Gossip Girl Goodreads

Gossip Girl has always had the allure of giving us an insider view on what the fabulous Manhattan elites are up to, and we get to experience it once again through The Thousandth Floor. That is one of the novel’s selling points, it sweeps you off your feet into a whirlwind of glamorous futuristic parties, luxury penthouses, and having the most ... Posts about gossip girl written by alittleshelfrighteous. Welcome back to A Little Shelf-Righteous!Since my book recommendations based on Gilmore Girls and The Vampire Diaries were so popular, I decided to continue giving recommendations based on TV shows. 2000s TV shows are definitely my guilty pleasure, so that’s my focus today — all the shows in the post either ended or started their ... This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Summary Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep—sometimes with each other. S is back from boarding school, and if we aren’t careful, she’s going […] On September 19, 2007, Gossip Girl premiered on the CW.Based on Cecily Von Ziegesar's bestselling YA series of the same name, the show was instantly a cultural phenomenon and the sole reason for a ... The Gossip Girl series is 13 books long, but they’re very short and fun books (although a little expensive – still £7.99 each on Amazon). These are the source material for the CW show of the same name (which I absolutely love) although the show deviates quite heavily from the books. The Gossip Girl series complete in 12 books. All are softcover except the prequel to the series: “It Had To Be You” which is only availab… Smart, provocative, and entertaining, this thrilling page-turner for teens questions the cult like mentality of fame and fashion. Are you in or are you out?” –Goodreads. I really really loved this book. I went into it pretty excited because when I was a teenager I was sucked into the “Clique” and “Gossip Girl” series. Spin-off: It GirlManga adaptation: Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only It Had to Be You (Gossip Girl, #0.5), Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl, #1), You Know You Lov... A book similar to Gossip Girl: 2 29: Aug 01, 2017 02:39PM The Worst Bestsel...: Bonus Episode II - Gossip Girl: 2 17: Mar 07, 2017 06:44PM Gossip Girl: 1 9: Feb 15, 2015 11:12AM Madison Mega-Mara...: #25 Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar: 1 3: Jan 24, 2015 10:19AM Goodreads Librari...: Wrong information on ISBN 9788845143816: 5 27 Goodreads. Gossip girl: You know you love me ... So begins Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer, a re-imagined and expanded slasher edition of the first groundbreaking Gossip Girl novel, featuring all new grisly scenes and over-the-top gore by #1 New York Times bestselling author Cecily von Ziegesar.

Review of ‘Anna K’

2020.09.24 16:30 CynA23 Review of ‘Anna K’

Originally reviewed on Cyn's Workshop
When I saw the title Anna K I instantly knew this was a retelling of Anna Karenina. I have read Anna Karenina only once in my life, in college for my Russian Lit class. Why I took that class, I do not know. I think it was the only exciting literature class that sparked an interest in me. I also knew the teacher and knew if I had to, could skate by. He always graded on a curve. When I read Anna Karenina, I was not as in love with it as I would have liked. To be honest, I think it bored me. Then the film came out starring Keira Knightley and I saw what I was missing in the novel. However, I did not pick the novel back up to re-read it.
However, I can say, as far as retellings go, Anna K blew me away.

A Compelling Contemporary Retelling

There were so many parts of this novel that reminded me of the Gossip Girl novels. This wave of nostalgia that hit me gave me goosebumps in a good way. Connecting me to those memories only made me love the novel even more.
However, what stands out about the novel is the characters. It is so easy to visualize these characters as they embark on their adolescent journey into love. That is probably the reason why I love this retelling more than the original because it is so easy to believe young kids are screwing up and figuring out their love lives rather than adults. There is such a preconception that lingers in our minds that makes us think that adults have it all figured out even when we know they do not. Even here, the adults do not have everything figured out, and that is the charm of the novel.
Anna thought she had everything figured out, her whole future laid out before her, a dotting boyfriend, the pride of Greenwich, but she forgot to live. That was brilliant, and part of the compelling nature of the novel.
By going back and forth between these characters, the novel intertwines their lives together, giving the novel a good pace and strong character dynamics. These may be high society kids, but the reader can connect to them because they are as lost as every other teenager out there. These kids are dealing with the hardships of school, the control of social media, and the addiction and longing that is love. Everyone, no matter the age, can connect with these characters because they are real, they come to life in such a brilliant way, developing and growing as they experience life.

Final Thoughts

Anna K was a brilliant contemporary retelling. It has such a range of characters but never loses the reader. It is cohesive in its fluidity, moving from one character to another is such a smooth motion. Jenny Lee did such a good job making sure the novel flowed, ensuring that the pacing of the novel remained steady so that she did not lose her point of view.
A true love story, Anna K lingers and connects to the reader long after they finish.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
BUY ON BOOKSHOP

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2020.09.14 17:45 ruxer2900 Book recommendation for TrueAnon listeners. Umberto eco's last novel "Numero Zero".

"An editorial office that prepares a newspaper intended, more than for information, for blackmail, for the mud machine, for low services for its publisher. A paranoid editor who, wandering around a hallucinated Milan (or hallucinated for a normal Milan), reconstructs the history of fifty years against the backdrop of a sulphurous plane built around the putrefied corpse of a pseudo Mussolini. And in the shadows Gladio, P2, the assassination of Pope Luciani, the coup of Junio ​​Valerio Borghese, the CIA, the red terrorists maneuvered by the confidential business offices, twenty years of massacres and misdirections, a set of facts inexplicables that seem invented until a BBC broadcast proves that they are true, or at least that they are now confessed by their authors. And then a corpse that suddenly enters the scene in the narrowest and most infamous street in Milan. A thin love story between two naturally losing protagonists, a failed ghost writer and a creepy girl who dropped out of college to help her family and specializes in gossip about loving friendships, but still cries over the second movement of the Seventh by Beethoven. A perfect manual for bad journalism that the reader gradually does not know if invented or simply filmed live. A story that takes place in 1992 in which many mysteries and follies of the following twenty years are prefigured, just as the two protagonists think that the nightmare is over. A bitter and grotesque story that takes place in Europe from the end of the war to the present day." Source: Goodreads.
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2020.08.28 21:42 ketchupsunshine [Kpop/YA fiction] The most dramatic day in kpop history and the book that may or may not wind up having anything to do with it.

Possible spoilers ahead for Shine by Jessica Jung. No real warnings beyond I guess vague insinuations of bullying. I would’ve put this off until the book came out but this is like ten pages already. Plus, somehow this subreddit has never had a writeup about 930 which is what the bulk of this wound up being.

Backstory:

In 2007, SM Entertainment debuted a new girl group. SM is one of the “big three” idol agencies in Korea, and had been incredibly successful in the first generation of idol groups with acts such as H.O.T., Shinhwa, and S.E.S. and their 2005 boy group Super Junior eventually became recognized as one of the major acts to usher in the second generation of kpop. This new girl group, SNSD (short for Sonyeo Sidae or Girls Generation in English), drew a lot of attention even before their debut.
The group’s nine members was a large jump from most first generation girl groups, which tended to max out at around five members. Although this was still fewer than Super Junior’s debut lineup of twelve members, boy groups tend to gain a large base of dedicated fans while girl groups mostly rely on support from casual fans and the general public. Having such a large number of girls in a group seemed unnecessary. On top of SNSD already being an unconventional group, Super Junior had already managed to become insanely popular by the time SNSD debuted, and SNSD was expected to be the female counterpart to Super Junior. The group was under massive amounts of pressure from the very start.
SNSD initially dealt with a lot of hate from fans of competing girl groups KARA and Wonder Girls, as well as due to the SNSD members being good friends with their labelmates TVXQ and Super Junior. Boy group fans were jealous that the SNSD girls were friends with their beloved boys. Girl group fans were mad that this new girl group had shaped up to be decent competition to their groups of choice. None of these were enough to stop the group’s rising popularity, and in 2009 they released mega-hit Gee. Post-Gee SNSD became insanely popular; they were known as “the nation’s girl group” and their faces were everywhere. To be SNSD during their peak was to be an international superstar the likes of which Korean Girl groups hadn’t really achieved before, especially within Korea, Japan, and China.

Everyone versus Jessica?:

Around probably 2010/2011, a lot of fans noticed that members Jessica and Taeyeon did not seem as close as they used to. Whether this was true or just fan perception is anyone’s guess, but there was a storm of rumors and accusations surrounding Jessica well before shit truly hit the fan. People claimed (and still do) that Jessica was supposed to be the third member of SNSD subgroup TTS instead of Seohyun, but that Taeyeon refused to let Jessica be part of the subgroup because the two didn’t get along. The merit to this argument is that Jessica and Taeyeon were SNSD’s two main vocalists, and that TTS was a pretty vocal-heavy group. TTS debuted in 2012, after rumors of the Jessica-Taeyeon rivalry were well entrenched, so this remains a popular theory despite Jessica having an acting gig that overlapped with TTS promotions. And the fact that TTS’s whole existence was because those three members were the only ones who didn’t have other work at the time.
Many fans shipped Jessica and Taeyeon in the first few years of their career, so every interaction between them was scrutinized, giving additional “sources” to the rumors that they hated each other. To a lesser degree, people argued that she didn’t get along with the rest of the group as a whole.
Besides her perceived drama with Taeyeon, Jessica had accusations of being “lazy” in her dancing compared to other members. Her TV acting was mediocre at best. In 2014, rumors of her dating Tyler Kwon came to a head when gossip articles claimed that the two would marry that year (for the record, idols marrying is still controversial even when they’re a former member of an unpopular group. A member of the top girl group getting married at the height of the group’s fame would be a shitstorm the likes of which no one has ever seen). In general, Jessica had a reputation for seeming cold or unfeeling.
None of this is to imply that she was anything short of massively popular, but her fame came with a fair share of scrutiny and accusations of cattiness. One major downside of having a group with nine girls was that it gave fans more freedom to pick and choose their favorites; plenty of die-hard fans of the group would only actually like some of the girls and outright hated some of the others. As with all kpop groups, fans of one member would complain about others having too many lines while their favorite didn’t have enough, or about music videos or choreography giving too much attention to their least favorites. Jessica tended to fall to the “least favorite member” end of the spectrum more often than some of the other girls, but this was balanced out by fans who preferred Jessica above all other members.

Jessica’s dramatic departure:

On September 30, 2014, Jessica posted a message on social media. I’m just going to quote it below, to give you the full context.
I was excited about our upcoming fan events only to shockingly be informed by my company and 8 others that as of today, I’m no longer a member. I’m devastated – my priority and love is to serve as a member of GG, but for no justifiable reason, I am being forced out.
Some people thought it was a hoax, or that she had been hacked. When this message was posted, Jessica was supposed to be travelling from the U.S. to Shenzhen, China to attend a fan event with the other members of SNSD. The Shenzhen event was bizarre, to put it lightly. There’s footage here and you can find lots of pictures and commentary about how several of the girls cried and how, rather than making any attempt to cover for Jessica’s absence, they instead left gaping holes in the choreography and were silent during her parts of the music.
After Jessica’s initial panicked statement, both she and SM Entertainment released more detailed statements. SM said that Jessica had been planning to leave SNSD after their next album anyway, “due to her personal situation”, and that she had been removed early because she was focusing on her fashion brand which she founded the month before. Jessica claimed she had no plans to leave and that SM had given her permission to start her brand, but that the other group members took issue with it.

Everybody on the internet argues, as the internet tends to do:

While there’s a lot of theories about how and why Jessica exited the group, the most unified one that took hold was that Taeyeon--who was the leader and allegedly no longer got along with Jessica after 2011ish--had kicked her out. Points against this theory include the fact that she literally would not have the authority to do that (because the “leader” position in a kpop group is something more akin to The Official Mom Friend than anyone’s actual boss), the fact that Jessica specified both the company and all of the other members had been the ones to force her out, etc...you get the point. Points for this theory are that Taeyeon was not among the members photographed crying in Shenzhen, and that if any member would’ve had the clout with the company to force a lineup change, it probably would’ve been her. That plus the aforementioned perception that Taeyeon and Jessica did not get along anymore was enough to cement this as probably the single most prevalent theory amongst both people who hated Taeyeon and people who liked Jessica the most, which made up a pretty significant portion of the fanbase.
The other largest group was those who thought Jessica deserved to be kicked out anyway, or that she was leaving on purpose and was only upset because she had been forced to leave earlier than anticipated. This group pointed to dozens of “Jessica lazy moments” compilations on youtube, to her focusing on her brand, and basically to absolutely anything that they could find that it was all Jessica’s fault she was no longer a member, and that she was evil for dragging SNSD through the mud by claiming they kicked her out.
No matter your theory of choice, there’s still questions. If Taeyeon and Jessica really did hate each other and Jessica was really kicked out over that..why? What happened--presumably in 2011--that led them to go from being friendly to eventually hating each other enough that one had to leave the group? Hell, even if you think all eight other girls voted her out, why? And if they wanted her out that badly, why did they seem so upset about it? Or if you think Jessica had been planning to leave anyway, why would SM Entertainment tell her she was out much sooner than planned? Why lose a popular member who you could’ve gotten another full album cycle out of, while simultaneously destroying a lot of your goodwill with the fanbase by going about it so poorly? Back in the immediate aftermath the catch-all explanation for many theories was that she was going to marry Tyler Kwon, which had already been going through the rumor mill beforehand. Obviously now we’re six years on with no wedding, so an elopement wasn’t the answer. So what the hell happened? SM and Jessica agreed on two things: that she was no longer a member of SNSD as of September 30th, and that her departure from SNSD had been unexpected and abrupt. Everything else remains a mystery to this day.

SNSD in the aftermath:

Following her departure, Jessica hasn’t done a whole ton of music-related stuff and has mostly focused on fashion. Part of this is because SM Entertainment is blocking her from going on music shows. Part of it also just seems to be that her own goals lie more in the fashion world at this point. SNSD continued to be fairly active for a few years, but by now most members have moved on to other ventures. Several members left SM Entertainment in 2017 shortly following their 10th anniversary. A subunit with the members still signed to SM called Oh!GG released music in 2018 and that’s the last we’ve heard of them as a group. SM and the members have all maintained that the 8-member lineup of SNSD is still intact and will reunite in the future, but that’s something we’ve also heard from plenty of groups who have never released music again.
In the immediate aftermath of the events of September 30, 2014, everyone pretty quickly split into pro-Jessica, anti-Jessica, and pro-stop-fighting-jesus-christ. Since then, the fanbase seemed to have mellowed out a bit. Rather than vicious fighting at the mere mention of Jessica’s departure like there was a few years ago, the bulk of the fandom has drifted into the camp of “whatever I think happened, I love and support all nine of these girls like I always have”. There’s also frequent rumors and “evidence” that the former SNSD members are secretly in contact with Jessica, who they have never publicly interacted with her since she left the group. There’s some pretty wholesome takes in all this, but that shaky peace has recently gotten thrown out the window by more angry fans than I’ve seen since 2014.

Jessica Jung: Future NYT Bestselling Author?:

So the true reasons for Jessica’s departure have remained as one of kpop’s greatest mysteries alongside such classics as “why was Jay Park really kicked out of 2PM”, “why did Hyuna leave Wonder Girls for ‘medical reasons’ only to re-debut in 4Minute”, and “why do Jimin from BTS and Jeongyeon from Twice seem to hate each other” (we as a community have very specific priorities). Like I said, the vast majority of people have resigned themselves to the fact that we are probably never going to have answers for what went down with any of this shit. Unless any of the idols involved decide to write a tell-all book, of course. Something that’s been a recurring half-joke, half-wish in every thread about kpop mysteries since the beginning of time. Something no one particularly thought would actually happen. Most people “spilling tea” about the industry have been those whose careers within it never really took off in the first place, because those are the people with basically nothing to lose (sorry Kyla. Sorry Grace. Sorry everyone else). No one seriously anticipated any well-known idols to ever tell us all of the dirty details of their career.
...And then in 2019 we found out that Jessica wrote a book, and everyone lost their shit. You’d think the fact that it turned out to be a Young Adult fiction novel would have done something to stem the excitement over getting a juicy tell-all, but you’d be wrong. Frankly, Jessica seems to be encouraging the people expecting a memoir masked in fiction.
“With Shine, I wanted to tell a big, fun, escapist story that also examines in-depth, behind- the-scenes aspects of the K-pop world,” Jung said in a statement. “My goal was to tell a transparent, candid story — in a way that sometimes fiction does best.”
Fans interpreted this statement in a few different ways.
The first interpretation was, “that absolute snake is writing her tell-all under the guise of fiction so that she can avoid getting sued and include as many lies as she wants to make herself look good”.
The second interpretation was, “good on Jessica for finally outing Snakeyeon and the rest of SNSD as the heartless bitches they are, I’m excited to finally see her speak the truth”.
The third interpretation, mostly expressed by people who have actually managed to calm down about something that happened six years ago to people they’ve never met, was “this is clearly based at least partially on her real life, considering the main character, her sister, and her group all seem like clear analogues to Jessica’s actual life. But this is all probably a big marketing stunt because how many people would be buying it if it was just some generic corny novel as opposed to the long-anticipated big reveal for Jessica’s relationship with SNSD? She’ll probably never go into any detail about which parts of the book are supposed to be real and which are supposed to be fake because the mystery will keep people talking while also keeping her from getting sued to hell and back. It’s genius.”
(If you can’t tell...I lean heavily towards #3).
The book comes out on September 29, 2020, which means two things. First, that’s exactly the sixth anniversary of her departure from SNSD, which is fuelling both the “tea” theories and the “clever marketing” theories. Second, that’s still a month out, and there’s supposed to be a sequel coming in 2021, so it’ll be awhile before anyone can be fully satisfied with whether or not Jessica actually had anything to say about her former group members.
Some people have gotten advance copies (ARCs) but from the goodreads reviews most either don’t know much about kpop or say somewhat vague things about “wow this showcases how brutal the industry is”. There are a few interesting reviews I found on the goodreads page for the book, but for the record there’s no way of telling who has actually gotten an advance copy when looking at goodreads reviews. You’re just taking the reviewer’s word for it, so take these all with a grain of salt (and note the sheer number of 5 star reviews by Jessica’s fans who haven’t gotten to read the book yet).
Part of a 2 star review by someone who says they got an ARC says this:
What really disheartened me about the book was how catty all of the girls were towards each other. I have no doubt that this cattiness is based in reality, but it left me feeling really negative after I put down the book. I wasn't sure what sort of message I was supposed to get. Mina is Rachel's main adversary in the book, as they are in a trio with Jason Lee for their new song. They are constantly pit against one another, and just when I thought that their friendship was moving forward and they were developing an understanding of each other, Mina would do something catty and we would be back to square one. Rachel was always painted as the victim. I also hated how she ended things with her friend Akari, who she just let fall to the wayside. After I finished the book, the only thing I got out of it is that Rachel will do whatever it takes to get ahead and I feel like her character barely developed.
Along with the closing line of the same review:
To me this just felt like jabs at the other members of Girl's Generation and petty vengeance. *Sigh*
Interesting take.
A non-review by an excited fan put into words what every gossip hungry person buying the book is assuming:
Although Shine is a work of fiction, Jessica will be drawing from her real-life experiences. Writing fiction will allow her to be more candid and discuss things in an ambiguous way. So I predict the tea will be overflowing and anyone who has ever wronged Sica should be running scared muwahahaha >:D
(Also included was this hyper-specific gif).
Someone who also said they got an advance copy of the book had this to say in their 5-star review:
Shine was actually way better than I expected it to be. I did judge the book a little but thinking it was going to be something fluffy about the K-Pop world written by a K-Pop star but the book was way more than that. It didn’t show everything as bright and full of rainbows and happiness. Things are mean in that world and it just makes you wonder if this was what the author went through before she left her group and decided to do her own thing.
Another ARC review, this one three stars:
I thought a book about a girl group would be about friendship but what I got was a lot of snarky dialogue, mean pranks and bullying. All the characters felt as if they had the same voice, none of them really stood out. Rachel being the MV did not have me rooting for her as she came across as any girl with talent. And Mina was just the Korean version of mean girls, even then get insults were repetitive.
These are obviously reviews handpicked by me for interesting commentary, but the main points seem to be that it’s a portrayal of how ruthless the industry is, and there’s a lot of people--those who say they know kpop and those who say they don’t--commenting that the villain isn’t well written:
There was nothing special or villainous about Mina other than her penchant for wanting to see Rachel fail. Here is where I need to get sidetracked to talk about what a failure Mina is as the "bad" character. She started off as a hilarious antagonist who is obviously and understandably shoved into the story to create the girl vs girl conflict, but she ended up being more of a yappy Pomeranian than a clever antagonist who has the ability to spin a web of lies to catch "perfect Princess Rachel." How are we as readers supposed to fear for Rachel and worry about her failing if everything Mina does is thwarted by Rachel's aptitude with excelling in comebacks and remaining nonchalant? I was rooting for Mina to change towards the end, and despite there being several chances for her to do so, she reverted back to the original version of herself from the beginning of the story.
But all the ARC reviews in the world won’t give as much clarity as the book itself. So now we sit and we wait until the book drops and see if the kpop world burns to the ground at the end of next month. In the meantime, SNSD fans have resumed tearing each other apart with a fervor that has not been seen in half a decade.

The impact:

So, there’s two parts of this story.
Jessica’s departure and the subsequent fan outrage sent shockwaves through the industry. One of, if not the strongest girl group fandoms of all time was suddenly torn asunder. Pre-2011, TaengSic (Taeyeon/Jessica) shippers had made up an impressive chunk of the fandom. They had already taken a blow after the girls seemed to stop getting along, but most remained in the fandom. Some had given up on their ship, some still held out hope, and some used the drama to write angsty stories, but post-departure they were thrown into chaos again. Although TaengSic shippers were the most volatile subset of the fandom, fighting was prevalent in all sorts of kpop communities. This went on nonstop for years, and although it still tends to pop up at any mention of Jessica or SNSD’s lineup changes, there has emerged a pretty strong subgroup of people who support all 9 girls and accept that they have parted ways for good. But there’s also those desperate for a 9-member reunion. Seriously. Every thread about SNSD potentially being active again has at least one comment about Jessica showing up. Especially their 10th anniversary in 2017. These conspiracy theories are often accompanied by the same “proof” I mentioned earlier about Jessica and SNSD members still being in contact (ICYMI, it’s mostly instagram posts of them possibly being in the same places at the same times, or nosy fans pushing the question and interpreting everything as a “yes”).
Even non-fans weighed in on her leaving. Those who hated SNSD revelled in the fighting and were excited to see what they considered to be the group’s downfall. Outside of kpop, casual followers briefly took notice of the drama. SNSD, afterall, was “the nation’s girl group”, so what happened to them was more noteworthy than your average idol group. But pretty quickly, only those invested in SNSD, Jessica, or the kpop scene in general seemed to care. Jessica is still very much “Jessica from SNSD”--a draft of the 2019 korean film Parasite mentions her as “the one who started the jewelry brand” from Girl’s Generation.
As for the book? We’re still waiting to see just how bad it gets. Right now, fans are at each other's throats again. Many fans who sided with Jessica (especially those who hate Taeyeon and blame her) are going around and spreading the word about her book, telling everyone that she’s going to reveal the truth. Those who sided against Jessica (especially Taeyeon fans) are worried that she is going to harm the careers of the rest of the group by slandering them. Everyone who fell in the middle is once again being expected to take a side. Most book-related drama seems to be happening in English-speaking fan communities, since the book itself is in English. I can’t speak for the Korean fandom, but since a majority of kpop fandom outside of Korea, Japan, and China takes place in English...there’s a lot of fighting going on. The goodreads page for the book has been flooded with 5-star reviews from fans who openly say they haven’t read the book. A few random reviews also reference there having been an onslaught of 1-star reviews immediately upon the book’s announcement, but those are no longer visible so I can’t say if they ever existed at all.
SNSD was a group with a global fanbase and they cemented their legacy as pretty much the most iconic group of the second generation. Although they haven’t been active as a group in years, they still have an insanely large fanbase across the world. And now that fanbase is once again fighting about things that we know basically nothing about. Fun!
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2020.08.18 03:23 CamrynDaytona Why Fundies love Tolkien

Given the recent trainwreck of the Girl Defined Birthday party I thought I'd finally sit down and write a post I've been meaning to write for a while: Why Fundies love Tolkien and why he would probably be very confused by that.
I feel like I should start this off with the disclaimer that I love Tolkien. I think he's a gem. His books are some of my favorites, his translations of epic works are fascinating, I want to marry Galadriel, and I think that (although he's not perfect, by any means) he is, at heart, a good person.
Also I'm usually on my other account but I typed this up on my computer and I don't remember the log-in for my other account. Whoops.
Oh and I have a lot of links, but I avoided anything that appeared to be fundie because I hate using archive links (journalism relies on ad revenue, after all). If one of them is a link to a fundie site let me know and I'll fix it.

Tolkien's Life

Tolkien was Catholic.
VERY Catholic.
I would even say excessively Catholic.
There's currently a movement to make him a saint (that link includes an actual prayer to Tolkien, which is amazing) and I (a non-Catholic) am very much in favor of that. The only thing holding him back is that he hasn't been credited with any miracles (but I digress).
If, by any chance, the Pope sees this, I'd like to officially submit my list of Tolkien's miracles:

The Obvious - Parallels in Middle Earth

People have literally written entire books on this, so I'm not gonna go into too much detail (just kidding).
I'm not certain he put any of the parallels into his works on purpose. He himself said "it is neither allegorical nor topical ... I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations ... I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers."
The Crucifiction
The One Ring was destroyed on March 25th, which is traditionally recognised as the day of the Crucifiction
Hope
Hope, which is a key Christian theme, is basically slammed over your head constantly in LOTR. It's the ultimate underdog story. Good always triumphs over evil. If you have a good heart then the one ring can't control you.
Hobbits are the Ideal Christian
Ralph C. Wood (a Tolkien Biographer) said: "Christians are called to be hobbit-like servants of the King and his Kingdom. Frodo and Sam are first in the reign of [God] because they are willing to be last and least among those who 'move the wheels of the world"
"Christ-Like" Figures
Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn (arguably the three "best guys" of LOTR) all follow a sort of "Christ-Like" path. (I'm borrowing heavily from Peter Kreeft (another Tolkien biographer) here)
Suffering
We all know that Fundies love that "blessed persecution" and "suffering for god" which is probably why they love all the horrible things that happen to Tolkien's characters. Most obviously Frodo who goes through a hell of a lot of horrible stuff despite never doing anything bad.
Free Choice.
The Bible clearly states that we have Free choice. And likewise, everyone in Middle Earth has the choice to do incredibly stupid things.
Yule
Aka, Christmas, is celebrated in The Hobbit, but it's not exactly clear what they're celebrating. Jesus doesn't exist so I'm not sure why they have Christmas (although, technically, Yule predates Christmas and I'm sure Tolkien knew that).

The Less Obvious - Parallels in Middle Earth

These are all points that are less obvious, as the heading implies.
They're not a part of The Lord Of the Rings, so our Fundies probably don't know about them because I'm not sure any of them can read. These are all references pulled from his other works, including The Silmarillion and The History of Middle Earth.
Tolkien's Middle Earth is Monotheistic.... sort of
Like I said before, he's very devout, so the idea of creating a world with a polytheistic religion bothered him. So while many people claim that Middle Earth has multiple "gods" (aka The Valar) it actually doesn't. The Valar are glorified angels. They are NOT gods.
Eru Iluvatar is the only actual god and he is (to Tolkien) the Catholic god.
The Elves follow all the Bible rules
There are basically rules to being an elf that the Valar set out for them, and they're basically the same as the rules given in the Bible. No premarital sex, no suicide, no incest, etc.
One biggie is "don't invoke the name of Eru" which is basically "don't use god's name in vain."
You don't challenge God
The Silmarillion, the main source of information on Middle Earth outside of LOTR, is all based around Elves trying to play god. To put it extremely simply, Feanor borrowed the light of the Two Trees (which Eru had made as the light for the world) and put it into three Jewels known as the Silmaril. The entire book is then everyone fighting over the Jewels.
The Light
We've all heard "Jesus is the Way, The Truth, The Light" or "This Little Light of Mine" or any other similar thing. Light is very much a Christian motif and it is repeated CONSTANTLY throughout The Silmarillion (the Silmarils glow. Picture the Arkenstone from The Hobbit except BETTER).
Sauron is not Lucifer
A lot of people assume that Sauron is a metaphor for satan. He's not. That job actually falls on Morgoth, Sauron's boss. He's one of the Valar who desired more power than Iluvatar gave him and so rebelled against him. So he's literally a fallen angel.
Turin Turambar
Turin is possibly Tolkien's favorite character in the entire world of Middle Earth. He's named after The Shroud of Turin (which Jesus was buried in).
He's a human who overcame great adversity, accidentally married his sister (because of a dragon), and is basically the living embodiment of that sweet, sweet persecution complex.
In the final war against Morgoth, at the end of the world, it's said that Turin will slay Morgoth.
A lot of people believe he's based on Jesus. I don't have an opinion on that because I think Turin is boring as shit and would rather watch Girl Defined videos than think about him.

The Less Obvious - Beowulf

I genuinely doubt any of the Fundies discussed here have read any version of Beuwulf. In fact, I doubt they know what Beuwulf is and the name alone probably scares them. But I have and it tells a lot about how Tolkien viewed the world.
I had a class where my professor said we needed to buy a translation of Beuwulf, but it could be any version we liked. So naturally I picked his translation.
This lead to a few hilarious instances where the class would be debating something and my version would be WILDLY different because he tried to "Christianize" the very un-Christian tale. Most notably, he changed every mention of "fate" to some variation of "God's will."
Here's some more information on Tolkien's rather strange translation of Beowulf.

Was Tolkien _____

There are a lot of discussions today (and they're important) about older authors and if they were racist, sexist, etc.
While I won't say he he was perfect I will say he was better than a lot of people of his time.
There are things in his works that aren't great by today's standards, but I don't believe he actively sought to be horrible to anyone. He really did try to live by the "love thy neighbor" rule.

tl;dr

As I said at the beginning, Tolkien would probably be very confused by his popularity with fundies.
First of all, he's Catholic!
He even tried to convert his bestie CS Lewis to Catholicism. He would not understand why non-Catholics herald him as some sort of hero.
Tolkien was also EDUCATED.
He was a professor at Oxford University and wrote a large section of the Oxford English Dictionary. He was NOT anti-science. Everything he studied and learned he built into his beliefs about God.
And yes, he did weird things like that Beuwulf translation, but I should point out, it was a translation he did for fun, not intending for it to be published.
He had a lot of respect for people who weren't Christian, in fact, his focus as a professor was on the Anglo-Saxons. You know, that Paganism that scares Fundies so much? And by all accounts he was good at it and I've never once seen anyone accuse him of bending the truth to his students or hiding things he didn't like about the Anglo-Saxons.
Most importantly, he believed in women's education, which is the thing that should totally ruin him for Fundies.
And finally, and I cannot stress this enough, he would not understand why such hateful people have a hard on for Hobbits.
I won't call him progressive. I'm not going to speculate on what he would have thought of gays or abortion or BLM or anything like that, but Tolkien believed in loving thy neighbor.
Look at Hobbits. Hobbits are Tolkien's ideal people.
Do you think for one moment that Hobbits are going to show up to protest against gay people? No. They are too busy getting high and eating a lot of food and gossiping about that weird old guy in Bag End.
I'll leave you with my favorite Tolkien quote, which I think says a lot about how he thinks people should live their lives:

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Further Reading:

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2020.07.27 21:28 canquilt Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I randomly came across Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld on the Libby app. It was available in ebook and audiobook form, so I figured why not? How bad could it be?

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Enemies to Lovers, modern day retelling of a classic
POV: first person
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Heat Index: 0
Audio Rating: fair to middling

This was my first modern day retelling of any classic, let alone one that dares to take on the Queen Jane Austen herself and the inimitable Elizabeth and Darcy. Eligible is part of something called The Austen Project which, "with the modern trend of remakes in the world of film," set out to "tackle the retelling of six of Jane Austen's most cherished novels" in a 20th and 21st century setting.
The Austen Project, from the beginning, was inspired by some dubious efforts to begin with. Those film remakes were basically cash grabs. Most of those remakes have not been embraced with the kind of enthusiasm producers hoped, and the Hollywood remake movement has garnered quite a bit of negative response. At best, many of the remakes have simply been forgotten.
This blog post details why this project and the novels themselves are somewhat of a failure.There's quite a lot to consider in terms of character dynamics, societal norms, style, structure, and wit and how these things translate to the modern day. Successfully updating an Austen novel to present day and preserving the spirit of the novel and characters requires some delicate consideration-- authors have to maintain the integrity of the characters and their identities, as well as the issues and conflicts they're engaged in, while blending them in with the modern world. Adapting and retelling an existing classic isn't as simple as just throwing in some modern shit like cell phones and text messages and adding some inclusion and diversity then dusting off your hands.
Basically, retelling an Austen tale isn't and shouldn't be for the faint of heart. It takes skill.

As a retelling, Eligible does alright but the book is not without problems. Stacia on Goodreads has an excellent review that highlighted a few of my major criticisms.
Sittenfeld manages to play up the ridiculousness of the Bennet family almost perfectly. Mr. Bennet is long-suffering, Mrs. Bennet is shallow and unlikeable. Lydia and Kitty are positively intolerable brats-- they really are total assholes who treat everyone like shit-- and Mary is a somewhat prickly family outcast. Jane and Liz are the only likeable members of the family, and Liz has her punchable moments.
The family is in financial straits, not due to issues of primogeniture, but due to bad money management and medical debt. Jane's NYC rent has been supplemented by her parents for years; Lydia, Kitty, and Mary all live at home; the family maintains an expensive country club membership; Mrs. Bennet has a shopping addiction. All of the girls have attended expensive colleges; both Liz and Jane attended Barnard, and Mary is working on her third master's degree. The family estate has been mortgaged not once but twice to keep the family in the lifestyle in which they are accustomed to. (Liz and Jane are the only ones who work-- Liz is a women's magazine writer and Jane is a yoga instructor, both in NYC.)
Liz and Jane are much older in the retelling than they would have been in the original, both just a year or so shy of turning 40. I sort of enjoyed this change, because the age issue brings with it pressure to marry and procreate. Where in the original, the girls need to marry to secure the family's estate, the retelling explores the stakes of marriage and motherhood in middle age and underscores the idea that a woman has value in society only in relation to her ability to reproduce (or, at least, it feels that way sometimes).
Mr. Collins does make his appearance as Cousin Willy, a step-cousin who is a super rich tech mogul. This part of the story is a very minor conflict, despite being a Big Deal in the original, and Sittenfeld doesn't do too great of a job with Willy and Charlotte's pairing. It comes out of left field-- kind of like in the original-- and creates a satisfying conflict between Liz and Charlotte, but it pops up intermittently, picked up and dropped unceremoniously throughout the narrative, and when it does appear, it drags.
The reimagined Mr. Wickham conflict appears in Liz's long-time love interest Jasper, but it's convoluted, lengthy, and unnecessarily drawn out.
Lydia's elopement occurs but is unrelated to this conflict. She runs off with the owner of the crossfit box where she trains, a guy named Ham who turns out to be transgender. This is treated as a huge and ugly problem and the source of lots of gossip, which requires a ton of repair in the Bennet family. At one point, Ham and Lydia apologize for "tricking" everyone into thinking that Ham is a guy. Later, Kitty becomes involved with a side character named Shane, who is black, and that causes another wave of discomfort in the Bennet family.
Bad move on Sittenfeld's part. Yes, the Bennets are a WASPy family and Mrs. Bennet is apparently racist (this is discussed) and these relationships would definitely bring some tension to the story. But these characters were clearly not meant to be characters. They were token conflicts-- especially Shane (there's a couple other black characters who get the same weird treatment, Stacia's review does a really good job digging into that)-- who brought up issues that weren't fully treated with the seriousness and respect that they deserved and required considering the level of drama the Bennet family experienced over these two characters. The issue of Ham being transgendered took up a huge portion of the story after his elopement with Lydia and yet Sittenfeld handled it in such a way that made it clear that, while Mrs. Bennet's ideas were unacceptable, that she was the person who needed to be made comfortable, that she should be cajoled and coddled and convinced that Ham was okay. And that's bullshit.
Later in the book, Lydia says something that made me pump my fist: " 'Mom understanding Ham is her problem!' Lydia yelled. 'He's not asking for her permission to exist!' "
It was hard for me to figure out if the poor handling of these concepts was due to Sittenfeld's lack of understanding or care, possibly her own gross and wrong ideas about black people and transgendered people, or if it's because the Bennet family really is that dumb and intolerant and is having a hard time navigating the inclusion of Shane and Ham into the family. Considering some of the weird conversation about gay marriage (as in, where is it legal? Everywhere in the US, per the SCOTUS ruling in 2015) and the constant insults to Mary over being a lesbian (she's not, though she could be asexual), I'm kind of leaning toward a little bit of everything.
Possibly the most intriguing and unique aspect of this retelling is the Bachelor-esque reality television show that Bingley has participated in, hoping to find love. The concept had potential for 21st century conflict, fun, and match-making. Sadly, the device is under-utilitized and fails to add interest to the novel. It really exists as just a fact until basically the very end of the book.
Sittenfeld absolutely fails to capture Darcy and the tension between him and Liz. This novel does have a prejudiced Darcy and a prideful Liz, and you see some of that in the beginning when we are first introduced to the characters, but for a large portion of the book, Darcy is merely a taciturn and standoffish guy who has a sort of judgemental attitude. Charlotte often refers to the ST between them (childhood shorthand for sexual tension) and honestly? I didn't feel it. It wasn't there.
Caroline Bingley is as unlikeable as you ever imagined her to be in the original, and maybe even more so here. Sittenfeld makes her into an out-loud villain and crosses into possibly cartoonish territory, but I was kind of okay with it because I hated Caroline anyway.
The letter and the "ardent" speech are delivered but turned on their heads, as you would expect, and it was interesting to see how Darcy helped to bail the Bennet family out of some of their trouble.
In general, the book was enjoyable but it dragged heavily in the latter third. It has 181 chapters. Perhaps this is meant to be a nod to Austen's style. Some of them are extremely short, but for the most part the book is too long. And the final chapter just doesn't belong there at all. It's worse than an epilogue. It's about Mary, her quiet vibrator, and her bowling league. So.

TLDR: Overall, it was fine. Just fine. Not good. Not bad. Just. Fine. But if you're taking on the world's most iconic couple, you gotta do better than just fine.

What are your favorite retellings? I need to try again.
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2020.07.22 14:35 efa___ I Read It So You Don't Have To: Growing Up Duggar (by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar)

Hi all -- for the past few weeks, I've been occupying my hours of quarantine boredom by reading several of the literary masterpieces written by Real Housewives cast members and sharing write-ups of my perilous adventures with the BravoRealHousewives subreddit. But -- at my core -- I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment. So when u/acoffeycup suggested that I crack open my copy of Growing Up Duggar and do my best to decipher the wisdom within, I couldn't turn down the challenge. And in this newfound spirit of evangelism, it seems only proper for me to share the fruits of my journey with your pliant and receptive ears. So pull up a chair, scoop yourself a big ol' slice of tater tot casserole, and listen in respectful reverence to my personal testimony of Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar's 2014 book, Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships.
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On the book's cover, the four eldest Duggar daughters smile placidly at the reader, bedecked in a dignified assortment of denim and denim-adjacent garments. Yet even within these constraints, our feisty fashionistas still find ways to express their own unique aesthetic sensibilities. Jinger, for example, sports an early iteration of her now-iconic blazer, opting to emphasize her youthful spirit through whimsical cap sleeves and a precious baby-doll waistline. Next to her, Jessa stares soullessly into the camera, and -- almost against my will -- I find my eyes drawn to her hypnotic gaze. But thankfully, before I am sucked too deeply into that most barren abyss, I am distracted by the smattering of small pearlescent buttons adorning what might otherwise be mistaken for a extra-small mechanic's shirt, and I seize the chance to move along to the next Duggar offspring at hand.
Jill's silhouette is by far the most avant-garde of the foursome, perhaps foreshadowing her oft-hypothesized rebellious inclinations. A tunic-length dress is cinched cheekily above her waist with a thick, woven belt, while a long denim underskirt fully obscures her sheepish shins. In the back right corner, Jana jazzes up a simple tee with a bold statement necklace ostensibly purchased from the clearance section of Earthbound Trading Co., the perfect compliment to an exotically hemmed skirt that I can only assume has been sewn together from the tatters of Duggar rags past.
Eager to learn what invaluable wisdom these pages hold, I impatiently open to the book's introduction -- welcomingly titled, "Greetings: From Our Hearts to Yours." As I begin to read, I am heartened to learn that there is hope for each and every one of us, "whoever you are -- whether you're the girl we met who goes to a Christian school and attends church three times a week but is still struggling inside, or the girl with five tattoos and multiple piercings." Yes, whatever sins you may have committed in your ungodly ignorance -- provided, of course, that you have not yet blighted your body with that accursed sixth tattoo -- the Duggar girls hold a special place for you in their hearts:
Even though we have never met most of you reading this book, we want you to know we love you and care about your future. We want to share our stories with you, knowing you have a story, too, and hoping something we say here might empower you to use your story, your life, to help others.
The Introduction continues with a brief summary of the Duggar Family timeline, in which we are informed that "Mom and Dad look at life as a race against time." This seems to me a bit incongruous with the whole 'eternal life' thing, but perhaps Jim Bob and Michelle were affected by the hit 2002 film Clockstoppers just as strongly as I was. I am also excited to learn that I will soon get the chance to hear more about the authors' "passion for being involved in the political realm," as well as their "commitment and desire to reach out to people in faraway countries." With a few concluding remarks emphasizing the importance of relationships, the introduction comes to an end, and we begin the book proper with Chapter One: "Your Relationship with Yourself: Getting to know and love the girl in the mirror."
We are informed that "Jana and I (Jill) sleep in double beds with our youngest sisters, Jordyn and Josie, and the other girls sleep in twin- or youth-sized beds," which seems as good a time as any to clarify that our authors ranged in age from twenty to twenty-four years old at the time of this book's publication. But if you find yourself pitying the cramped conditions of the Duggar daughters, think again! Not only is it a delight to spend so much time surrounded by siblings, but the elder girls are often led towards profound truths by the innocent remarks of babes. To illustrate this point, Jill recounts a scene in which a young Johannah asked to wear her sister's retainer. Wise beyond her years, Jill gently denied the request, explaining that the retainer had been made to fit her mouth and couldn't be worn by the small girl (a small blessing, as I can absolutely imagine the Duggar family passing down a single retainer from child to child for a decade or more). But what sagacious insights should we glean from this touching tale?
Thinking about that conversation later reminded me that we can't conform ourselves to other people's molds. But we try sometimes, don't we?
It's so comforting to remind myself that I was molded for Jesus's mouth only -- why would I try to adapt to the crooked canines of this fallen world? We are next provided with a list of "ten aspects of life" that God wants us to accept. These range from the blatantly problematic -- "whether we're a girl or boy" -- to the bafflingly sinister -- "the date we will die." When it comes to the more physical aspects of your aesthetic presentation, however, a lack of effort is unbecoming. Or, as the Duggar Girls reminisce:
We heard a pastor say one time, "Any ol' barn looks better with some paint on it!"
The girls also explain their convictions regarding modest attire -- "we want to be respectful of those around us." Personally, I've always attempted to show respect to others by presuming that they have the emotional and cognitive wherewithal to avoid turning into some kind of raving hormonal beast at a bit of tasteful sideboob. But that's why I'm not the one writing an advice book!! Thankfully, in this day and age, a number of options exist for those who want to be both chic and chaste. For example:
Several of our friends have purchased stunning dresses from designers such as www.beautifullymodest.com or www.totallymodest.com.
I'm rather partial to inordinatelymodest.com myself, although the sales at bewilderinglymodest.com just can't be beat! But our gracious authors bring us back down to earth, reminding us that there are far more important things in life than the frivolous fads of fashion -- namely (as we begin Chapter 2), "Your Relationship with Your Parents: Love, respect, and communication."
In order to facilitate these crucial lines of open and honest communication across such an innumerable brood, we learn that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have made the radical decision to carve out dedicated time for one-on-one conversations with each child -- "usually on one Saturday a month." These precious monthly check-ins with one (or, on a particularly special occasion, both!) parents provide an opportunity for otherwise scant face-to-face contact, and also allow the Duggar parents to exercise some of their more cutting-edge parenting techniques. For example, our authors let us in on one particularly hard-earned pearl of wisdom practiced by their beloved parents -- "often to help get the conversation going, they'll ask us questions."
With such a lofty standard being proffered, I understand how intimidating it may be to even attempt to incorporate such advanced strategies into your own parenting repertoire. But rest assured -- in case you have yet to acquire the child-reading confidence necessary to formulate such thoughtful queries on your own, I've taken the liberty of transcribing a few of the book's most incisive inquiries to help you parent like a pro.
How's your thought life going?

What things about your past would you like to change?

What things in our family discourage you?
"Discouraging" is exactly the word I would use to describe Michelle Duggar's bedragged coiffure, although something tells me that's not exactly the kind of confession that line of questioning is designed to draw out. A subsequent passage emphasizes the importance of obedience, which we learn should be "instant," "cheerful," "thorough," and "unconditional." Such instruction is necessary, as the Duggar Girls explain, because "we are all born with a sin nature." Similar to the appendix, the "sin nature" is a vestigial organ that humans retain as a remnant of our distant evolutionary past -- at least, according to the heathens who indulge in that sort of paleobiological storytelling. And if such instructions still seem overly domineering to your unenlightened mind, this adage from George Orwell's 1984 the Institute in Basic Life Principles may help reframe your mindset:
Obedience is the freedom to be creative under God-given authority.
We transition from this doubleplusgood quote into the next chapter: "Your Relationship with Your Siblings: Becoming best friends," in which the authors waste no time in assuring us that the Duggar siblings "range from outdoorsy types to computer geeks, animal lovers to bookworms." Plus, I can only assume, a brain, an athlete, a basket-case, a princess, and a criminal. We go on to learn that the clan represents "a diverse assortment of personalities, interests, strengths, and weaknesses." Which sounds suspiciously like the noncommittal vagueness of someone who has never before possessed a character trait more forceful than, perhaps, a vague appreciation for wainscoting. Inevitably, however, these differences in temperament lead to vicious conflict. For example, as Jessa tremulously recounts:
An incident many years ago served as a lesson to us all. A younger sibling asked, "What kind of ice cream are you getting?" and the frustrated older sibling replied, "You don't have to always copy everything I do! Why don't you just pick out your own flavor?"
Mom immediately took that older sibling aside and shared how much hurt and devastation a remark like that causes. […] Apologies were made, and the younger sibling readily forgave. The older sibling resolved to never speak demeaning words like that again but rather to embrace and uplift this sibling, and today, these two continue to be the best of friends.
I find it truly inspirational to know that even this -- the most unimaginably devastating of sibling brawls -- could be delivered from the brink of schism and restored to genuine affection. Yet it is not just sibling relationships that must be navigated with this sort of grace and levelheadedness. No, as we learn in the next chapter -- "Your Relationship with Friends: 'Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future'" -- it is important to shrewdly evaluate our friendships to assess their effects in our lives. To illustrate this point, the Duggar Girls encourage us to be mindful of the influence we exert over our loved ones.
Think about your last conversation with your friend. Did it lovingly challenge him or her spiritually?
I think back to a time when a dear friend lovingly challenged me to take edibles and re-watch the first season of Double Divas -- surely this is the kind of spiritual development that a true confidante should inspire! The authors also relay a parable that their parents shared with them as children to demonstrate the importance of standing up for your convictions. In the apocryphal tale, a young girl begs her father to allow her to attend a friend's slumber party. He agrees -- provided she promises to uphold her Christian morals -- and sends her off after a parting moment of prayer. But what began as a carefree romp soon turns sinister, as the chilling saga continues:
The party was lots of fun, and the girl had a great time playing with her friends. And of course, what is a birthday party without a big piece of cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream? But late that night, before bed, the mom suggested they have a "pretend séance" using a Ouija board.
When the girl heard what this involved, she said respectfully and quietly to the group, "I'm not going to be able to do this."
When the mom asked why not, the girl replied, "I've given my life to Jesus, and I'm not able to do things like this."
The mother was stunned by the little girl's words -- and by her quiet courage in speaking up for her beliefs. She packed up the Ouija board and suggested the girls play something else before bed.
And that mother's name? Albert Einstein. But truly -- I can only hope to one day have even one fraction of the courage shown by this young girl, in this absolutely true story that definitely without-a-doubt one-hundred-percent happened. A more believable anecdote quickly follows, however, this time starring a young Jim Bob Duggar in the role of "huge nerd".
Dad became a Christian when he was only seven, and one day when he and some other little grade school classmates were out on the playground, one of the boys started using God's name as a curse word. Dad quietly told the boy he wished he wouldn't misuse God's name. "After all," Dad told his little friend, "He's the One who made us and loves us."
Following in her father's smarmy footsteps, Jessa encourages the reader to eschew those friends who are only concerned with "watching all the newest movies, listening to the latest pop music, and judging others whom they deemed 'not cool.'" We are also treated to the compelling account of an accident at one of the family's rental properties, in which several cases of energy drinks exploded within a warehouse. By the time this tragic mishap was discovered weeks later, "the energy drinks had actually eroded away a layer of the concrete -- in some places, a half-inch deep!" The moral of this story, as we are solemnly advised, is that "the same thing happens to us when we spend lots of time with 'friends' who may seem sweet and appealing but who are exerting a harmful influence on our hearts." I would have thought a more telling moral would have been "Probably don't drink energy drinks" (or perhaps, "Check on your rental properties more frequently"), but I digress.
Our rollicking ride continues with another of Jim Bob's classic legends: "the story of a nice, likeable young man who grew up in a Christian home but eventually became a drug addict." Eyes wide with horror at the very thought, I read on. After making the grave error of surrounding himself with people whose "sole purpose in life was to 'have a good time,'" this unnamed man soon finds himself ensnared in a perilous trap. Then, on one fateful night, he attends a party and is handed a beer by a passing stranger.
At first he just stood there holding the beer in his hand, smiling and contemplating what he would do. He had never had a desire to drink, but he did not want to feel like an outsider, so when no one was looking he poured half the beer into a nearby potted plant. A little later his friend came by and said, "You didn’t drink any, did you?" Then, grabbing the bottle out of his hand, he noticed that it was half empty. "Hey, guys, he's one of us!" the friend announced to everyone.
Shorty after that the young man started drinking; later he got introduced to drugs. How sad that one, seemingly small decision started him on a path of self-destruction.
I can only assume the rest of that pivotal party went more or less like this. A bone-chilling illustration of just how slippery a slope can be!
We move along to a more cheerful topic in Chapter Five, which switches gears to focus on "Your Relationship with Guys: Saving yourself for the one God has for you." Here, too, we are greeted by the eternal words of our communal patriarch-in-spirit, JBD:
About the time we entered our teenage years, Dad told us a story about a girl he went to school with in elementary and junior high school who was boy-crazy. […] He said he wondered at that early age if eventually this girl would find Mr. Right or if her habit of throwing herself into relationship after relationship would prove to be preparation for a future unstable marriage.
Sadly enough, when this girl finally got married, it didn't last long, and that same pattern of discontent, insecurity, and self-centeredness that had affected her dating also affected her marriage.
Prior to today, I would have found it hard to believe that anyone else could be quite as smugly infuriating as Jim Bob Duggar. But -- if even half of the stories I've read in this book so far are to be believed -- he's gotten only more mellow with age. It's a level of condescending smarm I wouldn't tolerate from a distant great-aunt desperate for an heir to her vast fortune, let alone from the insufferable schoolboy herein described. Nevertheless, my thoughts and prayers go out to this pitiable Jane Doe -- our nation's epidemic of Boy-Craziness has wreaked havoc on so many communities, no doubt the devastating consequence of 5G, vaccines, and/or the 19th amendment.
In order to avoid such dangerous impulses, a responsible woman should take care to abstain from romance novels -- "they paint a picture of an unrealistic, unobtainable relationship." I'm not exactly sure what part of Her Country Star Billionaire Groom seems so "unrealistic" to these narrow-minded nincompoops, but I'll table that conversation for another time. We have more important things to attend to at the moment. Namely, the continuing explanation that, for women, romance novels do "the same thing pornography does to men." I'm grateful for this analogy -- as the most delicate of damsels, I'm not even really sure what pornography is, let alone what about it those mysterious menfolk could possibly find so stimulating! But I do know that warm tingly feeling I get when I cuddle up late at night with a thick, beefy Harlequin Romance!
Alas, it is this very indulgence may prove to be my undoing! As we soon learn:
When a girl reads romance novels, she's doing something very similar [to watching pornography], drawing perfectionistic, romantic pictures into her mind of what she thinks marriage is.
This is a sentiment that, prior to the publication of the book I hold before me, had been most recently proffered by the famed Scottish wordsmith Charlotte Lennox in her 1752 novel, The Female Quixote, and I appreciate our authors for bringing light to such an underrecognized talent. The Duggar Girls continue our intellectual escapades with a reminder that "God put that deep need to be loved and accepted in our hearts so that He could be the one to fulfill it." As an astute pupil of the cultural arts, I immediately recognize this approach as step three of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System (Nurture Dependence).
For this vast array of reasons -- as eager as we may be to go to pound-town tie the knot -- we are cautioned to remain patient until our fated suitor arrives, engaging ourselves in trivial, non-threatening pursuits like "teaching younger girls" or "seeking out ways to bless others through ministry." We should also make it a priority to hone our skills of resistance when it comes to those worrisome "intrusions of lust" that Satan embeds within even the most innocent of minds.
We like to think of [these thoughts] as a live hand grenade coming our direction, and before it explodes we quickly pick it up and throw it right back at the devil.
I can only assume that this what Bruno Mars was trying to convey with his hit song, "Grenade" -- the intertextuality never ceases to amaze me! The Duggar Girls go on to demonstrate their dexterous command of the metaphor -- "We give God the position as 'boss' and 'ruler' of our lives, and we release the 'steering wheel' to His control." -- before highlighting ways to serve God regardless of your marital status. For example, "visiting places like Honduras and sharing the gospel with villagers is a ministry opportunity our family greatly treasures." And by "places like Honduras," I'm sure they mean, "places with countless centuries of rich cultural heritage ravaged by colonial conquest and its lingering effects," and not "places where brown people live." Pretty sure, at least.
But even once you've managed to attract the attentions of your future beloved, you must take care to guard yourself from falling too quickly. To ensure that you don't award your affections to an unworthy suitor (thus irrevocably tainting your eternal purity), the Duggars suggest asking the following questions:
Is his passion in life for earthy money or for eternal riches and rewards?

Does he have a vision for his life of doing great things for God?

Is he a man of character, showing initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom?
I'm 99% sure that "initiative, creativity, diligence, enthusiasm, and wisdom" are the primary attributes from a knockoff version of Dungeons & Dragons -- who knew the Duggar girls were so into RPGs? (I guess they did warn us earlier that some of the family members are "computer geeks").
In the next several passages, the authors explain the "very real and very purposeful differences" between dating (bad!) and courtship (good!). First, they highlight a number of treacherous threats that pervade modern romantic culture.
A danger of modern dating is that it is typically two young people, alone, enjoying an activity. Usually a guy invites a girl out to a nice restaurant or some fun place or event. They enjoy a carefree time without the responsibility of the normal tasks and pressures of life.
I'm almost too overcome with terror at the thought of such a wretched situation! But somehow, (mostly by channeling the immeasurable determination of someone only allowed to show affection through three-second side hugs) I find the strength to read on. But to my despair, even more tragedies await me! As we are instructed to imagine:
What could be worse than having to tell your potential future husband that not only did you not wait but that you also have a severely painful STD that he will likely get if he marries you?
Not a SEVERELY painful STD?! But idk, lots of things could be worse than that, probably? Maybe it's just my overactive imagination, but it seems like you could knock out that whole conversation in one night over a bottle of wine, particularly given ongoing advances in modern medicine. But it seems I still have more to learn -- as I soon read:
Physical intimacy in marriage is pure, wholesome, and beautiful. Outside of marriage, it spreads disease, death, and destruction.
I've never really thought of myself as a "sower of destruction" before, but…I don't hate it. I'm kind of looking forward to seeing what kind of casualties ensue the next time I have sex with my live-in boyfriend. As they say, nothing spices up the sex life like ascending to your thrones as eternal agents of pestilence and devastation!
Our next tip for identifying an ideal mate encourages "meaningful conversations about history, politics, theology, and such" -- I can only assume that the extensive footage of this intellectual discourse is edited out from the family's show at the demands of tyrannical production companies. But while those easily titillated minds might prefer to focus on worldly concerns, our authors are courteous enough to remind us of what truly matters. While he doesn't have to be "the best-looking hunk of human flesh ever created," it is vital that any potential partner practice "the fine old art of gentlemanly chivalry." As the Duggar Girls explain,
A gentleman's courtesy is not about women being weak or strong: it's about men needing to be men.
Jim Bob, as one would expect, exemplifies these virtues. We are regaled with recollections of his many demonstrations of decorum throughout his storied marriage:
Years ago, he was working on honoring Mom in several specific ways, including remembering to open the car door for her.
As soon as I finish reading this book, I'm going to get right to work on a list of specific ways that my boyfriend can work on honoring me -- I'm sure he'll be very appreciative for the guidance!
However, before I can get to that, I must tackle my next lesson: "Understanding What Christian Guys Look For in a Future Wife." Based on an admittedly "small and totally unscientific survey" of their male acquaintances, the Duggar Girls are able to share with us a few explosive secrets. For example, the ideal wife "has a hunger and thirst after righteousness" and promises to "faithfully help [her husband] grow deeper spiritually." What's more, she should also be "involved in some sort of ministry -- preferably music ministry." The chapter concludes with a convenient list of commitments for the reader, including pledges to "choose wholesome activities" and avoid "bad Internet sites."
In Chapter Six, the Duggar Girls lead the reader to examine "Your Relationship with Culture: Making choices that will keep you pure." Almost immediately, we are cautioned that
With just a few clicks of a keyboard, the Internet gives us the ability to research any subject. But it also has the potential to destroy the souls of those who get entangled in its dark side.
And lest you think this is hyperbole, our authors reiterate that "it is not a matter of if but when Satan will try to tempt us." As a thought exercise, the reader is encouraged to reflect: "would your Internet choices be the same when you were all alone as they would be when someone were sitting beside you?" In particular, the girls draw attention to the seedy underbelly of harmful gossip sites, breezily brushing off these piteous busybodies with the following bit of clever wordplay:
We've heard that some discussion boards or chat rooms might be better named bitter rooms because those drawn to them often seem rather bitter.
As our quipsters continue, "unfortunately, some people seem to derive much pleasure from nit-picking other people's lives." Thankfully, I derive my pleasure from nitpicking other people's books, so I'm totally in the clear on this one! Our authors encourage us to reform these renegade impulses by explaining that when we stop wasting time on mindless pursuits, we'll find ourselves becoming more productive, enterprising individuals. As a result of this ideology, we learn that "by age ten, John was working on and operating heavy equipment." I'm unimpressed -- call me when you've got a three-year-old on woodchipper duty. Regardless, it is clearly far safer than its petrifying alternative -- exposure to the horrors of television.
And what, pray tell, might these horrors be? Magic -- "which often shows up in children's movies" -- is revealed to be "part of a demonic realm that God wants us to stay away from." As the authors solemnly intone, "as harmless as it may seem, it's not a joke in God's eyes." Graciously, the Duggars have deigned to provide several reliably pure entertainment options:
many of the old classics that promote honesty, respect of parents, and reverence for God

educational documentaries that teach about science and history from a biblical perspective

many carefully selected episodes of The Andy Griffith Show as long as they are not centered around a lot of romance or deceptiveness, as some of them are
With regard to making appropriate music choices, "much prayerful consideration" is required, lest we "bring a blot to the name and character of the God we represent." However, in order to guide our future reflections, the Duggar Girls go on to provide a helpful technique for assessing acoustic chastity.
Soon after Mom became a Christian at the age of fifteen, a friend encouraged her to write out the lyrics of questionable songs and then compare them to the truths found in the Bible. For instance, if a song's lyrics are saying, "Follow your heart. Do what feels good," we compare it to the Bible and find that […] we're not supposed to follow our hearts, as that will only get us in trouble.
I suppose that means I'll have to rethink my upcoming single, "Follow Your Heart (Do What Feels Good)," but that will have to wait until I've fully absorbed all the insights this book has to offer. For example, as I read on, I learn that I should be particularly suspicious of "rock 'n' roll and its variations such as hard rock and heavy metal." As the authors expound:
Since its beginnings in the 1950s, this music's main goal and purpose have been to promote every one of the issues we want to avoid. A heavy backbeat and words being sung in a breathy and sensual voice -- and even the style of rock 'n' roll music itself -- give off an attitude of rebellion, resistance toward authority, and a rejection of morality. None of these things come without consequences.
Lest you think that our authors are merely being alarmist, they go on to explain that when they "examined the lives of many of these artists," they were dismayed to conclude that "the life expectancy for rock artists and musicians is around forty; many of them die at a young age for reasons related to AIDS, drug or alcohol abuse, or suicides. It's a tragic reality." Far less perilous to enjoy "classical music and traditional hymns," as they are known to "follow a pattern and maintain a very distinct and definite order."
With this final injunction, we move on to the volume's penultimate chapter, "Your Relationship with Your Country: Making a difference in the political arena." My attention is instantly captured by the opening sentence, which informs the reader that "God used a series of supernatural events to clearly lead our family into making a difference in the world of politics." The "supernatural event" in question turns out to be the undeniably divine miracle of Jim Bob Duggar…finding out about a rally against "partial-birth abortion" and then…attending it. I can only imagine how much more wondrous the world must seem if such a banal and explainable episode is sufficient to incite veritable fits of exaltation.
But this portent is just the beginning of Papa Duggar's political career, and I read on to learn even more about "the values Dad stood for." Although this lineup presumably does not include any sort of commitment to avoiding sentence-ending prepositions, it does include a promise to vote "the right way on life-and-death issues."
Before long, Jim Bob "felt God urging him to run for the US Senate," and although he loses the election, publicity from the campaign eventually brings about the family's first taste of national media attention. After much prayer and "wise, godly counsel," the family agrees to be filmed for a reality show -- "we agreed to do it based upon our hope that it would enable our family to share encouraging Bible principles with many other people." And indeed, the family now receives "hundred of letters and e-mails" per week from viewers who have been "spiritually challenged" by watching the series.
But rest assured -- "Dad's loss in that Senate campaign did not end our involvement in politics." If you, too, would like to follow our authors' example and become more civically engaged, you could "find a conservative Christian who is running for office and then call and ask them where he or she stands on the issues." I suppose I should give them a modicum of credit for the inclusive phrasing, "he or she," but the fact that I don't have the slightest doubt as to the intended meaning of "the issues," prevents me from even a half-hearted endorsement of this sentiment.
Blessedly, however, we've reached our story's denouement -- a final chapter entitled, "Your Relationship with the World: Developing a servant's heart." Jill tearfully recounts a ministry trip to El Salvador, taking care to highlight the contrast between the "iron-barred windows" of government orphanages and the "love-filled" Christian facility the group goes on to visit. What accounts for this stark discrepancy? "They've fed these children not only with food for their tummies but also food for their spiritual lives." As Jessa quips, "It is so neat to see how God works." Of course, as you might have suspected, the Duggar Girls quickly realized that, "as with every trip, it was clear that we were the ones who'd gotten the biggest blessings." Truly -- the engagement you get from an Instagram post featuring a bona fide orphan is worth more than any financial reward one could ever hope to gain on this mortal plane!
We next learn about Jill and Jana's experiences with the local volunteer fire department. Mercifully, this endeavor doesn’t necessitate as many Rugged Man Skills as you might assume, and the two are able to respond to such dainty predicaments as "a little old lady's cat stuck in a tree" and "a kid with his lip stuck in a sippie cup" without jeopardizing their feminine delicacy. Jill next shares more about her journey with midwifery. As she reassures us, it's not just "Christian, homeschooling moms" who opt for home deliveries, but "single moms" as well!
Jana, in contrast, tells us that she "[feels] called to focus on childbirth coaching and prenatal preparation instead of 'running the show,' as Jill does so competently when she serves as midwife." And Jinger has been called to minister at "the juvenile detention center in our area," which she fashionably abbreviates as "juvy" to highlight her comfort with urban vernacular.
As I read on, I learn more about the Duggar family's love of music, which is far more diverse and expansive than one might initially assume. For example, did you know that the Duggars "enjoy traditional music as well as classical," or that a young Joy-Anna was encouraged to undertake the daring pursuit of "[learning] to play the violin 'fiddle-style'"?
As these examples illustrate, God's gifts can take a myriad of forms! For this reason, we go on to learn about the importance of "learning how to give an enthusiastic, friendly greeting to others." This technique is a surefire way to spark a deep and meaningful conversation with anyone you may encounter. And, in the most dire of emergencies, "we know we can shoot up a little flare-prayer and God is always able to give us the words to say." However, one should always take appropriate caution "not to be too overly friendly with people of the opposite gender, as that can send the wrong kind of message!"
As luck would have it, we have only to look to the Duggar parents to find examples of more decorous ways to approach intimate dialogues. As we learn:
Many times our parents have guests over and then ask if it would be okay if we watch one of Jim Sammons's Financial Freedom Seminar messages together from embassyinstitute.org and then discuss it afterward. Once they watch one message, most people want to go through the whole series.
With a few final nuggets of wisdom, the volume comes to a close. The authors graciously offer an obligatory apology for daring to burden the reader with their inane female ramblings -- "Thank you for sticking with us through this super-long chapter!" As they continue:
We know we've shared a lot of concepts about relationships, but it is our prayer that God will direct and encourage you as you begin to make them part of your own lives.
As you go off and begin your own personal journey towards relationship rapture, you may find encouragement in the idea that -- despite their celebrated name -- the Duggar Girls are not just some faceless paragons of virtue. As the author biographies on the back inside cover remind us, these are regular people, with their own unique interests and capacities. While Jessa might be found "memorizing scripture" or "discipling friends," Jill would rather spend her time "counseling girls via phone, text, in person, or email." Jana "stays busy managing the family mailroom," and Jinger? She's "always full of energy, that is, when she has a cup of coffee in her hand!"
And with that cheeky witticism, I close the book and begin my quest towards docile, denim Duggarhood -- I wish you nothing but blessings as you enter this season of life!
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2020.06.23 00:57 thequeensownfool HEA Book Club: Vote for our July Read!

What is the HEA Bookclub? You can read our introduction post here. Short summary: We are a fantasy romance focused bookclub reading books that combine both of these genres.
We're celebrating books by Black authors this July. If you want to know more about fantasy's support for BLM, please click here.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?
Bingo Squares: Book Club (this one!), Romance, Published in 2020 (HM)

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.
Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.
Bingo Squares: Book Club (this one!), Romance

The A.I. Who Loved Me by Alyssa Cole

Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: working from home for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center, and recovering from the incident that sent her into a tailspin. But the life she’s trying to rebuild is plagued by mishaps when Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew, moves in and turns things upside down.
Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd—and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him...and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door—he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine. It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but danger is mounting as they figure out whether he’s capable of the most illogical human behavior of all...falling in love.
Bingo Squares: Book Club (this one!), Romance

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and its people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their vicious captors and together embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.
The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.
Bingo Squares: Book Club (this one!), Romance

Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Every sorority has its secrets...
And college freshman Ginger Carmichael couldn't care less. She has more important things on her mind, like maintaining her perfect GPA. No matter how much she can't stand the idea of the cliques and the matching colors, there's something about the girls of Alpha Beta Omega—their beauty, confidence, and unapologetic sexuality—that draws Ginger in. But once initiation begins, Ginger finds that her pledge is more than a bond of sisterhood, it’s a lifelong pact to serve six bloodthirsty demons with a lot more than nutritional needs.
Despite her fears, Ginger falls hard for the immortal queen of this nest, and as the semester draws to a close, she sees that protecting her family from the secret of her forbidden love is much harder than studying for finals.
Bingo Squares: Colour in Title, Book Club (this one!), Romance

Cast your vote here!

Voting runs until Monday, June 29. Winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 1.
Also the final discussion post for Crosstalk will be up on June 29!
Questions? Comments? Requests for more awesome books by Black authors to read?
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2019.10.05 18:07 girlwithpolkadots The Debased Mind (xpost conspiracy)

Introduction
By now, you have probably heard of the new “Joker” movie, which is a psychological thriller about a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime. It seems that the Joker archetype has gained popularity the last few decades, with notable Jokers such as Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson. The question is, though, why are people so fascinated with such a morbid character?
There are many answers to this question, and maybe some seem obvious, but one answer seemed to stand out to me. According to “Little White Lies,” “The Joker is at his most potent when reflecting the fears of society as a whole. Nicholson’s purple-suited mob boss was a garish reminder of the drug and crime epidemics that swept the US in the 1980s, while the sight of Ledger walking away from a pile of burning money in 2008 was particularly striking to a world entering an economic crisis.”
https://lwlies.com/articles/the-joker-batman-jared-leto-jack-nicholson/
In other words, there is no surprise that the character archetypes we admire are usually a reflection of our psychological state as a society. While many still look up to the classic “hero” archetype, it seems that more and more we see the rise of “the villain as the hero” archetype, or, the anti-hero.
As Artiface writes, “It’s with series like Breaking Bad, where we watch Walter White descend from anti-hero to villain, that we realize another change has started to occur in television narratives. Suddenly, we’re being offered more controversial main characters, characters that happen to have no redeeming traits whatsoever, and, more importantly, seem very unlikely to dig up even a sliver of goodness from within.”
https://the-artifice.com/the-rise-of-the-villain-hero/
Look, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a character with greater complexity, and perhaps that is what people are craving today, but the problem comes from this cliché question: Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? Or both?
Not only are these characters a reflection of our current psychological state as a society, they also reinforce and perpetuate evil as good, likeable, and even admirable.
Today, the “debased mind" has become an idolized facet of society, and I’d like to break down why that will ultimately lead to our psychological destruction (and it already is).
Disorder as Identity
The other day, in polite conversation, a young girl (11-12) told me how she had anxiety disorders and struggled with depression. Disheartening, right? Well, you should have seen the smile on her face! She wore her anxiety and depression as a badge of honor.
We used to embellish our strengths and now we embellish weaknesses. Now, this little girl, it seems, finds true identity in her disorders. She is not alone, as many Americans are now “proud” to label themselves with disorders.
Perhaps you have heard the term neurotypical. If you have not, it is a label used in the autistic community for people who are not autistic:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotypical
At first glance, there is nothing wrong with this word, and I am not condemning autistic people using this word - so please do not twist my words.
Remember, however, in pop culture, words tend to transform, and “neurotypical” or “normal” begins to have a negative connotation. Here is what Urban Dictionary has to say:
Neurotypical syndrome
Neurotypical syndrome (a.k.a. NT,also known as arrogant mob syndrome, or Microsoft Windows Syndrome) is a life-long and serious mental disorder affecting people everywhere. Symptoms include inflated ego, mob formation, readiness to follow idiots, and possibly the formation of a large goiter. Persons afflicted with this disorder should be referred to as persons with Neurotypical syndrome, persons with NT or persons who have NT. Though it seems that most persons with NT would prefer to be referred to as neurotypicals, NTs or even normals, nobody cares about their opinions.
Although Neurotypical Syndrome is a serious, lifelong mental condition, persons with NT can live happy, long, successful lives with the help of therapy, provided that the therapist is an aspie or autistic. Through many sessions, they may overcome some of their many debilitating handicaps and become more akin to an autistic. In a few cases, NTs have been rumored to have reached near the level of an aspie, but said claims have not been confirmed...........This explains why autistic people have more intelligence than neurotypicals. Neurotypicals are dumber and stupid. So glad.
Obviously, the source is questionable, but I believe Urban Dictionary does give us some insight into pop culture. The point here is that the abnormal begins to be glorified. While it may be good that many are conquering their mental illnesses and problems, it is scary that many are actually glorifying them as if they are better than “normal” or “average.”
Look, take pride in who you are! 100%. But are we getting to the point where this sense of self-pride is beginning to get a little twisted?
Too Much Pride
Speaking of pride, the common mantra today is to take pride in yourself, and love yourself 100%. Of course, I am not advocating for low self-esteem. As somebody who has struggled with low self-esteem my entire life, I understand the importance of a positive self-image, no matter where we are in life.
However, when pride is taken too far, we forget that there can be some value in shame.
Right now what I am saying may sound like blasphemy in our modern culture…because shame makes us feel *bad* right, and who wants to feel bad?
Recently, out of curiosity, I was exploring different celebrity Instagram accounts. All I saw was selfie after selfie after selfie after selfie. Once in a while you might see their child or something, but it was an endless stream of pictures of their faces (and sometimes bodies).
All I could think, is this all their lives amount to? There is literally nothing else of value they have to capture? But then, you look at even “normal” people Instagram accounts, and you see the same thing.
Look, I am not against taking a selfie. I have plenty. But these selfies symbolize our idolization of ourselves as Gods. I am not going to speak much more on this topic, as most are awakening to the problem, but here is a link to selfie “overkill” and the rise of narcissism.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323830.php
When we permit and glorify narcissism to this degree, we are damaging people. We are allowing them to see the world only through their lens, and with higher narcissism comes a decline in empathy and compassion for others:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/06/11/empathy-is-decline-this-country-new-book-describes-what-we-can-do-bring-it-back/
The debased mind takes too much pride in itself, and has little shame for any faults.
Limited Perspective
While this section of my post can go in many directions, I want to focus on children, teens, and learning.
Today, almost all free time for children is spent on their phones:
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/children-screens-play-outside-computer-phone-time-healthy-games-a8603411.html
I went to the park last weekend, and there is this amazing playground. I live in an area with a lot kids, and I did not see one child playing there on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
What is happening to our children is that all of their views and perspectives are through “pseudo” experiences on a phone, computer, or video game.
This seems, dangerous, doesn’t it? As children, one way we used to learn was by reading, but kids aren’t doing much of that anymore:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/09/decline-children-reading-pleasure-survey
While many kids may use their phones as a tool for reading, according to the following article, “According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows.
https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/49092/digital-text-is-changing-how-kids-read-just-not-in-the-way-that-you-think
Further, the media that kids tend to enjoy usually has nothing to do with learning or growth. Instead, they are watching programming like “13 Reasons Why”, which was linked to an increase in youth suicide:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2019/release-of-13-reasons-why-associated-with-increase-in-youth-suicide-rates.shtml
I could probably point to endless examples of the “filth” that children and teens are consuming today.
The point here though is that all of our children’s experiences are being limited to a screen. They are losing out on real experiences like going outside and getting hurt, or even reading a book to take in another character’s perspective. If you enjoy reading, you will likely know that a book can have a powerful change on how we view the world, specifically because you are literally delving into another world view. The following link notes that reading a real book increases intelligence and empathy:
https://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/benefits-of-reading-real-books
The debased mind is limited in scope. Unfortunately, our children are growing up on the internet learning about real, sometimes horrifying things, before they even experienced any part of life themselves. It is sad, really.
Over Sexualization
We all know that sex sells, but there is now almost nowhere you can go and nothing you can do without something hinting or alluding to sex. Our overly sexualized culture is creating mental health issues in our youth:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sexualized-culture-is-creating-mental-health-issues-in-our-youth_b_5994148?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAABeKxsenNFKotMWFnpJqp_GWEHR_yZEbT8ZL5R5IPCBTkySj9S5k7rzSPDutEohDkH_WVc0FzqEXB7kvXmxu1-EEOSoLpsXPBSiAZ4dR5ZfIaEYnhOzotpqz286MSeoa-WhoHIJdZt6xiUUJuRRx1VQvcuLw-lyrfCuW14ECB3KX
Interestingly, the author writes, “Feminism (or more accurately a watered down version of it) has become nothing more than a “brand” for pop stars and advertisers to exploit for financial gain. They spin self-sexualization that co-opts the imagery of the male gaze as a form of empowerment.”
Sexual “liberation” is actually binding people. Addiction to porn is on the rise, and porn is destroying relationships:
http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/sex/columns/mating/12044/
Today, when I talk to children, even saying words like “wet” or “finger” have them giggling. Our language itself is being sexualized!
I have a quick anecdote, and I hope it is appropriate to share. So, on a day I was at work all day, my husband told me that he was “in the mood” earlier in the day, but he waited for me to get home. I pondered it, and I told him I appreciated his self-control. He noted, “I love sex, but people act like it is the most amazing thing that ever existed, and I just do not agree. I can control myself.” Most people are told to satisfy their cravings with porn or whatever the moment they get any sexual urges, and our “sexually liberated” society says do what feels good whenever you want! Cheat on your spouse, watch disgusting and degrading porn, post your naked photos for thousands and thousands to view, and take out anything sacred in regards to sex.
A debased mind has no self-control, especially when it comes to sex.
The Debased Mind
My inspiration for this post came from a Bible verse (I know Reddit LOVES Christians and the Bible):
Romans 1:26 -31
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
Whether you are religious or not, I want you to consider that verse with an open mind.
The actual definition of debased is “reduced in quality or value.” To debase is to “to lower in status, esteem, quality, or character.”
I want to go back to the opening of this post, regarding the Joker. I was scrolling through social media the other day, and my sister made a post about how “amazing” the movie was, and something about it bothered me, especially after the following incident.
The other day I was driving home from work, and I experienced something extremely frightening. A man who was on drugs and out of his mind was purposely crashing into cars, and they were flying off the road. I was right behind this guy, and I was lucky he did not hit me. He caused major chaos and destruction, and I witnessed it all, but had no way to help anybody (other than calling 911).
That experience scared me deeply. I was angry. I am angry because lunacy is being glorified in our society.
Yes, I know it is just a movie, but there is absolutely no doubt that these movies have a profound influence on our psyches.
I was thinking that everybody loves entertainment where people are being ruthlessly murdered, but if anybody experienced anything like that in real life, they may difficulty ever watching movies again. As someone who was almost murdered by an ex-boyfriend, I no longer can watch scenes with any type of abuse in that way.
The point is that our debased minds are limiting us. We are losing empathy, and we are even losing a sense of reality. Or, the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.
Conclusion
5G is approaching, and it will not be long before our minds and technology are interwoven in “human enhancement.”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/01/elon-musk-neurotechnology-human-enhancement-brain-computer-interfaces
Before that happens, I really want you to consider how your mind operates daily, and what is consumed by. Are you using your mind to its fullest extent, or is it being limited or consumed by something? Is your mind debased, or the opposite of debased - stimulated, strengthened, restored, valued, and purified?
I want to note that I write these posts often for myself. I feel that my mind was very debased, and I am slowly trying to purify it. None of this is any "judgment" on anybody reading. Rather, I always want us to examine what consumes our minds...and why.
Today, figure out if there is something in your mind that needs to be cleansed. For me, it was social media. I was addicted to the likes and validation. I feel I have slowly overcame that, and I am actually out living life instead of on my phone constantly. Of course, there were other things, which I might discuss more in the comments!
Is there something you need to start working on?
submitted by girlwithpolkadots to C_S_T [link] [comments]


2019.10.05 18:07 girlwithpolkadots The Debased Mind

Introduction
By now, you have probably heard of the new “Joker” movie, which is a psychological thriller about a failed stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime. It seems that the Joker archetype has gained popularity the last few decades, with notable Jokers such as Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson. The question is, though, why are people so fascinated with such a morbid character?
There are many answers to this question, and maybe some seem obvious, but one answer seemed to stand out to me. According to “Little White Lies,” “The Joker is at his most potent when reflecting the fears of society as a whole. Nicholson’s purple-suited mob boss was a garish reminder of the drug and crime epidemics that swept the US in the 1980s, while the sight of Ledger walking away from a pile of burning money in 2008 was particularly striking to a world entering an economic crisis.”
https://lwlies.com/articles/the-joker-batman-jared-leto-jack-nicholson/
In other words, there is no surprise that the character archetypes we admire are usually a reflection of our psychological state as a society. While many still look up to the classic “hero” archetype, it seems that more and more we see the rise of “the villain as the hero” archetype, or, the anti-hero.
As Artiface writes, “It’s with series like Breaking Bad, where we watch Walter White descend from anti-hero to villain, that we realize another change has started to occur in television narratives. Suddenly, we’re being offered more controversial main characters, characters that happen to have no redeeming traits whatsoever, and, more importantly, seem very unlikely to dig up even a sliver of goodness from within.”
https://the-artifice.com/the-rise-of-the-villain-hero/
Look, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a character with greater complexity, and perhaps that is what people are craving today, but the problem comes from this cliché question: Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? Or both?
Not only are these characters a reflection of our current psychological state as a society, they also reinforce and perpetuate evil as good, likeable, and even admirable.
Today, the “debased mind" has become an idolized facet of society, and I’d like to break down why that will ultimately lead to our psychological destruction (and it already is).
Disorder as Identity
The other day, in polite conversation, a young girl (11-12) told me how she had anxiety disorders and struggled with depression. Disheartening, right? Well, you should have seen the smile on her face! She wore her anxiety and depression as a badge of honor.
We used to embellish our strengths and now we embellish weaknesses. Now, this little girl, it seems, finds true identity in her disorders. She is not alone, as many Americans are now “proud” to label themselves with disorders.
Perhaps you have heard the term neurotypical. If you have not, it is a label used in the autistic community for people who are not autistic:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotypical
At first glance, there is nothing wrong with this word, and I am not condemning autistic people using this word - so please do not twist my words.
Remember, however, in pop culture, words tend to transform, and “neurotypical” or “normal” begins to have a negative connotation. Here is what Urban Dictionary has to say:
Neurotypical syndrome
Neurotypical syndrome (a.k.a. NT,also known as arrogant mob syndrome, or Microsoft Windows Syndrome) is a life-long and serious mental disorder affecting people everywhere. Symptoms include inflated ego, mob formation, readiness to follow idiots, and possibly the formation of a large goiter. Persons afflicted with this disorder should be referred to as persons with Neurotypical syndrome, persons with NT or persons who have NT. Though it seems that most persons with NT would prefer to be referred to as neurotypicals, NTs or even normals, nobody cares about their opinions.
Although Neurotypical Syndrome is a serious, lifelong mental condition, persons with NT can live happy, long, successful lives with the help of therapy, provided that the therapist is an aspie or autistic. Through many sessions, they may overcome some of their many debilitating handicaps and become more akin to an autistic. In a few cases, NTs have been rumored to have reached near the level of an aspie, but said claims have not been confirmed...........This explains why autistic people have more intelligence than neurotypicals. Neurotypicals are dumber and stupid. So glad.
Obviously, the source is questionable, but I believe Urban Dictionary does give us some insight into pop culture. The point here is that the abnormal begins to be glorified. While it may be good that many are conquering their mental illnesses and problems, it is scary that many are actually glorifying them as if they are better than “normal” or “average.”
Look, take pride in who you are! 100%. But are we getting to the point where this sense of self-pride is beginning to get a little twisted?
Too Much Pride
Speaking of pride, the common mantra today is to take pride in yourself, and love yourself 100%. Of course, I am not advocating for low self-esteem. As somebody who has struggled with low self-esteem my entire life, I understand the importance of a positive self-image, no matter where we are in life.
However, when pride is taken too far, we forget that there can be some value in shame.
Right now what I am saying may sound like blasphemy in our modern culture…because shame makes us feel *bad* right, and who wants to feel bad?
Recently, out of curiosity, I was exploring different celebrity Instagram accounts. All I saw was selfie after selfie after selfie after selfie. Once in a while you might see their child or something, but it was an endless stream of pictures of their faces (and sometimes bodies).
All I could think, is this all their lives amount to? There is literally nothing else of value they have to capture? But then, you look at even “normal” people Instagram accounts, and you see the same thing.
Look, I am not against taking a selfie. I have plenty. But these selfies symbolize our idolization of ourselves as Gods. I am not going to speak much more on this topic, as most are awakening to the problem, but here is a link to selfie “overkill” and the rise of narcissism.
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323830.php
When we permit and glorify narcissism to this degree, we are damaging people. We are allowing them to see the world only through their lens, and with higher narcissism comes a decline in empathy and compassion for others:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/06/11/empathy-is-decline-this-country-new-book-describes-what-we-can-do-bring-it-back/
The debased mind takes too much pride in itself, and has little shame for any faults.
Limited Perspective
While this section of my post can go in many directions, I want to focus on children, teens, and learning.
Today, almost all free time for children is spent on their phones:
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/children-screens-play-outside-computer-phone-time-healthy-games-a8603411.html
I went to the park last weekend, and there is this amazing playground. I live in an area with a lot kids, and I did not see one child playing there on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
What is happening to our children is that all of their views and perspectives are through “pseudo” experiences on a phone, computer, or video game.
This seems, dangerous, doesn’t it? As children, one way we used to learn was by reading, but kids aren’t doing much of that anymore:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/09/decline-children-reading-pleasure-survey
While many kids may use their phones as a tool for reading, according to the following article, “According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows.
https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/49092/digital-text-is-changing-how-kids-read-just-not-in-the-way-that-you-think
Further, the media that kids tend to enjoy usually has nothing to do with learning or growth. Instead, they are watching programming like “13 Reasons Why”, which was linked to an increase in youth suicide:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2019/release-of-13-reasons-why-associated-with-increase-in-youth-suicide-rates.shtml
I could probably point to endless examples of the “filth” that children and teens are consuming today.
The point here though is that all of our children’s experiences are being limited to a screen. They are losing out on real experiences like going outside and getting hurt, or even reading a book to take in another character’s perspective. If you enjoy reading, you will likely know that a book can have a powerful change on how we view the world, specifically because you are literally delving into another world view. The following link notes that reading a real book increases intelligence and empathy:
https://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/benefits-of-reading-real-books
The debased mind is limited in scope. Unfortunately, our children are growing up on the internet learning about real, sometimes horrifying things, before they even experienced any part of life themselves. It is sad, really.
Over Sexualization
We all know that sex sells, but there is now almost nowhere you can go and nothing you can do without something hinting or alluding to sex. Our overly sexualized culture is creating mental health issues in our youth:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sexualized-culture-is-creating-mental-health-issues-in-our-youth_b_5994148?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAABeKxsenNFKotMWFnpJqp_GWEHR_yZEbT8ZL5R5IPCBTkySj9S5k7rzSPDutEohDkH_WVc0FzqEXB7kvXmxu1-EEOSoLpsXPBSiAZ4dR5ZfIaEYnhOzotpqz286MSeoa-WhoHIJdZt6xiUUJuRRx1VQvcuLw-lyrfCuW14ECB3KX
Interestingly, the author writes, “Feminism (or more accurately a watered down version of it) has become nothing more than a “brand” for pop stars and advertisers to exploit for financial gain. They spin self-sexualization that co-opts the imagery of the male gaze as a form of empowerment.”
Sexual “liberation” is actually binding people. Addiction to porn is on the rise, and porn is destroying relationships:
http://nymag.com/nymetro/nightlife/sex/columns/mating/12044/
Today, when I talk to children, even saying words like “wet” or “finger” have them giggling. Our language itself is being sexualized!
I have a quick anecdote, and I hope it is appropriate to share. So, on a day I was at work all day, my husband told me that he was “in the mood” earlier in the day, but he waited for me to get home. I pondered it, and I told him I appreciated his self-control. He noted, “I love sex, but people act like it is the most amazing thing that ever existed, and I just do not agree. I can control myself.” Most people are told to satisfy their cravings with porn or whatever the moment they get any sexual urges, and our “sexually liberated” society says do what feels good whenever you want! Cheat on your spouse, watch disgusting and degrading porn, post your naked photos for thousands and thousands to view, and take out anything sacred in regards to sex.
A debased mind has no self-control, especially when it comes to sex.
The Debased Mind
My inspiration for this post came from a Bible verse (I know Reddit LOVES Christians and the Bible):
Romans 1:26 -31
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
Whether you are religious or not, I want you to consider that verse with an open mind.
The actual definition of debased is “reduced in quality or value.” To debase is to “to lower in status, esteem, quality, or character.”
I want to go back to the opening of this post, regarding the Joker. I was scrolling through social media the other day, and my sister made a post about how “amazing” the movie was, and something about it bothered me, especially after the following incident.
The other day I was driving home from work, and I experienced something extremely frightening. A man who was on drugs and out of his mind was purposely crashing into cars, and they were flying off the road. I was right behind this guy, and I was lucky he did not hit me. He caused major chaos and destruction, and I witnessed it all, but had no way to help anybody (other than calling 911).
That experience scared me deeply. I was angry. I am angry because lunacy is being glorified in our society.
Yes, I know it is just a movie, but there is absolutely no doubt that these movies have a profound influence on our psyches.
I was thinking that everybody loves entertainment where people are being ruthlessly murdered, but if anybody experienced anything like that in real life, they may difficulty ever watching movies again. As someone who was almost murdered by an ex-boyfriend, I no longer can watch scenes with any type of abuse in that way.
The point is that our debased minds are limiting us. We are losing empathy, and we are even losing a sense of reality. Or, the lines between reality and fiction start to blur.
Conclusion
5G is approaching, and it will not be long before our minds and technology are interwoven in “human enhancement.”
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/01/elon-musk-neurotechnology-human-enhancement-brain-computer-interfaces
Before that happens, I really want you to consider how your mind operates daily, and what is consumed by. Are you using your mind to its fullest extent, or is it being limited or consumed by something? Is your mind debased, or the opposite of debased - stimulated, strengthened, restored, valued, and purified?
I want to note that I write these posts often for myself. I feel that my mind was very debased, and I am slowly trying to purify it. None of this is any "judgment" on anybody reading. Rather, I always want us to examine what consumes our minds...and why.
Today, figure out if there is something in your mind that needs to be cleansed. For me, it was social media. I was addicted to the likes and validation. I feel I have slowly overcame that, and I am actually out living life instead of on my phone constantly. Of course, there were other things, which I might discuss more in the comments!
Is there something you need to start working on?
submitted by girlwithpolkadots to conspiracy [link] [comments]


2019.08.19 06:34 j259awesome D-H 5k-10k

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2019.07.14 04:15 Psiah I Actually Read Kiersi's books. Here's how I think it might affect RWBY.

We've been seeing a number of fear-mongering posts in regards to the newest member of the RWBY writing staff, generated primarily as a result of not-so-glowing reviews on Goodreads. But the thing that's bothered me most about those is that the people who are doing the freaking out have not actually read even a word of what she's written.
But I had the option of getting my information straight from the source, and so I took it.
"Wait!" I hear some of you say. "Just who the hell do you think you are? Why should we listen to you over anyone else?"
Well, first of all, I actually read the books. Yeah, others have done that too, but at the very least I'm not getting this from a friend of a friend, or someone incensed to anger over some minor detail.
Also, I read. A lot. Yes, a good portion of that is fanfiction, but nowhere near all of it. In any case, I have a lot of stories to compare hers to; I know what tends to work, and what tends not to. I know what I like, too: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, creative use of magic over magic always doing what you want, LGBT+ themes... etc. As a lesbian, and a transgender woman, I definitely do have a soft spot for any sort of LGBT+ representation I can get, especially when the writer is under the rainbow themselves. I would be safe to say that the number of full-length novels I've read over the years are well into the triple-digits.
I am also a writer. I've actually written a good many stories (though I have not finished one longer than about 3k words). For the most part, people think my writing is pretty good, though the story I have made available under this name can be... divisive. Most of the negatives there come from people who are more angry about the situation that I chose to write about, rather than the quality of my writing. This has actually given me a good deal of skill in parsing through reviews; prying apart the emotions and getting at the heart of what people are trying to say, even if they did not come in with constructive intent.
...but I didn't go review hunting on Kiersi's books; she deserved for me to enter into them with an untainted viewpoint.
So, with that, you can probably guess most of my biases. If not, you can find me loudly proclaiming them around the subreddit, or in my post history.

Getting On With It: What I Think About Her Books

I started with Honor Code, which is a story that follows a girl starting at private school. The blurbs about it also make it absolutely clear that this book is about "Rape Culture". So that doesn't come as a surprise. Though slow to start, and despite that she seems to write primarily in my least favorite style: First-Person Present-Tense, by the end of the book, I had to agree that it was actually really good. Definitely a book I'd recommend to people. Though there is a big twist that ends up being... more confusing than ideal.
Next, I read her more... uh... contentious book: Castle of Lies. This one's a fantasy novel, which I slipped into like an old pair of gloves. It doesn't really match up with it's "billing" as "Game of Thrones meets Gossip Girl". It's quite unlike either of those stories... all similarities are incredibly superficial. This one actually started out with enough "hook" to get me going, but the beginning of the story felt more like a checklist of events that had to happen. This checklist was acting on the characters, not the other way around. In fact, I was 20% of the way into the book when, at the end of Chapter 5, I finally got my first whiff of any of these characters having agency... and that doesn't really happen until their freedoms are taken away from them. I think it might have been better off to allude to those early moments through flashbacks and start more in medias res... those moments did not seem to be the ones she was excited to write about and they did not need as much time spent on them as happened to be.
But once I got into the meat of the book, and things began to flow more... organically, it was pretty good. Sure, the magic was far more "A Wizard Did It" and "Magic is bad because I said so" than I'd like, but it was, at least, internally consistent. 3 of our four viewpoint characters come in knowing literally nothing about the stuff. The fourth made no attempt to explain it to us, or the other characters, which could be both a blessing and a curse.
There are also romance elements to this one, but... not ones I was terribly impressed with. Not that they were unrealistic, but they were unsatisfying. The romance here mostly consists of stolkholm syndrome, an attempt at a polyamorous triad, and a fair bit of "we grew up together and that makes me want to bone you". Still, I think it could have worked decently well if more time was put into polishing and developing this. As it stands, much of the romance still feels... like an early draft.
As for LGBT+ stuff, there isn't even a whiff of it in Honor Code, and Castle of Lies only has two major characters for it: A Bisexual Dude, and a non-binary elf. Let's talk about that latter one, first. Our Enby is from a society where people are treated as non-binary for the first fifty or so years of their life, then, if they want to, they "choose" a gender somewhere thereabouts. Not a huge fan of how it was framed as a "choice", considering it's really not, but the character didn't seem to buy into it at least, making it seem more like an issue with that particular society. It should also be noted that this was not once relevant to the plot; that's not actually a bad thing -- diversity fleshes out a world, and makes it more realistic, instead of trying to sweep everything under the rug -- but if you're looking for some greater commentary or understanding of it, you won't find it in this book.
Then we have our Bi Guy, which is where I think a lot of the "negative stereotypes" impressions come from. Not only is he a part of the aforementioned triad, he is also... promiscuous. But at the same time, it's not like he's some walking billboard of Bi stereotypes; he's actually probably the most charming character in the book. He kinda has to be, since the first mention of him is basically "he ugly". If he wasn't, he wouldn't really be pulling so much tail. His promiscuity also seems to be linked more to his role than his sexuality: he's a bored noble trapped in a castle since childhood as a political prisoner esteemed guest and has little else to do. When such characters appear it stories, it's almost always that they have their heart set on one person in particular, or they do a lot of playing the field. Honestly, flip the gender of a baker and no one bats an eye as he does a "straight playboy" thing.
The part that actually disappointed me, though, involved a female character who, as written, spent her whole life hating being touched by men, and even the one she kinda liked she only merely tolerated, spent a lot of the early book seeming to pine after a girl from her childhood... then suddenly, she's real excited to have one particular dude bone her. Like... girl, did you not realize you wrote a goddamn lesbian? Then made her give it up as soon as she found the right dick? That kind of cemented the view I got from Honor Code: Kiersi is painfully heterosexual. I mean, painfully to me, because, lesbihonest, I was shipping Gracie and Sam in Honor Code too. When I first heard her blurb, I got excited about the idea that she might help push for White Rose, but honestly? It's the White Knight fans who should probably be rejoicing this hire.
Anyway, the bottom line on LGBT+ stuff here is, Kiersi is not one of us, and we should not expect her to do any more in this regard than Miles and Kerry are already doing. These pushes will have to continue to come from people who are not part of the writing staff.
But she's also not going to come in and ruin it, either.
I say the same for the romance: she won't help, but she won't hurt it, either.
So where do I see her being helpful?
She writes great, interesting characters. In both her books, the characters are the strongest part of them. She might not necessarily be the best at juggling intrigue or conflicting plotlines, but her characters are complex, interesting, and diverse in viewpoint.
For that matter, she can do an incredible job writing strong characters who have been knocked down, but eventually get back up and start fighting again. That's the part that makes Honor Code great, honestly, and while it's not quite as present, it's also pretty good in Castle of Lies. I expect good things to come out of her getting her hands on Weiss, especially as she is forced to confront the source of her abuse in the upcoming arcs. She should also handle Blake and Yang well, though I feel like Miles and Kerry have actually done a great job with those too. If Ruby has a breakdown, or stuff like depression returns in force, she'll do a great job with that.
Another thing that I would expect her to do really well is flashbacks to Adam, particularly involving Blake. Not that it's something I actually want to witness, but I know for a fact that she can show you how someone can fall for a monster, and I feel confident in saying that she could do a good job handling Blake's navigation through all this.
There's also the fact that this is not her first rodeo in terms of co-authoring things. Haven't read those books, but given the number of them, I think it's safe to say she'll play nice with the rest of the team.
tl;dr: Kiersi's a good writer, but not an LGBT+ one. She's a natural fit for handling Weiss's storyline, and should not cause any trouble in the writing room. She may not be the person I hoped she was, but there's no reason to expect her to be a negative influence on the show. There's no reason the other writers can't cover her weaknesses, or that she can't learn to improve them. She is, at least, trying, which is more than we can say for many.
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2018.11.10 07:25 ArcadiaPlanitia [The Selection fandom] Reviewer leaves negative review, author and publisher call her a bitch on Twitter

This drama is actually quite old, but it popped up on Tumblr again recently. I figure it's okay to post here because I've seen other "old" drama, but if it's not just let me know.
So, The Selection. It's a five-book series aimed at middle-school and high-school girls that mostly cashes in on the success of the Hunger Games. It was moderately sucessful, and at one point almost got a TV series, but the pilot wasn't picked up, because honestly it's not the type of thing that you could stretch out for a few seasons. For those of you who aren't into young adult fiction, which I assume is the majority of reddit, here's a basic plot synopsis:
Teenage singer aptly named America Singer lives in a dystopian country called Illea, which is the US after it was invaded by Russia and China somehow, except it's a capitalist monarchy with a caste system for some reason. America is chosen for a special contest called The Selection, which is like the Hunger Games, but instead of killing each other, the teenage girls are fighting over who gets to marry the prince. His name is something like Maxon. America is in a love triangle with Maxon and her boyfriend from home, Aspen. There's also a mean girl named Celeste, and rebels exist, but they don't do much. Maxon falls in love with America because he has a thing for redheads, and America gets to become the queen and make vague reforms. The end.
So you can see the kind of thing we're dealing with here. It's mostly cheap, cash-in, dragged-out garbage, but harmless, inoffensive garbage. It was often presented as a less violent alternative to the Hunger Games, which is honestly pretty accurate—it basically is the Hunger Games, written by someone who's only read the Wikipedia articles of the Hunger Games and the Bachelor. The Selection was a big hit with middle schoolers whose parents didn't want them reading about dystopian child murders, so it got amazing ratings and reviews on sites like Goodreads and Wattpad, while mostly being panned by critics and parents who wanted their kids to have better female role models.
The drama began when dystopia fans began to take notice of it, and The Selection was added to a lot of must-read dystopia lists because of its obscenely high Goodreads ratings. People who liked 1984 and Brave New World were suddenly being recommended this glorified Bachelor knock-off, and some of them actually read it. Surprisingly enough, they were none too happy when they found out that this book was nothing like the books they actually wanted to read, and the negative reviews started pouring in.
One of the most comprehensive negative reviews was by pseudonymous reviewer "Wendy Darling," who rated The Selection one star. The entire review is pretty in-depth, but here's the gist of it:
Here are some facts which may help you decide whether you want to read this book:
Character Names: Our main character's name is America Singer. Guess what she does. Her boyfriend's name is Aspen. Prince Charming's name is Prince Maxon Schreave, who must marry a "True Daughter of Iléa." Other names include Queen Amberly, King Clarkson, Tiny, Kriss, Marlee, Bariel, Gavril, Kamber, and Sosie.
Attempts to Make This Novel Dystopian: Sketchy caste system. Talk of provinces. Girls are required to wait until marriage to have sex. Infrastructure Committees. Occasional mentions of hunger and lack of makeup.
Writing: Very obvious protestations that are easily seen through. Juvenile dialogue. A lot of whispering to convey dramatic statements. A plethora of exclamation points.
Bachelor-like Elements: Contestants vying for a "perfect" guy. Appearance fees. Contracts. Gossiping. Sabotage. Tears. Eliminations. Television specials. Icky elements. But no limos and no rose ceremonies! Booo.
Most Annoying Element of All: The story ends on a cliffhanger, as if there was so much going on in this one book, it could not be contained in a single volume.
The rest of the review is similar. Unlike a lot of negative reviews, it was quite accurate and make some excellent points, but that did not stop shit from absolutely hitting the fan. Less than a day after this review was posted, this happened.
The image is kind of low-quality, but here's a summary: The publisher and the author are discussing the numerous negative reviews because they're mad that Wendy Darling's review is now at the top. The publisher refers to her as "that bitch at the top," then admits to going through and liking all of the positive reviews to boost the book's rating. The author then says that's a good idea, and says she's going to ask her author friends and "goodreads homies" to do the same. The last tweet is the author all excited because she's gotten 6000+ better ratings from her friends.
The next day, people on Goodreads, were unsurprisingly, quite angry. The author, Kiera Cass, sent Wendy Darling a private message asking to apologize, but also making excuses for her burying negative reviews and gaming the system, which Wendy Darling didn't respond to. A writer from Publisher's Weekly wrote this article on the subject a few days later.
That was not the end. Afterwards, one of Kiera Cass's author friends, wrote a 5-star review for The Selection and compared it to classic dystopia. She called negative reviewers a "cesspit of stupidity" and basically said that anyone that doesn't like this book is an idiot. She then tries to doxx Wendy Darling, posting what she claimed was her real name, email, and photo. The author was then banned from Goodreads and the review was deleted. The reason I say "the author" is because I don't actually remember who it was for sure—certainly nobody popular—and Wendy Darling refused to mention them by name in her blog because she didn't want to give them any more publicity. IIRC it was Melissa Douthit, who wrote under the surname of Athena Parker, and the Internet seems to agree with me. She was a self-published YA author who never really succeeded.
Anyway, the drama's mostly fizzled out. Wendy Darling's review is now in the top 5 reviews of all time on Goodreads, and The Selection's popularity has mostly diminished as the teen dystopian romance genre died. Like I said before, it was supposed to be a TV show, but never really got there. Now it's mostly irrelevant, and will forever be remembered as the book that got a negative reviewer doxxed in Ya fiction circles. Melissa Douthit's book The Raie'Chaelia: The Legend of the Raie'Chaelia #1 was completely ignored on Goodreads, along with sequels The Firelight of Maalda and The Return. Currently, both books have a suspiciously high number of vague 5-star reviews juxtaposed with more one-star reviews.
Edit: ApparentlY Melissa Douthit was the one suspected of creating the Goodreads group that did the doxxing; the actual doxxer had the username Vanity, and who that person actually was remains unclear, but the general consensus seems to be it was probably Melissa.
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2018.07.02 20:20 unplugtheminus80 Review of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock is a completely refreshing and wonderful read. I said a few days ago that it filled a fantasy hole I didn’t know I had, and I stick to that 100% --I could not put this book down! The story itself focuses around Princess Isabelle and her faithful musketeer, Jean-Claude, who make up the two POVs, as they travel from floating-island-France to floating-island-Spain (the floating island bits are awesome, and the airship technology is likewise very cool).
Princess Isabelle, born deformed and lacking in sorcery, is an outcast to her people, to the point where it’s widely believed she is Breaker born (devil spawn). She’s rejected from her family and circle of peers with very few exceptions, one being the King’s musketeer Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude takes on the role of pseudo-father figure to Isabelle, although propriety and class status hold both of them back a fair amount in openly caring for each other. However, it’s very real, extremely well done, and a super refreshing relationship focus to read about. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but having a father-daughter relationship being the main vehicle for plot line development made the story have a realistic and richness to it that is sometimes lacking from strictly romantic subplots. It’s also something that I can’t wait to read more about, and I’m pleased as punch there’s a sequel in the works…
Princess Isabelle gets engaged early in the book, to the second-born prince of a kingdom on the brink of civil war. There’s a lot going on here, and reading it reminded me of reading a fun summer mystery novel. I was constantly trying to remember bits of gossip and names, only to find out that I was NOT, in fact, two steps ahead of the killer. Isabelle is smart, witty, introverted, and an intrinsic thinker that often leads to her being tongue tied or lost in thought around others. This “character flaw” (in quotes, because, jeez, I feel you girl) is compensated by her partner in crime, Jean-Claude, who comes off as brazen, loud, and a bit careless/drunk. Together they make a lovable and dorky team, complete with word games, inside jokes, and a keen sense of deductive reasoning, for which I say “MORE!”
I would recommend this book for everyone, but especially those that want books with: great POVs, political and religious intrigue, flying ships and floating cities, alliterations, detailed history and world building, fantasy with STEM, characters that make their own families, themes of loyalty, and post-medieval European type society.
Bingo!
Reviewed on Fantasy
Hopeful spec-fic
Fantasy Goodreads GotM book (December 2017)
Novel with fewer than 2500 Goodreads Ratings
Audiobook (very well done, and was at my library!)
submitted by unplugtheminus80 to Fantasy [link] [comments]


2018.01.03 09:39 Nerva_Maximus Upcoming Historical-Fiction Releases January

The Athenian Women by Alessandro Barbero, Anthony Shugaar
Release date - January 2nd 2018
Synopsis -
*The Athenian Women offers a powerful vision of class struggle, the subjugation of women by men, and the courage needed to change the course of history. *
Athens, 411 BC. In the countryside, just outside the city gates, two veterans, Trasillo and Polemone, live in adjacent cottages. Years earlier they fought together in the infamous battle of Mantinea, where Athens was crushed by Sparta. The two survivors now live as humble farmers, constantly putting off the decision to find husbands for their two daughters, Glicera and Charis, who are beginning to get impatient. For the two old men the only thing that matters is politics. Athens invented democracy, and they must defend it against the rich oligarchs who plot to reinstate their tyrannical rule: even their neighbor Eubulo, a rich landowner who seeks refuge from the fatigue of city life in a nearby villa, cannot fully be trusted.
Charis and Glicera think their fathers are paranoid. The young Cimone, son of Eubolo, rich, brash, and arrogant, is the object of their secret dreams. When all the men head to Athens to see Aristophanes' latest comedy, the girls break all the rules of their patriarchal society and accept an invitation to Cimone's house, far from their fathers' watchful eyes.
Meanwhile, from the stage, the Athenian Lysistrata and the Spartan Lamito raise their voices in protest of misogyny and war, causing life in Eubolo's village to take a dramatic turn.
With his extraordinary ability to bring history to life, Alessandro Barbero has created a fascinating and penetrating look at a surprisingly contemporary Athens.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34921074-the-athenian-women?ac=1&from_search=true
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
Release date - January 30th 2018
In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.
Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.
South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?
Suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34701167-white-chrysanthemum?from_search=true
Rome's Sacred Flame (Vespasian 8) by Robert Fabbri
release date - January 30th (maybe) 2018
Synopsis -
Unknown
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Release date - January 25th 2018
Synposis -
One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.
As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.
Where will their ambitions lead? And will they be able to escape the destructive power mermaids are said to possess?
In this spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession, Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35103171-the-mermaid-and-mrs-hancock?from_search=true
Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood
Release date - January 2nd 2018
Synposis -
Set in England in 1907, Impossible Saints is a novel that burns as brightly as the suffrage movement it depicts, with the emotional resonance of Tracy Chevalier and Jennifer Robson.
Escaping the constraints of life as a village schoolmistress, Lilia Brooke bursts into London and into Paul Harris’s orderly life, shattering his belief that women are gentle creatures who need protection. Lilia wants to change women’s lives by advocating for the vote, free unions, and contraception. Paul, an Anglican priest, has a big ambition of his own: to become the youngest dean of St. John’s Cathedral. Lilia doesn’t believe in God, but she’s attracted to Paul’s intellect, ethics, and dazzling smile.
As Lilia finds her calling in the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, Paul is increasingly driven to rise in the church. They can’t deny their attraction, but they know they don’t belong in each other’s worlds. Lilia would rather destroy property and serve time in prison than see her spirit destroyed and imprisoned by marriage to a clergyman, while Paul wants nothing more than to settle down and keep Lilia out of harm’s way. Paul and Lilia must reach their breaking points before they can decide whether their love is worth fighting for.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35407551-impossible-saints?ac=1&from_search=true
One Kind Man (Ellindale Series) by Anna Jacobs
Release date - January 11th 2018
Synopsis -
From the beloved and bestselling Anna Jacobs' comes the second novel in her new Lancashire-based saga.
1931, Lancashire: When Finn Carlisle loses his wife and unborn child, he spends a few years travelling to keep the sad memories at bay. Just as he's ready to settle down again, his great-uncle dies and leaves everything to him. This includes Heythorpe House in Ellindale just down the road from Leah Willcox and her little fizzy drink factory.
Finn finds a village of people in dire need of jobs, a house that hasn't been cleaned or lived in for thirty years and Reggie, an eleven-year-old who's run away from the nearby orphanage and its brutal Director Buddle. When Finn sees the marks left by regular beatings, he decides Reggie will never go back there.
He can't turn away two hungry young women from the village seeking jobs as maids, either, and they too need help with their lives.
But Buddle has other plans for the child, and will stop at nothing to get Reggie back in his cruel grasp. Finn's new neighbours help him save Reggie but other surprises throw his new plans into turmoil.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35792913-one-kind-man?ac=1&from_search=true
The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam
Release date - January 2nd 2018
Synopsis -
The unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.
At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.
Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.
What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death.
With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34964901-the-lost-season-of-love-and-snow
Last Stop in Brooklyn (A Mary Handley Mystery 3) by Lawrence H. Levy
Release date - January 9th 2018
It's the summer of 1894, and an infidelity case has brought PI Mary Handley to a far corner of Brooklyn: Coney Island. In the midst of her investigation, Mary is contacted by a convicted man's brother to reopen a murder case. A prostitute was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat years ago in her New York hotel room, but her true killer was never found. Once again it's up to Mary to make right the city's wrongs. New York City's untouchable head of detectives, Thomas Byrnes, swears he put the right man behond bars, but as Mary digs deeper, she finds corruption at the heart of New York's justice system, involving not only the police, but the most powerful of stock titans. Disturbing evidence of other murders begins to surface, each one mimicking Jack the Ripper's style, each one covered up by Thomas Byrnes. As Mary pieces together the extent of the damage, she crosses paths with Harper Lloyd, an investigative reporter. Their relationship grows into a partnership, and perhaps more, and together they must catch a killer who's still out there, and reverse the ruthless workings of New York's elite. It'll be Mary's most dangerous, most personal case yet.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34951281-last-stop-in-brooklyn?ac=1&from_search=true
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Release date - January 27th 2018
Synopsis -
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.
There have been many books about the Holocaust - and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov's incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive - not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also - almost unbelievably - a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale - a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer - it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story - their story - will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35523006-the-tattooist-of-auschwitz?ac=1&from_search=true#
A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell 3) by Deanna Raybourn
Release date - January 16th 2018
Synopsis -
Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy's curse in a thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.
London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.
But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. . . .
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26244626-a-treacherous-curse?ac=1&from_search=true
King Zeno by Nathaniel Rich
Release date - January 9th 2018
Synopsis -
New Orleans, 1918. The birth of jazz, the Spanish flu, an ax murderer on the loose. The lives of a traumatized cop, a conflicted Mafia matriarch, and a brilliant trumpeter converge--and the Crescent City gets the rich, dark, sweeping novel it so deserves.
From one of the most inventive writers of his generation, King Zeno is a historical crime novel and a searching inquiry into man's dreams of immortality.
New Orleans, a century ago: a city determined to reshape its destiny and, with it, the nation's. Downtown, a new American music is born. In Storyville, prostitution is outlawed and the police retake the streets with maximum violence. In the Ninth Ward, laborers break ground on a gigantic canal that will split the city, a work of staggering human ingenuity intended to restore New Orleans's faded mercantile glory. The war is ending and a prosperous new age dawns. But everything is thrown into chaos by a series of murders committed by an ax-wielding maniac with a peculiar taste in music.
The ax murders scramble the fates of three people from different corners of town. Detective William Bastrop is an army veteran haunted by an act of wartime cowardice, recklessly bent on redemption. Isadore Zeno is a jazz cornetist with a dangerous side hustle. Beatrice Vizzini is the widow of a crime boss who yearns to take the family business straight. Each nurtures private dreams of worldly glory and eternal life, their ambitions carrying them into dark territories of obsession, paranoia, and madness.
In New Orleans, a city built on swamp, nothing stays buried long.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35259559-king-zeno?ac=1&from_search=true
Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan
Release date - January 1st 2018
Synopsis -
A novel—inspired by the most celebrated regiment in the Red Army—about a woman’s sacrifice, courage, and love in a time of war.
Russia, 1941. Katya Ivanova is a young pilot in a far-flung military academy in the Ural Mountains. From childhood, she’s dreamed of taking to the skies to escape her bleak mountain life. With the Nazis on the march across Europe, she is called on to use her wings to serve her country in its darkest hour. Not even the entreaties of her new husband—a sensitive artist who fears for her safety—can dissuade her from doing her part as a proud daughter of Russia.
After years of arduous training, Katya is assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—one of the only Soviet air units comprised entirely of women. The Germans quickly learn to fear nocturnal raids by the daring fliers they call “Night Witches.” But the brutal campaign will exact a bitter toll on Katya and her sisters-in-arms. When the smoke of war clears, nothing will ever be the same—and one of Russia’s most decorated military heroines will face the most agonizing choice of all.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34879517-daughters-of-the-night-sky?ac=1&from_search=true
The Maze at Windermere by Gregory Blake Smith
Release date - January 9th 2018
Synopsis -
A richly layered novel of love, ambition, and duplicity, set against the storied seascape of Newport, Rhode Island
A reckless wager between a tennis pro with a fading career and a drunken party guest--the stakes are an antique motorcycle and an heiress's diamond necklace--launches a narrative odyssey that braids together three centuries of aspiration and adversity. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune; a young writer soon to make his mark turns himself to his craft with harrowing social consequences; an aristocratic British officer during the American Revolution carries on a courtship that leads to murder; and, in Newport's earliest days, a tragically orphaned Quaker girl imagines a way forward for herself and the slave girl she has inherited.
In The Maze at Windermere Gregory Blake Smith weaves these intersecting worlds into a brilliant tapestry, charting a voyage across the ages into the maze of the human heart.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34962936-the-maze-at-windermere?ac=1&from_search=true
The English Wife by Lauren Willig
Release date - January 9th 2018
Synopsis -
From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.
Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34945222-the-english-wife?ac=1&from_search=true
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht
Release date - January 23th 2018
Synopsis -
In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.
Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.
South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?
Suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war.
Link https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34701167-white-chrysanthemum?ac=1&from_search=true
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2017.01.01 01:20 malinny How this challenge has changed my reading life...and why I won't be doing it in 2017

I've always been a big reader growing up. In middle school I read a lot of the "tween" books like Gossip Girl and Clique and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. It became clear pretty quickly in high school that those aren't books "real" readers read. I hated being assigned books and I was bad at keeping up pace with them so I ended up using Sparknotes for everything. Between 9th grade and my sophomore year of college, I don't think I picked up a book for fun. My senior year of college I was taking pretty easy classes because I just had some courses for my minor to finish. I applied to grad school and had heard back by March so after March I felt like my mind wasn't being stimulated. I read 72 books in 2015 then went into 2016 with the goal of 108. I knew it'd be really tough and maybe too ambitious but I figured it was like a "whatever" goal...not a real one.
I'm posting this right before I go out for the New Years but I just finished my 109th book today! I won't list all the books, but if you are interested - they are here.
Monthly Highlights:
January (4 books read)
*Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
February (12)
*The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese
*The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
*Stoner by John Williams
*Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
*The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
March (10)
*The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
April (7)
*Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
May (9)
*Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
*Women by Chloe Caldwell
June (11)
*Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
*Simple's Uncle Sam by Langston Hughes
*A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
*The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert
July (11)
*Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
*Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
*Drugs by J.R. Helton
*The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes
August (9)
*And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac & William Burroughs
*Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
*My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places by Mary Roach
*The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
September (8)
*On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
*My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor
**A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
*The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery by Sam Kean
October (7)
*The World According to Garp by John Irving
*Veda by Ellen Gardner
November (9)
*This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger
*Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny
December (11)
*Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction David Sheff
2017 I started reading plays and a new genre I had never really explored before was African-American Literature. I was really into classics too. My most-read author was Steinbeck with 7 books followed by James Baldwin (3). I read 71 fiction books and 28 non-fiction ones.
Some of my reading habits:
-Read while eating. 10 minutes/meal can be spent screwing around on my phone...or I could be reading!
-No TV on weekdays. This was also to help me get school work and work work done. But reading was the only thing I did at home on weekdays...not TV and basically no computer (but I did browse on my phone)
-Get to places early and read. I get anxiety about being late to things so instead of showing up just in time, I just showed up 15 minutes early. I showed up early to class and appointments and whatever and just read.
-Bring a book. I carried a book with me almost everywhere I went. Sometimes I read it and sometimes I didn't.
-Tab interesting things. I have one of those small color tabs near my nightstand where I usually read. Then I stick one or two post-its on the cover of the book I'm reading. If I forget to, I'll dog-ear the page and put a tab in later. Usually I tab things that strike a chord with me or make me think in a way I previously had not. For a while I did write a quick note about it but that was harder to keep up with
-Mix it up! This one was really important in helping me reach my goal. I used to only read books that I knew I'd enjoy and would spend so much time reading the first couple pages or chapters. It's fine but sometimes I wanted to be more challenged or find new things. I would go to library sales and find that my selection was limited but I would just choose something (short at first) that looked pretty good. Sometimes I'd still order books that was on my list but other times I would just walk into a thrift store or used book store and browse. It helped a ton with expanding my horizons. Sometimes I would get a book that was a drag and I'd tell myself I'm never doing that again but there were a lot of gems I found.
It was a great year. I started teaching in a 3rd grade classroom in August (which is also why reading got a lot harder to manage towards the end of the year). I was teaching them things like reading habits and how to grow a strong reading brain (through strategies like envisioning, predictions etc.). I loved trying those things in my own reading!
This number goal has really motivated me these past two years but I am going into 2017 with no reading goal. I want to continue reading but I feel my foundation has been built that I know I will. There were a lot of books I passed up because of length. I loved John Irving's The World According to Garp but I didn't pick up another one of his books because of the size. The first thing I did when I finished this challenge was to open up A Prayer for Owen Meany.
I learned so much from this year. Not only from the books but just in terms of dedication, routine, and priorities. The end of the year was rough because I got really busy with grad school and work. I knew I had a holiday in December but even then, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. The right step for me right now is just to read because I want to read. There were so many moments in 2016 that I just thought, "Wow I love reading so much." But I can see that feeling going away if continue reading just because of an arbitrary goal. I could always set it lower...but I think of it as a challenge in itself to see if I'll finish 2017 still reading when there's nothing driving me to!
Good luck to everyone in 2017!
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2016.10.27 20:41 Chtorrr The book club selection for November is Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente! She will do an AMA here on November 30th.

If you have already read this please do not post spoilers here. I will be posting a discussion thread on Saturday where those who have finished the book can discuss it and include spoilers.

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente:

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Timesbestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.
Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.
But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.
Aesthetically recalling A Trip to the Moon and House of Leaves, and told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.
From Goodreads
You can find our past book club selections here
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2015.06.21 01:59 Ashilikia July 2015 Voting!

Please cast your vote HERE.
You can select more than one book in each category. You can also skip a question.
Here are the descriptions for the books copied from our nominations page:
Fiction
Non-Fiction
Voting will close on the 26th!
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2015.04.19 23:50 peachandcopper Let's vote! May 2015

Please cast your vote HERE. You can select more than one book in each category. You can also skip a question.
Here are the descriptions for the books copy from our nominations page:
Fiction
Non-Fiction
Voting will end on the 26th!
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2015.03.04 15:15 brokenguitarstring the shitstorm in my head

I don't really know if I'm looking for advice, I know what I have to do already. It's just that, well, as any good advice is, hard to do.
WALL OF TEXT AHEAD
Where to start? A few years ago, I knocked up my GF whom I thought was the love of my life. You probably know how that went. Now due to circumstances, I had the opportunity to take care of our son. She doesn't have any real immediate family, just an aunt that took care of her. She had had to work overseas for years. It was a sound decision, money in my neck of the woods is tight. Now, I too had the luck to get to work overseas. Our son has been in the care of my sisters even before since We all lived in the same house and the same block, our kids are around the same age and go to school together. It's a good setup and I feel my child doesn't feel left out for not having a mom and a pop in a conventional way. Conversations with my ex were mostly civil, but I swear she finds the smallest things and make a big deal out of it and try and turn it into a fight. I'm not even joking here. Since I now work away from our kid, she wants to take him back. We've had this conversation before. And I was completely OK with it. A kid needs his mom and I by my honor I will not deny him that - with one stipulation, that he chooses it himself. I don't want my son to feel like he's being thrown from one place to another. So I tell this to my ex when she brought it up, and she... just keeps circling around that I don't want to give our son back to her. I've had to literally enumerate to her her own points and tell her that I agree with all of it. We just have to have our son to say 'yes' to the switch. How do we do that? Have him go to her side of the family in increasing intervals and longer times and it would be good that he have a place for himself, a room or something, so that he will find that that place is his own too. Talking to her is a real drain and in fact that interaction with her is what's gotten me down.
I had recently broken up with my current GF. Well, my "last" GF. I will be upfront here, I feel like a scumbag and I should have not had let the relationship last as long as it did.
I feel like I've done nothing right for her. wasn't able to message and talk to her the few days before we broke up. In my defense, shit was hectic at work, and where I was staying at. I wasn't as sweet as before she says. I don't have time for her anymore, but I had time to smoke with some female friends. They're pretty much the only other people who smoke here so it's a social thing on breaks. Perhaps she was jealous but I didn't have any feelings for any of them.
It felt like all that I did was apologize and say sorry all the time. That was tiring, and more tiring was the feeling that someone you cared for was constantly disappointed at you. Radio silence for a week. To clear my head. So that I could think straight. I came to the conclusion that it's better for both of us to end it. So I called it off.
She's separated with kids and it hurts me that I couldn't give her the lasting and meaningful relationship that she deserves. I wanted it to mean more for me, but the feelings didn't grow. It still hurts for me though in some level. I don't know if it's something like sympathy for her hurt feelings or if they are my own. I really hope she hates me. She has the right to hate me and I'm ok with that, if only that would make things a little easier for her.
Perhaps she was jealous but I didn't have any feelings for any of them.
Ok, I lied a little bit. I didn't have any feelings for any of them. At least not for the longest time. At lease monumental thing, but I would be building my wall of lies higher if I said that one of those girls wasn't a factor in me breaking up with my last GF. I had perhaps grown out of love with her and a spark was lit with another one.
Too bad it's probably one way only.
She's got a ton of shit going on with her life right now too. I don't like to gossip at all, but this does sorta concern me so I had to talk and pry with some other people.
A quick TLDR: Jane (her), Bob ( an acquaintance ), Mary (a friend of ours) Jane had a break-up months ago. Bob has been courting her. I'm not sure when it started. Jane was finally opening up to the thought of a relationship, but Bob started courting Mary. I don't know why she feels this way and I had assumed she was more... logical. But instead of being pissed off at Bob, Jane is pissed off at Mary. I mean, Bob is the two-timing douche and I doubt Mary just opened up her legs and Bob accidentally tripped and had a faceful of pussy. I don't know if sex was involved, but my point is Mary wouldn't have opened up the thought of getting together if Bob didn't initiate shit. And why the hell is Jane pissed off at Mary, the office is gloomy from the limited field of view of my cubicle because of this.
I had already confided these feelings with yet another friend, Martha (i'm running out of fake names), and have been told to shut my pie hole. Jane clearly still has feelings for Bob, why else would she be pissed off so much at Mary? Jane has a policy, friend's own words, of not dating friends I sorta went spy and lied to Jane that someone was interested at her and I had some questions. She was ok with answering the questions. According to her, she's open with seeing some people, but it depends on which people. I jokingly say "LOL what if it was me" and she said "LOL no we're bros". I have never wanted to kiss the lips of my bro so much until I read her reply.
I hear what Martha says. I've come to the same conclusion myself. My brain agrees. But a part of me says go for it. Crash and burn. Part of me says maybe.... But we know how this will go. So it's better to not say anything.
But I can't just get her out of my head. I've tried to get myself busy with various things. Before, gaming was my go to thing for zoning out and not thinking shit. Not helping right now. I find myself starting up TF2, playing a round and then shutting it off aftewards.
Binge watch some TV shows? Same thing. After a few minutes, I find the show boring and I shut it off. Even though I've been engrossed by the series before.
Tried reading too. I picked up something recommended from https://www.goodreads.com/ but nothing sticks to my head. I've found myself reading pages and pages and have no idea what happened after flipping through the pages.
I guess this is why I'm here. To type everything out. Like I said, I'm not really looking for advice. Maybe someone to hear me out? A "lolwut" in the replies? I dunno. I do feel better having typed it all out.
So... suggestions on what to watch perhaps? any free games that are a complete blackhole to suck my time? do you have any friends that are willing to go out on a date with me? I'm below average looking, below average height, overweight borderline obese and have a gut as big as a steroid user. On the flipside, I can cook :)
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2014.07.24 16:17 d5dq Our interview with Kim Newman for his upcoming book "An English Ghost Story" (out Oct. 7th)

Thanks to everyone who asked a question in the original thread and congrats to LivingDeadPunk for winning the contest. Also, thanks to GradyHendrix for editing the questions together into an interview format and of course, thanks to Mr. Newman for answering our questions. Be sure to check out his upcoming work, An English Ghost Story, out October 7th from Titan Books. Also, if you'd like to see us interview your favorite horror author, send us a message.
The title of your new book makes it sound like you’re drawing from the classical tradition of ghost stories from authors like M.R. James and Henry James. Could you give us some context for how this book stands in relation to that genre of ghost story?
Kim: I was indeed going for something archetypal. I’ve been doing a run of books – the Anno Dracula series, my Diogenes Club stories, Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the d’Urbervilles – with a lot of history, research and complication, and also interconnectedness with each other and other works. So I wanted to do something more simple – a book about a small family who move into a haunted house. I did draw on the tradition of the English Ghost Story and wanted to experiment with its various definitions – after all, ghost stories are all about being overshadowed by the past, and choosing this title announces the intention.
Can you talk about your influences on this book in general? We’d love to know some stories, books, or authors that informed its writing.
Kim: My original concept was to invert the formula of The Amityville Horror or The Shining (and many many others) – instead of a family being driven mad by a house, a house is driven mad by a family. Then it grew into more than a concept. I did have in the back of my mind a few 1970s/80s TV shows (Dead of Night: An Exorcism and The Stone Tape, Something Evil, Poltergeist) but I was also conscious of trying to get away from many of the things that had been done so often they’d become cliches. I was also as interested in the ‘English’ part of the equation as the ‘Ghost Story’ – there are dozens and dozens of ‘American Something’ titles (though I was writing this well before An American Horror Story) but very few ‘English Something’ outside of ‘The English Patient’ (and he’s Hungarian). So I had a kind of 1970s Play for Today middle class family in crisis thing in the back of my mind, or elements that constitute a particularly English story (repressed politeness, eccentricity as normal, unhappy families, city and countryside).
What do you think the “rules” of writing a haunted house story are? What are the things that have to be there in order to satisfy the demands of readers?
Kim: I didn’t actually ponder rules before I started to write this one – usually, if I think like that, I find myself tempted to break whatever rules there are. Among the conventions I enjoyed drawing on are the gradual teasing of the backstory of the property through documents and gossip, which MR James was a master of an Nigel Kneale picked up on masterfully, and the link between a disturbed teenage girl and the supernatural. I did think of various types of haunting and tried to include some of the furniture of genre: a creepy doll, standing stones, Victorian diaries, actual bits of furniture, blackouts, a ballad, a witch, a white sheet.
What’s your take on the haunted house story? Do you have certain books that you think are overlooked landmarks of the genre? Has anyone, in your opinion, bested Shirley Jackson or does The Haunting of Hill House still stand as the highwater mark?
Kim: I’m partial to Richard Matheson’s Hell House, which is a kind of Jackson tribute. I like the film and book of The Shining, and – of course – Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. Recently, I’ve greatly enjoyed Jonathan Aycliffe’s series of ghost story novels. Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves is also a kind of ghost story.
Is it possible for ghosts to stand alone as actual complex characters in a book, or are they better utilized as set pieces for the plot?
Kim:It’s possible, of course – but that’s not quite the route I’ve taken.
Is it possible to write a classical ghost story anymore? Or any kind of ghost story anymore? Or do you have to turn ghosts into a metaphor for them to pass muster with readers these days?
Kim: I think that the metaphor will usually come unbidden, no matter how you set out. As a sceptic, I obviously believe the primary use of all supernatural creatures in fiction is symbolic, metaphoric or just for fun. Oh, and being scary.
The tropes and conventions of the haunted house novel (and movie) have become parodied and ridiculed so often that it must be hard to pull them off with a straight face. How do you get past your reader’s natural defensive reaction of laughter? And how do you keep these conventions fresh?
Kim: I like a certain degree of humour,but I think it’s possible to play up comedy without losing terror or poignance.
Has the ridicule visited on the genre (in particular by the Scary Movie franchise) motivated you to write your own haunted house book, or did it make you more hesitant to tackle this kind of story?
Kim: I don’t think of the Scary Movie franchise as especially distinguished or devastating in the field of horror spoof. I love old dark house comedy thrillers on the Cat and the Canary mode (I played with that form in ‘Vampire Romance’, a novella included in the reissue of The Bloody Red Baron) – and I thought Jonathan Coe managed a genuinely brilliant riff on that mode in What a Carve-Up! The fact that Blazing Saddles is out there doesn’t make me leery of doing a western – which I would indeed like to do in the future.
What do you think of the current crop of horror movies like Insidious and The Conjuring? Mark Kermode has called them “cattle prod cinema” and classified them as “horror for people who don’t like horror.” How do you feel about these movies? And do you think that this dismissal diminishes their accomplishments? What do you think those accomplishments are?
Kim: I liked Insidious on a silly jumpy level, but was less taken with The Conjuring – they strike me as having more in common with William Castle’s work (which I like) than, say, The Uninvited, The Shining or The Haunting. I think Mark’s slightly off here, though we have genial arguments about movies all the time … he’s a big fan (well, slavish devotee) of The Exorcist, which much more fits my definition of a horror film for folks who don’t like horror films (as does Psycho or The Silence of the Lambs). I don’t really think that’s a bad thing – it’s more like a useful way of challenging people who say they don’t like horror since there’s usually a mainstream horror movie on their favourites list.
Lots of people here love your Anno Dracula series, especially the way you blend so many vampire references throughout the series. What are your favorite allusions that you’ve worked into the series that might surprise people, and was there any reference or allusion that you wanted to make use of but haven’t been able to work into your books yet?
Kim: I think I most purely enjoyed doing the ‘Miss Baltimore Crabs’ section of Johnny Alucard for the chance to blend Homicide Life on the Street, Blacula and John Waters. I tend to come up with the story ideas and then see what material I can draw on, parody or reference rather than have a list of characters and elements I want to weave into a particular AD piece. I’m going to do an AD comic for Titan at some point – if that works, it might be fun to do an intercompany crossover so I could do variant lineups for Anno Dracula/JLA or Anno Dracula/Avengers. It’s not in the AD series, but I’ve got a Phantom of the Opera variant coming up that has a version of Liza Doolittle I really like.
Do you think the bar for horror literature (and film) has been raised or lowered in recent years as the genre becomes so familiar (and maybe over-familiar) to us through the summer hit films, the parody films, the MAD Magazine spoofs, The Simpson’s “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, and a million other pop culture references, send-ups, knock-offs, and copies?
Kim: MAD Magazine is a huge influence on the way I work – along with Spike Jones and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. I think what surprises me is that the magic still works no matter what has been done to give the trick away. I worked on a play recently, The Hallowe’en Sessions, and was pleased to see that even savvy audiences will still scream if you spring a scary enough ghost at them.
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Gossip Girl Review The Book View

  1. Previously on Gossip Girl...
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