Thoughts On The 2016 Indiana Primary

So, I hate Indiana. I mean, it’s a pretty state, and most of my family lives there, and most of my memories are of things that happened there. But… gah. We’re just not a great state?

It’s a terrible place to live if you’re a woman or LGBTQ+, and I’m both, so living in Indiana was just one cringe-y moment after another. Also, if I remember correctly we have one of the highest infant mortality rates out of all fifty state, and our school system isn’t that great either. The governor keeps using tax money to build fancy new projects around Indianapolis – the capital – instead of spreading it out more evenly to, I don’t know, fix the pothole-ridden roads upstate?

(I am from upstate. This is kind of a sore spot. I miss driving, but I definitely do not miss driving on Indiana roads.)

Basically, I’m glad that I don’t live there now, and I hope to never have to live there as an adult. At least not until they get their act together.

Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all this is that I am perpetually disappointed by Indiana. Now that I don’t live there, I don’t think about my home state very much, but every so often some horrible piece of news floats my way. Anti-choice laws, anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, et cetera. I almost said that I make sure to set my expectations low, but I just realized that I literally just expect Indiana to be horrible all the time now.

And tonight, well, tonight my home state surprised me. Indianans Hoosiers voted today. I didn’t vote in the primary, obviously, since I changed my voting registration so that I could caucus in Iowa, but I was still super excited. I’ve been looking forward to this day for months because I was curious to see how the election results would turn out.

The percentage of registered voters was probably abysmal as usual – one recent year it was as low as 13%, if I remember correctly – but! WE DID A THING. Bernie won Indiana. I spent the entire day walking around thinking, “Make me proud, Indiana,” all the while not really believing a word I was saying. I mean, Indiana is pretty conservative and Hillary has been doing quite well in conservative states. AHHH I’M SO HAPPY AND PROUD OF MY STATE RIGHT NOW JUST GIVE ME A MINUTE TO PROCESS THIS.

…but what about the Republican primary, you say? Um, yeah. That. We – actually, I’m going to say “they” here, because I don’t even want to associate myself with these people – voted overwhelmingly for the Donald.

Excuse me while I fling myself into the sun.

BUT IT GETS BETTER! They did vote for Trump, but also caused the zodiac killer Ted Cruz to drop out. Cruz terrifies me more than Trump, but on the other hand… there are so many good memes about him. I shall miss those.

I can’t think of a suitably coherent way to end this post, so I will just say this: What even is this election? I can’t believe I just wrote about the zodiac killer and memes in complete seriousness.

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Why I Blog About College

I write about college fairly often on this blog. There are two reasons why, and the first is probably pretty self-evident: I just like talking about what I’ve been up to. Lately I’ve also been thinking a lot about the other reason why I write posts about college, which is that I hope my posts will help someone. That they will reassure someone. I think it helps my readers who are younger than me to see what life in college is really like.

The month or so before I headed off to college was super stressful for me. I actually didn’t even want to go at times because I was so anxious about the transition from high school to college.

And then I started college. And most of that anxiety disappeared. Just like that.

That’s not to say that I never ever worry about things now that I’ve been at college for almost two semesters (wow, has it already been that long?), but rather that arriving here helped things begin to make sense.

I often find that my worries about a THING disappear once the THING has begun. In the case of college, I stopped worrying that I couldn’t handle it pretty much as soon as I set foot on campus on the day I moved in.

And if my conversations with both IRL and online friends are anything to go by, that’s a pretty common experience. We worry about something long before it happens – before we can even do anything about it – and blow it out of proportion. I know what it’s like to be sitting there worrying, a few years or months or weeks before college, and not being able to do anything other than sit there and wait. But sometimes it helps to have someone reassure you that everything will be OK once you do get there.

For example, Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes has created numerous blog posts and vlogs about her experience in college thus far, and I read/watched each and every one of the ones that were published prior to my move to college. They felt… comforting.

She not only attends a different school, but is not even from the same country! And yet that didn’t matter. I think that while the specific details may be different from school to school, in the end the feelings are the same. Everyone worries about getting lost on campus on the first day of class. Everyone wonders how they’re going to find the motivation to do homework for that one boring class. Et cetera.

So, yeah. That’s why I write all these posts about college. That’s the whole point of both my monthly class updates and my posts about college life. That’s why I tell you what kind of assignments I’ve been working on lately, what my friends and I did last weekend, what I read for school the other day. That’s why I occasionally write posts with advice for college students, such as How To Blog In College. (The sequel – about how to find time to read, especially for fun, in college – will be published sometime next fall. I hope.)

College is a big change from high school. There’s no denying that. It shouldn’t be as nerve-wracking as it is, though, and while I can’t change the soul-crushing tuition debt or the extremely small acceptance rate of whatever school you have your heart set on, there is one thing I can change. I can help to offset some of the anxiety concerning your day-to-day life in college.

It reminds me of something I said in an earlier post, a post from last June’s series of Pride posts: At some point, I’m not just writing this blog for myself. I mean, yeah, it’s a great way to sort out my thoughts, and writing helps me to relax, but… I want to help people. I like helping people. I have a lot of online friends and I especially want to help them in some way. I hope that someone, somewhere, finds one or two (or more!) of my college posts and reads what someone who is only a few years older than them has to say about college and feels their worries lessen.

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Bookworm Delights | 10 Things I Love About Being A Reader

Today I’m linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s prompt is “top ten bookworm delights.” Here is an ode to my favorite parts of being a reader!

Enjoy!

1. The smell of books

The first thing I do when I pick up a book – any book – is to smell the pages. I don’t know when I started doing this because I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do this. I especially love the smell of old books. I LOVE WALKING INTO BOOKSTORES AND BEING OVERWHELMED WITH THAT GLORIOUS BOOKISH SMELL.

Mr. Whiskers at my house!2. Reading with a cat curled up on your lap

Cats and books are two of the greatest things in the whole entire universe. THEY JUST ARE. So what’s better than reading while a cat dozes next to you? Um, absolutely nothing, that’s what.

3. Becoming so absorbed in a book that you don’t notice anything else 

I live for the moments when reality seems to disappear and the only thing on my mind is the book I’m reading. Sometimes I get so drawn into the story that when people interrupt me from my reading, it takes me a minute or two to remember what’s going on in the real world.

4. Reading a book in one sitting

I haven’t been able to do this very much lately since I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely had time to read any books, let alone an entire book in one sitting, but participating in #AuthorAThon last weekend gave me an excuse to procrastinate on my homework long enough to finish some stories. I LOVE curling up in a chair and then just not moving from it for several hours as I turn page after page after page.

5. Following a series for years, from its very beginning to its end

So I borrowed Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King from the library yesterday… and I still haven’t so much as peeked at the first page. I’M KIND OF SCARED TO START IT. And I’m not even that worried about the characters?! I mean, this IS Maggie Stiefvater we’re talking about, so I’m sure sad things will happen to some of them, but most of my anxiety about reading this book stems from not wanting this series to be over. I’ve followed this series for the past five years and patiently waited for each new book to be published, and now… I’m not ready for the end.

the sword of summer iowa6. Discovering unexpected LGBTQ+ characters

I love getting recommendations for LGBTQ+ books – it would be awesome if you left some recs in the comments! – and I really love stumbling across books that have LGBTQ+ characters I didn’t even know about. IT’S THE BEST FEELING OK.

And if those unexpected LGBTQ+ characters survive until the end of the book… well, that’s even better. It’s hard enough to find authors who don’t kill off their queer characters, but I can usually manage to avoid books like that if I ask around and find out whether or not they have happy endings so that I don’t waste my time. It’s much more of a crapshoot with books none of my friends have read yet, though.

7. Making a friend a fan of one of your favorite books

I always feel so warm and fuzzy and PROUD when this happens! Like, I didn’t even write the book, but I still feel like a proud bookish parent or something for convincing one of my friends to read a book I love and then later hearing that they love it too. SPREAD THE BOOKISH AWESOMENESS, PEOPLES.

8. Drinking tea or hot chocolate while reading

The only problem with this is that sometimes I become so engrossed in my book that I forget to finish my drink and then it goes cold! THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

9. Reading in bed

Reading ON my bed is great, but reading IN bed is even better. I love burrowing under the blankets and sometimes I wipe my eyes on the sheets if the book is sad and made me cry.

carol department store10. Being surprised by an adaptation that is absolutely perfect in every way

I think we can all agree that most book-to-movie adaptations suck. (And so are most TV adaptations.) But every so often you stumble across an incredible adaptation.

My all-time favorite adaptation is Carol. You should all go watch it right now. RIGHT. NOW. It is closely followed by The Fellowship of the Ring and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. I’m also partial to Jurassic Park and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which are very different from the books they are based on, but still manage to capture the essence of the original stories.

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What are YOUR bookworm delights? Writing this post made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside – like, even warmer and fuzzier than I feel when a friend loves one of my recommendations – so I’m excited to read about what you love most about being a bookworm because I’m sure it’ll make my mood even better than it already is!

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The I Love Spring Book Tag

Today I’m doing a tag that’s all about SPRING! I got this tag from Kayleigh @ A Book Lover’s Playlist and immediately wanted to do it since I haven’t posted very many tags lately. (What’s up with that?!)

Enjoy!

How is spring where you live?

Spring where I live is full of dark green grass and light blue sky and bright magenta blooms. There are white flowers on trees and strewn all over the ground beneath them. It has rained a lot lately and I’ve noticed the difference between Iowa City and my hometown in Indiana: I grew up in an unincorporated area between two towns, so we didn’t have sidewalks.

Now that I live within the town limits, I see more asphalt and cement, and less grass, so I notice more puddles and less, say, dew on grass in the mornings. It’s fairly warm even on rainy days and the buses make swooshing noises as they travel through the rain.

the raven kingMost anticipated book release this spring?

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater has technically already been released – it was published yesterday – but there no copies had been shipped to Prairie Lights when I checked that day, so I was unable to read it on its date of publication as I had been hoping to. They said that they should have copies available by Thursday, though, so I’m excited! I can’t wait to find out what happens, but I’m also super apprehensive because I’m worried about what might happen, and I’m sad because I don’t want this wonderful series to come to an end.

Also, I’m doing my very best to avoid spoilers, so… if you’ve already read The Raven King and want to tell me your opinion then GO FOR IT but be vague. I don’t want to see spoilers of any sort in the comments. (That means I don’t want you to message me about spoilers either. Jesus Christ, people, you can wait one more day for me to read a book.)

blue lily lily blueWhat book cover makes you think of spring?

Blue Lily, Lily Blue makes me think of spring because of its color scheme, as well as the flowers and grass and vines! All four books in this series have covers that are works of art, TBH.

Where are you going to read this spring?

There are a lot of parks around here – some city property, some owned by the university. I already spent a sunny, warm Saturday afternoon reading with my best friend and her roommate a few weeks ago and it was AWESOME. We laid out a blanket on the Pentacrest, which is at the center of Iowa City (and of the university too, I think?), but I’m planning to try other places as well. There are lots of benches along the Iowa river and it looks like the perfect quiet spot to sit and read a book or two!

i'll give you the sunFind a cover with the sun on it!

I am a cheating cheater! I would like to read I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson this spring or summer, though.

What are your favorite spring reads?

Um. I haven’t ever thought about this before? Like, I’ve thought about my favorite reads for summer and fall and winter, but somehow I’ve never thought about what I like to read during spring.

I think The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett would be a great book to reread in the spring, but I can’t recall ever having actually reread it during this season.

I guess I’m going to avoid actually answering the question and instead list some books I associate with spring: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, because the events of the series begins in the spring and for the past few years I always take note of April 24th. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth, because I read it in March a few years ago and that book changed my life. Malice and Havoc by Chris Wooding, because I read that series in the spring too. (Actually, I read those books on the drive to and from a U of Iowa campus tour, so I also associate them with Iowa despite the fact that they’re not set anywhere remotely close to this state…)

zac & miaFind a book with many different colors on it.

Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts has a colorful cover that reminds me of spring!

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I’m tagging:

And as always, feel free to participate whether or not I tagged you. (Or ignore this tag, if you so choose.)

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How are you enjoying spring so far? Have you read any good books lately? What spring releases are you looking forward to? And MOST IMPORTANTLY what are your favorite outdoor reading spots?!

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An Update Regarding This Summer’s Blog Content

Hey, everyone. So, this is just a quick update to give you an idea of what will be happening on Musings From Neville’s Navel in the next few months. One of the things I did this weekend, apart from reading several hundred pages from a variety of books, was to sit down and create a tentative blogging schedule through the end of June, and I’m hoping to expand that through the end of September shortly.

Obviously, I haven’t actually written all of those posts yet, but I find it really helps to know exactly what and when I am going to post. It helps me to blog more efficiently and stops me from wasting time staring at my drafts folder, wondering what to write and then overthinking the whole process as I begin to wonder if I should work on a different post altogether since I’d like to publish that one first.

Anyway, first of all, I would like to catch up on my reviews. I was in a reading slump for a really long time and the only bad thing about not being in that slump anymore is that now my list of reviews to write is once again getting longer and longer.

I plan to write more Reading The Rainbow reviews, since I’ve majorly slacked off on that. You won’t see any until June, though, because May is already full of other posts and reviews I want to write.

Speaking of Reading The Rainbow, I plan to do an entire month’s worth of LGBTQ+ posts for Pride once again. Mostly because I have sooo many ideas for posts and I want to write them all like RIGHT NOW? So, yeah. That’s a thing that will be happening.

I need to review the last episode of season nine of Doctor Who, as well as the Christmas special. I kind of forgot about that since the beginning of this semester was so busy, but I’ll try to get around to that soon. It’s like I said in my last post: I hate starting something and not finishing it. I could abandon the last two Doctor Who review posts but I’d feel bad about dropping them when I said I was going to review the entire series. Soooo I will be getting in contact with my final two co-reviewers

I need to finally start writing the series of posts analyzing fictional parent/child relationships, which I talked about doing last year. Whoops. I would also like to start another post series about classics, and the few people I’ve discussed the idea with seem to like it, but I need to fine-tune it so it’ll probably still be a while before you see it.

I need to finish the A B See Photography Challenge, too: I have only one more letter left!

Basically, there are a lot of posts I want to write and not enough time! And your suggestions and/or feedback is, as always, greatly appreciated. What kind of

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#AuthorAThon Wrap-Up

On the eighteenth of this month, I said that I had decided to participate in #AuthorAThon – a week-long reading challenge cohosted by Joana Sousa and Thoughts on Tomes. Well, #AuthorAThon ended today, so I thought I’d tell you how it went.

There were two options: Either read as many books as possible from one author, or complete six challenges that were set for us. I chose to do the six challenges, since that seemed to be the more manageable option of the two.

And it was. Mostly.

But I digress. Here are the books I read to fulfill the challenges, along with some observations about each one.

huntress1. Read a book by one of your favorite authors

Sooo… I said “mostly” earlier because I didn’t quite complete the challenge. I joined #AuthorAThon because I knew this week would be less busy than those that have come before it, but it was still fairly busy. Busier than I thought it would be.

Long story short, I didn’t have as much time to read as I thought, and actually ended up reading two of the following books yesterday and two today, in addition to starting Huntress by Malinda Lo, which I meant to read for this challenge. I’m really enjoying it so far – I love the beautiful descriptions and the girls’ adorable crushes on one another give me life – but pretty soon it was almost midnight on Sunday and I knew I couldn’t finish it today.

And that’s OK. I mean, I feel a little bad about not quite completing all of the challenges because I have a THING about completing anything I sign up for and achieving any goals I set for myself, but… meh, I’ll deal with it. I hope to finish Huntress sometime within the next week.

2. Read a new-to-you author

For this challenge, I read Bone, Vol. 1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith! I cannot WAIT to read the other graphic novels in this series. I will have to make sure that I get the color editions of the next few books… I don’t mind black and white graphic novels or comics and have read quite a few of them, actually, but if there are versions that come in color than you can bet that I want to get my hands on those.

I really enjoyed this story. It’s super cute and I’m kind of worried that it’s going to break my heart in the end, because some of the themes and villains and stuff are fairly dark for something that is otherwise so silly and adorable.

3. Give an author a second chance

I read Batwoman, Vol. 1: Hydrology by J.H. Williams III and I’m STILL having an emotion or two about it. It’s so gay and kickass and oh my godddd, the artwork is gorgeous. I love DC more and more with each new comic I read and TBH, I’ve begun to side-eye people who say they don’t like DC, or dislike DC with the exception of Batman, and I’m just like… you need Batwoman in your life. Trust me.

4. Read a debut author (2015 or 2016)

I read The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh to fulfill this part of the challenge and I have really, really mixed feelings about it. I still can’t decide whether or not I liked the descriptions; at times, they seemed like purple prose. There wasn’t as much of a focus placed on the original tale(s) of One Thousand and One Nights as I had been led to believe, and I found myself confused or skeptical of some of the characters’ actions and motivations.

Like, I know that the whole point is that Shahrzad convinces the king to spare her for another night, and then another night, and so on and so forth. But I just didn’t buy the reasons given in this retelling. They seemed weak.the wrath and the dawn

When Shahrzad and Khalid fell in love with each other after only a few weeks for… no reason at all, as far as I could tell, my gay little brain was just like, “That sounds fake, but OK.” (Sometimes I forget that some people aren’t even a little bit attracted to the same gender – “that sounds fake, but OK” – and then I stumble across something that is just the straightest thing ever and it momentarily puzzles me. THAT WAS THIS BOOK.) I don’t even know. The romance just didn’t make me feel anything?

I wouldn’t say it was a bad book – at least, not right now, but then I only recently finished it and may yet change my mind – but it was definitely an AVERAGE book. It didn’t really stand out to me from all the other YA novels on the shelves, except for the fact that it had diverse characters. I just feel kind of sad now because I had been looking forward to it SO much, more than almost any other non-LGBTQ+ diverse book from 2015. (Which I realize is a ridiculously specific category, but… yeah. Blehhh.)

5. Read a book written by more than one author

I read The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon and James Lecesne and… ahhhh! This was one of the most reassuring books I’ve read in a while. It was so comforting to read about how other people made it not only as writers, but as LGBTQ+ writers in a world that still doesn’t really care much about stories by, about, and for LGBTQ+ people.

6. Read a book from an author who is from a different continent than you are

For the final challenge, I read Desolation by Derek Landy, the second book in the Demon Road trilogy. OH MY GOD IT WAS AMAZING. I do think I liked the first book better, but I loved the way the plot thickened and the cast of characters expanded, so that was nice.

ALSO. AMBER IS A #CONFIRMED LESBIAN OHH MY GOD AND SHE GETS A CUTE LIL ROMANTIC SUBPLOT AND IT’S THE BEST THING EVER IT MADE MY DAY AND GAVE ME LIFE AND AHHH I IDENTIFY WITH HER SO MUCH.

(I mean… not with the whole demon/my-parents-are-trying-eat-me thing, but I relate to the poor self-esteem and body image issues and GAY STUFF and oh my god it was so good you have to read it YOU HAVE TO.)

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I’m so happy that I joined #AuthorAThon! I spent much of this weekend curled up in a chair, reading and listening to music and drinking hot chocolate. IT WAS WONDERFUL. I’ve been in a reading slump for so long and therefore haven’t made much progress on my 2016 Goodreads reading challenge goal of one hundred books, but reading books for #AuthorAThon helped me raise the total number of books I’ve read this year to eighteen. I’M ONLY THIRTEEN BOOKS BEHIND SCHEDULE, YOU GUYS. I CAN DO THIS.

Did you participate in #AuthorAThon? Whether or not you did… OMG TELL ME WHAT YOU READ THIS WEEK.

P.S. I will be reviewing each of these books eventually, some on their own and some as part of reviews of their entire respective series!

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400th Anniversary Of The Bard’s Death | Some Fun Links About Shakespeare

I had BIG PLANS for today. It’s the four hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and so I was going to post a list of my top ten favorite words or phrases that he coined!

And then my day disappeared in a rush of studying and reading, and here we are at almost midnight and I’m staring at an enormous list of all those words and phrases. And I don’t even know where to start.

SO I WILL NOT BE DOING THAT TODAY.

BUT I MIGHT DO IT EVENTUALLY. One of my summer courses is about Shakespeare – we’re studying him and his plays in only five weeks – and I’m super excited! It doesn’t begin until late June, though, so it’ll be a while until that post of mine is published.

…anyway, since I don’t have a real post for you today, here are some Shakespearean things I read and enjoyed on the Internet lately.

I love learning about which writers influenced my favorite authors, and Shakespeare is no different. I am fascinated by the idea that the authors whose stories we love contain so many influences and older stories within them, just mixed up in new ways.

I need to memorize some of these 15 great insults from Shakespeare. We all know someone who makes us think, “I am sick when I do look at thee,” right? RIGHT?

How extensive is your knowledge of Shakespeare? Mine is… not very good, apparently. But what can I say? All the questions were super obscure, and most of them weren’t even about his plays or life, so I don’t even know. I got two out of ten and it told me that “my nose is in great indignation,” which honestly made my day because that’s another great insult.

Anyway, I hope you find the links as fun as I did, and I’m sorry that I didn’t end up publishing that post about my favorite Shakespearean words/phrases! SOMEDAY, THOUGH. SOMEDAY I WILL.

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