The Walking Dead: “A” and a Season Four Wrap-Up

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Within The Walking Dead community, it’s a widely accepted opinion that seasons 2 and 4 were the slowest. Bitch, bitch, moan, moan. Whatever. These 2 seasons are my favorites. I like the slow storytelling aspect of both, that they allow the characters to breathe and grow and evolve.

“A” was my favorite season finale thus far. It was the perfect ending to an almost perfect season. Rick, Michonne, Carl, and now Daryl – to me – are the absolute best grouping. Carl and Michonne might have the most interesting relationship on the show. Loved that the final episode focused on them. The brutal scene between them and the Claimers was just amazing. No, seriously, AMAZING. Rick using his teeth to save his son’s life grabbed me in the gut. The lengths this man will go to. The monster within he now embraces to keep his people safe is one of the most compelling dynamics on television. And he no longer gives a fuck. Rick Grimes has ascended to a new level of being. And I can’t wait to take that journey with him.

Daryl and Rick’s scene the next morning. ALL OF THE FEELS. Thank God Daryl’s back with his family. I’m so glad Rick’s first instinct is to take Daryl’s guilt away. To claim him as brother. And I’m glad they discussed Beth. Because Beth will play a MAJOR role in season 5. I’m calling it now.

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TERMINUS. Fuck those motherfuckers. Rick is so right. He’s going to jack these sons of bitches up so bad. Team Prison is back together and that’s perhaps the biggest mistake the termites could have made. Because Team Prison reunited and headed by warrior!Rick is an unstoppable force. Not to mention, I think Rick and his group went into Terminus with a plan. Rick leaving those weapons behind – including his signature python – is telling.

So what is Terminus? Are they simply cannibals? We saw the human bones. But we also saw the memorial room that screams religious cult of some sort. I think they might be the cannibals from the comics but with a twist. As for how Team Prison will get out of this scrape, I imagine that Beth will be essential to that. Which is one of the most fantastic twists the show has taken (along with no deaths). Everyone online was clamoring for Beth’s death, expecting it, hoping for it. But not under Scott Gimple’s watch. Too obvious. Too boring. I believe Beth was taken by Father Gabriel (from the comics) and that they’ll form some kind of team to help Rick and the others escape. Am I crazy? Maybe, but in the final Hershel flashback, Rick throws his sheriff’s hat on Beth’s head and proclaims her the ‘new sheriff’. I think that was done on purpose. I believe Beth will become the Andrea of the comics. And I’m so ready for this. The weakest becoming one of the strongest? Yes, please. And then her and Daryl can have their sexy little way with each other and it will be the hottest thing on television EVER.

Speaking of the Hershel flashbacks: I miss him so much!! But I can see how his journey, his story, was very, very done. Hershel wanted something for Rick and Carl that just can’t be. He wanted them to be something they’re not. And as much as Hershel’s morale strengths and lessons really helped both characters, ultimately, they can’t come back from the things they’ve done. They are different people now. They all have a monster within that is undeniable and even necessary. Recognizing, accepting, and embracing this part of themselves is the only way to continue on this journey. Like Carol said, “You can be a farmer, Rick. But you can’t JUST be a farmer.”

Where are Carol and Tyreese and Judith???

I actually really liked little punk ass Gareth as a villain. He has this weird control obsession – this evil genius – this horrific cat and mouse game going that almost makes him more formidable than the Governor. Because this kid thinks things through. He’s well-organized, calm, calculating, and extremely smart. But we all have our weaknesses.

So, kudos, TWD for being awesome. Kudos for making a believer out of my husband. He’s never really watched the show but LOVED this finale. I hope that Melissa McBride earns an Emmy nomination. I hope that season 5 raises the bar, yet again. More than anything, I just hope that the next 7 months hurry the fuck up.

Also, I’m thinking of taking a trip down to the Terminus mill and (hopefully) taking pictures this weekend. First, I’ve got to discover its location, which shouldn’t be too hard between the interwebs and Google maps. Excited!!

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March Movie Madness

Not an entirely accurate post title because I didn’t watch a whole hell of a lot this month. At least, not beyond The Walking Dead. Remember how I was supposed to be embarking on a new cinematic journey? Well, did not happen. Didn’t watch a single one of the four films I had vowed to make time for. Here’s what I did manage to get around to:

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Veronica Mars (The Movie):

Of course I watched this and loved every single stupid second. LoVe for life, bitches.

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Thor: The Dark World:

Jimmy and I just watched this On Demand a few days ago and mostly enjoyed. I love Loki so he steals the show for me EVERY TIME. Jimmy thought the cinematic scope of the film was gorgeous and wishes he’d seen it in IMAX theaters. Wasn’t the biggest fan of Natalie Portman’s character, but loved, loved Kat Dennings.

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House of Cards:

Just started watching season one. Enjoying the Southern campiness of Kevin Spacey. And Robin Wright is fierce.

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Game of Thrones, Season Three:

Squeezed this in just in time for the beginning of season four. The Red Wedding might have been even more brutal on screen than on the page. Of course, I did throw the book across the room during that scene and refused to pick it up again for three days. So both were highly affecting.

What did you watch in March?

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

17333319The Litwits met on Sunday to discuss Hannah Kent’s debut novel released last year. Putting this book off for almost a year was next to impossible because so many of my online bookish friends loved, loved this story. And for the first time in a long time, I had to force myself to stop at 50 pages a day because I wanted to savor this gem of a book. I never wanted it to end.

Burial Rites is another novel that I don’t feel needs much introduction. It takes place in Iceland in the 1820s. Two women and one man have been charged and convicted of killing a man. Our protagonist, Agnes, has been sentenced to death by beheading. Kent writes of her final months living with a farm family as she awaits her looming death.

That’s not spoiling anything because this is a historical fiction novel based on the true story of the last beheading in Iceland. So…you know how it ends going in, but damn if you don’t hope and pray Agnes will find someway to beat her murder wrap. Whether or not she even committed the crime becomes almost a non issue as you fall in love with this orphaned, lonely, sad woman. I defy you not to want Agnes’s name cleared!

Beyond the central plot, Kent gives you so much else to love. The Icelandic landscape in all its cinematic glory and rolling hills and biting cold surrounds you and places you firmly within the story. Her writing is GORGEOUS. Her descriptions are lyrical and immersive. Some members did think she could be a bit long-winded at times and a little too dirty with her imagery (she doesn’t shy away from the nasty smells and ugliness of  bodily function), but others adored her language for its realism. Personally, I found myself reading the passages out loud – sometimes over and over again – mesmerized by all the pretty words.

Agnes was my favorite character, but many Litwits loved Margret as well. We discussed how Margret desperately didn’t want Agnes in her house, sleeping right next to her own two daughters. But once Agnes arrives in her pitiful state, Margret can’t help but feel for the doomed woman. What makes that so particularly interesting is how un-motherly Margret seems around her own children. Margret’s daughter, Lauga, quickly grows to resent her mother’s affection for Agnes creating such tension as the story unfolds.

We discussed the novel’s ending at length. Several of us felt the ending to be very abrupt, too rushed in its conclusion. Others thought this was done on purpose to emphasize the death that couldn’t be stopped. But it was just so sad.

So Burial Rites was a winner among the Litwits! We got a lot of good conversation in before our inevitable fall into the descent of television, tumblr, and fanfiction. Until next time ladies!!

The Walking Dead: “Us”

tumblr_n2wqirrlhZ1slwvwgo1_1280Well, Terminus looks like a place that is filled with rainbows, sunshine, and evil fucking clowns that eat people. Seriously, how can this group walk in, guns lowered, and not suspect a damn thing? This place has ZERO fortification.

Glenn and Maggie’s reunion was one of my most favorite moments of this show. EVER. God, I teared up and I’m not even bothered by that. I was just screaming at my tv – it’s Maggie! It’s Maggie!! Jimmy thought I had gone insane. I’m a bit worried about that whole burning the picture scene. It seems to foreshadow imminent death. You can’t ever just be happy on TWD.

I’m glad Glenn loves Tara.

Eugene is weird and odd and I didn’t like him at first but now I do? My feelings for him are confused, but he went back for Glenn and that made me happy. Plus, this show just needs more mullets.

That scene with Rick, Michonne, and Carl was utter perfection and made my heart so happy. I know next episode will be brutal for Rick (see above picture) so I’m glad he’s getting these small moments of familial happiness. Michonne and Carl are just too damn cute.

DARYL, though. Get away from these people, please. I know you saw Michonne’s candy wrapper, and I know you know what her favorite chocolate bar is. So I know you know who they’re tracking. You better just be with them now to protect your family. That line Joe fed him about being an outdoor cat trying to be an indoor cat crushed my spirit. I hope Beth’s words were running through his head louder than that nonsense. Also, when he picked up that sheet to cover Len’s body, he was totally channeling Beth but then he put it back down. I HATED THAT MOMENT.

I don’t know what happens next week. I have ideas and sad panda thoughts. But it’s going to be brutal. I’ll need bourbon. Lots and lots of bourbon.

WHY HAS MAGGIE NOT EVEN MENTIONED BETH ONE TIME?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

16250900I’m handing this out for World Book Night 2014 and decided that before doing so I should probably give the thing a read, no? It won a Printz Honor when it was released and the sequel has been earning extra heapings of praise for both books. When choosing my WBN selection, I wanted something that lots of people, particularly young readers, could really sink their teeth into. A book with meat, plot, and purpose. Code Name Verity seemed just the thing.

Here’s where a synopsis should go, but I don’t want to reveal too much. How about…two friends are involved in some espionage during WWII that gets one of them captured in occupied France after their plane crashes. Oh, and the two friends (the pilot and the spy) are teenage/college-aged girls. Did that synopsis work at all? Just go read the thing.

SO GOOD. I could not put this down. I’d lowered my expectations going in because so many had warned me the book bored them and was bogged down under dull aviation details that wouldn’t interest anyone who wasn’t a pilot. Wein, herself, is a pilot. But I didn’t find this to be the case at all. The details that were included just made the story feel more authentic and gave the tone of the novel a gripping sense of realism.

The writing is wonderful and smart and emotionally riveting. The girls are well written and believable. The plot is nonstop – full of twisty, turny moments that genuinely shocked me more than once. It is so rare for a plot twist to find me unawares these days, but Code Name Verity pulled it off not once, but twice. The ending was gut-wrenching, and I can understand why so many previous readers were moved to tears. The story manages to be centered around a beautiful female friendship and themes of feminism in the best and most brilliant of ways. This is a book that shows you a thing instead of telling you a thing. And I loved it.

After having read and loved and read and hated a vast plethora of WWII fiction and nonfiction, I really didn’t think it possible for a book set during this time period to feel fresh and to teach me something I didn’t know. But Code Name Verity does this – excels at this – and deserves all its praise and accolades. I can’t wait to hand this book over to people of all ages in April and to get my greedy little hands on the sequel!!

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

6276045Yet another book I was all prepared to love. In fact, it was a total free choice book at the end of February. There was no obligation – just desire! Meant as a fabulous birthday present to myself. Because I loved – LOVED – The Knife of Never Letting Go which kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Heart attack central. But y’all, I found myself bored more often than not.

I’m not going to detail the plot since this is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. The series as a whole follows the human race after abandoning Earth and shacking up on a new planet. Lots of things have gone horribly wrong. Men’s thoughts are heard by all. Where are all the women? Alien races are being oppressed. And the leaders are complete dictatorial douches. You know, the usual. The story follows adolescent protagonist Todd Hewitt as he tries to navigate his enemies and usurp the political status quo.

TKoNLG was all about the chase. And it was epic. Page after page of Todd running, running, running. He met new people along the way and uncovered so many secrets. To be honest, the plot was almost too exciting. It required breaks for my sanity. The heartbreak was also staggering. I knew The Ask and the Answer was going to be an entirely other thing – a book about tyranny and oppression – but I didn’t expect to grow bored.

So what happened? The basic story was fine, even great. The number of pages it took to tell was unfortunate. As we switched back and forth between our narrators, I often found myself yawning and hoping somebody would finally make a decision or a revelation or something. I could simply blame this dullness on the back and forth narration. But that wouldn’t be telling the whole truth because both Todd and Viola annoyed me.

Did I enjoy anything? Of course! I still gave the book three stars, after all. I enjoyed seeing Mayor Prentiss charm and manipulate the town. The elaborate chess game the charismatic dictator plays is fascinating to watch. The gender commentary was also engrossing. I love that Ness’s books are never just one thing. He takes writing for young adults seriously and respects their intelligence. Love, love that. The novel’s conclusion was a force to be reckoned with and does a beautiful job urging one on to the final installment. I just wished all the character bits had lived up to all that.

But don’t take my word for it! Several readers cite this as their favorite in the trilogy. Some readers think the whole thing is trash. I’d suggest, however, that this is one YA series worth giving a go.

The Walking Dead: The Grove

14503359-mmmainLike Talking Dead said: Sometimes there are just no words.

Mika and Lizzie’s deaths were brutal. And Carol. Oh, Carol. Melissa you are by FAR the most talented actress on this show. I’m really worried you aren’t going to make it to season 5. Like so, so worried.

And Tyreese. That was so much for you to deal with. UGH. Thank you for forgiving.

Part of me can’t believe TWD had the guts to go there, but the other part of me is so proud of my little show. Push the limits. Challenge your audience. Teach us something.

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Prediction for next week: Rick saves Daryl!!! PLEASE???? I wish Beth could somehow save him, but that’s highly unlikely. Also, I hope Daryl puts a knife in that janky ass redneck fucker’s gut.