Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne

When it comes to Dragon Age, Bioware’s fantasy RPG franchise, I’m a bit, well…obsessed. I’m late to the fandom, having only started playing the games about 8 months ago, but I have immersed myself in the world Bioware has created. Thedas is full of political intrigue, religious conflict, thrilling battles, and steamy romance. I’ve gone on to spend hundreds (I’m not even exaggerating) of hours playing the three Dragon Age games available. Thankfully the canon consists of more than simply the video games. The creators have published novels, comic books, and even some movies.

Today I want to look at the novels.  So far five have been published, three of which are written by David Gaider, one of the lead developers for the franchise. I’ve only finished the first two, The Stolen Throne and The Calling. These two books are the prequels to the first game, Dragon Age:Origins.  I got a little rambley, so we will just start with The Stolen Throne for today. Continue reading

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Review: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton PLUS My Own Political Ramblings

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A few weeks ago I finished Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new memoir, What Happened, detailing her perspective on how and why we ended up with Trump as president. Clinton dives into a variety of factors that impacted the election; including gender, race, partisanship, her platform choices, and, yes, her emails and the still-being-investigated Russian interference. In this work, she both takes responsibility for her mistakes and speaks candidly about the external factors that, despite her best effort, negatively impacted her candidacy. Even though I followed this race closely and was active in registering voters in my area, there was still a fair amount of new information that I gleaned from the book. Continue reading

Review: I Hate Everyone But You

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Youtube stars Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, known for their previous work with Buzzfeed and their channel Just Between Us, have taken their partnership into the world of YA lit. Their debut novel I Hate Everyone But You is a modern-day epistolary which was released September 5, 2017. In it, you read the texts and emails of two long-time best friends, Ava and Gen, who have gone to colleges on opposite sides of the country. They navigate the challenges of beginning their college careers alone, but still have a deal to email each other every day in order to stay fully caught up on the other’s news and maintain their relationship. Continue reading

Review: An Unnecessary Woman

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I picked up my most recent read at a semi-local independent bookstore. I know they say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but the cover and title are what drew me in. Feeling a little unnecessary myself lately, I just had to know what this book was about. To put it much too simply, An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine is a meditation on the love of language and literature as well as what it is like to live your life by continually bucking social norms, not as a political statement, but as simply a way to live life true to yourself.

An important element to this book is its setting: Beirut, Lebanon. The protagonist, Aaliya, is above all resilient. She has to be due to the unrest she has lived through. A basic knowledge of the historical events of the area is helpful when reading through this story, but I wouldn’t say it’s critical.

Now while the world is changing around her, Aaliya lives a simple life. Alone in her apartment, she translates a book into Arabic every year. Her life is solitary and she surrounds herself with literature. Throughout her meditations on her present day life, you go through many flashbacks of how she got to be so “unnecessary” as a divorcee living apart from her family.

While this book is an enjoyable read, I couldn’t make myself care much about the characters or the plot, which I think is showing though in my brief synopsis of it. The prose, however, is beautiful. Alameddine is a master at crafting sentences, weaving together allusions to other works with his own observations, and writing deeply about loneliness, aging, politics, etc. That’s what made the book for me.

I was never completely absorbed or felt as though I couldn’t wait to get back to it after setting it down, but I by no means regret reading it. My copy will probably make it’s way to a used bookstore eventually in order to make room for something else, but I’m glad I picked it up.

 

Race and Literature: A Few Recommendations

Race is a complicated issue in the United States. While we may not be in the era of Jim Crow laws or legalized segregation anymore, racism is unfortunately alive and well. Just this week five high school students in a small town not too far from my own wore white hoods and burned a cross while waving around a confederate flag. It’s despicable, but racism includes so much more than these larger events that can easily be pointed out.

Our nation, particularly the white majority, needs to educate itself on race issues. Even the most well-intended social justice interested person has to constantly fight the internalized racism that is entrenched in this nation’s culture. While I am by no means an expert on race, I have learned a lot over the past few years and have had to challenge my own assumptions time and time again. Sometimes it’s by noticing the reactions of my friends when I unintentionally say something I didn’t understand the repercussions of, sometimes it’s by listening to the stories of others and learning what they have to deal with on a daily basis, and sometimes it’s through reading. I took a few classes that focused on literature that challenged the narrative we are often fed about race in the United States. Here are a few recommendations to get you started: Continue reading

Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse: an Introduction

Before I actually dive into Leigh Bardugo two connected series, the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology; I just want to acknowledge that this post (and possible follow up posts on these works) is not going to be my typical book review. Originally I planned on doing separate reviews for each book, but I read the Grisha trilogy before I rebooted my blog so the books didn’t feel adequately fresh for regular reviews and then I got sick as I was reading Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, so those reviews were delayed. Okay, let’s quit procrastinating and dive into this AMAZING universe. Continue reading

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

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I’m a big fan of crime-based tv shows and podcasts, but for some reason I’ve never ventured into crime books. Deciding it was time to remedy this lapse in my reading practices, I picked up The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson at a used bookstore.  Continue reading