Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Happy Tag

I was tagged (forever ago) by Engie at "Musings From Neville's Navel" to do the "Happy Tag." And since the past few days here have been so dreary and full of rain, I thought now would be the perfect time to do it. I really had to narrow down some of my lists since I have a lot of "favorites" in some of those areas, so I decided there was a difference between general happiness and that cozy, homey, nostalgia, comfortable happiness only certain things can bring you. I chose to fill out my answers in the latter sense.

(I also added a section for TV shows, because for some reason it wasn't already included in the tag???)

Books that make me happy

-Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
-Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
-Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
-Cress by Marissa Meyer
-Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
-The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
-Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
-The Host by Stephenie Meyer
-Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Films that make me happy

-"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"
-"Harry Potter" movies
-"Wonder Woman"
-"Love, Simon"
-"Les Misérables" (ironically, since the movie itself is so tragic)
-"Beauty and the Beast" (either version)
-"The Day of the Doctor"

TV shows that make me happy  

-"Doctor Who"
-"Jane the Virgin"
-"Gilmore Girls"
-"This Is Us"
-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
-"New Girl"

Songs that make me happy

(Yeah, okay, I went a little crazy with this section . . . This is also about a third of the length that the original list was.)

-"Non-Stop" from "Hamilton"
-"Kingdom Come" by the Civil Wars
-"Stay or Leave" by Dave Matthews
-"Photograph" by Ed Sheeran
-"Anything Could Happen" by Ellie Goulding
-"Boom Clap" by Charli XCX
-"Rockstar" by A Great Big World
-"Jackie and Wilson" by Hozier
-"Girls Chase Boys" by Ingrid Michaelson
-"Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas
-"Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer
-"There She Goes" by Sixpence None the Richer
-"Shut Up and Dance" by WALK THE MOON
-"Would You Be So Kind" by Dodie
-"Favourite Colour" by Carly Rae Jepsen
-"Singing In the Rain/Umbrella" from "Glee"
-"On My Own" from "Les Misérables"
-"One Day More" from "Les Misérables"
-"So They Say" from "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"
-"A Musical" from "Something Rotten!"
-"Light My Candle" from "Rent"
-"Belle" from "Beauty and the Beast"
-"Sincerely, Me" from "Dear Evan Hansen"
-"Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift
-"New Romantics" by Taylor Swift
-"Long Live" by Taylor Swift
-"Enchanted" by Taylor Swift
-"Know Your Name" by Mary Lambert
-"Girls Like Girls" by Hayley Kiyoko
-"We'll Go From There" from "Anastasia"
-"A Million Dreams" from "The Greatest Showman"
-"What's Up, Duloc?" from "Shrek: The Musical"
-"Captain Hook's Waltz" from "Peter Pan"
-"Someone Else's Story" from "Chess"

Words that make me happy


Foods that make me happy

(I made myself so hungry coming up with this list.)

-Fun iced coffee drinks (the kinds that are loaded with chocolate or caramel flavors)
-Indian food (paneer, curry, naan, etc.)
-Queso dip
-Coke slusies
-Dippy eggs
-Chile rellenos
-Egg/spring rolls
-Reese's peanut butter cups
-Hot chocolate with peppermint ice cream
-Chocolate and peanut butter milkshakes
-Seafood (crab and lobster dipped in butter, clams, mussels, squid, octopus, lobster rolls, etc.)

Scents that make me happy

-Baking cookies
-Ocean water
-Cooking garlic

Miscellany that make me happy

-Looking through old photos
-Plaid, flannel shirts
-Playing board games with my family
-Fuzzy socks
-Walking through bookstores
-Highlighting my lines in a script
-Preparing backstage for a show with my castmates
-Getting packages in the mail
-Plotting a new book
-Autumn leaves
-Rereading favorite books
-Bingewatching a new show
-Roleplaying online
-Fangirling/shipping with friends
-Reading at the beach
-Weeping willows
-Fun lipstick
-Baby elephants
-Baby goats
-Llamas and alpacas
-Writer's camps
-Staying up late
-Going to Broadway

Tag, you're it! What are some of your favorite things? Steal this tag for yourself and/or answer the prompts in the comments.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

My Favorite LGBTQ+ Books

I thought about doing this post during Pride Month, but then I realized it could be even better to do it way after Pride Month, because then we get to spread out the fun! When I went to my LGBTQ shelf on Goodreads, I saw that as much as I adore most of these books to itty bitty pieces, I still haven't read nearly enough books featuring LGBTQ+ characters. And of those books, a majority of them feature M/M romances and are contemporary. Where are my F/F romances and queer fantasies? I want to remedy this, so as you're reading, be thinking of your own favorite LGBTQ+ books to share with me.

M/M romance

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is the epic, high-adventure novel starring a witty bisexual that we all need in our lives. Don't let the length intimidate you because it will fly by. Not only are Monty and Percy perfect for each other, but writing is fabulous and the plot never slows. I enjoyed every page, which is not something you can always say with a book that's 500+ pages.

If you haven't heard of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, then you've been living under a rock. Becky Albertalli has a gift for writing lovable, realistic characters and books that you want to devour in one sitting. If I ever need a cozy, fluffy, romantic book in order to destress or take my mind off of things, I will go back to this book (or "Love, Simon").

Carry On's protagonist, coincidentally enough, is also named Simon, though this book is nothing like the one above. This is the answer to every Harry/Draco fan's dreams. But while I don't ship Harry and Draco, I do love Simon and Baz. Full of magic and snark, you should pick up this novel when you're looking for something fun and imaginative (but only after reading Fangirl first!).

History Is All You Left Me was my first introduction to Adam Silvera and now I'm a full-fledged fan. This is not a fun or fluffy book like the ones I mentioned above. It is deep and depressing, but also raw and emotional. You care about the characters like you actually know them, which is one of the best marks of a good writer.

They Both Die at the End is another Adam Silvera book, and my favorite one so far. The concept is pretty eerie, but super fascinating to read about. I loved Mateo and Rufus and how even in the quieter moments of the book, I enjoyed spending time with the characters. This is also a really depressing book, so fair warning.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is such a mouthful, but the title fits the book so well, because the writing is poetic and beautiful. Ari and Dante are such sweet boys, you can't help but love them and their friendship. If you ask me, the perfect way to read it is to listen to the audiobook (narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda), outside, during summer, under a tree, with an ice-cold glass of lemonade beside you. It's that kind of book.

Trans/Intersex characters

I combined these two because clearly this category is lacking! If you've got recommendations for me, drop a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

If I Was Your Girl was the first book I read with a trans protagonist and I really enjoyed it. Clearly I'm no expert on how good the representation was, but it was nice reading the story from the POV of a trans person. It's just not something you see that often. It highlights the everyday struggles of being trans, but overall the tone was lovely and hopeful. (And a trans model is featured on the cover! How cool is that?)

Again, None of the Above was the first (and only) book I've read with an intersex protagonist. Being intersex was something I'd never heard of before picking this book up and not only did it help explain what it was, but there was also a plot outside of Kristin discovering that she's intersex. The author did a good job balancing those two things.

F/F romance

Queens of Geek is like cotton candy in book form. I mean, just look at that cover! I don't remember many specifics from the story, but what I do remember is that I had fun reading it. It was so positive and my spirits were high after I finished it. Not only does it feature an F/F romance, but it has fantastic representation all around. One character is autistic and another is bisexual and Asian.

Becky Albertalli does it again with Leah on the Offbeat! Don't want to give too many spoilers since it's technically a sequel to Simon, but boy did I love this one, too. It's a sweet, summery, fun read that both allows Simon fans to catch up with their favorite characters in the future and fall in love with a brand new romance at the same time. Highly recommended.

I've read a lot of A.S. King books, but Ask the Passengers was one of my favorites. It's both simple and philosophical, very character-driven, and has a writing style that captivates you, even with a slower-than-usual plot. It's not very long, but I enjoyed all of it.

Honor Girl is a graphic memoir by a very cool author (I met her at a book festival and she is the nicest person alsdfjilr). I loved the simplistic art style and the heartfelt story. The romance felt very sweet, innocent, and real. It was like getting a glimpse of Maggie Thrash's diary. You feel extremely connected to the people in the book.

How to Make a Wish is the beachy romance I didn't know I was craving until I read it. It's a little longer than usual for a contemporary, which caused it to drag sometimes, but addictive romance made up for it. It has bisexual/lesbian rep and an interracial couple. There's also a big focus on families and mother-daughter relationships (the good, the bad, and the ugly). It's a bittersweet slice of summer.

Currently reading . . .

Even though I haven't finished it yet, I knew I had to include Ramona Blue on this list, because I downloaded the audiobook on a whim and I am loving it. It's a simple story featuring a whole cast of diverse characters, including a protagonist who has always identified as a lesbian but starts to question her sexuality when she finds herself attracted to her male best friend. I love these characters already and find myself missing the story when I'm doing something else. It's been a great book to listen to on long drives and even during shopping trips.

On my TBR list










Talk to me! What are your favorite LGBTQ+ books? What gaps are you struggling to fill? Do you have any fantasies, F/F romances, or books with trans characters to recommend? Leave a comment!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

August Wrap-Up

You can tell I've been busy when the only blog post I publish during the month is my wrap-up post. Where have I been all these weeks, you ask? Tech week and performances for "Lion King Jr.," mostly. I had a blast as Banzai the hyena! Our cast was so talented and we all got along great. Everyone was a little misty-eyed during our last performance. We had eight straight days of shows, and that's not counting the days of rehearsal leading up to opening night, so needless to say, I was exhausted. And I got my wisdom teeth out the day after the closing show, so I was doubly exhausted. It's been a crazy month, for sure, but I think things are finally calming down. I already miss the stage, but I'm eager to get back to my writing. It's been a long time since I've been able to sit at my computer for a few hours.

Books I Read

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth


I read this for a book club since with the movie coming out (hehe . . . accidental pun), I figured it was perfect timing. I did enjoy it, but I found it to be a little too long for a contemporary read. The plot was slow and sleepy, which can work for me sometimes, but not for a book this length. I spent the first hundred pages confused as to why I needed to read all of this backstory. Once I got settled into the rhythm of things, I was able to immerse myself more in the story. But I was still disappointed that Cameron didn't even arrive at the conversion therapy camp until about halfway through the book, and that plot point is on the cover jacket description! Why did it take so long to get there??? The ending didn't quite pack a punch, either. It should've been able to, but it fell flat for me. The writing was excellent, though. It was very easy to read in that way and the descriptions were so sensory and beautiful. I could picture everything perfectly. Had the book been one or two-hundred pages shorter, I think I would have absolutely loved it.

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding


If Cameron Post was a dark and dreary book about lesbians, Jordi Perez was the complete opposite. It may have been the sweetest and fluffiest book I've read this year. And we need more LGBTQ+ rom-com books, especially for f/f romances! I loved how much food was featured in the story (every time I picked up the book I was craving a cheeseburger) and the focus on art (in the form of fashion and photography). The only reason I gave the book a lower rating than a 4 or 5 was because of the lack of conflict. Not much happened in this book. It was very much a character-driven story, which I love, but even in character-driven stories something has to happen. Characters rarely argued or disagreed with each other, and when they did, it was resolved in about two pages. There weren't any stakes. Any time there was the threat of something bad happening, I didn't believe it was going to happen because everything came easy to the characters. I would have liked to be on the edge of my seat more, rather than just going along for the ride. But, if that's not something that bothers you too much, I'd definitely recommend this as a cute beach read.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Wasn't a fan of this classic. I can appreciate its literary importance and how well it was able to capture the feeling of the 20s, but as for the story itself, it wasn't for me. I have a hard time reading about shallow people doing shallow things, and that's how this one felt. I didn't like any of the characters and very little happened until the last 20% or so, which I did enjoy. But everything before that was a snooze fest. I listened to the audiobook and I had to actively force myself to pay attention or else my mind would wander off.

Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark


This was adorable and emotional and heartwarming, just like Dodie herself. I've been a fan of her music for a few years now, and knew a little bit about her life, but this memoir was like peeking into her soul. She's a very open and honest person and had great life advice to give for someone still figuring things out at twenty-two. Sometimes I'm skeptical of people who write memoirs at such a young age, but she's experienced so much in just a little bit of time due to her musical fame and dealing with mental illness. She's a lovely writer, too, which shouldn't surprise me since her lyrics are beautiful. I loved the doodles and seeing her songs written out between the chapters. The only criticism I have about the book is that her story was told in snapshots of time, somewhat randomly, without any one thread to carry it through. As a collection of stories about her life, it didn't seem to be tied together well. It could have benefited from more organization.

Movies I Watched

"The Wedding Date"


Fun, funny, and full of British people, which are all pluses in my book. It was a cute and simple movie, if somewhat cheesy and predictable, but what else are you going to expect from a rom-com?



I'll admit I was one of those Marvel fans who watched the trailer for "Ant-Man" years back and went "oh, that's going to be terrible." It looked so goofy and ridiculous. But it was actually super funny and entertaining. And sweet! Scott's kid is adorable and I love their relationship. Paul Rudd is a weird choice for a superhero at first glance, but he fit the role perfectly. I really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to watching the sequel. (The only negative thing I have to say about this is why must superhero writers insist on forcing a romance between every superhero and whatever badass woman is assisting him? There was no chemistry between them and yet they tried to make it seem like there was. I could have done without that.)

"Spider-Man: Homecoming"


Okay, Tom Holland is officially my new favorite Spider-Man. I never got around to watching this movie when it first came out and now I'm so sad I didn't see this before watching "Infinity War." This was hysterical. And action-packed and full of great characters. I loved Peter and Tony's relationship, Peter and Ned's relationship, Peter and Karen . . . oh my God, Peter and Karen. Peter trying out his new suit was one of my favorite parts of the movie.

Karen: Would you like me to engage Enhanced Combat Mode?
Peter: Enhanced Combat Mode? Yeah!
Karen: Activating Instant-Kill.
Peter: What? No, no, no, I don't wanna kill anybody!
Karen: Deactivating Instant-Kill. 

Peter is the very definition of a cinnamon roll. This was definitely one of Marvel's better movies.

Quotes I Wrote

Not even forty-five minutes later, just as I'd predicted, Ryan laid like a comatose slug on the floor of her bedroom next to a half-empty, family-size package of Swedish fish, a fistful of candy still clutched in one of her hands.
"Come on," I said, using my best personal trainer voice. "You can do it. Just one more formula."
"No," she moaned, so dramatically I wondered why she didn't ever step out of her costuming comfort zone to try acting. "I can't. I can't do it. My gravestone will read ‘Ryan Miller—killed by chemistry.'"
-All the World's Afraid

"You know, you take yourself pretty seriously, all the time," she said. "It's okay not to stress about everything. Let loose once in a while. Let your hair down."
I pulled at a strand of my hair. "My hair's always down."
"Metaphorically, Quinn." Sonya rolled her eyes. "There you go, taking everything seriously again."
I couldn't help but smile at that. I couldn't help but smile at a lot of things Sonya did, things she probably wasn't even aware of. Like the way she moved her lips silently when she was concentrating on a difficult math problem, or how there wasn't an ounce of self-consciousness in her whenever she let out her snort of a laugh at a hilarious YouTube video, or the fact that she always dropped her spare change into those donation boxes at cash registers to help rescue puppies from puppy mills.
-All the World's Afraid

I let myself look at her, really look at her. The word “gaze” came to mind as I realized what a luxury it was simply to be in her presence and watch her smile at me. She radiated beauty, inside and out.
-All the World's Afraid

The later rehearsal went, the more I understood why Sonya lived and breathed theatre. Our first rough run through had been just that, rough, but for once we weren’t focusing on bits and pieces of a scene at a time. We’d completed an entire show, and it felt raw and real. Those who had been shaking and terrified at auditions had broken out of their shells, belting their hearts out with the rest of the ensemble, and those with pure talent and confidence thrust the show forward with a bombastic punch. Even if we could only sing along with a backing track before the orchestra would be ready for dress rehearsals, I could picture our show on opening night. It was so close, I could already feel the heat of the stage lights on my skin, caked with foundation.
-All the World's Afraid

Obsessions I Acquired

"Someone Else's Story" from "Chess" - My vocal instructor for "Lion King Jr." was helping me prep for another audition, and since "On My Own" is one of my go-to songs, she suggested I check out "Someone Else's Story" for a song with a similar feel and theme that isn't quite as overdone in auditions. I loved it. I'm definitely using it for a future audition.

I posted two versions below because I love them for different reasons. Judy Kuhn's vocals and emotion fit the song better, I think, but I like the backing music for Idina Menzel's better (it's a little less synth-y).

Dodie's "God Is a Woman" cover - I love everything Dodie sings, so combine her voice with the voices of two other really unique musicians and you get pure awesomeness.

Pictures of the Month

I graduated!

Writer's camp reunion! I love these girls.
Friendly's outing with the cast of "Lion King Jr."

TJ, Zoe, and Keymaris came to see the show.
"Michael" from "Peter Pan Jr." came out to support the show!
Evelyn, a girl from our homeschool group, was a butterfly. It was her first show and she was adorable!

Mini MPACT reunion! Everybody in this picture was in "Peter Pan Jr." It was so fun getting to act in another show with several friends and have other friends come and see it.
The queen from "Once Upon a Mattress" came to see it.
And "A Christmas Carol" reunion! The more shows I do, the more crossover there is between actors in the show and people who come to see it. It's so fun being a part of this theatre family.
One of the ladies in waiting from "Once Upon a Mattress."
Homeschool friends.
Our former yoga instructor.
Another homeschool friend!
And even more homeschool friends!
Our vocal teacher. It's so fun whenever she gets to see a show since she's the one who helped us prep for our auditions.
Another MPACT reunion!
Sammie wins the prize for driving the longest to see the show. She drove all the way from Virginia to watch it (twice!).
Now for pictures from the show!

(Any pictures of us wearing our characters' heads with normal clothes are from dress rehearsal. :P)

This was one of my favorite scenes because Max and I got to interact onstage for a while.

My individual headshot.
The three main hyenas.
With our director and her daughter, who was our choreographer!
Our vocal coach.
Our sound assistant. She also worked a lot with the hyenas on creating their own laughs and she choreographed "Be Prepared." She was a ton of fun to work with.

The "Foleymobile." I played taxi for a lot of kids in the cast to various outings or rehearsals, so my car was usually full of laughter and loud singing along to Queen or Broadway soundtracks.

For most of our show nights, we had costume themes. This day was our "switch" day, so the guys dressed as girls and vice versa.

"Halloween" day.
"Pajama" day.
On our two show day, they decided to give our energy a boost by warming us up with the "Cupid Shuffle" before mic check.
My mom and I attended a creative non-fiction writer's conference. It was a ton of fun getting to do it with her!
This month's Scout pictures are extra special because she turned NINE! Here she is eating her "cake" (peanut butter with sprinkles on top).
Pictures from her birthday.
I tried to take a selfie with her for National Dog Day and she blocked my face. But that's okay, we all know who the real model is here.

How was your August?