A Britophile's Recommendations

I’ve said it many times: I’m a britophile. I love all things British (I’m including Scotland and whatever half of Ireland is part of the UK here) and spend hours working on my fake accent (which I would never use in front of a real British person for fear of offending them), often ending up sounding like an extra in Harry Potter (or, alternatively, a member of You Me At Six). 

So while I’m by no means an expert on the culture (I think I’d actually have to move to London to get the full experience), I have an understanding of their pop culture. Thus, without further ado, here are some of my recommendations for the britophile in your life.


Harry Potter, obviously. But also Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant mysteries which present a (mostly) contemporary London that is clearly written by someone who knows the city like the back of his hand. Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) if you want a list of Tube stations to visit, and Jane Austen if you (like me) have an interest in the Regency era. If you want something younger, Philip Pullman often sets his middle grade/YA books in England, and you can't go wrong with Roald Dahl; plus V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series takes place in (multiple versions of) London. 


Doctor Who is probably the most British thing to exist (which explains why I fell in love with it) so it’s a good place to start. If you’re more of a mystery person, I deduce that you’d be interested in Sherlock and/or Broadchurch, though there are literally dozens of English detective-y shows on Netflix. For the comedy lover, The IT Crowd is hilarious, or The Delivery Man, or classic A Bit of Fry & Laurie (and Fawlty Towers) while the historian might want to take a visit to Downton Abbey. Oh, and Very British Problems because obviously.


Arguably my area of expertise, over half of the bands I listen to are British, so if you're looking for recommendations, I got you. I've probably talked about most of these bands on this site at some point, so they may seem familiar to you by this point.

  • Alternative rock fan? Try You Me At Six (or Twin Atlantic or Deaf Havana or Mallory Knox or Young Guns or Royal Blood or Arctic Monkeys).
  • Prefer indie pop? Bastille or The 1975 (I actually don’t know what genre The 1975 considers themselves, but “indie pop” is close enough).
  • Pop-punk? Neck Deep (or Moose Blood or Roam).
  • Metal/post-hardcore? Bring Me the Horizon (or Bury Tomorrow or Architects or Enter Shikari).
  • Grunge? Milk Teeth.
  • Something more dance-able? Don Broco.
  • A weird mix of genres? Biffy Clyro.
  • Stadium rock? Muse, of course (but also Nothing But Thieves).
  • Irish (seriously, which part of Ireland is included in the UK?)? Two Door Cinema Club or The Script.
  • Straight up pop? Olly Murs.

I’m probably forgetting someone, but I think you get the point.

What's your favourite quintessentially British thing?

Woman Crush Wednesday: Donna Noble

Now that I’ve finished the David Tennant years of Doctor Who, I think I can finally say with certainty that Donna Noble is my favourite companion, which is why she’s my WCW this month. 

(There are spoilers ahead, FYI). 

Donna’s first appearance in Doomsday/The Runaway Bride shows us a temperamental redhead who spends most of her time shrilly shouting at the Doctor. But by the time they’re reunited in Partners in Crime, we can start to see how meeting the Doctor changed her. She’s still feisty and has a sharp tongue, but she’s a little more level-headed, not as superficial as she had been before she was accidentally beamed into the TARDIS. And, of course, like most of us would be, she’s ridiculously thrilled to find the Doctor again, after a year of looking for him. 

I know a lot of people love Ten/Rose’s relationship (my sister doesn’t, and I’m on the fence mostly because I like their tragic storyline but I - unpopular opinion alert - don’t really like Rose herself), and Martha is pretty much universally disliked (she had such potential to be awesome but ruined it by being bitter all the time), but Donna...well, as the Doctor himself said, Donna is brilliant...if a little sassy.

Donna isn’t afraid to call the Doctor out when he says something disparaging about humanity or shows his insensitive side. And even if that throws him off a little, it grounds him, showing him that a lot of his actions have consequences that, despite his genius, he can’t always see because he lacks that human connection. And her compassion changes him in little ways too, like when she persuades him to save Twelve, I mean, Caecilius, and his family from Pompeii. She also insists on being treated as his equal, even though she’s “just” a human. 

Listen, I don’t know what sort of kids you’ve been flying around with in outer space but you’re not telling me to shut up.
— Donna

And because she’s not romantically interested in him (she may be blind because HELLO DAVID TENNANT *swoons*), she’s not held back by her emotions, unlike his previous companions. Yes, she does kiss him at one point in an absolutely hilarious scene (I need someone to start a game of charades so I can guess “Harvey Wallbanger”), but she was only doing it to give him a shock and then they never spoke of it again. Instead, they have more of a brother-sister relationship: they take care of each other, and she (literally) saves him from himself on more than one occasion. 

Donna is also the most “real” of the companions thus far. She starts off as nobody special, a fast-talking, fast-typing temp in Chiswick, but once she and the Doctor start travelling together, she becomes very Important - if the Doctor hadn’t met Donna at such a crucial moment, the world would have ended a lot sooner. And sure, Rose looked into the TARDIS (and the TARDIS looked into her), but did she regenerate a whole new Doctor out of a severed hand? And then absorb some of his energy and become a half-Time Lord, half-human hybrid due to an instantaneous biological metacrisis? NO, I DON’T THINK SHE DID. Even after Rose and the Doctor were separated, she still had her memories of their time together (don’t even get me started on the clone). But Donna? Poor Donna ended up with her memory wiped, and regressed back into her former superficial self in a truly devastating scene that makes me sad every time I think about it. 

They will never forget her, while she can never remember. And for one moment... one shining moment... she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.
— The Doctor

I would also like to say that I enjoy how Catherine Tate is a busty redhead whereas the Doctor’s previous two companions were tres petite. Thanks for giving us pear-shaped girls hope that we too can travel with the Doctor. 

In the end, Donna Noble was a truly well-rounded character who deserved every magical adventure she had with the Doctor. If only she could remember them.

I was gonna be with you. Forever.
— Donna

A Podcast Recommendation: Doctor Whodlums

As a new Doctor Who fan, I'm at that stage where I both need to consume as much Whovian material as possible but also can't get too deep into the fandom because I'm several years behind. And I just happened to stumble upon a podcast that gives me my fix AND lets me control how much is spoiled (to a certain extent): Doctor Whodlums

Hosted by Chelsea Christer and Zen Zenith, these self-titled Whodlums tackle episodes from the rebooted series. Among their opinions on storylines and characters, the two also create an episode-based drink - like a banana daiquiri for "The Girl in the Fireplace", in honour of the Doctor accidentally inventing the drink in 18th century France - and things can get a little tipsy. 

I haven't listened to all of the episodes yet because I’m not caught up on the actual show, but it’s been fun hearing their takes on the episodes I have seen (especially the episodes I loved). They provide fun facts and tidbits, and try to stay away from anything too spoiler-y, while occasionally going off on random tangents. 

They haven’t posted a new episode since early 2016, but since I don’t think there was a new Doctor Who season last year, it makes sense...and it means I still have time to catch up on a few more seasons before they record anything new!

You can check out Doctor Whodlums on Twitter and Facebook!

Woman Crush Wednesday: Olivia Moore

As per my post last Tuesday, I recently watched the first season of iZombie. For all the entertaining things about it, the highlight is our main zombie girl herself, Olivia Moore (Rose McIver). Here's why she's my WCW this month. 


Before getting scratched and catching the zombie bug, Liv was a medical resident. She was smart and good at her job, and had ambitions - all admirable qualities, to be sure. And even if she wasn't exactly a party girl (apparently for good reason. Look what happened when she DID go to a party), she still had a social life: a former sorority girl engaged to a her college sweetheart. 


All I want right now is to be able to rock white hair as well as Liv does. I just admire her fashion sense in general - girly, but edgy, her clothes are a more put-together version of my own closet. Plus who doesn't love (or need) a serviceable leather jacket?

Pre-zombie scratch Liv is a little harder to understand because she takes on traits from the brains she consumes, but whether she's eaten a sociopath or a new mother, she's curious, loyal, and bright, always willing to help her friends and family, even when she has to hide her true nature from them. Not to mention she's hella resourceful (see next point). 

"I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to help people. Not necessarily as a zombie psychic who eats murder victim brains, but still I so nailed it today. I've spent five months bemoaning all that was taken from me. It never occurred to me that I'd have something to give. A way to contribute. A reason for being not alive. To sleep, perchance to not dream. All I needed was some hope that there's a future that I fit into somehow."


At first, Live lets her new circumstances steer her life. Eventually, she comes to accept (or, at least, starts to accept) what being a zombie means, and she uses it to her advantage. She gets a job at the morgue to ensure that she has a steady supply of brains to eat; she uses her resulting visions/psychic powers to selflessly help cops (even when - especially when - she has to eat a former friend); and Liv is FIERCE when she goes full zombie. You gotta admire a girl who can fight for herself. 

The only time she's a questionable role model (apart from the whole "eating brains" thing) is the way she keeps pining after her ex-fiance (who really isn't that special). 

A Social (Media) Experiment


What happens if I delete social media from my phone and set myself a time limit (20 minutes a day) to catch up on my Twitter/Instagram/Facebook feeds?


On my lunch breaks at work, I tend to waste most of my hour on social media. Since I’m not exactly popular, it's not like I have seven billion notifications, but I can’t seem to take my eyes off of any of my social media feeds. Which means I don’t get anything else done because I’m “busy” scrolling through Twitter. 

Similarly, when I’m on my computer, the second I lose steam or hit a mental block, I automatically open Twitter in a new tab and waste more time than I care to admit. And then I feel anxious over the amount of stuff I’m not getting done. And to combat the anxiety, I open Twitter again, which, surprisingly, doesn't help.


If I forcibly reduce my time on social media, will I get more work done and therefore feel less stressed out?


  • I deleted the Facebook app from my phone (which was actually not that hard because I hate Facebook). 
  • I then logged out of my two Twitter accounts (three, if you include the Mind the Gap account), and my Instagram account. I have, however, kept the two apps on my phone, as they are both logged into the Geek Girl Riot accounts (though so far, I’ve only posted a couple of times on each).
  • I’ve also made use of the Chrome extension “StayFocusd”, (which I’ve actually been using for several years as a way to limit my time on sites that manage to reel me in with clickbait-y headlines and then make me feel stupid when I spiral down a rabbit hole that leads me to taking a quiz called “Which Emo Anthem Are You” after forty-five minutes...I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed). I’ve set a daily limit of twenty minutes for all three major social media sites (twenty minutes total), after which the sites are blocked and won’t be available to me again until the next day.


  • During my break, instead of scrolling through my phone, I’ve been reading (ARCs that I requested from NetGalley and then forgot about) or writing (either posts for Mind the Gap or a variety of reviews for idobi). 
  • On my laptop, I tend to use my twenty allotted minutes up in one shot because apparently I have no self-control and don’t understand the concept of spacing it out over the course of a day. But then that means I don't have any distractions later!


Since putting this experiment in place on February 5th, I have:

  • read two ebooks
  • written a review for one of those books
  • started an album review (while listening to the album)
  • edited both the book review and the album review
  • edited a post about 8123 Fest
  • wrote a very rough first draft of this post
  • plotted out a post on iZombie
  • and saved numerous Doctor Who gifs, but that's not really productive so much as entertaining



While I do feel like I “miss out” on every day events (I’ve come to rely on my sister for music news), I get A LOT of stuff done. It’s often hard to make myself focus, especially when surrounded by other people who are using their phones for “fun”, but it means that I have less to do during my “free” time and therefore I can actually read before bed instead of hunching over my laptop!

Oh, and I’ve saved SO MUCH data on my phone, it’s not even funny.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Violet Baudelaire

This month’s WCW post is dedicated to a fictional girl who was, nonetheless, a heroine in my childhood: Violet Baudelaire. 

In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Violet, as the eldest Baudelaire, feels responsible for her younger siblings. No matter where they’re sent or what kind of guardian awaits them, she does her best to protect them because she can’t stand seeing them in unhappy. Her loyalty to her family is one of her most defining characteristics

Violet is known to be a keen inventor. Over the course of the Baudelaire’s adventures, she invents many things that help them out of scrapes: a grappling hook when she was trying to rescue Sunny or noisy shoes to keep away the crabs in the Orphan Shack or a fake intercom system. She’s resourceful, using the bits and pieces around her for her inventions, like making a rope out of extension cords, curtains, and neckties. 

She’s not a traditional “girly-girl” (she hates, for example, the colour pink), but she wears dresses and is never without a ribbon to pull back her hair when she’s thinking hard. So she does care about her appearance to a certain extent...she just cares about using her intelligence more.

To those who hadn’t been around Violet long, nothing would have seemed unusual, but those who knew her well knew that when she tied her hair up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes, it meant that the gears and levers of her inventing brain were whirring at top speed.

Violet is also strong in the face of adversity, a word which here means “Count Olaf”. She all but marries the man, in an attempt to save Sunny’s life, but she’s also physically capable of a great many things: there are multiple times where she climbs up or down challenging spaces (a mountain and an elevator shaft, respectively). She’s also brave and, though not as book-smart as her brother, she’s clever. If you need a STEM role model in children’s lit, Violet is your girl.

Whatever Happened to the Wii?

I'm not a gamer. When I was younger, I used to play computer games: racing, usually with my brother, or that hilarious Spider-Man one based on the first Tobey Maguire movie, or Harry Potter, up until I got to the spiders in Chamber of Secrets and freaked out. But then, about ten  years ago, we got a Wii. 

Do you remember the hype surrounding the Wii? It was EVERYWHERE, and people raved about it. We used ours mostly for "exercise" - Wii Fit, or Zumba (man, those songs get stuck in my head for DAYS), or Just Dance (don't try to tell me rocking out to a censored version of Katy Perry's "California Gurls" doesn't count as exercise). 

Later, I had a fantastic Adventure Time quest game, but since I barely have time to sleep, much less play games, I've sadly had to abandon it. The last time I played, I was defeated by Death and had to restart the level...which was pretty fitting, actually. 

My sister and I are planning on using it for exercise again. As of this writing, we're debating whether we want to Zumba or Just Dance first, so by the time this is published, it's entirely possible we haven't even touched the console yet. 

But, personal experiences aside, my questions are thus: whatever happened to the Wii? I rarely see commercials for it anymore, and I don't think I know anyone who still has theirs (and if they do, I don't think they use it). What's the current big gaming console that everyone's into right now? Is Wii technology considered "old" (it has been a decade)? 

And can someone please tell me why the batteries run out every time I even consider playing Guitar Hero??

Jane Learns How to Relax

I had a cold over the weekend that I am still recovering from. However, for two days straight, I sequestered myself in my apartment, a stack of New York Times magazines in front of me, my Sonos playlist loaded up with podcasts, my iBooks account bursting with new novels, Netflix firing at all cylinders playing The Crown, and Lara Croft leaping about on my PlayStation. 

All this to say, when I relax, I relax hard. 

It's very tough for me to have nothing to do. I'm constantly doing multiple things at once and when I'm sick, I'm put into a position of not only having limited brain capacity, but also not being able to move my body out the door like I'd want to. I'm stuck and nothing makes me want to do things more than when I can't. 

I had plenty to keep me occupied and yet I felt like I should have been doing more with my time. What exactly? I'm not sure, but I knew I could have been putting it to better use. This. Is. Nuts. Minor inconvenient illnesses like the common cold are a good excuse to put you out of commission for a couple of days with no major consequences and when you can allow yourself to do nothing. I don't like allowing myself to do nothing. Even what looks like relaxing, reading the paper, listening to podcasts, playing video games, are just things to tick off a list, to say that I did them, to be constantly ingesting pop culture and current events while simultaneously having "fun". 

What would it look like if I allowed myself actual relaxation? To turn off my Internet connection (which did happen last week when I fried my modem. Turns out, I don't do well sans Wifi), lie on the couch and do ONE THING if anything at all... would I even enjoy that? Maybe relaxation is having my Twitter feed going in one hand, the New Yorker in the other and "My Favorite Murder" playing in the background, and maybe I have to be okay with that. Next cold, though, I'll totally take a break. Maybe.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Michelle Obama

I’m not American and I rarely (ever?) talk politics, but since the US is about to inaugurate a new president next week, I want to dedicate this Woman Crush Wednesday post to a fabulous First Lady: Michelle Obama.

It’s hard not to pay attention to such a statuesque woman, especially when her intelligence shines through so brightly. She’s not a trophy wife or someone content to stand in the background while her husband - who is only a world leader - gets all the attention. 

One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.

Michelle tends to be critiqued for what she’s wearing, but she’s more than just a pretty face. Her initiatives include supporting military families, as well as backing the arts, and her biggest campaign, Let’s Move!, promotes a healthier lifestyle for children. She’s also publicly announced that she’s in favour of same-sex marriages; in short, she’s shown her support for every type of person, regardless of age, race, gender, etc. 

And yes, she is something of a fashion icon - who doesn’t want to be able to rock a dress like her and have arms that toned? - but she’s also a role model. Not just for her initiatives, but also for the way she presents herself in public. She’s an example of a business/career woman who still understands the importance of family (side note: she and Barack are SO CUTE together, my gosh, I want them to read Where The Wild Things Are to me too) and, even in such a position of power and prominence, you can just tell she’s not above tough love when it comes to her daughters. 

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models.

Michelle Obama is an amazing woman: she worked hard in school and had a law career before she even met the future president, and I have no doubt that she’ll continue to be an inspiration even when the Obamas leave the White House. Here’s to you, Michelle - I may not be part of your country, but I still appreciate you. 

New Year, New You? Doing Another 31 Days of Yoga with Adriene

I've already fallen off the attempting to not eat dairy train in the four days of this New Year, and I certainly have broken my "don't go to sleep before bedtime" rule, but I have (at least for four days running) continued on a yoga streak. This year, it's #YogaRevolution with Yoga with Adriene. She has a brand new series of 31 videos for each day of January meant to strengthen, lengthen, and tone, and of course, add a bit of mindfulness. If you want to join the challenge with me, you should! We can expand our bodies and minds together (and forget about how much pizza we just ate). Here's Day 1:

Woman Crush Wednesday: Mrs. Claus

Christmas is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m done celebrating (also I messed up the timing on this post, but you didn’t hear that from me). For my last Woman Crush Wednesday of 2016, I’m focusing on a fictional lady who doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as she should: Mrs. Claus.

Santa’s better half is rarely in the spotlight, despite having been a part of Christmas lore since at least 1849. Most of the time, she’s in the background, baking cookies or making sure her jolly fellow is all ready to go on the big night. There have been a couple of instances where she gets a starring role – the whole premise of The Santa Clause 2 is that Tim Allen has to find a lady friend in order to continue being Santa and there’s a picture book that imagines what happens when she decides to take a vacation – but for the most part, she flies under the radar...just like a pre-red nosed Rudolf. 

In The Nightmare Before Christmas.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas.

With all the millions of stories about Santa and his crew, we never find out the missus’s name. Personally, I’m inclined to side with Sally Brown and refer to Mrs. Claus as “Mary Christmas”, but I’m sure she has a REAL name, maybe something that’s not Christmas-y at all. Like Ellen. Or Patricia. I could go on, but you get the point (side note: I’m not the only one who’s curious about her identity). At least this year, the UK department store Marks & Spencer decided to give Mrs. Claus some credit with their #lovemrsclaus campaign (she’s so fabulous in this ad, oh my glob), and it’s high time we show her some love on this side of the ocean too.

We all know Santa would probably leave the North Pole without something important (a list of children or a sack of toys) if it weren’t for his wife, so I’m dedicating this post to the lady in red in all her cookie-making, toy-inspecting, elf-loving (not in a weird way) glory. Keep doing you, Mrs. Claus. 

NaNoWriMo 2016 aka The Year I Failed (Again)

I failed. I couldn't do it. I wrote as much as I could but I couldn't hit 50,000 words. 

NaNoWriMo, as I mentioned before, is an annual event for wannabe writers like me. On the one hand, having to write 50,000 words in a month can force you to sit down and write every day. On the other hand, having to write 50,000 words in a month can stress you out and often makes writing feel more like work and less like a necessity.

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
— J.K. Rowling

Last year I failed because I was writing here every other day. So this year, I gave myself a mini hiatus from Mind the Gap and tried to focus on my novel…“tried” being the operative word. My problem was that I wrote all the scenes I was excited for and then petered out. I had to start filling in the blanks and since my idea was only half-formed to begin with, there were a lot of scenes where either nothing happened or too many things were going on.

On the downside, I feel like I failed because I couldn't focus on one project for a month without getting distracted or taking prolonged breaks. On the upside, I have the (extremely) bare bones down for a story that I'm truly passionate about. Give me another few months and I'll work out the kinks, or at least fluff it up a bit.

This is your reminder than sometimes the best thing you can do for a story is step back, walk around, find a new perspective.
— V.E. Schwab

And on the up-est of sides: taking a break from this website renewed my vigor for writing my every-other-daily posts. Sometimes it’s nice to take a few days (or in this case, a few weeks) off because it gives you a chance to recharge. 

First Impressions of a First Time Final Fantasy Player

I've played my fair share of AAA video games, but have never felt all that compelled to dive into the Final Fantasy universe. Mostly, it felt completely overwhelming, having an ever-increasing amount of volumes to wade through. I also knew nothing about it, often conflating it with Final Destination, thinking it looked like Kingdom Hearts but that everyone would eventually die in brutal ways. However, on the recommendation of a friend, a dire need to stay in an anime-style world, and a desire for a new long-ass video game, I bought and downloaded Final Fantasy XV, the latest installment in the Square Enix series. 

The Good

I'm really not all that far into the game, but I do really enjoy the central four protagonists (one of whom I play directly). They're interesting, they're funny, they're kind, they're loyal. They all seem like total stand-up dudes, which is nice since I have no choice in who I get to play as. There is no customization menu at the beginning of gameplay. I'm stuck as Noctis, Prince of Darkness (I honestly have no idea what he's Prince of, but he and his merry band of rabble-rousers dress only in black), who is probably the least interesting of the four characters, but he's innocuous enough to not turn me off of the game.

Final Fantasy Frogs.png

The Silly

I love side quests. I love reveling in as much gameplay as possible before I have to move on with the actual storylines. Final Fantasy XV has side quests aplenty... but they're all insanely ridiculous. Shortly after the main plot has started, Noctis' father is murdered in an attack on the citadel. However, the NPCs waste no time giving Noctis inane errands to run, including chasing down frogs, searching for rare gemstones, buying a tomato and searching for car grease. I'm used to playing sidequests in other AAA games, and they can often be just as absurd, but they usually feel a little more connected to the main quest plot (i.e. if you do this favour for me, Inquisitor, I'll join your forces). The sidequests in Final Fantasy XV seem to completely stray from any main quest (or at least, that's how it seems), making the side comments that our four main characters eventually start spouting about why they're wasting time searching for lost dog tags feel totally welcome. 

The Really, Really Bad

The first woman character we meet is a mechanic named Cindy, who also sends Noctis and the boys on bonkers sidequests. The above is what she wears. Always. As a mechanic. I can't even begin to talk about how much this whole thing is completely outrageous and downright offensive. Suffice it to say, had more women shown up wearing boob-busting bras and thongs sticking out of their jeans, ITEMS OF CLOTHING THAT WERE NOT NECESSARY FOR THE PLOT, I would have asked for a refund. It's bad enough that the central four characters are men, but to have the first woman that we are introduced to be dressed in a completely unrealistic, bullshit way, is sexist and wrong. There is absolutely no reason for her to be dressed in thigh-high leather boots, Daisy Dukes and a bra, AS A MECHANIC. When the male gaze is more important to cater to than your feminist audience, it makes it hard to want to continue to support the series. The story is good, and the characters compelling. With a couple of extra layers, both emotional and clothing-wise, this problem could have been completely avoided.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Author Edition

It’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I’m a little stressed out trying to plot out a story that’s been living in the back of my head since January, so I’m dedicating this month’s WCW post to some of my favourite lady authors who make the writing process look so easy. 

Childhood Faves

Gail Carson Levine 

Ella Enchanted is one of my most favourite books of all time, and I’ve read it a billion times and cry pretty much every time, so yeah, you could say that GCL affected me. With Ella, she taught me how to mix up a fairy tale and with The Two Princesses of Bamarre, she reinforced the idea of sisterly love (I think I get more emotionally reading about Addy and Meryl now than I did as a child). 

The Writer's Oath 

I promise solemnly: 

1. to write as often and as much as I can, 

2. to respect my writing self, and 

3. to nurture the writing of others. 

I accept these responsibilities and shall honor them always.

Cornelia Funke

She’s probably best known for Inkheart, but did anyone else read The Thief Lord? SUCH a good book, it destroyed me and made me want to Venice years before I eventually did. Inkheart is, of course, also fantastic, though the sequels don’t quite match the magic of the first one. 

Fantasy, Etc

V.E. Schwab

I mention V.E. Schwab at least once every three months on here, so I’m just going to leave my link to my fangirl-y post here.

P.S. I met her last week and she was just as amazing in person as she is in her books. 

Melissa Marr

I can’t seem to get into her adult books for some reason, but when it comes to dark fairy tales and YA urban fantasy, Melissa Marr rarely lets me down. I’ve been meaning to pick up her latest YA, but I haven’t yet!


Robin Benway

When it comes to cute contemporary YA, Robin Benway is my go-to. I L-O-V-E Audrey, and April/May/June’s relationships are so cute, and Emmy & Oliver are sweet, and Maggie is pretty cool...so while I don’t love all her characters equally, they all manage to make me smile. 

Ann Brashares

As a writer, you live in such isolation. It’s hard to imagine your book has a life beyond you.
— Ann Brashares

I read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when I was 13 and bawled through the end. That series remains one of the best contemporary YA series I’ve ever read and they still have the power to punch me in the feels, even though I know full well how they end. 

Ellie Marney

I’m OBSESSED with Ellie Marney and her Sherlock-esque couple, Mycroft and Watts. Australian YA can be so underrated sometimes, but they really know how to write compelling novels Down Under. 

Queen Of Everything

J.K. Rowling

Did you really think I’d write a WCW post on authors without mentioning my queen? Come on. I’ve been worshiping at the altar of J.K. Rowling for nearly two decades and I don’t intend on stopping any time soon. 

Who are some of your favourite lady authors?

Making Custom Lipsticks at Bite Lip Lab: Worth It?

I'm a lipstick fiend. I own way too many and I am not close to stopping my collection anytime soon. I knew the next step up would be creating my own personal, custom lipstick, something that is offered at the Bite Lip Lab in Toronto. I could go there, make two lipsticks of my choice, and feel comfortable that no one else on the planet would have those colours. 

It was a very cool process. I was teamed with a Bite lab tech, and she showed me the various pigments I had to work with. We decided on a vintage rose and a deep berry as my two colours and she scooped and smeared til we agreed on the perfect shades.

The two shades on the right with the hearts next to them are the two I ended up creating.

The two shades on the right with the hearts next to them are the two I ended up creating.

I went with my best friend, another self-professed lipstick junkie and we both enjoyed ourselves immensely. However, as fun as it was to create something new, I'm pretty sure I own colours pretty similar to what I ended up creating. And the price? Yeesh. I understand that custom colours should cost more than a mass-produced colour, but still, after walking out, I felt that I had dropped a bit more than what I really wanted to. Overall, the experience did not match the price. I may have two unique colours, but I probably could have found similar shades elsewhere for a far cheaper price.

The end result.

The end result.

Don't Be Afraid of Failure: Nora Henick of La Femme Collective

As you know, we here at Mind the Gap are fans of ladies who kick butt. A few months ago, I stumbled upon La Femme Collective, a website dedicated entirely to awesome women, when the site featured two of my favourite ladies. I reached out to Nora Henick, the founder of LFC, and she was awesome enough to answer a few questions for us about her role in promoting strong "entrefemmeur". 

Welcome to Mind the Gap, Nora! Thanks for doing this interview!

Not a problem at all! I’m very excited to do it. 

If you had to tweet a description of yourself in 140 characters or less, what would you say?

Lover of cheese and dogs, hater of close-minded individuals and the six train during rush hour. 

Tell us a bit about La Femme Collective! What is it/how did it start?

La Femme Collective is a global community created to support and celebrate the career development of women. Though we officially launched on March 8th, 2016 (International Women’s Day), LFC began its development in October 2015 - surrounding the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Tired of reading article after article about women in STEM being taken advantage of (sexually, monetarily, and many other ways) by male colleagues, I decided I wanted to create a space where women could come together and talk about all aspects of their careers - the wins, the losses, the frustrations, the accomplishments. 

You launched the website earlier this year. What sort of response have you gotten so far? (in terms of followers, supporters, etc.).

For the most part, all of the responses have been really positive! We’ve worked with some really fabulous women who genuinely believe in the idea of women supporting other women, so we’ve been able to build a really great community pretty quickly. We also encourage our readers to get involved - a lot of our content is user-generated. The LFCommunity, as we like to call it, has been a huge part of our success!

When it comes to achieving your goals, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? And what advice would you give an entrefemmeur just starting out?

I won’t say it’s the best advice I’ve received, because I learn more and more each day, however a piece of advice that has always stuck with me came from my dad - “In life, showing up is half the battle.” It’s applicable to so much, from anything like going to the gym to taking that phone interview you were a bit hesitant about. Once you’ve pushed yourself to get there, it’s a lot easier to move forward. As for advice I would give for an entrefemmeur just starting out, be passionate about what you do. Find some aspect of what you’re doing, even if it’s not something you thought you would love, and learn as much as you can about it. When you’re passionate about something, working becomes a lot more enjoyable! Also, don’t be afraid of failure. We all do it. Just don’t let it end there; use it as a learning lesson instead.

How do you choose who to feature? Is there an entrefemmeur you would love to interview/feature on the website?

The amazingly fun thing about this project is that we want everyone to be involved! Our criteria for entrefemmeurs is just that they’re willing to talk about their career journeys - in whatever capacity that may be. We’re really flexible in terms of making sure our features are always happy with how everything turns out. We understand that this can be a sensitive subject and we would never ask/want women to jeopardize their current careers or future career opportunities with the pieces they write on our site. 

In terms of features I would love to see on the site - Emily Weiss, Founder and CEO of Glossier/Into the Gloss, and Leandra Medine, Founder of Man Repeller. I could go on for a very long time about why these women are business role models for me, however, the biggest aspect of both of the empires they built (that I hope to also create with LFC) is the sense of community above all else. 

Find some aspect of what you’re doing, even if it’s not something you thought you would love, and learn as much as you can about it. When you’re passionate about something, working becomes a lot more enjoyable!

Where would you like to see La Femme Collective go in the next few years?

So. Many. Places. But more specifically - I’d love to see LFC continue to grow its community, while also being a hub for all things career-related. 

What’s the hardest part about curating La Femme Collective? And what’s the best part?

I don’t know if there are any hard parts (lucky for us)! We work with such amazing women who really want to help change the conversation around career development for women. Which kind of answers the best part about it also. I’m really, really lucky. I feel so inspired every day by all of our entrefemmeurs and our community members.  

Now we’ve reached the fun ones: If you could live in any fictional/fandom world, which would it be?

Gotham City so I could potentially meet Batman. He’s my favorite. 

QUICK TAKES: No need for long answers here, just hit us with the first thing that pops into your head.

Current obsession?

Burn Notice. HELP. 

Current thing that makes you RAGE?

One-sided political conversations. 

Pop culture-y item that’s coming out soon that you’re too excited about?

The movie version of Girl on the Train. Well, it’s technically out already. But I haven’t seen it yet so I’m pretending it isn’t.

Girl crush of the moment?

Emily Weiss. Always and forever. 

What’s one thing that you love that you wish got more attention?

All of the homeless animals that are in need of forever homes. 

Guilty pleasure (though we believe no geeky love should ever cause you shame): 

Freeform TV shows and country music. 

One recommendation that a fangirl just HAS to read/watch/play/ingest:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Get ready to weep. 

Time for plugs! Where can people find your content and chat with you?

You can find my team and I at www.lafemmecollective.com and on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and you can find me on my personal Instagram and Twitter!

Thanks Nora! It’s been a pleasure!

Thank YOU!

Woman Crush Wednesday - Katya Zamolodchikova

Note: I am 100% writing this not on Wednesday, and definitely after watching the season finale of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

I'm doing a Woman Crush Wednesday this week in honour of the delightful Soviet Katya Zamolodchikova, or simply Katya, my favourite Drag Race star. Unfortunately, she was totally robbed of the All Stars title, which went to Alaska (who became incredibly unlikeable as the season played out). Katya is a funny, beautiful and quirky drag performer, but I really connected to were her discussions about her anxiety on the show. She was so honest and relatable, it completely endeared me to her. She may have lost the crown, but she won my heart.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Rory's Generation

Last month's WCW was about the ladies of Lorelai's generation who don't get enough props for being awesome, so this month I'm focusing on the girls from Rory's life. 

Paris Geller

Straight up, I love Paris Geller. I always felt frustrated by her in the early seasons because she was so mean, but re-watching it, I’ve realized how AMAZING Paris is. She’s smart and sarcastic and yeah, a total mean girl, but she’s also confident and doesn’t take nonsense from anyone, which is admirable. And she has a softer side, an insecure side that doesn’t believe a guy can like her, a side that causes her to break down on TV when she doesn’t get into her dream school. Paris may be a little rough around the edges, but her character develops over time, from being Rory’s bully to Rory’s best friend, and I absolutely love any scene she’s in. 

Also, there’s this one scene in season two where I kinda shipped Paris/Jess because their banter was almost as good as Rory/Jess (or Rory/Paris, come to think of it).

Lane Kim 

A lot of people don’t seem to like Lane and I’m not sure why? She might not be that interesting compared to Paris, but she had some good storylines, especially when it came to joining a band. She’s a good friend to/for Rory and puts up with a lot of Rory’s nonsense without really asking for anything in return (in fact, Rory often seems to take Lane for granted, especially in the first two seasons). I think Lane had a lot of potential to be a truly entertaining character, but the writers stifled her in the later seasons by having her get married and pop out twins right away.

Madeline Lynn and Louise Grant

While I was trying to come up with other girls for this post, I realized that there aren’t a lot of options in Stars Hollow. You have girls like Lindsay or Rory’s roommates from her first year at Yale, but none of them are that great. So I guess I have to shout out to Madeline and Louise, Paris’ Chilton posse, who stayed true to themselves the entire time they were on the show. I mean, they may have been flighty and spent a lot of time flirting with guys, but they were obviously smart enough to make it into a prestigious school (or maybe that was just because they were rich?). And they were more fun than “Madeline and Louise 2.0: The Yale Years” aka Lucy and Olivia (I only remember Lucy because she was played by Krysten Ritter). 

Go it Alone - Attending Events By Myself

As an only child, I had to do a lot of things on my own. My parents had full-time jobs, I didn't really have any neighbourhood friends and I had no siblings, built-in peers that could accompany me to scary places like after school activities and camp. I learned to cope with this, though it was never easy, especially as a kid, but I accepted it as a fact of life. There would be things I would have to go through alone, and that would have to be okay.

Now that I'm older, I've learned to accept having to do things alone and have come to sometimes even relish it. I live alone, and for the moment, can't imagine living with another person. I go out to eat alone, I go the movies alone, and this week, I went to several comedy shows alone. Yes, sometimes it sucks being out and about, surrounded by happy couples or laughing friends, but there's also a freeing element about being out alone. I can leave when I want. I can do what I want. I don't have to worry about someone else having a good time. I can make sure I have a good time, and I do.

I know it seems scary, but it's so empowering. It's okay to be alone. It's okay to want to be alone. No one is judging you, no matter how much you think they are. And if they are, let them. Play by your own rules and enjoy your time out. You deserve it.

Woman Crush Wednesday: Lorelai's Generation

The girls of Gilmore Girls get a lot of love for being strong female characters, but for the next two months, I'm going to talk a bit about some of the secondary ladies who are just as deserving of our affection. This month, I'm tackling Lorelai's generation. 

Sookie St. James

It always surprises me that people only discovered how awesome Melissa McCarthy is in the last 5-7 years when I've known for 15 years. Apart from the Gilmore girls themselves, Sookie is easily one of the highlights of the show. A chef, a mother, a business partner - she plays a lot of roles and puts up with a lot of nonsense (mostly from Lorelai, to be honest), but does it with a cheerful smile and a clumsy bounce in her step. Sookie has a way of lighting up the room and her character development (especially her relationship with Jackson) is one of my favourite random Gilmoreisms. I'm so stoked that Melissa filmed a cameo for the revival - it wouldn't be Stars Hollow with Sookie!

Mrs. Kim

She might not be the nicest person, but Mrs. Kim cracks me up. Yes, she's very strict and makes Lane's life difficult, but she has her daughter's best interests at heart, even if she's a little misguided. And she does ultimately loosen her grip on Lane, who ends up marrying a musician instead of getting locked up in a convent or whatever. Plus it's funny to watch how a disproving glance from Mrs. Kim knocks some respect into everyone she meets (including Jess)! And we can't forget that her unemotional attitude helps her shrewdly conduct business - how else would an antique shop survive in a town as small as Stars Hollow?

Emily Gilmore

Emily "Queen of Sass" Gilmore is a goddess. She can be just as overbearing as Mrs. Kim and sometimes makes questionable decisions, but she does it with such style and grace. She's an elegant lady with a sarcastic streak as broad as her daughter's, and, though her meddling ways does break up with a relationship or two, she usually admits that she's wrong, even if it pains her to do it. As angry as I am with Emily for breaking up Luke/Lorelai in season five, she has a lot of endearing moments in the earlier seasons (I can't remember her story arc in seasons 6/7). I love watching the way her relationship with the girls develops over the series and I'm excited to find out how that relationship changed over the years.