Welcome back to another installment looking at all the things that have stolen my attention this month. A lot of these things have been a comfort for me this month as I stress over work, PAX East looming in the near future, and getting posts up on the blog. Though they are almost always more of a distraction from working on my blog than anything else, I think some of them will be of interest to you readers. I didn’t have much in the way of comics or shows to talk about this time, but I did read a few cool series over the last month which will get incorporated into future posts next month including my future Caturday (Saturday) specials. I hope something below sparks your interest, and be sure to leave a comment down below if it does. See you in March!
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
This was by far one of the most difficult books I have ever read emotionally. If you don’t know who Chanel Miller is, she is the victim of Brock Turner, the rapist from Stanford University. She recently wrote a memoir about her experience as “Emily Doe” in the case and everything she had to go through physically and mentally surrounding the assault and trial. It was honestly heart-breaking to get through, and I had to put it down more than once to give myself a break. But getting through it was definitely worth it. The book comes around to being very inspiring in the end as Chanel finds a strong voice to speak out against Brock Turner and the culture of rape and victim blaming in the United States. I would highly recommend giving this book a read if you have the strength for it.
The Silver Wolf by Alice Borschardt
The Silver Wolf is one of those books that I will consistently go back to again and again to read, even 10 years later. I originally read this book way back in high school and have reread it at least eight or nine times since. My hard copy certainly shows the wear and tear of these multiple readings with the number of creases it has gained in its spine over the years. I think it’s the story and characters that really keep me coming back, with the strong historical fantasy element tying everything together.
The story revolves around Regeane who is brought to the once-great, but now crumbling city of Rome by her Uncle and cousin after her mother’s death as her Uncle searches for ways to make his fortune. Seeing Regeane as his only way to make it big, he sets up an arranged marriage for her to a Saxon lord who is guarding an important mountain pass essential to the rising King Charlemagne. But Regeane holds a secret which can get her burned as a witch in the eyes of the Romans: she can change into a large silver wolf by the light of the moon and see the ghosts of those who have died.
The story is full of dark fantasy, trips to the underwolf, shapeshifting, political intrigue, and a quest for freedom from the shackles of a male-dominated society, with just enough romance to give you that much needed warm and fuzzy ending. I honestly think it’s one of the best historical fantasies I’ve read, but I definitely don’t think it’s for everyone. For one thing, there are a lot of instances of violence against women, insinuations of rape, violent murders (some of them involving disabled people), and a near burning at the stake. But I think the story fairly paints these events as unforgivable, disgusting, and clearly vilifies them, instead building the protagonists as understanding, compassionate, and stalwart people just trying to live their life in a city gone to ruins. So if none of those things turn you off, I’d suggest checking this book out.
Toil and Trouble by Augusten Burroughs
Toil and Trouble is a recent find of mine, something I haven’t quite gotten all the way through, but I think I’ve gotten far enough to tell that whether or not I like it and can recommend it. And so I will! If you don’t know who Augusten Burroughs is, you’ve probably heard of some of his earlier works like Running with Scissors, one of his many memoirs turned movies. Through all of his memoirs he details different facts and facets of his life, from his childhood to coming out as gay to dealing with a mother with mental illness. In this one, he details his experiences with the occult and magick, detailing how he inherited the ability to see and change the future from his family.
Now, I would consider myself a Pagan and would even call myself Wiccan at times. I spent years researching mythology, religion, and paganism through my teens and into adulthood, ran my own interfaith/pagan group in college, and even tried to start a college Pagan Pride Day on my campus. I had read a few of Burroughs other memoirs and so was really eager to see where this one went. At first I was a little unsure about how much was embellished versus the straight truth, but I have seen and heard some weird things from other Pagans in the past so I wasn’t going to judge too harshly. All in all I think it’s an interesting look into something not talked about much, especially for those already into religion and the occult.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The new Animal Crossing game may not even be out yet for another month, but I’m already hip deep in the hype and the memes. I’m super excited to visit the Nintendo booth at PAX this year and get to play a demo. I have been really entertained by all the DOOM/Animal Crossing crossover memes popping up all over Twitter and Reddit. All in all, my body is ready for this game. I know that sounds fairly extreme, but I’m a fairly one-genre gamer, sticking to the RPG, simulation games like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon for my gaming entertainment, so there are fewer games out there for me to get excited over. Also it’s been way too long since a good Animal Crossing game has come out and from what I saw in the Nintendo Direct is accurate, I know I’m going to lose myself in this game. So I apologize in advance now for getting drawn away from blogging next month because of this game.
Rune Factory 4 Special
Rune Factory is one of my all time favorite series of games. As someone who loves simulation, RPG games, Rune Factory combines just enough of the elements of Harvest Moon with just enough action and dungeon crawling to give me a really well-rounded experience that I get sucked into every time. If you don’t already know, Rune Factory is made by the original creator of Harvest Moon who broke off from the team to start his own game creations, namely Story of Seasons and Rune Factory, each borrowing borrowing from the Harvest Moon genre to craft a really original game in its own right.
Well Rune Factory 4 Special just came out last week for the Switch and has pretty much been my life ever since. It’s remastered port of the old Rune Factory 4 game to the Switch, with improved graphics and additional content. Even though it’s pretty much the same game I’ve already played, I really can’t get enough. With this and Animal Crossing, I’m hoping I can stave off my farming game cravings until Rune Factory 5 comes out in the distant future.
I found this Youtube series randomly when it popped up on my suggested videos, and just wound up binging a whole bunch of episodes. It’s pretty interesting. Basically, Wired calls in experts in certain fields to critique clips from films and TV shows that display something from their profession. They’ve called in doctors and registered nurses to critique medical show scenes, CIA experts to critique spy movie scenes, and astronauts to examine space clips. I love seeing all the ways the shows and films got things right and wrong and how they would actually happen in real life. There are a ton of episodes on Youtube right now and I would highly suggest checking them out. By far my favorites are when they bring in the dialect and accent expert to talk about movie accents. It’s super interesting.
This is a channel I’ve been following for a while. My fiance is huge into cooking and experimenting with food, and he’s the one that got me into it in the end. His channel is all about recreating the food that you see in TV and Movies, even if they wind up being terrible ideas. And then he’ll take those ideas and improve upon them to see if he can make something better or at least passably edible. He also has a series where he goes over basics of cooking and how to make simple dishes for those who want to learn how to cook better. I really enjoy his videos and find his style really witty and funny. Each one is really entertaining to watch and I highly encourage checking him out if you’re into food. I think he did a few anime recipes as well at some point too.
The Tip Off
I’m always finding myself drawn more and more into podcasts lately. I’m trying to find a lot more that deal with true stories and storytelling and wound up stumbling upon this one. The Tip Off is a podcast that interviews investigative reporters on how they came to get their stories, the crazy things that happened to them along the way, and everything in between. It’s pretty interesting to see some of the dangerous situations that these reporters went through to get their stories, something that really isn’t talked about all that much. I don’t have much experience with journalism or the news side of the writing industry, so all these stories were new and exciting to me. It’s always interesting to get some new stories and perspectives on something I have no experience with. If you’re interested in journalism, I highly suggest checking this podcast out.
Rough Translation is another storytelling podcast I stumbled on when I ran out of things to listen to while stuck at work. This particular one takes a topic very often discussed in the US or the Western world and takes a look at how it is discussed or viewed in other parts of the globe in a comparative investigation. One of the episodes I just listened to was about addiction treatment and how people in the US deal with relapses and treatment like AA versus some Asian countries like Indonesia where one is expected to hide their problems. There was also a really interesting one on race and being Black in French culture versus American culture that really caught my attention. I think if you’re interested in other cultures, political and social issues, or just stories in general you’ll like this podcast.
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