The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

(Caidyn)

4/5

Personally, when I think of religion, this is what I think of. The fundamental good of it, all the ways that they draw people together and accept them no matter what. The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are prime examples of that. They really exemplify the love and compassion, all while showing immense happiness no matter what. Even in the bad times, they show joy and acceptance, all while fighting for change. However, the people who do bad get the most press rather than these people, giving religion a different look.

Joy is so important to live your life. I try to live like that, to have as much joy as possible. Half the time when I’m talking about things that upset me, I’ll throw in a joke and find a way to laugh at it. I accept it and I’m not going to stop fighting for a change, but there’s no point in being upset. Having happiness in your life really improves it. I could cite so much research on that one little thing. It’s hard to find, though, in the world we live in. This book is a great introduction to this through an interreligious dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity, two widely different religions that come together.

This book brings up a lot of concepts, but I’m only going to touch on a few.

For me, compassion is key. I’ve had a love of the topic since I read Pema Chodron last year. She’s an amazing author and if you haven’t read her, I’d highly suggest it. She brings in so many base concepts and ideas to live by. Yes, she weaves in religion, but you can take that out and still find truth in it. Compassion leads to so many things since, to properly practice it (and, by that, I mean a specific Buddhist practice that I won’t get into here) you have to first love yourself. That brings joy. Then, you extend compassion to friends and family then to people you feel neutral about to people you somewhat like and even to people you don’t like. It grows your joy, being able to see how we’re all the same with the same wants.

The next two are humility and humor. I see them as very combined because to have humility, you have to find humor in things. And to find humor, you need to be humble. I always laugh at myself. Not a day goes by when I, much like Tutu, make a self-depreciating comment about myself. It sets off the situation and keeps me from getting on my high horse. Then, I also admit when I don’t know something. I don’t like pretending. I’ve done that enough in my life to know it’s not for me.

Now, as I said, the world is a very different place. It’s full of hate and sadness. Just when I was listening to this book, Hurricane Harvey was on the news. Not to mention the transgender ban from the military. Or the white supremacy battle. I hate to say this and agree with Trump, but there is hate on both sides of this. We do need more people like the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. Self-change leads to changing the world.

I completely recommend this book. I recommend the audiobook more so since the man who compiled these dialogues narrates it, and there are two other people who read as the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu. It adds a lot to the listen, not to mention that there are so many practices at the end (mainly Christian and Buddhist) that you can find out what could work for you since most really aren’t that religious.

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Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Dragon Teeth

(Caidyn)

4/5

I haven’t read much of Crichton’s work. The only book I’ve read was Jurassic Park and, well, I loved it. The writing, characters, and science was great. Perhaps not completely accurate, but I still loved it. This book simply sounded like it. I did no research on this book before jumping in. Author, title, and cover really drew me in and I was happy to keep it that way.

One of the things with this book is that the plot and characters are one. It follows the tale of William Johnson, a rich boy who decides to take a bet to go with a professor to find fossils. At first, Johnson (as he’s called throughout the book) is so annoying. He’s a cocky, rich student at Yales who crashes things for fun. However, he goes through such a radical change. He becomes a determined student in order to even go on the hunt, then he gets caught up in the hunt for bones in the West.

The book was very fast paced at first. I enjoyed getting to know Johnson as a person, seeing him develop and grow. Then, there were Indians and soldiers and crazy rivalries between paleontologists. However, it got slower from there. The journey back, if you can call it that (and not in a bad way) wasn’t as interesting for me. It got better right at the end, but it never quite regained the pace it had.

Another downside for me was that there were so many semi-important characters as the book moved on. I had hoped for more to come back around or for them to stick around, yet most just didn’t except in memory. The only other two main characters, outside Johson, were Cope and Marsh, two very really people.

This book was based on fact. Cope and Marsh were two men who hunted bones and had a very real hatred towards each other. Founding on that relationship and the things they did to each other was fascinating. I came into it having a slight hint that I had heard those names before — couldn’t place them, but I had heard their story — so it brought such a great blend of history to this that it felt I was reading nonfiction at times. Crichton really was meticulous in this book and it shows.

Really, what this book made me do was want to read more of his work. And it makes me sad that I couldn’t have enjoyed him more while he was still alive. He’s a great author and this book impressed me more than Jurassic Park did because of such a dynamic main character and the fantastic way real personalities worked into this book.

Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich

Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe

(Caidyn)

3/5

As most of you guys know by now (if you follow my reviews, that is), I have a thing for Tudor England. Most of my knowledge is based around Henry VIII. I’m going to abbreviate most of the king’s names, so Henry is going to be known as H8 for this review. What I know of Francis I (F1) and Charles V (C5) is all based around H8. Like, I know things and how they’re related to England, but not their own kingdoms. I actually had no idea who Suleiman was.

What I liked about this book was that it was a super compact overview of four men who held great sway in the world. As Norwich said, it was the last time that’s ever really happened. It was a Greatest Hits CD for the four of them. It was also well-written, making it easy to understand when it could have been very dense. Norwich made this book read for anyone.

However, a lot of what I had issues with came to be the liberties and misinterpretations Norwich took that coincided with what I thought was good. I have quite a few examples that I jotted down in my outline of this review. He made it seem as if Katherine of Aragon (H8’s first wife) had a stillborn son because she rode on a horse to oversee an army. He fell into the trap of C5’s mom, Juana, was insane when that probably wasn’t the case. Anne Boleyn (H8’s second wife), apparently, lost H8’s love in 1534 and that’s also when Jane Seymour (wife three) came onto the scene. Pretty sure that’s not completely accurate. Jane and Katheryn Parr (H8’s sixth wife) also were the only “good” wives he had. Anne Boleyn also apparently possibly could have committed adultery due to her personality when she was an extremely pious woman.

All that I’m trying to say with that long paragraph is that he’s inaccurate with his recounting. That, for me, throws into question everything with F1, C5, and Suleiman. He lost credibility for me.

For all this book is, it’s good for what it is: A compact overview that takes simple explanations.

Bonk by Mary Roach

Chantel’s rating – 4.5/5

Caidyn’s rating – 4/5


Earlier in the year, Caidyn and I read A Mind of Its Own which was a cultural history of the penis. Ultimately, it was an interesting topic with a poor execution. Bonk was what The Penis Book (what we dubbed it while reading it) should’ve been. Mary Roach’s humor was on point throughout the book combined with essential literature and interviews with experts. Call me crazy, but as a female, I was excited to read chapters featuring female sexuality. I mean, there was a whole chapter about a woman moving her clitoris. That was fun.

There were definitely some disturbing parts of this book. Ones involving penis surgery and one that focused on pig insemination. The last thing I wanted to read is about some of the odd things men do with their penises. While there were times I was squeamish I found myself laughing more than being grossed out. My favorite part of the book was when Mary Roach and her husband participated in getting a 4D ultrasound while having sex. The fact that she was able to convince her husband Ed to be a part of it was hilarious. My only complaint, and it’s small, I would’ve liked a chapter dedicated to asexuality and the science behind that, but back when this book was written/published in 2007-2008, I don’t think there was a lot of research on it. I only hope that has changed.

It really saddens me that sex is such a taboo subject to the point where it can be shameful for some people. Sex is a perfectly natural thing, we are not the only species to do it nor are we the only species to enjoy it outside of reproduction. By combining sex and science, I believe Mary Roach normalized sex and I don’t think that should be overlooked and this is coming from someone who identifies as asexual. She threw herself into this book and research and I was so glad I read it. I can’t wait to read more books by her.

Really, I agree with Chantel completely. (Or, on some pieces.) I thought The Penis Book was too pompous at times and the author pretended to know something when he wasn’t a professional while Roach embraced not knowing things. Not that there’s anything wrong with writing on a topic when you aren’t a professional, just that you have to do a lot of extra work to catch up with an expert and then to exceed them. As someone who often writes on well-researched topics, it’s so hard trying to make sense of the research then add in some new contribution.

For me, Mary Roach was great. I think that it was hilarious and she made no qualms about highlighting the awkwardness of things since sex is awkward. There are odd noises, faces, positions, etc that lend themselves to hilarity and awkwardness. Plus, I actually watched her Ted Talk for my Psychology of Sexual Behavior course (also called psych of sex) in summer and I knew just how funny his book could be going off that one little talk.

However, I just wish that her take home message — that there are sexual differences and you need to learn about those differences to have sex with people — should have been highlighted more. It was a great take home message to have, but it felt like there should have been more. The book was full of odd or funny anecdotes and that seemed to be the main purpose of this book. Let’s look at the weird things scientists thought/think about sex or sexuality and the weird research they did to find proof for it. Not that it’s wrong — scientists are very weird and have hilarious ideas or rivalries — just that I wished that there was more substance to it. I loved the humor, but I wanted more take home messages than funny anecdotes about the oddity of human beings.

The great thing about Bonk is you could tell Mary Roach did a shit ton of research. She’s not a professional, but she completely threw herself into researching for this book by reading actual studies and talking with people who researched and worked in fields relating to sexuality.

That’s really true. She did so much research for this and visited so many various people. Roach is an author you could have as a secondary resource on a paper. Roach took very specific topics and breathed life into them. I think Roach talking about modern research with a look at how we haven’t changed too much from the past (along with her hilarious commentary and anecdotes) made it a more interesting read.

While I appreciated her talking with people in the field at that time, the book is almost ten years old by now. I’d love to know what (if anything) has changed in the worlds of sexual psychology and physiology.

Personally, I don’t think too much has changed with stigma. There’s a lot of stigma around it. However, there’s just so much more technology available — PET scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, and fMRIs — that you can see the true physiological reactions then make inferences based on a person’s verbal response. Such as, Roach talked about how women get aroused (i.e. wet) by watching any type of pornography — straight, gay, animals mating — and they don’t report being aroused by anything except what they think of as their sexuality.

I certainly don’t think it’s gotten easier to research sexuality because there is a stigma, but for example, she talks about certain drugs that were going through trials for the FDA, I suppose a Google search would tell me if they were successful, but things like that seemed a bit dated. Plus, there could’ve been more talk about LGBTQ+ couples and asexuality. However, that’s just a nitpick of mine. I don’t think if she wrote the book today those things would be included. That could be a completely separate book.

If I remember correctly from my class on this topic, there still weren’t any drugs specifically for women and treating sexual disorders for them. Recently, though, there was the push and the backlash over female Viagra. And, I agree on LGBTQ+ relationships and asexuality. There has been a lot of research on it (perhaps not asexuality since that’s technically a sexual disorder in the DSM-5) but it wasn’t included. Perhaps because she didn’t find that topic as interesting to her.

Which doesn’t surprise me. Doesn’t she talk about a sexual disorder or is asexuality different? There are probably more than one. I think that’s fine that she decided to ultimately not go in that direction, I just know that would be interesting to me and that isn’t necessarily a knock on her.

All right, pulling out notes for this now. There are 12+ (depending on how I was to split them up) in my notes over sexual disorders. That’s just a specific category in the DSM. Asexuality is, technically, hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). However, to get diagnosed with it, you have to be upset by it. If you have that, it’s not necessarily that you’re asexual but someone who doesn’t believe that asexuality is a thing could diagnose you as having that and “fix” you. People with HSDD do feel sexual desire and want to have sex. Just that they can’t get aroused.

I see. She does refer to HSDD a few times but also adds in parenthesis low libido. I can’t see myself getting diagnosed with HSDD, asexual fits better. Plus, it’s so much more complicated than not being interested in sex.

No, you wouldn’t be diagnosed with HSDD. Nor would I. Why? Because to be diagnosed you’d have to be seeing a therapist about it specifically and exhibiting the Four D’s as they’re called in abnormal psychology. Distress, danger (to yourself or others), deviance, and dysfunction. Usually, I take distress and danger as the hallmarks of abnormal psych. Asexual people don’t show that sort of thing, you know? It’s not low libido because they aren’t interested. I’m ace and I don’t have a problem getting aroused. When I watch pornography, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t because most people do, I have no problem getting off. It’s just that I don’t have a desire to do the things they do. That’s not HSDD. Although, I think we’ve gotten a bit off topic.

Maybe a little bit. I’m the same way in that I’m not interested but I have the ability to be aroused and get off. It’s just I have no interest in doing that with another person, or at least I’d have to trust that person considerably. Anyway, I think we should stop talking about masturbation and move on.

What??? Come on, let’s just keep going and break societal norms some more. But, okay. I think that in a reprint or something, it’d be important for her to discuss those specific topics since they’ve come more into the view of mainstream media. This book is definitely good, just that it focused on heterosexual individuals and odd anecdotes about researchers, which was something I got a bit tired of. I want the research, not all this about the researcher.

Dammit society for making me uncomfortable! I would’ve liked more about non-heterosexual individuals and relationships, but overall I liked the anecdotes and thought she had a unique point of view and voice with which she talked about the research. I liked the humor a lot and that really made this book better for me because when I wasn’t interested in a certain subject she had something funny to say about said subject.

I do agree about the humor. It was so funny and I literally read some part of it out loud to my dad — about paralysis and checking if a certain reflex is working you have to stick your finger in the rectum and squeeze the penis or clitoris to see if the anal sphincter will squeeze the finger — and he just stared at me like “how the hell is this my child???” I just wish it had gotten serious at times and laid aside the humor. Humor made it better, but I also wanted some substance.

I’d just like to add that I really enjoyed the fact that she had a chapter dedicated to quadriplegics and paraplegics and included so much information and research that showed you can still have a sex life afterward depending on where the injury occurred. I would agree that getting serious could’ve helped, but overall I’d recommend it and read more of her books. I’m intrigued to see how her humor is injected into other topics that might be dull or serious.

I mean, having read her book on cadavers, it can be a very weird combination. And I hope that we decide to read more of Roach’s books in the future for the club.

Don’t worry, I can definitely see us reading more of her books in the future. At least the ones with dirty titles.

All of them are dirty if you have the right (or wrong) mind.

Please tell me how Packing for Mars is a dirty title.

Another time.

Such a tease.

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

The Seafarer's Kiss cover


“As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.” (16)


(Chantel)

4.5/5 – I absolutely love The Little Mermaid (the Disney movie) and I enjoy the movie as it is. When I heard about a queer retelling of The Little Mermaid with a bisexual main character, I was very much into it. And I loved this book. I read it in about eight hours and that’s rare for me. (Not straight through mind you — the season finale of Game of Thrones was on.) I’m not the fastest reader out there, but I could not stop reading this book. It was only 212 pages and there was so much to enjoy about it. So, prepare for a lot of gushing and a tiny bit of nitpicking.

I absolutely loved the setting and the Norse mythology weaved into this story. I don’t know anything about Norse mythology, but I’m suddenly interested. The writing in this book was gorgeous. The descriptions of the glacier the merpeople lived on just made me want to be a part of that world. There was something calming and serene about this book, and I don’t even like the ocean. I can’t even swim, but dammit I wanted to be a mermaid after reading this book.

Now, I’d like to talk about a few different relationships in this book because I feel like they were at the core of this story. First, I’d like to talk about Ersel and her mother. I teared up during a scene with these two and their relationship was so wonderful. I’ll admit, I thought about my own relationship with my mom and that made it even more emotional for me. I would say more but that would lead to spoilers and I really want people to go read this book. In fact, I’m going to be vague because I don’t want to give too much away.

Second, I’d like to talk about Ersel and Ragna. It’s no secret there is an f/f romance in this book. If it’s a surprise to you, well surprise! There’s a scene, again being vague, that was so beautiful and I was blown away. Maybe it’s just because I’m a romantic person, but I loved it. Also, even though their relationship escalated quickly, Ersel acknowledged she didn’t know if things would work out. It was something worth giving a chance and I liked that. It’s not insta-love, but there is potential for love to blossom.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about Ersel and Havamel. Now, I liked Havamel and yet I’m not a huge fan of his role in the plot. This was one of my few nitpicks and something that bothers me in general. In the beginning of the book, Ersel is already upset with him and considers their friendship over. In my mind, a romance between them isn’t going to happen, but then to have him do something so wrong that Ersel might not forgive him was unnecessary because he’s not a bad person. I think showing their friendship throughout would’ve been nice because as I’ve said before, two people can be friends without the potential for romance.

I should also talk about Loki. In this book specifically, Loki’s gender is not male nor female but both and neither at the same time. I’m not labeling them specifically because I don’t know the specific label. Basically, they go back and forth between male and female forms and it’s amazing. However, Loki wasn’t the most likable character by a long shot. I’m sure that’s part of Loki’s mythology, they are clever and funny, but also awful. Horrible things happen because of Loki. Personally, I just loved the idea of a character with no fixed gender and everyone accepted them as such. However, I acknowledge that I’m cisgender and I might feel completely different if I wasn’t.

I just want to continue talking about this book and encouraging others to read it. It’s a fantasy book with an f/f romance and body positivity. I need more books like this. I want more books with a folklore I’m unfamiliar with and a world I can just sink into. It’s a great time to read LGBTQ+ books right now and I wish I had more books like this when I was a teenager.

 

Blogging + College = ???: First Week and Grad School Woes

(Caidyn)

I survived. Somehow, I did it. I can’t remember if I actually said what classes I’m taking, so let’s just go through it.

First, I’m taking a class called Women and Culture. It’s all about, well, women and culture. I’m not sure what focus it’s going to have, but I’m assuming it’s more Western and even American with the focus largely on white people with more commentary on black women struggles later on. We have a predominantly white class, so it makes sense. There are also only two males in the class (myself included). It’s a freshman level class so that’s always interesting. And, as expected, a damn group project. I don’t miss freshman courses.

Second, I’m taking Psychology Seminar: Intuition. This takes a big of background. As a psych major, I have to take a senior level course where you strut your stuff. This is that. You come up with a research proposal, complete with a literature review and mock methodology, results, and discussion section. You also do an oral presentation. Each semester varies for what the topic is. This semester it’s intuition. However, I’ve avoided this professor my whole time at my college because of his reputation. He’ll love you one second and hate you the next. Hopefully I got on his good side since I agreed to be in his research as a participant.

Third, there’s Europe in the High Middle Ages. More technically, it’s about Christendom in the years 1000-1300/1350. We’re focusing more on Christianity and Southern Europe. The biggest thing for me is that, based on the first week, I’m holding my own in the class. It’s an upper level course so most of the people in the class actually are history majors or minors. I’m not. I just read up on it for fun. And, I actually held a conversation and could name things in class. I’m proud of myself for that. I feel like I’m going to get a lot out of it and, even better, no research paper!!

Fourth, and finally, is my class on The Jewish Faith. Basically, it’s an introduction to Judaism. I have some background because of a few other courses I’ve taken (Intro to World Religions, World Religions; and Religion, Ethnicity, and Race). But, I want to know more about it since it interests me. It also serves as a good way to do some research for myself. My professor is a new professor and it already shows. They’re figuring it out as it goes, something I like and don’t like.

So there’s that. I survived and have succeeded beyond that.

However, Saturday morning, I decided to look at graduate schools and freaked myself out and discouraged myself a bit.

I was only going to apply to two programs, University of Kansas (KU) and University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). KU is closer to me with a more specific program while UMKC is farther away with a more general education. UMKC became my first choice based on the education. Whereas KU is pathway oriented (aka you choose a path and that’s all that you learn) UMKC teaches a little bit of everything.

Then I looked at UMKC’s requirements for school. Unlike KU, you have to take the GRE… which is a standardized test sort of like ACT/SAT to get into graduate school. I don’t want to take it. UMKC requires it, while KU doesn’t. (And, trust me, I just emailed the person in charge of admissions for KU’s MSW program about it to be sure I don’t suddenly need to start enrolling in test dates and studying and hoping for the best.)

So, down to one school I’m applying to. But, hey, it’s all good. I only applied to one college, too, actually. Unlike everyone who applied to a million, I went to community college for a year, got a letter in the mail from my current college, and applied. Got in and that was that.

Now I just have to hope that KU takes me and I’m not back to square one with shit.

The Awesome Blogger Award

What an honor this is. Just started back in March and we’re an awesome blogger? Sign us up!

But, seriously, thank you, Emma, for the nomination. Both of us really appreciate it and it means so much. It’s hard starting out and, admittedly, we’re still figuring it all out. Every single like or comment you leave — and all of you guys as followers — makes us happy. We appreciate it more than you guys can know.

This award was created by Maggie @ Dreaming of Guatemala

This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.

THE RULES

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Include the reason behind the award.
  • Include the banner in your post.
  • Tag it under #awesomeblogger in the Reader.
  • Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
  • Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
  • Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
  • Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated.

Caidyn’s answers will be in blue.
Chantel’s answers will be in purple.

Now, onto the questions!


1. Your bookshelves have caught fire and the flame is spreading, so you can only save one book. Which book do you save?

Wow, Emma. Thanks. One book. I’d just stuff my backpack full of stuff and run out with my computer and a few other things. But, if I had to theoretically pick one single book, I’d probably grab my really nice copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray since I’ve never seen a copy of it before. (Also my Kindle.)

Well, I’d kind of look like the biggest jerk in the world if I didn’t grab my kitty, Watson. After him, I’d have to say I’d grab my hardback 20th Anniversary copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Hufflepuff edition). That was very specific, but those books are gorgeous. Plus it would be a great comfort to me after losing everything.

One, Watson probably set the fire because his 3 AM meowing didn’t get your attention. Two, that is a good answer. I own too many Harry Potter books to conceivably save them all. I’d probably attempt to save my British editions.

I can see this happening. He knows just how to get my attention: by annoying me. 

Watson 1

See? He’s plotting my demise. 

Or just trying to get your attention by being a drama queen.

2. Favorite thing to drink while you’re reading?

Wine.

If I was cool, I’d say coffee or tea, but really it’s usually soda. Right now, it’s Squirt. 

Dude, I answered wine so there’s no chill with me. I didn’t know you drank soda while reading. I would have said water since I literally have to drink my weight in water per day, but wine is for relaxing.

I drink soda pretty much all the time. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing. 

3. Something you love to do besides read?

I’m fond of writing, but not always. I also watch too much TV.

I absolutely love movies and TV. So that’s usually what I’m doing outside of work. I also like writing but I haven’t written in months….

Don’t we sound alike? TV, movies, and writing. Also, we need to schedule our movie watching.

I’ll have to check my schedule. 

4. Worst book you’ve read so far in 2017?

Oh, Jesus. Alison Weir’s new book on Anne Boleyn. God damn, that was bad.

I could go with the book I DNF-ed and gave one star, but I’m going to go with a book I read all the way through and hated the ending. Which is, I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. I know Caidyn liked it, but my expectations were way too high and the ending was so predictable. 

Yes, I did like it, but I can see what you’re saying. I got a lot more out of it reading it backwards after reading it from front to back. 

See, if you have to read it twice to enjoy it that’s too much for me. I was just hoping for something more original. 

I enjoyed it the first time and even more the second time.

5. Favorite movie?

Shutter Island all the way.

This is one of the hardest questions for me because I love movies so much and I have so many favorites. Like, I should’ve created a film blog, but books are cool too. If I had to pick one, it would be Clue. Yes, a movie based on the board game. I just know that when I’m feeling like shit, I can put that movie on and feel better. 

You should have made a movie blog, honestly, but then I wouldn’t have been able to join in as well. If I go off of movies I watch when I feel like shit, Sweeney Todd.

6. Favorite song?

My favorite song changes almost every day, so wow. Save Myself by Ed Sheeran, Dust Bowl Dance by Mumford & Sons, The Mariner’s Revenge by The Decemberists, Misguided Ghosts by Paramore, You Won’t Be Mine by Matchbox Twenty, Someone New by Hozier, Queen of Peace by Florence + The Machine, Aura by Lady Gaga, All of Me by John Legend, Hurt and The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I mean, I could go on forever about this since I can’t choose favorite songs. It’s all context dependent.

And I thought I liked music, jeez. Instead of the wall of text, I’ll give you a top five.

  1. While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles
  2. Latch by Discourse feat. Sam Smith
  3. Live and Let Die by Wings
  4. Pumpin Blood by NONONO
  5. Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey

These are songs I adore and my body does unnatural things when I hear them. I have plenty more, but these five are the ones that speak to me in this moment. 

This is so weird because your top five songs are either ones I’ve never heard of or by artists I’m not fond of in the least.

Because you don’t listen to good music. Even though we like some of the same songs. 

I don’t like Lana del Rey. I didn’t like her from the first time I listened to her.

Psh, rude. I only like that one song from her. I’m not a super fan or anything. I don’t even know what she looks like. 

This is her.

Image result for lana del rey gif

And I have a slightly mean theory about her that I will not share here.

Oh, well I still like her…or just that one song. Other than that, I’m pretty indifferent. She’s not like Adele or anything. 

7. Favorite villain/antihero?

Villain: Bellatrix Lestrange
Antihero: Jorg Arancrath

I don’t…like villains.

Well, that sucks, doesn’t it?

Indeed it does. 

8. First thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Reach over to see what time it is on my phone. And then, probably, respond to messages half awake. Sorry, Chantel. If you get messages from about 6 AM my time that makes no sense, that’s because I was about to go back to sleep.

None of your messages make sense. I grab my phone as well and if I have time, I’ll watch a little YouTube before getting ready for the day. 

Hoe, that’s because you don’t get my awesomeness. I also think that I may have a mild case of dyslexia sometimes.

Titus andromadon

Don’t you leave with a gif from a show that I’ve never seen.

It’s your own fault that you haven’t seen it. It’s on Netflix and it’s called The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and you don’t like comedies. So you probably won’t watch it. 

I have no plans of watching it but whenever I drink pinot grigio I fucking hear this song in my head without ever seeing it.

Image result for pinot noir gif

Good, you could use some Titus in your life. 

9. Last thing you do before you go to bed at night?

Turn my phone on silence so it doesn’t wake me up.

Shout at Watson to stop meowing. Seriously, though, it’s putting my TV on sleep timer because I love that white noise yo.

Okay, that’s what you do when he wakes you up at an insane hour, like when you texted me at 7:30 my time… which is 5:30 where you were.

It happens multiple times at night. Nobody understands my torture.

Cry me a river.

That gif killed me. 

10. Favorite food?

Chicken noodle soup or tuna casserole. Or grapow. Or pizza. I just love food. (And I have a feeling I know Chantel’s answer!)

Do you? I’m interested to see how well we know each other. 

Anyway, it’s 100% potatoes. In any form. French fries, potato chips, roasted, baked, scalloped, and of course mashed. When I got my wisdom teeth out, not only did I lose my wisdom, but I ate mashed potatoes for a week straight. I also love steak, I started a tradition where I make it every weekend because I can never have enough steak in my life. Sometimes I have it twice in one week!

I was going to answer steak, actually. Since you have it once a week at the very least and we’ve been watching things before only for her to disappear for a while to tend to her precious steak. Actual picture of Chantel with it:

Very accurate. I have time set aside for my precious steak and nobody comes between me and my steak. 

Benedict Cumberbatch wink

Or gratuitously using that gif.

It accurately represents many things. Including my love for steak. 


And now for our 10 questions! Since basically everyone we follow has probably been tagged, anyone is welcome to answer them because, to us, you’re all awesome. Feel free to answer them in the comments or make your own post for them!

  1. If you could choose any job to have in the world (fictional or real) what would it be and why?
  2. What is your favorite book series?
  3. Who’s your favorite actor and actress?
  4. Who is your favorite booktuber/blogger?
  5. Why did you decide to start blogging?
  6. What fictional world would you travel to?
  7. Would you rather only be able to read new books without being able to reread them or would you rather only be able to read a book you hated?
  8. What was a book you did not like the ending to?
  9. What’s the book and/or movie that scared you the most?
  10. Do you have a favorite author whose books you will read no matter what?

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

TheGentlemansGuidetoViceandVirtue-HC-C-683x1024

Caidyn also read Gentleman’s Guide this month and already reviewed it. If you want his opinion on the book, here it is: Caidyn’s Review.


“It occurs to me suddenly, as I look down the deck to where Percy’s sitting with his fiddle and two of the men, who are singing a tune for him in hopes he can pick up the melody, that this must be the first time in his life he’s around men who look like him. Men who don’t assume he’s worth less than them just because of the color of his skin. Among the pirates, he has nothing to prove.” (406)


4/5 – It’s rare that I read a book that’s recently come out. I’ve been burned before when it came to books that were hyped. However, I’m glad I didn’t wait to read this. It wasn’t the book I thought it would be, but sometimes that’s perfectly fine. There were some things that were unexpected, some things were predictable, and at the core of it were these two boys who wouldn’t tell each other how they feel.

Let’s just get this out of the way, I’m not a huge fan of angst at all. I found the angst in this book annoying. Especially because it was clear they had feelings for each other, but it wasn’t clear to them. This just isn’t a trope I’m fond of. It went on for so long and it got tired quick. Without it, I might have rated it higher. That being said, this book features an openly bisexual male, and his best friend/love interest Percy is black. That’s a lot more than most YA books have and I love that about this book.

Also, I absolutely adored Percy, he was my favorite character throughout the book. He was just so precious and adorable. It was a relief to see that they didn’t shy away from the prejudice he would’ve faced in that time because of his skin color.

Monty was complex and I still don’t have my feelings on him sorted out. I think I like him, ultimately, but I didn’t like him at first. His lack of self-awareness really bothered me and he made several decisions that were very selfish. However, there is far more under the surface when it comes to Monty and he has a nice character arc and ends the book being a character I like. His love for Percy was his one redeeming quality, but again it took a while for that to amount to anything. In the end, all his decisions were true to his character and his growth throughout didn’t feel unnatural or forced in any way. It felt realistic.

Felicity, by comparison, was a lot of fun. A determined, smart woman in the 18th century who didn’t take Monty’s shit. Sign me up! She provided a lot of humor and a nice relief from the angst. If she hadn’t been there this book would’ve been harder to deal with. I cannot wait to read the next book which I believe is from her point of view. Not to mention, I’ve heard murmurings that she’s asexual and I’m absolutely down for that if it’s true.

The plot of the book takes quite a few twists and turns and there was a lot I didn’t expect out of it. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the plot, it was the reason a lot of the things I did like occurred. Plus, the adventure starts with Monty doing something incredibly stupid, which was in character for him at that point in the book. It was a fun, quirky adventure which I wasn’t expecting. Let’s just say it wasn’t one’s typical Grand Tour.

Overall, I didn’t love this book, but I think it’s a great addition to the collection of LGBTQ+ books out there. I’m not surprised this book is popular because it’s a lot of fun and I thought the representation was fantastic. It’s also hilarious. If we have more books like this, I’ll be happy to keep reading them.

Soleri by Michael Johnston

Soleri

(Caidyn)

3.5/5

The only reason I heard about this book was because of Emma, over at Thoughts of a Brown Eyed Girl. It’s pretty funny because soon after we started talking, she asked if I wanted to read it because, somehow, she knew about my weird interest in Egyptian history, mainly around Cleopatra VII. When I was a kid, I really knew most things about her. I still know a lot more than I should, but sometimes I have to look up little things online to be sure I’ve got my facts straight.

The whole reason I’m mentioning Cleopatra is because this book is largely based off of King Lear and Cleo herself. I caught more nods to Cleo than Will, admittedly. There are five points of view from the same family, highlighting various tensions between them. All of them fit somewhere into Cleopatra’s family, something that I just loved. There was Arko, the father and king. Sarra, the mother and priestess. Merit was the older sister who wants power (reminding me of Cleopatra or her older sisters). Kepi is the younger sister who doesn’t exactly want power, but wants it outside of herself. Finally, Ren is the one and only son, the heir to the throne.

While I enjoyed the characters, I did think that a few things were needed. Sarra’s point of view needed more development and backstory to it. Merit’s was too male centered for my liking when there was far more to her character than various men. Ren got really dull. The only perspective I liked the whole time was Kepi’s, but even then I was hesitant towards the beginning because I didn’t like the way it started but her ending was fantastic.

As for the plot, it just felt like a whole lot of set-up for nothing. I was intrigued from the start, but it died down and stayed low until the last fifty pages. That annoys me the most when a lot could have been done to foreshadow things properly. I don’t think that the book weaved everything together as well as it should have, something I was worried about for a while with how many perspectives there were. At the end, there was a lot of head scratching done since it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I never had an “aha!” moment.

At the end of the day, I’m definitely going to move onto book two since I loved where it left off for everyone. However, I’m going to have to reread it to catch all of the details that hinted at foreshadowing.

First Lines Friday

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s the end of yet another week and time for another First Lines Friday courtesy of the funniest people we know, ourselves.

First Lines Friday (as the various things tell us) is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words. The rules are pretty simple. Pick a book, a current read or TBR, and open the first page. Then, copy the first few lines without giving anything away. Finally, reveal the book.

Chantel’s text will be in purple because it’s badass and royal.

Caidyn’s text will be in whatever he so chooses.


The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything. 

“Need a poo, Todd.”

“Shut up, Manchee.”

“Poo. Poo, Todd.”

“I said shut it.”

I don’t know if people are probably getting tired of me talking about Patrick Ness. If not, great. If so, then too bad because I’ve picked a Patrick Ness book.  

I know this is a short entry, but I didn’t want to read any further lest I get sucked in, and this little exchange made me laugh because potty humor still gives me a case of the giggles. It definitely makes me wonder what Watson would say if he could talk. Probably something like, “Die bitch.” He’s such a sweetheart. 

Maybe that’s what he’s screaming when he wakes you up in the night.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go cover

Other than J.K. Rowling, I’ve read more of Patrick Ness’ books than any other author. Every book I’ve read of his has at least been a four-star rating for me, and I would recommend all three of them. Hell, even Caidyn liked More Than This and he hates YA. Not to mention he was the one who recommended A Monster Calls which was only the beginning of my love of his work. I think I’ve done a good job of not knowing much about this trilogy but if it’s anything like his other work then I can’t wait to dive in. 

What an opener. A dog talking about poo. How can I even beat that? But, that does sound interesting. Blue would probably just shout a lot about wanting attention and then crying for my dad (his beloved).


He calls me Vanilla
and presses his warm nose to my neck.
I don’t know what to do but laugh
and let him.

He sniffs and smiles and tells me
I smell like myself.
Says it like an inside joke
until it becomes one.

I feel him there, his touch
settling against my skin.
His gentle arms
circling my shoulders.

It’s as if a part of me has come loose,
but instead of spinning off into space
it turns back and stares at me
so sweetly.

The only reason that’s so long is because, well, it’s poetry. Not my usual thing and, even more, it’s YA. Now, what book is it?

Vanilla by Billy Merrell

Vanilla

This book is about a gay asexual romance. However, it’s gotten a reputation of being severely aphobic. If you read the review, you’ll actually see my comments on the review because I had to. I saw someone I’m friends with on Goodreads post about it and mentioned that review in their post, so I went to the source. And, the blogger is so damn nice that she sent me her review copy. It’s coming out in October and I’m planning on blowing through it… if I can.

As an ace, I need to read this to see if the accusations are true. Funny, though, how a book on asexuality doesn’t get the same blowback afforded (quite wrongly imo) to The Black Witch. As always, the minority within the minority.