Once Upon a Time 4×1 “A Tale of Two Sisters”

Well, I caught up on “Once Upon a Time” just before its new premiere and…I’m still not sure what I think about it. On the one hand…

The Good:
1. Elsa’s character remains intact. After her ominous arrival last season from Rumple’s “I’m-scared-of-this” vault and emergence over the last great evil-Zelena’s-dark magic symbol, I feared for the integrity of her flawed, but good heroine personality.
2. This is one of those episodes where everything looked just as it should. This is very important for a show dabbling in iconic images and moments, but from everything “Frozen” to dancing with Belle, this episode was charming to literally watch.
3. We don’t have to go back to the past again! Yay! Personally, I found that storyline in the last two episodes too much stalling for too little payoff, especially since it’s pushing at Regina in all-too-cliche ways.
4. The mention of Netflix was a funny meta touch.

However, the other hand is weighed down with…

The Bad:
1. Finding ‘The’ author of fairy tales??? That’s just not a good idea and my folklorist heart is already pained. I suppose the most acceptable solution would be to find Disney himself, but…then we’ve got a whole other kettle of meta fish happening that’s just too close to home for magic to keep off the fishy smell.
2. Can everyone just stop messing with Belle already? Just STOP IT. One of the things I liked about last season was how she got to call out her tormentors and remind everyone just how raw a deal this crazy optimist, of all people, got in previous seasons. STOP MESSING WITH HER, I DON’T CARE IF SHE DOESN’T KNOW.
3. Obviously Henry is the best option for Regina-company and deterrent right now and it’s plain stupidity and selfishness that keeps Emma hounding her personally to try and prove that she was right.
4. Look, I’ve been trying to reconcile myself to Hook/Emma for an entire season now and having a hard time of it, having Emma share my hesitation is not helping.
5. If an enchanter comes to claim that hat and dares to call himself Merlin without being the most awesome character ever I will hate this show.

Also, I’m not sure which category this goes in, but according to that timeline, the powers of True Love and pixie dust thought that Regina and Robin should get together before she became the full-fledged Evil Queen who messed with Marian, which has to mean that it thought they’d make a better match than Robin and Marian IN THE FIRST PLACE, EVEN! I’m not sure what to do with that. One voice is crying out-don’t mess with Robin and Marian, it has to at least be history!, while the other is saying hah-see, Marian never really should have gotten him to begin with, go Regina! It’s confusing. What do you think of that?

Of course, we still have those nitty-gritty questions to get into about predictions for this season…

The U(gly U)nknown:
1. Will Anna’s journey in the Enchanted Forest run her into more wolves in the form of Red? That is my greatest hope right now.
2. Will Belle get pregnant with a boy they’ll name Chip as a tribute to their love?
3. Perhaps instead of the author we can get Scheherazade who’s been telling these stories to her sultan? That would be cool. Correction, that could be cool. Could also be a big mess, but at least better than finding any kind of author.
4. Can we count Mickey Mouse as an author? o.O
5. It’s probably all going to have to do with Roland and him getting attached to a savior-Regina with her this time, isn’t it?
6. So are Hans and his brothers “waiting to pounce” ruling the roost back in Arendelle? Or did they follow Anna and trap her to try and get her to marry Hans/one of them a la Penelope in the Odyssey? I do like the image of Sven helping to break that up eventually. Or, could be both!
7. This also makes me think that Ariel and Eric and their island is reminiscent of Calypso, the sea’s daughter, and her lovers’ island, no?
8. Which brings me to Hercules and how on first hearing Regina had a second soulmate, I thought of him. He likes dark women, doesn’t he? (Plus, he could have wanted a tattoo of the lion he defeated.) It would be fun if they could have at least a fling.
9. Who wants to bet that “the truth” about Elsa and her powers is that she really has a different father than Anna does, or was adopted from her sister or something, which will make her actually related to Enchanted Forest folk? After all, this show is nothing if not incestuous! See: Hook, chasing after his stepson’s babymama, etc.

Well, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Any predictions-without spoilers!-or speculations to share?

Happy National Hobbit Day 2

Happy National Hobbit Day!
(Previous festivities here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/happy-national-hobbit-day/)

“An Ode to Hobbitiness”

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Couldn’t be a Bilbo, and leave it all behind.
Couldn’t be like Frodo, to burden so resigned.
Hardly a Samwise, with smile always on-
Where has all my hobbityness gone?

Not a fan of mushrooms,
My home’s above the ground.
Don’t care much for foot hair,
No garden to be found.

But I love growing things, without the thumb of green-
And rhyme and sing to tell the wheres I’ve been,
Merrily, I’ve stolen time in fields and fireworks-
Could it be my inner hobbit lurks?

Will travel in my time,
Too impatient for the ents.
Won’t worry for the silver,
But electricity and rent-

It’s hard to be a hobbit, without a Party Tree,
Without second breakfast, elevenses, and tea,
Just hosting thoughts of friends too far to see-
Still, I’ll be the best hobbit I can be.

If an apartment can be a homely house,
And savoring meals can make it two-
If I can celebrate simple things,
and friends like me and you

Then a hobbit’s stout heart can face a future scary,
And anything that comes along won’t be too much to carry.
And I’ll survive mistakes as foolish as a Took’s,
And make it there and back again, like hobbits do in books.

So let all hobbit selves appear like burglar Bilbo,
To frolic and indulge as much as they will, though
Real life might return to push the shire away,
Just snack and let it be a Happy Hobbit Day!

Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book/Series of but need to read More

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was top 10 authors I’ve only read one book by but need to read more. I have expanded it to one book or one series as I’ve just recently managed to cross off a few authors that would have fit this meme. Here we go:

Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book/Series of but need to read More:

1. Sarah Rees Brennan of “Unspoken”
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/unspoken-the-lynburn-legacy/)
kami

This first book of a series blew me away and now I’m in the ridiculous situation of being behind on a series I started all my friends on because none of the bookstores seem to still be carrying the sequel now that I’m at liberty to read it. Even my local library has failed!

2. Rachel Hart of “Seraphina”
I love the characters and the issues in this work and am eagerly awaiting whatever she comes out with next, be it a sequel or something entirely different.

3. Kristin Cashore of the “Graceling” series
(Full review of “Bitterblue” here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/bitterblue/)

I adore the way her mind works and whatever’s next, sign me up!

4. M. M. Kaye of “The Ordinary Princess”
ordinary princess

This is perhaps my longest lagging. Those of you following this blog will know that I am absolutely enraptured with “The Ordinary Princess” and my expectations for her other works are through the roof. So far I haven’t been able to push myself into active pursuit of them in case said expectations get shattered. Still, it is a meandering sort of search…

5. Lauren DeStefano of the “Chemical Garden” trilogy
(Full review of “Sever” here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/sever-chemical-garden-trilogy-3/)
(Poem based on “Fever” here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/madames-turn-in-fever/)

DeStefano’s lyrical writing style draws me in and inspires me, as shown in the poem above!

6. Elizabeth Loupas of “The Second Duchess”
books_duchess

History, mystery, supernatural presence, and literary references lead by a courageous and persistent heroine, bring on more!

7. Alan Gordon of “Thirteenth Night”
thirteenth_night

I still must read more of this world where jesters run the show and Shakespearean intrigue continues.

8. Tom Reiss of “The Black Count”
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-black-count-glory-revolution-betrayal-and-the-real-count-of-monte-cristo/)
BLACK-COUNT-COVER

This historian has fantastic narrative, transparent research, literary references, and even the best footnotes ever. For example, one told the story of a British officer stationed in India who came to join (and die) in the French revolution, having developed “a strain of militant, Jacobin vegetarianism.” In the brief space of a normal footnote, not the giant “Moby Dick” type ones, too. Go read about Alexandre Dumas’ father!

9. Anne Eliot Crompton of “Merlin’s Harp”

This author’s version of fairies is the most similar to mind that I’ve yet seen in print. Also, we all know I love a good Arthurian tale, no?

10. Helen Frost of “Diamond Willow”

This book’s words are shaped in beautiful silhouettes, with bold words making a message at the heart of each section of this story about family, about love, and about growing up in a world where humans reincarnate as animals to watch over their descendants and survival is as much about friendship as oneself. It’s beautiful.

So, have any of you read any other books by these authors? Are as excited as me to see what else the newer ones will come up with? Have your own authors you haven’t got enough of through your slowness to find or their slowness to write?

Behind Every Good Whisky Is A Trusty Distillery Cat

Behind Every Good Whisky Is A Trusty Distillery Cat : Parallels : NPR.

Cats-even more necessary than you thought! For alcohol, ambassador missions, and world records, go read yon article. And use it as another excuse to visit distilleries, visit Scotland, honor cats by drinking, or look up more cat pictures on the internet. Learn important facts like:

“On the central path between buildings at Glenturret [the oldest distillery], the scent of leaves and grass mixes with the smells of wood, smoke and caramel from the whisky-making process. Looming over it all is a proud bronze statue. It’s not the company founder, or a bottle of whisky. It’s a cat. The greatest distillery cat of them all.

Towser the Mouser is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records for catching mice. Estimated lifetime kills: 28,899.”

Hurrah for the cats!

Top Ten Most Underrated Childhood Books

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was top 10 underrated books in a genre, and I have chosen to do Childhood Books because frankly, there are too many wonderful books that no one else seems to have read and/or are out of print. So, if any of you have also enjoyed these works, please tell me!

Most Underrated Childhood Books

-Picture book section:

1. The Keris Emerald by Mary Parke Johnson
books_Keris

This is a fairy tale about a Russian lad who wants to gain the attention of a princess by giving her the greatest of all emeralds, hidden in the forest of the Keris fairies and guarded by a snow leopard…It’s gorgeous, and strange, and lovely.

2. The Princess on the Nut by Michelle Nikly and Jean Claverie
books_nut

This is the tale of the son of the princess on the pea and his search for a bride who isn’t so “perfect” or princessy as his mother. The pictures are gorgeous and give a lot of extra information, too!

3. The Magic Pumpkin by Lucille E. Sette and Phyllis L. Tildes
books_squiggs

One of my favorite Halloween books, The Magic Pumpkin is about old Mr. Squiggs, who loves Halloween because he gets to be even more unpleasant and dreadful, and it is sanctioned! I love the way this writing goes in threes: how he interacts with men, with women, with children, his jack-o-lanterns are dreadful, are hideous, are frightening! Only this year, the pumpkin has something to say about being so horrible.

4. All works by Barbara Helen Berger
Gwinna Animalia
This artist/writer creates such gorgeous, magical works that I cannot recommend them enough. My first was “Grandfather Twilight” and I think that’s the easiest one to find, though.
Grandfather-Twilight-petting-dog

5. This Is the Place for Me by Joanna Cole and William Van Horn
books_placeforme

This charming book is about a bear who’s fed up with his house and goes looking for a better place to live. I still think of this bear when I need some perspective or am thinking of making crazy, impulsive life-choices, and the images still make me smile in amusement, so what more could one want in a picture book?

(Extra): Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady by Selina Hastings and Juan Wijngaard
books_loathly

-Since it’s a well-known tale I felt this was more of an extra mention, but this work probably began my great love with all things Arthurian, the artwork is amazing, and it’s just one of the most vibrant treasures.

Chapter Books:

6. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
ordinary princess

Again, I cannot recommend it enough-a committee suggesting they hire a dragon to help wed their plain daughter, a princess who runs off rather than having it and finds living with animals in the wood a rather unpractical affair and so gets work with her non-anthropomorphized squirrel and crow…read it! I do every spring.

7. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
perilousgard2

And this is the book I read every fall. It’s set in England during Mary Tudor’s reign, with the stubborn, curious, and practical Kate sent into exile in a palace full of mysterious circumstances and tales of living elves…It’s a retelling and expansion of the Tam Lin tale and it’s brilliant.

8. The Gammage Cup: A Novel of the Minnipins by Carol Kendall and Erik Blegvad
TheGammageCup1

This world is delightfully filled with poetry, courage, and discovery.

9. A Royal Pain by Ellen Conford
a-royal-pain-img

This one is more real-world…almost. “A sixteen-year-old in Kansas, who discovers she is really a princess, is taken to a tiny European monarchy to assume her duties and marry a distasteful neighboring prince, and in the ensuing weeks tries to become such a “royal pain” that everyone will want to be rid of her.” It’s great fun, and a good read-aloud book.

10. My Angelica by Carol Lynch Williams
books_angelica

Angelica is an elementary student who dreams of becoming a great and famous romance writer! Unfortunately, her book is filled with sentimental tripe wrapped in hilariously absurd euphemisms. Her best friend is both a good poet who’s aware of this problem and utterly in love with her. It’s a ridiculously charming read. Why it didn’t catch on I do not know.

So! How about you guys? What are your favorite childhood books that other people’s lack of knowledge keeps you from talking about? Have you read any of these?

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2011
A steampunk historical mystery review

Heartlessthumb

Alexia Tarabotti faces continued assassination attempts on her person with hilarious resignation. Not so when a deranged ghost reports a plot against the queen. Alexia’s investigations lead her headlong into the Kingair plot of the past, the secrets of other women, and oh, yes-her final month of pregnancy.

Firmly back in London, and in control of husband, home, and helping, Alexia’s indomitable spunk and efficiency return this series to the light-hearted antics of Soulless. Heartless allows Alexia to upend supernatural society, even while it delves more deeply into her supporting cast. Biffy, Lyle, and Lord Maccon all hold together and even out the tone of this work so that the deep undertones begun in Blameless continue to support the world and characters of this creamier, more refreshing novel, like a tart on firm, chocolate crust. With plenty of fun and significant revelations, Heartless is an enjoyable rush to a climactic, parasol-dropping crescendo that will have you searching for the last book in Gail Carriger’s series.

Top Ten Characters at my Lunch Table

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. The returning-to-school themed prompt was literary characters you’d eat lunch with. I found this one a bit tricky, but here’s the result:

Top Ten Characters at my School Lunch Table:

1. Katherine from “Half Magic” by Edward Eager
-I would have loved talking books and Arthurian legends and dreaming away with this romantic 9-year-old.

2. Bitterblue from “Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/bitterblue/)
-The combination of thoughtful, inquisitive, and determined is my cup of tea.

3. Angela Montgomery from “Unspoken” by Sarah Rees Brennan
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/unspoken-the-lynburn-legacy/)
-Her description on the author’s site goes: “Beautiful, brilliant Angela has been Kami’s best friend since they were twelve. She hates almost everybody in the world and loves naptime. But Angela’s facade of indifference may not hold up when the world changes.” Snarking, naps, and intelligence is yes! Also, while I can’t quite see being at the same lunch table, I’d adore hanging out with her older brother Rusty and his combination of mellow, napping, and protective attacks.

4. Will from “The Subtle Knife” by Philip Pullman
-Exactly the friend you’d want when facing stressful situations or an adventure.

5. Millie Chant from “The Chrestomanci Chronicles” by Diana Wynne Jones
-Powerful, insightful, and adaptable, this is the lunch friend you actually stay in touch with through adulthood.

6. Tonino from “Magicians of Caprona” by Diana Wynne Jones
-Bookworms of the world with insight and loyalty, unite! Also, spells and cats.

7. Ella from “Ella Enchanted”
-Snark, adventure, language help, and excellent humor-always.

8. Seraphina from “Seraphina” by Rachel Hart
-I love this character’s thought-processes, courage, and story-telling ability.

9. Lucien Kiggs from “Seraphina” by Rachel Hart
-I feel he would be my ideal study partner and fellow investigator with his love of truth and learning.

10. Sophy from “The Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/)
-She would be the friend always leading you into trouble, but with such aplomb, logic, and awesomeness that you don’t care. Also, pet monkeys and things. Can you imagine her birthday party? It would be the absolute best!

Which characters would your school-self love to kibitz with? Or study or play hooky or recess games with? Let me know!