Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Day in the Life #45




Well, not a lot of note to report.  Basically just getting prepared for jumping into teaching sometime this week or next, which I'm excited about.  (Well, excited and scared.)  But I went in and saw one of the steel drum classes last week and I think I am going to have so much fun over the next few months!  (I mean, sure I'm also probably going to want to smash things too, but hey that's part of it too).  Otherwise the past few weeks have been mundane things that need to be done.  Which, actually, considering my past month of terrible surprises, I am totally ok with.  Added bonus, replacing my brake fluid means my car will probably not kill me in the near future.  Yay!  In any case I'm making up for my lack of links in the past/not having much personal news at the moment (I actually just remembered I did have an epic hiking story, but it's late so I'll save it for another week.  Long story short, it involves ending up in a farmer's back yard/hiking on a highway/up a river/and losing another pair of shoes.  Ah another adventure with Elizabeth! Don't you wish you could join?)


In any case, on to my numerous links!  Special shout out to Tori of In Tori Lex - she does a great bookish round up every week, so some of these links are courtesy of her round up that she does!


Authors

Alexis interviews Ann M. Martin, famed author of The Babysitter's Club about an upcoming reboot of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.
Shannon Lee Alexander talks ovaries before brovaries - or the importance of getting checked for ovarian cancer.
Katherine Langrish talks about the importance of shoes in fairy tales (and historically).


Blogging

Cait tells us what a perfect fairy tale retelling should look like.
Meg talks about Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake's long partnership.
Rachel shares the best bookish cities in Europe.
Jacob talks about reading Christian stories while growing up atheist, or I Have Forgiven Aslan for Being Jesus.
Anise says divorce should be an option in fantasy fiction.
Cait shares all her favourite diverse fantasy novels.
Ellie collects stories about how Harry Potter actually changed lives.


Book News

Shailene Woodley doesn't sound down for reprising her role as Triss on TV.
Potential casting news for A Wrinkle in Time! (Hint, it involves Mindy Khaling and Reese Witherspoon)
Apparently Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is getting a movie adaption!
Tracy says that Americans aren't reading less -- they're just reading less literature.


Nonbookish

Teresa bids Lady Chablis, performer/author/LGBTQIA legend, adieu.
Teresa has gathered feminism news around the world.
September 3rd was International Vulture Awareness Day - so show some love for a species that's going extinct at the moment!
Tim Gunn calls out designers for refusing to design clothes for the average American woman.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Top Ten Foreign TV Shows

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish


Ahhh I love this week's prompt!  As any of my regular readers know, I watch a lot of foreign things (namely anime and Korean dramas).  Soooo I had to limit myself.  I'm sticking to live action only, and preferably things that are completed and not super well known (hence no Doctor Who or Sherlock).  



Coffee Prince (Korea)


This is my all time favourite Korean drama OF ALL TIME.  It features some of my favourite tropes (namely gender bending), and has probably my favourite actor ever: Gong Yoo.  Yes, he's gorgeous which doesn't hurt - but he's also one of the most genuine actors I've seen on screen.  The show also has a great sound track and features probably my favourite scene of all time.  (For those of you who've watched it - the beach scene.)  I feel like this is a lot of people's first K-Dramas (it was mine too), and it ranks a favourite with pretty much everyone I know who has seen it.  



Torchwood (United Kingdom)


So we all know about a little show called Doctor Who, right?  Well, for those of you who don't know, there was a spin-off of the show where we follow a fan favourite - Captain Jack Harkness.  Guys, I loved this show.  It's much more adult and dark than Doctor Who - Doctor Who has a lot of innocence and wonder to it which is one of the reasons I really loved it.  Torchwood dealt a lot more with the consequences and aftermath - in that sense it's a bit of the Agents of SHIELD to the Marvel Universe movie.  It's also completely soul crushing. Like...like guys....I can not possibly describe to you how soul crushing it can be.  But it has such a great cast of characters - all super flawed in their own ways and it makes them so, so human.  And of course I'm always a fan of any show that has a bisexual character at all, let alone as a main character, super let alone a male bisexual character! 



Pinocchio (Korea)


This may be one of the best shows I've ever seen.  In fact I'd go so far to say that there is a chance A CHANCE that I like it even more than Coffee Prince.  Which would be blasphemy to say, but that's how much I loved this show.  It has a large ensemble cast and I don't think I've ever loved a cast so much.  I seriously loved every single character - even ones I thought there was NO WAY I would like.  The acting is phenomenal and the script is great (which is unsurprising, seeing as it's the writer/director from I Can Hear Your Voice which was also amazing, but since I have limited space here I could only choose one to feature).  And one of my favourite aspects of this show is that the romance takes a back seat to everything else going on for a good portion it, and that the guy isn't an asshole/alpha dude the way most guys are in K-Dramas. (I mean, I love them, but it's not to say they aren't problematic)





This show is so fun!  It's really caught on lately (thank god! I was worried is was going to be cancelled a while back!) so I'm sure many of you know this one.  It's set in 1920's/30's Australia so there's an interesting dichotomy in class and race that you see.  I feel like a lot of US movies set in that era focus on all the glamour of the era and really gloss over the awkward transition a lot of countries were going through (particularly where nobility/class is concerned and because it's in between the two world wars).  This is a cozy murder mystery series where we follow the glamorous, head strong, progressive Phryne Fisher as she solves crimes.  We also get some sparks with the head detective, and of course my ever-favourite Dot, who works as her maid.  Basically this show is fun, shippy, and has GORGEOUS costuming and scenery.



Velvet (Spain)



Speaking of beautiful clothing, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this show.  The fashion in the show is just...incomparable.  IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL I WANT TO WEAR EVERYTHING.  (Not that I don't also want to wear all of Phryne's clothes)  It's basically like Mad Men meets Downton Abbey.  So if you like either of those shows this is definitely up your alley.  Most people are in it for the main couple, but for me it's the rest of the cast that make this show for me.  And if 1950's Madrid does not sound like an interesting setting to you, we clearly can not watch TV together.



North & South (United Kingdom)


This is a miniseries that's based on the novel written by Elizabeth Gaskell.  I am going to say something extremely blasphemous right now: this is a better love story than Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.  There. I SAID IT.  And for someone who has held that ship as the pinnacle of all ships since I was 12 years old, it's really saying something.  It's Elizabeth/Darcy's hate to love relationship but instead of Jane Austen's wit we get Charles Dickens' social consciousness. (Except better because I don't actually like Charles Dickens all that much and having read the book which is also great, of course, I prefer her writing).  But guys.  THIS IS THE SHIPPIEST OF SHIPS.  And oh my god I clearly never gave Richard Armitage enough credit for anything.  THE SWOONS.



Secret Garden (Korea)


Once again we have a bit of gender bending - but this time instead of having a girl who dresses like a boy (a la Coffee Prince), there's a body switch!  To complicate matters, the leading lady is a badass stunt actress and the leading man is a rich owner of a hotel chain - so they are from very different circles in life.  And of course the ensemble cast is what makes the show once again.  This one is just full of fun, and it shows you a side of the industry that doesn't get any credit - stunt acting.  (It is also unfortunately home to the cheesiest soundtrack of all time, but I like the show so much that I forgive it this one flaw)



Rosemary & Thyme (United Kingdom)


Ahhh I have such a fondness of cozy mysteries!  This one sets itself apart by following our two heroines - who are gardeners.  This leads to murder mysteries in the most beautiful English gardens and of course any tv show with lady friends is my favourite thing.  Beautiful settings and awesome nosy gardeners? So up my alley.  



Heartstrings (Korea)


This Korean drama has THE BEST SOUNDTRACK.  The main lead actor is most well known as the lead singer of the band CNBlue- which is, coincidentally, my favourite Korean band.  So of course the soundtrack is mainly CNBlue songs (and regular readers know I'm a sucker for a good soundtrack - it's the easiest way to convince me to watch anything)  The main actress, Park Shin-hye, is also the lead actress in another favourite on this list (Pinocchio).  She's definitely my favourite Korean actress - she's so funny!  And of course I enjoy this particular drama because it's set up as traditional Korean style music vs. newer rock music. Music all around, yay!



Black Mirror (United Kingdom)


This show is SO INTENSE.  It's very different from anything else on this list, because it's more like it's a collection of hour long films.  The production quality is extremely high, and as far as I can tell the episodes aren't linked, other than being very thought provoking.  Each episode is centered around a concept of some sort, and then throws the characters into situations that will make you question all morals and ethics and....everything. Very intense, and highly recommended.



Honorable Mention: Dance Academy (Australia)


Holy shit guys this show is so freaking addicting!!  And so dramatic.  But dance! Beautiful, beautiful dance!  This goes in honourable mentions for the sole reason that despite it being so addicting (and I loved every minute of it)...after a certain season finale I just couldn't watch anymore.  Too much drama for me - it starts stressing me out after a certain point.  (HOW MANY BAD DECISIONS CAN ONE PERSON MAKE TARA??? HOW MANY?)  But it has great dance and characters you will hate and then love and then hate again with great fervor. Literally the only reason I never finished it is because after said season finale the next season wasn't out yet and I just...couldn't.


I clearly watch too much television, so by all means leave me a link to your TTT below!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Joint Review: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Some of you may remember Yash, one of the bloggers from The Book Wars.  Well she's back to join me in our newest co-review of:



SUMMARY
For writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr—until she pillories London's best-known author in a scathing review. Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome, and more intrigued than annoyed. But if Jade succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom—and her best chance for love.  -- [X]

CHARACTERS

Y: There are only four to five major characters, including Jade Yeo herself. They are all introduced in different capacities and social rank in relation to Jade, and given that society—and Jade’s own inhibitions—restrict how/how much Jade interacts with them, I think they are all pretty well-fleshed out. Of course, none of them hold a candle to the brilliance that is Jade Yeo. Maybe I’m only making this comparison because I’ve read Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, but Jade’s personality reminds me of Prunella. She is practical, almost to a fault, but she is not without heart. I kind of love her. A novella full of Jade was simply not enough.


E: Ahhh! These characters!  Particularly Jade, of course.  Jade was refreshingly honest, practical, and very, very funny.  She feels so different from any other romance heroine I’ve read!  It’s hard to really describe her because she feels so very unique and so...very much herself.  And the other characters (even the ones who never appear on the page) were really, really interesting too.  The premise is one we’ve seen many times before (as is usually the case with romances), but the characters all react in such unusual ways that it really feels completely fresh and new.  And I loved Ravi from the moment he stepped on to the page - other than rogues (who are my #1) Ravi hits all my other favourite things in a love interest (the sweet, intelligent man).  Besides, I’m predisposed to like characters named Ravi.


tumblr_no0q6wgeZU1uo157yo1_500.gif



ROMANCE

Y: This is so different from the last two romances I’ve read. I mean, maybe the structure is familiar, but somehow this novella packs so much intrigue and surprise. From the start, it is apparent that Jade and Sebastian are attracted to one another—something that Jade has a near-clinical curiosity about—but there is something in their relationship that Jade clearly feels is missing. And the aftermath of her dalliances with Sebastian may well affect her chances at a love that is deeper than what she shares with Sebastian.
E: SO different!  There a lot of things that I really, really loved about this...that would basically be major spoilers.  Pretty much everything Yash has to say - Cho manages to really pack in a lot of surprises in such a short time!  And of course I shipped the main couple, even though I felt like the novella was less about her ending up with someone and more about her doing things on her own terms (which is exactly how I like things!)  [SPOILERS] (highlight to read)  This felt completely different than any other romances I’ve read for a few reasons.  The biggest one being that no matter what happened, Jade never felt like she was helpless. She did everything on her own terms and was pretty ok with the choices she’d made - even if they were “bad” ones.  I also thought it was really interesting that you get the brief sex scene with Sebastian - but he’s not the one she loves or ends up with.  Usually if a heroine has been with another man (rare in romance novels) it’s referred to, never described much and usually he ends up being some sort of villain.  (Of course I would have also really liked if she and Ravi had gotten some romance time in too).  Instead of just being a rake, as Sebastian’s originally set up to be, he and his wife have a legitimately happy free love relationship, which was not what I was expecting at all![END SPOILERS]

PLOT & MISC.

Y: As I mentioned above, the narrative structure isn’t surprising, it’s the way that every character behaves that interests me and, I feel, sets this story apart from others of its kind. I don’t really have much to add here. The writing flowed smoothly and the pacing was fine. It lagged a bit towards the end, but if you’re anything like me, sheer hope will carry you through.


E: Exactly.  The characters really, really set this novella apart from other romance novels.  The responses and behavior are surprising, but didn’t make it feel like you were reading a story where modern characters had been transplanted into a historical setting.

FAVOURITE LINES

Y: Oh, where to begin! Every other line is an absolute gem! Hm. Maybe this one:
“Fortunately here nobody thinks I am pretty, so my thinking I am pretty is almost an act of defiance; it makes me feel quite noble.”
The reason I love this quote so much is that I find things haven’t much changed. Whiteness is still seen as the epitome of beauty, even in countries where white people aren’t in the majority. Women of colour have internalized a sense of shame and unhappiness regarding their bodies; which is why I really believe that selfies are a lovely form of celebrating one’s confidence and beauty … but that is an essay for another time. Basically, Jade speaks the truth.
E: Can we take a minute to talk about how funny the writing is?  I know I already said Jade (who is the narrator) is funny but….this writing is so smart and so on point.  And so, so funny.  It reminds me a bit of Gail Carriger’s writing what with the matter of fact heroine and witticisms, but more socially relevant.  
"I must not feel ashamed, I must never feel ashamed. One must be true to oneself, and taste as much as one can of the varied buffet of life: that must be the guiding principle."
I think this speaks to me because she just takes ownership of her decisions and what's come of them. She is in a situation where she would be tarred and feathered by society, but she doesn't regret doing what she's done - the only reason she would be ashamed is because it is what she's expected to feel. And I really love that.


WHY YOU MAY LIKE IT

Y: 1920s! London! Chinese protagonist who loves reading—all kinds of books—and is a professional reviewer! So smart, so snarky, so freaking awesome! An exploration of sexuality! And beauty! Still relevant to us today! Interracial romance! Ladies fighting the Man! Social commentary that Jane Austen would have approved!


E: I also think people who don’t like a lot of sexy times in their books might enjoy this.  Hear me out - yes there is a sex scene, but it’s brief and easy to skip ahead if it’s not your thing.  (This may also be a reason you’d be less inclined to like it if you’re in it for the sexy times).  But if you want a romance novel that doesn’t have a picture perfect heroine, and is funny as hell, you’ll like this.  Add in all of what Yash has said, and you’ll understand why this one is officially in my top ten favourite romances.

WHY YOU MAY NOT LIKE IT

Y: I don’t know how to talk about this without giving away quite a bit, so …
[SPOILERS AHEAD!]
… I kind of wish Jade got to have fun, sexy times with [coughs]. The only sexual encounter that we read results in something, um, serious? I guess? I just would have liked a scene with Jade and [mumbles] that was genuinely sexy and romantic for Jade? [END SPOILERS]


E: What I mentioned above.  And it is a novella, which is usually a turn-off for me (in fact, if Yash hadn’t suggested this, it’s highly unlikely I ever would have picked it up on my own), but while I would have been very happy to get another 100 pages, I don’t think the story suffered for it.  But I think pretty much anyone who likes historical romance at all will like this one.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Day in the Life #45: In which Elizabeth has NEWS

Linking up with The Sunday Post

SO. News. I have it!
First off, most importantly, and most excited..ly?:


I AM GOING TO BE A LONG TERM SUBSTITUTE TEACHER!!!!





It's been in the works for months, but I haven't wanted to say anything in case something happened and it fell through.  To be honest, I'm still really scared about saying this.  I haven't signed anything definitive, but my fingerprint/background check/orientation/application have all been processed, and they specifically requested me so EVERYTHING SHOULD BE FINE. IT IS TOTALLY FINE I AM NOT FREAKING OUT.

This is particularly exciting though, because I decided about 6 months ago that I wanted to teach...but I haven't taught outside of private lessons in 5 years, and that really doesn't look good on a resume.  Besides that I am STILL trying to get in touch with the Department of Education about my certification...which should have been processed in May.  (I have been slacking off - May is also when I started doing the paperwork for this substitute job, and I've been dealing with the DMV too and damn it there is only so much bureaucracy a girl can deal with at one time!)  Basically I've been daydreaming about getting some sort of interim teaching where I student taught my middle school portion.  This would get me on my feet again as far as getting me used to teaching and it would look good on my resume.  Add to it that working with the teachers I did back then is a huge part of the reason I ended up loving teaching (AND now one of my friends is teaching there too) and it would just be such a huge benefit having coworkers I already know I work well with and would be such great resources for me to use.



And then it happened.  LITERALLY THAT HAPPENED I HAVE MY DREAM SHORT TERM JOB!!!!!!

One of the teachers is going on pregnancy leave, so they reached out to me! I seriously can not even express how much like a dream that is - this is literally the perfect next step for me and I am so excited (and so nervous. But good nervous) and I'm going to get to teach again and it's all going to be SO MUCH FUN.  (And so much stress but shhhh.  Besides, I play the oboe, we pretty much thrive on stress).

On the sad side of things, it means I'm going to have to quit my nanny job which has been probably my favourite thing about moving back to Baltimore.  I'll also have to quit the cafe job (sort of) which means no more free food *sobs*.  I'm actually going to have to cook I mean what even is that??  I'll be keeping my weekend shift, because as much as that might exhaust me, come December when I'm out of a steady job I am going to be reallyyyyyyy happy about having even one day of guaranteed income.  And in the meantime, hopefully my teaching certificate will come through and I'll be able to land a teaching job for the next school year!

So some of this is why I haven't been posting much these past few months, and why I've been in a huge reading slump for at least the path month (maybe even longer).  Some of it is time and energy, and I think a good portion of it is nerves. Especially right now - it's beginning to feel real and it's jolting me out of stories haha!  Buuuut there's another reason I've been in a reading slump: Otakon.




For those of you not in the know, Otakon is a four day event that celebrates Japanese culture (but focuses primarily on anime).  There's cosplay photo shoots, concerts, anime premieres, and lots and lots of panels.  Over the weekend I participated in a shinto cleansing ceremony, saw some amazing cosplay, went to a panel discussion led by a friend of mine on women working in anime, bought a Princess Mononoke print that looks like an oil painting, bought Sejoon a One Piece flag wall scroll, and saw the musicians from Persona 4 (Lotus Juice and Shihoko Hirata) and Diana Garnet live in concert.  Soooooo basically it was amazing?  And that wasn't even one of the best parts!

One of the first things my friends and I did was watch the pilot episode of a show called Under the Dog.  And it was FLAWLESS.  Like seriously, I may never have seen a pilot so perfect.  (The only other one I can think of is the Veronica Mars pilot.  Yeah. It was THAT GOOD.)  It kept the tension up almost to the point where I couldn't handle it anymore - it was so close to that line.  And it Never. Dropped.  The animation and drawing was gorgeous, the story was intense, and it gave the perfect mix of just enough information without giving too much (which is a hard thing to do, shown by the lack of other good pilots out there).  There's a fair amount of violence and some brief nudity, but they managed to frame it really...well perfectly.  It's not gratuitous at all, and what they show is very much because of what is going on - it's not fan service, and I don't think I realized how little I see that (in shows of any type) because their treatment of it really stands out when compared to other shows.  So my respect for the creators, which was already pretty damn high has basically reached like...almost unattainable heights.  Unfortunately, the kickstarter only launched enough for one episode....but as soon as I get extra money, I will be sending it their way.  I NEED MORE. (But this episode is so, SO worth watching if you ever get the chance!)

And it gets even better.  I was so, so lucky I went with veteran Otakon people (one of them has gone all but two of the years which is well over two decades!) which was helpful for basically all things ever.  (Not getting lost, what was worth seeing or skipping, etc.) Without them, I would have skipped the AMVs (anime music videos), which they said was basically the highlight of the entire con.  They weren't wrong.  They were hilarious and heart wrenching and fun and gripping. IT WAS LIKE A BILLION MINI MOVIES.  Plus you got to vote on your favourites, and I am such a sucker for voting on things.  But seriously...it has spawned an addiction in me.  I'm not going to lie, last Sunday I stayed up til midnight just rewatching AMVs over and over and over.  Plus it's made me want to watch all the shows they are based on.




This one is my favourite - it's based on an anime called Death Parade. I actually just finished it a couple days ago (and I never would have discovered it if I hadn't gone to the AMVs!) and it was one of the most thought provoking shows I've watched.  I definitely recommend it, and while I don't think it was popular enough in Japan for a second season, the first season gives enough closure to leave it where it is. (Although I would super love a second season).  It also has one of the best anime openings I've seen. Music + animation = on point.  But I am so in love with these AMVs that I've watched the first four on this playlist literally every day this week.  MY LOVE IS TRUE. (and intense).  Basically you should watch at least the first four of these because they are amazing and you need them in your life.  Sooooo if any of you have favourite AMVs send them my way. Or if you want to get me to watch a show ASAP, give me a good AMV and I will be sold.  (I have two episodes left of the fourth AMV on this list - Prince of Stride - and am planning on watching the anime for the second AMV, The Boy and The Beast as soon as I finish that. Which I would be doing right now if I were not typing up this super long blog post YOU GUYS NEED TO APPRECIATE THE SACRIFICE I AM MAKING RIGHT NOW).  In other news, I went rock climbing (in a gym) for the first time this past week and now basically all I want in life right now is rock climbing and AMVs.  (Too bad rock climbing isn't exactly a solo sport and somewhat expensive). But hey at least I've got the AMV half of things covered haha!


As you can see I've been busy!!  Usually when I'm this busy I still keep up with people's blogs but...some of you will have noticed I haven't popped by much this summer (sorry!)  So if there's anything on your blog or elsewhere that you think I'd like feel free to drop a link below!  And let me know all the things that have been going on in your summers!  I leave you with the links for the week :D



BOOKISH LINKS

Authors

Kate Elliot talks about writing women into epic fantasy without quotas.
Intisar Khanani gives a brief history of her love of water and recent bans on swim suits (aka burkinis)
Ambelin Kwaymullina and Rebecca Lim discuss intersectionality in Oz YA.
If you don't follow Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher's tumblr already, you totally should.  For reasons like this one.
Katherine Langrish talks about Dreams and Ghosts, and the art of telling ghost stories.


Bloggers

Hamilton's Squad created a Harry Potter/Hamilton mashup.
Kat is recapping the Shadowhunter's TV Show so it's hilarious and you should read them, obvs.
Gillian recommends literary web series (aka apparently there's more out there than The Lizzie Bennett series...which I still need to watch).
Natalie reviewed The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (which was one of my favourite reads of last year, but unfortunately didn't review.  I don't think I did? So go check out her review to see why you should totally read this book!)
A Woman Fell In Love With a Bookstore's Twitter Account and It All Worked Out, or cutest irl love story ever!Molly fangirls over Tamora Pierce's upcoming NEW NUMAIR TRILOGY (which I share here because we all know I WILL ALWAYS POST TAMORA PIERCE NEWS. FOREVER. THE END.)


NONBOOKISH

Leah has thoughts on Ryan Lochte and white privilege.
Maddy talks about why casting Alia Shawkat & Aubrey Plaza as Hamilton & Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Drunk History Episode is basically perfect.The Every Girl gives 10 reasons to head to Baltimore.
Kia talks about subverting gender tropes in Stranger Things.
Zack talks about fiction (tv episodes) that helped him process grief.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Top Ten Books I'd buy RIGHT now! (...if only I had unlimited funds)





Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)Wild Magic (Immortals, #1)Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic, #1)

Ok, ok so I already own all of her Tortall books.  And some of them I even own in paper back AND hard cover.  But what do I do if I ever need to read one of her books THIS INSTANT! I travel a lot, so the need might strike when I'm across the country! Or out of the country!  I NEED ALL OF THESE BOOKS.  I'd also take her Emelan and Daine books in audiobook form because Full Cast Audio is the best thing ever. Anyway, a girl has needs. (And I don't own any of her Emelan books anyway and I don't have the shelf space for them if I did).





The Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate

The Invasion (Animorphs, #1)

Since the Animorphs books are out of print (or they were last time I checked) it has been my mission to always have copies of this series so I can pass it on to other kids growing up because this series is A. Hugely underrated and B. Is WAY more intense and heartbreaking and IMPORTANT than it gets credit for.  It doesn't shy away from the tragedies of war, and I technically have never read the entire series (my library didn't have all the books and then I grew up and forgot about it).  My plan has already worked, because the 9 year-old has read every Animorphs book I have. I probably have 2/3 of the series at this point, but most importantly don't have the first or last books!  





xxxHolic by CLAMP

xxxHolic, Vol. 1 (xxxHOLiC, #1)

Or to be more specific, the first editions which have color inserts in the front.  I don't even care that the series has totally derailed itself in the sequel, the artwork is SO PRETTY.  That's all that matters.  I actually have a few of the first editions already (they aren't expensive), so I've got a small headstart on this one!





Cat Street by Yoko Kamio

Cat Street, Vol. 1 (Cat Street #1)

So they never actually published this one in English.  But I've reread it so many times I can probably remember most of the scanlation and then I would own ACTUAL COPIES OF THIS. (It's tied with Skip Beat! for favourite manga) They might have it in Spanish actually (I know they have it in French). So I'd probably buy the Spanish copies if they exist, otherwise I'd get 'em straight from the source: Japan.






Unlimited copies of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and Unwind by Neil Shusterman

Beauty QueensUnwind (Unwind, #1)

So this isn't even for me so much as it is for other people.  EVERYONE MUST READ THESE BOOKS.  I've actually managed to get my hands on a couple copies of Unwind and have mailed them off to various friends because it's that important to me.  (I mean, ideally I'd like to keep copies for myself too, but I'd rather everyone got guilted into reading the books because I shoved them into their faces making it super easy for them haha)





I've read snippets of Warsan Shire's poetry over the past couple years and it is so freaking gorgeous.  And perfect.  If you are a woman, and especially a woman of color this is for you.  I am usually not into poetry - in fact I pretty much only like John Donne and Shel Silverstein haha!  But her poetry is gorgeous, and this book looks gorgeous and I really, really want it.





Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales series as ebooks

Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales, #1)

This is another series I read over and over enough to the point where I'd want to be able to read them anytime and anywhere.  Still my favourite novels featuring fae creatures to this day (and at this point I have read many, many, MANY of them)





For those of you who don't know, my blog title is actually a direct quote from this book.  I freaking love this book, basically.  (It's also the title of the fourth book, but I like to pretend that one doesn't exist).  I own the omnibus of this series, but I dislike the last two books, and also it's giant AND paperback.  So it's better as an ebook (or ebooks of the first three books!) because then I can read it whenever I want and also I don't have to lug around a 10 pound book.





Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series as ebooks and/or the Australian hardcovers

Sabriel (The Old Kingdom, #1)Lirael (The Old Kingdom, #2)Abhorsen (The Old Kingdom, #3)

I actually love the original US covers of these too, but these covers are SO GORGEOUS.  The font! The fighting gear! The fact that the characters look less white!  UGH I WANT THEM.  And of course this is another series I read practically yearly, so they are also ebook essentials.





Jane Austen Cover to Cover by Margaret C. Sullivan

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Because everyone needs more Jane Austen swag in their life. 






Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Anime and Manga 101: Lesson 2 (Where to find your show/manga)



Welcome back class!  It's been a long (...long, long, long) time since our last class, but I guess that is to be expected when a volcano lavas all over your classroom.  Turns out fire alarms sound a lot like OH GOD IT'S A VOLCANO alarms. *

*See last class in which we were cut short because of an alarm.  Or more specifically, a volcano alarm.

We've got a lot of lost time to make up for, so let's get started!


Last class we went over audience classifications and I recommended a few of the anime and manga I have really loved over the years.  Your homework was to pick the anime or manga you want to start.  Easy enough, so I expect everyone to have done this *narrows eyes at nervous looking class*.

"But sensei," I can hear those of you who did your homework ask,"I picked my anime/manga....but I don't know how I'm supposed to find the show/manga I want!" Well, my little studentlings, that's what I'm hear to tell you.

Let's start with anime.  Firstly, it's important to know that anime is made in Japan....so generally your anime is going to have originally been made with voice actors speaking Japanese.  These you will have to watch with subtitles, or subs.  If the anime is popular enough, they get remade with new voice actors, or dubs.  One is not definitively better than the other, although certainly sometimes the voice acting for a particular show is better than another.  Subbed shows are nice because you aren't going to be limited in what you can watch.  Luckily there are still plenty of dubbed shows, but it means you are going to be watching the show later than much of the rest of the world and that you will have a much smaller catalogue to choose from.  Honestly, about half of my favourite anime are subbed only, but the dubs I've loved have had really stellar voice acting, so I'd recommend trying both options if you can.  So the first thing to do is decide if you want to watch something that is dubbed or subbed (if you have both options available to you with the show you want to watch, anyway).  Then, I recommend heading over to either Netflix, Crunchyroll, or Hulu, and start watching!



Netflix - Some of you probably already have a Netflix subscription.  The good news is that Netflix does have anime, and that it actually has original content anime (meaning anime that Netflix has commissioned/created), which means it is exclusive to Netflix.  The bad news is that the anime catalogue is reaaaaaaaally small, so you aren't going to have many shows to choose from.

Crunchyroll - I'm actually fairly new to Crunchyroll, so some of my more advanced students might actually be more knowledgeable about Crunchyroll than I am.  I only recently discovered that it does have content available to users for free.  Basically, it's set up very similarly to how Hulu works for us as far as regular tv is concerned: it's better for new, ongoing shows but it does have full seasons of older shows as well.  There's definitely a lot more content available to a subscriber, and what's really cool is that you can not only watch shows as they come out in Japan, you also have access to their whole manga catalogue as well, which is very, very cool and is making me consider subscribing. (t's super cheap - it's only $6.95 a month, so very potentially worth it if I start watching/reading more again).  From what I've seen browsing their website it looks like they have less dubs, or for shows with multiple seasons they sometimes only have one season.  I could be wrong, so I definitely recommend checking it out and seeing if they have a show you're interested in watching available on the free version!  *Edit - Mitchii also recommends Daisuke and Funimation for subscription services!

Hulu - This is by far my favourite way to watch shows.  So far they've had all but one show I wanted to watch (which is a somewhat obscure one, and luckily Crunchyroll had it!) and they seem to have the most dubbed shows available out of these three options.  I unfortunately am not able to watch many subbed shows anymore since I don't have time (I tend to multitask while watching tv, and subbed shows don't really allow for that) so this is a big plus for me.  Even better, I haven't found a single anime show that was restricted in any way for free users.  So it's a huge catalogue, with a ton of choices between subbed or dubbed, and it's free.  Hence it being my favorite. (I also think Hulu has a deal with Funimation, so most? all? of the dubbed anime is from Funimation)

And it's as simple as that!  Manga on the other hand...not so simple.  I first and foremost always want to support the artist, and whereas it's fairly easy to do with anime....not so much with manga. 




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As with anime, manga is Japanese, so you're going to be dealing with content that's written in a language you can't read (unless you read Japanese, so kudos to you).  What this means, is if the series is popular enough, it gets serialized in other languages (most notably in our case, English) and you can go to your library or local bookstore and find it.  As with dubs though, you're limited by what gets popular enough to be picked up AND - horror of horrors - things happen like when Tokyo Pop lost it's licensing on a lot of it's series, so halfway through the series they just stopped being published in English.  This means, at least in my case and especially for those in more rural areas where the library might only have one or two manga selections, it can be really hard to support the artist even if you want to. The important thing to remember about mangakas is that they work more like a serialized comic or a tv show - if their sales aren't doing well, the story gets dropped.  And that's it. You can be halfway through and then BAM. There's no more. 

But there's another option: scanlations.  Scanlations are basically what they sound like - manga that has been scanned online and then translated.  The groups who do this are really, really awesome - there's a team of people who works on scanlating mangas and it's really time consuming, and they do it out of the goodness out of their hearts basically.  This is how I discovered my favourite manga ever - Cat Street.  It is not possible to find this in any other format in English.  Believe me, I've tried.  I would LOVE to buy it and support the mangaka (the creator of the manga) but I can only seem to find it in Japanese or French of all things.  This is where it gets a little iffy.  Ordinarily, I would never advocate searching out an author's work free online, but in many cases it's the only way you have access to their work since it hasn't officially been translated.  And it's definitely a more accepted thing in the community to read your manga this way (even if I am still leery of reading things for free).  Beyond that, you also want to make sure you are using sites that support the scanlation team too since they've put in all that hard work for free.  And to be honest I've had so many sites recommended and then later have been told the site rips off scanlations without giving the scanlators credit.  Basically tl;dr it may feel weird, but scanlations are a kosher thing especially when you don't have another way to read the manga. (But if you have the ability to, please support the mangaka by buying, subscribing, or going to a library!)

*Edit - Mitchii from Rainy Ink Studios, a very advanced student has some really great pointers down in the comments.  I'll try and add what she says throughout this post, but I also really recommend her site - she's well versed in anime and manga and has excellent taste, so if you're looking for something good to check out she's a great resource!


So here's where I'd recommend starting with manga:

1. The Library - the more you check out manga from a library, the more they see there's an audience looking for more, and the more they buy.  And your library might have the manga you wanted to start with anyway!

2. Buy from a local bookstore, Amazon, or join a subscription service like Crunchyroll - Most bookstores (especially if they are online) are going to have a big catalogue of manga to choose from, and Crunchyroll is obviously great because it's very little money for unlimited access to their library catalogue.  This way you still get to support the mangaka so they keep writing their story! *Mitchii says the best way is to buy direct from Japan to support the mangaka, so if you don't mind owning in Japanese, this is the super, super best way to support the mangaka.

3. *Edit with Mitchii's advice: Direct from the scanlators - Every manga has a credit page that lists where they post the original scanlation.  This way the scanlators aren't being ripped off, and if their site has ads, it supports them monetarily.  If you'd rather have all the the scanlations on one site, Mitchii recommends using batoto since the scanlating groups upload them directly.

And that's it for this class! You've chosen your manga and/or anime, you know where to find them so - get reading and watching!  We'll return in our next class to look at popular/influential/I just feel like talking about it because it's AWESOME and you should know it shows and mangas in our next class!*

*Unless I change my lesson plan because that is a thing I can do because I AM THE SENSEI HERE.


Happy viewing!



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Top Ten Books Under 2000 Ratings

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
 My only requirements for this week's topic (beyond the 2000 ratings) is that they aren't from last week's list - which has some deserving books that would otherwise be on this one.  Also I gave myself an extra 10 slots for picture books, because why limit yourself, am I right?



A Cat Called Dog by Jem Vanston

A Cat Called Dog

I will forever be a champion of this book and this will probably always be my favourite not-well-known book on the list.  It's so funny and if you've ever had a cat it is just so...exactly cattish.  (I'm running on low sleep and caffeine so forgive my lack of vocabulary at the moment).  If any of you HAVE read the book, he could really use the reviews/publicity, so first of all: read the book it's great, second of all tell everyone you know about it and review!



Death Wish by Megan Tayte

Death Wish (Ceruleans, #1)

If there is one thing I can say for blogging in the years when I was still taking books for review, it's that I never otherwise would have found gems like this book (and A Cat Called Dog).  This has one of my favourite examples of female friendship, and features a character with a physical disability that isn't ignored - but it doesn't define who she is as a character, and since these are two things I so rarely find (and want so badly) this definitely belongs at the top of this list!


The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko (Koi dano ai dano) by Ririko Tsujita

The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, Volume 1

I love this series SO MUCH.  It reminds me of a lot of the things I love about Skip Beat! (my all time favourite manga) - a heroine who has a strong drive (in Kyoko's case it's her acting career, in Kanoko's case it's her observations of human behavior) and oblivious nature to the main lead's interest in her.  But where Kyoko is naive and open, Kanoko is conniving and likes to plot and I LOVE SLYTHERIN HEROINES.  I may be a Hufflepuff, but I adore heroines who scheme.



The Demon Catchers of Milan by Kat Beyer

The Demon Catchers of Milan

It's been so long since I've read this one, but I vaguely remember really enjoying it because it has a strong focus on family, a heroine who travels to a country where English isn't the main language (and therefore has to learn Italian/other ways to communicate real quick), and while there is romance, there's a distinct lack of focus on said romance.  The heroine has bigger problems to deal with - like being in a strange country where she doesn't know the language.  Oh, and also not being possessed by a demon.



Seeing Red by Katheryn Erskine

Seeing Red

 This was a powerful story about loss and grief, as well as a look at small town South in the 70's.  It was really eye opening - because racism was still pretty rampant (and not that it's gone now, but I feel like it's more subtle now - in this place and time it was definitely accepted to be outspokenly racist).  And when you realize that the 70's...I mean, my parents were almost teenagers by then.  It's just...strange to thing of when put in that perspective.  This book tackles a lot - racism, loss of a parent, sexism, blame - but it manages to do so in a really poignant way.



Voyage of the Bassett by James C. Christensen, Renwick St. James, and Alan Dean Foster

Voyage of the Basset

This has been one of my favourite books since childhood - the artwork is gorgeous for one, and the story takes characters from our 19th century world and transports them (by way of boat) to the world of mythology.  All the characters have so much growth throughout the story and did I mention the artwork?  If you can find a copy, you should definitely take a look.


 
Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins

Destiny's Embrace (Destiny's, #1)

Historical romance novel featuring PoC's as the main love interest.  (Added bonus I think this one was a hate-to-love story) So basically something I have been actively searching for in the past year or so.  'Nuff said.



Cat Street by Yoko Kamio

Cat Street, Vol. 1 (Cat Street #1)

Ok, this is actually probably my favourite manga.  At the very least it's tied with Skip Beat.  Whenever someone asks for manga recs, 99% of the time this is the first thing I go to.  It's a quiet sort of story and I never really know how to sell it, other than that it's a beautiful story, the art is gorgeous, and I ship the ship with the fiery of a thousand suns.  So if you're looking to try out a manga...this one is definitely a good one to check out! (You'd have to go to a scanlation site like mangapanda/mangareader/etc. since it's never been officially translated into English, unfortunately)



This is All: The Pillowbook of Cordelia Kenn by Aidan Chambers

This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

 This book is a force.  It's brutal and honest and two stories in one.  I'd never read anything in a pillowbook sort of format before so it felt completely innovative to me.  It is a big book, but I feel like it's worth every page.  It is one of those books that has stayed with me throughout the years (literally and metaphorically - as someone who has moved across the country multiple times, keeping a book as giant as this one is no small feat).


Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Good Enough

This was one of my favourite books of last year - if I could have had a book that perfectly summed up my senior year of high school, this would be it.  Auditions for school, music, dealing with life outside of that - this book feels so on point.  I don't often read books about musicians that don't make me feel like rolling my eyes, but the author clearly gets it.






Under 2000 Ratings Picture Book Edition

(because picture books never get enough appreciation!)


Tangoroas's Gift by Mere Whaanga



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This book is special for two reasons: one, it would be in my top 10 picture books with great art.  Two, it's written by a Kiwi author, so it's sort of important in a...family sort of way.  (My mom and grandmother are from New Zealand).  If I recall correctly it's a sort of Maori version of Pandora's Box.



The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox



The Goblin and the Empty Chair

First of all, if you haven't read a picture book by Mem Fox, you need to change that immediately.  I haven't encountered a single book by her that I haven't loved.  I chose this one because it is the best picture I've ever read in terms of grief because it uses context and visual clues rather than outright talking about it which makes it easy to use in a wide range of ages.



The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Charles Santore

The Little Mermaid

Once again, such a sucker for art.  This is another copy I've had since I was a child and I hung on to it because A. It used to be my favourite fairy tale (I super loved Hans Christian Anderson in general) and B. this is hands down my favourite fairy tale art.



What Do You Say Dear? by Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

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The kids I nanny introduced me to this little gem - it's hilarious and treats learning about manners in about the sort of manner you would expect from Maurice Sendak (which I expect is why he agreed to illustrate the book).  This sums up the book pretty well: "What do you say when the Queen feeds you so much spaghetti that you don't fit in your chair anymore?"



Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd

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I was honestly really surprised that this has under 2000 ratings - I'd thought it was a popular series, but I guess I just loved it enough as a kid I assumed everyone else did too haha!  This one is about a burglar cat who has to reform his ways.  The author also did the Hairy MacLary books which I also loved.



Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon
Herman and Rosie


I loved this picture book so much that after the kids introduced me to it I went out and bought a copy for myself!  (IT HAS AN OBOE PLAYING ALLIGATOR THIS SPEAKS TO MY SOUL.)



Comet's Nine Lives by Jan Brett

 Comet's Nine Lives

Of all of Jan Brett's books (of which there are many.  I feel like anyone who has read more than a few picture books/has children is required to read her books at some point) this one is my favourite.  I love her signature style - the way she illustrates, as well as the fact you can always find clues to the next page.  Plus this one is about a cat who keeps getting into trouble.  Clearly even kid me knew I was going to turn into a cat lady.



Prickly Jenny by Sibylle Delacroix

Prickly Jenny

 Cute artwork, and it illustrates what all of us sometimes feel (although it's the worst when you're a teenager) where you can feel one way and then suddenly feel another for what seems like no apparent reason whatsoever.  As I still have not grown out of this stage apparently, I felt a sense of kindredness...ship...(UGH COFFEE IS NEEDED) with Jenny.



Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young

Wabi Sabi

Gorgeous artwork, haikus, and an interesting way to introduce a new somewhat difficult concept.



Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess, #1)

Ok, this one is technically not a picture book.  But it is illustrated and it is for kids.  It is also hilarious and turns tropes and gender norms on their heads and I love Ursula Vernon's books so much!