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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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.


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.

Book Review: Out of the Easy

coverThere is just something special about New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a chaotic mix of French, Voodoo, the old South, and African influences. It’s almost magical. However, it is also historically known as a hotbed of crime, “loose morals,” and discovering the true definition of family. At least that’s how it appears in Ruta Sepetys’s Out of the Easy.

In the French Quarter in 1950, our main character, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine, is the daughter of a prostitute. When she isn’t working at her beloved book store, Josie works the same brothel as her mother as a cleaner. Unsatisfied with the options offered to her, Josie uses both her book and street smarts to plan her way out of the Big Easy. However a peculiar death in the Quarter pulls Josie into the investigation. Josie is put through many trials and is caught between her Smith College dreams and her dark underworld reality. Continue reading

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

oceanI love Neil Gaiman. I am a big fan of his novels, short stories, comic books, movie and television contributions, and his writing in general. His contribution to nerd/geek culture (you know Who), not to mention the fantasy genre in literature, can hardly be matched. My second favorite book out of the hundreds I’ve read in my lifetime is currently American Gods (a book I have reviewed here). I simply adore the man and would pay to read his grocery list if it became available for Kindle.


You are all within my power.

That being said, I’m not quite sure what to say about Gaiman’s latest novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The plot of the novel seems simple enough; it’s about a young, ordinary boy put in extraordinary circumstances. However there are so many layers and complex themes it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly the story is trying to convey. Continue reading

Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat

book coverIn popular blogger Victoria Fedden’s independently published memoir Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, Victoria was having a tough time. Just when she thought everything was going fine, her long-time fiancé broke up with her, stole her house (yes, apparently that is possible), sued her, and moved in with another girl. Twenty-six, heartbroken, homeless, and swamped with legal fees, she had no choice but to leave Atlanta, Georgia and move in with her eccentric parents.

Unfortunately they live in South Florida; those who read her blog Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds know South Florida is a very… interesting place. Once there, Victoria is pushed by her parents to accept a job as a hostess at the Bubblegum Kittikat, South Florida’s “klassiest” gentlemen’s club. Though somewhat shy, and more than a little nerdy, she decides to go for it, needing both the money and the distraction. There she meets the patrons, the doormen, and the dancers, each with a past and a story.

live nude girls

As opposed to dead ones.

As a longtime reader of Fedden’s hilariously weird blog Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds, I was both excited and impatient to read her first book. When I heard it was going to be about her time working in a strip club, I just about danced with joy. Like many people, I am fascinated by the darker sides of society. What would make a woman be willing to take of her clothes for money? Is there only one type of body type at these sorts of clubs, and what was it like behind the stage? I was hoping the book would be filled to the brim with weird people; I especially wanted to read more about the people who are just on the fringe of the sex industry. The bouncers, the bartenders, the hostess, the waitresses, the managers, and how they viewed things. In most novels that have strippers, there is actually very little about them, while strippers are portrayed as heartless whores who would do anything for more money, and while at times that was true there was far more to it. They are human after all.

Victoria Fedden

Just, you know, hotter.

Speaking of human, while her book is about the club, it is still solidly a memoir. Fedden is known as a funny blogger, and in this regard she never fails. However, the book it is not all glitter and crazy stories. While working and shopping to her heart’s content, Victoria is looking for love in all the wrong places and for mostly the wrong reasons, all of which she admits and goes over in painful detail. Throughout the book the reader can feel her frustration and the perfect clarity of hindsight is punishing, but like any good memoir, it has lessons that she learns and the reader learns along with her. She makes mistakes that many women can relate to, if only because the events really happened (and can potentially happen to anyone). Victoria goes on dates with guys who are arrogant, creepy (one had a mullet), and some who seem okay, but turn out to be strange in some fashion or another.

Hannibal Lecter, seriel killer, cannibal

You could say I’m a people person.

These dates are some of the best parts of the novel and though they often made me cringe, they also often made me laugh the most. As a warning there is some intimate partner abuse, swearing, some premarital sexing, undressing, and other things that people may be offended by, but it is all entertaining and nothing is unnecessarily embellished for the sake of storytelling. Throughout her memoir, I wondered if Fedden would succumb to the seduction of greed and “glamor” and finally get on the pole. Does she dance? You’re going to have to read the book to find out. It is currently available only in the electronic version on Amazon and Barnes & Noble but the printed ones are sure to come soon. So what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Do you know a book or movie you would like me to review? Post it in the comments below!