Monthly Archives: February 2017

Review: The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee and David John

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Hyeonseo Lee grew up in North Korea as one of the more privileged people there. She ate meat every day at least. When she was seventeen, in an act of rebellion, she crossed the river to visit China. She only wanted to visit for a week before she turned eighteen and started college. But she would never be able to return. She had to rebuild her life in China, and later, in South Korea unlearning all the propaganda she was indoctrinated with her whole life, and in general, learning how to live while not getting caught by the police. Then, twelve years later, she would again go on another remarkable journey to get her mother and her brother out of North Korea.

I will admit before picking up this book I knew pretty much nothing about North Korea. This book taught me a lot, and makes me want to know more. Lee’s story was overwhelming and sad and amazing. I was in a constant state of awe while reading.

The story is told in a very clear way. It was never boring or dry. The only thing I didn’t like about the writing was that there was a lot of heavy foreshadowing like, “She made this choice. It was the worst choice she could have made.” And other phrases very similar to that were used almost every chapter. It’s a little thing. Very easy to overlook in the grand scheme of everything, but it did happen and was a little irritating.

In the end, I gave this book five stars. I think it’s another book that everyone should read. 

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Zombies in the East End by Roxanne Dent Review

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Zombies in the East End  sets place in 1876 in London during a brief zombie outbreak. It’s a paranormal steampunk book with a lesbian romance. It follows Billie, a six foot bouncer with a robotic hand, and her crush Callie, a widow who volunteers regularly to help sick and poor women  as people start coming back to life with an appetite for brains.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

This book was super easy to read. I read it in five hours. I thought the concept was really interesting, and I liked that the action never really stopped, besides the whole second chapter being a huge info dump. All the characters were interesting people who worked well together. But, unfortunately, that’s all the good I can say about this book.

This might be because I’ve never read a steampunk book before, but the world confused me. Billie stands out for wearing masculine clothes, and it’s hard for her to be a doctor since she’s a woman and that’s not common, but there’s advanced technology with robots. Vampires are an accepted part of society, but the mention of magic and zombies shocked and confused them. It just seemed a little odd to me.

I felt the writing was very choppy. A lot was summarized, and there wasn’t a lot of emotions shown. I didn’t understand the character’s logic a lot of times, and everything was solved really fast. It also annoyed me that all the bad things stopped effecting Billie when she was around Callie because Callie was simply so beautiful, and Billie wanted to see her naked. Also whenever the characters would get to know someone new, one of the first things asked about is their love life. It was odd, and not realistic.

So I give this book two stars. I felt like it had a lot of potential, but it sadly didn’t live up to it. 

 

Favorite Romance Films

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve put together this list compiling my top favorite romance films. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a good romantic movie. I love sitting back with a good snack and watching two fictional characters fall madly in love with each other. Who doesn’t? Isn’t fun to root for two people to finally get together after so many obstacles and misunderstandings? (I grew up watching telenovelas, so this is a way of life for me). Anyway, let’s begin.

 

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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I’m sure everyone has seen this masterpiece, but I had to include it anyway. Having seen mostly all adaptations of this Jane Austen story, I have to say that this one stands out. It isn’t exactly like the book, but another thing entirely, and that’s what makes it so great. It keeps the best parts of the characters and relationships, but adds it a little extra humor and fun.

The Wedding Singer (1998)

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Let’s be honest. This is probably one of the best Adam Sandler movies ever made. But this movie is made ten times better thanks to Drew Barrymore and her sweet charisma. This movie is kind of a big cliche, but I’m not even mad about it. I love every moment, and every ridiculous and beautiful song in it.

City of Angels (1998)

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And here we have the movie that always makes me listen to Iris on repeat and sing my heart out while crying over the bittersweet ending. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. The whole angel thing doesn’t excuse Nicholas Cage from stalking poor Meg Ryan even when she’s in the bathtub. I mean, come on. It just goes to show that even angels are big creeps. But I still root for these two every time.

Big Eden (2000)

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This is one of those unbelievably sweet and feel-good movies that don’t come too often. I adore this one so much that it’s my usual go-to whenever I need a lift me up. It’s just so damn beautiful. Henry and Pike go through so much before they can be together, but it is so worth it in the end. And what could be better than a small town being so accepting and encouraging of two men falling for each other? Probably nothing.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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Meg Ryan was the literal queen of rom-coms back in the day. This is another classic, of course. I’ve seen this one quite a few times, and it never gets old. Seriously. It’s so witty and clever and absolutely frustrating because these two are so stubborn and it’s just great and awful at the same time. If you haven’t yet seen the beauty of Harry and Sally, then you’re in for a treat.

The Way He Looks (2014)

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This movie is like an ice cream sundae on a hot summer day. It is absolutely stunning. I love the quietness throughout and the way the friendship develops between the two main characters before it ever turns into more. I love that one of the characters is blind and he fights his way to independence. There’s so much to love about this one. And yay for two boys falling in love and having a happy ending!

Margarita With a Straw (2014)

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This movie is heartfelt and painful, but I loved it all the same. The main character has cerebral palsy, but that isn’t the focus of the story. Laila learns to be independent, far away from home, where she falls in love with a woman. It’s not as lighthearted as the movie poster might indicate, but it is so worth the watch. I loved the romance, and everything in between.

Dan in Real Life (2007)

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This is possibly my top favorite romance film of all time. It isn’t abundantly romantic. It focuses mainly on Dan’s family and  character development, and it is fantastic. This one has a pinch of forbidden love. Who doesn’t love that? I really love the overall atmosphere of this movie. It’s set in a small Rhode Island town and it’s full of quirky characters. The soundtrack is outstanding, which is just a plus.

A Resist/Protest Writing Playlist

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I Give You Power- Arcade Fire ft. Mavis Staples 

I give you power/I can take it away

When the President Talks to God- Bright Eyes

When the president talks to God/Do they drink near beer and go play golf/While they pick which countries to invade/Which Muslims souls still can be saved?/I guess God just calls a spade a spade

Master of War- Bob Dylan

You might say that I’m young/You might say I’m unlearned/But there’s one thing I know/Though I’m younger than you/That even Jesus would never forgive what you do

Fortunate Son- Creedence Clearwater Revival

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand/Lord, don’t they help themselves/But when the taxman comes to the door/Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale

Glory- John Legend and Common

Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany/Now we right the wrongs in history/No one can win the war individually/It takes the wisdom of the elders and the young people’s energy

Troubled Times- Green Day

What good is love and peace on earth/When it’s exclusive?

Killing in the Name- Rage Against the Machine

Fuck you/I won’t do what you tell me

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised- Gil Scott-Heron

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised/The revolution will be no re-run brothers/The revolution will be live

Fight the Power- Public Enemy

Our freedom of speech is freedom or death/We got to fight the powers that be 

American Idiot- Green Day

Well maybe I’m the faggot America/I’m not part of a redneck agenda/Now everybody do the propaganda/And sing along to the age of paranoia

Sleep Now in the Fire- Rage Against the Machine

I am the Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria/the noose and the rapist/the field’s overseer/The agents of orange/The priests of Hiroshima/The cost of my desire/Sleep now in the fire

FDT (Fuck Donald Trump) Pt. 2-YG ft. Macklemore and G-Eazy

I’m a patriot/ I’m a stay right here/I ain’t living in fear/With my people who are Muslims, Mexican and queer/And we ain’t gonna let you fuck up four years

 

 

Tropes We Hate

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There are a lot of tropes that make up fiction. Some we love, and others, not so much. So we decided to make a list of some of the tropes that we hate.

1. Stalker Boy With a Heart of Gold – I mean, I think we can all agree that Edward Cullen got this trope started. You know, the brooding guy who obsesses over a girl and stalks her to the point where it’s truly concerning, but the guy is totally sexy so it’s okay. Yeah, I hate this trope. I recently found it again in The 5th Wave and I was cringing so hard. It was overall unpleasant. Let’s get rid of this trope forever. 

2. Pining Over Dead Lover – I’m not sure if this is specific to David Shaun Hutchinson novels, but I’ve seen it in two of his novels. Although, there are probably other stories with this particular trope. This is the one where a character was in love, but that loved one died and now they are forever pining for their loss. This is usually used as a plot device to keep the current couple apart until the one pining realizes it’s time to move on. The reason I don’t like this one is just because I don’t like getting to know a character that died, usually before the story even started. It makes me terribly sad. I’ve lost so many close family members and I don’t like getting attached to the fading memories of a character that won’t ever live within the fictional world I’m reading. 

3. Friendship Ends When Rejected – This one is a little too close to home, but I’m adding it anyway. You know that trope where there are two close friends, one falls for the other, but the other friend rejects that friend, so the one who was rejected decides they must end their friendship once and for all, giving no alternative. I get it. When there are feelings and you put yourself out there, it’s hard to stay friends with someone. But it’s also unfair to give the other person a sort of ultimatum: romantic love or nothing. It just seems cruel. And usually, the end result of this is eventually the couple getting together, so it starts to feel like it’s a forced relationship meant only to keep the rejected friend close.

4. Miscommunication to Keep Couple Apart – A lot of these tropes have to do with relationships, but can you blame me? I really hate this one. There’s always that one couple you love to see together but they don’t know how to talk to each other and it’s their own fault they either won’t get together or won’t make up. And it’s frustrating as hell. I experienced this while reading Ignite Me. It was one thing for Warner to come clean at the beginning of the book, but then the entire book was spent with the main characters not talking to each other about the important things, not even about the actual plot of the story (outside the romance, there was actually a plot). So yeah, hate this one.

 

5. Sad Endings – I’m not sure if this is a trope, but let’s go with it. Look, I hate sad endings. I really do. I love realistic books with realistic life events. Yes, give me all the sad stories in the world. But come on. Don’t make me read a bleak book with a sad endings. What’s the point in that? I’m supposed to stick around to see a set of characters suffer only to see them end worse than they started? I hate that. I’ve read some real sad books with hopeful endings and it works so well. I’m not asking for happy ever after endings wrapped up with a bow. Not at all. I’m talking stories that end on a hopeful note. Something that shows I wasn’t just wasting my time with all the sadness I had to put up with. I just really really hate sad endings. There should be a warning in books for those.

6. Children Who Mess Everything Up – I think kids get a bad rap in general, but this trope makes me really dislike kids in fiction. There are amazing children in books, like Danny in The Shining and kickass Matilda. But then there are the worst type of kids, like the ones in Fablehaven. These kids do the complete opposite of what they’re told to do, even when they’re clearly warned of the consequences. And I get that sometimes characters need to stumble into the plot, but there’s a line between curiosity and stupidity, and these children surpass the stupidity mark. I’ve encountered children plenty of times in fiction that are just there to make things worse, and I hate that.

7. Love Triangles – From The 5th wave to Shatter Me to Twilight to The Hunger Games series, love triangles are everywhere, and they never fail to drive me crazy. In my opinion all it is is padding to keep the true couple apart, and to create some drama to add to the word count. I know people say that its realistic, and that people usually have crushes on different people at once. Which is true, but it’s too bad that that’s not what happens in these books. The love interests are never equal to each other. Most of the time it is painfully obvious who will end up with who, but as the reader you have to suffer along with their angst and their jealousy until the characters figure it out. A lot of times the world is ending around them, and they completely ignore it in favor of their romance. It’s so annoying. 

8. One True Love – Semi related to the previous one, but it’s the idea that a character is only able to fall in love once. If a character moves onto a different relationship then they have to discover that they thought they were in love before, but now they realize how mistaken they were. Or if the couple breaks up for some contrived reason than the character’s whole world falls apart because they will never be able to move on, and romance is the only thing good in life.

9. Useless Adults – This encompasses a large array of examples. From Harry Potter where every single adult lets him down at some point to The Series of Unfortunate Events where the adults just don’t listen or are actively out to get them.  In Twilight Bella’s dad is simply oblivious as is the parents in Fablehaven. The other adults in Fablehaven are put out of the way for one reason or another so that the kids have to figure out everything for themselves. In The Outliers all the adults either can’t be contacted because it’s dangerous or because they turn out to be out to get them. In any of John Green’s books the parents are mentioned maybe once or twice at the beginning, and then nothing. They don’t care what their kids get up to. If their parents are even alive, because holy orphans Batman there are a lot of those running around fiction, they are negligent or useless. And the other adults around are hardly better. After so many books with such flimsy excuses for not having adults around, it’s simply irritating to read.

10. Girl on girl hate – Girls always have to hate other girls. The main character can maybe have one other friend that’s a girl, but only if she’s not a rival for the love interest. Any other girls? Have to hate them. Love interest’s ex? Evil. The girl who loves to wear makeup and might show a little more skin? Evil. The Cheerleader? Evil. The main girl is never like those other evil girls. She thinks she’s ugly, never puts thought into her outfits, has never had a boyfriend, and loves to read books (but only classics okay those other books like the one you are reading? Evil). Pitting girls against other girls is getting tired, and I wish books didn’t do it so much. If the actual character isn’t making a baseless judgement then the actual book demonizes the pretty girl who loves herself and has ambition because they can never be good people if they are like that. It’s stupid and pointless.

 

11. The insecure/bland girl gets fixed by the boy –  This can come about in two ways. We’ve already talked about how a female character can’t think she’s beautiful or she’s evil, but no one wants an ugly character either. So to get around that a lot of fiction makes her insecure until the love interest can show her how beautiful she is. So then she can be pretty, good, and have the guy, and everything is okay. The other way is that she’s boring. She has no life, no hobbies, no goals until this boy comes in and shakes up her world. My main example for this is in Twilight. Before Bella moves to Forks, she has no friends or hobbies. Once there she mainly thinks about how she hates the friends she made there and the weather, before she gets tangled up with Edward. After that, he’s her life. Edward is all Bella thinks about.

 

12. The outsider is the savior –   I’m not sure if technically this is a trope outside of the white savior trope which I also hate, but I’m still going to talk about it. So many times, mainly in fantasy, it’s the outsider who comes in and has to save their world. Harry Potter and Percy Jackson do this. I do get that it’s easier to set up a world this way so that the reader learns about the world alongside the main character. That way the author doesn’t fall into the trap of the main character growing up in the world, but it feels like their home was under a rock with how out of touch they are. A lot of times it forces the people in the world to be oblivious to their problems in order to put the burden of saving them on the main character. I would like to read more about a person growing up with the world’s problems training up to do something about it. Because it’s their world they are living in, so they should have an invested interest in helping it.