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Wednesday, May 25

Fancies & Fascinations | "Can't Stop The Feeling"

Wednesday, May 25

It's Wednesday.

I'm fighting an illness that has been kicking my butt since last Thursday evening.

It's totally grey outside, while also being 80+ degrees and humid as all get out. (#gross)

I just made a mistake at work that I could—and should—have avoided.

My fries from lunch have gone cold.

And yet, I'm smiling. Thanks to this song, and this video.

Phillip from Venus Art & Flowers is The. Best.

P.S.—Watching Justin Timberlake dance, even if it's only for a few moments, is an absolute gift.

Tuesday, May 17

Haiku Revieu | Captain America: Civil War

Tuesday, May 17
Captain America: Civil War

My heart can't take this
Please don't make me choose a side
I'm Team Everyone

Political interference in the Avengers' activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

Although I saw this movie more than a week ago, only now have I had the time to sort through my feelings. Had I written this review right after seeing the movie, it basically would have looked something like "AKNFJKABDUJBRUB#QOW. IT WAS SO GOOD." You're welcome for me waiting a bit to get my thoughts together.

When I first heard that they were making a Civil War movie, I was honestly afraid (thanks to knowing what happens in the comics of the same name). And I went into the movie with a literal box of Kleenex in preparation. I was tense the entire time. Thankfully, the movie didn't break my heart—at least not in the ways I feared.

It should come as no surprise that I get emotionally attached to fictional characters. And I'm extremely attached to the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so watching a movie in which they're at odds was hard. There was also a lot of "Team Cap" or "Team Iron Man" publicity leading up to the movie's release, but I couldn't bring myself to actually choose a side. And, to be quite honest, while watching the film I could see pros and cons on both sides of the argument, and got equally frustrated by some actions of members of both teams.

That said, even with the tension and my inability to decide on a side, Captain America: Civil War was amazing; it immediately moved into a spot in my top 5 films of the MCU. It had everything I want from a superhero film: action, humor and heart. I was delighted to see the inclusion of Scott Lang (Ant-Man); his introductory scene with Steve was so perfect, and he added needed comic relief to the battle between the teams. And, speaking of comic relief—Tom Holland is an absolutely adorable Peter Parker (Spider-Man). I'm totally sold that he'll be the best Spider-Man yet.

I was also really impressed by Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa (Black Panther). I'm very excited to see more of this character—and the super intriguing Wakanda—in the solo film and future group efforts.

And the entirety of the scene in the car with Steve, Bucky and Sam? Perfect.

I really want to go see this again soon, so I can enjoy it without the tension of the first viewing. And I highly recommend it to everyone.

Check it out:

Wednesday, May 11

Recently Read | March/April 2016

Wednesday, May 11

What did I read during the months of March and April?

Top Read

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Unless a book that literally knocks me over comes along later this year, The Serpent King will end up being my favorite book of 2016.

This book is superbly written, in all senses of the phrase. I very quickly became attached to Dill, Lydia and Travis while reading, and the world Zentner created (or adapted) for the novel is full of rich sights, sounds, feelings—all of the qualities that help you get sucked into a book. It's a contemporary story—i.e., no fantastical elements—but there's something magical about it. (Equally magical: This is Zentner's debut novel. I see BIG things in his future.)

As beautiful as it is, The Serpent King is also horribly heartbreaking. I cried while reading it, more than once, and even now get choked up trying to explain the premise to people. But the heartbreak only adds to the power of this book. As I described it on Twitter, "it broke my heart, but in the best of ways."

Honorable mentions

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

If you're in the mood for a fantasy novel with shades of Game of Thrones, An Ember in the Ashes might do the trick. The novel, set in a world that mixes Arabian Nights and Roman history, can be, at times, brutal, but is also quite engaging.

Tahir has jumped on the recent "jinn are the new black" bandwagon, but that's not a bad thing; the paranormal creatures in the story, although based on myth, are fascinating and fresh. Her characters are complex individuals, too, who face tough decisions and sometimes choose the wrong path.

At one point, An Ember in the Ashes was set to be a stand-alone novel, but I am very glad the powers that be gave Tahir a chance to expand her world and bring the story to a much more satisfying conclusion. (Although the ending isn't a terrible cliffhanger,  it certainly leaves a lot of room for more.)

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

Wink, Poppy, Midnight is a weird book. It starts out as one thing and somewhere along the way does a complete 180. There's an atmosphere of magical realism to the story that's punctuated by some startlingly realistic villainy. And nothing is ever what it seems. But it's a neat read, particularly if you like the spookier, darker side of things. I don't always, but there's a part of me that's certainly fascinated by creeping myself out on occasion.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

If you broke Elena's heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she's expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she's not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

This short story was penned by Rowell for World Book Day, a UK celebration I wish was more prominent here across the pond.

It can be hard to find a copy of Kindred Spirits in the states, but when I read the synopsis for this story, I knew I had to track a copy down. (I recommend the alternative sellers section of Amazon.) And if you've been a reader of this blog for a while, it'll be pretty obvious as to why. Nerd love is my jam, guys. And Rowell seems to have cornered the market on writing stories that I can see myself in, regardless of the specific plot points.

Other reads


Fallout (Lois Lane #1) by Gwenda Bond | Railhead by Philip Reeve | Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton | Siren's Song (Storm Siren #1) by Mary Weber | Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen


A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry | The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks | Flawed (Flawed #1) by Cecelia Ahern | Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw | The Skylighter (The Keepers' Chronicles #2) by Becky Wallace | The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood


Season of Fire (The Remnants #2) and Season of Glory (The Remnants #3) by Lisa T. Bergren

I'd love to hear if you've read any of these titles, and what you thought about them. Also, have you read anything lately that you'd recommend?

Monday, May 9

Haiku Revieu | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Monday, May 9
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batfleck is angry
Thanks be for Wonder Woman
What did I just watch?

Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.

WARNING: Possible spoilers ahead.

Sometimes, you go into a movie knowing that it's going to be a massive disappointment, and you leave pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as bad as you'd expected. Unfortunately, such was not the case with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Sure, there were some good things about it:

  • Gal Gadot does a great job playing Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. It's a shame she only had like 5 lines and 10 minutes of proper screen time. I'm looking forward to seeing more from her in her solo film. (Bonus points for it not being directed by Zach Synder.)
  • We got to see Aquaman on the big screen.
  • Superman and Batman are now BFFs thanks to their moms both being named Martha.
  • Henry Cavill is nice to look at.

On the whole, however, this movie was such a mess. The plot was disorganized and overloaded with stuff that didn't need to be there, specifically Batman's origin story and Bruce's super weird dream sequences. Ben Affleck was decent as Bruce Wayne, but his fight scenes at Batman were terrible. (And WHAT was with the random Batcave crossfit montage?) Batman's obsession with Superman also reached nearly Criminal Minds-levels of creepy before it fizzled out in mere seconds. (Basically.)

All of what I really liked about Man of Steel's Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane were reduced to brooding looks and damsel-in-distress scenarios. Was Lois only in this movie to be saved by Clark? Why was Clarke all of a sudden kind of a dick?

Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor was unbelievably bizarre and used as a way to further the plot without really ever giving it any sort of context. His lack of backstory was also confusing; Where did he come from? Why was he out to pit Superman and Batman against each other? Why did he have those files on the various superheroes? (It's like they were trying to make a weird evil version of Nick Fury, only ... terrible.)

Additionally, the whole "Dawn of Justice" idea was relegated to the very end of the film and a brief fight scene in which Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman barely say anything to each other. Where's the "team" in that?

I really think it would have been smarter for DC to do a series of solo movies to introduce the characters they wanted to eventually form the Justice League rather than trying to make "fetch" happen releasing this "bridge movie." I'd recommend waiting to watch this one on TV, and fast forwarding through much of it.

Check it out:

Friday, May 6

6 on 6 | May

Friday, May 6

Learn more about the 6 on 6 project.

Wednesday, May 4

May the 4th be with you!

Wednesday, May 4

Happy Star Wars Day!

Way back in 2011, I first designed a set of part-Valentine, part-cheesy pick-up-line e-cards to celebrate the day. Since then, I've updated them and added to the collection on a semi-yearly basis, and I added BB-8 last year based solely on the teaser for The Force Awakens (and my apparently prescient knowledge that it was going to be a big star).

Of course, after seeing the movie, I realized that there were a few other cast members of The Force Awakens who deserved their own cards, too.

Please feel free to download any (or all) of the images below to share with your nerdy friends and loved ones!

To download: Right/control click on a card; a Photobucket window will open and you can download it from there.

The Force Awakens

The Original Trilogy

FYI: Chewie's card reads "I'll let you pilot my spaceship any day." I used this translator for "accuracy."

Sunday, May 1

Hello, May

Sunday, May 1

Download this page of the 2016 Man Calendar for personal use by clicking on the image; it will open in a new window. Right/control click to save it. Then print the page on letter-size cardstock, and trim it to 6"x9".

Desktop version:

Download full-size version here.

The 2016 Man Calendar:

Mr. May: Henry Cavill
Mr. April: Chris Evans
Mr. March: Jensen Ackles
Mr. February: Tom Hiddleston
Mr. January: Lee Pace