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.)

Books I Want to be Made in a Movie or TV Show

The last couple of days I’ve been home sick with a bad cold and while that sucks it has given me time to think about what books I’ve read would make good movies or TV shows. Why I was thinking this I don’t know. I guess I was looking through all the options you can watch TV and movies now. Netflix, Hulu AppleTV, DisneyPlus, traditional cable, etc. It seems like there is an endless number of places that need contact to fill so why not give a few suggestions.

  1. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart Who doesn’t love a good suspense mystery. I would be interested in seeing how a filmmaker would take the unusual structure of the narrative as it’s told in part real time and partly in reverse. I think it would be true challenge to balance all the nuances right and not let too much away to soon. This would work both as a movie or as a serialized series.
  2. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker I could see this as a movie but I think it would work best as a HBO prestige series. There is so many aspects of the story that a movie wouldn’t be able to get to it all. Not to mention, I think TV would be more willing to have an an all diverse female cast then movies would and it would have to be HBO because to do it justice it’s going to have to have a big budget. It would be great because who wouldn’t want to all a Girl Pirate Crew take on the patriarchy of the seas? Mad Max Fury Road but on a boat. It has a lot of potential.
  3. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland An historical drama with zombies Really what else do you need?. It may take place after the Civil War but it is relevant today as it ever was. Racism, Sexism and Classicism all play a part in the series. So far it only has one book out. The sequel comes out early next year. If HBO is still looking for a “What if the Civil War had ended differently” drama now that it’s ill advised Confederate show is dead because D&D of Game of Thrones left for Netflix. This is it. The Civil war didn’t end because one side won over the other but because the dead came back to life. Slaves were freed, sort of. They are now used to stop the Zombie attacks It can examine how the US is different and how slavery plays a part without the messiness of the other show’s premise. Not to mention Jane is an excellent protagonist
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I can’t be the only one who has been disappointed in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies. The first one was okay. Entertaining but the second one was a big ol’ mess. I’m not even going to mention the Johnny Depp situation. So why not make a movie of Rainbow’s Simon and Baz series? All the magical elements are there. Wizards and witches and mythological creatures. Magic schools. A mysterious and powerful villain. Rivals turned lovers. A real LGBTQ love story that is front and center and not just in context or added later. The second book expands on the world but going on a road trip through the US and series hi-jinks ensue. I feel like it’s the remedy for the bad Harry Potter content we’ve been getting lately.
  5. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro Yes, I’m aware we have had a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations recently but we haven’t had one like this one. Not only is our Holmes a teenage girl and our Watson a teenage boy but it takes place in a world where the novels exist and Holmes and Watson were real people. It’s a fun and breezy mysteries that would make excellent movies or TV shows.
  6. The Diviner’s by Libba Bray This one would have to be a series. The amount of detail and length of each novel could not be properly shown in a movie. How lush it would look. All the glitz and glamour of 1920’s New York. Again, it may be a period piece but it is so relevant to today. It tackles racism, sexism, class and immigration with the supernatural element in the background. Not to mention all of our main characters have their own X-men like powers! The possibilities are endless.
  7. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake Game of Thrones type of series but from an all female perspective. You get all the court intrigue and magical elements without all the messiness that Game of Thrones had. Women can be just a ruthless. They have to be when to become Queen you must kill your sisters to do it. I would love to this on big or small screen.
  8. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow Okay, I want to this as a movie only if Tilda Swinton plays Talis. The sassiest, homicidal AI in history of Artificial Intelligence. The world was in constant war so Talis was like let’s go all Medieval on you. I’m taking your heirs as Hostages. If you declare war, I kill them. That’s oversimplification but it’s awesome and tense and has LGBTQ love triangle in it that is just too good to ignore. This should be made into a movie but again only if Tilda Swinton is involved. I won’t accept anything less.

So there are few books I think need to get the big or small treatment. What do you all think> What book or book series do you want seen into a movie or TV show?

Fun things to do during a Snow Storm

Here on the East Coast of US, we are currently dealing with Winter Storm Grayson, which news is calling a Bomb Cyclone because it’s the perfect storm between to different weather systems colliding or something like.  It’s a lot of snow and a lot of wind and well, it got on my way to work that I gave up and went home.  I have spending my time, reading of course, watching some movies on netflix and doing online quizzes.  Rick Riordan’s page, www.readriordan.com has some fun ones. Like Which Greek hero are you? (I’m Perseus)  What is your magical object? (Mine a swooning chair. not sure how I feel about that but hey at least I get to sit down) and Who is your Godly parent (Aphrodite. Hmm interesting.) Anyway, it’s a good way to spend a few minutes.  Comment below with your results.

What are your favorite things to do during a snow storm?

Some of My Favorite Quotes from In Other Lands

in other landsThere are so many great quotes from Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands that it needed a post of it’s own.  Serene-Heart-in the-Chaos-of-Battle has the best quotes. In Other Lands takes many tropes and turns them on their head.  One is gender roles.  In Serene’s Elven culture, women Elves take on more of what we in the human world would consider male roles.  This often brings up hilarious misunderstandings and some hard truths.  Here are just a couple

“Of course it is,” said Serene. “The woman goes through the physically taxing and bloody experience of childbirth. A woman’s experience of blood and pain is, naturally, what makes women-kind particularly suited for the battlefield.  Whereas, men are the softer sex, squeamish about blood in the main.  I know it’s the same for human men, Luke was extremely disinclined to discuss my first experience of a woman’s menses.”

Another gem by Serene.

“Come now. It’s natural for a young pure gentleman to be abashed by such discussions,” said Serene. “Forgive me for being so frank with you and puttin you to the blush, Luke.”

Another good one.  This from Serene’s cousin, Swift-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle to Elliot.

“No doubt you tempted her. Ah, a man’s morals are frail as they are, sweet silly creatures,” Swift said. “I do think it was up to Serene to control herself, though. She must have known I was considering you as a bride.  Your humanity would not have mattered so very much, up in the wild north where I am stationed, but now you have been sullied, of course it is out of the question.”

The hard truth.  Elliot to Swift.

“Um.” said Elliot. “Maybe both our societies are messed up, and they each only think one type of person is really a person. And the type they think is really a person is allowed to show imperfections and age…whereas the type of person they think is an object should show no signs of being a person. We’re socialized to see the imperfections in those objects.”

And there’s plenty more where that came from.  You should read the rest of the book.

Mom and I went to BookCon and it was a lot of Fun!

Our Mom is visiting me in Brooklyn this weekend.  When she comes I always look for things that we haven’t done before so when I finally realized that BookCon was going to be at the Javits Center while she was going to be here we decided to go.  Both of our parents inspired our love for reading.  Mom has already 81 books in 2017.  Putting my 25 books to shame.  She’s never been to anything like this before and my only convention experience was at BookRiot Live.  Which was tiny compared to this.  The Javits Center is huge.  Not surprising since this is also the home to New York Comic Con.  We decided first to explore the vendors as we got our bearings.  Pretty much every major publisher was there with a mini store and most a signing area.  Now there were signing areas that you had to sign up for ahead of time and then smaller ones that you had to line up for.  It was kind of confusing what was what.  Also, we seemed to always miss all the free giveaways the publishers were handing out but that’s ok.  I’ll live.  After we had a quick bite to eat we headed to hear Rainbow Rowell talk.  I’ve read all of her books but Mom hasn’t.  Before the talk began, Mom asked if any of her books would make her cry and I was like yes but I’ll lend her Attachments because of all Rainbow’s books that seems to have the less tears.  I think.  She was just a delightful as I imagined her to be but the one comment that stuck me was talking about Eleanor and Park and sad it is that having a fat female protagonist was somehow revolutionary.  We all know someone who is overweight.  We have seen them in relationships, married and have kids so why wouldn’t they have their own love stories?  After Rainbow, we went back to the vendor floor.  We each bought a few books, tote bags and shirts before heading down to hear Jeffery Tambor.  The Arrested Development star has a new memoir coming out and after seeing him I want to read it.  He was funny, smart and completely honest.  We then went to our final panel of the day with Maggie Stiefvater, Kami Garcia, Laini Taylor and Marissa Meyer about Magic and World Building moderated by Daniel Jose Older.  I adore all these authors books (Mr. Older’s book are on my to read list) so it was interesting to hear how they all go about crafting their stories.  The most interesting part was talking about you are always building a world no matter if you are making a world from scratch or drawing from the real world.  I’ve never thought of that.  Maggie said that authors talk about how if they were to assign each of them to write about this room they would all write it differently because they are writing from their perspective their view and how that is reality but not completely real.  It was an interesting talk.  It was then that we decided to leave as it was a full day of books and fun.  I’m glad we did it because it was something new and different.  My one complaint was that it would have been better if they had clearer signage of where things were because it was kind of hard to figure out where things were.  We had to wander around to find things. Either then that it was a fun day.

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It runs in the family 

Kate and I named our blog Stacks Exceed Life Expectancy because our to-read list so many books that we know we will never be able to read them all.  Literacy has always been important in our family.  It was our mother who taught us to never leave the house without a book.  She once came to visit me for a weekend and brought 8 books with her, you know so she had options.  I believe she read through half of them while she was here. I thing about our parents is that when ever they aren’t doing something, they are reading.  When they get up in the morning and before they go to bed.  They even bring a book with them to the bar.  So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that our house is filled with books.  They are literally everywhere.  When I was home last month to visit, I did a snapchat tour of my Mom’s books.  Her books monopolize our family room, with some in the kitchen and on the stairs.  Now these are not all of her books.  Only a taste. Maybe next time I go home, I’ll do a tour of our dad’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Small Presses

Last year, completely by accident, I discovered that small presses sometimes offer subscriptions. What better way to support books, publishing and literacy? You buy a subscription and they send books as soon as they come out! Amazing!

 

So, I did some googling around and here are three small presses who offer subscriptions.

 

Sibling Rivalry Press is a publisher of poetry. They are a publisher devoted to “[promoting] underground artistic talent – those who don’t quite fit into the mainstream.” I’ve not read anywhere near enough of this year’s subscription, but everything I’ve read I’ve really enjoyed.

 

Above/ground press seems to have their fingers in a lot of different publishing pies. (That’s exciting if you, like me, like to read around.) Their subscription includes a number of different types of things (chapbooks and broadsheets and who knows what else?) It seems pretty cool.

 

Burrow Press‘s subscription includes their physical books, ebooks and a membership pin. There are four titles listed at the link that are slated to come out in 2017 and who knows what else will be added?

 

The only one that I have subscribed to before was Sibling Rivalry and that was delightful. The other two look pretty good as well. Have you done a subscription to a small press before? Did you like it? Do you have any subscription suggestions for us? Take to the comments and let us know!