Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Review: Some Go Hungry by J. Patrick Redmond

ISBN: 1617754676
Published: May 17th, 2016
Publisher: Kaylie Jones Books
Received: purchased
Read from May 17th to 25th, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Some Go Hungry is a fictional account drawn from the author's own experiences working in his family's provincial Indiana restaurant--and wrestling with his sexual orientation--in a town that was rocked by the scandalous murder of his gay high school classmate in the 1980s.
Now a young man who has embraced his sexuality, Grey Daniels returns from Miami Beach, Florida, to Fort Sackville, Indiana, to run Daniels' Family Buffet for his ailing father. Understanding that knowledge of his sexuality may reap disastrous results on his family's half-century-old restaurant legacy--a popular Sunday dinner spot for the after-church crowd--Grey struggles to live his authentic, openly gay life. He is put to the test when his former high school lover--and fellow classmate of the murdered student--returns to town as the youth pastor and choir director of the local fundamentalist Christian church.
Some Go Hungry is the story of a man forced to choose between the happiness of others and his own joy, all the while realizing that compromising oneself--sacrificing your soul for the sake of others--is not living, but death.


As soon as I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. Some Go Hungry takes place in southern Indiana, the same place I grew up. While the town in the book, Fort Sackville, is fictional, it seems to be a fictional version of Vincinnes. Portions of the book also take place in Evansville (which is essentially considered a metropolis to Fort Sackville just like it is my hometown), and while they're never shown in the book, it was cool to see Indianapolis and even Greenwood mentioned.

The book is about a gay man who has grown up in Indiana. His family owns a restaurant that he now manages, and he's stayed in the closet in Fort Sackville his entire life because he doesn't want to ruin his family's restaurant. He knows that no one in town will continue to eat there if they know that he's gay.

This book doesn't offer an idyllic picture of southern Indiana, but it is, without a doubt, realistic. I could recognize the town and how it operates. It was cool, if had times disheartening, to read. For me, that really helped the book.

There were a lot of times where I wasn't a huge fan of the writing style. There was a lot of description that felt unnecessary. That was the biggest fault of the book for me. There were also times where the characterization felt off. Sometimes a character would be in a scene but go through the whole thing and only speak one line, making it easy to forget that they were even there. It didn't feel quite like a realistic conversation. Even more than that, after reading the entire thing, I was left feeling like some characters would have been better off being cut out completely (such as the main character's brother) because they did/said so little and seemed to serve no purpose to the plot other than just being there and barely speaking.

The story, though, was touching, and I did enjoy it more than I disliked it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Life Post: Preparing to Leave

Wow, it's been a long time since I've written one of these. Considering I'm in the midst of preparing for the biggest move of my life, though, I thought I should give a brief update.

Recently, I have posted two phone vlogs on Youtube that mention a bit of what has been going on. While I usually post my videos here as well, I didn't with those purely because they were uploaded from my phone and I just didn't take the extra step of sharing them to the blog. Since I plan to more or less say what I said in those videos here, I won't bother with those now, but I'll try to get better about it in the future.

I've had my Japanese visa for a while, as well as my plane ticket and all of the other necessary paperwork. Currently, the only thing left for me to do is pack all my stuff up and say goodbye to everyone. Packing is an ongoing process as I try to sort through what I'll take and what I won't. From the beginning, I planned to take very little with me, but I keep having moments of worry where I think that maybe I should take a certain item after all.

The biggest source of stress, however, is my carry-on. I'll only have access to my carry-on during the week of training, and I'm not sure I can fit all of the clothes I need in it (and I'm not talking about an entire week's worth of clothes). That's currently my biggest challenge, but I'll make it work.

When my visa came, it became much more real that I was moving to Japan, but it still felt far away. Last night I had a moment where it truly hit me how soon I'll be leaving. Today, though, it's like that reality has faded a bit, and once again it feels far away despite my departure being only a week away.

I'm incredibly excited but also nervous. Funnily enough, my current nervousness comes largely from a fear that something will happen with my luggage. (Not packing the right stuff, it getting lost, etc.) I'm sure I'll get nervous about plenty of other things as they happen, but I also think how excited I am will outweigh most of that.

I really can't believe it's next week.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Book Review: X-Wing: Mercy Kill by Aaron Allston

ISBN: 0345530594
Published: August 7th, 2012
Publisher: LucasBooks
Received: purchased
Read from May 6 to 16, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series!
Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand—for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.
A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers . . . and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries. 


I'll keep this review brief as this is the tenth book in a series.

This book felt like it might have been better as a standalone than as part of the X-Wing series. Not only was it published more than a decade after the book that comes before it but the story also takes place long, long after the previous book. Few characters from earlier in the series appear in this book, and though Piggy was meant to serve as a bridge, I'm not sure that it was effective.

Mostly, it felt like this story was too removed from what came before it to be part of the same series.

On top of that, I found it difficult to get into the story and found myself bored for the majority of it. I don't regret having read it as I had read all of the others, but it wasn't my favorite.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Reign Review: 4x12 "The Shakedown"

I know, I know. When was the last time I wrote one of these without starting it off by complaining about Darnley? To be fair, though, it's difficult to talk about anything else when the majority of my thoughts while watching Reign recently have been about how angry Darnley makes me.

There's no doubting that Darnley wants glory and power for his own sake. There's very little he wouldn't sacrifice for it, and he's shown a level of recklessness to get that power that make him a terrible king. He's the type of person who might manage to get power but who would lose it easily due to his own mistakes. At this point, he's proven to Mary that, if she gave him power, he'd ruin Scotland. Maybe, just maybe, actually proving himself to be a good ruler would have done more to convince her to give him the crown matrimonial. Just an idea.

Actually, Darnley should embrace the idea of getting to be king while leaving all the hard work to Mary. He can still get the praise (which seems to be what he really wants) but not have to do much (which also seems to be what he enjoys).

Another frustration during this episode: that Lord making it clear to Mary that she would be blamed should the privy council discover that the crown's money had been mismanaged. It's hard not to be angry that she couldn't place public blame on Darnley. The fact that, even if she did, she would still be wrapped up in the blame is frustrating.

Knox and Darnley becoming allies is something that I feel I should have anticipated, but I hadn't given much thought to them meeting prior to this episode.

The following paragraph has "spoilers" from history, though I have no idea what the show itself is going to do.

I'm starting to think that the show is going to end the season with Darnley's murder, which is condensed compared to the real timeline. I've brought up my dislike for Bothwell before. I know there are two camps of thought in regards to his motivations historically, and I very much feel that Reign is going to make Mary his co-conspirator, not his victim. However, I can't say I particularly like Reign going that direction when there are many who believe that he may have raped Mary to achieve power. The show will likely, at any rate, use that suspected rape in the show as the reasoning for why Mary marries Bothwell, and I'm dreading it. I don't want to watch Mary and Bothwell fake a rape to allow themselves to be together.

As far as Charles goes, I don't feel as if I have anything to say after this episode that I haven't said before. He would be better off without the pressure of being king, but that being said, I don't want to give Henry the satisfaction of being king either (and I'm not convinced that he would do a better job).

I had a feeling that Claude and Luc would fall in love, and now I believe even more that that's how their stories will end. That's fine and all, but I'm rather upset that we seem to have seen the last of Leith. The fact that he had such a sad ending when I believe that he, more than possibly anyone else, deserved a happy one upsets me.

Elizabeth's paranoia is new, as far as I can tell. It has never seemed this bad before. While she seemed bothered by Lola's death and betrayal, that hadn't been dealt with in a long time. I think it would have been nice if we'd had reminders of it more frequently before suddenly getting thrown this episode where it comes up again out of the blue.

I was hoping Jane would prove herself to be a friend, but she's seems to be a spy. I'd like to know who she's working for because I don't have any good guesses at this point. I don't feel as if it's for Mary or any of Mary's allies because I feel as if we'd have more hints at this point that they had a spy directly in England's court. The only other possibility that's coming to mind is Knox, though I'm hesitant to believe that this is his doing, and I have no other ideas.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Armchair Book Expo 2017: Wrapping It Up

Yesterday marked the end of this year's Armchair Book Expo, when we were meant to post our wrap up posts. Instead, you're getting this on Monday, keeping with my inability to post anything on time for this year's event.

It was frustrating not to be able to participate more. Last year, I participated in just about every aspect of the event, from the Twitter chats to the Instagram challenge to getting blog posts up on time. This year, I managed to respond to daily topics (though late) and comment on some other posts, but that was it.

There isn't a specific reason for why I didn't get posts up on time if anyone's looking for one. I had actually written all of the posts except this one ahead of time, but I like to look over posts and edit them before posting. That's what didn't happen on time. (I also ended up deleting a lot of what I said in some posts to shorten editing time. Otherwise, I probably would have had more to say.) There's been a lot going on lately, including three doctor's appointments in one day on the second day of this event, and I just didn't have the time to participate to the extent that I would have liked to.

Next year, I hope, will go better for me. I'm still glad that I participated in whatever way I was able to.

If you'd like to check out my other Armchair Book Expo posts from this year. Here they are:

If you participated in Armchair Book Expo this year, I'd love to hear about your thoughts on the event in the comments. Do you plan to participate next year (whether you did or did not this year)?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Armchair Book Expo 2017: ISO Books

(This is the last day with a topic for Armchair Book Expo. Once again I'm late, but I have to admit that I got this up earlier than expected. I will still be posting a wrap-up post.)

Today's topic is all about book suggestions. We've been given a chance to talk about what kind of books we've been looking for recently in the hopes that someone will have a recommendation or two.

I both want and need to read more racially diverse books. While I already have a list of books that I want to read, I'd welcome more suggestions from a variety of genres. In particular, though, I'd really love some fantasy book recommendations as I feel like my TBR as a whole is really lacking in fantasy (especially since it's my favorite genre).

Neurodivergent protagonists are almost entirely absent in books I've read, so I'd love some suggestions.

Really, I'd welcome any recommendations with characters that fall outside of your typical white, straight, cisgender, neurotypical, etc. characters

Armchair Book Expo 2017: Diversity and Dining with Authors


We have further to go with diversity, and we will for a long time. That's true for a lot of inequalities in our society, not just literature. I'm glad that it's talked about so frequently now because things will only keep moving forward if we keep talking about the subject.

Dining with Authors

Maureen Johnson would be a fun choice. Following her on Twitter makes for a lot of fun, and I'd love to talk to her both about the Shades of London series (I'd try not to push her to reveal too much) and about other stuff.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Armchair Book Expo 2017: What Readers Want

(Note: I'm still working on getting caught up on Armchair Book Expo posts. I'm sorry they're all late.)

With the rise of self-publishing, it's more common to find yourself with books with errors bad enough that you pause while reading. Sometimes I'll find a sentence that it's difficult to make sense of, and I wonder how that wasn't caught. This is something that I have also seen in traditionally published books though. I know that's at least as much the editor's fault as the writer's (unless the book is self-published and the author didn't hire an editor), but if there are too many of those, I may not find it in me to finish the book. (There's also the middle ground of finishing but the mistakes negatively affecting my review.)

There are several "make or break" things that I mention constantly in reviews when books have them. For example, I know that I bring up my love for strong friendships a lot. On the flip side of that, I've grown really tired of the trope where a boy and girl are friends (the girl is almost always the main character) and the boy has secretly had a crush on her for years. There will usually be a love triangle, and the friend's feelings are revealed when a new boy catches the girl's attention.

It's not that I think that trope is bad in and of itself. I'm just tired of seeing it over and over. What really annoys me about the trope is that I feel like the male-female friendships I read about almost always include one of the friends secretly having feelings for the other. I would greatly appreciate more books where a boy and a girl legitimately are just friends. Recently, I feel like I've become instantly unable to get into a book once a friend reveals secret feelings.

Diversity is also something I notice more these day. It's getting harder to read books where every single character feels like essentially the same character. If every character is white, straight, cis, able-bodied, etc., then it's noticeable, and it's reached the point where it very much annoys me.

I think good literature and good story are largely the same. Although a good story riddled with errors (like I mentioned above) may become so difficult to read that I can't consider it a good book, I still think the two should be the same thing as long as the story is easily readable. We have this idea that good literature is inherently different from popular literature, which I see as flawed. If something it popular, it typically has some sort of worth (even if I personally dislike it), and it's worth discussing what that worth is.

Everyone has tastes. There are a number of classics that I dislike. (Don't get me started on how boring Ernest Hemingway is, and I'll tell you now that it's not worth trying to convince me otherwise.) Other people find value in those same classics, and that's fine. It's all relative, and I don't think there's some key, underlying "thing" that makes literature great. What constitutes great literature is different for everyone, and despite having been an English major who had to study various works from the canon, I don't subscribe to the idea that there is (or should be) a definitive canon. The fact that we're still arguing over what's worthy of being in "the canon" helps convince me of that.

(And even books that you think are terrible can sometimes be worth reading for various reasons, and that can provide them with worth no matter how well-written you believe them to be or not be.)

The books you like are great literature to you; maybe they're not to someone else. That's fine.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Armchair Book Expo 2017: Introduction

(This is more than a day late, and I'd like to apologize for that. There's been a lot going on, but I'm going to do my best to catch up before everything's over.)

It's another year of Armchair Book Expo (a bit of a name change from last year's Armchair BEA). Last year was my first year, and I really enjoyed it. I'm excited to participate again.


We've been given a list of sentence starters to introduce ourselves instead of a list of questions and are supposed to choose 3-5 to complete. Here are mine:

My favorite thing in the entire world is probably Harry Potter.

My current read is one of the Cormoran Strike books; I read the first one a year or so ago and am only now getting around to reading more of them.

My summer plans all revolve around my move to Japan because I'll be leaving and starting my new job in July.

Reign Review: 4x11 "Dead of Night"