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Turtles all the Way Down Review

       

Turtles all the Way Down the long awaited novel by John Green after his heavy success with The Fault in Our Stars. If you follow his vlogs like I do you will know that until a few months ago he had stayed very quiet about his work post The Fault in Our Stars. Many fans of his (some known as Nerdfighters) were very excited to see the release of Turtles all the Way Down, and since I have read most of John Green’s books I figured I’d read Turtles all the Way Down too.

        Also fun fact, I had intended to grab the book at Target because Target dictates to me what is worth reading and what isn’t and to my surprise I got myself a signed copy of Turtles all the Way Down. It seems like something silly to gush over, but there’s just something nice about knowing a book you bought was in the same area as their ‘parent’.

Spoilers from this point Onward, can’t jedi mind trick this out of you. Hehe Star Wars reference in a book that has NOTHING to do with Star Wars. And maybe some discussion about John Green’s vlogs over the past few years.

        Turtles all the Way Down follows a girl named Aza Holmsey, a girl who suffers from a form of OCD that involves the fear of Clostridium Difficile (C.diff) and other bacterias to the point where she’s always applying hand sanitizer to one of her fingers that has a perpetual cut due to always pushing her thumbnail into her middlefinger. Aza has only her mother due to her father dying when she was a child.

        Aza also has her best friend Daisy who is a big Star Wars fan having knowledge of the current expanded universe, the Legends universe, and even writing her own Star Wars fanfiction. The story kicks off with Daisy taking interest in the disappearance Russell Pickett wanted by the police for a white collar crime due to a large reward being offered for the knowledge of the whereabouts of Russell Pickett. Because of this Aza runs into Davis a childhood friend of hers and son of Russell Pickett.  

        In all honesty I was a little worried reading the first quarter of the book; worried that this was another flavor of Looking for Alaska in the same way that Paper Towns was due to the mystery of the disappearance of Russell Pickett that our protagonists want to solve. After some bribe is involved the mystery is dropped down to mainly background noise in the novel with the bulk of the story involving Aza’s OCD and how it affects not only her, but her relationships and prevents her from experiencing life in the same way a normal person would.

        I don’t have OCD, I’ve made jokes at the expense of individuals of OCD (mainly out of my lack of education on the disorder and inability to organize my living space), but TatWD gave what has been described by fans on the Facebook Nerdfighters page as a very accurate internal description of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It probably helps that John Green as admitted to having OCD and knowing the experience for it.

        The way it affects Aza outside of the fear of C.diff is a constant fear of not being clean enough and losing the ability to do things that some people would enjoy doing and have no problem doing (such as French kissing) where the thoughts of another person’s bacteria inside of her make her unable to enjoy the sensation and her thoughts focusing primarily on the fact that something that isn’t hers is inside of her.

        Aza also struggles with her relationship with Davis, who she does have feelings for, but the above side effects of her OCD prevent her from enjoying the more physical parts of their relationship. While both of them do have a unique form of communication via text message. Even though Davis does return the feelings towards Aza he does have physical desires (not sexual, but atleast some form of physical intimacy.

Aza does feel guilt for her choice t date Davis despite his dad missing because it distracts Davis from taking care of his little brother Noah who isn’t taking the disappearance of their father in the same way that Davis is.

There is some strong emphasis on parents in this novel, even stronger than Green’s previous work where parents are far from a obstacle in their stories as seen in some other YA books. Aza has only her mother who worries about Aza frequently because of her mental health and just because she’s a good mother. Davis’ father on the other hand abandoned both his sons, was never too close to them, had arguments with his wife before she passed away, had the staff of his house raise his sons, and left all his money to a tuatara named Tua in hopes that the research to discover the secrets to the long life of tuataras can be found and he’d get the credit for funding it. Daisy’s parents are mentioned, but never seen due to Aza never asking about them or ever going over to Daisy’s house.

        My favorite character in the novel is Daisy, as I mentioned before she’s a huge Star Wars fan, but she was fun. There were moments of her being shallow and using Aza a bit (she did kick off the whole plot by making Aza not only trespass on Russell Pickett’s property but start a relationship with Davis Pickett for the sake of information on the whereabouts of Russell Pickett. Daisy also makes some points that Aza’s life isn’t as bad as she feels it is due to Daisy only having a smartphone as her only form of online entertainment which becomes very shocking and impressive when people remember that she has written lengthy Star Wars fanfiction on her smartphone. I felt myself siding with Daisy in one argument when Aza is concerned about her spending habits after they receive their hush money through buying not only a new car, but a new laptop. Daisy argues that Aza has a laptop and a car and lives in a house with her own room despite having only one working parent while she only has her smartphone, shares her room with her eight year old sister, and lives in an apartment complex even though she has both her parents and both of them being employed. Minor fun fact, but the paper BB-8 seen in the photo above was used as a bookmarker because I couldn’t find a bookmark that wasn’t currently being used, you can imagine how delightfully surprised I was discovering that Star Wars was mentioned frequently in this book and how appropriate it is.

        As I mentioned before I don’t have OCD, but anxiety issues; there were parts of the book where I could relate to Aza’s mental health and constant moments of being a prisoner in her own mind and having internal conversations with herself. Some parts of the book were very eye opening at how OCD isn’t “a need to have everything perfectly tidy” as I’ve joked around about in the past, but something more that really does control how a person functions and can prevent them from having a normal life and in some cases making horrible decisions based on the mental argument they have with themselves.

        I really enjoyed Turtles all the Way Down; it was a nice alternative to the usual John Green protagonist of teenage boys feeling the need to prove something about themselves, or being fixated on ‘the girl’. Aza and her friends were really fun and even the main conflict of Aza’s OCD causing problems in her life her friends and family still love and care for her.

        I give Turtles all the Way Down by John Green four Star Wars fanfics out of five.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Review

On September 30th 1999 the first book in a tragic tale concerning the three Baudelaire orphans was published, five years later on a cool November morning a bored teenager unsure of what to read while waiting for the sixth Harry Potter book discovered them. In these books was a dark story filled with shout outs, a phrase which means to pay tribute to or to give reference to another piece of work, and dark, dark humor which although entertaining through the first reading of these books would lead to utter depression rereading said books knowing that yes, things got worse and worse. Oh and various descriptions of food and possibly some morals based from the Jewish faith and tradition.

The series that I speak of is A Series of Unfortunate Events by a man named Lemony Snicket and not at all associated with an individual named Daniel Handler. It is mere coincidence that along with my discovery of the series in the year 2004 there was a movie from the company known as Nickelodeon based on these books with what looked like a promising film series to rival the likes of J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and Harry Potter. There are various words that can be used to describe this film and somewhere on the internet there is a forum where a young fifteen year old fan used a variety of words and vulgarity, a word which here means inappropriate and unpleasant, to describe his distaste and lack of satisfaction with the film to put it lightly.

The boy in this blog post enjoyed the books released since the fateful day he discovered A Series of Unfortunate Events, reading through each book within a day learning many things from these books despite the target audience being significantly for absolutely no one ever. And during a year when this boy felt sad, reading the last book gave him hope. Since that day there had been silence from Lemony Snicket until 2012 where a prequel series known as All the Wrong Questions was announced and as of 2015 has concluded.

In the fall of 2015 though it was announced A Series of Unfortunate Events would be adapted to a television show on the internet streaming service known as Netflix. Fans were overjoyed that a more faithful, a word which here means sticks closer to the source material in terms of what happens in the books and the tone of said books as well. A former but successful child star known as Neil Patrick Harris would be replacing a washed up comedian, but talented painter as the villainous Count Olaf. And finally as of last January, Friday the thirteenth this series premiered on Netflix. This is the review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the tv show.

Spoilers, a term which here means a highly detailed synopsis of what takes place during the story, will be present after this bold text. As homage to Mr.Snicket I would rather you slam your computer shut, place your phone in airplane mode, and toss your tablet outside of a moving vehicle hoping it doesn’t kill a pelican, and find something better to do like donate money to MyASPCA, Puppies Behind Bars, The Trevor Project, or read a book by Cody Wagner, or read a book review by a very nice woman with three cute puppies. 

I must admit watching the televised adaption of the beloved books of my youth was very enjoyable. One of the benefits of adapting books to television is the opportunity to have the book accurately transformed into a form of viewing for the audience. However, like most things in life even when a book is adapted to television isn’t always enjoyable. With the participation of Daniel Handler (whom I’m not too sure why he is so heavily associated with Lemony Snicket), events and plots that were not present or known to the reader of the first four books in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

As mentioned in the above text, Neil Patrick Harris would be portraying the villainous Count Olaf, and was dark, fearsome, and even at times, funny. The cast of the series was diverse, a word which means to have different people represented, averting having a prominently Caucasian cast of actors in a television show thus giving a wider world view to the poor children brave enough to watch each tragic episode and telling producers and talent agents that you can hire any race or ethnicity to play a role.

The expansion of each book per episode was enjoyable, it gave the opportunity to explore the depths of side characters in each story beyond their original intended purpose and foreshadowing future travesties that would affect the Baudelaire orphans. Characters like Justice Strauss, Dr.Montgomery Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle (who is not played by her dame Meryl Streep in this adaption) are now more fleshed out beyond a neighbor, a herpetologist, and a scary cat.

The tone of the television show followed the books closer than any film adaption ever could. However at times I couldn’t help but be reminded of a television show created by Bryan Fuller that premiered in the fall of 2007 and because of a writer’s strike was cancelled by the ABC network. The artistic direction of each set was wonderful and interesting to look at for both fans of the book series, fans of art, and people who need the internet and social media to dictate to them what to watch on Netflix rather than deciding for themselves what they should and shouldn’t watch. I’d rather they watch something with strong female characters overcoming challenges presented to them in their life, but then again this show also has that.

There are a few shocking twists and turns in the television adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events, even for those who have read A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Beautrice Letters, and All the Wrong Questions complete with a Red Herring, a phrase which here means something that appears to be of importance, but is a distraction from the main story, within this adaption.

I will give the Netflix Adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events one mansion on fire out of five, because I can’t fathom why people would want multiple mansions on fire.

I am not Obligated to like Game of Thrones (and neither are you)

In the summer of 2012 after a break up with my boyfriend and still remaining friends with him he gave me copies of books from the series A Song of Ice and Fire since his best friend liked them and wanted Game of Thrones to be a wonderful surprise to me. He also wanted to talk about something else besides Doctor Who and Big Brother.

So I read the first ten percent of the book and watched the first episode of Game of Thrones and I gave him my honest thought on the franchise. I was bored out of my mind. He was a little heart broken because he really hoped I would like it and out of guilt I continued to read the series.

I read up to the end of A Storm of Swords and stopped reading the series because a close friend of mine had passed away from lupus and I couldn’t bear to continue reading about so much violence and bloodshed at the time.

Spoilers concerning A Song of Ice and Fire and the first season of Game of Thrones from this point on. Sort of. Oh and lots of bitching.

I get why people like Game of Thrones because it’s HBO, surely they are the perfection of creating awesome television shows (and porn). Granted I am kind of biased against HBO since I’m not one for raunchy tv. But I do have to admit I liked that they were fairly accurate to the first book and because it airs on a cable network they can get away with more.

I tried to like the series, I really did. I even made an awesome friend because she was reading A Clash of Kings and I literally had no friends in that class during that semester. I DO NOT HATE THE SERIES, but if I had the option of choosing between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter, I’d go for Harry Potter.

I’d say my complaints from the subject is from friends of mine and the internet. The internet isn’t so bad since I follow my own advice that I give people when they don’t like something. If you don’t like or care for it, then leave it alone. However, it’s not the easiest thing to do with people and friends.

As mentioned above I actually met an awesome friend of mine through the series and we have fun exchanging and suggesting fandoms with each other. Our friendship started because of A Song of Ice and Fire and became solidified because of Doctor Who and mutual hatred of an English professor at our school. But I also have normal friends who have frequently suggested the series over, and over, and over again because, “you like Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and Kill Bill. You will love this!”And I will admit that since most of these friends don’t read books (those poor unfortunate souls…) I had fun teasing them with the knowledge of who will live and who will die and how long they had to wait for Joffrey to die (the joke was on all of us when book three was split into two seasons).

I won’t bash on the series and say it’s a steaming pile of crap, or as my mother would say “it’s just legal porn,” because it’s not a steaming pile of crap. It’s not the most amazing thing I’ve ever read or seen, but it’s not a steaming pile of crap (George RR Martin sure can write some kinky shit though).

One day I will finish the books (unless George RR Martin croaks), mainly because the plot of Lady Stone Heart interests me significantly. I probably won’t finish the tv show for one reason alone. They diverted from the books; yeah I’m an elitist book nazi who believes if a book is being adapted to a movie or tv show it should be done to every exact detail. I can understand the diversion from movies since you have three hours at best to cram a whole story in, but it’s a fucking tv show, you have plenty of time to get things into exact detail! There was the issue of running out of stuff from the source material at the end of season five, but that wouldn’t have happened if they had stuck closer tot he source material.

I could go on about the flaws I see in the show, but then that’s just bashing the show (which I technically already did), and I don’t want to be that person on the internet who bashes stuff he just doesn’t like. If you like Game of Thrones, that’s fine, If you haven’t read the books that’s not fine, you need to read them, don’t talk to me until you’ve read them.

Thoughts on The Lunar Chronicles: Winter

WINTER IS HERE! And has been here since November, and yes it’s been two months since I finished winter, but once again higher education takes higher priority than this little blog I do.

Before I get to the spoilers let me say that I was heavily satisfied with the book, the pacing was very well done with an equal amount of screen time dedicated to each protagonist and chapters ending on deadly cliffhangers for each character making me frequently have mini heart attacks one of my favorite characters may die. Now then onto the spoilers.

Spoilers from this if you do not wish to be spoiled do not read beyond this bold text.

First, EVERYONE LIVES YAY! And although my horrible fear of Iko dying or something horrible happening to Cress, or any of the other main protagonists did not happen, this may be a flaw, but I will get to that later.

As I said earlier the pacing between each character was very well done this time, we even got new characters Winter and Jacin enough development to fully flesh out they were and what their motives are in this science fiction adaption of Snow White (also bonus points for making Scarlet the Ruby Red to Winter’s Snow White).

Winter would be a near Mary Sue character for being not only the perfection of beauty both body and soul, but being skilled in not only crafts, but also restoring a home (no really, she rebuilding a house for about two weeks), the thing that keeps her from being a Mary Sue though is the fact that she’s slowly going insane from not using her Lunar Gift and these arts and crafts she does keep her mind occupied thinly preserving her sanity. She’s also resourceful, a little insane in her war strategies, but resourceful. Jacin is a combination of Prince Charming and the Huntsman from the Snow White tale.

We also meet Wolf’s mother, as one would expect she lives long enough to meet Scarlet and dies violently and tragically as any other kind mother would in any other YA book.

As I said earlier each chapter ends with a dramatic cliffhanger for each character giving us the thought that literally any of our protagonists can die with Cress, Cinder, and Iko having the largest amount of cliffhangers that could have lead to their demise.

Unfortunately although I am happy everyone made it out alive (granted they are beaten down pretty bad physically by the end of the novel), that is the primary problem I have with Winter. There is a lot of build up that there will be sacrifices, loved ones will die, ships will be destroyed by death and killing and that there will indeed be consequences for the actions of Cinder and her friends would have to face that just doesn’t happen. Excluding the entire city of Lunar refugees and those killed during the lunar civil war we only have about six named protagonists die.

I give The Lunar Chronicles Winter four and a half lunar apple flavored candies out of five.

The Internet and Jerks

Let’s just skip padding and say that there’s alot of jerks on the internet. There’s also alot of opinions, most of them being illiterate and mean spirited. No this isn’t about a personal experience, I’ve learned my lesson with the internet and it’s jerks, this is about a woman named Anita Sarkeesian and a game reviewer I decided to stop watching around February.

First let me say I have a great amount of respect for Anita Sarkeesian. I have learned alot from her videos on feminism and gender equality and appreciate her work very much. There are some things I disagree with, but should the opportunity present itself that I can actually have a conversation with her I would like to discuss them in a appropriate and educated manner. It’s not news that she’s had negative backlash from the gamer community for her critique of the portrayal of woman in gaming being treated as damsels in distress, sex objects, totally worth killing, and secondary to male protagonists. My reasoning for supporting her and being a feminist? I know what it’s like to be discriminated against based on race and sexual orientation. From those experiences I would rather no one ever be discriminated against.

Anita Sarkeesian was recently named one of Time Magazines most influential people; some boys in the gaming industry are not happy about that. One of them being a game reviewer I use to be a fan of. I won’t say his name because that leads to trolling, name calling, and negative feed back on alot of parties. I’ll give this video game reviewer respect and privacy. It all started about last January; my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer, before then I was in a bad position emotionally concerning a former boyfriend, and just really wanted something to feel happy again. I had just gotten into gaming and was debating on getting a Wii Fit, after looking through youtube I found this reviewers channel and found him charming and a huge fan of The Legend of Zelda. I had been warned by another friend that this guy was probably a jerk in real life under the guidance that “no one is that handsome and nice in real life”.

I gave this reviewer the benefit of the doubt; he had some different interests compared to my own. He hates Harry Potter with a passion, hates anime, and is a little too fond of collecting large amounts of shoes. Then his opinions started popping up when i started following him on twitter and tumblr. He started becoming less and less charming, granted he had his own point of view on what feminism was based on the thoughts and opinions of other feminists. More and more posts began to show though that despite being a fairly nice guy, this individual was part of the gaming community that attacked Anita Sarkeesian.

I stopped following him in February because of a live stream he was doing where he bragged about “rocking the world of an actress playing Aurora/Sleeping Beauty orally” leading me to realize what he really was. I popped in a view of his tumblr and twitter once in a blue moon because despite him being an awful person had a good idea of what games were pretty good. Then today happened.

He began directly attacking Anita Sarkeesian directly on twitter pissed off over Time Magazine recognizing her. I didn’t bother reading the rest, but it was very annoying. Not annoying to see another person taking cheap shots at someone who worked hard to where she is now, but studied harder than most people do to get her degrees and fought to have this injustice recognized while this gamer is just a ballet dancer who reviews games and evidently gives oral to woman who work at Disney theme parks.

The depressing thing is I do have male friends that share the whole “there is no gender inequality. It’s all in your head” attitude, that roll their eyes when I begin to speak about feminism. THe kinds of guys that don’t accept that their perspective of the world might be wrong.

I’m not sure how to end this blog post, but I will say that this isn’t the end of  the debate and I hope for the success in Anita’s mission.

Thoughts on Steven Universe Season Finale

Today was the season finale to Steven Universe, and it was very good; it lived up to the hype built up the past few episodes had been making about the gem known as Peridot coming to earth to unleash all kinds of modern gem-kind hell.

Spoilers from this point on, if you don’t want to be spoiled then do not read.

Following in the graceful footsteps of the series finale to Avatar The Legend of Korra Steven Universe provides us with an LGBT couple introduced in the second half of the season finale episode Jail break. Previously the leader of the Crystal Gems Garnet had been defeated at the hands of Jasper with bother her gems being separated. Many fans (myself included) had their theories proven true that Garnet is indeed a fusion gem of Ruby and Sapphire (that part I kind of just threw in because I’m a huge pokemon fan. Something tells me Rebecca Sugar is too.) However we’re shown that Ruby and Sapphire had different personalities with Ruby being a feisty warrior and Sapphire being elegant, lady like, and similar to a princess. Prior to this the fans had just been exposed to four fusions (Opal, Sugilite, Alexandrite, and Stevonnie), all of them temporary fusions because of lack of compatibility (Opal, Alexandrite, and Stevonnie) or had to be defeated (Sugilite).

I had suspected what kind of fusion Garnet was for a while; in Coach Steven was that she was just two gems who “lost themselves” together as Garnet thinking it was better to have a gem like her. Part of my inner self thought ‘what if fusions is like being married?’ after Pear commented that Stevonnie was “inappropriate” for Steven and Connie and the large grin on Garnet’s face

I think it’s gread that Steven Universe is joining in by having LGBT characters, but does it really count since the whole gem population is female? Debatable; this topic along with gem fusions is for another entry.

The episodes themselves really show how far Steven has not only come since the beginning of the series, but also how far Steven himself has come since the episodes Mirror Gem and Ocean Gem and losing his healing powers shortly afterwards. The long lived fear that Steven’s humanity was making him less effective as a gem proved to be the reason why Steven was even able to execute his rescue mission of the Crystal Gems in the first place.

We also see how far the citizens of Beach City have come too; they know that their city is a target for disaster, but are always trusting that the Crystal Gems ‘always save the day, and even if they can’t they’ll always find a way, believing in Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl and Steven’. However in this episode they realize, their heroes may not be able to protect them and abandon beach city and show concern for each other when Greg and Steven have a car accident. Not sure if Connie’s parents are still unaware of the kind of universe they live in, but I’m pretty sure they evacuated.

The gems really are placed to the test; all of their technology and the fusion of Opal (that should give you an idea of how grave the situation is) prove to be useless against Peridot and Jasper’s machines. They strike back with grace against their opponents making easy work of Peridot and Garnet being able to defeat Jasper with the power of love.

We also get the return of Lapis Lazuli from the midseason finale; Lapis is taken prisoner and isn’t happy with the gem homeworld and what they’ve become. In an effort to make up for the wrong she’s (minisculely) responsible for she agrees to fuse with Jasper into Malachite and trap themselves at the bottom of the ocean. It’s a pretty tragic end to her character since all she wanted to do was go home and her home having become a horrible place.

In the end The Return and Jail Break were a great way to finish up season one of Steven Universe. I think for season two they’ll return to the format of writing that the start of season one had of having a Monster of the Week format along with hints of what could happen; Peridot is somewhere on earth, but has no power to fight the gems without her technology (I think she’ll become comic relief), the Crystal Gems have access to modern gem technology now that Pearl can probably reverse engineer to be of use to them, there’s still the threat of Yellow Diamond, the mystery of Lion, and the possibility of Rose living on through Steven to gather plot driven episodes from.

I give it five cookie cat icecream bars out of five,

Wild at Heart (it’s crap)

A few months ago a friend suggested I read Wild at Heart because most christian men like it. I’m going to assume those men are extreme right wing conservatives going through a midlife crisis and have had little to no troubles in life outside of being bored and unsatisfied with life.

The idea that the only way to be ‘alive in Christ’ through the form of adventure does sound interesting at first, but then talk that only masculine men do adventures and all men are called to it and every other man is a lost cause and can never fully ‘know God’ is very idiotic. Most of John Eldredge’s views on ‘what brings men closer to Christ’ is pretty hypocritical to Jesus’ actual teachings of love, charity, and mercy.

Don’t get me started on the sexism present in this book.

I actually can get behind the idea though that people do need to disconnect from their phones, tablets, computers, and whatever else they find themselves connected to and enjoy nature and try to encourage that same nature onto one’s children. Sadly these thoughts are lost within the “boys and men need to live dangerous wives while mom is just glad no one is bothering her in the kitchen.”

No one should ever read this book. Read anything else please; read the Bhagevad Ghita, read His Dark Materials, Read the actual Bible if you want to feel a connection to God or Christ!