BT: The Severus Snape Book Tag

While Snape is a fascinating character, he’s by no means my favorite out of the Harry Potter gang. He’s up there, though. 

Anyway, here are the questions!
Questions //
1. Severus Snape is always dressed in black. Which book with a black cover is your favorite?

Looking for Alaska. John Green’s first introduction into my world was through this book. White Cat and the whole trilogy by Holly Black. Oh, and of course, the Castor Chronicles.

 
2. Name a book character who you love as much as Severus Snape loves Lily and name a character who you hate as much as Severus Snape hates Harry.

Love: Nick, Alan, Mae, and Jamie  from The Demon’s Lexicon.
Hate: Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson. 

 
3. Severus Snape was the headmaster of Hogwarts for a short while. As a headmaster, which books would you put on the mandatory read list?

This question makes me squirmy because it reminds me of my teaching past. I used to teach the Hunger Games series. But, if I can do more, probably ask them to read the following: Harry Potter (obviously), Cassandra Clare’s works, Holly Black, and Sarah Rees Brennan’s works. Richelle Mead’s young adult series are also a must.

 

4. As a Death Eater Severus Snape has the Dark Mark. Which character, who also has tattoos, is your favorite?

Sydney Sage.

 

5. Severus Snape made a unbreakable vow with Narcissa Malfoy to protect Draco Malfoy. Which book would you protect with your life?

I’d rather pick a genre. I love contemporary, and I don’t see it as a lesser-than form of literature.The same goes to YA in general. I love it so much.

6. Salazar Slytherin wanted to ban half-blood’s and muggleborn’s from Hogwarts. Which book do you want to ban from bookstores?

None! I’m totally against book banning. Read whatever you want, explore, and discover new things.

7. Severus Snape is part of the Death Eaters as well as the Order of the Phoenix. Which book characters would you like in your group if you had to fight a group like the Death Eaters?

Rose Hathaway and the gang!

8. As a potions master Severus Snape brews a lot of potions. Which of these two potions would you like to drink?

– A potion that would allow you to make reading books your job (No. I like reading, but I’d like to write, too).
– A potion that would allow you to write a book (this one!)

  ★QUESTIONS:Question #1: The Opening Ceremony: What book did you think had an incredible opening? I'll
  So, I bought The Disenchantments used and picked up my battered copy scared, because
Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then.

BT: The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

1.What is a popular book or series that you didn’t like? 

Maze Runner The Gemma Doyle books.

2. What popular book or series that you love everyone seems to hate?

Lots! Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, Vampire Academy.

3. Which love triangle where the main character ends up with the person you did not want them to end up with?

The Phantom of the Opera. It makes me mad, so I won’t elaborate. 

4. Which genre you do read the least?

Nonfiction, horror, sci-fi. 

5. Which popular character do you dislike?

Tiny Cooper in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Oh my God, I hate him so much.

6. Which popular author do you dislike?

Scott Westerfeld. Rick Yancey. Libba Bray. Maureen Johnson. A lot of the classics annoy me as well.

7. What popular book trope (examples: love triangles or post-apocalyptic times) are you tired of seeing?

Insta-love. I like slow burn romances and developed feelings that make some sort of sense.

 

8. Which book to movie adaptation was better than its book?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower was pretty good. It’s Kind of a Funny Story was exceptional, too. Oh, and of course Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl.

Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then.
Today, a box of books appeared on our front step, which is probably the most
Paper Towns is one of my favorite stories. Like many of John Green's works, Paper

MR: Growing up in Laggies

I am a big Keira Knightley fan. I adore her so much. So, a while ago, I was perusing the Internet and found this trailer of her movie Laggies. It just spoke to me on a deep level, because, well, I feel kind of lost right now. It feels like everyone is moving on and I am not fitting in with the group of people I thought I’d be with for the rest of my life, sort of like Keira’s character in the film.

So, I bought the movie. It’s one of my favorites now because it is endearing and sweet. It is touching and thought provoking. Maybe loss should not be so negative in my mind because, we all lose things in life. It is kind of the point of growing up: losing things is natural. We let go of things and then new elements kick into our lives, and all we can do is accept these changes, or change life even more. Again, we are not really the boss of our lives, I get that, but what’s the point in forcing things that are no longer there? We all change over the years, and so…why cling to people and ideas that are just old and tired, stale and stiff over the years.

Now, I love the humor of the movie, too, and the beauty in the relationships. Things are complicated and Meg (Keira Knightley) has to figure out stuff. And, she does it over the course of a week. Is that too short? Maybe. Is it possible? Maybe. It has taken me years to accept my illnesses, and sometimes, I still reject them as part of my reality. By the same token, I also reject that some of my friends are no longer a good fit for me. I do get it, every time I watch this movie, I realize that it is okay, it is acceptable, it is fine to just move on and stop trying so hard to keep relationships alive. It takes two to tango, as they say, and I am tired of dancing alone with inanimate objects.

Meg broke off from her friend group entirely, and so have I (unintentionally). I don’t think you have to break up with people. I used to think that way, but sometimes, you just have to let go and not say much, because, well, some things are better off unspoken. This film taught me to laugh, to accept my growth and my journey, and to let go of the hurt and harm of toxic relationships. It has taught me that being an adult doesn’t mean that there’s no fun to be had. You can be young at heart and still be a functioning member in society. Totally doable.

Do check out the film. It is awesome and underrated.

I love the way women are portrayed in BBC's Sherlock. It is refreshing to see
I watched The Force Awakens and I have been a fan ever since that late
Community is a show that is amusing, sure, but it is also about growth and development.

BR: Fangirl

It is kind of nice when the depression recedes enough for hope to peak through, like wild weeds in a poisonous garden festering. I don’t know how it happens, but at some point, things start looking up again. Perhaps, that is the power of fiction for me. Reading about someone else makes me forget what it’s like to be me (usually). And, yet, when I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, something very different happened: I read what it is like to be me. 

Cath is an eighteen year old college freshman and she has anxiety. Like, really bad anxiety. She can’t go to the cafeteria kind of anxiety. I have anxiety. She writes, and I try to write. Often, she spends her life in her head. I do that, maybe even more than she does. But, you get it, right? I found myself in her story. It is kind of weird that I experienced this deja vu with a much younger character. I’m almost thirty. I have been out of college for so long. Yet I was relating to Cath’s struggle to write, to express herself, to make friends, to get in relationships that are complex and scary. In fact, she goes on journeys I have never had the courage to experience.

As a fellow fangirl, I enjoyed her writing of Simon and Baz’s story. I fangirled at her work and her spirit.

Moreover, her relationship with her sister is powerful and moving. Wren is outgoing and often hard to reach. I have a sister like that. Like Cath, I find myself grasping and comparing and losing very regularly. It is a tough battle, because I am much older than said sibling. People tell me to get over it, to move on, but the OCD kicks in and I get stuck in destructive loops.

Oh my goodness, Nick, and how he used her, it hit so close to home. I have had this experience too many times in my life. There were moments when I had stood in the shadows to let someone take the credit for my my voice. It is practically like Ariel in Little Mermaid giving up her voice to get something else.

It’s a wonderfully written book. Funny, moving, charming, and honest: it sheds light on family, relationships, expression, art, fiction, reality, education, drinking…so many things in one work that it is sometimes overwhelming to read. I am so glad that I did read it, though, because it is one of my favorite things I have ever read. It has made me feel less strange. Yes, I am pretty weird, but maybe that is not such a bad thing. Feeling this way is a new experience and I think it’s for the better.

Please, do pick it up and check it out. Such a great book. OH, and read Carry On *afterwards.* Don’t be a dork like me and read them in the wrong order.

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

About Time

There are things in my life that were constant. One of them was a fascination with time. I never liked time traveling stories, though, because it was something I could not comprehend. Time was complicated and cruel. It made me feel not only used, but empty, trashed, in fact. It feels like time mocks us all. It certainly has not played fair for me, especially the past four years. They have passed so quickly and yet so slowly. It is a paradox, I know. Too often, there were days where I just felt breathless–lifeless, if I am being honest.

So, when I watched a movie about a time traveling man, I was surprised that I loved it. “About Time” is a wonderful story about appreciating life as it comes. It is about relishing things thrown our way and not losing a pep to our step. Not ever. Even despite the losses, the pain, the awful days we experience sometimes, it is important to always try to be graceful. Try to be happy and full of love. For me, as someone with depression, I think this is difficult to accomplish, but not impossible. Maybe if I step outside the haze of sadness and grab life by the coattails, I’d be up for a happier time on this earth. Honestly, the movie was so, so beautifully made.

I think, there is something else to consider from this film, which is that love is a wonderful force to behold. Romantic love comes when we least expect it, and sometimes we love people who are not good for us (Like Kit-Kat’s situation or Charlotte). Sometimes, we think we’re in love, but we really aren’t. I have never been in love, so I don’t know what that is like. I cannot speak of what I do not know. However, I can only imagine what that might be like. And, yes, it sounds tricky. It is like trying to bottle up a rainbow or something. The neat thing is that Tim loves his family, too, and he does not forget about them after falling in love. Instead, Mary is integrated into the family very quickly.

One more thing about time travel from this film: it is not necessary. It is not important to impress people. Those who love us do love us completely (I hope so, at least). There is no need to perform an act or two to make good impressions. Being earnest and honest is more worthwhile.  There will always be people who do not like us. It is fine. I know, it is so much easier to say this than actually accomplish it. I may kick myself in the face (somehow) for saying this. Mostly, though, I am appreciative of the lesson.Strongly recommend watching the film. It is one of my favorites for sure.

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

Ruby Sparks: On Fiction and Love

Since What If is one of my favorite films, I decided to pick up Zoe Kazan’s film Ruby Sparks. Having read the synopsis, I was interested in how the film would handle the way love is, the nature of identity, emotion, and personal space. It is a story of a writer faced with a block because of his heartbreak. Given an assignment to write about someone who loves his scared puppy, he writes about a girl named Ruby Sparks.

Now, what is really cool about this story is that she is not perfect at all. In fact, she admits that she is a mess. She is lovable, though. She is sweet, kind, understanding. Even when Calvin resents his family, she accepts them and loves them wholeheartedly. She gives them her attention, her love, her openness. In turn, they love her back. I adore her.

This story complicates the traditional view of identity. We often hope for control over others, want them to be happy, want them to rely on us, love us unconditionally and faithfully (often exclusively, too), which is not realistic. People have free will and they don’t always want to be with their loved ones all the time. This perception of love as a co-dependent thing is not healthy. Spending all time with a significant other is not good for either person in the relationship. The movie certainly raises this point and taps into insecurities people tend to have about their relationships. The moment Ruby makes friends, Calvin writes her as dependent on him as possible, and she is miserable. She is crying all the time and clings to him desperately. He is also unhappy seeing her this upset. So, he tweaks her further. So, she is happy all the time. Flinching, he writes her back and forth, toying with her and it breaks him (and her).

It is not until he sets her free, and writes about it, that he meets her again on equal terms. The field is even again. He does not have the upper hand, which is awesome and much healthier to see. I love, love, love this film. It can be hard to watch sometimes because seeing someone being controlled that much is rough. I can say that it is really well written, well shot, well acted, and well directed. It hits home right away. I highly recommend it!

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

BR: Carry On, Rosebud Boy

Yesterday, I started reading Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. Having read Eleanor and Park, and Attachments, and enjoying them to an extent, I had a feeling that I may at least like Carry On. I just finished it today. I know. One day! It is a record for me. I read slow and struggle often to focus. So, this is indicative of how great this story was. What a way to start a new year! The book is easily one of my favorites already.

It started off confusing. There is very little background information, which is understandable because this book is supposed to be the final one in a series. So, it took me a bit of time to follow what was going on. I understand that this is kind of a take on Harry Potter but to me, Rowell’s work stands on its own, as a work that is unique. It offers a lot of insight on the Chosen One trope, on fantasy in general, and on relationships.

What I love is that the romance is sweet, but, sexuality is not something that runs the story, like many YA novels do.  Baz, at some point in the book, refers to his relationship with Simon as less erotic than he’d imagined it would be. I think that’s more realistic as far as relationships go. It is really nice that they both lose a lot throughout the book. Simon truly loses his magic, the Mage, Agatha. Rowell even makes him get into therapy, because this stuff is intense. It is not like he fell in love and then everything is rosy and perfect. Not at all. Romance is not the goal in life. It is an aspect of life. There are other things that come into play.

Overall, I thought it was a lovely book with complexity and an exploration of so many tropes in fiction. Give it a go, definitely!

I have been thinking a lot about how much things have changed for me over
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I
Part of having an online presence is this weird isolation from real life, whatever that

This is Where I Leave You

I really, really, really love this story of This is Where I Leave You. The actors are all great, and the story is wonderfully touching. Okay, I will be open to admit that I picked the movie because it has Adam Driver in it, but I ended up liking it for the whole ensemble. Tina Fey is hilarious and so relate-able. It is kind of hard to look at characters individually, because the whole family fits together beautifully.

The refreshing thing is that everyone is messed up in their own way. All the Altmans lost their father, Mort. But they have also lost things on a personal level. Philip is dating his ex-shrink (and loses her eventually). Wendy lost her boyfriend Horry, who got brain damage. Judd’s marriage is in shambles. Paul is losing the family business because his brothers want to be part of it with him. And, their mother has a secret of her own (I won’t reveal it. I’ll try not to).

Humor can act as a way to communicate really complex ideas, and the funny moments in this story are very human and real. There’s no forced humor, really. I mean, yes, there is some (one or two?) moments of toilet humor (I laughed, I am mostly mature, but it was still pretty funny). But, for the most part, when the characters confront one another, or when they have sincere moments of frankness, it is still sometimes amusing. It is not beat-over-the-head type of moral lessons. In fact, the story is more open ended and vague. We don’t get to know specifics about where the characters are really headed. And, for me, that’s quite a relief, because life is rarely not messy and easy to follow.

Complexity is rare in films nowadays, unfortunately, but this film explores the way relationships don’t always make sense (not right away, anyway). And, that makes me love the story so much. I hope you get to check it out.

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

BR: “Big Magic” and Creativity

I’m a fan of Eat, Pray, Love. Having listened to many of her speeches, I became a fan of Liz Gilbert. Naturally, I gravitated towards her new book Big Magic, which is a book about creativity and inspiration. It is such a wonderful book. I gave it five stars. I enjoyed it immensely. Let’s talk about it. It was awesome.

In this book, Liz Gilbert talks about her relationship with creativity and how she approaches it. I thought it was such a great reflection that taught me so much. I learned that creativity is something to be cultivated and fostered. It is part of our well-being. It is, in short, part of being okay. So, I need to be more creative. Write more, read more, dream more. I used to feel more, but I got scared of myself, of letting go of control. I think control is underrated, though.

Part of creativity, I have learned from Gilbert, is about taking chances and being brave enough to face fears. Old Grandfather Fear is part of the creative process, but he is to be faced and mostly ignored. He does not get to pick the snacks; he does not get to play the radio. He does not have control over us. At least, he should not be given the keys to the car. He can be part of the journey. But he should not given power over us.

Another thing I learned is that it is important to focus on being a trickster when it comes to creativity. Have fun. Don’t take it seriously. Don’t approach it as a sacred process. It is fun. It is supposed to be fun. And, I have forgotten this. I have been waiting for inspiration to strike, for a sense of beauty to come into my life. But, what if it is within me? What if I can be happy just creating images, poetry, blog posts, tweets, anything…I can express myself in so many ways. I have been defined by people as an artist. I have not seen myself as such because I thought of artists as martyrs, as holy people. I just want to create things every day. Express my fears, my dreams, thoughts. I think I should allow myself to do this daily, even if it is not perfect or “good.”

If you would like to learn more about ways to find creativity and inspiration, check out Big Magic. It is a beautiful, wonderful book. I cannot recommed it enough!

"The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I am sad.
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.
        **Before I continue, I have to credit the following brilliant photographers:

MR: Me, Earl, And the Dying Girl

This is one of the very rare occasions where the movie is better than the book. Loaded with gross humor, the book comes across as juvenile. On the other hand, the film highlights the beauty of the book, which is that it is a story of growth, coming of age, innovation, creation, loss, fear, life, friendship.

It is truly a beautiful fun film. With sharp wit, and a wonderful sense of humor, the story progresses as Greg befriends Rachel. I thought their relationship developed at a great pace. The actors did a marvelous job connecting on screen and capturing the nuances of connecting.

Earl is excellent, too. His relationship with Greg is fascinating. Their collaborations are brilliant (even if they that their work is horrible. I truly would watch those movies and enjoy them thoroughly). Earl is perceptive, sensitive, thoughtful. He balances Greg out. I love that their friendship is not perfect; that despite their differences, they bond but still have tension. I love their argument/fight scene.

The film is quite nice to watch. It is visually appealing. Beautifully shot. I like that it does not show us Rachel’s final film. It’s “so bad” that it “kills” her. I can relate to Greg’s guilt after that film. But, like many films about death and life, we learn that there is life after death: we can continue to know a person and discover them long after they are gone. People are endless seas, deep and tremendous, with much more nuance than we tend to give them. And, I suppose the message of viewing people more complexly comes to mind with this film, too.

Definitely, this is one of my favorite stories to watch unfold. I may not be as crazy about the book as I am about the film, but I would recommend both. They teach so much, without sounding preachy. They reflect on life and its complexity, at an age of confusion as a backdrop. Check them out!

      I finished watching season 1 of The Good Place on Netflix. Here are some
Over the past week, I have inched my way through the second season of The
When watching Poldark, most people feel passionate about Ross and his story, but I am