Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Best Books for a Reading Binge


I remember one Christmas my husband and I watched the first season of 24 with Kiefer Sutherland in the space of two days. Then we rushed out and bought the second season.


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There's something to be said about instant gratification.

However, the only way to enjoy a full series so quickly is that you have to WAIT until the entire series is available.

And books are no different.

Nothing better than finishing a novel you've stayed up all night to read only to discover it's part of a series. And, oh my gosh, the last book in the series has just been released!

So, in honor of the binge, here are my top picks for novel serials that are perfect for binging.

Find a comfy chair, make some tea and have an assortment of treats within hands reach.

#1. Harry Potter (experience the magic again)

#2. Nancy Drew (love that convertible!)

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#3. The Hunger Games trilogy (still intense)

#4. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series (there's a reason she's the best selling author of all time)

#5. The Little House on the Prairie books (Oh, that Nellie Oleson!)

#6. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series (speed through as many as you can...and have a pot of tea in between each volume)
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BONUS!!

This isn't a series but it's always good for the heart and soul to binge on Jane Austen. May I suggest Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey.

What are some of your favorite books to binge on?

Monday, 28 April 2014

Once Upon A Time, Season 3, Episode 19 “A Curious Thing”



Or better title “Mulan's Revenge!”

 
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Snow White and Charming decide to announce to the kingdom that they're pregnant. The Evil Queen says they're loopy. Belle arrives and breaks the news that Neal is dead and Rumpelstiltskin is alive, but they're sharing the same body...or something like that.

Plus, the wicked witch has the dagger to control the Dark One.

Prince Phillip and Aura finally get a few lines. They drop the bombshell that the wicked witch is after Snow White's baby. They didn't say anything at first because she promised to destroy them if they spilled the beans.

And since they just spilled the beans...the wicked witch arrives and turns Aura and Phillip in to flying monkeys.

How does Mulan feel about this?

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Eight months later Snow White and Charming sit around the council table still trying to come up with ideas for defeating the wicked witch. The Evil Queen wonders if Rumpelstiltskin can help them.

It took eight months for them to figure this out?

Charming suggests they break into his castle, but Regina says that's impossible because his magic is so strong. Robin Hood brags he broke in last season to steal a bow and arrow.

Robina (Regina and Robin Hood) make out in the hallway of the bed and breakfast. She promises him that once she gets her heart back it will be AH-SOME. He says, “Use my heart for the both of us.”

To do what?

Regina arrives flushed to a meeting with Mary Margaret, Emma and David. They discuss why Zalena brought them all back to Storybrooke. They ask things like:

To cast the spell you have to give up the thing you love the most.

We must already know how to defeat her, that's why they have no memories.
         
Since Emma broke the curse by believing in magic and kissing Henry, but she's done both of  those things already.  

Henry must be the one to save them all. He has to believe in magic and kiss someone...okay maybe just believe. We need the storybook!!!

Zalena has Hook duck tapped in the truck of a car. She demands he kiss Emma. If he doesn't get busy and take away her magic by the time Mary Margaret has her baby, she'll kill Henry.

This would never happen to Hook if he had a unicorn. Just sayin...

Robin Hood easily breaks into Rumpelstiltskin's castle. He and the Evil Queen squabble like all good would-be lovers do at the beginning of their love story.

They find Rumpelstiltskin inside a cage spinning gold and babbling. Remember, he has Neal inside his head as well.

Snow White asks him how to stop the wicked witch but he only answers with a rhyme.

Belle uses her Australian accent and the power of love to reach through his layers of glitter gold makeup. He tells her the answer is light. “Find the good witch of the south.”

Of course. And I bet she'll be riding a unicorn.

Mary Margaret tells the others that the 'Once Upon A Time' book appeared in her closet when Henry needed it the most. Maybe it's still there?

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While Emma is running all over Storybrooke, Henry is fed up with all the lying. He's so upset his voice cracks. He takes her keys and hustles up to their room which above Granny's pub/diner/laundromat...oh my gosh, it's ALSO a bed and breakfast.

Henry takes her car keys, but before he can leave Storybrooke, Hook arrives with a better idea.

Emma, David and Mary Margaret search the apartment. Ta da! She finds the book! Regina grabs it, determined to figure out whose heart Zalena crushed to cast the curse.

Snow White and the gang hustle to the dark forest to find the white witch. They find a door that leads to nowhere.

Hmm? It's probably nothing.

Snow White and Charming enter easily and end up in a snow covered forest...Narnia?

Uh-oh. I remember the white witch being mean in this story.

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The white witch says her name is Belinda. She tells them Snow White's baby is pure of heart and also has the gift of magic.

She ALSO tells them she was childhood friends with Zalena.

Pay attention, folks. Rules get thrown out faster than last week's leftovers.

Zalena was born with powerful magic. She has a pendant that keeps all her magic focused. If she loses the pendant, well...you can guess the rest.

Also, only someone who is pure of heart and a purveyor of white magic (magic made from love) can defeat Zalena.

Did you get that? Good because there will be a test at the end of the post.

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Charming and Snow White realize that Emma is the only one who can defeat Zalena. But, oh no! She's in Storybrooke. They must enact the dark curse that will bring them back to her world.

Charming offers his heart so Snow White can cast the spell. The Evil Queen is like, “You guys are cray, cray.”

Emma realizes Henry is missing. Hook has taken him to the dock and is arranging for Bill Smead to take him to new York. Before you can say, “Ahoy,” a gang of flying monkeys arrive. Hook fends off the attack while Henry runs away screaming.

Henry, of course, falls. Emma and her posse arrive and throw balls of fire, vaporizing the monkeys. Emma shows Henry the 'Once Upon A Time' book and asks him to believe.

I think the flying monkeys helped.

Everyone holds their breath.

Henry takes the book and experiences three seasons of episodes in two seconds. He remembers and everyone cries. “Hurry”, Regina says. “Break the curse!”

Zalena arrives and magics Henry into a choke hold. She sneers and says that Hook is to blame for Henry's death.

Regina rushes to Henry's rescue, but Zalena easily sends her flying back, smashing into the ground.

Henry starts to turn blue. Emma uses her super power — no not the 'I can tell when someone is lying' super power — just regular magic this time.

Zalena's hands are burned! She backs off and threatens that the next time no one will survive...or something like that.

Henry falls on his knees beside Regina's crumpled form. She's not moving.

Snow White, Charming and the Evil Queen stand around a bubbling cauldron. Snow White says she can't crush his heart. He says, “No worries, we share the same heart. Every time you look at our little baby, you'll see my love for you.”

This is followed by more tearful love pledges. He tells the Evil Queen he's ready.

“This is going to hurt,” she says. Then she thrusts her hand into his chest. Snow White takes it and crushes it over the cauldron.

Charming falls to the ground, dead.

The wicked witch arrives and adds a forgetting clause to the spell. She tells Snow White and the Evil Queen, “You'll never defeat me if you can't remember who I am.”

Regina wakens and sees Henry is all right. She kisses him and says she'll always love him.

Ta-da! The curse is broken.

Mary Margaret and David let Emma know they are the ones who cast the curse so they could return and have her defeat Zalena with her pure magic powers and stuff.

“Whoa,” she says. “If you had to sacrifice the thing you love the most, why are you both still alive?”

The answer? Unicorn!

Back at the cauldron, Snow White tells the Evil Queen that she has to split her heart in half and then put the second part in Charming's chest. “I love him enough to fill both of our hearts!”

Aw. *rolls eyes*

The Evil Queen performs the Enchanted Forest's first heart division and transplant.

Charming wakes up. There's more kissing and love pledging.

Thunder cracks and the curse takes them back to Storybrooke.

Henry and Regina reminisce. He tells her all about New York. And he's pleased she's not evil anymore. Robin Hood shows up and Henry is stoked he has all these cool relatives.

Emma demands to know what Hook was up to. He says, “Zalena put a cast my lips.”

I should really do a top ten list of most ridiculous lines from this series...

Mary Margaret and David tell him that the message with the memory potion wasn't sent by them. Hook gets all defensive. “Then who did?" he asks. "Who else knew where Emma was living?”

Um...duh. Zalena.

Rumpelstiltskin watches as the wicked witch mixes a memory potion so that she'll remember when they go to Storybrooke. She gives it to Rumpelstiltskin. He's ready to guzzle the bottle to forget Neal is dead. Then Neal breaks out of Rumpelstiltskin's body. He scrawls a message, ties it to the bottle and sends it off with a pigeon to the Jolly Roger.

Loose plot hole tidied up.

A flying unicorn would have been more impressive than a pigeon.

Henry puts a rose on Neal's grave. He cries and asks Emma if it was hard to come back to Storybrooke. She tells him she knew he'd want her to because heroes never give up...or something like that. He smiles and says Operation Cobra is back on.

And just when you think things are wrapping up, Mary Margaret goes into labour.

Quiz time!


Who was Zalena's childhood friend?

Where is all of Zalena's magic kept?

What kind of magic can defeat Zalena?

How does one become true of heart?

Why are there no unicorns in this show?

WHEN IS THE SHERIFF COMING BACK????


Need more Storybrooke? You'll find my recaps for ALL of the Once Upon A Time episodes (even from the very first season) on my Pinterest page here.




Saturday, 26 April 2014

Five Free Random Acts of Kindness

...that you can do today!


1. Leave love notes in between the pages of library books.


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This note has just been found by someone awesome.

Only the most interesting people read this book. 

Smile, someone thinks you're cute. 


2. Take loose change from between your sofa cushions and fill parking meters that have expired (oh you devil you!)

3. The next time you enjoy a book, leave a gushing, favorable rating on Goodreads for the author! Psst...you can add one of my books right now!


4. Look people in the eye and say good morning and SMILE.

5. Let someone skip in front of line at the coffee shop.

BONUS!

Tell the barista who serves you in the above mentioned coffee shop that they're doing a great job or how about, "That caramel drizzle is a work of art! This totally makes my morning."

Don't be shy. People love hearing nice things about themselves.

So go out and spread the happy. Here's your badge of honor, my friend.

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What random acts of kindness can you do today?


Monday, 21 April 2014

Once Upon A Time Season 3, Episode 18 “Bleeding Through”


Or better title, "Sins of the Mother"



 Zalena arrives at Regina's for a little sisterly chit chat.

Regina's wearing a blue dress! She never wears colour!

Zalena enjoys Regina's fancy house and they beat the, 'I'm jealous because you got all the good stuff and I got nothing' motive. Then she tells Regina she'll never know their mother's secret. Regina rolls her eyes. Then Zalena says, "Guess what The Dark One is getting in the forest right now?"

Regina's face loses its colour. "My heart!"

Working under Zalena's orders, Mr. Gold stands in the middle of Robin Hood's camp.

Aw, he's literally protecting her heart. Robin Hood + Regina = Robina


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Robin Hood threatens Mr. Gold with the arrow that always hits its mark. But gosh darn it, Robin Hood's son wanders into the camp.

Mr. Gold regretfully changes the direction of the arrow so that it's an inch from Robin Hood's son.

Robin Hood has no choice but to give Regina's heart to Mr. Gold. 

Regina arrives and confides to Robin Hood (and us) that since she's still alive, Zalena must have something totally horrible planned for her heart.

Hasn't she been saying that all along? Why would this be a surprise?

Anyway, Regina goes to Mr. Gold's shop and begins to ransack the place, desperate for something to help her uncover Cora's secret. Belle is disgusted when Regina asks for help. She says, “Why would I help you? You physically and mentally tortured me for years.”

Regina has no time to explain that she's not the villain this season, instead she says, "Hey, I'm trying to help unchain your boyfriend from Zalena. Don't you want your Rumple back?"

There are so many weird jokes going through my mind right now...

Belle says she doesn't know if she can trust her since Zalena has her heart. No problemo, Regina shrugs, it's charmed so Zalena can't control her.

Phew, that was a close plot hole.

Regina's eyes sparkle when she sees the candle Mary Margaret used to kill Cora. "Now I'll learn my mother's secret!" she says.
 
In a grimy pub we see a young Cora working to earn extra money. She's caught the eye of a young handsome man. He confesses his love for her and she's flattered. Then he lets it slip he's a Prince in disguise, searching for a woman of true heart—she captured his heart without even knowing he was royalty!

He ties a bit of straw around her finger and promises to come back in two weeks and turn that straw into gold and marry her for reals.

Gee, I hope nothing bad happens.

Then he adds shyly that two weeks without seeing her will be torture. She mentions that since they're practically married...and he has a room upstairs already paid for...you know...
 
Mary Margaret, David, Hook, and Emma go to Regina's house to do a séance in order for Regina to find out her mother's secret past.

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Zalena places Regina's heart in a trunk with Charming's sword of courage. There's another box beside the sword which I'm guessing is waiting for Mr. Gold's brain.

She greats Mr. Gold in his cage and tells him to get dressed up for a special dinner. They sneer at each other and she lets him know she has plans for Snow White's baby.

Ew.

Regina has changed from her blue dress into a white blouse.

I guess the colour change was too much for the whole day.

Everyone sits around the table. She lights both ends of the death candle. They all hold hands...well and a hook. She tells them to concentrate on Cora.

Lights flicker! There's a crack of thunder and a blue vortex opens in the ceiling. Regina demands her mother give her a sign.

Um, there's a tornado in the ceiling.

Hook hits the table while crossing his legs and everything goes back to normal. Regina is totally miffed the moment is lost. "Whatever secrets she has buried in her past, she wants to keep there."

Way to go, Hook. You ruined everything. Why can't you sit still?

Young Cora waits in the rain on the roadside with her straw ring, but the Prince does not show up. She travels through the wet forest until she reaches the palace. She finds him taking shelter in a gazebo.

He doesn't look happy to see her. She explains that she's been waiting for him for two months. She notices his boots are muddied. He's not a prince! He's the palace gardener!

He says, "Whatever, you had a good time."

Then she tells him she's pregnant and demands money to help support the baby.

He laughs at her. She calls for the guards, saying she's being attacked. He pushes her down, then runs away. Cora stays crumpled on the ground. A kind man comes along. He helps her up, and introduces himself as Prince Leopold.

FYI, Prince Leopold was Snow White's father.

Everyone leaves Regina's house post séance except for Snow White. Weird things start to happen in the house but they don't notice because they're busy sorting out their mother/daughter issues.

Prince Leopold and Cora chat and charm each other. He confesses he doesn't feel sure enough to be king. He says that once he becomes king he has to produce an heir immediately. He's betrothed to someone he's never met, someone called Princess Ava. He's clearly smitten with Cora and wishes he could marry her instead.

Mary Margaret apologizes again for killing Cora. Regina admits that it's complicated.

Yep.

Regina wonders why her mother gave up Zalena and why she never mentioned she had a sister. The house answers with a creepy sound from the upstairs. She and Mary Margaret discover the ghost of Cora. And she's super mad.
 
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Emma practices magic at Granny's pub/diner/laundromat but Hook isn't in the mood to applaud her efforts. She asks what's bothering him but he stays quiet since this episode has nothing to do with his kissing curse.

Belle bursts in, hugging a large volume. She slaps down the spell book on the table and announces she knows what Zalena is up to.

Zalena has a candle light diner with Mr. Gold. She tells him Neal is still alive and she can bring them together.

How? Where?

More like, when. Zalena explains she's unraveled the trick to time travel. Mr. Gold is amazed. She's going back to time to take what's rightfully hers and promises Mr. Gold can find his son. He gets all dreamy eyed and says he'll have a second chance to never give him up.

Cora's ghost pushes Regina out of the way, trying to avenge her killer. Regina pulls a Ghostbuster trick to keep her at bay.

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Young Cora sits in the royal gazebo admiring her engagement ring. The palace gardener shows up and demands cash and jewels for his silence about the baby. She promises to meet him in the great hall with the payment, but the conversation is overheard by Princes Ava.

Hold on. If Prince Leopold is marrying someone else why is Princess Ava even there?

Regina demands answers from her mother. Cora's ghost enters Mary Margaret and she sees what happened.

Young Cora goes to the great hall, but she finds Prince Leopold waiting for her. He tells her he's heard a rumour that she's pregnant. But he's okay with that. As long as she tells him the truth he knows he can trust her...he says he'll marry her anyway.

Well, that sounds easy. Tell him the truth about how the gardener tricked you. The gardener will get sacked and you'll live happily ever after.

Instead, Cora lies and tells him she's not pregnant.

Princess Ava comes out from the shadows. She tells Prince Leopold to check her pockets for the jewelry and gold she promised to the gardener.

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Busted!

The palace guards take her away. Princess Ava tells Prince Leopold he deserves to have a child with someone who is pure as snow.

I loath that line.

Regina uses magic to blast Cora's ghost out of Mary Margaret. Everyone is worried about the baby. Belle arrives with Emma and Hook. She tells them Zalena is collecting items to help her go back in time.

But why, they wonder.

Mary Margaret comes out of her daze and lets them know her mother, Princess Ava is the one who let out the secret of Cora's pregnancy.

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Cora was forced to give up Zalena because as an unwed mother she can never be more that a Miller's daughter.

She leaves her in a basket in the woods.

*Cue the green tornado*

It's now clear to everyone that Zalena will go back in time and kill Snow White's mother BEFORE she lets out the big secret.

Mr. Gold and Zalena drink wine and toast each other on their super awesome plan to go back in time. Mr. Gold starts to make out with Zalena.

Ew. Please stop, ABC. Just, stop.

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He reaches for her dagger, but she moves too quickly. He vows to kill her. She orders him back to his cage and promises he'll never see his son again. And then she cries because she likes him?!?!

Regina and Mary Margaret clean up the mess ghost Cora made. They talk about how complicated their histories are. "Let's stop being haunted by our past."

Regina's still upset about not having a heart and having the whole town think she's still bad.

Mary Margaret glows because she loves any excuse to talk about the power of love. She tells her, "You don't need your heart, you feel everything with your soul. You still have worth."

So, what can you do with soul?

Regina goes to Robin Hood's camp in the middle of the forest. He's all alone by the fire. He promises to get her heart back. She answers him with a kiss. Then he kisses her back. Then she kisses him back. And then they lose count and just keep making out.

Whoo-hoo! Robina!

Need more Storybrooke? You'll find my recaps for ALL of the Once Upon A Time episodes (even from the very first season) on my Pinterest page here.


 


Thursday, 17 April 2014

My Dream Ninja Assignment!



As part of the NINJA LIBRARIAN blog tour my assignment this week was to name which historical figure would I like to be an apprentice for? What would I like to learn from them?

One word, Cleopatra.


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Why?

She was Egypt's last queen, invented many health and beauty treatments that are still used today, (mascara for one), and was the only person capable of keeping Egypt from falling to the Romans.

She fought off a brother and saved her country by swooning Julius Caesar and combining their armies. When Caesar died, Cleopatra had to flee Rome as rumors of her involvement in his death threatened her own demise.

But she didn't cower.

Mark Anthony was set to arrest her, instead...well, let's just say she gave birth to twins the following year.

She was a warrior, a scientist, a fierce leader, and has inspired generations of playwrights, artists, and archaeologists. Perhaps the most alluring part of Cleopatra is that her tomb has never been found. She died a prisoner of Octavian, supposedly after Mark Antony died in her arms. Loyal slaves smuggled in a poisonous snake at her request, so she could take her own life with its bite.

It is believed that Octavian still revered his queen and granted her the wish to be buried secretly with Mark Antony, where tomb raiders would never find them.

They still haven't.

I don't know what I'd want to learn for Cleopatra, but following her around for a day would be AWESOME!!!! 


Here are some of my other assignments which totally deserved an A+...

What animal I would take with me if I was going on an adventure? Easy peasy!

Top ten scenes from a book that I'd want to experience.

Top ten items I'd steal, borrow from books. Number one? Nancy Drew's blue convertible. Oh, yeah!

Jen Swank Downey's smart, sassy, action packed middle grade adventure is now available!



Check out webpage here. In addition to a wonderful blog trailer, the webpage contains fantastic downloadables for Ninja Librarian fans, such as an Educator Guide, Mission Activity Kit, and a special Guide to Petrarch’s Library!
You can BUY The Ninja Librarians here.
 
Find Jen on facebook, twitter, and her website.
 
Which historical figure would you like to apprentice for?
 
 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Once Upon A Time, Season 3, Episode 17 “The Jolly Roger”


Or better title, "Hooked on Love"



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On a darkened forest trail a man in an iron mask robs a stage coach. It's Hook and he's been reunited with Bill Smead and his crew of pirates. There's only one problem, he's lost his ship.

The celebration party at a pub includes the gang chipping in to give Hook a night with one of the bar wenches. Hook takes her out back where he pays her off and tells her he's not interested.

Oh right, he's in love with Emma.

He's soon ambushed by another women. It's Ariel and she's super mad.

Emma and David try to put together the crib for the new baby. Regina arrives and tells them she's placed a protective spell around Mary Margaret's apartment to keep them safe from Zalena.

Emma is growing tired of the defensive tactics. She asks Regina to teach her magic so they can tag team against Zalena.

Bill Smead meets up with Hook on the waterfront of Storybrooke. They argue about the missing Jolly Roger. Smead wants to leave, but Hook is determined to stay because Emma thinks he's a fun sitter for Henry. Smead stomps off.

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Emma arrives and she tells him Regina is going to help hone her magical ability. Then she drops the bomb that once she helps get rid of Zalena, she and Henry will return to New York.

Hook gives her best sad eyes, “You can't pretend this never happened," he says. "No matter how much you want to return to your old life, it's never going to happen.”

Mary Margaret and David walk along the beach. A crowd has gathered. Ariel has washed up on shore.

She's been searching the ocean for over a year for Prince Eric. Since she didn't find him, she thought he must be in Storybrooke. Mary Margaret and David bring her up to date on Zalena. They also mention how Hook is the only one who still has memories of the missing year.

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Behind the tavern, Ariel holds Hook at knife point and accuses him of kidnapping Prince Eric. He says she's mistaken. But she can prove it because one of his men escaped from the Jolly Roger. She gives him a dagger with the initials BB. Hook laughs because he knows it's Black Beard who has the Jolly Roger.

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Bill Smead is a bit scared because you know...it's Black Beard. Hook says the Jolly Roger is more than a ship. He needs his ship back, it's what makes him a pirate. He's getting tired of being in love with Emma. He's worried he's getting soft.

Um...sorry. My mind wandered there for a moment.

Right, so Ariel insists on coming along so she can help rescue Prince Eric.

At Granny's pub/diner/laundromat, Hook teaches Henry how to gamble with dice and french fries. David brings Ariel to meet Hook and she asks if he's ever heard of Prince Eric.

Hook gives her a wink of his eyeliner and says, “No. Never heard of him.”

*Gasp* He's lying!

Regina takes Emma into the secret vault below her mother's crypt for magic school. Regina teases her that she and Hook are sweet on each other. Emma rolls her eyes. Regina hands her a book and tells her to start memorizing.

Emma says it's a waste of time. She needs skills speedy quick.

Fine. You asked for it.

Regina magics them above a bottomless gorge. Emma's on a suspension bridge while she's safe on the other side. The bridge starts to fall apart. “Go ahead,” Regina calls out. “Save yourself with magic.”

Hook, Smead, and Ariel go through the forest. Ariel lets it slip that Hook has a reputation for being nice since he reunited Snow White with her daughter. He says, “I'm a pirate and I always will be.”

She continues to insist that he's a champion of true love. He gets upset and grabs her by the large golden clasp on her purple robe. She freaks out that he touched her. The sea creature emblem belonged to Eric and she wears his robe to help her remember him while he's away.

Belle and Ariel reunite in Mr. Gold's shop. Ariel explains that she's hoping to find an object of Eric's. Hook goes into the back room. He finds Eric's sea creature clasp hidden behind a curtain. Ariel squeals with delight that he has found Eric's royal robe.

Emma does nothing while the bridge collapses around her. Regina yells, “Use your instinct!”

Emma falls out of sight, then slowly hovers over on a flying raft built from bits of bridge. Regina scoffs that all she had to do was repair the frayed rope.

Okay, that was easy.

Belle pours the locator spell on Eric's robe. It levitates and flies off to be with its owner.

Hook admires the Jolly Roger from behind a barrel on the wharf. He grabs a sword and walks on board, demanding Black Beard show his face. A sword fight ensues. Ariel slips below deck looking for Eric while Smead just stands there.

Slash. Pare. Punch. Push. Insult. Slash. Pare. Insult.

Hook is about to kill Black Beard when Ariel comes deck side and tells him Eric is not on board. She begs him to spare Black Beard's life. Black Beard says he's on an isolated island, but he'll only tell if Hook lets him live, which no real pirate would ever do.

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Ariel and Hook follow Eric's flying cape through Storybrooke and down to the docks. It ends up plunging into the ocean. Unless Eric is a merman...then...he must be...oh dear.

Hook holds her while she cries.

David is tired of being the boring baby sitter compared to Hook. He decides that Henry should take a driving lesson. It takes ten seconds for them to have a car accident.

Ariel tearfully thanks Hook for helping her find Eric's robe. She knows their story is over. She also tells him he is more than a pirate, he has a true heart.

Hook looks worried about being soft...hearted.

*Giggles*

Hook makes Black Beard walk the plank because he wants the Jolly Roger back, plus he's tired of being called soft. Ariel pleads for him to reconsider his choice. He says love will only bring her wasted years and endless torment.

Much like being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

He's actually doing her a favour by killing her true love. He pushes Black Beard off the plank and the sharks arrive to finish him off.

Ariel slaps Hook and says he'll never know love, and THAT will bring him wasted years and endless torment.

Copycat. Can't even come up with her own insult.

She jumps into the shark infested water, determined to find Eric's mystery island.

After watching her cry at the dock all evening, Hook confesses to Ariel the true story about how he chose his ship over Eric. He tells her he'd do anything to take it back. She says she can't trust a man who doesn't believe in love.

But Hook insists that indeed, he knows all about love.

She's all, Oh yeah, then vow on your love's name.

He says, “Emma Swan.”

Ariel turns in to Zalena. She tells him Ariel found Prince Eric not long after she jumped off the Jolly Roger last year. Hook looks relieved. Then she throws a ball of green light, hitting him on the mouth.

Is that how witches kiss?

She cackles and give a long monologue with plenty of sneering.

Here's the gist of what just happened; Hook's lips are now cursed so the next time he kisses Emma all of her magic will be gone.

He says it's a ridiculous plan and that he'll tell Emma. Hook calls her bluff because if Zalena wanted to kill Emma, she would have done it long ago. Zalena leaves him with this ultimatum; kiss Emma and remove her powers or everyone she loves dies.

*Cue the green smoke bomb*

Hook arrives at David and Mary Margaret's apartment but only Emma and Regina are there. He tells them he was helping Ariel and she found Prince Eric on an island the curse didn't reach.

Regina sees this as a teaching moment for Emma. To make sure Ariel reached the island, Regina shows Emma how she can use a mirror to look into different realms.

Okay, that was easy!

Anyway, we see Ariel and Prince Eric frolicking on the beach.

Emma looks at Hook with swoony eyes. “You did this? You gave her a happy ending?”

Mary Margaret and David arrive with Henry in tow. They say the driving lesson went...um okay. When she hears the good news about Ariel, Mary Margaret says. “Let's celebrate by eating out. Should we go to Granny's?”

Um...where the 'f' else?

They invite Hook, but he declines mumbling something about having his leather pants dry cleaned.

So, Mary Margaret, David, Emma, Regina and Henry all go out to dinner.

Hook walks the dark streets alone. He stops at the corner across from Granny's spying on Emma and the gang. He watches from the shadows.

Alone.

Staring at the lips he'll never be able to kiss.

Ever.

Again.

Relax, folks. We know that's not true because every rule in this show gets broken.  

Doesn't Henry think it's weird that Hook dresses like he's from The Rocky Horror Picture Show...like every day?

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Also, wouldn't Henry start to question why the Mayor is going out with them for dinner?

Need more Storybrooke? You'll find my recaps for ALL of the Once Upon A Time episodes (even from the very first season) on my Pinterest page here.





Tuesday, 8 April 2014

First Chapter Reveal for THE NINJA LIBRARIANS



In The Ninja Librarians,  Dorrie and Marcus accidentally bring along Moe, a mongoose, on their adventure (Well, okay, more like they follow him to the mysterious room). 

As part of the NINJA LIBRARIAN blog tour my assignment this week was to name what animal I would take with me if I was going on an adventure?
 
Easy peasy!

Hedwig, Boots the monkey, that big flying dog-thing from The Never Ending Story, Puff the Magic Dragon, Lassie, Cruickshanks, all three Wonder Pets, Fawkes, Black Beauty, any unicorn, the sparrow from The Happy Prince, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet too!

Wait...what? Just one?!

Oh. *hangs head*



Next week I have to tell you which historical figure I would you like to be an apprentice for? What I'd like to learn from them (or get from them). Stay tuned.

Here are some of my other assignments which totally deserved an A+...

Top ten scenes from a book that I'd want to experience.

Top ten items I'd steal, borrow from books. Number one? Nancy Drew's blue convertible. Oh, yeah!

Jen Swann Downey's smart, sassy, action packed middle grad adventure hits stores on April 15!



Check out webpage here. In addition to a wonderful blog trailer, the webpage contains fantastic downloadables for Ninja Librarian fans, such as an Educator Guide, Mission Activity Kit, and a special Guide to Petrarch’s Library!

You can pre-order Ninja Librarians here.
 
Find Jen on facebook, twitter, and her website.
 
AND, don't leave yet. Below is the FIRST CHAPTER.
 
WARNING! You will be hooked and unable to read further until April 15th. Proceed with caution.
 
 
 
Chapter 1
Books and Swords
T
welve--year--old Dorothea Barnes was thoroughly un--chosen, not particularly deserving, bore no marks of destiny, lacked any sort of criminal genius, and could claim no supernatural relations. Furthermore, she’d never been orphaned, kidnapped, left for dead in the wilderness, or bitten by anything more bloodthirsty than her little sister.
 
Don’t even begin to entertain consoling thoughts of long flaxen curls or shiny tresses black as ravens’ wings. Dorrie’s plain brown hair could only be considered marvelous in its ability to twist itself into hopeless tangles. She was neither particularly tall or small, thick or thin, pale or dark. She had parents who loved her, friends enough, and never wanted for a meal. So why, you may wonder, tell a story about a girl like this at all?
 
Because Dorrie counted a sword among her most precious belongings. Yes, it was only a fake one that couldn’t be relied upon to cut all the way through a stick of butter, but Dorrie truly and deeply desired to use it. Not just to fend off another staged pirate attack at Mr. Louis P. Kornberger’s Passaic Academy of Swordplay and Stage Combat (which met Tuesdays behind the library after Mr. Kornberger finished work there) but, when the right circumstances arose, to vanquish some measure of evil from the world.
 
Dorrie regarded every opportunity to prepare for that moment as a crucial one, and the Passaic Public Library’s annual Pen and Sword Festival—always bursting with costumed scribblers and swashbucklers—afforded, in her strongly-held opinion, one of the best. On its appointed day, she pounded down the wide battered staircase of her home long before the rising sun finished gilding the rusty dryer that sat, for lost reasons, on top of it. She did so in the one tall purple boot she could find, dragging her duffel bag behind her.
 
At the bottom, in the vast chamber that had once served as a ballroom, Dorrie caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror that hung over a bureau by the back door, and hiked up her wide leather belt. She had buckled it over a hideous, electric-blue-and-black-striped suit jacket with ripped-out sleeves that Dorrie’s father swore he had worn proudly out in public in a bygone era. Underneath it, a shirt with great puffy sleeves and dangling cuffs screamed "pirate" loudly and well. After taking a moment to tug on the hem of the moth-eaten velvet skirt that was meant to hang to her knees but had got caught in the waistband of her underwear, she glowered into the mirror, her sword aloft. Despite the missing boot, the overall effect pleased her.
 
"Yo ho, Calico Jack," called her father. "Put this back in Great--Aunt Alice’s sitting room, will you?"
Dorrie looked away from the mirror to see her father, holding a tiny carved owl. He wore a ruffled, candy-striped apron that read, "You Breaka My Eggs, I Breaka Your Fast". With his free hand he was stirring a pot of glopping oatmeal in the part of the old ballroom the Barnes called "The Kitchen". Other parts of the once grand chamber served as "The Living Room", "The Office", "The Rehearsal Hall" for Dorrie’s fourteen-year-old drum-pounding brother, Marcus, and "The Playroom" for Miranda, Dorrie’s four-year-old sister.
 
Dorrie made her way to her father across one of the dozen rugs bought cheap from thrift stores currently living out their end days beneath the daily burden of ill-conceived art projects, the occasional mislaid plate of scrambled eggs, and books. Heaps and hills and hoards of books. Books left open on the back of the sway-backed sofa and under the piano, on the top of the toaster and hanging from the towel rack.
 
"Miranda borrowed it," he said, dropping the carved owl into Dorrie’s outstretched hand. Dorrie gave her father "a look." Her sister had a deeply ingrained habit of "borrowing" things. Dorrie set off for Great--Aunt Alice’s sitting room, which lay on the other side of the deteriorating mansion.
Great--Aunt Alice had invited Dorrie’s family to live with her two years ago when her sprawling home had become too much to care for by herself.
 
Besides the ballroom and a few bedrooms, the rest of the mansion was her territory. Just as shabby, she kept it spare and clean and orderly. Great--Aunt Alice claimed the Barnes side of the house gave her fits of dizziness.
 
After Dorrie set the owl back on its shelf in Great--Aunt Alice’s empty sitting room, the thick hush tempted her to tuck her sword beneath an arm and open a little stone box that stood beside the owl. Inside lay an old pocket watch and a silver bracelet set with a cloudy black stone.
 
The doorbell rang, and Great--Aunt Alice’s voice in the marble--floored hallway made Dorrie’s hand jerk so that the box’s lid fell closed with a small clack.
 
Hurriedly, Dorrie pushed the box back onto the shelf. Then, in a silly horror at the thought of Great--Aunt Alice—-who often seemed as remote and unfathomable as a distant planet—-catching her snooping, she wrenched open the lid of a cavernous wicker trunk that stood against the wall and scrambled inside, sword and all. She pulled the heavy lid down on top of her. It bounced on her fingers, trapping them, just as Great--Aunt Alice hobbled into the room. Dorrie sucked in her breath, the pain making her eyes water. She heard the sitting--room door close.
 
"Well, did he see you go in?" asked Great--Aunt Alice.
 
"Oh, he doesn’t have the imagination to suspect," said a young woman breathlessly.
 
Dorrie pressed her eyes to the gap made by her swiftly swelling fingers. Amanda, Dorrie’s favorite librarian at the Passaic Public Library after Mr. Kornberger, stood now, inexplicably, just inside Great--Aunt Alice’s sitting--room door. Everything about Amanda Ness was long. Her skirts, her hundred braids which hung down below her shoulders, and her nose—-which had been given the usual infant inch and had taken a mile. If a long temper was the opposite of a short one, well, she had that too.
 
"You should be more careful," said Great--Aunt Alice, stopping at her writing desk. She smoothed a few white hairs back toward the tight bun at the back of her head. "Has anything changed?"
 
"Not yet," said Amanda, sitting down on the edge of a little pale--blue sofa.
 
"No. Of course not," said Great--Aunt Alice, easing herself down into a straight--backed chair. "It’s patently absurd that we’re even discussing the possibility."
 
Amanda looked vaguely hurt.
 
"I don’t know what I’ve been thinking," said Great--Aunt Alice. "Sneaking around in there like a thief these past weeks."
 
Amanda clasped her hands together. "You were thinking that the stories might be true!"
 
Dorrie listened so hard that she could almost feel her ears trying to creep away from her head.
 
Great--Aunt Alice picked lint from a sweater hung on the back of the chair. "Well, I’m a foolish old woman." She caught Amanda staring at her. "Oh now, don’t look so disappointed."
 
"Give it more time!" pleaded Amanda. "He said he wasn’t sure how long it might take."
 
Great--Aunt Alice absently toyed with a little jar of pens on her desk. "I’m ashamed that I believed even for a moment in the possibility."
 
In her wonder at the thought that Great--Aunt Alice could believe in anything fantastical for even the briefest of moments, Dorrie barely felt the wicker strands of the trunk embedding themselves in her knees. After all, Great--Aunt Alice had frowned disapprovingly when Miranda asked her to clap her hands so that Tinkerbell wouldn’t die.
 
Amanda leaned toward Great--Aunt Alice. "But it’s obvious that something special is supposed to happen there." Dorrie held her breath so as not to miss a single word. The conversation positively bulged with mysterious possibilities.

 
"It’s obvious my father wanted something special to happen," Great--Aunt Alice corrected. "My believing that it will happen is as ridiculous as Dorothea believing that she’s going to corner modern evil with a sword."

 
At the mention of her name, Dorrie nearly lost her grip on the sword in question and had to scrabble to keep it from falling noisily to the floor of the trunk. There was a moment of silence during which Dorrie felt certain that Amanda and Great--Aunt Alice could hear the small cave-in taking place in the general vicinity of her heart, but her great-aunt only sniffed and began to talk about Mr. Scuggans, the new director of the Passaic Public Library, calling him insufferable.
 
Dorrie began to breath again in shallow little huffs. Ridiculous! She turned the stinging word over in her mind. Dorrie had never stopped to think about whether her desire to wield a sword against the villains of the world was sensible or ridiculous. It just was. She squeezed the hilt of her sword, drawing strength from it until the crumbling hollow feeling in her chest faded a little.
 
The conversation outside the basket had turned to the difficulty of cleaning the library’s gutters, and stuck there for what seemed like an excruciating eternity until, at last, Great--Aunt Alice showed Amanda out. Dorrie, her heart pounding, slipped from her wicker prison, and back through the double doors that led into her family’s side of the house.



Sunday, 6 April 2014

Once Upon A Time Season 3, Episode 16 “It's Not Easy Being Green”

 

Or better title “Ridiculous Reasons for Rivalry”



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Peasants on their way to the Emerald City find a baby after a terrible storm. But the little baby shows signs of having super powers, ie: she stops a tree from falling on them. The woman is so taken with the baby's cuteness she thinks nothing of her magical ability. However, the father is suspicious. He says, “She's not like us.”
 
Dude, she dropped out of a cyclone, unharmed.

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Storybrooke buries Neal. Everyone takes a turn putting a shovel of dirt on top of the coffin. There's no dialogue for the first three minutes.

*cough* lazy writers *cough*

A young Zalena is shaving her father. She cuts him by mistake, but magics it all better speedy quick. Instead of being grateful for the free health care he admits he's always been afraid of her power and calls her wicked. Then he drops the bombshell that she was adopted.

She begins to cry and wishes her mother was still alive.

He tells her to dry her tears and put on a good face—this guy is all about appearances.

But Zalena's had enough. She storms out of their humble hut determined to find a family who loves her. The one and only person who can help her is—the Wizard of OZ.
 
Emma grieves for Neal by fanning the fire of revenge.

Yeah, because that works out so well for everyone in this show.

Hook convinces her to cool off and he offers to take Henry sailing so he can tell him about Neal. Remember Neal spent a lot of time on Hook's ship after he escaped from Peter Pan's freaky shadow thing.

Regina and Tinkerbell hang out at Granny's pub/diner/laundromat gossiping about Robin Hood. Regina knows he's her soul mate but she's reluctant to start anything with him.

Why? Doesn't matter. The writers know it creates tension.

Zalena arrives with flourish at Granny's in full witchy garb and gives a fabulous speech. She lets everyone, including Regina, know that they're actually sisters.

Regina calls her bluff since she's a murderous witch and all that. Zalena tells her it's time she learns the truth. They'll meet on Main Street at sundown for a big showdown.

Regina says she never loses. “Oh yeah,” Zalena says, “well neither do I.”

There better be some big fireworks at this showdown because nothing has really happened yet.

David, Emma, and Mary Margaret grill Regina about Zalena, but she's just as surprised as them.

A young Zalena arrives at the castle of the Great and Power Wizard of Oz. His silhouette appears behind a curtain. He knows that she's come to find her true family. He warns her that the past may be difficult to accept.

Parental discretion is advised.

Zalena sees images of Cora abandoning her in the basket before the big storm. Why is she being abandoned?

The Wizard says it's because Cora believed she didn't have the ability to become royalty.

What? And sorry, but what? I'm sure there's more to it than that...there must be.

While I'm trying to recover from that lame excuse, Zalena watches as Regina is being taught magic by Rumpelstiltskin. Zalena grows eager to meet this man who isn't afraid of magic. The wizard gives her golden shoes that have to power to transport her to different realms. For payment, she must return with something of Rumpelstiltskin's.

He warns her again, “It is not wise to become envious of things you cannot have.”

Um, yeah. That's what envy is all about, right? I mean if you could have it, then you'd have it and you wouldn't be envious anymore. Oh, never mind.

Zalena clicks her heals and ends up in Regina's bedroom. She sees all the luxurious items and becomes furious with...you guessed it, envy. Rumpelstiltskin arrives and is surprised to see someone else in Regina's bedroom. He's upset at first, then she proves she's Cora's first born by doing some fancy magic. He's impressed and promises to teach her all that he knows.

Regina searches her secret vault under the crypt and finds a letter. She tucks it in her pocket and ignores Mary Margaret and Emma's questioning looks as she storms out.

Emma says, “What the hell was in that letter?”

Gee, I don't know. Why don't you tackle her and read it?

David locks down Main Street since there's going to be a witch rumble. Emma decides that they have to get back the dagger. Belle offers to try and reach Mr. Gold through the power of LOVE.
 
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Regina reads the letter in the forest and Robin Hood creeps out of the bushes. He pickpockets the letter from her and after a few flirty exchanges she lets him reads it.

It's a letter to Cora from Rumpelstiltskin about how her first born is a more powerful than her. All this time Regina thought the letter was about her...but it's about Zalena.

Rumpelstiltskin takes a young Zalena into the woods for a test. She lets out a jealous rant about being abandoned and Regina having everything and never having to work for it and blah, blah...
 
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Rumpelstiltskin's eyes twinkle at her greedily. He tells her he's been working on a very powerful curse but he needs a skilled witch to cast it.

After Zalena's past the anger test he asks her to think of something happy.

She's stuck so she asks him about his happy moment. I thought he was going to talk about Baelfire, instead he says it's the memory of tasting meat pies from the spinsters who took him in as a boy.

He says, “It was the only time I forgot I was a boy who wasn't wanted by his papa.”

Zalena feels a kindred connection with this glittery, speckled goblin. She tells him her happy moment is when he agreed to train her.

Aw. *barfs in mouth*

Belle rushes to Mr. Gold's cage. He tells her to run because as long as Zalena holds the dagger he is helpless to resist her orders. Belle gets him to hold her hand. Then Zalena comes out of the shadows cackling. Belle takes off with Mr. Gold screaming a warning, “The next time anyone tries to stop Zalena I'll be made to kill you all.”

And to all a goodnight!

Henry grows bored listening to Hook talk about how to navigate by using the stars...as do I. Hook is terrible at telling stories, he lets the name Baelfire slip out a few times. And Henry figures out that Hook wasn't a boyhood chum of Neal's.

Hook get misty eyed and tells Henry he knew Neal after he'd just lost his father. It was sailing and navigating that brought him comfort. Henry is touched that his dad had the same fate as him...or something like that. The soft music was playing so I assumed it was a tender moment.

A young Zalena makes a meat pie dinner for Rumpelstiltskin. She's upset to find out that he's still training Regina. She tells him that she deserves the curse since she's the better witch.

Your insides are starting to show, he warns her. All of her envy begins to leak through, turning her skin green.

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Zalena arrives to a crowded Main street with Mr. Gold. She announces that if Regina doesn't show up in five minutes everyone will die.

Everyone will die. How many times have we heard this threat? So far only one person has died. Liar!

Here's an obvious question: Why did everyone show up unarmed for the witch rumble? And where is Ruby? A werewolf would be helpful right about now.

Emma challenges Zalena. She has magic powers, plus she's the saviour—so there! Zalena pushes her away easily.

*chuckles*

A young Zalena arrives at Regina's bedroom and holds a knife to her throat. She's says she's more powerful and is the one Rumpelstiltskin will pick to place the curse. Still, she kills Regina just to improve her chances. But surprise! It's Rumpelstiltskin pretending to be Regina.

He tells Zalena this is the end of her witchy career. In order for the curse to work, she has to give up what she wants most. And Rumpelstiltskin knows it's him. She pleads with him but he still turns her down. Then she shows him the golden shoes that can take him to see the Wizard. He changes his mind, but it's too late for takesies backsies.

She clicks her golden heels and heads back to Oz.

Meanwhile, back in Main Street, Zalena beats up Regina. She says she doesn't want to kill her, only destroy her. And that means taking her heart.

But guess what?

Regina has buried her heart. Cora always told her, “Never take your heart to a witch fight.”

And wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident.

Outraged, Zalena takes off on her broomstick promising revenge.

And that was the big showdown. A few broken windows. No one died.

Mary Margaret gives us the ending monologue, "Zalena has Charming's sword of courage, she wanted Regina's heart..."

Hmm who's brain will she use? Oh, right, Mr. Gold's.

Regina knows she's collecting ingredients...but for what?

Skin brightening cream?

 

Okay, this whole plot is ridiculous. The inciting incident is Cora giving Zalena away. Why? Because Zalena couldn't give her what she wanted the most—for her daughter to grow up worthy enough for a prince. How can you tell this from a baby? Wouldn't it have made sense to just have Cora an unwed mother?

Plus, remember Cora was married to a Prince when she gave birth to Regina. So the whole plot to get Regina to marry Snow White's father was bogus ridiculous as well.

Just sayin'...


What do you think Zalena is going to do with courage, a heart, and a brain?


Need more Storybrooke? You'll find my recaps for ALL of the Once Upon A Time episodes (even from the very first season) on my Pinterest page here.

 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Top Ten Book Scenes I'd LOOOOVE to Experience


Last week, I made a top ten list of favorite items I'd steal from books. Number one? Nancy Drew's blue convertible. Oh, yeah!

Now please enjoy...

Top Ten Scenes I'd Like LOOOOVE to Experience.

1. Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth and she turns him down. BAM!




2. Every Christmas feast at Hogwarts.


3. When Anne hits Gilbert Blythe over the head with the slate. I'd holler from the back of the school house, "Go, redheads!"


4. The entire fifteenth chapter of THE PRISONER of AZKABAN when Harry wins the quidditch cup by beating Slytherin. AWESOME!!!


5. To be alongside Lucy when she walks through the wardrobe for the first time. Narnia!


6. Being rocked by Aunt Beast in A WRINKLE IN TIME. (I love a good nap in space.)

7. Front row at the Reaping Ceremony. When Primrose's name is called, I'd volunteer before Katniss, and therefore Peeta would fall in love with me....and Katniss can have Gale or whatever.


8. Go to the chocolate factory with Charlie and Grandpa Joe, then eat candy grass, mushrooms and tea cups with Willy Wonka.




 

9. When Elizabeth Bennet has the showdown with Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the garden.

"He is a gentleman and I'm a gentleman's daughter, therefore we are equal."

How Elizabeth kept her wits in this scene is beyond commendable.


10. When Laura Ingalls sees Almanzo Wilder for the first time in THE LONG WINTER. *heart swells* Even though she was more smitten with his friend, Cap Garland...still, I smile every time.

What are some of your favorite scenes?


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