Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas 2014: Favorite Christmas Television Episodes

As a continuation for my favorite Holiday TV movies, I thought I would list you some of my favorite Christmas television episodes from some of my favorite shows. I always find the Christmas episodes high enjoyble and sometimes extremely frustrating, because in many cases the Christmas episode also work as the midseason finale, which ways means a waiting period of several weeks before the shows continue. 

This list is a mix of both comedy and drama from shows both old and new! So without further ado, here are some of my favorite Christmas television episodes. 

NOTE: there might be some minor spoilers here! So proceed with caution - most of the episodes included are at least a year old.

Grey's Anatomy - Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (s02e12) (airdate: December 11, 2005)
Though I still very much love Grey's Anatomy, I do miss the early Grey's Anatomy where Izzie and George and Burke among others were still part of the cast. Christina is probably my favorite character out of the cast and I think she is fabulous in this episode! Though there are two other Christmas themed episodes in the show (Holidaze from 2009 and Run,Baby,Run from 2012), in my opinion this is definitely the most Christmassy of the three. I just love the shot in the end with Izzie, Meredith and George looking at the Christmas lights!

Arrow - Three Ghosts (s02e09) (airdate: December 11, 2013)
This one definitely fits better to the category of frustrating Christmas episodes with it being the midseason finale for season 2 that revealed A LOT of new things and ended with a cliffhanger. The reason I wanted to include it here is the fact that the reference to Dickens' A Christmas Carol and the ghosts of past, present and future are brilliantly integrated into this episode!

The O.C. - The Best Chrismukkah Ever (s01e13) (airdate: December 3, 2003)
Oh my,  I used to be, and I still am, so in love with Seth Cohen. He is nerdy, extremely hot, super kind and funny. WHY CAN'T I JUST MEET MY VERY OWN SETH COHEN? Well, anyway, I used to be obsessed with The O.C. and this is definitely one of those episodes that I remember the best and I think the whole Chrismukkah thing has become of the features people remember most about the show. Also, Rachel Bilson in a Wonder Woman costume.... GIRL CRUSH MUCH?

The West Wing - In Excelsis Deo (s01e10) (airdate: December 15, 1999)
It was extremely difficult for me to pick just one Christmas episode from The West Wing because they all are just wonderful, like the whole show in general. In Excelsis Deo excels in being touching while at the same time discussing real issues from the threatment of veterans in the United States to the threatment of homosexuals (which back in 1999 was even worse than it is now). 

There are some wonderful scenes in this one, from President Bartlet visiting the bookstore in secret to Josh giving Donna his gift for her (JOSH AND DONNA 4EVER!!!). 

Gilmore Girls - Forgiveness and Stuff (s01e10) (airdate: December 21, 2000)
Damn you, Luke Danes.
Also, Narcolepsy Boy - one of the best nicknames EVER!
The only thing this is missing is my baby Logan (YES, I AM TEAM LOGAN!!!) who unfortunately does not make an appearance until later seasons....

Hart of Dixie - Blue Christmas (s02e10) (airdate: December 11, 2012)

 Wade Kinsella 4ever!!!
Seriously, he just kills me in this episode (like he does pretty much in every single episode he's somehow in contact with his father). And the end of this episode - SO MUCH FANGIRLING! 
I think Wade Kinsella is pretty much my dream guy - that accent, the sass and sarcasm, the hidden kindness... OH PLEASE.

30 Rock - Ludachristmas (s02e09) (airdate: December 13, 2007)
Liz's overly optimistic parents and her brother who suffers from "Trauma Induced Nivea Aphasia", Jack's sassy mother, Tracy's struggle with the ankle bracelet that monitors his alcohol usage and Kenneth's attempt to make the people he works with see the true meaning of Christmas together make one hell of a Christmas episode! 

Arrested Development - Afternoon Delight (s02e06) (airdate: December 19, 2004)
Michael and Maeby singing Afternoon Delight - legendary! This is not only my favorite Arrested Development Christmas episode, but overall one my favorite episodes of the show in general. Will Arnett is SO GOOD in this episode with G.O.B's expensive suits and reckless behavior. Arrested Development is a national treasure!

The Big Bang Theory - The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis (s02e11) (airdate: December 15, 2008)
 This episode is among my top three episodes of the whole show! I love the process Sheldon goes through in an attempt to find a gift for Penny, and I adore the fact that though Penny might think Sheldon is weird with all of his obsessions, she gets him a gift that means more to him than anything she could buy. While being extremely funny, this episode also manages to develop the characters, which is a reason for the fact that it is one of my favorite episodes of the whole show.

Community - Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas (s01e11) (Airdate: December 9, 2010)
If you are looking for a unique Christmas episode, look no further - Community will give you that! The episode is told through stop-motion animation, which is beautifully done and the characters are so well thought of that is just blows my mind - Britta as the robot kills me every time! 
Though this episode is extremely hilarious, it also has some bigger issues underneath it, and despite the fact that we see the characters in animated form, the character development in this episode is incredible. 

Friends - The One with the Routine (s06e10) (Airdate: December 16, 1999)
Across it's run, Friends had so many good Christmas episodes that it is difficult to pick just one. I ended up going with The One with the Routine just because the dancing routine between Ross and Monica is brilliant and at least for me, one of the most memorable moments of the show as a whole. 

Happy Endings - No-Ho-Ho (s03e07) (Airdate: December 18, 2012)
A Christmas episode about an attempt to create a Christmas-free day for Jane, who has lied managed to hide from everyone that her actual birthday is on Christmas. While the character all try to get over their weird Christmas obsessions (Max's obsessions to eggnog, Brad's compulsion to dance along with a singing and dancing Santa doll), Jane tries to find people that share her sorrows of having to celebrate Christmas and birthday all in one day.

The Mindy Project - Christmas Party Sex Trap (s02e11) (Airdate: December 3, 2013)
This will probably forever and always be my favorite episode of The Mindy Project. Messina dancing. Mindy's wine bra. This episode made me write so much fanfiction it's unreal!

New Girl - LAXmas (s04e11) (Airdate: December 9, 2014)
 This episode can be very closely connected to Christmas movies, with AV Club going as far as calling it "A Christmas movie marathon in 23 Minutes". By taking place at an airport, it places the characters in a setting in which they can make a decision to go on and change something in their lives, or to go back to from where they came from. I loved the scenes between Schmidt and Cece and though I do like Ryan, the way Nick was there for Jess just got me so hard!

The Office - Dwight Christmas (s08e06) (Airdate: December 6, 2012)
In all honesty, I could have made this list only about The Office christmas episodes with it being my favorite sitcom of all time. But since I wanted to offer some variety and include just one episode per show, I decided to go with Dwight Christmas in connection to The Office just because I think in it Rainn Wilson is at his best and the character of Dwight is at his funniest. The whole "impish or admirable" thing is something I totally want to start asking people during Christmas time.

Parks and Recreation - Citizen Knope (s04e10) (Airdate: December 8, 2011)
 Even looking at the picture above almost makes me cry because I realize that Parks and Recreation, probably the happiest show in the whole world and a constant source of joy for me is almost over. I still don't want to believe that in just a couple of months, there will be no more Leslie Knope, no more Tom Haverford, no more Pawnee. 
The ending of this episode alone with the gingerbread house and the parks team becoming Leslie's campaign stuff highlights what this show is all about - awesome people who have awesome friendships. Parks and Recreation will be so greatly missed.

Oh wow, that was actually quite a list, and I did not even include all of the episodes I first had in mind. I hope you enjoyed this and that you perhaps found something to watch over the holiday season, whether it be a completely new show to you or a rewatch of an old favorite.

Please tell me your favorite Christmas television episodes in the comments section - I would love to know what you like to go back to during the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#19): Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth (expected publication February 2015)

"Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

For more information, click here

Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth

This bold, compelling and topical story about bullying is told from the perspective of the bully and the bullied. You won't be able put it down until you've reached the conclusion. Jess's life is difficult enough without Kez picking on her – it’s turning school from a safe place into a nightmare. Kez has plenty of problems too but she finds comfort in knowing she is better off than Jess - or so she thinks. A hard-hitting and even-handed look at bullying and the issues facing teenagers today.


What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesday (#2): Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! For more information, click here.

From Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Top Ten Tuesday (#21) : Top Ten 2014 Releases

For more information, click here.

This week's topic is Top Ten 2014 Releases I Read In 2014 (not in particular order)

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler 
 My queen, my inspiration, my girl crush. Yes Please is wonderful and funny and honest and beautiful, just like its author.

2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (review)

So cute, so funny, and oh my, Josh is unreal! ALL THE FEELS. 

3. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover (review)
 Brilliantly written, heart-wrenching and extremely honest! This one will be turned into a film and I AM SO NOT READY FOR ALL THE FEELS!

4. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
One of the most anticipated 2014 releases for me! And I am happy to say that this one did not disappoint. 

5. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang (review)
This book was a complete surprise for me! I just thought I would give it a go since I received a review copy of it and ended up reading the whole thing on one go because I wasn't able to put it down. Such a nerve wracking, honest and occasionally heart-wrenching read! Zhang is an extremely talented writer and this debut really has made me curious to see what comes next. 

6. Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros (review)
One of the best, if not the best, new adult books I've ever read! I had not even passed the 10 percent mark on my Kindle when I cried for the first time! Also, the male protagonist Josh is probably one of the most perfect fictional guys ever - reading about him made me constantly think about the beautiful face of Sidney Crosby. Seriously, if you like NA and haven't read this one yet, DO IT NOW!
7. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover (review)
Emotional, funny, honest, romantic and well written. What more can I ask for?

 8. All Lined Up by Cora Carmack (review)
 Damn you, Cora Carmack. All the feels. All the laughs. All the cute guys and romance.
I was completely blown away by this one! And don't be fooled about the whole romance thing because this one is also an awesome story about a young girl finding herself and learning to love herself just as she is.

 The beautiful cover, the wonderful main character and the slow building romances and family relationships! WHY ISN'T THE SECOND BOOK AVAILABLE ALREADY?

10. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (review)
 This one is probably my FAVORITE contemporary young adult book of the year! I laughed and I cried. I loved the fact that this one is not only about the romance, but also about self-discovery and friendships!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

Release date: October 14th, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age group: YA
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Gooreads):

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

This one was SO CUTE! The cover already predicts cuteness (the UK cover is even prettier) but the stories inside solidify that prediction. With twelve very different stories from both the contemporary and paranormal/fantasy genres, My True Love Gave to Me is a solid collection of holiday stories for all fans of YA fiction.

I will now attempt to stay something about the twelve different stories separately and give them a rating. For the overall rating of the book I have then calculated the mean of the individual ratings.

1. Midnight by Rainbow Rowell (rating 5/5)

If you have been to my blog before or if you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I LOVE Rainbow Rowell. Her novels are magical and her characters are always so likable and easy to identify with. In Midnight Rowell introduces the readers to Mags and Noel who have been friends for years. The story pans through several years, always focusing on the New Year's Eve and the relationship between Mags and Noel. Midnight is not only adorable and cute, but it's also honest and funny and just a pleasure to read.

Damn you, Rainbow Rowell for making me fall in love with Noel and then only giving me a short story that focuses on him. I demand a whole novel focused on Mags and Noel. PRETTY PLEASE?

2. The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link (rating 2/5)

This wa my first time reading Kelly Link, and I must say that though this story was okay, it didn't really convince me to go out and look for more of Link's writing. I thought this story was okay at the beginning, but as it went on, it just got kind of weird and turned out to be completely disappointing towards the end. 

3. Angels in the Snow by Matt De la Peña (rating 5/5)

This one was so good! This story was my first encounter with Peña's writing and I have to admit that I've already looked into his novels so I can familiarize myself with his work. Peña's characters are refreshing (male point-of-view, which is quite uncommon in books I read) and the story is both honest and extremely funny! This is exactly the type of thing I would like to see as an indie Christmas film.

4. Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han (rating 3/5)

Definitely not what I expected from Jenny Han. I was kind of disappointed this did not end up being the type of cute romance I expected, but on the other hand, a story about an ordinary girl living in North Pole and crushing on an elf is not bad either. 

5. It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins (rating 4/5)

After seeing Stephanie Perkins's name on the place of the author I already knew that I would love this one without even reading it. We are introduced to Marigold and North, an aspiring animation artist and a guy who sells Christmas trees but who dreams about a life that does not involve him working for his family business for the rest of his life. They meet, spend time together, help each other and realize that they actually have quite a lot in common. I loved these characters and this story, and I think my only complaint is the fact that it was TOO SHORT! I want a whole entire book about these characters!!!

6. Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan (rating 3½/5)

This was my first time reading David Levithan, and though I did find his writing style agreeable, I probably won't go running to find more novels by him to read. This one features gay characters, which I liked, because it gives variety to the set of stories. This one is super sweet and quick to read and though it wasn't my favorite out of the twelve, I did really enjoy it.

7. Krampuslauf by Holly Black (rating 2/5)

First time reading Holly Black and probably also the last, at least for a very long time. I think I would have liked it a lot more if it were just a contemporary story about a group of trailer park kids and a group of rich kids having a party than I liked it as a story with a paranormal element. 

8. What the Hell  Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman (rating: 4/5)

More of a Hanukkah than a Christmas story, which is also excellent for the variety! I liked the fact that the main character is a university student instead of a high school student - I guess that made it easier to identify with her. This was cute and romantic and funny, so pretty much exactly what I expected from Gayle Forman.

9. Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire (rating 3/5)

This one was my first encounter with Myra McEntire, and though this story was nothing spectacular in my opinion, I would not mind reading something else by McEntire. I think the main "problem" I had with this story is the fact that it does not really distinguish itself ouf ot the set of twelve, making it the story that I remember the least from even after it has been only a day since I read it. 

10. Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White (rating 5/5)

Probably my favorite out of the twelve! This was my first time reading White, but seeing her name made me expect a paranormal story. But nope, this is a perfect piece of contemporary YA writing and I want more of this! The characters are wonderful, the setting is amazing and the way White gives these characters a voice is just brilliantly done! 
11. Star of Betlehem by Ally Carter (rating 3/5)

This one reminded me most of made-for-TV-Christmas films. It is cheesy, quite unbelievable (some of the things just don't logically make sense) and heart-warming story about finding yourself in a place you end up at accidentally. I could totally see this one as a Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movie!

12. The Girl who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (rating 2/5)
Probably my least favorite out of the twelve. I don't know... the writing is occasionally very good (like it is in Daughter of Smoke and Bone), but I feel like the story is too short for the type of world Taylor wants to create - the short lenght does not allow for extensive world-building and as a result of that this one seems a bit rushed and confusing. 


We both stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. It was like we'd ripped open our chests and revealed our beating hearts. And how do you transition back to small talk after that?
(Angels in the Snow by Matt De la Peña)

And through my laughter, I imagined the boy at the apartment above us, sitting near the radio with his little sis and his mom and dad. I wished I could tell him to remember every single think about today. Not just whatever presents he got but his family, too. His mom. Because one day he'd be far away from home, sitting on a snow-covered stoop with a girl he might like, laughing, and he'd want to picture how they all used to be.
(Angels in the Snow by Matt De la Peña)

"That you still don't realize I'm willing to do anything, anything" - he gestured in a full circle around them . "to stay in your company. You don't have to pay me."
(It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins)


Sunday, December 14, 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014: Favorite Made-For-TV Holiday Movies

The fact that I am a film student often makes people think that I am very snobby when it comes to films. They think that I only watch silent movies or black and white movies or French films or expressionist films or something that sounds really fancy and as far away from mainstream as possible. Well, this definitely isn't the truth. I do love silent movies and black and white movies as well as French films and expressionism, but I am also a sucker for good mainstream flicks. 

I have two weaknesses (some would call the quilty pleasures) when it comes to films: Disney Channel (and other fairly small budget "teen" movies) movies and made-for-TV films like the movies made by Hallmark and Lifetime. Both Hallmark and Lifetime make amazingly cheesy and romantic and funny Christmas/Holiday movies and I though I would share some of my favorites with you! These films will definitely made you smile and feel good - aren't those things that should be associated with Christmas/Holidays?

A Christmas Kiss (2011, Ion Television Network)

In A Christmas Kiss we are introduced to Joany, an aspiring and extremely talented interior designer; her boss Priscilla and Princilla's boyfriend Adam, in addition to Joany's awesome friends Tressa and Caroline. Joany is constantly being bossed around my Priscilla, even outside her billed hours. During one of the tasks given by Priscilla, she meets a handsome, mysterious guy and ends up kissing him in the elevator. The next day, she realizes that the guy she kissed is Adam, Priscilla's boyfriend, who has no idea that the girl he encountered in the elevator was Joany due to the mask/make-up she was wearing in preparation for a Christmas party. 

A Christmas Kiss is funny, romantic and heart-warming, and as you can probably predict from the synopsis, extremely cheesy and kind of illogical. But despite the cheesiness and the illogicality, it is a true made-for-tv movie gem for the holiday season! 

If you like romantic comedies, you should definitely check this one out! 

A Princess for Christmas (2011, Hallmark)

Maybe I should start by stating that this one features Sam Heughan (aka Jamie from Outlander)!!

I have been a sucker for the whole "royal who falls in love with commoner" scenario since reading The Princess Diaries for the first time and seeing the Me & Prince film. In A Princess for Christmas Jules and her niece and nephew travel to somewhere in Europe to spend the Christmas with the pompous Duke Edward (the grandfather of Jules's niece and nephew) and his son Ashton. Of course, Jules and Ashton end up falling for each other despite the fact that Jules definitely isn't exactly fit for royalty and Ashton should be with someone else.
This one is romantic, full of beautiful settings and clothes and it is just a pleasure to look at Sam Heughan. Just watch it... I know you want to!

A Royal Christmas (2014, Hallmark)

I thought it would not do any harm to continue this list with another commoner-royal love story. This one focuses on Emily, a seamstress of Philadelphia and Prince Leopold. Emily and Leopold have been going out for quite a while without Emily knowing that Leopold is actually a prince. He has to drop the news to Emily when he is forced to travel back home for Christmas. Though Emily is shocked, she agrees to accompany Leopold with her to a small country in Europe, the country he is to become the king of one day. Emily, of course, isn't really fit for royalty and Leopold's cold mother already has someone else in mind for her son. 

Yes, this one is extremely predictable (like ALL films in this list), but it is also romantic and self-affirming and just a simple pleasure to spend an hour and 30 minutes with!

Christmas Belle (2014, Ion Television Network)

A modern, Christmas retelling on Beauty and the Beast. Belle, who works for a company that helps in organizing and selling estates, leaves California behind and drives North to facilitate the estate sale of a mansion owned by Hunter Lowell, a grumpy, mysterious man not much older than Belle. While the job and going through Hunter's library are a dream for Belle, she faces problems communicating with the icy and rude man who does not seem to want her there. But the more they spend time together, Belle realizes that Hunter might not be the man she first expected him to be. Then Tony, Belle's old beau, shows up and complicates everything.

Haylie Duff probably does at least two television Christmas movies yearly and this is definitely best one from the several I've seen. I have always loved Beauty and the Beast and found this remake an interesting, romantic, Christmassy take on the "tale as old as time". 

Have you seen any of these?
Which made-for-TV holiday movies would you recommend for me?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#22)

"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

For more information, click here

My True Love Gave To Me - Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.
Red Queen (Red Queen Trilogy #1) by Victoria Aveyard

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros
Since her sister's death, twenty-year-old Paisley Donovan, who shares her sister’s heart condition, is treated like delicate glass by her parents. But nothing will stop her from completing her Bucket List—even if it kills her. And it almost does, until Jagger Bateman pulls her from the ocean and breathes more than air into her lungs—he sets her soul on fire.

Jagger is enrolled in the country's toughest flight school. He's wickedly hot, reckless, and perfect for a girl looking to live life to the fullest. Except that Paisley is the commanding general's daughter, and her boyfriend is Jagger's biggest rival. Now Paisley must decide just how much to risk for a guy who makes her heart pound a little too hard.

They're flying through dangerous territory—and one wrong move could make them crash and burn...