Review: The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley follows Lydia Bennet of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a modernized vlog-style adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Epic Adventures picks up immediately after the end of “LBD” as Lydia applies to college, becomes interested in psychology, and moves on from the terrible events with George Wickham. It’s full of character growth with a standalone plot line and lots of laughter. I give The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet 8/10 stars for excellent characterization, being reunited with all my old friends, and generally all the feels.

Things I Liked:

  • The Ly-di-ah, a.k.a. the adorbs, is back! I was so proud of her growth as she learns to be confident in herself, wants to help people, and works on her relationships. Overall, my favorite part of reading The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet and The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet was definitely that it felt like being reunited with lots of old friends. I just really, really, really love “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” and both of these books were an incredible way to keep experiencing one of my favorite stories in an entirely new way.
  • I loved reading from Lydia’s POV. Though her voice isn’t quite as strong as Lizzie’s in The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, it’s still present, funny, quirky, and very Lydia. The writing in Epic Adventures also has phenomenal quotes, including…
    • “Here’s the thing about good guys. They don’t tell you they’re good guys.”
    • “… strangely connected to strangers telling secrets that weren’t really theirs.”
  • The setting in Epic Adventures is really strong, and I enjoyed every change in location. From Books Beans and Buds to the idyllic New York apartment rooftop, each place contributes really well to the plot and Lydia’s attitude and character development.
  • The failure essay is very important to me. I was waiting to read Lydia’s essay about her failure and learning from it for the. entire. book. And it was so worth it. I was actually crying when I read it; that’s how proud I was of her.
  • Lydia stands up to stupid George Wickham and it is the best thing ever. This comes in a close second to her standing up to stupid Cody (which is also the scene of one of my favorite quotes from the book: “I’m Lydia freaking Bennet. And I’m done being lame.”).
  • The Mechanics are a really great musical addition! I enjoyed all of the concert scenes, especially when Mary has to join in on bass and Lydia is enthusiastically cheering her on.
  • I just really love Lydia Bennet.

Things I Didn’t Like:

  • Epic Adventures was just a tad predictable. I called it that Cody is bad news and that the book would end with Lydia’s failure essay. The whole thing certainly wasn’t predictable (I definitely didn’t think we’d be seeing any more of George or that we’d go to New York), but those parts were pretty easy to figure out.

Favorite Character:

  • In case it isn’t obvious… Lydia Bennet. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat.

That’s it for The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet! If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend you do the following things in the following order:

  1. Read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
  2. Watch “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”
  3. Read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick.
  4. Read The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley.
  5. Fall into the inevitable pit of awesome that is the literary inspired web series fandom. Good luck!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see y’all soon with a new post!

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The 100 Charity Project

It took me two weeks to watch both seasons of The 100, and I’ve been in love with the show ever since. The premise is that, after the nuclear apocalypse, humanity’s last survivors are stuck in space. Their spaceship, the Ark, begins running out of oxygen and supplies, so they decide on what’s possibly the best plan ever: send one hundred juvenile delinquents down to Earth with no adult supervision whatsoever to see if it’s survivable (hence the insensitivity of pick-up lines about falling from heaven). The show is an amazing and heartbreaking tale of survival, morally grey situations, character development, and beautiful relationships. There’s excitement and sadness and one heck of a soundtrack. But despite the awesomeness of the show, immediately after the hiatus started in mid-March, the creators of the show started getting a lot of negativity from the fans about couples and favoritism. One of the actors even left twitter for a few days due to the excess of undesired tweets sent at him.

This is not how fandoms are supposed to be.

Fandoms are supposed to be communities of enthusiasm and love for a thing that’s pretty freaking great. Not all members have to agree, and not all members need to participate in the same activities, but we’re supposed to be united in a love for the show/series/movie/whatever, rallied around a common cause of appreciating human creativity and awesomeness. Unfortunately, partially due to a controversial poll, several members of The 100 fandom were not behaving in a manner that represents the show or general fan culture positively or accurately.

Then, The 100 Charity Project happened. And I fell in love again.

The 100 Charity Project is all about using “fan engagement, social media, and outreach to focus the incredible passion, support, and enthusiasm of The 100′s fan base and following toward making the world a better place.” Fandoms and helping people have collided, and I want it to be my career. The first mission of The 100 Charity Project is a hunger initiative. They’re rallying fans to donate canned goods to local food banks, as well as to donate money to Action Against Hunger. They also have a group on freerice.com, where you can play trivia and donate rice to the hungry through the World Food Programme.

This is what stories are all about. They’re about something bigger than just words on a page or actors moving on a television screen; they’re about learning life lessons, appreciating the people around you, and making a difference in real life. Stories change us and introduce us to something more than just the world we live in. Various book series, movies, and TV shows have taught me so much about relationships, personal growth, and countless other things, so I’m excited that The 100 is really getting out there in terms of taking its messages off the screen and into the real world. That’s where stories were meant to be all along. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of The 100 Charity Project. This fandom is doing it right, and I’m proud.

Linkity links!

Watch the season 1 of The 100 here

Follow The 100 Charity Project on tumblr and twitter.

Read more about their first mission here.

The images at the top are not mine! All credit goes to this tumblr.

Women In Fiction

For the past week or so, the hashtag #womeninfiction has been going around twitter. It inspired me to write this post, which is really just a giant thank you note. Women in fiction are the bomb diggity, and I’d like to say something to several of them.

To Brave’s Merida. I wish your movie had been around when I was a kid, but even now, I love it. Thank you for your unruly curly hair, because even though mine is shorter, it’s just as unmanageable. Thank you for being the only Disney princess to end up without a man; it’s taken me longer than I’d like to admit to realize that not all princesses need princes, and I’m so grateful that you’ve shown that to me and to younger girls growing up with your movie. I hope they get that message. Thank you for shooting for your own hand.

To The 100‘s Raven Reyes. You got through the whole Finn thing. You got through falling to Earth in a really broken old spaceship. You even got through a major surgery without any anesthesia. Thank you for being strong and a mechanic and for showing me that I can be hurt without being completely broken. Thank you for getting through everything, because it makes me feel like I can, too. Also, thanks for being a sassy queen because that’s pretty great.

To Harry Potter‘s Luna Lovegood. Thank you for being one of a kind. You’re not afraid to be your compassionate and wonderful self, to support those who matter to you, and to show every single person (and creature) their importance. Thank you for reminding me to be myself and not be afraid to be different.

To The Archived’s Mackenzie Bishop. You were one of my first kick-butt female characters, in all honesty. Thank you for being well-rounded and for showing me that you do not have to be invincible to be strong. Also, thank you for that sassy scene where you beat Wesley up in the gym on your first day at Hyde because that was beautiful.

To Percy Jackson and the Olympians’s Annabeth Chase. You’re smart and you’re awesome and I’m very sorry you didn’t get what you deserved in Blood of Olympus. Thank you for being the brains behind the quest instead of the damsel in distress (at least, most of the time) and for showing girls that it’s great to be intelligent and smart girls don’t have to hide that for anyone else to like them.

To Sense and Sensibility’s Elinor Dashwood. I wasn’t going to make it through this post without a Jane Austen character. It sounds ridiculous considering your book’s title but you’re just so sensible and I love it. You’re calm and rational and not crazy. Thank you for giving some representation to the quiet, thoughtful ones.

To The 100′s Clarke Griffin. Mama Bear Clarke, where would the 100 be without you? Thank you for always doing what needs to be done and always trying, and for not letting romance get in the way of the bigger picture. Thank you for being so beautifully imperfect. You don’t always make the best decisions but I don’t, either, and I’m so grateful that you’re so real.

To The 100‘s Octavia Blake. Thank you for your amazing character development. You grow immensely through the show, and I’m honestly so proud. Thank you for continuing to be yourself even when you don’t feel like you belong. Thank you for being so incredibly strong and for teaching me to not be afraid.

To Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger. I don’t even know where to begin. You’re smart and brave and not scared to stand up for yourself, your friends, and what you believe in. You advocate for House-elves, which is pretty rad. Thank you, Hermione, for so much more than your brains. Thank you for showing me that it is nothing short of awesome to be a smart girl with ridiculously curly hair, and that girls like us might just be able to change the world. It sounds crazy, but thank you for being there for me. Just, thank you. For everything.

So I’m a dork who lets these fictional characters take up very permanent residences in my heart. Sue me. They’ve got flaws and imperfections and confidence and insecurity and amazingness, and it’s such a blessing to read/watch. These fictional women have changed my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Hufflepuff Problems

If you type “Hufflepuff” into Google, the second suggested search is “Hufflepuff jokes.”

WHY?!

I am a proud Hufflepuff, but in a fandom that’s known for its understanding and acceptance, I get a buttload of hate for it. The thing is, I’m pretty sure we haven’t done anything to deserve this…

  • According to the Sorting Hat song, we are just, loyal, true, and unafraid of toil. (None of these are bad qualities.)
  • Also according to the Sorting Hat song, Helga Hufflepuff didn’t have some sort of bravery or intelligence requirement for accepting students into her house; she just welcomed everyone who displayed even a hint of magical ability. How much more awesome can you get?
  • In the Battle of Hogwarts, students who were old enough were given the opportunity to stay behind and fight instead of escaping to Hogsmeade. Hufflepuff had the second highest number of students staying behind (after Gryffindor). Also, Hufflepuff had the second highest membership in Dumbledore’s Army in Harry’s fifth year (after Gryffindor).
  • The Hufflepuff common room is right next to the kitchens. Midnight snacks without having to walk through a creepy castle at night? I vote yes.
  • Nymphadora Tonks was a Hufflepuff. If you don’t want to be at least a little bit like Tonks, are you really a fan of Harry Potter? Cedric Diggory was also Hufflepuff, and he was chosen as the most worthy out of all the eligible Hogwarts students for the Triwizard Tournament. Newt Scamander, “author” of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and main character in the upcoming films, was also a Hufflepuff. (John Green, celebrated author/Youtuber/generally awesome human being, is a Hufflepuff as well.)
  • J.K. Rowling tweeted that there are diamonds in our hourglass used for keeping track of points, so there’s that.
  • Queen Rowling legitimately said that in many ways, Hufflepuff is her favorite house. Do you want to disagree with the queen? Do you?

Hufflepuffs deserve more acceptance and appreciation from the Harry Potter fandom. Because if you don’t start giving us what we deserve, we’ll… we’ll… er… probably bake you cookies or something. But we might burn them in vengeance. Just slightly. Or maybe put in too many chocolate chips.

So there. Respect us. (Please.)

Review: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

(Yes, I’m reviewing this bad boy three days after it came out. Binge-reading for the win.) It took me a while to stop crying at the end of Blood of Olympus, Rick Riordan’s conclusion to the Heroes of Olympus series, which is the sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Percy was a big part of my childhood, and quite honestly, I just wasn’t ready to let him go. I had prepared myself for an epic conclusion to end all conclusions, with just enough victory to be deemed a happy ending but a solid amount of death, too. But as I got over the “holy crap it’s finished” and began to think about the book itself, I realized that it was a bit of a letdown. I rate Blood of Olympus a 4/10.

Things I Liked:

  • Minor character development! Nico and Reyna each get POVs and back stories. I went into this book with Reyna as my second least favorite character, but I just couldn’t keep hating her. She’s so strong. The way Nico develops is also absolutely flawless. He finds community and that community makes him more of himself… It was beautiful.
  • Riordan’s pacing, as always, is brilliant. The action never stops coming but never feels rushed either, even if you read the entire book in two days.

Things I Didn’t Like (a.k.a. rants):

  • By far my biggest grievance in the book, and excuse me if I’m being a brat for saying this, but where are my Percy and Annabeth? Riordan has tweeted very sarcastically on this issue, arguing that the series had nine POVs and a large percent of the first four books were Percy. But this last book wasn’t just a letdown because it doesn’t have narration from their points of view; it’s a complete injustice to their characters. Percy and Annabeth are both natural leaders, and we didn’t see them step up at all during this book. I understand that this series is about seven heroes, but Percy and Annabeth deserve to be a part of those seven, and BoO felt like they weren’t even there. It especially bothered me when Jason is all, “I’ll finish the work you started, Percy,” and PERCY IS OKAY WITH IT?! You know what Percy Jackson would really do? He would finish the crap he started, that’s what. It also bugged me when he and Annabeth are just totally nonchalant at the end and planning for their future together. They’re adventurous, and even though I want them to go to college and be happy together I can’t see them living a normal life. One possible argument for the lack of Percy/Annabeth awesomeness is that they just came back from Tartarus, but in my opinion, this should make them even more willing to fight and fight hard. Their blood is literally the blood of Olympus! That’s the title! The lack of Percy and Annabeth was honestly unacceptable. They deserved so much more.
  • No Frank and Hazel either! What even?!
  • I’ve never been Jason’s biggest fan, and he was one of the POVs of the final book, the epic conclusion to end all conclusions? Why? Why????????
  • The battle with the giants was almost too epic. One of the best parts of The Last Olympian is that back-ups come in at several points during the Battle of Manhattan, so it’s like a roller coaster ride of hopelessness and rejoicing. The battle with the giants in BoO is literally just the skies opening, the gods coming down for like two chapters, and everything’s done.
  • No Sally? No Paul? No Chiron? Minimal Grover and Tyson? WHERE WERE THE FAMILY MOMENTS? WHERE?
  • It. Ends. On. A. Cliffhanger.
    Why.
    Why.
    (A minor cliffhanger, but still. Why.)

Maybe I’m just wanting it to be PJO and it’s not. Maybe I’m being a stupid, nostalgic teenager who should stop reading books for middle schoolers. But honestly, I’m disappointed. (And unfortunately, writing this review didn’t really help me get over it.)

If you’ve read Blood of Olympus, what were your thoughts? Do you feel the need to reread PJO just for old times’ sake? Let me know! Thanks!

The Fault in Our Stars Movie

I just saw The Fault in Our Stars, and it was quite honestly the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I cried and cried and cried some more, and in between the tears I laughed a little, too.

One of the many reasons that I find TFiOS so beautiful is the way its message resonates with me. This story questions, among other things, whether suffering is worth it in the end. What happens to us after we die? Do we have to be remembered to matter? Why do we even want to matter? Through it all, there is this constant appearance of pain as Hazel and Gus continue on their lives with cancer. They wonder how much good can outweigh the bad, and whether the good needs to outweigh the bad at all.

Though I am not comparing my struggles to those of a cancer patient, these questions are still important to me. Sometimes, I feel like Hazel, doomed to hurt those I love because of my imperfections and wanting to push them away to keep them from pain. I guess the most important thing TFiOS taught me is that sometimes, it seems like the joy will never make up for the suffering; yet, we still have joy and we still suffer. Even if it seems like the human life has no destination but death, and that we have to struggle and struggle along until we get there, life is still worth living. We go on, and that is beautiful and worthy in and of itself.

Thank you so much to John Green for writing this amazing story, Josh Boone for making it happen on the big screen, and Shailene, Ansel, and all the other actors and actresses for bringing these characters to life. Thank you to everyone involved in this story for the message it tells. Thank you for the big helping of hope I received tonight.

New Lizzie Bennet Video

*inhuman squeals of excitement*

My two friends (yes, only two) who watch the Lizzie Bennet Diaries are currently not answering their telephones, so I must resort to fangirling over the Internet about this fantastical day. A new Lizzie Bennet Diaries video has been posted. We were not expecting this video. There had been no tweets about it beforehand, no announcements on the Pemberley Digital blog, not even hints. It dropped like a surprise Beyonce album, and it was beautiful.

It’s been over a year since the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, the modern-day video blog adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, ended. Unfortunately, I did not discover this series until last fall, but I fell in love with it nonetheless. Today was a particularly exciting day for the LBD fandom because, for the first time in over a year, we received new video content. It was particularly exciting for me because I’ve never been a part of the hype of a new Lizzie Bennet video (curse me for joining fandoms too late). Being able to join the crazy tweets and frantic phone calls today was really fun.

I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries for a couple of reasons:

  1. Their creativity in bringing this classic tale to life is positively genius. To modernize a classic is one thing, but to take a story whose fans love it with an unbridled passion and reproduce it in an entirely new format? That’s a huge risk, but the creators of LBD were brave enough to take it. That level of creativity is something that makes me proud of mankind.
  2. The fan community is amazing and supportive. Just follow the “LBD Care Center” on twitter and you’ll know: these webshow people mean business. It feels like one big family, especially because the actors and producers (I’m looking at you, Bernie) are so connected to their fans and to each other.
  3. The transmedia experience is incredible. The characters have twitter accounts so fans can watch them tweet back and forth at one another, which adds a whole new level to the fans’ relationships with the characters. The twitter accounts stopped tweeting after the end of LBD, but for a few weeks around the one-year anniversary they picked back up, which was really fun to watch. (I had my share of all caps tweets during that time.)
  4. The way they took on and changed Lydia’s character is beautiful. Her relationship with Lizzie was definitely my favorite change that LBD made from the original plot of Pride and Prejudice. 
  5. Costume theater!

In short, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a wonderful display of human creativity and of the awesomeness of fan communities. Storytelling truly does bring people together; the LBD fandom today is definite proof of that.