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I’ll admit, I was skeptical. A show about witches, airing on Lifetime, teased for being the “Women’s Channel.” I must remember that it also brought me Blood Ties, which was fun for the first season at least. I was also skeptical because I’d read some not-so-nice book reviews of the novel, Witches of East End. I must also admit, the book synopsis didn’t grab me the way the show has, and it’s likely I will never read it, now that I’ve seen how much the show strays from it (Much like Vampire Diaries and The 100 have, to their credit).

Perhaps the thing that made me most skeptical of all, however, was the cover image on Netflix (this is also the DVD cover image, as far as I can tell, for season 1).

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My first thought was “Witches of Jersey Shore??” Because. This image. It’s ridiculous. Everyone’s hair is enormous. The girl on the far right, Ingrid (I’ll talk about each of them in a minute) is dressed pretty much the complete opposite of how her character actually dresses. Freya (far left) looks like she has evil eyes (she doesn’t, she actually has very pretty eyes). But luckily for me, my love of all things supernatural won out, and I gave this show a chance.

I was not disappointed, and I was hooked by the first episode. I am the first to admit if it takes me a few episodes to get into a show, and this was definitely not the case with Witches of East End.

The number one thing that drew me in was the fact that this is very much a female-driven show. It centers around the Beauchamp women of East End – Wendy and Joanna, and Freya and Ingrid (Joanna’s daughters). Each of these women has a curse that gives them immortality. Wendy can transform at will into a cat, and she therefore has 9 lives. The other three are much more intertwined. When one of Joanna’s daughters dies, the other dies shortly after, often due to unrelated circumstances. Before Joanna has finished grieving, she finds herself pregnant with one, and then the other. This has been their pattern for hundreds of years.

This time around, when the show begins, Joanna has decided to hide from her daughters that they’re witches. You see, they never seem to survive past their mid-twenties in all their previous lives, and in all their previous lives they have learned to use their magic from a very young age. Joanna puts some kind of enchantment on them, and hides their magic.

That is, until Wendy shows up after 100 years and tells her sister they’re all in danger.

This is a lot to pack into a pilot episode, especially since the girls learn about their magic by the end of it, and I personally thought the writers, actors, and director all did an excellent job of pulling it off. I love all things supernatural, like I said above, but that isn’t what kept me around. It was this ensemble of strong female characters running the show (Dash and Killian, the two leading men on the show, certainly helped though, but I’ll get to them later).

1. Ingrid

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Ingrid is definitely my favorite character. She’s a total bookworm, and she’s practical, and skeptical. I found her instantly relatable. She works in East End’s library and is continuously working on a PhD dissertation about the history of witchcraft in New England. Ingrid has the most trouble adjusting to having magic in her life, compared to her sister, Freya. She begins by taking a practical approach, and ends up unleashing a curse on herself. The first few episodes are quite a roller coaster for her, and she makes several attempts to never use magic again, to no avail. She struggles with this drastic change in her life, but becomes stronger for it. Watching her grow through the first season (and now into the 2nd season) has been amazing to watch.

2. Wendy

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Wendy is my second favorite. She’s the free spirit, semi-hippie of the bunch. She breaks the rules when she feels it’s appropriate, and she’s extremely comfortable with herself. Wendy is the aunt we all wish we had. I suppose this might make her a sterotype, but I like her. Her history has clearly shaped who she is today, and she still makes plenty of mistakes and has difficulty trusting people. Yet she is refreshingly confident and often surprisingly the voice of reason in the family. Wendy is also a little bit psychic and has the best collection of jewelry.

3. Freya

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Oh, Freya. This girl is ruled by the dramatic, and worries intensely about EVERYTHING. Oh, hey, that sounds a little like me… Anyway… Freya is also a little bit psychic, and she is super into learning she’s a witch, considering she thought she was going crazy through some of her formative years. Freya is often the comic relief, but her story revolves around her love for two brothers (ok, I know, this is starting to sound like Vampire Diaries, but bear with me). She is extremely passionate about everything she does, including her bar tending (it turns out she was great at mixing potions in her previous lives, and when she grew up without magic, this turned into an impressive drink-mixing skill). Freya has a strange sort of innocence about her, which makes her one of the kindest characters ever. It also gets her into a lot of trouble, but I love this girl, and kind of wish she was MY little sister. The friendship she shares with Ingrid is very similar to the sisters in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or Charmed.

4. Joanna

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I couldn’t find a photo of Joanna that I thought captured her well, so here’s a photo of her with Wendy making strange faces as they try to explain something unpleasant. This sort of thing happens often. Many delightfully awkward moments on this show. Joanna’s character is fun because she gets to be both a mother and a sister. She’s the most stable character in the group. Her fatal flaw, however, is that she is often idealistic – a fact Wendy likes to point out on more than one occasion. She has many enemies, but it seems they were all created while she was in pursuit of saving her family. Joanna is probably my least favorite of the main characters, but she is a great mother and sister.

And now for the boys…

Killian

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Killian is your standard gorgeous bad boy with a bit of a checkered past. He shows up out of nowhere for Dash and Freya’s engagement party, yet he and Freya have been dreaming about each other for weeks. It’s all very romantic and stuff. I like this guy simply because I like this archetype character. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Damon from Vampire Diaries… I like these guys. I’m ok with that. What makes Killian a little different is his relationship with Freya, which we have only just begun to scratch the surface of, so I won’t leave too many spoilers. Honestly, the other men who come and go in this show are more interesting to me, but Killian is pretty, and he brings a good sense of humor, so I’m curious to see where they take his story, especially with season 2.

I also really like this photo of them, deciding to just be friends:

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Dash

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We have the stereotypical bad boy, and Dash is our stereotypical good boy. This is probably the biggest flaw in this show – these two stereotypes, and the fact that they’re in love with the same girl (this is season 1 we’re talking about though, things have changed in season 2 in many ways). Luckily we get some variety with the other women and the men in their lives, and by the end of season one, the Gardiner boys become very interesting indeed. Season 2 will be much more interesting watching their stories unfold, I think. But the best way I can describe Dash? He’s the Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or Stefan (Vampire Diaries) equivalent. Aside from his silly name, Dash is set up to be the “perfect guy.” He’s a doctor, he’s extremely wealthy, and cares deeply for Freya, his bride-to-be. If he stayed like that for the entire show, he would be extremely boring. But as the first season progresses, he slowly unravels, and we start to get a better picture of who he really is. I honestly didn’t find him interesting until the very end of the season, but I was in this show for the strong women characters to begin with anyway, so it didn’t bother me too much.

In addition to these excellent characters, the show has my favorite blend of drama and humor. Plus magic that ALWAYS has a price, which they continue to state clearly when the girls are first learning how to use their magic. One final point – this show is very sex-positive. These women are very clear about not judging each other for their habits (or lack thereof) and that includes the older two women, which in my experience is a bit of a rarity. In my humble opinion, this is a well-done show, if cheesy at times the way Charmed was sometimes cheesy. My only other complaints are that sometimes really strange things happen that remind me of Torchwood in a bad way, and it’s possible the guys could be better at acting. I’m sure people with a more critical eye than mine could find more flaws, but on the whole, I really enjoy this show, and I can’t wait to see more with strong leading ladies. And now I must leave you – as I’ve got another episode of Witches of East End to watch.

Another fabulous cover by Damonza! What do you think?

NINE BY NIGHT

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About NINE BY NIGHT

“From vampires to empaths, to the grim reaper himself, this bundle will keep you on the edge of your seat. I dare you to try and put it down!” SHANNON MAYER – author of THE RYLEE ADAMSON NOVELS and THE NEVERMORE TRILOGY

Nine books. Nine bestselling authors. Nine heroines that take names—and chances—while confronting dark foes, whether by force of arms or magic, that threaten their entire world.

Over two-thousand pages of epic reading await! Let the adventures begin.

From NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author, SM REINE, WITCH HUNT –– Shaman on the run. Isobel Stonecrow speaks with the dead…for the right price. She brings closure to the bereaved and heals broken hearts. But when she resurrects someone for the wrong client, she ends up on the OPA’s most wanted list.

From NYT and USA Today Bestselling author, CJ ELLISSON, DEATH’S SERVANT –– Jonathan Winchester has clashed with his werewolf alpha one too many times. He returns to Virginia to find work and meets a young waitress, Raine. As their relationship progresses, Jon’s embroiled in more intrigue than he bargained for and a danger bigger than he can handle.

From bestselling author, LINDSAY BUROKER, TORRENT –– When Delia chose to major in archaeology, she imagined herself as the female Indiana Jones of the Southwest. She didn’t imagine herself stumbling across decapitated bodies in old mine shafts or learning that monsters are real…

From bestselling author, ANTHEA SHARP, SPARK –– What if a high-tech game was a gateway to the treacherous Realm of Faerie? Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.

From bestselling authors BOONE BRUX and CJ ELLISSON, DEATH TIMES TWO –– The V V Inn has a ghost problem. New grim reaper, Lisa Carron, accepts the job. She quickly learns the hotel is full of the dearly departed—and she’s working for vampires. Throw in Asa, a young vamp hot enough to melt the Arctic ice, and Lisa realizes she’s way out of her element.

From bestselling author, JC ANDRIJESKI, ROOK: ALLIE’S WAR EPISODES 1-4 –– Like most humans, Allie distanced herself from Seers, a race of human-like beings discovered on Earth. Yanked out of her life by the mysterious Revik, Allie finds out her blood may not be as “human” as she thought, the world is nothing like it appears to be…and she has more in common with Seers than she ever wanted to believe.

From bestselling author, ANNIE BELLET, JUSTICE CALLING –– Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress. Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe. As long as she doesn’t use her magic…

From bestselling author, JESI LEA RYAN, ARCADIA’S GIFT –– Teenager Arcadia (Cady) Day’s family tragedy unleashes a hidden power. After experiencing what can only be called a psychic episode, her home life crumbles. As her emotional control slips away, Cady begins to suspect that her first psychic episode was just the beginning…

From Urban Fantasy author, KARA LEGEND, WILD NIGHT ROAD –– One innocent hex sets off a chain reaction of trouble among the shifters of the Kinraven that threatens war between werewolves, seraphim and witches. Lilith Darke will do anything to be free of her seraphim master. All hell breaks loose when rival packs face off only to discover a new, deadly threat that will take all their magick to survive.

NINE BY NIGHT releases 8/03/2014 on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other e-book retailers.

Goodreads Add Button Widget

Nine By Night

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This week I was asked to host a cover reveal for Nine by Night, a collection of nine urban fantasy novels. I love this cover!! I’ve been sitting on an advanced review copy for a couple of days and I was to excited when I saw the cover photo in my inbox. It’s gorgeous.

I’ve already read Jesi Lea Ryan’s Arcadia’s Gift and reviewed it on Goodreads. I can’t express enough how much I love that novel, and its sequel Arcadia’s Curse. I am absolutely dying to read the conclusion to the Arcadia trilogy, which is set to come out relatively soon, so stay tuned for news on that.

I’ve just started reading SM Reine’s Witch Hunt, and I’m already hooked. I’ll review each of these as I finish them, but I have to say I can barely wait to read Annie Bellet’s Justice Calling. A heroine who’s a gamer nerd sorceress? If that was all the description said, that would be enough to get my attention.

In other reviews, my apartment complex here in Houston occasionally has food trucks. Tonight’s was Korean-Mexican (“korean cuisine with mexican in-between!”). It was absolutely delicious. I ordered some kind of Korean BBQ burrito thing and with the first bite it was like an explosion of flavor in my mouth. Definitely give it a try if you’re in town and try not to be too skeptical!

I mentioned last week that my dad came to visit me in Houston, and we did a million things. There are many things I like about Houston, so if you’re thinking of visiting this city sometime in the future, hopefully this list will give you some ideas. Mostly I’m going to show you photos, but I would like to make it clear that the guide books don’t lie about the food here – there is a TON of delivious foods to experience in Houston.

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Before I go into all that, I have a few words about World Cup. Yes, it is over for another four years, and this makes me sad. I am delighted that Germany won, and it has inspired me to embrace my half+ German heritage more than anything ever has in my life.

But within seconds of the end of the game, Twitter and Facebook exploded with comments from many people in the United States expressing their glee that “soccer is over.” It’s possible that I am biased, because I am indifferent to not-caring about all other sports. But I usually keep those feelings to myself. I find it really frustrating every time I read one of these anti-soccer comments. Living in the United States, I find it EXTREMELY difficult to watch soccer. The only time it really gets any attention is during World Cup, and good luck ever seeing it broadcast on network television. Specific bars might play it on their TVs (particularly those designing themselves with other countries in mind). Nearly every other major sport in this country can be found on network television during each sport’s season. So reading those kinds of comments is like a reminder of how little my favorite sport (and, might I add, the WORLD’S favorite sport) gets attention in my home country. Thanks for rubbing it in, friends. That’s just SO nice of you. So please, even if you don’t like soccer, can you keep it to yourself? It’s painful enough that it’s so difficult to watch live in this country without you rubbing it in after the biggest tournament the sport has.

Ok, stepping down off my soap box now.

1. Onion Creek

Delicious restaurant with great outdoor seating. Hotdogs are a big deal here for whatever reason, so I had a really fancy one with fancy mustard and grilled onions with sweet potato fries. They also have a great selection of local and non-local brews. Good music, too.

2. Brazoria

If you like wildlife, the Brazoria Wildlife Preserve is pretty awesome. We saw three emotions of alligator.

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A. Friendly “feed me!” alligator. This guy came right up to the boardwalk dock. We could have touched him had we not been afraid of the thing chomping our hands off.

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B. Get the F*** Away from my Nest! alligator. This one hissed real loud and stalked toward our car as we slowly drove past/stopped to take photos like idiot tourists.

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C. Chillin’ in the Water alligator. This guy did not care about anything.

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3. Gulf Coast

We drive north up the coast from Brazoria to Galveston, and discovered a gazillion pastel-colored houses on stilts. As a geologist, I think it is absolutely moronic for these people to live here, considering the danger of hurricanes and the fact that a beach is an EXTREMELY unstable place to build your home, but it certainly made for interesting photos.

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4. Galveston

Galveston is extremely touristy. But we found this great Gumbo Bar for a delicious lunch (gumbo and fried okra), and briefly stuck our feet in the Gulf of Mexico, so that was cool. The water was freakishly warm.

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5. NASA

We arrived to NASA rather late, but managed to get a tour in, during which we saw the original command center (“Houston, we have a problem,” happened here) and a Saturn V rocket. We also saw the moon rock and a bunch of other stuff. If you have kids, it’s a great place for them to check out. The tour was great for adult-level entertainment.

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6. The Original Ninfa’s

Delicious Tex Mex food. I mean, REALLY yummy. My dad especially loved this place, and they have a stray restaurant cat that hangs around the outside seating area. Pretty sure my dad wanted me to take it home and feed it, but alas, I can’t have pets here, and I think the restaurant workers are rather attached to it (they’ve named it).

7. Soccer

We watched a World Cup game one morning. There are several British pubs here in Houston, which I found surprising. We went to Watson’s, which has a great outdoor area and a good beer selection, but the service and food leaves something to be desired.

8. Houston Museum of Natural Science

Aaaaah this place is amazing. It is my second favorite Natural History museum that I have been to, my first being that in London (mostly because the one in London is much bigger). They have an insane number of trilobites (I took about a thousand photos of them), not to mention a massive dinosaur and other creature bone collection. It’s worth the $15 admission fee just to see that collection. They also have a rather impressive mineral and gem collection. There is also an African animal display – beware if you have small children, some of the animals are presented in rather gruesome death poses.

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9. Underbelly

The chef of this restaurant is a native Houstonian, and since Houston is a melting pot of pretty much every ethnic food ever, he has designed his menu around what he thinks of as “Houston food.” You also don’t order single dishes. No appetizers, no entrees, just food. My dad and I shared 3 dishes plus a dessert, and that was enough. They also have a great wine list. It’s pricy, but totally worth the experience.

10. Catalina Coffee

We found a local coffee roaster and it was absolutely delightful and had a cute little outdoor seating area. I don’t have any photos of this place, but be sure to look it up if you’re ever in town.

11. Tacos-a-Go-Go

Breakfast tacos are a big deal in Texas. The internet told me about this place, and we were not disappointed. It’s sort of a build-your-own kind of deal. You get eggs plus 2 additional ingredients for under $2 (unless you go fancy like avocado or something), and each extra beyond those two are only $0.25. Pretty sweet deal, considering two breakfast tacos is enough to fill me up.

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12. Karbach Brewery

Houston doesn’t have many breweries, but this one probably produces my favorite beer. You pay $8 for a small glass and 4 beer tokens. Pretty sweet deal. Plus we got caught in our second thunderstorm of the weekend! #nofilter

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13. Auto Art Show

There’s a random Art Car museum that has very artistic cars as well as a few random pieces of art. The collection changes frequently, so here’s a small taste of what they might have.

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14. Beer Can House

This really needs no explanation, only photos.

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15. River Oaks neighborhood

We were driving around randomly, checking out the neighborhoods, and stumbled upon the place where rich people live. I live-tweeted the experience, so I’m sorry if you missed it. It was a rather ridiculous experience. My dad and I decided the thing to do would be to park your car somewhere, and bring your dogs for a walk, so you could pretend that you actually lived in one of these mansions. I swear, some of them looked like small castles. Crazy.

16. We finished our day with cockroach hunting, because my dad likes bugs, and due to an earlier incident I knew where to find them after the sun set. This activity mostly consisted of me running and screaming, or freezing when I saw one, while my dad walked happily along trying to startle them into movement.

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We visited a few other places, like the Rothko Chapel, at which I learned I don’t have a single spiritual bone in my body. Going in that place just felt oppressive and awkward. The outside garden area is pretty nice though. We also tried to see the Bayou Bend Gardens, but got there too late, and the bridge was broken, so I’d recommend checking that out if you’re here, because I’ve heard great things.

So while I certainly don’t love Houston (or its weather, ugh, please let it rain for five days I am so tired of the sun), there are quite a few fun things to do. I’d also have to say that Montrose is the most fun neighborhood. The Heights is also pretty good. Both of these have good food places and bars, and really nice homes. If I had to live here, it would be one of those places.

In other news – I finished editing my second draft outline for my urban fantasy novel yay! Now I can actually get back to the fun part of writing. If only we’d get a few decent days of rain here…

So here’s the thing: my dad came to visit me on Wednesday and he didn’t leave until Sunday morning. In that time, he decided he wanted to see everything worth seeing in Houston while he was here. Plus there was some soccer watching and lots and lots of food consumption. I have spent the day trying to recover from non-stop action. As a result, I forgot that a blog post had to happen by 9am on Monday, and I have no idea what I want to write about.

Well, no, that’s not true. I had a few ideas and discarded them all for one reason or another. I’d love to write a post about everything we did this weekend (we saw alligators! Three of them! One of them was very angry at us!), but that requires photos, and they are not on my computer yet… So that will be next week.

Then I thought about blogging about the book I just finished reading this morning, but I realized everything I had to saw I already said on Goodreads. Repeating that here seemed like a cop-out. And yet I just posted a link to it…

Because I am feeling rather boring right now, and I really want to eat some chocolate, finish my glass of wine, and crawl right back into bed (work tomorrow, ew), I am giving you another spam poem. My spam comments have begun to sound really funky, and I feel as though it’s been long enough since the last one.

I am also in the mood for book recommendations. I have a handful on my kindle, and I’ll start picking through them tonight, but if you just finished reading something that you devoured, I’d love to hear about it! I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy and sci-fi, so suggestions in those realms are most welcome!

ganhe dinheiro

They have this attitude like,
they’re simply up and down in order.
trade value for your time
as you work from one to
many.

Boulder Six at Track Rock Gap
the Itza Maya glyphs for Great Sun
~ Lord Quetzal-Serpent.
The Russian apparently didn’t predict
exactly when the U.

million wanted
to fix rebel place
a burden for arguments

briniest brioches brionies briquets brisance
briiskest briskets brisking.
Gospels of Blood
words.
sandhis  sandhog  sandier  sanding  sandlot
sandman  sandmen  sandpit.

If you consider straiight back
chat too the parents,
after you got going
nibbling the nails.
memory And he’s going to prove
tgat you don’t need a bunch of Play -Station 2 ports appear on Android
and been like,
oh wow,
oh yeah,
that was awesome.

Technically, that was 6 spam comments (the title came as a single comment), which goes slightly against my self-established rules, but it’s late and I’m tired and I don’t care.

In case you haven’t been following my tweets the last couple weeks – I am obsessed with World Cup. World Cup is for me what the Olympics are for most people who aren’t soccer fans. I have always loved soccer, and this is due in large part because my dad, uncle, and granddad all loved soccer. Sure, they loved watching American football too, but they don’t follow it the same way they follow soccer. My uncle has been known to get up at ridiculous-o’clock to watch his favorite Champions League team play. I come from a soccer family, and I played soccer all through gradeschool. There was a hiatus during my undergraduate education, but that was mostly because very few of my friends even cared about soccer, and I always felt like I was busy, so I never got around to joining an intramural team. Plus we only had basic cable in the dorms, and later I didn’t have any TV in my apartment, so it wasn’t at all easy to watch. This is a major flaw with our country. I want soccer games to get the same amount of attention as all the other sports on the major channels. But I digress. Once I got into graduate school, I found myself surrounded by soccer fans again, and was able to join our geology grad student intramural soccer team. Great times had by all (even though we kind of sucked, but we still had fun). Soccer is in my blood.

Let me explain how World Cup works for those of you who may be totally in the dark but might also be curious.

World Cup only comes around every 4 years, and then it’s a month of all-day soccer. Before that there are many qualifiers, and that’s broken down into regions. I don’t really know how that part works, I just start paying attention once the list of who made it into World Cup comes out.

To start, 36 teams play 3 games in groups of 4. A win gets you 3 points, a draw gets you 1 point, and a loss gets you zero points. The top 2 teams in each group get to advance to the round of 16. In group stage, tie breakers for who advances are usually determined by the “goal differential” – the number of goals the team scored minus the number of goals the team couldn’t stop. There are more tie breakers after that if the GD isn’t enough, but I won’t go into that here. If you make it into the round of 16, the rules change to sudden death. You have to win to move on to the next game. If there’s still a tie after the full 90 minutes of normal game time, they do 2 more 15-minute halves. If it’s STILL tied after that, they go into penalty kicks. Each team gets five chances to kick the ball into the goal, just the shooter and the goalie on the field. Everyone else has to watch, holding their breath in fear and anticipation. If they are STILL TIED after the first round of penalty kicks, it goes into a sudden death shootout. This is how teams progress through the round of 16, the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the final game.

Group Stage is probably my favorite. Three or four games a day, every day, for about two weeks. It’s glorious. For the most part, every team has 3 chances to make it into the next round. When your favorite teams win, it’s thrilling. On the other end of the spectrum, when your favorite teams epically fail, it’s absolutely devastating. Watching the World Cup is an emotional roller coaster. But I don’t think I could ever stop watching, no matter how much heartbreak I go through.

My favorite team is England, because it’s a quarter of my heritage, and it’s the part of my background I relate to the most. Then comes Spain, because I have a minor in Spanish, and for a while a lot of Spanish players were playing for my favorite Champions League team, Liverpool. Plus I’ve been in love with David Silva since I watched him win Eurocup with Spain a few years ago.

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Followed by England and Spain are Ghana and USA. Ghana is my favorite underdog team, and I love watching them play. I support USA mostly because I live here, but also because I like to watch them improve every time World Cup comes around.

England played well, but they just couldn’t get their shots in the goal. The best part that came out of this World Cup for them, though, was Wayne Rooney FINALLY scoring a goal in the World Cup. I’m devastated that they didn’t advance out of group stage, but at least they have that win, and they were fun to watch.

Spain, on the other hand, went in top-ranked in the WORLD by FIFA, and failed miserably. It was absolutely painful to watch their first two games. My day was ruined when those final whistles blew, and I worked through the rest of the day hoping no one would come talk to me. I expected them to go all the way, and they just got bulldozed by the Netherlands (a team for which I will never cheer because of this and other defeats).

Ghana made a good go of it, losing to USA but DRAWING with Germany, one of the best teams on the planet. Ghana may not have made it out of group stage, but I was proud of them for that. I also felt really bad when USA beat them, because it turns out they were saving all their available electricity to watch that first game on their TVs back in Ghana. If I get properly rich some day, I’m giving money to Ghana. Their devotion to their soccer team is inspiring.

USA, oddly enough, was the only one of my favorite teams to make it out of group stage. So I guess I’m throwing all my support behind them, though I have no idea how they’re going to do against Belgium (another team I’m supporting this year because damn they have good beer and chocolate, not to mention wonderfully friendly people).

As you can see, quite the roller coaster of emotions. And that was BEFORE I decided to become attached to Mexico, mostly because they have the best goalie I have ever seen in my life. Ochoa is a sight to behold. He’s basically a wall that covers the whole goal. Their loss on Sunday to the Netherlands was painful because it means I won’t get to see Ochoa save all the goals for a very long time. I might have a gigantic talent crush on Ochoa. No big deal. The man is a goalie god, though.

 

You only need to watch the first few seconds to get the idea. The Netherlands have robbed us of this magnificent goalie for World Cup 2014, and it is a travesty.

Nearly every game so far this World Cup has been excellent fun to watch. The teams are all playing phenomenally well, and I HATE that most of the games are live when I’m at work. It’s painful to only be able to listen to the commentary, frantically looking at the screen whenever the crowd gets excited and the commentators start talking really fast. I love talking to my coworkers and friends about the games, discovering new fans every time. We may not all be rooting for the same teams, but we are all enthusiastic about it.

I feel that now is a good time to inform the world that when I’m watching a soccer game, don’t talk to me unless it’s about the game. I don’t have time for small talk when a game I care about it in front of me. Don’t bug me, I’m busy. I’ll talk to you in 90 minutes. I’m not watching these games for the boys, but for the thrill.

In my opinion, there isn’t another sport anywhere near as exciting as soccer. World Cup years are always the best years.

Last week I finally watched Austenland, and absolutely regretted nearly every second of it. There are some VERY good reasons it only got a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s the trailer:

At first glance, it looks like another movie about silly Jane Austen fans. I myself am a huge Austen fan (though I probably would never want to live in an experience like this one) – I’ve been to Bath, England, and checked out all her old haunts, and I’ve read all the finished books. Sure, I love Mr. Darcy as much as most Austen fans, but my favorite is probably Mr. Tilney. JJ Field portrayed Mr. Tilney in a BBC version of Northanger Abbey, and I’ve enjoyed his performances in other movies. Bret McKenzie is always funny (and also FIGWIT), and Jennifer Coolidge us usually hilarious. So I figured this movie would at least be funny, and maybe a little unrealistically cute, and I was ok with that.

Boy, was I horribly wrong.

I’m going to give a lot of spoilers for this movie, so if you, for whatever reason, really want to see this movie without spoilers, probably you should stop reading now. Though I highly advise against it. It’s terrible. Here’s why:

First, what the trailer doesn’t tell you is that all the men are actors paid to be there and pretend to fall in love with the women who show up for the vacation. Everyone is paired off, typical of a Jane Austen novel, and the women know the men are actors going into it. Personally, I felt this was a huge flaw, but mostly this is a product of the fact that it was meant as a romantic comedy. It was powerfully unrealistic, but in the end it did play an important role in the conflict – our main character, Jane “Erstwhile,” played by Keri Russell, can’t tell what’s real by the end of the movie and is extremely distraught over this and has trouble trusting her own feelings. This may have been the only well-written (or at least logically-written) part of the whole movie.

Basically all the characters sucked. They either weren’t likable, or their personalities were about as interesting as a cardboard box. Many of them were made to look mental (read: if you are a Jane Austen fan, you are probably mental). Jane is meant to be perceived as mental (her entire home is decorated like an old lady’s home, because that’s as close to Jane Austen’s style as they could get, apparently), but when she gets to Austenland, she ends up appearing as the only sane character. If that weren’t bad enough, she has absolutely no agency. Her character buildup is basically “Look, this girl is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, just like every other Jane Austen fan. Also her job is boring but we don’t really know what she does other than that she went to school for it for a little while. Eh, who cares, she just wants romance anyway because she’s a boring one-dimensional female character.” I struggled through the entire movie to figure out what she wanted in life, or at the very least out of this experience at Austenland. If she knew the men were all actors, she certainly couldn’t have expected romance out of the experience.

I will give them points for throwing a little twist on that particular plot aspect. Jane develops a relationship with the stableboy, who she assumes isn’t an actor, and isn’t part of the experience, more like proper hired help to make the experience run smoothly. As it turns out, he IS an actor, and he was meant to be paired up with her all along. He even pretends that he’s not part of the experience just to win her over. It’s kind of sick the way it all plays out, actually. The fact that this stableboy character was played by Bret McKenzie made him bearable as an antagonist character, but ugh… what a let down. It also seemed a bit cruel for a romantic comedy, but what do I know?

JJ Field did alright with the role he was given, but I really wish he hadn’t been in this movie. Same goes for James Callis. They, as well as Bret McKenzie, could all have done much better than this pitiful excuse of a movie, and I haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet. Unfortunately, they made JJ Field make a half-hearted attempt at being the “Mr. Darcy character.” He was all broody, and didn’t like to dance. But he didn’t stick to any other characteristic of Mr. Darcy. In fact, that detail specifically made me think the writers/directors of this movie may not have ever read a Jane Austen novel in their lives. Hell, it could have been Nicholas-Sparks-Land and you’d have the same story (with less awkward clothing and hairstyles).

So here’s the worst part:

This romantic comedy has an attempted rape.

They don’t call it that (using the term “assault” instead), of course, but that only adds to the horribleness with which they handled this particular plot point. Jane almost gets raped by the husband of the woman who runs the whole operation. JJ Field manages to rescue her just in time, and it is implied that this sort of thing has happened before.

And the old bastard gets away with it.

The night it happens, Jane brushes it off like it’s nothing, and the movie continues, and it isn’t brought up again until Jane threatens the woman who runs the place with reporting the guy simply because she is absolutely upset about the whole experience and how the love is all fake, etc. etc. She doesn’t consider reporting him because IT WAS A HORRIBLE THING FOR HIM TO DO, it’s just an afterthought to the rest of her awful experience in Austenland. THEN, at the end of the movie, when the woman in charge tries to smooth everything over by sending Bret’s character to the airport to apologize and pretend to still be interesting in her, Jane backs down and confesses that she wasn’t going to report the man who attacked her, so they didn’t need to worry about her ruining the business. She just wanted to go home. This bastard NEVER sees the consequences of his actions. His attempted rape is treated like it’s no big deal.

No wonder we have such a problem with rape culture in this country.

If it weren’t for that attempted rape scene, I could have just been annoyed I’d wasted my time with a boring movie. But that alone made me take a closer look at the whole thing, and just thinking about this movie makes me angry. Luckily I got it for one free night at Redbox and didn’t actually lose any money to it, which would have just infuriated me further.

So, avoid watching Austenland at all costs. It will not make you proud to be a fan of Jane Austen.

If you read a lot of books, or if you’re a writer, you are probably at least aware of what’s been going on between Amazon and the publishing company Hachette. Possibly, you are also confused by it, or maybe just conflicted. I fall into this latter category, and I’ve spoken with a couple of my author friends about it, so my goal in writing this post is to facilitate some kind of discussion about what’s going on between Amazon and Hachette.

To start us off, here’s an article (clearly biased in the anti-Amazon direction) that lays out the situation pretty well and should answer any immediate questions you may have. Basically, Amazon is making it really difficult for customers to buy Hachette-published books because the two companies can’t come to an agreement about how to sell these books. Amazon finally spoke out a little bit at the end of last month, and this article sums it up without any bias one way or the other.

As a person who has never actually had a problem obtaining books from Amazon, and as an as-yet-unpublished writer (either traditionally or independently), I personally do not have any qualms with Amazon. I am not going to boycott them until I understand this situation more. But based on what I’ve read so far, I understand why some people are choosing to boycott Amazon. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a personal choice. Author Neil Gaiman pointed out recently in an interview that we don’t REALLY know what’s happening, because all the details are under non-disclosure.

These articles I’ve linked to show the perspective from some of the big authors who are affected by these business proceedings. But what about independent authors? What about writers who can’t get the time of day from these enormous publishing companies? How does this affect them?

Author Frank Schaeffer defends Amazon because he believes he would not have been as successful without Amazon’s help, and he’s not the only independent author who feels this way. My writing partner told me she wouldn’t be a writer today it it weren’t for Amazon, and that for every J.K. Rowling and James Patterson, there are 500 authors like her. The jury is out as to how this affects unpublished authors seeking traditional publication.

My conclusion is this: it’s a business war between two major corporations. Many people seem to be forgetting that Hachette is ALSO a big company, and I think that’s important to keep in mind. I will never understand the ins and outs of it because I don’t have any expertise in business, so I’m going to wait to pass judgement until everything is settled. But maybe some of you reading this have a better grasp on the situation. Is Amazon really the big bad that so many people are quick to claim? What do you think about what’s going down between Amazon and Hachette? If you’re boycotting, why, and if you’re not, why not?

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