5 Fandom Friday: My Comfort Films

I’ve always had a set of films that I could go back to again and again whenever I’m in need of comfort.  They’re the movies that I love to watch curled up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and just thinking about them puts a smile on my face.  Sometimes I’ll spend an hour or more browsing through the available titles on Netflix in the hopes of watching something new but I inevitably end up watching one of the films below.  I can recite almost all of the lines to each since I’ve spent so much time with all these characters over the years!

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1) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

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2) Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban

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3) The Avengers

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4) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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5) Mean Girls

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March 13th – My Fictional BFF’s
March 20th – My Comfort Films
March 27th – One Fandom Item Styled Five Different Ways
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Tea & Book Chat: The Winner’s Crime By Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Winner’s Curse which is the first book in the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski is the second book in the Winner’s trilogy.  It picks up right where the first book left off and it’s easier to feel immediately engaged in the story because of the past familiarity with the main characters Kestrel and Arin and the world in which the story takes place.  The Winner’s Crime is entirely heartbreaking in every way and I felt SO MUCH while I was reading this book.  Days later, I’m still crushed by the ending and I cannot wait for the third book because there is so much unrest with the second installment.

Kestrel spends her time in the Emperor’s home and advises him on wartime tactics for the Valorian people.  Kestrel is intelligent and her real life plotting and planning is the perfect equivalent to her love of strategizing and winning games.  Kestrel always tries to stay a few plays ahead of her opponents but with the Emperor, it often feels like she just can’t catch up no matter how hard she tries.  She’s still torn between her alliances for her people and her father, the general of the Valorian army, and Arin and the feeling that his people, the Herrani, deserve their freedom.  She’s faced with some really rough choices which usually amount to her needing to choose the lesser of two evils.  Arin has tried to reach out to Kestrel several times, putting his heart and his position on the line, but it’s to no avail and it’s slowly driving him insane.

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There’s one particular scene which takes place in Kestrel’s practice room that caused me to audibly yell “No! No! No!”  I hurt my hand by involuntarily banging my fist on my desk because of how upset the scene made me.  It’s such a well written and stressful situation for the characters to be in so I almost can’t get upset with Marie Rutkoski for causing me to take some hits of physical damage.  There were so many lovely metaphors in this book, particularly involving the moths.  Rutkoski has crafted such an elaborate and layered story that it is impossible for readers not to be swept away by her tale.

Final Thoughts: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski is a heartbreaking continuation of the the first novel.  I’ve decided to begin referring to it as The Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy.  This book is ripe with metaphors and bursting with emotion.  You will not be able to tear yourself away from Kestrel and Arin’s POV’s and the ending will leave you feeling a combination of sad, angry and craving the final installment.

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Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them. (via Goodreads)

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Waiting on Wednesday: Welcome to Night Vale By Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.  This week I’m eagerly waiting the release of Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor!  The cover for the spinoff novel was just revealed yesterday and as expected, it’s so purple and pretty!  I love the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and I’m really looking forward to reading more about one of my favorite fictional towns.

Night Vale

From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves…no matter where we live.

“Hypnotic and darkly funny. . . . Belongs to a particular strain of American gothic that encompasses The Twilight Zone, Stephen King and Twin Peaks, with a bit of Tremors thrown in.”–The Guardian

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “KING CITY” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “KING CITY”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is an extension of Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz series and it continues the story in modern day Oz.  It reexamines the happy ending most people are familiar with and turns Dorothy into a power hungry dictator of Oz.  She rules alongside the Tin Man, Scarecrow and not-so-Cowardly-Lion who have become her evil henchmen and it’s up to one girl from Kansas who gets transported to Oz by a tornado to try and stop them.  Meet Amy Gumm, a more alternative type of heroine with bubblegum pink hair.  Amy gets recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked which consists of past villains that don’t seem as evil as they once were.

I found Amy to be a very likable protagonist.  She comes from a broken home so her transportation to Oz is a welcome adventure away from her alcoholic mother and the mundane life she led in Kansas.  She has some initial reservations adjusting from studying for high school to training to assassinate Dorothy but when all is said and done she assimilates quite nicely.  Dorothy, our villain of the story is also really enjoyable to read about.  She’s terribly evil and she’s sucking Oz’s magic supply dry because of her addiction.  The people of Oz are so terrified of her that they use a product called PermaSmile to avoid breaking her Happiness Decree.  I also loved the way Dorothy’s trio is reimagined.  The Scarecrow is an evil scientist (think Dr. Frankenstein), the Tin Man leads the Tin Soldiers as the Grand Inquisitor of the Emerald Police, and the Cowardly Lion is a vicious beast who rules over the animals in the forest.  I only wish we had gotten to see more scenes with Ozma, the true ruler of Oz, but I expect those will be present in the coming books.

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The plot is very dark, seeing as how the majority of the novel is focusing on training a teenager to commit murder, and I couldn’t put it down.  Since Amy is basically white trash, she requires intensive training from the other members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked before she’ll be able to sneak her way into Dorothy’s inner circle and betray her.  Since Dorothy Must Die is the first book in a series, there is a lot of world-building and little resolution.  Having already been familiar with Oz, reading Amy’s POV and all the changes that have occurred since I last read The Wizard of Oz, felt like returning to an old vacation spot only to find that nothing is as I’d remembered.

Final Thoughts: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is an exciting extension of Baum’s Wizard of Oz.  There are many nods to the original series but Paige manages to make the characters her own through her reimaginations.  I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a quick paced adventure that’s easy to get swept away in.

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I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission.
(via Goodreads)

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BookTube: My March TBR

Since March is a longer month than February I’ve planned some ambitious reading goals for myself.  I did forget to take into account that Mario Party 10 is being released for Wii U, so we’ll see if I get to all the books I was planning on!

If you buy some discounted books with free international shipping from this link, I get a small commission! 

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Tea & Book Chat: The Name Of The Wind By Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1)

I don’t even know where to begin describing my love of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  I was so engaged throughout the entirety of the book and I fell deeply, deeply in love with the main character Kvothe, the world of The Kingkiller Chronicles, Patrick Rothfuss’ writing, and Kvothe’s story.  I had been hesitant to begin this book for SO LONG because of the cover.  It’s much more fantasy-looking than I typically read so I was nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy it (despite the previous recommendations from my brother’s third grade teacher who I totally trust).  The story is so compelling and it should be the actual definition of a page-turner.  I have basically FORCED a total of six people to read The Named of the Wind since my enlightenment, and I plan to continue pushing this book upon people at every opportunity.

One of my favorite aspects of The Name of the Wind is the way in which the story is told.  Kvothe is retelling his story of how he became the most powerful wizard of all time to a Chronicler.  Because it’s a flashback detailing years and years of Kvothe’s life through his point of view (except for the interludes in the bar where Kvothe is telling his story), every word is important.  Every event means something significant and it reads like a detailed highlight reel of the past.  While the book is REALLY large (it’s almost 700 pages) I was shocked at how quickly I read it.  The chapters are short, sometimes only a page or two, so I would constantly decide to “just read one more chapter,” which would inevitably turn into more.

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Kvothe is clever and he knows it which leads to him being a smart-ass at times.  I really enjoyed his personality and I think he is justified in his arrogance.  There are times where it backfires for him but having read about his past, I can understand why he is the way he is.  And I HATED his rival.  I still think about how awful he is and I spent a good portion of the book rooting for his downfall.

I really liked learning about Kvothe’s academic journey regarding magic.  Rothfuss takes a very scientific approach to magic, or sympathy, and Kvothe uses his wits to advance through the ranks, but not always without consequence.  The concept of binding is fascinating.  The magic is much more intellectual than is typical in fantasy novels and it requires an immense amount of dedication and concentration to perform.

Final Thoughts: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is hands down one of my favorite reads of all time.  It is deserving of the name epic fantasy.  The story and world-building is exceptionally compelling, the main character Kvothe is a pleasure to read about, and the novel’s quick pace is full of action and excitement.  I haven’t started reading the second book just yet, because the conclusion has not been published yet and I have no idea how long we’ll be waiting for it.

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Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: The Magicians By Lev Grossman (The Magicians #1)

The Magicians by Lev Grossman started out as a really tough read for me.  I had attempted to read the first book in the trilogy no less than three times before I finally decided to just power through.  Melissa PROMISED me that it would get better so I trusted her opinion and she was right.  Since The Magicians has debuted, I’ve heard people pitch it to me as adult Harry Potter so perhaps my expectations were too high?  Once I got about 60 pages in and realized that was just not going to happen, I was able to focus more on Quentin and Alice and the other characters.  I have some mixed feelings on the book overall but I am glad that I read it.

One of the reasons The Magicians did not immediately pull me in is because the beginning chapters of the book (too many of them) are spent detailing how Quentin gets to enroll in Brakebills magic school.  There wasn’t even a significant amount of world-building during this time which is why I think the beginning half was such a struggle to get through.  Once Quentin actually got to school, the book is an easier read.  Sort of.  The story gets much more interesting, but it’s a rather depressing read.  I’ve been told that it keeps getting more depressing as you progress throughout the series and while I’m hesitant because of that, I am interested enough in finding out what’s going to happen that I will be reading the second book, The Magician King.

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The main character Quentin is EXTREMELY flawed.  This doesn’t necessarily make a book not enjoyable, but his behavior really drove me crazy at some points and I just wanted to hit him in the head and yell “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!”  He’s really selfish and I hope that he’ll change as the books progress (oh dear it sounds like I’m going to be in an unhealthy relationship with this series).  There are some scenes that are BEAUTIFULLY written and action packed which make them thrilling for the reader but that all comes much later in the book.  That’s partially why I’m so torn about my feelings.  I enjoyed the second half of the story but I cannot forget how much I disliked the first half.

Final Thoughts: The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a challenging and depressing read with a selfish and unlikable main character.  About midway though, the book finds it’s footing plot-wise and it becomes a more enjoyable and thrilling read but albeit, still very depressing.  The story is written beautifully and I will continue the series but I’m worried it’ll take just as long to get into the second book.

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Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician’s Land, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren’t black and white, and power comes at a terrible price. (via Goodreads)

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BookTube: February Wrap Up

I’m posting this video a little late seeing as how we’re already about halfway through March, but better late than never!  In my monthly wrap up videos I’ll be giving mini reviews for all the books I read that month along with a star rating since I don’t always have the opportunity to write a full review for each book I read during the month.  I also just became a Book Depository affiliate!  So if you’re looking to purchase some discounted books with free international shipping (for instance, those neon Hunger Games books from my January Book Haul) I’ll make a small commission if you use this link: http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=superspacechick

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5 Fandom Friday: My Fictional BFF’s

I tend to be a quieter person (depending on the circumstances).  I enjoy connecting with people one on one but when I’m in a large group I usually feel kind of overwhelmed and wishing I was home with a good book instead.  I’ve always been a great listener and everyone tells me I’m really supportive and I offer helpful and insightful advice.  I tend to get along best with strong-minded individuals who are more outgoing than I am.  I had such a fun time thinking of which fictional characters I would get along the best with and why I could see us being best friends.  Here’s my list!

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1) Luna Lovegood – Luna is wacky and I love her to pieces.  I would be so interested in hearing her speak about her theories and thoughts that I could picture us having plenty of tea dates together. (Sorry guys, you know I can’t go a blog post without mentioning Harry Potter at least once!)

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2) Celaena Sardothien – Caelena is such a brave and fierce heroine.  I would happy to help her do research about what could possibly be going on in the castle and I would totally cover for her when need be.1

3) Belle – Belle is more introspective than the other characters I would call my BFF’s, but I just know we would chat about books together for HOURS on end.  Plus, she seems generous and I bet she would let me walk around her library.

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4) Veronica Mars – I appreciate Veronica’s snark and I would love to be there to help her sort out her ongoing issues with Logan because they’re perfect together.

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5) Echo – Echo is hilariously snarky and puts up a strong front to protect the people she loves.  She’s loyal and caring and we have the same taste in food (plus we live in the same city which is super convenient).  I would love to be able to call her a friend!

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March 13th – My Fictional BFF’s
March 20th – My Comfort Films
March 27th – One Fandom Item Styled Five Different Ways
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Life Lately: The Final Days Of Winter

A couple of weekends ago Andrew, Carolyn and I met in Union Square to watch Melissa’s Kung Fu demonstration and belatedly celebrate Chinese New Year.  It was so much fun watching Melissa and her classmates perform (especially when they used weapons)!  It almost made me want to start practicing again.  I was enrolled in Kung Fu from kindergarten (because of my love of the Power Rangers) until 10th grade and I was one stripe away from earning my black belt before I quit in favor of wanting to spend more time with my friends.  Before the performance we watched people dressed as the three dragons dance around and accept donations for the hope of good fortune in 2015.  I particularly love the candid photo Andrew captured of us girls laughing together.

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After the demonstration we headed to one of my favorite eateries called Grey Dog.  It’s mostly frequented by NYU students but the food is delicious!  I ordered my favorite meal from there which is a Breakfast Quesadilla and Andrew and I sprung for a cocktail each.  I got the Vanilla Almond Chai Toddy and he ordered (but oh-so-graciously traded with me) a Hot Buttered Cider which was similar to Butterbeer.

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I never thought I would said this but winter is FINALLY winding down.  This past February was one of the coldest on record in NYC in YEARS and we were bombarded with snow more often than anyone who lives here was hoping for.  Granted, I guess it can be pretty or whatever, but enough is enough.  Also, Andrew looks dashing in his Sherlock-esque coat and scarf.  He ventured outside with me during one of the aforementioned storms so I could take a good photo of my book in the snow.

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Lately I’ve been collaborating with my good friend Melissa Grey (who also happens to be the author of The Girl at Midnight) and Andrew to create nail art tutorials based on book covers for YouTube.  Melissa is very talented and patient in her planning and application and watching her process has actually made me feel capable of recreating her designs on my own.  I even ordered my own nail art kit!  You can watch our first video for A Darker Shade of Magic here.  There are plenty more to come and I’m so excited to share them!

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Because of the cold weather and snow, I’ve spent the majority of my free time indoors reading, watching movies and playing video games.  Andrew and I went to GameStop together on Valentine’s Day and he bought me Majora’s Mask for 3DS and I bought him the new Ducktales game for Wii U.  He’s beaten his but I have yet to have the time to begin mine!  We have been playing Super Smash Bros. together on Wii U and that’s been a blast.  My favorite character to play as is Rosalina.  Also, our Amiibo addiction is still in full force.

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Since I’ve been inside so much, I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should.  Now that spring is on its way I’m ready to ditch some of the junk food (minus Ben & Jerry’s, Cadbury mini eggs, cupcakes and the occasional macaron because obviously) and start eating more fruits and veggies.

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I’ve also decided to start taking advantage of more of the events that NYC has to offer!  It’s so easy to let work and extracurricular work (blog, YouTube, etc) get in the way of going out and experiencing things and I’m determined to participate more, especially since the weather is becoming more bearable.  Last week I attended The Winner’s Crime event at McNally Jackson where author Marie Rutkoski met with Sara Rees Brennan for a discussion about Kestrel and Arin’s next installment.  The Winner’s Crime book is gorgeous and there’s a map(!) inside.  I am so excited to have my copy personalized by Marie herself.  If you haven’t heard of The Winner’s Trilogy, you an read my review of the first book in the series, The Winner’s Curse.  I also attended The Orphan Queen launch party at Books of Wonder with Andrew and Melissa.  The authors at this event included Jodi Meadows, C.J. Redwine, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Joy N. Hensley.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my copy of Cynthia’s latest book but I believe she’ll be back for the mega signing during the New York City Teen Author Festival.  I also got to meet Alexa and Rachel for the first time IRL and they were so sweet!  I can’t wait to see them both at future events.

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