Sunday, December 30, 2012

TSS-The Most End-iful Time of the Year

secret santa

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had a nice holiday and that you're ready to celebrate the end of the year. If you were thinking of reading during New Year's Eve, Jenn from Picky Girl is hosting a NYE Readathon that you should sign up for! I'll be participating so will Becky from One Literature Nut and our friend, brut cuvée.

I feel like 2012 was a really good reading year for me. I started the year off with a great book that blended mystery and romance--The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (review here)--and I just finished an AWESOME classic spy novel called The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton. My review for The Man Who Was Thursday will be posted in January on The Project Gutenberg Project, but I can say right now that I definitely think it's a novel everyone should read, especially if you like stories that are quirky and clever. If you're looking for a classic to read for a Readathon, The Man Who Was Thursday would be perfect--it's about 200 pages, funny, entertaining, creepy, mysterious, and it goes by really fast.

Aside from The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (review here) and The Man Who Was Thursday, some of my most favorite books of 2012 were Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (review at PGP), The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart (review at PGP), The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (review here), and The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville (review here).

This has turned into the Year of Reading Mysteries for me. I knew it would when I blew my 2011 Christmas gift card entirely on mysteries at B&N. Mysteries were the first genre I loved as a kid and I definitely returned to the fold this year, especially when it comes to classic mysteries. Last year I read so few mysteries they didn't even show up on that little pie chart thing on GoodReads; this year, I read the first detective mysteries ever written, The Dupin Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe; some Sherlock Holmes stories, Agatha Christie's first novel, reread a few favorites by Barbara Michaels, and many others.

As for blogging, I started two new blogs (Liquid Persuasion and The Project Gutenberg Project), which is kind of crazy considering that in December of last year I honestly wasn't sure Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books would survive 2012. The new blogs have offered me different creative outlets and new things to learn about, though, so I think branching beyond the single blog was a good idea.

Next year, I'd like to focus more on recent releases here. I fell really behind on that in 2012 (I think I can count on one hand the number of books I read that were released this past year), and I'd like to actually post reviews of books in the same month they're released in 2013, as well as peruse NetGalley for upcoming releases. We'll see how that goes--it's nearly January already and I have no idea what's coming out next month.

That's why I need your help! Since I'm planning on to focus on new releases next year, please recommend some upcoming books--fiction or non-fiction--you think I should put on my TBR list. And I hope you all have a great new year!

What were some of your favorite books in 2012, and what are you looking forward to in 2013?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Most Anticipated Books

book covers

I was brainstorming with Colette from A Buckeye Girl Reads on silly end-of-the-year lists the other day, and we thought it would be fun to list our most anticipated books of 2012 and what we thought of them. This is Colette's list; to see my list, go to A Buckeye Girl Reads!

Colette's Most Anticipated Books of 2012

I didn't realize that I read quite so many Urban Fantasy books until I made this list out. All of the books except for one are from that Genre. I think I like Urban Fantasy's so much because while there is romance, it's secondary to the plot and doesn't take over the whole story line. The guys are tough, the women are tougher and the battle of wills gets me every time. Why must all UF books end in a cliffhanger?? I think that reason alone is why most of these books are on my most anticipated list of 2012.

5.  Chasing Magic by Stacia Kane #5 in the Downside Ghosts series (Urban Fantasy)
If you had told me that I'd like a series that features a drug addict for a heroine two years ago I'd have laughed you out of the room. However, Chess is one of my top five favorite heroines. I think it's because she's not perfect, has flaws, tries to do the right thing but doesn't always succeed. The love interest in this series isn't your typical alpha male, and Terrible has won a place in my heart because he's just not what you expect. These two make an unlikely pair, and I love it. The world is one where the ghosts had an uprising, and the goverments have failed, and The Church of The Truth rules everything. They keep the ghosts in check, and if a family or business should find themselves being haunted the church sends someone to see if it is in fact being haunted. That's where Chess comes in. She tries her best to prove or disprove a haunting. I love how her cases always revolve around other subplots and I love seeing them all come together in the end. In this book Chess is more vulnerable then before, and we get to see more of her role in the church. This series isn't religious, but it is dark, gritty and raw. I love how it pulls me out of my reading comfort book. Each book in this series is better then the last.

Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.
As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

4. Keeping Secret by Sierra Dean #4 in the Secret McQueen Series (Urban Fantasy)
 This series has a love triangle that actually works, a heroine that is tough, witty, sassy and doesn't take crap from anyone yet is still really likable and vulnerable. Just as soon as you think you know where the plot is headed something happens that leaves you saying "Wait, what just happened here???" The ending was a cliffhanger that made me want to shake some sense into the heroine, and wanting the next book in the series immediately. This book did not disappoint me at all!

It's a nice day for a white wedding. At least that's what Secret McQueen is hoping for, with her poofy-princess-dress marriage to a werewolf king looming closer and closer by the day. But as ever, nothing can be that easy for a vampire/werewolf hybrid for whom someone still harbors a death wish. 
Summoned to the south by her werewolf uncle, who makes no bones about the fact her mate bond with Lucas doesn't pass muster, Secret learns her furry heritage looks more like a tangled vine than a family tree. Getting her royal uncle s blessing hinges on finding one of the missing twigs. Even with vampire sentry Holden Chancery at her side, she manages to land up to her neck in a swamp of trouble. As an assassin s scope zeroes in, family dramas boil up and a fast-collapsing love square threatens to bury her alive, making it to the church on time could be the least of Secret s problems. Warning: Contains a grumpy bride who shouldn't be wearing wedding white, a motley crew of bridesmaids, a dangerous scenic drive in the woods and a smoking-hot trio of suitors who might be too scorching to touch

3. The Ripple Effect by J.A. Saare #3 in the Rhiannon's Law Series  (Urban Fantasy)
This series made like vampires again. These vampires aren't sparkly and Rhiannon isn't an angst ridden teen. She isn't afraid to get out of the trouble she's somehow landed herself in, and this is another series where anything can and will happen when you least expect it.  This is one of the few series where I like a secondary character more then the main love interest, and like the nice, good guy rather then the super alpha male who is too jerkish for his own good. Each book in this series has been better then the one that came before, and I'm so glad this one didn't disappoint me. I was worried that it had been so long since I read book two, that I wouldn't remember anything that happened and would be totally lost. However, while I was a little shaky on the details from book two, they all came back to me while reading this one, and loved how the recap of what happened in previous books was nicely merged in with the story line instead of taking up all of one chapter by itself.

There is always a price to pay... Rhiannon Murphy visited the future, witnessed hell on earth and made choices to change things for the greater good. Unfortunately there are consequences for her actions, the penalties for her interference possibly more than she can bear. Determined to sever her debt with a fallen angel, she pushes everything aside, focusing on locating Marigold Vesta's resting place. Until death comes knocking at her door. When Disco's maker arrives in New York, he resents Rhiannon on a level she can't begin to comprehend. Yet Marius isn't her most dangerous adversary, not by a long shot. Marius's sire -- a half-demon -- is determined to see the necromancer who stunned the vampire world on her knees. If she won't bend, he'll do everything in his power to make her break. No price is too high, meaning no one is safe -- including Disco and Paine. Dealt a blow from which she can never recover, Rhiannon turns to the only person who can help her: the fallen angel who is relying on Rhiannon to save her soul. Bartering with a creature from Heaven is probably just as dangerous as starting a war with a demon from Hell, but with nothing to lose it's no longer about life or death. It's about getting even

2. The Prince by Tiffany Reisz Book #3 in the Original Sinners Series (Erotic Fiction)
This is the lone none Urban Fantasy book to make it on my list. This book left me breathless. This entire series is one where anything can and will happen. Nothing is safe. If you are thinking this series is just another copy cat of the fifty shades book then you'd be wrong. While there is romance in this series, it's not what it's about, and it's not all about sex either. It has a plot, characters to love and hate, and is one of the freshest series I've read since I started blogging.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer...preferably in bed. That's always been Kingsley Edge's strategy with his associate, the notorious New York dominatrix Nora Sutherlin. But with Nora away in Kentucky, now it's Kingsley's chance to take her place at the feet of the only man he's ever wanted -- Søren, Nora's on-again, off-again lover -- until a new threat from an old enemy forces him to confront his past.Wes Railey is still the object of Nora's tamest yet most maddening fantasies, and the one man she can't forget. He's young. He's wonderful. He's also thoroughbred royalty and she's in "his" world now. But Nora is no simpering Southern belle, and her dream of fitting into Wesley's world is perpetually at odds with her dear Søren's relentlessly seductive pull. Two worlds of wealth and passion call to her and whichever one Nora chooses, it will be the hardest decision she will ever have to make... unless someone makes it for her..

1.  Iced by Karen Marie Moning (Urban Fantasy)
I loved the MacKayla Lane books something fierce, but when I heard a spin off series was being started with a secondary character, Dani O'Malley I was a little hesitant to read this book. I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the standards I had set for the other series because Dani is young. (just 15) She was one of those characters that were annoyingly endearing. I have to say though, that this book while slow in parts, totally won me over. I enjoyed Dani as a lead character much more then I thought would be possible, and Ryodan was just as mysterious and hot as Barrons was. I didn't think that was possible!! Karen Marie Moning has mastered the art of cliffhangers and always makes me forget that there was a part of the book I didn't like by the time I get to the ending. This world continues to fascinate me and I can't wait to see where the next two books will go.

The year is 1 AWC—After the Wall Crash. The Fae are free and hunting us. It’s a war zone out there, and no two days are alike. I’m Dani O’Malley, the chaos-filled streets of Dublin are my home, and there’s no place I’d rather be. Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities. Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux. When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance. Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

Have you read any of these novels? What did you think?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

TSS-Some Bookish Trends I Hope Will Die 2013

Jamie Oliver drooling over fifty shades of grey
Even Jamie Oliver liked Fifty Shades of Grey!

I was toodling around the internet last week, as I do, and I ran across a post titled "Five Trends I Hope Will Die in 2013". I think it was about celebrities or something, but I can't find the original article. Sorry! Anyway, I thought it would be fun to do a similar list about books.

  • Fifty Shades-alike covers--Okay, I get that this is a marketing thing, but the cover wasn't that great to being with and I don't think Fifty Shades was a success based on its cover. So can we please stop creating lookalike covers for every contemporary novel with sex in it?
  • Drama llama--Remember at the beginning of 2012 when every week some author would fly off the handle and attack a reviewer, or write a post about how reviews "should" be written online (favorably, of course)? And then there was the GR Bully site (created by, ironically, bullies). Wouldn't it be weird if nothing like that happened in 2013? Just imagine how easy it would be to enjoy reading! 
  • Consolidating publishers--Not that I know anything about the publishing industry aside from observation, but in the long term I think the merging of the bigger publishing companies (e.g., Random Penguin) will wind up hurting the Big 6 5 4. To me it seems like the big publishers' problems lie in being slow to adapt to a changing market. Turning themselves into bigger companies is NOT going to help that; publishing is becoming more decentralized and personally I'd like to see more publishers and more variety in the market--that's not self-pub'd--not less. But of course breaking into smaller companies is not only more expensive in the short term, but more difficult to manage.

What are some bookish trends you hope not to see in 2013?

Friday, December 21, 2012


virgin slave barbarian king cover

Rome is being sacked by barbarians, and patrician daughter Julia Livia is trying to escape her burning house when she's attacked by rioting citizens. Fortunately, she's save by the Goth (Visigoth? Barbarian? Are they the same?) leader Wulfric. Unfortunately, he decides she'd make a good slave and carts her off to his encampment. If the tent is a-rockin, don't come a-knockin.

I first heard about this book from Penny Watson at Penny Romances, who has a talent for convincing me to read really odd books. With Virgin Slave, Barbarian King however, I didn't require much convincing. For one, I am a total sucker for romances where a woman is taken captive. I think they're hilarious and a lot of the modern ones have really interesting twists on relationship power dynamics. For two, I love unusual settings, and the Fall of Rome is a very unusual setting for a romance!

For the most part, Virgin Slave, Barbarian King was good-ish. I loved the two main characters and found Wulfric particularly interesting. He's definitely an alpha male, which one would expect from this sort of romance, but's he's not a HULK SMASH sort of alpha male. He's really intelligent and calm, and actually a nice guy. Louise Allen does a great job of rounding out his character so that he seems like a normal guy and a romance hero at the same time.

I also thought Julia Livia was a well-drawn character. The story is really about her finding a home and a family, and I love stories like that. The secondary characters were all very sweet and likable (other than Julia's rival for Wulfric's affections) and I thought they rounded out the story nicely. Her conversion from wanting to escape to wanting to stay with the Goths was also believable.

That being said, the integration of the story and the romance just didn't happen for me. It seemed like all of a sudden Julia and Wulfric were in love for no reason other than this is a romance novel, so they have to fall in love. I didn't get a lot of chemistry between them. I also felt like the sense of the historical setting wasn't really there. I kind of need more than how they heated their water and what plates they used in order to frame a time and place in my mind, you know what I mean? As a result the book came off as a little generic.

The ending also made NO SENSE. Okay, so you want a distressing haircutting incident--I got that in the first quarter of the book. But why would the character in question cut off their hair if they weren't going to live in Rome, hmm? Makes no sense. Don't just go around cutting off people's hair for no good reason. Not cool.

ANYway. Despite these minor annoyances, I honestly think Virgin Slave, Barbarian King is worth a buy, especially if you like unusual settings and characters. While it isn't a perfect romance, it does twist the expectations of a typical romance novel in a very interesting and refreshing way. Louise Allen is definitely an author worth watching, I think!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Thoughts on THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien

the hobbit cover

Once there was a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who was very respectable, at least until a wizard named Gandalf tricked him into going on an adventure with a bunch of dwarves to steal a dragon's treasure.

This was my first time reading The Hobbit. Remember that ugly-ass cartoon based on the The Hobbit that they used to show sometimes on Saturday mornings? Yeah, that removed any desire I might have had to read the books. Ever. (It's kind of weird how awful those cartoons were--I think there was a LotR one, too--because they actually seemed to follow the books pretty closely. But without any artistry or interpretation.) Anyway, I didn't intend to read The Hobbit now; however, I was googling something--I forget what--and came across the audiobook on YouTube (fun fact: The Hobbit was in the public domain in the US until January of this year, which means you can still find the audiobook and eBook versions for free online). I hit play just out of curiosity and was totally sucked into the story.

Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed The Hobbit--in fact, I would say it's impossible not to like this book. There's something very innocent and disarming about it. I absolutely fell in love with Bilbo; he is an awesome character. And the stand-out scenes in The Hobbit absolutely sparkle. I loved the beginning where the dwarfs come to Bilbo's house, when he trades riddles with Gollum, and when he steals from Smaug. Smaug was awesome as well!

That being said, I do have one major beef and few minor ones with this book. I'm not sure I would have gotten through it if I had read it rather than listened to it. I mean, for one there are NO WOMEN anywhere in this novel. All the main characters are men. And even the minor characters. I mean, I've read books from the 19th century that were written by men, take place almost entirely on a battlefield, have five characters, and they still manage to fit a female character in there. So how about a shout out for the ladies, JRR? I really wonder how any of the peoples in his novels manage to self-populate considering the ratio of women to men. Maybe we should have put some more thought into that and less thought into how the Elves talk, hmmmm? Why on earth would I be interested in a book with no women in it? Answer: I wouldn't. Secondly, The Hobbit feels uneven at times (especially at the end, which seems to go on and on). Then Tolkien goes into a political rant wherein Smaug is equated to a dictator whose death brings instability and infighting to the region, and the book gets slightly academic. Read: boring.

The no women thing aside, though, The Hobbit was a fast, fun read. Unless of course you start to think about what it all sets into motion in Lord of the Rings, in which case it's actually kind of chilling. But try not to think about that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: THE MURDERS OF RICHARD III by Elizabeth Peters

murders of richard iii cover This cover is pretty ugly, but totally makes sense once you read the book.

Thomas is a Ricardian (someone dedicated to proving Richard III is innocent of killing the two princes) who invites his friend and crush, Jacqueline Kirby, to a country house party where he and other Ricardians dress like historical figures and reenact the Battle of Bosworth, which Jacqueline thinks is hilarious. The weekend turns into a nightmare, though, when a prankster starts recreating the murders of Richard III. Although no one is seriously injured, Jacqueline is convinced the "accidents" are leading up to an actual killing. Can she stop the murderer in time?

I initially read The Murders of Richard III a long time ago, I think in middle school. It was my first encounter with both the concept of historical reenactments and the history of Richard III. After reading The Daughter of Time--which this book references a lot--I thought it would be fun to reread The Murders of Richard III and compare the two.

This is a really good mystery. Maybe not as good from a technical standpoint as The Daughter of Time (review here), but definitely as enjoyable, if not more so. Although dealing with same subject, The Murders of Richard III doesn't try to rewrite The Daughter of Time; instead, it's a twist on a country house mystery, with a large pool of suspects all of whom might be the culprit. Probably the biggest (and my favorite) twist in this book is that the sleuth is a woman and the "Watson" character is a man. There are tons of mysteries where there's a female Watson (Elementary, Perception, The Mentalist, etc.), and a few where the female sleuth has a female sidekick who tells the story (both Baroness Emmuska Orczy's Lady Molly of Scotland Yard--my review at PGP--and the Madame Storey series by Hulbert Footner spring to mind), but a male sidekick with a female detective is relatively rare. The Murders of Richard III are told entirely from Thomas' viewpoint, as he watches Jacqueline pick apart his well-known and beloved Ricardians like a lioness playing with a herd of antelope.

Jacqueline Kirby is my absolute favorite of all of Elizabeth Peters' heroines. First of all, she's a librarian so she knows EVERYTHING. Secondly, she's super sarcastic. Not in an asshole-joke way, either; in an I-honestly-think-you-are-an-idiot sort of way. Take, for example, this exchange between her and Thomas:
"I don't mind being Watson... I'll make admiring noises from time to time, and look as stupid as I can."
"Just be yourself," said Jacqueline.
Fortunately, Thomas, despite being a bit of bloke, does actually know a lot about women in general and Jacqueline in particular. "You just want somebody to listen to you and say 'yes' now and then," he says at one point. YUP, pretty much!

I also love how The Murders of Richard III kind of has a romance but kind of doesn't. Peters doesn't write formulaic romances, but the characters in her novels usually fall in love, or at the very least in lust. Sometimes this leaves me feeling cheated out of a HEA--like she withheld the romantic wrap-up just so no one could accuse her of writing romance--but in the case of The Murders of Richard III, I thought the conclusion was entirely appropriate to the story and Thomas and Jacqueline's relationship.

The only thing I struggled with in this book was actually the list of suspects. First of all, there's a lot of them, about a dozen; and secondly, because they're supposed to be historical figures for the entire weekend, everyone has two and sometimes three names! It took me until nearly the end of the book before I was able to sort them all out.

But that's a minor complaint. Overall this is a really good mystery. I'm glad I took the time to reread it and remind myself of why I love Jacqueline Kirby and Elizabeth Peters so much.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Salon: It Was All a Dream

dorothy wakes up

At the end of The Wizard of Oz movie, Dorothy wakes up in her bedroom to find that the world of Oz was just a dream. Her subconscious substituted the characters and events from the real world to create a much more colorful fantasy world, but that's all it is--a fantasy.

I hate this ending. It's a total let-down. So I was quite happy to find out that the book the movie was based on, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (my review at PGP), doesn't have it. Dorothy does travel back to Kansas, but the land of Oz is just as "real" as Kansas (especially to Dorothy). And that isn't the only adaptation I've come across that does this: in The Nutcracker ballet, Clara wakes up on Christmas morning to find her journey to a castle with an enchanted prince was nothing but a dream. Depressing! Does this happen in the story Nutcracker and Mouse King by ETA Hoffman? Nope! Instead, Clara winds up traveling back to the prince's castle at the end (review here).

Obviously these are only two examples, but I have to wonder why the film and stage adaptions of these fantasy novels went that route. "Ooops, it was just a dream," is a TERRIBLE ENDING. Terrible! Personally I think it would make more sense for the world to remain a reality in the context of the story; but by saying it was just a dream, the adaptations kind of render what just happened irrelevant. It's not as if they didn't have an already-good ending at their disposal, yet they went out of their way to set the story firmly back in "reality."

One of my theories for this is that movies and plays are more "real" than books, in a physical sense. Everything that happens in a book happens in the reader's mind--which is one of the reasons two people can have such different experiences reading the same book. But movies and plays happen in real time and are experiences usually shared with a group of people in a theater. The objects on stage and in the movie take up actual space, and the characters are brought to life by real people. Maybe as a result, people who tell stories through plays and movies are more concerned with reality and making their movies "realistic." That still doesn't quite fit, though, because there are plenty of fantasy films that never reference reality of any sort.

Maybe it's because both Clara and Dorothy begin their stories in the "real" world, travel through a fantasy world, and then return to their normal lives, thus creating a permeable reality. Tchaikovsky and The Wizard Of Oz's studio didn't want to encourage escapist fantasies, which--fair enough. That's some dangerous stuff right there.

Can you think of any other book adaptations that turn a fantasy or adventure into a dream that didn't "really" happen? Why would anyone do that? Why?!

Friday, December 7, 2012


bel and freddie in The Hour

I haven't done a television post in a while (unless you count all those Downton Abbey posts--here and here and at Edwardian Promenade--but anyway) and I thought I was due for one, especially as there are two shows I really want to talk about!


This a show you definitely should be watching. It takes place in 1950s London and is about a television news show called The Hour. But that's not all it's about! There are spies and murders and cocktails and country house parties and awesome cars. At the heart of the show, is the romance between Bel, The Hour's producer; and Freddie, a copywriter and reporter. Bel and Freddie have known each other forever and are best friends. These two are so clearly in love but aren't sleeping together, I don't know why. It's maddening. I LOVE FREDDIE SO MUCH. Actually I love all the characters, but Freddie's my favorite. He's one of those journalists who looks at his job as a calling, not a means of employment.

Basically, if you like Mad Men, The Hour is like that but with a John le Carré twist. It distracts you with shiny television gossip and then it's like BOOM, SPY STUFF! It's totally awesome. Thanks to Ruth from Booktalk & More for convincing me to give it a try. The second season just started on BBC America and you seriously must watch it; it's one of the best shows I've seen in a long-ass time.


When Elementary first started, I'll admit I was a bit snobbish about it. Compared to BBC's Sherlock, it seemed really fluffy and stupid. It didn't reference the Sherlock canon nearly at all, and the mysteries were kinda blah. Plus it didn't have Benedict Cumberbatch in it (PS: brain, feel free to give me more BBC Sherlock dreams whenever you want, thanks). Buuuuuuut I kept watching because I do like both Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui quite a lot.

Now that the show's been going for a few months, I've done a complete 180. I love this show. No, it's not canon and referential in the way BBC Sherlock is; but I think of the two it's actually the more creative adaptation. BBC Sherlock is almost slavish in its devotion to the canon--which is great, I love the layers of references in each episode--but Elementary allows its characters to live on their own and take off in an independent context. Sherlock's drug addiction, which at first seemed like kind of a gimmick, has really given the character and story an unexpected depth. I also think Lucy Lui does a great job as the Watson--both literally and figuratively--in the relationship, and I love the dynamic between her and Johnny Lee Miller. Despite my crush on Benedict Cumberbatch and my appreciation of the complex references in BBC Sherlock, I think Elementary might actually surpass it as my favorite Sherlock TV adaptation (especially if BBC Sherlock doesn't return until late 2013 *dies*).

Have you seen any of these shows? What are some of your new favorites?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tasha's Random Awards Results!

random choice awards

GoodReads announced the 2012 winners of their Choice Awards today, which reminded me I started this survey several weeks ago. After many entries, here are the results!

Best Romance: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Runners-up: On the Island, The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton, Austentatious, The Siren, Family Album, The Mistborn Trilogy, Rakes & Radishes

Best Mystery: Anything by Agatha Christie (via write-in votes!)
Runners-up: A Discovery of Witches, Silent in the Grave, Gone Girl, Gentlemen and Players

Best YA: Leviathan
Runners-up: Seraphina, Wonderstruck, There Is No Dog, Code Name Verity, A Million Suns, Rotters

Best Manga: The Arrival
Runners-up: Bride of the Water God, A Bride's Story, Vampire Hunter D, Dramacon

Best Non-Fiction: Le Road Trip and The Homemade Pantry (tie)
Runners-up: The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Lost in Shangri-La, The Omnivore's Dilemma, The Psychopath Test

Best Humor: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey and The Ghost and the Goth (tie)
Runners-up: My Third-World Girlfriend, Trail of the Spellmans, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy

Thanks to everyone who participated and wrote in entries like a boss! What do you think of the results?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Virtual Advent: Favorite Not-Holiday Movies

scott pilgrim

Hello, everyone! It's time for this year's edition of Favorite Not-Holiday Movies. These are films I think of as necessary viewing during the holidays, even though they have very little (if anything) to do with the holidays. Be sure to check out my list of not-holiday movies from 2010 and 2011 if you need a refresher on the other films I consider my not-holiday favorites.

  • Hugo--This is a beautiful film about a little boy in Paris who finds a family and discovers an old toy maker's secrets. Although I had some issues with Hugo (review here), overall it was a delightful way to spend two hours, and definitely heart-warming enough for any not-holiday movie.
  • Dark Shadows--Barnabus Collins, a vampire, returns to the family mansion to battle his evil ex, the witch Angelique. I know this movie is painfully dumb, and it seriously has NOTHING to do with Christmas, but for some reason I really enjoy it and it gives me the warm fuzzies. Maybe I just have a thing for Johnny Depp in make-up, who knows.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World--I wouldn't have called this a not-holiday movie last year, even though I really love it; but I've been feeling the need to watch it lately, which automatically qualifies it as being a "holiday" movie in my book. Basically it's about Scott Pilgrim, who has an awesome life, is 23 years old, and falls in love with a woman named Ramona. But to keep dating her, he has to battle her seven evil exes. It's totally hip.
  • Inception--Is there a more Christmasy movie than this labyrinthine mind fest of twisty turns? If there is, I can't think of one! Leonardo di Caprio plays a thief who descends into dreams to steal people's idears (my review here).
  • Casino Royale--You guys knew I couldn't have a not-holiday movie list without a few shootings and car chases, right? Plus Daniel Craig... rowl. And he's in a suit, so that's practically thisclose to getting dressed up for a holiday party.
Now it's your turn! What are some of your favorite not-holiday movies?

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