Review: Sell Your Heart to The Hearts We Sold

 

Written by Guest Contributor Marissa Brantley

 

Grab a latte, slip on some comfy socks, light a pumpkin scented candle, and prepare to settle in for this spooky tale about a girl who sells her heart. Her literal heart. Demons in this world, are willing to grant you your greatest desires as long as you’re willing to part with an arm, a leg, and occasionally your heart. I wondered what would prompt a person to decide to trust a demon and lose a body part in the process. I went to church-I watch Supernatural. I know that you do not trust freakin’ demons no matter what. However, the book answers that question very quickly: very desperate people.

The Hearts We Sold was not what I was expecting from the description. The author slowly ushers us into this world that is much deeper, darker, and even creepier story than as first presented. Peeling back layer after layer and feeling a little more horrified each time was both skin-crawling and highly entertaining. There were more Grimm fairytale qualities than I initially expected. The small elements of fantastic creepiness really put it over the top in the best ways.

Our main character, Dee is surrounded by fully formed characters with express purposes outside of simply helping or pushing her narrative. Because of these characters, even though the world is a fantastical one, it feels eerily realistic. Everyone has a motive, a backstory, that makes their actions, even cruel, abusive ones, realistic. It does make every action excusable, but it does make those actions understandable. Human. The romance develops naturally and sweetly and does not overpower the story. If you’ve read Vassa in The Night, which I recommend if you like dark fairytales this book would be right up your alley.

Representation-wise, this book does a fairly good job of portraying people of color, and LGBT+ characters. Dee is half Hispanic. Her race is mentioned at most two times. It does not affect her story, so if you’re searching for a character with a heavy latinx identity, this is not the book you’re looking for. This world is not exactly a diverse utopia, as some of the characters do face discrimination. However, it’s something that is alluded to in passing and does not come from any of the characters we know and love. There is a gay supporting character, as well as a trans character. Their sexuality and identity does not affect who they are as people and is only mentioned briefly.

I appreciate the way in which abuse is portrayed in this story. Abuse storylines can often be a bit obvious. They run the way that most people think all abuse happens: physical. But in The Hearts We Sold, the abuse while not exactly subtle, forces you to think about how you would survive in this situation when your options of escape are slim to none. The results of which forces Dee to make extremely difficult decisions, that I’m not sure everyone will be agree with, but I personally think it was an important one that should be illustrated as an option to matter your age or situation.

There were some aspects of the “weird” and “spooky” that seemed too readily accepted by the main character. She describes herself as being afraid all the time, yet when faced with truly terrifying situations, she’s calmer than most people would be. Only later does she seem to react appropriately to them, so it made her a little inconsistent to me. I would have liked to see her struggle with her fear more. It does get off to a bit of a shaky start, but it finds its legs early. Before you know it, it’s five hours later, you’ve forgotten to feed your cats, and you’re getting dual death glares. Can’t relate.

The Hearts We Sold is perfect to get you in the mood for Halloween season, and a great filler until we all binge watch Stranger Things come October.

 

Marissa is a grad school student, writer, and feminist who’s surviving Arkansas in our current political climate. She gets through it with her two fluffy cats and her Hufflepuff tendencies. 

GeekGirlCon
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Food for Superheroes: Anger and Empowerment in Cathrynne M. Valente’s The Refrigerator Monologues

Source: The Mary Sue

“I belong in the refrigerator. Because the truth is, I’m just food for a superhero. He’ll eat up my death and get the energy he needs to become a legend.”

–– The Refrigerator Chronicles, pg. 144

If you’re a woman, girl, or other gender-marginalized person who loves comics, you’ve probably heard of “fridging.” Also known as being “refrigerated,” or “women in refrigerators,” fridging is a term coined in 1999 by comic writer Gail Simone, after reading a Green Lantern comic in which Kyle Raynor comes home to find his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, killed and stuffed into a refrigerator. Since then, the term has spawned a website cataloguing the many ways in which women in comics have so often been treated as disposable plot devices within the broader narratives of male protagonists. Too often the wives and girlfriends of comic heroes, as well as other women comic book characters, are abused, injured, disempowered, or killed in order to provide a catalyst for the heroic actions of their male counterparts.

Drawing on this trope’s long and complicated history––as well as the format and mission of the Eve Ensler-created Vagina Monologues––prolific author and comic book fan Cathrynne M. Valente’s most recent book, The Refrigerator Monologues, began with her own Gail Simone-like call to action. As she describes in an article for The Mary Sue, after Valente saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2, she left the theater in tears, enraged and disappointed by the filmmakers’ treatment of Gwen Stacy. When Valente’s partner told her that, as much as they both might want to, there was nothing they could do to fix Gwen Stacy’s death because “‘she was always going to die. She always dies. It’s kind of a thing,’” Valente responded with redoubled enthusiasm to directly address that very inevitability.

Source: TVTropes.org

“On Monday, I am Julia Ash. I dye my hair cranberry red and live in a trendy suburb with three cats, two teakettles, and one first edition Jane Eyre on which I have never once spilled ramen broth.

On Tuesday, I eat a star.”

–– The Refrigerator Chronicles, pg. 25

What results is a series of linked, monologic short stories, each centered around a different member of the Hell Hath Club, a tightknit group of “fridged” badasses, relegated to the monotonous obscurity of the underworld while their husbands and boyfriends heedlessly continue their above-ground heroics. Illustrated by amazing artist Annie Wu, the stories are by turns tragic and hilarious, snarky and earnest. Those who are familiar with comics will likely be able to place the inspiration behind Valente’s characters, and part of the fun is identifying the incredibly creative ways that Valente updates the stories of Jean Grey, Gwen Stacy, Alexandra DeWitt, Harley Quinn, and others. By drawing on familiar themes––updated and embellished by propulsive, acrobatic prose and galvanizing anger––Valente is able to honor the importance of comic books while simultaneously drawing attention to the very tropes that can hinder such pure enjoyment for us comics fans who aren’t cis white men.

At the same time, there are certainly limitations to what Valente is able to accomplish in The Refrigerator Monologues. The stories themselves––like those that inspired them––are, with few exceptions, heteronormative narratives involving white, cis men and women. Additionally, while Valente’s characters are given a voice and a spotlight through which to tell their own stories, the fact remains that they are still dead. United by shared experience and empowered by mutual storytelling, these powerful and complex women are not able to enact physical retribution on those who have hurt, oppressed, and used them.

Still, as someone who loves comics and graphic novels, I view Valente’s work as a celebration of the comic book genre precisely because it refuses to ignore the problematic tropes and themes so often contained within it. By putting a spotlight on abuse, misogyny, and the perceived disposability of certain bodies, The Refrigerator Monologues is a book that comes out of a deep love, addressing the anguish that results when that love is betrayed. As a nerd, that’s exactly the kind of representation that I’m looking for.

“The Hell Hath Club walks its newest member out into the Lethe Café, into music and moonlight and steaming cups of nothing that taste like remembering. Her frozen blue skin gleams like the bottles behind the bar. We help her into the booth, hold her hand, slip her a joke or two to make her smile.

What’s the difference between being dead and having a boyfriend?
Death sticks around.”

–– The Refrigerator Chronicles, pg. 145

 

Sources:

https://www.themarysue.com/fridging-supercut/

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WomenInRefrigerators

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DisposableWoman

https://www.themarysue.com/the-refrigerator-strikes-back-the-refrigerator-monologues/

http://lby3.com/wir/

http://www.eveensler.org/plays/the-vagina-monologues/

Hanna Hupp
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A Wrinkle in Time and the Dangers of Homogeneity

Written by Guest Contributor Regina Barber DeGraaff

With all the excitement surrounding the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, I wanted to discuss the ideas of diversity that the book explores and how the ideas of what is “different” and “normal” has affected my life as an academic in science.

Not long ago, I was an PhD astrophysicist who had never read A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L’Engle’s book was beloved by many of my academic colleagues due to the physics references; however, literature that everyone else read in childhood was always a touchy subject for me. I remember being a sophomore in college when several fellow physics majors said to me “You haven’t read The Lord of the Rings? You haven’t even read The Hobbit?!” That summer I spent the entire break reading the Tolkien series in the Shire-esque landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Being a female, Mexican/Chinese American, first-generation college student in physics, I was already wary about my appearance and “class,” so I did anything to belong.

I did not grow up in a house with books for children or adults. My mother was always nervous about her English due to growing up in Taiwan and never wanted to read English books. When I would visit my father during the summer, he tried to encourage my sister and I to read, but he was self conscious about his own reading skills. I remember the crippling dread when teachers would ask me to read out loud. This is probably one of the many reasons I moved towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

GeekGirlCon
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10 Ultra-Nerdy Gifts For The Ultimate Star Wars Fan

Written by Guest Contributor Mike James.

The eighth edition of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi, is set to be released in December. So if you’ve got a Star Wars fan with a birthday coming up, why not treat them to a themed gift to ramp up the excitement even more? Here are ten super-geeky gifts to give to the Star Wars fan in your life.

Tauntaun Sleeping Bag

Who hasn’t dreamed of snoozing inside rotting corpse of a biped snow horse? This is the unfortunate fate that befalls everyone’s favourite moisture-farmer-turned-Jedi in The Empire Strikes Back. If you know a Star Wars fan who would love to recreate the experience, you can treat them to a Tauntaun sleeping bag. The attention to detail is superb; check out the lightsaber zip pull and printed entrails on the inside. Let’s just hope that haven’t been as meticulous in their work on the smell.

 

Wookie Hoodie

A plush Wookie hoodie seems like the ideal winter jacket. Chewbacca manages to stay pretty warm without the need for clothing, even on the ice planet of Hoth. It does seem doubtful, however, that the product is made using genuine Wookie fur.

 

Lightsaber Umbrella

How often do you get to shield yourself from the rain and make passers-by mistake you for the Dark Lord of the Sith? Now is your chance with the Darth Vader lightsaber umbrella.  

 

Captain Phasma Hot Toy

You probably remember Captain Phasma. This suave silver Stormtrooper was one of the major talking points in the trailer, but only received about two minutes of screen time in The Force Awakens. Still, the whole visual appearance is pretty striking and she will probably make further appearances. Any Star Wars super fan would love a Hot Toy model. If you’ve never heard of Hot Toys they are collectible figures that take realism to another level. There are a variety of Star Wars options available, but Phasma has to be one of the most impressive.

Darth Vader Pizza Cutter

This pizza cutter is in the shape of Darth Vader’s lightsaber. And while you won’t be slicing your pizza with a concentrated beam of red light, the cutter does have integrated sound effects – so you can almost imagine it. Just make sure you remove the pizza from the oven in time, otherwise it might come out a little on the Dark Side.

 

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Now you can enjoy the story of Star Wars in the vernacular of Shakespeare. Sadly, these were not written by The Bard himself although at least this means that he wasn’t responsible for the creation of Jar-Jar Binks.

 

Lightsaber Chopsticks

Add a dash of Star Wars to your chow mein by using these impressive light-up chopsticks. There are plenty of different options for you to choose from including Darth Vader’s sabre or Kylo Ren’s broadsword-style weapon. But maybe the best option is the glowing purple of Mace Windu’s lightsaber.

 

Kylo Ren Suitcase

How many times have you been at the luggage carousel at the airport and almost walked away with someone else’s possessions? Let’s face it – most suitcases look the same. That’s not a problem you’ll ever have again with this polycarbonate Kylo Ren model. There’s definitely something quite intimidating about the face of Kylo Ren staring at you from the front of a suitcase. You imagine it’s more than enough to scare away potential thieves.

 

Original ‘Revenge of the Jedi’ Poster

You might already know that the original name for the third instalment in the Star Wars saga was Revenge of the Jedi. The name was dropped in favour of Return of the Jedi because it was felt that the word ‘revenge’ was not something that should be associated with the Jedi. However, this title changed was decided after several thousand promotional posters had been printed.

Today, these original posters are real collector’s items. You’ve got to be pretty serious if you’re going to buy one though – genuine posters usually go for thousands of pounds.

 

Lightsaber Pen

If you’re not looking to splash that kind of cash, there are plenty of cheaper options to keep any Star Wars fan happy. These lightsaber pens are a great choice.

 


 

Mike James is an independent writer based in Brighton, UK, who specialises in nerdy stuff for work and geeky stuff for fun. When he’s not writing about cyber security or tech innovations, he loves Star Wars, Hot Toys and considers himself an avid Naughty Dog gamer.

Guest Contributor
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Princess Leia: My First Feminist Icon

Princess Leia

For as long as I’ve been a fan of anything, I’ve been a fan of Star Wars. I have vivid memories of sitting on a friend’s couch watching The Empire Strikes Back and being completely immersed in the experience.

Princess Leia was my favorite character. She was a girl just like I was, and she was snarky, had great hair, and did everything the boys did. Years before I had ever heard of fanfiction, I was mentally writing elaborate adventures for Leia as she repeatedly saved the universe in increasingly spectacular (and improbable) ways.

Caitlin Foskey
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Panel Recap: Stardust – David Bowie’s Lasting Influence on Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror

The room was abuzz with anticipation. David-Bowie-loving con guests talked amongst themselves, excitedly trading ideas about what would be discussed at a panel about Bowie’s influence over the genres they love.

Then the panelists began singing “The Man Who Sold the World.” It only took a few lines before the audience joined in, turning a simple, beige conference room into a wonderland of magical notes.

As the first verse came to a close in the transformed room, the panel began. The panel moderator, Evan J. Peterson (author and teacher), introduced himself, followed by Grace Moore (podcaster), and Sara Depp (musician).

Evan explained that the panel would focus on Bowie’s influence on visual content, such as film and television, although his music would be touched upon as well.

Adrienne Clark
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Hey, Staffer! Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? (Feat. Torrey Stenmark)

It’s time to get to know another GeekGirlCon staffer! This month, we are talking to Torrey Stenmark, who is an expert in all sorts of geeky endeavors, from gaming to chemistry. Torrey also has some serious skills when it comes to cosplay–she has won numerous awards for her works! Find out about her below.

 

Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?

I am Torrey Stenmark, the DIY Science Zone Assistant Manager. I’ve also served on the Programming Selection Committee in past years.

What do you do for your day job/when you’re not being awesome as a GGC staffer?

I teach chemistry (introductory, general, and organic) at Shoreline Community College.

Have you always considered yourself a geek?

At least since college. I’m sure I would have been classified as a geeky or nerdy kid, but I owned the term in college. Back in high school I was a theater kid, which is not quite the same thing.

What sort of geeky things do you like to do in your spare time?

I make and wear science fiction and superhero costumes! I’ve won awards in local and national costume contests. I also volunteer with a couple of costumed charities, in which we dress up to raise money for children’s causes or to visit schools and hospitals. There’s a very special joy in demonstrating to young girls that they can be superheroes too, or showing all kids that they can be both superheroes and princesses.

JC Lau
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What Wonder Woman Means To Me

Written by GeekGirlCon Twitter Administrator Kristine Hassell

Special Invitation

Join us this Saturday, June 3rd at Barnes & Noble South Center for a free Wonder Woman Day Celebration with costumes, fun activities, and a panel discussion, “Wonder Woman IRL”. You can RSVP online, right now!

A percentage of your purchases in-store on Saturday (or online June 3rd to 8th) will be donated to GeekGirlCon when you use the code 12164679.

 

What Wonder Woman Means To Me

When I was a kid, there was one television channel I could to watch without parental supervision and that was the local PBS affiliate. I absorbed all the classics: Sesame Street, Electric Company, Vegetable Soup, Doctor Who, Monty Python… okay, the last two weaseled their way in there when my mother wasn’t paying close attention to my media consumption. So believe me when I tell you that it was a big deal when my mother let me watch Wonder Woman.

If you are of a certain age, there is a good chance that you did what I used to do, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. You might have painstakingly fashioned a tiara and bracelets out of aluminum foil, and used a red marker to make the stars just right. You might have borrowed a bedsheet to wear as a cape and lastly, you might have found something that resembled a gold lasso to complete the ensemble. If you were me, you begged your mother to buy the fancy cord remnant that you found at the fabric store. Then every week, you donned your makeshift superhero costume and you were ready for the show to come on. Those animated stars exploded across the screen and that theme song kicked in!

What comes to mind when you think about Wonder Woman: the comic, the show, the cartoon, the movie? I see all those things and more. I think about what she represents to me and in turn, to others. I recall the statuesque and jaw-droppingly beautiful Lynda Carter blocking bullets with her bracelets, leaping off buildings, or spinning that iconic twirl to transform from Diana Prince into Wonder Woman. In case you were wondering, why I described my wardrobe ritual, when Diana twirled to change, I did so right along with her without fail. I’d fling the bedsheet off, whip my hair back and forth, emerging excited for the rest of the episode to see her battling against that week’s villain.

Who created the Wonder Woman twirl? End of blog has that answer… (source)

I recall the animated versions of her from the Super Friends (with all its renames and spin-offs), Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. Side tangent for a little GeekGirlCon ‘14 trivia: in the JL/JLU universe, Wonder Woman was voiced to perfection by one of our former GeekGirlCon contributors, Susan Eisenberg! Yup, pretty cool stuff! The JL/JLU Wonder Woman held her own when fighting against Superman, had a great friendship with Hawkgirl, and was easily one of the best parts of that entire animated universe.

Guest Contributor
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A Geek Girl and Grey’s

In the wake of its season 13 finale, I can’t help but feel as enamored with Grey’s Anatomy as I did when I first committed myself to the Shonda Rhimes way of life a mere five years ago during my sophomore year of high school. My relationship with the show has been steady and enduring—nothing at all like those I’ve had with practically every other TV show I’ve ever loved and, at times, hated. Grey’s represents everything I’ve come to love about storytelling and, more specifically, storytelling by and for women.

Teal Christensen
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