Friday, October 31, 2014

Classic Literature and Breasts: Thoughts on 1Q84

1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)

Warning: Potential spoilers for things in the first four chapters.

I'm feeling really frustrated right now.  I'm currently reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and while I was totally expecting to love it, the more I'm reflecting on the book (I'm only 45 pages in!) the more I'm uncertain whether I want to try and finish or not.  I actually am finding the plot pretty intriguing, but I've got a lot of niggling feelings that everything the book is hinting at, is going to happen.

I'm four chapters in, and breasts have been discussed at length SEVEN times already.  Guys, that's averaging a couple paragraphs about breasts every few pages.  That's twice as many breasts as characters.  That's more breasts than character development or plot.   20% of what I have read so far is breasts.  I feel like I have this problem any time I read "literary" books.  It's like to be taken seriously, books have to fantasize women.  I don't have a problem with sexy times, but I like there to be a purpose to it.  I understand that part of adult fiction is bringing in more sex, which makes sense as it's a big part of culture for better or worse.  What doesn't make sense is jamming in seemingly random scenes or focus on parts of the body with no point in furthering plot or character development.  I don't want to be reading about a character walking down a flight of steps and then suddenly boom three page long lesbian fantasy scene!  (But of course the character isn't a lesbian or bi, she just has copious amounts of lady sex.)  What does that have to do with anything?  If that information is important, it could be summed up very quickly, or perhaps less graphically.  It's jarring to suddenly feel like I'm in the middle of a literotica when just a paragraph earlier, it was about a character walking down the stairs.  And I still wouldn't bother me if it felt real and not like something someone wishes were real.  Maybe that's why I prefer my YA sex scenes - they're not romantic or mysterious or just clear male fantasy.  They're honest.  They're awkward and fun, and if there's a focus on breasts outside of sex, it's usually funny or pertinent to the character/plot.   Not an ode to women's breasts that goes on and on comparing their different shapes and sizes or imagining what their nipple color is.

I don't know why I am so frustrated by this, because even to myself I sound a bit like a crazy person.  It's hard to really articulate why it bothers me so much, and what about it feels so clearly like a male fantasy vs any other book I've read with sex in it, regardless of the audience type. Maybe I'm feeling jarred as YA authors are primarily female, so I'm not sure when the last time I read a book by a male author was. (Edit: Not that long ago. I've read at least two books authored by a man in the past month, and they were both very fun) And it's not that I'm bothered by there being sex scenes - a couple weeks ago I read entirely romance novels for pete's sake!

Some of it comes from the fact that the book is starting with an older male character (30) ogling a 17 year old female character, and an even older man who has pictures of her (we don't know how he got them).  This is quickly feeling like it's going to get really icky.  I also don't have any patience for authors dismissing people as "not lesbian or bi" - when they have actual relationships with both genders.  According to reviews, the female character has relationships with older men AND women (once again, super hot young girl into older men - creep factor), and there continues to be random, pornographic sections that add nothing to the plot or character development.  And there appears to be large portions of the book about the characters doing nothing at all.  This is not sounding promising to me.

On the one hand, I usually finish books.  It's what I do.  And I feel like for me to be able to legitimately criticize the books out of my own opinions and not reciting others opinions, I have to finish the book.  But on the other hand, when I read reviews that confirm all my worries I've formed in the first 45 pages of the book, it seems clear I'm going to hate this...and it's almost 950 pages.  I'm not sure if I'm going to finish it, but as of this moment I'm feeling very angry and contrary, which almost certainly won't lead to any good reading of anything else.  So we'll see. I might finish this book out of sheer perverseness.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top Five Characters Who I Would Totally Want To Be For Halloween

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

All titles link to reviews or Goodreads, pictures link to where I found them!

Reminds me of Karou's hamsa tattoos in Daughter of Smoke and Bone by @Lu P taylor :) <3

I'm obsessed with Karou's hair.  Possibly because I want blue hair in the worst way.  I like to think she would have whimsical nick knacks in her hair, although I can't remember if it expressly says so in the book.  The hamsa is also a big part of the plot/her character, so I'd definitely have that as part of the costume as well.  Otherwise, she mostly just wears normal clothes, if I remember correctly.

Alexander Mcqueen Black Victorian Puckering Lace Jacquard Capsleeve Pencil Dress in Black

What, can't we all afford $2000 dresses for Halloween? ( Or ever.)  Sue me for just wanting Celia's entire wardrobe all the time.  It sounds freaking amazing.  Or dressing up like really anyone from The Night Circus - a reveler or Tsukiko would also be awesome choices.

Sophronia - Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Did you guys know that Gail Carriger actually dresses up in steampunk costume?  And does a TON of research, and basically it's awesome.  That's her in the center.  I've always been into steampunk, but it's a little too intimidating to jump into without some conconspirators (and a lot of money. Neither of which I have).  In all honesty, I probably look more like Sidheag and dress like her, but she doesn't have fun gadgets like Sophronia does.  Although she probably would have a knife, and I do love a girl with weapons...

Celaena Sardothien - Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This is the one most likely to happen in my future.  Maybe next year? I just need another year of no haircuts, and I can totally see myself doing this. (I'm dressing up with two other people for Halloween this year, so it seems unlikely they'll go for a random book they've never heard of lol)

Katniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

This one would be the easiest for me to do.  I already wear my hair in a braid all the time (admittedly I'm not brunette), I've got the leather jacket, boots, and I'd have to ask my mom for my brother's bows and arrows, but that's practically the whole outfit!

Luna Lovegood - Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Luna profile

You know, it's never really a question for ANYONE which Harry Potter character I would be.  And it's not because of my coloring - I'm not that blonde, and I'm pretty sure Astoria and Pansy are blondes too.  It's more to do with

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.