Thursday, April 5

Happy First Contact Day!

Thursday, April 5

On this day in 2063, the human race boldly goes where no human has gone before.

Live long and prosper, nerds!

Sunday, April 1

Hey April | 2018 Man Calendar

Sunday, April 1

Desktop version:

Peep the rest of the 2018 Man Calendar here.

Friday, March 30

Haiku Revieu | Love, Simon

Friday, March 30
Love, Simon

Heartwarming and fun
Harkens back to old rom-coms
Important movie

Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he's gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

I read Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—the YA book that Love, Simon is based on—a couple of years ago for FYA Book Club, and I loved it. It's a super sweet, funny coming-of-age novel about a young man who isn't quite sure how to reveal to the world that he's gay. And from the moment I heard that it was going to be a movie, I was on board. Hesitant, because it's such a great novel, and we all know how adaptations can go, but excited for Simon to get his day on the big screen.

Happily, I can say that my hesitations were pretty much for naught, because Love, Simon is a fantastic adaptation—and an all-around delight of a movie.

The movie is very reminiscent of romantic comedies of old, with a freshening up for today's audiences. (I've seen it described as John Hughes-ian, which I think is very apt.) It's cute and awkward (SO AWKWARD) in equal amounts, and you'll find yourself falling in love with Simon, his friends and his family from the very start.

Nick Robinson—a current YA film go-to—is adorable as Simon. He's not a stereotype, and I think anyone can see their own early identity investigations in his, regardless of whether they're a young gay man. His struggles, while not universal, are believable and honest; they resonate. Simon's parents, played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, are brilliant (even though it's somewhat hard to watch the two play parents) and are involved in some of the most moving moments of the movie.

As Simon's email relationship with Blue (an anonymous guy at Simon's school who's also hiding the fact that he's gay) progresses, it's easy to get swept up in the romance of it all. You'll cheer, you'll shed a tear, and you'll be all the better for it.

Definitely get to the theater to see this movie, and show the powers that be that representation matters!

Check it out:

P.S.—I also highly recommend reading the book, but maybe not right before or after you see the film.

Friday, March 23

Happy birthday to my ride or die

Friday, March 23
I don't know if y'all know this, but this guy—

—is my absolute fave. And today's my favorite day: his birthday!

Happy birthday, Mister. <3 <3 <3 So glad I have you by my side for all of life's adventures. To the ends of the universe!

Wednesday, March 21

Haiku Revieu | Annihilation

Wednesday, March 21

Pretty visuals
More scary than suspenseful
The book was better

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply.

I made the mistake of reading the book version of Annihilation right before seeing the movie. I really enjoyed the suspense of the book and the very unique way it was written. I knew that it wouldn't translate exactly, but I was super interested in seeing what made it from the page to the screen. Unfortunately, aside from the high-level ideas, the movie was very different. And not one that appeals to me. I won't go into depth on the differences, because spoilers, but take my advice and don't read the book before seeing the movie. (I can't say if reading it after would be good or not, but I'd be curious to hear from anyone who goes that route.)

Visually, the movie was really beautiful, in a creepy and intensely graphic way. I'm not really a horror fan, and was surprised at the level of scary in the film; the book, while suspenseful, didn't come across what I think of as horror. (I don't read much of the genre, however, so I could be mistaken.) Ultimately, the combination of the strange plot and the creep factor made me feel more uncomfortable than anything. I think my initial review to Colt after leaving the theater was, "well, that was disturbing."

I did like the cast and the fact that the only dudes in the movie were secondary characters. (The same can be said about the book; in fact, the men play even less of a role.) I'm here for more lady-led films that aren't romantic or "girl's night" comedies or traditional "chick movies." There's nothing about the main characters in Annihilation that necessitated them being played by women—other than that they were in the book—and it's nice to see this sort of representation in film. I'm all about bucking the norms.

I know a lot of people whose opinions I trust have seen and loved this movie, but it's just not my cup of tea.

Check it out:

Tuesday, March 20

Haiku Revieu | Black Panther

Tuesday, March 20
Black Panther

Wakanda forever
Shuri is the best

T'Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T'Challa's father's mistake.

It's been a little more than a month since I saw Black Panther, but it's impact remains fresh in my mind. The hype is definitely real with this one; it's one of the best Marvel movies to date—and stands on its own as an excellent film, not "excellent for a superhero movie." (Side note: I hate that descriptor. Just because movies have superheroes in them, or space battles or faeries or whatever, doesn't mean they can't be just as impactful as all those "serious" ones.)

Although we were introduced to T'Challa and Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War, we really get to know the character, his family and friends, and the amazing place that is Wakanda in Black Panther. It expands the MCU, in a figurative sense, immensely; the culture and the colors and the music and the people are all so different than what's come before, and it's so, so welcome. Yes, I'm a privileged white American woman, but I understand how deeply representation matters, and the portrayal of Wakandan culture made me tear up with happiness. As much as I love the MCU, it's about damn time that someone other than a white man gets to be front and center.

That said, it's not just T'Challa who shines bright in this movie—though Chadwick Bosman does a fantastic job—his support system is made up of amazing women who steal the show; particularly Leticia Wright as Shuri and Danai Gurira as Okoye. As the canon smartest person in the MCU, Shuri is an amazing role model for young women everywhere, and Wright played her perfectly as the "kind of annoying, but totally awesome" little sister. Okoye belongs in the Badass Ladies Hall of Fame alongside Diana of Themyscira, and Gurira has such presence onscreen. I'd be remiss not to mention Lupita Nyong'o and Angela Bassett, too, whose characters show that Wakanda is an advanced civilization in more ways than just technology.

Another standout was Winston Duke's M'Baku, who shows a range of character growth in a short period of time. And Michael B. Jordan was killer (heh) as Erik Kilmonger; charismatic and intelligent, he's the kind of villain who makes it easy to see why some people root for the bad guys.

The characters aren't the only thing I liked about Black Panther, mind you. I was also super impressed with the variety of African cultures the filmmakers incorporated into the movie. The settings and costumes were absolutely stunning, and helped Wakanda skyrocket up my list of fictional places I'd love to visit. In a visual sense, Black Panther is more akin to the Guardian of the Galaxy movies and Thor: Ragnarok than the other main Avengers films. It's a delight for the senses.

I couldn't be happier than Black Panther is doing so well, and I really hope Hollywood takes note. (They'd be stupid not to, but ... you know.) Have you seen it yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

Check it out:

Friday, March 16

Nerd News | Avengers: Infinity War official trailer

Friday, March 16
I'm not going to watch this1 but I so badly want to.

I'm really not prepared for this movie. I've already bought tickets to see it two different times opening weekend, and I'm considering taking the following week off work to recover.

Also of note:
  • There's finally a trailer for the fifth season of The 100, and it unsurprisingly suggests that the season will be as fight-filled as the ones before it. CAN'T WAIT.
  • There's a new Lara Croft/Tomb Raider video game releasing in September. I am a huge fan of the rebooted games, so this is exciting news. 
  • Ava DuVernay (Wrinkle in Time) has joined the DCU and will direct a New Gods movie. I know nothing about the New Gods, but I'm hoping her hiring means that DC's realized that their lady directors are the ones who actually know what they're doing. (You know, 'cause the dudes keep giving us things like Justice League.)

1 I avoid anything more than the first teaser or two these days so that I'm not spoiled about the movie. Trailers tend to reveal more than I'd like.

Thursday, March 1

Hey March | 2018 Man Calendar

Thursday, March 1

Desktop version:

Peep the rest of the 2018 Man Calendar here.

Friday, February 23

Begin as you mean to go | Advice from Leigh Bardugo

Friday, February 23
I know I'm not alone when I complain that 2018 has been a rough year.

Around my house, we rang in the new year with a nasty case of flu, followed by sinus/respiratory infections and a cough that will not quit. Add to that some home issues that involved taking a jackhammer to a bathroom floor, and—you know—the general crap state of affairs in our country at the moment, and I'm ready to write the first two months of 2018 off completely.

Mind you, things really aren't bad. A cough is annoying, but not life-threatening. We get to tackle an unexpected bathroom mini-renovation that was on our to-do list (albeit much lower than other more pressing items, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). We have exciting plans for vacations later this year. We get to watch movies like Black Panther.

But it can be hard to focus on the positives when situations compound and make you feel like curling up in the fetal position in a dark room.

Just before Christmas, I got an email newsletter from one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo. I've had the privilege of hearing Leigh speak at book festivals, and have talked with her personally. Every time, I'm reminded of just how cool she is. In the newsletter, she offered some advice that really resonated, and I've revisited it frequently over the past 55-ish days.

1. This is the time of year when people start to think about transforming themselves. Goals, resolutions, and grand ambition are all lovely things and I want to encourage you to think big. But I also want to encourage you to embrace all of the great things about yourself and all of your victories of the past year—no matter how quiet or small. You do not have to go on a diet in the New Year, or write 100,000 words, or eat only kale and horseradish, or hit the gym every day, or post something new on Instagram every week, or follow a 22-step skincare regimen. Your job is to take care of yourself. Period. Advertisers prey on our insecurities and anxieties at holiday time, so be gentle and generous with your heart and remember that you are effing spectacular.

2. Begin as you mean to go on! Every January 1st, I like to make sure I spend a little bit of time working on something I care about or want to pursue in the New Year. Maybe you want to cook at home or learn a new language or make progress on a novel or reach out to your friends more regularly. On New Year's Day, commit to devoting a small amount of time to that thing. Begin as you mean to go on—make that promise to yourself. (And if you do it, tag it #BAYMTGO so I can see!) I'll be doing some writing sprints on my IG stories and you're very welcome to join me whether you're cleaning your apartment or revising a new story or baking me a pie. Bonus points if you're baking me a pie.

After the mess that was January, I wanted to start 2018 over in February. But then this month wasn't much better, so I started thinking about starting over in March. There's always a possibility that March will continue the trend, however ... Before I know it, I could have spent all of 2018 trying to hit reset and looking for the "right" time to begin.

That's no way to live. And even though Leigh sent this advice as a new year's suggestion, I think it can be applied to any sort of restart. (Besides, the Gregorian calendar is a kind of arbitrary thing.)

I'm not quite sure where to start, but you can be darn sure that I'm going to begin as I mean to go once I figure it out.

On March 1.

Wednesday, February 21

Nerd News | Legion: Season 2 teaser

Wednesday, February 21
Are you ready for another mind-bending, totally insane season of Legion?

April 3 can't come soon enough.

H/t to Colt for the link.

Also of note:

Have y'all seen Black Panther? Wasn't it awesome? Haiku Revieu to come soon!

Friday, February 16

Haiku Revieu | The Shape of Water

Friday, February 16
The Shape of Water

Of monsters and men
Surprisingly sexual
A sweet love story

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

I've been looking forward to seeing The Shape of Water since I first heard about it, and we finally got to the theater earlier this month to see it. I typically really enjoy Guillermo del Toro unique style of filmmaking, and something about the idea of this movie really struck me.

You'll notice that I mentioned the surprisingly sexual nature of the film in the haiku above. I mention this, not because it was done for shock factor, but because I think the trailers give off a "this is a sweet love story" more than "this is a sweet love story between two of-age individuals who have adult urges." One of my coworkers actually said that they thought it was a kid's movie—which, no—and the people sitting next to us in the theater had brought their pre-teen or early-teen son. (That kid is likely scarred for life; not because of the sexual scenes, but because he had to watch them with his parents.)

The Shape of Water definitely feels like a del Toro film. It's a period fantasy piece with strong, well-developed characters and a dreamy quality that, although I was left with questions at the end, made me hopeful in the power of the story's magic. It's a statement on how "monsters" are often more "human" than actual humans, and how love is love is love, regardless of what outsiders might think or judge.

Sally Hawkins is wonderful as Elisa, and does so well at emoting without being able to talk. The expressions on her face, and her body language, do all the talking for her. Her character is truly unique. Octavia Spencer's Zelda is adorably sassy, and a true friend, and Richard Jenkins's Giles is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Unsurprisingly, Doug Jones is perfect as the monster; if we ever met in real life, I think I'd be surprised if his mannerisms didn't trend toward the alien. And Michael Shannon was amazing as the villanous Richard Strickland. I hate that guy with all my being, but he's never flat and honestly fascinating in a "serial killers are facsinating" kind of way.

This film definitely lived up to the hype, both that in my own head and of the general public.

Check it out:

Friday, February 9

Haiku Revieu | Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Friday, February 9
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Transitional film
I wanted more backstory
But I do love Porgs

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

It's been nearly a month since I first saw The Last Jedi in theaters, and honestly? I still don't quite know how I feel about the movie. I know people who love it, and I know people who compare it to the prequels (which I think might be going a little too far). There were parts that I loved, and parts that I didn't like. I'm struggling, friends.

My biggest issue is that it very much felt like a film that wasn't vital to the larger story. A lot of what was set down in The Force Awakens seemed to be tossed out the window without much care, and I worry that Episode 9 will try to get those things back, making The Last Jedi this weird transitional film that ultimately didn't do much. Other things I didn't enjoy:
  • The Canto Bight storyline. More Finn? Yes! Rose Tico? YES! But them going off and doing their own thing took me out of the larger plot, especially when it ultimately turned out to be sort of useless. (Thanks for nothing, Benicio del Toro.) Also, was there more to the woman (Lily Cole) standing next to the master codebreaker than we were privy to?
  • Luke's snotty attitude (and the weird milking moment). I get that he wanted to be left alone. I get that he was reeling from Kylo's turn to the dark side. I get that he's always been a bit of a brat. But the jokey way he tossed the lightsaber behind him when Rey handed it to him totally diverged from the feeling I got from the end of The Force Awakens. It was jarring, and felt cheap.
  • The cat and mouse chase between the First Order and the Rebel ships. Sure, it paid off awesomely in that kamikaze scene at the end, but what was stopping the First Order from jumping to the other side of the Rebel ships? Or calling in reinforcements? It's not like the Rebel ships were going to get away if they stopped looking for a second.
  • Snoke and Phasma's seemingly useless deaths. Them dying kind of unceremoniously made it seem like neither character was necessary to the larger plot, and it's a shame. (That said, they might not actually be dead, and show up again. We'll see ...)
  • And, related: The lack of character backstory. I try to remind myself that I didn't know much of anything about Emperor Palpatine when all I'd seen was the original trilogy; it wasn't until the prequels and the extended universe books that I learned more. I feel like movie-going audiences expect—and deserve—more these days, however, and inserting a new character (i.e. Holdo) without explaining really anything about who she is except a throw-away line about her being involved in some "famous" battle just feels cheap. (If you're interested, you can learn more about her in Claudia Gray's book, Leia: Princess of Alderaan.)

Like I said, though, there were things I really liked. A few examples:
  • Princess Leia showing her force powers. Just 'cause she's not a Jedi has never meant that she's not a badass Force wielder.
  • The character growth, Finn's and Poe's in particular. Finn's gone from being all about himself, to all about Rey, to a slogan-saying, full-fledged member of the Rebellion. (Total fist-pump moment, y'all.) And Poe was taken down a peg or two to show him humility and what it takes to be a true leader. (Just in time for Episode 9.)
  • Representation for more than just white dudes. Anytime I saw a woman in a position of power—or, really, doing anything—I got choked up. Even at 34, I'm still looking for women to be major parts of my favorite
  • The lightsaber battle between Kylo and Rey and Snoke's guards. Beautiful choreography! And, though I'm not a Reylo shipper, I love the enemistry between them. Their little mental chats were pretty delightful.
  • Yoda's gleeful trolling. I didn't realize how much I missed that little green dude's sass.
  • The Porgs. Yes, I'm one of those fans.

In the end, I'm giving the movie a three-star rating, mostly because I continue to waffle between one end of the spectrum and the other.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Check it out:

Monday, February 5

Nerd News | Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer

Monday, February 5

If you were watching the Super Bowl last night, you probably saw the teaser for the Solo: A Star Wars Story ... teaser ... that released early this morning. If you missed either, here they both are:

I'm still not totally sold on Alden Ehrenreich as Han, but I'm going to reserve final judgment until I actually see the movie. I'm digging the look and feel of the teaser, and damn if Donald Glover isn't oozing that Lando charm, even in the short time we get to see him. (That coat, tho!)

Honestly, it's hard for me not to get excited about new Star Wars movies, regardless of my feeling about them when I actually see them in theaters. (Related: I'll try to get my Last Jedi Haiku Revieu up later this week.)

Also of note:
  • A new spot for Avengers: Infinity War dropped during the game as well. Not embedding it in case you're like me and only want to watch the first trailer, but linking it here in case you want to see. (Full disclosure: Because I was a party for the game, I ended up watching it. It doesn't spoil much, plot-wise. It's just a lot of attractive people preparing for a fight. And Cap's beard is in FULL effect.)
  • The Men in Black franchise is getting a total reboot.
  • David Harbour—who is a total delight, and who definitely won the Super Bowl commercials competition with his Tide ads—promises that his role as Hellboy won't ruin his Dad bod.

Thursday, February 1

Hey February | 2018 Man Calendar

Thursday, February 1

Desktop version:

Peep the rest of the 2018 Man Calendar here.

Tuesday, January 30

Nerd News | Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer

Tuesday, January 30
Lookie what dropped today!

I am a little apprehensive that this sequel won't have the humor and the heart of the first one, but I trust that Marvel knows what it's doing. (And it's been certainly leaning in to the humor as of late.) Also, I am super excited that a lady superhero actually has her name in the title of one of the MCU's films and is getting equal billing with her male counterpart. 'Bout dang time.

Not that it needs to be said, but ... Marvel stan FOR LIFE, y'all. #noregrets

Also of note:

I'm feeling really behind on my Nerd News lately, thanks in large part to being sick practically the entire month of January. What've I missed? Let me know in the comments!

    Monday, January 22

    Recently Read | 2017 recap

    Monday, January 22

    Unsurprisingly, 2017 was a good year in books. They helped me escape certain not-so-good aspects of reality and dive into some timely and important topics.

    However ... I didn't meet my goal of reading 100 books; I only read 85. I was a little upset about it for a moment or two, but then I realized that meeting an arbitrary number of books read isn't important. It's enjoying the reading that really matters. And although I read a few stinkers, for the most part enjoy them I did.

    My favorite reads of the year were:
    • Wires and Nerve, Volume One (Wires and Nerve #1) by Marissa Meyer
    • Geekerella by Ashley Poston
    • Hunted by Megan Spooner
    • The Memory Book by Lara Avery
    • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
    • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    • A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
    • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
    • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
    • Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray
    You can check out short reviews of these books, and others I read, in my bimonthly Recently Read posts:

    And here's a fun little infographic about my 2017 reading stats, via Goodreads:

    (Check out the full graphic here.)

    What were your fave books of 2017? Do you have any goals for reading in 2018?

    Friday, January 19

    Recently Read | November + December 2017

    Friday, January 19

    Although I didn't complete my Goodreads goal of 100 books—more on that later, in my upcoming 2017 reading recap—I finished out the year with some great books.

    What did I read during the months of November and December?

    Top Read

    The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

    Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

    Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

    But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

    I didn't exactly mean to sleep on reading The Hate U Give—it was published way back in February 2017—but I knew that we were reading it for the Forever Young Adult Book Club in November, so it kept getting pushed down (my immense) TBR list. I should have known, however, that it would end of being one of my favorite reads of the year. The hype is valid y'all.

    The Hate U Give is a timely and extremely important novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and cases of police violence. But it also shines light on the normality of a black family that lives in a non-gentrified part of a city with a father who one once involved in a gang. Never does the book feel like it's a stereotype; the Carter family is messy, but also one of the most loving and loyal families I've ever read about.

    Since it's publication, The Hate U Give has seen backlash, thanks to Thomas' inclusion of curse and slang words, and "ripped from the headlines" events, that some find offensive, but I applaud Thomas for not shying away from the truth. If you haven't already read this book, don't be like me—read it ASAP.

    Honorable mentions

    Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. Meet Cute is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of "how they first met" from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

    Readers will experience Nina LaCour's beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard's glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon's imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno's story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick's charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

    This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

    I'ma hopeless romantic, and a huge sucker for cute stories about how two people find each other. Enter Meet Cute, a collection of 14 stories that are all about those first butterfly moments, or the moments before those first butterflies even take flight. It's a super fluffy read, and was a perfect way to cap off 2017. (It was my official last read of the year!)

    The best part of these stories, for me, was the diversity of the couples. Four of the 14 feature two ladies, and quite a few others feature non-white main characters. And, if you're curious, my fave stories were “Oomph” by Emery Lord, about two girls who meet in the airport security line; “The Dictionary of You and Me” by Jennifer L. Armentrout, about a "missing" library book; and “The Department of Dead Love” by Nicola Yoon, which is a sort of science fiction take on romance and destiny. The only stories I didn't really enjoy, however, were the two written in second person POV. But they just read weird; their actual plots weren't bad.

    Sixteen-year-old Princess Leia Organa faces the most challenging task of her life so far: proving herself in the areas of body, mind, and heart to be formally named heir to the throne of Alderaan. She's taking rigorous survival courses, practicing politics, and spearheading relief missions to worlds under Imperial control. 

    But Leia has worries beyond her claim to the crown. Her parents, Breha and Bail, aren't acting like themselves lately; they are distant and preoccupied, seemingly more concerned with throwing dinner parties for their allies in the Senate than they are with their own daughter. 

    Determined to uncover her parents' secrets, Leia starts down an increasingly dangerous path that puts her right under the watchful eye of the Empire. And when Leia discovers what her parents and their allies are planning behind closed doors, she finds herself facing what seems like an impossible choice: dedicate herself to the people of Alderaan—including the man she loves—or to the galaxy at large, which is in desperate need of a rebel hero ...

    A long time ago, in a city kinda far away, I read a large majority of the Star Wars Extended Universe books—and I loved them all. Getting to read about these iconic characters outside of the movies was delightful, and I came to know them all pretty well. Cut to a few years ago, when Disney bought Lucasfilm and decided to de-canonize the Extended Universe books ... I was bummed, to say the least. But there is a bright side: New books to read, and new stories about my favorite characters to get lost in.

    Leia, Princess of Alderaan, tells the story of Leia before she got involved in the rebellion. It expands on some of the events that went into making Leia the strong female character we all know and love, and—no spoilers—introduces a character from The Last Jedi, giving them some background that actually made me like them more.

    Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

    Love grows such strange things.

    Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

    1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of
    The Importance of Being Earnest.
    2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
    3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play
    Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

    What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

    This summer's going to be great.

    Lily Anderson's The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You—a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing—was one of my top books of 2016, so I was excited to read Not Now, Not Ever, a "sequel" of sorts, this time based on Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

    Once again, Anderson sucked me in with many nerdy references that don't seem like name-dropping and realistic and delighful characters I'd love to be friends with.

    Other reads


    The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley | By Your Side by Kasie West | Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff | No Limits by Ellie Marney | Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer


    Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (Paper Girls #1) by Brian K. Vaughn, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson | Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley


    Pride & Prejudice & Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz | Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

    Have you read any of these books? If not, what have you read lately that you'd recommend?

    Friday, January 12

    Hey January | 2018 Man Calendar

    Friday, January 12

    Desktop version:

    Peep the rest of the 2018 Man Calendar here.

    The 2018 Man Calendar

    Before we get to the good stuff, I wanted to apologize for not getting this out in a more timely manner. Colt and I both came down with the flu right after the new year, and it's been a rough road to recovery.

    But now, without further ado (and excuses), I'd like to present:

    The 2018 Man Calendar: Pattern Play

    The 2018 Man Calendar:

    Mr. January: Taika Waititi
    Mr. February: Tom Hiddleston
    Mr. March: Ryan Reynolds
    Mr. April: Oscar Isaac
    Mr. May: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
    Mr. June: Chris Evans
    Mr. July: Chris Pine
    Mr. August: Chris Hemsworth
    Mr. September: Idris Elba
    Mr. October: Dan Stevens
    Mr. November: Bob Morley
    Mr. December: Jake Gyllenhaal

    The 2018 version of the Man Calendar is the 14th edition1 of this silly little project. Each year has a loose theme, and this year's came from the various photos I found of the guys I wanted to include wearing patterned tops/jackets.

    As my gift to you, here's the whole year in a ZIP file that you can download for your own personal use. (And here's a ZIP of the desktop versions, too.)

    If you want a physical version of the calendar, here's what I do: Print each month on white cardstock, then trim the sheets to 6"x9". (The files are 150 dpi, which means they'll look larger than 6"x9" when you open them, but they should print fine.) I then punch a hole in the top and hang them from a jump ring. I keep mine in my cubicle at work.

    What do you think of this year's calendar? Thanks for all of the ideas you offered up last month! For anyone who's curious, there are four new gentlemen included for 2018—Misters January, March, July, and October. I was sad to kick the previous years' inclusions to the curb, but I gotta be ruthless to get the number down to 12!

    Here's wishing you a happy 2018 full of nice scenery!

    1 You can see many of the previous Man Calendars at the following links: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009; 2008–2005 are, sadly, in Word Docs.
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