Sunday, March 3, 2019

Subplots & Storylines - January & February 2019

Well hi there. Things have gone radio silent around here over the past seven weeks, huh? This final semester of college is a real doozy so far, and it's been such a frigid winter I think my brain froze. But . . . I got my first library card in January, so #priorities, yay!

In other good news, I'm done midterm exams, which means I'm that much closer to graduating, which means we'll be returning to a regular posting schedule soon. Thank heavens, you're all thinking! . . . Right? Right. You've all been wasting away here in my absence, I'm sure. *cough*
Speaking of which, the main life update to share with you is that I'll be starting a brand new job after college! It's exactly the sort of position I was hoping for. Having everything in place ahead of time is a huge relief and answer to prayer.
But now--on to the mini reviews of everything I watched and read during the first two months of 2019! Buckle up!

Screen Subplots

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(Looking at you, Miss Poofy Dress*)

Once Upon a Time // Season 7 (episodes 1-3)
Final opinions are, of course, suspended until I finish the season, but so far I'm having more fun making fun of Season 7 than I am actually watching it. Oops. Everything is different and they got rid of some favorite characters, replacing them with super bratty ones.* I'm also in the dark on most people's motives right now--hopefully they actually come to light and make sense!

January Films

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I WAS SURPRISED. Pleasantly surprised! Venom was never my favorite dude, and I'd heard this movie was gross and dark. But while it was darker than, say, Captain America . . I really liked it! So many laughs, so much suspense, and such a well-drawn villain.

For those wondering about content, most decapitations occurred off-screen, but I wouldn't recommend it for young or sensitive viewers.
February Films

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The Grinch (2018)
Eh. So Benedict Cumberbatch voiced the green guy himself. That's great. The rest of it was pretty ho-hum, like they took the original movie and doubled the length without adding anything significant. (But I'm guessing young kids would enjoy it anyway.)

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
I looooved The Lego Movie, and I'm happy to report that I liked the second instalment just as much! The only thing it's missing is some of the novelty of the first one, but that's hard to replicate in a sequel, so I forgive it. Aside from that, there were plenty of dazzling visuals, romping adventures, one-liners, and clever twists of old tropes (and twists of the twists, imagine that!).

Also . . .
"This song's gonna get stuck inside your he-e-ead!"

It did. It very much did.

Page Storylines

January Reads
Image result for a time to die nadine brandes
A Time to Die (reread) // Nadine Brandes
I reviewed this book back when I first read it in November 2017 (check it out on Goodreads here!) but it still deeply touched me the second time around. 5 stars!

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Mark of the Thief (audiobook) // Jennifer A. Nielsen
This wasn't as good as The False Prince, but still entertaining. I liked how Ancient Rome was fused with fantasy, incorporating mythology and even some history.
Where this book fell short for me was in character motivations. Our protagonist, Nicolas, seemed to care about his friends and family only when it was convenient to the plot. And when other interesting things were happening? Well, he completely forgot about them. (For the minor spoilers on this, check out my Goodreads review.)
Other characters: Auralia had an attitude that came across a bit more caustic than snarkily endearing, and Crispus, although nice enough, was kind of arrogant.
Anyway. I did like the “One Ring” vibes the magical bulla was giving, and Caela the griffin was cool (because GRIFFINS). The pacing of the plot was quick and enjoyable too, so 3.5 stars.

February Reads

Image result for a time to speak nadine brandes

A Time to Speak // Nadine Brandes
Well, there goes my heart in a hundred pieces. Nadine Brandes did it again.
I can’t tell you how much Parvin’s journey is resonating with me. I wish I’d known her five years ago, but I’m glad to have met her now. She’s grown so much since the beginning of the first book—in purpose, in courage, and in tenderness.
And that shattered heart I mentioned? Every piece of it was stolen by Solomon Hawke, and I don’t think he plans to give it back. He and Parvin share one of the most solid and mature relationships I’ve ever read in YA!
I won’t even begin to flail over the plot, because there’s no way I want to spoil it for anyone! But I will say that . . .
a) Nothing is easy
b) Not everyone survives
c) Everything is vivid—the pain, the cold, the hunger, the hope
That’s what I love about this trilogy. It’s a gritty dystopian—like we’ve all seen before—except there’s hope burning brightly in the midst of darkness. And with that ending? Yeah, it’s way more meaningful than any other dystopian I’ve read. 5 stars!

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A Time to Rise // Nadine Brandes
I was terrified for everyone during the majority of this book, but I’m pleased to say that after shattering my heart in all three books of this trilogy, Nadine Brandes did in fact manage to put it back together again!
The hope and contentment at the end is something most dystopian stories don’t have. It took pages of pain and stumbling to reach it. But we made it. Parvin made it, and I’m so proud of her.
My only complaint is that there were a couple spots I felt antsy and removed from the action, but on the plus side, it was nice to have a young heroine who isn’t the sole person responsible for saving the world. So . . . I can’t complain much. 5 stars! Overall, this trilogy is a favorite!
P.S. I totally need a dogsled ride now!

P.P.S. Solomon is still one of the best love interests EVER.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire // J.K. Rowling
I'm still reeling! Smack dab in the middle of the series, this book has the charm of the first three, but definitely takes a turn for the darker. Something I love about Rowling's writing is that she spends the first half of the book fooling you into thinking this is all fun and games and unrelated side quests--and then pulls everything together at the end. Everything is significant.
A few thoughts . . .
  • Harry is getting a backbone!
  • Ron is utterly clueless about girls.
  • Hermione is still a mini-me.
  • Snuffles!
  • It was fun getting a wider view of the wizarding world, what with the Quidditch World Cup, portkeys, and the Triwizard Tournament.
I didn't expect most of the plot twists!
That. Ending. Oh my goodness. *screeches* That was terrifyingly good and would've given me nightmares as a child!
I could ramble on if I let myself, but I shan't, because I want to keep this spoiler-free. (Side note: I went through this as a read-along with a few friends and 10/10 recommend the experience!) 5 stars!

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow // Mary Weber

That ending wrecked me. (And here I thought the Storm Siren trilogy cliffhangers were bad.)

But let me back up a bit. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow was exactly the cool, techy, futuristic sci-fi novel I wanted, but that’s not what made me love it.

What I loved were the characters. Broken, bruised characters with scarred pasts. Characters running from guilt. Characters clinging to the very few good things left in their lives.

What I loved was the gut-wrenching heart of the story. I knew that this book speaks on human trafficking, but I wasn’t prepared to flip the pages faster and faster, heart in my throat, as I witnessed the brokenness of humanity shouting from within the pages of a fictional world.

Rabbit trail: It’s books like these that are driving Christian fiction in the right direction. Some of you reading this review may not be comfortable with the light smattering of language, or mentions of sex, or references to characters sleeping around, or the depiction of the horrors of trafficking. It’s not pretty. But given the context, I think it was necessary. I think the grittiness was important, and wasn’t there for its own sake; it was there as a rolling up of the sleeves, a digging into the dirt to get to the root of deep pain. There are souls living the same pain that are crying out to be seen, accepted, and healed. They—we—need books like these.

(Rabbit trail over.)

After devouring book 1, I am so eager to dive into the sequel ASAP! Thank heavens it’s sitting ready on my shelf. (I'm currently reading the climax, actually!)

Written Subplots

Nothing to see here that you don't already know! But in case you missed it, Dead Magic appeared in Havok--and has since been selected for consideration in the printed anthology!!! I also guest posted on Realm Makers' blog in January.

No actual writing occurred these past two months, sadly. I took a peek at The Brightest Thread. Once. I sighed wistfully and then went back to homework.

Your turn, friend! What's 2019 looking like so far? What's the last series you binge-read? Have you seen any of those movies? Let's chat--I've missed you all!


  1. Fun update! BTW, I binged watched that show you mentioned awhile back, "Rich Man". Was my first k-drama show and I LOVED it. It was so unique for a soap opera (which I had to admit after watching, it was. But I didn't feel guilty as it's unique ;p). Now I want to watch more k-dramas ... but I know I have better things to do with my life. ;/

    There's another lego movie! No way! Love the first one so much.

    I feel like I was watching all of Once Upon A Time to just make fun of it ;p I mean, after season one at least. I finally gave up because making fun is only fun for so long.

    And I totally want to watch The Grinch just for Cumberbatch's voice.

    My month has been pretty good. Too much snow has made it hard to get to work, but writing and life has been well besides. Just need to start submitting more. I really want to write something for Havok, that's one of my goals. Haha. And totally loved Dead Magic! I hope it's reprinted in the magazine.

    1. Thanks! Ha, I find it funny I've watched only the first episode, and here you've gone and finished! XD So glad you enjoyed it, though! Once my studies are over, I hope to watch the rest with my sisters.

      Yes way! The second one was so fun. ^-^

      LOL, that's kind of true... But for some reason, despite the cheesiness, I REALLY loved the first few seasons. (Especially 2 and 3!)


      I'm waiting for spring too! Oooh, good luck with Havok, and thanks for the well wishes on Dead Magic! <3 Hope your March is going splendidly so far.

  2. Hehe, yeah, the only reason I somewhat want to watch the Grinch is because Benedict Cumberbatch voices him. XD

    But AAAHHHH A TIME TO DIE SERIES IS AWESOME!! (except I still haven’t read the third book . . . my library doesn’t have it. :( )

    I hope your March is amazing, Tracey!

    1. Valid reasons, though! XD

      AHHH I LOVE IT TOOOO! <333 Oh my goodness, you need to read "A Time to Rise," though. Such a good ending!

      Same to you, Nicole!

  3. A TRACEY POST. IT'S CHRISTMAS!!! And I most certainly have been wasting away without your lovely posts, so there.

    Season 7 of OUAT... Yeeeah. It's something. >.> I felt like taking away the magical, cozy town completely stripped the charm of the show. But I'll try to refrain from saying anything else to avoid spoilers. (We'll have to rant about it together when you're done. ;D)

    I haven't seen any of those movies, but they're ALL ones I want to. Especially LEGO 2. :D

    Oh my goodness, YOU READ SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. Wasn't the whole Time to Die trilogy just adjlfjaldjf;lkjadf??? A Time to Speak was just PAIN. So. much. pain. Like you said, everything was so vivid too. You felt it ALL. Such a wild ride of a trilogy! BUT SOLOMON MY BOY. <333

    I need to get on the fairies chat and scream about Goblet of Fire with you guys. *grins* Wasn't it crazy??? You think everything is all good and fluffy and fun and THEN. THENNNN. *collapses* So many feels. (But I kinda like the darker turn the books take on from here on out...?)

    EEP. You read The Evaporation of Sofi Snow! :D Mary Weber is the master of cliffhangers. o.o I feel your pain. Luckily, I thought the sequel was just as good!

    And okay, but can I just give a big YES to your rabbit trail. I think a lot of people gave Mary Weber a hard time about her duology because of how gritty it was, but we NEED these kind of books written from a Christian perspective. Why are we letting the secular writers take on the hard subjects while we stay in our little safe bubbles? Mary Weber and Nadine Brandes inspire me so, so much with how they're brave enough to write gritty fiction, but with the most powerful message. We DO need books like this. Desperately! I LOVE everything you said about that, and couldn't agree more!

    You are sooooo close to graduation! Then you can tackle TBT with full force. :D So, so thrilled for you and all the exciting things in the horizon. I do hope your March is an absolutely beautiful one, dear friend! <3

    1. Christmas in February! Or March. xD Haha, you're sweet!

      Yep. I would agree. >.> We shall have to rant about it when I finish watching it, yes!

      Lego 2 was amazinggg! So, so many one-liners.

      I went a little crazy over reading/exam weeks! It was fantastic to have so much reading time in between homework assignments. But yes to everything you said about the Time to Die trilogy! Especially Solomon. ;)

      "And THENNNN" should be the blurb on the back of every HP book. XD

      She is crazy good at dangling us readers off cliffs! I read the sequel right after (I just didn't finish in time for this post), and it was such a good conclusion!

      Yes, yes, and yes! Those two are inspiring. I love the kind of writing that isn't afraid to face life head on!

      So cloooose! *crawls up Mt. Doom* Thank you so much, friend. Hope your month has been fabulous thus far! <3

  4. Good to hear from you again!

    Congratulations on the up-coming new job!

    I look forward to finally being able to read the Out of Time series. My current series that I'm binge-reading is the collection of James Herriot books.
    I plan on watching the second Lego Movie with my youngest brother as soon as possible. We both love those nerdy, self aware films!

    1. Thanks, Blue! I've missed you!

      And thanks again. ^_^

      It's a good one, that's for sure! Oh, I don't think I've heard of James Herriot. What does he write?

      Nerdy and self-aware is the perfect way to describe them. xD

    2. Herriot's books are about his life as a Yorkshire Dales vet, around the time of WWII. Although his series has some language and 'vet details', it's one of my favourites. Herriot has a talent for character description and for telling vivid story.

    3. They sound fascinating! Nonfiction (the kind that isn't a textbook) is something I want to read more of once college ends. :)

  5. I'm re-reading the Out of Time Trilogy by reading it to some of my siblings. They strongly dislike Parvin. And Jude, for the most part. I have a feeling I won't read them the next two.

    I just binge-read the Blades of Acktar as well as the Ilyon Chronicles. That was lots of fun! Those series are great!

    Praying all goes well with the upcoming job! Starting new things can be fun as well as stressful. :)

    1. Aw, that's too bad! Parvin does have her unlikable moments in the first book, but she grows SO much in the next two, doesn't she? And Jude is... well, he's Jude. Mixed feelings from beginning to end.

      I've been meaning to try both of those series sometime!

      Thanks so much, Julian! I'm looking forward to it. :D

  6. The Lego Movie 2 looks really good :o

    The Mark of The Thief looks interesting, I just ordered it in fact XD(also tbh the twists in The False Prince were not at all surprising to me)

    1. *whispers* It issss!

      Haha, yay! (I feel like the False Prince twists wouldn't be surprising if everyone has told you, "Hey, guess what? The plot twists in here are amazing!" Except when I first read the book, I didn't know anyone else who'd read it, so I hadn't heard anything. That, or I'm just bad at guessing these things. XD)

  7. Oh man, I haven't even seen anything of OUAT past season 4, but just from what I've heard about it... it sounds so bad. >.<

    I love how you casually state that "most decapitations occurred off-screen". xD And I'm really looking forward to seeing the second Lego Movie!

    I want soo badly to read the Out of Time trilogy! I've heard it's so good from so many people. Definitely on my to-read-very-soon list. I've also seen Sofi Snow floating around and thought I might give it a read.

    Haha, I've opened up stories of mine so many times and looked at them wistfully. Either time or lack of motivation caused me to close it down. xD

    1. I hate to say... yeah, it kinda is. Season 5 had some things worth watching for, though! (Especially concerning a certain pirate.) Season 6 was really a mixed bag. :P

      LOL, wellll... *shifty eyes* Venom has a rather large-ish mouth and a rather disturbing tendency for using it for decapitation purposes. XD Yes, The Lego Movie 2 was super fun!

      Oh boy, if you like dystopian, sci-fi, and/or gritty fiction, I think you'll love both of those!

      #lifeofawriter XD

  8. I'm not enjoying season 7, it just doesn't have the same things I used to love about it. I hope your story gets picked for the anthology it's awesome!

    1. I know, they got rid of some of the show's main staples, including its charm. :'( Awww, thank you, Skye! Hope you're having a lovely March.

  9. Congratulations on your job, Tracey! That's great.

    Wow! do you know how to get reading in. Thanks for your reviews! You're making me want to read the Sofi Snow books, which I was never really interested in before... I also have my eye on the Out of Time series and Harry Potter, so this was helpful. =)
    (And I agree with you that Benedict Cumberbatch was the best part of The Grinch.)


    1. Thank you, Hanna! <333

      I think I must've been starving for fiction! XD So, so glad you enjoy the reviews. I'm never quite sure if I'm rambling or being helpful, but it's awesome to know they're nudging you toward some new reads! ;)

      (Yep, he was! Too bad the rest of the movie didn't quite live up to my expectations. XD)

    2. Nooope, very helpful!!

      Also, I just registered for Realm Makers. . . Will I see you there this year?


    3. I'm glad! :D

      Yesss! I'll be there! Looking forward to meeting you, Hanna!