Sunday, April 24, 2016

a letter to the squirrel in my attic.


Dear Mama Squirrel,

For the past few months, we've heard little footprints on our roof now and then. We've known about the birds for awhile, but they mostly keep to themselves. You, on the other hand, can be extremely noisy. We've been meaning to take care of the problem for awhile, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I'm not saying that I don't like you. I like you very much. I like watching you dig for breakfast as I wash dishes in the morning. I like seeing you make crazy leaps from tree to tree. I even like hearing you bark at me whenever I leave the house to take Rex for a walk. (I might even like you more than Mr. Rhory.) It's just that, well, you become a pest whenever you begin living in our house. If you offered to pay rent, that would be another matter. But you don't, so we've been meaning to kick you out.

That is, until yesterday.

I was playing with Rex in the living room when we heard heard a lot of noise coming from right above our heads. I looked out of the window and saw part of a squirrel body dangling from the ledge and this terrible high-pitch crying sound. I thought you were attacking a nest of baby birds. I went outside to see what was going on, and saw a little squirrel on the ground below the window.

I stood there for a few minutes, trying to look for any baby birds and trying to figure out where the crying was coming from. It took me awhile to figure out that the squirrel on the ground was the one crying. He was not a baby, but he was young and scared.

I went inside for a few minutes to see if he would climb back up to his nest. When I came out, I saw a squirrel's head poking out of the opening and sighed with relief. But then the crying started up again, and it was still coming from the ground. I got down and saw the baby squirrel on the other side of a vent. He had gone through a crawlspace to hide, but was still crying out to you.

It was clear to me, then. He was too young to get back to the nest by himself, and you were poking your head out of the hole to watch me. I went inside to let you take care of it, wondering if I should call animal control or something. I didn't know if you would be able to find him in the crawlspace. A few minutes later, though, I watched you descend the tree from my kitchen window. You found your baby, tucked him into a ball, and struggled to carry him up the tree. You are quite a massive squirrel, but your baby is at least half of your size.



I heard you jump on the roof and scurry to the opening. But the baby was too big, and both of you fell from the roof to the ground.

My heart stopped. I watched you from our living room window to make sure everyone was all right. You were both still moving, and then you nudged baby back into a ball to pick up again. But right as you were about to move, the stray cat on our street lunged at you.

I sprinted outside as fast as I could, not even wearing shoes. Somehow, you were able to grab your baby and hurry halfway up a tree. The cat was watching you from below as you flicked your tail at him.

Normally, I love cats. But I'm not too fond of this one. He's been living on our street for awhile and normally stays out of trouble, but is always lurking. I call him Frankenkitty because his brown, mangy calico coat reminds of different cat fur stitched together, like Frankenstein's monster. I had to chase him away and I'm sorry if I startled you while doing so. I went back inside, but did not take my eyes off of the cat.

I sat at my window staring at that cat for an hour. He walked to the end of the street, appearing disinterested. Meanwhile, you climbed back on the roof and tried to tuck your baby back into the hole, but kept falling. You tried three times, and each time my heart sank and I grew more frantic. You were falling from at least seven feet onto gravel, and I was worried that the baby would be hurt. I should have snuck out some pillows to help break the impact, but I didn't think about it until later. Anyway, it probably would have startled you, and you already had enough to worry about.

You went out of my sight then and I did not know where you and your baby were. I thought maybe you had abandoned him and went back to care for your other young (I saw one of them poke his little head out of the same opening, so I know there are more in there). But then, the cat turned back around and started stalking towards my house.

I knew that even if you were still outside, you couldn't see me from my front porch, but the cat could. I gently opened the door and stood on my porch, glaring straight into the cat's eyes. He instantly turned back around and walked down the street.

I turned to back in, but saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked up at the neighboring house and saw you on the roof, looking at me while carrying your baby. You were trying to go up a different way.

I opened the door silently and you watched me go inside. A few minutes later, I heard you jump onto my roof. I prayed for you to make it this time. I didn't see anyone fall, and then everything was silent. You made it inside with your baby!

Afterwards, I was a nervous wreck. My heart was pounding and I felt dizzy, but also so happy that both of you made it home safe.

That's it, then. That's what I wanted to tell you. I watched you struggle and fight for your baby. I watched your strength and bravery. I watched your fearless dedication.

If anyone deserves a safe spot in my attic, it's you.

Yours truly,
Emily

Friday, April 22, 2016

10 Reasons Why You Should Read The Lunar Chronicles

I know that the Lunar Chronicles are a big thing in the book blogosphere, and maybe elsewhere in the world, but it seems like they're not as popular as they need to be, at least where I live. And when they are read, they seem to only be read by females (which I think is due in part to the covers).


Also my sister refuses to read them, so I've decided to be as persuasive as possible with a very thorough, scientific, totally-not-biased-in-any-way list.
Okay, there may be some bias. Nobody's perfect. 
(Except Marissa Meyer, obviously.) 


1) Cinderella is a CYBORG.
Look, I'm not the biggest Cinderella fan. Like, she's okay, and I'll admit that I completely freaked last year when I met her at Disney World, but we've heard her story a million times. We don't need another retelling. Right?

WRONG. You need this story in your life, trust me. I mean, she's a cyborg. It's ridiculously awesome and gritty and empowering. Such a cool, dynamic twist. I can't even words.





2) It has so much diversity.
So, Cinder is a cyborg, and there's this huge prejudice against people like her, so we get to experience that. But the diversity doesn't stop there. She and Kai (and basically everyone in the first book) are from New Beijing in the Eastern Commonwealth, which is essentially Asia. Scarlet is from France. Thorne is pretty much the only American. Winter is Black and Indian, and also Lunar. That's another thing--there's a whole other race of people living on the moon, called Lunars. Several of the characters are Lunar, including the evil Queen Levana.



3) The audiobooks are terrific.
I listened to all the books (including the spin-offs) on audio, and they were absolutely terrific. The narrator, Rebecca Soler, is amazing. The last book is pretty huge, but it went by so fast on audio. I never wanted to stop listening.



4) It's funny.
Thorne is hilarious. His lines always make me laugh out loud, and scenes with him and Cinder are always the best. Their banter and wit kill me.





5) It's intense.
Some scenes are pretty tense. It never gets too graphic or gruesome, but there's some shock factor in every book of the series.





6) It's science fiction.
Even though it's based on fairy tales, it is not a fairy tale. It is not really fantasy. It is straight up science fiction. There is space travel and a terrible disease and mutant human/wolf creatures and all sorts of science fiction-y things. Normally that wouldn't be a selling point for me but it was really a  nice touch with this series.



7) So many ships.
I mean, it is based on fairy tales. But the characters and relationships are so different that even if you aren't rooting for everyone, you'll probably be rooting for someone.





8) It is filled with strong female characters.
Four books, four main females. And they are all awesome! Cinder and Scarlet are pretty fierce, while Cress and Winter are softer, but they all have their own abilities. I never felt that any of the female characters were stereotyped or one-dimensional.



9) It is, at its core, a retelling of classic fairy tales.
And apparently people looove retellings because they are everywhere these days. Even though this series uses the original stories more subtly than most other retellings, the original themes are still there, and sometimes in fun ways (like Cress, as Rapunzel, is stranded on a satellite rather than in a tower).





10) It is wholly unique.
If you removed the fairytale-inspired story elements, I think that this series would still be amazing. The story and characters are so unique that it can hold its own. The underlying fairytale themes are just an added bonus, which is what all retellings should do. I get so angry with retellings that borrow too much from the source material. It feels like cheating. But Marissa Meyer creates her own setting and weaves the fairy tales into it.


snow white, disney, and bird image
~~~

So, tell me: have you read The Lunar Chronicles? What did you think of it? What would you say to persuade my lovely sister to read it? Who was your favorite character/ship/book in the series?(CRESS + THORNE 4-EVER) Would you like to see a movie adaptation?


Also, be sure to check out my review of Cinder and my review of Winter in case you missed it.

--Emily

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fans of the Impossible Life // Book Review

I've actually had time to squeeze in a few books lately! My friend Jenn sent me Fans of the Impossible Life as an ebook, and it took me forever before I could finish it, but I enjoyed it. Well, sort of.

Goodreads description

A captivating and profound debut novel about complicated love and the friendships that have the power to transform you forever, perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.





Things I liked
- The diversity. It was literally everywhere! So. much. diversity. (Although, to be honest, it kind of got to the point where I thought that it was too much.)

- The narration was really, really unique. There are three different main characters, and they each have their own narration style. Jeremy narrates in first person, Mira narrates in third person, and Sebby narrates in second person. And the best thing about it is that it fit their individual struggles and personalities perfectly. I almost gave the book 4-stars just based on this, because it was awesome and wonderfully done.

- The characters feel so real. There are quite a few characters, but even the side-characters feel like they have their own unique voices. I was really surprised. And the teenagers (mostly) act like teenagers!


Things I had problems with
- The side-characters. There were a lot of them, and I'm not sure what their purpose was. Some of them drove the plot forward, but there were a lot of side-plots that didn't really matter to the story. Because of this, a lot of them felt one-dimensional.

- The backstory. Kind of like And We Stay, most of the plot in this story has already happened and we are reading the aftermath. For the first half of the book, the reader is kept in the dark from those backstories, but then about halfway through it's like an information dump.

- The ending. I'm not going to give you any spoilers, but it was really one of the worst endings that I have ever read. It was not satisfying at all. AT ALL. It really wasn't even an ending. There was a definite climax and definite falling action, but definitely no conclusion.


Miscellaneous
- I hated the name "Sebby." I really tried to like his name, and kind of was able to be okay with it, but I could not bring myself to like his character very much.

- It was very Perks of Being a Wallflower. If you've read Perks, then you've basically read about 70% of this book. Three misfit characters trying to get through high school by relying on each other. Friendly English teacher. LGBT themes. It's all there.

- The chapters were short and easy to get through. So that's a plus, right? It took me a long time to read because I've been so busy, but once I actually carved out some time it didn't take long at all to get through it.



So I started thinking this was going to be a 4-star read, but the second half really disappointed me.
Rating: 3/5 stars.

--Emily

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April Updates


I'm sorry that these monthly updates have turned into bi-monthly updates. I promise I'll try to post more now that graduation is approaching.

events
- I've been listening to podcasts. I've been interested in podcasts for awhile now because I'm relatively audio-oriented, but for some reason I assumed that subscriptions to podcasts cost money, like buying songs on iTunes. I recently found out that that's not the case! So I've been listening to Sincast by CinemaSins and Dear Hank & John via Soundcloud, and will probably add more once I get into the swing of it.

- I finally beat Red in HeartGold. It took me forever, but I finally made it through. I recently started playing Pearl, and hope to work my way through 5th and 6th gen before Sun and Moon come out.

- We've had some family trouble. I'm not going to get into details but the last month was rough on both sides of our family.

- I have a celebrity crush on Jared Leto. It came upon me suddenly one weekend. I know I'm late to this train, but I watched the documentary Artifact and realized that he is one of the most beautiful human beings ever. And I'm trying to get Deacon to pull off the cute little bun.



- I took on more hours for technical editing in the Office of Graduate Studies. The main editor left for another job, so I got approval to work more hours in the meantime. Technical editing is a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I'm enjoying my time there. I'm still a GTA, so my schedule is a little intense, but it's my last semester and I feel like it's good preparation for life after graduation.

-I passed my comprehensive exam! I studied literally the entire week of Spring Break. I had to read 30 articles/book chapters and 6 books, then I outlined each of them, made flashcards, and made my own practice test before taking the 4 1/2 hour test on Monday. And I absolutely killed it! Graduation feels super real now and I'm actually excited for it. =)


thoughts
- Sometimes I refuse to Google things because I'm afraid it will ruin my brain. And SciShow actually mentioned a few studies that confirm that constant access to information may be damaging our long-term memory.

- I was called a "housewife" by an evangelist that came to my door the other day and it really bugged me for some reason. The whole thing was just a really awkward exchange. I think it was his first time evangelizing and he kept going on and on about everything he could think of, even though I told him at the beginning that I was already a believer. I also told him that I was a student. But as soon as he learned that I was married, he kept talking about infidelity and submitting to my husband and then he called me a housewife and it all just really rubbed me the wrong way. My marriage is a partnership. I'm not an inferior figure. I'm not a housewife. Deacon and I work equally hard, both in and out of school. I could rant more but I'll spare you.

- As a sidenote, sometimes I forget that I'm married because being with Deacon seems so natural now.

IMG_2732

- I'm moving into the digital age. I'm the type of person who prefers to have physical copies of everything, but I bought an album on iTunes last week and realized how incredibly convenient cloud storage and online streaming is.

- I've had a new story idea in my head for the past few weeks but wasn't able to do Camp NaNo. So hopefully I'll start writing more after graduation? It's about Youtubers and dogs and social anxiety and dragons and a lot of pizza. My first contemporary, actually.


rex report
He's doing pretty well. We finally found a few toys that he likes. The hedgehog is his favorite. He already tore one to pieces, and Walmart did not have any replacements (there are no pet stores in town!) so we had to order another one from Amazon.

IMG_3692


tv shows
Big Bang Theory, season 7 (rewatch) and started season 8
(p.s. Deacon is Sheldon Cooper)
Downton Abbey, season 6 (about halfway through)



movies
The Good Dinosaur (it was weird)
The Aviator (finally finished--it was...meh)
Artifact (liked it)
Zootopia (absolutely loved it)
Alexander (it was okay)
Pride & Prejudice (rewatch - love it)
Batman v Superman (meh)
The Danish Girl (it was okay)
Mad Max: Fury Road (I realize that it was probably a good movie but not my cup of tea)



books
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa


currently reading: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
~~~

Tell me how your spring is going! Have you read The Winner's Curse? Excited that the third book just came out? Did you love Zootopia? Is it sexist to assume someone is a housewife? DO YOU PLAY POKEMON? Let me know all of the things.

--Emily
currently listening to: The Judge by Twenty One Pilots