corrielle: (Book and Key)
Melusine by Sarah Monette

Why I picked it up: I bought the first three books in this series in a used book store while on vacation more than three years ago. They've languished on my shelf ever since, and they are my first books read for project "Read the Books We Have Instead of Buying New Ones." Also, I was in the mood for some gritty fantasy with burglars, big cities, a stratified society, and big magic.

Review in a nutshell: Engaging read with strong characters and a nice portrayal of friendship and loyalty under adverse circumstances. Not perfect in terms of world building, but still good enough that I thoroughly enjoyed it and will most certainly read the other books
Goodreads rating: 3/5

Review under the cut )
corrielle: (Default)
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Why I picked it up:I've never read a fantasy novel set in 1890s Malaysia back when it was still a British colony before. Also, the excerpt I read pulled me in.
Goodreads rating: 4/5 Stars
Review in a nutshell: Really eerie story about the relationships between the living and the dead in a unique setting. Some plot points were a bit thinly developed, but still definitely worth your time if you like history and ghost stories.

Complete, spoiler filled review ahead )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Why I picked it up: I read the first two books in this YA trilogy (Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm) last year, and I liked the world building. The magical system is unique, and there are a lot of really fun secondary characters. I was anxious to see how Bardugo was going to wrap it up. All in all, it was a satisfying conclusion.
Goodreads Star Rating: 4/5

Spoiler Filled Review Ahead )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
The Waking Engine by David Edison

3/5 Stars

This was a book that was immensely frustrating to me because I kept on wanting it to be more than it was. I was drawn in by a snippet from the very beginning of the book and the slightly creepy but lovely cover. I was also looking forward to reading a book with a premise that I, at least, had not encountered before – death leads, not to heaven or a celestial afterlife, but to another life somewhere else. As does the next death, and the one after that, etc, until one finally ends up in the City Unspoken (the setting of most of the novel), where one finally has a chance, perhaps, to die for good.

The problem is, people aren’t dying, and those who are ready to are clogging up the streets, and there are Undead Lich kings trying to take over the city, and there’s an Unseelie Faerie Queen turned Cyber-Fae trying to muck things up, and all of this should have been really interesting, but… it left me cold.

Read the Rest of the review. )
corrielle: (Theo Royal Navy)
Note to self: Get Sleepy Hollow Icon

For the first time, I got my act together and obtained tickets for Paley Fest! Now I'm asking myself why I haven't been doing this for years. It's all the fun of a Comic Con panel with none of the waiting, a great moderator, and quality fan questions. So... actually BETTER in some ways.

The panel was held at the Dolby Theater, which turned out to be the big theater attached to the Hollywood and Highland shopping center, a place I know well from going to the El Capitan for the last 3 PotC premieres. It was a good thing I knew where I was going too, because that part of Hollywood is always a zoo in terms of getting anywhere quickly and finding parking.

The actors who came to the panel were Tom Mison (in a cardigan and JUST as adorable in person), Nicole Beharie (stunning. just stunning), Lyndie Greenwood (looking fantastic in this pale green dress that looked PERFECT on her), Orlando Jones (wearing a "Free Frank Irving" shirt. Priceless.), and John Cho. Even though I bought tickets for the second tier, all of us upstairs got moved down to the first floor, and I ended up about seven rows from the front. I was close enough that I didn't need the screen to see people's facial expressions, which was really nice.

The producers and creative team talked about the casting process and how some things (like Andy Brooks' continued involvement as a character) evolved over the course of the show, and the cast talked about working together and fan reactions and how much they all love each other... I sat there quietly fangirling like crazy.

Fun tidbits included:

Tom talking about how he rode a mechanical horse in the Midnight Ride episode.
Nicole talking about how she'd never shot a gun before.
Tom talking about googling "Shipping," and someone else... I think it was Orlando... suggesting that he google "slash." The audience lost it a bit.
Nicole being In Charge and jokingly telling Orlando to hurry up and answer already.
Lyndie talking about how fun it was to be possessed!Jenny
The person they had dressed as Headless coming in to hand the host a fan question BREAKING THE PROP AXE. I don't know was was funnier, the actual event, or Orlando Jones' inability to stop laughing.
When the host asked who the cast would want to play a Horseman, Lyndie mentioned Norman Reedus and Clint Eastwood. (Great picks.) I didn't hear who suggested Idris Elba, but that got a huge crowd reaction because it is a frickin brilliant idea.
Tom Mison snarking about how hard he worked at his deeper Ichabod voice, and how John Noble came on with his gravelly awesome voice and showed him up. (They all geeked out over John Noble... it was cute.)

The writers/producers gave up some interesting info too. For instance, they tried casting a lot of Americans as Ichabod before they cast Tom, and they started looking for a Brit because they realized that they had written Ichabod's lines with what they called a "British Cadence," and American actors sounded weird saying them. They also said they knew Tom was their guy when he had awesome chemistry with Nicole right from the start AND every female intern/assistant in the office was gravitating toward the room he was in.

Apparently, none of the creators expected the Ichabbie shipping, which is weird because even mainstream articles about the show are talking about their intense chemistry. It's not just the Ichabbie contingent (ok so that contingent is the majority of the fandom) that sees it.

I wish they had talked more about Katrina. The fan who asked the question about backstory mentioned her, and the writer who answered said that they'd be getting into a lot of people's pasts (this is when Abbie and Jenny's backstory was mentioned), but the writer who answered never said anything specific about Katrina. I think the writers know they've been all over the place with her and how grumbly their fanbase is about it, and they don't want to talk too much about her until they figure out how to fix it. It's just a feeling I get based on the fact that one of the producers mentioned reading the twitter stream and fan reactions very carefully and taking what was being said into consideration. So... maybe there's hope for Katrina to be more coherent? I sure hope so.

In terms of the future, they talked about how we're going to find out a lot more about Abbie and Jenny's past (we already knew that) and about how the Good Guys are going to get something supernatural and scary on their side that's a match for Headless... And now I'm going through a lot of different mythological creatures they haven't touched yet wondering what it is.

All in all... really fun night. I can't even describe how cute and lovely all of the actors were, and how much fun it was to just see them up there joking with each other and being the amazing people they are. I am defintely going to try and get tickets for a couple of Paley Fest panels next year, and I'm seriously considering trying to find tickets to the one for TVD/The Originals on Saturday. If only because I have burning questions about Rebekah.
corrielle: (Book and Key)
2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I’m a sucker for “different versions of the same events” stories. (I haven’t seen Groundhog’s Day, and that’s apparently a shame.) So, when I saw the description of this book in a “Notable books of 2013” list in a magazine, I decided I needed to read it.

The basic setup is this: Ursula Todd, third child of a comfortably middle class British family, is born in 1910, lives, and dies in various ways over and over again. Sometimes she lives for a few hours, sometimes a decade, sometimes a full life. Throughout all of her lives, you get to know her family and the friends and neighbors who show up again and again, and the whole thing has this deeply rooted cyclical movement that was really well done. There were certain images that were showed up in different ways in different lives, little variations in how her path crossed with certain people that ended up having big effects on the way things turned out… it was quite ingenious.

So Many Spoilers )
corrielle: (Book and Key)
One of my New Year's goals was to start doing book reviews again, in one form or another. So, to get that started, here are my thoughts on the first book I finished in 2014. (It was a doorstop, which is why it took me all month to read it.)

1. Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

I chose this books precisely because it was outside of my normal reading comfort zone. While I certainly enjoy watching sci-fi, I haven't read a lot of it. I'm much more likely to reach for one of the flavors of fantasy. But around the end of last year, I ran across a "best sci-fi books of 2013" list, and this was on it, and it sounded interesting. Our local library had access to a copy, so I picked it up.

Here's what I thought. )
corrielle: (Default)
It's a good time to be in fandom. What follows is my very opinionated, squee-filled roundup of what new things I'm watching (or not) this Fall.


Sleepy Hollow

The Short Version: I think I'm in love with this show and its actors.

The Long Version )

Agents of SHIELD

The Short Version: I'll catch up on Hulu eventually.

The Long Version )

Reign

The Short Version: It's pretty. SO PRETTY. But I can't do it.

The Long Version )

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

The Short Version: Not as good as Once. Kind of weird. But I think I like it.

The Long Version )

Almost Human

The Short Version: I like Cop Shows. I like Karl Urban. This is a Cop Show with Karl Urban. YOU do the math.

The Long Version )

The Originals

The Short Version: My darling Original family has their own show. It's set in New Orleans. There's lots of Elijah. There's lots of Rebekah. The new characters are people I actually care about. It's better than Christmas.

The Long Version )

Atlantis

Short Version: Wanted to like it. Couldn't get past the lake of caring about any of the characters AND the cliches. There is no long version.

So... what are YOU watching, my dear fandom friends? Is there something I'm missing? Do I need to give one of the shows I dropped another chance? Tell me what you think!
corrielle: (McCoy Quote)
I'm going to rant about the ACA and media now. Feel free to scroll on past. I try to stay away from posting about politics, mostly, but I'm writing this down because I want to remember. This was the day that I, a liberal, left-leaning queer woman, convinced my mother, a wonderful, compassionate, life-long Republican, that maybe, just maybe, Obamacare might not be a cause for fear and uncertainty.

Here's what happened. )
corrielle: (GuyMarian)
I'm finding out that I REALLY like lamb. It's a bit expensive here in SoCal, but it's definitely worth splurging on every once in a while. The thing is, it's really easy to over-cook, as I learned the hard way last time I bought some. But I think that with practice I'm getting better. Last night, with both of us not feeling all that great, I made the following: (I would have waited until I felt better, but I didn't want to put the lamb in the freezer).

Lamb with Rosemary and Port
Roasted Potatoes (the recipe was on the back of the Lipton onion soup box...)
Yellow squash with butter and sugar (There's no recipe for this. I listened to what R. said her grandmother did and tried to replicate it.)

It was REALLY good. I managed to cook the lamb enough to make it safe without completely drying it out, and when the onion-y roasted potatoes sat on the plate in the port/garlic/rosemary combo that had run off the meat... it was delicious.

Cooking while slightly sick: GREAT SUCCESS.
corrielle: (Default)
All Clear by Connie Willis
Why I picked it up: It's the sequel to Blackout, by which I mean "They were supposed to be one book, but it got too long," so it's more of a immediate continuation than a sequel, if you know what I mean.
Goodreads Rating: 4/5

So many spoilers. )
corrielle: (StarTrek All Doomed)
In the actual medical sense.

Since I've had this nasty cold I've been fighting, I've been trying to lay off black tea and coffee because the acidity in both drinks isn't great for my sore throat. I didn't really think much about it, really. I just chose not to drink coffee or black tea for a couple of days.

The side effects caught up with me in the middle of class in the form of a KILLER headache accompanied by a bit of nausea. Now, I don't usually get headaches. I can count the number of times I remember having one on one hand. So, it freaked me out a little bit that all of a sudden the spot on my forehead right between my eyes was just throbbing, and as the minutes passed, it just kept getting worse. I thought to myself, "Is this some new cold symptom? Because if it is... I need to go to a doctor NOW because sudden, severe headaches are NOT run-of-the-mill flu symptoms." Couple that with the upset stomach, and I was sure I had something really nasty.

Then, I realized I hadn't had any coffee, tea, soda, or anything at all caffeinated for the last 48 hours. And I googled "caffeine withdrawal symptoms" after all my students left. Guess what they are? Yep. Headache, nausea, and feeling lightheaded. And guess when I started to feel better? When I came home and made myself a decent cup of coffee.

Note to self: Don't try and go off caffeine cold turkey when you're sick. It'll make you feel more awful than you already do, which is NOT good for the recovery process.
corrielle: (Default)
Ironskin, by Tina Connolly

Why I Picked It Up: I got this on preview night at Comic Con this year. The cover copy had me at "Jane Eyre" and "Fey." Also, the cover art is lovely. I proceeded to carry it around with me for most of con.
Goodreads Star Rating: 3/5

General, possibly spoilery thoughts: )

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland
Why I Picked It Up: Again, this was a comic-con freebie. I had a choice between this and several YA books that didn't seem at all interesting to me, and so even though I don't usually go for zombie fiction, the title made me do a double take, and so I picked it up. (this is the first zombie BOOK I've read... and I've seen the first two seasons of Walking Dead.) Also, this little paperback was the lightest of my Comic-con freebies, so it fit nicely into my bag.
Goodreads Star Rating: 4/5

General, possibly spoilery thoughts: )

Blackout, by Connie Willis

Why I Picked It Up: I had the privilege of seeing Connie Willis on a panel about hard-to-classify speculative fiction at Comic-con... oh, a couple of years ago now. She struck me as a highly intelligent writer, and I'd been seeing her books for years. Also, London in WWII is endlessly fascinating to me, and so is time travel. So... there you go.
Goodreads Star Rating: 4/5 (I'd give it a 4 1/2 if I could...)

General, possibly spoilery thoughts: )
corrielle: (Jaime Half)
The Bad And the first one was a doozy... )
The Good: (Um... spoilers for Black Sails? I got to see the pilot.)
And there was quite a lot of it... )
All in all, a good con. Probably never attempting to get in Hall H again unless I have a really good reason, but hey... live an learn.

At least I got to sit on the Iron Throne.  (Which, as well all know, is where I belong...)
corrielle: (Book and Key)
I've fallen way behind in posting reviews of the books I've been reading, and so instead of trying to catch up on all the ones I didn't do, I figured I should just start up and not try to play catch-up. 

So, here's what I thought of the book I just finished tonight.

Through Stone and Sea by Barb and J.C. Hendee.

This is the latest entry in The Noble Dead series, which I've been reading on and off since I was an undergraduate.

I wanted to like this. Really I did. )
corrielle: (Default)
This summer, we're trying to eat more economically, which means cooking at home as often as possible.  We're both decent cooks, and we have a ton of cookbooks and adventurous spirits. 

Last night, though, was something simple.  I made crockpot beans and ham. 

Now, for me, this was a bit adventurous simply because I've never actually gone through the process of soaking beans overnight.  In my family, we always bought them canned.  Turns out it's pretty easy, though.  I just followed the directions on the 1lb. bag of pinto beans we had in the cupboard and left them soaking on the counter before I went to bed.  Then, when I woke up yesterday, I rinsed them, dumped them in the crock pot with 6 cups of water, a quart bag's worth of defrosted ham from Thanksgiving (thank you, Mom and Dad!), a whole chopped up onion, and a pinch of tomato soup base powder.  I set the crock pot on "high" for the next five hours, and put it on "low" for another hour or so, and at the end of that time, we had something pretty special.  The ham had given all of its sweet flavor to the broth and the beans, and the beans and onion were perfect and soft and well cooked.  The whole thing was just amazing, especially when we crumbled the corn bread I made from scratch over it.  I haven't felt so connected to my Oklahoman ancestors in a long time.  I can't help but thinking my grandmother would have approved.

So, first summer cooking experiment: great success.

We have lots of leftovers, and it's a good thing, too.  Come Sunday night, I'll be needing all the comfort food I can get.

(Seriously, if you see me Monday feel free to hug me without any explanation.  I promise I'll need it.)
corrielle: (Book and Key)

I got this from a friend on tumblr, and thought I should post it here, too.

1. Favorite childhood book?

This is complicated. So, here are some books that got re-read a lot when I was a kid:

The Amelia Bedilia books by Peggy Parish.

Keep Your Mouth Closed, Dear by Aliki Brandenberg (This is the first book I remember laughing at so hard I cried. It's about a crocodile who swallows things on accident.  I'm grinning just thinking about it.)

The Hobbit by… well… you all know it's JRR Tolkien. I read this for the first time when I was eight. Mom was reading it to me, but she got sick in the middle and said, "You know, I think you can read well enough to finish it for yourself." So I did.

 

Read the other 54 answers... )

corrielle: (Default)

This morning, we went to brunch with a friend and his son at a local restaurant that does has a BIG St. Patrick's Day to-do (not at all high-toned or fancy, though...;). Because this is SoCal, there were Irish tacos on offer, which are basically corned beef and cabbage and veggies in a corn tortilla (delicious) as well as more traditional dishes.  They also had a live bagpipe group, which was loud but SUPER cool, and the kid with us was quite impressed. (His parents take him to the Scottish festival every year, and his dad was already wearing a kilt. It was adorable.) Too bad my stomach didn't let me eat anything but an English muffin (the irony is killing me) and some orange juice.

Feeling much better now... the "Happy St. Patrick's Day!" door hanger is out on the front door, our house smells like veggies and corned beef (thanks, Rae), and we're listening to one of our gazillion Celtic cd's.  

And for those of you wondering "just how Irish ARE you anyway?" The answer is, "probably a little, but not very." I remember being told I've got some Irish on my maternal grandmother's side, but mine was a "we're American now, so we don't talk much about it.  Here, have some more black-eyed peas and cornbread" kind of families.  Perhaps, conscientiously observing St. Pat's is, in its own way, part of my late and quiet rebellion.

And also, it's delicious.

corrielle: (Book and Key)
I got quite a bit behind on my "books read" post this past year, and I'm trying to do a little to catch up.  So, for each book (or series), I'm simply said why I picked it up and commented briefly on if it was worth it. 

Included in this post are:

5. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

6-8. The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

9. Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman

10. Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary

Thoughts behind the cut. )

corrielle: (Default)
I know it's a bit late for 2012 retrospective posts, but I will always remember it as the year that....

I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire and really got into the GoT/ASoIaF fandom.

I watched Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time and wondered why I hadn't watched it sooner.

I watched what little there was of New Amsterdam because I had a serious need for more of Nikolaj's perfect face and ended up loving it and crying over how short it was to anyone who would listen.

I watched every single episode of The Vampire Diaries in a month and a half and discovered that despite a tendency to be prejudiced against it, I love it.

Once Upon a Time went from "cute show I watch on Sundays after Downton" to "main Sunday night event complete with hot cocoa with cinnamon and sugar."

We got the first installment of The Hobbit.

Les Mis got a decent movie musical adaptation.

This is also the year that...

Downton Abbey went from being one of my favorite things on TV to a show I can barely force myself to think about watching in the space of two episodes.

Fringe turned into a very different show that I don't like nearly as much as the one I started watching. (Though I'll still catch the finale and last episodes.)

Fandoms give, and fandoms take away, I suppose.  As angry as I was at Downton, reading A Memory of Light and speculating about TVD has more than filled the Sybil/Branson sized hole it left.

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