Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

Found on Google Images

Title: The Other Boleyn Girl

Author: Philippa Gregory

My Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…1/2

Summary: “A rich and compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her heart.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take her fate into her own hands.”

My Thoughts:

On the very first page, Mary watches someone she knows get beheaded, which certainly drew me into the story. I continued to be interested the whole way through the book, which is saying something, since I went into the book knowing what would happen. The perspective also made the story interesting to read. Writing from the viewpoint of a woman, especially someone so often forgotten about made a well known piece of history feel new.

Gregory does a great job of giving readers a feel for what life at court was like without it feeling repetitive. While Mary and Anne Boleyn’s lives were crazy in many ways, life at court could potentially become repetitive to read about. She also did this well in Three Sisters, Three Queens, which I read last spring.

Gregory also clearly shows the complete lack of agency both Mary and Anne had in their lives, particularly when it comes to their relationships with Henry. Mary gets told exactly what to do to charm Henry, down to when she should sleep with him.

Now that I’ve addressed what Gregory did well, I need to discuss the big problem I have with this novel. (Hence the 3.5 stars). Before I say anything, I will acknowledge that this book is from 2001. However, The Other Boleyn Girl is still a popular read for historical fiction about the Tudors, so I think criticizing it is fair.

I found the portrayal of Anne as well as Mary and Anne’s relationship to be sexist. As a character in general, Anne is pretty one-dimensional. Obviously, the novel being from Mary’s perspective, the readers miss Anne’s inner thoughts. Still, Mary was her sister, so it’s safe to assume she would know the real Anne Boleyn better than most. But even with those closest to her, Anne is really mean, heartless and calculated. So basically, the sexist, simplified caricature the public already has of her as a historical figure. This portrayal surprised me somewhat, given that the book was written by a woman known as a feminist and interested in championing the stories of women from history.

Gregory does give Anne a good amount of agency, which I could appreciate, even if mostly involved her being mean to Mary constantly. She is shown to help her family strategize how Mary should keep Henry interested in her. She is really the only woman who talks about wanting autonomy and is shown to be ambitious. But again, she is a w f u l. Having the only woman with ambition being extremely unlikable and then be beheaded seems a bit sexist to me.

An example of other media that gave Anne agency in a much more positive way is The Tudors, a TV series. Anne is shown encouraging Henry to read writings by Martin Luther, giving her a direct and important role in the Reformation. I only include this to show that there are other ways to show Anne’s ambition in a way that shows her intellect, rather than her being manipulative and mean.

Mary and Anne’s relationship and different experiences with Henry and at court also bother me for similar reasons. The focus on Mary and Anne’s rivalry and Anne “stealing” Henry from Mary feels sexist and oversimplified. Sure, they are both shown to be pawns in their family’s plan, but there is also a focus on Mary and Anne fighting over the fact that Henry has been with both of them, during the same time. (This takes place earlier in the story, but still). This somewhat turns a complex game in order to grab power into an oversimplified rivalry between two girls in love with the same man. By focusing on their anger towards each other, Gregory turns Anne into the villain rather than, oh, I don’t know, maybe the guy who cut his wife’s head off??!? (Actually, more than one, but Katherine Howard comes along much later).

Additionally, Mary is shown to be apprehensive and uncomfortable with her role of sleeping with the king at the beginning, and remains the kind, sweet girl throughout the novel. Anne is more comfortable in her role from the get-go, and more matter-of-fact about what she needs to do for her family. This means the plot is essentially one of a sweet girl forced into a bad situation who ends in a happy, loving marriage. But the more ambitious, smart girl gets punished. Of course, Anne would die at the end, but if she was more complex, not just a calculated seductress, this inevitable end would feel less like the classic story of a woman rightfully punished for being intelligent and having ambition.

While I still really enjoyed reading The Other Boleyn Girl, I found the portrayal of Anne to be a big letdown. However, I loved reading from Mary’s perspective and getting into the mindset of what it must have been like to be in her position. I would maybe still recommend this book, because I did really like reading about Mary, but it was also so frustrating to read.


Playlist:

I decided to pick songs that fit lyrically with the novel and then put them in order of what happened. Of course, none of them fit perfectly, except for the song from Six, but I tried. I had a lot of fun making this one πŸ™‚

  1. Doll Parts – Hole
  2. Young God – Halsey
  3. Don’t Lose Ur Head (feat. Christina Modestou) – Six Soundtrack
  4. What Kind of Man – Florence + the Machine
  5. How F*****g Dare You – Lauren Tate
  6. Falling – Florence + the Machine
  7. Heavy Is the Head (feat. Chris Cornell) – Zac Brown Band
  8. Angel on Fire – Halsey
  9. Greensleeves

You can listen to it here πŸ‘‘


Thank you for reading this feminist rant disguised as a book review πŸ’š

My Month in Music – December (2019)

I hope you all have had a good start to your 2020! I am posting my last My Month in Music for 2019 and maybe ever. I have done this for two years (sort of) and I’m just ready to be done…but I can’t fully decide. So we’ll see…On to the playlist!

You can listen to it here πŸ–€


Thank you for reading! Happy listening ❀

2019 Wrap – Up

As this year is coming to a close, I thought I’d look back on 2019. I did this last year and really enjoyed it, especially because I love reading these posts from other people.

Music:

This year, I decided to start this section off with what I listened to most (according to Apple Music). I listened to 575 hours of music, as of December 30th, which is around 23 days straight of listening to music. (Of course that doesn’t count everything, but still). That’s a lot.

Top 10 Songs of 2019:

  1. Freaks Like Us – Hands Off Gretel
  2. Be Yourself – Audioslave
  3. Misery Chain – Chris Cornell
  4. I Want the World – Hands Off Gretel
  5. Can’t Change Me – Chris Cornell
  6. Nightmare – Halsey
  7. Preaching the End of the World – Chris Cornell
  8. The Last Remaining Light – Audioslave
  9. Superpower – Adam Lambert
  10. S.A.S.S – Hands Off Gretel

This is not surprising…at all.

Top 10 Artists of 2019:

  1. Soundgarden – 67 hours
  2. Chris Cornell – 51 hours
  3. The Lumineers – 36 hours
  4. L7 – 34 hours
  5. Audioslave – 33 hours
  6. U2 – 22 hours
  7. Foo Fighters – 20 hours
  8. Hands Off Gretel – 19 hours
  9. Temple of the Dog – 18 hours
  10. Elton John – 17 hours

…That is a total of 169 hours (or 7 days) spent only listening to Chris Cornell’s voice. Sounds like a good time honestly

Top 10 Albums of 2019:

  1. Echoes of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path – Soundgarden
  2. The Lumineers (Deluxe Edition) – The Lumineers
  3. Euphoria Mourning – Chris Cornell
  4. III – The Lumineers
  5. Higher Truth – Chris Cornell
  6. I Want the World – Hands Off Gretel
  7. Six: The Musical (Studio Cast Recording)
  8. Cleopatra (Deluxe Edition) – The Lumineers
  9. Lungs (Deluxe Edition) – Florence + the Machine
  10. Temple of the Dog – Temple of the Dog

Additionally…

  • I saw L7 play at the Varsity
  • I saw Queen play at the Xcel
  • Hands Off Gretel released I Want the World and it is amazing
  • Adam Lambert released Velvet: Side A and it is amazing
  • I listened to more new music than I usually do…though I clearly still have some favorites…

I posted about what I listened to all of 2019, so check that out if you want!

Books:

Hopefully I’ll read even more good books in 2020!

Life:

  • I posted my own writing on this blog for the first time. (I hope to do more of this, but it’s really scaryyyy)
  • I started my English Major Overanalyzes Song Lyrics posts, which I hope to continue soon!
  • I finished my first year of college and started my second year
  • I saw Daniel Sloss live at the Cedar Cultural Center!
  • I made some new friends!
  • I took my last math class ever!
  • I took some classes I really loved
  • I watched: Queer Eye, Versailles, Mindhunter and finished The Tudors which are all great (and verrrrry different)
  • I saw Six at the Ordway

I hope you all had a great 2019 and good start to 2020! I really like these posts because it’s good to reflect and be proud of all you did in the year, so what are some things you are proud of/were fun in 2019?

Thanks for reading ❀

My Month in Music – July/August/September (2019)

So this is verrrrrry long. I would have just skipped July and August, but I had a lot of music to share that is different from what I usually post. Some new songs came out, and I listened to more new music than I typically do (let’s see if we can keep that up, but what can I say? I’m a creature of habit). Because of that, I really wanted to share this playlist. Also, I think this is a particularly well put together playlist, so I wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it! (If you are able to make it all the way through).

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚


Special Mentions:

I saw Queen and Adam Lambert for the second time in August and they were amazing (obviously). Here are some pictures my friend Timber took:


Thank you for reading! I hope you have a great day ❀

Book Review: The Ship of the Dead

Found on Google Images

Title: The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #3)

Author: Rick Riordan

My Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Summary (Goodreads): “Magnus Chase, son of Frey, the god of summer and health, isn’t naturally inclined toward being a brave warrior. Still, with the help of his motley group of friends, he has achieved deeds he never would have thought possible. Now he faces his most dangerous trail yet. Loki is free from his chains. He’s readying Naglfar, the Ship of the Dead, complete with a host of giants and zombies, to sail against the Asgardian gods and begin the final battle of Ragnarok. It’s up to Magnus and his friends to stop him, but to do so they will have to sail across the oceans of Midgard, Jotunheim and Niflheim in a desperate race to reach Naglfar before it’s ready to sail. Along the way, they will face angry sea gods, hostile giants, and an evil fire-breathing dragon. But Magnus’ biggest challenge will be facing his own inner demons. Does he have what it takes to outwit the wily trickster god?”

My Thoughts:

Here are links to my reviews on the other books in the series:

  1. The Sword of Summer
  2. The Hammer of Thor

I’m sad to have finished this trilogy, because it was so much fun to read. No matter how old I get, I still find Riordan’s books so enjoyable. He creates such great characters in such beautiful worlds. But onto why this book specifically was so great! I say some of the same things every time, but he did such a good job with each book in the series.

A part of the book I really loved was the very beginning. Percy and Annabeth are there. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Magnus and Alex forming friendships with two beloved characters from Riordan’s other series made me so happy. (Even though Annabeth has been in this trilogy since the beginning, Percy hasn’t). Jack trying to talk to Riptide was also very entertaining.

As per usual with Riordan’s novels, The Ship of the Dead was funny. The dialogue is so true of each character and so natural, the chapter titles are funny and the way characters interact is funny and interesting. Especially in the Magnus Chase series, because in Valhalla, people come from all different periods of time. One line I liked that introduced the next chapter perfectly was:

“I like my rivers the way I like my enemies — slow, wide and lazy. I rarely get what I want.”

p.55

And I love this bit of dialogue:

“‘You want to come with me to a creepy mansion and look through a dead guy’s stuff?’

Alex beamed. ‘I thought you’d never ask.'”

p.20

One aspect I really loved was Mangus’ friends from floor nineteen in Hotel Valhalla being in this book more. They weren’t super involved in the plot of The Hammer of Thor, so it was fun to read about them more. Also, readers got to learn more about their backgrounds in this book. Magnus knew some information about how they all died, but not the specifics. I loved learning more about T.J, Mallory and Halfborn. They all have such different backgrounds from different time periods, which makes it so interesting to read about.

Overall, I loved this trilogy (even though I read the first one too many years ago to remember too many specifics), and I would highly recommend it!


Playlist:

I decided to make this playlist based on Mallory Keen, a character I love in The Ship of the Dead, and the trilogy as a whole.

  1. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
  2. Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
  3. Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill
  4. Ty Cobb – Soundgarden
  5. Set It Off – Audioslave
  6. Don’t Play – Halsey
  7. Heroes – David Bowie
  8. Come Together – The Beatles
  9. Nightmare – Halsey

You can listen to the playlist here ☘️


Thank you for reading! ❀️

Book Review: The Hammer of Thor

Found on Google Images

Title: The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)

Author: Rick Riordan

My Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Summary: “‘Magnus Chase, you nearly started Ragnarok. What are you going to do next?’

It’s been six weeks since Magnus and his friends returned from defeating Fenris Wolf and the fire giants. Magnus has adjusted to life at the Hotel Valhalla — as much as a once-homeless and previously alive kid can. As a son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility and health, Magnus doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of Odin’s chosen warriors, but he has a few good peeps among his hallmates on floor nineteen, and he’s been dutifully training for Ragnarok along with everyone else. His days have settled into a new kind of normal.

But Magnus should have known there’s no such thing as normal in the Nine Worlds. His friends Hearthstone and Blitzen have disappeared. A new hallmate is creating chaos. According to a very nervous goat, a certain object belonging to Thor is still missing and the thunder god’s enemies will stop at nothing to gain control of it.

Time to summon Jack, the Sword of Summer and take action. Too bad the only action Jack seems to be interested in is dates with other magical weapons…”

My Thoughts:

If you want to see my review on the first book (The Sword of Summer), you can read it here.

Until reading The Hammer of Thor this year, I hadn’t read anything by Riordan in a few years, and it was fun to read something by him again. It was also a little hard because I had a little trouble remembering what happened in the first Magnus Chase book. But that’s what the internet is for! So quick shoutout to Wikipedia for having indepth plot summaries!

As is typical of Riordan’s novels, the action starts only shortly after the book begins, and continues at a fast pace through the rest of the book. His pacing is perfect, with never a dull moment, but not moving past scenes too quickly either. The Hammer of Thor also included lots of humor, again as is typical of Riordan. He is great at writing funny scenes and lines that are funny to anyone. Nearly every joke was really funny to me now, even though the novels are aimed at a younger audience. Here are some lines I enjoyed:

…teenage einherjar hung out playing board games or just chillaxing (which is like chilling, except with battle axes).

p. 32

Or just this title with a reference I greatly appreciated:

You Keep Using the Word Help. I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

p. 341

I just always have such a fun time reading books by Riordan, which is why I will read anything he writes. I was also really happy while reading this because of the amount of diversity in this trilogy and his books in general. I’m happy knowing he is showing kids that people are all different and that’s normal. The Magnus Chase series has people of different religions, sexualities and gender identities. Though he isn’t anymore, Magnus was homeless and other characters are shown to have rough childhoods. This is so so so important for kids to see.

Overall, you should go read the first book right now πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to read The Ship of the Dead!


Playlist:

I made this playlist based on Alex Fierro, by far one of my favorite characters in The Hammer of Thor. Also, I did not mean to have songs by the same artists, but those songs just fit the character the best, so…oops. Lots of Audioslave for you!

  1. Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
  2. Keep on Livin’ – Le Tigre
  3. Bad Reputation – Joan Jett
  4. Jewel of the Summertime – Audioslave
  5. Freaks Like Us – Hands Off Gretel
  6. What You Are – Audioslave
  7. Don’t Play – Halsey
  8. Live to Rise – Soundgarden
  9. Changes – David Bowie
  10. Be Yourself – Audioslave

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚


Thank you for reading this review! πŸ“– ❀

Book Review: Shout

Found on Google Images

*TW: rape, domestic violence

Title: Shout

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

My Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Goodreads Summary: “Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice — and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.”

My Thoughts:

The minute I heard that Laurie Halse Anderson wrote Shout I knew I needed to read it. I haven’t read all of her books, but I’ve read a lot of them, and all were fantastic. I loved Speak when I read it, and although it’s been a long time since I read it, I remember how well she handled the complicated conversation around rape. She continuously tackles complex issues like eating disorders (Wintergirls) and PTSD (The Impossible Knife of Memory) so well. Shout is no different.

Anderson wrote in free verse, which I really enjoyed. It allowed her the freedom to write each poem in a different form and length, which kept it interesting. I also liked the mix of memoir (especially at the beginning) with poetry focused on the issue of sexual assault as a whole. Anderson was able to tell her own story while also addressing issues she herself never directly faced.

I really loved this book. There was not a poem I disliked. Of course, I had my favorites, but everything was well written and expressed different emotions and ideas. I’ve always thought Anderson is so talented with word choice and writing poetic lines in her novels, and Shout reinforced that. Some of my favorite lines are below (because quoting an entire poem is a bit much).

The image of my father hitting

my mother picassoed in front of me

like Sunday sunshine slicing

through the church windows, fracturing

and rearranging the truth on the floor.

Another example:

I didn’t speak up

when that boy raped me, instead I scalded

myself in the shower and turned

me into the ghost of the girl

I once was

Shout writes about the violence so many women experience in their lives in such a real way that nearly brought me to tears and filled me with rage. Anderson once again tackled a difficult topic with grace, expressing the anger and hurt so many women feel due to their experiences and the experiences of others. I cannot say enough that this book is excellent and everyone should read it.


Playlist:

This is a playlist of angry women (one of my favorite genres of music):

  1. Asking for It – Hole
  2. Nightmare – Halsey
  3. Can I Run – L7
  4. Oh Bondage Up Yours! – X-Ray Spex
  5. Seneca Falls – The Distillers
  6. World Against She – Hands Off Gretel
  7. Suck My Left One – Bikini Kill

You can listen to the playlist here 🀘🏻


Thanks for reading! ❀

My Month in Music – May (2019)

I hope you all had a good May! I finished my first year of college and it’s been very nice not to have homework. I haven’t written down what I’ve been listening to as well since coming home, so I apologize if the playlist is a bit repetitive! Anyway, onto the music πŸ™‚

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚


Special Mentions:

I saw L7 on the 19th and they were amazing! We were standing in the 3rd – ish row and it was a lot of fun!


Thank you for reading! I hope your summer is off to a great start πŸ™‚

Book Review: Our Own Private Universe

Title: Our Own Private Universe

Author: Robin Talley

My Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…1/2

Summary: “Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory. And it’s mostly about sex.

No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual — even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense. Aki has dated only guys so far, and her best friend, Lori, is the only person who knows she likes girls, too.

Actually, Aki’s theory is that she’s only got one shot at living an interesting life — and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try.

So when Aki and Lori set off on a church youth-group trip to a small Mexican town for the summer and Aki meets Christa — slightly older, far more experienced — it seems her theory is prime for the testing.

But it’s not going to be easy. For one thing, how exactly do two girls have sex, anyway? And more important, how can you tell if you’re in love? It’s going to be a summer of testing theories — and the result may just be love.”

My Thoughts:

I wanted something easy and fun to read, so I decided to read a YA contemporary novel. (Also, I realized I hadn’t read any since 2015, so there’s that). I love Robin Talley (please read Lies We Tell Ourselves if you haven’t), so I decided to read this πŸ™‚

One thing I liked about this novel was the friendships. There were interesting dynamics between each friendship, which made it interesting. Also, the relationship in this book is so cute! They’re both young, figuring out their sexuality and what their future holds for them. There’s a lot of unknown things, but that they like each other isn’t one of them.

Another thing Talley does really well is her dialogue is great. It’s very natural and differs with different characters well. Here’s a good example:

“The new guys are going to be incredible,” Lori had whispered to me as we walked to the party with the others.

“They’re going to be exactly the same as the guys we already know,” I whispered back.

“Not true. These guys are way cooler. Much less boring.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

“Look, I’m an optimist, okay?”

p.13

In addition to the same-sex relationship in Our Own Private Universe, Talley included other characters that made this a diverse novel. Aki and her family are black, and it takes place in Mexico, meaning many of the side characters are Mexican. Aki and at least one other character are bisexual, there is an out lesbian character, and one character who is pretty sure they’re pansexual. Very rarely are there books, especially contemporary YA novels this diverse.

There were also some things about this book that were less prominent that I still want to mention. For one, it’s very sex positive, specifically regarding LGBTQ+ people. Talley brings up topics about safe sex and the issues of sex education, which largely only teach about one kind of sex. On a completely different note, all of the sections of this book have Prince song titles as titles. Additionally, there are more references and mentions of Prince throughout, which was fun. There is also a small section with a long conversation about Harry Potter, which made me very happy.

There were some things I didn’t love about Our Own Private Universe, though. For one, while I liked Aki, Lori and Christa (and other characters), I didn’t love any of them. I liked some of the background characters a little better, but overall they were all just fine. There were traits in them all that really bothered me too much to really love them. (Saying exactly what things bother me would spoil a lot, so I can’t be specific). The other main issue I had was with the characters arguing over stupid things and lying to each other. It made some of the conflicts feel catty and unoriginal. (Again, putting specifics would spoil things so I can’t be more specific).

Overall, I think this books like this one are very important as LGBTQ+ relationships are very under represented in books and the YA genre. If you want a fast, cute romance novel this is a good one to choose!


Playlist:

For this playlist, I chose artists and bands that have members in the LGBTQ+ community.

  1. Keep on Livin’ – Le Tigre
  2. Sheer Heart Attack – Queen
  3. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
  4. Plum – Troye Sivan
  5. Angel on Fire – Halsey
  6. Re: Anne – Charlie Raphael – Campbell
  7. Love You Old Fashioned – Semler
  8. The Original High – Adam Lambert
  9. Viz – Le Tigre
  10. She Walks on Me – Hole

You can listen to the playlist here πŸ™‚


Thank you for reading!πŸŒˆπŸ“–

My Month in Music – February (2019)

I can’t believe it’s already March! February went by crazy fast, but I still found the time to listen to some great music! I hope you did too. Here’s what I listened to last month:

You can listen to the playlist here.


Every once in a while, I feel like looking at some Harry Potter stuff and so I go on Tumblr. It always starts with one tag, and I re-immerse myself in my love for Harry Potter. This time it was #remadora and I kid you not, I scrolled through e v e r y post under the Top section. But I mean just look at them!!!

Also sorry (but not really) to my few friends that follow me on Tumblr…oops.

Anyway…this led to me taking a trip down memory lane to my very short-lived obsession with wizard rock (wrock), where I found and rediscovered some great songs (full EP’s and albums, actually). So that’s why there’s a good number of Oliver Boyd and the Remebralls’ songs on this playlist. I felt like I needed to point it out, since it’s sort of different from everything else on the playlist. (You know because I usually listen to music that isn’t about Harry Potter).

Special Mentions:

Here are the wrock songs I remember from middle school the most clearly. Obviously, two of these are a bit more Sirius than the other one. (I tried so hard not to make that pun, but I just couldn’t resist the urge).

At the Oscar’s this year, Queen and Adam Lambert opened, and as per usual, they were amazing. I think everyone needs to see it, so…

One more thing! I know the Super Bowl was a while ago now, but I still wanted to show a few performances from the Foo Fighter’s Super Saturday Night concert. As per usual, they killed it. No surprises there. Here are two great performances by my favorite Dad Bandℒ️:


Thanks for reading! ❀ ⚑️