Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Thoughts: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

My grandfather, whom I lived with along with my grandmother, fell ill when I was around 10-years-old and remained in a wheelchair until he passed away when I was 19-years-old. My grandfather was a quadriplegic.

I can remember days missed from school helping my grandmother take him to doctor's appointments, helping to feed him, reading to him, emptying catheter bags, etc. These things never seemed out of the ordinary for me to do, but there were always those moments of self-consciousness. Not because I was embarrassed of my grandfather. Never! It came from the fact that there was always that sorrow or pity in the eyes of others. That is absolutely something that my grandfather did not want. It was such a relief to bring home my husband to meet my grandfather (while he was still my boyfriend) and have him look my grandfather in the eye, man-to-man, and to shake the hand my grandfather offered where most people were unsure or felt awkward with the gesture.

As someone who has perspective, this book was quite the emotional journey for me. Readers meet Louisa "Lou" Clark, a 26-year-old cafe worker living at home with her parents, her disabled grandfather, her younger sister, and her younger sister's son. Her life takes a sudden change when the cafe closes, and after a series of odd jobs, she becomes the companion to Will Traynor. Will is a former business executive and adrenaline junkie who becomes a quadriplegic after a tragic accident. He's hard to get along with and has allowed his bitterness toward his situation to fester over a course of years. They're an unlikely duo who goes from tolerating one another to forming a solid bond.

If Will is a quadriplegic, what about the romance? I see you asking it. I've seen some people say this book is misleading because it is not what they'd consider a romance. On one hand, I say, that is an unfair and limited view of what a romance can be. Romance is not limited to people able to express physical desire toward one another and that thinking precludes that romance can include romantic partners who may not have sex because one, or both partners, may not be interested in sex for whatever reason and romantic/passionate friendships, which are (usually) non-sexual, and includes friendships of all gender makeups.

On the other hand, I concede that romance is largely defined by an individual's feelings and intentions toward another person. Where one person may see it as romantic, the other personal may not feel the same. It doesn't necessarily mean that one person may be more invested in the relationship just that their ideas of romance differ from the other person's. With this book, I think both the romantic and aromantic POVs regarding this book are valid, but I feel like some dismiss the romantic possibility in this story because their ideas of romance are bound tightly to a "sexual" aspect, that there can be no intimacy outside of what many consider the "typical" romance. I even feel like the book challenges this idea by having a character say that Lou and Will's relationship is false intimacy, that it's "not real." It denies intimacy to people because they don't fit society's standards of who should receive it. Personally, I do see a romantic aspect to Lou and Will's friendship, and there is even some attraction there between both of them. I wouldn't say this is a romance book as the romance genre would typically define it, but there is a romantic aspect to this, in my humblest of opinions.

The story is largely told from Lou's view, but there were singular chapters told from the POV of Will and other people in his life, which are voice by different narrators. This is an instance where these outside POVs were not needed outside of Will's. I really didn't need a justification from people like Will's parents and felt the book performed fine without that filler. My biggest peeve with this book is I didn't like the minimizing of Lou's feelings. Lou doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, so characters spend a great deal of time trying to decide for her, telling her that interests aren't good enough. She's often ridiculed by those who love her most in a way that can feel emotionally abusive. I think, much of it was supposed to be funny, but there's little funny about Lou having to endure name-calling and negativity that can hurt the most coming from the people you love. I hated that Lou never really did stand up for herself. She was usually cowed into agreeing with whatever was being thrown at her. She had her moments, but she was mostly resigned to take the ridicule in relative silence and acceptance.

This book is heartwarming, funny, and touching. It also poses ethical questions in regards to the disabled and their wishes concerning their own life. Many things Louisa experienced as a caregiver, I could picture a corresponding moment in my own life. I could nod knowingly at many of the triumphs and frustrations that this book presented. Even to this day, it's hard not to get choked up about all the good and bad times. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to seeing how this one is presented on the big screen.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Thoughts: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, #1)The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prior to listening to this book, I hadn't read a historical romance in quite some time. I think it's safe to say that it's probably been a few years. It's a little harder for me to get into historical romance than some other romance genres, but sometimes, I get the itch to read one. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie introduces us to the MacKenzie clan, a group of Scottish brothers who are the scandal of London. In London, Ian meets and subsequently begins having an liaison with the widowed Beth Ackerley after warning her away from a dubious suitor. Surrounding their affair is a bit of mystery as an inspector begins hounding them due to the death of a woman with connections to the "mad" brother, Ian MacKenzie, who has spent some time in an asylum. Despite their status and wealth, the brothers grew up with an overbearing, abusive father. We get to dip into some of Ian's torment at the hands of his father and again at the asylum he was confined to and see how these events have shaped him as a person.

I liked both Beth and Ian. Beth was warm, funny, and assertive when she needed to be. I appreciated that she wasn't an 18-year-old virgin, but a woman who'd been with a man, enjoyed sex, and while she had decorum, she eschewed convention for happiness. Ian obviously had Asperger's, which would be seen as defiance and madness in 1881. Ashley was consistent in his actions. His "eccentricities" weren't just conveniences needed for certain scenes and then forgotten. The decision to write Ian on the autism spectrum is probably something you'll never see in a historical romance again. Be warned. This is a fairly steamy book. You're not going to find as much bawdy language in the descriptions as books that take place in modern erotica, but it manages to slip in a few laugh-worthy words and phrases that had me shaking my head a bit. This book doesn't overwhelm you with sex on every page, so it's easy enough to skip over if you don't enjoy reading explicit sex.

A couple of things I wanted to point out that hindered my reading experience a little. Beth flip-flopped between believing Ian's sincerity and questioning it at the strangest times, which was a little odd because she seemed to maintain that she believed him to be a man of his word. I guess she was supposed to be put-off some because Ian wouldn't meet her gaze or always pay attention to what she was saying (all due to his being on the autism spectrum), but Ian was straightforward about his intentions and never wavered in what he wanted from her. Also, even though there's a hint of mystery, this doesn't overtake the romance portion of the story. It's not supposed to, but what I mean is that, despite the fact that Ian stands accused of murder by an inspector, there's not really much official about the investigation. The accusations come from an investigator who has a personal vendetta against the family and uses his own time to "investigate" the matter.

Angela Dawe narrated this story, and this was the first time I've listened to anything by her. She did an admirable enough job even with a few production hiccups in the story, such as sometimes not changing her voice until she caught herself mid-dialogue for the male characters. Overall, I enjoyed the story for what it was, and of course, it ends with happily ever after because of course it does. I don't know if I want to continue reading more about the MacKenzie clan, but I think this has scratched my historical romance itch for a while. When the urge pops up again, I'll certainly consider these books to sate that need.

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Book Thoughts: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Libby "Baby" Day is the only surviving member of a brutal murder that claimed her mother and her two older sisters. Her brother, Ben, stands accused of the murders--based largely on Libby's testimony, which she admits early is a lie, and his uncooperative behavior--and has spent twenty-five years in prison for the murders. Libby has spent these years living on a trust fund created by sympathizers for her while living in a perpetual state of self-destruction. However, her sympathizers have largely moved on to other tragedies, and Libby's money has dried up. In desperation, Libby begins helping a group known as the "kill club" to investigate the circumstances surrounding her family's death and her brother's possible innocence.

The murder of Libby's family has left her ambitionless, lost. She doesn't want to work and doesn't want to "try" to lead anything that might resemble a normal life. She's spent the past decades barely bothering to keep her own utilities on. She's grown into a selfish woman who tries to use her misfortune to continue her sorry existence. While this might not endear her to many readers, I can understand her turning out as she did. Everyone doesn't grow from their tragedies, or at least, they don't grow in ways that would be deemed positive. Libby doesn't have many redeeming qualities, but her life view, her attitudes, were bred out of a necessity to protect herself. It isn't until she starts investigating her family's deaths at the behest of the kill club that she starts to actually have an aim in her life as she works past her painful memories in her own way.

This is the first book that I've read by Gillian Flynn. I have watched Gone Girl finally, but I still haven't read the book. I started Dark Places on a whim after two of my friends flailed over the book. I also remembered catching a quick glimpse of the end of the movie, and curiosity got the better of me with this story. (I've since watched the whole movie.) This started a bit slow, but it finally hit a stride with me a few hours in. This book is told from three different perspectives--Libby's, her mother Patty's, and her brother's Ben. The latter two tell the story from the past on the day of the murder. What a journey this story is. Aside from the mystery aspect, there are so many things being touched on here from abuse to poverty. It's a dark, depressing story revolving around people who didn't have much going for them in 1985 and certainly don't have much going for them now. This also captured the sensationalism that follows cases like this fairly well.

I follow a popular-ish case in the media involving a man who was convicted of his ex-girlfriend's murder in 1999 when they were seniors in high school. He recently had a hearing to see if he'd be granted a new trial after 16 years in prison--a decision that the judge is still working on after five days of testimony in early February. Parts of this book made me reflect on just how true it feels to real life as far as people putting a sensational slant on such a tragic event. I have watched supporters of the man convicted of this murder express dismay toward the family because they still maintained the system worked. It hasn't been as nasty as the portrayal in this book, but this book certainly captured the culture of amateur sleuths while showing how painful/traumatizing this can be for families that live through these tragedies. People often forget about the victims or try to pooh-pooh their feelings with cases like these.

Narration wise, the narrators for this book did such a wonderful job with the story, and I liked that there were three different narrators (with one additional narrator for a single chapter told from a completely different character's POV, which I felt could've been skipped or written into either Libby's or Ben's parts) for each of the characters. However, I can't rate this higher than a 3.5 because some parts of this plot was just too unbelievable for me to let go. A perfect storm led up to the murders with one terrible thing piling up one after another, which I largely accepted, but then the big reveal at the end had me shaking my head like: "This book is doing way too much right now with this."

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Musings - Jan 4, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What do you do when you finish a book? Do you immediately start another one?

It really depends on the emotional state that the book left me in. If it was a book that I was very emotionally attached to, then, I'll probably give myself a few hours to think on it and write out my thoughts for either Goodreads or The Bibliosanctum. Sometimes, if this book has a sequel, I might dive immediately into the sequel. Other time, I may just marinate in the first book for a while before going on to the next book. Other than that, I typically move on to my next read after finishing a book, if I'm not already ready something. I tend to read multiple books at the same time, so there's usually a chain of books going on with me anyway.

I'm currently reading: 

The second novel set in the Old Republic era and based on the massively multiplayer online game Star Wars®: The Old Republic™ ramps up the action and brings readers face-to-face for the first time with a Sith warrior to rival the most sinister of the Order’s Dark Lords—Darth Malgus, the mysterious, masked Sith of the wildly popular “Deceived” and “Hope” game trailers. Malgus brought down the Jedi Temple on Coruscant in a brutal assault that shocked the galaxy. But if war crowned him the darkest of Sith heroes, peace would transform him into something far more heinous—something Malgus would never want to be, but cannot stop, any more than he can stop the rogue Jedi fast approaching. Her name is Aryn Leneer—and the lone Knight that Malgus cut down in the fierce battle for the Jedi Temple was her Master. And now she’s going to find out what happened to him, even if it means breaking every rule in the book.
I'm a big gaming fan, and I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) for a while now, which is what this book is based on. Many years before this game was released I played the original single player games that inspired this MMO, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR). A few months ago, I reviewed the first book in this series Fatal Alliance on The Bibliosanctum. Where Fatal Alliance proved to be typical gaming novel fun, this is one is setting a tone of being a better crafted story that's exploring the differing philosophies regarding emotions between the Sith and the Jedi and how it might not always be the "best" philosophies to live by. I'll have a review up on The Bibliosanctum when I've completed it.
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Thoughts: You by Caroline Kepnes

You (You, #1)You by Caroline Kepnes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My general reaction while reading this book and thinking, "Oh, I really don't like you... OMG, this bish here... Why am I even reading... let me see what he's going to do next... oh no, you didn't..."
So, yeah, in its strange way this did end how I thought it would as mentioned in a prior status update. I need to think about this one because right now all I feel is, "This was... a book." I'd give it a 3.5 mainly because of the narrator.

I said that when I finished this book and my general feeling is still, "This was... a book." I can't decide if this is one of those books that I liked so much I hate it or I hate it so much I like it. Readers follow Joe Goldberg--a highly intelligent high school dropout, bookshop manager/worker, book lover, and psychopath--as he instigates himself into the life of a woman he feels is "perfect" for him despite all the signs pointing to her having her own severe issues. Social media and her habit of being easily accessible on social media makes it easy for him to start skirting the fringes of her life until he's able to set a series of "chance" encounters that allow him to become fully immersed in her life. Social media stalker mixed with Joe's relatively "normal" appearance also serves as a cautionary tale that you never know who may be using your personal information gleaned from posts for some disturbing purpose.

The interesting thing about this book is that it's told entirely in the POV of the perpetrator, Joe. This makes You an especially creepy read as you stroll through his thought process and how everything is rationalized just so to make him seem like the hero of the story in his own mind. In his own narrative, he is the love-ridden, patient man who deals with a woman fraught with inconsistencies because "that's how women are." Too many times, you find yourself raising an eyebrow as Joe points out the predatory stalker behavior in others, but sees his own behavior as him being the "stronger" one and being the one who needed to be the "glue" that keeps everything together in their "love story," removing whatever obstacles are necessary.

Most of the characters in this book are pretty hard to like with the exception of maybe a handful, but nobody takes the crazy cake like Joe. He is absolutely reprehensible. Kepnes certainly knows how to write a story that can keep you interested even if you're only hanging on to angrily get through this book. It reminds me of American Psycho in a way with all the brand-dropping, except Joe despises all the glitz unlike Patrick Bateman, and I'll definitely check out the sequel if only to hate-read what Joe's been up to. The narration for this was top-notch. Santino Fortana was the perfect voice for Joe. He managed to capture the delusional, mocking, self-righteous tone of the main character well, and I think his narration made me dislike Joe even more because that's exactly the way I would think a person like Joe would sound. I definitely will be picking up the audiobook when the second book is released.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Audiobook Challenge

The Book Nympho

Last year was the first year that I participated in the Audiobook Challenge hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens. I'd initially aimed pretty low for the challenge, hoping to complete only 15-20 audiobooks over the course of 2015, but I ended up listening to 59 audiobooks last year, which is truly an amazing accomplishment for me. Most of the books I listened to were speculative in nature and reviews were posted on Bibliosanctum. For a quick recap of my progress last year:

Introduction Post
1st Quarter Update
2nd Quarter Update
3rd Quarter Update
4th Quarter Update

This year I've decided to participate in the challenge again, but even though I know I am capable of finishing many books, I'm still aiming for the 20-30 range because I never know what's going to pop up during the year, especially since I work full-time and have a family. I think that's a realistic goal to aim for, but I won't be upset if I make it to 50+ books again this year. I'll be updating the book site and this site with my progress throughout the year. Also, we'll be participating as a group again on Bibliosanctum.

The rules are as follow:

Reading Challenge Details:

  • Runs January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2016 than you did in 2015.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button (on the sidebar) and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.


  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30-50
  • Marathoner (Look Ma no hands) 50+ 
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Adventures in D&D Land: I'M ALIVE!

I am alive... or I mean, my character is alive. Xavros made it out the dreaded cave after almost dying. To recap our adventures, which can also be found here at the Glitterbomb website, I'll copy and paste what I've written from my Tumblr recaps, but for the full adventure visit the Glitterbomb site. In my first outing with Wendy, Deacon, and AJ (who had pressing obligations later in our adventure and I had to take over for him as monk). During the course of our adventure: 

We found out in the middle of a cave that our “healing” cleric doesn’t actually know any healing spells when he couldn’t heal our ranger. 

So, guess who had to heal her? That’s right. Scumbag bard (me).

This led to the ranger attempting to murder our cleric because he accidentally disconnected and she'd taken over for him. Later, he claimed he never said he was a healing cleric, but our emails between each other have determined that is a lie.

We managed to make it out the cave just barely, even though our “healing” cleric didn’t have any healing spells. For now on, I’ll use “healing” in quotes when I speak of him. It was an absolute mess. My bard took a knee and made it by the skin of his teeth after healing the monk (which I am also playing since the person who plays the monk had to take a leave and put his character’s life in my hands… LOL) and getting one kill and the cleric took a knee, too.  DID I MENTION THE CLERIC SHOT ME IN THE BACK WHICH IS WHY I TOOK A KNEE?

In his defense, he did slow down a particularly powerful opponent we were fighting until we got a better tactical advantage where the monk (again, played by me for right now) and the ranger could commit outright murder and drown it.

Last night, we made made back to the town where we sought out the innkeeper who had us looking for supplies. My bard was still down, but conscious now. He was conscious enough to threaten the shopkeeper with his hellish magic (he was bluffing, he doesn’t have hellish magic yet…). Still didn’t get their gold but they were promised gold in the morning. The warrior they recused from the cave paid for their lodging and meals and assured them he’d make sure they got their gold. My bard is holding a grudge against the cleric because he shot him in the back. It was an accident but still.

Somehow my Scumbag Bard is also the treasurer of our new riches. I’m not sure why they trust him with the cash, but there you go. We met another suspicious watch keeper who was mum about a bandit group terrorizing the village. However, we couldn’t get him to open up about it. Long story short we found a kid useful for information and ended up running in the members of the group. Now we gotta fight them because they’re trying to steal our hard earned gold. My bard is still at 1 hp because my rest wasn’t long enough and I didn’t think to use cure woulds before moving about time. I’m hoping I can hit cure wounds before one of them attacks. *sigh* So stressful this game.
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adventures in D&D Land: Here We Go Again!

Due to a few unforeseen circumstances, we haven't been able to play the last two sessions of our normal game. We've been playing through the Lost Mines of Phandelver, which is the starter campaign, and we've found ourselves in a precarious situation in a cave with goblins. Now, I'm not saying we're going to die, but it could happen. We were supposed to play last night, but something about hordes of demon children rising up from the pits of the deepest hells and trying to devour the earth came up. We had to let our DM save the world or at least himself. Honestly, though, I can't hold life against anyone. We're adults playing, and we have real lives that require our attention. We're professionals, parents, and students. We're going to have days where we just can't play because of the curve balls that life throws us.

As I mentioned, though, I'm a new player, a very new player. So, if I'm not actively doing things in a game, I'll forget everything and we'll spend needless time answering questions I've probably already asked. Fortunately, AJ (my cousin and semi-veteran player) doesn't mind getting on Skype with me and answering my newb questions, even if they're repeats and I ask him to explain all the things to me like I'm three-years-old. It's not just this game either. If I stop a game I'm playing on one of my consoles and don't come back to it for a while, I can feel completely lost and will usually start over. However, it feels like I don't have the luxury of doing that with this game.

If you remember from my last post, I haven't been too keen on joining groups with people that I don't know well. A group I almost joined, I was scared away by the Dungeon Master. So, an option we, meaning my friends and I, came up with an idea to run another game DM'd by our friend Deacon who playing the Phandelver campaign with us as a dwarven cleric. I'd already had a second character rolled, a rogue with a pirate background, mainly in case we died in our current campaign in Phandelver. I've decided to use her for the story Deacon has made up for us which starts with us meeting up to take on a task. He asked that we all be experts in something. Mine was pretty easy as my pirate is an expert at navigation and probably knows a ton about sea creatures.

We can't start this weekend as Wendy has an event, so we're looking at next week. We also have to figure out how to balance this with our other game. I really do want to get through the whole campaign. I know the story to follow Phandelver is Hoard of the Dragon Queen and finally The Rise of Tiamat. I think it'd be pretty cool to finish a whole arc.

Another long time friend of mine said he'd run me through a solo campaign if I wanted just to keep my mind fresh. He's been playing for well over twenty years and has had plenty of DM experience, so I said that I might give this a try as well. We'd be running a completely original module that works with 5e. He promised me that he wouldn't think I'm nuts if I import my two characters into the game and play them. He'd even let me make a third to play around with in the campaign.

One thing I have learned so far in all this is that I'm actually pretty decent at building characters. I won't say I'm an expert, but I enjoy creating these characters, giving them backgrounds, and "getting into their minds." Some of this dice stuff still doesn't make sense, but much of it is starting to be less daunting as I play more. Watch this space.

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Adventures in D&D Land: My Journey Begins & That Time I Was Told I Couldn't Role-Play A Guy

I’ve finally breached the final geek frontier for me. About a month ago, I started playing my very first tabletop game--Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition. Wendy sent out an email inviting me and a few other friends to join her game, which was being DM'd by her nephew. One of our gaming resolutions we made was to try out a tabletop game together, but we'd been a little slow to get started. This got us in gear. My cousin, who regularly plays with his girlfriend and his family, joined us. After flailing at AJ (my cousin) about character creation sheets and feeling like I was probably going to fail at everything, we spent four hours on Skype working on my first character together, a tiefling bard named Xavros Fallenheart, whose background is a charlatan (entertainer as a background was too flamboyant for what I had in mind for him). Look at that babe.

Anyhow, we have a great group, and I think I've taken to the game better than I thought I would to the point that I'd like to play with more people. I’ve been invited to join a few online games. Most of which I’ve turned down because I’m particular about the people I play with. As a woman of color, I want to be sure the I'm entering spaces where I can have fun and not deal with gross behavior. I'm confrontational by nature, but I'm at an age now where I'm tired of having to argue with people instead of being allowed common courtesy to enjoy a game because someone feels it's their civic duty to dehumanized me because of my sex and/or race. I'd rather just disengage than argue most of the time now because it doesn't benefit me at all aside from making my stress level shoot through the roof because someone pissed me off.

Unless you've been living under a rock or one of those people who just outright deny that the gaming community can be intolerant while they ironically preach they're treated as outcasts, you have to be aware that for marginalized groups (there are many great articles on this site dealing with problematic role-playing situations) hopping into certain gaming situations can be terrifying and off-putting. I am an avid gamer, and I always have been. I know firsthand what it's like to be harassed mainly because of my gender. Dungeons and Dragons, while I've always been interested in it, I felt intimidated by the idea of actually joining a group. I had a friend who tried to get me to play with his old group years ago, but I wasn't comfortable with the idea, even with him being there with me. I would've been the only woman in a sea of guys, and it felt like role-playing would put me in a far more vulnerable place than just playing Street Fighter. The most of I've done with D&D is play the PC games based on their rules such as Neverwinter Nights and watch my friend play.

I thought that I had found a possible secondary group. I explained what I was looking for and how I played with my current group of friends. And I’m not looking to replace my group at all and they’ll always take priority. I’m just wanting to gain more experience and play different classes/races and scenarios. This seemed like a great diverse group who wouldn't make fun of my newb status until the DM tells me I can’t play a guy or a trans character. I didn't ask him that. He felt obligated to supply me with that information. Remember, I play a male bard, and he doesn’t fall into any gender roles and I have enjoyed the experience playing him with my friends. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about what gender/class/race I'd play with this new group. I just wanted there to be an understanding of what I would and wouldn't tolerate.

When I asked the DM why, especially since mature themes are off-limits, as well, so it’s not like the characters would be trying to smut each other up every chance they’d get, I was told by the DM that he’s not comfortable with people role-playing characters opposite of their gender, which doesn't make much sense to me. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose of role-playing if you won’t allow people to role-play whatever gender identity they want? 5e has seemed to be especially open to the idea that players don't always want their characters to stick to strict gender roles. You're playing a character. So what if you're a woman playing a man or vice versa? What is so uncomfortable about that?

That didn’t sit well with me, and that was a definite deal breaker. In all likelihood, I would’ve played a female character, but to be told that I had to play a female character because I'm female just made me not even want to play with him overseeing the game. It's his game, and he can run it how he sees fit. However, it's one thing when a group may decide that their players can't be evil, which I don't agree with either, but at least one of the people I play with gave me a plausible reason why they stopped allowing evil players and most of it had to do with player abuse. Telling someone they can only play characters the same gender as they are leaves the question open, "What other questionable rules might this game have?"

I won't let that experience deter me, though. I have a session with my regular group tonight, and I'll continue to maybe look into playing with other people (or watching other people play) to expand my horizons.
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Thoughts: Controversy Creates Cash by Eric Bischoff

Controversy Creates CashControversy Creates Cash by Eric Bischoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started really watching wrestling in late 2000 during the Attitude Era when I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) at the time. We were young college kids. Up to that point, I'd only glimpsed wrestling on television. I had a cousin who was big fan of wrestling when we were kids and was convinced that she was going to marry Shawn Michaels. She talked nonstop about him. I knew a little about NWO and Goldberg, but that was the extent of my knowledge. When I started watching wrestling, I was solely watching the WWE product. I was immediately taken by characters like Lita and The Rock. I didn't even give the WCW brand a glance. I was so invested in the stories the WWE was telling that it never even crossed my mind to give the other guys a chance.

On my birthday in 2001, Vince made the announcement on RAW that he'd acquired WCW. I still didn't really know who Eric Bischoff was at that point. However, I started going back, watching old matches and shows from both products. I wanted to know the history of wrestling and its players. I blame my love of history and needing to know the history of things for this. I've always thought that Eric Bischoff was a great heel character once I learned about him, and I never hated the guy. I understand why he is a polarizing character, but I never despised him or felt the same level of antipathy that many fans have for him.

I recently watched every episode of Monday Night Wars on the WWE Network, which was fascinating. A fellow wrestling friend gifted me with a few wrestling memoirs to check out after we had some long discussions about the rivalry between the WWE and WCW (Bischoff says it was less a rivalry and more a "rout" during the weeks they reigned supreme). Controversy Creates Cash was one of the books in this treasure trove. Eric Bischoff's book focuses more on the business side of wrestling rather than wrestling. Bischoff was a businessman, and it makes sense that his book focused on the backstage politics and troubles. He does talk about his younger years and other failed ventures that he tried in the beginning, and he jumps around quite a bit on various subjects. Some of these sections felt a bit like filler and unnecessary, especially since they lacked buildup, but perhaps there was a connection that I was missing between these scenes.

Bischoff gives entirely too much book time to his dislike of internet wrestling sites. Mentioning them once or twice would've sufficed. Often his thoughts are mentioned as asides when he discusses certain changes he made or ideas he incorporated and how wrestling sites misconstrued the intent behind these things. He even goes as far as to make disparaging remarks about how these people must be losers in real life. In a portion of his book he accuses Missy Hyatt of being catty, but his own remarks about "dirtsheets" and some of the talent/backstage employees show that he is equally as catty and political as they are. I found it particularly hilarious that he singled out Dave Meltzer who runs Wrestling Observer, accusing his paid newsletter of being unedited trash that seemed written by a 5th grader when this book was pretty terribly edited. Even in the lines about Meltzer, the word "wrestler" is spelled wrong. There's some irony there.

Eric Bischoff accuses other wrestling memoirs of being revisionist history meant to paint the author in a more favorable light. However, no matter how straightforward Bischoff believes his own narrative is, he falls into that category as well, seeming to bathe himself in a softer narrative as suits him. Anyone who's ever watched any documentary that Bischoff has been part of, especially the ones centered around the Monday Night Wars, is hardly fooled by this kinder, gentler Bischoff he tried to sell in this book. It's interesting to see how Bischoff's memories of events differ from how the other players view the events. Such as how he felt the WCW did great things with its cruiserweight division versus how people like Chris Jericho (who was part of this cruiserweight push) view those same events, which are often memories filled with frustration on their part.

However, despite the mixed feelings I had about Bischoff's account of things, I can't say that this book isn't compelling. Bischoff admits that during that time he lacked insight and didn't think about the bigger picture of some of his ideas and changes. Reading his version of some events prove there still is some lack of insight on his part. Eric talks about Paul Heyman and how he felt that Heyman was so full of shit that he believed his own delusions. That felt like the pot calling the kettle black. Bischoff seems locked in his own mind in portions of this story, choosing to believe his version of events. Do I think Eric Bischoff was the death of WCW? No, I don't. I think he got caught in the whirlwind that is business politics and was dragged along to an inevitable end. I think his assessment of the business side of wrestling as far as perceptions and the problems faced being part of a corporation like Turner/Time Warner are probably the most honest parts of this memoir.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Thoughts: Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and GainUnbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“True nobility isn’t about being better than anyone else; it’s about being better than you used to be.”

"Yes, Ma. I am better.”

  I am better than I used to be.

This was a painful, candid look into Portia's battle with her eating disorder that last for nearly twenty years of her life. At first, it seems like a "normal" thing as a model and later actor. She'd skipped meals and/or work extra hard for anything that required she put her body on display. Her disorder also seemed for a cry for attention, as she admitted that thrived off the energy people would give her due to her weight. At her lowest weight she was 82 lbs.

It takes a lot for someone to show so much of their soul. And while I'm certainly sure she told this story to put it all out there, to face this long, dangerous part of her life, I wished there'd been more time spent on her recovery rather than trying to sum it up in a little epilogue that glossed over things. Too much of this book is triggering and teeming with ideas that someone with an eating disorder or even flirting with one might try to practice while spending nearly no time chronicling Portia's fight back to health. Like I said, a wonderfully candid book that I wished had shown more of the recovery process rather than spending over 2/3rds of the book giving excruciating detail of how she made this disorder "work."

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This blog is a mishmash of thoughts, pictures, and rantings among other things about games I've played, games I will play, and games I am currently playing. From time to time, I may post book reviews that I've written that are about different games and/or game worlds. Feel free to recommend games or add me on the platforms I've listed. I don't do competitive multiplayer much anymore, but I'm always down for some co-op these days. I'm usually DigitalTempest everywhere unless otherwise specified.


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2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tiara has read 6 books toward her goal of 52 books.

Tiara's bookshelf: currently-reading

The Elfstones Of Shannara
tagged: upcoming-reads, currently-reading, 2016-audiobook-challenge, classi...
Gardens of the Moon
tagged: currently-reading, fantasy, z-narrator-ralph-lister, 2016-audiobook...


Tiara's bookshelf: read

really liked it
Review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge and 2016-audiobook-challenge
The Girl from the Well
liked it
More reviews @ The Bibliosanctum TL;DR Review 2.5 to 3 stars. Not badly written… I’m just disappointed by the squandered potential. I’m going to reread Anna Dressed in Blood to make myself feel better about this Longer Review: T...
tagged: 2016-women-of-genre-fiction-reading, horror, and young-adult
Thirteen Reasons Why
I don't think this quite captures the complexity of bullying and suicide, and some of the issues that Hannah started facing toward the end of the novel really seemed to detract even more from the feelings she was going through by having ...
tagged: young-adult, popsugar-2016-reading-challenge, 2016-audiobook-challe...
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
liked it
Spoiler free review to come.
tagged: 2016-star-wars-reading-challenge
The Phantom of the Opera
really liked it
tagged: classic-horror, classics, audiobook, 2016-audiobook-challenge, horr...


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