The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Caidyn’s Rating – 3/5

Chantel’s Rating – 3/5

For me, The Tempest is a play that’s just super odd. It’s not my favorite play by him, but I do like it. It strikes a melancholy tone, a feeling of finality, throughout the piece that I simply do not understand since the play is rather light compared to his others. It’s technically classified as one of his comedies, something I agree with since it has comedic elements throughout it, such as the trio of Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo. That story had me laughing this time. However, it’s also one of Shakespeare’s “late romances”. That’s another classification I agree with when you take a look at how deep Ferdinand and Miranda’s romance lies with the plot Prospero creates to get his dukedom back and more.

Yet, I also could call it a tragedy. Sure, no one dies in the end and everyone lives and goes along to be happy (which is likely why it’s called a comedy) the story at the heart of everything is a tragedy. Prospero was the Duke of Milan. His brother stole it from him, basically sending him and his infant daughter, Miranda, out to sea to die. And they miraculously live. Even odder is the fact that this is Shakespeare’s final play or the final play that was published under his name. Perhaps that’s why there’s a sense of finality running through it. Yet, the plot it takes is also familiar. The whole play is of Prospero making his final act, his final piece of magic as an attempt to restore himself to the greatness he once had. Even the last lines of the play are this:

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,

Which is most faint. (Epilogue, lines 1-3)

[…] Now I want

Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,

And my ending is despair,

Unless I be relieved by prayer,

Which pierces so that it assaults

Mercy itself and frees all faults.

As you come from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free. (Epilogue, lines 13-20)


Technically it’s Prospero speaking, but doesn’t it sound so much like Shakespeare could be saying his last words? And that’s how this play lives on. His last, his final outreach to the public he tried to please his whole life.

I assigned Caidyn to read The Tempest because when I read it in the Shakespeare class I took in college, I thought it was beautiful. This opinion hasn’t changed either. Prospero’s monologues are beautifully written. I have very fond memories of the play and I wanted him to give it another try since he told me he wasn’t fond of it. I even wrote a sonnet based on the play, which was a class assignment, but I haven’t been able to write a sonnet since.

This is definitely an unusual play. I would divide it into three different plays, a comedy, a romance, and a political play. The tone switches throughout the play and it often shifts from iambic pentameter to prose. In the end, it all comes together and Prospero gives up his magic and power.

Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, I didn’t enjoy the play as much this time around. I thought the political talk was tedious, the romance was quick as it happened over the course of hours, and the comedy fell flat for me. Now, I listened to this and read it at the same time. I believe Shakespeare is meant to be performed and it’s easier to follow if someone else is saying the lines. The most fascinating part of the play, for me, was Prospero. In the beginning, he is manipulative to everyone. From Ariel to Miranda to Caliban. At the end, he has let Miranda go and marry Ferdinand, he has released Ariel from servitude, and I’m not sure what happens to Caliban. Not only that but he gives up his magic, the source of all his power.

Like Caidyn, I see Prospero as a stand-in for Shakespeare himself. This was his last credited play, and the last lines of the play feel like a final bow. That’s a powerful thing, in my opinion, and I think it adds a layer to the play that you might not notice at first. This was his final play, incorporating every kind of play he ever wrote and wrapping it up by taking a bow. That’s what makes this play powerful for me. While I might not have enjoyed it as much as I did the first time, it is an important play and maybe the most personal of his works.

I do agree with Chantel, the heart of the story lies with Prospero and his journey. I never liked him, but I could appreciate him. He promoted slavery, manipulated every character up until the end, and on and on. It is definitely a final bow for Shakespeare. But, while I know we could each analyze Prospero for hours, what do you think about Caliban? I pictured him as a black man myself, and he was framed as rotten to his core and an attempted rapist as well. What do you think was Shakespeare’s point to that? This is way before the biological theories of criminality came into play, after all.

Prospero’s story frames the play and in the beginning, he goes from manipulative to having a change of heart. He has a redemption arc and I think that is why he is compelling. As for Caliban, he is portrayed by a black man in the movie by Julie Taymor and I think it’s interesting the way he is talked about throughout the play. He is seen as subhuman and it is often commented that his mother was a witch. He is seen as irredeemable because of his attempt to rape Miranda, but I do not believe Prospero is in the right by treating him as he did. I don’t know if I can speak to the point of his character, but it is interesting that he is portrayed by a black man and that it is even commented that his skin is dark. Which is a contrast to Othello who was a Moor and the tragic hero of the play. I’m not sure if that made any sense, but he is definitely portrayed as a savage, and I don’t know if that was a comment on natives or Africans or a criticism of slavery.

To me, Shakespeare is a racist. Being straight up honest about that one. He was racist. Othello was black. The “Moors”, last I checked, were considered black. They were Spanish Muslims — aka the people who used to rule Spain until, like 13th century — and I’m not sure how they were considered. But they were other for sure. Othello was demonized. Caliban was demonized because of his birth as someone non-European and then he had a deformity and the joyous Prospero manipulated him when he was kind to turn him further into what he became: A man who wanted a way out of his situation and attempted murder. I see his attempt to rape Miranda as a way to get back at Prospero.

I’m not sure on the history of the The Moors, but Othello is usually portrayed by a black actor. But I cannot deny that Shakespeare was racist. I think the treatment of Caliban is because of his skin color, just like Othello’s. It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s important to note. It is also important to note that Caliban was the one who exposed Prospero to magic and then it is used against him and he is made a slave. I think that you are right about Caliban wanting to get back at Prospero and Miranda is the way to do that. Then again, it just ends up being a way to make Caliban look worse. Further reinforcing the message that he is the way he is because of his skin color.

Othello is probably portrayed as black because our conception of what “dark” is has changed over the years. When I hear dark, I associate blackness. For Shakespearean times, it’s probably a bit different so that Arabic people, such as the Moorish people, were seen as dark as well. Caliban did do that. He gave Prospero magic and showed him how to survive, then he was enslaved because he was seen as “lesser” than Prospero and needed ruling. Whether that was due to his deformity or skin color, we really can’t be sure.

I think that is a good point, but I think the character is meant to be portrayed as non-white and was likely portrayed in that time with dark makeup. I do think that either way, Othello and Caliban are the “other”. They are different than everyone else around them and because of that they are treated differently. What were your thoughts on Ariel who was also enslaved and sent to do Prospero’s bidding even after he was promised freedom?

It sets up the us-versus-them mindset, one I’m very familiar with thanks to studying social psychology. Yet, I won’t get into that. Ariel was really cute to me. Probably because, just like Chantel, I listened to it and the guy who read him was just cute. I kept forgetting that he wasn’t The Little Mermaid. But, I found him interesting and Prospero sickened me with that. He used his power that he took through Ariel for setting him free from a tree. I mean, Prospero kept his promise. He did set Ariel free. But he was just a part of a political maneuver.

I think there is also a huge difference between Ariel and Caliban in that Caliban is commanded to do hard labor and take care of Prospero and Miranda while Ariel is sent off to do his political bidding like you said. Not to mention he frees Ariel when he is satisfied. They are both slaves, but in very different ways. I think that’s interesting as well when it comes to the topic of racism.

The difference between Caliban and Ariel remind me of the house slave versus yard slave, in a way.

I see Ariel as an indentured servant because he was able to gain his freedom whereas Caliban didn’t have the option, other than finding a new master.

I can see that as well. But, onto a slightly new topic, what about Miranda and Prospero? Or Miranda and Ferdinand? Those are interesting dynamics. Prospero manipulates her into loving the person he wants her to so he can get his kingdom back and then some. And how did Prospero even know that they were going to be on a ship so he could send the storm out?

So, I don’t blame anyone who says that Prospero’s relationship with Miranda is slightly creepy. I get it. She has never seen another man, other than Caliban, before and she falls in love with the first man she ever sees. In the movie because they change the gender of Prospero and it takes away that creepiness. So, I thought Miranda and Ferdinand was so instant that I didn’t really have time to process it. It reminded me of Romeo and Juliet without the death and tragedy. It was just a snap of the fingers and then they are running off to get married. With some manipulation and influence, of course. I think he’s more than willing to pawn off his daughter to get what he wants without any thought of her happiness. I think Prospero must’ve found out from Ariel, no?  

The change will also be interesting to have a woman enslaving Caliban rather than a man. But, an aside. Same! It felt a lot like other books I’ve read with insta-love. Two people suddenly in a place where they have never seen another person and boom. It’s just not realistic to me in some ways. Romeo and Juliet gets a bad wrap, but, man, they didn’t know each other for an hour and marry each other. They waited a full evening! …Not much of a difference, but oh well. Prospero is selfish. Let’s be honest with that.

It is the origin of YA! Just kidding, but seriously the insta-love would put any YA novel to shame. That being said, insta-love doesn’t exist. What exists between Ferdinand and Miranda is lust, hands down but that ends up getting Prospero what he wants in the end. By sheltering his daughter on a deserted island for her whole life, he was able to manipulate her completely. Even having Ariel put her to sleep so he could have a private talk with him. In some ways, his gesture in the end of getting rid of his magic means nothing because he still has power.

Okay, but Shakespeare writes better than most YA authors. No, it is just lust and it’s odd to me that he chose to stay on an island when he could have left, used magic to gain his crown back, and been done. It’s a very odd play. I still don’t think that it’s my favorite, but I appreciated it more. There were so many plot holes and odd occurrences that I can’t overlook it entirely, but I love reading it for Shakespeare writing how he might have perceived himself at the end of his life.

I will not deny that. He was one of the best writers in history. This play isn’t his best. It’s definitely no Macbeth or Hamlet or any of the others I still haven’t read. I didn’t find the side plots compelling and Prospero is indeed the most interesting part of the play. Whether Shakespeare meant him to be a stand-in for himself or not, it is interesting to think about. Also my favorite Shakespeare quote (from the plays I’ve read thus far) is in The Tempest.

We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep. (Act IV.1 Lines 156-158)

This is one of those hard to define plays. It’s probably one of the weirdest he wrote (or is credited to him). I’ve read all of his plays, from the great ones to the bad ones that have been analyzed and he likely only contributed a small portion to. But, Shakespeare is such an enigma and is an amazing author. He awes me at times.



The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co., #5)



Reviews for books one, two, three, and four.

While you look at that rating, maybe in some shock and maybe with a bland sense of knowing I’d do that, I want to say that this series isn’t perfect. There were many times when I absolutely raged in a bad way.

Me more than a few times.


This is now a general spoiler warning for the series. I will put extra spoiler warnings as well.

  • Holly and Lucy hate. Pissed me off to no end and it served no purpose for the third book. If the goal was to make Lucy leave, don’t add in extra drama to “throw us off” about why she left.
  • SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK. Holly’s sexuality has been toyed with from when she entered, with her being assumed straight for the sake of Lucy’s imagination running wild. Then, this book, it ends up with Holly telling Lucy that Lockwood isn’t her type and then saying she lives with a girl. Her roommate. Sounds like the past, doesn’t it? Oh, no, not gay. They’re roommates. It felt really tacked on since this is a super straight book (aka no queer characters). I’m going to steal a text Chantel sent me when I was talking about this to her: “It should be normalized, not hinted at.”
  • Sort of spoilers for the series, but I’m not going into a huge amount of depth. I really wish that the overarching plot had been woven into the other books better. Now, it didn’t feel forced, but it also felt like it could have been incorporated just a bit more. I liked the plot in this book, yet it also felt odd.
  • DEFINITELY SPOILERS FOR THE LAST FEW PAGES. Lucy and Lockwood deserved more. I mean, it was super cute, that ending. Him giving her his mother’s necklace and then walking away with her chasing after him, but I really needed a bit more since I’ve waited five books for them to get together and it wasn’t even in the book.

Image result for sirius black gif

Spoilers over now!

But, this book hit me in the feels. Chantel got quite a few texts from me while I was reading the last few parts of the book. Characters dead, not dead, maybe dead. A constant shift of mortal peril. (Imagine Mrs. Weasley’s clock.) I also take melatonin before I sleep, which I did around 8PM like usual so I’m asleep in, give or take, an hour. I’m old. Shush. But, 10:30 rolled around and still up and all that. Also, there were tears. There were tears a few times.

Since I can’t talk about the plot without giving major spoilers for the last books, all I can say is that this was a bittersweet and hopeful ending. The last part is titled The Beginning. It’s a new chapter for Lockwood & Co. in many ways. So, I really hope that Jonathan Stroud will see this and agree with me that he should totally write a short story collection or a few novellas about the characters and some of their new adventures. I love this group, honestly, and I would want to see them navigate life now that they did this and gave me a satisfying ending.

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co., #4)



Reviews for book one, two, and three.

And, we’re back. This book picks up after the end of the last book and is the second to last book in this series. There’s a lot of ground it has to cover, along with makeup for the disappointment book three was. Luckily, this was a whole lot better.

Lucy has largely gotten over herself from the last book. She’s done some soul-searching (no pun intended) and is reunited with her gang. The bane of her existence from the last book, aka Holly – who reminds me of me, isn’t around too much. Lucy’s really realized that 1) Lockwood isn’t interested in Holly and 2) Holly isn’t interested in Lockwood. Time apart did wonders. They still get annoyed by one another just because their personalities are so different, but Lockwood drama is done.

On the other hand, Lucy is with Lockwood a lot. They really work together as a team throughout the various adventures this plot takes us. This book really took time developing their relationship. Lucewood? Lucwood? Locky? I don’t know ship names. Either way, they’re a really good team.

Yet, the plot was really disjointed. It starts with a cannibal ghost, then goes with some drama about the Skull, then a haunted village, then the bigger plot that’s been brewing in the background for the last few books. It just didn’t feel like they all connected together, but really one led into the other and somehow it all worked. Each plot was fantastic on its own, but I really wanted more payoff of them being combined and then some earth-shattering realization when they actually are all the same issue. With this, they sort of were the same issue, but it didn’t make me do this:

Image result for woah gif

The cliffhanger for this was fascinating. Apparently, I did read this one last year but I didn’t remember a thing from it. Maybe a tiny bit of the beginning, but that was it. I’m really excited to see how the big payoff is presented in light of the cliffhanger.

First Lines Friday

The last Friday of October is upon us! This month has just flown by, really. It always suddenly feels like another week has ended and now we have to prep for November and everything else.

WOO THANKSGIVING! This is Chantel’s favorite holiday despite the awful history behind it. I just love any holiday revolving around food.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

I knew at once, when I slipped into the moonlit office and eased the door shut behind me, that I was in the presence of the dead. I could feel it in the prickling of my scalp, in the way the hairs stirred on my arms, in the coldness of the air I breathed. I could tell it from the clots of spiderwebs that hung against the window, thick and dusty and glittering with frost. There were the sounds, too, centuries old; the ones I’d traced up the empty stairs and hallways of the house. The rustling linen, the crack of broken glass, the weeping of the dying woman: all were louder now. And there was the sudden intuition, felt deep in the pit of my gut, that something wicked had fixed its gaze on me.

Mind you, if none of that had worked, the shrill voice coming from my backpack might also have given me a clue.

“Eek!” it cried. “Help! Ghost!”

I glared over my shoulder. “Cut it out. So we’ve found the phantom. There’s no need for you to get hysterical.”

“She’s just over there! Staring, staring with her hollow sockets! Ooh, now I see her grinning teeth!”

I snorted. “Why would any of that bother you? You’re a skull. Calm down.”

So, here I am, waiting for Halloween.

Please join me. And no that’s not my costume.

That means this is a spooky read. And it’s a part of a series that I’ve been reading through. I’m sure that you guys can figure it out.


The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co., #4)

I’ve been working through these for the past two months and enjoying it. Or, I enjoyed the first two and the third one not so much. I only have this one and the fifth and final book left, so I’m hoping to finish those up by next week!

This takes place at least a few months after the end of book three, picking up with the twist that I can’t go into because of spoilers. But, let’s say, the team is back together and things are happening. Although I can’t remember even though I’ve read this.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt. 

When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.  

I feel like my choice this week is super obvious as anyone who has gone to a public school in America has most likely read this book as a part of the English curriculum.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird cover

I don’t remember when I originally read this, it was either in middle school or high school, but I didn’t enjoy this book at all then. I don’t want to spoil my future review, but this time I am enjoying it so far. 

Also, I’m in the middle of like five books right now. A majority of them are audiobooks, but I’d like to get a few finished before the end of the month. We shall see, though. I always feel like I’m ahead and behind at the same time when it comes to reading. 

The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3)

Review for book one.
Review for book two.



I think I can sum up this book with one word: Disappointing. This was a book in the series I didn’t remember much of whatsoever. The case wasn’t a stand-out compared to the others, and I mainly remembered the things that I took an issue with. Really, this is the weakest book thus far in the series.

Most of the plot lies with the relationship between Holly and Lucy. The general plot goes like this: Lucy goes on holiday and Lockwood and George hire Holly without her permission. Basically, Holly is the perfect example of traditional female stereotypes. Really pretty, wears nice clothing, eats healthy stuff to watch her weight, always is organizing and cleaning up. In other words, everything that Lucy isn’t. And there’s an immediate dislike between the characters that’s churned up more by Lucy thinking that Lockwood has a crush on her and that Holly wants it.

This book has a plot based completely on angst and women-on-women hate, which isn’t the way the world works. Just because two women live and work in the same profession, it doesn’t mean a cat fight’s brewing. It hit me hard that this is written by a man in this book when, so far, everything had been handled very well and even called out sexism in the society they live in. It reduced strong characters to being man crazy, really. Lucy isn’t my favorite character — in fact, she reminds me of Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic, aka the bane of my existence — yet she’s still strong and funny. This book severely brings her down from a BA with the best Listening ability in decades to only caring about whether a boy likes her or not. On a different thread, Holly could have seriously been great. Imagine, a “tomboy” like Lucy working with someone who’s super girly and getting shit done while showing up the guys. What’s wrong with a girl wanting to do “girly” things? Nothing.

It’s even worse when the case/mystery is super weak and the only thing holding it together is Holly and Lucy hating each other. The plot twist could have been gotten another way. And, let’s spend a second on the twist. I raved about it in my initial review. Yet, on this reread, it was bland and predictable. I could see it coming a mile away with hindsight. And, then there’s the twist itself. Of course it’s focused on a boy.

While I’ve just ranted about this, I still found it funny and fun to read, even though I spent most of my status updates shitting on the stuff it did. It is a weak book in the series with an annoying YA style angsty plot. It really could have been better and I hope that book four is better.

Classic Mini Reviews 3


Yes, another edition and, hopefully, one of the last for right now. I’m all played out at the moment. I’m doing four mini-reviews to catch up with things.

Romeo and Juliet

This actually wasn’t as bad as I remember. Shock, gasp. I know. This is the play a lot of people shit on, but, really, the plot is pretty solid when it comes down to it. I’m not a huge fan of it since I don’t like reading about idiotic people in love, but it’s spot on for depicting young love.

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An actual depiction of the plot.

Anyways, the language is also hilarious and beautiful. There are so many damn puns that you catch in here and I know there are more that I didn’t catch. Two of my favorite characters are the feature of these puns. First, you get Mercutio.


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Best when he was depicted as a drag queen.

Then there’s the Nurse.

Raunchiest woman to raise someone ever.

They’re hilarious on their own. So many sexual puns and ramblings that they steal the show every time they’re on stage. But put them together? That word duel was fantastic and hilarious.



The first time I read this, I gave it four stars. And I’m not sure why. It’s really an odd play. Very incoherent and repetitive, as if no one’s hearing and everything’s destiny. It’s very loosely historically accurate. The language in it was lovely, but I can’t put my finger on how it didn’t feel like Wilde. I think my favorite part were the contradictions throughout the play. Salome with John, her love and hate of him and how physically alike they are. Herod and death, how he fears, loves, and hates it.

Still, a meh play.


The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Another weird play that I wasn’t too fond of. The basic plot of this is that a man loves a woman, the woman loves him back, he thinks that she doesn’t love him, man falls for other woman, other woman doesn’t like him. It’s a classic plot, really. However, it came off as very rapey at the end and there was too much jazz in my goddamned audiobook. ALL THE SONGS AND TRANSITIONS WERE BAD JAZZ.

Either way, not a favorite and totally not a comedy for me.



I read this one a while ago and, again, not as good as I remember it. There were tons of names thrown around in this, yet they weren’t really explained (or I wasn’t paying enough attention). The plot wasn’t too interesting for me. I’m a fan of fighting, but it wasn’t interesting fighting or battles. Not even remotely hilarious like in some other old stories.

I think the way Christianity was woven into this was the most interesting, especially since I think of this as a rather pagan play. Caine becomes the father of monsters after he killed his brother. God wills things to happen, especially in battles and how things will turn out. It reminded me of the age of chivalry.

Yet, overall, meh.


Hogwarts House Tag – Slytherin Edition

slytherin pottermore pic

image credit: Pottermore

Final house, guys. Thanks for putting up with our tag for this long. We’re applying characteristics from each house to characters in books and this is the last one. I’m sure some of you guys are relieved.

Alright, here is the Slytherin Recommendations from Hannah at A Clockwork Reader on Youtube. She’s great, you guys. She does interesting vlogs and tons of recommendations videos, just go check her out.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Give some sort of intro where you mention these rules, who tagged you if anyone did or where you saw it.
  • Pick two characters for each trait from that house and explain why you chose them. (Can’t pick Harry Potter characters and if you have multiple bloggers like we do, one each will suffice.)
  • Tag people if you want to, or don’t.

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will choose her destiny.


This is going to be a weird choice, but what else can you expect from me? I’d be letting everyone down if I didn’t pick something weird. But, my choice is Lady Macbeth from, well, Macbeth. This is probably one of my favorite Shakespeare play. You get witches and ghosts and political plots and real history and insane Scots. Lady Macbeth is the wife who pushes and pushes to get further in the world. She’s such a great character.


I have also chosen a character who is wrapped up in politics throughout the plot and has to navigate certain situations very carefully. I chose Estraven from The Left Hand of Darkness because we are unsure of their motivations throughout the first part of the book. Are they on Genly’s side or is there something more sinister to them? What are Estraven’s real intentions? There is a lot of deceit going on within the politics of Karhide and Estraven is at the center of it all. They are our glimpse into what is going on in the kingdom and yet we still wonder if we can trust them. Just as Genly wonders constantly. 


Since I set this up, I get the first choice and Chantel can suck it. (Not really. I love you. She read my choice earlier this year and you can find her review here!)

For this one, I really choose Jorg Arancrath from the Broken Empire trilogy. Probably one of my favorite fantasy books ever and all that. He’s so fucking ambitious. Every single book, he sets a new goal for himself to achieve and reach towards. Half the time, it completely seems like something he won’t get to. The series starts with him as a 12-year old (no joke). He rapes, kills, plots, manipulates, and deceives. And for all his evil, I love him.


I’ll admit this was probably the most difficult for me. Especially since Caidyn took the best answer I could’ve provided for both. Thanks. So, I’m kind of pulling this out of my ass, honestly, but I’ll try to make a case. For ambitious, I’m going to go with Moira from The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, Moira is a minor character in The Handmaid’s Tale, but I think she refuses to be part of the system where a woman’s only value is her womb. Moira ends up escaping from the reform school they were a part of because she wants to find something better and be something more than a role she’s being forced into. While I don’t think she ends up with complete freedom, she ends up in a different place than Offred because she wanted to be something better, something more than just a baby making machine. 


God: The Human Quest to Make Sense fo the Divine by Reza Aslan

God: The Human Quest to Make Sense of the Divine



Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy! All opinions here are my own and are not influenced by them.

Admittedly, I do love Reza Aslan, though. I’ve read two of his books and one of them completely changed my viewpoint on things. My religious studies professors sometimes talk about him to bring up various issues since he’s a well-known guy who studies religions and talks about them. Not only that, but I’ve often wondered how/why we decided to make such inventive religions and their function.

The approach Aslan takes basically covers history from prehistory to, give or take, 1000 CE. He starts with what various possible prehistorical religions, or what we may know of them. Then, polytheism and onto failed attempts of monotheism. Judaism, then Christianity, and finally Islam. Not only that, but Aslan also brings in more than religion. Psychology gets brought up quite often, and actually, a few things that I’ve studied on my own for various papers. Anthropology also is brought in, as is sociology.

I was convinced up until the conclusion that this would get 4.5-5 stars. However, the conclusion got too preachy for me. Aslan, in a way, said how people should believe in God or what to believe. While I was raised in what he described and it’s present in most religions, as he pointed out,  I wasn’t a fan of how it was presented. Hopefully, before it gets published, it’s changed to a suggestion for how to approach religion since it’s a very personal thing.

First Lines Friday

Another week has gone past and here we are again. Doing First Lines Friday like we always are. We always forget to put this whole thing, but we’re going to do better.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will write in blue.

Chantel will be in purple.

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth-century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. the only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

Y’all can suck it. I am posting the entire preface of my favorite book. I can’t just put some of it and then cut off the author’s diatribe for/against art and an explanation of their personal philosophy that runs throughout their life and works. So, who/what did I choose?


The Picture of Dorian Gray

This is absolutely one of my favorite books. While there are a lot of pros and cons to it and things that serve no purpose whatsoever to the story as a whole, I still see it as a favorite that has endured since high school for me. I’ve even read the censored version (which is the one that everyone knows) and the uncensored one that sparked a controversy with having an openly gay character. That sparked Wilde’s preface, calling the publishers who rejected him out on their crap for censoring him. While I think that the censored version is far superior (and that Goodreads needs to get their shit together and stop combining the censored and uncensored versions together as if they’re the same book) there are things I like from it.

Trust me, I could go on and on about the multiple literary angles that you can take on the book. How you can analyze it until the day you die and you’ll never be able to capture everything. But, I’ll stop myself since I subjected you guys to that lengthy opening that has nothing whatsoever to do with the book, yet everything to do with its creation.

This is the Aurelia Theater. 

Zara’s body curls around the open stage door. Her feet are a rushed whisper. She would die before she would disturb the auditions that are, according to a sign, already IN PROGRESS. 

Backstage is black and empty. Not so much a world as the darkness before the world begins. Ten stories of fly space yawn above Zara’s head, ready to swallow scenery — a tangle of woods, the twisted spine of a mountain range. 

This is a book that just came out recently. I could’ve continued on, but since this just came out on the 10th of this month, I won’t. No, this isn’t because I’m being lazy. Yes, it is. 

Well, let’s just get on with it then. I chose…

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Echo After Echo cover

I picked this book because it’s a new release and I’ve just barely started it. I feel like this is a book for me. It features theatre and queer ladies. I’m all about that. I did theatre in high school and it made high school far more enjoyable, honestly. I may not have gotten the best roles, but I had some great memories that I won’t forget. I got to experience things I might not have without theatre. I look forward to continuing on, don’t know when I’ll get to it since I’m in the middle of three books right now. Plus I have to read Shakespeare. Oy. I will get to it. 


Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones cover


“Down, down, down they went, two little girls who couldn’t have been more different, or more the same. They wore the same face; they viewed the world through the same eyes, blue as the sky after a storm.” (51)


5/5 – I’m not sure why this review is so hard for me to write and I don’t know if this will do it justice. At least I’ve been avoiding it for the past few days even though I knew it was going to be five stars early on. I absolutely loved this book, but I’m not sure how to talk about it. At least I don’t want to come off as if I don’t know what I’m talking about, but this review is mine and my own so I need to suck it up.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the second book in the Wayward Children series, but it is a prequel to Every Heart a Doorway which I read a few months back. Down Among the Sticks and Bones follow Jack and Jill as they enter their world, called The Moors which is filled with supernatural creatures like vampires and werewolves, and then subsequently end up back in our world. If you aren’t familiar with this series the premise is about children who fall into portal worlds, like Alice in Wonderland or Narnia, and then get spit back out into the real world. In most cases, they don’t want to return to the real world because they didn’t fit in, in the first place. From the very beginning of Down Among the Sticks and Bones, you understand that Jack and Jill don’t belong in our world. Why is that? Because their parents are awful. I’m serious. They aren’t abusive, instead they refuse to let their children find out who they are and let them be who they want. They force both Jacqueline and Jillian into strict gender roles so that they can get the admiration of their peers.

When I was young, from infancy to about age 4 or 5, my mom loved dressing me up. She made me wear cute dresses and little adorable shoes, she’d style my curly hair, and it was all fine. At some point, she realized that I hated wearing dresses and stopped making me. I wore boys shirts and jeans and wore baseball caps. Even to this day, I won’t wear a dress. I wear jeans nearly every day and it usually is accompanied by a t-shirt. I’m very simple when it comes to clothing. I also was able to explore what I liked and what I didn’t. I played with cars, video games, and other things that traditionally boys played with. I’m not a parent, but I believe it is very important to not shove children into boxes. They will rebel. That’s exactly what happened in Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Jacqueline, the perfect princess became Jack who made and wore men’s clothing. Then Jillian who was the rough tomboy became Jill who loved having long hair and fancy dresses. Self-expression says a lot about who we are and to stifle that can be crushing and can ultimately have negative effects especially if done at a young age.

The writing in this book is stunning, it’s very lyrical and poetic and contains some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read. Some of the phrases in the book repeat, just like as if each paragraph was a different stanza in a poem. The narrator of the book is a character on their own, just like Death in The Book Thief, but this one is unnamed and omniscient. They break the fourth wall and talk directly to us multiple times and their sarcasm comes through in certain passages. I bet this book is great on audiobook.

If you haven’t read Every Heart a Doorway or didn’t like it, I’d still say give Down Among the Sticks and Bones a shot. It’s a fascinating commentary on gender roles and parenting, but also a tragic story about the relationship between two twins as they are separated. They end up finally being comfortable in themselves, but their relationship to each other is strained. Unlike with Every Heart a Doorway, when I struggled to connect with Nancy, this didn’t happen in this book. I also wasn’t left wanting more at the end of this book. Sometimes 200 something pages is all you need to take someone to another world.

Also, since you are probably wondering, yes one of the characters is a lesbian.