full

I wrote a short story called “Full”. Read it here.

Excerpt:

Too soon, the hearts on her phone turn from white to red—she’s looked through these pictures before. She throws her phone aside and concentrates on the other screen. She wishes everyone could just be uglier.

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i wrote about kanye west

Happy New Year! I don’t feel like I’ve stopped to take a breath since my Masters program started up on Monday. Luckily, my pre-New Year self anticipated this and submitted some writing to publications over the break. Here’s the first one that’s come out: an opinion piece on why Kanye West should be held accountable for his actions despite his mental illness.

Preview so you’ll click:

Walking on eggshells is no way to live, and if people are shamed or blamed for interacting in a certain way with those suffering from mental health issues, then it’s only a matter of time before these interactions cease completely.

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See you next month if I’m still breathing!

to buy or to borrow

I have a confession. I received Brandon Sanderson’s The Final Empire as part of a Secret Santa exchange last Christmas, and have only just managed to finish it. Now I feel obligated to look at the well-worn cover and say those heart-breaking words: “It wasn’t you – it was me.”

I use the word well-worn not because I’ve read this book a dozen times, but rather because I just kept picking it up and putting it back down. There’s something about owning a book that makes me procrastinate reading it until I’ve exhausted all their loaned counterparts. I used to be a huge purchaser of books – if I wanted to read it, I would buy it. But this just leads to full shelves and massive headaches whenever I move. I’m not a big re-reader, and once you’ve finished a book, if you’re not going to re-read it, what are you supposed to do? Keeping all these books that I will never go back to sounds like a waste of space, and contrary to popular opinion, most libraries do not accept donations of popularized novels.

On his podcast, John Green once told a story about how he once witnessed a girl at the airport finish his book, take a deep contented breath… and then throw it in the trash can. While I do recognize that authors make their living off book sales, this practice is definitely not the most environmentally friendly way to enjoy literature. So unless I am heading to a meet-and-greet where I want to get one of their books signed, the only monetary support I provide my favourite authors is through frequent trips to the library.

Because this is supporting them. The more you check out their books at the library, the more likely the library will buy more copies of that author’s book, as well as more books by them. Posting reviews also helps!

Now onto the review portion of this entry…

The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series #1)

category: fantasy

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Fantasies are my drug of choice right now, because what else do you want to do during the snowy Christmas season besides curl up in bed with a good book?

Thank the Lord Ruler for the existence of a character like Vin. She’s emotionally scarred, but curious. Beaten down, but determined. Feeling unlovable, but can’t help loving. I appreciated the balance Sanderson struck with her being the rational one in the group while still giving her bouts of irrationality when it came to observing the inequities among the empire. There’s an obligatory Vin and Elend pairing, but it was not central to the plot – although that scene where Vin in a spur-of-the-moment decision decides to face off Shan in order to save her love had me rolling my eyes off a roof.

Sazed was also a beautiful creation – a fantasy version Alfred-the-butler. He’s the character Sanderson says he would most like to hang out with in real life, and I don’t know many who’d disagree.

This book wasn’t groundbreaking, but it was a comfortable read. And what else are you really looking for out of a holiday book basket?

rating: 5 out of 5 eggnog lattes I’m preparing to swig back today

the case for wearing ears

Ariana Grande’s “Thank You, Next” music video drops tomorrow, and I am here. For. It. In her honour (and because exam season is again absolutely kicking my butt so the best I can manage is an utter stream of consciousness), let’s talk about headbands with ears.

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On Black Friday, I bought these cute mouse ears at the mall and insisted on wearing them out the store. I’ve since worn these ears whenever I thought I could get away with it – to group meetings, friend hangouts, shopping… I’ve drawn the line at wearing them to class and to church because I didn’t want to offend any professors/ God.

Due to this most recent obsession, I’ve had many debates with friends. For those of us who are not Ariana Grande, are ears only meant to be worn for Halloween? And if not, when is it appropriate/ is it ever appropriate to wear them when out just living your life?

There’s a lot of hate on cat ears out there, but I did find this rather neutral article where a Bustle where one writer wore cat ears everywhere for a week. A quick summary of when she felt comfortable vs when she didn’t:

Cat ears are OK when you are…

  • At a casual cafe
  • At work (granted, she works in a creative field and was essentially wearing cat ears for work)

Cat ears are not OK when you are…

  • At a fancy Italian restaurant
  • At church
  • Picking up a kid from daycare

Favourite quote:

… I did feel odd kneeling at the front of the church and receiving a blessing from the priest, who had to carefully position his hand in between the fluffy ears on my head.

A recurring theme there is more language describing how the addition of the ears surprisingly didn’t make life feel worse, rather than how they made life feel better. After reading this, I am sadly hanging up my mouse ears… at least from everyday wear.

september reads

Happy fall! I’m back in school and so so thankful to be able to live in one place for a while.

Reading has taken a bit of a backseat lately, but here’s what I’ve got:

The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

This came highly recommended, but I really do think I’m outgrowing my YA phase. This book is a walking, talking, kissing cliché, which is absolutely fine, but I couldn’t get through it without a million eyerolls. If you’re looking for the quintessential YA novel, Nicola and Daniel’s love story? is for you.

Genre: young adult; Rating: meh

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The Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College, by Anthony Oneal

I went through a Dave Ramsay cleanse over the summer, and this was one of his recommended books. You’re supposed to read this the summer after high school, so I’m about four years too late, but even so I thought this book was way too lengthy. It basically repeats the same two messages: 1) start saving in high school, and 2) don’t choose a college you can’t afford. Both are very on brand with Ramsay’s cash diet.

Genre: young adult; Rating: just listen to Dave Ramsay’s podcasts instead

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A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2), by Sabaa Tahir

I know this book is technically still YA but… !!!!! I need to start reading more fantasy – this was fantastic!

This sequel veers away from that Elias-Laia dichotomy and we get to see Helene’s story a little more. It also introduces my new favourite character, the wonderfully impenetrable Mask, Harper.

“Force won’t work,” Harper murmurs. “You need to outwit them. You need secrets.”

“Secrets are a snake’s way of doing business.”

“And snakes survive.”

Reaper At the Gates just got published in June, and I cannot wait to get my hot little hands on it. You can bet it’ll be in the next “reads” entry.

Genre: fantasy; Rating: ready to go all Stephen-King-Misery on Sabaa Tahir if we don’t get more Harper in the next book

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birth control

I forgot to take my birth control pill;

Too busy living my dream as a vet.

Fourteen years later, I remember still.

 

The father told me he would foot the bill.

He’d cut the monster out if I so let.

I forgot to take my birth control pill.

 

If I’d cried my tears the rivers would fill,

But if I cried that meant my heart was set.

Fourteen years later, I remember still.

 

The looks everyone gave – if looks could kill;

They knew of my burgeoning unpaid debt.

I forgot to take my birth control pill.

 

The baby was red-faced; his cries so small,

I wondered what if we had never met.

Fourteen years later, I remember still.

 

My child is walking, running, up the hill.

A second’s lapse is a lifetime’s regret.

I forgot to take my birth control pill.

Fourteen years later, I remember still.

 

Inspired by one of Anna Akana’s stories: Take Your Birth Control.

deconstructing a hate review

One of my recent reads is An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir. It’s my first fantasy novel in a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here’s the plot summary from Goodreads:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Typical dramatic summary interwoven with a very obvious romance. An Ember in the Ashes has been getting really good reviews – it’s average rating on Goodreads is 4.32/5 (I gave it 4 out of 5 stars). Which makes the lone review that gave it a 1-star all the more titillating.

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Please note the shelves – my curiosity was officially peaked. When I ignored the spoiler warning, I was greeted by a 1.9K-word masterpiece. I won’t repost the entire thing here, but you can visit it anytime in its home in Goodreads.

Here’s Kiki’s bio:

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Girl, I feel your interests on a gastronomical level. Also, note the 3.43 average rating! It’s evident that this is not an internet troll but rather an impassioned reader. And indeed, as I read through her review, I couldn’t help but agree with most of what she was saying.

Some noteworthy excerpts:

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I’m always the most disappointed with books I don’t enjoy but the general public does; it makes me question if I’m the crazy one for not enjoying it.

excerpt-2

I absolutely loathed Laia in this book. Weakness should be managed and its effects mitigated, not ignored. Luckily I’ve heard her character develops in further books.

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*I can do nothing more than laugh, mouth ‘WORD’ and clap my hands at this*

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This is a classic example of what happens a lot in this novel; actions that do not suit individual characters’ personalities or the situational context, but occur just to advance the plot.

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I have the feeling the Commandant’s character will be further fleshed out in the sequel. Hopefully.

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“This book does not have the wherewithal to deal with occupational or wartime rape with any measure of dignity or finesse, or even humanity.” Yes yes yes yes yes.

Yet, despite all these very valid critiques, I can’t help loving the book anyway. And that’s OK, right? To be aware of a work’s shortcomings but still appreciate the prose? If anything, I appreciate the book more holistically now, and I think I owe it partially to Kiki. With all the mindless hate that is on the Internet sometimes, we should be grateful for negative reviews that seek to call out the legitimate trumpery in some of our favourite novels.

what would you do with a million dollars?

I’ve had dollar signs on the mind lately. It’s funny because I’m a business student so the world expects me to understand how finances are managed. Personal finance is completely different from that of corporate finance, mostly because of all the emotions involved.

I’m finishing my undergraduate degree soon, and thanks to coop and scholarships I’ve been able to do it without taking on any debt. But as my first post-secondary experience ends and opportunities open up, I’ve been finding myself continuously oscillating between all the choices. Is doing more school worth it in the long run? What type of additional schooling should I go for? Should I purposely take on debt to fund what might be a fast track to a better career, or should I work a few years to make myself more financially stable first?

One of my favourite podcasts as of late has been Beautiful Anonymous (a 1-hour phone call with an anonymous caller from anywhere in the world), and they recently had an episode dubbed The Chillionaire. An formerly starving artist calls in and confesses that she has recently inherited a million dollars from a distant uncle. In many ways, she’s found that life has become easier (she’s able to support her parents better, pay for school, etc.) but she also faces an identity crisis because that need to succeed is gone and along with it her creativity.

As much as some people say a million dollars wouldn’t change their lives, I can’t imagine that to be true. Even at a 0.10% interest (what you’d be earning in a typical savings account), you’re earning $1,000 a year – a good chunk of change by any standards. If you were smart with it, you would invest your million into something other than a savings account, so you’d be earning even higher returns. With an extra thousand a year, what would you buy? Where would you go? What projects would you fund?

A personal finance blog I’ve been obsessed with is The Financial Diet (they also have a Youtube channel if you’re interested). Personal finance is exactly that – personal – but in the end, this really is an aspect of life that’s just numbers. And if you manage it well, it just may be able to buy you happiness.

june reads

You know how particular smells will trigger memories? Sometimes books do this to me – I’ll remember not how I felt about the story, but rather what my mindset was when I read it.

Rich People Problems, by Kevin Kwan

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I read this on the bus during the peak of busy season, and the tales of the lush but subtle beauty in the hands of those Singaporeans painted a sliver of happiness onto those exhausting days.

Genre: chick lit; Rating: 4 out of 5 first class seats

Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick

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I read snatches of this every night before I went to bed and reminded myself that while I was still technically living the life of Anna in the book, if I just kept working at it I’d be living the life of Anna as she wrote that book.

Genre: autobiography; Rating: 3 out of 5 academy award nominations

Night Train to Lisbon, by Emily Grayson

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Sped through this novel while talking to a boy I liked, working myself into a tizzy because he seemed exactly like Alec Breve. Unfortunately, I’m no Carson.

Rating: romance; Rating: 3 out of 5 missed calls

Artemis, by Andy Weir

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Made me laugh but firmly swear off science fiction for the foreseeable future.

Genre: science fiction; Rating: 4 out of 5 The Martians

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

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Another bedtime book to be read as I came home from the office towards the end of my work term. I couldn’t wait to pack up and leave with Pearl and Mia.

Genre: contemporary; Rating: 5 out of 5 unintended racist comments

Bad Country, by C.B. McKenzie

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Choked this one down at my laptop because it had been so unbelievably slow-moving I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a page at a time before it was due. (If it isn’t obvious, I do not recommend this book.)

Rating: mystery; Rating: 2 out of 5 dogs were hurt (1 throat slashed, 1 bored to death like me)

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

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While out for comedy night at a bar, a black comedian told us someone had come up to him after a show to tell him that he was offended by the racial jokes the comedian made, because we were living in an age where racism didn’t exist anymore. Just think about that.

Genre: classics; Rating: 3 out of 5 men who’ve f****d Offred (over) in this book

on #jashley

It’s the night of May 31 and I’m determined to not miss another month of posting, even if it’s just a throwaway entry. I was about to make another “reads” post because those are always quick and easy, but then I remembered that a bomb dropped this week in the Bachelor universe which is debatable-y far more interesting:

Jared Haibon and Ashley Iaconnetti are finally dating! We can finally let out the breath we didn’t know we’d been holding for three years.

This news means nothing to you if you’re not a fan of the franchise. If, however, you are a Bachelor fangirl like me, this news made you scream out loud (sorry roomies), cancel all your plans for the night and try to figure out what. The. Hell. Is going on.

Learning the story isn’t that difficult. Ashley was already producing a show called The Story of Us, where where she interviews couples on how they met, fell in love, and developed their relationship. Her and Jared’s story was taped as a finale to the series. Watch it here:

Jashley’s history is so complicated that it definitely deserves this length video, but for those of you who don’t want to watch the whole thing (what? You’re telling me you have better things to do than watch a 44-minute video on two people you don’t know? You might as well just put yourself down under the list of people who hate love), you can read People magazine’s article on what happened. Or, as a last resort, you can read this post 🙂 Pick your poison.

Jared Haibon

Jared was on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of the Bachelorette and made it to top 4. I hadn’t started watching the Bachelorette at this point yet, so the only memorable things I know about him are 1) a lot of people have said he looks like Ashton Kutcher (he’s actually the reason Ashton and Mila became fans of the franchise!) and 2) this video, where he gets demolished on a group boxing date:

Ashley Iaconnetti

Ashley was on Chris Soule’s season of the Bachelor. She was known for being a virgin and… well that’s pretty much it. I feel like Ashley’s someone that grows on you, but I’ve gotten to the point of being absolutely in love with her. She is so unapologetic about who she is (a 29-year-old who’s never been in a relationship, boyband-obsessed, etc.) because she knows just how much she kicks ass. She has a Masters in journalism and has leveraged her initial stint on the Bachelor into a full-fledged journalist career. Ashley is so relatable she could be any of us in another life, which is why I think so many of us were cheering for her to finally find love.

Bachelor in Paradise

Jared and Ashley officially meet in season 2 of Bachelor in Paradise (BIP). Ashley is clearly way more into Jared than vice versa, and they don’t end up together after the series. In BIP season 3, both come back to look for love, and this is where major drama ensues. Ashley’s “friend” Caila comes to Paradise and Jared’s immediately interested in her, which incenses Ashley because Caila had told her before she show she would not be interested in Jared. Jared is interested in Caila and Ashley cries.

This doesn’t have anything to do with their story, but during BIP season 3 the producers also hilariously edited the footage so it looked like she was talking to a parrot:

Their love triangle was so (in?)famous it got them onto Ellen:

Anyways, Jared and Caila didn’t end up together. Jared ends up going on BIP Australia, and Ashley heads off to the Winter Games.

Jared doesn’t end up finding anyone…

But Ashley does!

This is where things get a little dicey for me. Jared realizes he actually likes Ashley basically as soon as she finds someone else. *rolls eyes so hard they almost fall out of my head*

So he goes on some soul-crushing times where he’s tortured that Ashley’s off the market, and with the encouragement of a Bachelor friend he tells her how she feels as she’s about to board a plane and kisses her. Ashley (and here I’m pumping my fist for her having some self-respect) tells him that she is going to keep dating Kevin. But obviously that fizzled out with Jared, her love-at-first-sight, in the back of her head…

My feelings on the entire situation can probably be summarized with this tweet:

Maybe there’s no moral to draw from this. Maybe the fact that they are giddy and happy together is enough – it certainly makes my heart full.