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Wednesday, February 22

Nerd News | Han Solo film cast photo

Wednesday, February 22

I'm not sure I'm totally on board with Alden Ehrenreich's casting as the young Han Solo in the upcoming Han Solo ... solo ... film, but I am excited about the movie in general.

Although, this photo makes the cast seem awful white? I know that Thandi Newton is also involved in the movie, two of the four white guys in the photo are Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the movie's directors), the woman who isn't Emilia Clarke is voicing a CG characters, and there will likely be aliens aplenty ... but still. Especially on the tail of the move forward the cast of Rogue One made.

All that aside, Donald Glover is PERFECT as young Lando.

Also of note:

1Thanks, Colt!

Monday, February 13

Recently Read | 2016 Wrap Up

Monday, February 13

2016 was a good year for books ( ... and not much else, but y'all know that).

I surpassed my 100-book goal, and in doing so read a lot of great books, a few stellar books, and a handful of not-so-good or outright terrible books.

My favorite reads of the year were:
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

You can check out short reviews of these books, and others I read, in my bimonthly Recently Read posts:

And here's a fun little infographic about my 2016 reading stats, via Goodreads:

(Check out the full graphic here.)

What were your fave books of 2016? How goes your reading for 2017 so far?

Friday, February 10

Recently Read | November/December 2016

Friday, February 10
Yep! It's February already. But ...

What did I read during the months of November and December?

Top Read

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.

The Illuminae Files is a unique and engaging series told in an unusual narrative style: instead of standard prose, the story unravels through documents, interview transcripts, chat logs, etc. It's a future-set science fiction tale that involves insane AIs and corporate greed/conspiracies that have universe-spanning consequences. It's crazy and, quite literally, explosive.

The first book in the series was one of my top reads of 2015, so I had high hopes for this sequel. Gemina didn't let me down. Although it lost some of the uniqueness of the reading experience—this being the second book and all—it was still a wild ride. I don't often like when authors switch main characters during the same series, but it works in Gemina. (And it doesn't hurt that Hanna and Nik are essentially Clarke and Bellamy from The 100, in both looks and personality.)

I'm really looking forward to the third (and final?) book in this series to come out later this year so that all of the threads that were woven throughout Illuminae and Gemina can come together. And so that I can read about more explosions.

Honorable mentions

A Million Worlds with You (Firebird #3) by Claudia Gray

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine’s hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents’ invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation—and that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite’s side, but Triad’s last attack has left him a changed man—angry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite’s efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it’s up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension’s Marguerite—wicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites … and only one can win.

I hadn't read any of Claudia Gray's books until I started this trilogy, but it quickly made her one of my most favorite authors. This series, specifically, is filled with a ton of pulse-quickening action and some serious swoon. The world(s)—the series spans multiple alternate dimensions—Gray built for the Firebird trilogy are rich and unique, and I loved being able to travel along with Marguerite on her journeys.

I definitely experienced TEABS (i.e., the end of an awesome book syndrome) when I finished A Million Worlds With You, regardless of the fact that I thought the ending was fitting and well done. I am sad I no longer get to revisit this series ... at least for the first time.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Marissa Meyer is a total queen of retellings—her Lunar Chronicles series takes the basic stories of familiar fairy tale characters including Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White and sets them in a futuristic scifi universe—so I was really excited to read Heartless, her take on the Queen of Hearts from Alice and Wonderland before she was the Queen of Hearts.

If you know the Queen of Hearts' general story, you know that she's not a sympathetic, or even nice, character. Because of this, Heartless is a bittersweet read; the novel tells the story of the events that led the Queen to become such a shrew, when she was actually quite lovely as a young woman.

The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1) by S.J. Kincaid

Nemesis is a Diabolic. Created to protect a galactic Senator's daughter, Sidonia. The girl who has grown up by her side and who is as much as sister as a master. There's no one Nemesis wouldn't kill to keep her safe. But when the power-mad Emperor summons Sidonia to the galactic court as a hostage, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia.

She must become her.

Now one of the galaxy's most dangerous weapons is masquerading in a world of corruption and Nemesis has to hide her true abilities or risk everything. As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns that there is something stronger than her deadly force: the one thing she's been told she doesn't have - humanity. And, amidst all the danger, action and intrigue, her humanity might be the only thing that can save her, Sidonia and the entire Empire ...

The Diabolic is (yet another—I sense a theme here) futuristic scifi novel with ideas that resonate strongly with today's world, specifically the theme of church vs. state. Reading about a future culture that has turned away from science and just sort of hopes for the best as far as technology is concerned is fascinating. I also always appreciate reading about main characters who realize that they're far more than meets the eye/far better than society makes them believe.

This book isn't for the faint of heart, however, as it has some pretty brutal scenes of both killing and attempted sexual assault. Thankfully, S.J. Kincaid doesn't throw these scenes in there simply for shock value.

And, side note: I didn't realize this book was the first in a trilogy, but looking at Goodreads, there are more books to come. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether you want to jump in from the start or wait until the series is complete.

Other reads


The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3) by Erika Johansen | Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling #1) by Megan McCafferty


All the Feels by Danika Stone | The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Plus One by Elizabeth Fama | Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman


Dial Em for Murder by Marni Bates | My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

If you've read any of these titles, I'd love to hear what you thought! And, have you read anything lately that you'd recommend?

Wednesday, February 8

Haiku Revieu | La La Land

Wednesday, February 8
La La Land

Modern song and dance
Gos + Emma foreva'
Bittersweet ending

A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

La La Land is another movie I watched in December ... and then moving and the holidays and all the other excuses got in the way of my typing up a review. So, again, forgive me if I don't go into super specifics.

I was excited about La La Land from the moment I heard about it. I adore Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone acting opposite each other; they always have crazy delicious chemistry. Add to that the fact that the movie's a musical, and this checked all the right boxes on my "I have to see this" chart.

Although I really liked the movie, it wasn't quite what I expected. For one, it was more realistic than I'd hoped for, specifically the relationship between Sebastian (Ryan) and Mia (Emma). Now, realism isn't a bad thing, and it made for quite an interesting juxtaposition against the cheerful colors and songs of the film. I guess I just wanted to escape into something more romantic and fantastical? (No spoilers, but Colt—ever the hopeless romantic—disliked the ending immensely.)

I wasn't blown away by Ryan and Emma's singing or dancing, but I loved both of their performances overall. I think the fact the neither of them dances or sings like a total professional added to the realistic feeling the film had; again, not a pro or a con—just a statement. And I mentioned this above, but I really could watch the two of them in a movie with no other people; their chemistry is that good.

The movie is also really pretty, and not just from a "look at those gorgeous movie stars" standpoint. The colors and scenery are all super saturated, which made me think of old musicals and movies about the heyday of Hollywood. (I'm guessing these nods were done on purpose.) The story runs the gamut of emotions from funny to sweet to sexy to heartbreaking, and is all-around unique. At least, to me.

If you like complex movies with musical numbers, then this one's for you.

Check it out:

Tuesday, February 7

Haiku Revieu | Moana

Tuesday, February 7

Moana is rad
The Rock is a demigod
Heihei is the best

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain's daughter's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek out the Demigod to set things right.

I'm totally late on my review of this movie—I saw it back in December—so you'll have to forgive me for being unusually general with my review. Basically: this movie was wonderful, and yet another example of Disney's recent excellence in creating films with strong female leads and an important message.

The Rock is fantastic at Maui, natch, and his singing voice was a pleasant surprise. He basically is Maui, with less hair. I also really enjoyed Auli'i Cravalho as Moana; her voice is stunning, and I feel like we'll see a lot more from her in the future. (Perhaps literally, you know, since Moana's a cartoon character.) My favorite character in the movie had to be Heihei, however. That stupid chicken stole every scene he was in, and I love that Alan Tudyk "voiced" him. (Alan's such a vocal chameleon.)

The movie featured empowering messages of believing in oneself, listening to one's intuition, and taking risks, all of which are important for young girls (and boys) to internalize. They resonated with me, a not-so-young girl, too.

The soundtrack is also fantastic; Lin-Manuel Miranda did a wonderful job of mixing catchy Disney princess tunes with equally catchy Polynesian music. (Full disclosure: I've never listened to anything Hamilton-related, but even I know that he's a true talent.)

I highly recommend seeing Moana, if you haven't already. Just don't blame me when you can't get the songs out of your head.

Check it out:

Friday, February 3

Geek Girl of the Month

Friday, February 3

If y'all aren't familiar with Geek Girl Brunch, let me explain (with help from the GGB website):
Geek Girl Brunch is a meetup group of ladies who geek out together, typically when mimosas are involved. It started with a group of geek girls living in the NYC area, but has spread across the world and to alternate dimensions.
I'm a member of the Austin chapter, and through it have met some fun geeky ladies who live in my area. I'm not able to attend every month, but when I do, I have a good time.

Suffice it to say, I was super honored when Sandra—an officer in the Austin chapter—contacted me to let me know that she'd nominated me to be GGB's Geek Girl of the Month ... and that I'd been selected!

Check out my post here.

Wednesday, February 1

Hey February | 2017 Man Calendar

Wednesday, February 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:

Find the rest of the 2017 Man Calendar here.