this is from the beginning of this year:

And finally, this is from just a few months ago:

Notable Quotes:

“You know my thoughts. Go be a water buffalo, Engie. Be pink or blue. And don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need a hairbrush because you don’t have any hair.”

- From a comment on one of my posts

“The overwhelming theme in queer narratives and something I’ve heard from many of my LGBTQ friends is that they ‘always knew,’ and it only took them this long to come out because they needed to work up the courage. Others had a realisation at about the age of twelve, when they hit puberty. But I didn’t. I legitimately had no idea until I was almost seventeen, and then it just kind of hit me: ‘Man, I like girls.'”

- From “Happy New Queer

“IT’S AN ACTUAL BOOK!”

- From a vlog about the publication of her fourth book

“I believe in writing books about friendship and care that doesn’t turn into romantic love. I believe in sending the message that platonic love is just as important. Maybe I’m just a killjoy who hates romance, but I’m bored to tears of books that want me to care about seemingly pointless heteronormative romantic subplots for no reason whatsoever. By all means, have meaningful relationships between characters, but either make it relevant, interesting, and unusual; or relegate it so far to the background that it doesn’t interfere. Please.”

- From “All YA Needs Is (Less) Love

“I’ve reached a point where I start reading a book and I realise that it’s centred on a heterosexual love triangle and I stop reading. Because I’m bored. I’ve come across that story a hundred times and I know how it pans out every single time and yet nobody has ever given me a queer female protagonist. Not one person has bothered to make people like me anything other than a background character in somebody else’s story.”

- From “Let Me Be A Heroine

“Fellow writers, know this: you will never get to experience all of the things your characters experience. There is nothing I find harder in writing than looking through the eyes of someone completely different to me.”

- From “A Thousand Lives Without Leaving Yours

Well, I really have nothing more to say in this post, other than that I hope it was interesting enough to make you take a look at Miriam’s blog! She’s a quite interesting, talented, nice person and I’m very glad to have “met” her!

Be sure to check out the other My Hero Monday link-up posts!

October 6: Chloe @ A Girl’s Voice

October 13: nevillegirl @ Musings From Neville’s Navel

October 20: Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination

October 27: Wrap-up by Chloe @ A Girl’s Voice

Posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

32 Things Not To Say When I Come Out To You

It’s National Coming Out Day! I wrote a post for this event last year, and I thought I’d do something similar this year.

This time, I’d like to talk about the responses I get after coming out… because I rarely hear anything normal. I receive a lot of REALLY WEIRD responses, for the most part. Sometimes these responses are rude; sometimes they’re just clueless.

Either way, they’re irritating. Here are some things I would prefer not to hear again… and the snarky responses I only wish I’d thought of at the time.

1. “But you’re so pretty!”

You called me pretty! Yay!

But you also seem to think that lesbians can’t/shouldn’t be pretty! Boo!

2. “Gross!”

I know, right? You’re so gross! Now shoo!

3. “But how can you possibly know?!”

Because even though everyone told me I should want a boyfriend/husband, I looked at girls and went, “OMG. Girls. Wow”?

4. “But you’ll end up with a guy eventually, right?”

Um. No.

5. “I think you should tell [insert name here]!”

I’m pretty sure I can make my own decision about that very personal matter, thank you very much.

6. “I don’t think you should tell [insert name here]!”

I’m pretty sure I can make my own decision about that very personal matter, thank you very much.

7. “How will you ever find a girlfriend?!”

I’m not the only queer girl on Earth, thank god.

(And if I was, well, I’d build my own TARDIS and travel through space and time until I met some cute alien girl. Duh.)

8. “Leviticus 18:22!”

I can say weird names followed by letters too! Katniss Everdeen, chapter forty three, verse ten!

9. “Why do you have to make your sexual orientation so obvious?”

Because straight people tell me who they they think is cute, or talk about their boyfriend/girlfriend, or hold hands with them in public, or talk about their wedding/engagement, or whatever. Straight people are not the only ones entitled to be obvious about who they like…

10. “So you want to be a guy? Or something like that?”

Being a lesbian and being a transgender guy are two completely different things.

(Also, I wouldn’t refer to trans dudes as people who “want to be guys.” They ARE guys.)

11. “But you can’t have kids unless you’re with a guy! Doesn’t that worry you?”

News flash: Adoption and IVF are things that exist.

News flash #2: Not everyone wants kids, anyway. I don’t. I mean, they’re cute and everything, but I am ninety-nine-point-nine percent sure that I don’t want any of my own. I’d rather have goat kids!

12. “But if you HAD to pick a guy, who would you choose?”

But if you HAD to answer a question that I KNEW would make you uncomfortable, which question would you choose?

13. “So, theoretically, what would I call your girlfriend after you get married? Your spouse? Your partner? Can I even say she’s your wife if you’re both women? OMG, THIS IS SO CONFUSING!”

No, not really. I can refer to her with whichever of the above terms I wish, and you can just base what you say off of my words. It’s not really that difficult.

(Personally, I prefer ‘wife,’ because to me ‘spouse’ sounds impersonal and ‘partner’ reminds me of cowboys.)

14. “Ew, do you have a crush on me? I bet you do!”

On principle, I do not crush on girls who ask such inane and slightly rude questions.

15. “Don’t you know that there are ways to correct it? Your sexual orientation, I mean?”

Don’t you know that you should shut up and go away?

16. “Then why haven’t you tried to kiss me before?!”

Because I’m not interested in you? Because I don’t kiss girls I’m not interested in? Because you would’ve said, “EW!” and then told all your friends that I was a freak?

I’m not sure why you even asked this question, to be honest.

17. “Wow, I could NEVER give up men!”

Me too! Especially since “giving up men” implies that I was interested in them in the first place! Funny how that works…

18. “OMG, John and Sherlock are the cutest couple EVER!”

You do realize John and Sherlock aren’t actually gay, don’t you? Like, the writer of BBC Sherlock is a homophobic [expletive deleted] and he thinks being gay is some sort of punchline.

So, you know, maybe don’t expect me to act like they’re some pinnacle of representation?

I think I shall refer people to this #18 response when they ask me why I’m not going to watch series four whenever it comes out. I’m really sick of it, and don’t even get me started on the show’s portrayal of Irene

19. “How do you know you like girls if you’ve never dated one?”

You just told me that you have a crush on [insert name of celebrity who is of the opposite gender], but how is that even possible? I mean, you’ve never actually dated them.

20. “So I know you haven’t dated yet, but who would be the man in your relationship once you are are with some girl?”

Excuse me, what? We’re both girls. That’s kind of the point of a lesbian relationship.

21. “I can’t believe your parents let you be gay!”

Being a lesbian doesn’t require a permission slip.

22. “Do you like girls because a guy hurt you?”

Yo, straight girls: Do you like guys because a girl hurt you?

23. “But aren’t you disappointed that you’ll never kiss/flirt/date/have sex with/marry a guy?”

So, like, I don’t know if you realize this, but I’m GAY. Which means I AM NOT INTERESTED IN DOING ANYTHING ROMANTIC WITH A DUDE. Sheesh.

24. “I support gay people!”

OK, now what about those who are neither straight nor gay?

25. “I support gay marriage!”

OK, now what about the LGBTQ+ that aren’t related to marriage equality?

26. “OMG, I love Macklemore’s song ‘Same Love!'”

Um… OK? That dude’s not gay. He’s a straight ‘ally,’ and I put ally in scare quotes because he’s a pretty lousy one. I mean, I’m all for discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in pop culture, but couldn’t you find a better song and a much better role model?

27. “You’re feminine… so that must mean you like more masculine girls, right?”

Actually, no, I don’t. (Why do straight people insist on classifying those in same-gender relationships as “the guy” and “the girl?” I am confused.) I like girly girls. Very very very rarely I find an androgynous girl attractive, but that hardly ever happens, and I am not attracted to masculine girls. I don’t know why that is – it just is.

But anyway. I like girly girls like her and her and her and OMG her.

(Wait, those ladies are all from Doctor Who. Here are some who aren’t, just to prove that my type isn’t “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ladies”: Her and OMG HER.)

28. “I don’t think gay people should have to come out.”

Well, I don’t think so either, but that doesn’t mean coming out is suddenly unnecessary or irrelevant or something. I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t assume sexual orientation (or gender identity), but that’s not the case, so your statement isn’t actually helping OR changing anything.

29. “Why do you insist on labeling your sexual orientation? I think we should refer to ourselves as just plain ‘human!'”

Do you have any idea what happens when I don’t label myself? People assume I’m straight. Labels help people realize that there are others like them, and labels show how we are different. You claim to accept people’s differences, and yet you don’t want us to use different words to describe ourselves. That’s just messed up.

30. “You’re only pretending to like girls because guys think it’s hot.”

Isn’t it weird how being a lesbian means you like only girls and yet everyone likes to analyze what you do and pretend that it’s for the benefit of guys?

31. “I don’t see you as a lesbian! I see you as just a person!”

Well, you’re not respecting me as a person by ignoring part of my identity. You say you’re OK with differences, and yet you also say that you don’t see differences, and that’s just contradictory.

32. “I should have known – you’re so intelligent!”

To be frank, I have no idea what this means. (Is there an “all lesbians are nerds” stereotypes? Because if so, that’s news to me.)

And you’ve never heard me talk about my crushes, have you? I can be extremely shallow.

-~-

If you’re straight: I hope this has been a very educational post and that you have learned what things to avoiding saying.

If you’re queer: I’m sure we’ve all heard some pretty weird remarks upon coming out, so tell me – what are some of the strangest comments you’ve received? I’d love to know!

Posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments