Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Five Books with Bisexual Characters

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)

Kushiel's Dart is probably one of my most recommended reads and one of the most mentioned series on this blog since I first discovered it in 2013.  There are so many reasons to love this book - its detailed world building, beautiful prose, balls-to-the-walls action (after the opening which is a slow build), but one of the things I love most about this is it's uncompromisingly sex positive and diverse characters.  (Can I also say that's it's the only high fantasy novel I've read that's completely sex positive? How is that so rare? I READ A CRAP TON OF FANTASY GUYS.)  Sex is actually an important part of the world building, which sounds weird (or trashy) I know, but I promise you it's not and it makes for some of the most interesting (and fun!) world building I've read.  The politics are intense - so if you like George R.R. Martin but wish there were less rape scenes, this is the book for you.  This book also has MORE THAN ONE BI CHARACTER.  Which I love - bi representation is both mostly nonexistent, or when it's not features a character who is evil and/or unfaithful.  Jacqueline Carey not only crafts these wonderfully flawed characters, by having more than one bi you get to see more than one representation.

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1)

What? Did you think we were done with Jacqueline Carey? This series also features not only a bi main character, but more than one bisexual character. Can I reiterate how rare that is?  And this series shows just how talented Carey is as an author - it is completely different than her Kushiel series.  Where her Kushiel series is immense and dark, this series is significantly shorter and just plain fun.  Sadly I get the impression that maybe sales weren't doing so hot so she wrapped the story up really quickly in the third book, but if you're looking for something really fun I definitely recommend this!  (I would also like to add that all of her books have racially diverse characters too, and I think trans characters?)

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare/Sarah Rees Brennan/Maureen Johnson

The Bane Chronicles

*squees* Oh Magnus my darling fantabulous character!!  Even if The Mortal Instruments was not up your alley (and it had some SERIOUS ups and downs for me) you MUST read these collection of short stories.  Besides the fact that SRB the Queen of Ripping Hearts Out and Stomping On Them was involved, Magnus is just one of the most delightful characters I've ever read.  This is ridiculously funny, and heart breakingly sad and ughhhh guys did I mention Magnus is basically the best?

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

There's a reason that people were all over this ship well before it actually appeared on screen.  The chemistry between all of the main characters is so compelling, and Stiefvater has some of my favourite prose of all time.

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)

Two years ago (maybe even a year ago?) I would never have picked up a series like this. I kind of sneered internally at paranormal fantasy (especially the sexy cover kind)...who even knows why. It would appear that any time I think I'm over a snob phase it turns that secretly I'm still harboring a few.  That being said, if you look at this list it's pretty clear what genre you are most likely to encounter a bisexual main character.  Paranormal fantasy wins that by a long shot.  Some of that may be because I don't read a lot of literary fiction or contemporary literature.  But it's no surprise that over the past year my reading of paranormal fiction has sky rocketed, as has my respect for the genre.  If you're looking for a series with some fantastic character development, racial diversity and well and some kick ass bisexual characters, this is the series for you.  Bonus?  They have multiple spectrums of sexuality - where someone might romantically love someone, but not physically attracted to the gender, and that is even more rare than finding a bisexual main character.

The only sad thing about this list?  I couldn't find more than 5 books with a bisexual main character.  So help me out - send me your recs!  (Bonus points if they're non-white or a dude, Magnus is my only character who fits either of those)

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Day in the Life #50 Elizabeth's Eventful Summer Part 2

Aaaand we're back!  ....a month later.  At least I'm being constant in my inconsistency?  Last post we talked about what was kind of a crazy summer -  a $2000 migraine, sprained ankle, and public nudity to start with.  Luckily the end of my summer was (mostly) better, namely because I got to go to Mexico City which has been a dream of mine since high school.

I mentioned last post that my grandmother originally had been planning on coming with us, but was unable to because her cancer came back.  The good news is she's currently getting treatment and it hasn't been making her sick.  As much as I wish she had been able to come on the trip, my cousin and I still had a great time!  It's pretty awesome her parents were chill enough to let her come with me (she's 15) since we were in a foreign country, but Claire is pretty level-headed and we had access to data (and therefore GPS) as I am NOTORIOUSLY bad with directions.

Our hotel was downtown near the Zócalo (which unfortunately was under construction)  so our first night we went straight to the hotel and then walked around the area to get an idea of the layout, and more importantly to eat tacos.  SO MANY TACOS GUYS.  Like more tacos than I even knew existed (sadly I've already forgotten most of the names).  And tacos are basically the most amazing thing ever so I was in heaven haha!  Basically this whole trip was actually eating, I just didn't take pictures of the food because I suck at that.  The best thing I had were the chile rellenos, which is somewhat ironic because I don't even like chile rellenos usually.  I will say that as freaking awesome as the tacos were, the best tacos are still the tacos al pastor we get on our camping trip.

View of the square (minus the construction) from the rooftop bar at Las Sirenas

The Zócalo is the main central square in Mexico City, and it's been around as a main gathering area since Aztec times.  This is also the center of the historic part of the city - so it's got all sorts of gorgeous architecture, and they actually recently discovered a whole bunch of buried ancient artifacts.  It's also got the Palacio Nacional where some of Diego Rivera's most famous murals are painted. I've always liked Kahlo's style of painting more, but when you actually see the mural in person instead of in a book it's really, really awe inspiring so I'm really glad we were able to see that.

This is just one panel of not even the entire wall, and it goes across two more walls. This wall is like the size of my apartment.

We arrived on a Friday, so we spent the weekend at Chapultepec park.  One of the best things about Mexico City is its transportation by the way - the metro is so easy to use, it's cheap, and convenient.  And if for whatever reason you can't use the metro, Uber is all over the city as well.  But back to my main point.  Chapultepec is pretty much the go to destination for families and couples on weekends (especially Sundays).  It's MASSIVE - it feels like it's triple the size of Central Park.  It's got all these roads for running or biking, lots of forest for couples to sneak out in (seriously I can not emphasize how many people I saw making out) It has the the Chapultepec Zoo, which is free except for special exhibits like the butterfly garden.  It's a pretty nice zoo - well, pretty nice is an understatement.  It's so massive that we spent basically all of Saturday at the zoo or wandering around outside to eat food.

It also has the Museum of Modern Art, so we went back on Sunday when pretty much all the museums are free (they're all free Sunday for Mexican citizens).  Modern art is mostly not up my alley, but it does have a permanent exhibit of prominent Mexican artists that is brilliant.  It has the famous Frida Kahlo painting that is double self portrait and she is cutting her heart out, and some gorgeous paintings of volcanoes (I believe by Dr. Atl), as well as paintings by Mexican artists throughout history.

 This is a fountain in the center of the National Anthropological Museum

Then we head to the big project of the day: the National Anthropological Museum.  THIS PLACE IS MASSIVE.  We spent hours and hours and hours there and still didn't see everything.   I had to sit down for a portion of it because I was still recovering from my sprained ankle two weeks prior.  (Remember that?) My cousin was in heaven - she wants to be an anthropologist.  It's seriously one of the most amazing museums I've been to in my life.  It's one of those times I'm reminded both that the US  didn't give a crap about preserving Native American history, and that most of what our Native Americans worked with was biodegradable.  Not the case with Mexican history (although, needless to say, it is a complicated one).  The museum was established in 1790, so it's already older than most (all?) of our museums.  It goes through all the civilizations - Olmecs, Aztecs, Toltec, etc. and most of those civilizations have intricate stonework and metalwork/jewelry, so you've got a huge variety work that are centuries old and it is seriously awe inspiring.  Even if you aren't into anthropology, I promise if you go to Mexico City it is the one thing in the city you NEED to make sure to go to.

To be honest, I don't know exactly what we did Monday, other than discover that Monday is Mexico's version of Sunday, so most things are closed.  So here's a picture of the Metropolitan Cathedral near the Zócalo that I may have taken a picture of on Monday!

Also from the rooftop bar at Las Sirenas

Tuesday we went to Teotihuacan to see the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which is one of the biggest tourist draws in Mexico, for good reason.  They were built in 200 BC and the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest ancient pyramid in the world.  The ruins spread for a few miles and have informational placards to show you what the layout was and how they think the building were originally used.  It actually wasn't as hard to get to the top as I though - it's most strenuous at the bottom, and there is this crazy part where it's basically a ladder cut into the stone instead of stairs, but it's not nearly as intimidating as people made it out to be.  Even if you don't make it to the top though, it's a beautiful view no matter what tier you are at.

 I would like you to note the compression wrap on my left ankle.  This proved to be somewhat fortuitous, because on the way down I managed to slip and give myself a severe level 2 sprain and that wrap came in handy.  You want to know what the difference between a severe level 2 and a level 3 sprain are?  A level 3 is when you've torn ALL your ligaments/tendons.  Severe level 2 is when you only tear most of them.

This was only a couple hours afterwards so it got EVEN BIGGER. Who even knew ankles could do that?? 

So needless to say, that was the end of my Tuesday and most of my Wednesday.  This is where I was both very lucky that I had someone with me because there is NO WAY I could have made it through the rest of the trip without someone to help me.  I ended up having to take an ambulance back the bus station because we were a couple miles from the parking lot.  Upside? Mexican ambulances are super fancy (leather seats!) and free.  (Which is great because long story short, but I had applied for Medicaid in July as I didn't think I'd have a job in August. You know what they did instead?  CANCEL MY HEALTH INSURANCE ENTIRELY.  For a month. And a half.)  And also that my 15 year-old cousin is responsible, because she had to wander downtown Mexico by herself to get us food and to get me crutches. We did end up going to the ER on Thursday since I couldn't bear any weight still so I got an x-ray.  Good news, didn't have a broken foot, bad news had to wear a walking boot for a month.  You know what else is awesome though?  Mexico has socialized health care so I got that x-ray for free (which I'm not 100% sure on why as I'm not a citizen but I'm not going to question it) which is great because DID I MENTION MY HEALTH INSURANCE GOT CANCELLED DUE TO NO FAULT OF MY OWN?  

Also crutches are the work of the devil and I will never use them. Ever.  Wednesday we went to Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela which is the big craft market and is FREAKING AMAZING.  We got some serious swag.  The downside? I maaaay have been too excited about being mobile again (sort of) and given myself some wicked sores (that have now scarred so I can remember having these forever yayyyy) in the process.  Thursday we took it easy and went on a bus tour since my foot wasn't having it, so we got to see some monuments and parts of Mexico City we wouldn't have seen otherwise which was pretty cool, made a short stop at Plaza Garibaldi but I wasn't up for a late night so we were there a little too early, and we finished the evening off with an impromptu search for churros and chocolate which was wildly successful at El Moro which was delicious and a great way to end the trip!

So going to Mexico was everything I'd hoped it would be, was even worth my boot, and on the upside I'm not wearing the boot anymore!  My ankle is still crazy swollen though, so it looks like this one is going to be a long recovery.  My left ankle is like 98% back to a full recovery, so baby steps!  No links today, I'll save it for the next post :)