Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6: Review

From Goodreads.com

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6 by Kiiro Yumi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sweet and fun with lots of moments that make you smile. Plus, it’s a manga about why books shouldn’t be censored–which was particularly interesting in this installment since the story’s library actually decided to not include a magazine in their collection (one that specifically broke the law by printing the name of a minor serial killer). Yeah… talk about shades of gray and some interesting fodder for a debate/discussion. In short, this is a book that makes you think while also being a nice, sweet little rom-com. Not an easy balance to achieve, but it somehow manages it perfectly–which is saying something coming from someone who does not typically enjoy rom-coms.



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The Fade Out, Act Three: Review

From Goodreads.com

The Fade Out, Act Three by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*This is the final book in a three-part graphic novel series.*

A pretty solid read. If I’m being honest, it was more “mature” than I usually prefer, but the story was still engaging. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how the mystery would be solved–and if justice would be served. I won’t answer that question because… spoilers… but I will say if you want a gritty tale of ’40s Hollywood that deals with everything from murder and conspiracy to PTSD and alcoholism… well, then this is a book that will give you that in a well-written–albeit at times uncomfortable–way.



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Ms. Marvel: Review

I’m planning on adding reviews to Word-Maleerie! I write them anyways–because when you read over 200 books a year (not as impressive as it sounds; a lot of them are graphic novels), you need SOMETHING to help keep the stories straight. And I figured… what better one to start with than my library’s most recent Comic Book Club read!

From Goodreads.com

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a re-read for my library’s Comic Book Club. And… yeah, I loved it just as much as I did the first time. Maybe even more, since it was really fun to go back to where these characters first began and compare them to who they are now. I love a good character evolution, and Ms. Marvel is full of that! Plus, lots of emphasis on family and community, while still being a story about finding your own identity and…. well, just a darn good superhero origin. Seriously, if you haven’t read Ms. Marvel, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
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I’ve been wanting to read Ms. Marvel for ages, and now I finally have. In short, I found the entire graphic novel… delightful. I LOVE KAMALA. She is nerdy and fun! I feel like she would be most readers if we lived in the Marvel Universe and got superpowers. (But not in a Mary Sue way. She is totally her own person and unique–which was kind of the whole theme of this particular volume–but just also very relatable.) I can’t wait to see what other adventures are waiting for Ms. Marvel!



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A bit of escapism, a bit of comradery… and a whole lot of fun!

I promise I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. (Yet, at least… with how crazy the world has been the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be surprised if gravity spontaneously stopped.)

So why haven’t I been writing? Well, like I said previously, I’ve been working on some new ideas for how the blog will be organized. But mostly… the past few weeks were spent enjoying a little bit of escapism. (Because we all need some of that these days, right?)

Recently, I attended the Cincinnati Comic Expo. My husband and I have a tradition of going every year, and after having to skip 2020 (for obvious reasons)… boy, were we excited to go back!

But attending a comic convention isn’t as simple as just… you know, going to to the convention. Oh no. If you’re a comic collector, like me, and if you have a nice little room that you’ve dubbed “nerdvana” specifically for nerdy memorabilia… well, you have to plan.

So the week prior was spent analyzing my collection and pinpointing which classic comics would be a part of my search. (Which also involves checking various prices, because a FAIR comic and a FINE comic have very different values… and if you don’t want to overpay–because who does?–then you need to really know the cost spectrum.) Then there was figuring out which Funko Pops I would search for, if I wanted to look for any action figures… etc., etc.

If you didn’t believe I was a nerd before… well, there’s no going back now, is there?

After the con, there’s time spent re-organizing collections (and wishing you had more shelf space) and updating Excel spreadsheets (because I’m not just a nerd… I’m also a dork… AND PROUD!)

So, yes, while I’ve been working on my plan for Word-Maleerie, Phase 2… I’ve also just been… well, being wholly and unabashedly nerdy.

Which I would recommend. 5/5 stars.

If you’ve never wandered through a convention hall filled to bursting with all things comic, fantasy, sci-fi, and anime; if you’ve never wandered through crowds, elbow to elbow with fellow nerds dressed in quippy t-shirts or decked out as their favorite characters; if you’ve never sat in a hall as costumed fan after costumed fan strode onto the stage, with the audience cheering and applauding their skills; if you’ve never haggled over a comic right after a long conversation over DC and Marvel’s movies….

In short… if you’ve never let yourself just totally be among other people who are also just letting themselves be themselves… then please do. The first chance you get.

And it doesn’t have to be at a comic convention. It can be at a sporting event. Or in a gym. Or at a restaurant. Or in a theme park. People tend to think that nerds only exist “in a galaxy far, far away” or in Gotham City.

But we don’t. “Nerd” is really just a word that means passionate. I’ve met my fair share of sports nerds. Or roller coaster nerds. Or food nerds. They just tend to go by different titles: Jocks, or adrenaline junkies, or foodies.

But it all means the same thing: Loving what you love. Being who you are. And loving other people who are also just being who they are.

We need more of that. I’d say “especially these days,” but let’s be real: Humans have always had a tendency toward selfishness, or arrogance, or violence–or a million other pitfalls.

The good news is, we also have a tendency toward comradery and kindness.

And believe me: When you’re watching a costume contest, and every single person in the audience is showering the person on stage with love and with applause that says: “Wow, you made that yourself? You look incredible!”

That moment there is when a little bit of faith in humanity comes back.

So, yes, these past few weeks have been a time of escapism. But they’ve also been a time of so much more.

I’ll be writing more soon. I haven’t forgotten this blog or all of the wonderful people who read it. Truly from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

But in the mean time… here are some Comic Expo pictures! (Specifically the costume contest because… yeah, that’s the most fun part. Also, please forgive if the photos are blurry…. You’d be surprised how fast people move on a stage!)

Looking Back on Series that Shaped Me

I’ve had another week where there wasn’t much time for any sort of writing–even very short stories. So I thought I’d take another moment to write about some of stories that have most inspired me. This time: Favorite series. I’m only going to include series I’ve actually finished, so the list is pretty short.

My Favorite Book Series

(4) Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

(3) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett

(2) Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch

(1) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

(Wow… only four. I think I need to actually finish some of the series I’ve started. Other great ones that are still “in progress:” Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Discworld by Terry Pratchett, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.)

What are your favorite series? I’d love to hear them!

Words of Advice

I’ve not had much time this week for writing, so instead of a story (even a short one), I thought I’d share some quotes on writing that either: (A) Inspired me to be a writer myself, or (B) Have helped me figure out what kind of writer I want to be.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” — Stephen King


“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” — Neil Gaiman


“Wasn’t writing a kind of soaring, an achievable form of flight, of fancy, of the imagination?” — Ian McEwan


“To hell with facts! We need stories!” — Ken Kesey


“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.” — Mark Twain


“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” — Robert Frost


“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” — Ray Bradbury


“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” — Dr. Seuss


“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London


“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

What quotes inspire you? I’d love to hear them!

Giving Some Credit to Inspiration

I’ve been a little bit busy here lately (the aforementioned, you’re-probably-tired-of-hearing-it Summer Reading), so I don’t have a poem quite ready for this week. But I thought I’d try something a little different: Today, I’m going to share some of the words that have inspired me. For me, music plays a huge role, especially when it comes to poetry. Here are just a few lyrics from songs that helped me find the poet in me. In short: These are all moments in songs that made me go: “Whoa… words can do that.”

“You can go through motions with your magic spells/ Buy all the potions that Fifth Avenue sells/You can try to call down all the stars above/But you can’t make love.” — Don Henley, “You Can’t Make Love”


“People speak of love, don’t know what they’re thinking of/Wait around for the one who fits just like a glove/Speak in terms of a life and a living/Try to find the word for forgiving.”–Jackson Brown, “The Shape of a Heart”


“Oh, life’s a maze of doors and they all open from the side you’re on/ Just keep on pushing hard, boy, try as you may, you’re gonna wind up where you started from.”–Cat Stevens, “Sitting”


“And it comes to you how it all slips away/Youth and beauty are gone one day/No matter what you dream, or feel, or say/It ends in dust and disarray/Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass/Waves rolling in with the tide/Dreams die hard and we watch them erode/But we cannot be denied/The fire inside.”–Bob Seger, “The Fire Inside”


“Don’t you hear my call though you’re many years away?/Don’t you hear me calling you?/Write your letters in the sand for the day I take your hand in the land that our grandchildren knew.”–Queen, “’39”


“I’ve really learned a lot, I’ve really learned a lot/Love is like a flame/It burns you when it’s hot/Love hurts.”–Nazareth, “Love Hurts”


“Walked out this morning/Don’t believe what I saw/A hundred million bottles/Washed up on the shore/Seems I’m not alone in being alone/A hundred million castaways looking for a home.”–The Police, “Message in a Bottle”


“If everything is nothing, then are we anything?/Is it better to be better than to be anything?”–Counting Crows, “Einstein on a Beach”


“I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good.”–Pearl Jam, “Wish List”


“Now I think I know/What you tried to say to me/And how you suffered for your sanity/How you tried to set them free/They would not listen, they’re not listening still/Perhaps they never will.”–Don McLean, “Vincent”

Do you have any lyrics that really connect with you? I’d love to hear them!

Letters: Chapter Two

Chapter two of the old fan fiction I posted last week. And, of course: I own nothing. JKR owns it all. High School Sarah just borrowed Remus for a bit to imagine what his time at Hogwarts must have been like. (Of course, if Ms. Rowling wanted to write a prequel about the marauders giving us just that… well, then all of my dreams will have come true.)

Oh, and obviously this was written WAAAY before Pottermore. So Remus’ parents were characters of my own creation, as, at the time, I didn’t have any canon characters to use. But I really wanted to explore what it would have been like for the Lupins to send their only child–who was also a werewolf facing major prejudice–to Hogwarts, alone. This chapter explores that idea.


Jonathan Lupin was sipping his morning cup of tea when Felicitus, the owl he had bought Remus in Diagon Alley, flew through the window and landed importantly on the table. The owl had a very proper nature, and stood alert atop the table, holding her leg out. Jonathan took the extremely thick letter, and passed the owl a bit of toast. “There you are, girl,” he muttered, before the owl flew away toward the old barn outside, leaving Jonathan alone with the letter.

            He looked down at the—was that two rolls of parchment? Jonathan frowned; if Remus had that much to say, that could mean two things—he was having a great time and had a lot to write about, or he was having a horrible time and wanted to come back home, both of which seemed equally likely; Jonathan hoped it was the former.

            Jonathan drank the rest of his tea before calling into the living room, “Lucinda, I have a letter from Remus.”

            Lucinda was by his side in a flash, her light hair falling across her face. “Is he okay? Does he need anything?”

            Leave it to Lucinda to be worrying before the letter was even open; she’d been doing so all week, thinking about the boy who had hardly left her side since he was an infant.

            Jonathan smiled wryly, “Cindi, I haven’t even opened the letter yet. Give me a moment.”

            And with that, Jonathan unfurled the parchment and laid it on the table so the both of them could read it:

            Dear Mum and Dad,

            Well, it’s been a week already and so far things have been great. I’m sure you’ve already heard that I was sorted into Gryffindor, which was fantastic—I’ve made a lot friends really quickly, especially with the boys I share a dorm with. First, there’s James, I sat with him on the train on the way up. He’s really into Quidditch (he’s still upset about not being allowed to play on the House Team), and really knows how to have a lot of fun. Then, there’s Peter. He likes Quidditch too, but he’s a lot like me and wouldn’t even consider playing it. He collects chocolate frog cards like I do, and his collection is almost as large as mine! We’ve been trading and now I’ve finally got Ptolemy! Anyways, then there’s Sirius. He was sitting on the train with us too, and he was absolutely shocked when he got into Gryffindor. You see, he’s a Black; I don’t really see what the big deal is, but everyone seemed to be so surprised what House he was in. Maybe I need to get out more… But anyways, he loves being in Gryffindor and says that it’s a right bit better than Slytherin any day. He and James are a lot alike; he likes to have fun too.

            Okay, let’s see what else has happened. I’m really enjoying my classes. I like Defense Against the Dark Arts especially. The new teacher they have is really good; he has a lot of practical lessons, and he jokes around a bit too. His classes are really funny. Then there’s Transfiguration and Charms, both of which I like as well. I don’t care much for Herbology; I guess I don’t have much of a green thumb. Sirius is fantastic at Astronomy; he could already name half of the stars up there and got Gryffindor five points. Oh, I almost forgot, I got five points for Gryffindor too! In Defense Against the Dark Arts, the teacher was just seeing how much we know about different Dark Creatures and so forth in general, and I was able to tell a few things about werewolves; a real surprise there, right?

            Oh, and I don’t think I’m going to be any good at Potions. Professor Slughorn said the potion we were brewing was very simple, but I sure had a hard time with it. And as for Flying Lessons? I don’t think you have a Quidditch player on your hands, Dad.

            Oh, I forgot to tell you about Lily. She’s another Gryffindor in our year, really nice. I think James may like her, but he hasn’t admitted to it yet; Sirius’ is giving him a hard enough time about it already.

            Mum, Dad, you probably want to know what they exactly set up for me here, don’t you? For… that time of the month, you know? Well, I’ll be going to this house, through a passageway. It’s perfectly safe because over the entrance there’s a Whomping—

Love,

Remus

            Jonathan stopped reading and looked at Lucinda, whose eyes had widened in shock. Jonathan’s did too; it was impossible that something could have gone wrong, but for Remus to trail off with the final word “Whomping” made him feel slightly uneasy. It was so unlike Remus to just stop midway through anything.

            “Jonathan, do you think everything’s alright?”

            Jonathan nodded, clearing his throat. “I’m sure it is, Cindi.” He smiled again nervously at her narrowed brow, as she began to scan the letter again.

            “Anyways, it sounds like he’s having a good time.”

            Lucinda didn’t seem satisfied. “Hanging out with a Black? A dark wizarding family, Jonathan?”

            “The boy’s in Gryffindor, he can’t be that bad.”

            “What does he mean about this James and Sirius boy liking to–” she turned back to the letter, “‘Have fun’?”

            “I’m sure it’s nothing, Cindi.”

            “It better be nothing,” Lucinda agreed, turning to the living room again. “Write him back and tell him to tell us properly about full moons. I’m worrying about him enough as it; I don’t want to be left in the dark about those arrangements.”

            Jonathan nodded; he didn’t want to either.

Letters: Chapter One

I’m going to take another story from Past Sarah. I’ve been busy (you all know the drill–Summer Reading), so I’ve been going through some old stories. I actually had fun sharing an old fan fiction not long ago, so I thought I might share another one. Fan fiction was a good writing exercise for Past Sarah, and I had a lot of fun re-reading it. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with fellow fans. Any other Remus Lupin fans out there? He was always my favorite. (Yes this another Harry Potter story.) Anyways, this story has two-parts. I’ll post one chapter this week, and another one next week. My focus is still (obviously) on my own original fiction, but… hey, you’ve gotta have fun sometimes right? (And, if I’m being honest… I need a brain break.)

So, enjoy. (Oh, and also…. I obviously don’t own this. Thank you, JKR, for giving us characters like Remus that we couldn’t get out of our heads and inspired us to put pen to paper ourselves.)


Remus frowned at the parchment, the ink he had dabbed onto his quill dripping onto his hand; he’d never been any good at writing letters. After a moment he sighed, and placed the tip of the quill to the letter he was trying to write; after all, he had promised Mum and Dad he would write, and he most certainly wanted to. But how did he put everything he’d done this past week into words?

            Well, maybe not everything.

 Remus thought it would be a good idea not to mention how many times he’d snuck out after curfew with James and Sirius, or about the prank he’d helped them pull on that one Slytherin boy—what was his name? Saphron or something? No, that’s a spice; Seffrus? Ah well, it doesn’t matter any; it was just one harmless prank.

            Nonetheless, Remus couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt. Sure he was a Slytherin, and he had called that nice Lily girl a Mudblood, but he couldn’t help but feel as though charming a bottle of bubotuber pus onto his head (but first making sure to plant a sticking charm onto his chair) in Herbology was just a little bit harsh.

            Remus frowned again; how did he get himself off topic? He’d come up here to write a letter home while Sirius, James, and Peter watched the Gryffindor Quidditch team practice, and so far all he had done was write “Dear Mum and Dad”—pathetic.

            He cleared his throat, rolled up his sleeves, and put quill parchment again, writing:

Dear Mum and Dad,

            Hello from Hogwarts, I was sorted into Gryffindor, and I share my dorm with three other boys. First, there’s James, who—

            Remus frowned. That sounded horrible; though he couldn’t help having smiled: Hello from Hogwarts; a few months ago, he never would have even dreamed he’d have written that. Remus crumpled up the parchment, and threw it into a nearby dustbin, which belched in response.

            Okay, no more goofing off. Let’s get to it so that when James and the others come back, you can—whatever it is they want to do—with them.

            Remus smiled, slightly, suddenly realizing exactly what he wanted to write. After a few moments, his hand was racing across the first parchment—and a second. He didn’t know how long he’d been writing, when he was suddenly shaken from his thoughts by Sirius’ bark-like voice. “Oi, Rem!”

            Remus jumped back slightly, spilling ink over himself. “Bloody–” he muttered, then looked up to see James, Sirius, and Peter all smiling up at him; Peter was smiling rather bemusedly, and James and Sirius’ mischievous grins reached up into their eyes.

            “You still writing?” Sirius asked, a sarcastic drawl to his voice. He raised an eyebrow and waggled it, before withdrawing his wand and pointing it directly at Remus.

            “Scourgify!”he exclaimed, and within moments, Remus’ robes were immaculate. “There, so you done writing?” he asked, his voice brimmed slightly with accusation.

            “Well, I–”

            “Well, finish up!” James exclaimed, he was practically jumping up and down, his hair scattered more helter-skelter atop his head than was normal.

            “Why?” Remus asked; he could feel his own curiosity ebbing at him, mixed with slight mischief; he was very eager to find out what had his friends so excited.

            “Just sign it and come on!”

            Remus frowned slightly, then eagerly obeyed. He’d stopped mid-sentence, but oh well, close enough.

            “Come on!”

            “What are you two on about?” he asked the pair of them, as Peter trailed behind Remus.

            James whipped around, his hazel eyes sparkling, “You’ll never guess what we found behind the statue of that humpbacked, one-eyed witch! Hurry up!”