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Friday, January 29

5 Fandom Friday | Five Favorite Late To The Game TV Discoveries

Friday, January 29

Back again with another 5FF—this time to talk TV, one of my favorite things. The shows on the list below maybe aren't my favorite shows ever, but they certainly made an impact. (I thought about including Doctor Who, but figured it was sort of cheating since I'd jumped on with the Ninth Doctor, and that was, basically, a restart of the show.)

Be sure to let me know if you've watched any of these, if you have some of your own to share, or if you have any shows that you think I should check out based on this list—I'm always open to recommendations!

Five Favorite Late To The Game TV Discoveries

5 | American Horror Story

An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and an enigmatic hotel.

Out of curiosity—and the OCD-ish need to watch all of the seasons prior to Freak Show, regardless of the fact that they're not traditional seasons in that they don't really flow together chronologically or story-wise—I binged on the first season of American Horror Story (Murder House) in a matter of a couple of weeks. Mostly late at night, by myself, after Colt had already gone to bed. (I don't know what I was thinking.) I'm not typically a fan of this kind of horror, but I was pretty invested. And I actually really liked it, until about halfway through the season when things went from creepy to uncomfortably weird (and creepy, in a different sense). I started season 2 (Asylum), but only got about two episodes in before I needed to move on to something else. I'd definitely like to go back and watch it all at some point, mostly so I can get around to Freak Show, but it's low on the list of TBW (to-be-watched) shows.

4 | Misfits

A group of young offenders doing community service get struck by lightning during a storm, and begin to develop superpowers.

I'm not entirely sure this counts as a late to the game discovery, since I think I started watching it while it was still in early seasons (in the UK). However, I was one of the only people I knew (in the US) that watched this show, at all. I liked it so much, I "found" the episodes online and made a custom DVD set of the first two seasons.

3 | Merlin

The adventures of the legendary sorcerer as a young man.

I watched Merlin's first season as it aired, but then lost track of the show thanks to the writer's strike, the fact that it moved channels, etc. But I was persuaded by my sister-in-law to give it another go, and push past some of the more ridiculous plot lines (like the one with the alien) to get to the third season+. I'm very glad I took her advice; otherwise I would have never "met" Sir Gwaine!

2 | Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as "hunters" fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

Looking back, it's hard for me to believe that I didn't watch Supernatural from the start. I mean, the show is practically perfect for me: it has elements of fantasy, silliness mixed in with seriousness, and hot menfolk. I didn't jump on board the SPN train until around season 6 or 7, but I caught up in the span of a few months. Unfortunately, due to DVR issues, then time issues (then, to be totally honest, interest issues), we're about a season behind. But I've heard good things about this latest season, and definitely mean to catch up soon.

1 | Parks and Recreation

The absurd antics of an Indiana town's public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their city a better place.

It wasn't until this past October that Colt and I started watching Parks and Rec, after the series finale had aired. We'd been told by numerous people how amazing the show was, and that we'd really like it, but just never got around to watching as it aired. I'm honestly glad about this, since we were able to binge like we'd never binged before on episodes, rather than having to wait. This is definitely one of my favorite shows, ever, and I'm excited to keep watching. (We have three more seasons to go.)

Learn more about 5 Fandom Friday and check out the prompts for January.

Wednesday, January 27

Nerd News | Suicide Squad trailer and Wonder Woman footage

Wednesday, January 27

Both of these videos were actually released last week, but in case you missed them:

via /Film

As much as I rag on DC movies (#Marvel4Lyfe), I'm really impressed with this Suicide Squad trailer. It looks so much more like a cohesive movie than the first trailer made it seem (i.e., less Will Smith being, well, Will Smith).

And this Wonder Woman footage looks (somewhat surprisingly) awesome. I love that it's a historical movie, rather than a direct spin-off of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.1 Wondy deserves some time on her own, rather than just being a secondary character used for lame jokes.

Also of note:

1This movie's a lost cause, however.
2Thanks, Colt!
3Thanks, Emily!

Tuesday, January 26

Haiku Revieu | The 5th Wave

Tuesday, January 26
The 5th Wave

ET invasion
Where has all the sci-fi gone?
The book is better

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.

When I go to see a movie that's based on a book, I honestly try to give it the benefit of the doubt, and view the movie as a separate entity. Sometimes, however, a movie fails to live up to its potential, and just fails—both as an adaptation and a stand-alone film.

The 5th Wave is based on a YA book of the same name by Rick Yancey, and—although I've already said as much a couple of times in this review—the book is SO MUCH better than its film adaptation. The book is thrilling, and features exciting surprises and characters who you get attached to, easily and quickly.

I understand why the movie can't keep some of the book's secrets (e.g., keeping a character's true identity hidden is hard when you see his/her face from the start). But the lack of interesting characters stems, in part, from the plot of the movie being horribly rushed ... and the lack of acting skills of the main characters. (Or, perhaps, the direction that they were given. I'm not quite sure.)

I'm also highly disappointed in the movie's lack of science fiction elements. The book has a lot of them, and they're important elements. They're also believable. This story is about an  invasion by an advanced alien society, after all. The movie turns these items/plot points into gimmicks, or vaguely futuristic technology that comes across as cheap.

Additionally, I'm not sure that, if you haven't read the book, you'll really be able to follow—or care about—what's going on. (Thanks, also, to the rushed storyline and boring/wooden acting.)

I had hopes—not exactly high ones, but hopes—that this movie would be, if not wholly faithful, a decent adaptation of a great series starter. Alas.

Check it out:

Tuesday, January 19

Nerd News | Planet gazing

Tuesday, January 19

For those of you interested in space-related news items:

In an occurrence that would have freaked out more astrologically-inclined civilizations, five planets will be visible in the southern sky starting January 20. Pre-dawn risers will be treated to a view of Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter from January 20 until February 20.

The only planets not visible will be the distant trio of Neptune, Pluto, and Uranus. While Neptune and Pluto can only be seen via telescope, careful observers will be able to spot Uranus in dark conditions.
I'm not promising that I'm going to get up "pre-dawn" and head out into the country to see this show, but it's very tempting. Space is awesome, and since I'm pretty sure no one's ever going to offer to buy me a trip off-planet, I'll have to take what I can get.

This GIF is only tangentially related to the news, but it is AMAZING, and it is new to me, so it had to be included.

Also of note:
  • You can watch the first minute of first new X-Files episode. Not particularly spoilery, unless you didn't know it was happening?
  • Hot Guys Holding BB-8 is the best new Tumblr on the block.
  • Over the weekend, a shelter cat that looks like Adam Driver blew up the Internet, and was adopted.
  • This might be our first look at the entire Justice League from the DC movieverse. It's, uh, gritty?

Friday, January 15

5 Fandom Friday | Five Areas In Which I'm Going To Challenge Myself In 2016

Friday, January 15

It's been a rough week, guys, as I'm sure you all know. But I'm taking today's 5FF post as opportunity to look ahead, rather than dwell. I've changed the prompt slightly—the official one was "5 Ways I'm Going To Take Chances In 2016"—but the gist is still the same.

Five Areas In Which I'm Going To Challenge Myself In 2016

5 | Community

The friends I've made through online communities, blogging, and writing for FYA/being a part of my local FYA Book Club are some of the most genuinely wonderful people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I want to put forth even more effort into being a part of these various communities, and giving back to them, too.

4 | Creativity

I consider myself a creative person, and I love to DIY and craft. But I haven't really made the time recently to play, and my list of "someday" projects (and my Pinterest ideas boards) just keeps getting bigger. I received a hand lettering book for Christmas, and a chalk lettering book for my birthday, so I have a place to start.

3 | Health

Real talk: I'm comfortable in my own skin ... until I see myself in a mirror or in a photograph. But I hate working out. I strongly believe that people can be fit and beautiful at any size, but I'm currently not as fit or healthy as I could be. I want to push myself to find some sort of exercise that I enjoy, eat better, sleep better, but worry less about the number on the scale or on a clothes tag.

2 | Love

I want to talk more about this one in-depth in a separate blog post (love is my word for 2016), but basically: I want to love more, and love better. I want to show the important people in my life just how much they mean to me, from my friends and family to my husband. But I also want to make an effort to better love myself, as I'm the absolute worst at self-love.
1 | Time-Management

This is something I've struggled with my entire life, and my issues with time-management are compounded by the fact that I'm both a procrastinator and tend to take on numerous projects at once. I want—nay, need—to make an effort to better balance all parts of my life. I put this at number one on this list, because it's the biggest hindrance to all of the other equally important areas I want to work on.

Learn more about 5 Fandom Friday and check out the prompts for January.

Thursday, January 14

Farewell, Alan Rickman

Thursday, January 14

If this week wasn't already hard enough with the passing of David Bowie on Monday, my heart broke even more when I saw the news this morning of Alan Rickman's passing.

I wrote up an "in memoriam" piece for FYA, and included clips of some of my favorite of his many wonderful roles. I couldn't get through a sentence—or one of the videos—without the tears starting fresh.

The week's been hard, friends. I'm sending good thoughts out into the Universe that it doesn't get any worse, and hope you and yours are all healthy and surviving life to the best that you can.

Tuesday, January 12

Haiku Revieu | Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Tuesday, January 12
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

OMG, Star Wars
I can't deal with all these feels
Star Wars, OMG

Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.

As of today, I've seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens three times. Twice in "normal" theaters, and once at an IMAX theater, in 3D. I wrote the haiku for this review after seeing it the first time, nearly a month ago, and it still holds true.

To say that I was excited about this movie's release would be an understatement. I tried, for a long time, to not get my hopes up, to not get too excited about the prospect of a really good, new Star Wars film. (Full disclosure: I liked the prequels for a while, until I realized the error of my ways.) But from the moment I watched the first trailer—and got tears in my eyes—I knew it was a lost cause.

Thankfully, the movie doesn't disappoint. I don't want to get too spoilery—although all bets are off in the comments, if you want to discuss—but the movie was filled with the kinds of things that made the original trilogy so special: People you connect with immediately, and who make you want to join their adventures. Funny moments interspersed with thrilling action. Adorable droids. Epic space battles. Heartbreak. Foreign planets populated with crazy, and sometimes crazy awesome*, aliens. Good battling evil.

I went into seeing the movie not knowing much—I stopped with the trailers after the first and avoided spoilers as well as I could. I think this made watching it that much more special, as I had little idea of what was to come. Sure, some people are complaining that the movie tells a too-familiar tale, but I don't think that's a fault. It's a movie for a new generation of fans, and a little homage/background info never hurt anyone.

It was amazing to see the old crew back on screen, but the new class totally stole the show. Rey is a fantastic hero, albeit a mysterious one (spoilers at the link, natch), and the fact that she is [REDACTED] makes me positively gleeful for all the little girls out there who needed to see someone like her in this kind of movie. Finn is adorable, if a little too intense/animated at times. (Side note: The fact that John Boyega seems to be as excited about this movie as the most dedicated of fans is an utter delight.) Poe is a dreamboat, super talented, and a genuinely nice guy (a total unicorn, as some of my friends might say). I have no doubt that these three can carry the weight of the franchise to come.

The bad guys—avoiding spoilers here—were great, too, and I can't wait to learn more about their backgrounds in future movies. At least, I hope we'll learn more.

Regarding that one scene, and I'm sure those of you who've seen it know which I'm referring to ... it was hard, yes. But I think I understand why it was done, and I'm OK with it. It'll have serious repercussions in the next movies, but I'm pretty sure it'll all work out for the best. It is Star Wars, after all.

I could go on about this movie for a long time, but it boils down to this: Everyone should see this movie, Star Wars fan or not. It's not just a great Star Wars movie, it's a great movie in general.

Want to discuss? Head to the comments!

Check it out:

*Maz Kanata is totally my spirit animal.

Friday, January 8

Funko Fridays | The Funko I Want Most

Friday, January 8

Happy Friday, friends!

Although I got quite a few POPs for my birthday and Christmas, I'm particularly excited about today's Funko Friday post, because I'm putting my own spin on it.

The Funko I Want Most

Because you can never have too many, I do have a few Funko POPs on my wishlist year-round. But the one I'd really love? It doesn't actually exist, at least in an official capacity.

Funko Fridays hosted by and The Funko I'd like most—not only to have, but to exist in general—is a Donna Noble POP. (I found the image above via Google search. It's not quite what I'd want, but it's very cute, and the only one I could find.)

For those who aren't familiar, Donna's a character from Doctor Who. She was a companion, and—dare I say it—best friend, of the Tenth Doctor. She's by far my favorite of all the companions, and I think she's worthy of being immortalized in POP form. (I think the only companion to get a POP so far has been Rose, who's worthy too ... I guess.)

I'm hoping that there will eventually be an official Donna POP released. If not, I might just have to figure out how to make my own.

Learn more about Funko Fridays.

Wednesday, January 6

6 on 6 | January

Wednesday, January 6

Learn more about the 6 on 6 project.

Tuesday, January 5

Recently Read | 2015 recap

Tuesday, January 5

At the start of last year, I set my 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge at 101 books. I reached 100 in 2014, and figured that a one-book increase would be doable. On Dec. 31, I finished read number 101.

I totally admit to cheating slightly on occasion with short stories and graphic novels/comic trades, particularly toward the end of the year. But reading is reading! And those types of reading are just as valuable and real as any other. (Side note: I reviewed 67 of the 101 reads for Forever Young Adult. Click the covers below for links to my full reviews.)

My top 15 reads of the year—in no particular order—were:

  1. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  2. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  4. Every Word by Ellie Marney
  5. Lost Stars by Claudia Gray
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  7. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
  8. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
  9. Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine
  10. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  11. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  12. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  13. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
  14. Beastly Bones by William Ritter
  15. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
For 2016, I've set a goal of 100 reads. I'd like to attempt to read more variety—nonfiction, adult books, etc.—rather than just striving for quantity.

Below is the full list of my 2015 reads. You can also see a fun infographic of my 2015 stats here. (I unfortunately couldn't figure out a way to embed it.)

What were your favorite reads of the past year? Any that you think I should add to my 2016 TBR list?

Friday, January 1

The 2016 Man Calendar + Hello Mr. January

Friday, January 1

Happy 2016, friends! I hope that you all celebrated the end of 2015 with friends and family (and that you're not feeling too terrible after doing so).

While some people ring in a new year with a look back at the old and resolutions for the new*, I like to welcome a new year in a slightly different way ...

Suit & Tie | The 2016 Man Calendar

For any of you who might be new to my blog—hello!—let me give you a little background on this project before we get to the goods: At the end of each year since 2004**, I've worked on creating a calendar featuring photos of my favorite celebrity menfolk, which I call the Man Calendar.***

I try to come up with a loose theme to tie all of the months together; the theme for 2016, Suit and Tie, even comes with a matching song.

Now, without further ado, please help me welcome Mr. January: Lee Pace.

The whole of 2016 looks a little something like so:

Mr. January: Lee Pace | Mr. February: Tom Hiddleston | Mr. March: Jensen Ackles | Mr. April: Chris Evans | Mr. May: Henry Cavill | Mr. June: Chris Pratt | Mr. July: Benedict Cumberbatch | Mr. August: Chris Hemsworth | Mr. September: Idris Elba | Mr. October: Tom Hardy | Mr. November: Bob Morley | Mr. December: Jake Gyllenhaal

Want a copy of your own? Since I don't own any of these images, I can't print these to sell. However, I've put all of the months in this ZIP file, which you can download for your personal use.

I print each month on white, letter-size card stock, and then trim the sheets to 6"x9". If you punch a hole at the top, you can hang the lot from a large jumpring. The files are 150 dpi, which means they'll look larger than 6"x9" when you open them, but they should print fine.

I was also thinking of creating a set of computer wallpapers. If you'd be interested in such a thing, let me know.

What do you think of this year's calendar? Sorry if I didn't include your favorite guy. It can be really hard to whittle the very deserving list down to 12!

*Not saying I won't post those as well, mind you.
**If you're curious, you can see previous editions at the following links: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009; 2008–2005 are in Word Docs, which says quite a bit about how my design skills have advanced over the decade.
***Colt, my husband, is an extremely good sport about this project. (But I do make sure to keep the physical copy of the calendar at work.)