Why I Swiped Left On You

Hell to no, to the no no no no no
Ironically, this photo was linked to a much less funny but similar post on HuffPo, written by a dude.

  • You have a lot of weird facial hair in every single picture. I interpreted this as an extreme commitment to your beard/mustachios/mutton chops. Like more commitment than you’ll have to an actual human relationship
  • you have no photos
  • you have one photo
  • you have all group photos
  • it is unclear who you are in each photo
  • your first picture is you and your extremely hot friend. The comparison is not flattering. Also can I have his number?
  • you are holding a fish and you’re not a marine biologist
  • you are petting a drugged tiger
  • you are posing with an extremely cute dog you don’t own, which I will therefore never get to meet
  • you have a shirtless photo and you’re not at the beach
  • you have a shirtless photo and you’re not even outside
  • you have a shirtless photo (leave me some mystery)
  • All of your photos are with girls
  • Any of your photos are with a girl. Oh, she’s your roommate/sister/cousin? Too bad you’ll never get a chance to explain that because I swiped left.
  • All of your photos are with one specific girl. Why are you on this app?
  • You’re smoking a tobacco product
  • You’re drinking in all of your photos.
  • Your first photo is at the gun range. I admire your Beretta but I am not interested in dating the Beretta.
  • You have sunglasses on in every picture. Why? Do you not have eyes? What’s wrong with them?
  • You have a hat on in every picture. I get it, some men have hair loss. I’m going to find out eventually.
  • Close-lipped smiles in every picture. I don’t have dental insurance either, bruh, but I’m going to notice your teeth like, right away, when we meet.
  • All of your selfies are taken from lap level. While I’m pleased to see there’s nothing in your nose, this is an extremely unflattering angle.
  • All of your selfies are exactly the same.
  • None of your photos show your actual face. I get it, you hate selfies, but I can’t see what you look like from 30ft away/with snow goggles on. Sick rail though.
  • All of your photos are “funny.” Like, Halloween costume, ladies heels, morph suit, you passed out on your friend’s couch. What a sense of humor!
  • You did something ironically in a photo and I thought you were serious. Esp. if you’re making fun of women.

Editor’s Note (I am the editor): As of like, one week after I initially wrote this in March ’17, I completely changed my swiping criteria. Here are the updated auto-left swipes.

  • You’re not a dog
  • or a cat.
  • You’re a human man.
  • You’re human.
  • No.
  • I deleted all of these apps.

I plan to die alone with cats.

Review and Rant: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels, #1)Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I visited the main branch of the Denver Public Library this week, so naturally I left with armfuls of books. Bless you, library card. One of the books I checked out was Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, the author of The Others series, which I adore. Daughter of the Blood is a markedly different type of novel, more high fantasy, but I quickly noted one very similar characteristic of Bishop’s writing.

*Spoiler alert* Both central protagonists in the series are young girls who have suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of depraved men and this hampers them from developing their powers and forming friendships, familial bonds, as well as romantic and sexual relationships with the intended love interest of their respective series, all of which are much older than their object of romantic and sexual desire, and take the role of guardian, mentor, and at times, paternal figure.

It bears mentioning that I stayed up all night long to read this book. It is good, but I do find the choices made in regard to character development a bit disturbing, mostly because I recently encountered it while reading nearly the entire published works of author Connie Suttle, whose female protagonists are, without exception, victims of mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Notice I didn’t say survivors. The abuse is continual throughout the entirety of their story arcs.

When I examine my reaction to the use of abuse as a plot device and character development, most of the aversion comes from the fact that it is extremely common in Western Literature. Anne Bishop herself makes reference to the archetype of Cassandra, Princess of Troy, who in the myth was punished by Apollo, the Greek god of light and music, for refusing him as a suitor. Cassandra was cursed with prophesy that no one would heed, and was later captured by the Greeks during the Trojan war and sold as a slave. In Bishop’s The Others series, the cassandra sangue is a female seer who prophesies through self-mutilation, which will ultimately kill them. In addition *spoiler alert* the majority are enslaved and used for sexual pleasure in addition to having their visions sold for profit.

Daughter of the Blood starts in a world that is tenuously clinging to a magical and political matriarchy that is slowly being dismantled by a tyrannical female ruler bent on complete domination of her world, at the cost of killing every woman with enough power to challenge her. She’s enslaved the most powerful living men of the Blood (a magical nobility) and as a result the entirety of their magical lineage is declining. The book centers around a young girl, Jaenelle, who is a, or the, Queen of the Blood. She is only seven years old at the start of the series, but already possesses the power of the Black Jewels, which are a combination of indicators of power and also like magical power banks.

The entire plot line of Daughter of the Blood revolves around three powerful men who are determined to shape her future to become the Queen the realm needs. Their names are Saetan, Daemon, and Lucivar. I am not kidding. Only Saetan and Daemon have much of a part to play in this first installment, but the enslavement of Daemon and Lucivar is a major plot device, in that both are fitted with “Rings of Obedience,” magical metal cock rings controlled by the women (witches) who command them as sex slaves. The men take great pleasure in killing the witches, and do so many times throughout the story, and the sense I perceived was that the reader was expected to condone their homicide as justifiable because of the cruelty they experienced in being used as sex slaves. Many, many times throughout the book the term “shave” or “shaved” is used to refer to genital mutilation. It is used as a form of entertainment by the more despotic members of the Blood. This practice is reacted to with much more horror than that of sexual assault, with a subtle implication that the value of the person lay fully in their sexual commodity. Daemon is repeatedly noted to be impotent, and experiences no small amount of self-hatred because of it, even going so far as to compare his lack of sexual arousal to being shaved, though it is made clear that his flaccidity is due to his contempt and hatred for the women who use him.

Throughout the book, the men often express a desire to serve a worthy Queen, but every single adult witch of the Blood introduced is either cruel (those who use them), or a victim of sexual or physical abuse. Tersa, the first character introduced, has slid into madness because of a violent rape. Bishop uses the euphemism “spearing” to describe the act of rape, and witches of the Blood may be “broken” and lose their powers as a result of rape. This is problematic given the removal of agency of the women, many of whom possess powerful magic, but only until the loss of their virginity. Without exception, none of the rape survivors are able to mentally or magically recover from their assault. Whether this was intended to underscore how severely the culture of this world has backslid in terms of gender equality, or Bishop deliberately constructed the nature of the female power this way is unclear in this book. Perhaps this will be further developed in the series. I doubt this however, given that one of the major point of view characters, Surreal (yes, that is her name), a high-end prostitute, is repeatedly told her profession is shameful and immoral, and despite being powerful and well educated, she is looked down on by her society, including by men who patronize her services.

Another troubling element is that Jaenelle is a child throughout the entire book, making her first contact with the three men at age seven and then for the majority of the story at age 12. Daemon, as previously mentioned, feels no arousal with any of the women in the books, except for this child. He repeated chastises himself for his sexual attraction to a child, but continues to think of her sexually and romantically throughout the book. He is territorial and jealous of the other men who pay her any attention, despite the fact that Jaenelle is the bastard child of a man who refuses to claim her, to the point where Jaenelle is punished for revealing her paternity to her mother, grandmother, and uncle. In addition, the unprecedented acquisition of enormous power at an unheard of young age sends the major players in her world scurrying to form some sort of authority or control over her. Even the most benevolent characters, in terms of Jaenelle’s mental and physical well-being, Saetan and Daemon, both step into roles of mentor-ship, the former more paternalistic than the latter, given his romantic and sexual desires. Both set rules and chastise her for her behavior, while acknowledging how beyond their knowledge and control she is growing, refuse to give her the information she might use to make determinations for herself, such as explaining innuendo or the nature of romantic and sexual relationships, and about the dangerous consequences of misusing her enormous powers. This contrast is troubling because the male characters often note that they find her oddly precocious, and that her stare seems “ancient,” yet they make many attempts to retain her perceived “innocence.”

The penultimate plot point is that the hospital where Jaenelle has spent much of her childhood is discovered to be a front for many of the male antagonists to gather female children, under the guise of treating them for emotional disturbance, and then sexually assaulting and killing them. Jaenelle is drugged and brutally raped, and it is inferred that this particular assault, the loss of her “virginity,” though her innocence was probably lost years earlier, will cause her to slide in to madness if her body doesn’t succumb to the mortal wounds she has suffered.

Rape as a plot device is unfortunately common point of character development in fantasy. The fear of rape equally so. I don’t say this to downplay the horror of such an act, but to point out how misogynist it is that the ultimate violation is that of being treated as a sexual object. Women can be equally traumatized by other violence, but the continual removal of agency, and the fact that in this case and many others the female characters are never able to overcome the circumstances that led to this trauma paint the characters as intrinsically weak.

That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did. I stayed up all night reading it. I devoured all of Bishop’s The Others series, and I have read numerous other books that employ the same tired tropes, and enjoyed them. But I do find it concerning that modern writers are still writing for medieval readers, no matter how well they do it.

Thanks for reading!

The Year of Finishing Things

Ah, 2017. I’m excited to be in you.

Last year was long and eventful and a lot of stuff happened. For me, a lot of last year’s events were good! I got a job as a flight attendant, moved to a new state, made new friends, did a ton of traveling, and worked my tail off. I was very goal oriented and had a lot of personal growth and very little backsliding on things like eating a whole pizza in one sitting. One could call it a success.

I’m especially proud of how determined I was to write more in 2016. I worked a lot on the urban fantasy book I started in 2013. I attempted NaNoWriMo and actually did pretty okay for the first half of the month, given how much I was flying. November is always the busiest month. I wrote about 15,000 words, which is kind of a lot. And I’m not done. (btw, if you’re one of my super excellent beta readers I’ll start posting the newer bits soon!)

I also wrote poems and blogs and started a memoir/collection of stories about the funny experiences I had dating in LA while I was living there. I’ve only done about 7 tales/chapters but I made myself laugh and that’s the ultimate goal, non?

I also failed at a lot of things in 2016, but I’m not too torn up about it. I need adversity to really thrive, because let’s face it, I’m lazy as hell. Adversity gets me out of bed in the morning.

So, cheers to The Year of Finishing Things! Whether it’s the book I swore I’d complete in 2016, my Goodreads Reading Challenge (150 books was extremely ambitious, 100 is much more my speed for this year), projects I promised to undertake and didn’t, my laundry, and a good K.O. in Mortal Kombat, my only resolution for 2017 is to finish things.

Also: I’m not a quote person but I’m getting more and more basic so this quote by Brad Paisley. I keep thinking if I can just write a little bit every day I’ll have a Harry Potter length book by next year. Let me have this dream :p

How I read ebooks for free part II

Read part I

Method 2: BookBub

Bookbub.com is a subscription email service that sends you a daily email listing free or discounted ebooks. It’s a free service that helps millions of readers discover limited-time deals. Members receive a personalized daily email.

homepagescreen

Join for free by choosing your favorite ebook genres and retailers at BookBub.com. Once signed up, you get BookBub’s daily email with limited-time discounts on ebooks matching your preferences. When you see a deal you like, click through to the ebook retailer of your choice and download the book from there.

Pros:

It’s super easy to set up your preferred genres. The emails you get will be tailored just for your preferences.

Occasionally you’ll get author suggestions. Once you follow them, you’ll get notified when their books are free or discounted.

FREE! WE LOVE FREEEE. You’re going to discover a lot of new books by authors you might have not checked out if you had to pay for their books.

Cons:thedailyemail

It’s a daily email. If you, like me, are constantly drowning in a sea of unread emails (and books) this might be a bit much for you.

Some books are in the public domain (so you don’t need to pay for the format, it’s already available online) or self published, so I would definitely recommend looking into reviews and checking to see if they are quality worth reading before you begin.

Not all of the books in your list will be free. Some days you’ll get emails that are all books from 1.99-0.99. Which is fine. But we want freeeeeee.

Happy reading! Check out Part I!

 

p.s. This is not an ad. BookBub did not pay me to tell you about them, I actually use this service and I love it.

Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Truly wonderfully fantastic.

I like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. Quite a lot. But I ADORE this book.

I can’t gush enough. I was recommended this book by a friend and didn’t take the recommendation seriously enough.

The raw creativity of this world, the complexity of the plot, and the perfection of the characters.

Just, read it. There are cats.

View all my reviews

Sci-fi vs. Reality and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies Series

Uglies (Uglies, #1)I don’t think I’m the only person who gets books stuck in their head like songs. I’ve had Scott Westerfeld’s YA series stuck in my brain for years, and I think a big part of that is because it is so prescient about modern society and the direction human nature is taking us.

The series is set in a future North America where at a certain age privileged teenagers undergo cosmetic surgery to erase all of their flaws. The books go more into the philosophical and ethical consequences of this, from the personal level to that of government, but I think even at the surface level it’s an interesting question to ask yourself. If you could become “perfect,” would you?

In Uglies, Tally Youngblood, the protagonist, spends her free time thinking about what her future face will look like, comparing the symmetry of either half of her face. When I read the books years ago I thought about it myself, but today as I was scrolling through a makeup group I follow on Facebook, a user had posted a set of photos of herself, one unedited, one retouched, side by side, and I was inspired to try it.

I picked a photo (left) from a day I thought my makeup looked really good.

img_2809 img_3350

Surprisingly, the right side of my face when doubled looks more like the original photo. I am right handed, so the features on the right side of my body are all slightly larger. I prefer the photo on the right, which is my left side doubled. You can tell because I have a freckle under the pupil on my left eye. My face is narrower and my forehead is smoother, but despite this I wouldn’t ever voluntarily have a symmetry surgery done, like in the books.

I made my face symmetrical using a free app called Square Instapic. It’s available on both Android and IOS img_3351platforms. I mostly use it for fitting an entire rectangular photo in a square for Instagram, but it makes nice collages too.

With so much emphasis on cosmetically and surgically changing the way we look these days, it’s no wonder Uglies  popped into my head. I’ve seen so much lip lining and contouring and general makeup brujeria recently. Not to mention actual surgery, and photo retouching; the premise of Westerfeld’s book isn’t far off.

I don’t see anything wrong with changing the way you look to feel like your most authentic self, but I think the underlying warning of both the book and my own opinion is that the single-minded focus on image can make humans blind to other, very important things.

Extras (Uglies, #4)However, in a society that is becoming much more like the last book in the series, Extras, image is everything, including livelihood, for a growing number of people. In Extras,  Aya lives in the same world as Tally, but in a different culture, where everything is filmed and broadcast, and social status and resources are allotted by popularity. Sound familiar?

Thousands of people have gained notoriety, sponsor-ships, and sometimes even fame and fortune from popular photos on social media, or viral videos. Some people come to it by chance, and some work very hard and almost single-minded-ly toward these goals. There are tons of marketing and traffic growth experts who have spent years developing know-how and web techniques to create viral content. Marketing is a cornerstone in the American economy and I can imagine it will only grow bigger and more essential as society and technology grow together. It’s exciting and a bit scary to think about, no?

Thanks for reading!

And, just in case you’re wondering, yes, Scott Westerfeld does have an Instagram.

Review: The Raven King

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final book in a wonderful series. I loved the first three books, and I cannot recommend Maggie Stiefvater enough as a writer. That said, I wasn’t as enamoured with this book as the first three. I think it was well written and there were still things to be learned and twists and turns that I enjoyed.

Without going into spoiler-y detail, I will just say that the end of the series was fitting, consistent with the whimsy and horror of the world that was created in The Raven Boys.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a good story.

View all my reviews

Waiting, Mental Health and Writing

Grave Visions (Alex Craft, #4)Grave Visions, the fourth and latest installment of the Alex Craft books came out today. I was fanatical about this series when I read them initially in 2012, which is when the third book came out.

I’ve waited four excited years for this day. Every time the publication date was pushed back I felt a bit of confusion and disappointment, but not much. The reason? Kalayna Price is an author. A really really good one. Her Haven series is also really great. That aside, she’s a human.

The only hint of explanation (which I was not owed, nor was any other reader) was a blog post from February of 2013, in which she told us that in order to maintain her health and wellbeing she needed to withdraw from touring and appearances and heal.

This resonated with me because I write and deal with health issues. Writing is extremely mentally demanding. The brain is a powerful thing, and the body is affected. In my experience dealing with mental health issues, the physical toll can be harsh. If your physical state is under stress, you can pretty much kiss goodbye any ease in using your mental faculties.
Kalayna Price is doing the dang thing and I’m incredibly inspired by it, whatever her troubles may be. Four years sounds like eons to an anxious reader, but to someone who has spent the last four years getting it together (me) it means work and recovering and more work. Brava, Kalayna. I can’t wait to read your book.

How I read ebooks for free part I

I bet that got your attention. I’m only addressing legal/questionably legal methods,here. As someone who one day hopes to make a living from the sale of books, I can’t, in good conscience, endorse illegally downloading ebooks. Don’t worry, with this handy guide you won’t need to!

Method 1: My public library! (I <3 U LAPL)

Okay, get this, some libraries have ebook collections! WHAAAT.

It’s easy, you just obtain a library card, go to the library website, and find their resources. The Los Angeles Public Library’s collection is called “OverDrive.” While you’re in there, check out the other collections. There are some cool resources in there, such as scanned historical documents, newspapers, and music.

lapl

Pros:

You can read new releases!
The ebooks usually come in a couple of different formats, such as DRM and non-DRM epubs, or in Kindle format. (Selecting Kindle format takes you to Amazon’s Kindle content manager).

You can download to your computer, or straight to any tablet, e-reader with an internet browser, or even your phone, and open them using an ebook reading app if the format isn’t compatible with your device. (I use Moon+ Reader and Aldiko, the latter of which is great for DRM protected material).

IT’S FREE AND LEGAL!!!! and INSTANT!

Cons:

Your library’s collection may not have EVERYTHING. (However if you’re patient you can always request they acquire the titles you’d like to read. Just make sure that title is available in ebook format from the publisher)

The library’s collection has a finite number of copies. (Usually 2). This often annoys me because I don’t really understand how an easily copied file can logically be called unavailable, but the publisher and the author have to make dollars somehow. My library has a hold system just like they do for physical copies. I am too impatient to use it but if you are willing to wait a couple weeks the world is your oyster.

Like any library material you check out, you have a certain amount of time in which to read it, after which the file becomes inaccessible on your device. The Kindle files are neat because you get an email warning you that your library loan is ending. (I guess some of the non DRM epub files might not be subject to this but don’t quote me)

Happy reading! Keep an eye out for Part II!

WIR: First post of 2014, skinwalkers and vampires and con men, oh my! & I still hate Divergent.

Hiii.

I just clicked through myself on a comment on someone else’s blog (you can see which blogs I like to read in my left sidebar) and I was like DAMN GURL u ain’t been blogging this year.

So welcome to my first post of the year. It’s not a review, obvi. I’m just catching you up I guess.

I HAVE been reading, though the currently reading shelf on my goodreads account hasn’t changed much in forever.

I still haven’t finished A Memory of Light, nor have I started Origin, the last book in the Lux series. Maybe I’ll do that this week.

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1)I do have a glowing recommendation to make. Two actually! The first is the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter. Jane is my favorite badass lately, and there are so many things about her and her world I absolutely love.

I discovered the series seeking out urban fantasy books set in New Orleans. There is so much mystique and charm about this city (which I’ve never visited), and I love learning more about it through books. The secondary location for a lot of the first book, Skinwalker, is Asheville, NC—another city I’m fascinated by in book settings.

One of the best things about the series is that as a female character Jane isn’t one of those inexplicably gorgeous everyone-falls-all-over-themselves characters. I mean, she gets propositioned a lot, but that’s kind of a consequence of being a fairly decent looking woman surrounded by men in a patriarchal society.

On a brighter note, there is a lot of female friendship in Jane’s life! So refreshing to have a guy’s girl with female friends! Also did I mention she kicks a lot of ass? There are vampires in this series (boo) but Jane hasn’t hooked up with any yet and I’m on book 6 or 7 (yay), but they are all really hot (boo, wait, yay?) so I figure it’s only a matter of time.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)The second recommendation is for The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I can’t really gush too much about this book, and I read it in December (yes, someone got a copy of it from me for Xmas). It’s really smart and intricate. It is long, but that seems to bother people less these days than it ever has before. I call it the Rowling/Martin Effect. But if you like con men, plotting, nefarious deeds, and amusing comraderie, definitely definitely check this out.

There are a few more books and series I’ve read lately, which you can find on my Goodreads (I haven’t been reviewing them, just rating), and I’m proooobably going to post about Vampire Academy after I see the movie. I just have to find a theater where it is still playing. And someone to schlep out to it with me. I’m pretty sure all of the usual suspects have seen it already.

Am I going to see Divergent? Eh. I never saw The Host, and I actually liked that book. I wasn’t a fan of Divergent.

Anyway, life has been/is still pretty crazy around these parts for me, but I find myself missing posting to this blog, so hopefully you’ll see more from me in the near future.

As always, I’d love to know what you’re reading, or what you thought about anything I talked about here!

p.s. I’m going to do a giveaway soon, so keep an eye out for that!