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