My favourite things! (April 11-30)

Hey people! So, it’s been a while, but I have finally amassed enough things that I like throughout the month that I could put together another post. So, let’s get into it!

Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Okay, so I basically grew up with Taylor Swift. Half of the songs on Fearless I can recite by memory–I remember being, like, seven, and watching all her music videos after school on YouTube, back when I could name about three artists total. I didn’t really know other artists existed until sixth grade, so for a while it was just me and my emotional support Taylor Swift albums against the world. (No, I did not come up with that joke, I saw it on Tumblr, but I couldn’t resist.)

I don’t know, her music is just really nostalgic to me, and always makes me feel really safe and happy, and has gotten me through some tough times. As I write this it’s been a little while since this album came out, but whatever, I just needed to gush about it. The re-rerecorded songs are, for the most part, very similar to their original versions, but the vocals feel so much smoother and more mature, as though she’s recalling a nostalgic memory, and getting a chance to re-live my childhood this way was so nice. I’m lowkey getting very emotional about finally getting to listen to “Fifteen” as an actual fifteen year old, rather than a nine-year-old who thought being a teenager was gonna be the coolest thing ever. Also, the bonus tracks are amazing, and it’s a crime against humanity they weren’t released originally.

The Unruly City: Paris, London, and New York in the Age of Revolution

Okay, I don’t know if it shows, but I am such a huge history kid. Social studies is my favourite school topic by far. I think knowing about history is so important, because you definitely do see parallels between the world as it is now, and the world as it was then.

It’s so fascinating to think about all the people who came before you, all the events that shaped the world as we know it. Thinking about that will never cease to amaze me. I think revolutions are fascinating, and the late 1700s-1800s is a period I just keep ending up falling back to in my writing, so I figured it was time to read up a bit on it. I feel like there’s so much about history I don’t know, and would love to study further, so if anyone has any suggestions for good history books about, like, literally anything, let me know.

Anyway, this book follows three different revolutionary periods, interweaving different stories. The prose is so beautifully written, and immersive? I don’t know what it quite is, but it really makes you feel like you’re there. It’s definitely very smart, but doesn’t talk down to the reader, and never feels dry or overly academic/pretentious either. I’m not finished with it yet, but I’m pretty close, and I’m loving it so far.

Shadow and Bone

I originally got into the Grishaverse when I was in seventh grade, on the hunt for literally any fantasy books I hadn’t already read to death, like the little book gremlin I was. I was too young to fully appreciate the scope of these books, and they’ve for sure gotten better after a few years, and I’m sure I’ll appreciate them even more when I’m in my 20s. Anyway, last March I got my friend into them while we were in quarantine, and as a result had an excuse to get more into them myself. We’ve both been super hyped to watch the Netflix show and so I may or may not have spent like four hours binge-watching it this afternoon, after I finished work. I’m only five episodes in as I write this, because it is not healthy for me to binge-watch shows without taking a bit of a break, but so far I’m loving it. It’s faithful to the books, without following them verbatim. It sort of feels like reading AU fanfiction by the author, and I say that in the best way possible–because it reworks the original story in such a way that it’s understandable to someone who’s never read the books, but also creates a totally new experience for someone like me who’s read them many, many times–everyone goes into watching it not knowing what’s going to happen.

Shadow and Bone combines the plots of two different series within the same universe, Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows. So we get two narratives, both set within the fantasy world, in which Grisha, gifted with various magical powers, live–exalted in one country, persecuted in the next. There are a bunch of different countries, all with really beautifully fleshed-out cultures, but this show focuses on Ravka, based off of Imperial Russia. The country has been divided into east and west by a sea of darkness called The Fold. One side of the story follows Alina Starkov, a soldier fighting against The Fold, who discovers she’s a Grisha, capable of summoning light and calling back the darkness. And then, on the other hand, we follow The Crows, a gang of criminals set on capturing her for a generous reward. Sadly, some of the original six in the book are off doing other things right now, but we still do get to see them–except for Wylan. I’m a bit salty about that, but I guess I can see why he had to be cut. Anyway, the TLDR is that it’s super well written high fantasy and I love this whole franchise to death.

Also, bonus points for how INCREDIBLE the soundtrack is. It’s been stuck in my head all night, which really says a lot, because normally instrumental songs don’t exactly stick to your memory. As we speak, I’m listening to the album for season one on Spotify–10/10, would recommend for dramatically studying French and trying to force yourself to pay attention and/or writing very bad fight scenes.

Inkwyrm

I listened to the first half of this podcast ages ago, like in… November? but I got distracted, and I never ended up finishing it, sadly. But I was at work so I had nothing else to do but listen to podcasts while I worked–so I ploughed through the rest of this show in, like, a few days, because it’s really addictive and definitely easy to binge-listen to. It’s a workplace comedy, and also a space opera, with loads of LGBT+ rep, all of which are just making this show right up my alley. (Oh, and a central wlw romance! Do NOT get me started on the romance in this show, it’s so good!!)

It follows Mella Sonder, assistant to the editor-in-chief Annie Inkwyrm, of Inkywrm Magazine, an intergalactic fashion publication, and their whole ensemble of coworkers and the antics they get up to. Most of the time it’s fairly lighthearted, but it has some really hard-hitting plotpoints too that, not gonna lie, got me pretty emotional. Also, it’s got found family, what’s not to love.

Speed round: My favourite memories of the week

Meals: Chocolate chip cookies, veggie simosas, sun-dried tomato pasta, tacos my mom made, homemade naan breads which turned our surprisingly well, and these English muffins I had with peanut butter for a late-night writing snack.

Memories: Finishing my biology final, at long last, and getting macarons with my friend to celebrate afterwards at the local bakery, watching Shadow and Bone, gardening out in the yard after sunset on a warm night, finally being able to wear shorts!

I think that’s about it! I will hopefully see you again soon, thanks so much for reading 🙂

Lorna

My favourite things this week! (Shoutout Saturday)

Hello! Greetings! Welcome to my blog. So, after consuming media at an alarming rate for the past two weeks, I am back, and armed with some spicy, fresh content. Please enjoy.

Wings of Fire: Dragonslayer

So, in case this is for some reason the first post of mine you ever read (if it is, welcome by the way, I’m so glad you stopped by my little corner of the internet, I hope you like it!) I’m total trash for the Wings of Fire series. (Cool worldbuilding! Found family! Character-driven fantasy! Dragons! Childhood nostalgia value!)

Anyway, this is a book in that series, and I think it’s better if you’ve read all the other books, but you could totally read it as a stand-alone if you wanted to. It came out back in February, while I was really sick with the flu. I remember my mom woke me up from a nap when it arrived, and I read the whole thing cover-to-cover with a really bad fever, and went back to sleep, very tired and done with being a person. I reread it a few days later in a clearer headspace, but I was still a little sick, and then lockdown happened and I got really depressed, and I never had the chance to get really into this book like I usually do with this series. But now that I am not sick, and in a sorta-better headspace, I decided to reread it, and totally fell into the Wings of Fire hole.

Normally, the WOF books are told from the perspectives of the dragons who rule over the continent of Pyrrhia, and it’s epic, but this book is from the perspective of the humans who live there too, and normally just exist in the background. It’s got three different alternating perspectives—Ivy, Leaf, and Wren. They start out as having three completely different stories, but as the books go on they all tie together, which is super cool, I love that trope and wish I had the self-control to pull it off in my stories.

Ivy is the daughter of the Dragonslayer, this sleazy dude who killed a dragon when he was sixteen and now rules over a town for some reason. He’s a pretty awful leader, and gets downright dystopian towards the end. Ivy recognizes her father’s faults from a very young age, and the story goes on, we follow her as she unravels her family’s secrets with her best friends, Daffodil and Violet, it’s awesome.

Wren was sacrificed by her village to the dragons when she was seven years old. But rather than getting eaten, she found an abandoned baby dragon named Sky, and befriended him. Ever since, the two have travelled around the world together, they have a really cute big sister/little brother dynamic, I like them a lot. Her story is has vague themes of learning to trust and let people in again, but also mostly just her and Sky going on adventures and being wonderful.

Leaf, her big brother, has spent his whole life training to avenge Wren–who as far as he knows was randomly eaten by dragons. I don’t know how much more I can explain about him without spoiling his story, but let’s just say it’s about learning to let go of anger, and also realizing that the government doesn’t care about him, and everyone he’s known and trusted his whole life has lied to him about what happened to Wren. It’s a fun time.

Anyway, I don’t know how to explain it more than that—but this book is cool and you should check it out. (And if you do please let me know because I want to scream about it with you.)

Stranger in the Alps

For some reason, about two weeks ago, I started seeing everyone talk about Phoebe Bridgers. I heard her name casually referenced in fandoms I’m in, I saw her music in playlists, and oftentimes the stuff I was seeing was really old, so it was like everyone knew about this person but me and only now my attention was being onto it. And if there is an inside joke going around the internet I can’t apply to my life, I will literally seek out that experience just to be able to make stupid jokes!! About!!! Zoom meetings!!! (Another rant for another time.)

…. Anyway, I listened to this album, it was really cool and inspired me to write a concerning amount of poetry. I really love analyzing song lyrics, I think songwriting is so cool, I’d love to be able to write my own songs someday in the very distant future, and this album has some really cool lyrics. It’s not really comparable to anything I’ve listened to before. All of the songs are pretty melancholy, but also super soothing to listen to. Every time I listen to this album, it’s like I can forget about the world around me for a while, which is nice. It makes me think of walking through a dead autumn meadow, thick fog, empty city streets at night, a beach during a storm… I don’t know, it’s really pretty, you should check it out.

The Glass Hotel

This is one of those books that take a while to get into, but after the first fifty pages, you’re totally hooked. The Glass Hotel follows billionaire Jonathan Alkaitis, after being arrested for running and getting very wealthy off of a decade-long Ponzi scheme, and all the interconnected people affected by that event. As a kid, I was pretty much raised on financial dramas (amongst other things) so this book was right up my alley. It beautifully weaves this web of all these peoples’ lives, and shows how they affect each other. The characters are fascinating, flawed, and real, and it has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a while. For a novel centering around a crime, it feels very calm–as though examining its own events from an outside perspective, with an almost fatalistic attitude, which I thought was really cool.

This is definitely capital-L Literature, if you know what I mean–it uses lots of long words, and it takes some dedication to get into, so if that’s not your cup of tea, this probably isn’t for you. But as a resident useless intellectual, I thought it was really neat.

Also, bonus points, it’s set in my home province, British Columbia, and it captures it really well, which is pleasantly surprising–I don’t think I’ve actually ever read a book set in BC before, at least not that I can remember.

On a Sunbeam

I just got this book out of the library a day ago, and I finished it this morning, and normally I would wait a little while to process before writing about it here, but I just love this book so much, I couldn’t not talk about it.

On a Sunbeam is a graphic novel that follows two timelines in the protagonist, Mia’s life, five years apart. We switch between her life at boarding school as she falls in love with a girl named Grace, only to have her girlfriend suddenly ripped away from her–and post-graduation, as she travels the stars with Alma, Char, Jules, and Elliot, repairing, ancient ruins. It has a really cute wlw romance, found family, and it’s a space opera, so it really ticks all the boxes for me.

It’s sci-fi, but very casual, character-driven sci-fi. There are no ominous aliens or government conspiracies, and the specifics of the world are never fleshed out beyond how they directly affect the characters, giving it a very nebulous, floating feel, which I personally really liked. The futuristic setting is more of a background, a stage for the rest of the story to unfold on.

As well, from a purely aesthetic sense, this book is gorgeous, I had to take a bunch of photos on my phone of my favourite panels for future reference. It’s one of my favourite books I’ve read of date, and it made me really happy, so yeah, you should check it out.


Anyway, that’s about it for this week. I’ll be back next week, hopefully with more recommendations and things to gush about, or maybe some other topic, I don’t know.

Lots of love,

Lorna

Shoutout Saturday (book and podcast recommendations)

Hey guys! So I’ve been spending a lot of time by myself of late, just because I’m on winter break right now–and sometimes when I feel lonely, listening to podcasts helps. (This is gonna sound really sad–but it’s sorta like a one-sided phone call.) Anyway, here are some of my favourites I’ve recently discovered!

Zero Hours

This is one of those podcasts I’ve been meaning to get to for ages, and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s a short series of pieces exploring the end of the world, from 1722 to the present, to far, far into the future. It’s definitely not easy listening, or the best thing to put on if you’re already feeling anxious about the state of the world. But if you’re up to it, this show has some of the most brilliant, unique writing and sound design I’ve seen in a long time.

Some episodes explore dystopian societies, and horrifying wastelands, your typical “end of the world” fare. But other episodes explore a much more personal kind of apocalypse–a couple weighing the pros and cons of taking a miracle drug that might ruin their relationship, a bartender considering his options the night before Prohibition goes into effect. It’s definitely not rainbows and sunshine, but despite the grim stories this podcast tells, in the end, I think it’s a show about hope, and shared humanity.

Oh! And, it’s by the same people who made Wolf 359, so some of the voice actors from that star in it, which is super cool, just to get to see the same voices in a totally different context? I don’t know, it’s neat!

A Neon Darkness

So, The Bright Sessions has to be one of my favourite podcasts of all time. I binge-listened to it in, like, a week, because the writing is just so addictive–maybe I’ll write about it more at some point, or relisten. But the basic premise is that the show follows Dr. Bright, a therapist for people with superpowers, and her clients, whose stories all gradually come together. It discusses mental health and trauma in a really refreshing, poignant way, it has found family, and it’s just such a good show. Anyway, it’s over now, but the person who wrote it, Lauren Shippen, is still writing stuff in the universe–there are two spinoff shows out right now, and she’s writing three books about some of the supporting characters who didn’t get a chance to tell their full stories in the podcast.

A Neon Darkness explores the life of Damien, a nineteen-year-old with the power to make other people want (and therefore do) what he wants.

This book kept me up super late into the night, I just couldn’t put it down. In the podcast, I always hated Damien’s guts, and I still do–he does some really awful, inexcusable things. But after reading this book, I can empathize a little bit more with some of his experiences. The way he becomes the villain of his own story, and sabotages himself without even realizing it–I’ve definitely been there.

This book also has phenomenal representation, just like the podcast, which made me so happy–and yeah, you should check it out, and also listen to The Bright Sessions!

Station Arcadia

My friend introduced me to this show. I started listening to it a few days ago, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

Station Arcadia is set in a barren, war-torn dystopian empire from the not-so-distant future. Each episode is a broadcast from our narrator, Kass, as she tells stories of those at the living very edges of society. (I’m only on episode five, but I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be a revolution, and I’m very hyped.) It’s got really good representation, and it’s got that super cool radio show format, which I’m always trash for in podcasts–and I love the mix of a new story every episode, but there’s still an overarching storyline, and of course, as the episodes go on you get to know the narrator. The sound design and music is also really well done, like wow.

I’m almost done casting for my podcast, and halfway through editing the first season, which is super exciting–and I guess it’s just comforting to see another small podcast, doing its thing really well, and putting out super high-quality content? It makes me really happy.

The Lower Light

Right now, this podcast is only on its first few episodes, but it deserves so much more attention!

The Lower Light follows Laurie Caston, a curator for the Lighthouse Museum, as he explores the artefacts and tells you the stories behind him. Each episode has a new stand-alone tale of selkies, or vampires, or other funky creatures, and it’s super cool. Laurie’s voice is so soothing to listen to, he’s pretty much the ideal narrator for a fiction podcast (in my humble opinion). Oh, and it’s got really awesome representation too, which is super cool to see!

The sound design is beautiful, and the writing is just so effortlessly elegant–somehow every time I listen to it, I feel like I’m right there with the characters, and I can just imagine the setting so vividly. Listening to this show is just an absolutely magical experience, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in the future.


Anyway, that’s all I have for you this week! I hope you all are taking care of yourselves, I know the holidays can be a really rough time, especially this year. I’m sending lots of hugs your way. I hope you’re all safe and healthy, and I’ll see you again in the New Year. 🙂

Lots of love,

Lorna

What I’ve been listening to + reading (Shoutout Saturday!)

The 12:37 | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

The 12:37

The 12:37 is one of those podcasts I got recommended to me at some point, and so then I added to my library on Spotify–but just never really got around to until a few weeks ago, when I finally got up to date with The Penumbra Podcast and was looking for something new to listen to. But I’m so glad I did.

It follows Nora, a twentysomething girl who accidentally boards a time-travelling train on her way home from work. But there’s a larger plan afoot, and also yet another evil corporation who is actually manipulating everyone, which I’m totally here for. There’s found family, and a really cute romance, and it’s just so good.

I really appreciate how depression is handled about, as well as taking medication for it. You can tell that there was a lot of care put into the way they wrote it, and as someone who takes meds, and experiences depression, it hits home. Also, the representation is amazing, and it makes me so happy! If you’re looking for diverse media, you really can’t beat podcasts.

Death by Dying | Listen via Stitcher for Podcasts

Death by Dying

I’ve probably said this before, but I love how you can listen to podcasts while doing other things. With a book or TV show, you have to pencil out a whole part of your day to watch/read, but podcasts can conveniently be listened to while I’m working, or while I’m on the bus, or doing schoolwork, or whatever. I listened to the entire first season of Death by Dying while I was doing some gardening for a client, and got ridiculously emotional as soon as I went home.

Death By Dying follows the tired obituary writer of Crestfall, Idaho, as he tells the stories of the recently departed, and investigates their lives. It has a similar vibe to Welcome to Night Vale, since they both take place in these absurd small towns–which, as someone who lives in an absurd small town, I am absolutely here for–but it’s also completely different? It’s quiet and mournful, it’s funny and ridiculous, it’s terrifying at times, and also, the sound design is gorgeous.

I don’t know–as someone who’s spent a lot of her life observing death from a distance… this show just hits different.

Wolf 359 (podcast) - Wikipedia

Wolf 359

Okay. So, this podcast isn’t in any way a new find for me; I spent most ninth grade absolutely losing my mind over it, because it’s such a good show. I have the whole thing downloaded on my phone, and I guess I never bothered to remove the episodes after I finished them. So, while I was working, I realized I didn’t have anything else downloaded, and so I decided to reslisten to it, and I have no regrets because it’s amazing, and I love this show so so much. It’s particularly nice to listen to while I do things I don’t want to–because hey, I may have a massive pile of dishes to do, and also my cat threw up on the carpet, but at least I don’t work for Goddard Futuristics.

Wolf 359 follows Doug Eiffel, a tired, kind of obnoxious communications officer, aboard the USS Hephaestus. It starts out as a workplace comedy, but about ten episodes in, does a super cool genre switch, and suddenly, yep, guess what, there’s another evil corporation manipulating everyone. (What can I say, art reflects life.) It’s one part comedy, one part tragedy, and one part cosmic horror, and honestly feels concerning relatable after having spent a fair amount of time alone, in close quarters with two other people for an indeterminate amount of time myself when we were in quarantine. The soundtrack is amazing, the writing is just so good, and the sound design is beautifully done, and, I don’t know, it’s probably one of my favourite podcasts out there–so go give it a listen.

Here in the Real World: Pennypacker, Sara: 9780062698957: Books - Amazon.ca

Here in the Real World

I’ve had this book sitting on my nightstand for a while, but recently, I finally got around to reading it. And I am so glad that I did. This book just hit way too close to home for me, and I think pretty much any other creative person would feel the same.

Here in the Real World is about Ware, an 11-year-old boy whose mom sends him off to summer camp, so she can help his sick grandmother. He’s surrounded by people who see his introversion as a problem, and are constantly trying to get him to interact with other children in a different way. So, after a few days of the camp, he drops out, and goes wandering into the forest, where he finds this abandoned lot, with an old church on it. It’s there he meets Jolene, who’s been turning the lot into a garden, and the two set out to make it into something beautiful, and completely new.

This book is heartwrenching, and beautiful. It made me remember what it felt like to be a little kid, figuring yourself out, and trying to find your place in the world–to not be so tired and cynical. And honestly, I really needed that.

Okay! I think that’s about it for today! I hope you liked reading me geek out for 1000 words, because I had fun writing this post. 🙂

Lots of love,

dragonwritesthings