Become the Force: 9 Lessons on Living as a Master Jedi by Daniel M. Jones

Become the Force: 9 Lessons on Living as a Master Jedi

(Caidyn)

4/5

In college, I studied religions. And not just the typical religions, like Christianity or Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam. No, I also took a course that was focused on new religious movements. So, we talked about Scientology and Christian Science and Unitarianism. We also talked about Jim Jones and alien religions and paganism. I have experience that covers the more typical religions and the odder, perhaps more “out there” religions.

This was nothing new to me. It was basically what I learned about in school and what I grew up in, since I grew up nontraditionally with religions. It didn’t blow my mind, in other words. It didn’t broaden my horizon. However, I thought that it was interesting and fun to see the founder of Jediism talk about his religion and how he practices it and struggles to practice it.

I do think that Jones had a great purpose since people hear “Jediism” and immediately think that it’s a bunch of nerds trying to bring Star Wars to life. It’s mainly about taking concepts that have been defined in various ways in various religious traditions and explaining how they’re explained in Star Wars, along with how being a Jedi offers a complete moral pathway.

And that’s it. That’s the book. I think the only “problem” I had was that it was rather repetitive. Certain phrases were said in each and every chapter, but that’s a minor complaint. I liked how Jones succinctly explained the precepts of Jediism, explained how it works in his life, and also offers ways to incorporate Jediism into your life that (for me) sounded exactly like Buddhism.

First Lines Friday

HA. Caidyn gets to start it this week because he actually remembered and has had two cups of coffee. Hello everyone! I hope you guys had a great week. For those of you going back to school, slay. For those who have to work and didn’t get a real break, I’m sorry. Maybe this will perk you up. Who knows. But, to the formalities.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


Anthony Woodville, the Lord of Scales, is one of those who sustain the King of England’s cause against that contumacious rebel, York. It is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, and the dawn before battle.


I guess that wasn’t thrilling at all, was it? Sorry. But, the book is pretty interesting, even if the opening lines don’t exactly draw you in.

The book is:

Wonders Will Never Cease by Robert Irwin

Wonders Will Never Cease

I picked this book up because my mom recommended it to me based on my interest in this time in history. It picks up in the middle of the Wars of the Roses, before Edward IV actually got the throne from Henry VI. It’s told from the perspective of Anthony Woodville, who is brother to the future wife of Edward IV. In battle, he dies… yet he comes back after seeing a vision.

This book is basically being talked about as the original Game of Thrones. Which is a no shit moment to me since that book is based on the Wars of the Roses. This book also got a good review from Neil Gaiman, a personal fave of mine, so it’s definitely sold me on it. An alternate version of history, in a sense.

The only thing that worries me, after reading the first few lines of the book, it reminds me too much of The Buried Giant, which was magical realism and very symbolic but told in a mind-numbingly boring fashion.


The house on the cliff looks like a ship disappearing into fog. The spire a mast, the trees whipping against its base, the waves of a ravening sea. 

Or maybe Jane just has ships on the brain, seeing as she’s inside one that’s doing all it can to consume her attention. A wave rolls the yacht, catches her off balance, and she sits down, triumphantly landing in the general vicinity of where she aimed. Another wave propels her, in slow motion, against the yacht’s lounge window.


I can’t say I was completely enthralled by these first lines, which is disappointing because I’ve wanted to read this book from the moment I heard about it. I even bought it because I was confident it would be good. I do hope I didn’t let my excitement get ahead of me in that case. 

I chose: 

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

9780803741492_JaneUnlimited_BOM.indd

I have not read the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore yet. Graceling is on my top ten to read this year, so I’ll get to it. However, I was immediately fascinated by the plot of this book. Jane, the main character goes to this house after her aunt passes away and there are different possibilities that happen, different genres that occur. These are all things I’ve heard and am completely intrigued by because it sounds so original to me.

I’ve also heard there is a romance between Jane and another girl in this book and I’m all for that. An interesting plot and an f/f romance, yes, please. Again, I just hope it’s everything I want it to be. 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay cover

(Chantel)

5/5 – Reading is a deeply personal activity. It’s an author making a connection with the reader, or at least attempting to. As a result, books can be deeply personal to each reader. A book that someone adored can be a book someone hated. We all come to a story with our own individual stories. Sometimes they click and sometimes they don’t. The Book Thief, The Song of Achilles, A Monster Calls, these are all books that brought out a physical and emotional reaction in me. That in itself is rare for me. However, I didn’t click with those books like I did with We Are Okay and Marin, the main character. This book made me cry, this book made my body ache, but I saw myself in Marin’s thoughts, in her feelings, in her doubts, in her hesitations.

In On Writing, Stephen King is talking about writing whatever you want. You can write whatever you want, the possibilities are endless, as long as you get to the truth of what you are writing about. Nina LaCour got to the truth of what she was writing which was grief, loneliness, self-doubt, and betrayal. In the acknowledgments at the end of the book, she talks about the aftermath of her grandfather’s death and how it devastated her. Then her wife suggested she write about it and it turned into We Are Okay. Her pain is conveyed through Marin. 

This is a book about relationships. Marin’s relationship with her grandfather is distant but she fails to see that. Marin’s relationship with Mabel who is not only her best friend but the first girl she fell in love with. Marin’s relationship with herself and how she keeps everything to herself because she’s afraid of the thoughts that will rush out if she tells the truth. She runs away from anyone who has ever loved her. It’s so much easier to block out the world than to let people in. Being alone is easy. Then there is the idea of family. Even though she doesn’t have any more family, she refuses to accept offers of familial connection. Sometimes those people are more family than your real family, but she doesn’t realize it until they are there for her when she needs it.

The writing in this book is stunning. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write such beautiful lines or connect a character’s story to a work of literature or a painting. Everything means something in We Are Okay. Every choice Nina LaCour makes is intentional. I think this book is strengthened by the fact that it’s told in the first person.

First person perspective doesn’t always work. It can leave a bad taste in my mouth with all of the shitty dystopian YA that used it constantly. But when it’s done well, it allows you to lose yourself in the character’s mind. In my opinion, this book wouldn’t have been as strong in the third person.

The book goes back and forth between the months leading up to Marin’s grandfather’s death and her subsequently running to New York where she is to start college. In the present day, her best friend Mabel is coming to visit. She longs to see her friend again and is anticipating the moment she leaves because then she will be alone again. As the story moves forward, we are getting closer and closer to the reason Marin ran away from California until it’s finally revealed late in the book. My attention was glued to the book because I wanted to know what went wrong in order to have Marin shut out her best friend.

I know that people aren’t going to feel as connected to this book as I did, so take my review with a grain of salt. I do think objectively, it’s a great book. It has a good rating. For me, it was something more than just a great book. It was a perfect book. I don’t know if another book will make me feel this way again anytime soon. It clicked perfectly with my personal story.

I Love Hannibal and why you should too

(Caidyn)

Developed by Bryan Fuller

For reference, I’m talking about Hannibal the TV show, not the books. The books are good but not great.

I love this show. Chantel knows it. Most people know it who have talked to me in depth. It was canceled in 2016 after, somehow, lasting for three seasons. It’s gory. It’s gay. It’s graphic. It is not for the faint of heart. It’s a smart show that you have to pay attention to so you can understand it.

And it’s fantastic.

If someone asks for a show recommendation, I always give this show. It’s three seasons long, 13 episodes per season, and (for the moment) complete. There are discussions about doing a fourth season.

Obviously, based on the title, it involves Hannibal Lecter. The three seasons weave together Red Dragon, Hannibal (the book), and Hannibal Rising. The characters from the show are pulled from those three books, but mainly Red Dragon. Yet it’s not until the final few episodes of the third season where they actually deal with the plot from Red Dragon.

The show focuses on how Hannibal was caught, yet it even takes the heart of the story and blows it up to something new. Like, I can’t even describe it. The first season sets the story up. The second is about trying to nab Hannibal. The third season deals with that and the plot from Red Dragon.

What is at the heart of the story are two men, Hannibal and Will Graham. How they are separate people who, somehow, weave into one. I remember telling Chantel that the story that matters is Will Graham’s character arc. When we watched the final episode together, she understood it.

So, why do I love it?

First reason: Female rep

The books are very male. The only female characters in the whole book series were Clarice Starling, Margot Verger, and Beverly Katz. Yet, this series doesn’t have Clarice Starling. So, what did they do? They made traditionally male characters women, played up the role of the one female character they kept, and added new characters.

Dr. Alan Bloom becomes Dr. Alana Bloom.

Image result for alana bloom gif

Alana is just a fantastic character. She’s strong and emotional and loving and hateful. She is like any other woman that you might meet. I think that she’s a fantastic character because her femininity was never shied away from and yet she’s not stereotypical. They made her a true woman, full of conflictions and problems.

Freddie Lounds keeps the name, but changes gender.

Image result for freddie lounds gif

In the books, Freddie was a male tabloid author who only talks about true crime. Fuller made a very wise choice to change the character to another female role that is always in the background. And, you know what? She’s ten times better than in the books. I absolutely loved to hate her and yet found ways to be afraid for her and root for her.

Margot Verger gets a far larger role than in the books, beginning in the second season.

Image result for margot verger gif

I’m going to spend more time talking about her later, but she is not a stereotypical victim of an abusive older brother. She is strong and survives. And, her sexuality does not define her and, I mean, if you didn’t pay attention you’d miss the drop that she’s lesbian. If you read the books, you know that, but it’s barely mentioned in the show. Why? Because it’s not a huge deal. Her sexuality does not define her.

Beverly Katz has a large role for the first and second seasons.

Image result for beverly katz gif

BAMF. That’s all I can say about Beverly. But, really, she’s fucking amazing. She shows a more masculine, law enforcement (all while being a technician with the FBI) side of womanhood. I absolutely adored her.

Bella Crawford is the wife of Jack Crawford and she’s fantastic.

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In the books, by the time Bella was mentioned, it was in past tense because the character has cancer and it’s a big thing that Jack’s dealing well with the death of his wife. The show? Doesn’t shy away from cancer and develops her so you can actually know her, see her relationship with her husband, and, by God, feel when it inevitably happens.

Bedelia du Maurier is an additional role, played by Gillian Anderson.

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Du Maurier is Hannibal’s psychiatrist… who needs one of her own. I mean, she’s a character that is amazing and has been a part of Hannibal’s world. She is the prelude to what everyone else will become, yet she is still amazingly fun and interesting to watch on screen. And it’s not just because she’s Gillian Anderson.

Abigail Hobbs is another addition.

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Abigail is very hard to describe since talking about her just gives away spoilers. However, she’s introduced from the first episode and is a recurring character throughout the series. She’s, again, a very real character. A victim who stubbornly refuses to be a victim.

Miriam Lass is yet another addition.

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While Miriam is a very minor character, she takes the book role of Will and of Clarice (in a way). She didn’t have too much screen time in the show, yet I was always very impressed by how they handled her character.

Chiyoh (very minor role in Hannibal Rising), Molly Graham (minor role who gets slightly expanded on in the show), Reba McClane (who they changed from a white woman to a black woman), and as I sit here I keep generating more and more women that held some sort of role in the show that was integral at some point.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN. LOOK AT ALL THE GLORIOUS WOMEN WHO ARE IMPORTANT TO THIS. LOOK AT THEM.

It’s probably one of the best shows I’ve seen with rep of diverse women.

Second reason: Gay relationships all the way

Yes. You heard me say it. I’d say spoilers since the relationships don’t develop until the end, but from the first episode there’s gayness. Lots.

The first I’ll go over is Will and Hannibal. From the first episode, it was so fucking gay and it just got gayer. I mean, I’m going to link the finale to the show here BECAUSE IT IS SO GAY, but do not watch it unless you want to be spoiled for the finishing things.

What really made this show even better with LGBT+ characters was the fandom. This fandom, besides for Orphan Black, was one of the best I have been in. I mean, they made such gems for gifs about Hannigram (which is the ship name).

 

Okay but that’s actually a quote from the show.

 

Okay but this is actually another quote.

 

 

Wait this is another actual scene.
Shit another scene

Next, Margot Verger.

Image result for margot verger gif

That gif is literally the most the show states about her sexuality. That one little statement is about it, then they move on from there. The book basically made her this insane body builder who is supposed to be male and, well, terrible rep. Just plain awful.

And, also, Margot has a relationship with one of the women in the show towards the end. I loved it.

Third reason: So. Fucking. Literary.

This show is a literary show. There’s so much symbolism scattered throughout it. It’s also quiet and somewhat slow so you have to pay attention. Some of my favorite symbols are:

Hannibal and the Wendio
Will and the Stag
More stag
Even more stag

Fourth reason: All available to stream RIGHT. NOW.

If you have Amazon Prime, you should have access to all three seasons. Need I say more?

Fifth reason: Amazingly developed characters

I talked a lot how there are gay characters done well and tons of female characters that were purposefully inserted. However, the characters are so well developed outside of that and you can’t help but like all of them.

Will Graham, for me, is where the show lies. His character arc is, for me, the point of the series and it comes to a brilliant close at the series finale. Hugh Dancy is Will Graham. He captures him perfectly, showing you all the sides of that character from his love of dogs to his dark side that you want him to go with yet desperately don’t.

The same goes for Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as Hannibal. Instead of going with the Anthony Hopkins version of an American Hannibal that you can’t connect with, he goes with the Eastern European Hannibal who you like yet are afraid of. He makes a cannibalistic, psychopathic (and I genuinely mean that when I say psychopathic, not just bandying the term for fun) man likable and you want him to win even in the back of your mind.

Laurence Fishburne adds a level to a very aloof and nonexistent authority figure from the books. Despite Freddie Lounds being horrible, you still like her and, at least for me, come to see that she really saw things for what they were. Dr. Alana Bloom turns from sweet and emotional to aloof. Abigail Hobbs can easily go from victim to survivor and back to victim.

Sixth reason: Took a popular series and turned it into so much more.

There are constant homages to the original series and, if you’re familiar with the books or movies, you’ll realize them. You’ll catch most, if not all, of them. There’s a constant line of remembrance to the books.

Not only that, but they never forgot the fans of the show. They remembered original fans by having a constant remembrance to the books. Then, this show has a fantastic fandom. We fought hard to get it picked up, yet that never happened. And, there are always lines that are directed towards current fans, yet they never took it as far as BBC Sherlock by writing for the fans and trying to keep them happy while, sadly, failing to do so. There are running jokes, such as with Dr. Frederick Chilton or everyone seeing how gay Hannibal is for Will.

This show is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Even if I’ve watched it, like, five times, it feels brand new every time because I catch more and more of it.

I sincerely hope you watch this.

The TBR Tag

Hello everyone! Now, we were not tagged in this at all. In fact, we have tags we have been tagged in that we still need to do. Oops! The reason we wanted to do this tag is to start off the year by looking at our TBRs. We will get back to doing the tags that we’ve been tagged in soon sorry Emma. Blame Chantel. She was insistent on doing this.

This tag was created by Rachel at A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square.

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

Uhm…. Like… Goodreads? Okay, but really, I list books on there that I want to read, forget about them, get random books from the library, and buy too many. Then I stick the books in random spots in my room that I’ll remember they’re unread and get to one day. It’s not really secretly efficient.

Goodreads definitely. I do have two shelves dedicated to books I own that are the top priority of my TBR, but Goodreads is the full comprehensive list. However, the list does need to be purged. 

2. Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

A lot of both. I have quite a few books on my Kindle that I haven’t read and will one day, then I have a ton of physical books I haven’t read and need to. Sigh. This tag is already making me depressed about my life choices.

I’m pretty sure I have more physical copies than I do e-books, and normally I will choose print over e-book even if having an e-reader is a lot more convenient. 

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

HA. When do I ever read my TBR?? But, really, I go with whatever I feel in the mood for next. I don’t read by themes too often.

There is no method to my madness. I have a list of books I want to read and I pick one. That’s pretty much it. 

4. A Book That’s Been On Your TBR List The Longest 

Since October 13, 2012, His Dark Materials has been on my TBR. Which is funny since I listened to these books with my parents on a road trip a long time ago.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger was the first book I added to my TBR on November 23, 2015. Maybe I should read that, considering I have a copy of the e-book. 

5. A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

Seafire is the book I added last, which was mainly because I saw Chantel added it, looked at it, and decided it sounded pretty good.

OMG YAS SEAFIRE! I want it now! The last book I added to my TBR was A Book Called Cin by Cecil Wilde which I added because I want to read more romances with a trans main character. 

And I’ve added more since we did this. The last book I added, not under the influence of Chantel (oh whatever), was Swearing is Good for You. It looks interesting, some of the research cited is familiar to me. So, right up my fucking alley.

6. A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because Of Its Beautiful Cover

I don’t really add books based on covers…? Like, yeah, covers are great and all that, but if I don’t like the premise or description, a pretty cover isn’t going to make me read it.

The Queen of the Tearling. 100%. I’m in love with that cover. The book also sounds interesting too. 

7. A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading

I have a whole shelf of this! They’re books I want to read and probably won’t. Usually, they’re added because of topics. I’m not a fan of reading about rape, so books that look good but I doubt I’ll read go there. Books about trans lives also go there if I’m iffy on if it’ll be complete angst and abuse. I also have a shelf for books I’m considering but still might read. There are more books on there than the former.

Okay, if I have a book on my TBR I don’t plan on reading then it shouldn’t be on my TBR. I do need to go through my TBR and weed through the rando books that got added because of a giveaway or a moment of temporary insanity. 

I’ve tried doing that and failed. It takes too much time and I’m lazy.

I didn’t say I would do it anytime soon.

8. An Unpublished Book On Your TBR That You’re Excited For

My Plain Jane and Dread Nation are the two that I’m really excited for. While I don’t plan on preordering them — one of my 2018 goals is to not buy as many books unless they’re from subscription boxes — I do want to read them.

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara because queer lady pirates. I’m announcing now, this is my new thing. I can’t wait. 

Yes, another one that you made me add. What a terrible influence. Broadening my interests and all that.

By terrible you mean amazing. 

Mhm. Yeah. Suuureeee.

9. A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone’s Read But You

Jesus, so many. So, so many. It’s kind of hilarious since I don’t read many new releases unless they’re Netgalley and usually nonfiction. But, I think everyone has read Six of Crows. Chantel and I are going to read it later this year, but everyone has read it but us. We’re way behind.

I’m going to go with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it. 

eventually

I DNFed that one.

That doesn’t matter. You have shitty book taste. 

Image result for bitch jesse gif
don’t you even start this one ho

breasts of rage

10. A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You

Any YA book, tbh. Six of Crows, The Grisha trilogy, Raven Boys, Mistborn. Well, Mistborn isn’t YA, but it’s still a book that everyone seems to tell me to read.

I don’t often get recommendations, but when I do it’s usually Six of Crows. Everyone has read this book and most people love this book. Which scares me. 

We’ll have another Schwab incident.

I really hope not. 

11. A Book On Your TBR That You’re Dying To Read

I’m absolutely dying to read Insomnia by Stephen King, which is one of my Top 10 Books to read in 2018! I watched the movie a while ago, remember nothing, and own it. The story seems fascinating, and I know it ties into IT.

I was going to say Peter Darling by Austin Chant, but oh yeah I read it already. The next book I’m eager to read is Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. However, I am expecting Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire at my door sometime next week so I will drop everything to read that. Sorry not sorry. 

12. How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf? 

At the time of writing this, 2071. Yep. I’m not kidding. I’ve had so many years to build that up to where it is now and I’m so bad at reading them.

Right now, 460 which somehow doesn’t seem like enough. 

You’re better than me. For once. It’s also increased to 2082. Because of you.

Uhh, okay but queer lady pirates. You should thank me. 

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This’ll be Chantel until I thank her.

Ahem, I’m still waiting. 

January Recommendations

Chantel found a group on Goodreads, Monthly Recommendations, that really called to her, so she texted me (Caidyn) about the possibility of adding this as a monthly post. After all, we’re looking for more things to include in our monthly repertoire. January’s recommendation is the best first books in a series!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few. I’ll try to narrow it down to my top three books. So here we go.

1. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)

Everyone talks about this book and I finally jumped onto the bandwagon last year. It’s fantastic! I mean, I’ve only read the first two books, but this series started it all off with a bang and introduced you to fascinating characters.

2. The Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)

Most likely, everyone’s at least heard of this book and author. He’s pretty popular and this was his first book ever. It’s also a fantastic start to a series that I adored. While our MC, Jorg, is a little shit to the extreme, I always found myself somewhat rooting for him. That takes talent given what Jorg does throughout the book.

3. A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)

Technically, this book isn’t a series yet. I read it late last year, and you can find my review here, and I was so impressed by it. It’s a sweeping epic fantasy novel that’s on the same level as Game of Thrones. There are many characters, different nations, powers that reminded me of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it’s told in a very unique way. I’m excited to see what happens next.


I read all of my books in 2017 so I will link my original reviews as well as a Goodreads summary. All of these books feature main characters and side characters who are queer. 

1. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Goodreads

Every Heart a Doorway cover

I don’t think there will be any surprise at this choice. It’s a popular series which follows different characters in different worlds. This first book takes place at a school where children who have gone to portal worlds end up back in the real world and we are introduced to a cast of characters (some who are queer) and the possibilities of the series are endless. I do have a soft spot for this book because it’s the first time I read about a character that is explicitly asexual on the page. 

2. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

Goodreads

The Abyss Surrounds Us cover

I’ll admit this is a duology I almost didn’t pick up. It’s sci-fi and takes place in the future where there are giant sea creatures called Reckoners who are then trained to fight and protect. However, this book is fantastic. Cas, the main character has to make decisions which are morally gray and I think it’s done very well. In addition, there is an f/f romance, but it’s a slow burn and angsty as all hell. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the second book The Edge of the Abyss, I have no issue recommending these books because I rarely hear them talked about.

3. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Goodreads

Not Your Sidekick cover

This is the only series on this list where I’ve only read the first book, but let me tell you I will be reading how many ever books come after as long as they follow the same four characters. I’m not big on superheroes. Never have been, probably never will be, but this is far more than that. This book focuses on Jess, who is waiting for her superpowers to present themselves, but they don’t. This leads to her getting an internship close to a supervillain and her crush from school. I am such a sucker for a story where crushes turn into something more and I was not disappointed here. Go check it out!

Yule Bingo Has Defeated Caidyn

(Caidyn)

I give up.

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I set my bar too high and there’s no way that I’m going to finish it. I should have gone with one or two Houses at most, not all four for a blackout board.

At least I can admit my defeat.

I’m a mood reader to my core. I can set rough goals about what I want to read, but I usually fail and just read whatever I want, then suddenly remember that I was supposed to read something else.

This is me formally announcing my defeat. And, you know what? It’s okay.

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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

(Caidyn)

2/5

I think a fun fact about me is that the first time I ever contemplated being a psychologist (of any type, too) was when I started getting into serial killers. God, I was such a nerd about serial killer facts. I could tell you all about Ted Bundy’s upbringing, John Wayne Gacy’s crimes, Jeffrey Dahmer’s near miss with the police. I wanted to be a criminal psychologist. I wanted to be a profiler.

Now, I see what John Douglas does as a whole bunch of Freudian guesswork on par with dream interpretations and his id/ego/superego.

Aka, a whole bunch of bunk.

I literally just listened to a book by Malcolm Gladwell where he included a piece on Douglas that talked about the issues of profiling. (Link here.) I was impressed with how he covered why profiling is so cool and captures our minds — look at the popularity of shows like Criminal Minds and Mindhunter, the latter based off of Douglas’ life and work — and why it’s just wrong.

Profiling takes highly unstable factors and pretends that their stable. It also makes highly variable statements that contradict one another so that if one’s right, holy shit, this is amazing!!

I took a class where we talked about psychopathy. We spent no time talking about profiling. We just talked about stable factors that have been found and verified through studies. Why? Because it’s not verifiable. Douglas even mentioned that you can’t take profiling and look at it to create an algorithm. Since he was reading it, he sounded almost proud that a human beat a machine. However, if you can’t create some sort of algorithm to help make predictions, doesn’t it mean that the predictions are likely, well, unpredictable and made up?

The most I can say for this book is that if I had read it a few years ago, I would have found it amazing. Now, I know that profiling is impressive but that’s just because it’s someone playing psychic but with a cloak of legitimacy surrounding it.

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures

(Caidyn)

3.5/5

I have to say that this was average. A very average book that had many interesting stories (or adventures as Gladwell called them) but not many that stood out. I can think of four stories, technically three topics, that really stood out to me.

The first was one that dealt with plagiarism. Since I’m a new graduate from college, I definitely know all about that stuff and how important it is not to do that. Gladwell took a story — a woman who saw that a play had plagiarized her life — and reacted as most would: She sued. Yet, Gladwell spent so much time making us sympathize with the woman whose life was plagiarized, then took a chance to completely spin the story in a new way. He tried to make us see how the plagiarizer felt. And he succeeded in it. He grasped the way the woman felt, along with arguments against this being plagiarized. All in all, I thought it was an impressively written article that captured how plagiarism isn’t as clear-cut as we like to think.

Profiling is the next two articles he wrote about that impressed me. I’ll lump them together since they were on the same topic. Obviously, Gladwell has an issue with profiling, but the arguments were very different.

He wrote first about how criminal profiling came to be, examining the issues of it and how it’s nothing more than guesswork. It was interesting since I love Criminal Minds and I used to want to do that work. I wanted to be a profiler. I wanted to do that so desperately. What I liked that Gladwell did was examining profiling as if it was a psychic doing their work, along with pointing out all the ways it was that.

The second article he wrote against profiling was to do with pitbulls. I mean, how interesting. He took a topic that wasn’t too interesting and made it so. He talked about the reasons why banning pitbulls are wrong, along with offering a way to change it to make it better. Rather than caring about stable things (i.e. the traits of the owner) to pick out unsafe dogs, we pay attention to unstable things (i.e. dog breed).

And, lastly, the final story I enjoyed was the titular one. What the Dog Saw. It’s basically a piece on Cesar Millan. What I liked was how it tied his work with dogs into his life and how he had to develop as a person, much how the dogs he worked with had to develop into dogs. I grew up watching his TV show because my mom loved it. We even use some of his techniques in our house. However, I didn’t know about his life and it was interesting to see another side of him.

Those were my four favorite stories boiled down into quick summaries. There were quite a few stories, though, and not all of them I liked. It was an average anthology of Gladwell’s articles that I would recommend only to people who really like his work.

First Lines Friday

It’s the first Friday of 2018 and at least for me (Chantel) it’s been a pretty good reading year so far. I’ve read two books in three days which is something I never thought I would say considering how slow I read, but it happened. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Chantel will be in purple. 

Caidyn will be in blue. 


James Hook was bored. 

The woods had grown rather tame, he thought. TIme was, he and his pirates would have been fending off tigers, wolves, and little boys with swords; they would have been snarled in thorns and clinging vines, beset by swarming fae, ambushed by roving crocodiles. Nowadays, though  Neverland was still overgrown, it was no more threatening than an unkempt lawn. 


This is a book I just recently finished so I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone. It is also the one book out of the two I read recently that I haven’t used for First Line Fridays already so there’s that. 

Anyway, I did enjoy this book quite a bit. I knew I would like it and I did. I’d highly recommend it if you are interested in reading a retelling with a trans main character, and with a sweet romance. 

I’ve decided to pick…

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Review

Peter Darling cover

This was the first book I read and finished in 2018 and it turned out to be a good start so far. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time as Austin Chant is a trans author writing about trans characters, which I am so happy about. I can’t wait to read more of his books because I enjoyed the story and knows how to write characters well. 


“I am inclined to think –” said I.

“I should do so,” Sherlock remarked impatiently.

I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals; but I’ll admit that I was annoyed by the sardonic interruption. “Really, Holmes,” said I severely, “you are a little trying at times.”


I know. My first lines gave it away. It’s something to do with Sherlock Holmes. However, the question is, which one? Is it a canon story or is it a part of the extended universe that’s been created by fans through pastiches, original series, and short stories?

It is…

The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes, #7)

I’ve been reading this one for some time, mainly because I haven’t had the time or the want to read it. I’m onto the stories I haven’t read yet and (I think) Moriarty comes back in this for whatever reason. Either way, I’m interested in seeing how I like it compared to all the other ones I’ve read since I have read a whole lot of the non-canon stories.