Happy Midnight Sun Day?

It is Midnight Sun’s book birthday! And…Beth and I are both still stuck in the first book of our re-read. Speaking for myself, my enthusiasm for these characters and this story has definitely waned since I first picked up the novels. Bella is kind of an unredeemable bitch. Edward is a creepy stalker. Jacob’s goodness drops off as the series goes on and he picks up some of Edward’s tactics in order to get in there with Bella. But, I plan on finishing them since it is the pop culture homework assignment (and since I did finish last year’s…in October…and then never wrote the reviews…because I am not the best blogger.)

Ally Box!

Greetings! About a month ago, I saw that Fulton Street Books and Coffee was putting together an ally box, containing books to help folks wanting to learn more about race, racism, and white supremacy in America. So, to further my education (and to be a better and more informed teacher) I signed up. The subscription is running for three months (and there are still some subscriptions available through Fulton Street Books website! Click through on that link above!)

In this first box, there are flash cards with key terms that you’ve seen popping up in the media and two books. They’re both books that are on my to-read pile and I am super excited about them. The first book is So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo. I think this will be an overview to some of the issues in the current moment.

The second book is The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. As someone who grew up in largely white communities, I think this one will probably contain a lot of information to help me better understand how I have benefited from our current systems that harm Black citizens and other citizens of color. Despite what I said about the first book probably being a good overview text, I think I’m going to start with the second one.

These look like they’re both going to be good reads, and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next box!

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I SLEPT ON THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK FOR SO LONG?? HOW? How??? It’s lovely and wonderful and good and heartbreaking and uplifting in all of the right ways. 10/10. If you’ve not read it, you should go read it (or get the audiobook and then Lin Manuel Miranda will read it to you.) That’s it. That’s the review. Done.

Okay, fine, I’ll say a little more. This is the story of Aristotle, who is a weird kinda angry teenager who goes to the pool and meets a weird kinda know-it-all teenager named Dante. They have very little in common, it seems, other than they are both kind of loners and they’re both Mexican. It’s the story of their friendship. It is about how their friendship grows and how they grow and how they deal with big life stuff. No magic (except the everyday magic of friendships, love, relationships, and personal growth), no monsters (except for the very real human monsters we’ve all met), just two teens living their lives and learning truths that feel like unlocking the secrets of the universe. Maybe it is that the world feels very dark and precarious right now, but reading a novel about just normal life stuff that had a good ending felt really great.

So, I still agree with the first paragraph. 10/10, would definitely recommend.

Giveaway: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Book 1)

Are you thinking about re-reading Twilight before Midnight Sun comes out? Are you not sure where your copy is? Well, Beth and I got your back! We have a near-perfect used paperback edition that we are giving away! Because it is coming from Kate’s house, it will likely have other goodies like sheet masks and skin care samples! Maybe even cookies! To enter our giveaway, you just have to send us proof that you’ve given money to an organization supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, a local bail fund, Native American land sovereignty movements, efforts to address domestic violence in Native American communities (“American Indian women residing on Indian reservations suffer domestic violence and physical assault at rates far exceeding women of other ethnicities.” And….spoilers, but domestic violence on the reservation is referenced in the second book, if memory serves. Something that shouldn’t be a plot point, let alone a throwaway mention. But, I’m sure I’ll rant about that when I get to that book.) or efforts to defund and reform policing. It doesn’t matter to us which org you give to. There is a lot of work that needs to be done and a lot of people working hard who could use our support. If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions.

Black Lives Matter accepts donations and has suggestions!

The Okra Project is fighting hunger in the Black Trans community! 34% of Black trans folks report living in poverty. That is beyond tragic.

Black and Pink is an organization of LGBTQ prisoners and allies whose ultimate goal is prison abolition but who, in the short term, support LGBTQ prisoners.

NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund Huge and ground breaking societal changes tend to be largely unpopular when they’re first introduced. This is meant, historically and currently, that people on the front lines advocating for change find themselves in need of legal support. Here’s a good place to donate to support that work.

NDN Collective have a covid-19 response project (indigenous communities in the US have been hit really hard by the virus). They also have a bail-out fund for folks arrested defending their land and sovereignty.

To enter the giveaway, email proof of your donation to Kate at Katestacksxlifex at gmail. The giveaway is open until July 27th!

Pop Culture Homework Assignment 2020: Twilight Re-read

With the announcement of Midnight Sun’s release this summer, Beth and I decided that this year we would read the same books. Yes, folks, we are revisiting the wonderful, terrible novels: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. This is the first time that Beth and I are reading the same books as part of the Pop Culture Homework Assignment! I am so excited! Please join us!

Checking In: What We’ve been Binging Edition

Hey, How’s everyone doing? As we continue to live in a virus-laden world, I thought it might be nice to check in again. I am very lucky because my job can be done remotely, so I have still been working. (Teaching not-online classes online is a special kind of exhausting, but it is nice to have work.) When I haven’t been working I’ve been trying to finish projects around my house. I’ve started growing lettuce and will soon transition them outside. I started a compost bin. I’ve been doing a lot of baking (so far I’ve made bread, cinnamon rolls, donuts, brownies, more bread, danishes, and cookies). The county I live in hasn’t closed the trail heads, so I’ve been trying to get a hike in at least once a week. The cat has been sunning himself on the patio everyday. And, importantly for this blog, I’ve been reading brutal books and, as per usual, not finishing the fun/cute/uplifting books for my YA fiction book group. (Next month’s selection is Internment by Samira Ahmed, so you know I’ll finish that one.)

In addition to this, Thanks to Netflix Party, Beth and I have watched a number of K-dramas together. Here’s what we’ve been binging (using the English titles you’d search for on Netflix).

Crash Landing on You. This is the story of a South Korean woman who gets caught in a tornado and thrown over the border into North Korea and the army unit that saves her life. This was so good. The romance at the center was A+ and not at all stupid or cloying or, “Ugh, don’t marry that dude.” The army dudes are straight up my favorite, every single one of them. The North Korean women are also freaking awesome. The B plots in this were great. It was touching and funny. 10/10 would recommend.

Memories of Alhambra. Starring one of the leads from Crash Landing on You (and also featuring Chanyeol from Exo), this is about a CEO from a video gaming company getting way too into an AR game he’s trying to get to market. Honestly, it left me with so many questions that I was a little disappointed in it after the fact (like, why was there no second season???) but, while we were watching it, I was constantly trying to fix my schedule so that we could get as many episodes in a night as possible before Beth went to bed.

Bring it On, Ghost. This is a show about a college kid that can see ghosts (and send them packing), and the lady ghost who needs his help to solve the mystery of her death. This is cute, a little twee, but cute.

My first first love. We actually started this in January and finished it while Beth was here in February, but I’m putting it on the list. This is one of those, “A ragtag bunch all end up living in the same house and hijinks and romance ensue” scenarios. I liked the relationships. I liked the characters. Low key and undemanding (I mean, aside from the subtitles), this was also pretty good.

Itaewon Class. OH MY GOD THIS SHOW. I laughed! I yelled at the screen! I needed to know what happened next! The villain was so villainous! The hero so virtuous! The team of folks helping the hero achieve his dream were so delightful! I loved this so much. I also loved the styling. As Beth can attest, there are a couple of episodes where you may just want to text pictures of characters in suits to that one friend who understands how much you enjoy menswear. Not sorry, Beth. I regret nothing. SUITS.

Busted! We also started this one in January, I think. And, we only started this one because I was like, “Wait, I think that’s Oh Sehun (also of Exo).” I was right, it was. (Listen: this time last year I knew 1 (one) K-pop group. One. And, it wasn’t Exo. It was BTS. But, now, there is literally a wall of K-pop in my house. What is wrong with me? Why am I like this? But, also, I didn’t have anything on that wall before (and the other art in the house is mostly comic book related) and now I have a conversation with Min Suga every time I make coffee, so it works out for me. God, I hate self-isolating so much. I am talking to my walls.) Anyway, this is a dumb show where celebrities pretend to be detectives and play ridiculous games and puzzles to solve outlandish mysteries. And, if there is one genre of “reality” tv I can get behind, it is this one: Entertaining People doing Stupid Shit. (As opposed to Exasperating People doing Stupid Shit. An example of this genre is Love is Blind, which I am hate-watching. If Beth goes to bed at midnight, it’s only 9 pm for me. And, I could go back to work, but I already work a lot, so I’m trying not to do that. And, I can crochet while I’m yelling at Jessica to just end it with Mark already.)

Hospital Playlist. This is about Five friends from med school getting jobs at the same Hospital. It’s like, Grey’s Anatomy only instead of being about the interns, it’s about folks much higher up the food chain. The main plot is fun (Actual Adults With Jobs Also Have Time For a Band They Started Together…which might be more enjoyable if I were more familiar with the music they played, but meh. The music is nice and I’m just going to assume that they’re playing whatever was popular when the characters would have been in college and also be thankful that it isn’t Limp Bizkit.) We’re all caught up on this one, so we actually have to wait and watch our episode a week on Thursdays. At first I was annoyed by this, but now I’m happy to have something to look forward to.

The King: The Eternal Monarch. Lee Minho from Boys over Flowers plays another standoffish dude with enough money and power to make the Pharaohs of Old weep who also doesn’t understand women. It’s about a King from a parallel universe in which Korea is a constitutional monarchy who was once saved by someone from this universe from an evil Uncle who tried to kill him and steal a magic stick. That’s the worst description ever if I’m trying to sell you on it. We’re only five episodes into this (it comes out on Fridays), so I don’t know that I am. The love interest and her friends in this universe are great. I would watch a show just about them. I’m not sold on stuffy King. But, I wasn’t sold on Gu Joon Pyo, either, so we’ll see about this one.

Prison Playbook. Pitcher about to move to the States to join an MLB team is sentenced to a year of Prison after he beats a man nearly to death for attempting to assault his sister. Aside from using the Tragic-Things-Happen-to-Lady-Family-Member-as-Main-Character-Motivation trope, I’m enjoying this so far. The other folks in prison are entertaining and likable. The guards are a mix of good and effing awful. There are some cute romantic subplots. And, dear god to I miss baseball. In the alternate universe in which there is no Coronavirus, in three weeks, Beth and I would have been seeing a baseball game together. Now, we’re settling for baseball-adjacent fiction. It’s made by the same people who did Hospital Playlist, and so a fair number of the actors overlap. Fair warning, though: go into this one knowing the episodes are about an hour and half each, sometimes longer.

We’ve also been watching episodes of Community, Kim’s Convenience, and I’ve been trying to get Beth into Letterkenny.

So, that’s what we’re up to. What have you been doing with your time? Got any netflix recs for us? Book recs? Game recs? (No puzzles, though, Beth might fly to Nevada just to murder me if I make her do another puzzle.)