Songs for snakes and lions

Lately I’m interested in fandom music mixes, like this Gryffindor/Slytherin one I found on Friday.

I was looking at the ebook of prompts, and today’s is “What role does music play in your life?”

Short answer: a pretty important one. I have a lot of music on my computers; I have writing playlists, playlists for the gods, playlists for holidays, playlists for sleeping, playlists for cleaning, playlists for sex….

I love music. And when I find a new song I like, I listen to it on repeat for hours, sometimes days, so it becomes a part of me.

Lately, I’ve been interested in fandom mixes — collections of songs put together to fandom themes, like mixes for the houses of Hogwarts, or mixes for your one true pairing.

On Friday I saw this Gryffindor/Slytherin music mix. (Only slightly Drarry.) I’m a Slytherin engaged to a Gryffindor — I had to check it out.

The mix is perfectly put together for its theme; each song conveys the tension and attraction between Gryffindor and Slytherin. I like most of the songs, but my favourite so far is Afraid by The Neighbourhood. I’ve listened to it several times since Friday. I won’t be surprised if I break 100 plays sometime this week.

I don’t own it yet; when I have some extra cash I’ll probably buy it (and the other songs from the mix) from iTunes. I’ve been listening to it on Youtube.

When you get a chance, check out the music mix. It’s pretty awesome.

The same user has also put together a Slytherin mix, a Ravenclaw mix, a Hufflepuff mix, and a Gryffindor mix. I haven’t listened to any of them yet; I’m still absorbing the Slyth/Gryff one. There is another Slytherin mix, however, that I listened to a long time ago and really liked — it’s here, if you’re interested, and that user has also put together mixes for the rest of the houses.

Bellica news and where I am

I’m currently working on the ebook layout for Bellica. It’s a big book, so it’s a big job. When it’s done and uploaded, I will be linking to it here.

I have also decided to publish Bellica through CreateSpace, so that it’s more accessible to more people. Unfortunately I think I cannot lower the price from 27.99, as it’s still a large book and I make considerably less money when Amazon sells it than when I do it myself. However, publishing it through CreateSpace means fans all over the world can get a paperback copy as well as an ebook, so there will be more choice for all.

Currently I am traveling in the States — I am going to Orlando for some Spanish classes and to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. So excited for that last bit, you have no idea.  I’m going to try and blog about it next week, but if I don’t I’ll see you on the 16th.

Friday Five

English: Hogwarts Castle in the Wizarding Worl...
THIS IS HOGWARTS. I WILL BE THERE.

Five random things I need to mention:

  1. Bellica‘s distribution is going to be wider than I thought. Not only am I doing a Kindle ebook for 9.99, but I am also going to be using CreateSpace to make a paperback to sell on Amazon. More news on that as it develops.
  2. I am traveling this week to Orlando so I can learn Spanish in four days (true!). I will also be going to the Wizarding World. I’m so excited about this I could pee.
  3. I will have my computer while traveling but I’m not sure how much internet time I’ll have, so I may not post three times this week. I will post when I get back, however. With pictures of the Wizarding World.
  4. School has started and is already eating my brain. I am taking two directed studies on top of my two regular classes, and this may not seem like a full load but trust me IT IS.
  5. I lied. There were only four.

Friday Five: Five Banned (or challenged!) Books, in no particular order

Banned Books #4
Image by ellen.w via Flickr

I am only listing books I have actually read in this list. For a bigger list of banned or challenged books, I recommend checking out the ALA’s website. It’s probably impossible to get a comprehensive list, but they do a good job nonetheless.

  1. 1984, by George Orwell. A novel about a dystopian future, so naturally I love it. I read this when I was 15 — by choice, because I wanted to read it. The counselor at Band Camp thought that was really effed up. Not her choice of words, but I’m able to read between the lines. She said “Please tell me you’re reading that because you’re required to read it for school.” I said, “No, I’m reading it because I want to.” She shook her head and made a comment about how messed up that was.
    Because 15 is too young to read about dystopian futures. Obviously.
    Anyway. I digress.
  2. The Golden Compass, by Phillip Pullman. The entire His Dark Materials trilogy has been challenged, actually, but I’ve only read 2/3 of it. Have yet to pick up the final book. It’s a dark book, definitely. Not as light as the movie makes you think it is. However, it gives you hope: the main character is a young girl who survives some really harsh stuff, against all odds, and continues on with courage.
    I read this around the time it came out in the States.
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. What can I say? I have a thing for dystopian futures (probably because I’m pretty convinced we’re headed for one). I read this one when I was 16 or 17, at Fat Camp. (I went to a lot of camps.) I remembered thinking I wouldn’t mind being engineered from conception to be perfect. Many parts of it I found absolutely hilarious, and some parts I found pretty creepy. It’s a good read. I suggest it.
    (Coincidentally, my purchase of this book also coincides with the first incidence of a boy flirting with me. Ever. I was terrified and didn’t know what to do, so I made my purchase quickly and fled the Waldenbooks and the cute boy behind the counter.)
    Also, it’s strangely appropriate to be reading a novel of a dystopian future at a camp where they don’t let you handle your own money and your packages from home are checked for food.
  4. Harry Potter (series), by JK Rowling. Yeah, that was obvious.
  5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. Don’t watch the film. Read the book. The adaptation to cinema is really bad.

Also, here is a list of 5 banned books turned film, complete with trailers for said films. (I have yet to see The Handmaid’s Tale, which is the only one of those books I’ve read, but I do want to.)

So I guess that makes it Friday Ten? Whatever. Happy reading! See you tomorrow for SFFSat, and Monday for another random rant.

 

30 in 30: Day 29 (in which I talk about Harry Potter some more, but don’t worry I SWEAR it’s the LAST time…for NOW.)

Teenage Severus Snape (Alec Hopkins) in Harry ...
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Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)

I realise I’ve been talking a lot about Harry Potter in the past few weeks, but you’ll have to bear with me as I do so again with this particular topic. Warning, thar be spoilers ahead. (Major fucking spoilers for the last book/movie, so if you haven’t read or seen it by now DO NOT READ THIS POST.)

The Harry Potter series is full of character deaths. Perhaps not so many as other fantasy series, but a fair whack. They’re all written well enough to bring at least a tear to the reader’s eye — who didn’t choke a bit at Cedric Diggory’s death (especially in the film, with Amos screaming in anguish “That’s my boy!”), or sob like crazy when Sirius went beyond the veil in the Department of Mysteries? These characters were unequivocally seen as good guys, so their deaths hurt.

Not as much, however, as Snape’s death in the final book.

Many of you didn’t trust Snape after the ending of Half-Blood Prince, which I suppose is understandable — myself, I always trusted him, and knew the reasons behind his actions would be revealed and he would be good at heart. I was pleased to see myself vindicated, even as I cried out every drop of moisture my body possessed.

In Snape’s final moments, he gives Harry all his memories, and in a single chapter JK Rowling tells a devastating love story: that of Snape’s hopeless passion for Lily, how every action on his part was to protect her only child. She shows Snape’s pain in following Dumbledore’s orders to the very last — to have to kill the only man who had granted him his trust, his only real friend. And his refusal to accept that Harry Potter’s fate is to die — that they’ve been raising the child like a pig for slaughter, that soon all that remains of Lily in the world will be snuffed out, extinguished like a candle not allowed to burn out its full life.

Had Snape not been bitten by Nagini, had he not died giving Harry his memories, we never would have known all this. He never would have been vindicated. Harry would never know the truth — that Snape had grown fond of him, had grown to view him like the son he never had.

And so it is that Snape’s death is not only the saddest I can think of, but also the most satisfying — it’s only in death that he is redeemed, only in death do we see the true Severus.

And only in death do we get that ridiculous fucking name for Harry’s kid.

This is what makes Severus’ death so truly poignant and heartbreaking. It is not until all sides of the story are known that we can see true goodness, brought about by nearly impossible choices.

30 in 30: Day 28 (hate mail in 3, 2, 1…)

Great Western Railway Hall Class, no. 5972 &qu...
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First favorite book or series obsession

This one is easy. When I was young, perhaps just before my first year of high school, my mom flung a book at my head and I started to read. As I’ve written about here before, that book and its sequels changed my life.

Harry Potter was my first series obsession. Which, I mean, is weird, because usually I’m pretty damn scary when I obsess over things, but I was less so with Harry Potter. Perhaps I just didn’t feel the need to go all bugfuck nuts in my expression of joy with each new page, or perhaps this was an obsession where I could actually see the flaws of my object of affection. Whatever the reason, my obsession with Harry Potter was mild by my standards.

This does not make it any less an obsession, for Harry Potter is and continues to be a central key to how I interact with the world, how I see things, and how I grow. Dumbledore’s words of wisdom reached more ears than just Harry’s, I can tell you that.

In fact, you could say my obsession got bigger as time went on — the more adult I became, the more engrossed in the world of Hogwarts I became, clinging to a world I didn’t want to graduate.

Well, graduation’s over, and I’m ready to face the world head-on. I should hope so, for I’m 25 now and if I’m not ready at this age, I never will be. The lessons I learned at Hogwarts will help me with that — I have an arsenal of spells at my disposal, courage and luck guiding my hand, and friendship to keep me strong.

And eternal fucking gratitude that it was not a bugfuck obsession with Twilight that shaped my adolescence, because otherwise I’d be wailing about how I need a boyfriend to continue to live (I can tell you that if I were a twihard, my boyfriend would not be with me — thank the gods for that; it shows he has strength of character) and probably still living in my mother’s house, provided she hadn’t killed and eaten her own young by this point.

30 in 30: Day 26 (please don’t do this, future authors)

I Have Stuck With Harry Until the Very End
Image by Thalita Carvalho ϟ via Flickr

OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending

The Epilogue, Harry Potter.

JK Rowling said (somewhere; I don’t have a quote) she wrote the epilogue before she wrote the rest of the series.

It shows.

The ending of the book was really satisfying. And then you read “Nineteen years later…” and your entire evening is ruined. It’s so trite, so contrived, so fanfic-ish — wait, that’s unfair to fanfic writers, because I’m pretty sure most of them could have written a much better epilogue.

Where was the rebuilding of the Wizard World after the fall of Voldemort? Where was the extreme PTSD the Golden Trio must be suffering? Where was the real, gritty storyline?

Instead we get ALBUS SEVERUS ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME.

It was such a disservice to the characters, to just make everything happily ever after and so normal. After an adolescence like that, Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s lives would never be any sort of normal again.

Give me an epilogue where Harry has a drinking problem and Hermione doesn’t read anymore, where Ron is suddenly responsible because his wife has gone off the deep end and someone has got to keep things together. Neville is a chronic pot smoker because herbology has to come in handy in some way, Ginny has said “fuck you” to Harry’s bullshit but we all know she flies Quidditch that hard so she can forget everything, being dangerous on the field because it’s much better than trying to take care of herself — how can she, when her family members and friends are dead?

That’s much more believable.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love the series and it means a lot to me. But I wouldn’t be a real fan if I couldn’t look at its flaws and talk about them without evasion.)

30 in 30: Day 24 (A quote? how the hells am I supposed to choose just ONE?)

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...
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Best quote from a novel

Oh my goddess, we have so many contenders for this post. I simply can’t list just one, unless I wanted to be funny. Contrary to my usual nature, I wish to share quotes that actually mean something to me.

So, from the very talented Jacqueline Carey and her quite astounding literary masterpiece, Kushiel‘s Legacy, my favourite quotes from the Phedre Trilogy.

We are all of these things […]. Pride, desire, compassion, cleverness, belligerence, fruitfulness, loyalty…and guilt. But above it all stands love. And if we desire to be more than human, that is the star by which we must set our sights.

Kushiel’s Avatar

We pay for sins we do not remember, and seek to do a will we can scarce fathom. That is what it is, to be a god’s chosen.

Kushiel’s Avatar

It’s the same questions we ask of our existence, and the answer is always the same. The mystery lies not in the question nor the answer, but in the asking and answering themselves, over and over again, and the end is engendered in the beginning.

Kushiel’s Avatar

All knowledge is worth having.

Kushiel’s Dart

That which yields is not always weak.

Kushiel’s Dart

See what I mean when I say I can’t just choose one?

And I’m not even finished!

Continue reading “30 in 30: Day 24 (A quote? how the hells am I supposed to choose just ONE?)”

30 in 30: Day 23 (walruses are dicks, man)

From left to right: Fiona Shaw as Aunt Petunia...
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Most annoying character ever

Not so much annoying as frustrating — Vernon Dursley, Harry Potter’s uncle. Every book he’s coming up with new and exciting ways to torture Harry, and he stokes the ire of every kid who’s ever been brushed aside so casually by an adult. (So, every kid, pretty much.)

He was meant to embody that character we all know and love so well — the one who disregards everything you say simply because you’re too young/old/inexperienced/too experienced, have black/red/blonde/green/purple hair, are a certain person’s offspring/not a certain person’s offspring, have special abilities that provoke jealousy and, possibly, fear/don’t have any special abilities at all. This person might go farther than mere disregard and punish you for being, well, you.

I’m not sure if I’d necessarily call that annoying. It gets to a point where you don’t allow yourself to feel anything more than annoyance, because there’s no point. But at the beginning, the feelings this treatment arouses are definitely more akin to rage.

However, I can’t think of an actual annoying character, so this is what I’m writing about.

Graduation from Hogwarts: the end of Harry Potter and my adolescence

Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware that the final Harry Potter film was recently released. If you know any fans of the series (statistically speaking, you probably do), you have somewhat of an inkling just how big a fucking deal this is.

For me, Harry Potter ending represents the ending of my childhood. Sure, I didn’t like the movies when they first came out (for many reasons that deserve their own blog post, really), but after the books ended the movies became the last thing to look forward to. Now, the final film has released, and its leaving theatres at the end of summer signals the imminent end to my adolescence.

Ok, ok, I’m almost 25 and so technically my adolescence ended about 6 years ago. Biologically, at least. Socially and mentally, I’m still a teenager. (Socially because no one really treats you like an adult until after the magical age of 25, and mentally because a) when one is treated like a teenager one tends to remain in that mindset and b) I don’t really want to grow up.) When I started reading Harry Potter, I was a really fucked up teenager. I was floundering, lost in depression and bad choices. One morning Mom woke me up by flinging a book at my head; I opened it up and started reading, and from that moment on my life began to change.

Continue reading “Graduation from Hogwarts: the end of Harry Potter and my adolescence”