International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day. I have two thoughts on this.

One of my thoughts is this: we shouldn’t have only one day a year where we recognize women. There are so many amazing women in this world, order in our present and our past. I think that we should appreciate these women every day, not just on a day like this: Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Marie Curie, Harriet Tubman, Hilary Clinton, J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey. Your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters. Yourself, if you’re a woman. There is so much we have accomplished and so much we are capable of accomplishing. And we should be aware of this every day, both men and women. Women should be aware because this is their legacy and they should believe in themselves and be proud of their gender. Men should be aware because they need to recognize women as their equals and realize how much we are capable of and realizing how much we already have done.

But it also makes me very aware of the strong female characters that I am surrounded by every single day. Hermione Granger. Ginny Weasley. Minerva McGonagall. Molly Weasley. Lily Potter. Clary Fray. Tessa Gray. Isabelle Lightwood. Lady Alanna the Lioness. Lady Keladry. Daine the Wildmage. Alianne of Pirates Swoop. Annabeth Chase. Katniss Everdeeb. Princess Leia. Susan and Lucy Pevensie. Tris Pryor. Eowyn. Arwen. Arya Stark. Catelyn Stark. Emma Swan. Buffy. Inara. Kaelie. Zoe. Rose Tyler. Martha Jones. Donna Noble. Amy Pond. Clara Oswald. Anne of Green Gables. Elizabeth Bennett. Jane Eyre. Scarlett O Hara.

I could literally go on and on and on. And I was quite tempted to do so. But I think you get my point.

The point is I am amazed and yet so happy at the amount of strong female characters that we are constantly surrounded with. The strength of all these characters, though they are all fictional, inspires us the same way that a real person does. As a reader, these characters are real to us and the amazing things they do, the obstacles they face and conquer, the decisions they make and the accomplishments they take…it makes me very proud to be a woman.

So, it’s International Women’s Day…so celebrate it. Embrace being a woman. There are so many amazing things about being a woman. This isn’t about men versus women or what sex is better. This is about equality and bringing proud of who are you and what your gender has accomplished and will accomplish. It’s a reminder that we will do what we have to do, we will fight for our rights and for that equality and we will stand up and be proud because we’ve proved ourselves, both in fiction and in life.

You know, and I’d say the same for International Men’s Day. Men should be proud as well, for the good men that are out there. For the men who have fought and accomplished and who have changed the world. For the men who recognize women as equals. Those men deserve that pride too.

So soak in the pride and remember all the amazing women that we have been privileged to have in our past and present and that we will continue into our future.

Who are some of your most inspirational women? Are they your family members, or women of our past? Are they some of the successful women of our times or fictional characters? As always, share below. :)

And you men out there, you share too :) I know you have some inspirational women in mind too!

The Tuesday Ten: Favorite Pixar Movies

One of the best things about being a nerd is that you get to act like a kid, viagra 100mg and there’s a bunch of other adults who are acting like kids just like you. Its the best part, treat easily. Its like John Green said, side effects you don’t just say “hey, I like stuff”; you get to jump up and down and yell and squeal and get excited. There’s no holding back and its GREAT. You get to show all the excitement you feel for things and it makes you feel like a kid.

And being a kid is fun. And being a nerd is the best of both worlds: I get to be an adult without all those rules of being little but I get to have and enjoy things like we all do when we’re kids. I’m still going to cover my walls in posters and photos like I did when I was younger but instead of NSYNC and the Spice Girls, I now have Harry Potter and Doctor Who on the walls.

But that kind of inspired my Tuesday Top Ten today. One thing that has always really drawn me to Pixar and their movies, especially as an adult, is how you really can have the best of both worlds in their movies. You have all the awesome and fun of a kids movie, with the humor and silliness, and fun stories but you also have these very adult themes, and these incredibly touching moments and lessons.

Over the years, Disney has produced okay movies, but I was a child during the amazing golden years of the 1990s (Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, The Rescuers Down Under, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, etc). So while movies that have come out in the last ten to fifteen years are good, none of them with the HUGE exception of Tangled, have really jumped out at me the way they did when I was a child.

The exception to this (besides Tangled) is the Pixar animated films. Ever since I first watched Toy Story when I was a child, I have enjoyed each and every one that has come to pass and I have as an adult as well. Pixar captures the amazing stories of a kid and an adult and you can enjoy them and love them no matter what age you are.

Sounds a little bit like a nerd kind of thing, doesn’t it?

So that brings us to this week’s Top Ten.

10. The Incredibles 

IncrediblesWallpaper1024

Robert Parr, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible, was used to a life of action and worship as a superhero, and he completed the circle by marrying a fellow super, Elastigirl, and started a whole super family. But superheroes are forced to go into hiding, to acclimate into normal society. But Rob doesn’t want that, he misses the day of being a superhero and when he finds an opportunity to get back in the game, he jumps in. It doesn’t take long to realize his enemy has reeled him in and its a race for survival, and to save the world one more time. Everyone wants to be a superhero so whats not to love about this movie? Its a funny, family movie that has its humorous moments (Dash is probably the HIGHLIGHT of this movie-“We’re going to die!”) but it also stresses the importance of family, and appreciating the love you get from the people you care about, and less about the applause you get.

9. A Bug’s Life

A_Bug's_Life

I swear, this Pixar movie is the most underrated movie of the Pixar collection. I feel like everyone forgets this one when listing Pixar movies but it is is so awesome. Flik is a little ant, determined to make a difference, to be different from all the rest. And he’s also determined to protect his colony from the evil grasshoppers who terrorize them. He finds a group of circus bugs and convinces them to pose as warriors to save the colony, to convince the colony that his inventions and ideas are not crazy. Of course, the secret comes out and the colony isn’t happy…but then they realize that together, they can stand against the grasshoppers and eventually defeat them. Its a super sweet movie, and the story teaches us just as the others do: if we can stand together, we can accomplish so much. We should believe in ourselves and think out of the box. Anyone can be hero, no matter what size you are…which is one of my favorites. As a little person (I’m nearly 25 and only four foot eleven), those kind of lessons, that sort of themes, well, they’re awesome.

8. Ratatouille

remy-from-pixar-ratatouille-making-an-omelet

Isn’t that picture cute? Its a rat that makes food. A RAT that makes FOOD. Put those two together, and it sounds like something awful. We had rats in our house a few years back and it was awful. Remy is a rat living in Paris, where some of the most delicious food in the world exists, but he is surrounded by his family, who will eat whatever they find. After sneaking into a kitchen and preparing a soup, he is spotted by garbage boy, Linguini, and they pair up to become awesome chefs, to bring back the glory to a formerly five star restaurant. But this movie has so much charm, and its so deliciously French. And it involves food. I love food. Who doesn’t love food? Dumb, skinny people. I’m kidding. But this movie is so CHARMING. Its the first word that pops in my head when I think of this movie. The characters are all lovable, the storys is unique and great and its a fun movie to watch. And it teaches us that you can judge people on what they look like, or your preconceived judgements. Remy is a rat, and you definitely wouldn’t let him into the kitchen, but it turns out he is a great chef, a fantastic one, and he would never have gotten the chance if it wasn’t for Linguini believing in him.

7. Brave

brave3132012

In response to the fact that Pixar did not have a strong female character, they created this most recent movie, Brave. Brave follows the character, Merida, who is the princess of Scotland. However, she isn’t quite the princess material, not like the princesses we know of previous Disney movies. She likes archery, eating, belching, riding her horse. She wants her freedom and she wants to break the rules. Of course, this doesn’t endear her to her mother, and they disagree often. Then when her mother is transformed into a bear by a spell, they have to work together to fix it and they both learn a little about ecah other. I love this movie because straight up, Merida is badass. Its about time we get a REAL princess. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love Belle (BOOKS! She gets a library from the beast!) and I adore Rapunzel, but they’re so classically beautiful and skinny and perfect. Merida is short, has amazingly wild flaming red hair and can shoot better than anyone in her kingdom. Its a nice movie to show little girls, showing them that they can accomplish anything.

6. Toy Story

Toy Story

As the first Pixar movie I have ever seen, as the first one to come bursting into our hearts, it has to make my top ten list. I don’t know anyone who didn’t wish their toys would come to life when they were a child. I don’t know many people who didn’t think they actually did. Wouldn’t that be absolutely wonderful? Woody is a cowboy toy, the favorite toy of Andy, and he enjoys being basically the king of Andy’s room. That is, until brand new and hip space toy, Buzz Lightyear comes into the room and everything changes for Woody. In the end, friendship conquers everything as Buzz and Woody realize that despite their differences, they are friends first and foremost. This is a story about friendship, hands down and you continue to see this sort of theme in the other two movies.

5. Finding Nemo

finding_nemo_wallpaper

I LOVE THIS MOVIE. My boyfriend doesn’t really like this one (He’s got this sort of negative bias when it comes to Ellen DeGeneres…and oddly, Kevin Costner) so I don’t get to watch it as much as I wish I could. However, I have seen it several times and I adore it; it really is a jewel in the Pixar family. Marlin is an uptight and overprotective father to son, Nemo, after his wife and the rest of their potential children are killed. One day, Nemo defies his father, in order to gain some freedom and is “kidnapped” by a fisherman. The movie continues as Marlin embarks on an epic journey to track down his son and bring him home, making friends and enemies along the way. I have always been into sea creatures, and I love that every creature in this movie has such a personality from Marlin to Dory the fish, Crush the turtle, Bruce the shark, and so on. And it really teaches us that we have to get out there in the world, experience things. We should always approach things with caution of course, but we won’t experience life or live life unless we loosen up a bit. Brilliant movie.

4. Monsters Inc

Monsters-Inc wallpaper 1024x768 006

I know a lot of people who would put this a lot lower on their list (Dad!) but I adore this movie. Its monsters, but unlike we’ve really seen them before. We learn of Monsters Inc, a company that uses the screams of children to power their city. They have “scarers”, monsters who sneak into kids rooms and scare them in order to get the screams and the energy. They don’t do it because they enjoy terrorizing us; in fact, they’re kind of scared of us. They just need the energy. Then one day, something goes a little wrong and a little girl, Boo, sneaks into Monstropolis and chaos ensues as Mike and Sully try to get her back home. I like this one because of Boo, mostly; she’s damn adorable and even though she’s a toddler, she’s fearless and she’s able to change the views of everyone in Monster world. It goes back to that idea of preconceived perceptions; they thought children were evil and hazardous but it turns out that they’re not, of course (I mean…most of the time…) and that laughter is actually a better source of energy than screams. I am still waiting for the sequel where we see an older Boo but I can’t wait to see Monsters University this summer.

3. Wall.E

Wall_E_by_MrCanavan

THIS MOVIE IS SO DAMN CUTE! It is one of the cutest and most romantic movies in the whole world and there isn’t even a lot of talking in this movie. Wall.E is back on earth, an earth of the future, where we have trashed it to pieces and have abandoned it for space. Wall.E remains, cleaning up the mess because that’s his job…until one day, EVE appears and he falls madly in love with the female robot. He follows her into space, on to the great ship where the humans are, and we see them try and convince them to come back, to bring the earth back to where she used to be. Its a beautiful story. First and foremost, its a love story and its one of the most sincere love stories I’ve seen in awhile. Most love stories nowadays are so chaotic and tragic and this one is just so simple and awesome. Some people think this movie is a little preachy but I like it. It may be a little bit extreme but the movie shows a lot of the truth. We need to take care of this planet, no matter how badly it gets and we should never abandon it, because it takes care of us. I also think the whole fat people in hover chairs on the space ship was a little dig too, that we need to get outside and enjoy life more often. I hope that I am able to do that and I know sometimes I am not. Another fantastic Pixar movie.

2. Toy Story 3

Toy-Story-3

This is one of the most emotional, raw movies I have ever seen…and its an animated childrens movie. We have now reached the end (or so we thought until they brought up Toy Story 4), and Andy is about ot go off to college. The toys haven’t been played with for years and they’re feeling neglected. Woody is going off to college with Andy but the rest of the toys are going to be put up in the attic…until the accidentally get donated to a preschool, and they are suddenly under the tyrannical rule of Lotso Huggin Bear. It really gives the toys a chance to think about their lives, even though their toys, and whether they need to hold on or move on. The scene where the toys hold hands together as they are heading toward death…tears. One of the most mature and real and raw portrayals of death and the acceptance of death I’ve ever seen…and in a children’s movie. The scene where Woody makes the decision that the toys should move on, go on to make a new child happy, and Andy realizes how much the toys have done for him…beautiful. I first watched Toy Story when it come out back in 1995 and to come full circle with these characters that I fell in love with as a child in 2010 at 22 years old is a wonderful thing.

1. Up

Box600

I have seen this movie a hundred million trillion times. I can quote this entire movie. I quote this movie randomly throughout my daily life. (“I like you temporarily”. “But its a talking dog!” “Tomorrow, come back tomorrow and I will have the bird”) Its a sweet movie, it has romance and adventure. It begins with Carl as an adventure loving child, who meets Ellie, another adventure loving child. It shows their entire life together (to the tune of “Married Life”, which I am totally walking down the aisle to…and is the BEST part of the entire movie) all the way up until Ellie’s death, before they are ever able to go on their adventure to South America. Then we see Carl as an old man, stuck in his familar world, afraid to move on, talking to Ellie as if she’s still alive…and then he decides to go on an epic adventure, tying hundreds of balloons to his house, and taking off to Paradise Falls, meeting young Russell along the way. The movie shows an epic romance, a traditional classic romance that we all wish for, and it shows the sadness after the romance is over, after your partner dies. But it also shows us that we can find love in other ways, in the way that Carl finds love in Russell, and he is able to move on. Its such a wonderful, beautiful movie and I will never tire of it. Never ever. There is a reason that this movie (along with Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story 3) is one of the few animated films to ever be nominated for Best Picture.

*     *     *

So there’s my top ten. I am so eager to see what else Pixar brings us in the future. They have never disappointed me (except maybe in the case of Cars 2, but I’ve never seen it so who knows) and they continue to make fun, and life changing movies.

I left off Toy Story 2, Cars, and Cars 2. I adore TS2 and Cars very much, but they just didn’t quite make the list. I also have never seen Cars 2 because, well, I don’t really have a desire to see it :/ However, I am very, very excited for Monsters University this summer!

Coming soon: post on Gallifrey One! I know, its so LATE but its coming, I swear! This month is insane! SO much going on. Its my birthday tomorrow!

What are YOUR favorite Pixar movies? Share them below!

How Tamora Pierce Changed My Life

Issue07_Pierce_200x361

Today, order I really started thinking of Tamora Pierce. She just won the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association. If there is anyone in this world that deserves that award, what is ed it is her. Her first novel, Alanna: The First Adventure, came out in the early 80s. She continues to publish novels, and they continue to dazzle her readers.

I first picked up one of her books when I was sixteen years old, nine years ago. I picked up Trickster’s Choice at Target, for two reasons. One, it was only about ten dollars, which was great. I was sixteen without a job so ten dollars was awesome to me. Two, there was mention of pirates in the book flap describing the book. I had an unhealthy obsession with pirates back then. Really, it was very, very unhealthy.

Anyway, the book ended up having absolutely nothing to do with pirates except for the fact that it is briefly mentioned in the beginning that the main character is kidnapped by pirates.

But besides that mistake, it ended up being such a fantastic book. I could go on and on about it but I did a Book of the Week post about it AGES ago and you can check it out here.

A few months later, the sequel to Trickster’s Choice came out, Trickster’s Queen, and I fell in love all over again with Tamora Pierce’s writing. Then an amazing thing happened: my love of this two part series gained me a pen pal, Chloe, who I have been writing (yes, snail mail!) for nearly 9 years now. She is a HUGE Tammy fan and introduced me to the fact that the Trickster series was the fourth Tortall series by Pierce.

So I went back and read the Daughter of the Lioness series, the Immortals series, and the Protector of the Small series. Then I reread the Trickster series again. Then I anticipated and enjoyed her new series, the Beka Cooper series, taking place in the past, before the events that we’ve come to know in the other series.

And the fact is, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Tamora Pierce and her fantastic books in it.

One, there’s the fact that it brought one of my closest friends in the entire world to me. Sure, Chloe and I live on opposite sides of the world; me, in California, Chloe, in Australia. We have never actually met in person. But we’ve been writing to each other for nearly a decade. We’ve read the same books, enjoyed the same movies, and gone through so much together in the world of handwritten letters. I give her books and she gives me books. She is one of my best friends, hands down, and it came from a mutual love of Tamora Pierce.

Tammy also gives me such a confidence in myself and my writing and its because of how long she has been writing. The woman has been around for decades, writing fantastic books, and sure, she’s not turning her books into movies and hitting the red carpet, but she’s been an overwhelming and inspirational presence in the young adult literature and fantasy worlds. She’s always there, and with every single book, she only gets better. She is a force to reckon with and I believe that I can do, because she did it, and continues to do it.

Plus there’s the pure and undeniable fact that she is a FANTASTIC writer. She takes us into a fantasy world that’s both new and yet familiar. She makes you really believe that these places and people and things are all real. You can’t even convince yourself that it isn’t real. Some fantasies that I’ve read before are the same thing over and over again, or they’re just too complicated for me to wrap my head around. I mean, sometimes I just get tired of reading about forbidden romances and fallen angels. It gets old. But Tammy’s stories are unique and familiar and fun.

Her stories are a breath of fresh air when you are surrounded by the same things over and over again. I’m over the love triangles and the fallen angels and forbidden romance, and dark titles with the same black and grey covers over and over again. Honestly, it just gets tiring. I mean, sure, I like the idea of the stories but sometimes the romance just gets in the way and I start to get annoyed.

But Tammy. Oh, Tammy. She creates these fantastic characters. Alanna. Daine. Keladry. Aly. Beka. All of them are strong, admirable characters. Alanna disguises herself as a boy for eight years to become the first female knight in over a hundred years. Daine is a powerful mage, able to communicate and heal animals and shape shift into one as well. Keladry is the first female to come forward to become a knight, with her gender known. Aly becomes the spymaster for a secret rebellion to take back a country from tyrannical and cruel rulers. Beka is a fierce and intelligent force of the Law, helping to solve some of the realms biggest crimes and mysteries with her scent hound, Achoo. These are amazing, strong and fierce women. If there was ever a group of fictional women to worship, this would be it.

Because these women, they do everything in their power to live their dreams and protect their realm. The fact that Alanna disguises her sex for so long and fights and fights, and becomes such a powerful knigh is amazing. Daine uses her powers and her way with animals to fight a WAR, to become a HERO. Keladry goes through years of torment and years of disbelief to become a knight herself, a formidable one, separate from Alanna, her predecessor. Aly is clever, extremely intelligent and 100% committed to helping the raka people take back their country from their terrible conquering rulers. Beka comes from the poorest parts of the capitol city become one of the most successful of the Guard, solving some of the hardest and most mysterious of crimes.

And the best part is…they all fall in love. They all do. And most of them get married, and have that happily ever after. There are mushy moments and exchanges of “I love you”, and sweetness and romance, and even some moments of flushed cheeks by the readers. But these heroines never let the romances get in the way of their goals. When a marriage proposal gets in the way of Alanna’s desire to see the world, she says no, instead of compromising her wishes and dreams. Daine’s love is her partner, her equal and they feed on each other for support, love and strength. Keladry chooses her dream, her determination to become a knight over anything else, over anyone else. She wants love but she can’t let it distract from protecting those who need her. Aly loves someone very much but she doesn’t let her get distracted from her mission, a seemingly impossible task. She waits until she’s completed her mission before completely giving herself over. Beka has her relationships, her flirtations, even a deep love for someone, but she never lets it get in the way of doing her JOB.

Can you see why I’m madly in love with Tamora Pierce and her writing? Can you see why my life, my writing, my passion for books, my outlook, my morals, my values, my beliefs, my strength have been influenced so much from Tamora Pierce? The woman is amazing and creates worlds that you want to be a part of. She creates characters that you wish you could be…and then you realize that, no, you don’t want to be them, because they are unique and they inspire you to be unique, to go out there and be different, and to grab onto those things that you want and dream, everyone else be damned.

I’ve been rambling on for what seems like forever. I could go on for pages and pages, for days and days, because there is no way I’ll ever begin to tell you how important this author, and her books are to me. I only hope that you all have a chance to pick up a book by her and realize how fantastic they are, and how much they can change your life. Besides my dear Queen Rowling, there isn’t an author on this planet that I worship and strive to be as much as Tamora Pierce.

I’ve read a lot of books, and I’ve loved a lot of books. I consume books the way some people consume food, or clothes or shoes, baseball games, even alcohol and drugs. I have a passion for books. But when you get down to it, I have two favorite books.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

and

Tricksters Choice

That should say something right?

Go out there, pick up a book by Tamora Pierce. You seriously won’t regret it. Then come back, and we can talk all about it. I can’t wait for it.

* * * * * * *

Tamora Pierce’s Novels

Song of the Lioness Series

Alanna: The First Adventure
In the Hands of the Goddess
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
Lioness Rampant

The Immortals

Wild Magic
Wolf Speaker
Emperor Mage
The Realm of the Gods

The Protector of the Small

First Test
Page
Squire
Lady Knight

Tricksters Series

Trickster’s Choice
Trickster’s Queen

Beka Cooper series

Terrier
Bloodhound
Mastiff

and many more series outside of the Tortall universe!