Category Archives: books

Harry Potter or How I Should Have Kept my Rose-Tinted Glasses on

Today is a very special day for the Harry Potter fandom. Today Harry’s son Scorpius is sent off to Hogwarts for his first year! Like most people my age, I love this series. This series was a huge part of my childhood; dressing up and going to the book releases, seeing the movies with friends, and talking about theories. It got me back into reading and sparked my creativity. It also helped me through some difficult times and gave me lots of good memories. With the release of the new movie, screenplay, and Pottermore website part of me wishes I could send a warning to 10 year old me and tell her she doesn’t want these.

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Obligatory NY post

The last time I updated was in August? Yikes! :O My New Year’s resolution is to post no less than once a month. I have some ideas on posts about representation, but I’m lacking materials to review. Every year I set a goal to read a certain amount of books by the end of each year. I am displeased to say that I was unable to meet this goal for this year. Mainly, the books I were finding were not doing the job.

Kingdom of Little Wounds: Set in 1500’s Scandinavia, it is about a royal seamstress and a maid as they try to figure out the disease that is killing everyone. According to the author, it’s a fairy tale about syphilis. This is a YA novel, mind you. The book is not sanitized and goes into the sometimes graphic depictions of daily life, including disease and sexual assault. No lush banquets or flowing gowns or star-crossed romance here.

It was an ok (and somewhat unsettling) read until I got to the introduction of an African maid named Midi Norte. For some inexplicable reason, despite everyone around her speaking normally she sounded like a mammy stereotype.  Compared to The Miniaturist, which is set in the same region in the same period and also features an African servant, this book feels like it did not even bother trying. While Midi sounds like a character from a minstrel show (a 19th century invention) the servant in the Miniaturist is every bit as eloquent and well spoken as everyone else. After reading her intro chapter I returned the book. After reading reviews which talk about the graphic and unsettling scenes (including our two teen main characters getting sexually assaulted by adults) (repeatedly) I feel like I dodged a bullet.

Captive Prince #2: I know, I know, you’re probably wondering why I bothered in the first place when I gave the first book a lukewarm review. The first book was a quick read and I figured this would be the same. I only got halfway through before I stopped. The whole nature surrounding same sex couplings reeked of being juvenile. Maybe the whole taboo nature and crass language regarding sex appeals to some but it was groan-worthy at best. What is suppose to be titillating only left a bad taste in my mouth.

Daughter of the Blood: I was excited to read this, seeing many prominent novelists sing its praises. After one chapter I had to stop. Adulterous women, lecherous men assaulting servants, the “chosen one” being a pale blonde blue-eyed girl, they even named one of the few dark skinned characters “Saten de Diablo”. Really?? This book might have been groundbreaking in the late 90’s but nowadays it comes off as stale and terribly cliched.

Needless to say it’s easy to see where I lost motivation to find new books to read. It’s a new year and I’ve started myself off with Dorian Grey. I’m optimistic that I’ll find books that aren’t quite aggravating. My only requirement at this point is that if there are any poc that they’re not walking stereotypes or villains/barbaric/etc.

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FAE Magazine and the Disapearing POC Fairies: A Mystery

The Renaissance Faire was this weekend and I forgot about it so I was unable to attend. 😦 In lieu of that, a personal antidote: Earlier in the year I went through my collection of FAE Magazines for some fairy inspiration. It’s a British faerie lifestyle magazine with news, photo shoots, articles, astrology, all that fun stuff. I was disappointed that in the 6 issues I had there was only two brown faces, one in a screenshot from Game of Thrones and another in a promotional image from a Tinkerbell movie. I was baffled that a magazine from a country as diverse as England had no poc anywhere in their magazine.

After my “discovery” I politely asked them if they had any plans to include non-white models. In essence, they responded that they rely on submissions and don’t plan what skin tones the models have. In other words, they don’t go out their way to be inclusive or seek this material out. If you couldn’t guess it, I was underwhelmed and miffed by this response. I skipped buying that quarter’s issue.

Fast forward to present day, I stumbled upon the FAE Magazine published after I sent my question. Hoping they took what I said into consideration I scan the magazine. In the entire 50+ page magazine, I saw only one black woman with bonus plus-size model (another unrepresented group in the magazine), with three other thin white women. In a standard bikini photoshoot on a beach that wasn’t even fantasy themed. This is unacceptable and felt less than half-assed. Representation isn’t doing the bare minimum, checking it off like something on a to-do list, then moving on, which this felt like.

If women in generic corsets, Hot Topic tutus, and funky dreadfalls can make the cut, they most certainly can feature someone who’s skin is darker than “peach”. If they’re not receiving any poc submissions then they need to ask themselves why a magazine with worldwide circulation can only pull in lily white people, and realize the problem might be with them rather than their audience.

If in 2015 there can be black ballerinas on the cover of dance magazines and poc leads in fantasy media (Galavant, etc), then there most certainly can be a non-white fairy, even one with brown skin. Needless to say, they are no longer getting my $9.99 plus tax until I see some non-white models. If that bikini photoshoot is the best they can do, I’m not going to bother holding my breath.

EDIT: I went through the photos on their facebook account and in all their images I counted less than 10 non-white faces, including crowd scenes. Combined with the fact that Cornwall (the city this magazine is base in) sees tourists from around the world and even has a small poc population, this is disappointing. 10 non-white faces over the course of five years is unimpressive. There have been more posts with poc in the past few months, which is a start.

**Please note, I’m not ragging on the people who submit this type of content or are featured, but rather the magazine staff themselves since they’re the ones who sort through the submissions and approve what gets published.

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Review: Captive Prince

Finals are finally over and I am free for the summer. I didn’t have time to read for pleasure this past quarter due to my Gothic Lit class. It was a very fun and enjoyable class but there wasn’t much room for pleasure reading between analyzing themes and gothic vs sentimental works.

The instant I turned in my final exam I got started on Captive Prince by C. S Pacat. I’ve heard a lot of praise for it and was eager to see what it was about. The basic premise is Damen, a warrior prince, is captured by his half-brother and sent off to be the slave to the prince of an enemy country. While here he plots his escape while navigating treacherous court life and the sadistic prince while keeping his true identity a secret. It sounds a little generic but there is plenty of political intrigue and a little romance.

I wanted to enjoy it since everyone raved about it but I had difficulties getting into it. My main issue was the portrayal of race. Specifically, the darker-skinned protagonist lusting after pale blonde people. Then there is the fact that he becomes the personal slave to the palest, blondest person in the book. If you didn’t guess by now this did not sit well with me. It didn’t help that his preference was brought up constantly. I read fantasy to see what could be, not for existing harmful values and ideologies to be impressed upon a place that would, theoretically, not have a concept about it. This book reminded me about all the issues I have with the fantasy genre. There also needs to be less “darker-skinned nation viewed as barbaric or backwards by paler nations” but that’s for another time.

Despite that the book was entertaining and a quick read. The plot was sound, characters varied. The world building was adequate enough, although the lack of explicit detail on things like clothing made it harder to imagine what the author had in mind. Calling an outfit simply “silks” doesn’t tell me much about an outfit other than the material its made of. In all, an okay read. 3/5

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Vancouver trip

Time to kick this blog off with a post about my trip! Over the weekend I went on a short trip to Vancouver and had a lovely time. I visited Granville Market, walked along the beach, ate wonderful food, and even got to watch TV5. I also bought lots of lovely things, one being a beautiful booked titled Goth Girl by Chris Riddell.

The book caught my eye with its black cover, purple edged pages, and stunning cover illustration. The summary looked average but what caught my eye were the illustrations. The illustrations inside the book are beautiful and intricate, with most of the characters in regency clothing. The summary on the back didn’t have any clues as to when the book takes place, so this was a pleasant surprise. I can’t wait to start this book and write a proper review. After I get through the pile of books I already have, that is.

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