Black, White, and Shades of Grey: Morality in Fantasy Literature

Who wouldn’t want to hear their favorite authors speak together on the same stage?

Recently, I was inspired by staff at Eventbrite about putting together a dream panel of authors I’d like to see at a conference.  Eventbrite is an organization that helps people create and share events that bring communities together.  For more information about their conference management tool, check out their website.

I love attending conferences, but have sadly never been to one that is book-related.  (That is likely to change now that I’m working as a librarian.)  Still, I assume that most events follow similar structures and that there is a great deal of freedom in what goes on in a panel.  That being said, I spent some time brainstorming what group I should bring together.  There are so many genres that I love and so many topics that would be interesting to explore.  I ended up settling on…

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Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: 12/11/16

If we were having coffee, we’d be bundled up in sweaters watching the snow globe that is the outside world.  Winter has been coming to us in spurts.  It snows, then melts.  Snows, then melts.  But I think it’s here to stay.  The temperatures have begun to drop and, as I write, we have five fresh inches of white fluff on the ground.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only a few weeks away.  I feel like I haven’t gotten into the seasonal cheer at all.  We only just got our tree yesterday and have yet to decorate it.  Hopefully, we will get to it this weekend.

It’s been a good week–life continues as usual at the library.  On Thursday, I had an all-day meeting with all the librarians from my region.  Our bosses gave us training, updates, and policy reminders.  For lunch, we had a Christmas potluck.  The apple pie I baked was a hit!  As for books, it was a GREAT week.  A stack of highly anticipated holds came in and I’ve been just waiting for the weekend to come so I could sink my teeth into them. Continue reading

Weekend Coffee Share: Let’s Make This Fast

If we were having coffee, I’d say we better make this fast.  I just got my copy of Harry Potter and the Curse Child and will consider my day wasted if I don’t spend the rest of it reading.  (It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you… It’s just… Harry Potter…)

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my week started off pretty bad–as described in my Emergency Dance Party post.  Long story short, I got poison ivy so bad that my entire legs were covered in panful blisters and then got icky sick one night.  It was rough. Continue reading

Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do After Reading Them

1.) Write – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

My mentor at L’Abri this past Spring, upon learning that I write, got me hooked on Anne Lamott.  She leant me Bird by Bird and after tearing through it (laughing all the way), all I wanted to do was write for days.  Her writing style felt like coming home.

2.) Become a wizard – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

How can you engage in Rowling’s world and NOT want to become a wizard?  (Have you seen the new Fantastic Beasts trailer yet?  Doesn’t it look amazing?!) Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Why I Love Being a Hufflepuff

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they suggest a new theme with a list for bloggers to choose from.  This week’s category: Ten Reasons I Love X.  It’s pretty broad, so I decided to go with the top ten reasons I love my Hogwarts house. Continue reading

Blogger Recognition Award

After Writing 101 ended, I kind of crashed and spent my free time binge-watching Netflix for a solid week, leaving me a bit behind on the blog.  I’m slowly catching up on awards.

A couple of weeks ago, Shannon from If You Captured Your Life in Snapshots, What Would It Look Like? nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award!  It’s designed to spread love among the blogosphere and recognize sites we love.  Part of the award includes sharing

BloggerRecognitionAwardI don’t know if sharing your blogging story is part of the award, but Shannon did in her post, so I’ll continue the trend.

When I was fifteen, I was deep into the Harry Potter fandom.  This was before Tumblr was a thing and, in order to engage with my fellow nerds, I entered discussions on fan forums.  I ended up becoming a core member of a forum dedicated to a particular podcast and, in the process, made my first online friends.  Anna lived in Chicago and liked to knit.  Cathy, who is a fantastic poet, lived in California.  We were all roughly the same age and would spend hours on the forum talking about life, love, and Harry Potter.

One day, Cathy brought up the subject of blogging.  I was an aspiring fan-fiction novelist at the time, so writing was always on my mind.  Being a fan of my work, Cathy suggested I start a blog.  I thought about it for a while and thought, “… why not?”  Having a corner of the internet to myself sounded like fun.

After doing a bit of research, I ended up getting an account on Blogger.  I stayed there for five years, recording the woes of high school and occasionally posting snippets of my writing.  The only people who read my site were fellow writer friends.  Thank GOODNESS.  Blogging back then was a messy affair.  I used my site as a spewing place for all my thoughts and emotions.  Looking back, I’m thankful to not have a wider readership.

When I studied abroad two years ago, I knew that I wanted to start fresh and make a travel blog.  I also knew that I wanted to switch over to WordPress.  So I did!  In the Bellow and the Uproar was born.  Named for a Virginia Woolf quote, it was home to my travels and adventures in England for three and a half months.

When I came home, I knew I didn’t want to go back to the old Blogger site.  It reminded me too much of my high school self and didn’t reflect where I wanted to go from here.  But I still wanted to write.  So, a year and a half ago, Keep Your Feet was born.  I’ve been here ever since.

That, friends, my blogging story!  Starting young has allowed me to grow into myself as a blogger.  I’ve been told I have a distinctive voice in my writing.  Friends say that, when they read my blog, it’s so me that they hear my voice in their head.  There are a lot of things I wish I could go back and un-say, especially on my first blog, but I’m still thankful for the chance to always learn and grow.

Now for Shannon’s bonus question: If you could go anywhere, would you go to a Where or a Who?

My first impression is to say Where.  There are so many dots on my “To-Visit” map.  But I’ve done a great deal of traveling in the past and, although solo adventures are exhilarating in their own way, they’re also a bit lonely.  Seeing the world isn’t as fun if you don’t have someone to share it with.  So I think my answer is Who.  I don’t have many super close friends–only a few people in the world truly know and appreciate all the corners of me, messy bits and all.  The older I get, these few souls seem to move farther and farther away.  One of my dearest friends lives in Japan, others live in Austria, and I’ve got people all over the United States that I miss so much my heart aches.  Seeing them again would make my month.  We’d drink tea and talk for hours.

Feel like this post is missing something?  Check out my personal rules regarding awards on my Award Policies page.

In Review: September, 2015

Another month has come and gone and it’s time to look back.  Welcome to another…

Month in Review blog heading

Part I. Blogging

It’s been a FANTASTIC month on Keep Your Feet!  At the beginning of September, I made the following goals:

  • Stick to my revamped posting schedule
  • Participate in Blogging University’s Writing 101 challenge
  • Follow at least five new blogs
  • Comment on at least three new blogs

For the most part, I more than met these goals.  Participating in Writing 101 made it easy.  I couldn’t help scrolling through my classmates’ posts, seeing all the interesting ways they interpreted the daily assignments.  Following and commenting came naturally and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more of my fellow bloggers.

I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve been doing in Writing 101.  Some of the posts over the past month have meant more to me than anything I’ve written in a long time. Here’s a list of my favorites, in case you missed them.  I’d really appreciate if you checked them out and would love to hear your responses!

I freely admit that I’ve fudged my posting schedule… AGAIN.  But coming up with features on top of daily assignments is a tall order.  I don’t feel bad for not meeting it.  Last weekend, though, I pulled together several new On the Shelf reviews of books I’ve been reading lately.  Those will be posted over the next few weeks.

As for my attempts to blog about life on an apple orchard… I’m pretty sure that feature is never going to happen.  I work 50+ hours a week at the orchard and, when I’m off duty, don’t want to write about it.

Part II. Books

September was an unusually slow reading month.  I attribute this to the fact that I spent most of my time in non-fiction, which is a bit uncharacteristic.  This was supplemented by listening to the Harry Potter books on audiobook for the second time in three months.  No regrets there!

The main books I have read include:

  • Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston
  • Love Does by Bob Geoff
  • Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I plan doing informal reviews on Gay, Sanderson, and Geoff’s books in the upcoming weeks.  Keep an eye out for those!

Part III. Life

This month was BUSY, to say the least!  My family’s apple orchard opened on September 3 and, ever since, we’ve all become workaholics.  I’m at the orchard six days a week.  Some days, I only have to be over there for a few hours.  Others, especially when we’re gearing up for a busy weekend, I pull multiple 10-hour-days in a row.  On Saturday night, after working in the store handling an endless stream of customers and transactions, my parents and I go to a local bar for burgers, beer (or, in my case, hard cider), and a rest from toil.

Nevertheless, I have been doing fun things!  With friends in my area, I’ve had a steady stream of movie marathons, bonfires, and girls nights.  I’ve been to my local Applebee’s more times in the past month than I have in my entire life.  A few weeks ago, I met up with one of my study abroad friends who recently moved to Minneapolis.  We went to see Ivan & Alyosha and Noah Gundersen.  My older brother and I also went to a Twins baseball game, which was a blast.  I also went to the Renaissance Festival with an old roommate.  I haven’t been since high school and loved it!  It was so fun exploring the different vendors and watching the jousting.

On the job front, I have a possible job opportunity when orchard season ends!  Nothing is official, but once my resume is approved, I’ll have a part-time job from mid-October through early January.  I’ll tell you all about what the job is once it’s official.  It’s perfect because it’s a job I’m very much interested in, but am hesitant to make a full 2-year commitment.  I love my home community, but don’t really want to put down roots and stay here.  If things work out, I’ll gain professional experience, have a source of income for the next few months, and still have wiggle-room to figure out where the next big adventure lies.

October Blogging Goals:

  • Comment on 3 blogs per week
  • Post at least 3 times per week
  • Clean up and revamp menus and pages
  • Continue using Writing 101 assignments as inspiration for non-feature posts

Photos From This Month:

On the Shelf: Summer Reading Updates & Mini Reviews

I’ve decided to switch up my On the Shelf this week.  Instead of one big review, I’ve done some mini-reviews, followed by some chit chat about other books I’ve been reading.  (Also, apologies for being a day late on this post…)

The Heir by Kiera Cass

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the fourth book in Cass’s The Selection series.  The thing about Cass is that she isn’t a breathtaking writer–her post-apocalyptic America is relatively boring and her characters lack depth–but I somehow still love her books.  They’re like a mashup of The Hunger Games, The Bachelor, and all my favorite fairy tales.

Taking place after the trilogy ends, the book centers around Eadlyn, the first female heir to the throne.  Although the caste system has been dissolved, the country’s problems aren’t over.  Citizens are increasingly unhappy and are beginning to turn on the royal family.  In attempt to lift morale, another Selection begins and male suitors begin pouring into the palace from all over the country, determined to win Eadlyn’s hand.

For the most part, Eadlyn isn’t very likable.  She’s stubborn, proud, and stuck-up.  She’s pretty high and mighty, but her many flaws are partially forgivable because of the amount she gives up for her throne.  The book makes clear that, given the choice, she wouldn’t choose to rule the country.  But she throws herself into it anyways and, throughout the book, sacrifices her personal desires for her position.  That doesn’t wholly redeem her, though.  She still is annoying at points.

What I love about this book is that it takes us on the other side of the Selection.  In the first three books, we see it all from the point of view of one of the participants.  In this story, we get to see the process from the heir’s point of view.  What would it be like to balance dating 30 young men and learning to rule an unstable country?

The other thing I love is that it brings out a lot of double-standards.  Being a feminist, I LOVE seeing double-standards exposed.  Before this, it was always a male heir surrounded by female suitors.  Boys, though, respond differently to the competition.  While girls got into spats, boys brawl.  With a female heir, sexual assault becomes an issue.  While it’s okay for male heirs to get physical with the candidates, a female one is looked down upon as loose.  While the press was all about praising Maxon in the first series, it seems out to get Eadlyn–painting her as a prideful, spoiled, ice queen.

Is The Heir the best piece of literature out there?  Nope.  Is it enjoyable?  Definitely.

The Kingkiller Chronicles: The Name of the Wind & The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Rating: 2 / 5 stars

Summary: Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

I picked up this unfinished series at the high recommendation of a book lover friend.  It’s been a while since I picked up a massive fantasy novel and thought I’d give the highly-acclaimed series a try.  What I can say is that Rothfuss is a very gifted writer.  His prose is truly excellent.

What I can’t say is that I enjoyed these books.  Although they’re entertaining/easy reads, I didn’t feel myself loving these books.  The way they’re set up bothers me.  The premise is that there’s one story taking place present-time regarding a civil war with mysterious monsters on the loose.  The main character, Kvote, is the stuff of legend, but has taken cover as an innkeeper and thought dead.  When discovered by a recorder of stories, Kvote decides to tell his.  The majority of the books follow the course of his life–tracing his childhood in a troupe of traveling musicians to years living as a street urchin to living as a student at the university.  In the second book, Kvote continues his studies, helps a king woo a wife, tracks down bandits in the woods, winds up in the fairy world and shacks up with a fae temptress, and spends time with an off-the-map society where he learns to fight.  All the while, Kvote looks for information on the Chandrian–a group of killers out of legends who killed his parents.

The story, ‘though intriguing, feels like it’s going nowhere.  Kvote isn’t very likable.  He goes from adventure to adventure and is amazing at everything he does.  He’s an amazing musician, student, lover, fighter, and magician.  There’s nothing he can’t do…  And he’s a smart-ass.

Then there’s his love interest, Denna.  Ugh.  She’s one of the worst female characters I’ve ever encountered.  I’d go into how awful she is, but a Goodreads reviewer has said it better than I ever could.

If you’re into fantasy, you might like these books.  If not, skip them.

Other Books I’m Reading…

I’m still plugging through The Silmarillion by Tolkien.  It’s breathtaking, but extremely thick.  I can only manage thirty pages a week.  This afternoon, I finally breached the 200 page mark.  It’s slow going, but I’ll have it finished by the time summer ends!

At work, I’m listening through Harry Potter again.  This week, I reached Order of the Phoenix… so my hours are filled with lots of angst.  I plowed through Goblet of Fire last week and, in the wake of Voldemort’s return, I’m once again annoyed by how unpleasant Harry is in this book.  But it’s okay.  It just makes me thankful I’m out of the teen years.

Recently, I picked up Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.  Yes, more fantasy.  It’s the first of Marillier’s Sevenwaters series.  I’ve read the whole series already, but it’s been a few years.  The first is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Wild Swans”.  I love a good fairytale retelling and am looking forward to this read.

That’s it for this week’s On the Shelf.  What books have you been reading lately?

Versatile/Liebster Awards

It’s always an honor when a fellow blogger nominates you and features your blog.  The thing is… I’m terrible with awards.  On the one hand, I think they’re fabulous and are a wonderful way to connect the WordPress community.  On the other, they feel a bit like chain mail.

Recently, I’ve been nominated for a number of awards.  So, instead of putting them off, I thought I’d respond to them in one big post.  The thing is, though, I’m not going to pass the awards on.  I know that it defeats the purpose, but the part of me that resists anything that feels like chain mail is simply too strong.  (I mean, I even avoided doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last spring, despite numerous nominations.)

Versatile:

A few months ago, Britta of It’s a Britta Bottle! nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Part of the award involves sharing seven facts about yourself.  Here goes:

1. I believe in the Loch Ness Monster.

2. During my junior year of high school, I held a lead role in a production of Disney’s High School Musical.  (In case you were wondering, I played Taylor McKessie.  Second to the left.)

3. I have read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban over fifteen times.  (Yes, I kept track and have since lost count.)

4. This past summer, I was in charge of the children’s programming for an international Ethiopian Church Conference in Minneapolis.

Me withs some of the girls

5. I have seen The Phantom of the Opera on the Broadway and West End stages, as well as a traveling production.

6. In high school, I wrote a novel length Harry Potter fan fic.

7. I spent my 21st birthday in Oxford and had my first drink at the Eagle in Child pub, where my literary heroes J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and friends (also known as the Inklings) used to have their weekly writing group.

OxfordBirthdayEaglenChild

Liebster:

Yesterday, Akanksha of The World Past Me nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Part of this award includes answering a number of given questions.  Here are my answers toAkanksha’s fantastic questions:

1. What do you want from life?

I want a simple life doing something meaningful.  I want to work in full-time ministry serving and building the Kingdom of God.  I want to travel the world.  Someday, I want to settle down with a husband that I love and raise a family.

2. What’s your secret fantasy?

To eat all the Nutella in the world and not gain weight.

3. What is your favorite color and why?

Green.  Because it’s pretty.

4. If you could change  into an animal anytime, what would it be and why?

I would become a beluga whale because every time I see one in real life, I become so full of joy that I nearly start hyperventilating.  (Yes, I’m a weirdo.)  I want my presence to bring joy to the lives of others.  Also, beluga whales are adorable.


5. Do you believe in love at first sight? Why/why not?

There are lots of kinds of love out there, each very complex and distinct.  In a romantic sense, however, I do not believe in love at first sight.  I think you can see someone and be incredibly attracted to them.  But the kind of love that lifelong marriages are built upon takes time and commitment to foster.  It can’t be captured in an instant.

6. What do you believe is humans’ greatest strength?

I think that one of our biggest strengths is our ability to create.  There’s something about art, literature, and music that transcends words.  Crafting beauty that moves and inspires is something that only we human beings are able to do.  It’s absolutely incredible.

7. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind every morning when you wake up?

Usually, I think about Jesus.  He’s my best friend.  (I also do my daily devotions first thing, so He is naturally the first thing on my mind.)

8. A trip with your best friend or a brunch with good friends?

This is a tough one.  I’m going to go with brunch with good friends.  Why?  As much as I love travel and as much as I love my best friend, we’d kill each other if we were in each other’s company for too long.

9. What’s your favorite book?

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  The first time I read it unabridged, I didn’t know what to do with myself for a week.  I felt like I had lost a very dear friend.  Hugo has crafted a novel that captures the essence of the human existence.  It never fails to move me.

10. If you could date one celebrity, who would it be and why?

Andrew Garfield.  Because LOOK AT THIS MAN.  (Although, in real life, I don’t think I’d ever want to date a celebrity.  Too much publicity.)

So… that concludes my awards acceptance post!  Thanks so much Britta and Akanksha for the nominations!

P.S. I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award in the past, so do check out my previous answers!

Yule Ball!

Here at Morris, we are basically a bunch of nerds.  We appreciate all aspects of fan culture, so it is only natural that our winter formal is the Yule Ball.  It’s the biggest and best dance of the year.  Quiddich Club goes all out with programming and decorations.

This year was no exception.  More on that later.

Since it’s my final Yule Ball and I missed last year’s due to being in England, I wanted to make this dance one to remember.  So I threw on my $6 thrift shop dress, my friend Gabi did my hair and assisted with makeup and… voila!  I was ready for a long night of laugher, friends, and dancing.

(The funny thing is that no glasses and curly hair resulted in many people, including one of my roommates, not recognizing me!)

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Eden, Kassandra, Rosa, Gabi, and I

My expectations were high going into the dance and it did not disappoint!  In addition to the dance floor, we could get treats (popcorn balls and butterbeer), take a break in the Room of Requirement (decorated with chairs, mirrors, and pretty lights), get a picture with Nagini (one of the Biology club snakes), take a photo at the booth, or attend the Sorting Hat Ceremony.  The ceremony was a new addition this year.  We were ushered into the performance hall where the Hogwarts Great Hall High Table was recreated on stage.  Students were dressed up as various Hogwarts professors and they performed a skit, welcoming us to another year at school, giving speeches, quarreling, and the Sorting Hat did a rap.  Then, row by row, we were brought on stage to be sorted.  It was a bit of a joke.  Some people got real houses, but everyone else were placed in random categories based on their clothing.  I, for one, got sorted into Netflix.  (Although, in reality, I’ve been a proud Hufflepuff for years.)

My friend Paden (who trolled the dance by dressing as Gandalf) getting sorted
My friend Paden (who trolled the dance by dressing as Gandalf) getting sorted

The thing about dancing is that I am absolutely terrible at it.  The only dance I attended during high school was my senior prom and, even then, a guy I’ve known since kindergarten was so off-put by my terrible moves that, even though we hadn’t talked in years, came over and attempted to teach me how to do it properly.  (It didn’t stick).  Still, I faithfully attended dances in college and suffered through the large number of awkward feelings that came over me on the dance floor.  This year, though, was different.  Studying abroad and working at camp made me more confident in myself and less conscious of other people.  So I got out there on that dance floor and flailed about to my heart’s content.  I had an absolute blast.

At midnight, they did a drop of over 400 balloons.  This was one of my favorite moments of the dance.  My friends and I positioned ourselves directly below the net so they rained down upon us.  As we batted the balloons upward, swishing confetti away from our eyes, my friend Rosa laughed and laughed and laughed.  She reminded me of those videos you see on YouTube where puppies experience snow for the first time and they bound around in pure joy.

All in all, it was a fantastic final Yule Ball.  I loved every moment.