TV Review: Supernatural 7.12 “Time After Time After Time”

Confession time: I am a Superwhovian.

No, that does not mean I am a Super! Whovian (though… I kind of, am, actually). It means that I am a.) a fan of Doctor Who and b.) a fan of Supernatural and c.) a fan of Doctor Who and Supernatural together. Like, together together. This is my desktop background. I manipulate images. I have even been known to occasionally indulge in some reblogging of GIFS on occasion. I believe that the Impala is a TARDIS because c’mon. That trunk is WAY bigger on the inside.

Consequently, the time travel episodes of Supernatural are always high on my list of favorites, and “Time After Time After Time” certainly earned its place alongside  season 6’s “Frontierland” and 5’s “The Song Remains the Same”.

Pros

  • “So what, you’re strictly into Dick now?” I love the return of snarky-smart-and-funny!Sam. It takes me back to another time, when I actually liked Sam, seasons 1-3.
  • Jody and Sam as the new Batman and Robin. I love Jody, and this episode really gave her a couple of shining moments, and the dynamic between Jody and Sam is awesome and hilarious.
  • Dean communicating with Sam through a crack in the wall. Doctor Who flashbacks, anyone?
  • Non-angelic time travel, despite the fact that—to me—it was rather poorly explained. Whatever. At least people got bounced around in time without any angelic involvement.
  • Dean in 1940’s gear.  Ooh la la. I might have spent the majority of this episode salivating over Dean in a fedora. Maybe.

Cons

  • The last five minutes were laughably bad. I don’t know what exactly made them so bad—they just were. The acting on Chronos Guy’s part seemed very stilted, it took him forever and an age to die, and all he did was natter on about how the Leviathan are going to take over the world. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it all before.
  • I am sick to death of non-Impala cars. Dean needs his baby back, preferably accompanied by his angel and his father figure, and we as viewers need some car!porn. Really.

Stars: 4 out of 5. Was 4.5 before the last five minutes.

Final Grade: A-. Decent and amusing, loved the time travel element, ending kind of bombed.

Coming Up Next: The promo for the next episode, “The Slice Girls”, shows Dean having sex. Oh show, I guess you just realized that there’s been a pretty huge lack of such material recently. It also shows a vaguely Breaking Dawn-like situation that is either going to suck tremendously or be freaking hysterical. I’m holding out for the latter, and also some exploration of The Case of Dean’s Vanishing Drink*.

(I didn’t get around to watching The Fades, partially because I was feeling kind of icky and partially because of the brother’s desire to watch Westerns instead. I did record it, though, so I think I’ll combine ep 1 and ep 2 into one review next week. )

*Which, given this news, might come to fruition by episode 17.

Friday Reads + Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers

I’ve been a terrible reader this week. I’ve mostly shelved Clockwork Angel and The Broken Kingdoms so that I could finish Angelfall. Then I went ahead and bought another Kindle book so that I could have something to read when my insomnia acts up and I end up awake but don’t really want to have to turn the light on. Yeah, I know. I’m lazy to boot. In my defense, I’m back on both books , but am also having some serious fun with Luck of the Devil.

Luck of the Devil by Patricia Eimer

Faith Bettincourt has some issues with her family– but what daughter of Satan wouldn’t?

This is not a deep read. It doesn’t have a lot to say about the human condition. It’s a light-hearted paranormal romance and is meant to be read as such. So far, I’ve picked out a few quibbles that I intend to flesh out when I review this later, but so far, it’s perfectly good at being what it is: humorous romance. I’m interested to see how it will progress once I get past all the introductory bits– I’m already fairly sure that Matt is an angel of some sort, which gives me the giggles considering that I still have Raffe on the brain and he would be absolutely mortified that Matt even exists. But enough talk of angels in my head (I’m not crazy, I swear!) and on to this Friday’s second topic: Alpha Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Workshop for Young Writers (AKA Two Summers Well Spent).

I applied to Alpha for the first time the year that I turned 17, after stumbling upon while browsing Tamora Pierce’s author website. I had a story that I had been working on for about a month, so I polished it up and sent it in, thinking, “Well, this might be a nice summer thing for me.”

Guys? Alpha is a lot more than a “nice summer thing”. Alpha makes casual writers into serious ones, and gives you the experience and intent to possibly pursue authorship as a career. It also takes shy, socially awkward introverts (like me) and gives them the confidence to “let their nerd flag fly”, as my mom would say. You spend two weeks being instructed by writing greats such as Holly Black, Tamora Pierce, David Levine, and Ellen Kushner, while writing and polishing your own short story for submission. The atmosphere is great, and the people who you will meet are absolutely indispensable– the sort of people who will gladly hash out details of your plot with you at 2AM when you’re stuck. I attended in 2011, and returned as a “Beta” or counselor in 2012, and both times, I had an immense amount of fun and learned so much about the path that I am on. If you are aged 14-19, and you write fantasy/science fiction/horror, then I would strongly recommend that you apply.  The deadline is March 1st, 2012, so get writing! 🙂

If anyone reading this blog would like to help support Alpha, there’s a fundraiser going on right now over here. There are tons of awesome books, critiques, and oddities up for auction, and anyone who donates ANY AMOUNT to the workshop will receive the 2012 Alpha alumni anthology e-book of illustrated flash fiction, which contains art and stories contributed by several years worth of Alphans. This is a great opportunity for the teen writers in your life, and your donations help it keep going year after year! Thank you!

Until next time, dear readers– I’m off to make some headway on my new short story and get showered and fed before Supernatural comes on tonight! That review will be going live on Sunday along with my review of the premier of BBC’s The Fades.

Book Review: “Angelfall” (Penryn and the End of Days, Book #1) by Susan Ee

Title: Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, Book #1)

Author: Susan Ee

Available In: eBook for Kindle, ebook for Nook.

Warnings: PG 13 for violence, disturbing imagery, and  graphic portrayal of paranoid schizophrenia/accompanying issues.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Angelfall takes place six weeks after the angels have come to destroy Penryn’s world. Scavenging for food and a roof to sleep under is now the norm, and Penryn’s already got her hands full with her unstable mother and paralyzed sister Paige when a wounded angel drops from the sky. When Paige is kidnapped, Penryn must make a choice—help the angel in order to find her sister, or let her prejudice be the cause of Paige’s imminent demise.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I know why self-pubs tend to get a bad rap— lack of editorial direction, poor copyediting, self-indulgent authors who never stop to think about the audience they’re writing for—and none of these tendencies are exhibited here. In fact, I was surprised to find that this was a self-pubbed book—it could easily have been at home on a shelf beside The Hunger Games in my library, were a print version available.

And the characters! I simply couldn’t get enough of them. Penryn and Raffe were both excellently badass. Penryn’s mother was a perfect, chilling portrayal of a woman dancing with madness in a crazy world. Even side characters such as the spymaster twins, the leaders of the Resistance, and the albino angel were interesting and complex to a certain degree. The world was also nicely done—very rough and tumble, very post-apocalypse, though human society does seem to have degenerated exceedingly quickly for only six weeks of occupancy by the angels. It feels more like six months, or even six years, but I’m sure it would feel that way to live in Ee’s world so I count this as a nice nuance rather than a flaw.

In summary? Awesome book. Rather like Sandman Slim met The Hunger Games  and had an awesome YA baby. And at only 99 cents on Kindle/Nook, there’s no reason not to check it out! Book #2 is due out Summer 2012, according to Ee’s website, so grab Angelfall and read it now. You won’t regret it.

IN CASE YOU IGNORED THE SPOILER WARNING ABOVE, HERE’S WHERE IT GETS REALLY SPOILER-Y. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ANGELFALL, STOP RIGHT NOW OR PREPARE TO BE SPOILED.

Pros

  • The world. Chilling, gritty, not a time I’d want to live in but a time that I freaking love reading about.
  • Penryn. I love several things about Penryn. I love that she’s a fighter, and that the reasons for her being a good fighter are explained. I appreciate the fact that her odd name is also explained, at location 1507 according to my Kindle app and my notes. I love that she loves Paige so much, and that she exhibits infinite patience with her mother. Mostly? I love that Penryn is the resourceful, awesome survivor that she is.
  • the  romance. I am always in support of badass x badass, and Penryn and Raffe are definitely badasses.
  • Raffe. An agnostic archangel with bucketloads of snark always makes me happy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty to boot.
  • I really, really like how Penryn’s mom’s mental illness is handled in this book. It’s chilling, realistic, and does not dehumanize the character; rather, it makes her more human and more sympathetic to the reader.
  • Two words. ZOMBIE ANGELS. BEST PLOT TWIST EVER.

Cons

  • The romance. Which also appeared on the Pros list, but whatever. I always cringe a little when a centuries old, practically immortal being falls in love with a teenage girl, but in this case, the badass factor of both participants outweighs the squick.
  • Some descriptive passages could be shortened, and certain descriptive words are used repetitively (Paige’s face is described as being “pixie-like” on numerous occasions).
  • I felt the ending was a little abrupt, and was not thrilled about the fact that Penryn was paralyzed for the entire climax, but it did match the tone of the story.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A+. Will definitely reread, eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.


Waiting On Wednesday: Black Heart by Holly Black

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

 

Holly Black? Check. Crime and crime families? Check. Magic? Check. Tons of romance, adventure, and angst? Check, check, and check.

I’ve always had a sentimental attachment to this series–I purchased the first book during my first Alpha and had it signed and doodled in by Ms. Black herself. On the way home, I ended up stranded in an airport for a few hours due to weather and devoured the entire book while I was waiting. I pre-ordered Red Glove and read it during spring 2011, while in the midst of some serious life changes, and it was my solace during that time. This book, which I’m assuming is the final installment, comes out exactly one day after my 19th birthday, and I simply can’t wait to go back to Cassel’s world of curses and crimes one last time.

What books are you waiting on? Feel free to comment below or link back to your own blog and let me know!

Book Review: “Incarcercon” by Catherine Fisher

Title: Incarceron

Author: Catherine Fisher

Warnings: PG 13 for violence and swearing.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I have long held the opinion that when you are reading/reviewing a book, the question that you should be asking is not “Is this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

Rather, the question should be “What makes this book good/bad/decent/awesome?”

In the case of Incarceron, there are many different factors that make it awesome. The best thing about this book? All of these factors come together to form a cohesive whole that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

The story is a dual narrative, alternating between  two worlds that Fisher balances  wonderfully. Finn is the amnesiac “seer” of a gang within the living prison of Incarceron. Claudia is the entitled daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, attempting to escape an arranged marriage within the equally restrictive society of Outside. At first, there is very little that connects them, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that they are, in fact, rather intimately linked. Joined by allies such as Jared, Keiro, and Attia, Finn attempts to find a method of escape from Incarceron, while Claudia investigates its mysteries and discovers that she is far more entangled in Incarceron’s web than she initially believed.

Overall, the plot was a little bit predictable, the dual narrative a bit fiddly, but it was, for the most part, a lovely read. The brilliance of this book is that its strengths far outweigh its flaws, and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the sequel, Sapphique.

Pros

  • The worldbuilding alone is gorgeous. Obviously, Fisher is an adept in this department; she has a deft touch that permeates both the restrictive Era-focused society of the Outside and the chaotic and cutthroat environment of Incarceron. Her through knowledge of mythology and history also shines through, and her ability to weave these small references into her narrative is astounding.
  • The concept of Incarceron as a being in its own right is neatly executed. I love that it kind of has its own personality, rather than being a faceless rumbling beast ala The Devil in season 2 of Doctor Who.
  • Jared. The dude is a Badass Bookworm despite the fact that he’s got a death sentence hanging over his head. Sickly academics don’t have a whole lot of survival potential in vaguely dystopian/steampunk worlds such as this one, so I’m already steeling myself for the moment that I have to watch him die.
  • Keiro. Keiro’s one of those rough-and-tumble types who give tough love a whole new meaning, but he really does seem to care deeply about the people around him, particularly Finn/Giles. I would like to see him get some POV time in Sapphique, as I feel there is really some untapped potential in his character. (Also, I could totally see Keiro/Attia being a thing, oddly enough.)
  • Claudia. Claudia is the type of girl I like to read about– strong-willed and smart, if occasionally a bit rash. The twist to her storyline was wonderfully executed, and I’d love to see what Fisher does with it from here on out. I’d also like to see Claudia get more chances to be a badass in book 2, just because.
  • Fisher’s fast-paced prose and neatly executed — if slightly predictable– plot are, along with her worldbuilding, the best technical aspects of the book.  And the last line is pitch-perfect!

Cons

  • The dual narrative is jarring at first, and since I was far more into Claudia than Finn, there were places where I’d see that the next chapter was Finn’s and just roll my eyes. Starting around page 105, the POV’s started to become more cohesive, and from page 137 onward, it works.
  • The Queen. As a villain, she was frankly unimpressive, more SnowWhite!Evil Queen than the level of character that I’d come to expect by the time she appeared.
  • Finn can sometimes come off as a bit whiny and unlikeable, and the Finn-is-Giles plot was definitely one of the weakest and most predictable. I’m hoping that he grows more of a spine in book 2, and that he becomes involved in some slightly more complicated subplots.
  • The POV occasionally changes from what appears to be third person focused to third person omniscient without much warning, especially toward the end.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A.  Would reread. Will definitely read the sequel(s).

TV REVIEW: Supernatural – 7.11 “Adventures In Babysitting”

So. My favorite CW show about two ridiculously attractive monster-hunting brothers just came back from what we fans have termed the “hellatus”, a portmanteau  of “hell” and “hiatus” used to refer to the 4-6 week mid-season hiatus*. This season’s hellatus was particularly brutal, considering that Supernatural is apparently out to kill off every side character that ever existed in nasty and demoralizing ways. Yes, I am still a little sore about Cas and about Bobby at this point, even with Misha Collins confirmed to return to SPN later this season– but more on that later.

I have to say, my overall opinion of this episode was fairly low. I was more interested in minutiae then I was in the actual plot– or what plot there was, because at this point, the monster of the week plots are starting to get REALLY old. The first five minutes intrigued me with their depiction of the passage of time and the patented Winchester grieving process (no talk, work on case, drink alcohol, pace frantically) and the subplot with Dean and the kid was kind of cute, but there were a couple of really stupid moments in there as well that made me cringe, as well as some terrible special effects nightmares that I can only imagine are there to make up for the fact that AlienBaby!Cas existed.

Speaking of Cas…. didn’t anyone else think it was weird that Dean’s beer literally disappeared? I mean, he had it in his hand. It still had liquid in it, and then he set it down and turned around and BOOM. Gone. Almost like it drank itself. Hmm.**

Pros

  • Yes, I’m just going to admit it right now. Dean’s scenes with that kid were corny as all get out and yet cute in ways that shouldn’t be legal. I loved that she was almost a female version of Young!Dean. I love that Dean was all protective over her. And I love, love, LOVE that she saved their bacon instead of the other way around.
  • Kevin McNally as the paranoid computer geek extraordinaire. I loved him as Gibbs in POTC, and I love him in SPN as well. He’s a fantastic author and he lends a sense of utter believability to a character that might otherwise appear more like a caricature of the paranoid hacker stereotype.
  • The Week-By-Week Winchester Grieving Report. It was almost a little  sadistically funny and at the same time a good depiction of their feelings about losing Bobby, which I was really hoping that they would touch on a little more than, say, their feelings on losing Cas.
  • Frank’s advice to Dean and Dean attempting to follow it. Aww.

Cons

  • The Monster of the Week. I did not find the Vitala particularly intriguing or unique– they’re basically vampires with different teeth. I have not looked up the original Vitala legend for reference, but I’d bet my library that they could have given them a more unique spin.
  • The slow-motion scenes. They seemed unnecessary and broke the flow of the scene. Also, the special effects when the Vitala died, which are really no different from any other MOTW special effects we’ve seen before on the show.
  • When Dean and Frank were working on unraveling the Leviathan’s motives, the plot was awesome, with just enough hints for what’s to come and a couple of good looks at what Dean is going through emotionally and physically. The plot concerning Sam/the kid/the Vitala, however, was fairly flat and predictable, almost boring. I love the MOTW episodes just as much as I love the mythology heavy ones, but this one was just kind of… meh.

Final Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5. MOTW plot was a little dull, but overall acting and the bits with the Leviathan were worth it. Would maybe rewatch.

Coming Up Next: Next week’s episode is entitled “Time After Time After Time” and looks to be the 1940’s time travel episode that we were promised. Here’s the promo over at SpoilerTV. I love that Dean gets so into these “period” episodes, and that he gets his understanding of these historical periods from classic movies. It’s cute on him.

Then again, pretty much everything is.***

*There’s also the BIG hellatus that goes on during the summer between seasons, but thankfully we’re not quite there yet.

**Why yes, I am completely attached to the idea of Cas, ghostly and unable to interact directly with the world, following the Winchesters around trying to get them to notice him. Which, since they are idiots sometimes, might be a lost cause.

**2 After taking a quick look at SpoilerTV, it seems like people are also considering Bobby as a suspect in The Case of Dean’s Vanishing Beer.

***GAH JENSEN ACKLES WHY ARE YOU SO PERFECT [/end fangirling]

Friday Reads + PaperBackSwap + Coming Attractions

It’s Friday, Friday, and I do NOT mean that in the way that Rebecca Black does, dear readers, for I am as far from a party animal as anyone can get. For me, Fridays are about geekdom– book geekdom and Supernatural geekdom, to be precise.

I don’t know if any of you are acquainted with the #fridayreads tag over on Twitter. It’s a great thing; people post what they’re reading on any given Friday, along with what they think about it, and it’s kind of like Goodreads, in that it’s a way book geeks can use social media to communicate with other book geeks. Long story short? I LOVE the #fridayreads tag in ways that are probably a little bit creepy

So without any further ado, allow me to share with you MY Friday reads (which are really everyday reads that I just happened to pick up on this particular Friday). Mild spoilers ahead; nothing spoiling any major plot events, but I do mention favorite scenes and characters quite a bit.

Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher

So far, I am loving this book, though I have to say I’m a bit more fond of Claudia than I am of Finn. Claudia seems to be the “stronger” of the two characters, and I’m really intrigued to see how she’ll deal with the very political situation that she’s in as of page 142, where I stopped. And the worldbuilding is phenomenal, with every detail carefully thought out and every nuance captured by Fisher’s pretty-yet-functionally-fast-paced prose. I easily expect to have finished this book by the end of the weekend, and will no doubt go out and hunt down Sapphique after that.

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare

I have to say, I’m liking CA lot more than I liked City of Bone. Maybe it’s my weakness for Gothic romances or my fondness for steampunk-flavored offerings, but for some reason, I just like it better. My favorite part so far is a scene on page 75, in which a certain character walks into a room on fire. His reaction– and that of the people around him– was hilarious.

The Broken Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin

This book is one I have to read slowly, and yet I’m enjoying every minute of it. Jemisin’s writing is just so lovely, her plots and world so nuanced, that you can’t help but savor it. I’m hesitant to say this, but I do believe this might even be better than her first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The first couple of pages are perfect, and as you are drawn into Oree’s backstory and that of the gods, you WILL be hooked. Mark my words.

In other news, I recently went on a bookshelf re-organizing spree and picked out some books that I either a.) wasn’t enthused about or b.) haven’t reread with the intent of selling them or trading them in. The flaw in that plan was that used books generally don’t sell for enough to cover the cost of a new book, and also that none of the bookstores in my area could offer me a good trade-in rate. So, I did what any reasonable Internet denizen would do– I did a quick Google search and found PaperBackSwap. Half an hour in, and I’d already unloaded Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey and used my two start-up credits to pick out a Lisa Kleypas and an Ally Carter that I would otherwise have shunted to the bottom of my priority list. Shipping looks like it’s going to be fairly inexpensive, and I’m excited to both get rid of my old books and get some new-to-me books. Awesome!

Aside from book geekdom, Fridays are also a Day of Fangirling to me because of Supernatural, which is kind of my guilty pleasure. For those of you who have not yet seen it, Supernatural is about two impossibly hot brothers who hunt monsters through small-town America, occasionally aided and abetted by a cadre of allies, frenemies, and enemies  including a sort-of-almost-human-angel in a trenchcoat, an old guy with a trucker cap and a heart of gold, and a demon who just so happens to bear a resemblance to Crowley from Good Omens (whose name is, well, Crowley), along with a miscellany of others. Tonight, it’s new for the first time since a certain extremely traumatic plot event in early December (SPN fans, you know of what I speak) and I am excited beyond belief. Plus there’s Nikita for my spy fix. Throw in some chicken-and-dumpling soup and my books and my dream Friday night is complete.

So what are you all reading/watching/geeking out about this Friday?

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