Review: My True Love Gave to Me

I meant to post this review a few weeks ago when it was a little more relevant, but the time got away from me. My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of twelve holiday themed short stories curated by author Stephanie Perkins. This is the “cup of hot cocoa and a warm blanket” of books. Each story is a tale of romance, written by some of the most delightful writers out there, including Perkins herself, Rainbow Rowell, Kelly Link, Holly Black, and more!

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It’s no secret I am a fan of the holiday love story. (Love Actually, get at me.) And I am a huge Stephanie Perkins fan, so it was with great excitement and anticipation that I sat down to read this anthology. Neil gave it to me for Christmas (<3) and I started reading it a few days before Christmas. It felt very appropriate. The stories were well written and also just nice to read. It’s the kind of book that just makes you feel good, something one might need during the holiday season or any season for that matter. I enjoyed it immensely.

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On Turning 25

I’ve been grappling with what it means to be 25 in the weeks leading up to my birthday tomorrow. I feel silly that I even have feelings about it. I’ve gone around the sun one more time. I’ve done it this many times! Hooray! Nonetheless, I’ve got all the telltale signs of a self-diagnosed quarter life crisis. It’s hard to feel like turning 25 isn’t a big deal. I’m smack in the middle of my twenties and what do I have to show for it except all the preconceived expectations and notions I weigh myself down with? I usually love birthdays. Birthdays are about celebrating the year I’ve had, looking forward to whatever is ahead, going to dinner with my family, and feeding my friends chips, cupcakes, and my undying adoration/love.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a little more introspective about my day of birth. With each advancing year, there is a nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps asking, “What are you doing? Where are you going? Why are you here? And why don’t you even know the answers to any of these questions? Shouldn’t you be doing something?”

I think it’s fair to say that I’m doing pretty okay as far as being a human person goes. I’m going into my fourth year in a job that I think I’m pretty good at and treats me very well. I’ve got a great, very engaged family as well as the most magnificent and glorious friends a girl could ask for. Neil is an amazingly supportive partner and one of the best people I know. I’m getting more creative work done now than I have since I was in college. I’m happy with most aspects of my life, but I still have this itch for more, but I don’t know exactly what that “more” entails.

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A very brief treatise on rereading

There are, relatively, about a kajillion books out there. Each of these lovelies are constructed in different ways. Some tell new stories, some revisit old ones, but all of them are tales I either have or have not absorbed. In short, I get weird about rereading. I love to re-read. There’s nothing quite like revisiting a story you love. It feels warm, comforting, and familiar. It’s like a warm bath or a hug from someone you know really cares about you. Books you’ve loved feel a lot like home.

However, whenever I am indulging in a little re-reading (I’m looking at you Harry Potter), I always start to worry a bit about all those kajillion of books. In my short 24 (nearly 25) years on this planet, I know I’ve only put a tiny, baby fist sized−dent in the thousands upon thousands of reading options out there. When I linger on something I’ve already read I get this little pang of guilt. A voice says, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU’VE ALREADY BEEN HERE! MOVE ON!”

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Oh, my beloved.

But I’ve started to become annoyed with that voice. I love reading as many new stories as I can. I learn so much from new authors and their styles. They have much to offer and it is my ambition to absorb as much literature in my lifetime as is humanly possible, but I also don’t want to feel bad when I revisit stories that have been important to me. Studying those tales is just as rich and vital. So that is my goal this year: I am going to restructure my reading life a little and just read whatever I want, whenever I want, including but not limited to books I have read in the past. Saying that out loud sounds silly. Of course, you should be able to do that. You are a grown ass adult Jordan. But sometimes one needs a little reminding.

Here’s to 2016 and stories of all kinds: past, present, and future!

Until next time.

Year in Review: 2015

Another year is coming to a close. I always get pensive this time of year. Time seems to be moving so much faster these days. I just hope I am properly taking advantage of it. In that regard, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of this year:

  • I started watching Breaking Bad with Neil. I still haven’t finished because it’s too stressful to watch all at once.
  • Danced it up at Howl at the Moon.
  • I turned 24.
  • Played a LOT of board games.
  • The entire city of Boston was battered by blizzards.
  • I used a bath bomb for the first time and boy was it magical.
  • Neil and I were both sick on Valentine’s Day. It was gross and romantic. ❤
  • I did a little writing here and there, including finally reviewing the first draft of my tragically awful novel.
  • I passed on the winning fiction piece for a local emerging writer’s contest.
  • I worried about the state of our country and our criminal justice system. I still worry about that.
  • I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls but didn’t finish (yet).
  • We played a lot of DDR. Like a lot.
  • I sprawled on Liz’s couch and loved Mabel. Also loved Liz.
  • Bar trivia with the besties.
  • I listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts.
  • I had a god damn fiasco disaster trying to buy new glasses. Warby Parker failed me and my super blind eyes. I ended up at Spectacle in the South End and found a pair I really love. Thanks Paul. You are an amazing optician.
  • I met Laci Green. She is an inspiration.
  • I saw the Mountain Goats, They Might Be Giants, Hank Green, Sufjan Stevens (open weeping), Conor Oberst, and Desaparecidos in concert. They were all transcendent experiences.
  • Conor Oberst may have touched my hand.
  • I had a gastric emptying test. It was weird and long and came back normal.
  • I cut my hair short.
  • I had a bad reaction to the dye when having a MRE and it was absolutely no fun.
  • Neil and I started going to the Boston Comics Roundtable.
  • I saw Welcome to Nightvale live.
  • I couldn’t stop listening to 1989.
  • We visited Ross in Burlington and had glorious gluten free crepes.
  • I struggled with doubt and anxiety.
  • I said a lot of not so nice things about the Republican presidential candidates.
  • I attended the 1920s themed wedding of our friends Justin and Heidi at a gorgeous estate in Rhode Island. It was beautiful and so much fun.
  • I experienced the gluten free doughnut.
  • I vacationed a few days with Neil in Portland, Maine.
  • Neil and I rode bicycles around Peaks Island and explored an extremely creepy WWII battery.
  • I cracked my tooth eating kettle corn while my dentist was out of town and had to get an emergency crown. It cost an absurd amount of money.
  • Neil and I went to the Science of PIXAR exhibit at the Museum of Science.
  • I saw Inside Out and sobbed loudly in public.
  • I tabled for BCR at Boston Comic Con and TopatoCon.
  • I spent time with friends from back home.
  • We moved into an amazing and comfortable new apartment.
  • We went to upstate New York and stayed in a million dollar mansion.
  • I had an ultrasound. It was weird. I think I’ve had every test they can possibly do to look at the inside of your abdomen.
  • The antics of the Maine crew made me laugh so hard.
  • 90% of the power went out in our apartment our first week there. I handled it just as well as could be expected.
  • Primark opened in downtown Boston. #bless
  • I started seeing a new nutritionist and PCP who really seem like a good fit.
  • Neil and I attended the first ever NerdCon in Minneapolis and I got to see my friend Abby.
  • I helped keep the exhibitors happy at the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo.
  • I hosted my very first Murder Mystery Dinner Party.
  • I saw Libba Bray at Boston Book Festival.
  • I voted.
  • I felt the Bern.
  • Neil and I were Bert Macklin and Janet Snakehole for Halloween and it was glorious.
  • I attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women.
  • I got a Kitchen Aid for Christmas and cried.
  • I read 40 books.

And I’m sure there’s more to add: so many wonderful, little moments in a year. I wish I could have captured them all. I have big hopes for 2016. I am going to be a quarter of a century, which makes me nervous. I feel like there is so much I have yet to accomplish and so much I should already have done. But only time will tell.

Until next time!

If you want to see my full book list for the year click below (asterisk indicates graphic novel):

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Review: Nimona

Stop what you are doing. Go read this comic right now.

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I like Noelle Stevenson. She is a great writer and an amazing artist. I’m a big fan of the series Lumberjanes and I unwittingly followed her tumblr for a long time without knowing who she actually was (she has a really great tumblr). And so it was with this knowledge that I picked up the physical copy of her web comic  Nimona.

This story is excellent. I could not put it down. It’s funny, touching, sharp, and just beautifully drawn: like I am drooling this is so gorgeous beautiful. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. The book was nominated in 2015 for an Eisner Award and was longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award. Not too shabby.

Our story begins when Nimona, our young, sassy, shapeshifting protagonist, shows up on the metaphorical door step of resident supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart wanting to be his sidekick. Together they wreak havoc and commit general villainy. Ballister is a one-armed renegade with a score to settle and really excellent facial hair. He regularly faces off with his nemesis Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, he of the golden curls,  as well as fighting the goons of the oddly malevolent Institution of Law Enforcement.

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Holiday Meals

With Thanksgiving behind us, the winter holiday season looms large and with it more family meals and big, savory dishes. The holidays can be a dangerous time for folks with dietary restrictions. I am lucky to be able to have a family that is willing to accommodate me. As it is, I won’t be able to eat a single thing at the office holiday party coming up. Often, this is the case. The best way to survive the holidays and avert disaster is to plan and prepare in advance.

For this, I would like to share some of my holiday survival menu for those adhering to the fodmap diet and trying to avoid gastric distress this holiday season.

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Review: Carry On

It was beyond my wildest dreams that Carry On by Rainbow Rowell would ever come to be. The story is a fictional one that takes place within a fictional world. It began as a story within a story. The fictional Simon Snow books factor heavily into Rowell’s novel Fangirl, where the protagonist Cath obsesses over the series with devotion, going so far as to write and publish online elaborate fanfiction entitled Carry On. And here we are.

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Carry On is pretty meta. I went into it expecting a fun ride, but Rowell really fleshed this story out. Carry On stands completely on its own, apart from Fangirl. This novel is a delight to read. The book is essentially a parody of every Chosen One story that’s ever been written. It takes the trope and turns it on its head. The world is one in which words, words themselves, carry real power: magic spells are phrases, lyrics, bits of poetry that have had an impact on the public consciousness. For example, Up, up and away is used to levitate an object or Clean as a whistle gets rid of messes. There is also a particularly intense moment involving a nursery rhyme and a dragon. The mechanics of the World of Mages is fascinating and innovative. It was fun to discover the ways in which language could translate into spellcraft.

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Burlington, Vermont: It’s a Pretty Rad Place

I spent the weekend visiting my friend Ross in Burlington, Vermont. We just got back (after a hastily put together dinner). After four hours on a bus, my brain is foggy, I’m exhausted, and I’m not quite certain of who I am anymore. It was a very nice weekend. Neil and I stayed with Ross in his charming flay conveniently located close to the waterfront and downtown strip.

Burlington (and Vermont in general) is a beautiful place. The mountains, as the name suggests, are very green. Also hilly and enchanting. I could stare at their majesty for hours. It was hot and sunny our first couple hours there, but then it stormed and just kept up a wet and uncomfortable drizzle the whole weekend through. We didn’t let it get us down.

The downtown area is really great: lots of nice shops and independent stores on and near Church Street. Earth Prime Comics was excellent if you’re looking for a good, local comic shop. I really liked the way they had their store laid out. Also, Crow Bookshop was a lovely indie bookseller. If you’re in the market for records, Burlington Records has an extensive collection and lets you browse vinyl to your heart’s content. We were able to find my friend Mike a copy of the original Star Wars soundtrack.

I ate very well during my time in Burlington. Eating out when your fodmap and gluten free is always a challenge, but I found a lot of places could accommodate me. Our first night we had dinner at the Upper Deck Pub. I had an adequate piece of steak and a baked potato. I could have gone for some veggies, but it was a nice meal and you couldn’t beat the price. Plus the waitstaff was very knowledgeable and kind!

I had the best breakfast of my life at Skinny Pancake. They had GLUTEN FREE CREPES made with buckwheat. Drizzled in Vermont maple syrup, I nearly died in the restaurant. It is no secret breakfast is my fave meal. We also went to A Single Pebble for dinner the second evening, which was nice. My chicken fried rice was a little bland (since I requested they take all the tasty stuff out of my dish), but it wasn’t so bad. I’d probably go with a different choice next time.


We also stopped by the Healthy Living Market and Cafe where I was able to pick up some gluten free treats and baked goods. I would have gone to West Meadow Farm and Bakery, a fully gluten free dedicated facility, but they were closed the days I was there. Next time!

Since it was rainy, we ended up going to this amazing bar called Tilt. It’s an arcade/pub and had some excellent gaming choices. I mostly stuck to pinball and PacMan, even though I am quite bad at both. I still had a great time spending tokens. Such a cool place!

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We did a lot of walking around and taking in the sights despite the weather. The waterfront area of Lake Champlain has gorgeous views. We also drove to Stowe and went to the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, as in “the hills are alive…”) and strolled the grounds in the damp. The lodge is nicely nestled in the mountains and offers spectacular views of the surrounding ranges. The grounds themselves are huge and offer a lot of rambling potential. We didn’t go far, but my time in the trees was pleasant, though my toes were wet.

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Most of the time I spent hanging out as you do when you haven’t seen old friends in a while. I had a marvelous time, but I’m glad to be back! Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and a busy week.

Until next time!