A Note on #SoapDick

As someone who used to be very active in the SJM fandom, I know I still have followers who enjoy her work and might be aware of this. I’m not going to go through the trouble of linking all of the things because it’s very easy to find, but in short, the BookBoyfriend subscription box had an “Illyrian Wingspan” themed box that featured a smutty, personalized letter; a smutty self-insert fanfiction; and most notably, a bar of soap shaped like a detailed penis. Since I know I still have a lot of followers from the fandom, I feel responsible to break down the problems with this. 

Disclaimer: Yes, I used to write smutty fanfiction for the series, always tagged appropriately. I stopped doing so in May of 2017, shortly after ACOWAR. As I’ve grown as a reader and writer, my attitudes about smutty content in books have evolved. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being a hypocrite here, so I’m admitting up front that yes, I wrote smutty fic in the past, but I still have a problem with this whole fiasco. 


It does not matter that the creators of this box attempted to give credit to SJM and Bloomsbury on the cover of their little smut fic pamphlet. It is ILLEGAL to take the characters and world of a published author, write fic about it, and sell it for a profit. By including this in a subscription box, that’s exactly what these creators did. I will not be surprised if Bloomsbury slaps them with a Cease & Desist letter in the next 24 hours. 


I do not have a problem with this on principle. You do you. But using a book series that is still currently marketed to young adults and creating an explicit sex-themed crate to go with it is entirely inappropriate. Further, this particular subscription box has only produced crates based on YA books. Odds are, its client base is comprised of teenagers. They literally sent a soap penis to actual children. They had an “18+ warning” on the box, but when most of your clientele might not be that age, it’s incredibly irresponsible to suddenly expose young clientele to that. To my understanding, there was no information that the “special bath product” was shaped like a penis. There was no way for clients of any age to consent to this. 


On this note, you can see easy parallels with the ACO books themselves. Yes, they were originally marketed as New Adult, but that category has collapsed, and Bloomsbury has made the call to market them to young adults (teens). Both Bloomsbury and SJM have been very irresponsible in not tailoring their content accordingly. I am not saying that teens can’t handle sex, but the amount of and description of sex in the books is not appropriate for teens who might not be signing up for that content when they’re looking for a fantasy adventure. Most of that is a subject for another post and is also something I’ve discussed before, but it cannot be separated from this subscription box disaster.

In short, I’m sure Bloomsbury will be tackling the situation later. I believe SJM should also say something about it herself, because it was her work that led to this even if she didn’t sign off on this particular box. That said, I don’t think she will. I find this disappointing from a professional perspective, but I won’t go off on that here. 

I just put together this post so that my followers who might still be involved in the fandom in any capacity can be informed and understand why this is wrong. This post is not a sign that I am in any way returning to the fandom. I just felt that, due to my history in the fandom, I had a responsibility to say something. 


Top 5 Wednesday!

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.


Discuss the books that you wanted to read at one point, but don’t anymore.  

#5 – 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

This is one that I was excited about because I’d heard there was good LGBT+ rep, including an ace character. Then I started hearing that it seemed to tackle the subject of colonialism poorly, so I hesitated. Then it turned out that the author is an abuser, so this is firmly off my list now.

#4 – Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

I remember seeing the movie and kind of enjoying it, but the books always seemed like such a huge effort to get through, and it’s been so long since I added them to my TBR that I don’t think I’d enjoy them very much anymore. 

#3 – Gives Light by Rose Christo

I added this one to my list after the My Immortal fiasco last fall, but in the wake of learning that the author might not be who she says she is and could be appropriating struggles that aren’t her own, I really don’t think I actually want to read her books after all.

#2 – Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

I wound up DNFing Wintersong, so I’m taking the sequel off my TBR as well. I’m still bitter that I there was so much about Wintersong that I should have liked, but that the book just didn’t work for me. 

#1 – Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

I used to be really invested in the Throne of Glass series, but that is no longer the case. I really don’t think I’m going to read the last book, especially because there are so many other books I’d rather read instead.

Building this list took me through my To-Read list on Goodreads, which includes plenty of books I don’t remember adding, but is really mostly fairy-tale retellings and fairy-tale and feminist nonfiction. I’m nothing if not dependable! Do you all have any books that were once on your TBR but are no longer? 

10,000th Post Giveaway!


Hello, everyone! This week, I finally hit 10,000 posts on tumblr! I’ve had this blog for four years now, and most of you joined me within the last eighteen months or so. Since then, this blog has grown tremendously, all thanks to you! To celebrate, I’d like to host another giveaway! 

The prizes are as follows:

*Note: Twilight/Life & Death includes light markings and annotations regarding differences between the two.

Terms & Conditions:

First and foremost, this giveaway is not sponsored by Tumblr, and any information collected as a result of this giveaway is not shared with Tumblr or its affiliates.

There are a couple of rules for this giveaway, so please read closely.

  1. You must be following me on Tumblr. Any other follows (on Twitter, IG, FB, etc.) are optional, but count as entries. You can enter as many times as you’d like. The link to enter is at the bottom of this post! Do not submit the password as a reply to this post–that ruins it for everyone else. LIKES AND REBLOGS ARE NOT ENTRIES. YOU MUST FOLLOW THE LINK.
  2. For the Grand Prize, you must be located within the U.S. (shipping costs would be too excessive for me otherwise). 
  3. For Second Prize, I can ship internationally! 
  4. For Third Prize, each winner gets to pick a book from the selection in the order they are drawn. Please understand that if someone claims the book before you, you must select a different book!
  5. The giveaway ends on 2/28. Please allow up to a month following the end of the giveaway for your prize to be delivered. I unfortunately cannot control the mail system. 😉
  6. Winners will be chosen randomly, but shipping restrictions are a factor. If an international winner gets selected for the Grand Prize, I will have to redraw. Expense overrides perceived fairness in this case. I will reach out to winners via email or tumblr to get information about where to send the prizes.


Enjoy, and thank you for following! Please reblog so word gets around!

I love fairytales and mythology, and books inspired by them (can’t wait for unrooted btw), so i need to ask: what are some “rookie mistakes” that authors make in using myths and tales as the basis for their stories? Not just new writers, but what are some things that popular writers (like Maas, Meyer, etc) do that you would do differently? I feel like the age of vampire and werewolf stories has ended, and the age of retellings began in the last couple of years, in terms of popularity. Thoughts?

[pt 2] What do you think is the key to writing a good story inspired by a fairytale, in terms of cliches to avoid and areas to focus on? Take Maas for example (whose stories intrigue me, even if I don’t like them at times): what is her strong point in this regard? What does she do right and wrong?

Ooh this is such a great set of questions! My answer to this got long, so heads up. 😉

I think the #1 rookie mistake people make when retelling fairy tales is going off of their recollection of the fairy tale and/or the Disney version without really interrogating the tale’s history or underlying meaning. This technique (or lack thereof) will result in a really shallow retelling that’s no more than an imitation. The other thing I see modern writers do a lot is say “I’m writing a fairy tale, but FEMINIST” without doing the work to study the history of gender and fairy tales OR read the work of existing feminist scholars who have worked with fairy tales specifically. This is true for any genre, really, but if you want to make A Point, you need to know what you’re talking about. 

As far as what other writers do that I would do differently … that’s a tricky question, because there are bits and pieces I like from many different writers and strategies of theirs that I’ve incorporated into my own work. When it comes to the process of adaptation, there are many perspectives and specific techniques that writers use based on their particular projects. This can be everything from POV to the amount of liberty taken with the source to something like genderbending. I personally love writers who breathe more life into fairy tale characters, and I also like to have a solid sense of place. I don’t think enough writers explore the possibilities they could with multicultural variants or diversifying existing European stories, so that’s something I like to focus on. 

To kind of synthesize the above and answer your next question, I’d say that if a writer wants to retell a fairy tale, they should know it in as many forms as possible. When developing Unrooted, I read variants of Snow White from Greece, Italy, Russia, Turkey, and Chile, to name a few. I learned the history of the story’s development, how it changed over time, and why. I read multiple critical interpretations (which eventually started me on the road to my Ph.D), and considered at length the implications of every choice I made in adaptation. Some writers may do this more than others, but I think every writer adapting a fairy tale should do it in some degree. Otherwise, changes that seem “cool” have a major affect on the delivery and structure of a story that fundamentally alters it in important ways.

Scholars in adaptation theory have many opinions on this, but my perspective tends to be that a “successful” (I use the term loosely) retelling has to be in dialogue with its source material, rather than just copying it or changing it for aesthetic reasons. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, for example, should have something to say, explicitly or implicitly, about the power dynamics of marriage, wealth, and social class. Adaptations that approach is as “it’s just Stockholm Syndrome!!!” are very much missing the point. Similarly, a retelling of Snow White should consider mother-daughter relationships, patriarchal standards and values of beauty and age, and sexual maturity. Again, these concerns can be addressed on a spectrum and don’t have to be in your face, but they’re things that I believe a writer should be thinking about when they adapt a fairy tale. 

Much of this is my own educated opinion on the matter, but its something on which reasonable people can (and do) disagree on in adaptation studies. I actually wrote a term paper this semester on Maas’s adaptation “success” and found that, while by my standards she misses the mark (her approach at looking at power imbalances romanticizes rather than interrogates them), by other standards she does quite well. Jacques Derrida’s concept of bricolage allows for looser interpretation, with the understanding that such interpretation forces new meaning onto the story. I personally dislike the process of forcing new meanings onto stories without the requisite legwork committed to making that new meaning function–or, without that new meaning being progressive and a deliberate move performed in conversation with the source material. My conclusion on ACOTAR was that Maas’s “new meaning” was regressive when taken as part of the legacy of Beauty and the Beast and its adaptations, and while it structurally has much in common with its source tales (also including East of the Sun and West of the Moon), the specific changes made did not push the narrative forward on a metatextual level. I plan to keep working on this paper and hopefully publish one day under my academic alter ego, and if that ever happens, I’ll provide information about it. 

Fairy tale retellings come and go in waves–there was a major one around 2011-2014 at the time Once Upon a Time premiered. It’s dimmed somewhat since then, but fairy tales are always relevant and there is constantly a conversation surrounding these stories that mean so much to so many people. I’m excited to be a part of that conversation, and I’m so happy to hear you’re excited about Unrooted. I can’t wait to share it with you. ❤

Top Five Wednesday


Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.


These can be villains or just characters you don’t like!

#5 – The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I know he’s a fan favorite, but I’m not a huge fan of the Darkling! It’s not because he’s bad–though that certainly puts him on the naughty list–but I found him to be more overdramatic than sexy, and I don’t exactly buy the feeling that he was at all redeemed! I’m much more of a Nikolai fan, myself.

#4 – Eragon from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

I’m surprising myself with this one, but as I’m thinking back, I’m realizing that I really didn’t like Eragon all that much. Especially once Eldest came around, I was far more invested in Roran’s plotline and found everyone else way more interesting. I found Eragon a bit whiny and entitled. So he’s not on the list for being naughty (except maybe his obnoxious fixation on Arya), but he’s not a character I enjoyed!

#3 – Vin from Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

I had a really hard time connecting to Vin as a character in this book. I largely attribute it to how she was written, but she was so repressed in so many ways that she just didn’t stand out much to me, especially compared to Kelsier. I know people will disagree with me on this (don’t @ me, lol), but Vin is on the list, not for being naughty but just for not being a standout to me.

#2 – Tamlin from A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Obviously, we’re not meant to like him (and there’s an inherent problem with the narrative giving you essentially no choice), but there was also something an attempted redemption arc for him? Which didn’t succeed, in my opinion. But also, I remember when I was active in the fandom that people would ask me my thoughts on Tamlin, and I just … didn’t care. He’s a trashcan and I don’t really think often or highly of him.

#1 – Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

I’m sure she’s going to top everyone’s naughty list forever and all time, but I don’t care if it’s predictable! She’s one of the slimiest characters in any book I’ve ever read, and her kind of evil is far too real.

What characters are on your naughty list this year? Whether it’s because they’ve been bad or because you simply don’t like them, get your list together!

*TOWER OF DAWN SPOILER ALOERT* Same anon as before – just read your TOG theory. Wow. That was amazingly reasoned and researched, and SO spot on. Incredible. So much of that is revealed in TOD. It’s like you read SJM’s mind.

Thanks. 🙂 I’ve had this experience before with ACOWAR, so I have a pretty good track-record with guessing things in SJM’s world(s). I attribute this mostly to the fact that I’m literally getting my docorate in this stuff, so I’m a little more sensitive to certain plot movements, motifs, folklore, etc. I love what I do and I’m glad I’m able to chip into fandoms from time to time with stuff like this. 🙂

*I’m the same anon from a minute ago* Also are you still/were you ever part of the TOG fandom?

I enjoyed the books for a while, though I was never as invested in the ToG fandom as I was the ACOTAR fandom. I wrote an incomplete fic for it and a multi-part theory post (which I’m told isn’t totally off), but I didn’t love EoS and haven’t read ToD.  

December TBR


#1 – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Reason: Reading for School (Literary Theory)

Thoughts: Yep, picking up this sucker again, but this time it’s because I’m writing a paper on it. So. 

Genre: NA Fantasy

#2 – Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder by Cristina Bacchilega

Reason: Reading for School (Literary Theory)

Thoughts: This will likely inform a lot of the background on the above-mentioned paper, and it will also be AWESOME.

Genre: Nonfiction

#3 – Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Reason: Reading for Fun

Thoughts: This sounds like a lovely retelling and a perfect winter read!

Genre: YA Fantasy

#4 – Ahkenaten: Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching this novel next semester, so I need to read it ahead of time. 

Genre: Fiction

#5 – A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Reason: Reading for Fun

Thoughts: I’m so ready to finish this series! Thank goodness for winter break!

Genre: Adult Fantasy

#6 – Hunted by Megan Spooner

Reason: Reading for Fun and School

Thoughts: I got this in a book haul earlier this year, and people have been telling me to read it for ages. I’m excited to get to it! It may also be relevant to the paper I’m writing about ACOTAR, but I won’t know until I read it.

Genre: YA Fantasy

#7 – Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Reason: Reading for Fun 

Thoughts: This was another book haul buy, and the premise sounds great, so I can’t wait to dig in.

Genre: YA Fantasy

#8 – Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching this next semester, so I need to get it read. I’m excited to read fundamental Russian literature, though!

Genre: Drama

#9 – Equus by Peter Shaffer

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching this next semester.

Genre: Drama

#10 – Medea and Other Plays by Euripedes

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching Medea and Helen next semester. It’s gonna be a super cheerful syllabus, can you tell?

Genre: Drama

I will almost certainly read more than this during the month of December, but these are the ones I’m certain I’ll get through. Check out the wrap-up at the end of the month to see how I succeeded! 

replied to your post “Top Five Wednesday”

Thanks for the suggestions! May I ask why you’re no longer a part of ACOTAR fandom? I’m about halfway through TOD & an struggling to finish it… Hopefully it wasn’t something negative/some kind of trigger warning for you. Have a great weekend!

Well, sadly I was pretty upset by the acephobia in ACOWAR, and overall I just felt like the book really didn’t live up to all it could. I don’t necessarily want to rehash it all, but if you want to investigate my tags ‘sarah is salty,’ ‘anti acowar,’ or ‘anti sjm’ (I tried to tag everything thoroughly so people could still enjoy the series without my feelings getting in their way). But I wrote 500,000 words of fanfiction for the SJM fandoms, so I feel like I made enough of a contribution and others can take it from here. 😉