The Sunday Post #3 // 28 August 2016

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimberly of Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s an opportunity to share news, recap the week, showcase books and things we have received, talk about what’s coming up next week, and anything else you’d like! In addition, I feature what I’m reading, playing, watching, and/or listening to, showcase new additions to my TBR shelf, and discuss any other general geekery that I want to share.

News

The weather has not been very kind to us here in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in southern California and my family used to vacation to the desert, of all places, every summer (and we still do!), but I’ll take a blistering 120-degree day in the desert any time over a humid 90-to-100-degree day in Portland! At least in the desert there are things to do to enjoy the sun while escaping the heat, like go to the pool; in Portland, our pools are indoors.

Oliver has been having a rough time with the weather. We don’t have air conditioning and our house is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it is outside, and the heat has been preventing him from napping. (Fortunately he’s still sleeping great at night, though!) Between his exhaustion and discomfort in the heat, he’s back to wanting to be held all the time. I can’t blame him; I’d want some mommy comfort in his position, and from what my midwives told me, skin-to-skin contact with mom actually helps regulate the child’s body temperature, whether to cool it down or heat it up as necessary. You never realize how amazing the human body is until you have a baby!

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Concept cover art for Kingdom Blades

For once I’m actually looking forward to the usual Portland weather. It’s supposed to go back down into the 70s next week. Phew!

In bookish news, the only book I am dying to have in my hands, Kingdom Blades by Melissa McPhail, the fourth book in the A Pattern of Shadow & Light series, is slated for publication in October as of Melissa’s last update, and with each week that we inch closer I get more and more excited! I can hardly wait! Even if October rolls around and all we have is an official release date, I’ll still be happy.Read More »

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Classic Fridays: School Reading

Classic Fridays is a Friday feature hosted by Brooke at The Cozy Little Book Nook in which a set of questions are given based on the chosen theme for the week. This week’s topic is Back to School.

How many books did you read per month during the school year?

I only really started devouring books when I was 15; prior to that I think I was only reading about 10 or so a year. From age 15 on, I was reading between 30 and 50 books a year, typically reading multiple books at once.

Did you usually enjoy reading books assigned by your school?

Yes, absolutely! I was exposed to many books that I may not have encountered otherwise that way. The beauty of the reading assignments at my high school, though, which was an alternative school in which the students themselves had a huge influence in their own education, was that our English teacher would suggest several possible books centered around a discussion theme and we were each able to choose the one that most interested us, or substitute our own related read with the teacher’s consent. I discovered so many amazing authors that way, like Jack Kerouac, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Dalton Trumbo, Truman Capote, Tim O’Brien, and Yann Martel; as well as plenty of classics.

What has been your favorite assigned read?

That is a really tough question! I have three favorites: “The Electric Ant” by Philip K. Dick, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. All of them radically changed my perspective on the world and made me realize that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt, a really important thing for every teenager to become aware of!

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Which required read was the hardest to get through and why?

I love studying history — I am a glutton for knowledge — but I found The Iliad too gory. I couldn’t make out the story or the purpose of it through all the corpses and blood on the Trojan battlefield! It was pretty horrific, especially since I was reading it while suffering from a really bad case of mono and tonsillitis that had me out of school for three months. It was not uplifting stuff.

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Were they always classic novels or also recent books?

Up until high school they were all classics, but my high school English teacher Barbara did an excellent job of exposing us to all kinds of literature, both modern and classic! I feel really blessed for that.

Which books do you wish your school would mark as “required reading” and why?

I think Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder should be required reading for all young people. I read it when I was 12 and it helped me to understand so much. It is simultaneously a mind-blowing book-within-a-book and a history of world philosophy delivered in novel form in the most clever way imaginable.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline would also be on my dream school reading list. As we get more and more adept at VR and as we make further and further advances in technology without stopping to take care of our fellow humans along the way, the message of Ready Player One becomes more and more relevant. Teenagers might not get all the ’80s references without quite a few Google searches, but I can’t imagine a young person not enjoying it!

Finally, I’d add Felicia Day’s memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Today’s teenagers have never known life without the Internet (at least here in the U.S.). They have always been able to talk to anyone in the world with an Internet connection, find data on any topic with just a few keystrokes, and learn how to do whatever interests them. It’s beautiful because it opens the door to being totally yourself and doing whatever it is that you desire to do, while on the other hand it’s unfortunate because you’re simultaneously exposed to all of humanity’s awfulness. Felicia Day, “Queen of the Geeks,” has experienced it all, and describes her experiences — from discovering people who were just like her as a child to getting doxxed (i.e., having your personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, and credit card information, leaked online) as an adult — eloquently and with lots of humor. Between overcoming anxiety, depression, and gaming addiction, surviving #Gamergate, being an extremely successful online entrepreneur and entertainer, and figuring out how to use the Internet to help her be herself, she’s really relevant as a role model.

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Fortunately I’m homeschooling my little one, so I make the reading lists now! 🙂

What is one book that you had to read for school?

6215274This was no ordinary war. This was a war to make the world safe for democracy. And if democracy was made safe, then nothing else mattered — not the millions of dead bodies, nor the thousands of ruined lives.

This is no ordinary novel. This is a novel that never takes the easy way out: it is shocking, violent, terrifying, horrible, uncompromising, brutal, remorseless and gruesome… but so is war.

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo is an absolutely gut-wrenching read about a young man who goes off to war with a girlfriend and all the opportunity of youth only to return with — well, with what you get out of war: nothing. Or less than nothing. I won’t spoil it for those who don’t know what occurs because I can remember the marrow-chilling shock of it as I came to realize what was going on as I read. It’s one of the most important (and brutally, unforgivingly honest) books I’ve ever read and though it was so hard to swallow and gave me an absolute horror of what happened to Johnny happening to me, I’m so glad that I did. It’s an absolute favorite of mine but it is so difficult to absorb that I have only read it once.

What genre was it in? Is it something that you normally read?

It is historical fiction, which I frequently read, but it is also a novel about war, and I almost never read books on war.

Would you have picked up this book by yourself?

Probably not, or only because it is a classic. If I had known the details of what goes on in the book, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pick it up these days; I prefer books and entertainment that gives me pleasure. As an angsty teenager, though, the opposite was true, of course, haha! So I may have picked it up on my own back then.

What activities did your class do with this book?

We discussed it and wrote essays. Besides being connected to what we’d read in one way or another, the essays we wrote for our readings didn’t have to follow any specific pattern or be on any particular topic so long as they weren’t summaries — we were absolutely forbidden from writing book reports. As Barbara so astutely pointed out, she already knew what the books were about so she didn’t need to read our clunky descriptions of them. (We could even write fiction or make visual — or even edible! — art based on the work if we chose to and Barbara gave us her blessings.) My essay was on severe anxiety and depression, which I suffered from at the time, being very similar to what Johnny experiences.

POSSIBLE (IF VERY VAGUE) SPOILERS AHEADRead More »

The Sunday Post // 21 August 2016

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimberly of Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s an opportunity to share news, recap the week, showcase books and things we have received, talk about what’s coming up next week, and anything else you’d like! In addition, I feature what I’m reading, playing, watching, and/or listening to, showcase new additions to my TBR shelf, and discuss any other general geekery that I want to share.

News

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Nothing like watching your husband and baby play together to give you the feels.

Huge news this week in the baby department: two-month-old Oliver is now picking up his toys (and proudly flailing them around, to my amusement), gently falling asleep without hours of colicky crying (I don’t even know what to do with myself anymore now that I’m not up till 2 am doing a million things to soothe him!), falling back to sleep after waking up before he’s ready (omg), not requiring me to hold him at all times and enjoying time in his Baby Bjorn bouncy chair instead (such a life-saver), having a ball practicing walking, and learning to crawl!! It’s almost unbelievable to me the advancements he’s made in just this past week alone. His sleep schedule has become predictable, he actually falls asleep when he’s tired now (with a little help, of course), he’s constantly happy, and he seems to feel confident that he’s safe here. It felt so strange on Tuesday when he let me cook and eat an entire meal while simply hanging out with his toys in his bouncy chair — it was the least needed I’ve felt since he was born. My little guy is already becoming so independent!

They tell you it’ll get easier, and they tell you you won’t believe them but that it really will get easier, but I didn’t believe them and now it’s gotten so much easier.

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Memorable Mondays: Being Your Own Weird Self

Memorable Mondays is a meme in which we feature a favorite quote from the books we’ve read. The quote I’m sharing this week comes from Felicia Day’s memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).

I joined the world of gaming as a little girl. … It’s hard for me to imagine how that same fourteen-year-old girl might find a place to belong in the gaming world that exists today, with strong voices pushing her back, harassing her, questioning her authenticity with the unspoken threat: Fit in the way we want you to or get out. I don’t know if I could handle that kind of environment. Perhaps I would hide my gender. Or just quit games entirely.

But I don’t think those choices are acceptable for anyone. So if my speaking up made one person feel like they belong or prevented one person from stifling their voice, then it was absolutely worth it.

Because if you can’t be your own weird self on the internet, where can you be? And what would be the point?

23705512I waited until almost midnight at Powell’s Books last August to get my copy of Never Weird signed by Felicia Day (and Felicia graciously remained signing books, also!). Her total willingness to be her goofy, geeky self, in the face of sometimes crippling anxiety and the insanity of the Internet, is extremely commendable. I definitely consider her a role model. The Internet has been a haven for her since she was young, a place where she could be wholly herself and find equally unique individuals to talk to and game with — as was the case for me, too — and she has made it an even better place by crushing stereotypes and crazy ideas of who is and isn’t allowed to be in the geek club.

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Freaking out at Felicia Day

When I met her, I babbled for a few minutes about how grateful I am that she’s given geeky people, particularly women, the confidence to be themselves and not have to wear a facade; I spent years pretending I wasn’t a gamer because it was unbelievable to many people, and I was pretty thoroughly rejected for it (how silly is that?). Felicia looked me squarely in the eye and responded, “Never be embarrassed about what you love.” Of course, my husband has been telling me that for years, but it’s different when it’s coming out of the mouth of your super hero!

If you’re a fan and haven’t read Never Weird yet, definitely check it out! It is absolutely hilarious and heartfelt, and a really honest memoir of her quirky childhood through the creation and success of The Guild, Geek & Sundry, and her other pursuits. And if you’ve never heard of Felicia Day, a) do you even Internet?!, and b) check out what she’s known for, the YouTube channel of her brain-child Geek & Sundry, and (especially if you’re an MMO gamer) watch the amazing show she created and starred in (and which I can essentially quote line for line — I’m not obsessed…), The Guild, free via Youtube or on Netflix.

Here’s a taste of her goofiness:

The Sunday Post // 14 August 2016

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimberly of Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s an opportunity to share news, recap the week, showcase books and things we have received, talk about what’s coming up next week, and anything else you’d like! This is my first Sunday Post, and to add my own spin on it I will also be including what I’m reading, playing, watching, and/or listening to, showcasing new additions to my TBR shelf, and discussing any other general geekery that I want to share.

News

I launched this blog this week! Yay! After writing book reviews and sharing quotes online since I was 15, and fangirling about books online since I was a preteen, you’d think I would have started a book blog ages ago, but the thought never occurred to me until my mother, Dora Taylor, a prolific blogger well-known in the field of education, gave me a nudge to share my book reviews with a broader readership. It’s only been a few days but I’m already having a blast! I would love to find more bookish blogs, so if you have one, please leave a comment and let me know. 🙂

But, as a geek, that news pales in comparison to the release of No Man’s SkyOh my god!!!

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It’s almost as exciting as the birth of my baby, since I was waiting for this game throughout my entire pregnancy! Just kidding, but I haven’t been more giddy about the release of a game since the release of Elder Scrolls Online two years ago. I’ll share my first impressions below!Read More »