Thursday, December 31, 2015

In Reading Great Literature || The Books I Read in 2015

A Study in Scarlet

Arthur Conan Doyle

"A Study in Scarlet" - Cover design by SHOUT for the Modern Library Series.:

Ally Condie

11 Books To Cure Your Divergent Withdrawal:

The Sign of Four

Arthur Conan Doyle

The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes, #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle:


Ally Condie

Just started and finished Crossedl I read it in a single day. I do love this trilogy so far. Book one was by far better, but I obviously couldn't put this one down either. Not sure how I will stand waiting for number three.    Crossed, is quite slow for a young adult read--mature readers are apt to appreciate it more than those that want fast adventures.:

Hidden Pearls

Hayden Wand

Hidden Pearls - Kindle edition by Hayden Wand. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @

Lady Windermere's Fan

Oscar Wilde

Lady Windermere's Fan - As per Somer's Library, you may like it if you like Downton Abbey :):
“Between man and woman there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

It Starts With Food

Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

This whole "clean eating" thing is getting my attention - I just might try it. This is one blogger's journey:

Dark to Mortal Eyes

Eric Wilson

Beata: If you want to read a very Christian supernatural thriller (maybe even a little bit preachy) this book is just what you need! It's very suspenseful, interesting read. I've heard Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy by Eric Wilson is incredible!

Collective Retribution

D.S. Edwards

Adrift on the Nile

Naguib Mahfouz

The Hostage

Zayd Mutee' Dammaj

Product Details

The Blind Owl

Sadegh Hedayat

I have read it five times. Every time, I get it a little bit more.:
“There are sores which slowly erode the mind in solitude like a kind of canker.”

Where Treasure Hides

Johnnie Alexander

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander ~~ Available August 2015:

Two Whole Cakes

by Lesley Kinzel

Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body - Kindle edition by Lesley Kinzel. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @
How many books I read...
How many books I wanted to read...
My goal for 2016...
I wish I could read...
100 books next year
The best book I read of 2015...
The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat. Though morbid and deeply disturbing, it is fascinatingly psychological and a work of unmitigated genius.
What I've learned about reading this year...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

At the Theater || 2015 Watches

Hi! I'm super excited about today's post ... mostly because I just got back from the theater and am still on the theatrical high that follows ... know what I mean? Anyway, I'll get to that later. :) Oh, and btw, none of these are listed in order of favoritism, because if that were the case the last one would be shamefully neglected. Let's just say it deserves grossing over $1 billion after a week and a half of screen time and coming close to breaking all the records in the books....

so pretty!!!! it totally looks like what cinderella's dress would be like!:

1) Cinderella

It defied my preconceived notions because...
The prevailing theme was not "someday my prince will come" but rather "have courage and be kind."
Best thing about it was...
It stayed 97.89% true to the Disney version. I made that number up.
One thing I loved about it was...
The transformation from her raggedy homemade gown to the twirliest fluffiest beautifulest of all time blue ball dress.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested. *Based on the book Still Alice.: 2) Still Alice

It defied my preconceived notions because...
Kristin Stewart was actually in a worthwhile role.
Best thing about it was...
Realistically being a total emotional roller coaster. If you don't like to pretty much sob during a movie, this is not one I recommend seeing.
One thing I loved about it was...
Julianne Moore's Oscar-nomination-worthy acting skills.

The official Avengers: Age of Ultron poster is here, and I have some questions.: 3) The Avengers: Age of Ultron

It defied my preconceived notions because...
They made Captain America swearing sound like the biggest accomplishment ever.
Best thing about it was...
Captain America is the best thing about any Marvel gig.
One thing I loved about it was...
Getting to know The Incredible Hulk more.


It defied my preconceived notions because...
It didn't actually defy any preconceived notions, since I knew one of its themes would be farting.
Best thing about it was...
One thing I loved about it was...
Inside Out by Andy Fairhurst How cute the evil little Gru is.

5) Inside Out

It defied my preconceived notions because...
It should never have been marketed as a children's film; it is way too introspective and psychological.
Best thing about it was...
The fact that I momentarily writhed in my seat, wishing I could leave the theater, because it was like my life was being played out on screen.
One thing I loved about it was...
The cute short about the volcanoes in the previews.

panchecco:    The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2     Mockingjay Part 2: 6) Mockingjay Part 2

It defied my preconceived notions because...
THEY KILLED FINNICK! WHAT! Suzanne Collins said they weren't going to in the movie and they did :(
Best thing about it was...
It focused on Katniss and Peeta's friendship more than their physical attraction to one another. Come on, that ending was perfection.
One thing I loved about it was...
It stayed so amazingly close to the book.

Click on the link below to go to the STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS BLOG! 7) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It defied my preconceived notions because...
This is complicated actually.
First preconceived notion: Might be good because George Lucas won't direct it, might be bad because it's now in the hands of Disney.
Second preconceived notion: Omigosh the people closest to me said it can stand with the originals...!!!!
Third notion (after I watched it the first time): Too close in storyline to A New Hope, not original enough, and one scene is highly shocking and remotely traumatic. 
Fourth notion (after I thought about it for a while): Everything that happened in the storyline makes pretty much perfect sense and the highly shocking and remotely traumatic part was just freaking incredible screenwriting.
Fifth notion (after I saw it a second time): Omigoshitsincrediblecaniseeit17moretimes but it moves WAY too fast I'm like this movie is 2 hours 20 minutes but I feel like I've only been in the theater 30 and the credits are already rolling?
Best thing about it was...
Finn, whose name is now Finley courtesy of myself. And Rey's name is Raymond. hahaha
One thing I loved about it was...
Everything, but for concision's sake Kylo Ren's first temper tantrum immediately followed by extremely calmly saying, "Anything else?" immediately followed by practically choking someone to death.
And final thoughts...
So worthy of every accolade it receives. It is a little more simple in plot style, I've noticed, like the originals--it's not like the political entanglements of the prequels. And as a film, it makes The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones look like total juvenile trash. I might say the same of Revenge of the Sith but for the fact that the last part of Episode III is very well done with the multiple lightsaber battles and the ultimate creation of Darth Vader. Still, The Force Awakens vastly rises above anything Episode III ever did, and its aura is just so reminiscent of the originals that you might be tricked into thinking you feel like your parents did when they got to see Episodes IV, V, and VI in theaters ;) Lucky them!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Collective Retribution by D.S. Edwards

The United States of America is a nation on the brink of collapse. With high unemployment, religious extremism, partisan politics, and civil unrest, mixed with the uncertainty of global financial markets, it's just a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Some countries are poised, troops at the ready, waiting for this day and the opportunity to seize it all.

Levi Nirschell, family man, rancher, patriot, and NSA operative has devoted his life to the service of his country. He has spilled his own blood, for the cause of liberty and the protection of the innocent. Now his nation calls on him yet again for its salvation. This time it's different, this time it's not just his life that's at stake. This time it may cost him everything he holds dear.

Collective Retribution is a prophetic look at the coming fall of the United States, and those who will be the catalyst in bringing about her destruction. Who will survive? Will America be rebuilt and return to her former glory? Or will she turn into something quite different than the Founding Fathers dreamed of? Something ugly -- something evil. -- Storehouse Entertainment Group

I'll be honest and say this isn't a book I would normally pick up. The apocalyptic or war type genre is not my favorite -- sure, I've read Left Behind, but it's one of my least favorite books ever. But apocalyptic is not what this book is, though I cannot envision America's fall without the Tribulation coming soon after. 

Still, I guess you could say that “war” is a fitting name for this book's genre. I'm not very knowledgeable about weaponry, especially firearms; I'm definitely more well-known to sit down with a contemporary romance or romantic suspense novel than something like this. All that aside, I do enjoy strategies and intelligent writing, both of which D.S. Edwards delivers in his debut novel Collective Retribution.

There's really nothing I can compare this book to to give you guys a solid idea of what it's like -- I guess I'll have to default to my somewhat poor explanation abilities. Edwards doesn't utilize a whole lot of dialogue, because so much of this novel is spent within one man's or one woman's head; it's not a very sociable book, if you know what I mean. Still, Edwards moves everything along at a quick speed; he rarely pauses to bore his readers. Sometimes I did get tired of reading the same ol', same ol' war jargon, but if you're a guy reading this book, you probably won't care about that -- it might even speed the reading along for you. Edwards is a master of technicalities; he doesn't overemphasize the action in any given situation, which actually does act to overemphasize it for the reader. (I've written a whole post about authors “trying too hard” and their works turning out shabby because of it.) Overall, I could easily put his mastery of the English language in the same league as Ally Condie's, while his manipulation of action scenes is probably about as good as J.K. Rowling's or Veronica Roth's -- maybe even better.

Levi Nirschell would be a guy I normally would have trouble connecting with -- I mean, he's around fifty, he has two kids, he's been married for twenty years, he's a government employee. Nope, he's more than that, he's a National Security Agency employee. In spite of all those traits which he and I do not have in common, Edwards writes him in such a personable manner that I enjoyed his “company” immensely. The same can be said for most of the other characters, although when Edwards writes from the point of view of a villain, this level of intimacy the reader shares with the dramatis personae can get all too disturbing -- after all, the President of the U.S. at the time of this novel is utterly disgusting.

There were times when the said villains became so horribly evil that I wondered if they could actually still be realistic. Sure, I know there're corrupt people in the world whose minds are so twisted they think they're doing the right thing . . . like Adolf Hitler or someone similar . . . IDK. I guess I haven't had enough real-life experience with such evil people to know what they're like (which is absolutely a good thing).

To continue along the character route, some of the names Edwards chose for his characters sounded way too old-school for their ages. Debbie for a woman in her late twenties? I don't think I've ever met a Debbie that age. And Larry for a guy in his thirties? Another name I never hear, especially for a man that age.

The only real plot issue there was was Edwards not resolving a certain couple's storyline. The plot culminates brilliantly in the last couple chapters -- it's freaky shocking. Edwards did get a little cheesy in the last few paragraphs of the book, I thought, but whatever. I'm not sure if he could have ended it any other way; it just felt a little like he rushed and didn't focus much on editing that part, maybe?

Altogether, it was a fine book and absolutely worth reading. But because it was a little too stressful for me to want to read it again, I'm going to give it --

3 stars

This book is written for adults. There are war descriptions which are violent, gross, and disturbing; one character also either allows girls he's taken prisoner to be raped by his soldiers or takes them for his own sexual satisfaction. Though nothing graphic is described and it's not inappropriate reading for a mature teenager or adult, these scenes can also be quite disturbing. The book is written by a Christian author and I appreciated the focus Levi Nirschell had on the Lord. Obviously, however, not every character is a Christian, and the villains are, as I said above, evil.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dark to Mortal Eyes by Eric Wilson

Beata: If you want to read a very Christian supernatural thriller (maybe even a little bit preachy) this book is just what you need! It's very suspenseful, interesting read. I've heard Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy by Eric Wilson is incredible!On the Oregon coast at Heceta Head lighthouse at the end of World War II, a strange canister carrying mysteriously "scientifically" created contents arrives with an equally mysterious partner . . . a beautiful woman seeking solace from Hitler's Germany. The canister, and a war captain, disappear over the side of the cliffs to seemingly fall to the ocean floors, while the woman watches from the lighthouse . . . but then, almost sixty years later, Josee Walker, on a mission to find and meet her birth mother, comes across it near Corvallis, Oregon. While the contents inside wound her boyfriend, her birth mother Kara Addison goes missing, and Kara's chess-playing husband Marsh is considered the culprit. But Marsh doesn't realize he's involved himself in a brutal chess game where the board is reality, and Josee and Kara are merely its pawns. . . .

I decided to crack open this book because last year I read Wilson's novelization of the 2012 film October Baby. I had enjoyed it, but to be honest, I wasn't that impressed. Truth be told, I probably should have given him the benefit of the doubt, especially considering screen-to-page adaptions are almost never done well. Kind of like their book-to-movie counterparts, you know?

So . . . apparently, I was prepared to hate this book. I certainly wasn't very excited about reading it. I would much rather be reading, oh, you know, Collective Retribution by D.S. Edwards or something. (Actually you probably don't know, given that it's not a very popular book, I don't think.) And you know what? For the first fifty or seventy or maybe a hundred pages, I wasn't a fan. Not even a "sort of" fan. All of the characters seemed so distant and the fact that it was written way back in '03 didn't help at all. I'd had qualms about its being eleven years old, even though I didn't know exactly what would offend me by being that age. (It ended up being the fashionable "expletive" of the time: "stinkin'". Being only seven myself in 2003, I don't remember if I used the word "stinking" as a description too often, but I do know that its usage irritates me now -- especially in written word form. Maybe this is me being nitpicky, though.)

Returning to the characters . . . Josee and her boyfriend Scooter -- I never was able to really form a bond with them. They were just unlikable, unrelatable, and though Wilson does give some backstory into Josee's life, it wasn't enough for me. Maybe, and I admit to being very unloving when I say this, it was because her character was the wandering homeless type. She was into smoking, Wilson described her clothes as being baggy . . . IDK, she wasn't very feminine or ladylike. I guess the whole outdoorsy thing just doesn't get me anymore. I used to love camping and going outside and getting dirty and everything, but I think I turned into a fashion snob

Marsh, Josee's dad -- he actually ended up being one of my favorites. I kind of hated him at first because he was so horrible; I mean, any kind of idiot should know that buying expensive gifts for his wife but treating her like trash is going to make her feel like trash. ? After Kara went missing, he recognized his priority issues and I liked him better for it.

I have to be honest and say this is one of the most original plots I've come across in a long time. Few people consider melding the spiritual world with the physical, and while the latter was accomplished in an amateur sort of way, that can be forgiven since this is Wilson's debut novel -- and the book is just too "good," technically speaking, to make a big deal out of it. There is some mystery, but it's not like your typical murder mystery -- it's more like a guessing game of "Who's who?" I loved the way the events from 1945 were connected to those of 2003 -- the chapters and sections focusing on connections had to be the best in the book. Intricate plot details always fascinate me. 

Regarding technicalities: Wilson shifts POVs continuously yet fairly consistently. There are a couple people who get one or two shots at their own point of view and then are either discarded as characters or never treated as "important" again; then there are the main characters -- Marsh, Josee, Sergeant Turney, Kara, Steele Knight -- whom we hear from on a regular basis. Wilson did an excellent job of maintaining reader interest by frequently dropping a cliffhanger with one character and moving on to another character's story before returning to answer the cliffhanger question. 

As far as suspense goes -- in the ending chapters, when the writing should be at its finest, Wilson flounders a little. His descriptions of the end border on cheesy and ridiculous, especially in Sergeant Turney's POV (another person I wasn't ever able to bond with -- he was just weird, besides being a highly unusual hero).

The end of the Marsh and Kara story satisfied me. Their problems were one of the more interesting points of the book.

Altogether I have to say this was probably a book worth my time, though I doubt I'd ever bother to read it again. For that reason, it gets . . .

3 stars

Note: This book should be classified as "adult" for age category. While there is nothing graphically described, it is not written as a YA novel and there are some possibly disturbing images/plot lines as well as a scene where a lawyer tries to convince her client to sleep with him. It is written by a Christian author and the witness to readers is almost excellent as far as most novels are concerned.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Arrow, Season Two (2013-2014)


After the Undertaking kills 503 people in the Glades, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is exhausted from crime fighting, family situations, and grief. He leaves Starling City to return to the island where he spent five years after the wreckage of the Queen's Gambit in 2007. To his chagrin, his fellow crime-fighters, hacktivist Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett-Rickards) and war vet John Diggle (David Ramsay) find him on Lian Yu, urging him to return to Starling City -- because, of course, the destruction of the Glades did not prove a “cleansing” for the city, but rather a new garden for rioting and zealots.

If all or any of you read my Arrow Season 1 review, you know I really, really loved it. It hooked me on the first episode. I continued to like it through Season 2, pretty much as well as Season 1, although there were some minor “changes” of which I wasn't so fond at first (I can hardly remember them now, so you see how insignificant they were). I found the plot this season much much darker than the commencing season; it dealt with a lot of Oliver's time on the island, some of which was a little exhausting to watch. There were some episodes in which the majority of time was spent explaining Lian Yu, and I confess that was not my favorite element. Sometimes the island was the main draw to my watching the show -- like, I really wanted to know what happened after that scene! -- but other times I was just like, Can you please return to Starling City already? 

All in all, the storyline got pretty intense and somewhat alarming in some episodes, and I hear that Season 3 gets even darker. Woohoo. (That was sarcastic by the way.)

Photos - Arrow - Season 2 - Promotional Episode Photos - Episode 2.04 - Crucible - ar204b_6903b-jpg-41364eb1-t3
Characters, characters . . . you know how I really disliked Laurel and #Lauliver (apparently there is a ship name for the two of them)? Laurel actually gets much more character development this season, and while she's certainly 100% absolutely not my favorite on the show, she's more likable than in season 1, where she appeared a cold, diligent, perfect, beautiful lost love to Oliver because she was too “sensible” to date him again after he secretly dumped her (if only for a month) for her sister Sara. (If you've actually watched the show, you'll know why I put “sensible” in quotations.) Giving her a little baggage from grieving the loss of a friend's death was an excellent choice on the screenwriters' part. 

Roy, Roy, Roy . . . I hit it off with him immediately in Season 1. He was the ambitious save-the-world type. In Season 2, for reasons which become clear when you watch it, he's kind of a jerk and kind of monopolizes a lot of the story. His being a jerk was not actually his fault, but it was still irritating -- and a little freaky and stressful. Because you know how these action movies/shows can be.

BUT. If there is only one saving grace to this season -- ONLY ONE -- it has to be when Barry Allen comes to town. Yep, if you've watched The Flash, you know how hilarious and sweet Barry is. He's even more hilarious and sweet in the only two episodes he guest stars in in Arrow. He also really hits it off with Felicity, so much so that #Olicity has a run for its money! We also get to see some of the footage of the night he “becomes” The Flash, which is even cooler.

Regarding the immoralities of this season . . . there were a bunch. As is typical Oliver style, he has no self control regarding women, and sleeps with at least two different people in the season that I can remember. Though nothing graphic or inappropriate is shown, there is one scene in which the characters are apparently nude while being appropriately covered. And this kind of shocked me, but there's also a gay kiss in one episode (thirteen or fourteen, I think?). The series does deserve its TV-14 rating.

Netflix won't get Season 3 on for a couple more months, but I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival! -- especially for the crossovers between Central and Starling City :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Arrow, Season 1 (2012-2013)

I hope you will not miss this week episode which Arrow Season 1 Episode 9: Year's End will schedule on December 12, 2012. That it will celebrate a Christmas in the queens family with some of the close friend with Laurel, In Dark Archer appeared and kill one of the list of Arrow in their will be a crime scene at the Christmas night at
Last fall, I was determined I would watch CW and DC Comics's The Flash since it just looked so darned cool. (Who wouldn't want super speed, anyway?) I may have heard of Arrow in passing, but didn't pay much attention to it until the shows crossed over and Barry (The Flash) asked advice from The Arrow (Oliver Queen) on how to manage his new “secret super hero”-ness. Then the season progressed and Oliver/The Arrow (or his hacktivist aide, Felicity Smoak) made several more appearances, piquing my curiosity. I decided that this summer, to combat “TV show withdrawal,” I would watch the first three seasons in preparation for keeping up with the fourth, which premieres on the CW Network October 7.

I purchased all twenty-three episodes individually off YouTube. I do NOT recommend doing that. It was ridiculously expensive -- definitely more than it was worth. Typical season-pass price on both iTunes and YouTube is somewhere close to $34.99, which by ITSELF is ridiculous -- I compared these prices to Amazon, and found copies of the season that would sell for under $13.00 (disregarding shipping and tax, neither of which would bring the ending price anywhere close to thirty-five bucks). But, because I wasn't sure exactly what I'd be doing (if I'd end up buying the physical season off Amazon or at Fred Meyer, or potentially signing up for Netflix -- ?), and because I got hooked on the show, I ended up paying full price for all twenty-three episodes, or about $2.13 per episode. Yep, I don't recommend doing that. At all.

Arrow -- "Darkness on the Edge of Town" -- Image AR122a_0566b -- Pictured: Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2013 The CW Network. All Rights ReservedThe fix: Go on Netflix and sign up. Seriously. I did sign up, because I wanted the second season of the show -- and the third -- and $7.99 per month for immediate access to dozens of TV shows and movies instead of paying $13-$45+ for just one season of a show is so much more inexpensive than you think. (I guess you have to put it in perspective like I did.) To up their game, Netflix gives you your first month for free so if you don't want to watch anything after you've finished your season(s) of your show(s) just cancel your membership and you won't be charged.

. . . let's get into the review now :)

It's 2007. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) goes on a brief voyage on his billionaire father's (Jamey Sheridan) yacht, the Queen's Gambit. Unbeknownst to everyone save the passengers on board, Oliver has brought his girlfriend's sister Sara (Caity Lotz). Abruptly, the Queen's Gambit hits a storm and wrecks while Oliver watches Sara die before becoming stranded on an island whose given name means Purgatory. After years of waiting for a rescue, Oliver finally returns to Starling City -- but he is not the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” he used to be. His father left him “The List,” containing the names of people who have wronged Starling City in some manner -- and Oliver is tasked with setting it right. So he dresses in a green hood and green leathers with a bow and arrow and becomes Starling City's infamous “Vigilante,” seemingly overnight.

I just think the synopsis sounds SO COOL. A bow is the best weapon (and considered possibly the most effective in the medieval era) EVER -- it's just so difficult to use that it inspires incredible admiration among viewers who watch Oliver use it to perfection.

Okay. Archery rant over.
This is a great family dynamic. Sometimes you only see friendship (Like Legoas/Gimli [LOTR], but I def get the brotherly love vibe from these two. Even when they are fighting and hating each other they are still there for one another.
What 5 years on an island can do for you XD
Obviously, the plot has to move beyond the synopsis I gave above because the story arc is over twenty-three episodes. The first episodes do, it's true, deal mainly with “The List,” BUT over time a “real” villain appears. These first episodes have their own individual villains, to some extent, and in many ways after the “real” villain first shows himself, that's what happens again. Thus, I felt as though the plot was often disjointed -- spending too much time focusing on random “bad” guys when it could have been dropping more hints about the villain's real operation. Everything should have been connected much better, and a viewer paying sufficient attention should have been able to note the slight connections between each villain and the “big bad.” Instead, I was never able to get the feeling that there were multiple connections, nor whence came the motives of some of the characters (maybe the latter will be answered in some later season?). The plot did succeed at drawing me in nicely, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have improved.

When I first saw Oliver Queen in The Flash (and you'll have to forgive me for referring to that TV show in a comparison/contrast format; I know that's typically not fair to one or both of the shows, but I'm using it as an example mechanism here), I disliked him. I figured he was the quintessential hero/villain who's cropped up in multiple TV shows and movies in recent years: Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock, Christian Bale's Batman, even Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. All of these hold at least one element I described of Oliver above, in Tony Stark's own description of himself: “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” I get tired of the handsome, arrogant control freak who's massively talented in his field.

Thankfully, Oliver is not actually how my first impression portrayed him. Instead, he presents a bit of a conundrum to me. Why? Well, because he's not that cliched angsty hero. And yet he is. Under the hood, he becomes mysterious and indeed brooding -- and not exactly what you'd call nice, either. Outside the hood, it's obvious he cares deeply about the people around him -- he frequently asks his friends to tell him how they're doing, he presents a listening ear, and he would be the first to give you a hug if you needed one. Simultaneously, however, the screenwriters try to make him the troubled hero/struggling villain in and out of his Arrow uniform -- and it doesn't often succeed. It does at times when he's around his assistants, Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) (like they rub him the wrong way or something), but even then Felicity will be all like, “He never admits when he's wrong,” and Diggle agrees with her, when literally about two episodes back there was a whole scene devoted to Oliver admitting to Diggle that, you guessed it, he was wrong, and Diggle was right. Go figure.
Arrow season 1 on Netflix
There are plenty of characters I really, really liked in this season -- with the exception of a few. Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), Oliver's mom, comes off as pitiful, irritating, and easily pressured; Thea (Willa Holland), Oliver's sister, is so freaking petulant and childish and spoiled -- aaargh! and very difficult to stand. (From my experience, she does improve slightly in Season 2. It gets better, people :)) Meantime, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Oliver's ex-girlfriend/friend/girlfriend/not-girlfriend/girlfriend-again, was . . .

. . . just awful. There are no other words. And it's not because she's a “bad” person, given that she's one of the “good guys” of the show. Neither is it because her actress isn't talented. Rather, I think it's partially because I had preconceived notions of Oliver and Felicity's relationship, didn't realize there was another woman in the picture, and, to top it all off, Katie Cassidy reminds me so much of ABC's current Bachelorette, Kaitlyn Bristowe or-however-you-spell-her-name. (Kaitlyn is unimpressive as I'm sure all Bachelorettes are, but according to tabloids she might be the most unimpressive yet. Note: I tried to watch a couple episodes of The Bachelorette this season . . . but it's pretty crappy television, and not worth watching.) I guess all those things spelled Laurel's death sentence when it came to “liking” her, or “shipping” her and Oliver -- I mean, c'mon, I don't even think there's a ship name for those two. !?!

To get off my ranting bucket, there were a couple characters I admired and/or appreciated greatly: Tommy Merlyn, Oliver's best friend, and Roy Harper. At the season's commencement, Tommy is selfish, a playboy, pretty much just a -- yeah, a selfish pig. However, as his story arc continues, he runs into some “trouble,” hits proverbial rock-bottom, and recognizes that he needs to change. So he does -- he tries so hard to become a good man, and I love that about him. The other kid, Roy, we don't meet till at least halfway through the season if I remember correctly, but I hit it off with him immediately -- he does indeed look like an Abercrombie model, and instead of seeing the Vigilante as the gray-area villain most of Starling City's police force seems to, he looks up to him for executing justice, and sets him up as his role model of a hero -- something I really appreciate about him.

Felicity's BCBGMAXAZRIA Tenya Cocktail Dress Arrow Season 1, Episode 14: “The Odyssey" - Spotted on TVRegarding the immoralities of the TV show, because they inevitably crop up in primetime television these days . . . as Starling City is wont to do, I think conservative viewers may have a problem with how Oliver “does things.” Sometimes it seems that he comes across as playing God, choosing whether his victims live or die, instead of handing them over to the police. As I've stated before on this blog, this recurrent theme in literature/myth/fiction always ends badly. However, there is also something to be said for justice. We always talk about how loving God is, but that's only one of His attributes -- He also hates sin and damns it to hell. That's not to acquit Oliver of acting like God himself; I just want to point out that our society has eschewed its idea of justice in many cases.

As children, we saw things in black and white -- that's why when we remember the morals of the movies we watched when we were little, we remember, “The good guy killed or beat all the bad guys.” As we age, emotions and realities become more complex -- motives are not always purely bad or purely good, and we understand, to some limited extent, how painful it would be to have a family member commit a crime and then be sentenced to death for it -- we would want the sentencing lightened at all costs. My discomfort with Oliver's seeming carelessness made me think, and brought me to that point: if I were a kid watching this show, I wouldn't care. Why? Because, just like it's “supposed” to happen, the good guys beat or kill the bad guys.

You can draw your own conclusions on justice -- those are just my observations.

Oliver's romantic life is seriously complicated throughout this season. I got annoyed in The Flash season 1 when Barry “kissed” four different girls. (You have to actually watch the season to understand why I put it in quotations.) That was nothing to Oliver's four-ish romantic entanglements, three of which ended in premature/premarital intimacy (nothing explicit is shown on screen but what is gives us that knowledge). All three times he slept with his girlfriend of the time being, there were serious consequences. I don't know if the writers noticed that, but that's the way it goes with sin.

So, I really really liked this first season. I'd encourage you to look it up -- as I said, it's not squeaky clean for sure, and definitely not as family-friendly as The Flash . . . but it's a pretty good story nonetheless.

The series is rated TV-14 and includes besides sexual implications a lot of violence, some drug use, plenty of drinking (Oliver owns a club), some profanity, and sexual references.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer TBR

Let's be real. I've been horrible at reading these days, which you should know from my Twitter feed, if not from the fact that I barely post on here anymore. Therefore, I'm certainly not going to expect that my summer TBR stack gets much more love than it has the rest of this year, but because I want to provide you some of the titles on my (huge) reading list anyway, I'll list ten here. Does that sound good? Yay.

This whole "clean eating" thing is getting my attention - I just might try it. This is one blogger's journeyIt Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig - Currently reading and about eight (and something) chapters in. I went on the Whole30 April 28-May 27 and received some amazing benefits, but never got the chance to read the book, which everyone says is vital to the diet's success (note: I had no problems with the diet regarding understanding its rules, even without reading the book). I talk more about the Whole30 on my lifestyle blog.

Dark to Mortal Eyes by Eric Wilson - An oldie (published in '04), so I'm not sure if I'll like it. I also haven't attempted to foray into the world of traditionally-published Christian fiction for a looooooooong time, and I have a history of being dissatisfied with the genre. We'll see how this goes. At least the cover is cool.

An Ode To Unaccelerated Reading - 10 long novels worth the time spent (putting these on my ever-growing list)Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - Yep, I will hopefully attempt the 954-page novel again sometime in the near future. I got about 200 pages in during winter quarter 2014 but it was too much to try to read that and all my other English literature stuff. (It's even better [sarcastically speaking] when your brain automatically makes dozens of symbolic, intellectual, and introspective connections because that's what it's been doing for the past five months. JK - that's the main reason I love literature so much.) Eventually I'd like to watch the 2012 movie with Keira Knightley as well. LMK if it has any really questionable content or if it's possible to find edited versions somewhere?

JK Rowling to release new novel 'The Silkworm' under Robert Galbraith pseudonym >> I CAN'T BLOODY WAIT!!!The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith - 'Kay I haven't heard much at all about this one, but I think Rissi introduced it to me through one of her Cover Candy posts. Also I just learned Robert Galbraith is just another pen name for J.K. Rowling -- ! Talk about excited! Jeez. I didn't know she'd landed so many bestsellers after Harry Potter.

Tone It Up: 28 Days to Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous28 Days to Fit, Fierce, and Fabulous by The Tone It Up Girls - Seems like a lot of my fave fitness stars are releasing books nowadays, and I had to add this one to my list. Who knows if it's actually worth reading, because most nutrition books don't seem to be.

Tiger's Curse (Tiger's Curse Series #1)One of me FAV Series!! Can't wait for the 4th one In September!!!Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck - Another introduction from Rissi, and another one I remember nothing about. This should be interesting. 

Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year-Round: The POP Pilates Plan to Get Slim, Eat Clean, and Live Happy Through Every SeasonHot Body Year Round by Cassey Ho - What'd I tell you? All these nutrition books. I have no idea how I'll like this one either, as I disagree with Cassey's diet. I find it boring, she admits to frequent hunger, and I think she could seriously benefit from extra fat in her diet (avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, cashews, . . .). 

the start of me and you emery lord book review |
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord - I think this might be part of a series. IDK. If it is, I'll obviously be reading the first one first. Go figure.

Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay. $11.54Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay - Talk about a doozy. The good kind. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder + The Odyssey + research opportunity = nerdy I guess?

Wendy Darling: A Novel by Colleen Oakes | 256 pages | SparkPress | October 13, 2015Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes - *screech* this sounds so good!

Are any of these books on YOUR TBR stack?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Turning Books Into Movies

Rilla of Ingleside (Virago Modern Classics) von Lucy Maud Montgomery of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery

I feel like a serious copycat because Hayden listed this as one of her books . . . but besides Anne of Green Gables and Anne of the Island, this is my favorite of all eight Anne books. I love, love, love it.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Like, even more serious of a copycatter . . . ? But this (and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) is my favorite of all seven Narnia books. I love, love, love it. Shasta and Aravis hilarify me and I would love to see their relationship brought to the big screen (plus an older Edmund and Lucy! Edmund's always been my favorite Pevensie kid).

Sir Gawain and the Green KnightSir Gawain and the Green Knight by Anon.

I pretty much just want to marry Gawain, okay?

Julie by Catherine Marshall

WHY was this never turned into a movie/(even better a) TV series? Gah. I love Rand, and I like Julie because as an eighteen-year-old growing up in the Great Depression and searching for truth I find her very relatable. 

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

Admittedly I haven't actually read this book, but who doesn't want more Middle-Earth? I was shocked and appalled and wrathful when I discovered the rumor of Peter Jackson turned this into a 72-episode story arc for HBO was just an April Fool's joke.

Lara at Athenry Castle (Hoofbeats Series: Lara #3)Lara at Athenry Castle (and the rest of the series) by Kathleen Duey

So this might sound weird considering that this series is for targeted toward tweens, but I think if they did it right this could turn into a decent horse lover's movie, anyway.

Hidden Pearls by Hayden Wand

If it couldn't be a movie, then at least a BBC miniseries, please? :)

The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli. $7.99. Author: Donna Jo Napoli. Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (September 3, 2009). Reading level: Ages 12 and upThe Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (and the other book in the series) by Stephanie Morrill

This would make the. best. Hallmark movie. I love these two books.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli

Renaissance literature is the best, and this particular one about Mona Lisa is not one to miss.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I'd Take With Me Anywhere

The theme for today is actually “ten books to pack in one's beach bag,” but I don't go to the beach much, and when I do I'm not sitting on the beach -- I'm playing in the waves and building sand castles and digging huge holes in the sand! Therefore, my personal theme for this Top Ten Tuesday is books I'd like to travel with.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

The Harry Potter Series (by J.K. Rowling)

It's no secret how much I love this series. I gave every book in this series at least four stars and there were at least two -- I think three -- that got perfect scores from me (The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Order of the Phoenix, and The Deathly Hallows, I believe).
Jennifer in Material Sourcing recommends "Matched" by Ally Condie, the first book in a young adult dystopian trilogy published by Dutton Books.

Matched (by Ally Condie)

Out of all the dystopian novels I've read, this and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins have been my favorite. I find Cassia refreshing because she's not the typical stubborn, egotistical, opinionated strong heroine of the twenty-first century -- she's actually quite sensitive and introspective, and is as good a follower as she is a leader. I respect that about her.
Here's What Your Favorite Children's Book Series Says About You

The Anne of Green Gables Series (by L.M. Montgomery)

Can't recommend this enough.
The Blue Castle
L.M. Montgomery

The Blue Castle (by L.M. Montgomery)

Normally I wouldn't willingly take a classic on a vacation unless it was the next book on my reading list, but L.M. Montgomery's classics are sufficiently light to make reading them easy.
The Hiding Place- by Corrie ten Boom... A Holocaust survivor. LIfe-changing read!

The Hiding Place (by Corrie ten Boom)

Christy; Catherine Marshall - 1969: Read when I was a freshman in college, coming back from Christmas vacation. Very popular book at the time, about a young woman who goes to teach in Appalachia. America had recently discovered, through a TV special, the shocking poverty of that region.

Christy (by Catherine Marshall)

Catherine Marshall's classic novels are, similar to Montgomery's, easy to digest on a relaxing vacation. In fact, the conversation in them often sounds more realistic than in most novels nowadays.
Julie was written by, Catherine Marshall (whom also wrote Christy).  This was her final book and it is an historical novel.  Worth your time.

Julie (by Catherine Marshall)

This how our Lord of the Rings Books Look, after my Dad read them to all of us at different times.  Soon he will need to read them to his Grandsons!!!

The Lord of the Rings (by J.R.R. Tolkien)

Just because I'm sentimental and I will never stop loving it.
Hidden Pearls - Kindle edition by Hayden Wand. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @

Hidden Pearls (by Hayden Wand)

I love this novel -- it's a great blend of romance, adventure, and relaxation. 

Which ten books would you recommend taking on vacation?