Here are the interesting and useful links I have to share this quarter! Some other important ones went into this post.
In bookish news, the American Library Association has released its list of the most challenged books of 2019. A lot of them have to do with LGBT+ representation, which is unsurprising, as banned books often include important content related to marginalized groups. This is one big reason why we say no to book banning! The CCBP also recently released an analysis of marginalized representation in children's literature (which includes YA lit) from 2019.
That makes for a solid segue into social justice, where this Tumblr post discusses how to critically examine the portrayal of police in the media. On a related note, this Twitter thread lists the most dangerous jobs in the United States. This Tumblr post talks about some of the issues with the current U.S. justice system, as does this one, and this one explores defunding the police, as does this Twitter thread. Also take a look at these stats:
I forgot to post my interesting and useful links roundup on Wednesday! I'll have to do it this week instead. In the meantime, here are the twenty-five posts I found during the past three months that made me laugh the most. Please enjoy!
It's time for me to share my top to-reads of summer 2020! These are the seventeen books I'm most excited for that are releasing from July through September of this year. Why don't you add them to your list, too?
1) Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power. This YA horror thriller from the author of the fascinating and highly acclaimed Wilder Girls follows a girl who travels to her mother's Midwestern hometown to uncover terrible family secrets. It releases on July 7th
Since it's Pride Month, this seems like a good time to share how, after years of research and thought, I recently figured out that I am not just straight-up straight: I'm actually demiheterosexual and biromantic.
If you're someone who's not all that familiar with the terminology used for different kinds of attraction, then that might sound like a confusing, complicated collection of mashed-together syllables to you. Human attraction is complicated, like most things related to humans. I'm here today to tell you the story of how writing and editing #OCDStory led to me discovering my orientations--and I promise I'll explain the words as we go.
When I was writing the first draft of #OCDStory, I knew early on that I wanted one of the important side characters to be asexual. It's important to recognize and appropriately represent people with different orientations in our stories because those people exist in real life. Not only is it unrealistic to exclude them, it's also hurtful and can leave them feeling unmoored and out of place. I chose asexuality for my focus because it's the sexual orientation that I've always found myself most interested in, other than regular old heterosexuality. It also just felt like the right fit for the character.
Okay! It's finally time for my June update. My May update is linked here.
(Re)reading: Open Minds (Mindjack #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn
Writing: #SnowQueenStory, on page 63
Editing: my blog archives, at January 2015
Working: most recently, on a cardiology-related Scribbr essay
Watching: bits and pieces of Star Trek: Discovery
Playing: let's just assume I'm always playing Hogwarts Mystery unless I say otherwise
Earworming: "Girls Like You" by Maroon 5
Bookmarking: some websites about crystal meanings
Following: most recently on Tumblr, dindjarindaily
Wearing: this t-shirt in light blue with a black skirt and these earrings in silver
Eating: more Chips Ahoy
Smelling: kitty litter that needs to be cleaned
Hearing: distant traffic outside
Hello, everyone! Today, I'm sharing my 2020 video bookshelf tour, as an update on my last 2017 tour. It begins with a little clip of Spartacus, so don't be confused by that, LOL. The Goodreads pages for any new books on my shelf are linked below.
I put together a bookshelf tour video for this week's post, but right now, it doesn't feel right to post it. Across the past few days, through social media, I've seen a fervor erupt in the U.S. like I've never seen before. This is largely inspired by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in Minneapolis. However, there are a lot of larger factors at play: decades of police violence, the current coronavirus pandemic, an ever-widening wealth gap in the midst of yet another economic downtown, and all of this being borne most severely by marginalized groups and particularly Black people. It's not hard for me to understand why there have been such intense protests in so many cities across the country. Black people have had enough, and frankly, it is way past time for change.
I've always been most fascinated by humans; all our weird contradictory complexities, and yet history shows us that humans don't do a lot of changing. There is always a lot of violence and prejudice and horror being perpetrated by people, especially those in power. There is always a lot of resistance to any social movement. There is always a lot of selfishness. But some things do change, in bursts here and there, and I hope this might be one of those times. It's not easy to live amid chaos, but it's also not easy to live amid an accepted status quo where people are suffering. In both these cases, privilege protects a lot of people, including me. It's quiet where I live, in my life, almost all the time, and sometimes, that makes me forget how much societal and political terror so many others are living with. But social media provides me a broader view by giving me access to other people. It shows me the suffering that people like me, white people, need to recognize and accept responsibility for changing, and it helps me be understanding about behavior that might seem extreme if I didn't know how much injustice and death and pain has been happening.
As a speculative fiction writer, reader, and viewer, I have immersed myself in so many stories about morality, injustice, and revolution. I am not in any way alone there. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and other popular phenomena all include these themes. But I think too many of us see this as being limited to fiction, to the past, or to other countries. We fail to recognize the way they're affecting our own societies, especially those of us who are people of privilege living quiet lives. We have problems, yes, many of them deeply painful, but we aren't being hurt by society in such a consistent and structural way. So it's easy for us to turn away or condemn others and not realize that we're ignoring the very heroes that we cheered for when we saw them in a different setting. Protests and riots are a part of so many important pieces of progress that have been made in the world.
In February 2013, as an almost nineteen-year-old, I wrote a post where I described my dream for my future life when I would be around age thirty. Seven years later, a lot has changed, including my vision of what I'd like my future to be. So I thought I'd share a 2020 update of what I, twenty-six-year-old Kira, dream for my future! This future vision could happen really anytime, and I would be happy with it, so I won't be specific about what age I am here. Life happens on its own timeline, after all.
First, in line with the previous version, here's a terrible Paint drawing of my dream!
It took an unfortunate amount of time for me to find and read enough appropriate books to create a sizeable list here. Now, I have so many, I'm limiting this post to my 4.5+ star reads, instead of the usual 4+ stars! It is my pleasure to present recommended YA books that have central characters with disabilities in them. These disabilities do not include mental illnesses, which are instead represented in this list and in this list.
I hope you'll give these books a read and support their disability representation!
1) Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology. You already know how much I love this wild and brilliant YA sci-fi dystopian series about a future America where abortion is outlawed and replaced by the "unwinding" of unwanted teens for body parts. The first book doesn't have disability representation, but in later books, all four of the main characters have something going on. Connor gets a transplanted arm, Levi has permanently stunted growth, Risa is briefly paralyzed but then cured against her will, and my boy Camus has to "relearn" a variety of neuromuscular skills. (5-star average)
2) Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles. I've mentioned this series here a hundred times already, but somehow, it keeps fitting with my post themes! In this futuristic YA sci-fi retelling of four different fairytales, one of the main characters, Cinder, has various cybernetic parts, including a prosthetic leg, while a different main character, Cress, lives with a much maligned fictional disability. One of the love interests, Wolf, has to deal with the lifelong results of human experimentation, and a different love interest, Thorne, is stricken with a temporary blindness. (There's also a main character, Winter, with hallucinations. This book has it all!) (4.75-star average)
Now that we're in May (how wild), it's time for a life update! You can review April's update here.
Reading: Reverie by Ryan La Sala
Writing: #SnowQueenStory, on page 54
Editing: my blog archives, at October 2014
Working: most recently on a book description
Watching: The Half of It on Netflix
Playing: Hogwarts Mystery on a brand new save file because I decided to delete my Facebook
Earworming: the main theme from Us
Bookmarking: some websites about flower language
Following: most recently on Twitter, Joanna No Banana
Wearing: a navy tank top dress and black shrug with white pearl earrings
Eating: too many Chips Ahoy
Smelling: almond sugar lip balm
Hearing: my youngest brother thundering around
Welcome, everyone, to the latest installment of On This Day in My History! As usual, I will be going through my many diaries (which begin in November 1999) to see what has happened on May 2nd throughout my life so far. I will then provide a summary here.
No May 2nd entry in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.
May 2, 2006, Twelve Years Old (Sixth Grade)
Today, one of my friends was absent from school. We did the shuttle run test in P.E., and as usual, I did not do great on it. In language arts class, we played Kid Biz and talked about Greek mythology, which was one of my favorite topics. We sixth graders then got some information about a ROPES trip we were going on the next day. In GATE class, my publishing mentor told me she was impressed with #IceEnchantressStory! I also drew some pictures of my cat in my diary. .
Back in 2013, I wrote a post sharing my favorite quotations. Since then, my interest in quotes has declined a bit--context is quite important, and it often gets lost amidst these pithy phrases! Nevertheless, I've written a handful of other posts about good quotes since then, and today, I'd like to add a few more to the list, drawn from my Goodreads and my Pinterest. Because words are beautiful!
Everything you can imagine is real. -- Pablo Picasso
Life is made up of marble and mud. -- Nathaniel Hawthorne
The most beautiful stories always start with wreckage. -- Jack London
Nothing great in the world was ever accomplished without passion. -- Georg Wilheim
Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality. --
Edgar Allan Poe
The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is
always more mystery. -- Anais Nin
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable
explanation is that we were made for another world. -- C.S. Lewis
The absence of violence is not love. -- from Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King
As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently making minor edits to my blog archives, which means I'm getting all sorts of inspiration from my past blog posts! Today, I'd like to write a post based on my short bucket list post from 2013.
Since then, my life has changed a lot, and many of those wishes are no longer feasible because of my disabilities and/or no longer fit my interests. However, my vision of what it looks like to be a successful novelist has expanded a great deal. So I thought it'd be a good idea to write an updated bucket list focusing mostly on what I want to achieve as an author!
1) Sign a contract with a literary agent. I have yet to achieve the very first step towards traditional publication despite many attempts. I look forward to making this professional connection and having another person on my team!
2) Publish a novel. This is the big one I've been looking forward to for years and years! It's only the hoped-for beginning, of course, but it's a huge step all by itself.
3) Run a book giveaway. Once I have a book to promote, I plan to run at least one giveaway on this website, if nowhere else, and since I've won many books from giveaways in the past, I'm excited to offer the same chance to others.
4) Hold a book release party. I'm not sure where I'd have one--the library is the only place in my little town that seems appropriate--but I've seen photos from the parties authors hold when they release a new book, and it looks delightful. There are cupcakes with the book cover design on them, y'all!. Even if it was very small, I'd love to have such a party.
Things are rough right now, and it is time for another life update! (Check out March's here.)
(Re)reading: Persuasion by Jane Austen (thanks to the library being closed, there are a lot of
rereads going on right now!)
Writing: blog posts and diary entries
Editing: my blog archives for formatting and consistency (at September 2013), because I
finished the #OCDStory edit!
Working: most recently on a personal statement from Scribbr
Watching: random shows to see if something grabs me
Playing: lots of Hogwarts Mystery
Earworming: Victorious's take on "Don't You (Forget About Me)", for some reason
Bookmarking: NetGalley, most recently
Following: mostly recently on Twitter, Am I the Buttface?, which shares posts from that Reddit
Getting: cool birthday gifts like these earrings
Wearing: this Baby Yoda shirt and black sweatpants
Eating: too much sugar because I am seriously stressed out
Smelling: nothing in particular
Hearing: keyboard sounds and a fan
It's time for our Spring 2020 roundup of interesting and useful posts that I found online during the last three months! Check out the links below.
Starting with this quarter in interesting diversions: This Tumblr post presents a chart of different sun gods worshiped in different time zones. This one proposes a super cool way to propose marriage! This New Scientist article talks about a tiny new moon the Earth recently (temporarily) gained.
Onto the important current issue of coronavirus: This Scientific American article presents a reasonable look at preparing to flatten the curve that is still helpful today. This University of Washington website shares coronavirus projections for different U.S. states. This Twitter thread talks about the unknown loss of possibility we will experience, while this thread from fellow chronically ill person and YA author Natasha Ngan gives advice on coping with being stuck at home for an extended period.
Meanwhile, this chart compares the death tolls of different pandemics across history (the coronavirus numbers have since risen to at least 88k):
It's time for some much needed humor today. Here are the twenty-five funniest posts I saw on the Internet during the last three months! Please enjoy.
My 26th birthday is tomorrow, so I'd like to take a look back 26 years at what the world was like on my birthdate! Let us return to Saturday, April 2nd, 1994:
Bill Clinton was the U.S. president. Some very typical tensions were occurring between the U.S. and areas like North Korea, China, and the Middle East, and there was unrest in South Africa, Haiti, and Bosnia. Tobacco's power in our country seemed to be waning (yay for not smoking!). Stocks had taken a recent dive, but March had been good in terms of hiring numbers. In New Mexico, the pilgrimage to Chimayo was happening.
Michael ("Who is Like God?") and Ashley ("From the Ash Tree Field") were the most popular baby names of 1994. However, in New Mexico, Jessica ("God Beholds") was the top female name.
The top song was "The Sign" by Ace of Base, which I think is a pretty decent tune. I'm actually familiar with it! Other names on the charts included R. Kelly, Mariah Carey, and Celine Dion, along with other performers whom I do not know.
The top movie in the box office was Major League II, a baseball-related comedy sequel that does not sound like my kind of thing at all. Critics weren't into it, either, so. 🤷🏻♀️ Four Weddings and a Funeral (rom-com, of course) was the highest grossing film of the year so far.
This has been such a month. For once, I'm not surprised that it's ending. I guess that's how you slow down time--with a pandemic. 😬
Anyway, with the end of March comes my list of top to-read books that are coming out during the spring quarter! I have eighteen new YA releases from April through June for you all to get pumped up about. These authors could especially use promotion right now seeing as social distancing has cut down their opportunities to attend events. (You can also support the Winter 2020 releases seen here.) So let's check them out!
Hey, friends! Hope you're all doing well despite the ongoing pandemic. I've been dealing with a lot of lower respiratory symptoms this week, including breathlessness, which culminated in me going to a clinic and finding out I was having my first ever asthma attack! I don't even usually have allergies, but apparently my lungs are mad right now. That was a fun time.
Now for today's post: I share fanart in themed posts on this blog every so often, I reblog it on my Tumblr all the time, and I've also talked about my Art & Words Pinterest board in the past. Visual art is amazing to me! But I have yet to write a post introducing you to my favorite artists. I thought today would be a good time to remedy that.
Some of these artists primarily create fanart; some primarily create original works. There are photos, paintings, papercraft, and more! I hope through this you find some great visual artists to support. Art is such an essential part of human life: it educates, it enriches, it evokes, it inspires, it distracts! We need it most in difficult times like these.
Paola Pieretti has developed a style for her commissioned character portraits that really speaks to me, though I can't explain why. I just know that she's at the top of my list for artists I might commission once I have a published book to promote. I don't have any single favorite, but here are a few pieces that show off her abilities:
In the past, I've analyzed the selection of books that I was required to read in school, and I've expressed my frustrations with it--primarily with the lack of diversity in both the authors and the main characters. That led me to write this post, where I shared some classics I enjoyed that are by non-White-and-male authors.
Since then, I've had the chance to read many more classics on my own. So today, I thought I'd create my ideal list of classics for students to read while in school. The main rule for this list is that I'm not allowed to include any author more than once (not even Shakespeare!), because the lack of diversity in English literature curriculum is even worse when you consider how many of the authors are repeats. Books that I was required to read anytime from elementary school through my English BA are marked with an asterisk.
Let's get into it!
1) Hamlet by William Shakespeare.* This is my Shakespearean pick: a historical tragedy written in 1603 about an indecisive Danish prince who is told by his father's ghost that the uncle who married his mother and became the new king is, in fact, his father's murderer. This story's downward spiral into chaos and death fascinates me. (If I was allowed to also include a Shakespearean comedy, I'd pick Much Ado About Nothing, but that's against the rules, so. 🤷🏻♀️ )
2) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.* I've enjoyed every Jane Austen book I've read, but this one is the most famous: a regency romance published in 1813 that tells the hate-to-love story of an intelligent and independent young woman and a rich, awkward, and aloof young man who each have pride and prejudice that adds strife to their relationship. Jane Austen's famous wit and feminist social commentary are well-displayed in this novel!
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