Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read This Year

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens

Ok I know I still have it marked as currently reading on Goodreads, but I keep meaning to write a short review on it before I mark it as read.  I'm pretty certain this will make my top ten of the year.  If you are a feminist and like satire, this is the book for you!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

I am 100% ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN this will be in my end of the year top ten.  These lists are almost always in no certain order, but I will tell you that this book is an exception.  It is hands down the best book I've read all year, and with the exception of Going Bovine (which it is on par with) the most thought provoking book I've read in years.  I NEED to write a review because more people need to read it.  It is one of the important books that everyone should read.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

It's everything I've been saying I want in a fantasy!  Body type-diversity? Check. Racial diversity? Check. Setting and cultural diversity (aka non-Western based)? Check.  I really, REALLY need to read the next two books because I loved this one so much!  That being said I also really love that this book can be read as a standalone.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)

I'm a big fan of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series, and I didn't think it was possible something could be even more fun! I was wrong. I love Soulless even more!  It's funny and witty and fluffy and ugh I just love it.  Gail Carriger has become a solid go to author for me.

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1)

Speaking of paranormal fun stuff - there's this series too!  I've mentioned Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series like a gazillion times (because it's amazing), but it's definitely not for everyone. This series has all the diversity I loved about the Kushiel series, but it's just chock full of fun! 

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #1)

I won this from The Book Wars and I'm so glad that happened! It is my very first graphic novel (excepting the Asterix and Obelix series as a kid) and I LOVED it!!  It's got everything I love - friendship as a focal point, diversity, adventure, a lovable rogue, robots, aliens, and even a giant mouse!  What more could a girl ask for?  (The next book maybe...)

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30)

This one has been making all my top ten lists since I read it. Once again I reiterate: if I had to recommend myself a series as the most me thing ever, this series would be it. There is nothing more Elizabeth than a series that is Douglas Adams +Diana  Wynne Jones.  I have never regretted being so stubborn about reading a book recommended (heck even GIVEN) to me before!  I could have been reading Terry Pratchett for years by now!  Ah well, at least he has a long catalogue of books for me to go through.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

Shannon recommended this to me, and that I should listen to it on audio (this apparently has been the year of great recommendations since almost all of these books have been given/recommended to me).  I am so, so glad she did because the writing is beautiful and the narrators were perfect!  It's Stiefvater at her very best.  In my humble and completely correct opinion.

Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Good Enough

This is one of those books that just really spoke to me because of my background. It's clear the author was a musician and it just brought back all of my college application/being a musician in today's world feelings. And it's funny and just well...it just feels <i>true</i>.

Terrier and Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Terrier (Beka Cooper, #1)

Beka was well on her way to becoming my new favourite Tamora Pierce heroine...until I met the third book of this series in one of my greatest disappointments (right up there with Mansfield Park). But let's not talk about that because these two books are perfection! As expected from my favourite author :)

And that's it for me this week!  Any of our books overlap? Any you think I should check out? Leave your link in the comments and I'll stop by!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June Wrap Up + A Day in the Life #37

Soo....I maaaay have been a bit overconfident about blogging/reading more regularly?  Although, in my defense, it's not so much a slump as a holy-crap-are-you-really-working-like-80-hour-weeks?  I'm exhausted guys.  I'M TOO TIRED TO READ.  I'm not sure I believed that could happen. I've been that busy music/school-wise when you actually count the hours up, but even the week before my recital I was staying up til 2 am to cram in some reading!  You know when I consider getting through one of the 8 year old's Disney Fairy books a victory (they are admittedly absolutely delightful and much better quality than I was actually expecting) that things are getting rough haha.  I'm a little over halfway through the audiobook of A Storm of Swords and it's making my head hurt.  I am the QUEEN of giant involved story lines with giant casts!  The Queen I say!  ...but even I can't stand up to the might that is ten narrators spread all over a planet.  I'm actually going to have to study a map of Westeros etc. because I just cannot figure out where anyone is!  It's so confusing!  I feel like I'm the only book blogger who doesn't have a map obsession, but I just don't.  I never look at the maps.  It comes from my complete inability to comprehend how things work in 3-D.  Don't ask, I can't possibly explain.  Needless to say it involves a lot of getting lost.  Anyway, the point is that it's not conducive for an overloaded brain.  But it is good for long road trips and I'll be going on another one soon, so I guess I'll keep plodding through.  At 39 discs, I'm clearly not in any danger of finishing this bloody book anytime soon.  (I considered returning it and coming back to it later, but if I'm having a hard time remembering a storyline after returning to it after 9 OTHER NARRATORS' STORIES, then there's no way in hell I'm going to remember anything that's happened given time and space.)

Holy cow so many things have happened since my last post! (Also holy cow like my last three posts have been wrap-up posts...I MUST FIX THIS.) 

1. I got the barrista/bakery job I'd been wanting!  YAY COFFEE AND PASTRIES FOREVER!!  One of the days I work is a twelve hour shift though and I think it is slowly killing me. Starting at my feet and working up.  But it's great - this place is serious about its coffee and the clientele has been really nice and I like the people I work with.  And of course I get to take home like $60 cakes at the end of the day and have an unlimited supply of coffee while I work.  I seriously haven't gone grocery shopping in like the whole month of June.  It's great!

2. I bought A LOT of books.  A lot. Like seriously, it's like I took the past year's worth of not buying books and went crazy.  This is what happens when you let yourself start with just one itty-bitty thing!  It led to a meltdown about my already out of control book selection.  When you can't fit books into your nine shelves and two suitcases, you know it's time.  So I've been clearing them out to sell/donate/give to the kids.  And of course I decided that meant it was the perfect time to catalog my books as well. It's been utter chaos.

3. I took Sejoon on his first camping trip!  It was his birthday present to me!  (Well not just his presence, he paid for the trip pretty much)  Aaaaand mission accomplished!  He's hooked.  We went to Assateague Island and he wants to make it a yearly thing and is down for camping whenever we both have time (which admittedly probably won't be often. Although I'm probably going to do a night of camping when I leave for my road trip).

 (That's Sejoon's impression of a walrus btw, not how far he can put sticks up his nose)

I have pretty much exclusively gone camping on the west coast for the past 6 years, and therefore haven't used my tent I have here. Fun fact: It is not enough to check that you've got all the parts to your tent and that the poles are broken, apparently when it's been that long (on a tent that's....I honestly don't know how old it is) you have to check for HOLES IN THE TENT.  Yup. I had two giant holes where the "skylights" used to be and OF COURSE it rained the second night haha.  Luckily I had a spare garbage bag, a bag made out of tarp, and am handy with some duct tape so we were (mostly) dry.   Sejoon also got his first taste of s'mores and I don't think I've ever seen someone so excited about s'mores in my life.  And I went camping with my cousins when they were tiny kids haha!  He seriously would start pestering me at like 4 in the afternoon if it was too early to make them hahahaha!  It was adorable, and it's good to be excited about things :) (Personally, I just like toasting marshmallows. S'mores get too messy and too sweet for me)

There's a bay and ocean area so we went swimming (or rather Sejoon did...I guess I forgot how far north we are - it felt like winter time Pacific Ocean!!) and kayaking and you can find these little hidden pockets of beaches which was a lot of fun.  Sejoon and I are rereading the Harry Potter series (or in his case reading the second half of it for the first time) so we did a lot of that while we were there too.  There's also wild horses on Assateague Island which is both awesome...and not awesome.  There maaaay have been a moment when they came up to the table where I was cooking oatmeal looking to mooch some food.  And you know, you really forget how big horses are til your trapped against your table by one.  There was a herd of about five of them in our campsite so I squeezed out of the table area and had the brilliant idea to clap at them to make them leave.  Well, I successfully startled them...but forgot a very, very important detail.  When you startle animals into running....they run straight.  So you should probably...not be standing directly in front of them.  I definitely thought I was going to die by horse stampede there for a hot second haha!  In any case, Operation: Convince Sejoon He Loves Camping was a great success.  And it was my very first time going camping without my family! (Aka having other people do all the cooking)  So all in all it was a very exciting and satisfying birthday :D

Best Novel
I am completely unsurprised at this turn of events haha.  I knew pretty much immediately that this book was going on my favourite books of all time list (now you know at least one book on my next TTT!).  If you are a feminist even slightly, you should read this.  (And by the actual definition of feminist - you believe in equal rights for all genders)  If you enjoy satire, you should read this.  If you liked Going Bovine, you should read this. (Although I'm pretty sure more people have read Beauty Queens than Going Bovine, but still). If you like funny/wacky survivalist/government conspiracy stories, you should read this.  Just go read this!

Best Picture Book

Red: A Crayon's Story

Red: A Crayon's Story is about a crayon who is trying to be what he isn't (he's a blue crayon in a red crayon's cover).  It's the perfect framework for any subject, from LGBTQA discussions to simply not being good at something that's out of your control.  It was cute and clear and the five year old just loved reading another book about crayons haha

So...I may have gone on more than just a book buying spree....I've been wanting this Taylor Swift album FOREVER and it was my birthday month..so I bought it...and her Red album.... NO REGRETS.  And this music video may just be my new favourite music video EVER (And with my Korean music videos there is some pretty stiff competition)

I'm not going to lie, my bloglovin feed is terrifying right now.  You know that too tired to read I mentioned? Yeah that applies to  reading blogposts. I did my best to weed posts out while at work but..I currently have 568 unread posts.  Yup.  And that's after bloglovin cleared out like two weeks of unread posts because they were over three weeks ago haha.  So I'm going to have a pretty short round up list this week because my reaction anytime I've gone to read things on bloglovin has been this:

Bookish Discussions

We Need Diverse Books Talks True, Political, Global Diversity in Sci-Fi and Fantasy - Featuring Daniel Jose Older, Joe Monti, Kameron Hurley, Ken Liu, and Nnedi Okafor
Mitchii on me, my emotions, & these fictional characters.
Nafiza muses on why we read.
Janet shares a heartwarming story about reluctant readers and Harry Potter.
Jamie talks about the sentimental value of books.

Specific Books and Authors

Hogwarts Hops The Pond: Rowling Reveals U.S. Version Of Wizards' School - Appropriate level of flailing ensued after reading this.
I leave you with these:

disney princess raptors 5disney princess raptors 4

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tell Me Tuesday #5: In which Elizabeth is not-reading lots of books

What's that you say?  It's not a Tuesday? It is in fact...*gasp* a WEDNESDAY?? The shock!  I don't even care I'm just a big, bloody rebel, I am!

...I may have had three cups of coffee, all before noon.  But that's what happens when nasty people come into work.  Your attempt to ruin my day failed you haters MWAHAHAHA!  

In any case, look at this! Two posts in 24 hours - I'M BACK FROM THE DEAD!  But sadly, as May is the month of blog hiatuses, apparently June is retaining it's hold as the month of reading slumps.  I'm in the middle of quite a few books...that I have done no reading in for probably a week. Even the audiobook was on hold since I drove other people/rode in other people's cars for my gigs this week.  *sigh*.  So here's what I'm NOT reading:


I have a friend who is OBSESSED with Douglas Preston and Michael Crichton, and he was really excited about this one and shoved it into my face.  I think this maaaay be a big part of my slump.  It's not that the book is bad exactly, but character development is pretty much essential for my enjoyment in a book.  I don't even have to like them! They just need to be more than stock photos, and I have to say this doesn't even capture characters as well as a stock photo was. I called it before I started when I saw there was a list of characters - "this one's going to be the slutty one, this one the leader good guy, the weird annoying one, etc."  And I may have been wrong about which character was what, but I WAS right about all the stereotypes.  In fact, the book pretty much just says what I just did in the first couple pages when the characters each get two sentences devoted to their description.  They're all pretty interchangeable, I can never remember which one is who.  That being said, the science behind the story and the description of the world they're in is FANTASTIC.  And it's very action-oriented.  So if you want a fun thriller, I'd pick this up.  It's just not the book for me.  Half the characters have died and I don't even care because I can't remember who they are.  If it was just about the bugs I would love the crap out of this book!  

Beauty Queens

The humor and snarky, sarcastic tone of this book is REALLY similar to Going Bovine (so LaLa if you like the tone of Going Bovine and want something a bit less trippy try this book!)  ...that being said I'm only 16% of the way through so it might get weirdly trippy, I don't know.  And I don't know why I have no urge to read this because I've LOVED everything about it so far! I have a feeling it will be making it to my top ten of the year list whenever I do finally finish it.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)
Listening to this on audiobook was an EXCELLENT idea. I picked it up for our road trip, but ended up putting it down mostly so we could listen to Harry Potter.  Which was a shame because this narrator is really, really good and my mom definitely was enjoying this one more despite the fact she knows nothing about GoT.  (But she NEEDED to read Harry Potter!!)  So it was more than a little confusing for her haha.  In the meantime I've been listening to it on my commutes.  I'm probably a third of the way in now and I have a feeling STUFF is about to go down.  All the characters are settling into happier places, and we know what THAT means.

I'm also reading Half Magic with the kids  - we're only through the first chapter and it's already a big hit!   I've been carrying Akata Witch in my purse all week too since I keep thinking I'm ACTUALLY going to finish Micro and want something else to read. Shows what I know.  I'm planning on going to the library to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic on Shannon's recommendation, but I still have library books checked out from April, another book a member of the gym loaned me, and a review copy...plus I'm in a slump.  So I'm not sure I'll get to it any time soon, which I hate because that and A Court of Thorns and Roses were BIG priorities for me to get to in May (I preordered ACoTaR for pete's sake!) and here we are in June...so we'll see. I've been super excited for both, so hopefully I kick this slump in the shins and make it limp away soon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May Wrap-Up + A Day in the Life #36

 It must be some sort of rule that the month of May = hiatus.  Seriously, since the history of starting this blog, even back when I was just mucking around and randomly posting things, I don't think I've ever written more than two posts in May haha.  (Scratch that, apparently when I first made this blog I posted like every Goodreads review I'd ever written hahahaha).  In other blog news, it turns out that:

A. In April I had my two-year blogoversary and didn't even realize it!
B. I am worse at math than I thought I was.

For some reason I thought I'd already been blogging for two years (Note: I count April 2013 as when I actually started blogging instead of the random floundering I'd done before haha).  Because...I don't know? I counted the year I started instead of realizing that you start at zero not one?  I honestly don't know. It feels a bit like I'm repeating a year and my brain is confused about it all.  Unless I'm still doing math wrong and I was right the first time... How did I even graduate high school?  

This month was as per usual, pretty busy for me.  I drove my mom across the country, which was fairly eventful, (Fun fact: the narrator of Harry Potter was so boring that he put her to sleep. At the wheel.  That's right, Jim Dale almost killed me) and my brother graduated (at USC the release A FLOCK OF DOVES.  Clearly my graduations needed to take a lesson here) so both of those things were exciting! 

My Month in Pictures:

1. One of the prettiest rest stops I've been to. I believe this one was in Texas?
2. Graduation was FREEZING. And raining. That's not supposed to happen in Southern California in May!!
3. That's Posy (the dog) and Murphy (the cat). Murphy actually spent most of the trip at my feet. He's such a trooper - he's 19!! and was fairly chill about the whole thing.  A five day cross country trip is no small feat for a cat, let alone a respectable elder like him.  Toby, our Yorkie, rode in the truck with our family friend since Murphy usurped the other dog carrier/our laps.
4. I've moved on from purple, and am now a pretty dark teal color!
5. A highly entertaining restaurant.  We pulled over here solely because of the name haha
6. It finally warmed up after graduation was over. My brother is pretty ecstatic at the thought of never being in school ever again and we were all glad the like 8 hour long graduation was over and the sun came out haha!  Just kidding (sort of). We're all really, really proud of him!

Other than that, I've been busy doing lots of gigging so that was exciting for me! I'm about to hit a dry spell, but hopefully that won't last long. It's definitely good that I'm getting asked to play more frequently, so that was definitely great news.  I'm actually going to be on a recording of Amit Peled playing Schumann's Cello Concerto!  I'm playing second oboe, so no one will be able to hear me, but it's really exciting anyway!  It's also an absolutely stunning piece - the "second movement" (the piece is played in one go, but it definitely has three distinct sections) is one of my favourite things to listen to, but I definitely recommend the whole piece. 

And on to the bookish part of my month! (You know, the part that's actually applicable to this blog haha). Reading wise, it was a pretty standard month. Feel free to see my rating breakdown of what I read this month here.

Good Enough

If you want a realistic portrayal of what it's like to be a classical musician, you need to read this book.  If you know someone who will be applying for colleges (or even applying for...anything), hand them this book.  If you know someone who is growing up as a second generation American (particularly an non-white one), hand them this book.  (As a white girl, I cannot confirm that this is how it goes, but considering the author IS a Korean American and that it rings true with what I've seen with my friends, it gets my vote).  This book is just so...god I LOVED it.  It's so real!  It's funny and bittersweet and there's romantic relationship in here that is...trust me it's not what you think. And it surprised me. Also there are Korean recipes in here so there's that too.  Just...I think this will be one of the best books I've read all year. I cannot possibly endorse it more. So if you like funny and sweet mixed in with a good dose of bittersweet, if you like music of any kind, just...I don't care what you like read this!!!

Herman and Rosie

THERE'S AN ALLIGATOR PLAYING AN OBOE!!!!!  He's a jazz oboist, which trust me doesn't really exist, but still.  And the artwork has a lot of layering with newspaper cut outs and it was whimsical and trust me, it hit REAL feelings (depression after life isn't working out so well) and I toooootally loved it basically.  But I might be a little biased because...did I mention it featured an oboe playing alligator?

Best Manga

電撃デイジー 11

Ahhh, Dengeki Daisy is finally over :(  Kyosouke Motome writes some really fun manga, and Dengeki Daisy is my favourite of the lot.  It's part thriller part shoujo love story and it's basically just a fun time all around.  Even at it's darkest, it frequently interrupts itself with a funny moment.  I definitely recommend this one to anyone interested in reading a manga!

Bookish Discussions

Jamie talks about Books That Change Your Life.
Fahima asks some very thought provoking questions about AUTHORIAL INTENT & RESPONSIBILITY.
Asti is Starting to Dread Series. (I totally understand - I do much better when I can binge read, but the pressure to read it because everyone is freaking out about it NOW is real)
Gaby had an epiphany about The Little Moments.
Cait asks Are You Ever Blindly Protective Over Certain Books? (Answer: Umm YES. Horridly so. I just try not to say anything when someone disagrees with me. My brain just goes LALALALA I'M NOT LISTENING TO YOU, YOU BLASPHEMER)
Jess wonders if she has forgotten how to free her speech?
Mel feels like she's leaving characters behind as she grows older.
Faye writes a letter to fantasy novels: DEAR GENERIC FANTASY BOOKS, ORCS/DWARVES/ELVES HAVE STORIES, TOO! (I couldn't agree more. I want all the stories!!)

Specific Books and Authors

Janet had the opportunity to hear Jacqueline Woodson speak about her stories.
Cait wrote a gif filled review of A Game of Thrones that is just spot on.
Ellie literally 100% gets my undying love for Sabriel.
Jamie interviewed Sarah Dessen and is also doing a giveaway! (...that may be over by the time this posts, sorry!)
GlaizaAnne, and Carolyn all wrote a beautiful tributes celebrating Tanith Lee.
N.K. Jemisin on her dislike of putting books in the African American section of libraries and bookstores.

Bookish Fun Stuff

Cait cautions us with 10 Occupational Hazards Of Being a Bookworm.
Epic Reads created The Hardest Game of ‘Would You Rather’ for Book Nerds
William (hilariously) lists the Top 10 ways to be evil in children’s books.
Cait, I too have these 10 Problems of Being An Adult Reading YA.  (I maaaay also just age everyone up and forget they're actually whatever age.  At some point I'm going to get too old for this to work at all with any sense though.)
Natalie plays a game of Would You Rather with debut Tor authors.

Nonbookish Stuff

A Contributor on The Mary Sue wrote an article about Coping With Anxiety and Depression Through Fiction or, “How Rocket Raccoon Fixed My Mental Illness”
Shae has categorized and sorted EVERY character on The 100 into social constructs.  It's awesome. You should check it out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Tribute to Tanith Lee

I don't think I've ever even mentioned Tanith Lee on the blog before.  This isn't because I don't read her or because I haven't been in awe of her writing since I was probably 10 when my mom put The Claidi Journals in my hands. Simply put, it's rather hard these days to get copies of her books.  None of the libraries I lived near had more than a few of her books (and usually they were The Claidi Journals which I've read more than a few times at this point), and considering she wrote well over 90 novels, that's saying something.  She does have some ebooks, but those are mostly collections of her short stories...and I digress.  It's hard to find her books, and I've slowly been snatching up any copy of her books I can find. (The last time I looked online for used books since that's usually what I buy, her used books were selling from $20-$40, which should tell you something.)  It's saddening to me that such a prolific writer, an author who won many awards, who has pushed the limits of science fiction and horror since she first started writing, was no longer having her works published (not her choice).  It's surprising to me that so many of her books are out of print (my assumption since they're so costly used, so I could be wrong about that).  It's surprising to me that someone who I would consider to be one of the most important authors of the twentieth century is so overlooked.

Despite the fact they are usually quite slim (a great many of her books are 200 pages or less), it takes some time to digest her stories.  She breaks all the expectations you have going in. Her worlds don't work in the way we expect them to work, and neither do her characters.  And her fantasy often feels like sci-fi and her fantasy like horror, and it's just this wonderful blend of scifi-fantasy-horror that I promise you is a completely weirder and cooler atmosphere than you're imagining right now. I have a complicated relationship with her writing. I've never exactly loved any of her books, and I don't often exactly enjoy them either. And yet I would be happy to devour her entire collection of writing because no matter how little I'm enjoying them, they're thought provoking and feminist and well...weird.  I guess the best way I can describe her writing is uncomfortable.  And no one really likes being uncomfortable do they?  Her "heroines" more often than not rather evil, and really few of her characters are likeable at all.  But she's one of the few authors whose books are filled with women.  Filled with unapologetically powerful women.  You honestly don't find that often...it's not even that it's hard to find unapologetic powerful women, because I can name more than a few YA heroines who fit that, it's that her heroines are so...unconstrained by the constructs of society or fear of consequences for just being so powerful.  Honestly her writing is rather difficult to describe, and I'm leery of recommending a place to start both because I've read so little of her extensive catalogue, and because the book I remember enjoying the most involves quite a bit of rape. (I'm fuzzy on the details, but I usually have a very difficult time when authors choose to have characters raped.  With Tanith Lee...it's a bit different. Again, hard to explain why exactly).  Add in the fact, that simply put Tanith Lee is not for everyone.  Or maybe even most people.  Hence the no mention on the blog before. But I DO think her books are an experience well worth having if you're willing to approach them with an open mind.  If I had to pick a book that I think would go over well with people who are YA oriented and I remember enjoying (remember that I use this term loosely with Tanith Lee, but I do think this one features one of her more likeable heroines) I'd say Black Unicorn is a good way to ease your way into Tanith Lee's writing.

It's funny that an author I've read so little of has inspired such a powerful reaction in me over the years (and with books I don't love the way I normally love books, to say the least!), but I'm grateful I still have so many more books of hers to read.  I'm incredibly sad that she is no longer around to give us more stories.

Rest in peace, Tanith Lee.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Day in the Life #35 + April Wrap Up

Well, it has been a whirlwind of a month, that's for sure.  It's ironic that my decision to only read books by PoC ended up being well timed.  If I can call anything about the past week well timed haha. In fact at this moment I couldn't even tell you if anything of note happened earlier this month.

I don't want to spend too much time talking about everything that's gone down here in Baltimore, because I've already talked a great deal about it.  And honestly, this has literally been all I've been thinking about every conscious moment for the past entire week.  Even when I've not been glued to live streams of what's been happening.  I want my brain to be occupied by ANYTHING else. (Scratch that - anything else good. My only other distraction has been the earthquake in Nepal.)  In my links I leave at the bottom of the post, I'm going to post a bunch of the best articles I read about Baltimore and protests this week.  My twitter profile has loads of other links to look at as well.  Here's a summary of things I've learned and experienced this week.

1. Monday was terrible. I absolutely don't want to downplay the destruction that happened.  Here's a map of what took place.   Baltimore already has food deserts, and I'm afraid because of what happened and because of how the media has been reporting on this that it's only going to get worse.

2. OTHER than Monday, there was a small group of people who acted out on Saturday. But the destruction was significantly less, and the media totally blew it out of proportion.  After Monday there have been an extremely small number of destructive actions.  This city made a complete 180 and what I witnessed this past week was incredibly inspiring and heartwarming.  From the powerful, peaceful protests and marches that took place to the honest conversations that are taking place about race and poverty in this city to the entire communities who came together to clean the city up to rival gangs making a truce to put the well being of this city first, it has been just an overwhelmingly positive week.

3. That being said, this city has felt...scary.  And not because of the protesters.  You know in all those dystopias (or in many other countries around the world) where there are helicopters and armored trucks driving around and men with giant guns on every corner?  Well now I know what that feels like.  And it's terrifying.  I am thankful for how the police have reacted since Monday (the fact that there weren't any protest related deaths - to my knowledge - speaks volumes on how the police handled Monday), and I appreciate the support the national guard and state police have given.  So I applaud them and don't want to take away from the great work they've done this week. That doesn't change the fact that it lends the whole city an air of danger. (Or change the fact that while I support ALL of these groups, there are some significant legislative and departmental changes that need to be happening.)

4. I'm not sure if it's the large groups of men, large groups of officials signifying danger, or the HUGE GUNS they are all carrying that scares me, but having to walk past them every day makes my mouth go dry and my heart race.  I mean there's groups of like twenty or thirty of them.

5. I considered going to the protests but didn't for a few reasons.
     A. I worked during all but two of them.
     B. The media last time I was watching made it seem like the the protests that were peaceful were only peaceful because of the large number of white people in the crowd, completely ignoring the almost entirely black protests that happened the week before.  I didn't want to contribute to that.
     C. The protests I COULD go to were being led by people who have been known to be openly anti-semitic or had ties to groups who are openly anti-white, and while I totally support the protesters, I don't want to be part of a rally that promotes either of those sentiments.
     D. I'm hoping to be able to help in the communities once the media coverage and protests have died down...and communities are still hurting.  In interest of that here are some places you can donate if you are at all interested.

6. You can't trust the media. Not even a little bit.  My waning trust in the mainstream media has been completely severed this week.  It sounds like many of you have also been gleaning your news from local bloggers, so I think a lot of you have been seeing more than the destruction.  And since I stopped watching the main news stations, maybe they changed and stopped focusing on the destruction and everyone saw more to this city than the looting, I don't know. (Actually please tell me, I'm very curious what the news stations have been showing.)  But I applaud the local news stations for doing a great job covering what was really happening - the good and the ugly.  I won't be watching any big news stations anymore. I can't trust any of the news I'm getting from them. It makes me wonder what else I'm completely misinformed on because of their coverage.  It's funny - if any of you have read the Newflesh Trilogy (which I'm thinking of rereading and reviewing because of the media situation this week) it's weird feeling like that set up is already here. And probably has been for a while - I don't know how long it's been this skewed.

I basically had these songs on repeat while I was driving through the city on Tuesday.  (Reasons why should be pretty apparent if you listen to the lyrics)

So that was longer than I meant to make it, but since when have I NOT been long winded haha!  On to the bookish part of my month:

Best Book

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

Guys, I don't care what genres/audiences you think you don't read, you ALL NEED TO READ THIS.  I'm planning to do a review of this series (and maybe a separate review of this book so there's no spoilers).  It's an important book, and it just completely soul crushed me. In a good way. (But totally traumatic way).  There's this scene and it is hands down the most viscerally horrifying thing I have EVER read. Or even thought about. (But not in a Stephen King-I-cried-myself-to-sleep-in-terror sort of way).  Or as Kirsty described it, "You're in for a treat in the last 100 pages. And by treat I mean scarred for life."  

It's a fast paced, action packed book for sure, but it's not fluffy fun times.  I think it's a crime against humanity that a HUGE portion of my goodreads friends have it marked - but only like 1/3 of them have read this book.  GO READ THIS.  NOW. DO IT.  I literally am going to buy any copy of this I ever see in a used bookstore and then am going to mail it to people.  I am that insistent that the whole world needs to read this.  And with everything that went down this week in Baltimore, it was particularly pertinent.  If you've read it you'll know what I mean - particularly the part where the media talked about the young teens who got caught up in the mess as "violent thugs".

Biggest Disappointment

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)

This. I just. NOOOOO. HOW.  This is a bigger blow to everything I believe in ever than Mansfield Park was! Tamora Pierce is my hero! She's a GODDESS.  ....actually apparently she's human and the fact that's written like 30 other books that I LOVE does not mean I've lost faith in her. But dear god this book hurt me. I felt betrayed and just....NO. I'M SORRY BUT IT DIDN'T GO DOWN THIS WAY.  This went from being a series that was probably my favourite ever of hers to...I'm not sure I'm going to buy it. Because I don't think I will ever read this book again. Maybe I'll just buy the first two and pretend this book never happened. Because it didn't. DO YOU HEAR ME? This book NEVER. HAPPENED.  (But seriously have any of you read it? Because I need people to cry with. Or if they didn't cry about THE THINGS in this book, please, please convince me I'm wrong to hate it)

Here's what else I read this month.  You may notice that the thing that happens once in a blue moon - the wretched DNF happened for me this month.  I only got maybe 50 pages into The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. It wasn't bad writing or anything - it just clearly involves an unhappy relationship. I have to say after reading the adult fiction I've read this month, my theory that 99% of adult contemporary fiction is about unhappy marriages and adultery (or at least it happens) has not been disproved. Not even a little.  And I just DON'T WANT TO READ ABOUT IT. So I didn't even try getting further because I'd just read The Interpreter of Maladies and was at my absolute max of being able to swallow another story about unhappy marriages.  This is why I don't read adult contemporary fiction.  

I did really well on my Authors of color challenge!  I'm actually in the middle of like three more books that I didn't put here because I haven't finished yet. I'll talk about them in my Tell Me Tuesday post :)  I felt like I didn't read as many books as I read, but I think that's because half of the books I read belonged to two series, so it made it feel like I read less. But I don't usually make it through challenges (or I read like half the amount I usually do).   I was hoping that what with having a city wide curfew for the past week that I'd get more reading done, but I mostly stayed glued to live streaming of what was happening. And watching Warehouse 13 haha.  Speaking of...

What I Watched


The Last Cinderella was a fun J-Drama. It had a lot of potential to be more than it was that it totally squandered, but even though it didn't do nearly what it could have it's still a good, standard J-Drama.  As per usual, I loved the totally tomboyish leading lady!

Warehouse 13 (2009) Poster

I have a friend who just started watching this and was going to watch seasons 4 and 5 with me (which I still haven't watched because I was CONVINCED they would appear on Netflix. But season 5 came and went, and season 4 never went on Netflix. So it's just never going to happen, I'll have to find it elsewhere *grumbles*).  Unfortunately he watched all three seasons in like a day and a half and burnt himself out haha. But it made me want to rekindle my love for the show (which I think Kirsty got me on to begin with?) and I needed something fun that I'd already seen to put on while I was stuck inside my house this week.

Sleepy Hollow (2013) Poster

I FINALLY watched the season finale!  I had been really upset with what they chose to do with a female character they could have treated WAY differently, but I'm appeased that with the season finale there will be no more of that. Plus I'm pretty sure they switched out the lead writer. So. Hopefully I will NOT be breaking up with both of my favourite shows (OUaT) in the next year.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Poster

 I am SO GLAD I stuck with this show, because this season has been hitting it out of the park!  I am a few episodes behind and haven't seen the newest Avengers film yet...I haven't decided whether I'll just go ahead with the show or try and watch the Avengers film first. (I never watched the latest Captain America and was fine with the show)

How I Met Your Mother (2005) Poster

I am...conflicted by the ending to this series.  I both like it and HATE it?  I dunno. I'm glad I wasn't hugely invested in it is all I can say.

Bookish Discussions

Rosamund Hodge gives an obligatory strong heroine post.
Garth Nix on Aboriginal Stories. (Thanks to Glaiza for the link!)

Blogging and Reading

Mitchii discusses the reader's bill of rights.
Sunny gives a tutorial on how to make a personalized gif.
Erin Bowman tells us how we can support an author beyond buying their book.
Anne of Green Gables‘ Jonathan Crombie Passes Away at 48 - *sobs*
Asheley had a bookish a-ha moment that legit made me cry at work.

Bookish Fun Stuff

Ellis and Judith had me in tears I was laughing so hard at their Coblogger Burn, Rewrite, Reread Challenge.
Cee has some more book fonts for us!

Miscellaneous Non-bookish stuff

The Baltimore Protests

Steve tells us Baltimore is not Ferguson, covering the issues here that are more class related than solely race related.
Puja talked to a Baltimore officer about what things are like for them during all of this. (Hint: it involves the city not feeding them and no overtime.)
Willie defends looting. - This is one of those articles to definitely read. Very thought provoking.
Michael is a reporter who's lived in Baltimore for 30 years. He tells us what we really need to know about Baltimore.
Baltimore libraries stayed open this whole week - even when everything else was shut down (including schools), because they knew the community needed them.  This is why I LOVE libraries and librarians - it's more than just the books. Libraries are a haven for the homeless and at-risk youth.

*As always a thank you to Christina, Asti, and Kelley for their weekly bookish round ups, many of the links on these lists I never would have found without those weekly round ups!


And THAT is the end of my very long monthly/bi-weekly round up :)  Anything good in you past few weeks? Do share I need some good news in my life!

Monday, April 27, 2015

On Priviledge: The Baltimore Riots

Let me start with this: I do not condone rioting or looting or the giant madhouse that this has turned into here.  But just because I don't condone it doesn't mean I don't understand why it is happening.  When you have felt your entire life like your life is in danger from the people who are supposed to be your protectors, it greatly limits your ability to express yourself peacefully. When you are a majority in a city, but are statistically less likely to be able to even get any stable source of income, it greatly limits your ability to express yourself peacefully.  When yet another black man has died in police custody, a black man who had committed no crime, who was pursued by police simply because he was a black man and he ran, it greatly limits your ability to express yourself peacefully.  When you feel like you have spent your whole life trying to fight against a system that is stacked against you, when you have spent your whole life trying to explain this injustice and you see it dismissed over and over and over again, all you are left with despair and anger.  Or to put it more succinctly: as Martin Luther King* said, "Riot is the language of the unheard."

For those of you who are (understandably) upset about the looting and are asking - Why would you do this to your own city? Your own cause? Why are you damaging everything you are fighting for?  I simply point out Martin Luther King's above statement.  These people are angry. They feel like there is literally not another way for their pain and anger to be heard.  They aren't methodically targeting individual people and places, they are lashing out.  So yes, you're right - they are damaging everything the last week of peaceful protests were working towards, but the rioters are beyond believing that any of that will make even a modicum of difference in their lives.  It won't change the decades of oppression they have been fighting against, and so they are instead lashing out. (There are also people who are taking advantage of this chaos for their own means and motives. I do not include them in this conversation.)  Have you ever been angry enough to hit a wall? (Personally I haven't, but that is because my great fear of pain largely outweighs my frustration or anger at any point).  The point here is that everyone knows punching a wall is only going to at best hurt a lot and at worst break your hand.  It's not something you do because you think it's going to make anything better. And yet people do it pretty frequently (or maybe I just hang out with a strange number of wall punchers) despite knowing this. They do it because they are completely overwhelmed by their anger and frustration, and it translates into a need to punch that wall. Now compact all of that rage and helplessness and put a lifetime's worth of it into your body. Now multiply it by all the friends and family who are also black, who have also spent their entire lifetime feeling this.  Top all of this off by putting people into angry mobs, and you have baked the perfect recipe for a riot.

This issue has so many layers it would simply be impossible to address them all because I couldn't fit it all in one post, am simply not knowledgeable enough on a lot of points, and quite simply because I have lived my entire life with the privilege of being white and financially stable.  There's a lot at play here that I simply could not begin to understand, but have tried to make a point to inform myself on (and am thankful for everyone who has helped and will help me on that path along the way). So I am going to do my best to keep from going off on the millions of different points I could lay out here and lay things out straightforwardly simply as it applies to my city (but 99% of these points apply to our whole country):

Racial discrimination in Baltimore is realPolice brutality in Baltimore is real.  For those of you who ask - well, why did Freddie Gray run if he hadn't done anything wrong?  First - if you're asking this, you aren't asking the right questions, and secondly you likely can't even imagine what it is like to get frisked/pulled over/hassled for no reason - other than that you are black.  (You know what else that sounds like?  Well if she got raped, why didn't she scream?)  Let me ask YOU this:  Does his running somehow justify his death? Does it make it ok that 80% of his spine was severed and that his voice box was crushed?  Does it make it ok that he was arrested - despite the fact that he had no illegal drugs or weapons - that knife he was carrying? It was of legal size.  But more important than whether or not Freddie Gray's arrest was warranted - that is still missing the point:  Just because some of the people the police arrest are in fact criminals, doesn't justify police brutality - even if the person being apprehended is a criminal.

That being said, I fully believe in the police force as a whole.  I think they are a necessary and important part of our community, and when I heard that the major gangs in Baltimore have made a ceasefire in the interest of killing cops my heart went into my throat.**I am just as worried for every cop out there who is just trying to keep Baltimore and her citizens safe as I am for every child and protestor who is caught out there in the middle of this violence.  Not every police man is bad.  I don't want to derail the message here, but again as a white woman I relate to this.  Not every man harrasses, molests, or rapes.  But as a woman, I have to worry about every man.  Not every police officer uses excessive force and is motivated to use said force/make arrests because of race.  But from what I can understand, it is something every black person has to worry about.  Because for either one of us - that one time we miscalculate?  It very literally could mean death.

There needs to be a complete overhaul in police oversight.  I am a big supporter of body cams, but there also need to be the punishments that are followed through.  If the city is paying out money to victims in lawsuits - how can they also exonerate the officers involved?  Despite the fact that is one of the biggest main issue that comes up in forums, despite the fact that barrage of incidents like those of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, and most recently Freddie Gray (And those are only the most high profile cases. This is far from new and far from rare.) - it doesn't feel like anything has been enforced to change this from happening.

So instead of disparaging what you see happening in Baltimore, think about why it's happening.

*For those who have been waving MLK as a response to the riots, saying he wouldn't want this happening in Baltimore and that he would condemn what was happening, you are taking his messages out of context. No, he wouldn't want this happening - he would want a city  (or really country) that wouldn't have set things up so they would escalate this way. But more importantly he specifically says this in March of 1968 - "It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard."  In fact, I recommend you go read that entire speech that is now almost 50 years old.  And then look at the economic and social issues we have today and you tell me if we've made progress in the past 50 years

**Edit 4/28: Gang members have spoken up and have denied claims they set up hits on cops. But they have united to help keep the protests peaceful and keep the focus on what these protests are all about. Guys, I hope you are seeing the amazing change in Baltimore today. I hope that the news getting to you is of how the communities are coming together to help clean after the protests, how peaceful all of the protests have been today, how people are using dance and music in the protests, how many races are joining together in these protests. This is the beautiful, vibrant Baltimore that I know and love and wish the rest of the world could see. So if you aren't seeing this side of things - here's a good place to start.