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“Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures...thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

Why I Love Pochamani

Pochamani_Chp_1_001Shoujo is not the most respected genre in the manga world. On one hand, the plots, though often dramatic, are also simple. They usually involve a pretty but stupid high school girl and a handsome, smart, rich, and arrogant high school boy. This odd couple is usually thrown into some sort of situation that, while technically plausible, is very unlikely.

They include eye-rolling plot lines such as marrying for parents’ debt, working off a debt in the mansion, something else to do with a large sum of money and shitty parents, their parents got married so they are now step-siblings, etc. Whatever problems shoujo may have, though, there are more than a few gems in the genre, and even some that go against those pretty people. One of these fabled gems is Pochamani by Kaname Hirama. Continue reading

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

I love books. I love everything about them. I like the way they look, the way they feel, the way they smell, but most of all, I love that they contain a story. All these together sum up why I was excited to read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It is a book about old books, secret societies, ancient puzzles, the ever-expanding limits of modern technology, and the sad and rapid decline of used bookstores. I couldn’t wait to download it onto my Kindle. How ironic. Continue reading

Book Review: John Dies at the End

JDEAs a longtime reader of the excellent list-based comedy website Cracked.com, I knew a bit about Cracked’s senior editor Jason Pargin, who writes under his pen name David Wong. I have enjoyed several of his articles and when I heard he had written a book, I rushed to purchase it. I really liked John Dies at the End, which was no small feat as I am generally not a fan of horror or sci-fi novels. However, I am a big fan of humor, especially the dark or nonsensical type, and his novel is largely comprised of both. Spoilers ahead. Continue reading

Book Review: The Song of the Quarkbeast

song_of_the_quarkbeastAlmost a year ago I reviewed The Last Dragon Slayer, written by my favorite fantasy author, Jasper Fforde. The tale of teenager Jennifer Strange and her struggle between her duties as a dragon slayer and her own moral compass, along with a colorful cast of charming characters, was a very entertaining, funny, and sometimes saddening read. I still highly recommend it. The recently released sequel to The Last Dragon Slayer is The Song of the Quarkbeast. From the minute I heard there would be a second book, I had very high expectations, and thought of multiple possible plots for this novel, because I have that kind of free time.

The Conch has spoken!

The Conch has spoken!

Would it be primarily about people/dragon relations? Would we learn more about the new dragons? Would they cause problems for Jennifer, or would they remain peaceful? What about Jennifer being a berserker—would that be involved? Spoilers after the jump.

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Movie Review: Beautiful

beautiful“What is beauty?” is a question that has been hotly debated for centuries. It is a word that means different things to different people. It is the same as “what makes something feminist?” Beauty pageants have a pretty bad reputation amongst feminist circles. While the contestants do have to perform a talent, they are ultimately supposed to look good in a swimsuit. They are judged for their beauty above all else. Beauty pageants have gotten a lot of coverage in the media. There’s just something about them that still interests people. That’s been true in the past, now, and even in Futurama. Season 2 episode 11, The Lesser of Two Evils, features the Miss Universe pageant. Unlike the current Miss Universe pageant, the “women” competing are actually from other planets. Even tough and cool Leela gets swept up in the frenzy and is accidentally crowned before the crown is cruelly taken away from her. The actual Winner of the Miss Universe pageant in the year 3001 is Miss Vega 4, Gladys Lennox, a giant amoeba.

There it is, Miss Universe. There it is, looking weird.

“There it is, Miss Universe. There it is, looking weird.”

However, the movie I am reviewing is not from the future, but has been greatly unappreciated for far too long. I am talking about the 2000 movie Beautiful, directed by Sally Field and starring Minnie Driver as Mona Hibbard, a woman who strives to become Miss America. A movie I believe to be feminist. Continue reading

Book Review: Journey to the River Sea

Journey to the River SeaI read a lot of books. I read fiction, nonfiction, books for adults, and books for children. I think that age in regards to reading is just a number. (And as I am not very good at numbers, this fits me quite well.) Lately I have been reading a lot of novels intended for children; however, to put an age limit on Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea would be a crime. Eva Ibbotson has written many books with female protagonists. Some of the heroines were beautiful, but boring. Others were too often far too chipper for my taste. However, she is an excellent storyteller with many great novels to her name, and Journey to the River Sea is no exception.

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Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

coverMany people like to think they grew up weird. Whether they themselves were the oddball in their square family or the straight lace with crooked kin, few can say with absolute certainty that they had a normal childhood (whatever that is). Then there is Jenny “the Bloggess” Lawson, beloved blogger and author of the memoir Let’s Just Pretend This Never Happened. She not only had a very… different childhood, her peculiarity continues to this day. Her memoir chronicles her interesting life so far, with promises of more books in the future. Followers of Lawson’s blog may recognize a few of the stories, but for the most part they are new and super awesome.

cathead1I laughed really hard while reading Let’s Just Pretend This Never Happened, (and while I was supposed to be paying attention in class.) Even though she inadvertently got me in trouble, I bear Lawson no grudge. I thoroughly enjoyed the childhood section of the memoir. Though her family was poor, Jenny, along with her younger sister Lisa, mostly enjoyed their time in a small town called Wall, Texas. The most interesting parts tended to be about her father. When he was not bringing home dangerous animals such as bobcats (and randomly throwing them on people), he was in his taxidermy shop covered in blood, making up fantasy animals, and hanging out with murderers and ex-convicts.

designall.dllJenny’s mother’s motto of “what won’t kill you makes you stronger” was tested on more than one occasion. From “quail” (actually turkey) attacks to radon in the well water, what the family lacked in money was made up in dangerous and potentially lethal situations. It’s a poor pamphlet on parenting, but a thought-provoking section nonetheless.

Another part in the book that would interest a small, but important section of the working world is when she worked in HR (human resources) for a religious organization. Here she reveals a close kept secret of the HR world: they are paid to look at porn. Well, actually they are paid to monitor people to make sure they are not looking at porn, but apparently people are always looking at porn. Really, anyone who has had a job can appreciate this section of the book, because we have all worked with crazy people, or know someone who has. If you haven’t, you are that person. Stop it.

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Know where the line is.

We also read about Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor (a former Neil Patrick Harris look-alike), their sweet miracle of a daughter Hailey, and her cats Hunter S. Tomcat, Rolly and Ferris Mewler. However Jenny’s life is not all giant metal anniversary chickens and humanly taxidermy squirrels in cowboy hats. Though she has a sharp wit, and a stimulating mind, Jenny has more than a few issues. She has general anxiety disorder which causes her to have panic attacks, and fears crowds of people. She also has rheumatoid arthritis along with other problems that cause her no end of grief. Despite it all she has her sense of humor, and Lawson’s personality shines through every word she writes. There is no one else who is quite like her, and I highly recommend you check out this book. Though I read the book before I started reading her blog, I also would endorse her blog, which she updates regularly.