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Esther has read 11 books toward her goal of 50 books.

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10 August 2016
The Thirteenth HourThe Thirteenth Hour by Joshua Blum

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

In a lot of ways, this book is cool and different, taking overused fantasy tropes and turning them on their heads. However, it is also quite tell-y. Some of that could just be the style, but it always rubs me the wrong way while reading something that tells me instead of showing me. The spelling and grammar are mostly smooth and well-done, with a few typos scattered throughout, however the characters don’t talk like real people. Huge sections of beautiful prose are interspersed with awkward, poorly written, sections.

Each time the POV changes, the text colour changes too. While this makes it much easier to follow than some books I’ve read that are full of annoying head jumping, I personally found the different coloured text to be distracting and affected. Also, several times pages end in the middle of a scene… or even a sentence. This tells me that whoever formatted this into an ebook needs to do a bit more work making it read smoothly.

Besides the dialogue sounding like they’re constantly quoting something, many of the conversations are very difficult to follow. With only dialogue and no ‘stage directions’ it’s hard to keep track of who’s saying what, especially if there’s more than two characters in the scene. However, there are a few lines that I really liked. For example: ‘he held up a finger as if to say, “I’m not finished yet,” which had always seemed like an asshole move to me.’ Yes, I’ve always thought that’s an asshole thing to do.

The epilogue is pretty much an elongated moral like at the end of Aesop’s fables. I think the story would be better if the epilogue was cut back a lot or trashed completely. This could be simply personal taste, though. Maybe there are people who like to read a long moral at the end of a book. I found it boring.

Overall, this was a pretty good story, though it could use a good edit to tighten it up and cut a lot of the words. It took me a lot longer to read than a book of this length usually does, and I think a good cut would make it easier and faster to read. However, if you like a fantasy but are sick of the tired old tropes, this would be a good choice.

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01 August 2016
I really don’t understand why anyone has a problem with caring about others’ feelings. When I speak up in favour of other people, I’m labelled a Social Justice Warrior (SJW) which is somehow a bad thing for some reason. Well, let me tell you something: I would rather be an SJW than a jerk. When did justice become a bad thing anyway?

My brother told me that ‘racist’ and ‘racism’ are buzzwords that don’t mean anything. Well, I don’t agree (and neither does the dictionary). I think if you are cruel to someone because of their race, then you are being racist. And yes, not all bigotry is racism, but that is not the point. Racism is a real thing, and it’s a huge problem.

My brother likes to claim that he’s simply being rational and accuse me of being emotional. I’m human. A big part of being human is having emotions. My emotional response tells me that being cruel is wrong, and I trust that. You can pretend all you want that you don’t have emotions but you do, and if you are cruel to everyone you will alienate them and when you need emotional support there will be no one there for you.

Cruelty leaves you alone. Being kind costs you nothing. Being cruel costs you friends and makes you enemies. So why wouldn’t you want to be kind?

12 June 2016

Today she would be sixty-three.
On June 12th, 1953,
A baby girl was born, and she
Grew up, and she gave birth to me.

Today she would be sixty-three:
The one human who always loved me
From the very moment she
Learned my birth was to be.

I learned to love, I learned to be
The woman I was meant to be,
And she was very proud of me.
Today she would be sixty-three.

24 April 2016
When I was a child, I didn’t know if women could be Jedi. I knew Leia was “strong in the Force,” but she was always so angry. If Luke was too much like his father, then Leia was surely much too angry to be a Jedi. We all know that anger leads to hate which leads to suffering.

Personality-wise, I identified with Luke’s passionate desire to save people and with Obi Wan’s quiet life of hermitude. As an introvert growing up with seven younger siblings, I yearned for quiet and solitude. And yet, I also loved the excitement of the battles. I cheered for Luke when he destroyed the Death Star and for Leia when she choked Jabba.

When the prequels hit, I discovered that women could be, and were, Jedi. They were in the background, but they were there, and they appeared to be treated as equals by the rest of the Order. They made little impression on me, however, beyond their existence. I could imagine myself a Jedi, but I didn’t personally identify with any of them.

I fell more in love with Obi Wan here, identifying with him even more strongly than before, with his seemingly contradictory personality. He hates to fight, yet is one of the best swordsmen in the Order; he’s an amazing negotiator, yet would rather just be alone. I hero-worship Qui Gon, with his disregard for rules and authority when he knows they are wrong, and I dream of being Qui Gon, but I am really Obi Wan.

Padmé, like Leia in the original trilogy, is the lone main female character in the prequels, and I do love her. Unlike Leia, Padmé is not ruled by anger, and yet she never shows the slightest ability to use the Force. And she is not at all like me, with her fearless leadership and ability to stand before crowds and speak with authority.

I have always had no issue identifying with characters who are not my gender. King Arthur, Jim Hawkins, Jean Val Jean, Atticus Finch, Sherlock Holmes, Par Ohmsford, Alec Ramsay, Tom Sawyer, Luke Skywalker, Clark Kent, Bilbo Baggins, and Harry Potter each helped define my growing up into who I am today. And yet, I have a special place in my heart for Hermione, who loves to learn; for Menolly, whose love of music defines her; for Anne Shirley, who lives and breathes poetry; for Lucy Pevensie, who believes despite what others say; for Alice, who tries to make sense of a senseless world; for Meg Murry, who will stop at nothing to save her little brother; for Wendy, who is a surrogate mother to a bunch of boys; for Belle, who sees beyond the outward appearance to the heart. These too, made me who I am.

I never wanted to be a princess and, really, I never wanted to be a warrior. I want to be the hero who uses their brain and heart. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a princess or a warrior, it’s just not my personal desire. However, I always wanted to be a Jedi.

In The Force Awakens, I identify most strongly with Finn, who balks at the order to kill, who runs away and then comes back to help a friend. And yet… and yet. Rey, who is comfortable alone, who is confident in her own abilities, who feels as protective of Finn as he is of her, is finally—finally!—a female main character in which I can see so much of myself. Little girls today have a hero in Star Wars who shows them that they too can be a hero, that they can be a Jedi. Finally, because of Rey, I truly can see the Jedi within me.

25 March 2016
I stood with Jesus when the angry crowd called for His death,
Shouting, crying, “Crucify him!” upon every breath.
I stood and raised a hand and said, “I find no fault in him;
He’s not a threat to you or me, or anyone in Rome.”

I asked him if he understood the seriousness of the charges;
He answered not a word in his defense.
I asked the people, “Should I free Jesus or this Barabbas?”
They cried, “We want Barabbas, not pretense!”

I had him whipped and beaten as a ploy to save his life;
I wished to avoid riots and the resurgence of strife.
But nothing that I said or did would pacify the crowd;
They wanted this man Jesus dead; they shouted it aloud.

So then I said, “I wash my hands of this whole mess—you’ve won!
You want to kill him? Do it! I don’t care at all—I’m done.”
And so the crowd, they took him out to Calvary;
They took him and they crucified him there upon a tree.

I was not the soldier who nailed him to the cross;
I did not stand and watch him die in pain.
And yet, I am as guilty as the crowd who cried for death,
And I can never wash away the stain.

27 November 2015
Has it really been three years?
Some days, it seems much longer.
Am I forgetting you?
My life continues on without you:
I love, I laugh, I cry, I smile.
And yet, some days, it feels as if
Just yesterday I saw your face,
I felt your arms around me.

31 October 2015
It's hard to believe another OctPoWriMo has come and gone, but here we are. Today's prompt is about journeys and endings.

Journey's End

Every end is a beginning;
Journey’s end can bring new life.
Everything is ephemeral
So enjoy it while you can.