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Endgame (2011) is available on Hulu Plus (which we finally got working at our new place). There is only one season available and it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but it was a good binge watch all the same.
Arkady Balagan is a genius who found fame as the world chess champion but who, since witnessing the murder of his fiancée, has become rather agoraphobic and has been living in a posh hotel in Vancouver. Out of money and with his tab being called due he stumbles into helping find an abducted child. Realising (sic) he could make some money as an unofficial consulting detective he takes up a new profession and hires one of his chess fans to do the work which requires leaving the hotel. Arkady continues to work with Pippa Venturi, his late fiancée’s sister, to solve the murder of Rosemary Venturi, his fiancée, and her old friend Greg Lamont.
Balagan is an agoraphobic Sherlock Holmes. He is a genius who solves mysteries with chess strategic thinking. Since he is agoraphobic he enlists the help of a younger chess player, a maid of the hotel, and a bar tender in the hotel. He finds smart people to help him and doesn’t discriminate who that intelligent person is based on their job description. He is able to walk through what people probably did based on his extensive knowledge of how people work because of his chess playing background.
I like this show because I like smart people, and the entire ensemble is a cast of smart people. They all play off of each other beautifully, and there wasn’t a secondary character that I didn’t like or who was just there to fulfill some quota. They all contributed in their own way and each character pushed the show forward seamlessly. Balagan is a great character beautifully played. Sometimes he comes off as the biggest jerk, that smart kid who always thinks he is right, because he usually is. But, Balagan is smart because he understands not only the rules of a game, but how people think. His ability to understand other people gives his sometimes jerk character warmth and charm that really endured him to me.
My favorite episode was “I Killed Her” where a killer shows up at the hotel and confesses everything to Balagan, but in a way that he can’t be caught. At every turn the killer outsmarts Balagan, which was quite exciting to watch. In the end, it is Balagan’s understanding of human character that resolves the case. In a very touching scene Balagan figures out the psychology of the killer and what ultimately drives his behavior.
If you like binge watching television about smart people solving crimes in unusual ways, check out Endgame (2011) on Hulu Plus.
As is probably apparent by now, I’m a huge fan of Peter Hollens. Here is his latest a cappella works based on The Hobbit movies.
Peter Hollens A Cappella Performance of “The Last Goodbye” from The Hobbit
Ed Sheeran – I See Fire- The Hobbit- Peter Hollens
But my favorite is still Peter Hollens performance of Song of the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit
I downloaded Better Off Dead (Lily Harper Series) by H. P. Mallory onto my AmazonKindle app because it was free and looked interesting.
If there’s such a thing as luck, Lily Harper definitely doesn’t have it.
Killed in a car accident before it’s her time to go, Lily learns that the hereafter isn’t exactly what she hoped it might be.
First, there’s AfterLife Enterprises, the company responsible for sorting out the recently dead and sending them on their way to the Kingdom, (aka happily ever after,) or to the Underground City, (not so happily ever after.)
Learning that Lily’s death was indirectly their fault (her guardian angel, Bill, was MIA during her accident and was one of their employees,) Afterlife Enterprises offers Lily the chance to live again.
But, as with most things involving the afterlife, beware the fine print. Most notably, Lily will become a soul retriever, venturing into the bowels of the Underground City to retrieve souls that were mistakenly sent there by Afterlife Enterprises during a Y2K computer glitch.
Second, there’s angel Bill. As if risking her second life in the Underground City wasn’t enough, Lily’s guide to the Underground is none other than her incompetent, alcoholic, womanizing guardian angel, Bill, the antithesis of anything wholesome. With only Dante’s Inferno and Bill to help her in her quest, Lily’s future isn’t looking bright.
Finally, there’s the legendary bladesmith, Tallis Black. As Scottish as his kilts and heavy brogue, Tallis Black is a centuries-old Celt who, for reasons only known to him, offers to train Lily and act as her escort into the depths of the Underground City. Dark, brooding and definitely dangerous, Lily knows she shouldn’t trust Tallis, but she also can’t deny her attraction to him.
Between soul retrieving in hell, dealing with Bill and trying to figure out what’s in it for Tallis, Lily wonders if maybe she would’ve just been better off dead.
I really like the other H.P. Mallory series and think she is a good writer, but I have some reservations about this series and it didn’t catch my interest like her other two did. I was intrigued by the premise, I like Reaper Mystery tea cozy novels a lot, and I enjoy quirky characters which Better Off Dead has in spades. Angel Bill is quite hilarious even if he was a bit cringe worthy a few times, but in a way that made me laugh in spite of myself. He was the best parts of the book.
Lily is a well developed character who has a lot to learn about her new life. I can see her growing over the series and becoming a wonderful character. I just have a few issues with the premise of her character. My first issue is that when she becomes a Reaper she gets to choose a new body, and since she hates her old fat self she chooses to be a tall, curvy (but in all the right places), redhead- just like every other urban fantasy female lead. Her gangling movements, I’m in a new taller more beautiful body, scenes were off putting to me. It wasn’t as though she chose the right body for the job, she just chose her dream body. And I guess I would be fine with that realism, if the author addressed Lily’s hate of her old body in some way. And maybe Lily will come to realize that her old body wasn’t so bad, or learn something from this in the end, but there was no indication in the first book that this would happen. It seemed an odd point to make about the universe.
My other issue with Lily is that she is yet another virgin, and not necessarily because she wants to be, not because she is choosing for herself her own sexuality, in fact there is no female agency around her choice. I started reading another Reaper Mystery cozy tea novel that I at the same time and I really appreciated that character’s choice about her own sexuality, female agency was a real thing so it was hard not to compare the two. Perhaps Lily’s virginity would not have been such a big deal to me if I wasn’t comparing it to the other, on the other hand it was part of the plot in Better Off Dead.
H. P. Mallory sets up some great characters in Better Off Dead, they aren’t perfect and they have some room to grow. The premise remains interesting and the AfterLife was definitely different from other Reaper Mysteries that I read, so that was a huge plus. There is a kick-ass female in the story, she just happens not to be the heroine. Some of my favorite characters have started out as underwhelming female leads and have grown into amazing women, hopefully Lily is headed in that direction as well.
A Reaper Mystery tea novel about the after life, Better Off Dead has an interesting premise and some quirky characters that will keep you turning the pages.
Ron Swanson Paper Dolls FOR THE WIN!!!
There is a page called Ron Swanson Quotes which has a gallery of awesome pictures and quotes by the man himself.
My favorite Ron Swanson quote
Mustached mug and other Ron Swanson Etsy Finds
Ron Swanson street art.
Really awesome, but really kind of weird, fan art
The greatest Ron Swanson scene ever!
Sometimes I go onto Pinterest just to pine over other people’s rooms full of beautiful books, shelves, and reading nooks. It is both soul fulfilling and soul longing to do so, as I want such rooms, shelves, and nooks, and do not have them nor the room for them. Nor do I really want to give up much of my home space to items I will generally use once. What I need is a holiday in such a place where I can sit in the reading nooks for a week or so, by a fire of course, reading to my heart’s content. In the mean time, I stare at these images longingly and pin them to my Beautiful Books board.
A reading alcove
The Floating Bookshop @ Foxton Locks by Marble Giant on Flickr
How books work
One of the best book places to be (check out 29 more)
My own shelves of books (and other media)
I borrowed The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman from my local library. The Magician’s Land is the third and final book in Grossman’s series The Magician’s. I’m in love with Grossman’s darkly thrilling magical universe and was both excited and sad to start the last book in the series. You can read my reviews of the The Magicians and The Magician King.
Quentin Coldwater has lost everything. He has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams that he once ruled. Everything he had fought so hard for, not to mention his closest friends, is sealed away in a land Quentin may never again visit. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. Meanwhile, the magical barriers that keep Fillory safe are failing, and barbarians from the north have invaded. Eliot and Janet, the rulers of Fillory, embark on a final quest to save their beloved world, only to discover a situation far more complex—and far more dire—than anyone had envisioned.
Along with Plum, a brilliant young magician with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. His new life takes him back to old haunts, like Antarctica and the Neitherlands, and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers buried secrets and hidden evils and ultimately the key to a sorcerous masterwork, a spell that could create a magical utopia. But all roads lead back to Fillory, where Quentin must face his fears and put things right or die trying. . .
Quentin finds himself shunned from the one place he dreamed about his entire life, and he survives it. More, he becomes who he always tried to be, someone who faces his trials with courage, intelligence, and sometimes maturity. But mostly, he finds himself. Quentin has actually learned from his life experiences. I love when characters grow and become who you hope they will become.
Plum, a senior at Brakebills, finds herself in the middle of an adventure at Quentin’s side While Quentin’s journey is well on its way, her’s is just beginning. I liked their mentor/mentee relationship. It was a nice break from romantic relationships, but just as meaningful and engaging. Plus, Plum is a great character and I really liked what she brought to the series. In some ways she reminded me of me, though I’m not into pranking people. But I do always have a plan, and it usually goes about as well and Plum’s do.
While Fillory is still a huge part of the story, Quentin and Plum’s quest and their magical treasure hunt adds an element of creativity and fun to the novel that I really enjoyed. The magic in The Magician’s gniverse never gets old, or boring. Grossman adds new and interesting twists that make sense with the continuity of the universe but add delightful touches to an already entertaining world.
But my favorite aspect of this series is that it is not always light and happy, that darkness pervades not just the antagonist side, but the protagonist side as well. Quentin is not perfect, nobody is perfect. Plum suffers from depression and mood swings and the desire for something more, which leads her to make unwise choices. Magic doesn’t always help the characters, some times it just makes things harder. Real life in all its glory and sadness spills itself across the pages and that is the beauty of Grossman’s characters. Not that they have magic and spells, but that they have life, and they live it.