Book Review: Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

I tend to be inclined to binge things, so if I have all the books in a series or all the shows, I’ll go through them until I’ve finished everything. This was true with the Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce which I recently refinished with Lioness Rampant (Young Adult Fantasy 384 pages).

“‘I’m not sure I want to be a hero anymore.’ Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs … But Alanna must pusher her uncertainty aside when a new challenge arises. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good – but only in the right hands. And she must work quickly. Tortall is in great danger, and Alanna’s archenemy, Duke Roger, is back – and more powerful than ever. In this final book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna discovers that she indeed has a future worthy of her mythic past – both as a warrior and as a woman.”

This is the finale book in the Song of the Lioness quartet. The story is really good because it shows that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. In the series, Alanna becomes a knight, then a shaman, and even gets to train with a Shang warrior. She defeats her nemesis, who attempts to kill the royal family and take the throne, and even wins an artifact of power to help her kingdom. She continues to work hard and she earns her place in history.

While I do enjoy this book, and it’s the final book in the series, I have one issue with how the book ended. The main heroine finishes her adventures, saves the day, then makes plans to get married and have a family. I appreciate very much that the ending was Alanna’s choice and that neither the marriage nor the family was actually shown in the book. I also appreciate that she realizes what a horrible thing it would be for Alanna to marry Jonathan and take the throne because of what that would do to the kingdom. They both put the needs of the kingdom over their own individual desires and eventually, they both realized that they loved other people and those other people made them individually happy. Overall, this book is a low three on my rating scale. I’m glad that I own it and I will continue to reread this book at the end of the quartet in the future.

Pierce, Tamora. Lioness Rampant. New York: Simon Pulse, 1988.

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Book Review: the Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

I tend to be inclined to binge things, so if I have all the books in a series or all the shows, I’ll go through them until I’ve finished everything. This was true with the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. Obviously, this means I recently reread The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Young Adult Fantasy 284 pages).

“‘Let her prove herself worth as a man.’ Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death – either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe’s first female shaman – despite the desert dwellers’ grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes – for their sake and for the sake of all of Tortall.”

One of the parts about this book that really struck me is the inclusion of a desert culture in a very positive manner. The desert culture in this book, the Bazhir tribes, are such a different view from the northern people who live in castles and have a hierarchical structure that Alanna’s encounters with them could have gone very poorly. Instead, Alanna does everything she can to abide by their own cultural views and norms. This might be a little easier for her because she doesn’t exactly fit within her own cultural norms, either, and is used to finding ways to belong in an environment not designed or suited for her. She earns a place in the tribe through combat, which is how a man would be accepted into the tribe, and then becomes a shaman to help protect her tribe. She thinks of their codes and their honor and works to uphold their traditions without sacrificing who she is.

I also liked some of the more relatable parts of this book, such as on page 53 when Alanna is talking with Ali Mukhtab, the Voice of the tribes, about how she doesn’t behave as they believe a woman should. She gets annoyed and says, “Men don’t think any differently from women – they just make more noise about being able to.” I actually chuckled out loud when I read that, even though I’ve read this book before, I still found that section and the entire dialogue amusing.

On page 91, Alanna is trying to provide guidance to other members of her tribe who are struggling to perform an exercise. She tells them, “It’s like anything else in life – becoming a warrior, or a good shaman, or a cook – it will happen if you want it badly enough.” This is something that a lot of people forget a lot of the time. Hard work and effort, working towards your dreams, will eventually pay off but it takes dedication, tenacity, and a little bit of luck, to will your dreams into reality. Things don’t always work out the way we would hope, but with enough time and effort, things really do work out. Alanna had to work for eight years to earn her shield and become a knight of Tortall. She got up early and worked harder than anyone else in her peer group and that’s the only reason she was as successful as she was when she faced the trials of her training, including the Black City and the duel with Roger. She was prepared for those events because she worked hard. Just because she worked hard, though, didn’t guarantee her instant success. Things could have still gone horribly wrong. She never gave up on her dream of becoming a knight and going adventuring and that’s the important part about this.

I keep feeling as though there are echoes of similar story lines in other things I reread constantly, most specifically Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen trilogy and it got me thinking about writer styles. Mercedes Lackey made a lot of trilogies in her Valdemar books, which many of the early books came out around the same time as these books by Tamora Pierce. Also, interestingly, Tamora Pierce writes a lot of quartets. So Mercedes Lackey writes trilogies and Tamora Pierce writes quartets. The main villain in both sets is a noble sorcerer/wizard and the main protagonist is a young woman who attends training to be a servant of the kingdom. The parallels are very interesting and I would think that people who appreciate one will appreciate the other.

Overall, this book is a solid three on my rating scale. I like the cultural background and the continuation of Alanna’s story. I am happy I own this book and will happily reread it again in the future.

Pierce, Tamora. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man. New York: Simon Pulse, 2005.

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Halfway through 2018

So I decided to revisit my goals for 2018 and see where I’m at with my year so far.

Here’s what I’m looking at for 2018:
1. I’d like to read a book a week and post a review of it. That should get me 52 new book reviews by the end of 2018.
2. I’d also like to post a movie review a week, for 52 movie reviews. I’m not really good with getting enough movie reviews, but if I’m reading a lot, I’m usually okay with that.
3. I definitely need viable drafts of both Academy and Surveyors and I’d really like them ready to pitch in June. My actual deadline is actually 30 March 2018 to have a viable draft of Academy so we’ll see how well that goes.
4. I would very much like to attend IYWM again this year and this time, I want to teach a module about clothing and weaponry.
5. I’d like to be selected to move up at work.
6. I want to continue my workouts and drop some more weight and body fat percentages.
7. I definitely want to keep putting 10% or so into my retirement efforts, with the goal of being ready to buy land or a house sometime in 2019.
8. I have a booklist prepared from a variety of sources that all have Asexual characters, sometimes even the protagonists, and I’d like to read at least one of those per month and write up a review for it. I’ll do another separate post on that later, so if you want to read along, feel free!
9. I am definitely going to continue cleaning, organizing, and shredding old paperwork. My goal is to get down to only two boxes for official paperwork, which is saying quite a lot.
10. I continue to maintain hope that someday, the 2013 Adventure Buddy will give our friendship another chance. That individual has a birthday this week and I hope that wherever they are and whatever they’re doing that their life is filled with happiness, laughter, friendship, family, joy, shenanigans, and love.

1/2/8. Every year, I try to review 52 books and 52 movies during the year. As it’s now halfway through 2018, I should have read 26 books and watched 26 movies. I have so far only read and reviewed 20 books and 8 movies. Normally, I don’t mind if I don’t get anywhere close to my movie goal, so long as I’m making progress on my reading goal. This year, I also wanted to read at least one Asexual book per month and that goal has, sadly, also not been going as well as I had hoped. I made it through March and then my book schedule was derailed in April, May, and June. I still have hopes that I can catch up, but we’ll see.

3/6. I do not have viable drafts of either Academy nor Surveyors in any semblance of positive order, but I do have a firm deadline of 01 August 2018 to have the entire Academy story done and with the Developmental Editor and that deadline absolutely will be met. I’m actually working on editing, revising, and rewriting Academy right now and I’m so far about 122 pages in, which is huge progress. I’ve also learned that I can edit while on the treadmill, which means that both editing and working out are on my list of tasks I now enjoy and look forward to. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this story because I’m writing as story I want to read.

4. I absolutely did attend IYWM this year, and I taught a module on Women’s Weapons! It was fantastic! I also attended several other modules that were incredibly informative. I should probably write up a con review at some point but I really haven’t had the energy for it.

5. I was absolutely selected to move up at work! I’m very excited about this because I worked really hard to get this opportunity. While I haven’t actually moved up yet, I hope it will be soon. It’s just a matter of time 🙂

7. I am doing very well with my financial management and am still on track with those goals.

9. I continue to make solid progress on getting rid of my old paperwork, so this goal has a great chance of also being completed by the end of the year.

10. Boy, howdy. This goal is one that I’m not really sure about. This time of year is a bit rough for me because it’s the anniversary of the first weekend we spent just hanging out and watching movies and stuff. I like to think that I’ve made a lot of good progress towards becoming a better person but I do spend a lot of time missing someone who left my life. While that individual was right to leave, I still miss them and sometimes I even allow myself to daydream about a life where the things I write are turned into graphic novels by the most talented artist I’ve ever met. But I have no way of knowing where I stand in that individual’s life, whether I’m the villain of the story, a forgotten memory, or a missed and absent friend. And it’s something I’ll never know. They don’t owe me an explanation and it’s not my choice whether we ever talk again or not. Maybe next year, as my goal for 2019, I won’t keep hoping that things will be mended and for us to be back in each other’s lives, even if it is just to make fantastic graphic novels together. Maybe next year, I’ll set up an adventure goal of a different nature.

Overall, I think I am pretty satisfied with where I am with my goals for right now. I still have half a year to finish them out and I’m pretty sure I can keep making a healthy dent and maybe even finish them all! Well, except for 10. I think 10 is going to have to go into the pile of hopeless daydreams that are completely unattainable and need to be placed in the box of “happy memories with no basis in reality”. We all have to grow up at some point, I guess.

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Book Review: In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce

Continuing with my mental break, I reread In the Hand of the Goddess (Young Adult Fantasy 264 pages) by Tamora Pierce.

“‘I don’t want to fall in love. I just want to be a warrior maiden.’ Still disguised as a boy, Alanna becomes a squire to none other than the prince of the realm. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna’s liege lord, he is also her best friend – and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a mysterious sorcerer threatens the prince’s life, it will take all of Alanna’s skill, strength, and magical power to protect him – even at the risk of revealing who she really is … Filled with sword and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s second adventure continues the saga of a girl who dares to follow her dreams – and the magical destiny that awaits her.”

As much as this book has a lot of near-death experiences for Alanna, a good portion of this book is also dedicated to Alanna working to accept all the different aspects of who she is. She starts learning how to dress and act like a lady in secret with the help of George’s mother, a healer in the city.

I think it’s interesting that the men in Alanna’s life interact with her differently as soon as it’s revealed that she is actually a woman and not a man. Jonathan, though he knows who she really is, forces her to dance with ladies at the balls and he alternates between being jealous over the ladies Squire Alan dances with or then forcing Alanna to continue catering to the ladies at court. Alanna even tells Mistress Cooper that she’s frustrated with Jonathan for being hot and then cold and how it was very confusing and frustrating for her. Alanna reiterated repeatedly how she didn’t want anything to do with love and less to do with men because the only thing that mattered to her was earning her shield and going off on adventures. Honestly, I see a lot of myself in that kind of attitude so I understood Alanna’s motivations very well.

Eventually, Alanna does start being intimate with Jonathan and their relationship is treated as a simple fact of life, which I appreciated. Alanna had a charm to prevent pregnancy and she did learn about physical intimacy with Jonathan, but it’s not treated as anything taboo or unnatural. Jonathan doesn’t degrade her for spending her nights with him and he never does anything demeaning towards her because of their physical intimacy. I thought this was a really positive way of addressing sexuality for younger individuals, perhaps presenting the idea that your value as a person is not determined by your sex, or by with whom you sleep, but by your actions and deeds and the content of your character.

Alanna, just as in the previous book, continues to work harder than all those in her own peer group. When finally taken to a war campaign, she still finds ways to be useful, including helping out the healers with those wounded during combat. I think it tells you a lot about a person when they learn that warfare isn’t filled with glory but rather with death and wounds that will never heal. Alanna is scarred by her battles and I think that helps with the reality in this book quite a bit.

Overall, this book is easily a solid three on my rating scale. It’s one of those books I’m happy I own and will continue to reread in the future.

Pierce, Tamora. In the Hand of the Goddess. New York: Simon Pulse, 1994.

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Book Review: Alanna: the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

As a mental break from everything, I reread The Song of the Lioness  quartet by Tamora Pierce, which starts with Alanna: The First Adventure (Young Adult 274 pages).

“‘From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.’ And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins – one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land.”

I did not actually read this series when I was younger and instead read them first around my undergrad days, I think. I know that one of my roommates gave me The Woman Who Rides Like a Man as a present sometime in my senior year. I also remember looking at the book and thinking about how it was the third book in the series and I’d never read any of the other books. Eventually, I did buy the books and read them all. In fact, I might have purchased them recently in the last five years or less and read them for the first time in the last five years or less. I honestly don’t remember.

This story has a lot of really good aspects to it and a lot of really good internal messages for readers. When Alanna and Thom decide to switch places, it’s done so that both of them can follow their own hearts’ desires. Alanna wants to be a warrior and a knight for the kingdom while Tom wants to be a sorcerer. Neither is suited to where they are each intended to go and so they work together to achieve a mutually beneficial solution.

Alanna, going by Alan and pretending to be a young boy in order to learn how to be a page in the King’s court, winds up bullied by another noble named Ralon. She takes the beating and never tells on him or his activities. To combat this issue, she gets up earlier than the rest of the pages and goes to sleep much later, having Coram, her man-at-arms, teach her boxing and wrestling. When she isn’t making the kind of progress she wanted with her hand-to-hand fighting styles, she even enlisted the aid of George, the King of Thieves. She took every opportunity she could find and sacrificed her own time to learn how to do better and then continued to practice everything she could learn. Alanna did the same thing when it came to learning sword work, starting out with Coram’s sword, a sword larger and heavier than any of her practice blades.

When Prince Jonathan finds out Alanna’s secret, he doesn’t betray her trust, and neither does George. Those who know her secret respect her wishes and many of them show every inclination of being true friends. This book has a lot of really good parts about what it means to be a friend and also what obligation and duty mean. This book really does have a lot of positive aspects.

Overall, I’d say this book is a high three on my rating scale. I’m happy that I own it and I have reread it multiple times and am highly likely to continue rereading it in the future. Alanna is a heroine who works hard for everything she wants and that’s admirable and the other characters in the book are loyal and honest.

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Book Review: Humans Wanted edited by Vivian Caethe

I’ve been really bad about reading books and watching movies lately and not posting reviews for either. I also ordered and purchased a lot of books recently so I’m hoping to start making a dent in the pile of books that I’m reading. Another book I read last week was Humans Wanted (science fiction 218 pages) edited by Vivian Caethe.

“Humans are tough. Humans can last days without food. Humans will walk for days on broken bones to get to safety. Humans will literally cut off bits of themselves if trapped by a disaster. You would be amazed what humans will do to survive. Or to ensure the survival of others they feel responsible for. If you’re hurt, if you’re trapped, if you need someone to fetch help? You really want a human. Twelve authors provide their perspective on human ingenuity and usefulness as we try to find our place among the start. From battletested to brokenhearted, humans are capable of amazing things. Humans Wanted shows not only what we are, but also how awesome we can be.”

One thing I’ve really liked about some of the anthologies I’ve read in the past was that each story in the anthology contained a tiny, one sentence summary of the story right at the beginning, which helped me get in the mindset of what I would be reading next. This anthology had such an eclectic collection of stories with so many imaginative aliens and cultures that it was a little jarring to go from one story to the next without a little transition about what to expect from the next story. A key thing to note about this anthology is that all of the stories are told from the perspectives of the aliens and not the perspectives of the humans in order to show us as the space orcs we are and exactly how weird humans are from alien perspectives.

Sidekick (21 pages) by Jody Lynn Nye. This story was one of my favorites in the anthology. The main character in this story is instantly relatable, as a young one fleeing captivity who encounters a very helpful human who wants to help her get home. I have witnessed and taken part in many random acts of kindness in my life and I’d like to hope that as we progress into space, our helpful and caring nature will be one of those things we carry with us throughout all our travels. One of the other things I really liked about this story was the nebulous nature of gender, both of the other aliens involved and of the human who works to help Tinis get home. Additionally, there are peacekeepers on the planet in the story and they have xi/xir pronouns, which I thought was a very neat and unique way of beginning to normalize gender neutral personal pronouns.

WWHD: What Would Humans Do? (20 pages) by J.A. Campbell. This was another of my favorite stories in the anthology, as it looked at how aliens could use positive aspects of human behavior to learn how to work together for a common cause.

Then There Was Ginny (11 pages) by Sydney Seay. I also liked this story quite a bit, as the writing style and tone was one of the easiest to read in the anthology. This was also another story that highlighted the best parts of humanity while still showing some of the things which make us extraordinarily odd in the eyes of aliens.

The Dowager (21 pages) by Richard A. Becker. This story was interesting from the perspective of a conquered planet and how humanity would adapt to no longer owning our own home. The story was creative but left me feeling at the end as though some part of whatever happens next was missing.

New Union Requirement (11 pages) by Gwendolynn Thomas. I was reminded heavily of the bureaucracy in the Douglas Adams books during this story, which amused me greatly. The use of pet names and such for other members of the crew was a very amusing part because of how often in my own life I rename things so that I can create easier memory links to certain things and it’s nice to see that I am not alone in my naming of things and people.

The Sound of His Footsteps (17 pages) by Mariah Southworth. I think this was the first story in the anthology which highlighted the survival aspect of humanity and just how far we can go, even in horrible conditions and when we’re injured. I really liked how Ciliaso/Liaso was so convinced that this was the end of everything and that they would be best suited to just accept their fate and yet, their human just kept going. I’m not really sure why that was so amusing to me, but it really was and I enjoyed that aspect of this story.

No Way This Could Go Wrong (21 pages) by Alex Pearl. This was another of my favorite stories in the anthology, as it used some of those aspects of culture which never really translate to successfully coordinate interstellar operations. I’m not going to give up the spoilers for this story but it was probably the most fun to read out of all of the stories in this anthology, though the compressed words of the Grzzh were a little hard to read at times.

Through the Never (16 pages) by Eneasz Brodski. This was not one of my favorite stories, though it was interesting to see the psychological impact of extended space travel on the psyche.

Human Engineering (15 pages) by Marie DesJardin. This was a really fun story and clearly showed how difficult it is to motivate humans to do anything by appealing to our “marketable” traits. The innovation and creativity often found in humans is something that can’t really be predicted or forced and this story really showed the motivations behind the better parts of humanity. I enjoyed this story and the manner in which it was presented.

Once Upon a Time There Was a Xurt Named Xcanda (18 pages) by Alex Acks. As much as this title is an absolute mouthful, the story is a really interesting cultural look at how communication across species is bound to have a lot of disjointed parts. I liked how this showed that humans don’t like just giving up on a problem and I was absolutely envious of the entire concept of being able to download cultures and languages into my head. I think that would be one of the single most useful things I could imagine as an additional skill.

A Second Zion (21 pages) by Amelia Kibbie. The mercenary aspect of this story was highly amusing to me, as was what felt like a combination of Farscape and Firefly because of the feel of the story in general. I also liked how the different species worked together as a mercenary team, each using their own strengths to compensate for the weaknesses of their team mates. I can easily see this kind of future for humanity amongst the stars.

Brightened Star, Ascending Dawn (18 pages) by A. Merc Rustad. This was another story I enjoyed quite a bit. It reminded me a bit of In Fury Born by David Weber and also the Brain and Brawn ships from The Crystal Singer Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. It was a neat story and one of my favorites from this anthology.

Overall, this was a fun anthology and I’m glad I purchased it. Some of the authors have such interesting voices that I might investigate some of their other works or be on the look out for their names in the future. All the stories were definitely unique and I really enjoyed seeing humanity from the alien perspective.

Works cited: Caethe, Vivian (editor). Humans Wanted. Denver: Cuppatea Publications, 2017.

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Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Several months ago, I went and saw the movie Ready Player One and I enjoyed it a great deal. I wound up looking for books to read and decided to pick up the book Ready Player One (science fiction 372 pages) by Ernest Cline.

“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines – puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he find himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win – and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

So this is probably one of the only times when I can say that I actually liked the movie better than the book, even though the book came first. Usually, I have this thing I’ve noticed that whichever came first is usually better and usually the books come first. So in this case, the book was published in 2011 and the movie came out in 2018 and I actually did enjoy the movie a lot more.

Here’s why:

(Oh, and if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie and you want to not have either spoiled for you, you’re best off not reading this review until you’ve seen the movie and read the book).

Art3mis/Samantha is absolutely a more flushed out character in the book and Parzival/Wade takes a long time developing a crush on her in the book. Actually, looking back on the movie, Parzival/Wade did mention that he’d been following everything that Art3mis/Samantha posted for years but the movie didn’t have the time or necessity to flush that out other than to just mentioning it in passing. I also really liked how in the book, Art3mis was the very first person to find the first clue and how she was able to work on the clue while still keeping the entire area a secret.

The publication date on the book is actually a pretty heavy influence on why I think I liked the movie better than the book. It’s interesting to me exactly how much can change in such a short amount of time, but the technological changes and the societal changes are actually notable in this case. I feel a little bit like the movie captured more of the fun of gaming and how the OASIS was never meant to be a one-person game. The movie had a lot more team work and a lot more times when the “High Five” were shown as actual friends but the book had them as competitors almost the whole time. The movie also had a diverse cast across different age groups instead of everyone being from high school. In the movie, Aech is definitely not in high school and neither is Sho, as he’s only 11. Aech was absolutely my favorite character in the movie and was given a lot more background in the book. I really liked Aech’s mechanic shop in the movie and I wasn’t as fond of Aech’s highest ranked combatant skills as much, though I did like the twist that Aech was great at slaughtering all the other players in combat and no one knew that Aech wasn’t just some guy. I did like the twist in the book quite a lot, actually. I also liked in the movie that Aech was the one who called the authorities after getting the confession in the workshop.

To me, this book feels like the main character was a 30-something year-old man and not a teenager. I didn’t really get the sense of immaturity or uncertainty that tends to be prevalent in the younger generations and Wade had a lot more confidence than I would have expected. Wade had no issues with leaving his physical living area, setting up a false identity, and moving basically across a barren wasteland all by himself and no one seemed to question the fact that he was clearly a teenager? As I’ve gotten older myself, I’ve noticed that teenagers clearly look like teenagers. Unless in this dystopian future, everyone is in such dire straits that everyone just looks older and more worn out? But I constantly questioned Wade’s age in the book.

I will say that the challenges and world-building in the novel are very different and very interesting. Obviously, a movie-going audience doesn’t have time to sit through the entire Monty Python movie, nor War Games which is why those were the challenges in the book. The movie also needed to change the challenges in order to match the pacing of a movie and to add a ticking clock to the mix. I also liked the idea of having to use the treadmill to exercise before it would let you into the OASIS. It was really neat. If I could power my binge-watching of shows via walking on the treadmill or being on the stationary bike, I would absolutely do that and probably spend more time binge-watching or playing games while I walked on the treadmill.

The book was interesting. I did buy it and I might read it again at some point in the future. Overall, I’d say the book is probably a high two on my rating scale. While it had a lot more interesting references and I knew absolutely everything mentioned in the book, I was still a little disappointed that this wonderful bit of 80s lore didn’t include anything from the pop culture that didn’t include men. And I really liked the team work aspect of the movie over the lone competitor aspect of the book.

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Movie Review: The Incredibles 2

I was at something of loose ends yesterday so I went to see The Incredibles 2 last night after I went climbing and got some food.

“Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.”

I think this is another example of how trailers are not necessarily a positive thing because they show pretty much the entire plot, all the really funny scenes, and give you an anticipated conclusion to the movie before you actually see the movie. While the first trailers I saw made me extremely excited to see this movie and let me know that the movie was coming out and when, some of the best parts of the movie were in the trailers, which to me took some of the fun away from the movie itself. Another contributing factor to my movie-going experience were the two women in the row in front of mine who spent the entire movie on their cell phones, specifically on facebook, browsing celebrity crap the whole time. It makes me sad that people can’t unplug from their devices long enough to enjoy a really well-done movie.

As a note, this movie is absolutely not safe for those with epilepsy, as there are a lot of scenes with unpredictable strobes.

This review will contain spoilers so if you want to be surprised by the movie you might want to wait until you’ve seen it before reading the review itself.

This movie had a lot of really great positive things going for it and I really enjoyed it. Bob and Helen had a lot of relatable relationships issues and the movie touched the surface of daily sexism. At the beginning of the movie, Bob is clearly and woefully unsuited to parenting, as that has always been more of Helen’s responsibility. Bob is intent on doing well, however, so he does the extra work to be able to help Dash with his homework and repair the damage to Violet’s relationship. He realizes he’s in over his head in regards to Jack-Jack and asks for assistance from his friends, which gives him enough to start making a positive impact. One of the best parts about Bob’s parenting is that when Jack-Jack starts revealing powers, Bob doesn’t try to take away or deny the baby’s powers. Instead, the whole family chips in to work to help Jack-Jack control his own powers.

Between this movie and Ramage from several weekends ago, I feel like I’m seeing a lot more movies with rich siblings where it’s actually the sister who is the evil mastermind behind the entire world domination plot. While I did feel as though the Screenslaver was and interesting and unique villain, I also feel as though Elastigirl was well-portrayed by showing exactly how much foresight and intellectual labor goes into being a super hero. She didn’t just fight the villains, but used her brain to put together a lot of the little pieces of the villains’ plans. I feel a lot like we don’t often see anything other than people just fighting the villains in modern super hero stories so it was nice to have that kind of intellectual portion. Though, I did also feel that the Screenslaver had to be backed by someone who knew what was going on. In order for super heroes to be seen in a positive light, there has to be people for them to save and villains for them to fight.

Overall, this movie is easily a solid three on my rating scale. The movie was fun with great characters and a good storyline. I am highly likely to buy it when it comes out on video and will happily watch it again.

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Movie Review: Love, Simon

“Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year-old Simon Spier it’s a bit complicated: he’s yet to tell his family for friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online.”

I think this was the first coming of age and romance movie produced specifically with a non-hetereonorm story in mind. I have a lot of positive things to say about this movie so this review might get rather lengthy and is likely to be nothing but spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie and you would rather have certain parts be unpredictable, I suggest you save the reading of this review for once you have seen the movie.

So one of the very first things I will talk about is how emotionally intense this entire movie is. Some of it is really, really good emotions with a happy ending at the end, some are absolute cringe-worthy due to public humiliation, some is sheer amusement in watching high school drama as an almost-forty-something-year-old adult, and some are genuinely heart-wrenching because of how wrong some things in life go.

There are several scenes which are horribly uncomfortable for me because of the insane level of public humiliation, most especially, when Martin steals the microphone during the national anthem at homecoming and confesses his feelings to Abby. While I do appreciate how much courage it took for Martin to do that in front of the whole school, he also embarrassed Abby and put her in a really uncomfortable position where she had to publicly admit her own feelings. The vice principal partially showed some of the mentality of toxic masculinity where he is cheering for Abby to accept Martin’s proposal of dating and this whole situation could have gone very badly. However, he turned the entire situation around by encouraging the school to cheer for Martin, even though he was unsuccessful in his dating request. That vice principal turned around the entire tone of the rejection and made it just another part of growing up instead of a total tragedy. Society right now seems to enable white males to go on a shooting spree when they are rejected by women and I was worried that this movie would have done that, but instead, Martin became a gradually likeable character who understood that what he did was wrong and he tried to make amends for his mistake(s). So when Abby rejects Martin’s dating proposal, Martin is understandably upset and he lashes out in hurt and frustration by posting Simon’s secret gayness to the internet. This event triggers the key turning points for the rest of the movie, with Simon’s friends realizing how much harm he’d caused them and leaving him to deal with everything on his own and Simon losing the only ability he has to communicate with Blue, the other young gay man he’s fallen in love with online.

The other cringey moment for me was when Martin, Abby, and Simon are at the Waffle House and Martin, again, publicly humiliates Abby by standing on the table and being vocal until she say’s that she deserves a super hero. While the end result is that Martin is attempting to do something positive and get Abby to reaffirm that she is fantastic and deserves the best, the delivery leads a bit to be desired.

The characters in this movie were all very well done and felt truly genuine. It was interesting to see a high school coming of age story as viewed from the eyes of an adult, as the adults in this movie behave admirably. The vice principal is amusing in his interactions with the students because he is trying to be someone the students can talk to and yet is still a positive voice of authority. The first day back at school when he sees Simon enter the school, he’s wearing a rainbow flag pin on his lapel. I think he did that in order to show support for Simon and to let him know that school is a safe place to be who you are. Additionally, Ms. Albright was absolutely relatable. As someone who is likely to wind up teaching at some point, I can see a lot of myself in Ms. Albright. She stands up to the student bullies and is hilarious in her depiction of the limits of her occupation. She also mentions very adult problems which amused me greatly.

Martin was a very interesting character. I thought he was going to wind up being a typical, high school movie bully, but instead, it just turns out that he’s a bit socially awkward. He even has a part where Simon goes to his house and Martin specifically says that he doesn’t want Simon’s help changing him but rather that he wants Simon’s help to get Abby to see and like him for who he is. That is also a very powerful statement. You shouldn’t have to change who you are for people to like you but you also should accept rejection when someone just isn’t into you. Martin’s character really grows on you as you realize how hard he’s trying and that he isn’t the high school bully that he could have been if this was a normal high school movie.

Simon, as the main character, went through a lot during this movie. The parts where he was outted by someone else and how he had to deal with the discrimination at school were some of the roughest parts of the movie. I don’t think that anyone who isn’t “other” would really understand how scary and hard that whole section is, but if you’ve ever been someone other than the “standard heteronorm”, the idea or experience of being outted on someone else’s terms is really horrifying. Modern society right now is not exactly a safe place for anyone who is “other” to live and this movie captured the raw emotions exceptionally well. I very much empathized with Simon’s situation, his motivations for doing what he did to his friends, and with his emotional turmoil.

This movie brought up a lot of mixed feeling and thoughts. One of my thoughts revolve around how we live in a disposable society. When Simon is outted and his friends are hurt, they cut him out of their lives. They don’t make any effort to welcome him or to be supportive that is shown on the screen. Instead, Simon goes to pick them up as normal, and they all say how hurt they are and he is left to go to school on his own. He doesn’t even try to sit with them at lunch because he realizes that he hurt them and they don’t want him around. They leave him alone to get bullied and be hurt. We live in a fully disposable culture right now where when people hurt us, we can, and often do, just cut those people out of our lives. While there is definitely a time to cut out toxic people from our lives, how much are we as a society losing by cutting out anyone who has ever hurt us from our lives? I have made and will likely continue to make a lot of mistakes, especially in regards to my interpersonal relationships, and it feels like no matter how much I change, no matter how hard I work, no matter how much I love, I drive away everyone I care about because I hurt them. I am human. Eventually, I will hurt and be hurt by the people in my life. That’s how things go. So while Simon did eventually mend everything with his friends, it’s been my experience in my own life that things don’t generally work out that way for me. Maybe I just don’t deserve it. Maybe people are too afraid of being hurt. I honestly don’t know. But I very much appreciated that Simon got all his friends back into his life by the end of the movie, as well as actually making a connection with the person he loves. Even though all of this feels completely unrealistic for me, I really needed to watch something with a totally happy ending.

Overall, I think this movie is a high four if not a five on my rating scale. I have left this movie on repeat since I bought it last night. I am absolutely happy that I bought it, I have already watched it repeatedly, and am likely to watch it more in the future.

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Currently Reading Book Tag

While I was not tagged for this, I did find it over at Odd and Bookish. It looked like fun so I’m going to do it 🙂

1. How many books do you usually read at once?

I can only read one book at a time, but I definitely will binge and entire series back-to-back.

2. If you’re reading more than one book at a time, how do you decide when to switch books?

The only time I read more than one book at a time is when I’m reading something for fun and then I have to read things for work. Usually, I will switch books when the work reading gets too boring or dry and then I will read something for fun until I can get back in the right mood for work reading.

3. Do you ever switch bookmarks while you’re partway through a book?

I don’t even have a dedicated bookmark. I know I do actually own real bookmarks but I am more likely to use whatever is located nearby to mark my place in a book. Right now, that is video game notes on an old computer game I’m working on with a friend.

4. Where do you keep the book(s) you’re currently reading?

Usually on the ottoman next to the couch but sometimes on the breakfast bar.

5. What time of day do you spend the most time reading?

Since I have a job with regular and mostly predictable hours, I read in the evenings and weekends.

6. How long do you typically read in one sitting?

I will read until the book is finished.

7. Do you read hardbacks with the dust jacket on or off?

Any hardbacks I read are always with the dust jacket on so I can use the cover for a bookmark.

8. What position do you mainly use to read?

I will read however I am comfortable and since I generally read a book in one sitting, I change positions rather frequently.

9. Do you take the book you’re currently reading with you everywhere you go?

No. My books tend to stay at home unless I’m travelling and then I might take it with me.

10. How often do you update your Goodreads progress on the book you’re currently reading?

This is probably a really horrible thing to say as both a reader and writer, but I don’t even have a Goodreads account.

I tag…

I don’t actually tag people for things because I figure that if anyone is out there and they want to participate, they are free to do so, but will feel no pressure from me to do so 🙂

Thanks for reading and feel free to drop me a note and say hi 🙂

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