Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Worst Books of 2013

My 'Best Books of 2013' video will be going up either later tonight or tomorrow morning, but in the meantime let's take a look at the 'Worst Books of 2013.' I don't particularly like talking about bad books, because I'd hate to turn anyone off of reading. However, I do like my viewers and readers enough to turn them off certain books that will only waste their time and inspire utter fury in their souls. I tend to research my books before I spend my time reading them, so I only have a few on this list.

Before anyone sends me hate mail, let me start off by saying that I am super biased in my hatred towards Cassandra Clare's writing. I was active in the Harry Potter fandom back in the day when Cassie was stealing other people's work and being utterly horrible to people. She was a typical fandom bully. So I went into this series already not liking the author as a person. I tried to set aside my distaste for her and tried to focus on the writing and the story. Both were crap. The writing more so. I've never seen more errors in my entire life. Where was the editor? Who knows. The writing was so bad, the dialogue so cheesy and cliche, that I actually found the the first book hilarious enough to continue with the series. They are super tough to get through because they're just so frustratingly bad, but I do plan on working my way through the entire series. I do love Simon as a character, as well as Magnus, and I hate that they have to be written by someone who won't treat them the way they should be treated. Also I hate Jace with a passion, so there's that.

This was my only one star book this year. I hate giving one star to any books, but please so believe this one deserved it. As I have alluded to in the past, this book literally made me sick. It was so frustrating that someone would have these thoughts and then write them done and publish them, that it got me so angry,made my stomach all knotty and actually gave me diarrhea. It is an entire memoir of Hilary (who has written for some of my favorite tv shows) whining about her past relationships. I don't like to use the word 'whining' to talk about women writing about their lives, but I don't quite have another word for it. She wrote this book because her ex-boyfriend wrote a book whining about HIS past relationships (but called it fiction) and she thought she should get a chance to get back at him. Most of these chapters have to do with her taking really sad baths and eating at Olive Garden (where mostly sad things happen). She seems to think and insist that she can only be happy when she has a boyfriend whom she devotes all of her time thinking about and having sex with. Her ideas about what a healthy relationship are is so twisted and upsetting to me. I picked this up because I had pervious read and loved Let's Pretend This Never Happened by The Blogess and wanted another funny memoir by a funny woman. Jenny's book was so well written, flowed so well and actually led up to her learning from her past experiences. Hilary's was nothing like that at all. I have nothing against Hilary and will continue to enjoy the shows she writes for, but I may have to burn this book instead of donating or selling it so no one else will read it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Sexism Slap in the Face

(This is a companion piece to go with my review of The House at the End of Hope Street above)

Reading The House at the End of Hope Street this month made me realize something unsettling about myself. I have misogynistic tendencies and a tendency to view things in a heteronormative light. Everyone I know in meat space tends to think that I am The Ultimate Feminist, someone who takes feminism WAY too far. I roll my eyes and mutter “typical cishet white guy” under my breath like a curse. I will drop a show like a hot potato for treating women (especially queer women) poorly (hey, Moffat). I will literally start crying out of frustration when having a heated discussion about feminism.

However, while I was reading Hope Street I made an unconscious assumption about a strong willed English professor. Menna van Praag made a point to not address the English professor the main character Abla was in love with by a gendered pronoun. It was always ‘Dr.Skinner’ or ‘the professor.’ Having heard of this book from The Lesbray, I should have suspected that Dr. Skinner was in fact a women and that Alba was then in turn a queer women. However, for 75% of the novel, I was sure the professor was a man.

Is it institutionalized sexism, the way I just assumed a highly intelligent professor from Cambridge University would be a male? Probably. I’m only 20, and have only been aware of feminism for about two or three years so I haven’t quite shaken off what I was taught for the first 17-18 years of my life. Was it a shock to my system to realize this? Hell yes. It was rather scary. I feel like I should blame society and not myself for this, but I am one to always put the blame upon myself.

Is it institutionalized heteronormativity? Possibly. I read a lot of lesbian lit (although mostly YA) so it’s not that I’m not used to reading books about girls falling in love with one another. I think it was much more of a disbelief. This novel does not read like the queer lit I have read in the past. It read like a bestseller, one Oprah would put her book club stickers on. Not to mention it was written by a straight woman. I wasn’t expecting it to be an overly queer book. I didn’t dare hope that this person Alba was so, insanely infatuated with would be a women. I didn’t dare hope that the person Alba gets together with in the end would be a women, either. I’ve gotten used to just expecting not to be represented in any well written media. We get shit like Glee, we don’t get beautiful prose. I’ve gotten used to being pushed to the side and disappointed.

Is it a generalized distrust of men and a stereotypical view of women? Truthfully, probably. You see, the character of Dr. Skinner is a despicable villain. She uses Alba and screws her over in a huge way. Women are supposed to be motherly, right? That’s why Umbridge in Harry Potter is such a scary character. She’s a woman, she’s suppose to take care of these kids. Men, they are the ones with the power to make and break people. They’re the ones to be scared of. As a women, I am scared of men. I have to be. I am thankful I live in a relatively small and crime free city, but I still wouldn’t be caught dead on the streets after dark. Even in the daytime I speed up if a man is walking behind me closely. We’re told we have to be cautious of our actions and our wardrobe so men don’t do something evil to us.

It seems like such a small thing but it says so much about myself and the society I have grown up in. I remember realizing I had read Lavender Brown as white and to this day I have consciously made sure that my headcanons at least have the same damn skin color as the character descriptions (if they are described as something other than white. Sometimes I change characters that are either described as white or are just defaulted to white as POCs because I firmly believe that it’s acceptable thing to do). I’m hoping this experience will enhance my reading and make me think about characters that are simply defaulted to men or women depending on the context. This topic could also be applied to characters automatically defaulted to cisgender, also, especially in terms of what context gives hints towards the character being male or female. However, I believe that that discussion will be saved until I read some more books with trans* characters and educate myself a little more.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013 Writing Soundtrack

I give every single one of my projects a playlist or soundtrack, if you will. This year's nanowrimo playlist was a little all over the place. I started gathering songs that only relate to the theme of the novel, and then I just went crazy with the video game soundtrack songs. Every song really does go with at least one scene, but it was mostly just music that I could write to without getting distracted.

 It, um, six hours long. I'm currently trying to find all the songs to add them to THIS YOUTUBE PLAYLIST.YES YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE WHOLE THING IF YOU WANT TO.

Monster;Imagine Dragons
City of Bones;Atil Orvasson (frm the TMI soundtrack)
Twice the Fool;Christophe Beck (frm Buffy)
The Social Network Soundtrack;Trent Reznor
Distant Sures;The Cave Singers
Morgause's Magic;Robin Stevenson (frm the Merlin soundtrack)
Seducing Pixie;Robin Stevenson (frm the Merlin soundtrack)
First Class;Henry Jackman (frm X-Men: First Class)
Always Know Where You Are; BBMak (frm Treasure Planet)
Ghosts;Mayday Parade
The Pacific Rim Soundtrack;Ramin Djwadi
Meeting Arthur;Rob Lane (frm the Merlin soundtrack)
Fighting in the Market;Rob Lane (frm the Merlin soundtrack)
Business As Usual;Rob Lane (frm the Merlin soundtrack)
No Harm Tonight;Lenka
Dangerous and Sweet;Lenka
Will Not Grow Old;Lenka
Anything I'm Not;Lenka
Bring Me Down;Lenka
Everything at Once;Lenka
Thrift Shop; Vitamin String Quartet
Fez: Adventure;disasterpeace
RED ZONE;Tatsh & NAOKI (frm DDR)
 INNOCENCE OF SILENCE; nc feat. NRG Factory (frm DDR)
Old Town;Russell Shaw (frm Fable)
Witchwood;Russell Shaw (frm Fable)
Marcus Memorial;Russell Shaw (frm Fable)
A Cat Named Mittens;Stephen Rippy
Chocolate Outline;Stephen Rippy
(Basically the whole) Command & Conquer Soundtrack; Tim Wynn
(Basically the whole) Blue Dragon Soundtrack;Nobuo Uematsu
Cruise Ship;Hideyuki Fukasawa (frm Street Fighter)
Drive in At Night;Hideyuki Fukasawa (frm Street Fighter)
Casablanca;Leon Willett (frm Dreamfall)
Zoe's Theme;Leon Willett (frm Dreamfall)
Final Fantasy Man Theme; Nobuo Uemstu
 Olivion;Jeremy Soule (frm Elder Scrolls)
The Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game Soundtrack;Anamanaguchi
The Black Wand;frm Grey Matter
Never Going Back There;frm Grey Matter
Safe in Arms;frm Grey
Matter Ancient Times and Kingdoms;Dynamedion (frm The Settlers 7)
Victory is Life;Dynamedion (frm The Settlers 7)
Sexclamationmarkpea;Peter Melchart (frm Prototype)
(Basically the whole) Sword & Sworcery soundtrack;Jim Guthrie
Epic Mickey soundtrack;James Dooley
Birth By Sleep;Yoko Shimomura (frm Kingdom Hearts)
Boy Meats Girl;Danny Baranowsky (frm Super Meat Boy!)
Spolied r0tt3n;Danny Baranowsky (frm Super Meat Boy!)
Meat Boy (Flash);Danny Baranowsky (frm Super Meat Boy!)
Blobolian Beauty;Daniel Sadowski (frm A Boy and His Blob)
Village of the Blols;Daniel Sadowski (frm A Boy and His Blob)
Villiage of the Blobs;Daniel Sadowski (frm A Boy and His Blob)
Home Dark Home;Daniel Sadowski (frm A Boy and His Blob)
A Medley of Credits;Daniel Sadowski (frm A Boy and His Blob)
Army of Assholes;Jim Guthrie (frm Indie Game:The Movie)
 Music Box version of Radioactive;Joshua Saunders  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My NaNoWriMos

I realize that sometimes, especially in my nanowrimo vlogs and on twitter, I rant about my nano stories as if you all know what I'm talking about. Also I sometimes talk about my experiences during camp nanowrimo when there are people who have started following me since July. So, since I have time before a few word sprints, let me just explain you some things.

I've always, always wanted to do Nanowrimo. My first memory of hearing about it was in middle school, I believe, but I had no idea about the young writers program. I've had Chris Baty's No Plot, No Problem for years and years and years (and years. Seriously that poor book is so beat up by now). However, November was always met with a bunch of school stuff, whether that be tests, oral interp competitions or play rehearsals. I did try to do nano my junior year of high school, but I only got maybe 5K into it.

Flash forward to my traumatic freshman fall semester of college, from where I took a break from school. I suddenly have vast, open amounts of time. I used the first 6 months of that time recovering from my traumatic time at school, but I still wasn't healthy enough for a job or to go back to school. Hence the vlogging. However I still had tons of times on my hands so I decided I was going to brainstorm a novel. I had a list of ideas and finally decided on the one that said "Online couple that’s like a mix between lucy and kae and essie and aslan and that one thing about charlie a ALSO CHARLIE AND BRYARLY FANFICTION (possibly meet through blogging)WRITTEN ENTIERLY THOUGH BLOG POSTS." That should show you how coherent my ideas are, as well as any pre-writing, because it all looked like that.

That was in April. I realized that I had something (i.e. about 20 pages of brainstorming) that could actually be turned into a novel. It was then that I realized I had to do this for Camp NanoWriMo which I heard plenty about because, well, it was April. I, of course, only finished the 20 pages of brain storming about two weeks AFTER April 1st, so I knew I had to wait until July. This was about the time that I uploaded this video, as I was incredibly impatient and wanted to share that impatience. 

(Don't read the comments on this, they're ridiculous)

 So then I waited for July, writing things from my characters perspective and really getting to know the characters I was going to be spending all of July with. It made my writing so much better. Even though it was nanowrimo, I was writing the kind of prose I wanted to write. To this day I am blown away with what I managed to write in a month. I'm a very, very humble person but holy crap, you guys, I wrote some beautiful stuff.

 My camp nanowrimo novel was definitely quality over quantity. I decided since this would be my first fictional work over 5K I would aim for 25K. I did win camp nanowrimo, technically, hitting about 26K for the month.

  My Camp Nanowrimo story, tentatively titled Love Lily, ended up being a story of Lily, a girl who had just been released from a mental hospital for trying to kill herself, and Garfield, a boy who blamed myself for his best friend's death. They both begin writing a blog about their journey through recovery and joining a depression online community. They comment on each other's post and eventually start emailing and IMing each other, with Lily helping Garfield through his struggles. It was told entirely though blog posts, emails and instant messaging, except for the epilogue where it finally switches to third person.

 It definitely helped my through my own recovery. Not just the story line, but the act of writing everyday. I was being productive and it made me feel great. Which meant that I decided right then, July 31st, to participate in Nanowrimo. All 50,000 words of Nanowrimo.

  Which meant, of course, that I had multiple months to do the same kind of pre-writing I did with Love Lily. Can you see where this is going? Yep. I did zero pre-writing before Halloween. I had an idea, which I had done 2 or 3 pages of brainstorming for, but I was running around for character names about thirty minutes before nano started. I still don't have a concrete ending for this story and I'm currently at 45K. You can listen to me talk about how unprepared I was for week one, but how much fun I had anyway down there.

  This time I was much more concerned with getting to 50K so it's been quantity over quality. This time around I'm playing with third person point of view and actually including action and dialog. I've learned that I'm definitely better at writing long streams of pretty, angsty prose than writing action sequences. It's all a big mess, with me not knowing what the hell I'm doing, but I'm pretty sure that's the point of nanowrimo.

  This currently untitled novel is about an almost 18 year old foster kid that essentially gets kidnapped by a ~secret government agency~ that fights against an ancient evil warlock and his army of other evil supernatural creatures, because she is a witch. The organization is pretty shifty, with them following her around for years and not letting her leave, but the people who work for them take her in as family. There's a lot of magic and technology working hand in hand, as well as a lot of talk about "what is evil and what is good?" Not to mention, a beautiful cast of diverse characters including but not limited to a gender-neutral librarian who enjoys Disney, a large gay African American weapons specialist, a tiny hispanic asexual healer/kindgergarden teacher, and a super confident bi-sexual vampire. i also might have made the main cishet dude really terrible but let's not talk about that.

  Right now I'm set to win Nanowrimo and I'm honestly shocked. This is something I've always thought about doing (TEN YEARS give or take) and now I'm actually doing it and soon I can say I did it. I can stop saying that I've only written a novella. I get to stop tacking on the -ella! When people ask me what I did during my semesters off I can say I wrote a novel (and a novella). I can't wait to be done and print out this beast so I can hit my father in the face with it--I mean wait what (he deserves it let's be honest and he keeps yelling at me for not doing anything with myself).

  Be on the lookout for my very emotional 'NaNoWriMo: The End' video where I will be more in shock and probably more tired.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October ~spooky~ TBR

I want to read so many books this month, it's ridiculous. In addition to three non-spooky library books, I also have a mighty need to read every 'Halloween-y' book on my shelves. That includes physical and kindle shelves. Here is a list of all October appropriate books I desire to read, of which I will probably only get to half of:

This would be my third reading of Frankenstein, but it gets better every single time. I do believe this novel holds the title for my favorite classic, so of course I have to read it this month. It's the perfect time for another rereading!

Obviously I love Frankenstein, so a modern version with a crime element is right up my ally. I read the first novel about two years ago, so it get through the next two I will either be confused out of my mind for the next two, or I'll just have to suck it up and do a reread of the first book. These are hefty books, folks. Three plus the original Frankenstein is quite a lot to read during my favorite month.

I have never read Dracula! I've been meaning to read it but I kept telling myself I'd read it closer to Halloween. Well, it's closer to Halloween! Also, Jason from TheHeavyBlanks is doing a kind of read-along this month so what better time to finally get this read, eh?

I honest to God don't even know what this is about other than it's a gothic (possibly queer?) love story with a female vampire, but Jessie Quinn from CupOfBooks read it and we have similar tastes in books. Also it's short and I found it online for free.

 Well, it's about vampires and I own it and should really get around to reading it. Now's as good as a time than any, I suppose.

I'm so obsessed with the new television series Sleepy Hollow and while I know the novel is not anything like the show, I desperately need to read it. It's scary and in the public domain.

This was on my Stember TBR list and I never got around to read it. It's about magic so it could totally go with my Halloween-y books.

This has been on my Goodreads TBR list forever and it's only $1.99 on Kindle. I think the title speaks for itself. I obviously need this book in my life.

I've owned this forever and haven't got through it yet, but I'm in the mood for really cheesy zombie stories. Plus I'm always in the mood for Pride and Prejudice.

All of the books on this list so far have been books I own, are in the public domain or I could get for less than 3 bucks. This is not one of those. However, I've been putting off buying this book but I think needing a good ghost story is a good enough reason to spend money. Plus, I loved the first novel and need to know what happens. Also, Maureen just got a new puppy and needs money to raise Zelda in a stable household.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Forgive me, Rainbow Rowell

(Today's blog comes with a disclaimer: I am much more focused in my Booktube videos than I ever will be in this blog. It evidently all ties up just stay with me here.)

Yesterday the wonderful Christine from polandbananasBOOKS posted a quick FAQ style confessions video in which she explained that she can not read The Fault in Our Stars because of her physical reaction to diseases. She had to explain this because of the sheer number of questions plus several rude demands that she read it.

I feel like by being part of any book community there are pressures and expectations to read certain things. It really shouldn't ever be a shock to find out someone hasn't read a book that has come out in the last two years. For me, books are far more expensive than movies or music. Not that I have ever tried, but books are far harder to illegally download than movies or music.

However, now that I think of it, no one should ever be rudely shocked ("Why isn't there a review of this book on your site? YOU'VE NEVER READ IT? WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?!") that someone hasn't read a book. Any book, classic or not. The Gwendolyn Reading Method recently uploaded a video called "You Haven't Read WHAT??" talking about her experiences with people shocked over her unread books.

There are far too many books and not nearly enough time. That is the struggle of the reader. Therefore, we should all respect each others book choices. We can't read EVERYTHING. My time on Earth is precious, so I'm only going to read certain books. I use a very complicated system to decide what those books will be (let's just call it "I Read Whatever the Fuck I Feel Like") but I do have a few things that would stop me from reading a book even if I really, really wanted to read it.


If you've been subbed to me on YouTube for a while, you might know that I talk about my anxiety a lot. Basically college messed me up and it was really bad for a long time. It's still bad. In fact, it's so bad that I totally understood where Christine was coming from because I experience a physical and emotional reaction due to fiction containing college plot lines. I don't faint, but I do shake and hyperventilate and cry and other things related to panic attacks.

I can't watch Undeclared despite the fact that it has my favorite actor of all time in it. I skipped several episodes of Buffy during her first year at college. Most recently, I discovered I can't read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is a book I should read, one that people will be shocked to discover I haven't read in a few months. I own it and the cover art is by my favorite illustrator. I've read Rainbow's other work and loved it. It's based on the Harry Potter fandom. It's title is literally in my username for every site. The summary is a summary of my life. I thought it was going to be the book for me. Opened up to the first page, read that the main character is moving her stuff into her freshman dorm, went "nope," closed the book and proceeded to have a panic attack that left me drained and depressed for over two days.

So, yeah, I'm not going to be reading Fangirl until I have completely sorted out my anxiety over college because I don't wish to cause myself real emotional and physical distress over a book (although it can be argued that I have emotional distress over all fictional stories that I care about at all, but that's normally welcomed. This is not).

Just for the record, I know that college is not a trigger for me and that this whole post is about typical 'first world problems,' but it's still a thing that happens to me and apparently other people, too. Also I'm totally not comparing Christine's thing to mine because they're not the same thing at all but her video just prompted me to talk about this. Lot's of disclaimer's today. 

Basically,  this is a really convoluted way to say let's not judge people by what they've read or haven't read. There could either be a "legitimate" reason for it, or "just freaking because, that's why." No big deal, wither way. Unless it's Harry Potter. Then you better get on that.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dear Ben Aaronovitch and other creators

I’ve never read any of Ben Aarononwitch’s work, I intended to, but now I highly doubt I will after all the drama he caused last week. Let me quickly run down what went down: Ben commented on The Book Smuggler’s review of his Peter Grant series. I would like to point out that in this review she says that she loves these books. However, the criticism she gives about the book is the treatment of women. Personally, the quotes she, Ana the reviewer, cited make me as a women really uncomfortable. Ben comes in and goes “You’re totally misinterpreting what I wrote!” He doesn’t address the comments about sexism, other than saying a rather rude and untrue comment about how strong women wouldn’t put up with unwanted sexually advances. He bashes the reviewer for assuming the two main characters have feelings for each other when he admitted that he added “a few lines” that shows that they do. He tells us to look passed the meta. He then stays and argues with the reviewer.

Now, this happens a lot but there’s an added bonus to this story! The whole ordeal sparked a really awesome post from Strange Horizons about fan spaces and creator spaces. It’s something you should DEFINITELY read because it’s about fandom and can be related to booktube. It basically talks about how creators are entering fandom and how that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Fans should be able to discuss things, especially the social impact of the thing, without the creator coming in and saying “NO THIS IS JUST A THING DON’T LOOK AT IT CLOSER!” Fans should be able to have headcanons and ships and so forth without the creators coming in and saying “THAT’S NOT CANON! STOP IT!”

However, Ben Aaronovitch disagreed. How surprising. He showed up in the comments AGAIN. Ben says he “loves throwing his canonical weight around” and that he’s “ more than happy to provide a NO WRITERS icon if you need one.” He literally called someone an idiot in the comments. It felt a bit like Amy’s Baking Company, to be honest.

Ben, no. Shhh. Stop talking. I don’t care about your canon. Once I read a book, that book is mine to think whatever I want about. I’m going to ship Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray no matter what canon says. I don’t give a shit about what you intended, because I took it a different way. I hate quoting John Green, but seriously books “belong to their readers now, which is a great thing–because the books are more powerful in the hands of readers.” As an author, your job is done once a reader reads a book. It is not your job to force people to read your book a certain way.

You are do not belong on fanfiction.net. You do not belong on Tumblr searching the tags of ships. You do not belong on Goodreads arguing with everyday readers. You do not belong on any book reviews you don’t agree with. Feel free to read everything, I don’t care. But expect to be bitched out if you enter a space not made for you, a space we as fans think it a save space to discuss our favorite works in painstaking detail.These spaces are ours, for the readers to tell other people who are thinking about reading the books what we thought about it. We don’t need a “NO WRITER’S” icon because you shouldn’t be so insecure that you need to argue the fact that you're a good author. We don’t need a “NO WRITER’S” icon because it’s common sense. It’s not up to us to protect your ego. Go to your own website and talk about what you meant when you wrote something. Talk to fans on Twitter if they tweet at you. Go somewhere you’re invited to go. Blogger’s always like inviting authors to guest blog about their work. I get that talking about writing is fun, but we didn’t ask you to come correct us about your sexist writing or about the relationships we choose to root for. Our reviews, at least FAN reviews, are not for you. They are for people thinking about reading the book. They are for people who read the book and want to discuss it with other people who read the book. As a reviewer myself, I don’t want you on my review telling me I’m wrong because my reviews are my honest thoughts about the book. A “thank you for reviewing my book and giving it more publicity” will suffice if you're going to comment.

And lastly, if If a woman says she thought your book is sexist, it’s sexist, okay? You as a man can not tell a women that she is reading your sexist bullshit “the wrong way.” This applies to a POC telling you your book is racist, or displays their race in a bad or incorrect light. I could explain why, but jesus christ just have some compassion and some common sense and just accept that’s the way it is.