Friday, January 29, 2016

A Thousand Nights

It is supremely fitting that a story about the power of words has some of the most luscious, beautiful prose I've ever encountered in a YA novel.  E.K. Johnston could have just talked about sand the whole time and I would have read three hundred pages about sand.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Darker Shade of Magic

Hi there, I see you're about to use the box puzzle to find your bookish affinity.  Yes, earth, air, fire, and water are important, but it's time to find your destiny in books.  So here we go!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Pip is still glaring at me petulantly, but I've managed to have Jean Valjean rescue Cosette from the Thénardiers!  Les Misérables: the video game.

I'm also reading:


In the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.  This is super-fascinating.  Third time's the charm for me reading this!


Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.  So, right now I'm reading a sum total of approximately a million pages.  But this is definitely a page-turner, and it really made me feel better about having a virus in 2015, versus the 1300s.  PLUS it's a set-in-the-future time-travel-to-the-past book, which ticks allll my boxes.


Descender Vol. 1: The Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire.  This is looking up: Jeff Lemire as Jeff Lemire should write.  Also: robots!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lucifer's Hammer

If some books are rollercoasters, then Lucifer's Hammer is a book that's only the first hill of the rollercoaster, with a brick wall at the end.  It started out as a lot of exhilarating fun and then smashed into the ground with a horrific third act.

I haven't read anything by Larry Niven before (no!  Not even Ringworld! Oops!), so I'm not sure if this is his general writing style or if it's because he and co-author Jerry Pournelle (full disclosure: no idea who this is) have attempted to tackle an enormous topic with a seething mass of characters in under 1,000 pages.  It might even be the time period--this is very 70s.  I felt my hair feathering as I read.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mini-Review: Red Sonja/Conan

I think most women would pay a rather large amount of money for underpants that stayed in place as well as Red Sonja's chainmail bikini bottoms do.  For all of the jumping, kicking, rolling, and hacking going on, it does not budge.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Man in the High Castle

Despite having one of the most tone-deaf marketing campaigns ever, I am intrigued by Amazon's series The Man in the High Castle, based on the book by Philip K. Dick.  Someone evidently stole the library copy (thanks! Not yours, and no, paying taxes doesn't mean that book belongs to you!), so I snagged a Kindle copy with that Kindle Unlimited thing, which is proving useful for things the library doesn't own.  Having read several other novels and stories by PKD, I had high hopes for this one.  The concept is interesting, but I didn't feel like it was pushed far enough.  It's not a bad book by any means, but I definitely prefer Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? over The Man in the High Castle.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Fall of Manic Pixie Butterflies

I realize that my very strong adverse reaction to The Fall of Butterflies had nothing to do with so-called "manic pixie dream girls" and everything to do with the trap of writing clichés.  That's what the MPDG was intended to call out.  So let's check out this book.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Since I've been morosely moving through life lately, it's been easier to add new books than to commit to reading ones I was in the process of reading.  So, I'm still bouncing between A Darker Shade of Magic (although I hope to finish it today!), Great Expectations, The Name of the Rose, and Les Mis.

I've added:

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.  Let us rejoice!  Alison Goodman has a new series out and yea, I feel it shall be mightily goode!

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood.  I've not read any of her books before, but this sounds intriguing.

Looking back, I guess I have a tragic/cursed mother theme going on.  Oh well!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reader's Block

It's like the opposite of Reader's Digest, I guess.  I need some sort of literary antacid to kick my brain into gear again.  Right now, I just don't feel like reading.  Or writing about what I read.

I need some Pepcid Litera-C or something.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Book of the Dead

I have to get caught up in the Arcadian universe of Greig Beck.  I've been jumping between the Arcadian novels, like Black Mountain, and this breakoff series about Arcadian's sometimes-assistant Professor Matt Kearns.  While Book of the Dead was fun in a lot of ways, there were a lot of universe continuity issues, as well as a hefty dose of Gary Stu Syndrome.

Beck's inspiration here is H.P. Lovecraft.

I'll wait while like half the Internet recoils in horror because yep,  good ol' H.P. Lovecraft was SUPER RACIST.  I know.  However, I find it difficult to ignore the impact of his stories, particularly on the speculative fiction yet to come.


On the personal reprehensibility scale, I find that HPL scores a solid Emperor Palpatine.  I read a lot of Lovecraft's work when I was younger, and oddly, I don't remember some of the more horrid quotes about black people that he tossed in there.  You can find them on the Internet.  We know so much about HPL's views because of his addiction to letter-writing.  I have a feeling that we would view many other classic authors differently if they had the volume of preserved correspondence that the Lovecraft estate maintains.

Take Edgar Rice Burroughs, for example.  His books also contained racist views, but more people know about--and love--Tarzan than they do Cthulhu.  Yet, I couldn't make it a quarter of the way through Tarzan of the Apes.  There was so much white superiority in that book that I felt ill.  You might argue that he, like Lovecraft, was "a product of his time."  But you know what?  People existed among their peers who knew that slavery was wrong; who knew that Jewish people weren't the Devil incarnate; who knew that you don't write sub-par poetry using the n-word.  And yet HPL chose to do so.  It's a choice.


So, while I like the ideas of the the Cthulhu Mythos, I in no way idolize or protect their creator.  I'd recommend reading Tales from the Cthulhu Mythos to see how other authors have riffed on this version of the universe.  I don't deny that HPL had a knack for evoking the menace that lurks in the autumnal New England countryside.  I wish Miskatonic University were a real place that I could actually visit, rubbing shoulders with mad scholars and so forth.  I also won't deny that HPL had issues with overwriting, and he relied so heavily on terms like "non-Euclidean"  or "cyclopean" that I often wanted to scream.

Anyway, all of that is to say that I enjoy reading Cthulhu stories, and I really love it when authors incorporate this mythology into their writing, but I in no way approve of H.P. Lovecraft as a person.


However, after getting into Book of the Dead and realizing that Greig Beck was leading us on a hunt for the Necronomicon, I pretty much wanted to fist-pump.  Beck also has some good notes in the back for readers who haven't read any Cthulhu stories.  Unfortunately, Beck never quite achieved the level of menace and complete vulnerability felt when reading an original Cthulhu Mythos story.

In Book of the Dead, we begin with sinkholes opening up all over the world.  But these sinkholes are too precise to be natural--opening directly under houses?  When the military gets involved and sends down Andrew Bennet, a geologist, he realizes that the homes have been left untouched, but all organic matter, i.e. the inhabitants, have disappeared.  There's a strange softness to the rock down there, too.  And just before returning to the surface, Andy snaps a picture of a symbol that is utterly foreign to him.

Enter Matt Kearns: paleolinguist, would-be Casanova, and former companion of Arcadian and the HAWCS.  Kearns knows that the world is much stranger and more frightening than civilians believe, and that the truth often is stranger--and deadlier--than fiction.

Now, here's one thing about the books that threw me for a loop: previously, Matt and his student/girlfriend (ew!) saved the world from a deadly plague of mites, but the epilogue of The First Bird states that after the red rains that wiped out the mites, children were born with deformities, and the magical red flowers grew everywhere.  The country had been under a level-5 pandemic alert, and in Book of the Dead it's as if none of this ever happened.  I guess Beck just retconned his entire universe without so much as a howdy-do.

So, anyway, here we are again, in a totally normal world that totally didn't have people turning into fungal spore factories.  Matt is single, having broken up with Megan, and is also jobless.  He applies at Harvard, but hark!  Is that the siren song of contract work with the U.S. Government?  Why, yes!  Because of the strange symbol found by Andy in the sinkhole, Matt flies out to Nebraska, watches the ground eat people, and then flies home.

Ha!  Just kidding.  Actually, he's vaguely blackmailed by the president of Harvard to go to Syria to speak with another linguist who may have a lead on the sinkhole situation.  O-kay, just go with it.  This is actually where things start to get fun.

Matt is part of a team comprised of Andy Bennet, Tania Kovitz, an Army archaeologist, their commanding officer, Major Abrams, and some serious SEAL muscle.  They arrive in Damascus and make it to the house of Doctor Hussein ben Albadi, who reveals that the sinkholes are just a harbinger of, well, the end of the world.  Ooh, I love it when the end of the world happens!


But not just any good old end of the world scenario: think eldritch horrors.  Dr. Albadi is in possession of fragments of the actual Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead, written by Abdul Alhazred, the "Mad Arab," as referenced in H.P. Lovecraft.  Dr. Albadi explains that Lovecraft's stories weren't fiction, but that he had gone beyond the veil and read some portion of the original Necronomicon, and attempted to warn us via his fiction.

The Old Ones are trapped inside the Earth, but also/maybe/kind of in another dimension?  In any case, they can only get out when there is a planetary convergence (how convenient is that!).  And the sinkholes are made by the shoggoths, those mindless beasts that serve the Old Ones, preparing the way for the coming of Cthulhu and the downfall of civilization.  Oh, and the diet of Cthulhu and his ilk?  People!  Lots and lots of tasty people.

However, we know they can be halted, at least for a time.  Al-Azif lived through a convergence and the world didn't go to pot then--so what did he do?  How did he stop the gloriously betentacled ones from noshing on the Dark Ages population (although, to be honest, I don't think that the flea-ridden malnourished woebegones of that time period would be nearly as tasty as the plump people of today, but I digress)?

You know how in The Mummy, you can't read from the Book of the Dead, because you'll raise the dead?



Yeah, this situation is the opposite: the team needs the full Necronomicon text to decipher in order to find the incantation to shut the gates between worlds and keep Cthulhu out.

There's a lot of globetrotting that takes place here, from Syria to Egypt to Pharos to the U.S., but suffice it to say that the team captures the book, all while being dogged by Syrian rebels and a mysterious force that has infiltrated the team.  If, like me, you suffered through the cringe worthy sexytimes, you know who the mole is.  But gosh, I wish I'd know that was coming, because ... ew.  This Matt Kearns, for all his intelligence, obviously doesn't care about STIs.


The secondary nemesis in the book is a cult of Cthulhu that has survived throughout the ages, with weird self-flagellating priests who also like to cut people up as torture.  Charming.  I didn't feel that this element was needed, but whatever.

In the end, it turns out that Cthulhu will emerge in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, and everybody runs there, and there is lots of dying and pointless military maneuvers, but Magic Matt deciphers the secret writing in the Necronomicon and figures out how to stop the worldwide human buffet from beginning.  Hooray!  I mean, did you ever doubt it?  That's what makes these books fun: you know what's going to happen in the end.  There will be Great Loss and Personal Sacrifice and all that, and Beck is notorious for killing off well-liked characters, but humans will still prevail--even over the space out of time's eldritch horrors.

So really, plot-wise, there's nothing really new here.  The inclusion of the Necronomicon as an actual book was very cool, as was directly pitting humans against the Old Ones.  Unfortunately, there's very little character building, and before you say, "Oh, it's an action novel--there's never any character building," I can tell you that Beck can do a really good job of it in his Arcadian novels about Alex Hunter.  Alex feels like a real person to me.  So are many of his teammates and handlers.  Matt Kearns is a Gary Stu, through and through.  Stuff just happens to him.  Women fling themselves at him.  He possesses all these wild abilities to read Enochian and decipher five bazillion languages (approximately).  He prevails when he doesn't deserve to.

I don't write for a living, but I would think that if you did, and if you set your novels in, say, the U.S., you'd try to write in their idiom, or at least find a copy editor who can catch the odd idiosyncrasies in language.  Beck is Australian, so those Brit/Aussie words creep into the story and go "Boo!" and jolt you out of it.  And it's not like they're obscure differences, either.   Characters consistently run into "lifts" and use "the car park."  I mean, I could buy this is Matt were a visiting professor from the University of Sydney or something, but he's definitely supposed to be an American.


Beck also seems to have a bit of trouble with Mammoth Cave--although it's a cave system, and rightly could be called "Mammoth Caves," we don't say that.  It's just ... Mammoth Cave.  I've been there.  It's big and dark and creepy.  But I've never heard anyone refer to it in the plural.  Also, I've never seen "Hooah!" written as "HUA!"  It's two syllables: Hoo-ah.  Inquiring minds want to know: what do Australian special ops teams yell to get themselves psyched up for combat?

I guess Chipotle doesn't exist in Australia (I am sorry), but the author seems to think that it is a sit-down restaurant.  No--it's like Subway, but with burritos.

Hands down, the best quote of the book goes to: "The group looked as Syrian as the Bee Gees."  Yep, stayin' alive.  It's what humanity does.

So, to sum up: it's an uneven book with fun references to the Cthulhu Mythos.  If you haven't read those stories, this probably won't make a lot of sense, but Beck does his darndest to try and explain it.  I liked that Adira Senesh came back as a main character and wasn't mooning all over Alex Hunter the whole time.  However, I never felt that sense of menace and lingering madness that leaps off the pages of the original Cthulhu stories.  It may, once again, be time to walk back to the hallowed halls of Miskatonic University, but this time I'll consider how Lovecraft's racism informed the creation of his monsters while I wonder at the ideas in the realms outside of time and space.





Friday, January 15, 2016

On Awards

"Awards Season" is my least favorite season of the year.  Yes, that means it comes in ahead of the "Holiday Season," which features incessant loops of songs that are charming after one go, but maddening after eleventy-billion.  Awards Season makes me feel more hopeless than Back-to-School Season, which just dredges up memories of every year traipsing through the stores, looking for the specific type of folder required by my history teacher.  If you didn't have the right folder, well, may the deity of your choice have mercy on your soul.

Fundamentally, Awards Season is flawed because there is no one way to, as Neil Gaiman so wonderfully put it, "make good art."

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)

It's taken me more than two years to read Cress, and that's not for lack of wanting.  I have such a horrible memory for series that I wanted to jump straight from Cress into Winter, the final book of The Lunar Chronicles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I need to just take everything I'm not reading back to the library and start anew.  I've almost maxed out my card (!!!), which, when you have magpie book syndrome, it's really hard to OOH LOOK SHINY NEW BOOK finish ones you checked out weeks ago.


At night, I've been reading a few chapters from A Darker Shade of Magic.  Dimension-hopping fantasy is my kind of bedtime story.


On a whim, I started Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, because I just cannot resist a sprawling end-of-the-world story.  And boy, is this sprawling!  For me, having a list of characters in the front of the book is always a good thing, as are maps.  I have learned more than I ever wished to know about the topography of the San Bernardino Valley in this book--and I'm only halfway through!


During my lunch break, I started The Jakarta Pandemic which has been on my TBR for ages.  I'm not sure why, exactly.  I can't even promise that I'll finish--I had no idea how irritating Prepper thinking was until reading this.  There is the dim hope that once everyone gets sick I'll hear less about how goshdang prepared this ex-Marine is for THE END OF THE WORLD.  Le sigh.


Meandering through the beginning of Great Expectations, I can see why I couldn't get into it as a teen.  Pip is already starting to irritate me, and this pleases me in a strange way.


Finally, I ALSO started The Name of the Rose which I've had on my Kindle for ages--I got it for free one day.  Again, this is a book I picked up in my teens but was put off by the excessive Latin.  My cheapo version does not have the full translations, but between Italian and French, I'm working through it.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest

On a whim, I signed up for a free trial of the Amazon Unlimited program (not associated, blah blah blah).  One of my coworkers used it and had really been enjoying it.  I know that a lot of librarians were worried when it launched because its marketing push was basically that it would replace libraries.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Psycho! *violins screech*

One of the best things to do right before staying in a hotel on a business trip is to read Robert Bloch's Psycho.


What I wrote above depends on what you consider to be fun.  Like obsessively checking the shower.

However, I'll also say that it freaks the heck out of your seatmate, thus sparing you the inane chatter that some people deem necessary during flights, and it's a wonderfully entertaining book.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

"For the rest of this, I'm choosing my own story.  Because if you can't do that, you might as well just give up."



This is a book about the background characters in every Chosen One story you've ever read.  The nameless faces that the special teens pass in the halls as they are wracked with indecision over whether to date the hot, mysterious, and dangerous immortal fae, or stay with the safe, sweet boy next door.  This is a narrative of the kids who actually, you know, have to go to school and apply to college and deal with family crap with no hope of any sort of paranormal intervention.  And hey, you know what?  It's pretty good not being an Indie.  At least you probably won't end up betrayed, dead, or sacrificed as the next avatar to the Immortal Queen of Time (or whatever).

Mike, the narrator, and his friends Henna, Jared, and sister Mel are all normal kids.  Definitely not Indie kids; you know, the kids who end up having epic high school romances, or who fall in love with witches, or who end up being the Chosen One.  But they live in a Washington town where everything paranormal converges upon the Indie kids once every few years.  There was that vampire thing several years back (Henna's brother is still missing from that event--they're pretty sure he only comes out at night), and then the recent spate of kids dying of cancer, but with wit and charm.  Oh, and that time that they blew up the high school eight years ago.

But otherwise, things are normal for Mike and his friends.  So normal.  Or is normal really just ho-hum blah-dee-blah boring?  If you've ever felt like you're nothing special, like nothing ever happens to you, The Rest of Us Just Live Here will show you that even the most inconsequential parts of your life make it utterly extraordinary.

Originally, I had four paragraphs here for each of the four main characters, and then I decided that it's much better if you meet them yourselves.  So go meet them already!  Oh, you need more reasons?

I love the structure of this book: each chapter starts out as a summary of what's happened to the Indie kids so far, and then we read about what's happening to everyone else around them.  The normals.  The muggles.  The sea of faceless kids who must populate the highs schools in all these books, but who never get a chance to say their piece.  Ness' mimicry of tropes in lit is gentle, humorous, and almost loving.  It's never mean-spirited, but it's always funny, and I laughed out loud several times.  Here's an idea of what the chapter headings are like:

"Chapter the thirteenth, in which the prince is tricked into turning Satchel and second indie kid Finn over to the Empress of the Immortals; he tries to save them, butis forced to sacrifice Finn to do so; Satchel refuses to accept this and, through only her own cunning and bravery, thwarts the empress; she saves Finn and as they flee, she steals a glimpse at the Immortal Crux, the source of the Immortals' power, through the Gateway; it is full of charms and jewels, with an empty space in exactly the shape of her amulet."

When the indie kids start disappearing after running through fields, being enveloped in a strange blue light, and more, Mike and his friends realize that senior year isn't going to end normally.  But what's normal?  Mike and Mel take care of each other because their parents are too busy to be parents.  They take Meredith to see her favorite band, but when a paranormal event causes a stampede, Mike finds the strength to save his little sister.  When deer with glowing eyes flood the road and crash into Henna's car right after he tells her he loves her and she gives a rather cryptic response, Mike doesn't let go (unlike Rose in Titanic who totally let Jack fall into the icy deeps).  He's stronger than he thinks he is, which I thought was most evident when he asserted himself and asked to go back to therapy and take medicine to help him with his OCD.  Hooray!  A book that doesn't demonize medical treatment for mental illness!


The four teens know that it's a lot safer to be normal than it is to be an Indie kid, but they don't realize how special their own lives are.  How patient and caring Jared is as a friend.  How Mike is exploring his sexuality.  How they realize there are many different kinds of love.  How to ask for help.  Or forgiveness.  Or just the insanely buttery goodness of unlimited cheesy bread.

This novel is beautifully written, thoughtful, and funny.  I would pair it with A.S. King's I Crawl Through It for a quirky, yet utterly truthful, view of what teens face in high school today.

There are also a lot of cats.  So if that has any bearing ... LOTS OF CATS.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I'm traveling right now, so my big books (which I like, and I cannot lie) had to stay at home.  So, I've tossed some e-books into the mix!

At home, waiting for me, are Les Misérables, Cress, and A Darker Shade of Magic.  Here with me are:

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.  I'm such a fan of Dickens, but for some reason, I keep avoiding this one.  No matter: I'm now facing it head-on.

ETA: Yikes!  I started this and scheduled it thinking "I'll have PLENTY OF TIME TO FINISH" when I get to my hotel.  Ha.  Ha ha.  I also brought along:

Psycho by Robert Block, SNAFU ed. by Jeremy Robinson, and Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven.

Oops!

Scarlett Undercover

I read this book entirely on accident.  Andrea and I planned to read the book Velvet Undercover for January's Reader vs. Reader feature on Teen Services Underground, but I messed up the name in my brain and read this one instead.  Whoops!


In any case, Scarlett Undercover is a quick read, but I can't say that I loved it.  I'm not even sure how much I liked it.  The author had some interesting ideas, but I don't think that the book succeeded in integrating them into one cohesive narrative.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Future Shock

One would think that, having grown up watching Back to the Future (along with Star Wars and Indiana Jones) repetitively, I'd be tired of time travel books by now.  Oh, no.  It's exactly the opposite.  Yet I am a petulant reader, as you well know.  I want lots of books but I want them to be engaging and well-written.  Sometimes I think that in a publisher's eagerness to get a book to market, much of the fine-tuning simply doesn't occur.  Thankfully, Future Shock is a lean, mean, time-traveling machine that you won't want to put down.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Fluffy Dress Syndrome

I love big, poufy dresses.  I've never had occasion to wear one, since I definitely wasn't into the school dance scene in high school, and I've never been married (to my knowledge), and thankfully, no one has ever asked me to be a bridesmaid.  But I secretly wish that someone would invite me to a very fancy-pants party and give me a reason to buy a ballgown.  However, I've noticed something rather peculiar.  Books that have girls in fabulous dresses on the covers are usually more about the dresses than the girls, and I generally end up not finishing the book or not even bothering to pick them up.


Recently, I've been thinking that I've been too hard on some books, dismissing them without even trying to read them first.  In case you haven't noticed, I have a strange guilt complex concerning books.  I vaguely remembered receiving an e-ARC of The Jewel by Amy Ewing, but I don't think I even made it past the first chapter.  With books that have maps and diagrams, it's hard for me to read them in ARC format because those components are usually added last, but they're the elements I look at first.  While browsing the new shelves at my library, I noticed the second book in the trilogy, so I figured, "Why not try The Jewel again?"

Friday, January 1, 2016

Growing up.

New Year's anything has never meant much to me.  Being a permanent wallflower, I've never seen the appeal.  If I go out, it's with my best friends or my family.  I don't do parties.  Hi, social anxiety!

The biggest thing about the calendar turning over is that I have to remember what year to write on stat sheets, time cards, and rent checks.  Inevitably, it takes me until about July to get it figured out.

I don't make New Year's resolutions.  They wouldn't help me; they'd ramp up my obsessive tendencies to 11 and make me miserable.  I just try to keep on keepin' on, but a little better than before.

Yet, thinking back over the past year, I feel like I've become much more self-aware about my emotions, my triggers, and the way I react to others.  One of my biggest faults is that I am a very black and white person: it's either right or wrong; I hate it or I love it; it's brainless or it's brilliant.  But to get humans to work together without shooting or blowing things up or sending death or rape threats, black and white thinking isn't healthy.  I've seen myself slowly become more flexible and understanding of others' positions.  I've gone from being accepting because I know I should be, as a librarian and as a human being, to being accepting because I believe it is the right thing to do.

I'd like to clarify that I don't mean acceptance of what the Founding Fathers so eloquently called "these truths [we hold] to be self-evident."  Basic rights like believing what you believe, loving what or whom you love, or doing what you do--I have never considered it my place to judge that.  I am not God, or whomever or whatever you believe in as something greater than you.  I'm talking about small things, bookish things particularly.  I used to dismiss entire sub-genres within YA as silly or uninteresting or poorly written when I'd never even taken the time to open up one of those books and see for myself what it was like.  I didn't think about why such things would appeal to other people, and I only wanted to promote books that I personally loved.

Now, when I'm at work, I enthusiastically recommend books that I personally didn't like because I know they are a perfect match for the person I'm assisting.  I'm requesting more and more books that I normally would have never touched with a metaphorical ten-foot pole.  I'm giving them a chance, and even if I don't like them, I'll consider who will.  I don't think I'll ever stop growing up and maturing.  I don't want to.  I always want to learn and to improve myself.

So that is my goal for this year and all the years to come: be a better iteration of myself.