book, movie, and fic reviews (10.11.18)

As promised, this post is dedicated to books, movies, and fanfiction I’ve consumed recently (and not so recently). I’ve got 23 books, 16 movies, and 6 fics in this post, so I’ve put most of it under a cut. Let’s get started.

BOOKS I READ

chaotic good - whitney gardner - princess academy - shannon hale - daughters of the dragon - william andrews - anothertoast book reviews

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner (Amazon | Goodreads) –  I was kind of disappointed the main character turned out to be cis and straight considering how important crossdressing is to the plot, but this book does a good job of exploring sexism and gatekeeping in fandom and geek culture, cyberbullying, costume design and construction, and the magic of Dungeons & Dragons. Also the illustrations are used really well.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale (Amazon | Goodreads) – This is a middle grade book that’s cute, fun, low-key feminist, and a little bit magical.

Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews (Amazon | Goodreads) – This is a good book that was really hard to read and which I never want to read again. It’s about the Korean “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery and repeatedly raped by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII. The Japanese government refused to acknowledge it happened at all until 1993 and continues to downplay this horrific part of Japan’s history.

beauty queens - libba bray - the secret history - donna tartt - rich people problems - kevin kwan - anothertoast book reviews

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Amazon | Goodreads) – A bit heavy-handed and clumsily written, but the premise is so damn good: Lord of the Flies but the plane that crashes is carrying beauty pageant contestants.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Amazon | Goodreads) – This was my first Donna Tartt book and my GOD it did not disappoint. I loved the prose, especially the physical descriptions of people and the environment. Francis “Asparagus is in season” Abernathy is a precious gemstone, and I was so into this book that I read it between sets while crushed in the pit at a Dua Lipa concert.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan (Amazon | Goodreads) The 3rd and final installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Trashy, entertaining fun.

room - emma donoghue - ship it - britta lundin - the raven king - maggie stiefvater - anothertoast book reviews

Room by Emma Donoghue (Amazon | Goodreads) – Honestly this was kind of excruciating to read because it’s written from a 5-year-old’s point of view, but once you get used to it, WHAT A STORY! It is about abduction and abuse but also hope and resilience and adaptability.

Ship It by Britta Lundin (Amazon | Goodreads) – I loved this book. I love that the main character is afraid of and confused by her own queerness, I love that she falls for someone who is so sure of her own queerness that she doesn’t leave room for those who are questioning, I love that there’s a bi character who’s not 100% sure about her sexuality despite being comfortable with herself, and I love that the main character gets called out for not caring about minority representation that doesn’t directly affect herself. A+

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Amazon | Goodreads) – I was loath to read this because I wanted The Raven Cycle series to go on forever, but I was in such a bad headspace re: work that I gave myself permission to escape to Cabeswater. It was super effective, and as soon as I finished reading, I immediately started looking for fic because I love all of my nightmare children so much!!!

the gentlemans guide to vice and virtue - mackenzi lee - sophia of silicon valley - anna yen - circe - madeline miller - anothertoast book reviews

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Amazon | Goodreads) – This book really needs a trigger warning for physical abuse and period racism, but if you love gay-ass Victorians, sass, and character development, you’ll have a good time with this one.

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen (Amazon | Goodreads) – Amusing, but disappointingly blasé about sexism and racism in the tech industry. This book was based off the author’s own work experiences in 1990s Silicon Valley, but I feel very strongly that if a book about the tech industry published in 2018 mentions sexist and racist behavior, it should also call it what it is: a systemic problem.

Circe by Madeline Miller (Amazon | Goodreads) – I decided to read this because I loved The Song of Achilles so fucking much, and it did not disappoint. Madeline Miller’s prose has this sort of timeless cadence that works particularly well in the context of Greek mythology, and it’s so beautiful it makes me want to both weep and swoon. This story is about Circe and WITCHCRAFT and POWERFUL WOMEN and (thirsty Spongebob voice) YOU. NEEEED IT!!!

Read more…

this is progress.

This post contains affiliate links, because I like money, but I s2g I wrote this post before adding the affiliate links and the monetization does not affect my opinions.

airplane safety placard infant water flotation device lifevest

a pictorial dumpling recipe

Henlo, friends.

I’m writing this post with my feet propped up on a chair at the dining room table while I wait for the Chinese herbal tea simmering in the kitchen to reach its full potency. My runny nose and I are working our way through a box of tissues, the cat is using the living room as her personal racetrack while she yells continuously (a Big Mood™), and my partner is perched on the Korean War-era military footlocker trunk we use as a coffee table, playing Grand Theft Auto V.

Last week I was in New York City for only the second time in my life, tagging along on my boyfriend’s business trip. It was equal parts enthralling and exhausting to wander around Manhattan by myself, and by the fourth day, I was completely wiped out, partially because I’d spent the entire day prior wandering the Met until my soul was replenished and my feet were blistered, but mostly because my partner was working normal business hours, and it was damn tiring to be out and about and always watching my own stuff, my own drinks, my own back, always aware of how much time was left until sunset when I should stop being visibly alone in public. I admire women who travel solo. I don’t know how they do it.

But even though I spent the latter half of the trip Netflix-and-despairing in our hotel room (mainlining Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and short circuiting over the steaming pile of shit that is Brett Kavanaugh), I loved NYC in a way I haven’t ever loved anywhere but San Francisco – in a way that made me feel like I’d enjoy living there.

anal street - canal street subway - new york city mta

(insert “nyc i’m in you” joke)

(wow that was an unintended triple(?) entendre)

Granted, I haven’t traveled all that much, so there are probably plenty of diverse cities with solid public transportation systems that I’d enjoy spending my prime childbearing years in. London seems promising, for one.

But I don’t think I’d ever actually go through with it, not for anything less than the death of the people I love most and a disgustingly lucrative job. I am far too comfortable and too content and too scared to leave San Francisco any time soon.

And beyond the thicket of fear that is the prospect of uprooting my life here, of moving far enough away from my mom and my family and friends that the number of times I can expect to see them before they or I die dwindles from the hundreds into the dozens, is the insidious thought that I wouldn’t be able to survive in New York City unless I were working a high-paying tech job.

Then again, I don’t think I can survive in San Francisco unless I’m working a high-paying tech job either.

It’s too black and white to be true, the idea that I have to either have a tech job or die. (After all, why not both?)

But it feels true. I know it’s just a story I tell myself out of habit, and I’m working on finding a new angle, but it’s like every time I try to look at it directly, it goes blurry around the edges and I can’t hold it in my mind.

Every few days (or hours), I regret quitting my six-figure tech job, but I’m trying to remind myself how unequivocally awful it was to work at my previous company. Reading the wall of one-star reviews (including my own) on their Glassdoor page helps. So does repeating the words of men I’ve worked with – words like “I’m sorry” and “As I’ve heard more of the stuff that you had to deal with, I’m more and more surprised you stayed as long as you did.”

I can’t yet see a way forward that doesn’t involve either forcing myself into another tech job, or dying. I’m trying to remind myself that my emotions make sense. That my response was a reasonable one, and that if I don’t or can’t work in tech again, I’ll still be okay, somehow. That it’s possible I’ll recover my original enthusiasm for web development, given enough time and room to breathe. And that until then, my most important task is trying to not feel guilty or useless or like a waste of space. Or a human leech. Or a liability.

I’m trying, and sometimes it doesn’t work particularly well. (Especially not lately. It feels immorally self-indulgent to be contemplating my career when this country is hurtling back into the 1800s and this planet is hurtling toward total catastrophe.)

So to help myself, here’s a partial list of things I’ve done over the past month-ish that have made me feel like a productive human:

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