Thursday, October 23, 2014

Confession: I'm feeling a bit heartsick, and I'm not sure what to do about it

Some of you may have noticed I've slowly been disappearing from the blog.  Some of this is a pure time factor - this week in particular I've been pulling extra shifts at both my jobs, plus I'm adding rehearsals for the Halloween gig in a couple days, so I'm just physically and mentally exhausted.

It's more than just that though.  Emotionally, October is a really difficult month for me.  A few years ago, my personal life was pretty much in shambles.  A lot of things happened, that I won't get into, but every October around this time I'm usually a mess.  The worst of it is October 23.  Today is the anniversary of the death of a close friend of mine.  I had been doing really well this year, but this weekend I lost another friend who I've known for years.  And who I still can't imagine just...not existing anymore.  The fact that he has the same name and plays the same instrument as my other friend had, just compounds everything.  I have been doing ok, mostly because I've been in constant motion since I found out, but it feels a bit like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But I don't want to talk about the details on all of that.  Frankly, I'm not up to it and I feel strange sharing even part of the stuff I've been dealing with on that front, except that I feel like I needed to say it for this post to make any sense at all.  I guess I wanted to talk a little about what this means for the blog and maybe ask for some brainstorming solutions/support. It's not like I don't have a bunch of ideas to write up for the blog, it's that anytime I start it, I write a little bit...and then I just can't do anymore.  I get so exhausted by the thought of finishing a post.  I have like 5 half written posts - and this post took three tries to get through as it is.  And don't even get me started with comments.  This is the one that truly baffles me - I love comments.  I might procrastinate on writing posts til the sun explodes, but I love commenting and replying to comments.  It just makes me happy, reminds me why I joined this whole book community in the first place!  But these days, even the idea of replying to comments repulses me.  (So I apologize to those of you who I've not replied to/visited your blog yet.  I'm being a loser)

On the one hand, I could just take a break from it all like I did in May.  But on the other hand, I'm afraid I won't start again if I stop now.  That I'll have lost the will to do it.  After a year or so of regular blogging, I don't want to give up now!  It was a little different in May since I just needed to devote all my time to comps and my recital, and since there was an actual set date when those things would be finished.  Waiting around til I feel like blogging again...doesn't seem like something I'd do very well.  And I think the sense of community I get from you guys is important too.  Now that I'm out of school and not part of any sort of orchestra or chamber group, I don't have any other sort of community that I'm involved in.  And right now I need all this as a distraction from everything else.  So I guess what this means is that I'll either drop of the face of the universe for a while (hopefully not forever) or all of a sudden your feeds are going to be BOMBARDED with my posts :).  So I guess...what do you guys think? Any helpful suggestions on either front?

Reading's been kind of off for me too.  Usually when I'm really stressed out or tired, all I want are my comfort books.  The ones I've reread so many times they're falling apart.  (Seriously, did you see how many books I read in May? And how many of those I'd already read?  A solid 40% - and most of those towards the end of the month when my recital and comps were due).  But that's just stress, which feels rather different.  I can't even stomach the thought of rereading one of my favourite books.  Probably because all my favourite books range from downright tragic to bittersweet, and I just can not handle that right now.  I'm quickly demolishing my libraries' collection of Regency romances.  I'm not much for super fluffy things, so I don't have a huge backlist of romances I want to read, or general fluffy things.  So if you guys have any suggestions on that front (particularly romances. I generally prefer historical fiction, but I'm willing to try anything), I'm all ears!  But I'm not kidding about not being able to handle even bittersweet things - I need straight up rot-your-teeth-out fluff.

In any case, I'm going to be fine.  I've been here before, so I know I can handle it.  I guess I just felt like opening up a bit to you guys?  I'm not sure.  And I wanted to say that I'm so thankful for you guys and how much fun I've had talking to all of you for the past year :)  Hugs!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Top New Series I Want To Start

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)

I'm pretty sure Shannon is the one who recommended this book to me, and I'm hoping to get to it pretty soon because it sounds like something I'd be very interested in!

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)

1. I approve of the author's name
2. This cover is awesome
3. Historical fiction? Fae? Main character who kills things?  Is there a single thing about this book that DOESN'T sound like my favourite things ever?

Parasitology by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

I can't believe I haven't gotten to this yet.  The Newsflesh Trilogy is probably my favourite thing I read this year, so why haven't I read anything else by Mira Grant yet?

Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)

I have only heard really, really amazing things about this book (I'm pretty sure like 90% of the articles on mentioned how awesome it was at least once). And I've been looking to get into more sci-fi!  (And I think Stephanie may have also recommended it to me?)

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)

God I want to frame this cover on my wall!  But the reason it made this list? It was the first thing popped recommended when I talked about wanting more non-Western based fantasy!

The League of Princes by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)

A twist on fairy tales? Sign me up!

The Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Did I mention my obsession with fairy tale twists?  Also this is a sci-fi fairy tale twist!! That happens like....never.

His Fair Assassin - Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Again. Assassins. Duh.

The Lotus War - Jay Kristoff

Stormdancer (The Lotus War, #1)

THIS LOOKS SO. AMAZING. I seriously want it like right now.

Every Day - David Levithan

Every Day (Every Day #1)

After reading his story in Geektastic, I knew I needed to read a David Levithan book asap, and the premise for this one looks so interesting!

Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)

As Sarah J. Maas' bestie, also I'm pretty sure there are zombies and it's historical fiction, so again. This sounds like everything I love ever.  And now that it's complete (I'm pretty sure) I can't wait to read it STRAIGHT THROUGH.  Because that's how I do.

And that's it for this week! What's on your TTT?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Day in the Life (24)

Well, I finally got my car back (although it was pretty nice having a super fancy new car to drive for a few days!), didn't cost a thing and everything seems to be going well!  And as an added bonus, I've gotten to know some of the mechanics down there pretty well, which is always a nice thing to have in your back pocket.  Is that a saying? Does that make sense? I'm not sure why I said it but it feels right.  I'm a little loopy as I have like...a reverse cold?  No clue how to explain it.

I've finally perfected the art of reading while at work and audiobooks in the car, so I've been reading books left and right!  In books this week, I read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which I super crazy loved and want to buy a copy so I can reread it (and also because the cover is gorgeous).  I'd also recommend it especially to the family members who read my blog because I think you guys would also really love this book.  On the other hand, I'd have to caution people about In the Woods by Tana French.  I think it's one of those books you either love or hate - so if you are ok with mysteries that aren't wrapped up with a nice bow and not necessarily liking your characters, by all means give this one a go!  It sounds like the sort of thing I would like actually...but it wasn't.  It made me angry.  (Have any of you guys read this? I want to rant. Or talk theories).

And that's it for this week!  Anything exciting in yours?

For some reason this has been stuck in my head for the past few days!

Bookish Links

Literary Love Connection: Friend-Zoned - Ever imagined how a date with Severus Snape and Eponine would go?  Now you don't have to: Katie set them up and it was hilarious.
Weasley Twin Syndrome: How Making Me Laugh = Making Me Love - This is definitely the case for me too.
Are All Princesses Really Waiting for Princes to Come? - A really, really fantastic article that looks at which fairy tales we make popular (And which ones don't fit our general expectations of fairy tales - but aren't as popular)
The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Jacqueline Carey - Ahhh I love her so much! I really need to check out her other series.
Kernels of Nonsense, #9: Girl-on-Girl Hate - YES! I mean, it's not a secret how I feel about this, but Alicia explains it so well.
Who's Your First? (Book Boyfriend) - Mine is almost definitely either Gilbert Blythe or Fitzwilliam's so long ago I can't remember!
Advocating for and writing about girls is a radical act - Definitely worth a read, very thought provoking.
Parents, Teenagers, and the Books in Between - I felt very much the same way growing up.  Even as a teenager it bothered me how few books had parental relationships (let alone good ones)
Terrible Trivium - On Poisoned Apples, the “Great YA Debate,” and the Death of the Patriarchy - Another really great article that looks at some of the things that bothered me in the Death of the Patriarchy article

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

RrraaAAWWrrrr (Or: Why Zombies?)

I've discovered somethings strange about my reading habits:  I absolutely never read horror because I'm a weenie pants...but apparently I love zombies.

This isn't limited to my reading habits. I don't watch scary movies, but over the years almost every scary movie I've ended up stumbling upon by accident (or by force) have been zombie ones. I'm not sure if my tolerance for zombie movies has eased the path for my love for zombie books or if it's the other way around, but either way I find it curious. Perhaps I can handle zombies better because they are another form of an apocalypse, and I do tend to love my apocalyptic storylines.

But why zombies? I mean there are loads of reasons why I CLEARLY shouldn't like them

1. My inability to handle anything remotely scary (admittedly, I usually have a good week of zombie dreams after encountering them in stories. But they're more adventure than terror?)
2. My inability to handle anything graphic even if it isn't supposed to be scary. (Guys. I can't even watch Bones right now. Anytime they get to a gross part I have to mute the tv and look away from the screen)
3. It's a zombie apocalypse. It's usually really bleak. Did I mention how long I usually procrastinate when I know a book is going to be depressing?
4. It's probably unhealthy for me to get this obsessed with survival techniques and government conspiracies.
5. The more I read/watch zombie things, the more I am 100% certain that it would be a miracle if I managed to survive past the first wave. I don't run. I don't kill anything.  ANYTHING.  Those giant gross roaches? I put them outside. My mortal enemies? (Aka house centipedes. Seriously.  These things are freaking TERRIFYING) Nope, not even them. So giant decaying people? Not likely.

So...what's the appeal here? I have a few theories.

1. I see zombie apocalypses as an equivalent of situations like we have in West Africa right now. That and crazy mob/survivalist situations. I'm obsessed about trying to plan for these situations.
2. My love for government conspiracies.
3. know the more I'm thinking about this, there's clearly something wrong with me. Who thinks about these sorts of things all the times in preparation for a situation like that?!
4. I've just read some REALLY phenomenal books, and they have happened to be zombie ones.

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

Growing up, the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix was one of my absolute favourite series of ALL TIME. (Clariel!!! So soon!! I'm FREAKING OUT.)  It's definitely not your traditional way of zombie telling. In a way, it's the perfect combination of everything I love - zombies, fantasy, hint of romance, awesome side characters, great character arcs, and straight up badass heroines. And how awesome is it to combine magic and zombies? It's also the only zombie series I've read that doesn't have a medical reason behind the zombies (or an implied one). It also has fairly sentient zombies, in that the head zombie is well...there's a head zombie. So while this book falls on the edges of traditional zombie telling, really the only qualification needed to be a zombie book is undead things.  

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2)Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)

The Newsflesh Trilogy is what really set me off on the zombie obsession. Meg gave this to me as my Secret Santa present last year, and as the first books I read this year, they still stand in my top ten books of the year - in fact, they might even be my #1 choice for this year. If I thought that zombie books were going to be purely action packed with little character development or world building, this series completely proved me wrong. I can not emphasize enough how AMAZING this series is. The author makes some really shocking choices - and then commits to them. I've never been so impressed and surprised at the same time (excepting Queen Sarah J. Maas of course). If there is one zombie book to try, this series is IT.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)The Dead-Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #2)The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #3)

Technically I've only read the first book in this trilogy, but I've got the next two checked out so hopefully remedy that soon.  If you want your feelings spared at all, this is definitely not the series for you. It's why I haven't finished the trilogy yet - ordinarily I would just read straight through (although I am pleased to say that the first book at least reads like a stand alone and I LOVE the way it ended), but after the first book I definitely can't read these at work.  YOU try explaining to people who walk in the door that "No, no I'm fine, just one of my favourite characters was just killed by a zombie". 

This is just as action packed as the other series, but it's also a lot more reflective, and the way the romance is treated is amazing. When I first picked up the book I was ready to roll my eyes, but as the book develops it's just...I don't want to spoil things, but even if you roll your eyes for the first few chapters, give this book a chance. The relationships - family, friends, and love interests are messy and complicated, and that isn't diminished by the fact that they are fighting for their lives. It's basically a perfect balance for me - definitely action packed, but some of the best and most drastic character growth I've seen in a long, long time.

Hey guess what? Don't google zombie images if you want one for your blog.  #Nightmaresforever.  Also I just realized it's October, aka the perfect month to post about zombies. Look at my subconscious, it's got everything covered for me!  And man this was a long post even after I cut a ton out of it...sorry!  (I may have run at 5:30 this morning so I wasn't late to work. It's clearly messed with the natural order of things and now my brain is out of control.  MAKE IT STOP.)  

Thoughts on zombies? Favourite zombie books I should read?  Shoot! (But remember, only head shots kill zombies.  Friendly reminder of the day).

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Day in the Life (23)

Well, I've had my car all of three weeks, and I have to get the radiator fan replaced.  Hopefully that's all it is, and if that's not covered by my warranty there will be WORDS. and ACTIONS.  I mean come on! Three weeks!

In more uplifting news, I have a gig on Halloween where I'll be performing music for a silent film which is kind of like the most awesome thing ever, and it looks like I might be getting an oboe student soon, so yay for the music life.

And ohmygod I found out Tamora Pierce things!!
1. Numair is based on Jeff Goldmlum (*swoons*)
2. Kyprioth is based on Bruce Coville (who is one of her bffs, and who was one of my favourite authors as a kid. I had a ton of autographed books from him!)
3. She has plans for more Kel books and so many characters an zomg I am so excited!

I'm so obsessed with LP right now.  I mean this is her singing live!! Also listen to that whistle.  *Sighs*, maybe one day, I too will be able to whistle... Also she plays the ukulule.  Seriously. Listen to this song if it's the only thing you today. You won't regret it!

Bookish Links

Waiting for the Right Monster to Come Along: On Twilight, Abusive Relationships, and YA Saves - An interesting dilemma between believing that dark content shouldn't be censored and glorifying abusive relationships
Back to School… or not?: Education after the Apocalypse and in the Dystopia - A discussion of why dystopias are so popular, and whether the way education is dealt with in them is part of it.  This post is AWESOME and well worth a read!
B.J. Novak Proves That Kids' Books Don't Need Pictures - Apparently the Office alum has written a kid's book and he has some pretty insightful things to say about kid's books in general.
Chocolate and Honey: Disenfranchised Teachers and Children in Harry Potter and Matilda - Another really, really interesting read about book teachers from The Book Wars
After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride - This makes me want to reread the book! It nails all the reasons I didn't like the book at first, but it makes me want to give it another go.
The Books That Made Me Who I Am - This is so remarkably beautiful, and so perfectly describes the way I feel about the books that shaped me.
Slarom, the Backward Morals of Fairytales - Not that I ever thought that the morals of fairytales were a good place to look, but this certainly brings up some interesting thoughts on the matter. (Especially in regards to who the true villains are, and who ends up with the punishments)
Powerful Words: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Clearly THGttG resonated with me as well - my blog title and subtitle thingie are both an homage to the books.

Sarah J. Maas

Up close with author Sarah J. Maas - An interview with the lovely SJM. And the interviewer clearly describes what the series means to me, and it's beautiful.
Awesome News, A Thank-You, And Some HEIR OF FIRE Music - If you don't follow her blog you SHOULD, because then you get amazing things like her soundtracks for certain scenes.  And holy GOD - if you haven't read the scenes while this music is playing...just. Trust me. If you thought you felt all the feels, it is nothing, NOTHING to how epic it is when the music is playing. Go do it. Right now. I'll wait. 

Fun Stuff

The YA Sorting Hat: Book Boyfriends Edition - These are pretty much exactly where I would sort these characters. I'm sort of obsessed with this meme!
Which Obscure Harry Potter Character Are You? - I got Reginald Cattermole!
Which Raven Cycle Character Are You? - I was tied between Gansey and Chainsaw
28 Reasons Why Being a Bookworm Actually Sucks - Pretty sure we can all relate with this one
10 Gorgeous Quotes From Banned Books - In (late) celebration of banned book week...
Where’d They Go? Part 2: More Young Adult Authors Who Haven’t Written in Awhile - OH MY GOD GUYS FUTURE LYRA!!!
Fantasy Friday #20 – Historical Fantasy - You know, I didn't realize that I had such a thing for fantasy that was either partially in our world or in an alternate version of our world before I read this.

Nonbookish Links

Avatar: The Last Airbender Newbie Recap: “The Tales of Ba Sing Se” - OH GOD THE FEELS.
Emma Watson He for She - I'm sure most of you have seen this, but for those of you who haven't, it is well worth listening to all 12 minutes of her speech.
Thoughts: Online Friends - This is still something I'm figuring out when I talk to other people about my "friends" (aka all of you I've met through blogging!).  I have to say even people my age look at me kind of funny though, so it's not something I explain often.

And with that, I leave you with this awesome/slightly creepy Hermione music video. You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top Six Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

I'm kind of a black sheep with this one, since I know so many people who loved it!  I guess I just didn't really know what it was about going in, and being in the mind of...slight spoilers? of someone who is going a bit crazy SERIOUSLY stressed me out to the point where I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish.  It freaked me out to a level that really surprised me, and I officially have started going through my Goodreads TBR shelf and taking off anything similar.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Does this one really even need an explanation?  I was so scared to start this book because I knew how much trauma was going to be involved that it took me five years to work up the courage to read it!

Again, does this one need an explanation?  Besides all the spoilery things I won't mention, finishing this book meant an entire era of my life was over.  Growing up with the Harry Potter books meant that...well it felt like I literally grew up with him.  So once this series was over, he was moving on from Hogwarts - and I was moving on to college.  Those of you who are my age and grew up with the books too probably understand how momentous it felt, in a way that's rather difficult to capture in words.

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

Oh man.  The things shipping the wrong ship can ruin.  This pretty much turned my world upside down - I freaking LOVE Jane Austen!  ...except this book.

A Tangled Web - L.M. Montgomery

It's easy to forget what era L.M. Montgomery is from when you reminisce on her Anne of Green Gables series.  It's hard to get past that when you find incredibly sexist, and just...mind blowingly racist opinions in this book.  The last page of this ends on what I honestly think is probably the most offensive thing I have EVER read - and this is including youtube comments - and it is really hard to swallow that coming from one of you favourite authors.  I doubt any of you can fully understand just how beyond offensive the statement is - so take a gander at this review - the quote is whited out so just highlight it to read what literally the last lines of this book are. (Be warned - don't read this if you want to keep your beloved image of LM intact)

I can probably count the number of books I've DNFed on two hands.  I just don't DNF. Ever.  So the fact that this one was a DNF should say a lot.  I was pretty bored/disgusted with the story already, but when I got to the vampire child/woman in a child's body I was like...NOPE. NU UH. NOT READING THIS.

Monday, September 29, 2014

If Disney Characters Were Cast: Tortall

This is an idea I've had floating around my head for months! It actually started because I was planning on doing a post where I peg Disney characters as musicians, but I got stuck and this came out instead haha!  I'm hoping to get the music post though, because what I do have nailed down is perfect.

So with no further ado, here's which Disney characters I would cast in the roles of Tamora Pierce's characters from Tortall!  (The names link to quotes that I think nail down their characters)

So...confession time.  I haven't actually seen Brave (blasphemy for a self proclaimed Disney obsessor I know!), but from what I have inferred about Merida, she has the same tomboyish, headstrong behavior Alanna has, and is excellent at combat?  The curly red hair doesn't hurt either :-)

Flynn Rider by bechedor79
By bechedor79

Charming? Check. Rogue? Double check.  Besides, Flynn is almost as good as the King of Thieves.  He's perhaps a bit more suave, yet at the same time clumsier, than I would pick for George, but in all other ways he's a perfect match!

Once Jonathan has grown into his role as king, he's a pretty standard dude.  Eric is similar in that, other than with his dog Max and torturing Grimsby, he doesn't have any outstanding character traits either.  So this one is going solely on description - black hair, bright blue eyes, and a strong, straight nose?  Sometimes I wonder if the artist who came up with Eric read the Alanna books!

The Wind... by alicexz
By alicexz

This is another one where I feel like the looks suit the description (although upon browsing Tumblr I have discovered that apparently Thayet has always had really pale skin - I've always imagined her with dark skin! Whatevs. I'm sticking to my image).  Thayet and Pocahontas are both princesses in a complicated cultural situation who choose to help their people by leaving to another country.  Esmeralda was a close second for this one, as she's is deeply invested in her people's well being, but I felt personality wise she was too saucy for Thayet haha!  Thayet seems to be somewhat more reserved, making her a better fit for Pocahontas.  Plus she has a super close friend the way Pocahontas does, which I've just realized is kind of a rare thing in Disney movies.  All the bffs are animals!

Buriram Tourakom

Kidagakash by Elentori
By Elentori

While Buri isn't a warrior princess - she is a high ranking noble warrior, so I think that's close enough!  Both are highly skilled warriors who don't trust easily (although Kida's not quite as stubborn as Buri is).

Roger of Conte

By AlexandriaMonik

Charming, attractive, and utterly unsuspected by pretty much everyone, Hans is the perfect fit for Roger. 

Keladry of Mindelan

Fa Mulan by Ry-Spirit
By Ry-Spirit11234 

Although Mulan in many ways could be a good match Alanna, what with all the gender bending, Kel and Mulan are much calmer people.  Both have to mask how they feel constantly, and in general are very centered, focused people.

By Shricka

Other than the red hair (and you'll see what with the white washed Disney characters, it wasn't possible to stick to people who looked the part), Ariel is also spoiled and feels restless trapped in her current situation.  She just wants to have fun!  And spoilers she also decides to leave her home for a completely different culture that she's fallen in love with.

Hipster Aladdin redraw by kyri01
By kyri01

A loveable rogue like Nawat, he's no professional thief like Flynn/George.  He also feels like he needs to change who he is to get the girl.  And in case you were wondering, he's my favourite love interest out of all Tamora's works.  Although George sometimes wins in these contests I hold in my head. Stop looking at me like that.

Saraiyu and Jasmine are both very complicated characters.  In many ways both are like Ariel/Aly - they're all supremely spoiled girls.  But Saraiyu is more fiery like Jasmine, and she is determined that her life will be one of her own choosing, and not one set by political manuevers.  She wants to help people on her own terms, and she only wishes to marry for love.

disney Fanart portrait princess the little mermaid ariel beauty and the beast Belle Disney Princess SORT OF realism Digital Painting disney fanart THIS IS SO EMBARASSING drawing is hard Disney fan art

Ok, so originally Belle was going to be for Numair (because who says the characters have to match gender?), but then I ended up using Pocahontas for Thayet, so Belle is the obvious choice for Dove.  Perhaps the most introverted of all the Tortall characters and Belle for the Disney princesses, as well as both being giant book lovers, clearly they are the same person. 

This post is getting a bit too long now and the other characters I have plotted out don't have much description, so for what it's worth I could see Elsa as Imajane, Captain Lyle as Rubinyan (the same very rational, no one sees him as a villain reasons as why Hans and Roger are a good match), John Smith as Liam Ironarm, and Gaston as Bronau which is probably one of my favourite picks actually haha!  They just love themselves so much!

And for you Daine and Numair lovers out there - don't be offended! I just honestly couldn't think of good picks for them.  I've always had a hard time nailing down Daine's dominant character traits, and Belle was the only person I could think of for Numair and she was taken.  Any suggestions from you guys?

So what'd you think? Any people you would switch around?