An Interview With Sarah Prineas | My First Ever Author Interview!

Hey, everyone! Today is the last day of Thanksgiving break, so I’m back at school already and slowly readjusting to dorm life. (Everyone is SO LOUD.) We have two more weeks of classes, and then it’s finals week, and then we get to go home! FOR A MONTH!

Anyway, today my City of Lit professor posted the grades for our two major writing assignments, which I’d turned in before leaving for break. I got an A- on my creative pastiche – I wrote a calligram in the style of Dave Morice – and an A on my author profile! My prof said that my profile was “fantastic,” so… yeah, I’m SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW. I love that class, but I’m so glad that I turned in those assignments and now know my grade for each one, because I was majorly stressing out about them.

All this reminded me that now would be a good time to post an author interview. EEEEE MY FIRST EVER AUTHOR INTERVIEW. For the author profile, we could either research a deceased author from the Iowa City area, or interview someone currently residing here.

Well… who wants to do research?! Blehhhhh.  I interviewed Sarah Prineas instead, and IT WAS A TON OF FUN. She’s really nice, and the interview was very helpful – I guess some of the other students in my class had trouble getting their chosen authors to give straightforward answers to their questions?

I’m also really happy with my author choice because Sarah Prineas writes exactly the sort of thing I love to read and write. Fantasy! Middle grade and YA! Fairy tale retellings! This interview quickly became more than just a school project – I think it was very beneficial for me to listen to someone who writes the kind of stories I’m interested in. If I’d interviewed, say, someone who writes “literary fiction,” this interview wouldn’t have been very relevant to my reading and writing interests.

I LOVE IT WHEN SCHOOL PROJECTS BECOME SOMETHING MORE THAN SCHOOL PROJECTS. I love getting super passionate about a project like this because it relates to my own interests, and isn’t just something I’m doing in order to cross something off my list of homework.

Anywayyyyy. Now that I’ve told you why I chose to interview Sarah Prineas, let me tell you about her new book and then I’ll move on to the interview!

Sarah Prineas’ latest book, Ash & Bramble, was published in September 2015. It is a retelling of “Cinderella” and the book blurb is as follows:

ash & brambleA prince. A ball. A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight. The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after. But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress. A past forgotten. A life of servitude. No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight.

To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another – the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

You can find my review of Ash & Bramble here.

You can also find her website right here!

OK OK IT’S INTERVIEW TIME. I’ve split this review into three parts – the first consists of questions I asked for my author profile, the second is all about Ash & Bramble, and the last third is just pure fun. (The second and third set of questions were asked was the intent of using them in just this post, but some of them eventually made it into my author profile as well!)



Were you a writer as a child? Did you grow up in a family of writers?

No, I didn’t. I grew up in a family of jocks! They were not readers or writers. My mother actually had national records in track… I was a jock, but I was also a very passionate reader, unlike my sisters, and they thought that was odd. I didn’t start writing until I was 33. I was headed towards academia, but I hated research. So I started writing instead.

When my son Theo was a baby, we were living in Germany and according to the terms of my visa, I couldn’t work. I was really lonely. I couldn’t speak German. So I started writing to have something to do, and I discovered that I was good at it. And it wasn’t boring like my dissertation!

What was the first thing you wrote?

It was a story about a grumpy old professor who has little green people living in his garden who worship him, but he doesn’t want them. So the homunculi kill him.

OH MY GOD. That’s great. My next question is… what writers have had a significant influence on you?

There are two: J.R.R. Tolkien and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

That’s an interesting combination!

Yes! Tolkien’s view of fantasy was that it has the power to change its readers in really profound ways. Reading fantasy is a transformation, and not just escapism.

And Laura Ingalls Wilder… well, because Mary was blind, Laura had to describe the world to Mary. She knew how to make her world come alive. Her worldbuilding is phenomenal.

I would never have made the connection between those two authors, in terms of their talent at worldbuilding, but now it makes complete sense! That’s cool. On that note, how would you describe your own style of writing?

It’s very “in the moment,” almost like impressionism. I like to build a discovery of the setting and who people really are, constructed to reflect the experience of living in that world.

And your writing process?

I’m a pantser!

Who do you see as your audience?

Well, my books are middle grade and YA. But I think the ones who “get” my books tend to be smarter than the average bear. They want to be challenged.

I didn’t intend to write middle grade and YA. MG, YA, adult – those are bookstore categories, not reader categories. Fantasy and science fiction are gateway genres to reading – I’m really just writing for readers who want adventure and wizards and dragons.

LIKE ME. I WANT A DRAGON. (I need a dragon, TBH.) Anyway… what are your thoughts on the teaching of creative writing? This is something we’ve discussed a LOT in my class. Like, Flannery O’Connor thought writing was all about talent and kind of looked down on people who she thought didn’t have that talent. 

Well, she would, wouldn’t she? She was brilliant!

I’ve taught creative writing before, and afterward I told myself, “Never again.” I taught using the toolbox approach from Stephen King’s On Writing, so that helped. But out of about one hundred students, maybe three had that spark, where they could make it as authors. Some other students had the work ethic, and maybe they could eventually make it that way – you can be taught to be competent, but inspiration can’t be taught.


Who is your favorite character in Ash & Bramble

Templeton! And Zel, because she says she was “beautiful like an affliction from birth.” I’m writing a sequel, with the working title Rose & Thorn, featuring Templeton and Zel’s children, and it’s set fifty years later. They adopted some of the characters who were abandoned by Story.

Awwww. I noticed that you listed Malinda Lo in the acknowledgements of Ash & Bramble, this book reminded me of her novel Ash in some ways. Did Ash inspire Ash & Bramble?

It did not. I haven’t read it. We’re acquaintances, though, and I heard her speak at the Sirens Conference. [A conference for women writers of fantasy and science fiction.] One of the things that she talked about, that did find its way into Ash & Bramble, was the question of what fairy tales can be used for. We can change them to make readers thin about gender and issues of power. So many fairy tale retellings are straight retellings – literally! They’re very heterosexual.

I tried to avoid all this with Ash & Shoe and Templeton & Zel.

So what did inspire Ash & Bramble

When I was a grad student at the University of Arizona, I went to a protest against sweatshops. The athletic gear used by the school’s teams was made in sweatshops. We had a sit-in at the president’s office, and I had that idea for years – where does the stuff in fairy tales come from? Who makes all the dresses and shoes and carriages?

I can’t believe I never considered that before… I read tons of fairy tale retellings, and that thought never occurred to me until I read your book. OK, my next question is… well, Ash & Bramble is about “Storybreakers” – those who would resist the traditional narrative of a fairy tale. If you were a character in this book, would you be a Storybreaker like Pin, who resists the idea of ending up with the prince to whom she’s been assigned?

Out of all my books, the character I am most like is Pin. So yes, I would be a Storybreaker. My life doesn’t revolve around my husband and kids. It was hard for my mother’s generation to resist that narrative. It’s less difficult for my generation, but there’s still that narrative to break. It’s easier for your generation.

What was the hardest part of writing Ash & Bramble?

My editor said I didn’t include enough “relationship stuff,” so I had to add more kissing scenes… which were the scenes I ended up loving the most, because they added layers of feeling and experience.

How did the story change as you wrote it? 

It fell into my head as a three-part story. I wrote the first draft – about ninety thousand words – in five weeks. That’s the first time that has ever happened! Other than logistics, and the kissing stuff, it was pretty much in its final form already.


What is your favorite fairy tale retelling?

Princess Tutu! It’s an anime. [Inspired by “The Ugly Duckling” and “Swan Lake,” according to my incredibly professional research done just now on Google.] It’s about a girl who was a duck, but she’s turned into a girl by a storyteller. Her superpower is making people get along. And she does ballet! It was the first anime I ever saw… anime logic is not our logic.

Ehehe, I’ll have to see if it’s on Netflix or something. Do you listen to music while you write?

I don’t. At all. Ever. I need silence because I need to be completely immersed in the rhythm of the writing and the story.

Aaaaaand my LAST QUESTION is… do you have any writing quirks? 

When I get published, I go out and buy a new pair of stomp-y boots and I stomp around in them. It’s like, “I’m so over this book. Whatever.”


DSJGHDKGHDFSKJHDG THIS INTERVIEW WAS SO MUCH FUN. I was nervous beforehand because I thought I would forget a question, or say something ridiculous, but… well, I didn’t forget any questions! (I probably did say something ridiculous at some point, but…. I am just a ridiculous person and should get used to that.)

Thank you soooOOOOOOoooooOOOOOOoooooooOOOO much for this interview, Ms. Prineas! When we discussed our author profiles in class, it quickly became obvious that I was one of the few who interviewed an author of genre fiction, and I was the only person who interviewed someone who doesn’t write solely for adult audiences. But I didn’t feel self-conscious at all, because that’s what I’m interested in. I had so much fun working on this assignment, and that’s all that really matters!

Posted in Books and Reading!, LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DOCTOR WHO Series Nine Review: “Sleep No More” (Co-written With Charley @ Charley R’s Leaning Tower Of Plot)

sleep no more posterHello! Today I’m reviewing episode nine, “Sleep No More,” with my friend Charley Robson @ Charley R’s Leaning Tower of Plot! Gah, I meant to catch up on these reviews over Thanksgiving break, and that didn’t really happen… oh, well.


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


Charley is a 20-year-old student, blogger, author, and supposedly responsible functioning adult. When not reading, procrastinating on reading, or reading something more interesting instead, she is usually found under the desk, cuddling her stuffed dragon Llewellyn, muttering something about plot holes, character inconsistencies, and uneccessary love triangles. Her favourite Doctor is indeterminate, but her favourite companion is always Donna Noble. She blogs at Charley R’s Leaning Tower of Plot.


Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!


The writing

Charley: I’d like to make note of the framing of this episode, especially? Like, when it first got started, I wanted to throw myself out of the window. THE CLICHE. THE CLICHEEEEEE. OH MY GOD IT WAS SO CLICHE.

Charley: You know, the pack of stock characters going in to deserted space station to follow up on unknown disaster, blah blah. Oh my stars, I was furious. BUT! The plot twists throughout the episode were nothing short of awesome. I did a complete 180 on this episode about midway through. It wasn’t the sharpest thing – I saw the Morpheus / Sandman thing coming a mile away, but that might just be me – but the twist with the scientist and the final scene where he was talking at the camera gave me chills. There was some wonderful atmosphere.

Charley: Initially, I was really, really annoyed with this episode. I’ve seen this setup too often in video games and movies, I think, and I’ve basically come to equate it with laziness. Combined with how gut-bustingly cliche the entire setup was, I really wasn’t impressed. I liked the notion of a backward-looking episode, but didn’t think this was going to work out.

Charley: However! The way the episode eventually explained the “found footage” aesthetic, and the scientist’s clips, even the really annoying white-noise shot changes – which I hated within seconds for the aforementioned laziness reasons as well as for the irritating noise – was absolutely incredible. Really, really good writing there. Some of the best plot twists I’ve seen on TV, let alone on Doctor Who, for quite a while.

Engie: I knew a little bit about this episode before seeing it – I’d read about how it was going to be told through found footage, at least – but I’ll admit that even before seeing it I was a bit hesitant. This is a very experimental method of storytelling and it had the potential to go soooooo wrong and not be creepy at all. It had the potential to be a total mess, but it wasn’t, and I was super impressed.

Charley: Likewise! I think it was the writing that really saved it. Massive kudos to Mark Gatiss – he must have known exactly what he was doing when he wrote this episode, because the pacing of the story and plot twists are so tight. Everything is timed just about right to get you used to a status quo, and then suddenly link back to something that was on the verge of slipping your mind and make you go “Oooooh!” 

Engie: You mention Mark Gatiss – I was also impressed by this episode because I… haven’t liked ANY of Gatiss’ previous stories? On both Doctor Who and Sherlock. I think he’s overrated. So I didn’t have high expectations, but this is definitely one of my favorite episodes this series, and one of the creepiest we’ve had in a while…

Engie: I did think it was clever that at the end, we were told that WE were spreading Morpheus. I saw that coming from a mile away, but I still loved it.

Engie: Also – and this is something I’ll talk about more in my reviews of the finale, and may even end up writing an entirely separate post about it – the writers of series nine definitely made some interesting storytelling decisions! “Sleep No More” was the only standalone episode of this series… what did you think of that?

Charley: I, personally, love how tight and self-contained this episode was, though some aspects of the semi-open ending were a bit abrupt. But that final villain reveal was chilling.

Engie: Same here! I’ve gotten quite used to waiting impatiently for the next episode and being super curious about the cliffhanger, and then the following episode finally resolves it… but this story was all contained in one episode. I don’t know, I just think some of the choices made when planning out the plot of this series are very interesting.

The monsters

Charley: The monsters looked kind of rubbish. Like giant earwax monsters. They made really haunting scary noises, though. I liked those.

Engie: Yeahhhhh, the monsters weren’t that great. Oh, well. They looked like they were made out of Play-Dough. Really old, really disgusting Play-Dough.

Charley: The thought behind them was good. They were just kind of boring in terms of design. Nothing special.

Charley: The atmosphere in this episode was excellent. Partly, I think we can credit that to the “found footage” style. The removal of the opening credits and things made it all that little bit more immediate and “real” and therefore much scarier when it pulled the final plot twist at the end.

Charley: And, while the monsters were rather lame in terms of their design, behaviour and kind of blank “eat humans, invade planet, profit” ambition, the noises they made and the way the characters reacted to them really upped the fear factor in a lot of ways. I was certainly getting nervous – particularly in that scene in the freezer. Ohhh, the old “a monster is roaming around and I have to sneak past it” moment always gets me!

Engie: I’m glad I’m not a kid anymore because this would’ve given me nightmares at that age. Actually, I suppose I would’ve irritated my parents because I would have refused to go to bed after watching that episode.

Charley: Can’t imagine why… 



Charley: Brilliant as the atmosphere and pacing is – and Capaldi’s quotes about sleep, taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, among other places – some of the writing is really, really clunky. Particularly for the support characters. The narrator / scientist doesn’t have to tell you not to get attached, they’re a bunch of walking stock characters about as engaging as wooden spoons with smiley faces drawn on them.

Engie: Yeah, that part – the telling us not to get attached part – felt like, I don’t know, really really crappy fanfiction. Or something.

Charley: I agree. Which is a pity, as there was a lot of promise with those characters. There were some really interesting bits of worldbuilding being done there, explaining things like work ethic and the morality of the human / non-human divide with the grunt, 474 – who was the only one outside Clara and the Doctor I remotely got attached to, and was tragically underutilised. Not to mention they had some really good casting diversity going on!


SLEEP NO MORE (By Mark Gatiss)Diversity

Engie: I loved 474 too, and… well, at the beginning of this series I read about how Doctor Who‘s first transgender actress would be in episode nine, but somehow I forgot all about that until I started seeing some articles about her! SHE WAS 474 YAY.

Charley: Oh my stars, I had no idea about that! That’s kind of even more awesome? Because the rescue crew is pretty diverse – we have Indo-Japanese names and culture implied here and there, a female commander, and now a trans actress as one of the cast! Admittedly the gender of 474 isn’t really considered much, though female pronouns are used to refer to her on a couple of occasions. The diversity there is really heartening. Such a pity the characters themselves aren’t as interesting to match.

Engie: I’m so happy with the diversity in this episode. When the Doctor made that comment about Indo-Japanese culture in the 38th century, I squeed. This is the kind of thing I talk about on my blog all the time! I want more diverse sci fi… it’s really boring when a group of scientists or explorers or astronauts or whatever are all straight white guys. Like, why? WHY? 

Charley: Exactly… which comes back to a point I made earlier: I wish we had had more worldbuilding in this episode. The world around this station sounds fascinating, and I would totally be up for an episode revisiting it in some way, shape or form. Given how open – incomplete? I’m still not sure how I feel about the abrupt ending – the conclusion of the episode is, I feel like Gatiss might be leaving the door open for us to see these enemies (and hopefully maybe this world) again too.

Engie: I wouldn’t mind if we never saw these particular enemies again, because I think open-ended conclusions make things scarier/more haunting. But I definitely want to see more of the world these people were from!

Charley: I could certainly get behind that. After all, the culture there is clearly hell bent on innovation with relatively little regard for the ethics of it. Who knows what else might go wrong with their science, and produce horrible monsters that require intervention from our favourite grumpy space dad Time Lord?


Engie: One thing I ADORED about this episode was all the allusions to other stories. Sandman, Morpheus, the Doctor quoting Shakespeare, et cetera… I’m still mad at myself for not noticing that the title was from Macbeth!

Charley: Like I said, I enjoyed the Doctor’s callbacks to Shakespeare, but aside from the name connection to Morpheus (incidentally a Greek/Roman deity, with no relevance to the Indo-Japanese kind of  vibe we were getting otherwise) and the obvious “Sandman” link through the monsters’ names, there wasn’t really much to discuss there.

Engie: I don’t know, I guess I just really really love stories that draw on other stories. (Or that are about stories!) I don’t know. I liked it. That was probably my favorite part of the episode, how all those quotes and names and references came together. Also, the “gods be with you” line was repeated frequently and I… liked it, but it also made me laugh because, as you said, Morpheus isn’t related to Indo-Japan at all. Maybe it’s just me, but I loved the story/mythology aspect of “Sleep No More.”

Charley: Well, there might be a connection to be made with the trade in opiates through the Silk Road…  but overall, yes, there was very little connectivity there. I guess I’m not as keen on those links because I saw the Morpheus / Sandman / sleep monsters connection coming a mile away. (Because I’m a giant nerd who knows her mythology.)

Engie: I mean, same. I guess I’m a giant nerd who was just happy to see those references anyway?

Charley: Fair enough to you! I think I may just be rather jaded, on this and many other fronts this episode brought up.

Charley: The “gods be with you” felt fairly throwaway to me, as well. As if it had been put there to imply a depth to a culture that we didn’t see enough of for it to be effective.

Engie: We definitely need another episode set in that culture!


Charley: There were a couple of plot threads in the episode that weren’t really tied up, but one or two that really bother me are the “sandman song” AI – which I genuinely expected to be part of the “thing that is being kept here” in the climax – and Clara’s experience with Morpheus.

Charley: We don’t really get any idea about how this will affect her (or the commander, for that matter) in the future, or even if it will once the station has been safely blown to smithereens. Perhaps they were subplots that had to be cut because this is only a single episode and time constraints happen, but I was rather disappointed as both were intriguing little nuggets.

Engie: Yeah… now I’m trying to remember how the Sandmen worked, because Rassmussen said Morpheus WAS spread through a signal after all, but that would still affect Clara because she slept in the thingy.

Charley: As she won’t sleep in the Morpheus rig again, though, I don’t think the buildup / eventual takeover will be able to take place? But that’s pure supposition.

Engie: Yeah, that might work.


Engie: What was your overall opinion of this episode?

Charley: I started out with no knowledge of what I was going into, and despite first impressions so dire they debated bringing a jackhammer to the bottom of the Marianas Trench to provide the necessary depth to illustrate my displeasure, I was proven very wrong – and I have a lot of respect for this episode.

Charley: The writing was excellent, the atmosphere was powerful and effective, and while I feel there was a shortage of development in the support characters and setting overall, I definitely think this is one of Capaldi’s best episodes so far – let alone this season. The way the story broke from convention, visually and narratively, really made the whole thing for me, and I would thoroughly recommend it – especially to people beginning to lose their faith in “New Who.”

Engie: This episode was not without faults, but overall I really enjoyed it! At first I wasn’t sure I’d like it, because I’m not a fan of Mark Gatiss’ writing… and I thought the highly experimental method of storytelling would be easy to screw up. But I ended up having so much to like about “Sleep No More” – the storytelling, the creepiness, the diversity, the constant allusions to stories. Definitely one of my favorites from series nine so far! I’m hesitant to call it my FAVORITE, but it was pretty amazing.

Engie: Thank you so much for reviewing with me!

Charley: No worries! Thanks for inviting me to do a review! I had a great time!


What is YOUR opinion on “Sleep No More”? I’d love to know!

Posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Review: The Her Campus Guide To College Life

the her campus guide to college lifeHer Campus is an online magazine aimed at college-age American women, and if you haven’t already heard of it, then YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT. I love Her Campus… I don’t remember exactly when I started reading their posts, but I think it was sometime this spring? And doing so made me much less anxious about heading off to college this fall.

The magazine posts a mix of both serious and “fluff” articles, and I love their chatty, informal writing style, and I love that they have an entire section of posts aimed specifically at LGBTQ+ women. I’ve actually been thinking about applying to write for Her Campus, Her Campus Iowa, or the Her Campus Blogger Network!

So when I heard that Her Campus was publishing an actual BOOK filled with advice about college-ing, of course I wanted to read it!

BUT. I am honestly so conflicted about this guide. Some parts were really, really helpful, and I don’t want to gloss over that, but other parts were… yeah, not so great.

The book is split into five sections, like so.

  • Part 1: Staying Safe in College
  • Part 2: Staying Healthy on Campus
  • Part 3: Developing Smart and Successful Relationships
  • Part 4: Building a Balanced Social Life
  • Part 5: Managing Your Money and Career

For this review, I’m going to go chapter by chapter and point out things that stood out to me as particularly helpful OR unhelpful. At the end of this review, I’m going to summarize my thoughts on The Her Campus Guide to College Life and then list a few things that I think would’ve improved this book immensely.

Chapter 1: Dorm Safety

There isn’t really much to say about this chapter, because it covered some pretty basic information, but… I am continually amazed by the number of people on my floor who DON’T lock their doors. I lock mine even if I’m just going to the bathroom or to my friends’ room just down the hall! Little things like this go a long way, because I don’t want someone to steal my laptop. Or my camera. Or my phone. ET CETERA.


Chapter 2: Safety Around Campus

Some parts of this chapter were relevant to my life, and some weren’t: I don’t ever plan on going to a party here at college (at least, not the kind where they serve alcohol), but I do sometimes have to walk home by myself late at night.

One of their tips involved downloading an app – there are multiple versions – that sends a message to selected friends letting them know where you are, in case you have to walk home alone at night. So I did! I’ve used that just once so far, but I will probably end up using it much, much more.

Chapter 3: Sexual Assault

Mostly helpful information here, especially the bit about the prevalence of acquaintance rape vs. stranger rape, but there was one oddly-phrased sentence that rubbed me the wrong way: “However, by not reporting your assault, you are perpetuating the crime.”

UM. NO. Rape victims don’t perpetuate crime; rapists do. Speaking up about your assault may be one of the best choices you ever make, but there are all kinds of reasons why someone may not feel comfortable doing so – or doing so right now. I don’t know, that sentence was just… meh.

Chapter 4: Studying Abroad

As someone who wants to study abroad someday, this chapter was incredibly helpful! I hadn’t even thought about student visas, changing currency, making sure all my vaccinations are up to date, and buying an adapter/converter to charge my electronic devices.

The only thing I didn’t understand was why this chapter was included in the safety section, when very little of this chapter dealt with safety! I would’ve included it in section 4, but I guess that’s just me.

Chapter 5: Nutrition, Fitness, and Eating Disorders

definitely needed the list titled “healthy foods to keep in your dorm room,” and everything about making sure to work out while on campus was very motivating because I… don’t do that as often as I should. EURGH.

Chapter 6: Physical Health

I’ve begun to implement some of their advice about getting enough sleep – it took me a long time to realize that just because I can stay up until one in the morning (or later!) every night doesn’t mean I should!

Also, there was a list of medicine that you should have  in your dorm room and it made me realize that, at the very least, it is probably a good idea to have decongestants and cough medicine.

Chapter 7: Drinking, Smoking, and Drugs

I read this chapter for the sole purpose of being able to help any of my friends if they have problems with this stuff. (I absolutely will not smoke or do drugs because I like to smell nice and be in control of my own brain, and I think alcohol tastes gross, so…) It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know from health class in high school, but I suppose it bears repeating since so many students do struggle with these things upon entering college.

Chapter 8: Mental Health

I’ve never been homesick here (surprisingly), but including suggestions about how to combat it was a very good idea. Also, yay for tips about stress! I already do some of what they suggested – make to-do lists, take a walk to clear your head – but seeing it here validated my decisions.

Chapter 9: Sexual Health

UGH. HETERONORMATIVITY, WHY. Her Campus is a really inclusive website, so it surprised me to see that this chapter just assumed that everyone has heterosexual sex. Like, it didn’t address queer safe sex? At all? I’m tired of people being like “we’re going to be PROGRESSIVE and be very frank about the need for teenagers to have safe sex!” and then they forget that LGBTQ+ teens exist.

Chapter 10: Roommates

This section was SUPER helpful because it had advice for what to do when your roommate is getting on your nerves – keeping odd hours, always having friends over, using your stuff without asking, et cetera. Also, it had a sample “roommate contract” form. I had to fill one of these out, but if your school doesn’t require one, you should consider it anyway.

(A roommate contract basically establishes stuff like when lights out is, how much noise is allowed when one or both of you are studying, what temperature the room should be at, et cetera. Little things, but it’s worth getting it all down on paper before conflicts arise.)

Chapter 11: Professors, RAs, and TAs

I actually used the advice in this chapter to help me figure out how to ask my professor to explain what I could’ve done better in an essay that received a grade of 78%! (And then my next essay for that class got 100%, so I guess asking questions really paid off…)

Chapter 12: Dating, Relationships, and Hooking Up

Another chapter, another heteronormative mess. The advice given here isn’t bad – it’s universal to any relationship, regardless of the gender(s) of the people in that relationship – but the authors kept saying “he” and assuming we were all into “man candy” and I just… no. WTF IS MAN CANDY WHY WOULD ANYONE EVEN SAY THAT IT’S JUST WEIRD.

Chapter 13: Unhealthy Relationships

There was a lot of heteronormativity in the first half of this chapter, as it dealt with unhealthy romantic relationship. EURGH. The second half was about toxic friendships and how to recognize them, though, so at least that was more helpful?

Chapter 14: Extracurriculars

I appreciated the part about getting involved in campus media – I’ve been meaning to do that because A) I’m interested in that kind of thing and B) I need stuff to list on my resume. In this chapter, Her Campus also recommended Ed2010, which I hadn’t heard of before. It’s a national organization for aspiring magazine editors! I could see myself having that sort of job someday – honestly, I just want to write ALL OF THE THINGS and I’m not super picky about possible jobs as long as I get to write for a living.

Chapter 15: Greek Life

Again, another chapter that isn’t relevant to me, but I read it anyway because I would feel bad about rating and reviewing this book without having read all of it. I thought the bit about what to do if your sorority is hazing you was particularly important.

Chapter 16: Juggling Social Life and Academics

My three favorite things from this chapter: How to manage your time wisely, how to know if you should drop a class, and how to ask for an extension.

Chapter 17: Social Media Dos and Don’ts 

I have extremely mixed feelings about this chapter. On the one hand, I thought the advice about how LinkedIn works and how to use other forms of social media to help you land a job were helpful.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure we all know not to list too much personal information on our social media profiles! I wanted more information about using social media to find jobs, and less about “how to be safe on the Internet.” We all got that lecture back in middle school, thank you very much.

Chapter 18: Managing Your Money

Financial aid! Scholarships! Work-study! Balancing your budget! AHHH ADULTING IS TERRIFYING. Thankfully, this chapter made it seem a little less so.

Chapter 19: Landing Jobs and Internships

Not much here that I didn’t already know, but INTERNSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT so I’m glad this chapter was included.


I have a lot of thoughts about The Her Campus Guide to College Life, and some of them are positive. Some of them are not. I wanted all of my feelings about this book to be positive, because I love Her Campus (the website).

There WAS quite a lot of helpful info, and I love love love the informal writing style, and I really liked the checklists and “wellness check-ins” at the end of each chapter. Also, I think a lot of this information would be helpful no matter where you went to school – some of it was definitely US-specific, but stuff like how to avoid homesickness is universal. Also, as someone who has been in college for a few months now, I can confidently say that much of the advice offered in this guide is very practical – as you can see, I’ve already used some of their tips in my own college life!

At the same time, though, there were several chapters that just… didn’t seem necessary? Some of the information was very basic (“stick to the buddy system when you’re at a party or out drinking”), and I felt that those pages could have been used to expand upon other things, such as how social media can be used to get jobs and internships!

This guide was also incredibly heteronormative, which just didn’t jibe with the overall feeling from the actual Her Campus website. There were maybe two or three references to dating girls, but in a very vague sense – it didn’t seem like the writers cared enough about LGBTQ+ women to actually include stuff that would be helpful to them, such as a section about queer safe sex.

…honestly, I would’ve liked to see an entire chapter aimed at queer women! For many of us, college is when we figure out our sexual orientation and/or gender identity, date girls for the first time, et cetera. Also, some LGBTQ+ women who are sure of their queer identity prior to college cannot be out to their family and friends back home, so college is where they can finally be out.

I would’ve liked to see information about on-campus LGBTQ+ resource centers, queer safe sex + relationship advice, queer-friendly housing, majoring (or minoring) in subjects related to gender and sexuality, joining LGBTQ+ student groups, queer-friendly sororities, et cetera.

Maybe I should write a post about that! Sort of like a “missing chapter” from this book, where I supplement with everything I’ve learned about resources for LGBTQ+ students since I arrived on campus back in August.

But I digress.

I would recommend The Her Campus Guide to Campus Life, but with definite caveats. If you’re anxious about starting college – or even if you’re already there, and just feel that you could use all the help you can get – then I recommend taking a look at this guide. However, I do feel that this book wasn’t as inclusive as the Her Campus website, which confused and disappointed me.

Rating: 2.5/5

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10 Reasons I’m Thankful For Blogging


Instead of my usual “I’m thankful for my family and my health and my cat” post on this day, I thought I’d try something different! I thought I’d make a list of ten books I’m thankful for, but… apparently I did that last year! SO I’M MAKING A TOP TEN LIST OF REASONS I’M THANKFUL FOR BLOGGING.

1. It’s an easy, comfortable form of expressing myself 

I’m introverted and shy – I don’t have much to say to anyone IRL until I get to know them well. I stumble over my words, or get embarrassed and forget what I was going to say. But online my thoughts just come POURING out and I’m not nearly as awkward! (I hope!)

2. More specifically, I can fangirl! 

Blogging has given me a way to discuss my interests – especially those related to books, movies, and TV shows – that I didn’t have before. My family and my IRL friends (especially those from my hometown) don’t really love stories as much as I do. They don’t care about analyzing stories and characters just for fun, or writing book reviews, or whatever – and that’s OK, because different people have different interests. But it did get a bit lonely at times before I started blogging.

3. Posting frequently allows me to improve my writing skills

When I look at my posts from five years ago, I can definitely see the difference in my writing abilities. TBH, I can see the difference when I look at posts I wrote in, say, 2013. I may not be able to write every single day, but I try to do as much as I can – I typically spend most of my free time writing.

(And the rest of it is spent reading…)

4. I get feedback on my writing and ideas!

Through comments! YOU GUYS ARE THE BEST. Whether you’re fangirling along with me or telling me how you liked a particular point I made in a post defending (or arguing against) something, you really help me. This ties in to #2 – my family’s idea of responding to my writing involves telling me where I messed up the punctuation, when what I’m really looking for is praise or criticism of my IDEAS.

5. I taught myself various useful skills through blogging

Such as:

  • Time management
  • Working against deadlines
  • How to write concisely
  • How to make my posts visually appealing
  • How to promote myself and my writing via social media
  • Basic web design

All of these skills will come in handy at my future job (I’d like to be a journalist), and I can list them on my resume! I can’t remember who I was talking to because it was several months ago, but… I think it was one of my profs? Somehow we got on the topic of blogging and they were pretty impressed that I’d been blogging for 5+ years.

(Oh, and by “basic web design,” I really do mean basic. I know only a little bit of HTML and that’s it, but that’s fine – what I was actually talking about is my familiarity with WordPress and all its different tools. Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to participate in various programs and classes that involved creating web pages on WordPress, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the other students struggled with this: They had trouble navigating the WordPress dashboard, or couldn’t figure out how to insert an image into a post. Plenty of websites – especially for small businesses! – are essentially just glorified WordPress, which is easy enough for me to handle. So I think it’s safe to say that I’m one step ahead of the game in that regard!)


SO. MANY. OF. THEM. I blame my followers for my out-of-control TBR list on Goodreads… which is now rapidly approaching 2000 books! I CAN’T SEEM TO READ FAST ENOUGH TO KEEP IT UNDER CONTROL. Once I became a blogger, I knew I’d never run out of ideas for what to read next.

7. It gives me an opportunity to share my photography

I don’t know where else I’d share it were it not for my blog… I mean, there’s always the county fair, but that’s only once a year. Also, this reminds me that I need to write the photography

8. Blogging is the closest I’ll ever come to keeping a diary

I’ve tried to write regularly in a diary… many times! AND IT NEVER WORKS. I always end up procrastinating, or losing the diary, or forgetting about it altogether. I don’t always post about my day-to-day life here, but I do occasionally, and in general this blog serves as an excellent record of what I was thinking, reading, watching at any particular point in time.

…which is so much more interesting than a diary with entry after entry saying, “Today was pretty normal and boring and now I have a hand cramp so I’m not going to write any more here today,” isn’t it?

9. I love being exposed to a wide variety of blogs and bloggers! 

Book blogs! Feminist blogs! LGBTQ+ blogs! Photography blogs! And more! I LOVE LOVE LOVE ALL THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BLOGS I FOLLOW. I spent plenty of time on the Internet before I started blogging, but I still doubt that I would’ve found most/all of these blogs if I hadn’t started my own blog.


I LOVE ALL MY READERS SO MUCH. SOOOO MUCH. I’ve known some of you for years now, and it’s weird to think about how close I’ve grown to some of you, considering how we’ve never actually met in person…



What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving? And what do you love most about blogging?!

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Review: Ash & Bramble

ash & brambleA prince. A ball. A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight. The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after. But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress. A past forgotten. A life of servitude. No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight.

To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another – the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

This is my fourth book review this month! I’m ridiculously proud of myself for posting so many this month, even though I know it’s not that many… but hey, I am perpetually behind on my reviews.

ANYWAY. Today I’m reviewing Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas, which I actually read for school! I interviewed Ms. Prineas for a major City of Literature project in which I had to write a profile of an author from the Iowa City area. Excerpts from that interview will be posted here on the 29th!

I was allowed to write about ANYONE, living or deceased, but I chose Sarah Prineas because, let’s face it, I am more than a little obsessed with fairy tales and retellings of them… and “Cinderella” is my favorite!

I LOVED the premise of Ash & Bramble. The fairy godmother in this story is evil, and she derives her power from each and every person whose lives play out the way she wants them to. Pin, the protagonist, finds out that she is being manipulated into living a certain kind of life, but she won’t settle for it. She resists. A happy ending with a prince she doesn’t truly love instead of a happy ending with a lowly shoemaker she actually cares for? Unthinkable. In Ash & Bramble this is called “Storybreaking,” and the godmother loses power when this happens.

Ash & Bramble is basically metafiction about the traditional narrative of fairy tales, and in this way it strongly reminded me of Malinda Lo’s Ash, which is a retelling of “Cinderella” with a bisexual protagonist. These novels approach this subject in different ways – Ash is implicit and subtle, while Ash & Bramble explicitly resists the narrative – but in the end the result is the same. I love subverted fairy tale retellings, and these two are the best I’ve yet found!

Oh, and did I mention there are LGBTQ+ characters? They aren’t major characters like in Ash, but YAY FOR QUEER CHARACTERS IN FANTASY. They were so cute – and so done with straight fairy tale narratives, too!

…I’m going to use this opportunity to include an excerpt from a review posted by the blog Kid Lit Frenzy:

“One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed most was how Story is essentially symbolic of patriarchal European ideas – in order to break Story, the storybreakers must change the story they are living within to such an extent that Story can no longer continue on, and for one of the storybreakers (forced into the role of Rapunzel), falling in love with another woman is enough to stop Story in its tracks. (At this point in the book I imagined a robot with steam pouring out of it, screaming “LESBIAN PRINCESS DOES NOT COMPUTE WITH HETERONORMATIVE EUROPEAN PATRIARCHY,” Dalek-style.)”


Another thing I loved about Ash & Bramble was that it dealt with where the STUFF in fairy tales comes from. Who makes all those pretty dresses? WHO MAKES THE GLASS SLIPPERS?! In this story, the fairy godmother doesn’t use magic – she uses slaves, and Pin is one of them. I loved this aspect of the story because that was something I’d never thought of before, and now it will be all I can think of whenever I reread or rewatch a fairy tale.

About halfway through this book, it dawned on me that I was reading a dystopian retelling of “Cinderella.” OMG YAYYYY. The only other dystopian retellings I know of are Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, so I was excited to find another. Ash & Bramble is nowhere near as scientific as Cinder, but both stories are clearly set in a dystopian world.

During my interview with Sarah Prineas, she named Tolkien as one of her influences, and AHHH THAT MADE ME SUCH A HAPPY LITTLE FANGIRL because I’d noticed a similarity to Tolkien in her writing.

SO. Those are all the things I adored about Ash & Bramble. Was there anything I disliked? Well… dskfjhgdfkjhds it’s complicated. SO COMPLICATED. Basically, there are a few things that bothered me at the beginning, only to resolve themselves at the end?

For example, the first part of the book – set in the godmother’s fortress – was very slow. This book is around 450 pages long, so I don’t know whether the solution to this would be to cut some pages or to simply speed up the opening section. Right now, I’m leaning towards keeping the length the same – I wanted the beginning to move a little faster, and I wanted the fight scenes towards the end to slow down because I thought that they happened really quickly.

(The middle section was fine, though. The middle section was perfect. Actually, that really impresses me because I think a lot of authors suck at keeping the middles of their stories interesting. SO YEAH. The middle section was my favorite.)

The other thing that I am conflicted about was the romance. Pin and Shoe had a GINORMOUS case of Insta-Love and I spent the first few pages being all like, “No. NO NO NO NO NO.” However, by the end of the story they actually knew one another and they had romantic chemistry together.

I’m still not really sure how I feel about this part of the book because I really, really dislike stories that start out with Insta-Love, but I also realize that a lot of stories never move beyond Insta-Love like Ash & Bramble did, so… I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have some issues with the beginning of this relationship, but I also appreciate that Ash & Bramble made me actually believe in their love unlike so many other stories?

All in all, I really enjoyed Ash & Bramble – and I’m so so SO glad that I chose it for my City of Lit project. I mean, I got to read about fairy tales FOR SCHOOL?! And I wrote about subverting fairy tales in my author profile paper, which was super nerdy and fun.

I would recommend Ash & Bramble to those who are looking for a fairy tale retelling that stands out from the rest. Maybe you’re a bit tired of this current craze in YA? This is definitely the book you want to read if you want to find inspiration in this genre again. I loved how Ash & Bramble both subverted fairy tales and mused upon the nature of stories in general!

Rating: 3.5/5

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Reading The Rainbow: George

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!

georgeTitle: George

Author: Alex Gino

Genre: Middle grade, contemporary

Length: 240 pages

Published by: Scholastic Press

Date of publication: 2015

Source: Library

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Previous Reading The Rainbow posts may be found here.

I didn’t feel very well on my birthday – I was exhausted, and I had a headache. I couldn’t seem to make myself focus on my schoolwork for very long. I finally told myself, “SCREW THIS, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY” and took the day off from homework in order to read read READ. One of the books I read that day was George by Alex Gino. Not only did it make me forget about my headache (and general grumpiness), it was an excellent birthday present to myself as well.

I love middle-grade novels: They’re short, with simple plots, and often ridiculously adorable. George is all three of those things. I read this book in about… an hour? An hour and a half, tops? It was just what I needed on that day – a cute, lighthearted story that made me GRIN LIKE A DORK multiple times.

I loved George – or, to use her real name, Melissa. SHE WAS ADORABLE. I kept feeling like I needed to hug her and, like, read all of the cute stories to her. (That is what small children are for, obviously.) She spoke, thought, and acted like a real ten-year-old girl, which impressed me because I think a lot of authors have trouble accurately portraying children. Many authors do a good job of writing about teenagers, so I guess it’s just harder to write kids – maybe because more time has elapsed since they themselves were children? I don’t know. At any rate, MELISSA IS THE ACTUAL BEST.

I loved the secondary characters, too. Melissa’s BFF Kelly was so cute and sweet and understanding! Melissa’s older brother was kind too, and her mom… well, her mom took a little bit longer to accept her transgender daughter, but in the end it all worked out! I REALLY appreciated the positivity in this book – we need more like it! LGBTQ+ BOOKS WITH HAPPY ENDINGS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO ME.

LGBTQ+ books for children are equally important. There aren’t many, though – I mean, there are SOME, but we need MORE. I welcome each and every new LGBTQ+ children’s and/or middle grade book! I loved that George was a long story… OK, at 240 pages it isn’t that long, but compared to some of the other LGBTQ+ children’s lit I’ve found (AKA picture books), it’s ginormous. I was so happy to find an LGBTQ+ book for kids that wasn’t over in 32 pages.

Also! The author, Alex Gino, is genderqueer… YAY FOR QUEER PEOPLE WRITING QUEER BOOKS. While there is decent LGBTQ+ literature by cishet authors out there, it’s so important to read (and watch!) LGBTQ+ stories written by actual LGBTQ+ people because they have far more expertise and personal experience with the lives of their characters. (If you want to know more, I suggest you check out Gino’s explanation of of the title and Melissa’s name, gender identity, and pronouns!)

I would recommend this book to…

  • Kids in elementary and/or middle school
  • Parents and teachers
  • Anyone who’s looking for a cute, fun, quick read

Basically? George is amazing. AMAZING. After I finished it, my face hurt from smiling so much – not only because this book is RIDICULOUSLY ADORABLE and Melissa is a great protagonist, but because it makes me happy to think about all the little kids out there who are questioning their gender. They’ll have this book. They can grow up with it.

The first YA novel with a trans protagonist – Luna by Julie Anne Peters – was published only a little over a decade ago, in 2004, and the first children’s and middle grade books with a trans protagonist appeared a few years after that. So George is still a big deal. I hope it makes a difference in the lives of many children. I think it will.

Rating: 4/5

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DOCTOR WHO Series Nine Review: “The Zygon Inversion” (Co-written With Micha @ Curiousology)

the zygon inversion posterHello! I’ve fallen behind on my series nine reviews once again, but I’m trying to catch up… and now that the semester is almost over but we haven’t reached finals, my workload has significantly decreased. So I have more free time!

Anyway, here’s the review.


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


Micha is a first year student at New York University studying biology and chemistry, although they have an affinity for all things scientific – and science fictional. They have been known to get very enthusiastic about the intersection of the two, which may be one reason family and friends sometimes describe them as “an aspiring mad scientist.” And while loving features of all eras of show, they often find themself in the position of having to explain why Paul McGann is their favorite Doctor – a response that, given his hour and a half of televised screentime, sometimes elicits very honest inquiries of “Doctor WHO?” They blog at Curiousology


Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!


Continuity & plot

Engie: So, “The Zygon Invasion” and “The Zygon Inversion” basically tied up all the loose ends left over from “The Day of the Doctor.” What are your thoughts on this episode as it relates to the plot of the fiftieth anniversary special?

Micha: Well, on one hand, there’s a touch of disappointment in the idea that the peace they negotiated in the fiftieth hasn’t lasted. But at the same time, I think that’s a much more honest commentary on the nature of real wars, and real peace treaties – that a badly- or even well-negotiated solution might not last, that they cause new and unforeseen problems, and that they’re never going to be airtight.

Engie: That’s very true.

Micha: So on the whole, I think it managed to uphold the general theme – that a peace between two disagreeing factions is something to be continually working for, and that making people see things from another perspective has a powerful impact – while weaving in further commentary on the issue. Commentary that I’d say is very, very relevant.

Engie: …you just said what I was going to say, and said it better than I could. NICE.


Micha: Osgood was wonderful – I’d mentioned that earlier, after the first episode, hoping to see her in a bigger role, and seeing that actually happen was exciting. Not to mention well done. And not just in a meaningful way, though I do love her character growth – it was also just great to see her working with the Doctor. The two of them in the van together, arguing with each other, is definitely one of my favorite things to come out of this series.

Engie: They made a great team! They were a ton of fun to watch.

Micha: I guess what I love about how they’re writing Osgood is that they’ve hit this wonderful balance in what she brings to an episode – of being both fun and having depth. It was present even when she first showed up in the fiftieth, to some degree, but it’s grown to a much more noticeable level with her character. I love everything she represents in the narrative now – the concepts of preserving peace, and overcoming differences, and that they’re to be admired.

the zygon inversion osgoodMicha: But I also love that she nerds out a bit criticizing the Doctor’s sunglasses and has an apparently still-growing closet of his outfits. I love her combination of quirks and character that let her serve as both something of a symbol, and yet still a real person in the story. And it’s been so great to watch her grow into that, even if the consolatory blanket fort I built myself when I thought she was killed off for good after “Death in Heaven” can attest to it having some ups and downs.

Engie: I love what they’ve done with her character! In “The Day of the Doctor,” she was basically a self-insert character for the viewers, and now she’s something more. Not that being a fangirl is a bad thing, but… we’re learning about all the other aspects of her life and personality now as well, and that’s great. Osgood is much more complex now than she originally was, and I love it.

The acting

Engie: What did you think of the Doctor and Clara… well, actually, wait. Let’s be more specific: What did you think of Peter Capaldi’s and Jenna Coleman’s acting in this episode?

Micha: I’M SO GLAD YOU MENTIONED THEIR ACTING. Especially Jenna’s, because while I really like Clara, I think this episode was the one that really made me realize how much depth she has as an actress, beyond just as one character I’ve grown to love. The differences in mannerisms between her characters, the emotion that she, in particular, put into more of Bonnie’s scenes at the end – it just really hit me how much I hope to see her in things even after she’s gone from Doctor Who. (Which is unfortunately a time rapidly approaching.) She’s really very talented.

Engie: She is! (She was fantastic as Bonnie and as Bonnie-pretending-to-be-Clara.) I’ve said this probably a thousand times already, but I think Coleman is a GREAT actress and I’m really happy that she’s moving on to other projects – she was cast as the lead role of Queen Victoria for some new period drama show – because she deserves bigger and better roles. I think she’s made the most of what she has by giving it her all on Doctor Who. I mean, the writers gave her some pretty crappy episodes and characterization to work with, especially in series seven. I’m glad that she’s had a chance to really shine in this series!

Micha: And Peter, of course – he’s already had some wonderful, defining character speeches on the how, but this one was beautiful. And delivered in the same episode that he proclaimed himself Dr. Basil Disco no less.Twelve in a nutshell for you – character depth and awkward space dad all rolled into one. (I also really loved that even his scenes with Osgood gave off some of that same vibe he has with Clara. The bit in the van in particular looked a bit like a scene from a begrudging family road trip. It gives me hope that whoever his next companion is, there will still be a really enjoyable dynamic.)

Engie: AHHHH I LOVED HIS SPEECH. I think he’s done a great job portraying the Doctor in general, but every so often there’s an episode that just makes me go WHOA I’M SO GLAD THIS GUY IS PLAYING THE DOCTOR. And this was one of those moments.

Micha: Needless to say, both actors did fantastically well. And as for their characters – I hate that even in an episode where they don’t share many scenes together, being separated by plot, their relationship can be as powerful as it is. They’re really hitting home the “Clara’s leaving” theme this season, and while I don’t think it’s too hard narratively, I think it’s a bit too hard on my heart.

Micha: I’ve talked before how I think their relationship is something really unique and important to see on TV – that they do a lot of things for each other you don’t always see in explicitly platonic relationships. The show consistently makes a point of showing how much they mean to each other, in a way that technically is, but isn’t being “just friends” – I mean, they are, but sometimes in fiction especially people act like that’s not enough.

Micha: Even Doctor Who specifically has been guilty of pulling those plots in the new series. It’s wonderful to see that get turned on it’s head, and while I hope the next companion carries on the tradition, the Doctor & Clara dynamic has been wonderful to watch happen these past few seasons, and it continues to be even as we approach the – definitely going to be painful – end.


Engie: What is your overall opinion of this episode?

Micha: I’ll be honest, after the first episode, I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about the whole thing? I mean, it wasn’t bad. It just struck me as a rather average episode, in a season that’s been pretty great, and with characters that I was so excited to see again that I wanted more from.

Micha: But this one really tied it all together. I loved the story it ultimately told – about peace, and what it is, and what it requires – and that I thought it did so well. I loved seeing the characters I like so much actually get that chance to shine. (Osgood, and Kate had her moments too – the classic “Five rounds rapid!” reference, one of her dad’s most iconic lines, had me grinning from ear to ear.) I loved seeing Peter and Jenna both give stellar emotional performances… it all really came together nicely, and combined a lot of elements it was wonderful to see in one arc. Definitely worth the wait, I’d say.

Engie: I’m in the same boat as you – “The Zygon Invasion” was fun, but didn’t strike me as anything special. Capaldi’s and Coleman’s performances in this episode, however, really brought this two-parter up a notch for me. This could’ve very well been a set of forgettable, average episodes, but I thought the second part successfully avoided that… which is a slightly odd thing for me to say, because normally I love the first part of a two-part episode and judge the second part sooooo hard that I end up disliking it? Hmmm. At any rate, that wasn’t the case this time around.

Engie: Thank you for reviewing this episode with me!


What is YOUR opinion on “The Zygon Inversion”? I’d love to know!

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