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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
This is like an impossible task, so I've set myself some rules:

1. I have to have loved (or pretty damn close to) everything I read by this author.
2. I have to have read more than one series (or book if they don't have series) and at least half of their published novels or series. (So not counting essays, short stories, or novellas.)

This has knocked out some serious contenders that I would have otherwise listed like Jane Austen (I love two of her books, thought the third was ok, HATED the fourth, can't bring myself to finish the fifth, and just need to dive into the sixth!) and both J.K. Rowling and Sarah J. Maas (who I've only read one series from as of yet).

Tamora Pierce

What She's Written: She's probably best known for her first books, The Song of the Lioness Quartet

Why I Love Her:  She's the most dedicated author I know of who consistently includes EVERY sort of diversity throughout her books. (Seriously - race, LGBTQA, body shape - she's got it all).  She also has such a wide variety of heroines (and heroes), is sex positive, has got some wicked world-building after spending 30 books exploring her realms.  Technically she should be disqualified since I finished Mastiff yesterday, and I super crazy hated the ending, but she could do anything at this point and I would still love her books to the ends of the earth.  After all, one in thirty books is pretty damn good!


Robin McKinley 

What She's Written: She's probably best known for her award winning book, The Hero and the Crown

Why I Love Her: She has pretty much my favourite fairy tale retellings. She also has gorgeous prose and imaginative characters and worlds - she's written in very different styles and genres too. She's the only other author on this list that I will forgive pretty much anything as well.  (If I can get over that cliffhanger in Pegasus, I can survive anything she throws my way). She also has a highly entertaining blog.

Roald Dahl 

What He's Written: Puhlease. Like you don't know who this is. My personal favourite is The BFG!

Why I Love Him:  Roald Dahl's books are the perfect mix of ridiculousness and truth.  He also never speaks down to his audience - his writing always treats kids as if they are equal, and trust me - kids KNOW when you're talking down to them, and they don't like it.

Libba Bray

What She's Written: She's probably best known for her Gemma Doyle trilogy.

Why I Love Her:  I actually hadn't thought of her as a favourite author til I was making this list.  I've consistently loved every book I've read by her (although I still have Beauty Queens to read, but by all accounts that's probably her most loved books) and Going Bovine would make my Top 10 ranking of most important books I've ever read. It was powerful and really shook me up - I still think about it all the time.

Natsuki Takaya 

What She's Written: If you read manga at all, you've at least heard of Fruits Basket.

Why I Love Her:  It's funny - both of my all time favourite mangas are written by mangakas who wrote another manga that I hated!  Fruits Basket is definitely in my Top 10 mangas though, so I'm glad I've had the opportunity to read Takaya's other works!  Takaya's stories are really quiet - yes there's a plot to it all, but it's kind of like a slice of life/magic realism sort of thing (the magic realism is more Fruits Basket than her other work) and the focus is on relationships - familial and platonic as well as romantic (probably even more so than romantic).   I have yet to read Tsubasa, but Hoshi wa Utau has probably my favourite artwork - it's kind of wistful.


What She's Written: Her newest book, The Storied Life of A.J.  Fikry, (which I haven't read yet) has been a huge hit!

Why I Love Her: With the exception of the last author on this list, I think she's written in the most varied genres. And without fail every book has been absolutely amazing.  She also has some of the most realistic characters - in fact her characters inspired me to do a series of posts just on them instead of writing a book review!

Madeleine L'Engle

What She's Written: Definitely best known for her A Wrinkle in Time Quintet.

Why I Love Her: Of all the authors on this list, this is the author I most come back to when I'm questioning my beliefs or am dealing with abstract things that are just more than I can handle at the moment.  A Ring of Endless Light was a huge staple in my reading when I was dealing with some really heavy life stuff. It's always both extremely enlightening and comforting - I don't usually find being enlightened about things comfortable, but Madeleine L'Engle has always been able to gently lead me places I need to go, even in stories I've read thousands of times.  I think of all the well known authors I read, she's the most undiscovered. Most everyone has read A Wrinkle in Time, a lot of people finished the series, and I very rarely find anyone who has read anything else of hers. She barely even qualified for this list - I think I've read exactly half of her books.  She writes for all audiences and she's just so insightful with family relationships, and does this amazing and respectful melding science and religion.

What She's Written: Best known for her The Lynburn Legacy.

Why I Love Her: The Lynburn Legacy is one of the cleverest twists on paranormal fiction I've read. It sets up everything the way you expect, and proceeds to twist it into something entirely new.  It's also LGBT positive, has some of my favourite female friendships AND family relationships.  The characters basically range from OH MY GOD. THIS IS ME. IN A BOOK. (Holly) To OH MY GOD I WISH THIS WAS ME. IN REAL LIFE. (Angela and Kami).  SRB also writes some really complex, manipulative, unlikeable characters - particularly in The Demon's Lexicon.

Deb Caletti 

What She's Written: If you're going to read a Caletti book, I highly recommend The Nature of Jade as a good starting place!

Why I Love Her:  First let me just say this: If you are a Sarah Dessen fan, I can almost guarantee you will love these books.  Deb Caletti is my favourite contemporary author (aka the only one I regularly read), and like Dessen she focuses a LOT of female friendships and family relationships.  Romantic interests aren't the main focal point in the story, and that's really important to me. She also has a lot of characters dealing with STUFF (mental illness, abuse, pregnant friends, etc.)  - but it never feels too dark or heavy (I am notorious for avoiding said things, so the fact that I can still devour says something).  And it always feels like said issues feel real, well researched, and dealt in a respectful manner.  I prefer her writing to Sarah Dessen's (who I do enjoy, but she's no Caletti) and Deb Caletti is SUPER unappreciated, so if I can get at least ONE person to read one of her books, I will feel like I've accomplished something in life.

Jacqueline Carey

What She's Written:  She's best known for Kushiel's Legacy. (Which I've mentioned several times. Because it's amazing.)

Why I Love Her: Holy COW this woman can write anything. I just read a paranormal series by her and it was fantastic (Multi-racial! A bi main character! Magic fun times!  Funny! Just a ton of fun to read) - and so, so, SO different from her Kushiel series, which I would basically describe as a better Game of Thrones.  YES I SAID THAT.  I's incredible.  Like Tamora Pierce, she's got loads of LGBTQA characters of many different races - most importantly? Both of her main characters are bi.  YOU JUST DON'T FIND THAT.  And the world building in Kushiel is...sooooo amazing. And it doesn't feel like it gets bogged down like it does in AGoT because the plot is intense and there's sex positivity (  and *FLAILS* it's basically one of my favourite discoveries of the past couple years.

So who made your list? Any of my authors?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Musings: In which Elizabeth discovers she has some not very feminist ideas about love

I have recently come to (yet another) very startling and uncomfortable realization about myself:  I value what the male love interests want/need/think more than what the female love interest wants/needs/thinks.  Yeah. I said that.  And it goes against EVERYTHING I BELIEVE IN.  And I think I've always been this way, I just hadn't noticed it.  This is usually how love interest ranking goes in my head:

1. What boy wants/needs her more
2. What boy I think is best for her
3. What boy the girl thinks is best for her.

What kind of screwed up priority is that? 

It's most obvious to me when I am reading/watching a story where the girl is the one chasing the boy. I love it when the boy is pining after the girl - I can get super swoony over it (assuming it's not stalkerish. I'm talking Ren from Skip Beat sort of situation)  But I've realized something.  In K-Dramas more often than not, the girl is the one who is pining after the boy.  And a lot of the time I hate it. I spend the whole time asking my tv WHY? Why do you love this jerk?? This other dude is SO much better for you!!  (Ok, admittedly a lot of the relationships with the main love interests can be kind of abusive on the male end of things, so there are other things at play here).  If a girl is going after a guy who is clearly not into her, it makes me uncomfortable.

Why is that?

Why is it ok when I'm reading all these books with alpha males going after women who are resistant to the attention (at first)?  Admittedly, I'm not a big alpha male reader, but when it comes down to doesn't bother me as much as the girl chasing the guy.

It suddenly put a conversation I had a long time ago with Christina in a whole new light for me.  I had mentioned that I shipped the other guy in Goong, not the main one.  And she had said that she totally didn't get that because my guy didn't care about making her happy, he cared about wanting her to be with him - which wasn't the same thing at all.  At the time I didn't get it and just brushed it off as a difference of opinion.  And who knows? Maybe on a rewatch I'd still agree with my original assessment - but in light of everything I've just realized about myself, it makes me think she more than likely has a really excellent point.  Because I do distinctly remember one thing: At no point does the MC ever show interest in my guy.  I just wanted her to be with him because HE wanted her to be with him. How is that any different from when the girl wants a guy who is totally not into her? (As was the case with the MC and her love interest at this point in the story) do I go about fixing this? It's a definite preference choice, I just happen to think that while it is totally ok for me to love men pursuing women, I need to be less critical of women pursuing men.  I think watching a ton of K-Dramas has helped that a little (it's definitely made me more aware). I just immerse myself in stories where the woman is doing the chasing? How does one actively change their opinion on something?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Day in the Life (#34): In which Elizabeth GETS REAL about Life, The Universe and Everything

The past few weeks have been a lot of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I'm used to having this sort of feeling in music - there's a lot of feeling stuck and pretty shitty about music followed by lots and lots of hard work followed by a very short period of FUCK YEAH I'M AWESOME...followed by yet another plateau when I get stuck again.  It's just kind of the life of a musician, and I came to terms with that a long time ago. But I haven't really felt this way about myself as a person...maybe since I was a teenager?  (...there may be a reason why I love kickass, selfish, vain characters so much). Which now that I've said that makes me wonder A LOT about my growth as a person, so maybe I had this coming.

Maybe a lot of it is the amount of life changing things I've had to deal with in the last 6 years. And the deaths of loved ones that I was hit with.  I think I've spent so much energy in the last six years literally just holding myself together.  I don't think I even realized how much energy I was spending doing that until fairly recently now that I feel my life is starting to even out. (Which is funny since so much is changing. But maybe I just feel equipped to handle most anything now.)  Crying over Dannon commercials probably should have been a good indicator I was clearly going through something whether I was admitting to it or not haha!  But then again I still occasionally cry over yogurt commercials. (Or all sorts of other weird stuff.  DON'T ASK ME WHY I DON'T KNOW). So maybe I am just forever going to be the girl who cries over yogurt commercials.

But now that I'm feeling able to deal with's given me time to deal with some pretty big character flaws.  I'm not sure if they've always been there and I just never noticed/cared (likely) or if they've just developed over the past few years.  One of the biggest things I'm really sensitive to right now is how talkative I am.

It's weird because while I'm pretty evenly balanced between being an introvert and extrovert, I'm definitely on the introvert side of things. I'm happy to not see a single person for a good solid week. That doesn't bother me at all. I have literally done that (And refused to answer the phone. Or call for delivery.)  But I talk....a lot. Or rather to say I talk a lot is a huge understatement. Like to the point that I think literally every person I have met has either said to me or mentioned to my friends that I am...well, really talkative.  It's compacted when I'm nervous.  Instead of feeling tense and awkward...I just keep talking until something pans out and it turns into a conversation.  I have to say it can be really effective...but it can be reeaaalllyyy awkward too.  (Admittedly, awkward not having anything to talk about for ten minutes still feels worse to me.)  I don't really know how to describe all of this as a bad thing exactly, because being talkative in and of itself isn't a bad thing.  But I am sure it is completely overwhelming. (Especially if you hit upon something I get super excited about. Like books. Or pokemon.)  I have a friend who I super, super love...but man she can be exhausting because she talks so much. And I imagine that's what people feel when they talk to me.  I used to think I was a good listener - and I think there was a time, long, long, LONG ago when that might have been true.  It certainly hasn't been the case for a while now - I'm way too focused on my thoughts and experiences and am constantly taking control of the conversation.  All of this has basically come to a boil because I've gone on a bunch of double dates (which I HATE. I AM THE WORST AT THEM.) and met a lot of new people. It's also made me realize that I am really bad at talking to girls I don't know. How have I ever made girl friends? And I mean...I'm a girl. I talk to my girl friends the same way I talk to my boy friends and WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR ME GIRLS ARE NOT SCARY THEY ARE NORMAL PEOPLE.  Basically there's been a lot of my awkward babbling and it's made me feel just...weird talking at all and I guess that's just something I'm going to have to change/work through until I feel ok about it all again.  And it's not like I want to turn myself into a shy wallflower. I actually think that might have been where being talkative came from - there was a time I refused to talk to strangers and was basically pretty shy at school around kids I didn't know well.  And I felt like I faded to the background and especially when I started taking of principal duties in my youth orchestra (for the nonmusicians, it basically means being a leader and having lots of solos) you need to be able to be confident and show off.  So I think I tried to combat that by forcing myself to talk a lot. And somehow I've just lost the balance and need to tone it back.

Anyway, enough about moody Elizabeth, let's get to some fun posts around the blogosphere!

 And also this.

I'm going to try out a new format on my links.  I really like how clean and simple Asti and Kelley's weekly round ups are (and if you like my links and want more you should totally check theirs out - now that I've discovered theirs a bunch of mine are coming from there!) and it feels like it takes less time to put together this way (but I'm also not really putting any of my opinions on the post and I might miss doing that).  I'm also going to try and make more subsections so it looks less overwhelming when I put up all the links haha.  So let me know - do you prefer one way or the other? Or does it not matter to you at all?

Books and Women
Jordan talks about sexist attitudes within the industry and needing to sit back and let women lead these discussions in On Curiosity.
Brandy talks about  Intersectionality and Female Friendships in YA.
Cait asks Why Is There So Much Sexism in Epic Fantasy? WHY?
Tess Sharpe discusses Abortion, Girls, Choice, and Agency.
Alexandra talks about Staking Our Claim Our Claim in the Science Fiction Universe.
Amy is a Feminist Author Who Dares To Write "Unlikable".
Kelly asks  Where Do We Go From Here? Wrapping Up "About The Girls".

Bookish Discussions
Matt discusses How We Talk (or Don't Talk) About Diversity When We Read To Our Kids.
Janet muses on Valentina, Tana and Friendships.

Blogging and Awards
Charlie asks about Etiquette When Responding To Authors.
Carolyn gives a wrap up post on George R.R. Martin's Addressing the 'Puppy-gate' Controversy. (For those of you who don't know basically the Hugo awards are going through some serious stuff right now. Check it out for sure)
Teresa informs us Two Hugo-Nominated Authors Withdraw Their Works From The Awards This Year.

Books and Authors
Asti talks about the different editions of Shadow and Bone in her latest Bookish Parade.
Sync gives two free audiobooks a week, pairing YA books with classic literature to help promote literacy! 2015's titles are up on the site!
Mari tells us all about A Grimm Snow White.
Ink-splot has written a reimagining of Harry Potter - What if Petunia Dursley Had Been a Good Person? (And excuse me while go and...have an allergy attack in the corner)
Maggie Stiefvater rages about inherent sexism.

Bookish Fun Stuff
Which YA BFF Are You? I tied between Regan and Po which seems about right haha
Which Hogwarts Professor Is Your Soulmate?  Unsurprisingly, I am paired with Remus Lupin as I always am. (He is pretty dreamy!)
Fantasy Casting the Presidential Cabinet with YA Heroines Ahhhh I love this so much!  I. LOVE. THESE. PICKS.

TV and Movies
Sara has a surprisingly insightful discussion about The 8 Most Underrated Sidekicks and Sub-villains.
Rebecca wraps up her recap posts of Avatar and it feels like it's all over ALL OVER AGAIN.  (But YESSS she's going to do Korra recaps!!)
Allaire Bartel Captures Just How Intrusive Everyday Sexism Feels.
Cait wants to know Who Is The Better Sherlock? (I REALLY want to watch Elementary but haven't been able to)
Lesley interviews The Women Behind The Award-Winning Film,Farah Goes Bang.
Stubby Recasts The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Miscellaneous Nonbooks Stuff
Lisa talks about navigating social interpretation of skirt lengths, and why privileged women have so many clothes.
Brontosaurus Was Real All Along - MY LIFE HAS MEANING AGAIN!
12-Year-Old Girl Takes the Gaming Industry to Task Over Paying for Female Characters

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Series Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)Prodigy (Legend, #2)Champion (Legend, #3)

As I mentioned in my reading diverse authors post, I'm going to do my best to highlight some of the amazing books I'm reading while I go through this challenge (even though I swore I was rarely going to do reviews again. But...there's exceptions to every rule I ever make. I just suck at following my own rules It's for a worthwhile cause anyway!)  As always when I talk about series, SPOILERS ENSUE. But I will do my best to mark them ahead of time in case you want to read this but don't want spoilers. I'm so magnanimous :)

This series is so much fun and managed to surprise me even though I was CONVINCED each book that I wasn't going to be surprised!  It's also one of the few series I read where each book that came consistently was better than the last. It might not be as obvious if you didn't like gorge the books in one sitting like I did, but I was really impressed by what Lu did in each book.  I loved that any time I had a problem with the way a character acted/was portrayed, in the next book Marie Lu made it more explicit why the character acted a certain way and it made TOTAL sense. And it never used the explanation as a way to excuse whatever actions the characters took, whether they were "good" or "bad" ones - it simply gave a better look at the character and if you missed the "why" that would have been implied when you read it in the first book, she made certain you understood in the next book.  A little bit of me wonders if people had mentioned things in reviews/asked her questions and she took that in consideration while she was writing or if she just planned it that way.  Either way, it was very well done.

The first book lays out a pretty standard dystopia.  Not much about the world sets it apart from any of the other millions of dystopias that have flooded YA books, but it wasn't bad. It just didn't stand out.  That being said, I LOVED the characters.  The main characters are both incredibly smart, and very good looking, and they don't try and hide the fact that they know this.  I know that a lot of people tend to have a hard time with characters I love (e.g. Celaena Sardothien), but I absolutely LOVE confident, selfish characters.  I find them more believable?  And in both cases here, it's not the author just going these characters are THE SHIT.  They kind of are, and they know it...but their arrogance isn't portrayed as an all good thing either.  Particularly in June's case, it's a definite character flaw and you see her grow as her assumptions are challenged and because she's so intelligent she isn't crazy stubborn about fighting this. She tries to logically reconcile what she's believed and what she's been finding out and when the proof is insurmountable, she goes with the proof. I love that she's so unfailingly logical.  And of course, Day is a rogue character.  Pretty much ANY rogue character is just...I'm guaranteed to love them. (Sturmhond, Locke Lamora, George name them, I love them. Although I'm suddenly noticing a lack of female rogues. Are there female rogues?? I'm suddenly freaking out!! SOMEONE GIVE ME A FEMALE ROGUE. NOW.)  So it was unsurprising that I loved him. I also thought the side characters are a lot of fun and over all in the series they have the most surprising and well rounded character arcs I think.  It's also interesting how much of a role Metias plays in the whole trilogy considering he's only alive for the first few chapters. (Not a spoiler! It's in the description - I checked!)  A lesser author would have simply used him as a plot point. Instead he's not only the focus of the first book, he shapes our main character's relationship, and he guides June in a way throughout the whole series.  He has one of the biggest roles as a side character, which I really, really loved.   I didn't love the way Tomas is set up in this book, he seemed a little one sided. BUT.  Then book two happened.

Prodigy completely ups the game. The worldbuilding begins to be fleshed out, the characters relationships are tested, and it totally changes the whole relationship and aspect of a CERTAIN THING.  Overall I think it's generally most people's favourite book in the trilogy.  It changed my biggest drawback (other than the world building) in book one, and it felt so validating that Marie Lu gave us this background and explanation.  It redeemed my faith in her characters, because really if you want to read this series, you need to be all about the characters.  The dystopia itself, as I said doesn't really stand out to me.  The world building and background DEFINITELY improves in each book, and I love that we find out so much about the politics both in this book and the next. But it definitely takes a back seat to the characters.  Once again Marie Lu introduced a conflict with a side character. This time it's with Tess, who has been Day's faithful sidekick for years.  She's growing up though and as she grows up, it's changing her relationship, especially now that it's not just Tess and Day, it's June, Tess, and Day.  I hated all of the conflict there, but it also felt really believable.  And in my favourite move in the whole series (ok maybe second favourite), once again Marie Lu really clarifies all of that in the last book, Champion.  Tess has this beautiful arc from child, to struggling preteen who is trying to define herself as independent and finding a new family and just generally being a confused preteen, to someone who has figured out her emotions, is a badass medic, and who can stand on her own.  Champion was an absolutely fantastic ending to the trilogy and was on par with Prodigy for me, and I think did some really amazing things that stepped it up the tiniest bit above Prodigy. And I was certain I knew the two possible endings for the series, neither of which I was totally loving (but would have been fine with).  But once again, Marie Lu came out of NOWHERE and put in an option C that totally shocked me - in a great way.  But here's where it's going to be ALL THE SPOILERS because I want to talk about that ending. So for those of you who haven't read it, here's where you step off and hopefully go pick up a copy of these books.  For the rest of you, SPOILERS ensue in...





I figured that either we were going to get:
A. Day dying. Which obviously I didn't want to happen because DAAAAAY!!!
B. He was going to be magically cured. Which I also didn't want because it would have felt trite and devalued the whole series by ending with a magical cure.

But then Marie Lu went with:

C. Day goes through with the surgery because he's going to definitely die if he doesn't, and only very likely will die if he does.  BUT...he's lost a lot of his memory - specifically his memory of June.  (Yes, yes I know I mentioned that's my least favourite trope. But it didn't involve the rest of everything that goes with it - fighting with a mean girl, bullying, etc.)  And because of their complicated past - her indirect involvement with the murder of his mother and brother, she decides to let him go because it would be better for him.

When that happened I was like...WAIT WHAT??? NOOOOOO!!! And it was perfect - Day doesn't die, but it isn't a magical cure so it doesn't cheapen it.  

And then there's the epilogue, which I'm happy about mostly.  I loved that June didn't wait around ten years for Day. She has a meaningful relationship with the other dude whose name I've momentarily forgotten.  She doesn't sit around - she works hard, has a good career, is good friends with all sorts of people and in general just has a really awesome life.  But then sneaky Tess brings Day back into contact with June and we're left on a hopeful note that they might end up happy together.  I loved that it wasn't a definite thing either - we end on their first meeting after ten years. On the one hand I tend to love rip your heart out endings because I'm a masochist and I wasn't sure I actually wanted a hopeful epilogue after that ending...but on the other hand yay!!  I didn't love that June really only loves one person fully, but I did love that she didn't just sit around pining for him either.  She tries out other people and yay sex/not one true love positivity!!

So what did you guys think about that ending if you read it?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes

1. She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.
 - Heir of Fire, Sarah J. Maas
This is probably my favourite powerful quote - I put it on my phone case! It speaks to me in a way I'm pretty sure it spoke to 99% of the people who read this book.

2. A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.
- A Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L'Engle
Full disclaimer, I actually haven't read this one, but it's true and it's Madeleine L'Engle, so it's here.

3. She'd felt like being nice cost her something, even if it was just feeling a little bit lesser, every time she smiled without meaning to.
- Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan
There's a reason why out of the many, many characters I've read if I had to pick the character that was me, I'd say it was Holly. This thought I have had so many times.

4. Believe me, when I say: There are two powers that command the soul. One is God. The other is the tide.
- Abarat, Clive Barker

I'm not a religious person, so the God here is more like a...something bigger than you. And for me the ocean (both literally and metaphorically) is kind of like that for me.

5. Enough, she thought, enough, enough: nobody was allowed to make her this unhappy. She didn't have to stay around him, any more than she had to keep her hand in a fire.
- Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan
It's a reminder we all need sometimes and it came at a point when I needed it.

6. "My name is Celaena Sardothien," she whispered, "and I will not be afraid."
- The Assassin's Blade, Sarah J. Maas
For a very long time this was my favourite Sarah J. Maas quote and it was hair away from being the one on my case.  It just owns your fears...but the one that's on my case rages more. I basically just love Sarah J. Maas..this isn't the last quote by her on this list haha

7. Nature is never static, I understand. Change is ever-constant, clouds zipping across a sky. It is dynamic, complicated, tangled, mostly beautiful. A moving forward, something newly gained, means that something is lost, too.
- The Nature of Jade, Deb Caletti

This is probably my favourite contemporary YA novel (and more people need to discover the greatness that is Deb Caletti!!)  This is another quote that I discovered when I really needed it.

8. It's all very nice for Christians, yes? 'Angels' in Rome, 'demons' here. How neat, how tidy for the Western world view, and how wrong.
 - Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Laini Taylor
I'm a little surprised I didn't have more Laini Taylor quotes on the list because I LOVE how she writes.  I remember that when I read this I wanted to highlight and underline it and make posters out of it. I remember thinking YES. THIS. YESSSS because she nailed it, and I'd been worried when she chose those locations I'd wondered if she'd really thought about what she'd just done. Clearly, she had :)

9.  For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.
 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Because this list would NOT be complete without Douglas Adams, creator of the name of my blog.  And also because I consider this a quote to live by haha

10. "You could rattle the stars," she whispered.  "You could do anything, if only you dared. And deep down, you know it, too. That’s what scares you most."
 - Throne of Glass, Sarah J. Maas
It seemed fitting to round this off with another SJM quote. Surprisingly the only book I don't have on here by her is my favourite of the series!  Anyway, this quote is motivating - I try to tell myself this to make cleaning the dishes more appealing and epic sounding.