Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Why Can't We Be Friends?

   They say we're more divided in this country than ever before. While that's obviously not true (see: the American Civil War), it is true that Americans are very divided these days. It's normal and even good to have people in this country that disagree fundamentally, but that advantage of different perspectives goes away when we're never nice to each other. Nowadays, it seems like if two people disagree on certain issues, they're not allowed to still be friends, respect each other's differences, and be kind to each other.
   Take, for instance, the issue of gay rights. George W. Bush is, as Ellen DeGeneres put it, a "conservative Republican president", while she is a "gay Hollywood liberal". Ellen and her partner attended a football game that George W. Bush and his wife were also attending. They sat near each other, chatted, and had a good time, despite the fundamental differences in their beliefs. Ellen was slammed on social media for being friends with George W. Bush. Slammed! For being nice to someone she disagreed with. I myself don't agree with certain of Ellen's personal choices, but I applaud her for refusing to follow the trend of society today and instead acting like a decent human being. She told everyone that we have forgotten that being different is okay and that we can disagree with people and still be friends.
   Ellen is exactly right. I think many people have started to see people that disagree with them, especially people who are white, male, Republican, Christian, or, heaven forbid, all of those at once, are people that hate them, have some sort of agenda against them, or somehow wish harm on them. That kind of thinking is ridiculous! Just because I disagree with Ellen's life choices doesn't mean I hate her or think she's some kind of lesser human being. I applaud her for being able to look past barriers and be friends with someone who is very different from her, even though she probably knew there would be backlash.
   I posted a while ago about enemies. What I said in that blogpost still holds very true today. Maybe I really am idealistic, like my fellow students told me in class yesterday, but I don't see why that idealism has to be a bad thing. Why can't we all strive to be better than we think we can be, to be friendlier, to put aside our differences and get along anyway? Why can't we be different and still be friends? As they have said, don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon. Don't tell me we can't stop focusing on "black" and "white", "white privilege" and "black oppression", on any of the real or perceived superficialities that set us apart and focus on the true person instead. Don't tell me we can't be better than we are. Don't tell me we have to be ashamed of our past to truly change our future. We are more capable of the impossible than we could ever dream. Why is it wrong to dream big?
   The differences that set us apart don't have to divide us. So forget what's possible and just do what's right. You and I can be as different as can be, but we can still get along and be friends.
   So please, let's stop the attacks on people who believe differently than you, who look different or act different, or maybe even believe some of the things you do are wrong. Chances are, they probably don't actually hate you, and would be more than willing to be friends.
   We don't gain anything from fighting and hating each other. Differences don't have to be divisive. Disagree doesn't equal enemy.
 
   Why can't we be friends?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Why I Don't Like Harry Potter (Hint: It's Not the Magic)



  I was never banned from reading Harry Potter as a kid. I remember all the hullaballoo when the last book in the series was coming out and everyone was reading it. The commercials for all the movies were on TV when I was growing up. My mom said if I really wanted to read it, I could. But I didn't. See, I loved fantasy to death, still do, probably always will, but I never was interested in Harry Potter. The commercials on TV for the movies didn't intrigue me, they freaked me out. They looked really dark and they disturbed me. The commercials for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince especially creeped me out. And my mom said she'd read the first book, and while she didn't see the problem with the magic a lot of Christians brought up, she felt that Harry Potter was not a good person, that he used his magic for revenge and the whole book was filled with ends-justifies-the-means philosophy.
   I got older, read a lot more fantasy, and saw the Harry Potter books at pretty much every Goodwill I ever went to. I started watching Studio C and they brought up Harry Potter in several of their sketches. And soon I acquired a new reason I didn't want to bother with Harry Potter: it sounded boring. And completely unoriginal. My sister working at the library saw snippets of the books while gluing them and wasn't intrigued at all.
   Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago. I'd been tossing around the idea of reading it for a while. After all, it is a cultural phenomenon, and I'd like to understand all the references I can't escape from. And I would like to be able to take a stand in the magic debate over Harry Potter. So I finally bit the bullet and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
   Oh glory.
   Let's get the magic out of the way: all of the hullaballoo about the magic of Harry Potter is just that. There's nothing about it that makes me uncomfortable. The wizards and witches aren't drawing power from the devil to power their magic. They are born with the ability to do magic. Simple as that. They go to Hogwarts to learn how to do it better, like having a natural talent with the piano and taking lessons to use that and improve. And there is a part of magic that is dark magic that the good characters are not supposed to do, and they only keep stuff about it at Hogwarts so they can know how to defend against it. I think the terminology is mainly what scares most Christians (witches, wizards, and the very word "magic"). The spells that are supposedly "real spells used by real witches" are just Latin or Greek words, sometimes altered a bit or paired to sound better. The only actual "spell" is Avada Kedavra, which is the original form of, you guessed it, abracadabra. Apparently the original purpose was to cure illness and J.K. Rowling twisted the meaning a little to suit her book purposes. It might be lazy writing, but it's certainly not actual witchcraft. If the magic was the sole mark against the book, I would have no qualms handing this book to a small child.
   But of course it's not just the magic. That wasn't the reason my mom didn't like it, after all. And it's not the reason I didn't like it, either.
   Here we go. (Spoiler warning, by the way. Don't read any further if you don't want the book spoiled for you.)

   The first chapter is completely pointless. It doesn't need to be there. All the information in it is shared again later in the book. It doesn't even really have the main character in it. It serves no point and could have been cut completely.

   Also, the way Dumbledore handled the whole thing with Harry's custody was completely horrible. If he was just going to leave Harry to be raised by Muggles anyway, why did he send Hagrid to get Harry before the officials could arrive at the scene only to dump Harry on the Dursley's doorstep and go away? If Dumbledore was going to knock on the door and explain to the Dursleys everything that happened, maybe consider actually telling them about the death of their family in person, delivering Harry like that might have made sense. But no, he just wrote a letter and left a baby on a literal doorstep, expecting everything to be all right. If he had just left Harry to the Muggle foster care system, Harry might have ended up with relatives or a foster family that actually wanted him. At the very least, the Dursleys would have had to choose to take Harry in, which might have made them a little less resentful towards him.
   Once we finally get to truly meet the main character, we are clobbered over the head with how abused Harry is and how we need to feel sorry for him. Well, I don't. No, the Dursleys aren't all that nice to Harry, but they aren't really that abusive, either. So he sleeps in a closet. Big deal. He's fed and clothed, and the worst abuse he gets is from bullies at school, which happens to too many kids to make him an object of pity. Percy Jackson was abused much more by his stepfather than Harry ever is by his family. Compared to him, Harry's doing pretty great.
   And you know what? I'm just going to say it. Harry Potter doesn't have much of a personality.
   
   Yeah, yeah, I know, he's the main character, but he's a cardboard cutout with a scar and an undeserved talent and a tendency to jerkiness and bad behavior. Never once in the whole book does he do anything remotely heroic. And actually, he's kind of a brat.
   Sure, Dudley's a spoiled brat, but Harry's no better. The first time we see poor wittle orphan Harry actually do something, he's screaming at his uncle to give him his letter. He didn't even try asking nicely, no, simply resorted to screaming at the top of his lungs. He's sarcastic and rude, and he's frankly horrible. Once he learns about the existence of magic, he immediately is drawn to a book all about curses and is upset when Hagrid drags him away from it because he wants to learn how to curse his family. He develops an immediate hatred of Draco Malfoy even though he hadn't done much yet except be a snob. Harry hopes throughout the year that Draco will get expelled or fail his exams.
   Harry constantly sneaks around and breaks the rules, sometimes just so he can show Draco Malfoy up. Even when he's not sneaking out to duel with Draco Malfoy, he's meddling in things that are none of his business. He doesn't need to know anything about the attempted thefts at the Gringotts bank. He's a kid, and if the adults aren't telling him things, that's because it's none of his business. There's only one point in the book where he actually considers following the rules, and that's portrayed as a bad thing. (Thank goodness Harry snapped out of it! Imagine if he actually considered properly respecting authority!) That's one of the worst things about it. There's nothing wrong with kids making mistakes and learning from them, breaking the rules and being punished. But Harry never actually is punished. When a teacher tells the kids to stay on the ground and not fly around to prevent injury to themselves and others, Harry gets in a fight with Draco Malfoy, is caught flying pretty high up in the air, and, when pulled aside by the teacher, doesn't get scolded at all. No, the teacher breaks the rules herself to reward him by putting him on the quidditch team, even though first-years aren't allowed on the quidditch team. When Harry breaks many, many rules by breaking through all the defenses for the sorcerer's stone (mostly by using his friends, because apparently Harry is incapable of doing any actual magic besides flying), he's not punished. Not even a "you delayed Voldemort so good for you, but you also broke many rules, so you're also going to be punished, because rules are there for a good reason and we don't want you getting the idea you can break them whenever you want." No, Harry gets rewarded. Rewarded! For breaking the rules and hurting his friend. Sure, Dumbledore, Harry's a real hero.
   That leads to another bad thing: Harry is a teacher's pet, and one of the biggest Mary Sues I've ever seen. He's such a teacher's pet that he concludes the one teacher that doesn't like him must be allied with Voldemort and trying to kill him, when really that teacher was trying to save his ungrateful life. Everybody but Snape loves Harry. Harry is rich and famous. Harry's very talented with magic. Harry's parents were great wizards. Harry defeated Voldemort as a baby and almost killed him. Harry saved the Sorcerer's Stone. (Actually, Harry endangered the Sorcerer's Stone. The Mirror of Erised was the only way to get it, and Quirrel couldn't get it when he looked into it. Even with all the other defenses gone, it was still well-protected until Harry blundered in.) Harry got into the best magic school out there without even applying. Harry's in the best house in said school. Harry was given an invisible cloak and the best broomstick out there by his teachers. Harry won the quidditch game. Sure, Harry flubbed it up by being caught breaking the rules, but he won the house championship anyway by breaking the rules again. And Harry defeated Voldemort (again!) by doing absolutely nothing (again!) because his mother loved him very much and that means evil people can't touch him. Or something. (Which doesn't make much sense, but most things in this book don't make sense.) Most of the teachers love him. Dumbledore gave him an invisible cloak. Yes, his father used to own it, but did it never occur to Dumbledore that maybe he should wait until Harry is older and more mature to give him such a powerful gift with such potential for abuse? And the whole quidditch thing is ridiculous. Quidditch is supposed to be hard and take hard work to get good at. But special little Harry, who's never even heard of quidditch until a few weeks ago, can fly and play and be the best Seeker Hogwarts has ever seen just because apparently his dad was good at quidditch.

   Skill with quidditch or soccer or any other sport can't be passed down through genetics like a good nose or a nice singing voice. And just because Harry has some talent doesn't mean he should be able to master a sport like that. It should take him years of training and strategy and practice and actually working out to get a skill level like that in a sport, or in anything, really. I have some talent with the piano, but it took eleven years of lessons to get to the skill level I'm at today. And if I have kids, they aren't going to be able to just sit down at the piano and play Maple Leaf Rag just because I can play it after many years of practice. It doesn't work like that in the real world and it shouldn't work like that with Harry, either.
   But don't worry, haters of Mary Sue-ness and magic in general. Aside from the flying and one accident with a snake, Harry performs no magic whatsoever in the book at all. He's shown attempting a grand total of one spell, and that's an epic failure. Ron's the one that defeated the troll, and Hermione's the one that unlocks the doors and stops poor Neville from doing the right thing, and Ron wins the chess game, and Hermione solves the puzzle. All Harry does is play the flute badly and meddle in things that are none of his business. Oh, and live. The Boy Who Lived is very good at living. I can't believe he's considered the hero in all this. He doesn't even defeat Voldemort at the end. Dumbledore does that. Harry just manages to live long enough to be rescued.
   Let's talk about Voldemort, shall we? Does anyone actually know what he's trying to do? I get that he kills lots of people, and that's not good, but why? What does Voldemort actually want? What is his purpose? Does he want to take over the wizarding world or all of the world or does he just like killing people? Most dark lords have a purpose and a plan, but I really can't figure out what in the world Voldemort was ever trying to do.
   There are other things in the book that are just too convenient. How considerate of Voldemort to wait until Harry had figured out his plan to make his move! He could have made his move any time after he figured out how to calm Fluffy, or any time after he drank the unicorn blood. He could have lured Dumbledore away from Hogwarts with a note any time, but he considerately waited until Harry knew about it so he could warn Dumbledore and follow Voldemort. How kind of him!
   On that note, how in the heck did Quirrel get through Snape's defenses? Harry and Hermione said there was only enough potion in the bottle for one person to drink, and Harry drank it. There was no sign that Quirrel had ever been there.
   Rowling seems to have confused the old writing adage of "Show, don't tell," into "Tell, don't show." Or perhaps she was just being lazy. Very little is actually shown in the story. Hermione figuring out Snape's defense isn't shown. The chess game isn't shown. The quidditch games aren't shown. Harry's "torturous" classes with Snape aren't shown. Hermione actually becoming close friends with Ron and Harry isn't shown (she just says, "There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other," ignoring the fact that not being hostile to each other anymore and becoming close friends are two different animals). The school's hatred for Harry isn't shown. It's no wonder people say the movie is better than the book. Movies have to show things!
   Then there's the fact that Harry's instinctual magic can only be used via negative emotions, and the fact that Hogwarts is socialist. Don't believe me? They practice collective punishments and rewards for each house. Students don't have demerits, they get points taken away from their houses. If students do something good, points go to the collective house pool. If houses win quidditch games, they add points to the pool. If students are caught sneaking out at night, they lose points from the pool. Gryffindor's legitimate quidditch win is taken away because Harry was caught sneaking around at night. No wonder the students start to hate him. Afterwards, Slytherin wins more quidditch matches, so they win the "house championship", a contest designed to reward houses for being over-all better than all the other houses. Nothing wrong with sports championships, guys. And in the end, in the most contrived happy ending I've seen, Dumbledore steals the championship from Slytherin by giving loads of points to Harry "for courage", Hermione "for logic", Ron "for being good at chess", and a little to poor Neville for actually doing the right thing. So of course Gryffindor wins the cup, not evil Slytherin. Which is another thing. Why is there a bully house at Hogwarts? Hagrid straight up tells Harry, "Oh yeah, all the nastiest magicians come from there and everyone in Slytherin's a jerk." Why even have that house if all it does is encourage bad behavior (even more than the rest of the school)? The demeaning attitude towards Slytherin surely doesn't help matters any. And the demeaning attitude towards muggles is not okay, either. The wizarding world isn't real! Why is J.K. Rowling racist towards anyone that's not a part of it? And Hogwarts isn't the only magic school. Why do they ban people from using their natural talents over the summer or if they're expelled? That seems oppressive and wrong.
   And last but not least, the most stupid thing of all is the fact that the wizarding world is kept secret. Why, Harry asks, doesn't anyone know about magic? Well, Hagrid says, if muggles knew about magic, they'd want to use it to solve all the world's problems. What exactly is the point of having magic if you're not willing to help people with it? What do wizards do when they graduate from Hogwarts? Just help the wizarding world? Go around cursing people that were mean to them? It sounds like a lazy excuse to have the wizarding world a secret, not a good reason. More lazy writing, if you ask me.
   I'll end this with something from the end of the book. The Dursleys come to pick up Harry at the end of the school year. Uncle Vernon doesn't gush over Harry's return and is impatient to leave. Hermione's response? She is "shocked that anyone could be so unpleasant."

   I'm shocked that anyone could be so unsubtle about how sorry we're supposed to feel for Harry and how awful the Dursleys are(n't).

   Some say that it doesn't get good until the third book, so I might try continuing the series. But I certainly wouldn't recommend this book to anyone, much less give it to a small child. There are a few somewhat entertaining aspects, but they are overwhelmed by the bad writing and bad morals. I can somewhat understand why kids like it, because they don't know any better, but all the people that read this as teens or adults? Why? There's not really that great friendship, and it's not good vs. evil. There aren't good people in this book (besides maybe Neville). Most of it is boring anyway. I just don't understand how this series got so popular. Must have been the marketing.
   (Sorry for the very long post, I had a lot to say, and didn't really think it should be split in two.)


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tolkien vs. Lewis

   I've been a bit busy with college lately, but I wrote this poem between classes the other day, so here you go.


There once were two bookworms
Who stood in the snow
Chatting and smiling
With nowhere to go.

“I think this is Narnia,”
One bookworm said.
“It looks just like the pictures
I have in my head.”

“Oh, no, my dear hobbit,”
The other replied.
“We are stuck in the mountains
Of Caradhras white.

“Can’t you hear the foul voice,
The cruel air on the wind?
If we don't turn back now
We'll by goblins be pinned.”

“I must disagree,”
The first bookworm grew firm.
“The White Witch resides here,
Not great Smaug, the foul worm.

“The bare trees all around,
The spring touch in the air,
I can almost hear bells,
Or spy Tumnus’s lair.”

“Your blindness is only
Eclipsed by your dumbness.
Smaug, that old foul dragon,
Lives nowhere near Tumnus.

“A Balrog lives under
Old Caradhras fair.
Dale is the home
Of the foul dragon’s lair.”

“Well, excuse me for not
Knowing much about Tolkien.
That topic is fit for
No one but old men.

“Give me Aslan and Lucy
And all that good stuff!
No more elves or old folklore.
Who has time for that stuff?”

A confused, lonely bookworm
Looked on from the side.
“Don’t you realize,” he said,
“You don’t have to decide?

“You don’t understand it;
You don’t have to fight.
This can be both those places.
You both can be right.”

The two angry bookworms
Lashed out at the man.
How could they love both
Belov’d fantasy lands?

“There can be no agreement
Betwixt us this day!”
“All right,” said the third man.
“Then have it your way.”

The third man moved on,
Leaving them to their fight;
Two bookworms convinced
That they can’t both be right.


   What do you think? Do you take Tolkien's side or Lewis's side, or do you like them both? Is it possible to be a fan of both Middle-Earth AND Narnia? (jk, of course it is!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Biggest Lie About Disney Women

   There are some people out there that claim Disney princesses are not good role models for women because they are apparently all flat, boring pushovers that rely on men to save them. To which I have to say, they must never have watched a Disney movie before. Flat, boring pushovers? Waiting around for men to save them? Let me introduce you to the Disney princesses I know.

Rapunzel
Via Pinterest
  True, Rapunzel didn't physically leave her tower until Flynn Rider climbed up there. But he didn't exactly sweep her off her feet and carry her from her undesirable circumstances. He was simply fleeing pursuit by the authorities. Rapunzel hit him on the head with a frying pan, tied him to a chair, and forced him to escort her to see the one thing she'd always dreamed of. She simply seized opportunity when it came knocking at her, well, window. Would she have left if Flynn Rider hadn't ever climbed into her tower? Maybe not that year, but eventually, she probably would have gotten fed up and left to go fulfill her dream. Rapunzel is a very determined, though naive, woman who doesn't seem to take no for an answer. And let's examine what she did in the rest of the movie: she convinced an entire tavern of terrifying thugs to forgo money and not turn Flynn in to the authorities and not take advantage of a naive sweet girl, but instead help her on her way to her goals. Her winning ways change the heart of Flynn, and, ultimately, she's brave enough to make a huge show of trust in giving him his incentive to escort her safely there and back while waiting to see the lights. She convinces Javert in horse form to leave the desperate criminal he's been hunting alone. Once she sees through her "mother's" lies, she turns her back on her and tries to leave her abusive situation. She is willing to give up her freedom to save Flynn's life. Indeed, in the end, Flynn doesn't save Rapunzel from much at all. She saves his life and changes his heart. (This is not to negate the awesome sweetness of Flynn's sacrificing his life for Rapunzel's freedom. That's still one of the greatest moments in Disney history.) Flat boring pushover? Not here.

Tiana
Via Pinterest
   Tiana kind of got the short end of the stick when it came to movies, but that doesn't detract from what an awesome character she is. In fact, I think she may be my favorite of all Disney princesses. Unfortunately, the theme of her movie seemed to be, "You're not fulfilled unless you have a guy-any guy, but preferably a rich one that can fund your goals." Nevertheless, Tiana is a hardworking goal-driven woman who won't let anything hold her back from what she wants; not the Great Depression, not racism, not a lack of money. She held down several jobs and sacrificed to achieve her dream of opening a Cajun restaurant. She certainly didn't wait around for anyone else to do things for her. I think what Disney meant for her movie to say theme-wise was something like, "Don't let life pass you by," but that's certainly not what the movie portrayed. She didn't give up her morals for the man she married, but definitely deserved better than what she got. Naveen is certainly no role model extraordinaire, but Tiana is pretty great.

Mulan
Via Pinterest
   Although she's technically not a princess any way you cut it, somehow, Mulan wound up on the list of official Disney princesses. Which is nice, because she's pretty great. She doesn't fit in with the expectations of her country's culture for females, and even though she tries to fill them, she always fails. Then her father is called to war, but he's too old and too injured from the last war he fought in, so Mulan sacrifices her own life to save her father's. She masquerades as a man because women aren't allowed in the army, becomes a soldier, defeats the Hun army with her ingenuity, saves her commanding officer's life, then follows her unit after being thrown out for being a female and defeats the remaining Huns, saving the emperor of China and her entire country. She returns to civilian life bringing home honor to her family name and a pretty great guy to boot. Sign me up for the next war!

Pocahontas
Via Pinterest
   Setting aside the fact that the real Pocahontas was eleven and none of the events this movie is based on probably actually happened because John Smith was a serial liar, there's no getting around the fact that this whole story is based on the premise of Pocahontas standing up to her father and saving John Smith's life. This is another story about a young woman standing against what her culture demands of her to do what is right. Never mind the fact that the history is all wrong and the love story was created out of thin air and the animators clearly never set foot in Jamestown in their lives before. Seriously. There are no tall cliffs or waterfalls anywhere in the vicinity. It's a freaking swamp, for crying out loud!

Jasmine
Via Pinterest
   "I am not just some prize to be won!" Jasmine, in the animated movie, is a feisty princess that refuses to marry a stuffed shirt and instead insists on marrying for love. Outrageous demands, right? Well, they seem to be too hard for her father at first, but Jasmine isn't budged. She just sends her tiger after any undesirable suitors. She even tries to send Aladdin packing when he's bungling his words so much he makes it seem like all he cares about with Jasmine is her money. She's brave enough to kiss (gross) Jafar to distract him from Aladdin stealing the lamp back, and is super understanding when Aladdin is revealed to be a street rat, not a prince. She's a brave woman who won't stand for injustice, and that's definitely something we should strive after in this world. Also, she's from one of my very favorite Disney movies, so...

Belle
Via Pinterest
   She's sweet but spunky. She doesn't fit in in her town and longs for more than what her life consists of. She loves books, doesn't care for the handsome jerk, and craves adventure. When her father goes missing, she tracks him down, then trades her freedom for his. Her curiosity gets her in a bit of trouble, which causes the Beast to blow up at her. She storms off, unable to take it anymore, and fights valiantly against a pack of angry wolves. Unfortunately, she's almost unable to fight them off. Thankfully, the Beast comes to her rescue, then collapses. Ignoring the call to freedom, Belle drags him back to his home and her prison, takes care of his wounds, and yells at him for losing his temper. The Beast starts to change, and Belle starts to fall in love with him, but when she sees her father is sick, she leaves to go tend him. She defends her father and the Beast to an angry mob, then races across snowy, wolf-infested woods at night to try and save the Beast from her townspeople. She doesn't arrive in time to participate in the final fight, but she comforts the Beast as he dies. (Spoiler: it doesn't last.) Belle is strong and spunky and feisty. I have a formal Belle dress, and it's amazing. She's amazing. (And so is my sister, who made the dress.)

Ariel
Via Pinterest
   Heheheh...heheheh...yeah...I can't defend her. She sells herself into slavery to a sea witch for a chance to woo a man she met once. Eric is a great guy, but Ariel is a spoiled brat. Definitely not a great role model. Grow up, girl.

Aurora
Via Pinterest
   ...   She seems pretty nice. She can sing and dance and probably cook. But honestly, she spends most of the movie asleep. The fairies and Phillip are the heroes of this movie. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather are pretty great. They save the entire kingdom, with the help of Phillip, because it was a bit hard for them to fight a dragon by themselves. Sorry, but this one's probably where all the accusations have their birth. There's really not much to her.

Cinderella
Via Pinterest
   I don't care what anyone says, she's much prettier in this than in her ball gown. Cinderella is kind to everyone, even the animals most people consider vermin, and even the evil cat (I'm convinced Walt Disney hated cats). She doesn't complain about becoming a servant to her step family, and doesn't even consider leaving. All she wants is to go to a party, which, considering her depressing life, is quite understandable. When her stepsisters rip up the dress she and her mice friends worked very hard on, she's upset and storms out. After her fairy godmother salvages the evening, she goes to the party and meets a nice young man, whom she doesn't realize is the prince. She goes home after midnight, content to enjoy the memory of her nice evening at the ball. Prince Charming coming to propose to her is just a cherry on top for her, and a victory for her future father-in-law, who had set up the entire ball just so he could have grandchildren. I think she would have been pretty happy without a man coming to "rescue" her. I may be biased, though, since I grew up on this movie.

Snow White
Via Pinterest
   Yes, she literally gets saved by the prince at the end of the movie. I don't care. She's just a kid. She does her best, despite being enslaved by her stepmother just because she's good looking. Then her stepmother sends an assassin after her. Naturally, when the hunter tells her to run, she runs. She always tries to be brave and always tries to be cheerful. After she stops running, she says, "I'm so ashamed of the fuss I made!" As if she should be ashamed of freaking out when someone tells her they were sent to kill her. Then she manages to take care of seven bachelors while in hiding for her life. So she's also a hopeless romantic and a little naive. So what? Girls could learn to be that cheerful.

Then of course there's Merida and Moana, but they don't even have romantic interests.

So what do you think? Are Disney princesses just flat characters only saved by men that would make terrible role models or much more? Who's your favorite Disney princess?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Midnight's Curse is Here!!!

Midnight's Curse Blog Tour Mock-Up


Welcome to the blog tour for Midnight's Curse, book two in the Beyond the Tales series by Tricia Mingerink. Beyond the Tales is a series of fairy tale retellings with hints of allegorical elements set in a world based on the Appalachian Mountains. Don't miss the giveaway at the end of this blog post nor the invite to the Facebook party for more giveaways!


About the Book

Midnight's Curse_Internet Use
   The glass slippers might be her dreams come true...or her worst nightmare. 
   High King Alexander rules the Seven Kingdoms of Tallahatchia—a divided nation on the brink of yet another war. When an invitation arrives from the king of Pohatomie, Alex knows it must be a trap, but could it also be his opportunity to unite the kingdoms? 
   Daemyn Rand has lived a hundred years, served an arrogant prince, fallen in love with a princess, and lost himself somewhere along the way. He has already died for his loyalty. Will standing at the high king’s side cost him his last chance to truly live? 
   Elara Ashen is a lowly, miserable servant. All she wants is to spend even one night in a fancy dress dancing with the high king. When she is offered a pair of glass slippers, it seems that all her dreams have come true. 
   But dreams have a price, and gifts can be curses in disguise. What will it cost to stop this curse from tearing Tallahatchia apart yet again? 
   Fairy tales meet the Appalachian Mountains in this adventurous fantasy retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

My Review
Probable spoilery, sorry, I'm too emotional about this book to keep it all in.
   This book wins the prize of the first book to genuinely make me cry. Plenty of books have made me tear up, especially ones I read when I'm hormonal, but this one genuinely made me cry! Nobody died either, that I can remember. Alex was just so lonely! It was awful. This whole mess could have been avoided if anybody around him had reached out and been his friend. For Pete's sake, he's just slept through a hundred years and lost almost everyone he ever knew, not to mention he's just had his heart broken by a women that wasn't good enough for him (yeah, that was technically a hundred years ago, but still). Surely somebody should have realized how much he was hurting, but no, the only person in his life in a real position to see his pain, Daemyn, was too afraid of what their relationship used to be like to be the bigger person and reach out to Alex. Poor Alex suffered because of it.
   Daemyn has grown on me from the first book when I didn't like him because he destroyed my ship, but gosh. Why did it take him an entire book for him to realize he needed to be a friend to Alex? The poor guy's never actually had a friend before. What makes Daemyn think Alex is going to know how to reach out in friendship to the people around him? And Zeke certainly didn't help with his "Feels just like old times. Well, almost," as they all sat around the campfire, then his pointed look at Alex. Way to make a guy feel welcome.
   I can really see the Merlin parallels. Alex and Daemyn's relationship is like Arthur and Merlin in season one, if Merlin had ever accepted the quiet servant role instead of constantly mouthing off to Arthur. Merlin certainly never struggled with his role quite like Daemyn does. And Alex, poor Alex reminds me so much of Arthur, especially with his seeming propensity to be enchanted. The scene with the fountain was definitely something that could have happened in Merlin. Daemyn and Rosanna is like if the Merthian (Merlin/Mithian) ship had ever sailed. We just need to find a nice servant girl for Alex.
   I admit, I did ship the wrong ship a little bit again, but in the end, I'm glad. Alex deserves a better girl than Elara. Sheesh. It shouldn't be that hard of a decision not to curse someone forever.
   Even though Alex's loneliness drove me to tears, it did lead him to learn an important lesson that relieves me a lot. And the people around him finally realized he needed friends and didn't know how to get them. So there's a happy ending, at least. And now I want the next book, provided it has Alex in it. I ship Alex/happiness, after all. Dude needs a happy ending. After all, he's the Once and Future King of Native American fantasy Albion. He needs his Guinevere, now that he's got his Merlin to keep him on the straight and narrow.


Dreamy green color forest

The first book in the series Dagger's Sleep, a Sleeping Beauty retelling where the prince is cursed to sleep and the princess must wake him, is on sale for $.99 on Kindle! Follow this link to snag this deal while it lasts!

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About the Author

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn't writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country. You can connect with Tricia on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Facebook Party!

The Facebook party should be a blast with giveaways of Midnight's Curse, Dagger's Sleep, and over ten other Cinderella retellings by indie authors! Follow this link to join the Facebook party.

Giveaway!

Blog Tour Giveaway
Enter to win signed copies of Dagger's Sleep and Midnight's Curse (it will be the actual copy, not a proof copy as shown) as well as a Currently Reading 4oz candle from Novelly Yours Candles. Due to shipping, the giveaway is open to the US only. Void where prohibited.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday – August 5
Tuesday – August 6 – Release Day!
Wednesday – August 7
Thursday – August 8
Friday – August 9
Saturday – August 10

Thursday, July 4, 2019

America, Spread Your Golden Wings...


   Once upon a time, there was a massive empire. They had just fought a hard war against one of their greatest enemies with the extensive help of thirteen of their most loyal colonies. The people in these colonies had bled and died, as they had been on the front lines of much of the war's fighting. When the time came to pay for the war, the legislatures of these colonies were ready to write laws on new taxes as soon as the crown asked them to. After all, they were English citizens, and all taxes on them had to be levied by their representative body, as guaranteed by the Magna Charta and the English Bill of Rights. They were ready and willing to pony up according to well-established laws and traditions. Whenever the king wanted to levy a new tax on the colonies, he asked the colonial legislatures to pass one, and they always complied.
   However, the king did not ask the colonial legislatures to levy a tax. Instead, the English Parliament voted on a tax on the American colonies. This angered the colonists. They had no representatives in the English Parliament. Furthermore, it would be incredibly impractical to ever have American representatives in the English Parliament, as London is so far from the shores of the New World. Parliament had no power to levy taxes on them. Since Parliament had no power to levy taxes on the thirteen colonies, the "taxes" were not obligatory or legally binding. So, the colonists simply refused to pay them, sending advocates all the while to England to remind them that the English Parliament had no power over them.
   Parliament, however, thought their overseas subjects were nuts. The colonists weren't English citizens, but a second class of subjects in thralldoms, and of course they had the power to levy taxes on them. A few MPs were on the side of the colonists, but they were outshouted and outvoted. More and more taxes were levied on the thirteen colonies.
   The colonists took more and more drastic action to avoid or outright refuse the taxes. They were English citizens, after all, and from the time of King John to the Glorious Revolution, they were never ones to surrender their freedoms quietly. Even more, they had lived for several generations in a harsh wilderness, alone except for their God and their ingenuity. After years of independence and self-reliance, they weren't going to bow down now. When the Stamp Act was passed, colonists burned anything with the king's stamp on it. Parliament repealed it, but in their repeal stated that they had full power to do whatever they wanted to the colonies.
   Parliament had gone too far. All they had had to do was ask them to tax themselves and they would have done it. This posturing was absolutely ridiculous. Whisperings of war and even more drastic action were being passed around in the most radical circles. And when British soldiers were sent to Boston to try and enforce the supposed laws, the angry colonists started drilling in militias from snowy Massachusetts and New Hampshire to humid Georgia.
   A radical group went a little too far protesting the tea tax. All the colonies thought it might be a good idea to pay reparations for the thousands of pounds in damage. However, the furious British Parliament decided to shut down the colony in which the offense was committed, shut down their largest source of revenue, and starve the inhabitants to make them suffer.
   The colonies arose in outrage. They banded together to help their sister colony in her time of need, holding hands and becoming one for the first time ever. Even more people joined the militia. The British Army attempted to shut down colonial legislatures. They completely ignored them, instead meeting in local taverns. The colonies skirted the army and ignored Parliament, hoping the king would see the oppression and stand against the illegality. Offense after offense by Parliament and the army piled up. Until one day, it all became too much. The fatal straw had come.
   General Gage sent his troops to destroy the store of ammunition and gunpowder in Concord, Massachusetts. The local militia got wind of the plan and stood in their way with their guns, hoping to deter them without firing. But British soldiers got too eager and charged the men at Lexington. Somebody fired, then everybody fired, and eight men died. The militia swore they hadn't begun the fight, but they would finish it. They couldn't stop the British from their mission, but they hid behind fences, trees, and barns, shooting at the soldiers until they were terrified and running for Boston. For a year, they fought hard, losing battles with an army they refused to call the King's Army, for surely the king they had been loyal to for so long couldn't condone this.
   The colonial legislatures the army had tried to disband voted to send representatives to a congress of all the colonies, the First Continental Congress. This congress sent pleas to the king in hopes that this war could be ended when it had barely begun, in hopes that only Parliament was the problem. Their hopes were dashed in the spring of 1776. The colonists were forced to acknowledge the fact that King George III was behind all the machinations and oppression of Parliament.
   This knowledge rocked the colonies. In the spring of '76, spurred on by this knowledge, a new identity began to emerge. The colonists were seeing themselves not as British, but as Americans. And an idea that had been tossed around for a while by the Continental Army's new commander-in-chief began to be talked about by everyone.
   Through prayer and a miracle, on July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress formed the United States of America, the thirteen colonies collectively declaring independence from Great Britain. On July 4, they told the world exactly why.
   The war had just begun. Five long years of hard fighting followed. Without prayer and praise and the Hand of God, the Revolutionary War would not have been won. After another two years of sporadic fighting and tense negotiation, a treaty was signed between the United States of America and Great Britain, ending the war.
   And the rest? Well, it's history.
   



   Happy Independence Day, fellow defiant rebels! Today, let's celebrate our amazing country and her glorious birth. Remember, rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. Let freedom ring!

Monday, June 10, 2019

New Time Captives Covers!

   Today's the day, the sun is shining, the tank is clean, and we are getting out of... *gasp* The tank is clean! (#sorrynotsorry)
This isn't the right fish (and sea stars aren't fish), but anyway
   (You didn't think you'd get the covers that easily, now did you?)

   My sister has new covers for her Time Captives trilogy and they're super awesome!!! Here they are!!!


   Nope.
   Okay, I'll stop playing around, here they actually are:






   “No one can mysteriously disappear leaving no trace. It isn’t realistic.”
   “You’re right, Emily,” her grandfather said thoughtfully. “It isn’t realistic. However, a good many things happen in this world that are not realistic, things supernatural.”
   Emily, Allan, Jill, Joey, and Anna have grown up on their grandfather’s tales of ancestors who mysteriously disappeared from Creighton Hill, the plantation home that has been in their family for centuries. When Grampa’s death forces them to move into Creighton Hill, the truth about the supposed disappearances is the first thing on their minds. Allan, Jill, Joey, and Anna’s, that is. As for Emily, why must they keep at their supernatural hogwash?
   Could it be that their family really does just have an unusual history of early deaths? Most people seem to think so. But Grampa’s research has uncovered something different.
   When mysterious writing matching descriptions found in ancient accounts begins appearing to the children, they know something’s up. They must find out what really happened to their ancestors, and work together to discover the reason behind the mysterious writings.

   Creighton Hill is the first book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.








   “M’lady, it has been fairly well confirmed that the Redona was hidden away by the merfolk at the conclusion of the Great War instead of destroyed as was commanded. My brother has confirmed to me Joseph’s belief that it was concealed at the Crossways.”

   Toarna pressed her fingertips together in thought. “It must be recovered and destroyed as was at first intended.”

   Emily, Allan, Jill, and Joey have been reunited with their long lost ancestors. But with that reunion comes the true beginning of their quest: free the rightful king of Calhortz so that he may be restored to his throne. The Redona, the only object that can free him from his long imprisonment, is rumored to be concealed in The Crossways, a mountain across the sea which cannot be entered.
   A slave since birth, Adriel’s resentment and hatred towards the strytes only grows as his family is continually ripped from him. He longs for the freedom the Time Captives are prophesied to bring, but he doubts their existence, just as he doubts God’s love. Circumstances in Calhortz are so dire. How could they ever improve?
   Who can enter The Crossways? Will the king ever be freed? Or will the slaves of Calhortz lose all hope of freedom before it is even offered to them?

   The Crossways is the second book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.








   God, please look after Adriel. Keep him safe and keep him from acting foolish. And please help him to be able to find me. Rae knew she could trust God to look after both of them. It was all she had now.

   The Time Captives have been reunited. The rightful king has been freed. Now all that remains is to defeat the strytes who still hold a tyrannical rule over the people of Calhortz. But with their lack of soldiers, it’s a task that is easier said than done. They need allies, but are they worth it when it requires facing ghosts from their pasts?
   Returning to his home country only brings the loss of Adriel’s family to the forefront of his mind. His determination to find Rae has never ceased, but now that determination could potentially destroy all that he and the Time Captives have been working towards. And his new-found faith may not be able to withstand the challenge.
   Will they be able to set aside their personal struggles for the sake of the freedom of all or will they allow their pasts to consume them? Will they manage to win back Crannig Castle from the rule of the strytes? The fate of Calhortz hangs in the balance.

   Crannig Castle is the final book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.




Giveaway
Morgan will be giving away a complete set of brand new Time Captives books! Be sure to enter! Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

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