PSA regarding TV Round-up for 4/30/2012

Due to unforeseen circumstances that included a computer eating a few files, my mom being just out of an extremely painful tooth extraction, and my needing to work on Sunday, I have not either a.) watched the new Legend of Korra episode or b.) rewatched the most recent SPN episode. Thus, I think I will postpone this week’s TV roundup, and simply include my thoughts on both episodes in next week’s. Thank you for your patience!

One thing that WILL be coming your way is my review of “Partials” by Dan Wells, so stay tuned!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Characters of All Time

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish. Check ’em out! 😉

There’s something you should probably know about me before you start reading this post.

I LOVE characters (which is probably a good thing for my writer-brain), and I get attached to them in ways that are probably unhealthy. I weep for them, I laugh with them, and I mourn them when they’re gone. Don’t get me wrong– I love “real people” too. I just have a fangirl problem.

So be ready. There will be MASSIVE fangirling ahead. MASSIVE. (Also, it’s a darn good thing this one is limited to books/graphic novels– I have half an hour to jot out this post and if I had TV/movie characters in there as well, it might literally take me all day. :P)

1. Crowley (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, Good Omens)

Yeah, Crowley gets top billing here. Badass Angel-Who-Sauntered-Vaguely-Downward who has a weakness for good food and classic British cars? Me likey.

 

 

2. Aziraphale (Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett, Good Omens)

Annnd I couldn’t mention Crowley without Aziraphale, now, could I? I appreciate his book obsession, and also the strange balance of utterly selfish and pervasively GOOD that Gaiman and Pratchett have achieved within his character.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Remus Lupin (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter series)

I try not to play favorites with HP, since I love all the HP characters, but Lupin has always been and will always be a character that I really appreciate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Katniss Everdeen (Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games)

Katniss is a badass with a heart of gold. ‘Nough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Daine Sarrasri (Tamora Pierce, The Tortallbooks)

Daine was always a girl after my own heart, and her character progression throughout this series is FANTASTIC.

 

6. Numair Salmalin (Tamora Pierce, The Tortall books)

Part of what drew me to Numair is that he is a TOTAL DORK…. but he’s also a badass who could kill you with his pinky finger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Jem Carstairs (Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel)

Plays violin. Kicks demon ass despite his physical limitations. Kind, generous, and loving. Yeah, Jem is my favorite.

8.  Death (Markus Zusak, The Book Thief)

Doesn’t look like this. Also, BEST NARRATOR EVER.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Anna Korlov (Kendare Blake, Anna Dressed in Blood)

I just love her so much, both as a vengeful ghost and as the girl Cas falls for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Juushiro Ukitake (Tite Kubo, Bleach)

I’m cheating a little, because he is actually from an anime/manga, but whatever. At first, I kind of hated him because to me he broke the flow of the whole Soul Society arc, but he grew on me as time went on. What can I say? He became one of my all-time favs. Funny how that turns out.

 

 

 

 

What are your Top Ten characters? Let me know in the comments or link me back to your own TTT post! 😀

TV Round-Up April 15th-22nd (Supernatural and Legend of Korra)

NOTE:  I’m switching my TV review style, in light of the fact that I am now watching/reviewing Legend of Korra alongside Supernatural, and also that Doctor Who and Leverage will both be starting their new seasons soon as well (YAY!! :D). Rather than posting individual reviews of shows, I am now going to be posting a concise synopsis of the episode, followed by some quick thoughts, and then compiling them all into a compendium format.

Onwards!

Supernatural 7.19 “Of Grave Importance”

Apparently, SPN is determined to keep giving us one-two punches this season, mainly in the form of a.) killing beloved characters or b.) bringing them back again. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I still hadn’t recovered from Castiel’s return and subsequent tragedy when we saw Bobby at the end of “Party On, Garth”, so I’ll admit that I may have cried a little.

Annnd that brings us to “Of Grave Importance” where Bobby finally makes his presence known to the Winchesters after they receive a call from the lovely red-headed Annie regarding a haunted house case that she’s working.

I would really have liked to see Annie as a recurring character, but unfortunately it appears that Castiel is the only member of TFW to have dodged the Winchester Sex-is-Death Curse. So far. (We still don't know what happened to Daphne, after all.)

Annie is doomed before we meet her, as she has managed to complete the Trifecta of Death by…ermm… knowing Sam, Dean, AND Bobby. In the Biblical sense, of course. So she and Bobby hang around, all ghost-like, Bobby picks up some ghost-fu, and the case wraps up as most haunted house cases do–only now, Bobby has finally managed to get through those thick Winchester skulls, and it looks like we’re headed for a Team Free  Will reunion of the epic sort… but the Winchesters aren’t sure that having a ghost sidekick is necessarily an awesome idea.

Which leads to this bit of expression-acting from Jim Beaver, sending him firmly into the trying-to-kill-me-with-their-sad-eyes corner with Misha Collins for company. C'mon, boys. How can y'all resist that?

Overall, I thought… it was a solid episode, certainly, and I am psyched as always to see Bobby back with the boys—even if they have some misgivings about it.

I liked…. The very traditional, very old school SPN “Haunted House” plot. Annie, the hunter with… ahem… a varied past. Hemingway being used as a euphemism for sex. Sam’s face when he realized that he, Dean, and Bobby had all slept with the same woman. Victoria, the “fancy lady”.

I didn’t like…. The makeup jobs on Annie and Bobby. The fact that we STILL don’t know what Dick Roman is up to. The slightly laggy, boring bits in the middle. The fact that Dean did NOT step out of the shower in just a towel.

Final Grade… B. Not a stellar episode, but entertaining enough to make up for it. Also, BOBBY.

Coming Up Next… We have Felicia Day as a hot techie hacker-chick! And Dick Roman! And an awesome comic-style promo! AND HOPEFULLY SOME FORWARD MOTION IN THIS PLOT AGGGGHH….

(All links go to SpoilerTV, because they rock my socks and post sneak peeks lightning-fast :D)

Avatar: Legend of Korra 1.03 “The Revelation”

So far, I am totally loving this series. It’s so different from A:TLA and yet so similar, despite the fact that most of the main cast of A:TLA are either dead or very, very old. Korra herself is a freaking godsend– rash, impulsive, strong-willed, and entirely relatable.

Anyway, the episode begins with Korra having made the Fire Ferrets pro-bending team a household name. They’re headed for the championship, and even the stoic Mako seems pretty excited. Of course, the bros have debts, and unfortunately, they’re going to have to come up with more money to get in to the championship…. which leads to some stupidity on Bolin’s behalf.

Bolin's definitely the Sokka of LOK. He's charming, but he just isn't all that bright.

He gets mixed up with the criminal Triple Threats (and I have to say, I do love gangsters in my 1920’s steampunk metropolis, thank you very much) and ends up in the hands of Amon, the creepy and hateful leader of the anti-bending movement. Because Mako’s a good brother and Korra is a BAMF, they infiltrate an Eqaulist gathering while looking delightfully couple-y….

Only to discover that Amon has a terrible power to remove a person’s bending…. forever! *legasp*

Yes. I ship it.

Overall, I thought… this was a pretty phenomenal episode. It had an intriguing plot, and introduced concepts that I believe will be very important in the episodes to come.

I liked… Korra’s badassery (as always). The developing bromance/romance between Korra and Mako. Mako and Bolin getting some time devoted to their backstory. The aesthetics of the animation. The Chi-blocking fights.

I didn’t like… the fact that it ended JUST WHEN everything was getting REALLY REALLY interesting.

Final Grade…. A-. Needed more wow factor to make it perfect, but overall, it was excellent.

Coming Up Next… Was it just me, or are the chi-blockers/eqaulists actually STORING bending energy in their little cattle prods?

(All links lead to Nick.com)

 

New This Week… (A.K.A What You Will See Here Next Monday)

Bones 7.10: “The Warrior in the Wuss”

Supernatural 7.20: “The Girl With the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo”

Avatar: Legend of Korra 1.04: “The Voice in the Night”

 

Waiting on Wednesday: “Thieftaker” (Thieftaker Chronicles #1) by D.B. Jackson

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and showcases new releases that we can’t wait to get our claws… err, hands… on. 😀

The cover's not particularly impressive, but we don't judge books by their covers, now, do we?

Title: Thieftaker (Click  to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: D.B. Jackson

Expected Publication Date: Jul 17th 3rd, 2012 (according to Jackson’s website).

Summary from Goodreads: Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.
Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can’t stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.

 Why I’m Waiting: Historical fantasy set in Boston? COUNT ME IN. I also like the detective element–I’m hoping to see something similar to Sherlock Holmes with a New England/magical twist.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below and let me know/link me back to your WoW post. :)

 

Book Review: “Illuminate” by Aimee Agresti (Gilded Wings #1)

One thing I can say in favor of this book-- the cover is beautiful.

Title: Illuminate (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Aimee Agresti

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: YA. Gore, violence, sexuality, but no language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy slow-moving and slow-developing plots; you have a strong base in Judeo-Christian angel/demon mythology; you’re a fan of Twilight, Hush Hush, or Evernight.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you’re looking for something fast-paced; you enjoy fresher takes on angel/demon mythology such as Angelfall; you don’t like “angel books”.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS.

Let me start off by saying that I really did want to love this book. It has a lovely cover (that, as many people have pointed out) is actually relevant to an event that takes place in the book. The main character, Haven, is a smart honors student with a bright future ahead of her and a mysterious past. It should have been wonderful, but unfortunately, it came off as rather flat instead.

Part of the problem with this book is that NOTHING HAPPENS. Literally. The majority of the first half is taken up with photography and sleep on Haven’s part, along with a rather creepy romantic relationship that she develops with her boss. I found myself nodding off at times— and I’m not the girl who falls asleep reading. The plot is so vague that had I not gone into this knowing that it was an angel book, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed the angel/demon overtones.

Which brings me to another issue: the mythology. It’s not a particularly inspired take on angel/demon mythos. The angels in this book represent Ultimate Good and behave as such—when they’re not being overly emotional, whiny teens or invisibly writing in notebooks. As a mildly agnostic atheist who has read pretty extensively about religions all around the world, I actually found this portrayal to be startlingly inaccurate, given that the A’s are, in fact, badass soldiers of God who have been known to level entire civilizations before in the pursuit of their goal. I’m not poking at anyone’s belief systems here, but to me, that’s a complicated moral conundrum, and I like it when my angels are aware of that (Raffe from Angelfall is a pretty good example) and either choose to leave/reform that society (I’m thinking season 6!revolutionary!Castiel of Supernatural) or make their peace with it and go on (to some extent, Raffe, although he is a self-professed agnostic). I do not like it when they are the only good guys, and I dislike whiny emo teenagers in general, so that’s two strikes against this book. Also, the demons didn’t frighten me AT ALL. They sat around getting their pictures taken and occasionally stealing souls/killing people, and didn’t do much else until the final 20 pages. Even Lucifer was pretty lukewarm. (Oh, the irony.)

Now, there were a few things I liked that stopped this book from going in the DNF pile. I liked Dante and Lance quite a bit, and the descriptions of the hotel and the historical 20’s tidbits were quite nice. Unfortunately, they didn’t make up for the overwhelming slowness or the patchy mythology, resulting in the 2.5 star rating.

Pros

  • 20’s/Capone background details.
  • Dante.
  • Lance.
  • The luscious descriptions of the hotel.

Cons

  • Really long beginning.
  • To paraphrase my notes, “creepy ewww boss romance”.
  • Dante’s stereotypical “gay bestie” attitude.
  • The overwrought, very purple prose.
  • Waaaaayyy too long.
  • Nothing happens until the last twenty pages.
  • The stupid notebook subplot.

Favorite Scene (s): On page 307, things are kind of getting badass and hardcore as people literally sign their souls away…. And then Haven starts musing about sanitation and I lose all interest whatsoever.

Favorite Line(s): “Answer correctly, and you have further cemented your reputation as a brainy, hopeless outcast. Answer incorrectly, and not only are you considered a bookish nerd, but you’re even bad at that.”~pg 3

Star Rating on Goodreads: 2.5 out of 5.

Final Grade: C. Might read sequels, will probably not reread.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books that Were Totally Deceiving (To Me, That Is)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the awesome people over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Disclaimer: It’s not that hard to deceive me. I often buy books based off of the cover and the summary blurb without really looking inside. Your Mileage May Vary.

1. Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Why: The red shoes are in the forefront of the cover, which made me think that this was going to be more of a fairy tale.

From the cover, I kind of assumed this was more of a fairytale, less of a sci-fi. I was okay with it, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. (Also, I still have an unfortunate association for the name Meyer. Why, Stephanie? Why??

2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


Why: Stock YA cover with stock YA Paranormal summary on a pretty unique book.

From the cover and blurb, this book looks pretty run-of-the-mill. However, once you start reading, run-of-the-mill goes out the window, to be replaced with awesomeness!

3. I‘d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You and sequels by Ally Carter

Why: Stock YA covers on awesome books

Again,the covers on these are unremarkable. Their content, however, wows and amazes pretty consistently.

4. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Why: Cover is more creepy in tone than content.

The cover is creepy. That girl feels like she’s staring right into your soul. But the content is more urban adventure fantasy than horror.

5. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Why: Cover looks like a Gothic/Victorian novel, not a modern paranormal.

This cover is so beautiful…. but there’s something distinctly Victorian about it, and aside from the Jack the Ripper plotline, very little Victoriana in the actual book.

6.  Romances in General

Why: The covers on pretty much every romance suck.

Julie at TBAB already mentioned these, but I thought they deserved another mention. There are a lot of romance authors who I actually quite like, but it’s hard to weed out good from bad when every cover and summary looks the same.

7. Vacations From Hell by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Claudia Gray, and Sarah Mlynowski

Why: The cover fails at being relevant.

I don’t remember ANY of these stories being about a pink flower. That said, I might have forgotten…. (Overall, these stories themselves are pretty unremarkable, but check out Bray and Johnson’s contributions if you do ever pick it up. They were both awesome.)

8. Pretty much every cover for the manga Ghost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono and Shiho Inada

Why: The covers are very shojo and don’t really do a good job of conveying the things that Ono and Inada are good at it.

Again, a pretty cool series falls prey to Stock Cover Syndrome. Ono is good at constructing a creepy narrative that’s still definitely aimed at girls, and Inada is pretty adept when it comes to capturing that with her art. Also, while Mai does have damsel-in-distress tendencies at times, she does take a level in badass as the series goes on– the cover of the volume 11, which I own, does not capture that progression very well. At this point, Mai’s doing less staring at beasties with a deer-in-the-headlights expression and more saving-everyone’s-bacon.

9. The new covers for Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series.

Why: Stock Cover Syndrome again.

I used to own copies of the original Immortals quartet with the nice cover art. They were destroyed in a move, when a box of books was soaked through, and I bought new copies that had new covers that I simply didn’t like as much. Then, I saw the new covers for the Alanna books and began frantically picking up copies with the original covers wherever I could, because if the Immortals covers were meh, then the new Alanna covers are just BAD. The clothing on the models looks too modern, and the hulking Twilight male leads brooding on the cover of the third book don’t look Jon or George-like (also, Alanna would have clunked their heads together for flanking her like that.) This series is very dear to my heart, and while I appreciate that the publishers are trying to make them more marketable, I really did like the old fashioned girl-with-a-horse-and-sword covers– I feel like they captured the spirit of the series, whereas teh new covers are simply flimsy window dressing.

10. Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Why: Cover is beautiful, summary is engaging– content is blah.

Disclaimer: I have not yet finished Illuminate– mainly because of the following:

a.) It’s an angel book– with none of the things that make angel books awesome. No flaming swords, no kicking ass and taking names, no Raffe-and-Penryn style badassery, no wings, no awesome powers, no intense moral qaundary– just a main character who sleeps a lot and takes instruction from a notebook that generates writing for her.

b.) It drags terribly for the first 3/4, making it hard to get through.

In short, this is the opposite of Stock Cover Syndrome– this book has Boring Content Syndrome, wrapped up in a nice cover and an exciting summary.

What books are in your Top Ten? Let me know in the comments! 😀

 

 

Book Review: “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake (Anna #1)

What an arresting cover. Just... wow. And the color scheme continues inside the book itself, with the type done in a very attractive burgundy that's both pretty and easy to read.

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: Mid-to-upper YA. Quite a bit of violence, blood, and gore, and one sensitive scene that directly addresses violent assault on a child. Strong language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy the TV shows Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you like a strong horror story; you’re a fan of Holly Black, Melissa Marr, or Sarah Rees Brennan’s; you enjoy paranormal investigative fiction; you’re looking for a fast-paced, evocative read.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t like YA or horror; you dislike gore and violence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Theseus Cassio Lowood has a job to do, and it’s not the normal teenager’s occupation of bagging groceries: he hunts and kills maleficent ghosts. It’s a legacy that’s been passed down through his family for ages, and Cas is pretty okay with it. And luckily, he has his mom (who sells charms and potions that she brews up on her kitchen range), her ghost-sniffing half-Siamese cat, and a motley group of friends and informants across the world to help him out. When one of them tips him off about a ghost known (ominously) as Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas immediately finishes his current job and takes off to Thunder Bay, Ontario…. Where he just might find more than he was looking for.

Anna Dressed in Blood is by far one of my favorite books read in 2012. The pacing, characters, and concept come together to form a fast-paced read with lots of humorous/chilling/downright scary moments. Cas’ world is not all that different from ours, but the way in which it is realized is a joy to read. I absolutely ADORED Cas’ mom (particularly scenes where she was trying to sell him on different colleges based not on academic subjects/cost/career opportunities, but on the population of ghosts in the immediate vicinity) and Tybalt (warning: if you’re a cat person, there’s at least one scene in this book that will squick you out). Anna was brilliant, and the relationship she has with Cas is quite a beautiful one, a tenuous connection between a guy who purposely pushes people away and a girl who has been burned one too many times by betrayal. She’s also a badass with a conscience, which is always a plus.

Annnd the references. I almost don’t know where to start with those. There’s the obvious Supernatural connection (ESPECIALLY in that first scene with the hitch-hiking ghost), along with myriad references to Buffy, Harry Potter, Bruce Lee, The Hulk, The Matrix, and GHOSTBUSTERS (which lead to several scenes in the book that made me laugh out loud). These references could have become very heavy handed and derivative, but Blake is pretty skilled at nodding to other fandoms and then going right on to her own story.

Overall, this was a super fun read with ghosts, blood, and a kickass cast. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of horror and ghost stories, and will most certainly be rereading it as soon as I have the chance. 😀

Pros

  • Tybalt.
  • Theseus Cassio Lowood. Most awesome name ever.
  • Awesome worldbuilding.
  • Cas’ mom.
  • The romance. ❤
  • Blake obviously did her research regarding ghost stories, lore, and Wicca.

Con

  • Cas is just a little bit pretentious.
  • A lot of sentences are the same length.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pgs 1-10. Excellent opening that had me hooked from the beginning. It didn’t hurt that there were plenty of SPN references to excite my inner fangirl: Cas, a classic car, and a hitch-hiking ghost? Yes, yes, and YES.
  • Pg 200-205. Here’s where we find out exactly what happened to Anna, and it is absolutely CHILLING. I literally felt like I’d been punched in the gut after reading it.

Favorite Line (s): “Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”~pg 132

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 out of 5

Final Grade: A+. Nice read, very slick and full of references to things that I love. Solid ghost story that looks like it’s going to be continued excellently in the upcoming Girl of Nightmares , which I am eagerly awaiting.

Waiting on Wednesday: “Girl of Nightmares” by Kendare Blake (Anna #2)

 

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking The Spine and showcases releases we just can’t wait to get our hands on. 😀

Title: Girl of Nightmares (Click the cover to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

Expected Publication Date: Aug 7th, 2012

Summary from Goodreads: In this follow-up to Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas begins seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep, and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong. These aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.

 Why I’m Waiting:
I haven’t gotten my review for ADIB up yet, since my life has been crazy, but I really, really enjoyed it and book #2 looks like it’s shaping up to be just as good. The hell aspect intrigues me, and I can’t wait to find out how Cas intends to grip her tight and raise her from perdition save Anna.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below and let me know/link me back to your WoW post. :)

Book Review: “Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy” by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls, #2)

Is it strange that I actually have this whole outfit in my closet? It's all in brown, but that's pretty much the only difference.

Check out my review of the first book, I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You, here or on Goodreads!

Title: Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Ally Carter (needs to come to NY or Boston so I can meet her :D)

Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook for Nook, eBook for Kindle, Audiobook.

Maturity Level: YA. There’s definite appeal here, both for the young end of the YA spectrum (13-16) and the older (16+). Some mild violence and kissing, no real sexual content to speak of.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoyed the first book; if you’re a fan of the television shows Nikita, Buffy, or Veronica Mars; if you like well-crafted YA with strong and realistic female protagonists.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you expect a serious spy thriller; you don’t like YA.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Cammie Morgan is pretty tired of excitement. Her Stake-out/Obtain/Then Give Up Boyfriend Operation has left her pretty down, and all she wants is to settle down and continue studying CoveOps. Before she knows it, however, the prestigious “spy school” Gallagher Academy is welcoming a group of mysterious boys—BOYS!—codenamed Blackthorne. Throw in a security breach that Cammie appears to be at fault for, the unclear motives of the Blackthorne boys, and the aforementioned CoveOps training, and you’ve got one hell of a semester.

Oh, and the incredibly handsome, heart-pounding, ANNOYING boy known simply as Zach.

Previously On…: I have to admit, I wasn’t very stoked about this series at first. It looked like pretty typical YA fare—kick-butt girl meets boy, falls sappily in love with him, and slowly falls prey to a terrifying disease that I have termed Badass Disintegration Syndrome (BDS), pulling out her badassery only to save The Boy. I was pleasantly surprised by the first book, which had its fair share of sappy lovey-dovey moments, but also developed Cammie Morgan through her relationships with her friends, mother, and teachers. She also NEVER lost her Badass Mojo, and that definitely carries through into Cross My Heart and Hope To Spy.

Overall: I was very impressed by Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy. This particular installment had more spy!plot, less romance, and as always I enjoyed the antics of Bex, Liz, and Macey just as much as Cammie’s. The “progress/case reports” are always fun to read, and I absolutely ADORED the ball!exam and all the scenes it produced. Cammie’s family/past—and her missing father—get a bit of an exploration in this one that I hope to see continued in future books. And I have to say, I like Zach more than I liked Josh—but maybe that’s just my love for snarky dudes showing.

Pros

  • The CoveOps reports.
  • Spies, guys. Girl!spies. At a school for girl spies. WIN.
  • Buffy/James Bond/Veronica Mars references.
  • The romance.
  • The spy!plot.
  • Annnnd the balance between the two. Superb.

Cons

  • Having it all be a test at the end was a bit predictable, but that’s just a nitpick.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • Pg 175: Cammie basically asking Zach out and the dynamic between them.
  • Pg 224: After Cammie has a BAMF moment. “Did you learn that in PE?”/”No. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
  • Pg 226: A forklift is once again used as a deadly weapon J

Favorite Line (s)

  • “Most little girls in England grow up wanting to marry a prince. Bex grew up wanting to kick James Bond’s butt and assume his double-0 ranking.”~ pg 13
  • “Real life in the clandestine services isn’t cat and mouse—it’s cat and cat.”~pg 184

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars.

Final Grade: A-. I will definitely be obtaining the next book very soon—this series is so very fun.

TV Review: Supernatural 7.18 “Party On, Garth”

So I guess I’m going to have to eat my words from last week concerning this episode. Was it an excuse to put in as much alcohol consumption as The CW Standards & Practices would allow? Yes. Was it a plot device to bring Garth back in for a bit of cheap comic relief before the usual angst-fest that is the last few episodes of any season of SPN? Yes. Was it a bit of a comedown after last week’s insane rush? Yes.

Was it a bad episode because of these factors?

HELL NO.

I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts on this episode, so I’m going to make headers for each element that I wanted to comment on, so that I don’t forget anything. 😀

Dean in His Role as The Caretaker

I swear to God, sometimes being Dean Winchester seems a lot like parenting a whole bunch of wayward children, and Dean is definitely showing it in this episode. He almost seems to be stretched a little thin at times, torn between watching Sam and worrying about Cas and trying to keep Garth from falling on his head and dying in some random twist of fate– but at the same time, it puts Dean in his element. This episode, Dean is getting sh*t done, even when he’s three sheets to the wind after consuming some questionable liquor at the brewery. Is he sad? Yeah, definitely. Is he angry/bitter/lonely? Yes. Is he still kind of depressed? YES. But Dean is a man of action, and recent events have kind of put the ball back in his court– and damn it if he’s not going to take advantage of that.

Garth: New Fan Favorite in the Making?

Oh, Garth. The first episode that Garth was in made me want to stab myself in the eyeball, and I was not alone. This episode definitely allowed DJ Qaulls a little more leeway to develop the character and attempt to connect with the difficult-to-please SPN audience, and I would definitely say that he has more or less accomplished that. Garth’s comic potential is/has always been enormous, and there were so many parts of this episode that just made me giggle uncontrollably. Mr Fizzles certainly seemed to be a winner with fans– I haven’t checked the writer’s credits on the episode, but that definitely had a bit of Ben Edlund’s quirky touch to it– and Garth’s bumbling, good-natured personality really won me over this episode. It does not escape my notice, either, that the writers/directors sandwiched him right in between the long-anticipated returns of TWO current fan favorites, almost as if to say “Here’s a new one for fans to hate/love/fixate on.”*

Which Leads Me To….

BOBBY.

OHMYGODGUYSBOBBY.

It’s a totally cliched plot, similar to the whole amnesia!Cas concept, but I just can’t dismiss it.

Because, guys…. you know what this means, right?

What I Liked:

  • Garth
  • Mr Fizzles, who really deserves his own spin-off.
  • Dean being all responsible.
  • The situation with Cas wasn’t pushed aside as easily as I thought it would be.
  • BOBBY.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • We still don’t know what the hell the Leviathan are up to.
  • Sam is just miraculously better, which is what I was kind of afraid of as soon as they brought Cas in to heal him. I mean, come on. Even with “the crazy” “passed on”, Sam should be experiencing some lingering paranoia/disturbed sleep patterns/etc.

Final Verdict: A- for Garth feat. Mr. Fizzles and Bobby. The rest was kind of meh, but whatever.

Coming Up Next: Next episode is going to be awesome. Enough said. But we’re going to have to wait until April 20th…. 😦

*For the record, I would really like to see Garth and Cas meet at some point. Maybe Cas will finally get a damn hug.