Anthrocon Wrap Up!

So last weekend we drove to Pittsburgh for Anthrocon, the second largest furry convention in the world. It was the largest until Midwest Fur Fest overtook it last year! If you’ve never heard of furries (or have only heard of them from CSI, ugh), they are a really fun subculture. Popular culture likes to call them a fetish, but mainstream furry culture is absolutely not. Furries are, simply, people who like anthropomorphic animals. Often they have fursonas, or an idea of who they would be if they were an anthropomorphic animal, and some of them have made or commissioned fursuits (similar to mascot suits) so they can dress up and pretend to be their fursona. Furry culture is a happy one, really – there is just so much joy at Anthrocon, from people dressing up and just playing. There are meetups for different types of animals, like bird suiters and cats and dragons. (I saw a photo on Twitter of a water buffalo at a lion meetup captioned “living dangerously” which cracked me up.)

One of the best things about furry culture, in my opinion, is the lack of giving a fuck about gender roles and sexuality. Most suits obscure your gender – and for gender non-conforming people, it can be an incredibly freeing experience. So there are a lot of pride flags flying, and transgender flags are incredibly common. (I saw several fursuiters wearing them like capes!) It’s just an amazing place to be yourself, because nobody judges you.

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Husband in a badger mask, and boss trying on a tiger mask in the mirror.

So this is how we spent our weekend. We help a friend of ours sell leather masks and folding fans, both at this con and at the Maryland Renaissance Fair every year. (See photo above, and her website here!) It is an absolute blast, spending time with three of our best friends (boss and her partners) and chilling with furries.

Now that you know what furries are about, the rest of this post should make more sense! Thursday we drove up to Pittsburgh. We normally help set up the booth, but they only allow a certain number of people in with the Dealer, so Tiger and her partners set up her booth while we got our badges and wandered back to the hotel until dinner.

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Three fursuiters in the Dealer’s Den.

Friday the Con kicked off for real, and the Dealer’s Den opened. We sold fans (SO MANY FANS) and masks until 6pm. We got to see some amazing fursuiters walk through the Dealer’s Room, and said hi to several people we knew from Fair and previous Anthrocons. I walked down to the Charity Table, because this year’s charity (Anthrocon supports a different one each year) was Pearl Parrot Rescue, so they had a few different parrots at their table throughout the weekend. We ended up raising a record $46,440 for their charity!

Saturday was another full day in the Dealer’s Den, with the Fursuit Parade in the middle of the afternoon. They actually blocked off a road outside the conference center, and put out a bunch of chairs so people from Pittsburgh could come watch the parade! Pittsburgh is an amazing city, and they’ve absolutely embraced Anthrocon and furries. The local restaurants usually have deals for people with Anthrocon badges, or furry-themed food specials, and many places do events themed around the furries. Anthrocon attendees regularly inject several MILLION dollars into the local economy over the weekend, though, so it’s no surprise they love us!

Scyther

Scyther!

Sunday the Dealer’s Den closed at 4 instead of 6, to give the Dealers time to pack up their booths and load out. We still had 6 hours of vending time, and saw many more fursuits. I don’t remember which day we saw Scyther, but they were one of many Pokemon suiters. After packing up Tiger’s booth, we headed back to our hotel. They drove back Sunday night, but we stayed an extra night in Pittsburgh….

blackbirbSo we could go to the National Aviary Monday morning! BECAUSE BIRBS. The Wattled Curassow, above, liked to hang out on the railing. I was highly amused at how many people walked by her, or stood at the railing right next to her, without noticing she was there, just chilling. This was in the Wetlands environment, along with spoonbills and flamingos and pelicans and all kinds of birds.

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I actually got to hold a fish to feed a Tern as part of their interactive feeding talk. I took video of the first half of the talk. I’ll try to upload that soon, because it was really neat!

Steller'sIn other exhibits they had Stellar’s Sea Eagles, which were HUGE. I knew they were big, but DAAAANG.

Or at least I thought they were huge until we got to the Andean Condor exhibit. I was really excited by this one, and it was a large part of why I wanted to go to the National Aviary. Andean Condors are the largest flying bird in the world, and WOW. We walked up just as one of them hopped up onto a rocky ledge and HOLY COW THEY ARE HUGE. It’s hard to get a sense of scale through pictures, but trust me. These guys are enormous.

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In addition to these giants of the bird world, we also saw Tawny Frogmouths, a Kookaburra, and Flying Foxes. Which are bats. But hey. They fly!

In the Rainforest Exhibit were a pair of Hyacinth Macaws, which is one of my favorite species, and this fabulous bird in a nest, among many others. We saw a Palm Cockatoo – the amazing black ones – but he hid behind a tree very quickly, so I didn’t get a picture.

I also didn’t get a picture of the lorikeets, but we fed them! I had two come to me immediately – I’d been hanging out outside the enclosure talking to them through the wire mesh – and they didn’t want to leave when the nectar was gone. One of them I had to reach up and set on a branch, he was fairly determined to stick with me! The keepers were rather surprised he’d refused to leave, but I explained I’d grown up with birds. They seem to like me!

ShotGlassI have three souvenirs from the weekend – a shot glass from the aviary, and two AMAZING posters from Anthrocon. The expression on the parakeet’s face just KILLS me. (The artist is on Twitter at @TsaoShin)

BIRBPoster

CockatielGriff

Monday afternoon we drove back from the aviary, fell into bed, and slept until Tuesday. It was a fantastic weekend. We’d originally planned to go to Toronto instead of coming home, but that fell through, and we’ll probably try to do it next year instead. I am exhausted – well, maybe not by the time this post goes up, hopefully! – but happy.

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Smashbomb Sunday!

So I’m going to do something a little different today and talk about Smashbomb!

Food ForestI cross post my reviews to four places: my local library, Amazon, Goodreads, and Smashbomb. I’ve been cross-posting to Smashbomb since late 2017 – I reviewed them way back then, when the site was young. It has continued to grow and evolve and really become something quite cool.

Smashbomb is basically a social network for reviewing things. They have lots of categories; they’ve expanded a bunch from 2017, and now have Apps, Books, Movies, Music, Podcasts, Tabletop Games, Tech, TV, Video Games, and Videos. I’m of course most active in Book Reviews, but I also dabble in Tabletop Games and Movies. (I probably ought to branch out to Music, too!)

CodenamesTheir only downside is that occasionally they don’t have a book in their database yet when I want to review it, but it’s pretty easy to add books to their database. I actually have a spreadsheet of what books I’ve cross-posted where, and I need to go back through and add a bunch of them to Smashbomb! You also get credit for adding and updating item entries, so there’s a benefit to adding things yourself.

It’s almost gamified, with the kudos points. You can earn kudos for reviewing things, and people can award kudos to reviews or comments they particularly like. Once you have enough kudos, you can start entering their giveaways! (It’s a low number – 50 – for most of the giveaways, but high ticket items set the floor higher.) All they ask is if you win a giveaway, you write an exclusive review for Smashbomb.

There are leaderboards, for who has reviewed or rated the most things, who’s earned the most kudos, who’s added items to the database, and so on.

They’ve also added Orbs – groups – which I haven’t quite got the hang of yet, but I’m working on getting more involved in.Orbs

I do wish the notifications were separated a little more – specifically comments, and posts in orbs, which I might want to respond to, from everything else. I can go to “Show All Notifications” and filter down to just comments, so it’s not all bad, but that means I have to go check for comments because they tend to get buried in the hotbar drop down of notifications. I’ve already submitted that as feedback, which they’ve been VERY responsive to in the past. Another reason I like the site so much!

Smashbomb has also just started a “Publishing Partners” program for bloggers or other online content creators, where they help publicize your content if you talk about the website a bit. (Full disclosure, that’s why I’m writing this up, though my old review of Smashbomb has never stopped getting hits, which amuses me to no end.) I highly recommend getting involved on this site for other bloggers. I’d continue using the site and cross-posting book reviews anyway, but this is an added bonus!

If you’re already on Smashbomb, or if you go make an account, let me know your username and I’ll go follow you! I’d love to spread the love (and kudos!) around!

 

Happy Pride Month!

Today begins Pride Month, and I’m going to review a bunch of LGBTQIA+ books this month! I have three lesbian romances already in the queue (one of which was my Friday 56 yesterday!), one graphic novel with bisexual rep, a biography I’m currently reading, and plenty more.

If you’d like to check out my past LGBTQIA+ book reviews, you can look through the categories below!

M/M

The Poet X (side character)

The Bird King

Black Wings Beating

This is Kind of an Epic Love Story

What If It’s Us

Heart of Thorns (side character)

Always Never Yours (side character)

Less

Autoboyography

The Book of Essie (side character)

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

The Clothesline Swing

The Rules of Magic (side character)

Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom

F/F

A Blade So Black

Seafire (side characters)

Like Water

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

Seriously . . . I’m Kidding (Ellen DeGeneres memoir)

When Katie Met Cassidy

The Animators

The Dirty Girls Social Club

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Bisexual

Of Fire And Stars / Inkmistress

Furyborn (one fairly minor line, but it means the main character is bi.)

Queens of Geek

Reign of the Fallen

Wonder Woman: Warbringer

That Inevitable Victorian Thing

Transgender

Confessions of the Fox

The Bone Witch / The Heartforger / The Shadowglass (side character)

Period: Twelve Voices Tell The Bloody Truth (nonfiction)

Tomboy Survival Guide (memoir)

Demisexual

(see Multiple, I know, as a demisexual myself, I’m a little bummed too.)

Non-Binary

River of Teeth / Taste of Marrow

Blanca & Roja

The Brilliant Death

Starless

Island of Exiles

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire / Endless Water, Starless Sky

Asexual/Aromantic

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Summer Bird Blue

The Memoirs of Lady Trent

Radio Silence

Multiple

All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages (Gay, Lesbian, Transgender)

Once & Future (Asexual, Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay)

The Priory of The Orange Tree (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual)

The Wrong Stars / The Dreaming Stars (Demisexual, Asexual, Bisexual, Transgender minor character, Non-Binary – the crew of the ship is queer as hell and it’s awesome!)

The Spy With the Red Balloon (Demisexual, Gay)

Autonomous (Bisexual, Robosexual?)

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud (nonfiction)

As The Crow Flies (queer)

The Merry Spinster (various, but lots of gender-nonconforming/non-binary/trans stories)

Sunday Stuff

I hope everyone is having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend! We have plans for every single weekend in June, plus the first half of July, so aside from doing a good deep clean on the house yesterday, we are trying to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on this long weekend.

I think I’m starting to get back on track with my reading, after the short slump I’ve had the past couple of weeks. (Politics lately may have played a part in this; it’s hard to read when I’m SO. ANGRY.) I’ve got some exciting stuff out from the library right now, so that’s helping. I also think I might start a new feature here – Bookish Stuff. I’m subscribed to three different book services; Illumicrate, which is a young adult box with one book and various accessories each month, Book of the Month, which is 1-3 books each month, no accessories, and Life’s Library, which is John Green’s book club. It’s a paperback book, unlike the new releases in the other two, along with a few small items, and it ships every six weeks. I’ve got several of each of these already, so I have a backlog to get through if I want to feature them here weekly. Saturdays, maybe?

Book Review: The Shadowglass

shadow glassThe Shadowglass
by Rin Chupeco
Fantasy
456 pages
Published 2019

I wish I had the first two books in front of me to refer back to while reading this one. Specifically, the last few chapters of book two. Like the first two books, this one alternates chapters between the bard’s point of view, and the story told to the bard by Tea. The difference is that they have separated paths at this point; so instead of the bard’s chapters being very short, getting clarification on the story she’s telling, he’s now telling what’s happening to him in present day, interspersed with Tea’s letters that he’s carrying, with the rest of her story. This gets VERY confusing. It’s confusing even trying to explain the timeline! Okay, if we split up all three books between Tea’s story and the Bard’s viewpoint, chronologically they’d look like this:

The Bone Witch – Tea’s Story
The Heartforger – Tea’s Story
The Shadowglass – Tea’s Story
The Bone Witch – Bard’s Viewpoint
The Heartforger – Bard’s Viewpoint
The Shadowglass – Bard’s Viewpoint

See why I’d like to have the other two books to refer back to? This book is giving me part 3 and part 6. And while it was pretty easy to keep them straight in books one and two, because the Bard wasn’t doing much besides having a conversation with Tea, in this book, he’s off seeing OTHER important events that are happening while Tea is doing other things – and occasionally flitting in and out of his orbit too!

It is a good conclusion – the end, especially, had me crying into my book – but most of the book was very, VERY confusing. Like another conclusion I’ve read recently, if you moved straight through the trilogy with no waiting time, it might not be too bad.

What ESPECIALLY annoys me, is in the Bard’s viewpoint in the first two books, she does something that is supposed to be impossible. So in her story in The Shadowglass, this thing is impossible. But in the Bard’s viewpoint, she’s ALREADY DONE IT. And there’s no explanation of HOW. That’s really what I’d like to refer back to the other two books about. Having that particular task be in the time gap between the two parts of the book was poorly done. Like, really? I read Book 2 almost a YEAR AGO. I don’t remember how that part happened.

So that’s particularly frustrating. I wish Book 3 had condensed to one timeline. I don’t really see why it couldn’t have. It would have been much less confusing!

From the cover of The Shadowglass:

I had no plans of living forever.

In the Eight Kingdoms, none have greater strength or influence than the asha, who hold elemental magic. But only a bone witch has the power to raise the dead. Tea has used this dark magic to breathe life into those she has loved and lost . . . and those who would join her army against the deceitful royals. But Tea’s quest to conjure a shadowglass, to achieve immortality for the one person she loves most in the world, threatens to consume her.

In this dramatic conclusion to Tea’s journey, her heartsglass only grows darker with each new betrayal. She is haunted by blackouts and strange visions, and when she wakes with blood on her hands, Tea must answer to a power greater than she’s ever known. Tea’s life – and the fate of the kingdoms – hangs in the balance.