Quick Thoughts about Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Spoiler-Free)

 

The_Last_Jedi_poster.jpg
Written and directed by Rian Johnson

 

(Chantel)

This review will be spoiler free for The Last Jedi, but if you haven’t seen episodes I-VII you are screwed.

When the movie poster above was released, holy shit I was excited for this movie. When the text scroll came up at the beginning of the movie, I started to get choked up. Star Wars is important to me, but I never really connected with the prequels. I’ve seen A New Hope more than any of them. What I love about this new trilogy is the fact that the main character is a strong, badass female. I think Rey is amazing and don’t give me that Mary-Sue bullshit. There were a lot of expectations going into this movie, and while I didn’t love it, I really enjoyed myself.

This movie had a completely different tone than The Force Awakens. I really liked The Force Awakens, I loved the characters it introduced like Rey, Finn, Poe, and my love BB-8.

 

BB-8.gif
BB-8: still cuter than Porgs.

 

It also brought back Leia and Han Solo and Luke for like five seconds. It was full of nostalgia and I think it was specifically made for those who loved Star Wars.

This movie didn’t dwell in the nostalgia. It moved the plot forward and there were a lot of important moments in this movie. There were a few times when I was unsure of what was going to happen next. Who was going to make it to episode IX and who wouldn’t. There is a sense of danger throughout the whole movie, but this is also a Star Wars movie and there were characters who I never felt were in danger. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is what it is.

My main issue with The Last Jedi was how many different stories were being told at once. This movie was basically divided up between Rey and Luke, Kylo Ren and the First Order, The Resistance which includes Leia and Poe, then there’s another storyline with Finn and a girl named Rose. This was too much to follow. I understand that separating our main characters allows for different storylines and tones, but I felt like it was too much. I also felt like the movie was too long. All Star Wars movies are over two hours. That’s nothing new. But The Last Jedi was 2 hours and 35 minutes and honestly, it felt like three hours. I was starting to get fidgety.

What I really enjoyed about this movie was there was a lot of humor. I was laughing throughout the movie and even when things were getting tense or heavy, there was something funny going on. Some people might not like this, and even though I just complained about too many storylines, the moments of levity were much needed.

I need to talk about Carrie Fisher. I was heartbroken when I heard about her death and I was eager to see her role in The Last Jedi and what would happen to Leia. Let me tell you something, I love General Leia a lot more than Princess Leia. She’s always been strong-willed and I think she’s an excellent role model. I felt they did justice to Leia and Carrie Fisher and every time she was on screen I wanted to smile and cry. I even waited through the credits to see if there would be a dedication to her and…

 

Dedication to Carrie Fisher
I wasn’t disappointed.

I could probably go on and on, but here’s the thing: if you love Star Wars you have either already seen The Last Jedi or plan on it soon and if you don’t love/like Star Wars, you probably don’t give a shit.

It wasn’t perfect or as good as The Force Awakens, in my opinion, but there was a lot in this movie to enjoy and I am pleased with the movie Rian Johnson made.

 

One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported by E.J. Dionne Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, and Thomas E. Mann

One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported

(Caidyn)

5/5

Despite the title, this book isn’t as doom and gloom as it sounds. As I always remind people, my bias is that I’m very much a liberal. Sure, I have some more conservative views and beliefs, however I’m very much a liberal and always will be. When I hear the word conservative, what I think of is someone who is trying to deny me my human rights, who is actively campaigning to tell me how worthless and immoral I am, who is trying to make me less than human. That is what I automatically think of, even though I know that most conservatives aren’t like that. And then there are the moderates.

This book is, in a way, explaining how the Republican party moved more right and radicalized itself thanks to a few very influential people. The history lesson was much appreciated, believe me. I honestly felt as if I walked away from this book having learned something important about politics.

But, as I said, it’s not a doom and gloom book. It informs and also has a very distinct way that they suggest going about healing the rifts that have appeared.

And, what is that way?

Empathy.

What immediately comes to mind is all the shit that happened on Goodreads over a review where a teenager spoke her beliefs about the LGBT+ community and how it was a lifestyle that she didn’t agree with and didn’t want to have anything to do with. All because of a main character having two fathers.

What broke out was immediate hate towards her. No attempt to talk with her, to get her beliefs, to try to calmly explain why she’s wrong. No chance to even ask her what her life experience was — which, as far as I know, was a very religious home where she wasn’t exposed to “lifestyles” outside what is formally condoned by the Bible.

Shouting. Hate. Insults. Vitriol.

It upset me since I’m a part of the LGBT+ community AND I also know how important religion is to people. There was no empathy from anyone. How do you feel when you’re attacked as a person? Okay, then why attack someone else? Why perpetuate hatred? Why? Just… why.

This book calls for active empathy. And not just for the conservatives who voted for Trump to understand the plight of LGBT+, immigrants, and non-white Americans. But it called for progressives to try to understand the feeling of degradation and the fact that it feels as if their lifestyle is dying away. Rather than hating them, get to know them.

I was raised to always search for one thing that you can have in common with someone. One. That’s it. Just that one thing you can honestly have a common ground for. And then you work from there and try to find more. It opens up so many doors and you can hear so many other perspectives, not staying insular to your beliefs and becoming further radicalized in your perspective (right or left).

And, quite honestly, I think that this book has a beautiful message. Actively empathize with people, even if you don’t agree with them completely. Because if you show a little bit of empathy, you can make friends and persuade people far better than shouting and insulting them.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story by Barbara Leaming

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story

(Caidyn)

1/5 – DNF at 61%

The untold story my ass.

Right away in this book, I really got a vibe that this was a sexist book. It immediately focused on Kennedy Onassis’ love life. It didn’t start with her childhood or talking to me about how rough her childhood was. It started with her as a teen, talking with a boy, and pretending not to understand a thing he was talking about. Then, it got into how sniping she was about those boys.

It literally only focused on her in relation to other men. What about her going to school? What about her studies since she did go to college? What about her going back to college? What about her work in the White House and things she stood for? What about how two of her kids died and what that did to her?

Not only that, but it took forever to get to the thesis that Leaming had about Jackie having PTSD. That’s something I completely agree with, but if you’re going to have a huge thesis, get to the point and only focus on information that pertains to that thesis. And even then, it was still about how other men used her for their political gain and not about how she dealt with the PTSD. Her alcoholism was barely mentioned, just a side mention that she used vodka to cope and moved on immediately.

In short, this book was super sucky. And I’m disappointed that this is my first time reading about her.

The Case for Impeachment by Allan J. Lichtman

The Case for Impeachment

(Caidyn)

4/5

This is another addition to my attempt to educate myself about the current political standings. And this one was definitely a winner for me. Not only does it cover current times, but it also takes you through historical impeachments (or almost ones) and draws comparisons between then and now.

I was very impressed by this since Lichtman definitely has a huge amount of credibility based on his predictions of the past presidential elections, including this one. He predicted that Trump would win (which he got into more in the book) and his prediction that Trump would be impeached.

Then, he gets into why Trump will.

He covers the gambit for this book. Impeachment can proceed for charges that happened before being elected and during a presidency. Lichtman talks about things that Trump did against human rights before and during. His business dealings that were illegal. Currently being involved in his business to come up with a huge conflict of interest with insider trading and issues like that. Treatment of women. His stance on the environment. And on and on and on.

The only criticism that I have is that it is out of date. By the time this was published, so many other things came out. No mention of Comey’s firing. Nothing about the #MeToo movement and Trump’s accusers coming forward to insist on justice. Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord. I mean, the list goes on and on.

But while it isn’t the most current read, you can still easily make connections if you’re up to date on what has happened. And I rather enjoyed making those connections to see how he’s damned himself even more.

First Lines Friday

Happy Friday everyone and happy holidays! There are only two more Fridays in 2017 and I can’t wait to put this dumpster fire behind me, because who thought this year would be worse than 2016. Anyway, I’m begging 2018 to be better.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Chantel will be in purple.

Caidyn will be in blue.


As far as he knew, she had come from the water. But even about that, he couldn’t be sure. 

It didn’t matter how many nights they’d met on the untilled land between their houses; the last farm didn’t rotate its crops, and stripped the soil until nothing but wild grasses would grow. It didn’t matter how many stories he and Miel had told each other when they could not sleep, him passing on his mother’s fables of moon bears that aided lost travelers, Miel making up tales about his moon lamps falling in love with stars. Sam didn’t know any more than anyone else about where she’d come from before he found her in the brush field. She seemed to have been made of water one minute and the next, became a girl. 

Someday, he and Miel would be nothing but a fairy tale. 


This is a magical realism book by an author who I’ve seen get a lot of praise lately for her latest release. This book also features a trans MC which just makes it one of those books I cannot wait to get through. I’m always a big fan of beautiful writing and this book has it and a trans main character and think that’s a perfect combination for this book. 

Are you eagerly waiting what I’ve chosen? 

Yes?

No?

Okay, okay, this week I’ve chosen…

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours cover

This is a book I bought months ago from Book Outlet and I actually started it some time ago, but stopped reading it. I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time as the pacing is really slow. That’s not a knock against the book, it just wasn’t what I was feeling at the time. I also own Wild Beauty, Anna-Marie McLemore’s latest release and I can’t wait to get to that book either, but I would like to read this one first. The writing is gorgeous and it is unlike anything I’ve read before. I look forward to continuing it hopefully in the coming year. 


They walk side by side through shin-deep snow, dragging branches for their shelter behind them. The footprints they made on the way out are little more than small depressions in the drifts of swirling white. It’s as if the wind has a single ill intent – to wipe out any traces of them.


This is a YA mystery book that I won in a raffle. Short, sweet, and to the point. While I wasn’t enamored with the first glimpse I got of it, I’m interested enough to find out the rest. Even if it means I don’t like it overall. Oops.

So, what is the book?

It is…

Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels

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This is the first (but the second book I’ve talked about) I won from BookishFirst. Again, I’m not completely in love with it. While the premise is fantastic and I’m fine with the writing, I don’t like any of the characters. There are three college-aged boys and then some high school girl who wasn’t told she would be with three guys. Which, to me, feels really bad. I also have no trust in my fellow men.

Whether I like it or not, you’re going to get an interesting review for it.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline

(Caidyn)

4/5

Oddly enough, I’ve read this book twice and I’ve never written a review for it. So, here we go!

It’s a very short book. I listened to the audiobook today at work and I think that by 10 or so, I was done and moving onto the next book. And I had gotten into work at 7:30. It’s very short, but it packs a punch and I can appreciate the book more each time.

Really, I probably wouldn’t have liked it as a kid. It’s a bit too weird and kind of freaky (this was before I got into all things scary) and the audiobook with those damn mice singing is something out of a horror movie. I also never saw the movie and kind of avoided hyped things even as a kid.

But, it’s a seriously good book. A solid middle-grade example. Gaiman takes the feeling that most kids have of their parents not really liking them or having better things to do or just that they don’t get you and spins it to a wish of the other parents. Except, in Coraline’s case, they’re real.

Since most people have read this book, I’ll give a very brief plot summary. Coraline’s parents don’t quite understand her, her neighbors don’t bother to know her real name, and she doesn’t seem to have any friends. So, she decides to explore and finds another world. And things go terribly wrong.

So, why do I like this book so much? Why does anyone like this book so much? It’s a very popular children’s book, after all. I think that it’s so popular is that it accurately represents a child’s life.

I remember going through times when I felt as if my parents could care less about me and had their own lives that didn’t revolve around me. I also felt like they just didn’t understand me, without the hormonal angst of being a teen. That slightly dull and numb feeling of being misunderstood without the anger behind it compounded by trying to find out who you really are.

Coraline feels that and seeks to find someone that does understand her. Not only that, but she’s never really abandoned by anyone in her journey to the other world. YA makes a big point of neglecting the parents to leave the main character with only themselves and some friends who can save the whole world. Middle grade still has that whole thing of saving the world with friends, but they never are abandoned. They’re always supported by adults who care about them.

That’s what Coraline has. I think this book strikes a deep and familiar chord for most people, along with a reminder that your parents do love you and support you.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)

(Caidyn)

2/5

This is awkward.

The whole reason I chose this book for Yule Bingo because I like Ursula K. Le Guin. Chantel introduced her to me last year with The Left Hand of Darkness (and please ignore the review; we were still learning how we wanted to do the whole joint review thing). This is one of her well-known stories, one that I’ve known the name of for years.

So, I thought of this when I saw the option for a book with a map and decided that I might as well.

For me, it felt so detached the whole time. I couldn’t get into the characters or the story since it didn’t really seem to have a plot for over half the book. It wandered so much. That’s not a bad thing since I’ve liked books that do that before, however, it just wasn’t done well. It reminded me, quite painfully, of The Gunslinger. That was an absolute pain, a book I slogged through. I could barely read a few pages before I wanted to set it down.

Just like this book.

While I don’t entirely blame it on the book since I’ve been busy and exhausted, I don’t think that Le Guin’s impersonal style helped me along with creating a bond. I remember in The Left Hand of Darkness having some issues with getting into it initially, but it smoothed out by the end. This book wasn’t long enough for me to feel as if it got fully fleshed out.

Final thoughts? This is going to be one I come back to in a few years to give it another go to see if my opinion changes.

Henry III: The Greatest King England Never Knew it Had by Darren Baker

Henry III: The Great King England Never Knew It Had

(Caidyn)

2/5 – DNF at 51%

What can I say about this book?

This era of England isn’t exactly my expertise, but I have read things on the Plantagenets so I’m not completely ignorant. I just don’t happen to know particulars. Also, we didn’t go into this time period in my course on Europe from 1000-1350. We spent our time on university learning, art, and lay religion.

So, I thought this book was going to make sense to me. I thought that I’d be able to track the names and the dates and everything. Yet, I wasn’t. Why? Because I don’t think that Darren Baker had a great grasp on how to explain it.

His whole premise is in the title. Henry III is the best king ever and these are all the reasons why. Yet, while I was reading this, I found him extremely incompetent and not set for the throne. I got halfway through the book, so I think that I can say that. I also was highlighting things. He just didn’t know how to control his subjects. There were constant factions and intrigues that he couldn’t keep a handle on. Not to mention Pope Boniface and the issues that his papacy had going on.

Then, none of the names made sense to me. I mean, I don’t think they were ever really explained to me. I was supposed to pick it up. While I can usually do that, this book was too dense and there were so many unneeded tangents included. It also felt like I was learning about Henry through others, not through things he did.

While I’m sure others would enjoy this book — it’s well-written and about an interesting period in time — yet it really didn’t work for me.

Blogging + College = ???: El Fin

(Caidyn)

Well. Here we are.

As of yesterday, I have finished my undergraduate degree. I have a BA in Psychology. In May, I’ll actually be getting my diploma and doing the whole walking thing. Which I sort of need to inquire about through my campus, so whatever. I’ll be graduating either magna cum laude or summa cum laude.

 

Image result for supernatural gif
Me @ me

I’ll sum up my finals week for you.

Tuesday @ 8AM: Went to my huge seminar final and presented my research proposal. Which was pretty dull, but whatever. Turned in my 20-page paper to him.

Tuesday @ 10:30AM: Went to my Europe in the High Middle Ages final. Wrote about five paragraphs for an essay question about the medieval worldview of people. My hand cramped so fast.

 

Thursday @ 8:30AM: Showed up to my women’s study final and found that my people in a group project did not finish the paper so I had to work my ass off to make sure it was done. My professor gave us holiday mugs. And then she and I talked about me coming in to do a presentation in the class.

Thursday @ 9AM: Went to the library to edit my final paper for my course on Judaism. Turned it in and got very, very emotional about it since it was, well, my last undergraduate paper.

After having my bit of emotional time in the corner of the library I was in, then walking to my car to drive home, I stopped off and got a ton of Thai food. I love Thai food.

I got Thai iced tea, spring rolls, Thai rangoon, beef grapow, and tofu red curry.

Between all of my finals stuff, I also had a job interview?? I mean, it went well. I was pleased with my performance with it. I won’t know if I get the job for a couple of weeks, so by the end of the year. Either way, I’m not that worried. If I get the job, I will be so damn happy. If not, I’m going to volunteer there to get some experience in the field now that I’ll have time.

So, I mean, what next? What is next for me, right?

If I get the job, I’ll start in my career. By March or April, I’ll hear about my grad school application and if I got accepted. There will be a bit more time for reading as well. Chantel and I obviously have a lot of plans for 2018.

But…. learning.

I love learning.

I constantly teach myself things. At the moment, I’m self-teaching myself Spanish, French, Italian, Welsh, ASL, and Latin. I’m thinking about adding German to my list as well.

 

Me @ the prospect of not being in school.

 

And, I’ve signed up through my local community college (where I actually went for a year after I graduated high school) for an Elementary Spanish I class. While I’ve been self -teaching myself Spanish for ages, I haven’t taken a class since I was a sophomore in high school. So six years since I was actually taught and had to speak and write it and all that.

If I get the job, though, I’ll drop the class and not pay for it or whatever so I’m automatically dropped. If not, I’ll totally take the class and keep on learning.

That’s my plan. Very, very variable depending on whether I get into my program or get a job. But, it’s a plan. Flexible so I can keep some wiggle room.

First Lines Friday

Wow, we’re already halfway through December. Meaning that we’re 16 days away from the end of the year. Also, to those of you who might be Jewish, Happy Hanukkah!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


There was never any trouble at the Tam O’Shanter, even on a rocking weekend night, even on a rocking weekend night, even when one of the Tribe smacked a homer for a go-ahead run. Tim and Karen ran a tight joint, the perfect hideaway to lounge beneath faded posters of ’70s rock bands and sip a cold one. So when Karen screamed from the seedy alley behind the bar, our little oasis was shattered. Tim bolted for the back door.


Another interesting opener. I almost added the second paragraph, but I didn’t want to ruin the ambiance that was created. And that Chantel probably wasn’t a huge fan of again. I keep picking on her here and she doesn’t seem to react. Hm. Maybe she’s not up for bickering? Psh, I’m not trying to force it. I’m just not interested in the books you pick. Maybe you just have no interest in good books. And you are saying all the books you read are good? I beg to differ. 

Either way, the book is…

The Company of Demons by Michael Jordon

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A picture by me! I mean, I am the eBay Coordinator at my job. I take pictures all the time. Enough about me, though. The book. I won this in a giveaway through a brand new website, BookishFirst. Basically, they give you a sneak peek of the book, you write a first impression of it, and then you’re entered into a raffle to get the book. So far, out doing six first impressions, I’ve won three books in raffles. No joke. I’ve won three. And they’re finished products, too. Not ARCs. I highly suggest you guys check it out. They’ve had some good books available.

This is the first book I’ve actually received — which sucks since one of the books is being published in a few days, so who knows if I’ll read it before publication — and I am excited about this. This book links in with a historical murder and brings it into the present. Basically, all for me, right? I’m super excited since it reads very well and sounds interesting.


Five texts are waiting for me when I get out of my English final. One is from Charlotte saying she finished early and decided to meet up with our boss, so she’ll see me at Toby’s house later. One is from Toby, saying, 7 p.m.: Don’t Forget! And three are from Morgan.

I don’t read those yet.


Just like Caidyn picked a book I don’t care about, I’m going to do the same. I have this book on my to-read list. Really? Well then, maybe you do like good books.

I’m not trying to sound like a broken record here, but YA contemporary isn’t my favorite genre. I read a lot of it, but only because there are a lot of queer stories that just happen to be YA contemporary novels. This was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog and it was so much fun. Not only was filmmaking a part of it, but the f/f romance was a slow burn and had me hooked. I picked this in honor of SapphicAThon, which is a readathon for books with f/f romances or queer ladies. I linked to their official Twitter, but the readathon started on the 14th. I decided not to participate since I’m in the middle of three books and not getting anywhere in them, but I want to spread the word if I can. 

Anyway, onto the book. It’s…

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You cover

I linked to my review if you want to go check it out. I would also recommend to go out and read it if you are looking for a good book with an f/f romance. It has an established queer character in Emi, she doesn’t go through the motions of being a lesbian (I could be mistaken, but I thought she was a lesbian and not bisexual, pan, etc.) That has already happened when the book starts which is different than a lot of YA contemporary books about high schoolers.