Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything · Top Ten Tuesday

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday – Binge-Worthy TV Shows/Movies

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – Bingeworthy TV Shows/Amazing Movies. With the fall TV season starting up this month, we’re talking about what shows everyone watches when they’re not reading.

 

 

1. Charmed – One of my favorites. I probably rewatch this series once a year or so.

2. Bones – Another one I can’t stop rewatching. I love how much science this one has compared to other crime shows.

3. Numb3rs – Speaking of which, as someone who loved math growing up, I found this show absolutely fascinating. Also the fact the actual mathemeticians consulted for each episode makes me extraordinarily happy.

4. Doctor Who – Surprisingly enough this isn’t one I tend to binge watch. It’s more that I have the series on a constant loop and just watch the next episodes when I’m not in the mood for anything else. If I had to pick one show to watch for the rest of my life and I could never watch anything else ever, it would be this one.

5. Parks and Recreation – This is a show that I absolutely didn’t think I’d like until I finally watched a couple episodes and fell in love with the characters.

6. Lord of the Rings – My husband and I have a day-long marathon with the extended editions at least once a year. There’s never a bad time for LotR.

7. Criminal Minds – I’m currently on a rewatch of this series. I love crime shows but I’m a wuss about scary things. This show leans a little farther into scary for me so I can’t watch them right before bed but I still can’t stop loving this show.

8. Gilmore Girls – I adore these amazing women and their relationship.

9. Once Upon A Time – I’ve been wanting to rewatch this one soon. I’ve always loved fairy tales of all types and this show combines such a unique combination of traditional stories and unique twists.

10. Supernatural – Though I have to catch up on the last couple seasons, this show really started the binge-watching obsession for me.

 

What shows and movies do you love to watch?

-Antonia

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Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Summary: Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Review: I CAN’T HANDLE THAT ENDING. I need to start the next book so badly but I’m making myself review this one first – under protest!
First off, I’m seriously beginning to love Vhalla. She is so broken in this book, traumatized by the events from the first. I’ve mentioned this in many reviews, but I love when authors accurately portray characters with PTSD. So often they show a little to further the story line but then the character is magically cured; Trauma isn’t like that, it’s continuous and debilitating. You don’t know when or what might trigger an episode and it usually gets worse before it gets better. Vhalla has nightmares almost every night which results in her being sleep deprived constantly. She’s never had much of an appetite but now she barely eats. When something happens that reminds her of The Night of Fire and Wind or her imprisonment, she freezes. None of these things further the story line, if anything they’re tedious and redundant; but they’re realistic. This woman is traumatized and having friends who support her or falling in love don’t suddenly make it okay.
That being said, Vhalla is also an extremely strong character. Even when she breaks down she picks herself up again. By the end, I had so much admiration for her determination and growth.

“She had to survive if for no other reason than to spite the world.”

Aldrik. I don’t even know where to start. He’s broken too but in different ways. For him, he started breaking so long ago that he’s more resigned to it than anything. He doesn’t feel worthy because of it and especially feels like he doesn’t deserve Vhalla. He absolutely does. I loved getting to see the real him, the side he shows Vhalla, behind the mask he needs in order to be the Crown Prince. That contrast made it feel like I really got to know him in this book and I love all of it. He’s unapologetically badass, sweet, and cruelly apathetic when he needs to be. I particularly adored the flashbacks of his life we got to see. It helped me to understand some of the mysterious aspects that surrounded him throughout the first book.
I loved Larel. She’s an exceptional friend to Vhalla. She’s the one always picking Vhalla up when she breaks, holding her when she wakes up screaming from her nightmares. She’s simply an amazing human and I loved getting to know her better.
Daniel was a really fun character as well. He was the first person Vhalla meets after her trauma that she feels comfortable with. They both grew up in the East and visited the same places as children which sparks an instant friendship. I was worried for awhile that this was going to turn into a love triangle but luckily it didn’t. They gain that sort of intimate affection that comes from leaning on someone for comfort but they remain just close friends. I’m happy about this because I don’t think we see enough male/female friendships in books that don’t turn into romances.
The Emperor increasingly pissed me off. I expect it’ll only get worse over the rest of the series.
I really enjoyed the plot of this book. I’ve read quite a few reviews from people who didn’t like it, saying it’s just a filler book and nothing happens; and honestly that’s mostly true. But that’s why I liked it. Most of the book the army is just travelling from the capitol to the war in the North. This gave Vhalla a chance to learn who she is now and begin to come to terms with everything that’s happened. It gave her a chance to make new friends. It gave her and Aldrik a chance to actually form a relationship. We always hate when characters fall in love too fast, well this book gave them a chance to do it slowly. By the time they kiss for the first time, it’s months since they first met. That’s practically unheard of in YA world.
Overall I freaking adored this book. I thought it was a significant improvement over the first (and I liked that one too). I’d recommend it to any YA and fantasy readers. I’d love to hear your own thoughts on these books. Thanks for reading.
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Summary: A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

Review: I’m so glad I finally listened to Amanda and picked up this book. It starts off pretty quickly, with enough mystery to keep me turning the pages. The world-building was gradual enough to seem natural without being tedious. There were a few things I was confused about in the beginning but they were explained shortly after.
This world is one I find extremely intriguing. I’m not sure what time period to try to relate it to; it’s certainly old-fashioned, with the society rules, sword-fighting, and a pre-industrial feel to it but there’s also some aspects that seem more modern, mentions of plumbing and a generally more feminist society.
The magical side of things is what really got me though. I’ve always adored elemental magic especially. In this world, different regions tend to produce sorcerers of each individual element; countries toward the East have Windwalkers, the South have Firebearers, etc. The Windwalkers were eradicated decades ago until Vhalla suddenly manifests as one. (Note: Yes, I saw the parallel to Avatar: The Last Airbender but I assure you the similarities end there.) I just love all the things you can do with elemental magic and Kova executed it really well. I also really enjoyed her showing a more negative side to the magic (nothing’s perfect right?), particularly the way sorcerers are treated in this society. To the point where Vhalla simply doing research on sorcerers and their history was enough to earn the judgement of her peers.
The storyline itself also had a darker side, especially at the end, and I’m really looking forward to more of that later in the series. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy lighthearted, happy reads when I’m in the mood for them, but when I’m reading about war I want to see traumatized, broken characters because war isn’t pretty and I don’t think it should be portrayed that way in media.
I liked Vhalla quite a bit and it seems like she headed for some really great character growth. She makes mistakes and her indecisiveness could be a bit annoying; I think if she’d just accepted her magic and took steps to join the other sorcerers, none of her problems would have occured. Even when she was annoying though it was understandable. She’s thrown into an entirely new world, kidnapped, thrown off a roof, and told she’s something that everyone treats basically like lepers. I totally don’t blame her for trying to crawl back into her old life and pretend none of it’s happening.
I want to hate Aldrik, I really do, but I can’t seem to make myself do it. He can be an asshole, he’s arrogant, and keeps tons of secrets but then he turns around and says something sweet and I’m like, “awwww”. Since he’s so mysterious, I didn’t get to know him as well as I’d like but I’m very excited to learn more about him in the next books.
One thing I noticed were some typos and the occasional sentence that was worded a bit oddly; this might just be on the Kindle version, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely something that caught my attention. After I got into the story I didn’t notice them much or was able to ignore them in order to continue reading but if you’re someone who gets easily annoyed with things like that, you might have trouble getting into this one.
Overall, this book was amazing. It was fast-paced, with complex characters and a crazy plot. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA, fantasy, and magic. I can’t wait to read the next book and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

Summary: In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

Review: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I’m so glad she reached out to us about it; this book (and the prequel series Solis Invicti) hadn’t been on my radar yet and I’m so excited about them.
The Gilded King is the first book in Jaffrey’s Sovereign series. One thought I had throughout this book was that I really wished I’d read the Solis Invicti series first. The Sovereign series is meant to be standalone but I had so many questions about the history of this world and the way everything worked. Usually I like when world-building is added gradually to a story. I hate when a book starts with a giant chunk to explain the basics of that world to you. It’s frequently tedious and boring. With this book though, those details were added too slowly; I didn’t understand important details about this world until very late in the book. This just left me feeling confused for a lot of it and I kept going back and rereading sections to try to understand.
That being said, once I understood the world better I really enjoyed how unique it was. We’ve all seen enough dystopians that start with terrible plagues and vaccines that have unforeseen consequences but I thought the twist with the paranormal added a lot to it. The fact that the cure for the humans made their blood poisonous to vampires was something I wouldn’t have expected.
Another thing I thought was unique (at least from books I’ve read personally) was that humans have essentially become a slave race in certain parts of the world. There are still human settlements but in places where the Nobles (also called the Silver, depending on who’s talking) live, humans are treated like dirt. They’re called Servants but they have no rights. They’re not paid for their services and they have no choice in what they do. When Julia’s sent to serve Lucas, she’s going so he can drink her blood and she’s not allowed to say no. If they do, they’re exiled from the city which, as far as they know, is a death sentence.
I liked Julia for the most part. She was tough and intelligent. I liked that she questioned what the Nobles told the humans. One of the biggest problems for the humans living in the Blue was that the only information they’ve been given for centuries has been what the Nobles wanted them to think. Julia doesn’t always ask the right questions but at least she keeps asking them. The only thing I didn’t like about Julia was her behavior where Lucas was involved.
Lucas was a good character. He’s sweet, considerate, and tries to be true to himself even if it goes against the way Nobles are supposed to act. I was mildly annoyed that Julia happens to meet the only Noble who’s kind to humans; it’s a trope I’m a little sick of. When you have an entire race of people it’s not logical to think only one of them is morally good.
My main problem with Julia and Lucas though is their romance. First of all, it happens too quickly. Julia’s terrified of Nobles but is instantly attracted to Lucas and vice versa. Their relationship makes the mistake so common in YA, in that it progresses at an unrealistic rate. I also felt that I was being told-not-shown, if that makes sense. For most of the book, the romances (I’ll talk about Cameron and Felix later) felt very forced. I was not emotionally invested in these relationships.
Cameron was a really interesting character. He’s a member of the Solis Invicti, basically the guards of the Blue. For centuries he’s been exploring the Red (anything outside the Blue) looking for the lost queen, his friend Emmy. I found myself sympathizing with him quite a bit. No matter how long it’s been, he never gives up on Emmy or stops looking for her even when everyone else has. I’ve seen other reviews from people saying they were bored during Cameron’s parts but I didn’t have that problem at all. He was my favorite character so far.
I liked Felix for the most part. Seeing the difference between humans of the Blue and humans of the Red was really interesting. His attitude is bitter and resigned because he understands more about this world than others, like Julia. I particularly enjoyed seeing the contrast between them. He was also so mysterious that I just wanted to know more. His relationship with Cameron was also more believable, at least after the beginning. There was a sudden twist at the end about Felix (no spoilers, I swear) that I was extremely frustrated about. It just seemed so unnecessary.
Now to the part I loved: the plot. It was surprisingly intricate for the genre. There were times when I brushed something off as irrelevant or unimportant then it would suddenly tie into something later. It was also really cool watching Julia and Cameron’s opposite journeys. They never meet in this book and a lot of what happens to one sort of parallels the other but they almost always have one-half of certain information and the other has the rest. By the end I was screaming “If they could just have a conversation then everything would be okay”. It was infuriating but in a good way. I always like when I know more than the characters do. The ending also left me with so many questions half answered. It feels like this first book was just an opening for the second; it set the scene for all the craziness that’s going to happen next.
I wasn’t sure how much I liked this book and I definitely had some problems with it, but the ending made me really excited for the rest of the series. I think I’ll read the Solis Invicti series before the next book comes out and hopefully that will solve some of my confusion.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes YA, paranormal, or dystopian, though if you’re a reader who doesn’t like being left with tons of questions, this might not be the book for you. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

Celtic Magic by Linsey Hall

Summary: I am the Druid

Finally, I know what I am. The Druid of the Dragon Gods. The knowledge comes at a price, however. Two new golden tattoos have appeared on my arms, and they’re blocking my magic. Magic that I need to survive. 

When two ancient druids show up at the Protectorate needing my help, it’s obvious there’s something big at play. A dangerous force has invaded the Celtic realm, and they say that only I can save it. I jump on the chance, and not just because I want to. If I can go to the Celtic realm, maybe I can learn more about what I am. Maybe I can save my magic.

With the powerful shifter mage Lachlan at my side, we encounter a realm of extreme danger—and mystery. It’s up to us to unravel it before the Celtic realm is destroyed and I lose my magic forever..

Celtic Magic is a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure starring a kick butt heroine, a powerful hero, and magic that will blow your socks off.

Review: Have I told you guys that I love Hall’s books? I can say all sorts of things about them (and I will) but mostly they’re just fun.
In this book, Ana has finally learned where her magic comes from and now has a chance to develop new powers and also learn to stabilize her old ones; up until now they’ve been a little chaotic inside her. She learns to do this in the Celtic Realm (basically where the Celtic gods live/ the Celtic afterlife) while also trying to figure out what sort of evil is attacking the realm.
I absolutely loved learning about the Celtic gods. It’s not a mythology that I’ve read about often and I’m really excited for more of it in the rest of the series.
Ana’s still awesome, especially now that she’s figuring out exactly how awesome she is. She’s finally gaining some well-needed confidence in herself. I especially love her relationships with her sisters, Lachlan, and the Cats of Catastrophe. Ana definitely isn’t one of those people who’s likes everyone they meet but when she cares about someone she goes all out. She and her sisters would do anything for each other, and have on multiple occasions. They’re banter is the best.
The Cats of Catastrophe are probably my favorite part of these books. The gang consists of three extremely different cats; Princess Snowflake III (fluffy, white, and bloodthirsty), Bojangles (an orange cat who Ana calls “a sweet moron”), and Muffin (the Cat Sith, a fairy creature from celtic mythology). These cats are entirely magical and can even speak to Ana with telepathy. “Cats of Catastrophe” is the name they received because they’re morally neutral and, before they met Ana, mostly spent their time as jewel thieves. I love them so much and not just because I’m a cat person. Muffin is the most sarcastic character in the books and Princess is just mean to everyone (except very occasional to Ana). Ana and Princess had a really sweet moment in this book and frankly, I cried a little.
I finally got to know Lachlan better. Now that he and Ana are seeing where their relatonship might lead, I like him a lot more. Even though he’s one of the most powerful mages in the world, he always treats Ana as his equal. He supports her and always has her back but he doesn’t try to fight her battles for her. It’s something I think we need more of in the way relationships are portrayed in all types of media.
Overall this book just made me want to read the next one more. It was fast-paced, funny, and action-packed. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA and mythology. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Summary: Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Review: Once again, I hardly know where to start. I have so many thoughts and feelings about this story and characters that I’m overwhelmed by it. In a good way. As soon as I finished I knew I had to get A Court of Frost and Starlight, and I never read novellas. My love for these characters is so great that I’ll take any chance to read more about them.
Let’s start with Feyre. I’ve liked her from the start but that’s somehow continued to increase throughout the books. First from her selfless bravery, then from the way she grew throughout the second book, and now because she’s an absolute badass. I spent the first few chapters just cheering her on while she spied on/ sabotaged Tamlin and the spring court. Later, when she was finally able to be High Lady of the Night Court, I only admired her more. She’s become confident in herself, her love, and her court and I loved watching her interactions with pretty much everyone. (Note: Unless you’ve read at least some of these books, you probably won’t understand what it really means that Feyre has become a High Lady; take it from me, it’s a really big deal.)
I still don’t like Tamlin. Some people think his actions by the end of the book are enough to redeem him at least a little but not for me. I think he’s a complete jerk who builds a “poor me” bubble around himself and how could anyone possibly believe the worst of him? How? Because you literally did everything possible to make everyone think you were the enemy. I don’t know how he could be surprised that people treated him as such.
Rhys is still my favorite book boyfriend. I adore his and Feyre’s relationship. They’re a team; they treat each other as equals and even when one of them goes off on their own or makes a mistake, they respect each others decisions whether they agree with them or not. Their love is what I think everyone should aspire to have.
Mor is amazing. She’s tough and fun and has the most tragic backstory. The one thing I didn’t like is the secret she’s kept from the group for hundreds of years. (Don’t worry, it’s not something that really affects the main storyline.) It just seems like, because the group is so close, that she should trust them not to judge her or to let it change the group’s dynamic. The fact that she doesn’t bothers me a little.
Cassian and Azriel are also fantastic. They have fairly opposite personalities; Cassian’s more in-your-face about pretty much everything while Azriel hides in his shadows and doesn’t really let anyone in. Getting glimpses of the softer side of Azriel is the best though. I just want to wrap him up in a bubble and protect him forever.
Amren is probably my favorite of the Inner Circle. She’s an all powerful being from another world trapped in a High Fae body. Her powers are limited in her current form but you frequently get glimpses of what she is by the way others behave around her. The fact that this tiny little person terrifies everyone she meets just makes me so happy.

**MINOR SPOILER ALERT**

What I don’t get is how anyone can believe Amren would betray them at the end. After seeing the way this family interacts throughout books two and three, I had no doubt that she had a plan and wasn’t actually betraying Feyre. Anyone who thought she would actually do that isn’t giving her enough credit.

**SPOILER ENDED**

I still can’t believe Hybern turned Elain and Nesta into High Fae. Elain just made me sad throughout the entire book. She’s like a tiny puppy being kicked. I really liked Nesta however. She’s still prickly and a little annoying and just mean to everyone but that’s just the shield she wears constantly. I think she grew a lot during this book and is one of the main reasons I want to read ACOFAS, to see how she’s doing after the war.
Lucien I really loved for the first half of this book. Then he disappears on his mission and you don’t see him until the end. I found this part irritating. It felt almost like Maas sent him on a wild goose chase so she wouldn’t have to figure out where he fit in with the rest of the Inner Circle. I would have liked to have seen more of him.
Overall I loved this book to the point where this series is definitely a new favorite of mine. It has the best characters and a really intricate plot. The final battle was intense, bloody and literally had me screaming at my husband to stop interrupting me. I’d recommend this series to everyone. The first book is a little more YA romance but the other two are far more complex and action-based. Tell me what you think in the comments because I could talk about this book for days. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia

Antonia's Antics · Everything & Anything

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Summary: Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic… forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined — animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner — a practitioner of dark, flesh magic — invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Review: This book was a little hard for me to get into. Mostly I think it’s because I started it on audiobook and didn’t much like the narrator. The voices she gave the characters were weird and hard to differentiate between. Several times, I thought one character was speaking and it turned out it was someone else. It was almost as if the narrator forgot which voice she assigned to who and kept mixing them up.
Luckily I decided to switch over to Kindle and liked the story much better after that.
Ceony annoyed me a little at first. It seemed like she was alternately very intelligent or very naive, whichever was convenient to the story at the time. For instance, she worked crazy hard to finish years of schooling in just one year but then when Thane gives her a few books to read for “homework”, she complains about all the work. I found this ridiculous. If she managed to finish what’s basically a college degree in one year, then she would have no qualms about a little reading. It seemed to me that, because she’s supposed to hate her apprenticeship, Holmberg just made her complain about everything whether it was realistic or not. After a while she got better about it though and Ceony became I character I actually liked.
Emery Thane was fun. Unfortunately we didn’t get to know him as much as we normally would. For the better part of the book, Ceony’s basically walking through his memories but we don’t see him for real. It sort of gave us random glimpses of his character but it made it awkward for me to form real opinions about him.
Also the (potential) romance between them felt extremely forced to me, especially because everything happens in such a short amount of time. I’m hoping that gets better in the next book.
Despite not necessarily wanting the characters to be my best friends, I would like this book solely for the magic. In this world, magicians can control man-made substances; they bond to one substance in particular and that’s the only one they can ever work with. Ceony and Thane are paper magicians. She doesn’t want to be a Folder, they’re looked down on by other magicians because it’s not considered very useful. I loved watching Ceony slowly learn all of the amazing things she can do with paper. It’s an extremely unique magic system that I loved reading about.
Then Holmberg also made a dark side to the magic. Someone once figured out that since humans are technically man-made, they could be controlled by magic and Excision was created. These evil magicians use blood and flesh to control and torture people. It added a seriously dark aspect to an otherwise fun storyline.
Overall this was a very interesting read. I wouldn’t call it a favorite but I am excited to see where the rest of the series takes me. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories about magic. Thanks for reading!
-Antonia