Saturday, December 31, 2016

Eyewitness Review: Episodes 8 and 9

End of Year Survey 2016


For the last several years, I have been participating in Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner's annual end of year survey, and this year is no different. I look forward to getting to reflect on my reading each year. I'll go ahead and warn you now: This is one of the years where I repeat a lot of the same books over at over. I read fewer books this year than the past several years, and a lot of what I read was non-fiction, so you'll be seeing a lot of the same fiction books listed.


Number of books you read: 51 (Just one over my Goodreads reading challenge goal!)
Number of Re-reads: 7 (Though I re-read Cursed Child several times.)
Genre you read the most from: Harder to calculate, but I believe I read more non-fiction than anything else.


1. Best book you read in 2016?
Some years this is easy, and other years it's difficult. This year it's difficult solely because the only additions to my "all time favorites" list on Goodreads were one particular series. I'll go ahead and choose the first as my favorite I suppose: Haven by A.R. Ivanovich.

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?
Frey by Melissa Wright is about elves, which are magical creatures I don't think I read about enough, but sadly, I didn't get that into the book.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
Because I Love You by Tori Rigby. I got far more into that book than I had anticipated. There were a lot of tears.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
This should probably go to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne because it was new Harry Potter material and I needed to talk to as many people as possible about it despite not liking it much.

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
I'm going to somewhat cheat for this question. I read all of the War of Princes series by A.R. Ivanovich this year, and that series takes this entire question.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
A.R. Ivanovich. I've only read the War of Princes series, but I really did love it so much.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I read Dear Chairman by Jefferson Gramm, which is about shareholder activism, not a topic I knew much about. It was interesting, though I'm not sure I'll ever seek out more information on the topic.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
I'm tempted to bring up War of Princes again, but instead I'm going to choose Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw.

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The War of Princes series. I'm already planning to re-read them.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
Paper Hearts, Volume 1 by Beth Revis

11. Most memorable character of 2016?
Scorpius Malfoy from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?
Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Admittedly, this was a re-read for me, but I taught the book to high school freshmen you by and large were not fans of reading, which made discussing this quote incredibly interesting.

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2016?
Shortest: Little House on the Prairie: From A to Z by Patrick Loubatière
Longest: Longman Anthology of British Literature, Volume 1B: The Early Modern Period by David Damrosch

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne (The Trolley Witch. Do I need to say anything else?)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter. I think this may be the first year where I've chosen a couple that isn't actually together in the book they are from.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
I really loved Katelyn and Kyle's friendship in the War of Princes series by A.R. Ivanovich.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Can The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (i.e. J.K. Rowling) count? I read very few books actually by authors I had read previously, which I'm just now realizing.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Art of Slow Reading by Thomas Newkirk

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?
I genuinely can't think of one. I'm too busy shipping characters with each other.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?
Because I Love You by Tori Rigby

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
War of Princes series by A.R. Ivanovich

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Fifteen Lanes by S.J. Laidlaw

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
Love and Decay, Volume 1 by Rachel Higginson

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?
Read at Midnight

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?
Because I Love You by Tori Rigby

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I'm quite proud of the #CritYourFaves post I did about queerbaiting in Cursed Child.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I really loved participating in Potterhead July and getting to read everyone's Harry Potter posts all month.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?
It was probably the Twitter chats that came out of Armchair BEA (which is the close runner up to answer four).

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
It was probably finding the time to keep up with both blogging and reading while I was student teaching.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My review of the "Malec" episode of Shadowhunters got a ton of views, and I think I can guess why.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Perhaps my post about the controversy surrounding Magic in North America on Pottermore. Largely because it's important and it still hasn't been addressed by J.K. Rowling or anyone on her team.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
This one is difficult because I'm not sure if I have one. Maybe I should make it a priority to discover something new in 2016.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I finished my Goodreads reading challenge!


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?
Last year for Christmas (well, with giftcards I got for Christmas) I got the Avatar and Korra art books, but I haven't read them yet. That's ridiculous when I was looking forward to getting them for so long, and I plan to rectify that in January.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
The Pants Project by Cat Clarke

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?
I've tried not to start any series in 2016 (although a one or two slipped through I'll admit) because of the sheer amount of series I've started but not finished. While I still need to finish many of those, they are all a bit older and, largely, finished. Because of that, I'm not sure if there's a sequel coming out in 2017 that I'm necessarily anticipating.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?
Read all of the books currently sitting un-read on my shelf.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read and Recommend To Everyone:
I haven't read any 2017 releases.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Book Review: Atmosphere of Hope by Tim Flannery

ISBN: 0802124062
Published: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Received: Goodreads First Reads
Read from December 7th to 14th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A decade ago, Tim Flannery’s #1 international bestseller, The Weather Makers, was one of the first books to break the topic of climate change out into the general conversation. Today, Earth’s climate system is fast approaching a crisis. Political leadership has not kept up, and public engagement with the issue of climate change has declined. Opinion is divided between technological optimists and pessimists who feel that catastrophe is inevitable. The publication of this new book is timed for the lead-up to the Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015, which aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate from all the nations in the world. This book anticipates and will influence the debates.
Time is running out, but catastrophe is not inevitable. Around the world people are now living with the consequences of an altered climate—with intensified and more frequent storms, wildfires, droughts and floods. For some it’s already a question of survival. Drawing on the latest science, Flannery gives a snapshot of the trouble we are in and more crucially, proposes a new way forward, including rapidly progressing clean technologies and a “third way” of soft geo-engineering. Tim Flannery, with his inimitable style, makes this urgent issue compelling and accessible. This is a must-read for anyone interested in our global future. 
Review:

Atmosphere of Hope provides an excellent look at climate change. It doesn't shy away from discussing just how dire the circumstances are, but the focus of the book is on finding ways to lessen the impact in whatever ways we can. While the book leaves you with the impression that there is no perfect fix and that we must prepare for difficult consequences no matter what we do, it is also clear that not acting at all will mean much worse.

I would recommend this book to everyone. It provides an important look at what is currently happening in our world in terms of climate change and its consequences and also explores many of the proposed ideas for combating climate change. This is an issue that will affect everyone in the world, and it is important that we learn everything we can about it. This book provides an excellent opportunity to do just that.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Incorporated Review: Episode 3: "Human Resources"

Incorporated continues to create a world that I am very interested in learning more about. The most fascinating part of episode three for me was the brainwashing of the children that we got to see at Inazagi. The corporations on this show have been presented in a very negative light, but showing an Inazagi employee defecting because she doesn't want her child brainwashed interests me largely because of the contrast it provides between Inazagi and Spiga.

Throughout the first two episodes it's been pretty obvious that Spiga is corrupt and a scary organization to work for, but now we've seen that there's another corporation who's gone a step further than them in at least one area. (Although I'd also argue that Spiga is brainwashing its employees in less overt ways.) That gives Spiga perhaps the first even remotely positive PR we've seen on the show, though it's only in comparison to another corporation. Spiga is, without argument, still corrupt.

Elizabeth's regard for Diana's child was also interesting to me. In the past, we've seen her carrying out the banishment of children to the red zones without hesitation (until her daughter protests). But throughout this episode, she asks about the well-being of Diana's child, and I can't tell if she wants the child to be okay purely to keep Diana happy (that is their deal after all) or because she actually cares.

I was pretty confident that Elena wasn't dead throughout the episode because that would be too easy. Her message through the ring was sad, but I'm not sure if it changes anything. I know thinking that she was dead briefly made Ben try harder with Laura, but now that he knows Elena is dead, it seems that we're right back where we started at the beginning of the episode. Her potential death felt like a momentary tension builder in the episode as opposed to anything that drove the plot forward.

Laura is, in every episode, getting lesson after lesson about how bad life is in the red zones. Ben knows how bad it is, of course, but I'm not sure that she's aware of his knowledge of it. Ben definitely doesn't realize how much is wife is learning. I think this will serve to get them on the same page in the future, where they're both aware of how terrible the corporation is and want to get out of it. I don't believe that means that they will be happy together, however, since his feelings for Elena are unlikely to disappear.

The primary gain from this episode, I believe, was seeing the terribleness of another corporation. Well, that and Laura's continued exposure to life in the red zones. Other than that, I'm not entirely sure this episode had a significant purpose in the plot, though maybe there are smaller details here that I have missed. Nonetheless, I'm rather fascinated by the idea of Inazagi brainwashing children when that's a level that Spiga hasn't stooped too, and I'm wondering what role Inazagi will play in the story in the future.

Life Post: Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah

This is going to be a really quick post that is really just to say both merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah to anyone celebrating either holiday. We just got back from Christmas with my dad's side of the family and opened our gifts. I'm pretty excited about a Marauder's map phone case that my sister got me as well as a Little Mix hoodie from my parents.

Right now I'm exhausted though. I've reached the point where I find absolutely everything funny. I was just laughing at one of our dogs eating a treat.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a good end of 2016 (though I expect I'll post again before new year's). I can't believe we only have a week left in the year. That doesn't seem like it should be possible.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Shadowhunters Season 2 Talk



Since I filmed this, Emeraude commented in an interview that there would be a new sexuality in season two. That's made me even more hopeful that Simon will actually be openly pansexual in season two, but we'll see what happens.

Book Review: In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah

ASIN: B016LOZZG2
Published: December 1st, 2015
Publisher: Allen Lane
Received: Blogging for Books
Read from November 25th to December 6th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From one of the finest journalists of our time comes a definitive, boots-on-the-ground dispatch from the front lines of the conflict in Ukraine.
Ever since Ukraine s violent 2014 revolution, followed by Russia s annexation of Crimea, the country has been at war. Misinformation reigns, more than two million people have been displaced, and Ukrainians fight one another on a second front the crucial war against corruption.
With "In Wartime," Tim Judah lays bare the events that have turned neighbors against one another and mired Europe s second-largest country in a conflict seemingly without end.
In Lviv, Ukraine s western cultural capital, mothers tend the graves of sons killed on the other side of the country. On the Maidan, the square where the protests that deposed President Yanukovych began, pamphleteers, recruiters, buskers, and mascots compete for attention. In Donetsk, civilians who cheered Russia s President Putin find their hopes crushed as they realize they have been trapped in the twilight zone of a frozen conflict.
Judah talks to everyone from politicians to poets, pensioners, and historians. Listening to their clashing explanations, he interweaves their stories to create a sweeping, tragic portrait of a country fighting a war of independence from Russia twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR." 

Review:

I feel as if the war in Crimea is a current event that many outside of the region have lost interest in, though Russia and Ukraine continue to fight each other in Donbass. While I knew about the conflict, before reading this book my knowledge of the historical context of the conflict was very limited. I knew that Ukraine used to be part of the USSR, and I knew that a lot of the borders created when the Soviet Union split up were arbitrary. However, I did not know why Russia would go after Crimea of all places within Ukraine. I had never even heard of Crimea until 2014.

This book was excellent at providing me with a deeper knowledge of what was happening historically when Russia laid claim to Crimea. This book doesn't just explore the current war, it looks backwards to explore what led to this point in history. It was without a doubt written for people like me who have little knowledge of the various regions of Ukraine and what their relationship with Russia is like. It was fascinating to read about what many Ukrainians think about Ukraine and Russia.

That was one of the largest strengths of the book: getting the opinions of people involved in the conflict. The author isn't just writing about historical context. Throughout the book, he travels throughout Ukraine and talks to people from a wide variety of regions and demographics. You get a good picture of how much thoughts on Ukraine v. Russia differ among the people of Ukraine. He talks to people who want to be Russian, believing that will bring them prosperity that Ukraine hasn't provided. Others are very anti-Russia for a variety of reasons. Others don't care which country they are a part of as long as the fighting stops and life can go on.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to better understand the current situation in Ukraine. It did a great job of exploring both the historical context that led us to this point and of getting a variety of opinions from the people actually living through this conflict.

I received this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Film Review: 13th, Directed by Ava DuVernay

I had heard about the documentary 13th before. I think I'd seen the Netflix ads for it when it was released, and I added it to my queue because it sounded like something I wanted to watch. Still, I hadn't yet gotten around to watch it when the documentary showed up on the Activist Advent calendar that I'd been following.

With their recommendation, I took the plunge and watched it the next day, and I don't regret it a single bit. 13th is spectacular and something that is very much needed now.

13th is about modern racism, but it roots modern racism very firmly in the past. The documentary explains how the racist systems of the past have morphed into the modern justice system. It explains how the police brutality today is just a continuation of the brutality of earlier years. The film never abandons the past to talk solely about the present because it recognizes that the two can't be disconnected from one another.

Really my biggest praise of the documentary comes from how thoroughly it discussed how everything is connected. It discusses how prisons and police brutality are connected. It discusses all of the reasons for America's overpopulation of prisons. It discusses why all of these problems have led to Black Lives Matter. It's a very thorough documentary that covers all of its bases and covers them well.

One of my favorite moments of the documentary came when one of the interviewees was describing conversations he had had with people where those people went on about how they couldn't believe people had once allowed slavery and then segregation to happen. These people said they never would have allowed that had they been alive back then, and then the interviewee states that we currently are allowing those same things to happen because we don't stop to think about what's actually happening. It was a powerful moment and one that captures perfectly why this documentary is an important one to watch.

I would highly recommend this documentary to everyone. It's on a topic that is as relevant today as it always has been.

Life Post: Not Feeling So Great

I'm going to go ahead and apologize in advance for this post mostly being about how I've felt sick for the past several days. I can't even remember what day it was, but earlier this week, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseous and I did wind up being sick. While that was a one off thing, my stomach felt somewhat strange for several days afterward, especially after I ate.

My best guess is that connects back to my allergies, which have been particularly bad over the past week or so. Actually, I'm not entirely sure that it's not allergies as opposed to something else.

I've been dog-sitting for my aunt and uncle this week. By far the most exciting thing with that was letting the dogs out without realizing there were a bunch of deer behind the house. Somehow, the dogs and deer both went about their own business. One of the dogs did wander right through the deer (the other dog stayed further away), but the deer didn't seem bothered. I stood there and watched them until one of the dogs wanted back inside and the other had wandered away from the deer.

As far as my fish goes, he has continued to do better. He's still eating, and he eats as soon as I put the food in his tank. He's also having regular bowel movements when he wasn't before. I also swear that his fins are growing back where they were damaged, but it's so little of a change so far that I can't be positive that I'm not imagining it. At least he seems to be feeling much better even when I'm not.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Life Post: College is Over and Fish Update

I am completely done with college. As in, I've graduated and moved out of a dorm for the last time, and I have no idea when I'll step foot on that campus again. (Presumably the actual graduation ceremony in the spring if I attend it.) It's all very strange, which I've already touched on in past posts. In fact, I think I've talked about this enough that I shouldn't bother anymore. There's no doubt though that it feels strange. I don't quite know what to do with myself.

Of course, it's also exciting, but it's exciting in a way that's equally terrifying. For the most part, I've been trying not to think about how it feels at all.

In other news, I think my fish is doing better. He's started eating again. He's eaten all of the food I've given him for nearly a week now, which seems promising. The fungus did go away and then come back, but it seems to be going away once again. He's also been more active than he was for a while. I'm hoping those are all good signs and that his fins will begin to grow back as well. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about it than I was the last time I posted.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Film Review: Moana

Moana is going to be difficult to review because much of the discourse surrounding it has been whether or not Disney did a good job portraying Polynesian culture in the film. I can't really speak to that as I'm not Polynesian. I have seen people both praise and criticize the film. Personally, I would never try to say that Disney did a perfect job (I did cringe at the Kakamora), but I did get the sense that they were trying. I do feel that they did a better job than on certain past movies.

As a film, I enjoyed Moana immensely. Disney did some amazing things with it, and I love that some of those things were acknowledged in the film itself. Moana and Maui's exchange about whether or not Moana is a princess was fantastic and had Disney poking fun at its own princess movies. (I do wonder if Moana will be added to the princess lineup in the future. If she is, it might be odd considering her own feelings about being called a princess and the fact that she isn't really, but then again, it would be nice for the princesses to be more diverse.)

Moana has no love interest, much like Merida in Brave (one of my favorite movies), and I am extremely happy about that. She is determined to do everything herself, and in the end, (spoiler alert) she does, even if it's with a little help.

The music was wonderful. I'm in love with "We Know the Way", and it added such a great atmosphere to the film.

While I do take certain criticisms the film has received seriously, it is an enjoyable film, and I think it's a step in the right direction for Disney. I almost feel like this is a step that Pixar took with Brave (which is far too underrated in my opinion) and now Disney Animation is doing the same. Here's hoping for more of that in the future.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Incorporated Review: Episode 1

It's not often that I start watching new shows soon after their premiere. Often, I don't hear about things I'd want to see before they air. Whenever I watch TV, I'm skipping or at least not paying close attention to the ads for other TV shows, so if I watch a show, it's because I heard it talked about by someone else. Incorporated was a different case. I did see the commercials on TV before it aired, and they managed to catch my attention.

Incorporated takes place in a dystopian world in the year 2074. As a dystopian fan, that was enough to catch my attention. In this particular dystopian world, corporations control everything, and the people who work for these corporations live great lives in what are called green zones. They're isolated from the red zones, which are suffering due to climate change creating a shortage of resources.

As soon as I got the basic premise for the world from the previews, I wanted to watch, and after the first episode, I'm still as intrigued as I was before. The dynamics created between the characters when everyone living in the wealthy parts of the world are working for the same corporation is fascinating. (There are multiple corporations, but their employees don't live in the same areas.) The corporations fight each other for control, including launching terrorist attacks made to look like a different corporation's fault.

The characters of the show are compelling as well. Ben, the main character, isn't black and white. You know early on that he's doing some not great things though he has his reasons. The corporations are also harsh on anyone seen as a 'traitor' (workers have to go through security scans to get to work), and because of this and the competitive nature of this society (after all, you're relying on work with the corporation to remain in the green zone), makes it so that you feel quite sure that every character on the show is capable of some nasty stuff.

Even Ben's relationship with his wife Laura has me wondering just how, well, un-shallow it is. From the first episode, I picked up hints that he cares for her to a certain extent but not necessarily as much as she does him. Her mother has a high position within the company, and I finished the first episode wondering if that was more of the reason he married her. Laura, however, might be my favorite character so far. We know she went through something traumatic in the past, though not many details are revealed, and I get the sense that she has purer motives than any of the other characters.

This first episode was only a small taste of what's to come, but it has me excited to see where the show goes. I feel like it has a lot of potential, and I'm looking forward to episode two.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Life Post: Nursing a Fish Back to Health

I haven't written one of these posts in a while not because I don't have time but because I'm not entirely sure what to say. I feel like I'm living in some strange sort of limbo. As of right now, I have finished my college education, but I'm still living on campus until next week. It's weird walking around campus during classes again (since I was student teaching during the day all semester) and knowing that, if I ever do that again, it'll be a long time from now.

I've been a student for more than a decade and a half, so I still don't quite know how to not be one. The fact that I'm still here just makes it weirder, but I'm trying to soak it all in and take my few remaining days of still being considered a student.

Also, I'm trying to use up my meal plan money, so the amount of Starbucks I've consumed over the last week is absolutely ridiculous.

Remember that pet fish I now possess? He has fin rot, and all the signs indicate that it's made its way inside of him by now. He had it when I got him, but I didn't know the signs of it until I noticed strange behaviors. (Pro tip if you're buying a betta fish: know the signs of fin rot.) I've done what my research on it said that I should do, but I'm not sure if it's working. It's been days since he's eaten despite my best attempts. He's also had stress stripes for about a week now (since he stopped eating). He's still alert, coming to the side of the tank whenever I get close to him, which is supposed to be a good sign.

I'm hoping for the best, but I don't know at this point. Since I don't have student teaching anymore, I have to admit that trying to nurse this fish back to health has been taking up a lot of my past week, which only makes it more frustrating that I'm not sure if it's working. At the very least, he no longer has fungus growing on his fins, so I figure he has to be better than he was before. Perhaps I'm just too impatient and he really is on the road to getting better. We'll see.

November Wrap-Up and December TBR (2016)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Eyewitness Review: Episodes 1-6

I have recently become very obsessed with the new show Eyewitness on USA. The story is about two teenage boys who witness a murder and are too scared to tell anyone. It's wonderful, and it has LGBT representation. What more could you want?

(Note: As I post this, episode 7 has also aired and I have reviewed it, but I first wrote this post several days before that episode aired.)

As this post is going to be a review of the first six episodes (since I came into the show somewhat late), this will be more general than specific.

This show feels like one of those shows that has elements that just about anyone could like, which is why it frustrates me so much that they're struggling to get views.

You have the mystery of the case that Helen is trying to solve, but I love that you as the audience pretty much knows everything even as you're watching the characters try to figure it out. I'm not sure if I've ever watched a show that was so focused on a criminal case but the show flat out showed for the audience what had happened.

Then there is, of course, the relationship between Lukas and Philip. They're both wonderful characters though they are far from perfect. Their relationship feels like such a realistic one for two teenagers who are struggling with finding themselves. They make plenty of mistakes, but it makes it feel very realistic.

I've fallen in love with them, and I can't wait to see what happens between them in the future.

There is plenty more that could be said, but if I allow myself to get into it all, we'll be here forever. When I review episode 7, I will definitely talk about more specific details, so look forward to that. I certainly am.

Book Review: Dear Chairman by Jefferson Gramm

ISBN: 0062369830
Published: February 23rd, 2016
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Received: Goodreads First Reads
Read from November 21st to 24th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A sharp and illuminating history of one of capitalism’s longest running tensions—the conflicts of interest among public company directors, managers, and shareholders—told through entertaining case studies and original letters from some of our most legendary and controversial investors and activists.
Recent disputes between shareholders and major corporations, including Apple and DuPont, have made headlines. But the struggle between management and those who own stock has been going on for nearly a century. Mixing never-before-published and rare, original letters from Wall Street icons—including Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, Ross Perot, Carl Icahn, and Daniel Loeb—with masterful scholarship and professional insight, Dear Chairman traces the rise in shareholder activism from the 1920s to today, and provides an invaluable and unprecedented perspective on what it means to be a public company, including how they work and who is really in control.
Jeff Gramm analyzes different eras and pivotal boardroom battles from the last century to understand the factors that have caused shareholders and management to collide. Throughout, he uses the letters to show how investors interact with directors and managers, how they think about their target companies, and how they plan to profit. Each is a fascinating example of capitalism at work told through the voices of its most colorful, influential participants.
A hedge fund manager and an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, Gramm has spent as much time evaluating CEOs and directors as he has trying to understand and value businesses. He has seen public companies that are poorly run, and some that willfully disenfranchise their shareholders. While he pays tribute to the ingenuity of public company investors, Gramm also exposes examples of shareholder activism at its very worst, when hedge funds engineer stealthy land-grabs at the expense of a company’s long term prospects. Ultimately, he provides a thorough, much-needed understanding of the public company/shareholder relationship for investors, managers, and everyone concerned with the future of capitalism.

Review:

This book isn't on a topic I would typically read about, but I was intrigued enough to enter a giveaway for it. Overall, I found the book interesting, and I learned more about shareholder activism than I'd ever known before.

Despite not knowing much about the topic beforehand, I didn't find the book difficult to understand. I think most people could read it without feeling confused. If there was something presented in the book that I didn't previously know, I felt that it was explained enough or there was enough context that I got what the author was saying.

Some parts of the book were more interesting to read than others, but I'd say that has far more to do with the topic than the book itself. I was surprised that I found some of the stories in the book as gripping as I did. However, there were others were it was very tempting to skip a few pages here or there.

If you're interested in learning more about shareholder activism, I'd say this book is a good first start. It won't be for everyone, but it does a good job for what it is.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads. This in no way impacted my review.

The Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

In honor of the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie, I'm going to be doing the Beauty and the Beast book tag today. I found this tag through Jesse at Books at Dawn, and it was created by Kirsty at Kirsty and the Cat Read.

Here are the tag rules:
  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator → Kirsty @ Kirsty and the Cat Read.
  • Match a book to each of the songs/characters below.
  • Tag as many people as you like.
"Tale as Old as Time" - A popular theme, trope, or setting you will never get bored of reading.

This is a difficult one. I feel like there are a lot, so it's hard to pick just one. I'm going to go with stories that explore the idea of soulmates. I want to make it clear that I don't just mean stories with soulmates in them though. I enjoy stories where the idea of soulmates is explored. Super extra bonus points if the world accepts that soulmates exist but then a character questions the idea. I love when authors explore the concept thoroughly, and it doesn't happen nearly enough.

Belle - A book you bought for its beautiful cover that's just as beautiful inside too.

I don't actually buy books based on covers that often or possibly ever. I have to have some other draw to the book, especially since I tend to decide to buy certain books based on what I hear said about them online. If I casually chose books in a bookstore, it would probably be different.

That being said, I'm going to choose Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: The Illustrated Edition because the entire draw of that book was the artwork. All of it is gorgeous, including the cover, and I'm in love with the thing.

Beast - A book you didn't expect much from but pleasantly surprised you.

Recently, I would say Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I like reading books on writing, but what I get from each one is typically limited. I take bits and pieces from each but not much more than bits and pieces. In the case of Story Genius though, I liked the ideas so much that I went all in and began using her system to write a book. I think it has some great advice for anyone who enjoys writing novels.

Gaston - A book everyone loves that you don't.

I have to have a good answer for this, but maybe I've pushed the book out of my mind. Since I can't think of anything recent, I'm going to say Hemmingway. I appreciate Hemmingway as a writer, but I don't get as enthusiastic about his stuff as a lot of other people. When we discussed his novels in my college English classes I always felt like one of the least enthusiastic people to be reading them, and the decision to have us read Old Man and the Sea as part of our summer reading in high school was probably one of the worst ideas my high school English teachers ever had.

Lefou - A loyal sidekick you can't help but love more than their counterpart.

Ron Weasley. Yes, the song "Sidekick" from A Very Potter Senior Year is playing in my head right now, and it will be for the foreseeable future.

I love Ron, and while Hermione is also Harry's "sidekick" and my favorite Harry Potter character, Ron is often treated as nothing more than a sidekick, making me feel especially protective of him.

Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Cogsworth - A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable.

The book Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli found me at the right time in my life I think. I was in eighth grade when I read it for the first time, and because of what was going on in my life at the time, I connected with it particularly strongly.

"Something There" - A book or a series that you weren't into at first but picked up towards the end.

I don't know if I have an answer for this one. Generally speaking, I don't dislike a series and then grow to like it. That's why I'm trying to become better about not continuing series when I didn't like the first one. Still, I can become more obsessed with a series as I continue further into it, and I think that happened with the War of Princes series by A.R. Ivanovich. I enjoyed the first book in that series very much, but by the time I reached the end, I was obsessed.

"Be Our Guest" - A fictional character you'd love to have over for dinner.

There are so many. How do I pick just one? In an effort to stay away from my more cliched answers, I'm going to say Peeta from The Hunger Games. Not only does he just seem like a great person to talk to, he could bake something really awesome for the dinner. That would be a huge bonus.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you'd like to do this tag, feel free. Also let me know your answer to any of these questions in the comments. I've love to hear how you'd answer them.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Why Do I Love Ron/Hermione?

I've said it over and over again: Ron and Hermione are my ultimate OTP. No one will ever top them.

I've also written before that I think fiction is the reason I don't believe in soul mates. Well, that isn't the only way I think fiction has influenced my outlook on relationships. When you consume as many stories as I do (and I think most people do) they're naturally going to affect how you look at relationships. Even if your OTP didn't help shape your view of relationships, they probably reflect those views. Ron/Hermione definitely do for me. Here are three things I love about Ron/Hermione:

Why would you not want to be friends first?

Okay, okay. Ron and Hermione might not even be the biggest reason why I feel this way. I'm sure my personality has a lot to do with this, but the idea of becoming friends and then the relationship developing into something romantic is much more appealing to me than meeting and immediately dating. The idea of awkward conversations on first dates just puts me off. Maybe some people find that enjoyable, but I'm going to say that developing romantic feelings for someone you already know well is far easier.

It also has the potential to become complicated, ruin the friendship, etc., but everything has its downsides.

Keeping your last name

Hermione kept her last name when she married Ron. I will forever celebrate that fact. While it's an increasingly popular decision that women make, it's not that common in literature, so seeing it, even if it was in Cursed Child, is something to celebrate. The fact that a big deal isn't made of this is also fantastic.

Gender roles

This goes back to the last one, admittedly, but it's worth discussing too. (I know this is something else that's far more prominent in Cursed Child, but I still need to celebrate these things.) The fact that Hermione is the Minister for Magic while Ron is more devoted to his family (and running a joke shop) is so wonderful. I love it so much. If there was one part of Cursed Child to celebrate, it was probably that.

What are some ways you think that your OTP has influenced (or reflects) how you view relationships?

Life Post: Thanksgiving and Betta Fish

I've been home for nearly a week now for Thanksgiving break. Since I had finished student teaching, I actually came home before my university's break had begun. While I'm still sad about leaving my student teaching placement, it's been nice not having that much to do (though I still have my big project that goes along with student teaching).

Thanksgiving has been nice. It's pretty much gone how it typically does. On Thanksgiving day, we had a meal that was just me, my parents, and my siblings. Then today we had Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family. On Sunday we'll have Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family.

In other news, I now have a betta fish. Getting one has been something I've been talking about for a while, and today I actually got one. It's a male and primarily blue. I've named it Colchis (which is related a bit to a story I'm writing), and he's currently swimming around across the room from me. (He seems quite happy to have more room. He's far more active than he was in the little container from the store.) Getting him back to school with me will be a bit of a challenge, especially when I'm not even going back for that long, but I'll manage it. I think I've already figured out how I'm going to do it.

Tomorrow I'm seeing Moana, and I'm quite excited about it. I'm sure I'll do a review of it after I see it, so that will be coming. I'm only hearing good things about it so far, and I am definitely prepared to love it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Queerbaiting in Cursed Child, Part 2

Last month, I posted about queerbaiting in Cursed Child. At the time, I hadn't planned to make an entire post about the subject again. I really hadn't, but then I started seeing posts on Tumblr from people who were seeing the play.

Most of this is going to focus on secondhand accounts of what people saw in the play. I can't claim that I can back up their observations or that other people watching the same performance wouldn't have entirely different interpretations of what they saw. Still, I want to talk about what people are saying about Tom's (Albus) and Anthony's (Scorpius) performances.

Many fans are excited because the actors seem to be playing up the idea that Albus and Scorpius are actually in love with each other more and more. This makes me a little uncomfortable because it seems to be far more blatant queerbaiting than before. While I understand why Scorbus shippers are excited about it, I'm concerned that it may be worse than if that weren't the case.

The more that the performance makes it seem even more like Scorbus are in love with each other, the more blatant the problems with Cursed Child become and the more unrealistic the idea that Scorpius likes Rose (a storyline which is still in the play) is.

Maybe good can come from that in that maybe more people will see these problems. As you have to actually see the play performed, however, I'm not sure that will be the case, especially as there's no way to affirming that other actors would do the same with the same roles.

For now, I'm watching it all play out through the Internet and feeling conflicted. Do I want more evidence for Scorbus? Yes, in a way. But I don't want more queerbaiting, and I don't want false evidence for Scorbus, which is what this feels like. I just hate this entire situation.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

October Wrap-Up and November TBR (2016)

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 356-360


I'm reaching the point where I feel like I've been on this storyline for ages, and I'm unsure if I feel that way because of the amount of episodes or if it's just because of how long it's taking me to watch the episodes.

Either way, I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing. I'm enjoying learning more about Kakashi's past. It just seems to have lost a bit of the novelty that it possessed in the earlier episodes of this set, especially when there was a greater focus on Obito as well.

One thing I like about these episodes is how expansive they have been, and I do realize that that especially wouldn't be the case if they hadn't gone so in depth with Kakashi's past (though it's definitely contributing to how long this storyline feels).

I hadn't imagined Kakashi having such an upsetting past before this set of episodes. Despite the countless Naruto spoilers I am aware of, I'm not sure if any of them were about Kakashi's past. I'm not sure why that is considering I think I was spoiled on essentially everything else.

Of course, it's not just Kakashi's past we've been able to glimpse lately. We continue to see Kinoe/Yamato in these episodes, and I'm still really liking that. I didn't have any particular feelings on him before this, and now he's managed to grow on me. Not that he played that significant of a role in this particular set of five episodes.

The way they were able to tie Itachi's story into Kakashi's in these episodes and show them both seemed very well done, and I loved it. Itachi is another character that has grown on me over time and who I grow to appreciate more the more we see him, so I always like when he shows up again, even if it's only in flashback episodes such as these.

Overall, I think these five episodes managed to fill in information we didn't know previously or clarify some information, and I greatly appreciate that. Now we're getting close to when Kakashi is placed in charge of Team 7, and I am so ready for that.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Life Post: Student Teaching is Over

Today was my last day of student teaching, and I felt like I needed a post of some sort to document it. I'm not going to go into detail about how I felt/feel because I'm still quite emotional about it. I think it's better that I wait a bit before talking about it at length like I typically would in these posts. At some point, I will talk more about student teaching as a whole and how I felt throughout it.

Right now I'm just really sad. I'm also relieved that the work is (mostly) finished. (I still have a project to complete.) However, I cannot believe that I will probably never see those students again. That's so hard to believe. Not seeing my cooperating teacher every day will be strange for a little while too. All of it just feels so strange now that it's over.

My cooperating teacher wrote me a note that she gave me at the end of the day along with notes from all but one of our classes (she couldn't secretly get the other class to sign the card because I was never out of the room long enough). I read them all and cried when I got home. Some of the kids just signed their names, but some of the other kids wrote messages that really managed to get to me. Some of the messages have that kid's personality written all over it, and it killed me.

And now I'm going to stop talking about it because I'm starting to cry as I type. The point is, my student teaching ended today, and I'm very upset about it. I think I'm going to have a mourning period. Who knows how long it will be. Now I'm going to go do something to try and cheer myself up.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Professor McGonagall: The Greatest Professor at Hogwarts

Note: This post will contain Cursed Child spoilers.

Ask me who my favorite Hogwarts professor is and my automatic response will be Professor McGonagall. While I consider both Remus and Hagrid to be in my top ten favorite characters, they're not the ones who immediately come to mind when I think of Hogwarts professors. Remus was an excellent teacher, that much is true, but as he spent the majority of the series not teaching, he doesn't come to mind as quickly as Professor McGonagall.

Not only is Professor McGonagall consistently there as a professor throughout all seven books, she is an excellent professor on top of that. I honestly believe she exemplifies so much of what you want excellent teachers to possess. She's always there, and she cares. That may not have been incredibly obvious to me when I read the earlier books for the first time as a kid, but I recognize it now. I don't want to go so far as saying that she's the most caring professor in the story, but I think she's one of the professors who we get shown that caring side of the most in the series. Hagrid might be the only competitor in that regard, but we really only see Hagrid caring about Harry, Ron, and Hermione, not his students as a whole. Whereas with McGonagall, you get a sense that she cares a lot about, if not all, most of the students that she is tasked with teaching.

One of the most heartbreaking moments of Cursed Child for me was when Harry got angry and snapped at McGonagall for not understanding because she doesn't have children. This clearly affects McGonagall who remarks, "I'd hope that a lifetime spent in the teaching profession would mean..." That moment got to me. After seeing McGonagall be there for Harry throughout all seven Harry Potter books in many ways, seeing the way Harry's words affected her was saddening. It's even more saddening because I know that Harry recognizes the way McGonagall has cared for him too. We do see him apologize to McGonagall later, but I wish we got to see just how much he regretted saying that to McGonagall because I don't feel like we see much deep-seated regret within the book itself. (This is something that could depend on the actor's portrayal of the moment since it's a play.)

While there's often a greater focus on, say, the ways Dumbledore cares for Harry than there is McGonagall, I don't want McGonagall's actions over the course of the series being discounted. She's not often included in lists of parental figures in Harry's life, and I think there's a good reason for that. She's not a parental figure; she's a teacher. But I think that it's just as important that Harry have had an important teacher figure in his life who cared. (Maybe I'm a bit biased in that regard as a teacher myself.)

Never having kids of her own does not in any way discount McGonagall's influence as a teacher. I know she's had an incredible impact on many of her students' lives. You can see it in how she's portrayed in the books and, particularly, in the impact she has on Harry. I know Harry knows that too regardless of what he said in Cursed Child. Maybe he didn't recognize it as a kid, just like so many of us don't realize which teachers had the most influence on us until we're much older, but he did eventually realize it. That much is clear by Deathly Hallows when he so readily stands up for McGonagall against the Carrows. He didn't do that because her impact on him was small.

So this post is dedicated to Professor McGonagall. She deserves it.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Book Review: Frey (The Frey Saga 1) by Melissa Wright



ISBN: 0557446481
Published: December 6th, 2011
Publisher: Lulu
Received: purchased
Read from October 5th to 10th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Unaware she's been bound from using magic, Frey leads a small, miserable life in the village where she's sent after the death of her mother. But a tiny spark starts a fury of changes and she finds herself running from everything she's ever known.
Hunted by council for practicing dark magic, she is certain she's been wrongfully accused. She flees, and is forced to rely on strangers for protection. But the farther she strays from home, the more her magic and forgotten memories return and she begins to suspect all is not as it seems.


Review:

I'm torn over this book. In the beginning, I had a lot of optimism. The writing style had me engaged from at beginning, and if we were to focus entirely on the actual writing itself, I say the sentences were well constructed. I don't mean that as a joke or an underhanded insult. The actual writing itself was quite good. It was the plot that lost me.

Frey is about elves, which is a supernatural creature that I rarely read about. That's not because I avoid them but because I so rarely see them in books. I was excited to read a book all about them.

However, in the end, I found myself more confused and bored than anything else. The largest contributing fact to this, as far as I can tell, is how often the main character Frey passes out in this novel. You get everything from her POV, so when she's knocked out, she has no idea what's going on. Understandably, she wakes up in a fog each and every time. This could only happen so many times before I as a reader began to feel just as confused as Frey did. Maybe this would work for other readers. For me, I started to feel like there was too much confusion. I didn't understand what was happening, and it made me lose interest.

Frey never receives answers in this book except one towards the very end. I think there needed to be more (smaller) answers to various questions scattered throughout the novel. Without it, I never felt like my reading was paying off. I think part of the problem was also how few secrets there were, which meant there wasn't much to give away without giving away anything. Essentially, I suppose, the plot needed to be more complex. (Honestly, it makes no sense that the other characters don't reveal anything to her when they so easily could. Maybe there are reasons for it that are explained later, but I came out of the book feeling like they'd been stupid for not talking to her about what was going on with her.)

As it was, the twist at the end was so obvious that I hope it wasn't supposed to be a shocking moment, but I have countless other questions that I don't feel were adequately built up in the first book. Instead of coming out of the book excited to read the next and discover more, I came out of it feeling like I would continue to feel nothing but confusion with no pay off from later books in the series. Because of this, I don't think I'll be continuing with the series. I have others that I would much rather finish.

This book was well written on a surface level, but if you take the time to analyze the plot for even a moment, none of it makes sense. That's just too large of a problem to overlook or to try to deal with in a second book.

It is a shame though. I really need to find some more elf books.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Life Post: College is Coming to a Close

We're getting scarily close to the end of my student teaching placement. In another week, it'll all be over. That's exciting, yes, but it's also both sad and terrifying. There's a sense of relief that I'll finally be graduating after going an extra semester. There's the sadness of leaving the kids I've been teaching, and there's the fear of moving on to the unknown.

Student teaching has isolated me from my university quite a bit even though I'm still living on campus. I have a night class that's me and one other student teacher. Everyone I regularly had classes with older than me or in my year have now graduated (except the other current student teacher). My former classmates who are a year or two below me are still here, but I never see them since I'm at school all day. In a way, it's like that's prepared me for graduation.

But, of course, actually graduating will be so much different. I have to find a job (a current work in progress) and become a "real" adult, whatever that means. Even though that's what I've been going to college to accomplish, that's quite terrifying.

Yesterday, we filled out the paperwork to get our teaching licenses. It seems like every day something is happening that makes it all feel more like a reality. Next week is my final evaluation conference with my supervisor and cooperating teacher. In two weeks I have a job interview. It's all very much real, and while I could be more terrified, I'm not entirely unaffected by it all.

Here's hoping for the best.

Shadowhunters Season Two Trailer Reaction

Note: I wrote this more than a month ago when the first trailer was new, but with student teaching and everything else, I never got around to posting it. I know there's a newer trailer now, but truth be told, I have yet to watch it. That's on my to do list for the weekend.

First of all, can I applaud them for releasing that Malec picture before the trailer? I was already excited for a trailer, of course, but that picture bumped by excitement up exponentially. I still smile each time I look at it, and I've reblogged it an obnoxious number of times on Tumblr.

Malec's relationship in this season appears to be being handled in the exact way I wanted it handled. Yes, the trailer was only a small glimpse of it, but that small clip already shows that they seem to be handling any problems they're having in a mature way. I can only hope that is reflective of the season as a whole. That would be a change from the books (let's be honest), but we've also had some hints from the actors that this season will be even more different from the books than the first season. I'm excited for that after how well they did with the first season. I trust that any changes will be positive ones.

I am beyond looking forward to seeing Magnus and Alec's relationship develop over the course of the season, and so far, I have only seen things that make me feel positive about where they're heading. I'm thankful to the show for that.

The trailer also provided our first glimpse of Maia, and wow, am I happy to see her. Again, it was only a short clip, but I already feel like the portrayal of her on the show is going to be everything I could have asked for.

Unsurprisingly, much of the trailer was focused on Jace and the fact that he's sided with Valentine. It's disheartening to see Maryse give up on Jace so quickly in the trailer, but then, that fits with her characterization. Since I assume Jace comes back (but if they're diverging from the books, who knows?), I'm interested in seeing what happens to her and Jace's relationship once he's back.

Actually, Jace's actions are sure to affect his relationships with everyone. That scene with him and Clary in the trailer where he tells her to stop playing games fascinates me. Since I wouldn't say that Clary was playing any games with him in season one, I'm wondering if that's a reference to something in season two or if he's been manipulated by Valentine to believe something false about what happened in season one. If there's one plot point shown in the trailer that I'm most curious about, it's what exactly Jace meant with that line.

Overall, it was an excellent trailer. It hardly showed us anything at all, but it showed just enough to keep me feeling really good about season two and to amp up my excitement. With less than two months to go, it feels like we've been waiting for years. Here's hoping the rest of the wait manages to fly by. (It won't.)

How are you feeling about season two of Shadowhunters based on what we've seen so far?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Book Review: Because I Love You by Tori Rigby


ISBN: 0997010436
Published: May 17th, 2016
Publisher: Blaze Publishing, LLC
Received: Netgalley
Read from September 20th to 28th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.
Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.
Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she's forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.

Review:

Because I Love You left me feeling conflicted. If we're only talking about the level of enjoyment I got from the book, it was great. I was incredibly into the plot and invested in the character's stories. I felt for them and wanted them to be happy (except for those who I very much didn't want to be happy). I would recommend the book from that standpoint.

That being said, I did sometimes find things a little too dramatic or a little too good to be true. It's hard to provide specific examples of what I mean without spoiling the book, but there were several sections where I did struggle to believe that certain things were actually happening. It didn't take much away from my enjoyment, however, because I was very into the story. This book is the first I've cried over in quite a while.

The one other big issue I had with the book deals with the topic of race. The character Jill is Native American. Twice in the book, Neil (who's race isn't stated, which I know means he'll be read as white by most) refers to her as "Pocahontas". During one of these instances, we get Jill's angry reaction, but with the way it's presented, readers have to interpret whether she's joking with him or serious. The reason you can't really tell is because Neil treats it as a joke and continues to laugh about it even after Jill's reaction. Jill doesn't say anything after Neil continues to laugh. Andie, the narrator, doesn't have much of a reaction to the comment (either time). The second time it happens, Jill's father is in the room, but he makes no comment when Neil calls his daughter "Pocahontas", and we don't get a reaction from Jill that time either. When her father speaks again, he's talking about a different subject and has ignored the comment all together.

Considering recent politics in the United States (i.e. Trump and his people repeatedly referring to Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas"), I feel like most people should have at least some awareness of why Neil's "jokes" here aren't tasteful. If you don't, here are links that should help give you an idea. Nothing put me off more in the book than those two moments, and I so strongly wish they hadn't been there. It isn't often that there are Native American characters in YA literature, and then to have one of the few that exists jokingly called "Pocahontas" in the book, which is like a direct jab at the fact that so few Americans know important Native American figures, was just disappointing.

I would have enjoyed the book a lot more without those two moments because of how much they angered me, and that's quite a shame since the book was largely enjoyable, if a little unbelievable at times.

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Blogger Insider Tag

Today I'm doing the Book Blogger Insider tag, a tag that's focused on discussing our blogging habits. It was created by Jamie at A Little Slice of Jamie, and I found it through Louise at geniereads.

Where do you typically write your blog posts?

At my desk. That's the most convenient place to type. I can't even imagine writing my blog posts in a place other than my room because it's far too distracting. I need peace and quiet when I'm writing anything, so that's a prerequisite for any place I'm going to write my blog posts.

How long does it take you to write a book review?

I haven't timed it out, and I'm bad at keeping track of how long individual tasks take me when I'm working on different things. I'd estimate that it takes half an hour to an hour for a rough draft depending on how I felt and how detailed of a review it becomes. Then I'll set it aside and come back to edit it later before I post it. (How long I let it sit depends a lot on how busy I am and other factors.) Editing it typically takes less time than writing the first draft.

When did you start your blog?

September of 2009, so just over seven years ago.

What is the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

For me, it would be keeping up with the technical aspects. I wish I was better at graphic design so that I could design a really great layout for myself instead of buying one. I feel like being better at the technical aspects of blogging would make things much easier.

What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

I have an outlet to talk about books. Not only on my own blog but through commenting on the blogs of others. Plus, I love writing, so I love having a place that I can write in any capacity.

What blog posts have you had the most fun writing so far?

I'm not sure. There are a number of them that I found very fun, but some of what have turned out to be my favorite posts were the most stressful to write, not necessarily the most fun.

When do you typically write?

It depends. There's no set time when I'm more likely to be writing. It could be any time when I'm at home. Now that I'm student teaching, it's not going to be during school hours, but other than that, there's always a possibility I'm writing something, whether it's for the blog or something else.

Do you review every book you read?

Almost all with some exceptions. Most books I don't review are classics. Actually, they're not just classics (I've reviewed some classics) but the incredibly old classics. Those books are still fair game for literary analysis, but a review just doesn't seem to mean much for some of the oldest works of literature. (That being said, there are probably newer classics I decided not to review because it just didn't seem necessary.) Other than that, I review every book I read with very few exceptions.

How do you write your book review? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddle with your fur baby?

I do actually blog sometimes while Netflix is on, but it's not that often. I get too distracted and can't focus on both of them. I may drink some soda while I'm blogging, and if it's early in the morning, it may be coffee. Most of the time though, I'm blogging in silence and probably have water beside me. Exciting, I know. (Oh, and I wish I had a pet at school with me that I could cuddle.)

When do you write your reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

It used to be right after I finished an incredibly long time ago. Now it's typically a few days after finishing. On rare occasions where I'm super busy, it may become a week or even two after finishing, but that's not often. I like giving myself a bit of time to reflect on the book but not enough time that I'll forget important details.

How often do you post?

This is something else that depends. Recently, with student teaching, it hasn't been often. I've never had a set schedule even when I manage to update on a regular basis. For whatever reason, I like the randomness of not having a set schedule that's always the same. In truth though, I do schedule out posts. It's just not in a set pattern that's easily predictable; it's different each month and depends a lot on how busy I am.

That's all of the questions. If you'd like to do this tag, consider yourself tagged. I'd love to know your answers to these questions in the comments too if you'd like.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Reader Confessions Book Tag


Today I'm going to be doing the reader confessions book tag, which I discovered when Jesse over at Books at Dawn did it. The tag is all about confessing to things you may not want to as a reader, which is always interesting.

Have you ever damaged a book?

I know that I've accidentally ripped pages while turning them before. It happens sometimes, but the rips aren't typically that big. I still feel horribly guilty for it.

Other than that, my books may look a bit worn if I carry them around in my bag for long enough or read them often enough, but I can't recall ever purposefully damaging a book. I tend to feel pretty bad about damaging absolutely anything. I don't even rip into envelopes.

I did leave a book in the rain once, and that led to a panicked dash to go get it.

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

Absolutely not. At least not that I can remember. I'm very nervous about borrowing books because I'm incredibly paranoid that I'll do something that will damage them. It's adds all of this anxiety to the act of reading that shouldn't be there. In the last five years, I can think of less than a handful of times where I've borrowed a book.

How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on the book. Typically, I try to read at least three chapters a day. It's a rare day when I don't manage at least that, but at times, I'll manage to read more (that's gotten rarer these days). My reading pace has slowed down for several different reasons, the least of which isn't student teaching. I'd say that I average about a book per week. My Goodreads challenge for this year is 50 books, and I'm currently one book ahead of schedule.

Books that you haven't finished?

What's tough about this question is that I tend to forget the names of books I don't bother to finish, which makes it difficult to look them up to remember them. The most recent was Love and Decay, Volume 1 by Rachel Higginson. However, that book was actually six short stories, and I read five of them before I decided I couldn't be bothered with the sixth.

Hyped popular books that you don't like?

Oddly enough, I can think of hyped books that I have no interest in even reading, but I'm having a difficult time remembering ones I read but didn't like. Even when I read hyped books, it tends to happen once the hype has died down, so I feel like I don't feel quite so alone in not liking it.

One that comes to mind is the Matched trilogy by Allie Condie. I've read the first two and just found them okay. I have some massive problems with how the story is handled. (Basically, I think there was a lot of amazing potential there that got wasted, and it frustrated me while reading those books.) However, I don't think that series is hyped anymore.

Is there a book you wouldn't tell anyone you were reading?

Back in high school, I sometimes brought books I was reading to school. I would never bring non-fiction books. For whatever reason, I was self-conscious about reading non-fiction.

That's not a problem for me anymore.

There used to be other sorts of books I was self-conscious of reading, but I feel like it was on a very case-by-case basis. It's hard for me to pick out types of books that I didn't want to be seen reading. These days, I don't think that's a problem for me. I read a lot of different things, and I'll admit to reading all of it.

How many books do you own?

I genuinely don't know. My Goodreads shelf wouldn't give me that number since my "read" shelf will include books I don't own, and I know that some books I still own from my childhood haven't been marked on Goodreads. I don't even want to throw out an estimate because I feel like it would be way off. It's probably a lot more than I realize.

Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?

When it comes to a pace to finish a book, I think I'm somewhere in between. Compared to the book blogging community, I'm probably slow. Compared to many others, I'm probably fast.

Do you like to buddy read?

I like to discuss books either as I read them or after, but I don't really like buddy reading. I don't like that sense of having to sync my reading with someone else. I'd much rather go at my own pace. However, being able to talk to someone who happens to be reading the same book you are is also amazing, so I see buddy reading's pros.

Do you read better in your head or out loud?

In my head. Definitely. It goes so much faster than reading out loud, and reading out loud hurts my throat after a while. You can't sustain it for as long. That being said, I'm having to read out loud a lot to students this semester, so I'm improving those reading skills (and hurting my throat in the process).

If you were only allowed to own one book, what one and why?

Deathly Hallows. Maybe it seems odd for me to choose the last book in a series, but I've said over and over again that I'm a sucker for endings. I like seeing how everything's resolved and tied up. It gives me satisfaction, so if I was going to re-read just one part of Harry Potter over and over again, it would be Deathly Hallows.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Naruto Shippuden Review: Episodes 351-355

I haven't written (as opposed to filming) a Naruto review since July when I reviewed episodes 236-340. What's actually more shocking to me than that is that I've only watched fifteen episodes in the past two (almost three) months. It's just one of the things that's fallen to the wayside as I student teach, but here I am with another review.

When it comes to the particular storyline that Shippuden seems to have been running with for a while now, I'm unsure if I like it or just feel neutral towards it. I know that sounds strange, but I think it how I feel has a lot to do with which episode I happened to watch last. I like some of them and others have just been okay.

I think it's cool that we're learning more about Kinoe/Yamato's past in the show, and I like learning some aspects of Kakashi's past along with it. At the same time, the specific stories of some of the episodes haven't thrilled me that much. (Like the smoke people who were okay I guess, but I couldn't get into those couple of episodes.)

One thing I really want is a deep exploration into being one of Orochimaru's test subjects because I think that could be incredibly interesting, and I don't think any of the episodes have yet to go as deep into it as I would like. However, I'm also not holding out hope that they will.

What I am hoping to see is what happens that makes Kinoe/Yamato leave the Foundation. Although I am aware of some spoilers about it, I'm interested in seeing it all play out and to "really" know what happens there. That, I think, it what's been driving my interest over the course of the last ten episodes or so. (I have no idea how long it's been since this storyline started.) We'll see what happens next.

Life Post: Units and Student Teaching

It's been nearly two weeks since my last life post. Whoops. I can't blame myself though considering how things have been. The last time I wrote one I was in the middle of my last week of fall break.

After coming back after fall break, I began teaching my unit. My student teaching program (and I imagine many other student teaching programs) is set up in a way that's meant to gradually give you more responsibility in the classroom, so I had been teaching more and more throughout the semester. Then that culminates in you teaching an entire unit that you've planned yourself. Though I had begun teaching several lessons a week before, teaching everything has definitely been an adjustment. Just yesterday I was running about a bit frantically before school started trying to get everything done before first period (after arriving earlier than normal to school too).

Now we're in the second week of that, and I won't lie and say I'm not tired. It's a bit difficult to focus on anything else. I even took a break from writing for a few days last week because I needed that. It's also exciting though, and I think that just the past week has taught me a lot.

The other side of this is that it means student teaching is almost over, which is so hard to believe. After student teaching, I've graduated, and that's a terrifying thought. Actually, the really strange thing is the gap when my student teaching will have ended but I still have to meet with my night class and complete my final project to graduate. Though I'll have that final project to work on, that's going to be a strange amount of free time for a few weeks. I can't imagine what that will feel like after all of this.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: Story Genius by Lisa Cron

ISBN: 1607748908
Published: August 9th, 2016
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Received: Blogging for Books
Read from September 12th to 18th, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Following on the heels of Lisa Cron's breakout first book, Wired for Story, this writing guide reveals how to use cognitive storytelling strategies to build a scene-by-scene blueprint for a riveting story.
Story Genius is a foolproof program that saves writers from penning hundreds of pages only to realize that something's not working and they have to start again. Informed by story consultant Lisa Cron's science-based insights into how story structure is built into the architecture of the brain, this guide shows writers how to plumb the nitty-gritty details of their raw idea to organically generate a story scene by scene. Once writers reach the end of Cron's program, they will have both a blueprint that works and plenty of compelling writing suitable for their finished novel--allowing them to write forward with confidence.

Review:

This book is unlike many of the writing books I've read in the past in that it lays out steps to take to follow a very specific writing process. Most of the books I've picked up about writing in the past offer general advice instead of laying out a direct method.

In the beginning, I was skeptical of how much information from Cron's book I would actually use, but by fairly early in, she had managed to win me over quite a bit. For one thing, I enjoy her writing style. It made just reading the book pleasurable. But, also, I enjoyed quite a lot of her ideas about how to brainstorm for the book, how to outline/blueprint using scene cards, and how to use those to write your story. It's a more detailed method than I have often used in the past, and her method sounds more organized than I often am about it all.

Needless to say, I was won over, and I have decided to start from scratch with a novel I was working on and was currently unhappy with. I'm going to trash what I had (not literally because I can't bring myself to delete so much work), and I'm going to start over with the method in this book. Actually, I've already started as we speak. It will be a fairly long process, of course, but we'll see how it all works out. Maybe I'll decide that it's too detailed for me and abandon it.

For now, though, I find this method appealing, and I also enjoy Cron's writing style. I would recommend this book to any other writers out there for both of those reasons. Her method won't be right for everyone, but I do think it could be very helpful, especially to newer writers who really need help with how to flesh out their plans for a story.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Teddy Lupin (Not Being) in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It's time to talk about one of the true travesties of Cursed Child: Teddy Lupin doesn't appear in the play. In fact, he's not even mentioned. Not even once. What?

Going into Cursed Child, I was worried about anticipating anything specific from it, including seeing any certain characters. Still, I did think Teddy would likely appear in at least some capacity. I, at the very least, didn't expect him to not even be mentioned.

Of course, he's not the only character who wasn't in the story. Hugo is only mentioned vaguely and isn't even on the platform at the beginning despite being in that scene of Deathly Hallows. That seems strange. It also seems strange that we see so little of Lily and James throughout the play. Then there are the various Weasley cousins. All of these characters should be at Hogwarts for at least some of the story, and I find it hard to believe that they don't have any impact on Albus. They should, at the very least, have as much to do with what's happening as Rose does. Why have such a focus on Rose's rejection of Albus but give us no idea what his relationship with the rest of the family is? The idea that he just doesn't talk to them seems too easy for me.

But that's a different rant. Teddy's not at Hogwarts during the story. That much is true. I would have been okay with him just being mentioned once because of that, but this complete lack of a mention is just ridiculous.

I'm biased; it's true. I love Teddy, and I always want to see more of him. I would have loved the opportunity to get to know his personality and not just have to speculate.

But why were so many people not even mentioned? You can say that the cast was limited because it was a play, but that doesn't mean that some characters should be ignored as if they don't even exist.

I'm bitter about it, if you can't tell.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Life Post: Voting and Break

This week has been one of those that's busy, but it's busy with so many small things that it's difficult to talk about them in a post.

I've been to the doctor twice this week. Once to get a TB test and again to get the test read. I also got fingerprinted again. This time it was done digitally, which was remarkably like getting it done with ink except with less mess on my hands afterward. I also got a haircut today, but it was just a trim.

The most noteworthy thing I've probably done so far this week is vote. I went to the courthouse with my sister for early voting back on Monday, so that's one task that I have out of the way. But don't worry, I still get to listen to all of the election coverage that you do until election day, despite having already voted. I'm sure it's going to be loads of fun.

Back towards the beginning of my fall break, I think I mentioned somewhere online that this was the first time I'd had a two week fall break. As it turns out, they feel significantly longer than fall breaks that are only a couple of days long. It's been really nice. It kind of feels like I've been on break forever, which could probably be seen as either a good or a bad thing. Oddly enough, I actually think these weeks are going by slower than the typical school week does. We'll see if that holds true once I'm back at school.