Friday, December 19, 2014

How to Become a Heroic Catholic ~ book review

(This is my fourth read-for-a-review.)

Want a book on Catholic apologetics for teenagers written by a teenager? This is your book!

This book is set out like a conversation with words like y'all (giving a really nice regional vibe) and epic. At first this stylistic decision threw me off, but it worked out quite well. HBHC is a book that is meant to help one with debates with Protestants, so a dialogue style works well for it. It also works well for the audience - young Catholic teenagers, though this book is great for older people, as well.

I was really impressed with HBHC. I was taught my Faith quite well, but I still learned quite a few things from this book. It also has become my go-to book for when I have a debate with Protestant friends with its handy Bible verses. I hear that Catherine is planning to write another apologetics-type book, so I'm really exited for that. :)

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10

P.S. Catherine is a friend of one of my favourite authors, Gina Marinello-Sweeney, so if you love Gina, read this. ;)

Buy the book:
Catherine's website:

And here is a really good interview with the author...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Supernatural {Seasons 1-3} ~ a TV show review

Genres: drama, horror, fantasy, action, adventure, mystery
Lead Actors: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles

Supernatural is an American TV show that focuses on brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki), who were raised by their father from an early age to hunt all things evil - spirits, vampires, werewolves, and demons. When the show begins, Sam has left this life to go to college because he doesn't get along with his father, John Winchester, who is obsessed with finding the demon that killed Sam and Dean's mother, Mary Winchester. However, when Dean shows up with the news that "Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been home in a few days", Sam decides to go on one last trip to help his father. However, when the brothers don't find their father, and Sam's girlfriend is killed by the same demon that killed Mary, Sam goes back to hunting with his brother, hoping to find his father and get revenge along with him. After season one, the plots start to get more condensed, with more episodes focusing on the theme of the season rather than episodes with just hunting.

Dean (left); Sam (right)

My favourite part of this TV show are the rituals that have hints of Catholicism in them. While Dean is agnostic (though he does gain some more faith as the show goes on) and Sam has some belief in God, there are undoubtedly Catholic undertones to the show. First, there is Sam and Dean themselves, who risk their lives on a daily basis to save innocent people. However, what I am going to focus on are the exorcisms. Like what one may find on a Catholic website about demonic possession, a person who is possessed has a voice and face (black eyes in the show) change. The demons in the show will flinch at the name of Christ or if they are touched by holy water. To exorcise demons, Sam and Dean use rosaries, holy water, and  actual exorcisms in Latin. One of the exorcisms in the show roughly translates to:

"Thus, cursed demon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you. Cease to deceive human creatures, and to give to them the Poison of Eternal Perdition.  Go away, Satan, inventor and master of all deceit, enemy of humanity's salvation. Be humble under the Powerful Hand of God --tremble and flee -- I invoke by us the Sacred and Terrible Name at which those down below tremble. From the snares of the devil, free us, Lord. So that You may make Your Church safe to serve You freely, we ask You, hear us. So that You may destroy the enemies of Your Sacred Church, we ask You, hear us!"

Therefore, while there is no priest doing the exorcism in Supernatural like it should be, I am willing to let that slide because I find it impressive that a secular TV show would have such Catholic elements in it. When it comes to the demons, even the Seven Deadly Sins show up. But really, the demons are horrible. I love the idea of fighting the forces of evil, but if there's one thing I have to say about this show, it would be that it really puts the fear of Satan and Hell into me!

However, like almost any other contemporary TV show, Supernatural has some problems - therefore, it's not for kids (but even then, I think the horror would be too much for a young person). There are some camera focuses on certain parts of a woman's body from time to time and/or some inappropriate women outfits, especially if it's an episode with a vampire because they are very lustful creatures. Dean is a player, but it's more amusing than inappropriate. There are two scenes that I had to skip - one with Dean in season 1 ("Route 666", which is a great episode besides that one part so that was really unfortunate) and one with Sam in season 2 ("Heart").

There's another issue in this show (mainly season 3) that I'm a little iffy on. If there's one thing Dean and his father are good at, it's horrible decisions. What horrible decisions, you ask? (This information is major spoilers, by the way.) At the beginning of season 2, John Winchester sells his soul to the demon that killed his wife to bring Dean back to life. And when Sam is killed at the end of season 2, Dean sells his soul to bring his brother back to life. HOWEVER - and this is the thing that makes me forgive the producers/writers for this - the issue isn't taken lightly. Things only really started happening at the end of season 3, but there's definitely going to be consequences. As it is, season 3 ended with Dean in Hell, tortured, screaming - and from what I've seen so far of season 4, the show gets redeemed pretty fast.

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10 (with 1 warning flag)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blank Space ~ a Taylor Swift Review

"Blank Space" is one of my favourite songs off Taylor Swift's new album 1989. In this song, Taylor paints herself as the character the media portrays her to be - dating dozens of boys and insane. The song is very ironic and is full of sarcasm. Being a fan of Taylor for five years now, I really like that she addressed the media's lies about her in this way - much better than proclaiming everyone a "hater" like in "Shake It Off".

The music video, however, is even better. Not only does Taylor take on this character in her song, but she also does so in the video. I am very impressed by everything about this music video - the beautiful luxury house and grounds, fighting matching up to the lyrics, the hallway full of painting of Taylor's "ex-lovers", the gorgeous costumes, Taylor with cry-smears of mascara and an axe but yet still looking flawless. I'm not going to say anymore, otherwise, I would be gushing for hours. Even though Taylor's music has gone downhill with her latest album, the music video for "Blank Space" is her best yet.

Alyianna's ratings
Song: 9 out of 10
Music video: 10 out of 10

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dark Water / Death in Heaven ~ Doctor Who Episode Review

I find that people either seem to really love or really hate the Series 8 finale two-parter of Doctor Who. I am one of those who is leaning towards the "really love" side. While this finale was not quite as good as past finales have been, it was definitely the best of the episodes this season and had some stellar elements.

(Read on for spoilers.)

Bringing back former characters Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and Osgood was a great idea. I loved how they just took the new Doctor in stride without wondering who he was or exclaiming that he had changed his face. I don't know about the rest of the fans, but I know I was excited when the Doctor told Osgood to put "all of time and space" on her bucket list. However, I guess that's not going to happen now, is it? I'm sad that Osgood is gone for good, but it feels final. There were only so many times that she could be pulled up for another episode before it started feeling like the must-haves but also cheesy robot Santas from Russell Davies' Christmas episodes.

Danny was great. His sacrifice showed off his character, and I really admire how honourable he was. He was too good for Clara, if you ask me. Speaking about Clara....

Clara - she's annoyed me this season. I hate how Moffat rewrote her character into the egomaniac and controlling companion. She had some good moments this finale - such as the scene at the volcano at the beginning of "Dark Water" and her final scene with the Doctor in "Death in Heaven". However, there were enough of her scenes controlling the Doctor that spoiled Clara for me once and for all. I'm actually glad that she's gone. Clara was a great character in season 7, but she just wasn't right this season. I don't know if Moffat was trying to lessen the sadness of her leaving, but I think I would have preferred to have the heartbreak rather than feeling relief that she was finally gone.

The real wow of this finale, however, was Missy. The Master should have stayed male, but Michelle Gomez played the part really well. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Missy and the Doctor, and how their friendship was expanded from last time (series 4 with John Simm - who is still my favourite Master). I was very disappointed when Missy was killed - or did she teleport away? Moffat has supposedly hinted that Missy might appear in Series 9!

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TV Shows of 2014 - How They're Going So Far

Doctor Who (Series 8)
I've been disappointed with this season so far. Peter Capaldi is a great Twelfth Doctor, and I like how Moffat has changed his style for this new era, but most of the episodes have been pretty weak. However, the first part of the finale on Saturday was very good. The best episodes of this season so far, in my opinion, are "Deep Breath" (S8E1), "Kill the Moon" (S8E7), "Mummy on the Orient Express" (S8E8), "In the Forest of the Night" (S8E10), and "Dark Water" (S8E11). (Appropriate for kids)

Genre: science fiction
Alyianna's rating: 8 out of 10

Downton Abbey (Series 5)
Downton Abbey is keeping up its drama with no sign of stopping. Every episode is just great - I don't have any complaints here. The cinematography, character portrayal, and plot are just as astounding as ever. Sometimes, same old is just the way a TV show should stay. (*cough cough* Doctor Who *cough cough*)

Genre: period drama
Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10

Once Upon a Time (Season 4)
Unlike Downton Abbey, Once Upon a Time has started to run a little dry. The amazing character development of Regina and Rumpelstiltskin has seemed to have been discarded. The Frozen add-ons have been interesting, but aren't played as well as they could be. While the Snow Queen is really good, Anna is a touch annoying. There's also altogether too much focus on Emma. I really appreciate that Sunday's episode gave some backstory to Belle, but I feel that the directors shied away from the question of the knife and Rumple's trustworthiness all too quickly. Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon, though I feel it should have been touched long before now. "Breaking Glass" has been the best episode of this season so far. (Appropriate for kids)

Genre: fantasy
Alyianna's rating: 7 out of 10

Selfie (Season 1)
My reaction to the trailer was "how did Karen Gillan fall so low after Doctor Who?" However, I've been pleasantly surprised by the show so far. There's been some good lessons regarding friendship and avoiding the Internet. The last episode, "Nugget of Wisdom", in which Eliza (played by Karen Gillan) babysits a friend's son, was a scream. Very funny, very good. Not for kids, though. (1 warning flag)

Genre: comedy
Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1989 ~ music review

I've been waiting impatiently for Taylor Swift's next album. However, I was greatly disappointed with 1989. While there are some songs that I do like, most of them I do not. Even the songs I do like are nowhere as good as the songs on her previous albums. I think that there's altogether too much autotune and... well, pop. I know it's a pop album, but I was expecting something more like previous Taylor albums. There's also a bit of minor language going on, and some of the lines are a little more explicitly sexual than her previous songs, such as in "Wildest Dreams" ("You see me in hindsight / Tangled up with you all night").

The Good
The chorus from "Blank Space" grew on me, and I like the irony of the song. "Style" grew on me as well. I really really really like "Wildest Dreams" with its Lana del Ray vibe - but some of the lyrics are a little questionable. I don't mind "I Know Places" and "Out of the Woods". "Clean" is probably the best song on the entire album.

The Bad
There's a couple of songs that I don't mind, but I really don't like "Welcome to New York" and "Bad Blood". The first has way too much autotune and pop. I'm also suspicious of the lines: "Everybody here was someone else before / And you can get who you want / Boys and boys and girls and girls". The really high "stay" in "All You Had to Do Was Stay" makes me cringe - but the entire song "Bad Blood" makes me cringe. It doesn't even sound like Taylor at all!

Final Thoughts
I know that Taylor changes her music style from album to album, so I'm definitely looking forward to see if her next album is any better.

Alyianna's rating: 7 out of 10

My Reviews on Singles
Shake It Off

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Eye of the World ~ book review

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

One of my good friends just introduced me to the "Wheel of Time" series. I fell in love with everything about the book almost immediately - the plot reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, the characters are the type that a reader will really care about, and I love the writing style.

Here's the story - Rand Al'Thor has lived on a farm outside of Emond's Field for as long as he can remember. But when Trollocs invade his town, looking for Rand and his friends Mat and Perrin, the three friends are forced to flee and are swept up on a quest that will change all of their lives.

I love most of the characters, though there are one or two characters who annoy me (and have also annoyed all the fans I've had contact with so far). I think it was the similarities to Tolkien's Middle Earth that really drew me in at the beginning, but I am glad that The Eye of the World is its own book. I think why I loved this book so much is that it made me laugh at the funny parts and even cry with happiness at other parts - and only The Lord of the Rings and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus books have evoked such emotions in me.

I'm really looking forward to reading the next book!

Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mansfield Park ~ Book VS. Movie

I just finished Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, and I think it has become one of my all-time favourite books already. It's also become my #1 favourite Austen book OVER Pride and Prejudice. This idea surprised me because Mansfield Park doesn't have the wit and humorous banter of the latter. However, I think what made me love it so much was the sweet disposition of the main character, Fanny, and the fact that I was already shipping Fanny with her future husband from the first moment he was introduced.

But to address the main question here... how did the 2007 movie live up to the book?

I think the movie did a good job of adapting the book to screen with a few revisions. One scene in the book has Fanny's uncle send her home to visit her family (whom she hasn't seen since she was nine years old) because he wants make her miss the guy whose proposal she rejected (and, ultimately, accept him if - rather, when - he were to ask again). In the movie, however, Fanny's uncle has Fanny stay at home when the rest of the family leaves on a trip. Not only does this punishment seem harsh, it didn't make as much sense with the rest of the story. It also doesn't make sense that Fanny's Aunt Bertram always complains that she needs Fanny at her side at all times, and then is suddenly fine with her getting married and going away. The book does this all much better.

However, I think the ending was done better in the movie. I was really disappointed that Edmund's realization of the fact that he loved Fanny was glossed over in such a way that there was almost nothing of the falling in love / wedding part. The movie did a much better job on fleshing out Jane Austen's last few pages. And that line "Let us make it our business, Mrs. Bertram, to be happy ever after"? That was a line that sounded like it just came out of the book - but it didn't.... which disappointed me greatly.

Book wins because book is better (in everything but that last chapter).


Billie Piper as Fanny Price; Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram

In the book, Fanny is a sweet girl who doesn't talk much eitherbecause she is too shy or she believes she isn't good enough to be able to. While I love Billie Piper (mostly because of Doctor Who), she just didn't play Fanny right. Billie Piper portrays Fanny as a sweet girl, but she is also bright and lively and sometimes steps out of the low place her Aunt Norris puts her into. (Example: Aunt Norris reminds Fanny that she is lower than her cousins and should not step out of place at the ball. Fanny replies that she will always remember that -- unless she's having too much fun to remember. While this might seem fairly innocent, in the Austen's world, this would be quite significant and would be seen as Fanny sassing her aunt.)

The other characters, however, are played very well. I really liked how Blake Ritson carried himself as Fanny's dear cousin Edmund, and Michelle Ryan did a great job as Maria. (Actually, I was expecting her to turn bad any moment after seeing her play Nimueh in Merlin.) The rest of the cast was also stellar, although I did keep confusing Henry Crawford with Fanny's cousin Tom.

So while the rest of the characters are played perfectly, in my opinion, Fanny is unfortunately portrayed in a wrong way.

Book or Movie?
Book, obviously. But the movie does a really good job at adapting the book, a better job than movies usually do.

Alyianna's ratings
Book: 10 out of 10
Movie: 9 out of 10

Monday, September 15, 2014

Listen ~ a Doctor Who episode review

Last week's episode was a continuation on the good-episode streak - actually, it was pretty amazing and bittersweet at certain parts. Unfortunately, Moffat did make some of his usual blunders; namely, that of forgetting plots from previous episodes. For example...

- Orson Pink is proclaimed to be the "first" time traveller. But what about the "first" time traveller in Moffat's own episode "Hide"?

- "The last planet in existence," the Doctor says. But what about the time he, Martha, and Captain Jack travelled to the last place left in the universe in "Utopia"?

These are just some examples of Moffat conveniently (or actually) forgetting previous plots. It doesn't matter which one it is, it just looks sloppy and causes me some fist-shaking "Moffat!" moments.

Another thing I had a problem with is that "Listen" felt like two episodes squished into one without covering them properly. Couldn't Moffat have just stopped after Clara came back to Danny in the restaurant and fleshed out the episode properly - and then do the rest of the episode in another and fleshed out that one properly?

However, besides these common Moffat mistakes, "Listen" was quite a good episode. I believe it is that questioning part of the Doctor that's making me start to really like him... as well as his kind moments, which are made all the more special because he's usually so rude. :) The first fifteen minutes were good and the last fifteen minutes almost blew my mind away. I might not have liked the episode as much as I did with all the annoying blunders, but that ending saved Moffat... this time.

Alyianna's rating: 8 out of 10

Question – Why do we talk out loud when we know we’re alone? Conjecture – Because we know we’re not.

This is just a dream, but very clever people can hear dreams. So please, just listen. I know you’re afraid, but being afraid is alright. Because didn’t anybody ever tell you? Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger. And one day you’re gonna come back to this barn and on that day you’re going to be very afraid indeed. But that’s okay, because if you’re very wise and very strong fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind. It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it’s okay to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to anything else, listen to this. You’re always gonna be afraid even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But that’s okay because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I’m gonna leave you something just so you’ll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Robot of Sherwood ~ a Doctor Who episode review

"Robot of Sherwood" - Clara dearly wants to go back in time to meet her hero, Robin Hood. The Doctor doesn't believe that Robin could really exist - or could he?

I was hoping that Saturday's episode would be better than the last - and it definitely was! While it wasn't as good as some of my favourites, "Robots of Sherwood" is undoubtedly the best episode in series 8 so far (can Mark Gatiss please replace Moffat now?). According to my dad, it was also the first episode in this series that the Doctor and Clara were actually in character. (I'm not good at noticing that type of thing, but I thought it was a good thought.)

What made this episode so good? For one, it was pure fun. I probably haven't laughed so hard at a Doctor Who episode since "Partners in Crime" (Series 4).

Sheriff [of Nottingham]: I’ll have you boiled in oil at the castle by sunset.

Robin: Can we make it a little earlier, because that’s a little past my bedtime.

Robin introducing Clara to his
Merry Men
For another, while the plot is borrowed from an old idea of the show (travelling back in time to meet a companion's favourite historical figure), it is done in a fresh and new way. One of the things that really irked me about "Into the Dalek" was that there were so many things that felt as if they were copied from previous Doctor Who episodes. This episode could easily stand on its own, spoon and all.

I thought the tie-in with the Half-Faced Man was really genius. I suppose I should have expected it (being a part of the season arch), but when it was revealed that the space ship's destination was the Promised Land, I definitely sat up a little straighter in my seat.

Doctor: I’m still having a little trouble believing your [story], I’m afraid.

Robin: Why is it so hard to credit? That a man born into wealth and privilege should find the plight of the oppressed and weak too much to bear? .... Until one night he is moved to steal a TARDIS and fly among the stars fighting the good fight.

The Doctor & Robin Hood

However, what I really loved was the story arch dealing with the myth of the Doctor compared to that of Robin Hood - especially, the ending, which was quite lovely and will be dear to anyone who loves the Doctor and wonders whether he truly is a good man.

Alyianna's rating: 9 out of 10

Robin: You are her hero, I think.

Doctor: I’m not a hero.

Robin: Well neither am I, but if we both keep pretending to be … ha ha … perhaps others will be heroes in our name. Perhaps we will both be stories, and may those stories never end.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Expect Hiatuses

This is just a little note to tell you all to expect hiatuses now that I am in school. In good time, I will be posting twice a week (at most). I will try to post at least once a week, but we'll have to see how that goes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars ~ movie review

Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group. The Fault in Our Stars, based upon the number-one bestselling novel by John Green, explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

I expected to hate this movie because it was a popular teenage romance film. However, I was very pleasantly proved wrong. The story of Hazel and Gus is definitely not a convential love story, nor is a cheesy one. It's a story just as much about friendship and living as romantic love.

At the beginning of the movie, I connected to the main character, Hazel, almost immediately. Her realism and sarcasm felt like a breath of fresh air compared to all the characters I've seen who are big dreamers (don't get me wrong, that's good, too, but I really needed a break from fantasy). I liked the friendship between Hazel and Augustus - and by mid-movie, I had been sold on the romance. The ending is so heartbreaking and yet also beautiful, the movie also had me crying at a certain character's death. This movie has great messages and lessons about life - and from the parts that I can tell are quoted directly from the movie, I know I NEED to read the book because this John Green guy sounds like a master with words.

However, I'm going to have to move the rating down a little from a 10 out of 10 because of some certain elements. There is some use of minor (and once or twice not-so-minor) language. God is mentioned a few times, but Hazel seems to dismiss the idea of Him as Someone who could help her. Then there's the scene when Hazel is surprised that Gus is still a virgin, and the other one when the two of them are talking while topless in a bed (we only see Hazel's back). The movie is great once you get past these two scenes, but it is something to contribute to my warning rating.

Alyianna's rating: 9.5 out of 10 (with one warning flag for minor language and sexual content)

Quotes & Images

"Make some friends!" Hazel's mom calls after her .
Pain demands to be felt.
- from Hazel's favourite book

Flight attendant: There is no smoking allowed on this flight - or any flight!
Gus: Oh... I don't smoke.
Hazel: It's a metaphor. He puts the thing that kills between 
his teeth, but doesn't allow it to kill him.
Flight attendant: Well, there are no metaphors allowed on this flight.

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
- Hazel

The world is not a wish-granting factory.
- Gus

I'm not a mathematician, but I do know this: There are infinite numbers between zero and one. There's point one, point one two, point one one two, and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger set of infinite numbers between zero and two or between zero and a million. Some infinities are simply bigger than other infinities. A writer that we used to like taught us that. You know, I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, do I want more days for Augustus Waters than what he got. But Gus, my love, I can not tell you how thankful I am, for our little infinity. You gave me a forever, within the numbered days. And for that I am... I am eternally grateful. I love you so much.
- Hazel

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Into the Dalek - Doctor Who Series 8

Spoilers galore in this review!

"Where the hell have you been? It's been three months!"

I thought Saturday's episode was good, but not great. The episode started out well with Clara back in her normal life with the Doctor having abandoned her in search of "something interesting". I like that the subject of the Doctor's morality was touched on again in this episode; however, I didn't like how the concept was covered.

For backstory - the Daleks are Doctor Who's most feared and most powerful villains. They are the very pinnacle of evil, reminding one of the Nazis. In this episode, the Doctor comes across a Dalek that is "good" - or is it really?

It turns out that the Rusty the Dalek's judgement was clouded by radiation sickness, which allowed it to see the beauty in the birth of a star. When the Doctor cures Rusty, it goes back to its original function of exterminating everything and everyone in sight. The Doctor helps Rusty to remember the beauty that it saw in the birth of that star.

HOWEVER, I don't like the way that this was done at all. The Doctor lets Rusty see into his soul, where Rusty see beauty, divinity, and hatred of the Daleks. The Doctor goads on Rusty to hate his own race. I know that the scene where Rusty exterminates the other Daleks who are attacking a group of soldiers is supposed to be a stand-up-and-cheer moment, but all I could think of was that Rusty was killing its own kind... which reminds me a whole lot of the Doctor's regrets about what he did to his own people (up until "The Day of the Doctor"). When Rusty decides to stay and help the soldiers kill the rest of the Daleks, I felt as if the Doctor had tricked Rusty into deciding to do the work of the soldiers.

So Rusty's line, "No, I am not a good Dalek. You are a good Dalek" was another of those stunning, chilling lines. Other fans seem to think the opposite of me, but I am reminded of the "You would make a good Dalek" from "Dalek" in the Christopher Eccleston era. I agree with Clara that the Doctor tries to be good - but does that make up for his dark moments?

"You are a good Dalek."

However, there were a couple of really great moments during this episode. I loved all the parts with Danny Pink (played by Samuel Anderson), and I'm starting to love him already. Actually, I think I like him almost as much as I did Rory - which I thought was impossible. His chemistry with Clara is great and the scenes touching up on his regret for his past as a soldier reminded me a little of John Smith from "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood".

"Did you kill anyone who wasn't a soldier?"

What I really loved was the scene with Missy (played by Michelle Gomez). The instant that I realized that Gretchen was still alive, I had two ideas in my head: Did the Doctor somehow save her the way he saved River? or Is it Missy's heaven? Missy's appearance definitely surprised me. Her character is so delightful and I am very curious who she will turn out to be. Only's the Impossible Girl story arch has excited me as much as the Missy arch this series.

Here's to a (hopefully) great episode this coming Saturday! 'Stay tuned' for my review of "Robots of Sherwood" next week. You can read my review of "Deep Breath" here.

Alyianna's rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, September 1, 2014

Literary Video Blogs: Jane Austen

I have recently become interested in literary video blogs. I was introduced to this corner of YouTube through vlogs based on the writings of Austen. Today I am going to talk about two of my favourite vlog series - The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

LBD was my first introduction to these type of vlogs. It is an adaptation of the story of Pride and Prejudice in a modern setting. Usually, I deeply dislike these type of adaptations. However, I found these vlogs to be delightful and very entertaining. Jane is just as sweet as she is in the books and Lizzie's portrayal of her mother is hilarious. There are obviously a whole lot of changes since the story is now set in the modern world; however, these changes are very believable and fit in with the new setting perfectly(and there are a lot of nod-to-the-book moments). For example, one of the major themes of these vlogs is the creation of videos for the web, so Mr. Darcy's beautiful house from the books becomes a big company that deals with web-based content. There are a few other changes that weren't as necessary to change in the new modern setting, one of these being that the number of Bennet sisters is cut from five to three (Jane, Elizabeth, and Lydia); however, the other two sisters are dealt with in the vlog series in interesting ways. Another change is that Lydia is changed for the better by her encounter with George Wickham and is no longer the immature, boy-crazy young woman she once was. I, for one, really like that Lydia is redeemed in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, so I fully support this change.

from Lydia Bennet
Lizzie on Darcy

Emma Approved

My viewing of EA was slightly different from that of LBD because I actually watched the vlog series before I read the book Emma. However, I enjoyed EA just as much as LBD (which actually was the reason that I watched the whole series before I finished reading the book - it was too good for me to have to wait!). As with LBD, the book is set in the present day and has various changes to adapt with the new setting. Emma is the boss of her very own matchmaking company and Mr. Knightley is her financial guy. The vlog series also brings in a character that will be very well-known by Pride and Prejudice / LBD fans, which was a really great addition, and, in my opinion, actually improved the story. And can I just say, Mr. Knightly is even better than he was in the book?!

Sounds like Emma, right? :)
Emma & Mr. Knightly

Mostly... There is one phrase at the beginning of Emma Approved that I can remember not being the most appropriate. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries also go into a topic that isn't exactly family friendly. The said topic deal with Lydia Bennett, which will be understandable to anyone who is a fan of the book. But other than these few issues, both vlog series are very clean. My younger sister is actually watching Emma Approved at the moment and she loves it, even though she usually hates anything that deals with romance.

Alyianna's rating (of both): 9 out of 10

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

45 Master Characters ~ book review

For those of you who aren't interested in writing, this review will probably be meaningless to you. For those of you who are, keep your ears and eyes and mind open.

This book uses mythical archetypes (based on Greek gods and goddesses) that will help a writer form strong characters who aren't stereotypical. The last section of the book focuses on the differences between a male and a female journey, which I found very helpful for plotting out one of my story ideas.

45 Master Characters is a very helpful book and I recommend it highly to anyone who dabbles in writing. One word of caution, though - this book is secular, and therefore sometimes mentions things like which character type would be most like to have an affair, etc.

Alyianna's review: 9 out of 10

Monday, August 25, 2014

Deep Breath - a Doctor Who episode review


You all should know by know that I am a huge Doctor Who fan... which means that I've been waiting for this episode for months very impatiently. The debut episode of the Peter Capaldi era is finally here! (For those of you who don't know Doctor Who, what I'm talking about is the very first episode of series eight, which is the start of the Twelfth Doctor's era.)

My Overall Thoughts
I was not disappointed with this first episode at all. "Deep Breath" was a great episode - from the classic chases to the Doctor's coping with his regeneration to the humor coming from Strax to the combined elements of DINOSAURS! IN VICTORIAN LONDON! WITH ROBOTS! 

Since I joined this fandom late and had a half-year period where I was just watching one Doctor Who episode after another, it wasn't until around February that I started experiencing how it was to be in the hiatus stage. This, as well as the reading of thoughts of other people on Doctor Who episodes, and that everything was going to be changed in this series, made me look on the entire show in a new light. I never realized how weird so many of the concepts in this show is. But it's brilliantly weird and just purely fun, and that's why Doctor Who is so great. It takes someone who likes sci-fi to get into the show, but once you're in, you're going to be on a wild (and emotional) ride.

I really loved that we got to see a different type of reaction to regeneration, one that forces out a lot more the question of what it really means for the Doctor to regenerate. While the Tenth Doctor was asleep most of the time, and Eleven got some spasms and had new taste buds, the Twelfth Doctor acts erratic and questions why he looks the way he does. There are a ton of nods to past Doctor Who when it comes to the Twelfth Doctor trying to figure out who he is - the Fourth Doctor's scarf, Amy, the Impossible Girl, and even Peter Capaldi being in Doctor Who before in "The Fires of Pompeii" ("I've seen this face before. Why did I choose this face?").

At first, I wasn't sure how I liked the idea that Clara didn't feel that the Twelfth Doctor was the Doctor (her being the Impossible Girl and having seen all his other regenerations and all), but in the end, it did work. This way, Moffat took us on a journey of figuring out whether we accepted this new and utterly different Doctor, instead of accepting him almost right away as with the previous Doctor. I know I liked the Doctor from the moment he opened the Tardis door and hoarsely whispered, "Shush", but I didn't fully accept him until that second-to-last scene.

And can I just say - the second-to-last scene? I had already heard rumours about this scene over a month ago, so the cameo appearance wasn't a surprise, but it was still just as beautiful as it would have been had I been surprised. I don't want this episode review to be too much of a spoiler, so I'm not going to say who it is, but... man. Moffat definitely knows how to squeeze out a scene until there are no feels left in it and you can move on.

Then that last scene? Well, let's just say I wasn't expecting that. But all I'm going to say is that I can't wait for Saturday!

There was one problem I had with this episode - and that problem revolved around Jenny and Madame Vastra. Anyone who has previously watched an episode with this pair will know exactly what I am talking about. Usually, I am glad when the Paternoster trio (Vastra, Jenny, and Strax) step in - mostly because the former two can definitely handle the bad guys, and the latter is there for comedy. However, this episode, Moffat went a little too far with the lesbian thing between Vastra and Jenny. After hearing some vague rumours on the Internet (I didn't check it out because I was trying to keep away from spoilers), what happened in the episode wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was still pretty bad.

Alyianna's review: 8 out of 10

Pictures and Quotes Time!

"I hate being wrong in public. Everyone forget that happened."
(I know, right?)

"[...] I think you might be scared. And however scared you
are, Clara, the man you are with right now... The man
I hope you are with... Believe me, he is more
scared than anything you could imagine right
now. And he... he needs you."

"You can't see me, can you? You look at me, and you 
can't see me. Have you any idea what that's like? 
I'm not on the phone, I'm right here. Standing in 
front of you. Please, just... just see me."