Wednesday, May 25, 2016

In which Elizabeth maybe breaks up with a series, or: Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder

You have got to be kidding me.  Spoiler alert, this book is THE WORST IT SUCKS I HATE IT SO MUCH.  The first two books in The Glass trilogy are actually more or less on par with the first two books in the Study trilogy (They are a longer linked series, but are broken into trilogies which you can't skip or it makes no sense whatsoever which is how I discovered this trilogy exists at all).  The first book is fairly good, followed by the second book which is really good, so I was fully expecting the last book to round out the series with pretty good.

Instead this book happened.

Warning: crazy super spoilery rant to follow in:








First of all, the number of kidnapped and rapes and attempted rapes is ludicrous. I'm not even sure I can count all of them:

There's Opal's original kidnapping rape torture in the first trilogy (possibly not rape? I still don't know), there's the bandits, there's the other bandits,  there's Devlin again, there's Walsh, there's Gar-whatsisname, and I'm fairly certain I'm missing a couple others.

And that's just the rapes. That's probably about half of the kidnappings. Which is RIDICULOUS.

But let's get the meat of the issue here:



Oh you're such a cute couple, how did you meet? Well it's a funny story really, Devlin here kidnapped, tortured, and raped me for two days when I was only fourteen and he even helped kill my sister who was basically my whole world! And he was just so impressed at my ability to withstand torture that he just knew we had to give dating a chance! And after a few more kidnappings and rapes, I had to agree - he just really gets me, you know? So basically, just the usual torture rape love story!

There is just no redeeming how that went down, sorry. And the rest of the book was a mess anyway - it's like the plot of the book was just LET'S HAVE AS MANY RIDICULOUS CRAZY STORYLINES AS POSSIBLE! Let's have some government conspiracy over there, and random spy training everybody loves that, oooh and a crazy cult storyline would really top this story off!

And I really just LOVE that the reason thatuldn't be with Kade - you know, the sweet guy she had loads of chemistry with before inexplicably falling in love with her rapist she had previously spent the last two books being fully aware was gas lighting her - because she kept getting too involved with Sitian politics. Oh what's this we have happening literally not even a full chapter later? Oh lovely, Opal and Devlin are settling down with adopted children! What's that you say? They're staying out of politics?  THAT SOUNDS PRETTY FUCKING SETTLED DOWN AKA EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE OF THE REASONING BEHIND YOU AND KADE NOT BEING TOGETHER.

Just saying.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Book That Everyone Needs To Read Once, or: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman was hands down my favourite book of last year.  Nothing came even close to touching it. (Seriously, I mention it for nine different entries on my Best Of post) But just because a book is my favourite read, doesn't mean it is a book I think everyone should read.  After all, Going Bovine, my favourite book of 2014, certainly isn't a book I'd recommend for everyone (and probably not even most people. I LOVED it, but it's definitely for a special kind of reader).  But as soon as I saw this topic - I knew immediately that I would be talking about Unwind.

There is a fair amount of research that went into this series even though it is a futuristic dystopia (although I would say it was only roughly ~80 years in the future).  Shusterman posts articles in between the chapters that are actual articles that have been published which makes this future he's built seem even more relevant (edit: upon looking through the series it looks like he doesn't do this in the first novel - that one contains relevant quotes and made up articles from the world.  But the next three books do contain real articles).  So the world he has created and the technology he is using in these books already have seeds planted in our current world - there's a rampant black market for organ transplants for example, and in the time since this was originally published almost a decade ago, medicinal and printing technology have advanced in astonishing ways - very much relevant to what happens in the story. Pairing that with general apathy/belief that we as individuals can't change how the world is run (people often feel bad about a thing without actually doing anything to change said thing) and how corporations currently shape our lives (for good or for bad), it makes this dystopia feel real, despite a premise (killing children for organs is accepted by society as being normal, sometimes even preferable) that would otherwise sound ridiculous. And it makes it much, much scarier.

Most interesting to me is the way language shaped how the world was created. I read it only a few days before the Freddie Gray protests were held in Baltimore, and I've never had a book prove a point so clearly (or quickly) as this one.   Language is important - it's the reason throughout history people have used derogatory words to describe "the enemy" - whether that means an individual or race or gender or country. It dehumanizes people, and when we see a person or even a whole subset of people as "lesser" it's easier to at best take advantage of, and at worst kill.  It's been seen over and over in wars throughout history. What's scary is that we see it all the time in the news today.  And it's more than just simple words - if you look at any of the high profile cases where a black teenage boy was shot, like Trayvon Martin or Freddie Gray, almost immediately the articles talk about drug use, past crimes, and usually include photos that are either mug shots or resemble a mug shot.  Then take a look at say, Adam Lanza or Dylann Roof - the former who shot children in an elementary school, the latter who shot people in a church.  If you google these lovely gentlemen, you will find descriptions like "quiet", "loner", "misunderstood" and lots of childhood pictures.  Technically the facts in these articles are right, but they're obviously painting very different characters in ways that are grossly unjust.  What we know informs our opinions and actions, and when our information is clearly biased, it changes how we see and interact with the world.  Throughout the book Shusterman uses news articles, as well as public service announcements, advertisements, and even simple dialogue to show how rhetoric is used to inflame the public's fear of teenagers which in many ways led to the world the characters are living in: one where it is legal to kill teenagers.  

In that vein of thinking, treatment of issues is where Shusterman really shines.  This book has so many hot button issues - from what legally constitutes "life", what it is worth, who gets to make that decision, the right to choose vs. abortion, as well as religion.  I mean, it basically takes every issue that is generally considered extremely polarizing and puts it in one book.  And what's amazing is throughout the entire series, Shusterman remains incredibly even-handed.  He never once clearly paints one side of an issue as "the right side" (minus, obviously, the not killing children any more side of things, but to be honest that's just the surface issue over all of these other ones).  It's incredibly difficult to do, especially as he uses newspapers to illustrate biases in writing - both in our current world, and in the fictional one he has built.  In choosing to write with so little bias, he gives space to really examine your own thoughts and feelings on all of the same issues, without ever feeling like he's pushing you in any way, and without necessarily changing what your beliefs are.  And I think there is something truly masterful and beautiful in that.

While I don't see the future he's built as one we are likely going to see, Shusterman does an excellent job using this fictional world to dissect how our current world functions (speaking of America specifically, but I'm guessing the Western world in general), and it's honestly a pretty terrifying depiction.  It makes you put the world we live in in perspective, and it led to a lot of self-examination on my part about what I contribute to with my apathy and world views.  The whole series is worth a read, but the first book can be read as a stand alone and should be read by everyone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

When a book makes you cry....days after you've finished it. Or: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Warning: Spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go.  I will say that I knew this event was going to happen in the book (but not how or when) and clearly it absolutely did not affect the emotional impact it had on me.  So on the one could read this, but on the other hand it might make you not want to read it, and on my virtual third hand I would definitely recommend reading it so basically I don't know what I'm saying here other've been warned. Mega spoilers about said event abound.

I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go on Wednesday, and I've found in the days following that I still get extremely upset and will suddenly discover that I'm having to hold back tears. While it's not unusual for a death in a book to affect me deeply while I'm reading it, it does usually dissipates afterwards. There aren't many books I am emotionally affected by over time - I have a notoriously horrible memory, which in cases like this is a pretty alright thing in my book.  It's one thing in books like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - after all, I spent years growing up with those characters, so it's expected to have a huge emotional impact.  Last year's Going Bovine is probably the only other book I can think of that hit me this badly (The Book Thief shut me down so hard emotionally that I straight up compartmentalized that shit and now barely remember the experience at all, so it doesn't count).  For the most part, I mourn characters, am sad for the hour following....and then I'm all good.  I'm not going to lie - I've spent most of this post crying and I read this book a week ago.  So yeah. This definitely doesn't fall within the norm on books with emotional impact.

There are a few reasons for this: for one, I think I'm not alone in being more deeply affected by animal deaths than human ones in many cases. And in this case it's not just that it's an animal.

Manchee is introduced to us at the very beginning of the novel, and since he's infected with Noise (otherwise known as the reason all animals and men constantly project their thoughts so everyone can hear them), we know that's he's a simple creature, and that Todd is the center of his universe, even before Todd comes to love and appreciate Manchee back. Throughout the story Manchee frequently keeps Todd going or puts himself in danger's way to protect Todd, without any heed of danger to himself. It's that complete trust and loyalty we've seen over and over in dogs, and we begin to love Manchee fiercely because of it.  And as Todd begins to see what a gem he has in Manchee and their relationship - they really become family.  Manchee (and Viola) is really all Todd has in the world, and at this point they've all saved each others' lives multiple times and have an incredibly strong emotional bond.  In fact, they're really the only family in the book that feels remotely like a family.

And then it happens. And it's brutal. And the reason it upsets me so much is not just because of the brutality of his death, but because his heart is broken right before he dies. He is alone and scared...and abandoned. In his final moments he knows Todd isn't coming back for him, and because he's a dog, he doesn't know why. And for me at least, I think that's what the distinction between really sad and soul crushingly heart breaking.  

It's one thing for someone to heroically and courageously sacrifice themselves for someone else - it's another thing when it comes to animals (and young children for that matter).  They don't have a full understanding of why people act the way they do and they don't do much long term thinking - so when Manchee goes after Aaron it's instinctual because he loves Todd and wants to protect him in that moment - not because he's accepted his fate and gives his life for him.  He loves Todd and trusts Todd - Todd is his hero, his family, and Todd will rescue him.  Except that he doesn't.  And Manchee doesn't understand it's not because Todd can't rescue him.  And so his last thoughts are that Todd is leaving him and he doesn't know why.

“I’m sorry!” I cry as the river takes us away, my words ragged things torn from me, my chest pulled so tight I can’t barely breathe. “I’m sorry, Manchee!”“Todd?” he barks, confused and scared and watching me leave him behind. “Todd?”
“Manchee!” I scream.
Aaron brings his free hand towards my dog.
And Aaron wrenches his arms and there’s a CRACK and a scream and a cut-off yelp that tears my heart in two forever and forever.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tell Me Tuesday #9 In Which Elizabeth Gets Kidnapped By a Series

I have been a reading monster these past few days!  After what's felt like AGES since I finished a book (in my defense, I was so sick I wasn't even able to read for the first half of the week) I apparently went through a bad enough withdrawal that I HAD to read. RIGHT NOW.  Which happily led to a new absorbing series for me:

So Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder is on sale on Amazon (it's $1.99, so grab it while it lasts!), and it's on my TBR so I figured....well why not?  It's been recommended to me a few times by more than a few people, so I figured I would give it a shot.  Unfortunately, while I liked the world building, the character developments sometimes felt a bit uneven, and I really wasn't into the ship.  Which isn't to say it was a bad book, but it's not one that's probably going to stick around in my memory.  Plus, loathe that I am to admit it, ships are sometimes REALLY IMPORTANT to me.  And I tend to connect to books better when they are - and it just wasn't. I really, really didn't care.  I liked the story and was willing to forgive the rest (because honestly it wasn't like it was awful) to pick up the second book, and oh man am I glad that I did.  It ended up being so absorbing that it led to immediately checking out the third book and staying up until 2am to finish it, which is a feat I am rarely up to these days since I usually have to get up so early.  The second book remains my favourite by far, but I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the now ongoing series!  (It was originally a trilogy, and it looks like the second trilogy is going to finish next year).

What most interested me about the series beyond the absolutely heart pounding, non-stop action of the plot, was the world building.  Maria Snyder has managed to create a world where there are two countries - one based on a capitalist democracy, the other on communism, and I'm so used to finding the former glorified and the latter vilified that I was pleasantly surprised to see that she managed to make an argument for both systems.  Both systems in this book have big drawbacks - in the communist country, rules are strictly enforced without mercy and lives are micromanaged, but everyone has job security and a purpose, and they are rewarded based solely on their abilities - not gender or age.  In the democracy, there are beggars and homeless and the council is very slow to act on anything, often taking months even in situations that are perilously time sensitive, but the people have the freedom of choice.  It was really interesting seeing that dichotomy, and I think being fairly accurate in what the benefits and drawbacks are of each system, and it's something I've never really seen in a fantasy novel before.

So as much as I did not paint a flattering picture of the first book, I'm really in the minority on that - something like 30 of my Goodreads friends have read this series, and like 95% of them rated all the books very highly.  Plus, I can guarantee that that if you had the same issues I did with the first book, the second book makes up for it.  Which is to say, I think you should go read this series.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Day in the Life #42

So my blogging schedule hasn't quite made it to any resemblance of regular (or frequent) posts, but I picked up extra shifts at both my jobs the past two weeks, so I've decided to go ahead and forgive myself.  I'm so magnanimous, I know.

Why have I been picking up so many extra shifts you might ask?  Well there's:

A. My student loans that have kicked in because the government took forever to process my repayment plan, but more importantly

My best friend is now a flight attendant!  Which is such a good fit for him, and has mad benefits for me.  Namely, I can go to Paris for like...nothing practically.  All it's going to cost me is basically hotel fare, doing stuff in Paris costs, and the cost of not working.  Which is totally worth it. Because, hello, I'M GOING TO PARIS.  It'll only be for a couple days but, hey I'm not complaining!

And that's basically it?  Overall it's been a fairly uneventful past couple weeks, with really lovely weather, so I can't complain too much :)

HAHAHA.  You ask why I'm laughing? Because I was going to post this last weekend.  And then I got knocked flat for half a week by the stomach flu.  Like...easily in the top 5 sickest I have ever been in my life.  Which considering the sickest I've been is either the time I was pretty much confined to my room for a month with an ear infection, throat infection, and pink eye or that time I threw up every 10 minutes for 24 hours (quite literally), is really saying something.  Also that lovely weather is SO NOT TRUE ANYMORE.  It HAILED yesterday. HAIL.  In APRIL.  Also I'd put my lavender and baby aloe vera plants out because it had been nice and I'm fairly certain they aren't going to recover which makes me sad :(.

But hey, I'm not sick anymore and I'm going to Paris, so what's a little bad weather and plant death to me?

What I've Been Listening To:

I tried watching the MV for this one and...I had no earthly idea what was going on.  Don't care though, this song is SO. GOOD.

I've been listening to Kishi Bashi for the past month and I can't pick between these two songs as my favourites.  It's like Andrew Bird meets Sufjan Stevens meets MGMT.  It's so bubbly and fun and layered and I LOVE IT.

Ooh and speaking of musical stuff, turns out they actually recorded the Bach concert, so for those who care to listen, here's the recording of my part of the Bach concert!

And now I leave you with your weekly bookish links!

Foz proposes 5 Potentially Amazing SFF Adaptions That Need To Happen.
Christina has Thoughts on Gender and Romance.
Alec dissects the history and impact canceling the red line in Baltimore has and will continue to have in his third installment of The Inequality Chronicles.
Brit talks about Queer Experience in Maggie Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves and Kin and Kind in Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

And for any of my readers in Australia, JUST SO YOU KNOW IMPORTANT ALERT: Tamora Pierce is going to be at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Sydney and Perth in June!!! (And heck, my bff is a flight attendant - maybe I'll go to see her there too!) 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tell Me Tuesday #8: In which Elizabeth's lack of reading is exposed

Hosted by La La Toadstone

Well, the title is a bit misleading.  It's not that I haven't been reading, it's that I've mostly been rereading.  To give you an idea this has been the main staple of my reading diet this year:

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

To be honest most of my reading has been in the car, aka audiobooks.  I've already made it all the way through The Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series, and almost all the way through The Song of the Lioness series.  Basically I think this is going to be the year that I read ALL THE TAMORA PIERCE NOVELS.  Not that I haven't read them all before, but this will be my first time reading them all in one year!  I don't know what I'm going to do when I finally get to the end of her books in audio format - it's been so easy picking what I'm going to listen to next!  Luckily I have another couple months til I manage to go through them all.  (Except her Beka Cooper books since I originally read those in audio format and want to go through them in written form this time.  Especially keeping in mind said events in the third book that absolutely destroyed me.  I'm actually not entirely sure I will reread that third book.  We'll see how I feel when I get there I guess.

Actually, looking at my Goodreads list, it looks like I've read more books than I realized! Although it's probably not up to snuff with how much I usually read, especially once you take out the picture books and rereads haha!  

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)Everything, EverythingThorn 

1. I went through all of Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series and I felt like it was pretty on par with the Vampire Academy series (although I had less of the swoons.  I love Adrian, but I'm pretty picky with my OTPs).  It had a lot of the same faults and a lot of the same pacing issues - consistently my favourite and least favourite books were the same number into the series in both Vampire Academy and Bloodlines.  But overall it was still a fun series to read, although not one I'll likely revisit.  But I'll definitely be reading more Richelle Mead!

2. To say I had high expectations going into this would be a bit of an understatement.  It seemed like this was everyone's favourite book of last year, even people who aren't big into contemporary YA (like me).  And I did like it (and am very glad I got absorbed enough to check out a physical copy of it. The narrator does a really good job, but the way this book is formatted, it is a book that is meant to be read), but I could see what was coming from a mile away (although I thought that couldn't possibly be it because well...everyone loved it so much!  In any case, I will definitely be picking up Nicola Yoon's next novel - while I have mixed feelings on the ending of this one, the writing is really gorgeous and I did enjoy reading it quite a lot.  Also have you seen this cover?? I would frame this and hang it up on my wall!

3.  And speaking of covers I would frame and hang up on my wall - Thorn will definitely be a contender for my top reads this year.  I actually met Intisar at Chessiecon last year!  I had been wanting to read this book for ages actually (hello it's a Goose Girl retelling!!) - but my library doesn't have a copy.  After getting to hear her talk, I really REALLY wanted to read this!  Luckily La La was kind enough to let me know when it went on sale so I snatched it up and lo and behold here we are.  I think this actually may be my favourite Goose Girl retelling.  I absolutely adore Shannon Hale's Goose Girl so really I'm just happy to have two retellings of this that I love, but I loved how fleshed out Khanani made her world building and characters.  It definitely wasn't a perfect book, but it had beautiful writing, and wonderful characters, and I am totally sold on whatever she wants to write. Because if this is how she writes for a debut novel? It's already this good - I can't even imagine where she's going to go from here.

And speaking of Shannon Hale...

Austenland (Austenland, #1)An Assembly Such as This  (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman #1)North and South 

I got hit with a need for SWOONS.  And so this happened.

1. I was actually disappointed with this - I honestly don't know why I keep reading Austen reinterpretations and retellings because I don't think I've found a single one I've liked.  Which I guess is what happens when you love the source material so much.  But it was especially disappointing because I know how well Shannon Hale writes - and you definitely see it here, but it kept devolving into the silliness you see in other Austen novels.  And to be honest I would have been ok with that - if she had just chosen one or the other.  It just didn't fit, unfortunately.  I'll still be trying her sequel though, I like her too much not to try it :)

2. I'm actually currently reading this!  So far it's been fairly good as reinterpretations go, but it definitely feels like more of a reinterpretation of the BBC series than of the book itself.  (I know this because I am currently watching it for the first time and a lot of the references seem to fit the scenes awfully well and to use dialogue I don't remember being in the book.  Which considering the number of times I've read it seems likely it's not actually in the book. Although not impossible.)

3. And I checked this one out from the library as well.  After all the flailing I did about this ship  it's honestly strange I haven't read it before! I think a little of me is scared it won't hold up to the miniseries.  Which seems unlikely. And if it doesn't...well oh well who cares?  I'll still have Armitage playing Thornton and I can have the feels that way too!

And that's what I've been reading over the past few months!  What about you guys? Anything good? (Anything with swoons? This mood doesn't appear to be dying down! I need all the recs!)

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Day in the Life #41: In which Elizabeth has many life updates because she hasn't posted in months

It's been a while (to put it mildly) since I've posted one of these, so I have loads to tell you!  I don't even know where to begin, really.  I quit the gym job I've had for the past year which is one of the best decisions I've made all year. I hated working there - it was super boring which just exhausted me. Who knew doing nothing would make you that tired?  I don't think I realized how much blogging I got done during that job though, even when I'd lowered my shifts down to just one day a week.  Basically I haven't done any posts since I quit, which I'm ok with.  The blog isn't all of life, but I have missed it.  Here's hoping I'll be motivated to post more regularly even though I'm not chained to a desk job any more!

I also had a really good talk with the teacher I had while studying at my undergrad.  I basically just had a heart to heart about how I felt like I was kind of stuck - taking auditions and not getting anywhere with them, dropping my student, a very long dry spell in gigs which basically meant that at that point in time I was doing 0% of what I wanted to do.  She reminded me I'd never wanted an orchestra job in the first place, which is very true. I was taking auditions because I felt like it was something I should do, and something that would offer me at least a little (very little) job security if I did win a job.  And then she pointed out that my boyfriend is also a freelance musician.  And you know what a freelance musician + a freelance musician equals? No benefits and no retirement.  With Obamacare, no benefits isn't a huge deal for me at the moment, but no retirement...that's kind of a big deal.  

My grandfather runs his own jewelry business - he designs jewelry using pressed and preserved flowers. 

They're really gorgeous actually, I'm lucky I'm his granddaughter so I've got a few pieces of my own - you should go check them out!  I have the pendant version of these earrings - they've got Hawaiian seaweed (Limu) pressed and preserved inside. He deals primarily with orchids, but he started this line a few years back and it's one of my favourites - I've never seen Limu jewelry anywhere else, so it feels really unique!

 It's his passion, and I am so, so happy he's able to do what he loves for his work.  But he also didn't have retirement options, and he's near or in his 80's (it occurs to me I am a terrible granddaughter for not actually knowing his age) and not working isn't an option for him.  He gets to do what he loves...but he has to do what he loves. Every day. Even if he gets sick. He simply can't afford not to.  And I don't want to be in that position.  It's half envious - being able to do what you love is really an amazing thing - but half agony. Or at least it would be for me, it may not be for him (although I imagine he'd appreciate being able to take a  vacation).  Oboe is a very, very physically demanding instrument.  To be honest your chops start to go in your 50s and 60s, and beyond that...well, most of us have retired by then.  If I did freelance solely (assuming I ever got that successful) I'd be constantly competing against younger, and to be honest better musicians. horribly depressing.  

My teacher pointed out that I already know that I loved teaching middle school band, and it comes with benefits and retirement, and that if my boyfriend and I ever get married, he'd be added to those.  And that if I really want to play, I will find ways to make it happen.  And she's right.  I don't for a second regret going to grad school and getting my Masters in performance, nor do I regret the past year and half taking auditions and gigs when I can. They've made me a better musician and I think it's made choosing to pursue teaching a more informed decision - I think if I'd done this earlier there would always be a feeling of "what if". And now I know: I don't think I would be happy doing only freelance work.  And happiness is what I want.  So I've mailed off the paperwork to be certified, and I'm in the process of applying to be put on the substitute teaching lists.  And I am so relieved that I'm doing all of this - I don't feel like a failed musician. I think all this time, even though I don't think of other teachers as "failed musicians", I've been afraid I would feel that way about myself.  All in all, I feel nervous and excited and determined and...well, happy.

On a more depressing note, things haven't been going so well with Lily. She broke her tail in December (how exactly is still a mystery since she was home alone, but that's beside the point).  It's fine - a bit kinked, but it hasn't had a big impact on her ability to walk or anything.  It's everything else I found out - turns out she isn't six as we'd previously though....she's thirteen.  And with it she's got all the problems that come with being thirteen - she's got hyperthyroidism, and I've just found out she's in the early stages of kidney failure.  I haven't talked to the vet yet, but I know what she's going to say: at best Lily's got a few years left in her at max.  I can do a little to help extend her life and keep her feeling good...but.  To say it's heartbreaking to go from expecting to have a decade left with her to discovering it'll only be a few years is an understatement.  BUT I am going to make sure she's as comfortable and happy as possible, and I'm going to steel myself for the tough decision that's going to be looming in my future.  In the meantime she seems to be feeling ok, and Tristan is just as cuddly and active (how this cat is 22 pounds I just don't understand.  Well, except that he likes to lick oil bottles. Yup. That's a thing) so at least they're not both ill.  (I'm not going to lie, I'm actually terrified I'm going to take him to the vet in May and I will be getting more bad news, as I've taken Lily to the vet 3 times in the past 4 months and each time gotten more bad news. BUT IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO HIM TO I WILL NOT LET IT AND GOD HELP ME I AM GOING TO FIGURE OUT WHERE HE KEEPS GAINING ALL THIS WEIGHT. And I'm going to hide my oil bottles.)

Tristan, as fat and sulky about not getting Lily's wet food as ever.  And Lily LOVES the snow! When it starts snowing she glues herself to the door and windows until I let her out haha!

I'm not going to lie, this hiatus from the blog hasn't been entirely due to work/life things. I have watched so much tv.  Like...SO. MUCH. TV.  So, on the off chance any of you are looking for something new to watch, here's:

What I've Been Watching:

This is like....zombies meets..Rizzoli & Isles?  Basically it's a really fun premise, Ravi is (WOULD IT KILL BLOGGER TO LET ME PUT HEARTS OF SOME KIND)  amazing
(and cute. Did I mention that? Super, super, super cute), also there are zombies.  It's a good time, I swear, you should watch it.

 Guys, this took over my life for like a month.  I blame iZombie and Kirsty - I basically did 
NOTHING but watch this show. I worked, ate, and watched the show.  I did not sleep. There was no sleep.  IT'S SO GOOD. SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD.  And I know people freaked out about this show but I didn't care and I was so stupid (but glad because I would have DIED if I had to wait like a decade for the movie). The first season remains my favourite - the second season had some weird story lines that went way out there, and the third season just didn't hit it's stride until the very end.  BUT, that being said that's like criticizing early Beethoven.  IT'S STILL GOOD. (Also I'm not saying I think late Beethoven is better, although I do prefer it. In fact actually this is a terrible simile, ALL BEETHOVEN IS GOOD I AM NOT BEING A BLASPHEMER RIGHT NOW. But I can't think of a better thing at the moment so I'm just going to...move on.)  The pilot episode of this show is FLAWLESS.  I mean it - it's one of the most courageous pilots I've seen - they really don't hold back and I love Veronica Mars and oh my god I want to go watch this show again STOP ME.  So basically this was my life for almost a month - I binge watched all three seasons, and then the movie, and then the first book. The only reason I haven't read the second book is because my library only has it on e-audiobook for some odd reason and I prefer cds in my car. Plus it would just take too long AND I WANT TO JUST READ THE WHOLE THING RIGHT NOW.  Ahem.  So basically, blame Kirsty for a month of this hiatus, that month is completely her fault.

Speaking of really fantastic shows....Granite Flats is really good.  It has really short seasons, is sort of...50's noir meets children? I don't know I suck at these stop asking me! Just watch it!  I was....quite upset by an event at the beginning from season 3 that I still haven't quite forgiven, but the first two seasons are just truly fantastic works of art.  And very much like YA - light hearted at times, but definitely doesn't pull punches when they're deserved.

I finally finished Sense8 - it's one of those shows I wanted to make sure I actually sat down and watched instead of had on while doing the dishes or something.  It's so stunningly beautiful to watch and complex enough that you really need to pay attention to watch it.  It some how manages to be both quiet and touching, but fun and exciting.  And I love that it's set all over the world!!  It's so hard to pick what I like most about it, but it's such a diverse cast of characters - and I'm not just talking about race and culture although it's certainly one of the most if not the most diverse show I've watched in that sense, but in their stories and personalities and how their storylines evolve.  I really, really recommend this one, but only if you have patience as it unfolds itself without being rushed about it.

And last but not least, Velvet which is a Spanish show.  It's set in 1950s Spain, and it's set in a fashion store so you get these beautiful costumes, with all the financial/business drama of Mad Men mixed with the class differences of Downton Abbey and it is gorgeous.  I haven't finished this one as it's obviously a subtitled so I have to watch it slowly, but it actually features one of the actors from Sense8 (incidentally possibly my favourite character/storyline from Sense8, although it's really hard to choose).  So far it has been really fantastic!

What I've Been Listening To:


 I realized I hadn't ever listened to Imogen Heap's latest album (I'm grossly behind - this came out in 2014) and this is the opening track.  It is everything I love about her music and it's reminded how deeply impressed and moved I always am with her music.  The lyrics are thought provoking, the music is so layered and somehow manages to always surprise me with where it goes harmonically, which is a rarity in the pop music world. (Although Imogen wouldn't exactly be considered a pop artist, but my point is the non-classical/jazz world).

I seriously thought Phil Collins had joined a band the first time I heard this song.  It's not as clear on the other tracks, but on this one in particular he sounds just like him. Seriously. Listen to this, and then listen to this.

...did I mention how obsessed I got with Veronica Mars?  I'm not even kidding I may have been bordering insanity.  I actually prefer the original season 1 and 2 versions of the song, but I LOVE the way they did the season 3 credits, so I compromised and put that video up instead.  But here's a link to the full song because it is SO GOOD and reminded me that when The Dandy Warhols are on, they're on.  (...but they have a lot of weird stuff too haha)

And if you guys are ever into what I listen to or don't mind rather eclectic playlists, I update this one fairly frequently with what I'm listening to at the moment!

What I've been playing:

It's been a very choral month for me!  First up we have the Beethoven Mass in C Major: 

I honestly think this is the first time I've played with a professional choir since I graduated high school, and it was by far the most pleasant experience I've ever had.  My undergraduate would do a choral/orchestral concert each semester and...well let's just say it felt more like a battle than a collaboration.  Working with the group I did was just so fun, the musicianship was fantastic, and everyone was very welcoming!

I was lucky enough to be contacted by the Beethoven director who was also putting together a Bach marathon (yay all day Bach!) and needed an oboist for a cantata.  To say playing Bach is a challenge (especially physically) would be an understatement to say it is an understatement.  But they're so lovely!  Luckily for my face this one is only about a half hour, but this was probably one of the most fun things I've been able to do in recent years.  Once again, the singers were phenomenal and the group was very small - I think there was a grand total of fourteen musicians performing this, so it felt really intimate.  And luckily the director was great to work with - and this is not always the case.  I can't even imagine what his schedule must have been like having back to back weekends of the Beethoven Mass and then the Bach Marathon which he had to put together, but he managed to do it somehow and was a pleasure to work with.  All in all, this month has been a very good one for me (minus the rather major Lily thing) and it's finally starting to be like spring and I have daytime in my life again, so I've been in a pretty good mood!  ( probably helps that I can have coffee again now that I don't have any upcoming performances.)

And I'll have to leave the bookish part for tomorrow since it's Tuesday (and also this post is going to take the average person a year to read it's so long), and that means it's La La's Tell Me Tuesday!  ...which I'm hoping I will get up.  No which I WILL get up. I BELIEVE IN MYSELF.  So that just leaves my sparse bookish links, since let's be real I've been about as good about visiting blogs as I have been about writing blog posts.


Tamora Pierce writes about her Chessiecon experience (the con I saw her at as a refresher)


Ilana C. Meyer muses on what makes The Hero and The Crown by Robin McKinley such a great book (and they're all my reasons too)


Christina picks her SoulTPs (aka OTPs that she will fight for until the end of time).
Gillian posts the Shippy Awards winners.