Friday, September 23, 2016

Habits and Styles for Reading and Writing

Clancy in Bed
Flickr Credit: Hegla Weber
Today’s question comes from Topaz Winters at Six Impossible Things:


I’ve already talked a little bit about how being in college has impacted being able to read for fun, which you can read here. The general gist is that college is time-consuming, but I work my way around it.

When it comes to reading for school, I have a few particular quirks that don’t apply to reading for fun. Namely, when I read a book for school I have to think about whether or not I’m going to want to keep it in the long run. For example, I have a decent sociology textbook, but I’ll try to sell it at the end of the semester because it will no longer be of use to me. I have been highlighting the book and writing down notes separately so someone else can use it later.

Sometimes I do find books I want to keep, though. A few of my favorites include Wit by Margaret Edson, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. These were all great books and I hope to read them again at some point, so I don’t inhibit myself with annotations and whatnot.

Writing is another matter entirely.

My writing style especially has seen a bigger shift. I used to spend a lot of time writing creative fiction. I haven’t given up on that, but I’ve mostly worked on those projects during the winter and summer breaks. In the meantime, I’ve spent more time on essay-type activities. Some of that is indeed homework, but some of that is also the blog posts you read here. Some of that is also me writing geeky responses to the TV shows I watch.

As to habits, I’ve definitely fallen behind. I make time for writing blog posts and my fun TV-related essays, but I haven’t made writing as much of a priority during the school year. It doesn’t bother me, though. I don’t really know what I want to do career-wise, so I don’t feel like I’m losing anything by not writing.

There is one difference about this semester—I’m taking a creative writing class in poetry. We read and study famous people’s poetry, of course, but it also involves writing our own poems. This means that even if I’m not writing the same way I used to, I still have a creative outlet that fits right into my school schedule and a group of people who can help me improve.

That’s sort of a brief overview of my styles and habits right now. I don’t think that’s what they’ll look like in the long run, but here we are for now.

How do you stay on top of writing and reading during the school year?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE Tag

zombie
Flickr Credit: MELISSA MATHIES
ZOMBIES. I love zombies. Fictional zombies. I am less excited about real zombies. Anyway, we’re using the zombie apocalypse for this tag, so I have zero fears in my heart. Thanks to Alexa from Summer Snowflakes for tagging me!

The Rulios:
  • pick five books (favorites or random, but know the characters)
  • write the name of the books on strips of paper
  • draw one strip randomly for the first question
  • open to a random page and use the first name you see to answer the first question
  • use the same book for question two, but turn to a different page
  • repeat steps 2-5 until you’ve answered all the questions
Full disclosure, I’m not doing that. I am not going to be writing down all these things on paper. Instead, I am going to use the Random Thing Picker to select both the order of the books and the characters I’m using (instead of the first name I see, I will put all the character names on that page into the generator).

The setup is so much faster this way.

via Goodreads

Dreadnought by Mark Walden

1. The First Person to Die: Jason Drake. Praise the Lord. This guy is like Steve Jobs, but with plans to set off the volcano in Yosemite and kill us all. Him getting eaten by zombies is a best-case scenario.

2. The Person You Trip to Get Away from the Zombies: Diabolus Darkdoom. In what world am I going to be faster than Diabolus Darkdoom? He’s one of the world’s most prominent supervillains and he must have a foot on me. (Also, if I trip him and he lives, I am going to be facing a world of pain when this is all over.)

via Goodreads

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

3. The First Person to Turn Into a Zombie: Sydney. Is it more ironic that she already is one or that, well—read the book. You will understand. You will laugh.

4. The Person that Trips You To Get Away from the Zombies: Victor. Completely in character and I don’t forgive him even a little bit.

via Goodreads

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

5. The Idiot of the Team: Charlie Swan. I don’t think Charlie is stupid, of course, but if Bella and Edward are still committed to telling him things on a “need to know” basis then yeah, he might not even realize there are zombies about until they’re already defeated.

6. The Brains of the Team: Jacob. Well. Maybe we will die. Maybe we won’t. It isn’t that he’s stupid… it’s just… he is a very emotional boy. Good leader, and probably a great weapon against zombies. Just… emotional.

via Goodreads

Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

7. The Team’s Medic: Bob. Well, he really is more of a gung-ho leader who leads people fearlessly into battle in the name of saving his species, but… Well. He wasn’t all that excited about stopping to deliver a baby, so if you get shot, you might just have to suck it up.

8. The Weapons Expert: Cole. Oh dear. I mean, I’m sure Cole knows a lot of things about weapons, he is also just dumb as a brick. It’s cute, but probably not that cute when you have fifty zombies behind you. Hoo boy.

via Goodreads

Cress by Marissa Meyer

9. The Brawler: Cinder. Well, it’s not really her style, but I suppose, being a cyborg and all, that she can adjust to the task if needed.

10. The Team Captain: Thorne. Oh goodie. I mean, not only will he be a hilarious team captain, but he’ll also make Jacob and Bob feel like they are stupid every day of the week. Maybe he will need Cinder there to be his impulse control.


And there we have it! My zombie apocalypse team. Will we live? Will we die? I have no idea. However, I have to say, if I were looking for better examples of leadership, cunning, bravery, and kickassery, then I would be hard-pressed to improve. I guess that’s something.

I shall to tagging Victoria and Imogen and Alex very.

Who would you want on your zombie apocalypse team?


Monday, September 19, 2016

Five Posts a Day

Shimmer
Flickr Credit: Wetsun
I love going to school, but I have to admit it’s disappointing to lose some of my blogging time.

Fortunately, writing blog posts hasn’t become unmanageable. I didn’t think I was going to come up with a Thursentary last week, and then I had so much free time that putting one together Wednesday afternoon was a non-stressful experience. Normally, though, I reserve an hour on Friday mornings to write blog posts, and that gets me through the week.

But blogging isn’t just about being a good writer—good bloggers are also good readers and commenters.

I’ve never been a timely commenter. Even when I had plenty of time to frolic in the blogosphere over the summer, I was that person who showed up two weeks late to posts and made many executive decisions that involved ignoring various posts on my reading list. Still, there would be days when I could binge my reading list and conquer my neighborly duties.

Blog Binging season is over. Between homework and the recently-arrived seasons of Leverage, Supernatural and Elementary, my priorities have changed. (Sorry, mortals.) This doesn’t bother me—I’m not getting paid for this, and likewise, I wouldn’t expect other unpaid bloggers to devote their lives to this gig, either.

At the same time, the cost of not visiting other people’s blogs is great. I lose community and contacts, and that doesn’t appeal to me in the long run. I’ve hardly been able to hang out on Twitter, so blogging is the main way I’ve been able to stay involved. My solution isn’t amazing, but it’s functional.

I read five unread blog posts every day. It suits me, since I don’t have all the time in the world or a great attention span. I still don’t always comment and I don’t always reach my goal, but it’s still been helping. Doing something is always more productive than doing nothing. And I’m glad that my Bloglovin’ list is getting smaller, even if it takes a longer time than I am used to.

And sure, my inbox is flooded with comments from my own blog that I haven’t responded to in weeks. My Google Calendar is overwhelmed with post and tag ideas I haven’t gotten around to yet. My unfinished homework sits in a pile of guilt. Just kidding, I always do my homework before I blog. At any rate, it’s not a perfect system, but I’m managing.

It can be enough.

How do you stay active in the blogging community when your life gets busy?


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thursentary: How Much Should We Emphasize Our Opinions?

vienna subway
Flickr Credit: Dragan
Let me guess, you’ve probably said something along these lines in one of your reviews before:

“This is just my opinion, so you should totally give it a chance anyway!”
“I have a thing about love triangles, so I personally hated the romance.”
“Usually coming of age stories bore me but that’s just me.”

Sound familiar? I know because I’ve read them in book reviews, and I’ve put them in some of my own reviews, too. (Of course, y’all know how often I review things.)

I may sound completely clueless, but I guess I want to know why we so often feel the need to negate our negative opinions, especially in book reviews.

On the one hand, I get it. When you want to make an argument, one of the best things you can do is address a possible criticism before anyone actually brings it up. That’s actually the purpose of this paragraph. Someone in the comments would make a valid point in saying, “Sure, everyone knows that book reviews are just opinions, but if I don’t acknowledge the subjectivity of my review, then someone can call me out on that, or even be discouraged from trying the book out itself.” And fair enough. It’s important to cover all your bases. I even agree that it’s fair for people to occasionally call you out on your opinion.

Maybe you were actually really insensitive to an issue present in the book. As books featuring diverse representation and diverse authors gain more attention, there’s a lot of room for unkindness, ignorance, apathy, and prejudice to show through in reviews. Even if those sentiments are technically “an opinion,” don’t be surprised if it don’t fly in the book blogging community.

Maybe your opinion is wrong. It is one thing to say “my favorite color is yellow,” and it is another to say, “My favorite part of the Harry Potter series is when Ron is turned into an elephant and stampedes the Great Hall, killing two students and a house elf.” That didn’t happen. It is okay if people show up in your life to say, “Yo, that didn’t happen, but I’d read that fanfic.”

And, maybe your opinion is too aggressive. Whether it’s in your review or (by some ill-possessed conviction) commented upon someone else’s review, there are some thoughts you’re better off keeping you yourself. For example: “THIS IS THE BEST BOOK OF ALL TIME I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DON’T WANT TO SACRIFICE YOURSELF TO THE HERO WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU I HOPE THAT SATAN COMES AND RIPS YOUR SPINE OUT OF YOUR BACK.” Like, really. It’s a book. Chill out.

I get all of these things. I know why these things are good. And yet I have two lingering thoughts.

But why do we only negate negative opinions? It’s commonplace to say “You might like the story even though I found the pace boring.” You’d probably never see someone say, “I just loved the character development in this book—it made this one of my favorites. Although you might not like it since you don’t like good character development.” (My head says I should replace “since” with an “if” but my heart says let the passive aggressiveness roll). Negative remarks can be damaging, they can make us sound horrible… but for some reason, they seem to have a heavier weight than good opinions. What if we recognized good and bad opinions as equals? Would that change anything?

Also, I don’t think professional reviewers do this. Granted, we are not professionals because most of the time, we aren’t paid, but still. If a reviewer from the New Yorker published something like, “I thought it was bad, but what do I know? It’s possible my thoughts are irrelevant and my boss is paying me for nothing. Give it a chance, anyway!” then that person would probably not be invited to write many more reviews. Yes, you have an opinion, and what’s more, if you’ve read the book and you’ve written a fair review, then I think you have a certain authority behind that opinion. You don’t have to know everything, only that you were bored or offended or unexcited or confused during the story—that’s your experience! It’s okay to share it that way, without everyone assuming that you’re representing how everyone will experience the book.


Bottom line, I guess I feel like in expressing our opinions, we may emphasize the fact that they’re opinions too much.

What do you think? Do you think it’s important to recognize the subjectivity of your opinions?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On Morality and Silence

Yo! Aimee over at To the Barricade! recently dropped a post on Christians and using curse words. You don’t have to read her post to understand my following response, but you should still check it out!

censorlips
Flickr Credit: Issac Mao
There’s this story I read when I was a young teenager that has always stuck with me because of how much I hated it with a passion.

The point of this story is to discourage Christian teens from watching R-rated movies. So there are a couple of kids who want to see an R-rated movie, even though it goes against their dad’s normal rule. They ask their dad for permission, and he agrees to think about it. Later, he agrees with one condition: to see the movie, the teens had to eat some brownies he made. The catch? The dad put some dog poop in them. Even though the poop was “lovingly” mixed in so they wouldn’t taste bad and baked so it wouldn’t make anyone sick, if the teens wanted to see this movie with mature content, they had to eat some brownies with literal shit in them.

The kids did not go for it.

And, as a little happily-ever-after, whenever the kids bring up something the dad is opposed to, he offers to make another batch of those brownies.

**I got this story from Let’s Talk! by Danae Dobson. I do not recommend reading it.

Like I said, I hate this story, first because all parties involved are wimps. Kids, if you want something, then fight for it! Question authority, do research, build your own moral structure. Parents, don’t avoid tough or controversial conversations by threatening to make your kids eat shit if they bring it up. The point of your relationship is to foster maturity and self-sufficiency, not to enforce silence.

That’s what this story promotes. Silence.

What perhaps makes it worse is that it promotes silence for arbitrary reasons.

There are quite a few Christians who discourage cursing, especially in media that will represent who and what Christians are to others. They typically turn to verses such as these:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” –Ephesians 4:29, NIV
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8, NIV

Now, curse words are definitely unwholesome talk, they might say. Even if there isn’t a list of words Christians shouldn’t use, we can understand that swearing is not pure and therefore always, always, always bad. The end.

…Really? Because, you know, I’ve been using the word ‘shit’ in this post and—not to toot my own horn—I think I’m going to be benefitting those who listen. I’ve been using that swear intentionally. I want you to know exactly how degrading that parent has been to his children, and ‘poo-poo’ just doesn’t cut it.

I get it, though. The best thoughts on swearing that I’ve ever heard have actually come from Sally Read on Arthur. When explaining to D.W. why saying the curse word she’s learned is bad, she says, “It’s like saying, ‘I want to hurt your feelings.’” And I get that. I get that as a Christian. We should not be seeking to deliberately hurt others with our words, because that is wrong.

Of course, if we’re going with that sentiment, why are we focusing on something as random as curse words?

Sure, someone might gasp when you drop an F-bomb when you spill grape juice on your new dress—but that’s easy enough to fix with an apology. There are other things people say that can cause a lasting hurt, and that never seem to be quite so unwelcome as all that.

“Well, in a skirt like that she was kind of asking for it.”
“I don’t see a problem—the police are just doing their job.”
“Who's the boy in your relationship?”  
But you don't look Latino. 
“You should be flattered to have a stalker.” 
 “He doesn't look disabled.” 
Terrorist!
“I’m not racist, but—”
“Have you had surgery, y'know, down there?”  
But where are you really from? 
“You have so many things to be grateful for—why are you depressed?”  
“That’s so gay.”
We don't want you here. Go back to where you came from!
“Slut.”  
“All lives matter.”
“You should take catcalling as a compliment!”
But you act so white. 

And on and on and on.

Cuss words, like any words, can be used flexibly. Cuss words, like any words, can be used to make someone laugh. To make a point. To relieve stress after you have slammed your finger in a car door. To sound cool among your friends. To insult other people. To make interesting rhymes. To be silly. To be smart. To be different. To be the same.

It is entirely up to you in which situations you yourself will use curse words—maybe never. Maybe sometimes. Maybe frequently. And that’s up to you. But imagine if Christians made as big a deal about the above statements as they do about the language in a PG-13 movie. There are plenty of situations where you can be offensive without saying any swears. Where you can contribute to a tradition of causing harm to others in a way that hurts more in the long run. You can be hurtful even by—especially by—failing to speak out. Silence has a heavy cost.

And it’s not really fair to complain about the dog shit in the brownies when you seem to like the cat shit just fine.

Friendly reminder.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Five Reasons I Like Writing Essays

Paper Flower- Ballet
Flickr Credit: Roxanna Salceda

We’re getting back into the swing of school at last. It’s probably weird to announce that I really enjoy my homework, but I do. Writing essays is fun! In, you know, a tedious and self-doubting kind of way. Let me give you a better picture of what I mean.

1. They’re Usually Pretty Short

Okay, this isn’t true all the time. Some people have to write papers upwards of twenty pages, and then there are dissertations and whatnot. But! At least for your average class, essays can be anywhere from 3-10 pages. That brevity means you can spend a lot of time on creating a tight product in a short period of time. As someone who does not like long projects, this works very well for me.

2. They Suit My Editing Method

Be it essay or novel, my editing process involves something like 3-4 rewrites from beginning to end before reaching in-line edits. In projects with a great deal of words, this process can take quite a while. Like I said, I like short projects, so those rewrites can get very tiresome. Also, it’s easier to see how I’ve gotten better in each draft, and I do like stroking my ego.

3. First Drafts are Terrible But I am Hilarious

As with every writing project, my first drafts are terrible, but I have a ton of fun anyway. In fact, I don’t approach writing essays much differently than I do writing blog posts. I just vomit every single thought in my head onto the page. To an outsider, it would look pretty confusing, but I giggle at my own writing. It’s not a terrible problem to have.








(None of these made it into the final edition of the essay, for the record.)

4. They Can Be So Personal!

By personal, I don’t mean that I am the subject of every essay. That isn’t what my teachers or I want. Just because I’m not sharing my life story in essays doesn’t mean that I’m not inserting myself into the conversation. Once I’ve found a subject matter I’m really interested in, I am able to write more like myself than ever. (Of course, this doesn’t always happen, which is a bummer.)


5. They’re a Good Learning Tool

Writing essays about certain subject matter can help me understand a particular work better. If I want to cover all my bases I might have to look up word definitions or the author’s biography or contextual history. Then I have to make sure I’m sticking to the prompt while also making a valid assertion. As often as I have to do it, it’s always a challenge—just the sort I am up for.


Although, having written all this, I realize I have an essay on Hamlet due a week from today. Better get on that…

Have you started getting homework in your classes?


Friday, September 9, 2016

WBI: Voldemort (AVPM)

Wait, you already discussed Voldemort! So I did, clever one. But hold on to your sorting hat, because today we’re referring not to Potter Canon but the Starkid production that is A Very Potter Musical.

via

WBI Profile

Classification :: Ξ012578!#&@
Role :: Agent of Chaos (destructive, vengeful wizard)
Motivations :: chaos (corrupting MOM), evil (hurting people), idealism (kill mudbloods), lifestyle (evil, dancing), personal/material gain (power, a physical body, revenge), power/influence (magical dictatorship)
Bonus :: magic (wizard), minions (death eaters), family ties (Quirrell), name (Voldemort)

via

Notable Actions

occupying Quirrell’s body—though Quirrell volunteered his body for his Dark Lord, the close proximity Voldemort shares with him makes him see someone as something other than a servant

overtaking Hogwarts—through a series of complicated events, Voldemort obtains a new body and overtakes Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic in his new body, and ends Harry Potter’s life at last

dancing—Voldemort’s musical numbers reveal that he is both artistic and has a special sort of flair for torture which he will no doubt incorporate into his new regime

via

Significance to Other Characters

Quirrell—though Voldemort’s initial vessel seemed as different from him as could be, their time shared together allowed them to become close, even friends, and even something more (and I ship it so hard)

Harry—Harry is, as always, the main goal behind Voldemort’s destruction; however, even after Harry dies he returns and kills Voldemort right back (ish)

Dumbledore—as you might expect from an irreverent and borderline-abusive headmaster, Dumbledore does his best to help Harry find a way to kill Voldemort and then departs for Mars with Rumbleroar

Draco—like in the books, Voldemort enlists Draco to kill Dumbledore, but when Draco eventually fails, he joins forces with Harry, Ron, and Hermione so that in the end he helps defeat Voldemort

via

Big Idea

humorous—Voldemort is a scary dude, but he gets played for laughs a lot. He’s not like his canon counterpart: he dances, he deals with romantic drama, and he’s kind of depressed. The ludicrousness of this characterization is what makes him so endearing.

same actions, different person—on that note, it’s interesting that this Voldemort is so endearing when he doesn’t behave differently than the canon. He killed Harry’s parents, split his soul into seven parts, and intends to eliminate muggle blood from the gene pool. This Voldemort is a different person, though, because he conceptualizes and reacts differently to the same crimes we tie to his name.

human—Voldemort has one key difference contributing to the former ideas. He still has the ability to love. Rather than taking away from the force of his character, this makes him morally complicated and unpredictable, so that he goes through the story as much a dynamic character as Harry. We have a vested interest in his fate. Isn’t that odd?

via
I like this Voldemort better.

The canon Voldemort has gradually lost my esteem over the years because of that key element of his character: he is unable to love. Sucks to be conceived under the influence of a love potion. Not only does that part of the worldbuilding open the door to a lot of psychopaths in the wizarding world, but it makes Voldemort an idea instead of a character. Rowling’s Voldemort is evil, end stop. He has been doomed to be unloving, prejudiced, and power-hungry from birth, and that sums up the beginning and end of his character.

I think that’s kind of sloppy. Would it kill the story to give Voldemort a little nuance—not with a tragic backstory, but with morally gray behavior?

That’s what we see in AVPM. We have a villain who finds joy in dancing, has a fling with Bellatrix Lestrange, and finds love inside a body that isn’t his. His soul is in shreds and yet he is just as human as Harry Potter and he still wants to kill muggles and muggle-borns because he can. He doesn’t have the canon Voldemort’s logical justifications—he just lives for this chaos. He loves. He feels compassion. He needs affection and support like anybody. And murder and destruction enflame his very soul.

You tell me—which character scares you more?


Have you seen A Very Potter Musical? Who was your favorite character?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Would You Want to Forget Your Favorite Books?

girl with book
Flickr Credit: Tom Martin
Perhaps you have seen this sentiment floating around:

“I wish that I could forget my favorite series so I could read it for the first time again.” [insert dreamy sigh here]

Usually I ignore such silliness, but the last time I saw someone say it, I was annoyed. Annoyed enough to talk about it. Because why on earth would this appeal to anyone? (Also, I needed to write something for today.)

I would never, ever want to forget my favorite series—any of them—simply for the same of enjoying them for the first time again.

I wouldn’t enjoy them the same way. I wouldn’t! I first encountered many of the books I call favorite when I was younger and less well-read. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to bash my younger self or books written for younger audiences. I just have a very different perspective now. When I bring up Harry Potter, it’s to express my frustration with its fascist government. When I discuss Ranger’s Apprentice, it’s to bemoan the sexism therein. I even struggle to muster enthusiasm for my favorite series, H.I.V.E., sometimes—there are SO MANY ADVERBS and it drives me bazonkers. I’ve liked these books. I still like these books. But part of my willingness to love them comes from a respect for the perspective I had when I first read them—a perspective I wouldn’t have now.

On that note, I made these books my favorites, and me alone. The books had something good in them that made me latch onto them, but simply being good doesn’t make a book worthy of my favorites shelf. I have to reread these books. Learn them. Adventure with them. Think and ponder and want and dream and hope and fangirl. I love this book because I’ve traveled with it—and who’s to say that I’ll have an equally enchanting journey once I forget the story? I’m grateful for what I’ve already got, thanks.

Also, forgetting your favorite series to enjoy it again seems a little vague. How much of the series do you lose? Do you lose just the events of the text? Do you entirely forget the characters? Do you forget things about the days when you read those books? Do you lose every memory you have associated with that book? Will you ever get those memories back? I realize that such questions remove all the fun from an innocent, what-if wish. But the answers actually matter to me. Being a reader has been important to me for a long time—I have made close friendships through books. I have drawn closer to certain family members through books. Books have offered life lessons and inspiration and influenced who I am today.

Forgetting books could make me forget meaningful parts of my life, and even parts of myself. Does that really seem like a good idea to anyone? (If it does, please do read More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. He might help.)


Reading a book for the first time is a magical experience, and something to be treasured when you find a book that is really, really good. I know that it’s something we want to remember because it’s meaningful to us as readers. But I think that’s the point of a first experience—it’s something that can’t be replicated, and that’s what makes it special. To replicate that experience would, in a way, dishonor the very point of first reads. And also be kind of irresponsible and silly, in my opinion.

We begin our journey with books as one person. We end as another. We don’t have to like it, but I think we have to embrace it anyway. Otherwise, how will we read? How will we reread? And why will it matter?

What is one book you’ve read that you never want to forget?


Monday, September 5, 2016

I Messed Up Book Tag

Book
Flickr Credit: Liza
Shall we do a tag?

I was not tagged and am not tagging, but I stole the I Messed Up tag from Kourtni at Kourtni Reads. FYI.

a character’s appearance you misread or imagined differently | you know Daisy’s friend Jordan in The Great Gatsby? She plays tennis. Since the only tennis player I know is Serena Williams, I pictured Jordan as a black woman. Which is awkward since Daisy’s husband is a white supremacist.

a character name you’ve been pronouncing incorrectly | Franz Argentblum is among my favorite characters in the H.I.V.E. series, but I’ve said the G in his name like “gentleman” although it turns out it’s supposed to be “guh” like goat.

an overused trope that is your guilty pleasure | bad boys. Bad boys like Ignifex and the Darkling and Victor Vale and Artemis Fowl and all of the others because they are so lovely and so bad.

a cliché character type you enjoy viewing on screen, but not reading | I don’t think I ever enjoy clichés that I hate, but there are elements of rom-coms that I cannot stand in books but I could suffer through in a movie, maybe.

a word/phrase you learned because of its use in a book | Expecto patronum! Or, you know, whatever.

have you ever not read/completed a required book for school? | absolutely not. You disgust me, tag question—how dare you impugn my honor!

have you ever [wanted to] skip a chapter from the POV of a character you weren’t interested in? | actually, yes. I didn’t realize how Marissa Meyer would add POVs with each new book in The Lunar Chronicles so I wanted to skip over this lame Scarlet person and get back to Cinder because that’s who I was reading for. But I didn’t because I know who I am and I am not a POV-skipper.

have you ever cancelled social plans to read a book? | no, but I don’t make social plans lightly.


All in all, I don’t think I’ve messed up quite so badly. Maybe. Maybe?

Tell me two ways that you have messed up with books in the comments!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Past and Future Favorites: My Classes This Semester

University Life 159
Flickr Credit: Francisco Osorio
Every third Friday I answer questions regarding my experiences as an English major in college. Today’s question comes from Jameson C. Smith from Lovely Whatsoevers, which she asked on Twitter:


To be clear: I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience in almost all my classes. I come home every day feeling like I’ve learned something cool. I’ve had great teachers. And my school has a thing for putting me out of my comfort zone, which I hate, but it is good for me. Even though I’m only sharing a handful of classes with you, they aren’t exceptions to the rule. Every class has given me something good.

Past Favorites


The Idea of the University—freshman writing seminars ensure that you can write for college (and I can). This meant a lot more than that. On the one hand, it explored what a university education is and why I might want one. We also took field trips, had tea, watched films, etcetera. This class helped me understand that I would enjoy college not just because of what I’d learn, but also because I’d be learning within an amazing community as well.

World Wars of the Twentieth Century and the Culture of Death—we did a butt-ton of reading in this class. Fallen Soldiers, Rites of Spring, The Fire, Catch-22. I haven’t had to read so much for a class since! Still, I gained a lot of insight into twentieth-century warfare and a little more respect for how it impacted today’s world. Though it was hard, it was a good challenge in a good class.

Tradition and Innovation—this class made a point of focusing on the stories of Native and African Americans and compassionate listening. It was especially pertinent considering our current political atmosphere. I am better because I took that class. For assignments we had to have conversations with people in our communities, and those were meaningful experiences for me.

American Lit Survey—I adored this class. The reading was great, with works from Faulkner and Plath and Alexie and DeLillo and so many other great writers. But the people in the class made it what it was, too. They were very smart and there was a lot of good humor, and during a game we played to study our midterm my team imagined the ghost of Adolf Hitler in drag. So.

Favorites-To-Be (I hope!)


Literary Analysis—though I anticipate greatness from all of my English classes this semester, I really look forward to this one. I spent our first day in stitches as we had a great discussion regarding “the symptoms of being an English major.” Also, I’ve looked at the syllabus and we are going to read such great stuff.

Sociology—considering what I read in the news and even the discussions I’ve followed on Twitter, sociology has a lot to teach me. I don’t really know what class will look like yet, but I’m ready to learn.

Theology of the Twentieth Century—this is another class that piques my interest, just ‘cause. I suppose I’m hoping for a lot from this class because we’re studying from a fairly different perspective than what I hear at church, and I like what I’ve heard in class better.


I have quite a semester ahead of me. I expect, like always, I’ll have my thoughts provoked, my assumptions questioned, and my fancies tickled by these subjects. I can’t wait!

Thanks for your question, Jameson!


What classes are you taking this year?


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Do You Dream About Books?

Dream
Flickr Credit: G.iulina

Dreams are okay. They are fun to have sometimes, and they make the nighttime more interesting.

All right, forgive me if I sound a little unenthusiastic. It’s intentional. I hold no grudge against dreams, but at the same time, I don’t put a lot of stock in them. They don’t mean anything to me. They aren’t mystical. They aren’t special. They are just a routine bodily function, kind of like a biological garbage disposal.

But I have to admit that occasionally dreams are intriguing, even fun. Some of my favorites are when I have a dream related to books or reading.

I’ve had dreams where I enter the story of a book. In dreams like this, I often interact with the characters but we don’t always follow the book’s storyline. It’s like subconscious fan fiction. The one I remember best involved me and my best friend joining up with the H.I.V.E. crew and I ended up getting stuck in an elevator shaft. It helped me spy on people, though, so I wasn’t mad. Also, my best friend was pretty good at fighting—notable because we both would get killed if we ever did any James-Bonding in real life.

I’ve had dreams where I take pieces of books, or even movies, and turn them into something else. This definitely has something to do with the garbage disposal idea. If I was reading or watching something before bed, my bed processes that by occasionally inserting a favored fictional character into whatever else I’m dreaming about. The most interesting one I can think of was one where a young Harrison Ford piloted a clockwork spaceship manned entirely by squirrels.

(No, I did not make that up.)

I’ve also had dreams where they are related to books because I spend the dream reading. This might be the kind of dream I remember most often. I once had a dream where I sat in a chair and read Encyclopedia Brown and had trouble solving the mysteries. I had another dream where I sat at my computer and read reviews on Amazon. And, occasionally, I read other stuff, too. I’ve dreamed that I’ve been chatting with my friends on an Internet Relay Chat or Facebook and just chatted for a while.


I like these kinds of dreams. I don’t usually remember a lot of dreams, so dreaming about books often gives me something to hold onto when I have something I want to remember and write down. It works for me. And it makes me a little curious:

Have you ever had a book-related or reading-related dream?


Monday, August 29, 2016

My Favorite Fictional Writers

Writer's Block... Why bother...
Flickr Credit: Gregory Gill
I have a secret grudge against fictional writers.

Well, maybe not so secret. I feel certain I’ve whined about at least on here somewhere. Sometimes it is simply the drama that follows these writers, other times I hate them. They are too silly for me to admire them.

I’ve always wondered why. If we are writers, shouldn’t we have a good concept of our work? Apparently not. I think many writers tend to glamorize the profession or allow the fictional character to experience the career he or she always wanted. Fiction is their place to explore publishing pipe dreams. It doesn’t usually make good reading. However, there are a few times when writers manage to pinpoint what the writer’s experience looks like (from my experience, anyway). They might just be better pipe dreams.

Ponyboy from The Outsiders—Ponyboy doesn’t lie about why he writes his book. He wants to pass a class at school. The Outsiders is his homework. My own interest in writing started in homework assignments, so his story feels familiar. In addition, while Ponyboy acknowledges that he is the writer, his story isn’t about writing. It’s about what is true and what is gold. That is even better than writing.

The Leverage Crew from The Bestseller Job—I love the scenario in this book precisely because it’s so absurd. To complete a con, the team writes a 100,000 word book in one day so that they can rope their opponent into the deal. I’ve never been under that kind of pressure, but the scene still hit on a few key ideas. First drafts aren’t meant to be pretty, they’re just meant to be there and semi-coherent and that’s what they get. Also, the soul-sucking and the junk food and the glazed eyes were too real.

Rick Castle from Castle—okay, if we’re calling out fictional writers for being gray imaginings representing nothing similar to real life, then let’s call out Castle. No one is a writer the way Castle is a writer. Of this I am 95% sure. But that’s not the point. The point is that he’s a person. He has a family and relationships and an interest in murder mysteries and justice. Like before, his story isn’t about being a writer. It’s about being something bigger. And being bigger than a writer... it means a lot.


There are other decent fictional writers, but these are the ones I’ve devoted most of my time to. I certainly haven’t found anyone better. They make me smile. They have something important to say. I think I can learn something from them. Also, sometimes it is good to have small lists.

Who is one of your favorite fictional writers?


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursentary: That One Character Who Didn't Get Enough Backstory

I don’t know about you, but I am in it for the character-driven plotline. I love those things! I love getting to pore over a character’s history and heart and find out why they’re doing what they’re doing and whether they should stop. Of course, I can’t always do this.

It’s all because of That One Character Who Didn’t Get Enough Backstory.

via
That One Character can come from anywhere. They could be a main character, a minor player, a villain, an extra. No matter their role in the story, that character sticks out to you. She’s special. He did something that caught your eye and you remembered it forever. You wanted to see what they would do next… but never got the whole story. For whatever reason, the author stayed quiet when you wanted to know more.

And now here we are with a beloved character and an ignorance of what drives them.

For me, That One Character is Emmett Cullen from the Twilight Saga. It’s very easy to forget that Emmett is a complete and total bro.

via
We can forget because Bella spends more time with the other vampires, so one could assume that Emmett doesn’t like her very much. Especially considering his wife doesn’t. But this is not so.

Emmett greets Bella like a friend. His competitive and protective sides make him the most vocal when James, Victoria, and Laurent threaten Bella’s life. He doesn’t hesitate to defend any one member of his family, whether they be vampire, human, or dhampir. One of my favorite scenes in the movies is when he joins Bella to present Nessie to Aro.

Emmett Cullen does not suck as a person. And we know practically nothing about his former life.

via
I don’t think it’s fair. Almost every other Cullen reveals important, emotionally-charged tidbits that help us understand who they are and why in their second life. We get Carlisle’s compassion, Esme’s love, Rosalie’s bitterness, Alice’s mystery, Jasper’s combativeness, Edward’s loneliness…

Apparently the fact that Emmett got mauled by a bear and almost lived speaks for itself. Except, it doesn’t.

via
And I’ve felt that way about maybe other characters. Emmett isn’t That One Character alone. Tell me more about Captain Mal from Firefly. Give me a little more into who Chief Karen Vick is on Psych. Where did Sophie Devereaux come from before Leverage? What happened to Minerva after she met Artemis Fowl?

I’m not asking for new novels, new movies, new TV series. That would be a bit much. But still, looking back on what is and what could have been, I have to ask myself—what don’t we know about that character? What about their beginning made this the most compelling ending?

I wish I knew.


Do you have a favorite character you wish received more backstory? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

REVIEW: Saga, Volume 6

A book review? Really? I know, I never do them, but today is an exception. I have finished Saga V.6 by Brian K. Vaughan and I have no one for to talk at. This is my bid at spoiler-free feelings.

Wish me luck.
via
Summary (via Goodreads)

After a dramatic time jump, the three-time Eisner Award winner for Best Continuing Series continues to evolve, as Hazel begins the most exciting adventure of her life: kindergarten. Meanwhile, her starcrossed family learns hard lessons of their own.


Top 9 Thoughts


Alana and Marko :: their commitment to family and themselves and their individuality and healing after past rifts is still adorable. Together and free is the dream. And they have pretty faces.

Hazel :: this kid. She can talk and she has almost no filter. This makes her more than a little adorable, and relatable as well. Of course, it’s also a little painful. Hazel must be sheltered from the very communities she is a part of lest she get hurt, so she can’t always relate to those around her. And with her family… let’s just say she is a chubby bowl of bittersweet.

Klara :: I never anticipated this woman becoming one of my favorite characters, but here we are. I love Klara. I love the space Klara has to be Klara. Is she flawed? Yes. Hardened? Yes. Hateful, even? That, too. And yet so much of Klara is about the fierce kinship she shares with those she loves. Her son and his wife. Her granddaughter. The community of women she is proud to be a part of. Family makes her hard and soft, and they are all her family.

The Will :: so I realize he remains a part of this series because sooner or later he’s going to attack Alana and Marko’s family and kill them, but still. HE IS A POOR BABY. His loss hurts, too. I sympathize with him greatly. WHY CAN’T HE BE OKAY?

Prince Robot :: while still a major a-hole, he also has this stupid nobility and honor that makes him… decent. Especially around children. I wish I could hate him more. But I can't so I shan't.

teachers :: there are people who believe in kids and who pass on the most important values because they actually believe in them. There are teachers who foster hope. Noreen is one of them.

diversity :: much like in our own world, controversy abounds among gender roles and identities, sexual orientations, interracial/inter-species romance, and so on. The diverse range of characters is great, of course, but the real thought-provoking part is how members of these oppressed groups still turn on one another and doing so. Self-preservation, perhaps. I don’t have a conclusion to this thought, but I’d like to follow it in the rest of the series.

media :: on that note, we reunite with our amphibious journalists who hope to expose Alana and Marko, on account of it would be very profitable. I struggle to sympathize with their motivations but in our world of social media and instant news, I think they present questions worth asking. Is what I say mine to share? Is it right? Do people need the sensational?

ending :: *bursts into tears and is very sad and happy and melancholy and concerned and anxious and MOAR*


TL;DR :: I am in this for the character development and due to the emotional manipulation my heart is having problems with keeping it together. I loved it. I want more of it. I need it. That is all.

5/5 Stars

Have you read Saga? (If so, can we be friends?) If you haven't, what are you reading today?


Monday, August 22, 2016

Blogging Community Tag (Again)

I’m bringing sexy back.

Also, I am bringing back a tag created by Jo at The Bearable Blog: the Blogging Community Tag. Hey, wait. Didn’t you do that last year? Yes, yes I did. And I’ve decided to do it again! As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the blogging community is what makes this experience so great, and I wanted to recognize a few amazing bloggers for that reason.


Let us return to the rules:
  • answer the seven eight questions [topic added in the spirit of more love and even numbers]
  • tag some folks (no particular number required)
  • link back to Jo, because even though she said it was optional that is just good manners
  • include the globe picture
via

In which I acknowledge DEDICATED BLOGGERS

ENGIE at MUSINGS FROM NEVILLE’S NAVEL—she maintains this blog while still in college; also, she posted, like, every day during Pride Month

JAMESON at LOVELY WHATSOEVERS—Jameson is very good about updating us with her writing and snippets, especially considering she blogs elsewhere, too

IMOGEN at GOSSIPING WITH DRAGONS—she offers helpful writing advice while working on her own novels, and also makes videos sometimes

via

In which I acknowledge COMMITTED COMMUNITY MEMBERS

ALEXA at SUMMER SNOWFLAKES—this girl makes time to post about her passions AND shares her favorite posts in the community every week, without fail (to which I say, “wow”)

GRACE at SOMEWHAT RESERVED—I admire how she’s jumped into the blogging community wholeheartedly and shares her thoughts (ironically) without reserve

LENE at NEVER GONNA MAKE YOU CRY—a new find of mine, but still, she is both enchanting and touching with her willingness to reach out to other bloggers of all backgrounds

via

In which I acknowledge BEAUTIFUL BLOG DESIGNS

ALYSSA at THE DEVIL ORDERS TAKEOUT—though Alyssa operates mostly through her emails now, I still love this design

AMY at LITTLE MOON ELEPHANT—there are leetle elephants and they are so cute and on top of that Amy shares her adventures traveling on a budget and it is great

RM at THE BOOK HOUND—for a blog about adventure, she achieves the Indiana-Jones-esque look and it works for her

via

In which I acknowledge GREAT REVIEWERS AND BOOK BLOGGERS

SHAR and SHANTI at VIRTUALLY READ—these two are always a delight to read, and provide both great recommendations and excellent talking points when it comes to themes in books

CAIT at PAPER FURY—aside from dazzling us all with radiant reviews and book discussions, she also has dragons, and possibly an army

EMILY at LOONY LITERATE—Emily comes up with great book-related discussions, my personal favorite being YA books if they changed genres (parts one and two)

via

In which I acknowledge DEEP AND THOUGHTFUL BLOGGERS

LIZ at OUT OF COFFEE, OUT OF MIND—man, Liz has been through some shit (really, there is no other word) and she converts it into perceptive reflections and meaningful book talks

ASHANA LIAN at ASHANA LIAN’S FANTASY LAB—Ashana has had some difficult times which she’s written frankly about, but now that she’s returning I look forward to seeing what she shares

OPAL at OPAL SWIRLS—getting through school and navigating friendships leads to profound reflections, and Opal makes her message stick

via

In which I acknowledge BLOGS THAT ARE JUST DARN ENJOYABLE

LUCY at LUCY’S COLOURED PENCILS—she shares fanart for some of my favorite books, including H.I.V.E. and Percy Jackson, and I’m always delighted by the scenes she brings to life

ALEX at THIRD STAR TO THE RIGHT—on her blog she’s honest about being a writer, which includes the part where she’s gotten a few short stories published (and they are great!)

SUNNY at A SPLASH OF INK—you may know her as an intelligent purveyor of books, but she also shares her photography at A Splash of Photography, which is also cool

via

In which I acknowledge BLOGGERS WITH A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR

VICTORIA at THE ENDLESS OCEANS OF MY MIND—she often shares stories of her misadventures that are smile-worthy, but she also sneaks jokes into her more serious discussions, too

AIMEE at TO THE BARRICADE—Aimee remains the unchallenged master of gifs and also has a cutting wit that presents itself on her blog and on Twitter

SUNSET at THE SUNSET SKY—Sunset combines the sincere with the snarky, and makes writing fun while remembering it’s also miserable

via

In which I acknowledge INSPIRATIONAL BLOGS

EMILY at EMILY RACHELLE WRITES—over the last few months Emily provided a space for LGBTQ+ Christians to share their stories, and it was so important

TOPAZ at SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS—Topaz has been brutally honest and transparent about her mental health but still exists as a conduit for beautiful and silken things

STEPHANIE at FIREFLIES IN A JAR—though I still find all her words hard to swallow, they are often beautiful and make me grateful and curious and good


BOOM. Do I not have an excellent community? I do, I do. And, for that reason, I’m tagging everyone on this list to highlight the best bloggers in their neighborhoods. (Please, do not feel obligated to come up with 24 bloggers. One must be prolific when one is getting the word out.)

Anyway, YOU ARE ALL AWESOME. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

What is one of your favorite blogs? Link me up so I can visit!