Review: Iron Widow

I meant to review this awhile ago, but life got in the way. This has been sitting in my Drafts folder for too long. I really wish I could read this book a second time before I review it. There is a lot to chew on and I hope on a second reading I’ll catch more. Edit ~3 months later – this is still true. I WILL read this a second time, when I have “spare time.” I found this author on YouTube when the new Mulan movie came out. She did a review of “historical accuracy and cultural influences.” She has now done both Mulan versions and some others. She also sometimes puts out historical tellings of Imperial China. One of these involved Wu Zetian, the only woman to rule as “emperor” of China. Fuuuun. So this book is an alternate world, the main character, Wu Zetian, is “based” on the actual empress. However, throw everything else about the

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Review: Spider-Man No Way Home

This review will contain spoilers. I literally do not know how to review this movie without “spoilers” because it is so about the references. I mean, it pulls in Spiderman villains and such which we haven’t seen in the MCU to date. My short review (without spoilers) is this: It’s a fun movie for Marvel fans, but I wouldn’t send a non-Marvel fan to watch it. This isn’t like Black Panther or Iron Man (1) or Shang Chi where I could say “just go see it anyway, it’s so much fun.” You need background. Now, as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – this was soooo much fun. More in-depth I have seen a bunch of people saying how much they love this movie and it’s one of their favorites in the MCU. Nope. Not at all. I wouldn’t put it in the top 5, maybe even the top 10. Honestly (controversial take here) I don’t think it will

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Review: Raya and The Last Dragon

I mentioned I watched this movie, but it wasn’t really the focus of that post. So here are my thoughts on the movie. So I was distracted trying to pinpoint aspects of various cultures, and there really are some interesting references to various cultures. I, personally, really like it. I never thought about mismashing viking culture, monogolian culture, and japanese-northern cultures together (they did!). It works really well surprisingly. The world is pretty amazing really. I think it’s one of the best parts of the whole thing. It was really unique. I feel like it was a brave decision to produce the movie with such an interesting and challenging world to build up. The plot is not complicated (it is a kid’s movie), so I can’t think of anything that surprised me. I would say it probably follows the very typical beats of “high-low-high-low-done.” Without doing an in-depth dissection, that’s how it felt. I don’t want to give spoilers, but

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Review: Plague, Inc.’s DLC The Cure

There is a video game called Plague, Inc. which was released in 2016. The description on the steam page is: Your pathogen has just infected ‘Patient Zero’ – now you must bring about the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global Plague whilst adapting against everything humanity can do to defend itself. Plague Inc. is so realistic that the CDC even asked the developer to come and speak about the infection models in the game!¬†http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2013/04/plague-inc/. https://store.steampowered.com/app/246620/Plague_Inc_Evolved/ I used to LOVE this game. I have it on computer and on my iPad. And then 2020 hit. I haven’t been able to play this in over a year. Previously, it was a game I’d sit and play through for 20-30 minutes (about how long it takes for me to win or lose). I recently saw they are allowing their DLC The Cure to be played for free. I downloaded and opened it up. They have 4 difficulty modes: Casual Normal

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Review: Tiger Burning Bright

HOW HAVE I NOT REVIEWED THIS ALREADY. I feel like an idiot. I realized the other week, I haven’t reviewed this one!! So I have to do this: Tiger Burning Bright by three of the most amazing women authors ever Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Mercedes Lackey. I first picked up this book from my local library when I was in middle school. I can still remember where it belonged on the shelf. I knew this because I think I checked it out of the library 10 tens times in the next three years or so. Then I stopped. Then I went to college. Years passed. I never forgot this book. One day, when I had a little money in my pocket I went looking for it again. It took me a minute, but I found it. And I bought it. Why do I love this book? Well, there is definitely some sentimental attachment for sure. I remember loving

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Writing: Science Fiction Evolution

I am reading some classic science fiction (Foundation Triology) and have found an understanding why I didn’t enjoy science fiction as much as fantasy when I was younger. There is a trend in the genre to be plot, world, and science focused with characters only being a carrier for these things to be explored. Asimov, Heinlein, Butler, and even Douglas Adams. It generally isn’t the characters we love and quote from these authors. Dune was an interesting books, but I didn’t connect with any specific character. The world, the politics, the exploration of different societies on different worlds feels like a core to book. Heinlein’s characters are notoriously flat and repetitive (if I read 3 Heinlein books in a row, I begin to confuse names they are so alike). Butler’s book I read was amazing and emotional, but it wasn’t the characters. Then I compare to the fantasy I loved when I was young: Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, Mary Herbert,

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Review: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned

Anyone who reads my book reviews has probably noticed a dearth of non-fiction. I don’t read much of it. I generally read for escapism and reading something real isn’t escape. There are exceptions to this rule. Alan Alda is a fun actor. I’ve known of him pretty much my entire life – mostly from M.A.S.H. I don’t know when or why I picked up his memoir, but I needed something different to read recently and so I started it. It was very interesting. I had no idea he was a child of vaudeville although it makes perfect sense to his acting style. I will admit, I had to struggle some to separate “actor” from “character” (Hawkeye) and stop trying to pigeon-hole the actor into the character. As I did, I feel like I got a better glimpse of the creative process of the creative artist behind the character. I never would have guessed some of his struggles, emotional or professional.

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Review: Spice and Tea (St. Augustine, FL)

I recently visited St. Augustine for a much-needed beach vacation. It was fabulous, and I was so excited to find Spice and Tea in downtown. First I smelled several teas, they smelled good. I finally settled on some 1 oz “sample” bags and 2 larger 4 oz bags: Emperor’s Chai (4 oz) Peach Turmeric Herbal (4oz) Sinfully Cherry (1 oz) Florida Sunshine (1 oz) Grapefruit Basil (1 oz) Oh. My. God. These are amazing blends. I did not expect to like the grapefruit basil, I smelled it thinking I would recoil. It smelled good. Quite floral and fruity. Hence the 1 oz bag to try it. Holy crap, it’s amazing! It is a little sweet by itself, I added a hint of sugar and…. I swear I almost had to take my clothes off (if you have seen Food Wars anime, you’ll get that reference). It isn’t a subtle flavor it sinks in and you just have to ride the

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SCOTUS: Opinions Unread so far

I am still playing “catch-up” on May and this week I’m seeing the Supreme Court put out opinions – and some of the headlines I’m reading are making me want to drop important chores (like dishes) to the wayside and find out how some of these judges are leaning and WHY. I know, I’m a nerd. So I am bookmarking the SCOTUS opinions page (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/slipopinion/20 if you’re curious) and I am going to read and blog about at least some of the cases. I’ve already heard some commentary on the Van Buren v. United States case, but I am curious about the opinions – because Gorsuch, Barret, and Kavanaugh all sided with Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagen. I will probably blog Sanchez v. Mayorkas and Garland v. Ming Dai together because they both deal with immigration (that’s about all I know, I’ve only read the abstracts). This isn’t my area of expertise, so we’ll see when I read them if they

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