The One Lovely Blog Award, Take #2

one-lovely-blog

Thanks for tagging me for this Rachel! This couldn’t have come at a better time. I was supposed to do today’s Top 5 Tuesday but I got super lazy. Then I came close to doing a Tumblr meme I swiped but it turned oddly personal so I decided not to. I guess I can share some facts from that meme, though!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15).
  • Include this set of rules.
  • Inform your nominees.

7 Facts About Me

1) I live in New York City, and I would give my left pinky toe to leave (okay, maybe not any of my actual extremities, but you get the idea).  I hate that’s it’s so ridiculously expensive to rent closet-sized apartments, I hate the noise and the crowds, I hate that there’s no nature, and I hate how dirty it is all the time.  Just this morning as I was walking to work holding my breath, I thought, “God, what would it be like to walk outside without having to inhale the scent of piss!” Anyway, it’s nothing personal against NYC in particular (which definitely has a ton of upsides!), I’m just not a city person.

2) I don’t really have a “bucket list” but one thing I really want to do before I die is see the Northern Lights in person. A few years ago I charted a trip to Abisko, Sweden and even found a lodge I could stay in and everything.

3) My fashion sense is very casual/cozy/comfy while still trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism.  Basically, I dress like Clara Oswald, so lots of dresses over tights/leggings with boots/booties.  I even have a leather jacket.  But yeah, comfort is my top priority.  I haven’t worn jeans in nearly a year.

4) I really want to get an MFA (Masters in Creative Writing) at some point soon in my life. I’ve looked up various programs that are fully funded and I’ve got a good idea of where I would like to go.  I’m not sure when I’ll do this, but I’ll probably start looking towards the ~next step~ in my life as soon as I get my MLS (Masters in Library Science), which I’m working on at the moment.

5) As much as it pains me to admit it, I’m a terribly messy, unorganized person. I really want to be organized and every now and then I’ll make an effort to be less of a mess of a person, but inevitably it all comes crashing down around me.  I’m a bit flaky and absentminded to go along with it, so I’m always misplacing things and forgetting things. I really admire people who are super organized and color coordinate everything and whatnot, but I never seem to be able to achieve that #aesthetic.

6) I am not musically inclined at all.  I really wish I could sing, but according to everyone in my family I have a horrible singing voice and can’t carry a tune to save my life.  I took that “Tone Deaf Test” and I’m not actually tone-deaf at all, but I’ve never had any musical training and I know exactly zero about music.  I wish I could play an instrument but only in that abstract way where I don’t have to put any effort into it.  Singing, though, I wouldn’t mind putting effort to become better at; I really admire people who can sing.

7) I’m a really nostalgic and obsessive person and I have trouble letting go of things.  It could be a website or a fandom or a place or even a mood; I have a tendency to find a comfort zone and want to stay there forever. Needless to say, I struggle with change.

Tagging:

She Reads at Past Midnight
Paperback & Flick Chick
Perspective of a Writer

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The End of the Year Book Tag

Saw this on Rachel‘s blog!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

Well…not this year, but there is a book that I started one or two (or three) years ago that I still need to finish.  It’s The World Since 1945 by T.E. Vadney and it’s a really, really good historical overview of world events with a focus on the Third World.  I read like half of it and really enjoyed it but it’s also straight-up history so it does get a little dry.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I don’t usually do this seasonal reading thing, but this year I thought I might read Rebecca for the month of October! Since it’s supposed to be ~atmospheric~ and all. But I also need to read The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin before the end of October because I’m going to the Sirens Conference in Colorado and she’s the keynote speaker! Not that I think she’ll spoil her book, but I’m sure there will be people in attendance keen to discuss it.  All  this, of course, is if I finish reading War and Peace, Little and Lion, and The Library of Fates by the end of September.

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

What am I not waiting for, honestly? There are so many great books coming out. I’m especially looking forward to Madeline Miller’s Circe, Fonda Lee’s Jade City, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, and Julie C. Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns.  There’s way, way more, but those are the ones that stick out.  (A couple of these come out next year, but alas.)

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

So I mentioned Rebecca, there’s that.  Oddly enough, I also really want to read Wuthering Heights.  Maybe that can be one of my November books.  I’ve also heard great things about Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City so I want to get my hands on that.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

I have read so many great books this year, from Saints and Misfits to The City of Brass that I think it will be difficult for another book to top them, but we’ll see!

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Nope! I don’t really plan out my reading schedule far in advance.  At most I have a sense of the next 3-4 books I want to read, but otherwise I just generally go by my mood.  The only thing I know is that I want to continue expanding my horizons.  Reading War and Peace was something I never thought I would do in my lifetime, and yet here I am, 60% of the way through and on my way to finishing! It was certainly not as daunting as I thought.  So I want to read more classic literature, mainly by women.  There are also some authors I keep seeing that I hope to get into, like Aliette de Bodard and Kate Elliot.

Go for this, y’all! Pingback to me if you do this.

I Dare You Book Tag

This weekend, I was supposed to finish off a book at home, considering War and Peace is taking up all of my subway reading time. Unfortunately, I instead got caught up watching Peaky Blinders (maybe I’ll post about that at some point).  So, instead, I figured I would do a book tag I saw floating around! Not sure where it originated from, so let me know if you know, so I can pingback to them.

RULES:
You must be honest
You must answer all the questions
You must tag at least 4 people

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Yikes. I’m seriously guilty of buying books and telling myself I’ll read them but never getting around to them.  Maybe…The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe? I bought it way back in high school when I was seriously emo.  I realized too late that I wasn’t actually all that into Poe.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

I am currently reading War and Peace, a beast of a novel, which is why I haven’t been posting reviews lately. My last reads were The History of White People and This Savage Song. As for what I’ll read next, it will likely be either Little & Lion or The Library of Fates.

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I think I just talked about this in the last book tag I did, but I didn’t really hate The Wrath and the Dawn. A book I did hate is Marie Lu’s Legend.  I thought it was awful on just about every level, which is strange because I really loved her other series, The Young Elites.  Maybe I’m just not into dystopia.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Oh man. A whole bunch of classic/literary books, probably.  I’ve had The Odyssey on my bookshelf for years and keep telling myself I’ll read it, but…who am I kidding.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

Well, perhaps not retirement, but I really want to have a lot of time and mental energy on hand when I start Steve Erickson’s Malazan series.  It’s such a dense, gigantic series with so many characters and so much rich world-building that I want to be certain I have enough time to devote to it.

6. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Oh my goodness, I avoid this like the plague.  Even if I’m gonna check for a glossary or to see how many pages there are in a book, I will literally cover up the rest of the page. You see, I was scarred as a youngster. When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince came out, I accidentally read a page towards the end and was spoiled for Dumbledore’s death. It was traumatic. Now I am always extra careful when flipping through a book.

7. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

I loooooooove reading acknowledgments; I legit look forward to them.  As an aspiring writer, I really enjoy seeing how authors sum up their work and the effort that went into it. And some authors can be quite witty in their acknowledgements.  It’s also very useful to see authors thank their agents, because when you start querying you might want to go find those agents and/or their literary agencies!

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Probably Morgan Rowlands from Cate Tiernan’s Sweep series. Like, that series was absolutely formative for me as a teenager. I loved seeing Morgan go from shy high school teenager to powerful and respected witch.  Tiernan captured the beauty of Wicca and magick so effortlessly that I couldn’t help but want to be immersed in all that.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

Well, I do have a copy of The Stone Sky signed by N.K. Jemisin. I didn’t meet her or talk to her, but I did attend the book launching event for the book, where pre-signed copies were on sale. It was an awesome event; it felt so cool to be in the same room as so many Jemisin fans!

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

An ARC of The City of Brass! I was just browsing in and around the author’s Twitter when I saw the publisher had tweeted asking if anyone wanted an ARC! They DM’ed me for my address and a couple of weeks later I had the book!

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Not a special reason, but I’ve given away some books that I know I won’t be reading again.  Mainly old Jodi Picoult books (I was obsessed with her books for a long time).

12. Which book has been with you most places?

Harry Potter, though not the same copies.  I’ve lost HP copies to flood and travel throughout the years, so in 2014 I bought a brand new set. But HP, particularly Sorcerer’s Stone, tended to come along with me if I was embarking on any brand new part of my life. So my first day of middle school in Egypt, my first day of junior year back in New York, my first day of college, my first day of work…it brings me comfort. It’s like having a friend with me.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Hmm, I actually didn’t hate most of my required reading in high school! I remember liking The Great Gatsby, The Color Purple, The Bell Jar, Pride and Prejudice, and Ethan Frome.  What I did loathe was The Scarlett Letter and a whole bunch of short stories.

14. Used or brand new?

Both! I absolutely love used bookstores, wandering the aisles and discovering a steal! But I really enjoy new books as well; I love the smell of brand new books.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Oh, man. He was another one I was obsessed with when I was younger.  I was really into The Da Vinci Code. Like, to an unhealthy extent.  This was my conspiracy phase, so I got really obsessed with all the history and secret groups mentioned in the books, as well as cryptography.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Twilight, oddly enough. I’m also reasonably sure that I’ll like the movie IT better than the novel. I mean, I’ve never read the novel, but that’s only because I really struggle to get into anything by Stephen King.

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Hmm…probably Game of Thrones! GRRM is so descriptive when it comes to food! I know some people are annoyed by that, but I enjoy it.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

My friend Rachel @ pace amore libri because I think she really gets my likes and dislikes, and Chelsea @ Spotlight on Stories because we like a lot of the same things!

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

Well, I’m about halfway through War and Peace now, and that is definitely miles out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t say I love it. I like it well enough to continue reading it, but…I definitely have a lot of frustrations with it too.  I guess a better answer would probably be Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  It’s very literary fiction of a cultural bent, a coming of age story, about two girls growing up side by side in India.  Not something I would ordinarily pick up, but the fact that it was about India specifically drew me to it, since India tends to share a lot of cultural similarities with the Middle East, which is where I’m from. I ended up absolutely loving it mainly because of the bond between the two main characters. I’m a sucker for intense, sisterly female friendships (particularly ones that evolve into more than that, although that doesn’t happen here), and this book delivers.  Unfortunately I thought the sequel was terrible and unnecessary, but one day I will go back and read this book, since I read it for the first time way back in 2013.

I’m actually gonna tag some folks, hurray!

I tag:

Pace amore libri
Spotlight on Stories
Lost Purple Quill 
Perspective of a Writer
Words With Bri

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

I’ve been wanting to do a tag like this for a long time, so thanks Rachel @ pace amore libri for tagging me!

1.) A popular book or book series that you didn’t like. 

18798983First one that comes to mind is The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  I didn’t absolutely hate this (I gave it a three-star rating, but it was definitely on the lower end of the spectrum, more like 2.5).  I thought it suffered from flat characters, meandering plot, terribly written romance, and a protagonist who keeps being referred to as super special.  I liked the book enough to finish it quickly, but I remember rolling my eyes a lot and not being the least bit interested in picking up the sequel.

Also, shout out to Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds and Marie Lu’s Legend.

2.) A popular book or book series that everyone else seems to hate but you love. 

6296885I don’t think people hate The Necromancer Chronicles, but I definitely think that they don’t get the love they deserve (and more criticism than I think they should).  I love these books.  I’m not saying they’re without some technical problems, particularly in terms of pacing and characterization.  However, I think they feature some of the best fantasy worldbuilding I’ve ever seen.  The world of the Necromancer Chronicles is essentially gender-neutral, with women on equal footing as men, and it was a beautiful thing to read.  The magic system is unique.  The cities and countries described are based on real countries (and you can guess which) but they’re well-developed and atmospheric. The writing is lush and lyrical and lovely (though some may find it too purple, but I’m known to like that).  The second book is the apex of the series, featuring excellent romance, a trans character, polyamory, and political intrigue.

3.) An otp that you don’t like.

18006496Aelin/Rowan.  So, Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series always seemed like it would be right up my alley, and indeed, I loved the first and second books, despite their many problems.  However, by the time the third book came along, the books dipped noticeably in quality, and started to lag. Eventually I quit the series.  And I think a big part of the reason for that is Rowan and his relationship with Aelin.  Maybe it’s because I liked her better with Chaol (a relationship that was so slow burn and then ended like a week after it began), maybe it’s because Rowan’s a territorial weirdo, but I just really dislike them together. I think they bring out the worst in each other and they’re boring, frankly.

4.) A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.

Romance.  I’ve never been a huge fan, personally.  I tend to dislike it even in my other genre fiction, but I don’t think that’s the fault of romance itself.  I really like romance if it’s well-written and well-incorporated into a novel (see: The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin) but normally romances are terribly written.  And romance as a genre tends to be very standardized: there’s a particular formula publishers know will sell, and so the plot keeps recycling itself.  I’m not fond of that formula.

5.) A popular/beloved character that you do not like.

I started thinking about characters I don’t like, and I realized there is a very particular type of character I tend to dislike: male YA love interests.  So Noah Shaw (Unbecoming of Mara Dyer), Po (Graceling), Dorian (Throne of Glass), Mal (Shadow and Bone), and I could probably keep listing them.  Most of them tend to be bland and forgettable, an amalgamation of ideal male traits made to cater to our heroine’s needs and desires. A nice fantasy, to be sure, but it means we end up with an archetype rather than an actual character.

6.) A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.

618241Terry Goodkind.  See, I really loved the TV show Legend of the Seeker, so I thought I’d read the high fantasy series it was based on, Sword of Truth.  As it turns out, the TV series has little in common with the books and the books are <i>the worst</i>.  Not only do they suffer from comically terrible writing and dialogue, they’re also full of misogyny so horrifically terrible it’s almost satirical – only it’s not.  Unsurprisingly, his books are popular with high fantasy fans, as they’re that sort of old school white farmboy misogynistic fantasy that used to be popular.  But it’s mediocre bullshit.

7.) A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing.

YA is full of  tropes that I can’t stand.  I think the one that takes the cake is when you have a heroine who is established as super special and better than other girls, who are obviously beneath her. I don’t know why this is so popular considering YA is a genre mostly written by women (haha just kidding I totally know why), but so many YA fantasy novels fall into this trap of isolating their heroines from other women.  Not only is it misogynistic, it’s also unrealistic considering most of these fantasy novels take place in psuedo-medieval times when relationships between women were varied, complex, and important! No, instead these books would rather give the heroine a pasty cardboard dude to fall in love with while all other girls are evil/shallow/vain/insipid.  From what I’ve been seeing, though, YA writers seem to be taking steps away from this!

8.) A popular series that you have no interest in reading. 

13455782Shatter Me by Tahera Mafi.  People seem to love this, but I’m really not interested.  Aside from my general disinterest in YA dystopia, the weird writing format is really throwing me off (random sentences are crossed out) and I know I won’t be able to get into it. Plus the summary sounds suuuuuuuper generic.  (I am purposely using the paperback cover here because the hardcover version is…Y I K E S.)

And shout out to anything Cassandra Clare has written.  I actually really enjoy the TV show Shadowhunters based on her work, but I would never read it.

9.) The saying goes “the book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or tv show adaptation do you prefer more than the book? 

This is probably a weird answer, but I’ve always kinda liked the Twilight films? I read the first book when I was a teenager and didn’t like it, but when I watched the film I remember enjoying it. Probably because I didn’t have to suffer through the writing.  This is a terrible answer but I can’t think of anything else! The book really is always better than the movie!

 

I’ll tag:  Anne Reads Them, Perspective of a Writer, and She Reads at Past Midnight!

What do y’all think of my answers? Agree, disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Guilty Reader Book Tag

Since I’m currently working my way through War and Peace, and have decided to DNF American War (my first DNF of the year!), I thought I’d spend some time doing a book tag.  My friend Rachel @ pace, amore, libri did this and I thought it looked like fun!

1. Have You Ever Regifted A Book That You’ve Been Given?

Well, I don’t know if this counts, but I’ve donated a book that I was gifted. Someone got me The Da Vinci Code back when I was obsessed with it, but as my tastes changed I wanted to clear up some space on my bookshelf, so it went off to the library. (Also, why is this the only question that has all the words capitalized?)

2. Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

Not really? Like, I’ll be specific about what I mean.  If I DNFed a book, I’ll say I DNFed it. If I read thorough reviews with screenshots (a la The Continent or The Black Witch), I’ll also say that. If I’m familiar with the story through cultural osmosis or SparkNotes, I’ll also say that.

3. Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

I’ve actually never borrowed a book from another person.  My childhood friends were not big on reading, so usually they were the ones borrowing from me, if reading at all.  My best friend definitely still has some of my books at her house.

4. Have you ever read a series out of order?

Actually, yes! Harry Potter! So, here’s the story: after a lot of convincing, my mom basically forced me read The Sorcerer’s Stone. I liked it waaaaay more than I thought I would, so I headed over to the library to borrow Chamber of Secrets. Unfortunately, the copies were all checked out.  I loved the series so much, though, that I just couldn’t wait, and so I checked out the next available book in the series: Prisoner of Azkaban.  Then, once I was done, Chamber of Secrets was back, so I read it, and then I continued in order.  Back then, we didn’t have much money, so buying books when the library was right there was out of the question, and so all I could do was wait!

5. Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?

I loathe spoilers, so I’m very careful about only spoiling if someone explicitly asks me to spoil it for them.

6. Have you ever doggy eared a book?

I used to do this often, because, believe it or not, I didn’t realize bookmarks were a thing.

7. Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?

No?  Why would I do that?  /Rachel

8. Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?

I repeat: why would I do that?  I guess this means for books that it’s ’embarrassing’ to have read like Twilight or something?  I read Twilight when I was 15 and I hated it so I didn’t read the rest of the series.  I don’t mind admitting to that.  /Rachel

9. Have you every skipped a chapter or a section of a book?

Not skipped, but I will sometimes skim portions if a book is particularly dull and I’m close to finishing it.  Or with something like War and Peace, where I’m currently slogging through the Battle of Austerlitz and skimming various paragraphs that are all about flanks and cavalry and vanguards.  Like, if I wanted to read about battles in excruciating detail, I’d pick up a textbook on military history.

10. Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?

Nope! I’m actually really particular about this, as nothing annoys me so much as literary snobbery.  This happens a lot to YA readers, as we’re often told YA books are not “real” books or they’re automatically worse in quality or something.

 

Like Rachel I won’t tag anyone since I wasn’t tagged, but do pingback to me if you do this so I can read your answers!

The Great Ask Tag of 1812

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I have seen Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 four times and counting (I already have tickets to see it another two times RIP my bank account) because it is an incredible piece of theatre. After I see it the sixth time I will likely post something talking more in depth about my experience with it and its intense draw for me, but for now, here’s an ask meme I stumbled upon on Tumblr.

 

1. Which song do you want to see performed live the most?

Well, I’ve seen them all, and I think the pieces where the whole ensemble is on stage (The Duel, Preparations, Balaga, The Abduction) are freaking incredible. The cast is absolutely bursting with manic, frenzied energy and it’s infectious.

2. Were you a fan of Comet before it came to Broadway?

Not at all! In fact I had never even heard of it before it came to Broadway. I am a fan of Rachel Chavkin, having seen her Hadestown three times, but I only realized she was directing Great Comet literally the day before I saw it for the first time. I don’t even remember why I wanted to see it in the first place.

3. Act 1 or Act 2?

Ahhhhh that’s tough! The first time I saw it I thought Act 2 was better, but I think it depends on who’s playing Pierre, since he has more solos in Act 2.

4. Favorite character?

Helene Bezukhova, followed closely by her brother Anatole! I just think the pair of them are fascinating characters and quite the dynamic duo.  I could write pages and pages of headcanons for both of them. They are so utterly flawed and rather terrible privileged selfish people, but they have these small moments when kinder traits shine through and it is super intriguing to me. Helene in particular I find interesting because she is a woman who so brazenly owns her sexuality and is taking charge of her own life.

5. Least favorite character? 

I just started reading War and Peace, so perhaps I’m blurring the lines a little here, but I don’t like Andrei.  So far in the book he comes off as a misogynist. If we’re talking strictly about the show, hmm, perhaps his father?

6. What would you do to stop Comet from closing?

A Lot. I literally had a dream about the Great Comet’s closure, clearly I am very distressed!

7. Off-Broadway or Broadway cast recording?

I have actually never listened to the Off-Broadway recording! That’s next on my list.

8. Has Comet made you read or want to read War and Peace?

Yup! I tend to shy away from classics, and I never ever would have picked up the gigantic tome that is War and Peace if it weren’t for this show. I started reading it yesterday and I’m about 60 pages in so far; it’s so much fun tying the show to the characters in the book! It definitely makes the reading experience more interesting.

9. Favorite cast member? 

I am obsessed with Lucas Steele and Amber Gray, particularly the pair of  them together. According to interviews they are rather good friends, as they have been performing together for so long. It really shows in their performance, too, in the way they interact; their chemistry is off the charts. When I saw the show last night Amber’s understudy was playing Helene and her interactions with Lucas, while good, just weren’t the same.

10. Favorite Natasha?

I’ve only seen Denee Benton and Shoba Narayan in action, but I loved them both! They’re both gorgeous and adorable and have beautiful voices; they play Natasha a little bit differently but both their performances are wonderful.

11. Favorite Pierre?

I’ve seen all the Pierres, so my ranking is thus: Groban, Oak, Scott, Dave. I actually really dislike Dave’s Pierre; his voice really grates.  I think Groban has the best vocals, Oak has the best stage presence, and Scott does a really great job of combining those two things.

12. Character you relate to the most? 

I just…really love Helene for some reason? We are absolutely nothing alike at all, but I sympathize with her so much. She’s married to this man she detests, whom she only married because her father arranged the marriage, and she’s just trying to eek out whatever pleasure she can from life. If that means hurting other people, so be it. It’s not a great character trait, but it just makes her so fascinating, particularly as a female villain.

13. Do you ship Anatole and Dolokhov?

100%.  I fully believe Anatole and Dolokhov and Helene have a threesome going on.

14. Do you ship Hélène and Marya?

Meh, not really?

15. Do you ship Dolokhov and Hélène?

If Anatole comes along, then sure. Otherwise, meh.

16. Do you ship Anatole and Natasha?

Kind of! I’m actually really fascinated by this whole thing. In the show, when Pierre is looking for Anatole and Anatole is singing “It is essential that I see Natasha; how can I see her?” he is clearly very distraught.  He looks disheveled and nearly on the verge of tears as he goes through her letters; it certainly doesn’t look like he’s a rake who doesn’t give a shit about anything. I do think he’s really just a privileged man who’s totally oblivious to consequences and just as rash and impulsive as Natasha herself.  I think he really did fall in love with her and decided he had to have her and consequences be damned.  Like, he just doesn’t think about other people or rules or traditions but I don’t think he’s malicious; in fact so far in War and Peace Anatole comes off as rather benevolent, someone invested in making sure everyone has a good time.

17. Have you met anyone in the cast? If so who did you meet?

Nope! I’ve been tempted to wait outside the stage door before but like…I would be an awkward mess.

18. Fuck, marry, kill; Dolokhov, Anatole, and Hélène.

Kill Dolokhov, fuck Anatole, marry Helene.

19. Have you seen Comet?

Four times and counting!

20. How long have you been a Comet fan?

Not very long! I first saw it right before Groban left which was…early this summer, I think?

21. The Duel or Letters?

The Duel. It’s a wild party from start to finish, with strobe lights and cast members dressed up like they’re at a 90s rave, nonstop dancing…it’s ridiculous.  But Letters is awesome too, especially when Lucas sings the “Nataly, Nataly, Nataly!!” bit at the end.

22. Pierre or Dust and Ashes?

Dust and Ashes!

23. Moscow or Sunday Morning?

Moscow, although there’s something to be said for the way Grace McLean belts out “Time for church!” in Sunday Morning.

24. Character you want to play?

Helene, hands down.

25. Have you written Comet fan fiction?

Haven’t quite reached that level of obsession yet, but I’m getting there.

26. Have you read Comet fan fiction?

See above.

27. Anatole’s and Dolokhov’s kiss or Marya’s and Hélène’s kiss?

Anatole and Dolokhov kiss??? How have I seen this show four times and never noticed this?

28. Favorite song?

This is nearly impossible to answer! I’m very, very fond of the Prologue, especially on stage when the spotlight jumps so quickly from  character to character! The Opera is fantastic for the way it introduces Dolokhov, Helene, and Anatole.  The Ball and Letters are fantastic because Lucas gets to belt out some incredible lines.  The Duel, Preparations, Balaga, and The Aduction are an insane nonstop party with the entire cast dancing like it’s their last day on Earth and a million ridiculous things happening all over the stage.  I’m also fond of Sonya & Natasha, In My House, The Private and Intimate Life of the House (“And tiiiiiiiiime moooooooves ooooooooon!”), Moscow, and Charming (AMBER!), A Call to Pierre, and Pierre & Anatole.

…I think it would have just been easier to name my least favorite songs.

29. Least favorite song?

Definitely Pierre & Natasha and The Great Comet of 1812.  They’re such a snooze fest compared to the rest of the musical! Whenever I listen to the album I always skip these.

30. Favorite lyric?

A single one? Hmm…I’m fond of “the queen of society: beautiful, barely clothed!” and “We lived, laughed, and loved!” and “Smash your glasses on the floor!” and “Here’s to happiness, freedom, and life!”

31. Own any merch?

Not yet! Yesterday I lingered around the merch station thinking I might buy a t-shirt, but I left and ended up buying tickets for another show instead.  I might still buy the t-shirt, though! If the merch is available online I’ll browse and think on it.

32. Have you listed to or are a fan of any of the cast members’ solo music?

I like Lulu Fall’s work! She was only an ensemble cast member, though. I’ve tried out Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet but didn’t like it much, nor do I like Grace McLean’s music. I haven’t listened to anything of anyone else’s yet, though I would love to try it if someone pointed me towards it!

33. Can you play any Comet songs on an instrument?

I can’t do anything music related to save my life. I’m not exactly tone-deaf, but rather close. I wish more than anything that I could sing, but alas.  Perhaps that’s why I’m such a fan of this show; everyone in it is clearly so multi-talented.  Singing, dancing, acting, instruments…they do it all splendidly!

34. Do you follow all of the cast on social media?

Not all, but a few! Lucas and Denee are the first who come to mind. I think I follow Shoba as well? Not sure.

35. Do you have a dream cast? If so who is in it?

After I finish reading War and Peace you can bet your ass I’m doing a gigantic fancast.

36. Character you would be best friends with irl?

I’m just…in love with Helene, you guys.  I also think Anatole would be a really fun friend to have.

37. First song you heard from Comet?

The Prologue!

38. Describe Comet using 5 words.

Mesmerizing, Carnivalesque, Enthralling, Enchanting, Eclectic

39. Can you pronounce all the Russian and French in the show correctly?

I don’t speak either language but I tend to be rather decent at accents, so yes!

40. How did you become a Comet fan?

I mentioned this briefly before, but I sort of went to see the show on a whim? Like, a theater friend had said it was a really good show and that the soundtrack was kind of electropop/chamber pop/opera-ish and I was immediately fascinated because I really love that type of music. The fact that a black woman is the leading lady was also a huge draw.  I didn’t even know it was about War and Peace until like the day before when I read summaries online. I had no idea what I was getting into! The first time I saw it I liked it a lot, but it was really only after the second time that I truly fell in love. There’s so much going on that you really appreciate it more the second time when you’re not trying to keep track of everything and you already know everyone’s names and what happens.
I want to tag people, but I don’t know who’s seen this except Rachel @ pace, amore, libri and Chelsie @ Spotlight on Stories! If you’re a Great Comet fan, please let me know in the comments!

Top 5 Tuesday: Favorite Retellings

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Bookworm.  When I saw my friend Rachel at pace, amore, libri doing it, it looked like fun, so I decided to do it too, especially given this month’s Top 5 Wednesday topics are…not doing it for me.

Anyway, what I’ve discovered from this is I apparently don’t read a lot of retellings! I’m not sure why, as I quite like them. Let me know in the comments if there are any retellings you are fond of; I’m always on the lookout for Hades/Persephone retellings in particular, but I’m open to all.

 

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum
The original: The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers

I hesitate to call this a retelling.  The King in Yellow is a book of creepy short stories that were actually a precursor to Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos; Lovecraft makes references to the stories in his own work.  Downum’s work sort of…borrows that world for her own story rather than retelling any particular Chambers tale.  The important thing, though, is that she manages to capture just how fucking creepy the mythos of Carcos and the King in Yellow are.  It’s atmospheric and hella weird, and a great modern adaptation of this strange mythos.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
The original: Beauty and the Beast

I don’t know why I thought this was a Bluebeard retelling.  Though, I suppose, the two are rather similar.  Cruel Beauty’s strength is in its two main protagonists rather than its world-building (which is weak and derivative and confounding); Nyx and Ignifex.  Nyx (Beauty) is bitter and selfish and I love female characters who are unlikeable.  Ignifex is dark and witty and charming and rakish. Their interactions are delightful. The book reads like a fairy tale, so not everything always makes perfect sense, but it’s a treat.

The Kiesha’ra by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The original: Romeo and Juliet

I only learned this was based on Romeo and Juliet very, very recently.  I would say this is an extremely loose retelling, with only the first two books really having much to do with the Shakespeare play.  This was one of my favorite series as a teen; I read it over ten times (though I suspect it wouldn’t hold up as well if I re-read it now).  It tells the story of Zane and Danica, who come from two opposing shape-shifting species, the serpiente and the avians, who have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. Zane and Danica decide to come together and marry in order to bring peace to their societies and they end up falling in love for real. This is straight-up high fantasy, with fantastic worldbuilding and characters. The third book was also my first experience with a lesbian character, and that was very formative for me as a youngster.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The original: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White

These series has received a lot of well-received criticism for its portrayal of Asian cultures.  It’s true that its world-building is weak and somewhat nonsensical, but it’s a fun series nonetheless.  It gives me “Found Family” vibes and it’s basically one adventure after the other. It’s also a very interesting twist on the original fairytales; the world of the Lunar Chronicles is a dystopia with cyborgs.  In fact, Cinder, one of the protagonists, is part-cyborg herself, which is a super intriguing twist on the Cinderella story! I have yet to read Winter, the final book in this series, but it’s waiting for me on my Kindle.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The original: The Iliad

I have to mention The Song of Achilles, even though I don’t think I loved it as much as most people did, nor am I familiar with the source material.  Still,  this book deserves mentioning for the beautiful, loving relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and its lovely prose.  I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book when I first picked it up, but I was really pleasantly surprised that it kept me hooked.  It also featured some really entertaining side characters; I really hope Madeline Miller writes about Odysseus at some point, because his snark was hilarious.

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

My friend Rachel @ pace, amore, libri nominated me! Thanks, Rachel, this was fun!

What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

I watched this random horror movie called The Void because I read some article that it was really good.  It…well, I don’t know how I would describe it.  It was weird in an unsatisfying sort of way.  Supposedly it was trying to tap into Lovecraftian cosmic horror but it also had many elements of a 50s B-horror film.  It was the type of movie that was trying to do too many things at once and ended up being kind of confusing.

Do you have any weird or random talents?

According to my brother my talent is making people want to puncture their eardrums when I sing…other than that, no, I don’t think so!

What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I’m currently obsessing over the entire soundtrack of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812!

What time of day do you do most of your blogging?

I probably shouldn’t say this on a public platform, but normally during the day, because those are the hours I’m at work and I’m usually most focused (and have the most free time, oddly enough).

What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?

So, the MET is amazing, but I feel like that’s a cop-out answer, so I’m gonna go with the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin.  It features some dude’s private collection of old texts, including old Qurans and stuff.  It’s a tiny museum but it’s set up really nicely and is very peaceful.

When’s the last time you went to a wedding?

Oh man…uhh….let’s see…I have no idea, actually! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. Oh, no, wait! I just remembered! It was two years ago; my best friend’s sister got married.  I don’t go to a lot of weddings, haha. I don’t know very many people and all my family lives in Egypt!

Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

Okay, so my family all insists I look like Donia Samir Ghanem but I couldn’t disagree more!

If you were a cat, what color cat would you be? (Very important question.)

Either all black or all white or all orange! I’m a fan of single-color cats.

Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?

I’m fond of ABRAMS Amulet Books because they always have really great book designs, but their content hasn’t always appealed to me.  Content-wise I’m a huuuuuuge fan of Tor and Orbit.

Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character? (Bonus points for photo evidence.)

Nope! Always wanted to cosplay, though.

What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?

I’m not a huge fan of New York City, but I appreciate its diversity and convenience.

I’ll tag…anyone who wants to do it I’M SORRY I’m terrible at this tagging thing.

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

Chelsea over at Spotlight on Stories did this tag, and I really liked it so I thought I’d snag it!

1. The Best Book You’ve Read So Far In 2017

31123249Saints and Misfits, also known as literally the first YA book I’ve ever read that positively portrays the Muslim community. Not only that, it’s clever, engaging, witty, and incredibly well-written.  I couldn’t put it down, even though I had to read it as a PDF on my phone (thanks, Netgalley), squinting and awkwardly maneuvering the pages.

 

2. Your Favourite Sequel This Year

20764879A Gathering of Shadows.  I read A Darker Shade of Magic in March and while I liked it, I wasn’t awed by it.  Then I read A Gathering of Shadows, and I finally understood why everyone loves these books so much! While second books in a trilogy are usually slower and transitional, A Gathering of Shadows is shaping up to be the best book in the series. It’s got great pacing and buildup and incredible payoff.

3. A New Release That You Haven’t Read But Really Want To

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I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of these books!

 

4. Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of The Year

32718027  33395234  33958230City of Brass is written by a history buff and is set in 18th century Cairo! I mean! What more could I ask for! I’ve read a short story by the author of Beasts of Night, Tochi Onyebuchi, called “Screamers” and it was haunting and incredible.  And of course, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns has been getting so much buzz! Plus it features an anti-heroine, so I’m already sold.

5. Your Biggest Disappointment

30363359The Thief  was such a major disappointment. I had heard so many good things about this book and this series in general that I was really excited to read it, but by the quarter mark I was already struggling. It took everything I had to finish it and by the end I was skimming whole paragraphs just to get it over with. It was boring and uneventful and the only two female characters show up for a few pages at the end of the book.

6. Biggest Surprise Of The Year

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I mean, I knew I would like The Beautiful Ones, but I didn’t expect it to be a romance novel (Reading Comprehension: 1, Hadeer: 0) and I also didn’t expect to love it so much as to be inspired by it to write a whole series! It’s always a special book that inspires me like that.

 

7. Favourite New To You Or Debut Author

30269126  25036395Rhoda Belleza really hit the ground running with her debut novel Empress of a Thousand Skies, an expertly plotted sci-fi novel with a fantastic understanding of the politics of race.  And every chapter ends with a cliffhanger! How! Sarah Beth Durst has been writing for much longer, but she is new to me, and The Queen of Blood was an excellent, vivid fantasy.

8. Your New Fictional Crush

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Can I just say Sam Winchester and call it a day? No? I guess I’ll go with Alucard Emery. This smooth, charming bastard captured my heart from the very first moment he appeared on the page.

 

9. New Favourite Character

20764879Delilah Bard, hands fucking down.  I mean, I have honestly never seen a female character written like this before, with all the traits that are usually assigned to men.  Lila is powerful and unafraid, and more than that, she embraces her power fully.  She’s not afraid of it or wanting to damper it; she wants it to let loose and destroy and she is amazing.

 

10. A Book That Made You Cry

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Hmm, I don’t think I read any books that were  enough to make me cry.  Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom did make feel ALL the emotions, though, so there you go.

 

11. A Book That Made You Happy

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Easy! When Dimple Met Rishi! Dubbed a rom-com, that book was truly cheerful and romantic, playful and sweet! It’s a quick, happy little read.

 

 

12. Your Favourite Book To Movie Adaptation That You’ve Seen This Year

The_Handmaiden_filmI’ve only watched like four or five movies this year and none of them were adaptations, I don’t think. Can I say The Handmaiden? It’s based on Fingersmith by Sarah Waters but from what I’ve heard moving the setting to Korea worked wonders for it. I’ve never read the book but the movie captured my soul.

 

13. Favourite Book Post That You’ve Published This Year

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Probably my Saints and Misfits review, which was retweeted by S.K.Ali herself!

 

14. The Most Beautiful Book You Bought Or Received This Year

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The Girl From Everywhere is such a beautifully designed book! That color contrast is incredible.  Alas, I haven’t read this yet!

 

 

15. What Are Some Books That You Need To Read By The End Of The Year

34606064  34017058  29760778  28526192  7767021

The Liebster Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by my friend Rachel @ pace amore libri! Thanks Rachel!

liebster-awards-discover-new-blogsc3a8

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog

2. Answer the 11 questions the person asked you –

(i) What’s your dream vacation?

A trip across all of Europe, visiting small towns and villages and historic sites.

(ii) How do you take your coffee (or tea)?

I prefer coffee, and I take it with half-and-half and sugar.  I also really love Thai iced tea, if that’s relevant.

(iii) What’s your favorite kind of blog post to make (e.g. book reviews, monthly wrap ups, Top 5 Wednesday/Top 10 Tuesday, etc)?

I actually don’t do monthly wrap-ups (should I?).  Hmm, I think I like book reviews best! There’s satisfaction in finishing a book and typing out that review.

(iv) Have you met any of your internet friends in real life?

Yes! Besides Rachel I’ve met a couple of others, but they aren’t on this platform.

(v) If you had to blog about something other than books, what would it be?

Well, I originally started this blog as a television blog, so I would probably blog about that!

(vi) What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year?

I don’t watch too many movies, but most of the ones I’ve watched this year have been absolutely incredible.


The Handmaiden:
Lesbian heist movie of my heart! When a Korean thief is hired by a conman to con a lady out of her riches, she doesn’t expect that she’ll end up falling in love with her.  There’s no burying your gays here; in fact, the women in this film triumph in a fantastic twist ending.

The Prince of Egypt: I’m Egyptian and yet had never seen this film, until Rachel saw fit to remedy that.  This movie is so beautiful and moving, and gorgeously illustrated, with incredible music too.

The Witch: This film is HELLA CREEPY Y’ALL.  I love it.  It’s about a Puritan family living on the edge of the New England wilderness and essentially falling prey to the devil and his witches.  It’s got gorgeous cinematography and a fabulous performance by Anya Taylor-Joy.

(vii) Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?

Ireland! Specifically, the Rock of Cashel.  There was just something about that old, crumbling castle and that small town that was so alluring.

(viii) Do you name your car(s) and other inanimate objects?

I do! I don’t really refer to them by those names but I just like to give them names anyway.

(ix) Which blog that you follow do you think is the most similar to yours?  In terms of, ‘if you like my blog, you should also follow ____.’

Hmm, hard to say! From what I’ve seen it seems most book bloggers review YA and fantasy.

(x) Favorite season?

Autumn is the season of my heart, y’all.  I love autumn so much.

(xi) Are there any genres that you refuse to read?

Not as a rule.  There are of course certain genres that I don’t automatically gravitate towards, but if a book seems interesting or comes highly recommended I’ll probably check it out no matter what genre it is.

3. Nominate 11 people (comment on their blog to let them know)

Is there anyone who hasn’t done this yet? I’m lazy and terrible at tagging folks, so if you haven’t done this yet, please, please, please, consider yourself tagged.

4. Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions

I like Rachel’s questions.  Go for those!