books

I Want to Start a Revolution

This sounds alarming does it not? Like I want to go to war. I don't want to go to war. I want to be the change I want to see in the world. Leggo.

Scholastic Book Fair. As you read those words, all the book worms shudder in delight. It was a joyous time for so many. You would get the thin paper news letter beforehand with lists of books that you may want, and you spent time circling all the things that interest you. If you had the big bucks, you'd circle the arts and crafts offering, or the big book bundle on the back of the sheet near the order form.

God I loved looking at this every single year.

There were some of us that weren't so lucky. Your classmates who didn't even bother walking down to the book fair, because their parents couldn't afford lunch, much less the purchase of a book. I was one of those kids.

As a child who was reading beyond a high school level by third grade, the book fair brought with it a special kind of pain. All of those books, and I couldn't afford one. I'd sit in the classroom in silence, reading a book I picked up from the school library telling myself I wasn't jealous. My fourth grade year, someone noticed.

His name was Josh Huston. In later years, we didn't get along all that well, but in elementary school, you pretty much get along with everyone. He'd just returned from the book fair, and I asked to see the books he'd purchased. I don't remember what was said. I don't remember if I asked (I doubt I asked, in my house asking for something was seen as "begging" and I didn't want to beg anyone), but he handed me a book and told me I could keep it.

The book was "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler"

This was the cover my book had, it has changed in the past 30 years.

I read this book until the cover fell off. It gave me my first insight into New York City, actual museums, and all sorts of different things I'd never heard of. It showed me the independence of a young girl who was tired of everyone's shit, and just wanted to live in a museum for some peace. It also showed me the practicality of kids, because she knew her brother was cheap as hell and would have money to use on this adventure.

I too was tired of everyone's shit. But I lived in the middle of a small town with no actual culture scene. Nothing that Claudia had. Claudia's journey allowed me to have one in my mind, one where I wasn't the weird one, or the burden. That I would get to live out my dreams, if only for a little bit (she does after all return home).

I know Josh wasn't thinking of all this when he handed me that book. He saw a girl who was sad that she didn't get to buy any reading materials of her own, and he had the power to make her not sad anymore. For that, I will be forever grateful, no matter how annoying he became as we grew into young adults.

This started something in me. I swore to myself, if I ever had children, I was going to pay it forward somehow. Time has passed, seasons have changed, and I am a parent to a rather intelligent Geekybaby. This year was her first Scholastic Book Fair, and have times changed. No more thin tissue paper book list that you fill out. Things are digital. They still are allowed to roam the book fair though, searching for that special book or books.

Geekybaby has been doing virtual learning all year, but we felt safe enough that she could go to school for her end of the year testing. Speaking with her teacher previously, I explained what I wanted to do, and on that day, I sent her to school with 40 dollars in an envelope to make sure some kids who may not be able to get a book, are able to. I was able to provide six kids with a book. I want to do more.

I've told this story on my personal Facebook page twice. Once maybe a year or two ago, and once this week. People have told me, since the last time I have told it, that they send their children to school with extra money to do the same thing. I want to do more, I want this to be more. I don't know how to make that possible though. I think it would be an amazing thing that through one act of kindness 30 years ago (yeah I'm old), hundreds of kids are served.

So I am opening this to you. Do you have any thoughts? Any suggestions? Please leave them in the comments. I am also going to reach out to Scholastic to see if they can help too.

That one thing that you are doing just to be nice, may not save the world, but may reverberate years down the line. Think about that.

Your Bookshelf Needs ‘Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play’

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I full heartedly admit that I judged this book by its cover...you'll see what I mean, just keep reading past this disclaimer.

I never thought I would get to this point in my life. Maybe it's because I'm older. Maybe it's because I have a kid now.

But I have no idea what to do with this Christmas money.

Back in the day, I could burn through it like nobody's business. That money would not make it into the New Year.

So when I got the chance to review Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play by Meagan Marie, I thought to myself "Man, this would be something I'd spend my Christmas money on."

Here's a little background on this book. The author, Meagan Marie, is not new to the gaming industry. In fact, she has not only written about gaming before (20 Years of Tomb Raider, Playing with Superpower: Nintendo's Super NES Classics), she's also the Senior Community and Social Media Manager at Crystal Dynamics.

According to the official description of the book, "Women in Gaming is a celebratory look at accomplished women in the video game industry. It illustrates how women have played --and will continue to play-- important roles in the burgeoning video game industry. Containing interviews with 100 prominent and influential women, ranging from high-level executives to programmers to pro-gamers, Women in Gaming aims to highlight their impact on the gaming industry and reveal their lessons learned in the workplace."

Now, with that being said...

Judging A Book By Its Cover

This book has... it's me!!! ITS ME ON THE COVER YALL!!!

Ok, it's not me, but something about seeing not only a woman holding a controller but a BLACK woman...not just tucked away in the book... ON THE FLIPPING COVER???

I hollered. I did a praise dance. I expressed my joy in so many ways at this.

SHE'S GOT CURLS TOO!! NOT STRAIGHT HAIR!! LAWD!!!

Honestly, I want to arrange a lunch with Meagan just to fangirl over discuss the cover, because it is a thing of beauty.

Biggest Con: You Cannot Read This Book In One Sitting

Sure, maybe you are a master at speed reading. Or maybe you have a superhuman ability to read an entire book by touching it. But for the rest of us...

This is not a book where you sit with a cup of coffee and complete it by the end of the night. I'd say this is the biggest con but...that's not really a bad thing.

The book, in itself, is an adventure. You pack your things but you're gonna have flight layovers, you're gonna need a break for a snack, maybe even a full meal. And just like on a flight, the way you get to your final destination will quite possibly not be linear (I once took a flight from Chicago to Seattle just to get to Denver, Colorado...yeah)

You can definitely go out of order with this and take your time discovering each new section. It's a great book for someone to thumb through on the coffee table or even just someone (*cough* me *cough*) who has a small baby and has to start and stop constantly.

Your adventure will consist of traveling through a directory of amazing women in the gaming industry. It also has engaging essays throughout. Some, you'll want to read it on repeat.

You'll hit detours, you'll visit the contents page and skip around. You'll take a nap and get back to it. But it's all good. This book is your adventure. Just pack lightly 🙂

Love At First Flip

I wanted to give you a breakdown of the book itself but, I stand by what I said earlier, which is this book is an adventure. And I would love for you to grab a copy for yourself and see how your adventure turns out.

No spoilers on the essays. No spoilers on who is featured in the book.

Trust me on this. Get it now. And luckily it's available on Amazon (which is my jam #notsponsoredbutiwishitwas)

If Someone Doesn't Like This Book Simply Because It's About Women in Gaming

Throw it at them. It's heavy as hell and will do quite a bit of damage*

*In no way am I advocating violence. I would hate for this book to be damaged when it comes in contact with some ignorant persons hard head. Handle this glorious book with care.

I can hear the chorus of people hating on the book, saying "Why don't we have a book called 100 MEN in Gaming?? Wahhh!!!" and I don't even....want to get into that right now. This book is such a beautiful work of art. Such an amazing thing that I don't even want to dive into the negative vibes this may cause.

Buy the book. Throw it at fuckboys. Enjoy.

Blackwelder 2164: Must Read Rollicking Sci-Fi for 2018

Blackwelder 2164

By Christopher D.J.

NineStar Press

Blackwelder 2164 is a rollicking, sci-fi adventure, with a brilliantly drawn, lovable (and reprehensible) cast of characters. It is set in a time where warring countries on Earth have been forced to unite in the face of an alien threat. Blackwelder refers to Spencer Blackwelder, a disciplined, sharp shooting sergeant in the Allied Earth Forces.

The book starts off with a bang and keeps up a steady pace throughout. In the first chapter, the reader is dropped right in the middle of action, as Blackwelder’s squadron from the warship AES Barack has been sent to check out an abandoned alien craft. The mission does not go as planned and the stakes are life or death. In the second chapter, the reader learns that Blackwelder’s personal life has not gone to plan either, and he is grappling with a painful decision with no easy solution in sight.

By the end of the second chapter, I was already rooting for Blackwelder. He is clearly a good man and a great soldier. However, he has made choices in his personal life that have led to heartbreak and put his cherished friendships in jeopardy. He has fallen in love with one of his best friends. Due to the small detail of his friend being engaged, paired with the homophobia of his commanding officer, he feels completely trapped and miserably guilty. He decides to essentially run from his problems and requests to be transferred to a remote planet called Triton. Triton is a planet likely to be the target of a first wave of alien attacks, and the soldiers there are woefully unprepared.

Blackwelder’s request is granted and he takes up the responsibility of training soldiers on Triton.  He quickly finds out there are many more layers to this war than he had imagined.  As a top soldier on a prized warship, he was shielded from most rumors and secrets. But on Triton, he begins to see complexity to the war.  Perhaps earth wasn’t so blameless and perhaps an insurgent terrorist group posed more of a threat than he previously thought.  Moreover, a suspicious sabotage leads to a terrifying malfunction in the training arena. As the mysteries pile on, and the stakes rise and rise in the face of an alien invasion, Blackwelder meets a man (a badass, gorgeous, well-connected ambassador with a heart of gold) who helps him move on much more quickly than he thought possible. Triton is just full of surprises.

Blackwelder 2164 delivers heart stopping sci-fi space battles, government intrigue, spies, action, humor, and feels. Also, bonus sexy scenes and romance! I also appreciated that this is a story about a gay man of color, written by a gay man of color. When people write protagonists that reflect themselves, there is an easy authenticity that makes the story more absorbing. In fact, all the characters reflect respect for a diverse spectrum of cultures. And I was delighted as I kept meeting women characters who were written with love and style. A book set in the military with a male protagonist could easily fall into the trap of forgetting women soldiers exist or tokenizing them. But this book has women soldiers and they are written with character, personality, and depth. It is sad how refreshing it is to read a genre book that actually acknowledges that earth is a diverse place.

I highly recommend Blackwelder 2164 for your 2018 reading list. It's a fast, fun, intriguing read. In fact, I hope it gets a sequel. Blackwelder 2164 does end with a resolution to the first battle, so thankfully no cliff-hanger. But earth’s scheming and secrets that Blackwelder uncovered would make a fantastic act 2.

Reading Hard in the Paint

When I last left you, I had made a resolution of sorts. I wanted this year to be better than last year as far as reading. Last year I barely read anything I havent read 10 times over. I barely picked up any books for fun. I just didn't have it in me. I feel as if part of that was from the job from Hell I escaped from last year. In my new job I have a lot more support and responsibilities, and I am loving it, and feel more at ease at home as well. This makes it easier to sit down and relax with a book rather than wallow in pity.

In the last post I gave a list of the books I have either checked out from the public library, have a request in for also at the libray, or was currently reading. Here is that list:

  • I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
  • Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney (thanks Nerdette!)
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R Carey
  • Books 1 and 2 of the Archived Series by Victoria Schwab

The ones that are purple I have read. I am currently writing my thoughts on them, but those posts will take some time, as I have a lot of thoughts. I am trying to write them while I am on my lunch at work, but I go to lunch and want to just stare into space for an hour. Since the post I have also added some new books to my list. Shall we?

  • Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel JosĂ© Older
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
  • Rivers by Michael Farris Smith (My local library did not have this in ebook form, so I actually had to jaunt to the library.)

I've also checked out two book on activities to do with toddlers. I am not going to list those here unless you absolutely want to know what they are. I find them funny however. When I was in high school, I was in vocational for one semester to get a certification to teach at a daycare center. I ended up dropping the class because the teacher was a horrible racist pig of a woman. The final straw in her class had to do with these notebooks. You had to find activities to do with different age groups of children. The notebook had to be formatted a certain way. I got a D on mine. When I compared it to a (white) friend, mine was superior and even the friend noticed. The friend encouraged me to ask the teacher why she had scored me so poorly compared to her. When I gave her the books, she gave me some weird reason, I forget at this point. I got angry. It was rare I got angry in school. I launched both of those books across the room and told her what she could do with herself. I ended up filing a complaint with the school. It didn't do a whole lot of good as I graduated from high school over 10 years ago and the woman retired just two years ago. Oh, memories.

Anyway, I am still reading, still chugging along, and I hope you are as well. Are you reading anything? Do you have any suggestions for my reading list?

New year, same old me

I don't honestly make resolutions. I have enough to feel bad about in life, why should I make up changes I am never going to fulfill?

 

This year? This year is different. I made two resolutions.

  1. Find out what Cardi B's real name is
  2. Read more.

Growing up, I was never without a book. Typically I would have 4 or 5 around the house. I am one of those unique people that can pick the story up, no matter how many books I am reading, and remember what is going on.

 

Lately with smart phones and my attention span not being what it is, I haven't been reading. At all. I will read books to my daughter, but it isn't the same thing. I also want her to grow up realizing that television is not the end all be all and you can get lost in a book.

So I have made it my mission to read more. I didn't put a specific number up, because honestly I do not know what is feasible. I've read one book this month, and I am about 90% finished with another. I hope to detail them in the blog and talk about what I like and what I do not.

This is where you come in (and hopefully you want to come in). I need book recommendations. I am pretty much open to anything. I've been checking out e-books from my local library. These are what I have read or have on hold so far:

  • I'm Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi
  • Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  • In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney (thanks Nerdette!)
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R Carey
  • Books 1 and 2 of the Archived Series by Victoria Schwab

 

Not a bad starter list eh? I hope you will help me as I try to get back in the swing of loving to read and actually doing it, instead of using Facebook all day. In the comments, please list some books you enjoyed reading, or are looking forward to reading this year.

 

Cardi B's real name is Belcalis Almanzar.

Ginny Weasley Has My Vote

J K Rowling has recently come out saying that she regrets having Ron and Hermione end up together. She believed that Harry and Hermione should have gotten married. Now for every Harry and Hermione shipper there is an astounding unified whoop and hooray. At this point it is a coulda, woulda, shoulda hope that cannot be taken back.

I like to fancy myself a writer. I certainly have not felt the joys of having anything published and can certainly not fathom the success that Ms. Rowling enjoys, but the regret for any writer is very much a real thing. There have been several stories that I have written that I wished I could change, especially after witnessing the productions of my plays at my old high school. Your work being presented to you in such a manner that is no longer confined to your mind can throw a lot of curves at you. New interpretations can bring to light that which was never conceived before. This is all part of the process.

Once something is presented one way, especially in such a public forum, changing anything is not only extremely complicated but not easily accepted by the masses. Writing may be something that is created by the writer, but once shared with an audience, ownership expands out to them as well. The audience may not be legally entitled to any kind of monetary rights, but they own their interpretations. Artists attempting to go back and change things or sharing their regrets never go over very well.

George Lucas is probably the most famous for attempting to fix or change his beloved work. The tweaks to his original trilogy were thought downright unholy by most of the fandom. The lack of appreciation for his prequels made Lucas slam the door shut on sequels that were proposed when Episode I began production. Lucas, unfortunately, took these harsh fan opinions very personally and scrapped the idea before finishing the prequel trilogy. Since selling the franchise to Disney, the sequels have been made real and are being put into production. The importance of this point? The majority of the fandom still feels the same about the about the entire franchise as they did back when the prequels were made. Now it just seems that Lucas has more confidence in his decisions regardless is the fans support him or not.

This is all to point out again that if you choose to make any kind of change or comments on a body of work that has already been shared with an audience of one or one million outside of your own mind, that audience is entitled to comment and feel about that same body of work in any manner that they please regardless if that opinion is the opposite of the creator. The voice of the audience is a powerful and persuasive tool. It can help change the path of a television show and even change the path of an upcoming sequel. It just cannot change that which has already been made. This is what brings me to Miss Ginevra Weasley.

Rowling’s sentiments of changing who Harry ended up marrying puts in to question the kind of girl he did end up marrying. This regret may have been due to a rumor where Steve Kloves, screenwriter for all of the Harry Potter films, turned to Ms. Rowling and questioned why Harry didn’t marry Hermione. This could be completely untrue, but even with her current second thoughts there is just too much built into the relationships of Hermione and Ron and of Harry and Ginny throughout the series that I am confused by her sudden remorse.

Ignoring the movies, because as amazing as they all are, they do not hold the detail that the pages of the books hold. If it is questioned as to why Harry would marry someone like Ginny with only the films as reference, then I could hold nothing against that. The film version of Ginny, and no I am not talking about the skills of the actress playing her, is pretty flat. I read an article about things J.K. Rowling got wrong, and Harry getting together with Ginny was one of them. The author felt that Ginny had no personality and could only be called nice. This author was even reminiscent of Cho Chang. This isn’t exactly a fair assessment of the redhead, unless you had only seen the films. The novel version of Miss Weasley is much more colorful. I would even say that she is all of the best qualities of her seven brothers all rolled up into one. She’s smart, funny, and feisty. Who doesn’t remember the Quidditch match scene where she purposely flew her broomstick at Zacharias Smith for making terrible remarks about the Gryffindor team?

Two of the things I most admired about Rowling’s writing in the Harry Potter novels is her ability to draw such rich characterization even from the tiniest of parts and her ability to foreshadow throughout the book and from book to book. Rowling just doesn’t make bland characters. The series is written from Harry’s perspective, and we are limited on what we see and what happens because of that. Ginny slowly becomes a part of Harry’s life a little more and more throughout each novel. I am not judging Rowling on her regret by disagreeing with her. I am however confused by this regret.

When I started on the Harry Potter train I had just finished watching the second film after it came out on video. I had friends that had tried to get me to read the books for years but I just never got around to it. That summer I finally decided to sit down and read the series. I binged my way through the first four, finishing only days before the fifth novel came out. I was immediately hooked then. I loved all of the characters and was probably a little more prone to the Weasley clan. The fact that Julie Walters played such and amazing Molly Weasley on the big screen didn’t hurt. I began to notice the youngest Weasley and would keep an eye out for her, especially after her role in the second novel. I started out sympathizing for the poor girl having to grow up and go through puberty with seven older brothers. The twins alone are enough to scare off anyone. Ginny was always there in the novels, and not just as a side note or a passing comment by her brother, Ron, to Harry. She was physically there and noticed by Harry, whether Harry felt it was important or not.

When the fifth novel came out, there was a scene in the hospital after Arthur Weasley was attacked. Harry was being very self-loathing and self-pitying as he was prone to do in this very angsty novel, when Ginny simply has enough and puts him in his place. That was the moment when I added two plus two. Putting together all of the other Harry Potter novels, along with the fifth, I knew that Ginny was going to end up with Harry. She had practically been groomed for him. Harry always wanted to be officially apart of the Wealey family the only other official way of doing this outside of adoption is through marriage. As much as Hermione and Ron have been with Harry through all of the trials and hardships, they could never fully grasp or understand the true evil and fear that was Voldemort. Ginny may not have come into direct contact with the older and more organized version of the Dark Lord, but she met the cunning and enigmatic and very evil teenage version of him, making her the only other person in the entire series that has any possible idea of how Harry feels and what he is going through. Hell, we knew more about Ginny’s boyfriends when she was dating them than we did about Malfoy’s goons. Don’t believe me? Go back and read about the Yule ball. There will be just a little too much information about what Ginny Weasley was doing, then there probably should have been when Harry was supposedly occupied with pining after Cho Chang. The knowledge we have about Michael Corner did mostly come from Ron, but it was there. A couple of talks about the boyfriend would have been enough to show Ron’s annoyance, but why would Rowling continue talking about it in such detail, if it weren’t important.

Hermione and Ron’s romantic relationship didn’t start to fully evolve until the fourth book, but the movies began to hint at that relationship earlier than that. As much as Harry was around Hermione, I don’t believe I ever saw any inkling of possible romantic feelings by Harry towards Hermione. The only time he really saw her as a true girl was when she got dressed up for the Yule Ball. His attention was however quickly diverted to Cho Chang when she arrived after.

I don’t see it. Rowling has clearly been one to say that she knows so much more about the world of Potter outside of the books. She even knew how the story would truly end when she wrote the first one. She may have never guessed what a fabulous on screen version of Hermione Emma Watson would bring to her world or the lack of use that Bonnie Wright’s character would see on screen when Rowling first started creating the Potter world, but the film franchise could have played a large part in her current thoughts. In the end, for an author who is known so well for her foreshadowing and characterization skills, Rowling certainly had to spend a lot of time planning and sorting out the path to have Hermione end up with Ron and Harry with Ginny. It is the only thing that makes sense to me, maybe not others. I feel it was certainly the path that I was intended to take.

Just let Ginny Weasley be and enjoy her much earned happiness with her husband. I personally wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of her bat bogey hexes, besides the fact that I’m sure she could kick any ass that said otherwise. She did survive seven older brother after all.