September Wrap Up and October TBR

As fall settled in and battled against the summer weather I was able to check off a few challenge titles.

Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt
A Pulitzer Prize winning account of Wyatt becoming Nicole and what it meant for her family and the world around her. 5/5

A Child’s First Book of Trump by Michael Ian Black
A silly illustrated book about Trump for adults as much as kids. Funny, timely, and well illustrated, I enjoyed this short book. 4/5

Exit Zero by Neil Cohen
A zombie apocalypse starts in New Jersey because people are literally thinking with their stomachs. From an indie that could have benefited from a seasoned editor but not bad. 3/5

Neurocomic by Dr. Hana Ros
This is a fun comic that blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction. It’s full of fascinating information about how our brain works and includes visitors from several pioneering scientists. A fast, fun, and informative read. 4/5

Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup
While this didn’t change my life, it had a message I really needed to hear right now. Some of her advice didn’t totally apply to me but I give her mad props for providing resources that help people. 3/5

Normally I don’t have a very long TBR for any given month but I love October and I love Halloween so I’m going big on my spooky TBR.

October Dreams edited by Richard Chizmar
This was out of print for ages so I was so pumped when it was back in stock.

Survive the Night by Danielle Vega
Her stuff is light and a teenager running for her life trapped in subway tunnels sounds like great ride.

The Dark Verse by Sharkchild
I kickstarted this book on a lark and it’s absolutely beautiful. If the stories are half as good as the cover, it’s gonna be great.

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach
Based of several creepypasta tales, I don’t know much about this novel going in and I think I’ll like it all the better for it.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
I’ve been waiting for this title for literally years. Now that it’s finally out, I can’t wait to dig in.

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Casual Challenge Update

Another couple of months, a bit more progress. It’s strange knowing it will be easier to finish the challenge with ‘read harder’ in the name than the one with ‘sugar’ in the name.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

  • Read a play – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling et al
  • By or about a transgender person – Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • Biography – The Illustrated Biography of Virginia Woolf by Zena Alkayat
  • Dystopia/Postapocalyptic – Exit Zero by Neil Cohen
  • Nonfiction book about science – Neurocomic by Dr. Hana Ros
  • About religion – Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup
  • Read a middle grade novel – Sideshow edited by Deborah Noyes

I enjoyed Harry Potter and his challenging relationship with his son. However, I found the main nature of the ‘adventure’ wrong for the genre. There also seemed to be some slip-ups with regard to the use of magic. Entertaining but it will be better when an audio play or filmed stage production comes out. (4/5)

Becoming Nicole was an excellent, unbiased chronicling of a young woman’s journey to become herself. I understand why it won a Pulitzer. (5/5) Alkayat’s illustrated biographies are fun if you know the life of the person being referenced. As someone who didn’t know Woolf’s story well, it felt shallow. You need context to appreciate it. (3/5)

I found Exit Zero at Baltimore Comic Con a few years ago. The zombie apocalypse starts in New Jersey and some high school friends try to make it out alive. It’s campy AF (there’s a character called Black Malcolm White) but entertaining in a Syfy channel movie kind of way. (3.5/5)

Neurocomic is bending the rules a bit since it uses creative illustrations to demonstrate its science. However, it discusses the functions of different parts of the brain, uses different pioneering scientists, and keeps it simple enough to understand. It was a fun and factual trip. (4/5)

Living Well, Spending Less checked off boxes on all of my reading challenges. While I didn’t love it, I read it at a good time in my life for the message. (3/5) I finished off September by ringing in the October weird with Sideshow edited by Deborah Noyes. An anthology featuring short fiction and graphic tales, all of them have something to do with a circus or show. I didn’t realize it was exclusively a YA anthology so it was a mix of middle grade stories and teen stories. It was entertaining but nothing groundbreaking. I plan on doing a full review soon. (3/5)

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016

  • Book that’s becoming a movie this year – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • YA Bestseller – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling et al
  • First Book I See in a Book Store – A Child’s First Book of Trump by Michael Ian Black and Marc Rosenthal
  • Dystopian novel – Exit Zero by Neil Cohen
  • Self-Help – Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup
  • Murder Mystery – Betrayal in Death by J. D. Robb (#12 in Death)

I saw the trailers for Me Before You so I decided to read the book and see what the hype was about. It was heartfelt and entertaining but didn’t rock my world. (3/5) Despite being a play, Cursed Child managed to make several teen/YA bestseller lists. You can see my review and rating above.

I had a B&N coupon for 40% off through Labor Day and a gift card leftover from my birthday. Upon entering B&N, Boyfriend and I both see Michael Ian Black’s children’s book about Trump. It was delight, hilarious, and took less than 5 minutes to read. (5/5)

You can see my general review above but for a zombie novel, it got more political than I expected. I was impressed with the government takeover subplot. I’m curious to see if there’s a sequel in the future because this story has definitely not wrapped up. (3/5)

I got into the in Death series because of my ex and old BFF from college. It’s compelling, entertaining, and definitely has echoes of Robb/Robert’s romance past. (ICYMI, J. D. Robb = Nora Roberts.) It took the library ages to get me a copy but it was fun to come back to these characters after so long. Nothing remarkable but always a good read. (3.5/5)

Richer Reading Life Quarterly Update

It’s been a busy reading summer. When you start to feel like you’re melting outside, what better time to stay in and read. I’ve included short recaps since everything on here has its own entry.

Books

  • By a woman – The Bell Jar
  • By a POCBad Feminist
  • By a LGBT+ personMore Than This
  • Deals with Mental Illness – Challenger Deep
  • Woman in Politics
  • Author over 65
  • Author from Africa – The Book of Phoenix
  • Takes place in Asia – Singapore Noir
  • Indie press – Pedal Zombies
  • TranslationSings Preceding the End of the World
  • PoetryPoisoned Apples 
  • Published before 1850
  • Genre I typically avoid – Living Well, Spending Less
  • Award Winner – Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • Audiobook
  • Recommendation

I started Challenger Deep but I didn’t finish it. It’s a fantastic book but I wasn’t appreciating it because I wanted to read other things more so I’m coming back to it in November. The Book of Phoenix is a prequel to Nnedi Okorafor’s well known book, Who Fears DeathPhoenix received rave reviews from a couple of folks on BookTube and I’m happy to say they were spot on. Singapore Noir was discovered on my library’s just-in shelf. As with any anthology, some were better than others but it was a fun and interesting read.

Living Well, Spending Less checked off two categories for me since it was religious and self-help. With my debit card synced to my major accounts for online payment, I have to be very conscious of my spending. While I didn’t love this book and the Bible passages meant little to me, it was a message I needed to hear when I read it. Becoming Nicole earned its Pulitzer Prize for its compelling and unbiased story about a family’s journey and activism. Absolutely worth reading.

Activities

  • Ask a local librarian for a recommendation
  • Ask someone I respect for a recommendation and read it right awayBlindsight & Twitter friend
  • Read outsideoutside a restaurant, near some shops, and on the beach
  • Read a book that looks like it will make you uncomfortable – Haunted Old Forge
  • Read out loud to someone I loveBoyfriend and Ghostly Encounters
  • Dog ear a page – Never Open Desert Diner quotes
  • Write in margins – The Book of Phoenix 
  • Give away a book that’s been in my TBR a long time Most of my 2nd quarterly cull
  • Cull 10 books from my collection and don’t bring any home for a month Culled? Check. No new books? Check
  • Attend a reading event near me – This Is Why You’re Single sketch show and book tour
  • Read the book, watch the movie, debate which is better
  • Listen to an audio book of a physical book I DNF
  • Listen to a podcast about booksDear Book Nerd and BookTube
  • Memorize a poem
  • Read one page of a holy book of faith I was not raised with Quran
  • Have a conversation about books with someone you’ve never talked books with before MRI tech

I finally did it. I managed to not bring any new books home for a month. Not just no new books but are exempt to the final 16 rule. No new books at all. I made up for that in August and September.

My handwriting is terrible. I took classes and got special attention as a child kind of terrible. I dislike my handwriting and much prefer typing everything I can. Writing in the margins was a tall order.

I follow a pathologist on Instagram nad have cut poop balls of my dog’s butt so making me uncomfortable is no small task. I posted about this on Twitter and a twitter friend of mine suggested the sci-fi novel Blindsight. I respect his opinion since we have similar interests so I requested it from the library. One thing that makes me uncomfortable is the idea that the paranormal will stop being a thing that happens to other people and start happening to me. Old Forge is a tiny town near where Boyfriend and his family vacation every year. I haven’t finished it but what better time to finish it than October?

Books

  1. Illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  2. This Is Why You’re Single by Laura Lane & Angela Spera
  3. Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken & Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  4. The Green Man by Ellen Datlow
  5. Sisters of the Revolution edited by Ann VanderMeer
  6. Sharkpunk edited by Jonathan Green
  7. The Feminist Utopia Project by Alexandra Blonsky & Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
  8. Headscarves & Hymens: Why the Middle Easy Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
  9. If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
  10. A Purpose for the Pain by Renee Yohe
  11. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  12. Penpal by Daniel Auerbach
  13. Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Africa
  14. Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Europe
  15. Live More, Want Less by Mary Carlomagno
  16. Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon by Jane Austen

I have not given my latest book by Miss Austen it’s own entry but I have officially hit 16. However, one of the books on this list is now being carried by my library and I plan on selling it. No, I still have not read it so I’m learning to give my library a couple of months on books I want that they don’t have yet. Since I won’t be keeping it and I’m doing yet another purge of at least 10 books, I’ll give myself this mulligan.

9 & 10 were obtained because I discovered them at Firefly and thought they might give me some insight into my possible BPD. 11 was from the Book of the Month club for a whopping $5. Penpal cost about as much as shipping and it’s going to be a good Halloween read. Both Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales are out of print and hard to find but find them I did. 15 was an impulse buy I think will serve me well in the near future.

 

Music Monday: The Circus and Freak Shows

While I’ve never been nuts about either of these things IRL, I love how they’ve become tropes for horror and supernatural stories. Since Halloween is rapidly approaching, I’m closing out September with some fun, games, and weirdness

Welcome to the Carnival by Midnight Syndicate
Freakshow by Skillet
Circus at the End of the World by Abney Park
Everybody Loves a Carnival by Fatboy Slim
Circus by Britney Spears
Calliope by Nox Arcana
Carousel by Melanie Martinez
Freak Show by Tiger Lilies
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite by The Beatles
Paradise Circus by Massive Attack
Circus Envy by REM
Circus for Psychos by Skillet
Something Wicked by Vernian Process
Funhouse by Pink
When the Circus Came to Town by Voltaire
Goodbye to the Circus by Aqua

Positivity, or Not

This is my own fault. I had another chat with Bella on social media. It was fucking awesome.

To give context, my friend Sally saw a whole rant someone posted on ThinkGeek about how a skirt is body shaming her because it doesn’t adequately fit her body. Sally had many things to say and included direct quotes from Rantypants’s diatribe.

My contribution: “The way a skirt is made is not shaming women. Rather than have a rant, suggest they be more diverse or inclusive in their offerings. I think ThinkGeek does a pretty good job with that overall.”

My logic: A skirt does not have the agency to shame you. Rantypants is projecting her issues onto the product. Rather than whinge at a company that did nothing wrong, she’s better off offering solutions to fix what she perceives as a problem. It’s the classic honey-vinegar dynamic.

Bella decided to randomly say something. I’ll include my commentary and paraphrased responses in italics.

“I’m glad your view has evolved!”

Here is where I made the mistake of saying something. This is a backhanded and condescending version of a compliment so I wanted to know where it came from. I made sure to clearly state that I knew that wasn’t her intent. Twice.

“You know I don’t do backhanded. I was genuinely happy to see that you agreed with Sally after some of the comments you have made over the course of the last year.”

I asked which comments. 

“I have heard you refer to women needing to “eat a sandwich” more times than I can count. When we were in Georgetown, you picked up a size Small sweater and declared that it was a cry for help.

You’ve repeatedly commented about how excited you are for Halloween so you can watch the skinny bitches in [nearby neighborhood with lots of bars] shivering in their slutty costumes. I’d honestly counted you out of the body positivity movement over the course of the past year, but I’m genuinely glad to see that you agree that body shaming on any level is not ok.”

Jesus tap dancing Christ. I had no idea this nut was keeping score this hard or that she hated me this much.

I will own the ‘eat a sandwich’ comment. However, if a model is going to be 10 pounds away from looking like a world hunger ad, I’m not that horrible for this.

I mostly mock the drunk idiocy of Halloween because very few of the women in the sexy/slutty costumes tend to ignore the weather. It can be 40 degrees out but that inebriated individual in a ‘sailor’ costume won’t compromise her costume with a coat. If you can’t dress for the weather because it isn’t ‘sexy,’ you deserve to be mocked. I’ll mock a fat or skinny bitch for this. I’m equal opportunity.

Since I’m plus size, I actually do care about the body positivity movement. It has a much greater impact on how I’m treated than fit and petite Bella. I’ve been treated like crap many times over for my size.

I made the point of mocking women for dressing inappropriately for the weather. And for the record, it was an XXS sweater.

“That’s the point. Even if it was an XXS, it shouldn’t matter. You can’t fight for women’s empowerment on one hand while tearing down women who are different than you are with the other.

The same goes with the costumes. Women should be able to wear whatever the hell they want to wear, especially if it makes them feel happy or sexy or strong in their own skin.”

At this point, I refuse to engage any further. I could have said something about how vanity sizing is ridiculous (AKA how 00 is a size) and reiterate my thoughts about wearing a damn coat but there was no point. Nothing I say will ever be heard because Bella has already decided what she knows to be true. I also refuse to be the person who gets into some unnecessary debate on someone else’s comment feed.

Knowing that Bella’s been hanging on to this rant for this long makes me think she’s my least favorite kind of person. She’ll be friendly to my face but have plenty of shit to say behind my back to plenty of people. If we’re cool, great! If you don’t like me, go live your life without me in it. But don’t you dare deceive me. If you have a problem, say it to my face or STFU.

It’s the Jiminey Cricket BS all over again. It’s incredibly presumptuous for Bella to decide if I’m body positive, a feminist, or anything else based on her own opinions. I am not beholden to your standards. I don’t need this immature, sanctimonious ridiculousness when I didn’t even ‘earn’ it this time.

Music Monday: Musicals

Music and theater can make us feel things few other things can. Instead of giving you the artist, I’ll give you the musical.

Seasons of Love from Rent
Cabaret from Cabaret (duh)
Satisfied from Hamilton
Springtime for Hitler from The Producers
Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist from Avenue Q
Cell Block Tango from Chicago
I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables
I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady
Defying Gravity from Wicked
Memory from Cats
If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof
Oklahoma from Oklahoma (again, duh)
Why You Why Now from Code Name Cynthia

I absolutely adore the soundtrack for Code Name Cynthia. I was able to see a reading at the International Spy Museum and a low budget production last summer. It was lovely and I hope it becomes the big deal it deserves to be. After all, Hamilton started a trend of musicals based on a true story. Why not this one next?

Spending Less, Sort Of

Since my credit card hack, everything is coming from my debit card and I’m more aware of my money.I want to make it go farther and last longer. I’m using apps that provide tangible rewards and I had a few things sell on Poshmark. I’ve been using RetailMeNot and Ebates when I’ve been shopping online as well.

I sold some books back to Powell’s and got a store credit. I’ve got a few more boxes to mail and ISBNs to enter before I’m done with everything. I’ve suspended Netflix for the time being. It’s barely getting watched, we have HBO and cable, and hockey season is coming. All things combined, it’s not a ton of money but it beats nothing.

I have several more expenses coming up, some by choice, others by necessity. Over the next six weeks, here’s where some of my money will be going.

  • Reddit gift exchanges: I want to do the Halloween one if they have it again this year and plan on doing the Christmas one. That’s it.
  • Halloween Music: I bought one CD and plan on buying a couple of more albums to get in the spirit of the holiday. I will scale back a bit from what I had been planning and only get 3 albums and a couple of tracks.
  • Camping: I owe a friend camping money from earlier this summer
  • Small Press Expo: It’s happening, we’re going, and I’m giving myself a cash budget. Last year was a free for all but this year I’m setting a budget, only getting autographed things that aren’t available at my library, and once the money is done, so am I.
  • Rent
  • Car Insurance
  • Medical debt
  • Skirt: There’s a black skirt I want from ModCloth that would be very practical for fall. I’m waiting for my store credit to come through before I buy it.
  • Renaissance Fair: It’s that time of year. Boyfriend and I love to go so we will be spending money on attendance and food. I will stop by and say ‘Hi’ to the vendors I know and love but I don’t plan on buying anything for myself this year.
  • Christmas is coming: Boyfriend is mostly done. My mom still needs a few things. I know one thing I’m getting at the RenFest for her.

For the reddit exchanges, I have the good fortune of having plenty of things in stock and getting a few items I don’t want as gifts. I have things set aside and ready for someone with a variety of interests so that (hopefully) won’t cost me too much to participate.

My friend is also not desperate to get the money immediately but I will pay him back by the end of the month. My mom can be a pain in the butt to shop for but my current plan is to ask what she wants, add in a Star Trek gnome and Kohl’s gift card and I’m done. I already have a couple of things.

There are some birthdays coming up but I can dig into my stockpile of existing gifts and Boyfriend and I share the friend gift giving responsibility so it’s not my sole expense.