How A Book Purge Fixed My Personal Library

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We currently exist in a time where book unhauls and book purges are very popular. I was never on that bandwagon. I don’t keep books that I didn’t enjoy. They automatically go in a bag to be traded, sold, or given away. But books I haven’t read yet don’t get touched until I’ve read them. Well, that was the rule until very recently.

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Discussion: Redemption Arcs

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This is a response to this video made by Thoughts on Tomes where she broaches the topic of redemption arcs in stories. To clarify exactly what we’re talking about, when a character begins a story as a villain or a generally “bad person” who has done terrible things, but down the line they redeem themselves. I had some thoughts about this topic, and I wanted to also see what other people think.

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Discussion: Bad Endings

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This is something I find fascinating, and I’d love to hear some opinions. Do bad endings destroy a story for you? My mother is the sort of audience member who hates a bad ending. It can completely wreck her enjoyment of a thing if she perceives of the ending being poor. With that in mind, let’s talk about what constitutes a bad ending.

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Rise of the Antihero: Deadpool and Suicide Squad

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There’s simply no denying that two of the highest grossing movies in 2016 were superhero films wherein the characters weren’t heroes. Hollywood has done this sort of thing in the past, disparate studios releasing movies with the same basic thrust at the same time, accidentally creating a kind of phenomenon. For me, the idea of antiheroes becoming the norm is an interesting idea for our current atmosphere. Let’s discuss.

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Discussion: Reading Slumps

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There’s no wrap-up for November, because the only thing I read was a short story. I worked on some other books, but I didn’t finish any. I barely read at all. Anyone who reads and shares their reading, whether it be on booktube, on a blog, or even Goodreads, feels the strain when they’re “not reading enough”. We all look at our space where we put reviews and share our love of books, watch a tumbleweed roll by, and wince.

That’s when it becomes pertinent to discuss the idea of the slump. Is that what it is? Is that a bad word? I might be slumping in books, but I’m active in other areas. I’m researching a project for the new year that involves a whole new hobby of mine. I’m getting ready for Christmas, and high-five me if it’s been a time-consuming trial, because I feel you. I’m writing. I’m doing housework and running errands. I redecorated a minor bit. I’m doing things all over the place. I’m just not reading. The word “slump” implies that I should be reading all the time, and the fact is, I shouldn’t feel pressured. I should read when the mood strikes, not because I have to meet some quota.

On top of everything, not to get overly personal, but this time in 2013 was when my father was very, very sick. On December 21st of that year, he passed away. He’d been diagnosed with cancer, and while I was aware that it was bad, we were gearing up to fight it when he suddenly died. It’s easy to see how that would affect my mood, especially when I’m trying to get in the holiday spirit, which is hard for me since then. Sometimes books are my haven. They’re where I go to escape. But sometimes I don’t have the level of concentration that requires, so I don’t try. I slip into the easier things, like watching shows I love (lots of Mystery Science Theater 3000) or funny YouTube videos, rather than strain myself.

In a case like that, it also makes me not want to call it a “slump”. That feels like undue pressure. I don’t need to view it as this thing I have to break out of or else. Because the truth is the urge to read always comes back to me. I’m never without it for long. This is a temporary feeling, and forcing it will only make it worse as well as making me feel worse about it.

What else contributed to this state I’m in? You’ve heard the usual suspects. I read a bunch of crummy books that I’m stuck in the middle of, and the desire to read started to bleed away. Also, I hit my yearly goal very early. The usual drive those goals make you feel to read more, to succeed, is no longer there. I could’ve upped my goal and kept going, but I’m glad I didn’t, simply because I don’t think it would’ve helped me. It probably would’ve only served to make me feel worse about taking the time off from books.

I don’t know if others are like this, but I tend to work in cycles. Sometimes I’m reading non-stop. Sometimes I only want to watch movies. Other times I spend days writing, totally dedicated to my own stories. I’m used to these cycles, and I don’t ever say that I’m in a movie slump or a writing slump, so I don’t consider myself in a reading slump either. I follow my enjoyment wherever it takes me, and I’m content with that.

What’s your opinion on slumps? Is it a word you dread hearing? Do you not sweat it at all? Lemme know! And as always, happy geeking!

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How I Rate Books and Movies

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This topic might seem a tad on the dry side, but I think it’s important. I’ve been doing a lot more reviews lately, and I could stand to clarify what my various ratings mean to me and how I think as a reviewer. I’ll be adding the link to this article to my about page for future reference, as well.

Firstly, my rating system is more lenient with movies than with books. I realize that’s a little odd. Shouldn’t they be exactly the same? The more I think about it, the more I realize the answer is no. Books are more of an investment when it comes to time and full concentration. Therefore, in my mind, a disappointing book becomes more of a beast to contend with than a disappointing film. With a film, you’re out a couple of hours. With a book, you’re out at least four hours. Maybe even more if you got stuck with a middling whopper. In that case, it seems important to differentiate. Though I do use a five star system for both.

Ratings for Books

Five Stars – Any flaws I felt this had were minor or easily overlooked. I don’t believe any book can ever be perfect, but this rating isn’t about that. It’s for books that made me fangirl. Books that make me want to vomit hyperbole. Books I can barely even talk about because they’re just so good.

Four Stars – Still very good, but with flaws I couldn’t ignore. If I know when I review the book I’ll be harping on things the author did wrong, places they veered off the path, but I’m still thoroughly enjoying myself, I know it’s a four star read. These always still come highly recommended.

Three Stars – Middle of the road. Meh. Left me feeling basically nothing either way. This typically isn’t a positive stance. In fact, sometimes three star books that leave me feeling empty are worse than books that get a big, negative reaction. Though I could probably still see the side of people loving this, too.

Two Stars – Very flawed. Lots of problems. Probably would result in a touch of ranting. Most of the books I really don’t like get this rating. Because ultimately it takes some level of competence to get published at all, and it’s there in the book even with all the surrounding issues.

One Star – I don’t hand out one star ratings lightly. A book has to be truly without merit for me to say that. It has happened, but not often. If I give a book this rating, run. Run far and fast from it.

Ratings for Movies

Five Stars – Enjoyed myself completely while watching. Didn’t glance at the clock. Wasn’t waiting for the movie to be over. I was completely engrossed and lost in the story. Probably I didn’t want the story to end at all. It’s also likely that a film that receives this high praise had excellent acting, beautiful cinematography, and lots of good points.

Four Stars – My book and film ratings are similar here. A good movie with some flaws, but nothing too terrible. You should still watch it, and I still enjoyed it. I may nitpick slightly is all.

Three Stars – Good movie, but turn off your brain. Don’t look for deep meaning or grandiose symbolism. Look maybe for things to be a little sloppy and silly. Probably has plot holes or a plot that was too complicated for the simple production. Some special effects failures. But still fun, I want to emphasize. It’s a lot easier to watch a dooberish movie than to read a dooberish book.

Two Stars – Good for one viewing maybe. No rewatch value. Far too many nagging problems in the mix. Not worth owning and likely only worth checking out if you’re very intrigued.

One Star – Terrible. Don’t watch it. Again, I don’t throw one stars around like candy, so to imagine a movie that is that awful… We’re talking The Room levels of stink here.

One last note: sometimes when I write a full review of a film or book (and especially when I’m reviewing TV shows), I don’t leave a rating at the end. The reason is that my thoughts have been so thorough and nuanced, trying to sum that up in a number can feel trite. Ratings work for shorter reviews, such as in monthly wrap-ups or my triple features, but longer reviews express my feelings better than a simple rating ever could.

I hope this clears things up for you if you were at all confused about my rating systems. And as always, happy geeking!

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Meta: Zombies Are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

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If you’re not familiar with the Christian bible, the biblical apocalypse has a lot of confusing and diverse elements. One of these is the heralds who show up on horseback. When we see the four horsemen, that’s when we know we’re good and screwed. They are War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. I had the sudden… shall we call it a revelation? Such a bad pun. It occurred to me that zombies fill all four slots rather nicely, meaning they become a modern day metaphor for a world-ending scenario that’s been talked about and debated for some time. Let me explain.

War. Wars are generally fought by armies, and when a horde of zombies gets large enough, it comes off as something of an army, doesn’t it? An unstoppable force destroying everything in its path. When a disaster like a zombie outbreak begins, the military is usually one of the first organizations (after local law enforcement, fire departments, and hospitals) to get involved. Most of the depictions of outbreaks show the military being overwhelmed, unable to stop the hordes, broken and scattered and turned into monsters themselves. It’s a war. And the zombies win.

Pestilence. Whatever it is that makes the dead rise, it usually takes the form of a disease. A blood-born pathogen that can be spread via a bite. Like rabies, once a bite breaks the skin, chances are you’re infected. Only in this case, the rise of the zombies has happened so quickly that there’s no treatment and no cure. It’s a disease that, from the standpoint of what a disease is meant to accomplish, is perfect. Its infection rate is superb, and the chances that you’ll be able to outrun it forever are limited.

Famine. Whenever we think of famine, we think of people starving to death, a food shortage, a water shortage. Let’s look in a different direction. A vastly spreading group of creatures that are always hungry. They will never stop, and their only motivation is to feast. They will eat you alive. If you’re lucky, there will be so little of you left, you won’t get up. If you do, you’ll join them, infected with that same, insatiable hunger. Unable to stop. Always starving.

Death. They defy the very definition of life. For all intents and purposes, zombies should not be possible. The body needs blood flow carrying oxygen to all parts in order to function. You have to breathe to move. Your heart has to beat. Yet they’re dead and they walk. Natural life as we know it would have to cease and whole new laws begin. Namely… the world must be ending.

Maybe then the Horsemen don’t have to be literal riders we see in the sky with scythes and skulls for faces. Maybe the fruits of their labor would be witnessed in one perfect army, one perfect disease, one perfect hunger, and one terrifying form of death that isn’t death.

I hope I freaked you out. And I hope I made you think about the deeper metaphor behind our zombie fiction. If you want to support this clearly twisted blog, check out my Redbubble shop. As always, happy geeking!