Panel Recap: Refill Your Hearts: Fandom Librarians Recommend Stories to Get You Through the Bad Times

Image description: One of the panelists stands behind a podium and gestures excitedly as she talks, while the other three sit at a table, reading through forms from the audience.

Not going to lie, when I first read the description for Refill Your Hearts: Fandom Librarians Recommend Stories to Get You Through the Bad Times, I was a little skeptical. The panel was meant to be a group of fannish librarians providing personalized reading and viewing recommendations for the audience. According to the description, they would focus on uplifting fanfiction, online and self-published fiction, webcomics, tv shows, movies, and other media created by and centered on women; queer, trans-, and nonbinary people; people of color; neurodiverse people; and other marginalized groups. As someone who has read fanfiction for over sixteen years, I was specifically doubtful that the panelists would have read enough fanfiction in enough fandoms to make useful recommendations to the audience. I did love the idea that they might have a couple story suggestions that would fit my preferences, though, and I wanted to see how the panel would play out, so I gave it a try.

I’m so glad I did.

Caitlin Foskey
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Before She Ignites Brings Dragons Back to YA

Written by Guest Contributor Marissa Brantley

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows is doing the good work of bringing dragons back in the lives of YA readers. Have we had a good dragon series since Eragon? I don’t thinks so. Even better, the main character is a woman of color who struggles with mental illness, while still getting’ it done.

JC Lau
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The Fem-Spired Movie You Might Not Have Heard About

Post by Guest Contributor, Kate Harveston.

 

If you’ve heard anything about the film Colossal, it’s probably been along the lines of Anne Hathaway and giant monsters. Accurate, but the movie is so much more than that. In addition to being a unique blend of romantic comedies and monster movies, it has a distinct feminist slant and commentary.

The Premise

It starts off as a seemingly typical romantic comedy. After her boyfriend kicks her out, Gloria heads back to her hometown to pick up the pieces and work on herself. Childhood friend Oscar swoops in to help get her back on her feet with a job and some furniture. And then it gets twisted.

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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. 

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Hey, Staffer! Whatcha Geekin’ Out About? An Interview with Jill Lennartz

For August’s Hey, Staffer! we interviewed Jill Lennartz. This is Jill’s first year with GeekGirlCon, but she has plenty of experience doing good for social justice. Check out our interview below!

Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?

I’m Jill, and I’m the Cosplay Contest Coordinator with GeekGirlCon. I make sure the contest happens! I do everything from finding talented cosplayers to be our judges and host, organize how the contest will be run, to running it.

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

I work for a tech company called CA Technologies, which is pretty sweet as a techie myself! I’m not a programmer though; I went to school for chemistry and climate science. So what am I doing at a tech company and not some research lab? The *awesome* answer is that big companies are becoming seriously responsible. I work in a department called Corporate Social Responsibility – we make sure that the company is being socially and environmentally responsible and work really hard to improving in these areas every day. Some people on my team work with organizations to bring STEM education to women and underserved populations, and others focus more on improving our environmental impacts.

JC Lau
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A Truly Positive Sex-Positive YouTuber

For probably obvious reasons, the turn YouTube culture has taken over the past few years has left me feeling rather disenchanted with the whole platform. I still watch some channels regularly, but that habit is often more a practice in nostalgia than anything else. Sometimes I even sense that I’m more forgiving than most when it comes to sticking with creators who tend to let their audiences down over and over again.

There does exist, however, one YouTube creator whose content has only brought more awareness, more understanding, and more pure joy to my life and that is Dr. Lindsey Doe of Sexplanations. My love for Sexplanations has remained steady since the channel’s inception four years ago, but recently it’s reached a new peak in light of recent developments within the community of sex-positive YouTubers. While I have strong feelings about the state of this type of content in general, my main concern at this moment revolves, I’m sure predictably, around Laci Green’s recent confusion of oppressive behavior with free speech. My favorite video that has cropped up in response to Laci’s is this unscripted piece from Marina Wantanabe. There’s also this livestream recording from Kat Blaque that is pure gold.

Teal Christensen
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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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Review: Sleight

This is a great era to be a Black geek. Communities like Black Nerd Problems and Black Girl Nerds are catering to a population that has always been present but traditionally ignored within geek circles. Recent films like Dope and TV shows Atlanta are also celebrating the Black nerd (or “blerd”) and giving us a new type of hero for the 21st century: young African-Americans with high IQs, awkwardness, and a penchant for sticky situations. Sleight continues with this movement. The protagonist, Bo, is every geek’s superhero, endowed with little more than intelligence, a good dose of desperation, and, of course, STEM!

Ashli Blow
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Review: The Girl With All The Gifts (No Spoilers)

‘Tis the season of socially relevant cinema, from Moonlight to Hidden Figures to Thirteen to I Am Not Your Negro. But, as always, it is the speculative fiction genre that distinguishes itself in its ability to package the sociopolitical ills of our present day into fantastic scenarios that entertain, spook, titillate, inspire, and fuel. While Get Out is much more overt, The Girl With All The Gifts is an artistically subtle tale of power, fear and exploitation.

Zombie fiction tends to have a common theme – the destruction of civilization sparked or exacerbated by the frailty of humanity. Centuries before George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) attempted to portray the relationship between race and fear through a zombie apocalypse, zombie mythos among western hemisphere Africans was a metaphor for racial oppression. While race may be deemphasized in recent zombie franchises (e.g. The Walking Dead, Resident Evil), zombie fiction continues to be a backdrop for dialogue on social power hierarchies.

Ashli Blow
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