Black Mirror – Season One

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For those who don’t know, we watch things together. Not only do we read books together, blog together, and bookstagram together, but we also watch stuff together. To date, we’ve watched The Tudors, Sense8, Hannibal, Rogue One, Inglourious Basterds, and others. Chantel made the request that we watch Black Mirror together because we thought that it would be fun. So, we’re going to review it per season and episode. Should be fun, right?

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

The National Anthem

What a fucking opener, no pun intended. Okay, it was kind of intended. I would say it was pretty intended.

I think everyone who has ever heard of Black Mirror has heard of this episode. It’s the one where the Prime Minister of England fucks a pig.

Yeah, my granddaddy had me watch this one so we could talk about it during our monthly video chats. I watched it. He never asked questions about it.

What an awkward conversation that would’ve been. The episode has a lot more to say than just providing shock value. It says a lot about society and how we are willing to watch other people’s embarrassment with no shame. While the PM is having sex with the pig on live television, people are glued to the screens watching, FOR AN HOUR. It’s kind of a rude awakening of how far someone has to go to keep our interest.

See, and I didn’t find it a rude awakening. I was a psych major. I studied social psychology. It wasn’t surprising at all. I know we disagreed on this, Chantel, but how many of you readers would watch your country’s leader fuck a pig? I know if Trump had to go on live television, I would watch the hell out of it. I would. Because I find it a direct insult to a government that I don’t agree with. A pig fucking a pig.

But, for those who don’t know a lot on this topic, it really is a harsh awakening when you realize that you could be just like them. You’d watch someone have sex with a pig for an hour. But, why? Would you do it because you want to see it? Would you watch it so you can talk about it, blog about it, etc? It’s a tough call since there are so many reasons why we would be glued to this shocking broadcast.

All I can ever think of is that poor pig. Like damn. But while I think this was a good opener and set the tone for the series and the point it tries to make, I’m not a huge fan of this episode. It was certainly something I had never seen before, thankfully, but I think Caidyn is right. We would want to watch because we’d want to talk about it, and if you didn’t watch it then you’d likely be the only one and we desperately want to fit in. My suggestion, though, don’t watch this with your parents.

Bahaha. Yeah. Don’t watch it with your family. My mom almost throws up every time she hears about this episode.

For me, I also think of this episode as being interesting about the lengths one will go to for someone they feel a duty protect. As PM, his duty is to protect the country. Well, a princess was captured. She’s, in a way, the country. So. He went to the length he had to.

We all know Trump wouldn’t fuck a pig for anyone but himself. #sorrynotsorry

Are we forgetting Ivanka? He might for her.

Eh. Maybe Barron.

Not sure about that. BUT WE ARE GETTING OFF TOPIC. It’s an interesting story about human nature from many different angles. Where are your limits? What would or wouldn’t you do for someone you had a duty to protect? And, would you watch something horrific or would you refuse to participate?

I am so ready to move on. Okay then.

Fifteen Million Merits

This was by far my favorite episode of the first season and it wasn’t even close. This episode is really complicated and it’s hard to describe the world if you’ve never seen it. Basically, people ride stationary bikes to power the world, rack up “money”, and they use it as they please. The main character is Bing who has fifteen million merits from his brother’s death. He uses it as if it’s nothing and there are no limits to what he can do until Abi comes along and he buys her a ticket to audition for a talent show. Basically an X-Factor type of show. I don’t want to give too much away about the episode because I want you all to go watch it, but I think we can talk about the commentary on consumer culture.

Honestly, you can skip the first episode if the idea of watching a guy make the decision about whether or not he’s going to fuck a pig to save someone’s life doesn’t interest you. This is an anthology series. None of the episodes link together, although Chantel pointed out when we watched these that there are theories that they actually do.

I definitely loved this episode and I agree about consumer culture. It’s so apathetic. All me, me, me. Never about anyone else. And, it’s also about losing humanity. Humans are supposed to be empathic towards each other. I could go on about the arguments for this and link things in, but I’ll resist that urge. This world was where your life was lived completely online. Everything you bought, except food, was virtual. You had an avatar that lived for you online while you did your stationary bike. What you bought for that avatar wasn’t technically yours. And, in a way, that’s where we’re headed. Things are becoming more and more virtual (for buying or living our lives) and as that happens, we sort of forget that the people on the screen are humans. Which leads to people being absolutely horrid to one another, as you could see in this episode. And I’m sure everyone reading this can think of examples they’ve witnessed or been a part of.

Yes, you can totally skip the first episode. It doesn’t really fit with the other two episodes or the rest of the series because it’s very much in the present day where all of the other episodes, that I’ve seen, take place in the future. I have also heard the theory that the show takes place in the same universe along different timelines and some of the technology does cross over, but I don’t believe it’s been confirmed by the creator. It’s very similar to the Pixar Theory in that way.

When Bing hears Abi singing in the bathrooms, he starts to believe in her. That she can be better and do better than riding a stationary bike day in and day out. It’s something different. He is clearly awkward as people are very isolated in this world, and they hardly know how to interact with each other. Bing isn’t even excused from being apathetic either. There is this one girl who wants to get his attention because she likes him and he brushes her off and then a prettier girl comes along and he completely changes.

The fact that he can believe in Abi in a world where people are only looking for the next best thing is super sweet and even charming. I adored Bing’s character, but let’s just say things don’t stay sweet and charming. As things rarely do on Black Mirror.

(Also, shared sex bathrooms. I need this future now. Makes life so much easier.) Bing is a very apathetic person, but he finds Abi interesting and attractive, so he branches out from his apathy to help Abi out. Bing is an interesting character for sure. Is he apathetic for a reason or is it so culturally ingrained that he keeps with it despite really wanting people? I mean, when the only world that they have is a stationary bike and porn (because porn features heavily in this), how can you ever think of being close to someone?

I think it’s absolutely the culture they live in that’s made him apathetic. The way he so casually talked about his brother being dead was something that stood out. They likely didn’t see each other often as the world is divided into separate blocks. Not unlike a prison. It’s a world where you are very much focused on yourself and things you want and Bing stands out from that because he wants to help Abi and by extension everyone else in society. He’s the only one who tries to deviate that we see, at least.

Yes, it definitely has the prison vibe, and how VR has made them a prisoner to their life. He deviates and, in a way, gets punished for it.

But, I do want to talk about how cinematographic this episode is. Like, hot damn. The use of music was amazingly done. There isn’t a whole lot of talking in this episode, even if it’s an hour long. That means there has to be something to fill the void. That being music or advertisements for the things they do online. I just loved how it was done, then how it really made the words they use matter.

That didn’t occur to me as we were watching the episode but now it clearly stands out.

This episode is just gorgeous and so well written and well done. Yes, the talent show and the judges are the extreme parody where Rupert Everett is clearly playing a Simon Cowell character, but that’s not a knock against it. Talent shows and reality tv is so ridiculous and over the top and yet we keep watching it. The music is perfect, I would listen to that score, honestly. It was just a well-done episode of television in general and gave me all the fucking feels.

I love the score, too. It added so much to the viewing when there was so much said without any words used, which takes a great script, great actors, and a great accompaniment to back it all up. Also, the use of advertisements to fill the void. Loved that since the world had no one talking. Just people making feeble attempts in person, really going for it online, and then no one but themselves at home.

Entire History of You

In the final episode of season one, we’re in a future where we have an implant in our brain that allows us to see our memories, replay them and show them to others. It’s something that could very well be in our future and I’m not sure I want it to be, no matter how much I want to remember things. It’s always going to be from one person’s perspective. Just because the memory is recorded doesn’t mean it’s the truth. It’s whatever you perceive it to be.

The main focus of this episode is a couple and the man, Liam, starts becoming obsessive and jealous about the way his wife behaves with another man. It’s one of those things where she can say it’s in his head, but he can play his memories as “proof”. She lies to him, despite him being able to find out the truth, and it causes everything to fall apart. As this technology is the worst idea ever.

Not only does this technology lead to men being able to be more abusive than ever towards women by finding “proof” in memories they can just pull up, but, even while it’s lauded as being better than usual memories, you can edit and delete them! Just like our usual memories! I mean, seriously, who thought that was a good idea? I won’t bore you guys with my ramblings about memory like I did Chantel when we watched this, but I really thought the story was good.

It took what I would say was a usual Twilight Zone plot with a jealous husband and flipped it to something new with technology. All while making us sympathize, in some ways, with the husband and with the wife. I thought it was a clever episode and, again, the use of music (or the lack of) was fantastic.

This is true, he had all the power when it came to the memories and how they were used against her. There is one character who scoffs at the idea of not having the implant when the woman says she’s better off. I think she probably was better off. Not forced to remember everything, though the memories can be deleted, but she doesn’t have to deal with the expectation that others are entitled to her memories. Early in the episode, Liam doesn’t do well in an interview and the others at the party insist on seeing the interaction despite his protests. They feel they are entitled to see the moment because they can see the moment. I wouldn’t want that put on me at all.

Black Mirror is very much a modern Twilight Zone in tone and in the commentary it makes. The Twilight Zone was great at taking your expectations on things, like beauty for example, and turning it on its head. Just like Caidyn says, they made the idea of a jealous husband different by adding a technology which only made him feel more justified in his thinking. Does he end up feeling satisfied at the end? No, he doesn’t.

Exactly. This was like a social media thing. You can show them to anyone and there’s a timeline that you can see of their memories, from when they got it to that point in time. The couple in this show have a child and that child has one, so they can look and see what happened while they were gone from the baby’s perspective. I mean, how creepy is that? You can just peer into your child’s memories as if you own them? While maybe that’s good as a nanny cam, but the implications of it (and brought up by what happens with Liam’s obsession) is insane.

I think this episode was the epitome of The Twilight Zone. It had a simple, usual plot. Then you add in some odd technology. And then the bad side of technology that people don’t like thinking about happens. And, yes, he feels justified because he can prove he’s right, but that doesn’t make it better. It makes it ten times worse rather than believing and trusting his wife.

Can we talk about the contrast from the second episode with music? Can we? I think we should.

Sure. I didn’t even notice the lack of music in this episode until you brought it up. Usually, when there is a lack of music it’s so you can focus on what’s really happening in the dialogue and background noises. There is an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that doesn’t feature a score at all and you hear everything, very visceral sounds that can be startling at times. While it’s not as extreme in this episode, you are really focused on the dialogue and what the characters are saying.

In “Fifteen Million Merits”, there is a lot of music. They establish the world through montages and Bing is a very quiet person compared to another character who is a loud prick. It almost reminded me of Wall-E in a way because there is a lack of words and the score matters so much in comparison.

My first experience with the use of music was when I was a kid and got freaked out watching The Lord of the Rings in theaters and I learned that bad things happened when there was no music. Since then, I always really focus on the score. So when there was not a ton of music — I mean, there was some, but compared to “Fifteen Million Merits”, as you pointed out, it lacked — I really paid attention. There was nothing but the intense dialogue and the relationship that was in jeopardy because a man couldn’t let his obsession go.

Wall-E is an apt comparison. And, yes, I have seen it. I think that the difference is with the story. An interconnected world in “Entire History of You” versus a separate world in “Fifteen Million Merits”. And those damn episode titles. So fucking good.

I actually didn’t like Wall-E, but that’s not what this is about. I really enjoy scores as well, but I don’t usually notice them. Not unless they are obvious or stand out. It really stood out in “Fifteen Million Merits” and it didn’t in “Entire History of You”. This show is incredible and I’d highly recommend it. It’s been torture watching this show with nobody to talk to about it, except for texts about me freaking out, so we are happy to share our thoughts with you and join in any conversation you want to have.

Rankings

Chantel’s Rankings

  1. Fifteen Million Merits
  2. Entire History of You
  3. The National Anthem

My rankings are the same as yours, yo. Does this mean that our ranking is absolutely definitive and generalizable to every person who watches this show?

Our rankings are law.

Knew it. But, I mean, we have to allow for some diversity. So if you guys disagree, I suppose you can comment. But you might get roasted if we like you and know you won’t get mad at us.

But everyone knows “Fifteen Million Merits” is the best. Obviously.

What if someone says “National Anthem” is the best? (And the title still gives me life when you combine it with the plot. Chantel doesn’t get it, guys.)

They are entitled to their opinion, even if it’s wrong.

We would be such kind dictators… I mean leaders.

I can live with that…but I’m not fucking a pig.

Mkay. Whatever you say.

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First Lines Friday

HA. Caidyn gets to start it this week because he actually remembered and has had two cups of coffee. Hello everyone! I hope you guys had a great week. For those of you going back to school, slay. For those who have to work and didn’t get a real break, I’m sorry. Maybe this will perk you up. Who knows. But, to the formalities.

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.


Anthony Woodville, the Lord of Scales, is one of those who sustain the King of England’s cause against that contumacious rebel, York. It is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and the dawn before battle.


I guess that wasn’t thrilling at all, was it? Sorry. But, the book is pretty interesting, even if the opening lines don’t exactly draw you in.

The book is:

Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin

Wonders Will Never Cease

I picked this book up because my mom recommended it to me based on my interest in this time in history. It picks up in the middle of the Wars of the Roses, before Edward IV actually got the throne from Henry VI. It’s told from the perspective of Anthony Woodville, who is brother to the future wife of Edward IV. In battle, he dies… yet he comes back after seeing a vision.

This book is basically being talked about as the original Game of Thrones. Which is a no shit moment to me since that book is based on the Wars of the Roses. This book also got a good review from Neil Gaiman, a personal fave of mine, so it’s definitely sold me on it. An alternate version of history, in a sense.

The only thing that worries me, after reading the first few lines of the book, it reminds me too much of The Buried Giant, which was magical realism and very symbolic but told in a mind-numbingly boring fashion.


The house on the cliff looks like a ship disappearing into fog. The spire a mast, the trees whipping against its base, the waves of a ravening sea. 

Or maybe Jane just has ships on the brain, seeing as she’s inside one that’s doing all it can to consume her attention. A wave rolls the yacht, catches her off balance, and she sits down, triumphantly landing in the general vicinity of where she aimed. Another wave propels her, in slow motion, against the yacht’s lounge window.


I can’t say I was completely enthralled by these first lines, which is disappointing because I’ve wanted to read this book from the moment I heard about it. I even bought it because I was confident it would be good. I do hope I didn’t let my excitement get ahead of me in that case. 

I chose: 

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

9780803741492_JaneUnlimited_BOM.indd

I have not read the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore yet. Graceling is on my top ten to read this year, so I’ll get to it. However, I was immediately fascinated by the plot of this book. Jane, the main character goes to this house after her aunt passes away and there are different possibilities that happen, different genres that occur. These are all things I’ve heard and am completely intrigued by because it sounds so original to me.

I’ve also heard there is a romance between Jane and another girl in this book and I’m all for that. An interesting plot and an f/f romance, yes, please. Again, I just hope it’s everything I want it to be. 

The TBR Tag

Hello everyone! Now, we were not tagged in this at all. In fact, we have tags we have been tagged in that we still need to do. Oops! The reason we wanted to do this tag is to start off the year by looking at our TBRs. We will get back to doing the tags that we’ve been tagged in soon sorry Emma. Blame Chantel. She was insistent on doing this.

This tag was created by Rachel at A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square.

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


1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Uhm…. Like… Goodreads? Okay, but really, I list books on there that I want to read, forget about them, get random books from the library, and buy too many. Then I stick the books in random spots in my room that I’ll remember they’re unread and get to one day. It’s not really secretly efficient.

Goodreads definitely. I do have two shelves dedicated to books I own that are the top priority of my TBR, but Goodreads is the full comprehensive list. However, the list does need to be purged. 

2. Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

A lot of both. I have quite a few books on my Kindle that I haven’t read and will one day, then I have a ton of physical books I haven’t read and need to. Sigh. This tag is already making me depressed about my life choices.

I’m pretty sure I have more physical copies than I do e-books, and normally I will choose print over e-book even if having an e-reader is a lot more convenient. 

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

HA. When do I ever read my TBR?? But, really, I go with whatever I feel in the mood for next. I don’t read by themes too often.

There is no method to my madness. I have a list of books I want to read and I pick one. That’s pretty much it. 

4. A Book That’s Been On Your TBR List The Longest 

Since October 13, 2012, His Dark Materials has been on my TBR. Which is funny since I listened to these books with my parents on a road trip a long time ago.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger was the first book I added to my TBR on November 23, 2015. Maybe I should read that, considering I have a copy of the e-book. 

5. A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

Seafire is the book I added last, which was mainly because I saw Chantel added it, looked at it, and decided it sounded pretty good.

OMG YAS SEAFIRE! I want it now! The last book I added to my TBR was A Book Called Cin by Cecil Wilde which I added because I want to read more romances with a trans main character. 

And I’ve added more since we did this. The last book I added, not under the influence of Chantel (oh whatever), was Swearing is Good for You. It looks interesting, some of the research cited is familiar to me. So, right up my fucking alley.

6. A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because Of Its Beautiful Cover

I don’t really add books based on covers…? Like, yeah, covers are great and all that, but if I don’t like the premise or description, a pretty cover isn’t going to make me read it.

The Queen of the Tearling. 100%. I’m in love with that cover. The book also sounds interesting too. 

7. A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading

I have a whole shelf of this! They’re books I want to read and probably won’t. Usually, they’re added because of topics. I’m not a fan of reading about rape, so books that look good but I doubt I’ll read go there. Books about trans lives also go there if I’m iffy on if it’ll be complete angst and abuse. I also have a shelf for books I’m considering but still might read. There are more books on there than the former.

Okay, if I have a book on my TBR I don’t plan on reading then it shouldn’t be on my TBR. I do need to go through my TBR and weed through the rando books that got added because of a giveaway or a moment of temporary insanity. 

I’ve tried doing that and failed. It takes too much time and I’m lazy.

I didn’t say I would do it anytime soon.

8. An Unpublished Book On Your TBR That You’re Excited For

My Plain Jane and Dread Nation are the two that I’m really excited for. While I don’t plan on preordering them — one of my 2018 goals is to not buy as many books unless they’re from subscription boxes — I do want to read them.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara because queer lady pirates. I’m announcing now, this is my new thing. I can’t wait. 

Yes, another one that you made me add. What a terrible influence. Broadening my interests and all that.

By terrible you mean amazing. 

Mhm. Yeah. Suuureeee.

9. A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone’s Read But You

Jesus, so many. So, so many. It’s kind of hilarious since I don’t read many new releases unless they’re Netgalley and usually nonfiction. But, I think everyone has read Six of Crows. Chantel and I are going to read it later this year, but everyone has read it but us. We’re way behind.

I’m going to go with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it. 

eventually

I DNFed that one.

That doesn’t matter. You have shitty book taste. 

Image result for bitch jesse gif

don’t you even start this one ho

breasts of rage

10. A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You

Any YA book, tbh. Six of Crows, The Grisha trilogy, Raven Boys, Mistborn. Well, Mistborn isn’t YA, but it’s still a book that everyone seems to tell me to read.

I don’t often get recommendations, but when I do it’s usually Six of Crows. Everyone has read this book and most people love this book. Which scares me. 

We’ll have another Schwab incident.

I really hope not. 

11. A Book On Your TBR That You’re Dying To Read

I’m absolutely dying to read Insomnia by Stephen King, which is one of my Top 10 Books to read in 2018! I watched the movie a while ago, remember nothing, and own it. The story seems fascinating, and I know it ties into IT.

I was going to say Peter Darling by Austin Chant, but oh yeah I read it already. The next book I’m eager to read is Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. However, I am expecting Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire at my door sometime next week so I will drop everything to read that. Sorry not sorry. 

12. How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

At the time of writing this, 2071. Yep. I’m not kidding. I’ve had so many years to build that up to where it is now and I’m so bad at reading them.

Right now, 460 which somehow doesn’t seem like enough. 

You’re better than me. For once. It’s also increased to 2082. Because of you.

Uhh, okay but queer lady pirates. You should thank me. 

Image result for jesse pinkman gif

This’ll be Chantel until I thank her.

Ahem, I’m still waiting. 

January Recommendations

Chantel found a group on Goodreads, Monthly Recommendations, that really called to her, so she texted me (Caidyn) about the possibility of adding this as a monthly post. After all, we’re looking for more things to include in our monthly repertoire. January’s recommendation is the best first books in a series!

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


Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few. I’ll try to narrow it down to my top three books. So here we go.

1. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)

Everyone talks about this book and I finally jumped onto the bandwagon last year. It’s fantastic! I mean, I’ve only read the first two books, but this series started it all off with a bang and introduced you to fascinating characters.

2. The Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)

Most likely, everyone’s at least heard of this book and author. He’s pretty popular and this was his first book ever. It’s also a fantastic start to a series that I adored. While our MC, Jorg, is a little shit to the extreme, I always found myself somewhat rooting for him. That takes talent given what Jorg does throughout the book.

3. A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)

Technically, this book isn’t a series yet. I read it late last year, and you can find my review here, and I was so impressed by it. It’s a sweeping epic fantasy novel that’s on the same level as Game of Thrones. There are many characters, different nations, powers that reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it’s told in a very unique way. I’m excited to see what happens next.


I read all of my books in 2017 so I will link my original reviews as well as a Goodreads summary. All of these books feature main characters and side characters who are queer. 

1. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Goodreads

Every Heart a Doorway cover

I don’t think there will be any surprise at this choice. It’s a popular series which follows different characters in different worlds. This first book takes place at a school where children who have gone to portal worlds end up back in the real world and we are introduced to a cast of characters (some who are queer) and the possibilities of the series are endless. I do have a soft spot for this book because it’s the first time I read about a character that is explicitly asexual on the page. 

2. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Goodreads

The Abyss Surrounds Us cover

I’ll admit this is a duology I almost didn’t pick up. It’s sci-fi and takes place in the future where there are giant sea creatures called Reckoners who are then trained to fight and protect. However, this book is fantastic. Cas, the main character has to make decisions which are morally gray and I think it’s done very well. In addition, there is an f/f romance, but it’s a slow burn and angsty as all hell. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the second book The Edge of the Abyss, I have no issue recommending these books because I rarely hear them talked about.

3. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Goodreads

Not Your Sidekick cover

This is the only series on this list where I’ve only read the first book, but let me tell you I will be reading how many ever books come after as long as they follow the same four characters. I’m not big on superheroes. Never have been, probably never will be, but this is far more than that. This book focuses on Jess, who is waiting for her superpowers to present themselves, but they don’t. This leads to her getting an internship close to a supervillain and her crush from school. I am such a sucker for a story where crushes turn into something more and I was not disappointed here. Go check it out!

First Lines Friday

It’s the first Friday of 2018 and at least for me (Chantel) it’s been a pretty good reading year so far. I’ve read two books in three days which is something I never thought I would say considering how slow I read, but it happened. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.

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. 


James Hook was bored. 

The woods had grown rather tame, he thought. TIme was, he and his pirates would have been fending off tigers, wolves, and little boys with swords; they would have been snarled in thorns and clinging vines, beset by swarming fae, ambushed by roving crocodiles. Nowadays, though  Neverland was still overgrown, it was no more threatening than an unkempt lawn. 


This is a book I just recently finished so I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone. It is also the one book out of the two I read recently that I haven’t used for First Line Fridays already so there’s that. 

Anyway, I did enjoy this book quite a bit. I knew I would like it and I did. I’d highly recommend it if you are interested in reading a retelling with a trans main character, and with a sweet romance. 

I’ve decided to pick…

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Review

Peter Darling cover

This was the first book I read and finished in 2018 and it turned out to be a good start so far. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time as Austin Chant is a trans author writing about trans characters, which I am so happy about. I can’t wait to read more of his books because I enjoyed the story and knows how to write characters well. 


“I am inclined to think –” said I.

“I should do so,” Sherlock remarked impatiently.

I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals; but I’ll admit that I was annoyed by the sardonic interruption. “Really, Holmes,” said I severely, “you are a little trying at times.”


I know. My first lines gave it away. It’s something to do with Sherlock Holmes. However, the question is, which one? Is it a canon story or is it a part of the extended universe that’s been created by fans through pastiches, original series, and short stories?

It is…

The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes, #7)

I’ve been reading this one for some time, mainly because I haven’t had the time or the want to read it. I’m onto the stories I haven’t read yet and (I think) Moriarty comes back in this for whatever reason. Either way, I’m interested in seeing how I like it compared to all the other ones I’ve read since I have read a whole lot of the non-canon stories.

On Writing by Stephen King

Caidyn: 4/5
Chantel: 4/5


This month, I chose the book. I’ve been wanting to get Chantel to read Stephen King for ages. And I know she’ll point out in her review that she has read Stephen King, just never finished a book by him. I just wanted her to read him since he’s such a good author. This one has been sitting on my shelf for years, waiting to be read.

In short, this book involves King giving you a memoir about his life as a burgeoning author, a section called “toolbox” that tells you all about what to do and how he suggests you do it, a postscript about his nearly fatal accident, and finally some examples of editing and a reading list. It’s not a long book, but he covers a lot of ground and is very succinct with it.

Since I’m an annotator when I read, I kept marking things. Didn’t actually write in the book like I usually would have, but I put in a ton of sticky notes to mark sentences or ideas that I really liked. I’m not a huge author. I love writing, but I have no interest in being an author. I’ve tried. I’m not good at it. I can’t just do it and come up with a plot and on and on. But, I enjoy writing when I do it, fiction or nonfiction.

But, this book gave a lot of good tips that you can take with you and apply to something else. I think my favorite one King gave was that the second draft needed to be the first draft minus 10%. That’s something I can live with doing for schoolwork so it’s not insanely long, which is a problem I have with my academic writing.

I would say Stephen King is one of the most well-known authors still working today. His influence not only extends to books but films and tv shows. One of my favorite movies is Stand By Me which is based on his novella, “The Body”. I have read his work (specifically Carrie and The Stand), but never finished the books. Today, on the last day of 2017 (thank god) I finished my first Stephen King book and I am certain I will be reading more of his work.

Caidyn chose this book for December and I was hesitant, nonfiction isn’t my strong suit, but I am really grateful that he chose On Writing. I really enjoyed this book and I would like to get my own copy soon so I can transfer my sticky notes over from the library copy I currently have.

I struggle with writing. By that I mean, I want to be a writer and I enjoy writing but it’s not something I do on a normal basis. Something that bothers me. Now, Stephen King might tell me to not bother (he’s good about laying harsh truths out there), but in all honesty his book inspired me. I don’t know how long the inspiration will last or how effective it will be but that’s beside the point. I feel this was the perfect book to close out 2017 with because in 2018 I’d like to start writing again. Every day even if it’s just one line. The idea is daunting, but I want to be a writer. I have since I was very young and time and time again I’ve held myself back. I’m afraid of writing. Why? Because I don’t know if I’m good at it. I hope that I am, but it’s easy for me to get discouraged.

One of Stephen King’s methods when writing, specifically first drafts, is to “close the door”. By this he means, just write. Don’t let anyone else read it. Don’t bother editing it until it’s complete. Just write everything that comes into your mind surrounding the story you are trying to tell. Everything else will come in the second draft. I found this encouraging because I struggle with first drafts. Is it good? Is that the right word to use? Does this make sense? None of that should matter with the first draft. I think that’s the best advice I took from this book.

Stephen King’s voice in this book is very casual and conversational. I really enjoyed that. It’s part memoir, part writing advice and while I think the second part of the book was stronger than the first, I liked reading how writing influenced him even when he was young. Not to mention, the way he talks about his wife and how much he loves her is #goals for me.

I would recommend this book if you have any desire to be a writer at all. I wish I had read this back in high school or at least a few years ago, but I finally did and I can’t wait to start writing fiction again.

For one, I’m very glad that I was able to give this to Chantel. We met through writing, something that we don’t talk about. We’ve known each other for about two to three years (is it two or three now??) and we bonded through writing. Without writing, we wouldn’t know one another. We literally still write together outside of blogging, something I doubt we’ll share anytime soon. Whereas I have given up with writing, I know Chantel loves writing and wants to be an author. I mean, we’ve talked about ideas together and I know I’d be happy to beta read for her if that’s what she wanted.

But, I totally agree with you. I love his idea on drafts. You write and just get it out of your head onto paper. There are many more drafts yet to come. Get it out, then you can worry about the technical details. One thing I liked was that you can take those suggestions he makes for fiction writing to nonfiction. I could easily take his ideas to heart and write without thinking about it, then work on the overarching themes later.

Should we focus more on the conversational part or his #goals? Because I know we agree there with each other on both parts.

I’m chuckling at how very vague you are being. Not that I want to be specific, just think it’s funny. Anyway, I’m really glad I was able to read this book because I do love writing a lot. I just haven’t been doing it lately and it’s disappointing. I’m not saying this will change overnight, but I’m hoping to do better going forward.

We can focus on the conversational tone first. It was very much like a mentor or a teacher you admire talking about writing, and he was a teacher at one point so that makes sense. He was very good about giving advice but not sounding condescending. He was brutally honest but not mean. I just liked the way he wrote, it was as if we were talking face to face and that really connected me to what he had to say.

While some of our followers might find our personal lives with each other extremely interesting, I do like having some things private (no offense). But I didn’t think we wanted to get further into it. And I’m also tipsy and about to have MORE ALCOHOL so shut up. However, remember that one line a day thing. Just one.

Yes, he felt as if someone you could approach if you had questions. Not someone who’s going to judge or tell you that you’re wrong or stupid or whatever. Someone, you can know they’re going to tell it to you straight, whether you like it or not. I always feel he has that conversational tone, but it really shone through in this book. I enjoyed how he even put (at least in my copy) how he’d let people email him and while he might not read all, he’d read some to give feedback. I liked that.

I mean, being on the internet we should keep some stuff private. Sorry, not sorry. I am tipsy too, this might not be a good combination, but I’m not drinking anymore. Just one line a day is a lot more than I’ve done most days for years, so one line a day isn’t much but it’s far better than I’ve been doing.

I did find some things he said rather harsh, and some of it honestly brought up my own doubts about my writing, but it was more encouraging than not. I like the honesty, but I don’t like the idea that I might be a bad writer and will never be good if that’s the case. His personality also shone through in the book and I found him really likable. It’s rare that I feel such a personal connection in a memoir, but in this one I did. There was something special about the way he wrote. I did see the prompt he offered and then suggested emailing him with what you came up with. That was really cool and I wonder if people still do it.

My pinot grigio is delicious. As with the pizza I’m eating. Oh, and my parents and I shared a bottle of sparkling rose AND my mom and I had a couple fingers of hard liquor. Oh my am I having fun. I think you can do one line a day. Think about it by writing with me, like we do quite often.

Yes, I can see that. Perhaps I appreciated it since I’m very blunt myself and would rather put it honestly than beating around the bush, saying it but not saying it. (And I also think you’re a great writer, Chantel. I do. I’ve written with you for years, watched you grow, and know that your ideas are good. Just perhaps grammar could be edited, yet that’s something minor to figure out later.)

King really did connect. I would love to read some of the submissions that he got since it honestly felt as if I could email him and he’d tell me what he thought. And I’d actually trust his opinion.

I think you are having too much fun there. I think I can do it too. It’s not like I don’t write either. I do, but not what I’d really like to focus on but for now I have something. Even writing reviews for (almost?) every book I’ve read this year is still writing.

I think blunt is fine, I’m just a sensitive snowflake over here. I would rather have honesty as well as opposed to straight up lying and beating around the bush. I knew someone who was constantly told they were a good singer and they weren’t. I know I’m a bad singer but it wasn’t because someone necessarily told me so. I do know the feeling of wanting something really bad though and not knowing if you are good enough. I appreciate the praise though, and I know my grammar is shit. It’s not the thing I think about, I’m just trying to get all my ideas out, you know? Grammar can come later.

I would 100% trust his opinion. He knows what the fuck he’s talking about and yet he was still humble. I think we’ve all heard of Stephen King, but you wouldn’t know how popular he is based on how he talks about himself. It’s great to know that he does it because he loves writing and no other reason.

When don’t we have fun? But the topics we went over were heavy, so that wasn’t so fun. No, you just write different. I think it’d be cool if you used that Hogwarts journal you got to start writing something. Put it to good use so it doesn’t just lay around. JK would approve.

We became friends over my blunt honesty, so I know you can handle it. It’s just hard. I think you are a good writer and polishing stuff is good, but a later problem, just as King put it. Yes, it’s a foundation, but you can’t expect perfection the first draft. Think of all the times you’ve caught typos in published books. And you always catch them while I don’t notice them. I do agree that King gave great advice. Put your ideas out on the page first. Everything can come later. You don’t get it right the first time.

King is popular and well-known, but also extremely good at his craft. And, God, the reverence he comes towards his craft inspires me in general. He never stops approaching it as if he knows it as an old friend, yet a changeable one.

Okay, I lied. I did get more alcohol. If I’m not having fun then I haven’t had enough. Okay, not really but you know…it’s New Years. I was actually going to use that. My mom got me that and some books with writing exercises so she knows how much I want to get back to writing too. She’s read some of my work and I’ve made her cry over and over, but she’s biased. She’s my mom. I don’t want to waste it because it’s a great notebook and it was the present she was most proud of. Also, Stephen King’s love of Harry Potter was delightful.

I appreciate your honesty when you give it and because of it I really value your opinion. I’ve also never really gotten my work out there. When he was a teenager, he was submitting stories to magazines. I never did anything like that. I actually talked myself out of contests in high school and I regret doing that. I’m just afraid of not being good. Especially when it comes to first drafts. I worry so much over first drafts when it’s just about getting ideas out on the page. It’s not going to be perfect, that’s impossible. Omg I’ve found typos in bestselling books, y’all. It is good advice though and I’m going to give it a try. I really want to.

Yes, he talks about writing as an old friend. That’s a great way to put it. He talks about the endless possibilities and about writing whatever you want. That idea is so appealing, especially to me. I’ve got ideas in my head that are so different from each other but I know I can write about all of them if I wanted. It’s always nice to read about someone’s passion and there is no doubt writing is Stephen King’s passion.

Alcohol is a great and terrible thing. Why they trust us with it is amazing to me. 2018 is the writing year, yo. Since I’m sure this will be published after New Year’s Eve, this is going to be 2018 when we post it. And our tipsy ramblings will amuse everyone. Either way, you should get a notebook and use it to write stuff out in. I love it even more since years have passed and now they’re friends on Twitter and she offered to send him Trump’s tweets since he got blocked by him.

I think that’s a common fear writers have. Even though this is more nonfiction than what you and King do, I always worry about my writing and it not making sense. Think of all the times I’ve asked you to read over my work and you’ve had to dive into shit that makes next to no sense unless you know the topic. Psychopathy, empathy, heterosexuality and homosexuality in Japan, etc. I think that you and myself (I’m included in this) thinks too much of the finished product before actually working on the current blank page. We want it perfect. I think you should since I know you have good ideas, even if you broke King’s rule with sharing it with me. (Although I flatter myself as your Ideal Reader.)

It is appealing and I think he is colored by all the years he has of successful writing. It’s not easy to make it, yet it is easy since you see all those people who self-publish. And then get killed since people insult them since they don’t put out a polished work. They expect it to succeed and it doesn’t. And I love that King owns up to his distance from the current publishing world since he is such a household name. He acknowledges it and moves on with it, then goes on about his passion since this is his whole livelihood.

They shouldn’t, really. That’s a great way to put it. It’s one of those things I want and maybe need to happen in 2018. This should give everyone a good laugh at our expense. I have plenty of notebooks. They are just empty. Oh that’s great. I love it. I just love how he loves Harry Potter just like us. He’s one of us!

I would probably agree with that. I remember King saying he experienced a lot of rejection when he was young but he still got notes of encouragement. I think that helped him know that he had talent. I never did anything like that. This is true and you are a great writer too. We can hear that from each other constantly and still doubt ourselves. Which I think is normal. I definitely want it to be perfect right out of the gate, but that’s just not realistic. It starts with a first draft which is never perfect. I know he made that a rule but we don’t have to do everything his way. I just wanted to see if you, who would tell me if an idea was interesting or not, liked them. I was thinking of you when he mentioned Ideal Reader. Probably because you are one of the only people who can look at my writing objectively and give me feedback. Not because you are my friend or anything.

I think the hardest part ultimately for me would be trying to get my book published and selling myself. I’m so fucking bad at that shit, but even Stephen King doesn’t like it and he’s had to go through the same things to get published that every author has to do if they want to put their work out there. So maybe one day I’ll get there.

I have some good ideas, you see. Just some. Maybe you should use some of those notebooks, you hoarder. Fill them with a line per day and see where it goes and what you’d like to develop on. He totally is! I don’t blame him for it. He ought to be a Potterhead. A good story is a good story. Doesn’t matter the age range.

He did get those rejections and encouragements. I mean, I think it goes to show that no writer is brilliant the first try. It takes practice to hone your craft. Perhaps that’s why I’m hesitant to read anything written by teens, just because they haven’t had the same time to get great. Not that there’s no exception to that rule, just that I’ve found it’s rough to read early work. I’m always impressed by authors who nail it their first novel, such as King or Mark Lawrence. Aw, well I’m flattered to be your Ideal Reader. Does that make me the Tabby to your Stephen?

Well, the book will sell itself if it’s good. They’ll just put up with the author. No one likes it, putting their work out there, but you need to do it to get somewhere. At least, if you want to get published and perhaps well-known. Think about how posting a prompt is a way to get out, or posting a review on here or Goodreads. It’s scary at first, then you get used to it.

Hey, there is no need for name calling. Though I am totally a hoarder. I have two composition books I don’t think I’ve used. Just a line a day. I need to put that somewhere. I don’t either. J.K. Rowling had genius with Harry Potter. Not so much anything else. I want to re-read Harry Potter one day. Maybe skip Order of the Phoenix. I can’t get through that book.

This is true. Writing is a craft you have to hone by doing it over and over again. I mean, King writes every day. There’s a reason he’s successful because he works hard. And has talent. I do get what you mean about teens writing, but it’s a good time to start writing but maybe not publishing you know? Prince of Thorns is a great book and I agree that it’s hard to believe that was Lawrence’s first book. As you should be. I suppose it does. By the way, the way Stephen King talks about his wife is just great. He loves writing, his children, and his wife. Maybe not in that order, but definitely all three.

That’s a good point. I don’t even want to be a famous author necessarily. I just want my work to resonate with someone. I want to write the books I like to read, mainly books with queer characters. This is a lot less scary than fiction for me. I don’t really care if it’s perfect, but it’s a great way to get my thoughts out.

Says the one who’s called me a heathen at least twice in the chat thread accompanying this review that no one but us will see. You should just write it somewhere, or title your journal 2018’s Line a Day. It’s literally no pressure with that. JK totally had genius with Harry and I am a fan of her Cormoran Strike series, but that’s it. I always reread Harry. Like once a year. Do I need to get into why that book is amazing again?

He also has the luxury to spend that much time reading and writing whereas most beginning authors don’t, unless they start as early as he did. Teens writing is fine. I mean, I wrote when I was a teenager, but that shit shouldn’t see the light of day. Like, ever. And that’s what I like about King. He invests time in writing the idea out, then he reads that first draft after so much time has passed and decides if it’s worth any further time. If so, then he’ll edit. If not, then nothing more. I’ll never get over how good Lawrence is in that first book.

I guess now is a good time to talk about Stephen and his wife. It was just so sweet to hear his anecdotes about her from all those years of marriage. And how much shit she put up with.

Really, that’s what King wanted, too. He wanted some people to like it. By that point, he realized that not everyone was going to like his stuff, so moved on. Hone in on the people who will. And he found that he had a bigger audience. Not to mention that most people in Generation Z (the generation after millennials) are queer or not identifying as only straight. The audience is there and you just have to hone your craft to it, as King has done with horror.

What happened to keeping things private, yo?! No need to rat me out. That’s actually a good idea. I’ll do that. A line a day is totally manageable. No excuses for my lazy ass. Yeah, I haven’t read anything of hers other than HP so I’m just being an ass. I can’t read that many books in a year when there are so many others to read. I’m just not a fast reader. And no, but it’s the reason I can never finish the series.

He did have other jobs along the way, but you are right. His wife works and they don’t have any other children to support so that frees up a lot of time. I agree there. The things I wrote when I was a teenager sucked. Hell, some of the stuff I wrote in my twenties sucked. I do like the idea of putting the first draft away and letting it sit until you don’t recognize it anymore. I wonder how long it took Lawrence to write that. It was amazing.

I mean their marriage is #goals. She told him to get his shit together when he was using drugs and he did because he wasn’t going to lose his family over it. He’s incredibly grateful to her to allow him to work the way he does as well.

It is. He says so near the end of the book and I agree. If someone doesn’t like your book, who cares. I mean it’s easy to say, but it will hopefully reach someone. To me, I think that would be enough. I know that there are so many people who would love to read queer books that are new, I mean I want someone to read my book and it hits them. Not literally, but it impacts them in a good way like so many books have done for me. Yes, yes, everyone is gay now. It’s fantastic. I would rather live in a world where everyone is queer. This is very true and that’s what I plan on doing.

Uhm, drinking happened. No excuses and it’s literally one line. One sentence or less than. That’s all and you’ve written many sentences in this. I’m ignoring your JK comments and moving on.

He made it when his kids were young and he was a schoolteacher, so he really did do a lot on a full schedule. That impresses me, not to mention makes me feel as if I haven’t done enough with my life. I think that you should try it at some point. Give it a try. Even if it’s only a short story. And wow this review is a lot of me encouraging you to try King’s advice. I just realized that.

Not only that, but he respected and cared for her before that. He always honored her opinion and thought of her as his Ideal Reader. He wanted to draw her in, especially since it seems that they have very different styles. From what he listed that she had written, it sounded more like she wrote poetry and feminist geared things. And so writing for her, an audience that was not already into horror, is great. Like me and YA or queer fiction.

If you get to publishing a book, it reached someone. And you can’t reach everyone. Someone will find fault with something. I think that you will be able to find a niche that fits you best with your writing, especially given what I know you have floating around in your head. Even if it’s been done before, that doesn’t mean it can be done better. King proved that with his work, after all. He proved that horror wasn’t boring and all been done before.

December and 2017 Wrap-Up

With December and 2017 coming to a close, we thought it would be smart to have a general wrap-up for both at the same time. And, we have to say, what a year it has been. In January, we started reading a book per month together because Chantel asked about it. Then, in March, we started the blog because of Chantel since she wanted to see if it would work.

So, really, we are so thankful to all of you who like, comment, and follow us. Without you all, who knows how long we would have lasted as we bumble around and try new things. Perhaps we don’t comment or like other posts or be involved in the book blogging community as much as we’d like, but we still appreciate and love all of you.

Now that all that is to the side, let’s just get to the wrap-up!

This month, we read On Writing by Stephen King together. We were going to read The Power but ran out of time to fit it all in together.

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


I’m going to start with my general December wrap-up. There were quite a few books that I read, so I’ll try to be smart and be like Chantel with putting them into star categories.

5 stars:

4 stars:

3 stars:

2 stars:

1 star:

This year, I read almost 180 books this year. It’s certainly a large number, but I mainly get by with audiobooks. That’s way more than I expected since my goal was to read 100 books. So, I read 61,000 pages according to My Year in BooksMy average rating for books was 3.4, so a flat average for me. I did have some good ones, some bad ones.

Scrolling through the list just reminds me how many good ones I had, some of which I reviewed on here. Most of which since we started in March and only missed those first few months of the year.

Even though 2017 was a shitshow, the reads were good!


I read three books this month. Which I’m honestly not upset about. The early part of December was a stressful time for me and I had little to no motivation to read despite reading three books. What I succeeded in doing by the end of the month was finishing all of the books I was reading so that I could start 2018 fresh and I can’t wait to read lots of new books in the year. 

4 Stars:

3 Stars:

2017 marked the first year that I’ve read on a regular basis in a long time. I wanted to read more this year and thus we started a book club. We also started a blog which has only increased the amount I read this year. I participated in my first readathon this year in which I read 5 graphic novels in two days. All in all, I read 42 books this year. I know Goodreads says I read 44 but I’m not counting the two books I DNFed. 24 of those books featured a queer main character, which is over half so I’m proud of that. I do plan on reading more LGBTQIA+ books in 2018 and I even created my own Bingo card. For more info about my reading check out My Year in Books on Goodreads.

Lastly, I’d like to give a quick Top 5 of my favorite books I read in 2017 (in descending order):

1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

4. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

5. The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

The two I DNF-ed? 

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke

Top Ten Books to Read in 2018

As the months continued to go along, I found that there were quite a few books being put off especially ones that I’ve bought and never read. Whether it was because I wasn’t interested in reading them at the time, or more exciting books came along. So, this book is going to consist of books I currently own on my bookshelves or Kindle right now because it’s just as important to read the books I own. I’m willing to give it a try at least and see how it goes. This will not include books Caidyn and I read for the BW Book Club. To put it simply, these are books I feel it’s necessary for me to read in the next year.

And I (Caidyn) am joining in on this so there’s that. Chantel keeps talking about herself (that’s what I do best; believe me, we know by now) and, you know what, I’m joining here to list my top 10 books to read next year.

Chantel will be in purple.


Caidyn will be in blue.


1. King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

King of Thorns cover

I should’ve read this book in 2017 when I finished the first book. The sooner I get to this second book, the sooner I can finish this trilogy. My only concern is having forgot everything I read in the first book.

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle-and-Dante-Discover-the-Secrets-of-the-Universe cover

Speaking of books that I should’ve read a long time ago, I got this book from Caidyn for my birthday and as someone who does her best to promote LGBTQ+ lit, I’m pretty embarrassed I haven’t read this yet.

3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven cover

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. The main selling point of this book is that it’s in a post-apocalyptic world and follows a Shakespeare troop. That’s all I needed to know and I think I’m going to enjoy it. I just hope it’s not too hyped. 

4. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale cover.jpg

Can I be honest? I don’t know a lot about this book (I’d like to keep it that way), but I’m in love with the cover of this book (and the second book’s cover). Now, I normally don’t pick up books based on the cover alone, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I couldn’t help myself. I look forward to getting to it and so far I’ve seen great things about it.  

5. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

A Single Man coverSo, I’ve known about Christopher Isherwood without actually reading any of his books. I watched a movie called Christopher and His Kind which is based on his memoir and stars Matt Smith. I remember really enjoying the movie and as a result, watched A Single Man. WHICH RIPPED ME APART. It stars Colin Firth, who I adore, and it’s a beautiful movie. Now, I want to read the book and might do another review which talks about the book and movie sometime in 2018.

6. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay cover

One of my favorite books I read this year was Everything Leads to You. It was a great book with a sweet, slow burn f/f romance, but my main issue with it was that the characters seemed older than high school students. I wish they had been in college, or out of high school because it would’ve seemed more realistic. Then alas, this book comes out which takes place at a college. I think that this going to be a really sad book, which is why I’ve probably been avoiding it since I bought it, but I’ll get to it. Don’t worry. 

7. Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

Wake of Vultures

I’ve only been interested in this book because I’ve heard there are queer elements. I’m not sure if it does or not, but I’m pretty sure I saw it on an LGBTQ+ recommends list. It’s also got vampires which concerns me a bit, but clearly not that much because I bought the freakin book. 

8. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours cover

Magical realism. Gorgeous writing. Trans MC. That’s all. I have started this book before and did not continue, but I knew I would come back to it one day. I hope to read it in 2018.

9. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling cover

This year, Kristin Cashore released a book called Jane, Unlimited which will likely be one of the first books I read next year because I’ve wanted to read it since I heard about it. However, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the Graceling trilogy and it sounds like a fun series. I want to stop putting off reading this series because it’s been on my shelf for months. 

10. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

We Are the Ants cover

I’m not going to lie, I DNFed one of Shaun David Hutchinson’s books. I wasn’t really that interested in it and it was before I was reading on a normal basis. I might go back to it one day, but first I’m going to read We Are the Ants. This book sounds like it’s going to break my heart as it deals with some heavy subjects, but also includes… 

Aliens Meme


1. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, volume 2 by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 2

My goal was to read that series in 2017, but I got super busy and just didn’t have the time to complete it. So, 2018, I’m going to finish it up! Plus, I try to read one classic author per year, so this works well as a carryover for that.

2. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King

Sleeping Beauties

I got this book from Book of the Month as an add-on. I adore Stephen King, so I really do want to read this next year. Plus it’s a huge book, so it’ll take me some time to complete.

3. Insomnia by Stephen King

Insomnia

I think that my theme for the first few books are just tomes I own that I really keep meaning to read. This one is an older one of King’s, but I’d like to read it since I’ve not heard much about it. Just that Robin Williams was in the movie, which I watched. And remember nothing of. Good job me.

4. The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo

The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen

Finally, onto some Tudor books! I tried reading this one a while ago and it didn’t stick with me. Maybe because it talked more about her in media, like TV and movies. Either way, I’d like to read this “new look” to decide if it really is a new one.

5. The First Queen of England: The Myth of “Bloody Mary” by Linda Porter

The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"

Mary I is another fascinating Tudor woman who has been really bashed by history. Yes, she executed people, but she’s not too much different than her father. And think of her stressful childhood, too. I’m looking forward to learning more about her and this is a book I own that seems like a good first start.

6. The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir

The Life of Elizabeth I

Ah, Alison Weir. My love-hate relationship. However, I own this book (along with another huge book about Elizabeth I) and I’d like to read it since I don’t know as much as I’d like about her reign.

7. The Queen Mother: The Official Biography by William Shawcross

The Queen Mother: The Official Biography

Ever since watching The Crown (haven’t seen the second season yet so please don’t tell me too much about it) I’ve wanted to know more about the current royal family. And I bought this book a while ago that’s all about the life of a woman who lived to be 101.

8. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George

The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers

This is one of those books I’ve heard a lot about and just haven’t read. I also own it and other books by Margaret George but haven’t had a chance for. So, why not? Yet another tome.

9. Tricks/Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

Tricks (Tricks, #1)Traffick (Tricks, #2)

I know, I know. “But Caidyn, don’t you dislike YA? Haven’t you ranted a million fucking times about Ellen Hopkins?” Hold it, hold it. Okay? I don’t like Ellen Hopkins anymore. I won’t read her now. BUT. Tricks was the first book I read by her. I’d like to reread it. And I own Traffick as well. I’ll read them and then be done.

10. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One In

The first time I heard of this book was as a movie. The movie is very popular and I’ve kept myself from watching it since I really want to read the book first. Well, I own the book. And this is another book I want to read in 2018.

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.

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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:

Most unique Christmas present ever. #mymomknowsmewell

A post shared by Caidyn and Chantel (@bwbookreviews) 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.

More of Caidyn's holiday swag! #holidayswag #bookstagram #bookstagrammer

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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!

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.