Holiday Swag

This month, we’re separating out the things we bought in exchange for a general holiday swag. That’s going to cover both just our general stuff for December and what we got for Christmas (that we want to share) since we both celebrate that.

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

For those of you who might not know, Caidyn created an Instagram account for the blog and we have posts up already about some of the holiday items we got as presents or things we bought with gift cards and such. You can find us @bwbookreviews on Instagram. Go check it out, we are having a lot of fun with it. 

As for holiday swag, I don’t have much to share. My mom bought me a lot of practical items that I needed and aren’t too interesting. 

I did get a few things that I did want to share, however. One from my mom and a few from Caidyn. 

Then I got Peter Darling for myself with an Amazon gift card I got from my mom.

That’s pretty much it for Holiday Swag for me, but continue to keep an eye out on our Instagram because we’ll be continuing to post over there as well. 

Tbh, I kind of got quite a bit this holiday season. Whether it was me buying stuff for me, my friends getting me things, family presents, or things I bought myself with Amazon gift cards. Okay? Got it? Cool.

First, around Black Friday, Hot Topic had a huge sale on t-shirts. Like they were $10 instead of $20+. So, I bought myself some.

Next, I went to a used bookstore and got some books.


And since we both celebrate Christmas, here are the gifts that I got. I’ll start with my parents. While I got some of the usual stuff from them, I also got some things I didn’t expect. Such as a set of sheets, which I was super excited about. God, I’m old. Then, I also got a knife from my dad. I’ve been needing a knife that I can have on me. Never know when you’ll need one.

Finally, this was the gift from my mom:

View this post on Instagram

Most unique Christmas present ever. #mymomknowsmewell

A post shared by Caidyn (@whatcaidynreads) on

Sorry about it being sideways, but it’s really cool. My mom got me Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre that was hand cut into paper by her coworker. I absolutely love it and it’s going on my wall when we can get a frame for it.

Next, Chantel. She got me gifts. They were stored safely in my closet for a while, then I finally opened them. And I love them.

She got me a beautiful candle that’s Sherlock themed. We both actually bonded and met over the show. That was how we met and while we each aren’t a fan of how the show turned out in the end, we’ll always have that together. Next, she got me a copy of my favorite book, American Gods. Not only that, but it has the “sequel”, Anansi Boys, and it’s a gorgeous Barnes & Noble edition. Finally, she lives in Portland, so she got me a mug from Powell’s, somewhere I desperately want to go.

Another friend bought me a book as well!

Basically, it’s a book she used for her thesis (#collegestruggles) and she thought I would like it since it’s a queer studies and disability studies book. I mean, it is right up my alley.

Everyone else wisely gave me gift cards so I picked out my own stuff.

Yes, I bought a very nice copy of various Penny Dreadfuls, which includes Mary Shelly, Poe, and so many others. I’ve had it on my wishlist for ages and finally bought it. Next, I got a book about religions, another one that I’ve wanted for a while since I own the psychology and sociology book they put out. Then, I got an illustrated edition of Neverwhere, the first Gaiman book I read. The top three books in my stack is a Spanish grammar textbook, The Places That Scare You (one of my favorite Buddhist texts), and Jane Steele.

The last book I got won’t be featuring a picture by yours truly, because I bought it and it won’t be here until January 2018. Since I bought it, I will include it, though.

The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou (Modern Library)

This year, I read a couple of Angelou’s work and I really want to own the rest of them since I loved them so much.

That’s it for me! I hope you all had great holidays and have a very happy new year!

The Child in Time by Ian McEwan

The Child in Time



For children, childhood is timeless. It’s always the present.

What a beautiful book to round out 2017. If I don’t read any other books past here, I’ll be a very happy man. However, this book is also hauntingly sad but beautifully written to the point that you don’t want to put it down and yet you want to just to prolong the experience. This is definitely a book that I’d like to own.

So, what is this book about, really? I could answer that question in so many ways. For one, it’s a story about the malleability of childhood. Another theme is grieving. Another is time, linked closely with childhood in this story. In short, it’s a typical McEwan book that tackles multiple themes that don’t feel they’ll come together and yet they do. And it’s probably my favorite by him so far.

The main plot follows Stephen and his grieving process after his daughter, Kate, is abducted from a supermarket. His wife and he grow apart rather than come together for their grief, his wife working it out through meditation and he through distraction. The way the story rounded out by the story was gorgeous. Spoilers, so I won’t get into it, but I absolutely adored the metaphor surrounding the finish.

And then there’s another plot with Stephen and his friend, Charles, who is enamored with childhood yet doesn’t think he can recapture it, all while trying to desperately find it once again. Time stands in the way, yet childhood isn’t a fixed point. Anyone can be a child at any point. I know times where I’ve recaptured that feeling of awe you feel as a child.

All in all, this is one of my favorite books by McEwan. Probably one of his most literary (besides when he tried to retell Hamlet from the perspective of a fetus) with themes, writing, and characterization. Again, one that I’d love to own and one that I’d reread to see if I could glean more from it a second time.

Bookish Goals for 2018

With a new year, 24 hours away comes goals. New Year’s Resolutions that are forgotten by February. It would be nice to break that trend. Now that we have a blog, there are certain things to focus on and instead of just having a Goodreads reading challenge, we have decided to have other goals for 2018 in addition. Things that we wish to focus on and things we think we could do better at.

Chantel will be in purple. 

Caidyn will be in blue. 

There are a lot of things I’d like to get to in 2018.

One of the first goals I have is to read three complete series in the next year. By this, I mean start from the beginning and complete the series within 2018. I do have three series in mind, these likely will not change unless I just can’t stand continuing it. However, I think I’ve picked three series that I will really enjoy. 

This is an adult sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian series about life after the world ends. I don’t know much more about it except there are a lot of characters of color. I’m really excited to read this series because I’ve heard nothing but great things. 

Am I ashamed that I haven’t read this series already? You bet your ass I am. Patrick Ness is my favorite author and I’ve only read three of his books. Not to mention, the lowest rating I’ve given one of his books was 4 stars. That is a pretty good average so far, so I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy this series. 

This is yet another series I’ve heard great things about and out of the three I’ve chosen, I’m unsure if I’ll like this one the most. It sounds great. It’s an adult fantasy series with a strong female character and I’m all about that. However, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t because the hardback cover of the first book is absolutely gorgeous and I want it on my shelf. 

LGBTQ+ Bingo

For those of you who have been following the blog for awhile know that I read a lot of books with LGBTQ+ protagonists. It is the majority of what I read. In 2018, I want to hit a lot of boxes in reading a bunch of different types of LGBTQ+ books that cover the spectrum. This is important because one of the things I want to do is promote LGBTQ+ books as much as possible. That is a goal of mine. So, I put together a bingo board and I plan on blacking out the board in reading 24 different books. 

lgbtq+ bingo 2


Everyone is welcome to join me in this whether you just do a normal bingo or a blackout like me, just make sure to give credit. This is inspired by Diversity Bingo that I saw on Twitter a few months ago. I think it’s important that I hit on every one of these and do the best I can to provide a wide variety of LGBTQ+ books to those who might need them the most. 

Read 2 Jane Austen Books

This one is small, but Jane Austen is a huge blind spot for me. I know of her books and was obsessed with a movie called The Jane Austen Book Club but never read any of her books. I’m going to read Pride and Prejudice for sure, but I don’t know about the second book. There aren’t many to choose from, but if anyone wants to suggest the second one I should read just leave it down in the comments. 

Note: If I end up not being a fan of her work, I might abandon this. I just want to read more classics. 

Chantel has more plans than I do. I mean, I have very rough plans and they’re nothing like this. You know? I can’t plan that well with books. That’s a lie. I can plan it very well, I just choose not to.

Either way, here are my very rough plans:

  • Finish 2017’s classic challenge. For me, my goal was to read all the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. Yet, catastrophy struck! I tried to buddy read it with someone and they literally stopped talking to me. Then, I tried another person. They got busy and dropped out. Then, there is this magical thing called school and grad school and jobs and yeah. It didn’t work out. So, my goal is to finish it!
  • Read more books I own. I own a ton of unread books. More unread books than ones I’ve read. That’s a big problem for me, so I want to read, perhaps, 50 books that I own during this year. I think that’s doable, don’t you?

Other than that, that’s it. That’s all I have for my plans. As I said, not terribly elaborate.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg



This book was just pure fun for me, so it’s not going to be a long review. Nothing of me waxing on about various things. I picked it up because I tried to read another book that was Bader Ginsburg’s own words (aka speeches and other things she’s written) but it was too dull and I just didn’t know enough about her work to conceptualize it.

So, I reached for this book that was written by a bunch of millennials who have a thing for Justice Ginsburg and really show their passion through their work. It gave a great overview of her life, starting with some of her childhood and finally focusing more on her work with feminist activism — and feminist in that she fought for equality for all sexes, not that she just fought for women; she found ways to show traditional gender roles harming men — that brought her before the Supreme Court to argue and into actually being on the Supreme Court.

Overall, I thought this was really great and passionate. I could tell that the authors loved her and I came to love her, too. In my odd way. At least, I can definitely see why everyone loves her and how I sincerely hope she stays on SCOTUS until she can’t anymore. Even though I loved hearing about her life, I really loved her relationship with her late husband, Marty. It was hilarious and heartfelt and sweet and, ultimately #goals.

I’d suggest this book more to anyone who wants to find out why everyone has a love affair with Justice Ginsburg. I know I wanted to know why and I definitely found out why.

The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation by Philip Shenon

The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation



I make no bones about my age, so I was little when 9/11 occurred. Probably five or six when I think about it. Old enough to have an idea that it happened. A lot of people my age have an actual memory of the day, whether that be of frightened parents or of watching the footage live. However, I have no memory of that day. I believe I was at least eleven when I found out more details about the day. While 9/11 effected me, it didn’t affect me. Not until I was older.

This book actually doesn’t tell you about 9/11 but of the commission that was charged with investigating the attack to find out what happened. Who was at fault and why and how long this threat had been there.

It was insane.

The author framed the commission of acting in a huge cover-up for the Bush administration to try to downplay how much they were at fault for what happened. And based on the facts I was given from this book, I don’t think the author was wrong with that interpretation.

However, it also focused heavily on one man, Philip Zelikow, and how he was a spy for Bush’s administration. He had his own prejudices that included trying to destroy various agencies and place the blame on them rather than on Bush’s people. And, I do think that the dear author has a huge prejudice against Zelikow, but, again, with the information I was given, I can’t blame his interpretation.

All in all, I learned a whole lot about the government’s reaction to terrorism before and after 9/11. And I could definitely reflect on how much that reaction has changed, with conservatives being harder on terrorism and more apt for war than the liberals.

Idyll Fears by Stephanie Gayle

Idyll Fears cover


I would like to thank Stephanie Gayle for sending me a copy of this novel. This has no effect on my review. 

4/5 – Idyll Fears is the second published Thomas Lynch novel, this series surrounds a small town police chief, Thomas Lynch. I already read (twice) the first novel Idyll Threats and reviewed it on the blog. He is one of my favorite characters. He’s gruff, grumpy, bristly, but he is a nice guy. Flawed but nice. Sometimes. Oh, and he’s also gay.

The fact that I’m reading a mystery series is a mystery itself. It’s not my favorite genre at all, but I will continue reading books about Thomas Lynch. First and foremost, Lynch is a cop. Even as a Police Chief, he is doing detective work. He loves his job and it shows. He’s also gay, but he doesn’t identify with that as much. Except when he sees an attractive man. At one point, a man he is interested in takes him to dinner with other gay men and women so that he could potentially have a community of similar individuals. Lynch gets upset about this and suddenly the man is no longer a love interest. I’ll admit, I was disappointed by how the character was brushed aside for a super attractive guy with a six-pack, but whatever. Lynch is a ho, I accept that about him.

This book revolves around a missing boy. A missing boy with CIPA which stands for, Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. Basically, he cannot feel pain and in a snowy, cold winter this is an issue. There is a race against the clock early in the book to find him before he gets hypothermia. This is very exciting and is very tense. As the novel progresses the Idyll Police struggle to find out who had taken the boy. Honestly, I found this mystery and the reveal of the perpetrator more interesting than the first book’s mystery where it felt like the killer came out of nowhere. In this small town, the crime rate sure has risen since Thomas Lynch came around, something joked about in the book.

I have another character to gush over. Mrs. Dunsmore. She is Lynch’s sassy assistant who knows everything and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Especially not Lynch. The side characters who were introduced in the first book were much more fleshed out in this book, but the book is from Lynch’s perspective and he doesn’t always make an effort to know the people he works with. Throughout the book, Lynch thinks that Mrs. Dunsmore is homophobic because she’s wearing a crucifix. Let me tell you something, Lynch may be observant, but he does a lot of judging and jumps to conclusions. Sometimes this works for him and sometimes it doesn’t. Mrs. Dunsmore puts him in his place and I just love her for it. I was grinning the whole time. She is my favorite side character in the series. Even after she does a few kind things for him, he still thinks she hates him because he’s gay. Very presumptuous, Chief Lynch.

In the first book, Lynch comes out as gay and because it is a small town suddenly everyone knows. In this book, he experiences hate speech on his car and is getting threatening phone calls from some homophobic asshole. However, the second mystery isn’t cleared up at all by the end of the book. I’m thinking it’s going to continue in the next book, as it makes sense that they wouldn’t be concerned with who was doing it with a kid missing, but I thought it was odd that it wasn’t resolved or wrapped up.

Despite all that, I really enjoyed this second installment of Thomas Lynch’s legacy as a rough around the edges Police Chief who likes FBI agents with six packs. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I am trash for one Thomas Lynch.


Even Stephanie Gayle approves.


First Lines Friday

It is the last Friday in 2017 and I hope that 2018 brings a lot of good for everyone. A new year is a clean slate in a way. The moment January 1st strikes, you have 365 days ahead to make that year the best it can be. Or at least get through it alive. We’ll have more posts coming in the next few days about a few things we’ll be doing in 2018 like reading and goals for reading so keep an eye out for that.

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!

Chantel will be in purple. 

Caidyn will be in blue. 

It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed. 

We’re sitting in metal folding chairs backstage, and Martin Addison says, “I read your email.” 

“What?” I look up. 

“Earlier. In the library. Not on purpose, obviously.”

“You read my email?” 

“Well, I used the computer right after you,” he says, “and when I typed in Gmail, it pulled up your account. You probably should have logged out.” 

I wouldn’t be surprised if people figured this one out pretty quickly. It’s a popular book with a movie adaptation coming out next year. I picked this book because these first lines basically set in motion the whole plot of this book and it also features a gay main character. 

This week I chose…

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon cover.jpg

I read this book in 2016 and I thought it was a lot of fun. It’s pretty cute and I found it charming. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more by Becky Albertalli because I think she created a great story here. I also can’t wait for the movie. 

However, let’s be honest. If you read YA contemporary then you’ve probably already read this and if you haven’t, then it’s probably not for you. If for some reason you haven’t heard of it and are interested, go read it. 

My wig slumps on my desk where I have tossed it like flattened road kill. Out of court, I am careless with this crucial part of my wardrobe, showing it the opposite of what it should command: respect. It’s handmade from horsehair and nearly six hundred pounds, but I want it to age and to accrue the gravitas I sometimes fear I lack. I want the hairline to yellow with years of perspiration, the tight, cream curls to relax or to grey with dust. It’s been nineteen years since I was called to the Bar, but my wig is still that of a conscientious new girl – not the barrister who has inherited it from her, or more usually his, father. That’s the sort of wig I want: one dulled with the patina of tradition, entitlement, and age.

Perhaps not the most exciting opening in the world. More on par with Ian McEwan, tbh. A quick study of a seemingly random item that might be important later.

The book I’ve chosen is yet another book that I won from BookishFirst. And, perhaps horribly, this is the book that I’m most excited about having won in a raffle. It’s a thriller, of course, but not exactly like that. It’s about what happens in a scandal.

And…. it is:

Again, I’m actually pretty excited about it. I mean, it looks fantastic. All about a politician’s wife finding out the night before it breaks that her husband had an affair. I’m totally excited to find out the twists and turns it takes throughout the book.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

cover-bad feminist



3/5 – What? No, I haven’t been putting off this review! Okay, I have but let me tell you something, there are a lot of essays in this book. There is a lot to cover, but I’m not going to individually review every single essay like I had originally planned. I’m going to pick my favorite essays and talk about those. I could go on about every essay, but I would rather talk about the ones I enjoyed.

I finally decided to read this book after following Roxane Gay on Twitter, she does not bother with the haters and I enjoy her snark at those who take low shots at her. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, and she terrifies me.

This book was a combination of very personal essays and critiques of pop culture which included books, songs, movies, and TV shows. She talks about topics from rape culture, to privilege to trigger warnings. However, the essays could be repetitive at times because they weren’t all written and published at the same time. It’s a collection of essays that were published separately so the themes are very similar. However, despite being published in 2014 it feels like it was written in 2017 as we are still facing some of the issues she brings up throughout the book.

Peculiar Benefits 

Okay, I can see this essay being unpopular because of one word which is thrown around so much that it seems to have a negative connotation: privilege. Usually, this word is thrown around in conversations (or heated arguments) about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and more. I’ve noticed (particularly on Twitter) that it can escalate the argument and then people get defensive.

However, this essay makes the point that we are all privileged. If you are reading this review right now, you are privileged because you have access to a computer or a phone with internet access. There are people in the world who don’t have that. I’m not saying this to throw this in your face, but internet access and electronics are something we take for granted because they are so common in America.

What about the places where they aren’t? What about the places that don’t have access to food and water? The point of privilege is not to make you feel guilty about being white, or straight, or a man, or cisgender it’s to (hopefully) create empathy for those who don’t have what you have. I think we all forget that sometimes during heated arguments.

I’ll get a little personal here. I’m queer and I use this umbrella term because even in my liberal city, I don’t want to come out as asexual and panromantic to everyone I meet. Even if people, where I live, are more familiar with those terms as someone who isn’t straight you find that you never stop coming out to people. You sometimes stay in the closet because it’s easier to let someone assume you are either straight or gay. That is a privilege straight people have because straight is the default sexuality. It’s in everything we consume as a culture, it’s what we see on the street, and yet you still see homophobic comments (by people who pretend they aren’t homophobic) about forcing gay characters in media. I can’t even go to a random article about a show I’m excited about without seeing these hurtful comments and they hurt. They really do. I have always searched for LGBTQ+ characters in books and movies and today, they are more prominent than ever, but the bigotry is still there.

Despite this, despite being half-black (with light skin), despite having a mental illness, despite having been homeless, I still have privilege and that’s okay. If we can acknowledge that everyone is not treated equally, I would hope we can get to a point where we can have a civil conversation about it and try and do better as a society.

If I was going to recommend an essay in this collection, it would be this one.

Typical First-Year Professor 

For those of you who don’t know, Roxane Gay is a college professor. At least she was at the time of writing this essay. This essay is a personal essay about her journey through her first year as a professor and the struggles she had. I wish I could say more about it, but I really enjoyed it. I found that the essays which had more personal elements were more enjoyable for me than the political essays and the critiques.

Girls, Girls, Girls 

Alrighty, I’ve got to be honest, when the show Girls first aired Lena Dunham was my hero. She created a show in which she was the director, writer, and star. That was huge and something I would’ve aspired to once upon a time. However, Lena Dunham has said so much stupid shit that by the time the final season of Girls was airing, I didn’t give one shit about the awful ending.

In this essay, Roxane Gay also talks about Lena Dunham and Girls, however, this book was published three years ago and I’m not sure the exact year this essay was written. She talks about Lena Dunham and Girls as an achievement. It’s a show where the main character who is not thin and also shows off her body as normal women do. I know that resonated with me. However, the show is incredibly flawed.

Just because Girls was different than all the other shows on TV didn’t mean it was all inclusive. Gay points out that Lena Dunham stuck to her own experiences as a white, upper-class woman in her twenties. All of the main characters were white and if there were characters that were non-white they were love interests. (Spoilers for the last season of Girls coming up, if you care.) Hell, in the last season Hannah (Lena Dunham) sleeps with a guy named Paul-Louis who is portrayed by Riz Ahmed who is Pakistani. This was never addressed in relation to his character and when Hannah ends up choosing to raise the child on her own, it’s never once addressed that she’s raising a child who is biracial. What was the point of introducing a potentially interesting storyline which could address race and it doesn’t? (End spoilers)

One of the main points I took from this essay, was that when you are different you look for breadcrumbs. By that I mean, you’ll watch or read something problematic because you see yourself represented. We shouldn’t be starved for representation that we will consume anything that someone throws at us, but oftentimes we are.

The Careless Language of Sexual Violence 

TW: Rape 

This essay examines rape culture in a very powerful way. She details an article she read about a young girl who was gang-raped by several men. And yet, the article was talking about the ruined lives of the boys and men involved. This article and essay made me angry. I was thinking about that girl the entire time I was reading, and I couldn’t even imagine the pain she was in and would continue to carry with her for the rest of her life.

At times this essay is hard to read, it’s hard to fathom why someone would do something like this. Why someone would let this continue instead of stopping it. But it happened and we need to be angry when it does. We need to be angry at those who did wrong, not the victim. I see so much victim-blaming and it’s disgusting. Why are we blaming the person who was hurt by this? Why does someone’s clothing matter in this situation? Not to mention, women and men (cis and trans) are often not taken seriously when reporting rape. Why? Because justice isn’t always served.

You know Brock Turner? Who was caught in the act raping an unconscious woman, yeah he got six months in jail and served three. What about all the other instances that don’t make national news?

I would love to live in a world where convicted rapists get the maximum amount of time in prison. I don’t care if Brock Turner’s life is ruined, he ruined a woman’s life by raping her. I don’t know why it’s hard for people to see that.

What We Hunger For 

TW: Rape

Roxane Gay loves strong women, she specifically points out Katniss and her love for The Hunger Games. Then she details her own sexual assault which is all too similar to the girl whose story she mentioned in the previous essay. This very personal essay is heartbreaking and it made me angry that this happened. She was incredibly vulnerable in sharing her story. It wasn’t easy to get through, but I think it’s one worth reading and I will never forget it.

Some Jokes Are Funnier Than Others

This essay is about rape jokes. I’m just going to put it out there, I don’t find rape jokes funny at all. If you make a rape joke in front of me, go fuck yourself. However, comedians such as Daniel Tosh think it’s okay. Roxane Gay criticizes him for this but points out that his audience of (mostly) men do. She talks about how they were willing to cross boundaries with women because Tosh told them to. It’s disturbing how some people will do those things because they want to be seen by someone they admire.

I’ve heard many debates about comedians and what they can and cannot joke about, but here’s the thing. We have to recognize that we aren’t going to please everyone so you cater to your audience. With that logic, a comedian can joke about anything and everything. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t an asshole. When Dave Chappelle makes a transphobic joke, I’m not going to watch his shit, but he has enough of an audience that a joke like that doesn’t ruin his reputation. I’m not okay with casual jokes which feature, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or rape. We are heading into 2018 and it’s no longer okay to say those things. So stop it.

Beyond the Struggle Narrative 

Have you ever seen 12 Years a Slave? I have and it’s very hard to watch. It’s based on a true account of a free man named Solomon Northup who is then captured and sold into slavery. The way slaves are treated is brutal and likely accurate. The movie is powerful and disturbing and I never want to see it again. One of the biggest draws of this movie was the fact that it was written and directed by two black men, John Ridley and Steve McQueen respectively. In the essays leading up to this one, Roxane Gay criticizes both The Help and Django Unchained because they were created by white writers.

I would like to make a note here. I personally have no issue with writers writing about things they unfamiliar with. I have done it myself. What is important is to do your research. Make sure it is authentic. Otherwise, it just comes off as exploitative. Alright, moving on.

However, Roxane Gay does not praise this movie. She criticises the movie for not moving past the slave narrative. Black people have more experiences than just slavery or segregation and yet we rarely see movies specifically with primarily black casts about anything else. If you are thinking of Tyler Perry, don’t worry there is an essay about him and his movies too. I found her perspective curious because 12 Years a Slave was considered one of the best movies of that year. Was it because of the slave narrative? I won’t deny it was a technically well-done movie, but what if the story was different?

Last year, I heard rumblings about a movie featuring a young black man that deals with his sexuality. The movie features three parts of his life when he is a boy, when he is a teenager, and when he’s an adult. It is directed by a black man and based off a play written by a black man. The movie features a black cast. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Moonlight. I saw this movie in theaters and loved it. It’s harsh, it’s beautiful, and features the experience of Chiron throughout his life as he discovers he is gay in a world that won’t allow him to be gay. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said this movie is overhyped. It won best picture last year at the Oscars and is critically lauded. What I hope isn’t overlooked, is how important this movie is. How important this story is. It’s beyond the slave narrative. It’s just as raw and accurate as 12 Years a Slave (maybe not as brutal) and we need more stories like this. I’d be curious to see what Roxane Gay’s thoughts were on Moonlight, but I was unable to find any article or essay by her on the subject.

In Conclusion

This book is called Bad Feminist and a lot of these essays were written with a feminist perspective, but it wasn’t limited to that. It was written from the perspective of a woman of color, of a rape survivor, of someone who is not skinny, among other things. I believe some of the essays in this book should be read, all of the ones I’ve talked about in this review are worth reading the whole book. They were the ones that made me think and the ones that have stuck with me most. I would like to read more voices of those who are different from me and voices of those who I disagree with on things. Bad Feminist is just as important now and we need more voices like this in the world we live in.

Love Actually – Written & Directed by Richard Curtis

Love Actually poster

So, we know it’s after Christmas however, we wanted to bring you a review of a movie we both love and would recommend watching this lovely holiday if you haven’t already seen it. It’s still December and where I am at least there is still snow on the ground, so just go give it watch.

Chantel will be in purple. 

Caidyn will be in blue.

Have you ever heard of those movies where there are intertwining storylines revolving around a specific holiday? Like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve? Well, Love Actually did it first and did it far better than either of those movies and it takes place in the 5 weeks leading up to Christmas. It deals with love, loss, cheating, awkward encounters, all of those romantic comedy tropes wrapped up in one and it works so well in this film. It’s what makes this movie my favorite Christmas movie ever.

The characters in this movie range from a prime minister in over his head to a young boy who is in love with his fellow classmate. It has some of Britain’s most recognizable actors, like Hugh Grant and Colin Firth who were two of the biggest heartthrobs in the early to mid-2000s. There’s also the late Alan Rickman and even though he plays a lying, cheating prick, I still like him. Hugh Grant manages to come off as bumbling and awkward despite being…Hugh Grant. Watching him shake his booty all around 10 Downing Street doesn’t help either.

In terms of the females, there is Keira Knightley and Emma Thompson who most people would probably know from Sense and Sensibility or Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter. Even in a romantic comedy, Emma Thompson acts her butt off.

I could go on and on because this movie features so many actors, including Martin Freeman who is known more now for playing Dr. John Watson on Sherlock. If you had any wonder if this movie was rated R, just know they usually cut out his scenes from any TV version.

I think most everyone knows about the cue card scene between Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley, and even if you haven’t seen the movie it’s a popular thing to make fun of in pop culture because it’s well…a little creepy.

I disagree. It’s super cute. The Fuck? I always thought it was cute! Probably because I’ve always been there, having a huge crush yet they don’t like me. Okay, I’ve been there too but I don’t do this. She’s married and unavailable so why did he tell her?? Because he did his damndest to hide it from her, she found out, and he felt she deserved to know. Plus, it was his way of letting go of her.

Basically, Andrew Lincoln’s best friend marries Keira Knightley and he is standoffish toward her because he loves her. She finds out and then this happens. It’s very weird and creepy, but people seem to find it cute and charming. And I am one of those people. And I am also linking the REAL version so people can make up their mind about it.

Personally, I prefer this version. 

I’ll be honest, there are a few jokes said that wouldn’t be okay to say now. For example, the word transvestite is used, and as this was made in the early 2000s words like that are aging worse and worse. There were also comments about two different women being fat when they weren’t at all. I’m pretty sensitive to those kinds of things so it stood out to me. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie overall.

However, this movie is amazing. I wasn’t expecting much from it when I first saw it, after all, it’s a Christmas romantic comedy, but it’s far better than it sounds.

See, I absolutely adore this movie for everything that it is. I do have some flaws and sometimes that the age of it shows — for one there are no LGBTQIA+ characters in it, which is very unbelievable — but it’s a gorgeous movie.

Apparently, LGBTQIA+ people didn’t exist in 2003. 

As Chantel pointed out, the characters are fantastic. All of them, in their own way, are likable and dislikeable. You hate Alan Rickman’s character, yet you somewhat understand. You want to shake Laura Linney’s character, who has a huge crush, gets the guy, and, well, fumbles. As what happens in many relationships. Yet you empathize with her personal life. You want Emma Thompson’s character, married to Alan Rickman, to wake up and see what’s going on. The list goes on and on for the movie.

And I’m linking the scene we keep talking about, where Emma Thompson’s character finds out her husband has cheated on her. Gorgeous and perfectly acted.

Now, I’m not a romance sort of guy. Nor do I like comedies. This movie literally has everything in it. Including some adult themes. In that case, shield your eyes children. A very young Martin Freeman and Joanna Page work as actors… yet they are stand-ins for other actors during test scenes but only for sex scenes. And all of their scenes involve nudity and simulated sex acts. Which is hilarious to see them bond.

Then, there’s Kris Marshall who plays a character desperate for sex… so he goes to America. Wisconsin to be exact. To pick up hot women who find Brits amazingly attractive.

Besides comedy, there’s the genuine love that Colin Firth’s character goes through, first by catching his wife cheating on him and then falling for a woman who can’t speak English. And then he learns Portuguese to love her. Or Hugh Grant as Prime Minister falling for a woman who works for him. And let’s gloss over the way that can come across as creepy in today’s climate.

You know, I didn’t actually consider this. It would not go over well now, but as we saw she was just as interested in him as he was into her. It was just Billy Bob as POTUS who was creepy af. Yeah, Billy Bob Thornton was totally worse than Hugh Grant. Yes, he was. 

Now, sadness is next. Liam Neeson’s character in this opens with a funeral. His wife died, leaving him with a very young stepson to try to coach through the grieving and properly raise him. Then, his son falls in love and he has to try to help him win the girl of his dreams.

Not to mention that all of the storylines I’ve pointed out converge and intersect. Do you see how it’s an incredible movie?

And now I’m going to ask a tough question for Chantel. Which storyline is your favorite and why? You can choose up to three and I’ll do the same after you.

There are so many storylines that I didn’t even mention them all in my review. My favorite storyline is probably Liam Neeson and his stepson, Sam. I thought them bonding was super cute and they end up close by the time the movie ends. Plus, Sam learning drums so he could play for his crush was totally adorable. The second place for me was Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman. They have so much chemistry that I actually thought they were married.

I definitely agree with you about Liam’s and Emma/Alan’s. Those are definitely a top two for me since they show how difficult love is, from the angle of grieving over love, a first love, and also infidelity. But, I also adore Colin Firth’s with him getting over a divorce after his wife cheated on him, then falling for a woman he can’t say a word to.

I agree there, but I wasn’t the most invested in this storyline. I do feel bad for Colin Firth because his wife cheated on him with his brother. That was cold. 

What was your least favorite storyline? Mine is the Kris Marshall storyline which is just gross and creepy in my opinion. It reminded me of those raunchy movies in the early 2000s that I have no interest in. 

Again, I agree with you about Kris Marshall and his aim to get laid. Very much in tune with him being a twenty-something straight, cis-male, but eh. I think the one that felt the most awkward to me, which means it’s not my favorite, is Bill Nighy’s storyline. He’s a down and out rock star trying to make a comeback with a Christmas single that’s based off a very popular song he once had. And I know that I said that there aren’t LGBTQIA+ characters in this movie, but technically this story is… yet it also isn’t.

Let me explain. Bill Nighy’s character has, apparently, fallen in love with his manager. Who he repeatedly insults throughout the movie, calling him fat, undermining his work, thwarting him trying to help Bill’s character make that aforementioned comeback. Then, all of a sudden, he realizes that he loves him. It felt super tacked on and undeveloped. And even though apparently Bill’s character loves him, he still is with women and it was super awkward. That’s probably my least favorite storyline since I can stomach Kris’s, although I don’t find it very compelling.

Kris Marshall’s story just reminded me of American Pie which I wasn’t a fan of, also I don’t want to come off whiny here but just because a butt ugly guy has a British accent doesn’t mean he’s immediately attractive to American women. I mean, he’s got to be attractive, then again we all have our preferences. 

Was Bill Nighy’s character in love with his manager? I just thought he was like, “Oh, I love you mate.” It was more that he realized that his manager was the only person he had in his life and it was showing that not all love was romantic. That was my interpretation of it, but I will agree that his story is a bit awkward. His story isn’t connected to anyone else, but the song is hilarious and his admittance that its shit cracked me up. I took it as a romantic thing and have since I was a kid. Whether it’s romantic or platonic love, it was awkward since it wasn’t shown beforehand one bit. But, I do love the character. Even if he’s connected to no one but Liam Neeson’s son to get him to learn drums.

This movie isn’t perfect, ultimately, but it’s pretty damn good. Again, this is coming from someone who does not like Christmas movies and is pretty meh when it comes to romantic comedies, this movie is both and I love it. I’ll always watch it around Christmas every year and now I have it on Blu-ray so I can watch it every Christmas and be exposed to love and how important it is through these stories. 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)



I grew up with this movie. Really, I can’t remember when I first read the books. A few of them I read with my dad, got super tired of it and found it boring, and we stopped reading them. I’ve actually never finished the series or read anything past the first three.

However, I love the movies. I watched a really old version almost every year in school. (No clue why. But that’s what we did in grade school.) Then, I have an amazing memory of when the “newer” version came out in 2005. That year, my mom, dad, and I went to London around Christmas. Yes, we went to London. One of the things we did was go to (if I remember correctly) Picadilly Circus. In the streets, there was this amazing carnival. I was about nine, so I just remember being in awe. Snow everywhere. Games. My dad won me a stuffed bear.

Then we went to a beautiful and big movie theater and watched this movie. In London. Around Christmas.

It’s a fantastic memory that I cherish.

However, the book? It’s meh. It’s okay. It really shows how old it is with the dialogue. Update the dialogue and it would be a lot better. Also, add in some action since it’s all glanced over and never really elaborated on.

So, for me, the movie is way better.