What to Watch When You’re More of Reader . . . (Top Ten Tuesday)

Apparently, Fall TV is a thing . . . ? And I currently have access to some cable and internet . . .

Anyhow, this week’s TTT is TV themed, and though I mostly just read for fun, I do find a little time to watch a select handful of shows. I tend to gravitate toward shows with twisty plots or great dialogue (preferably both), but I’ll stick with anything that has good enough writing/acting to make me care about the characters!

So what shows are interesting enough to get me away from the books?

BEHOLD:

Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish
Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish

TV Shows for  a Bookworm (err, More than 10)

Mysteries and MURDER, JOHN!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned my great love of a good mystery, but those can be hard to find! If you grew up on Nancy Drew, love some Agatha Christie, and are always drawn in by the next Sherlock Holmes retelling, here are a few shows to try:

1. Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation

This anime is more of a drama than a mystery, overall. Still, the hero is a quiet student who is reminiscent of John Watson, aiding the mercurial and eccentric bone-fanatic Sakurako as she finds bones (nearly) everywhere. It’s beautiful and eerie, and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the fact that there isn’t a second season yet!!

2. Sherlock – (BBC 2010-?)

Yes, it’s over-hyped, but it’s also really good! From the casting to the twisting stories, Sherlock deserves the praise for it’s clever writing and plots. Now if only there were more seasons already . . . *grumble, grumble*

3. Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies is about a piemaker whose touch can wake the dead, but if he touches them again, they’re dead for good. Pair him with his resurrected childhood sweetheart and a mercenary detective, and involve a lot of brightly colored weirdness, and you have this show. It was cancelled after two seasons and I AM STILL MAD ABOUT IT!!

4. Monk

Adrian Monk is an obsessive compulsive, but brilliant detective, consumed with finding out how and why his wife died. After 8 seasons (including many crazy mysteries and loads of humor and heart), he finally achieves his goal. Any show that can come up with compelling mysteries for 8 seasons deserves an award!

5. Psych: If you haven’t watched Psych, who are you?

Shawn Spencer, a man with too little ambition and a brilliant mind, pretends to be a psychic and solves a case. But now he has to keep the act up or be exposed as a fake to the police, with very real legal consequences. Alongside his best friend Burton Guster (Gus), a pharmaceutical sales rep who is hilarious, and a quirky bunch of detectives, Shawn grows as a character in a great positive arc, and there are a ton of fantastic mysteries. And it’s still one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. And most quotable. (And they made a musical!)

Spies, Vigilantes, and Thieves

No, they aren’t necessarily good role models, but the less right side of the law pack tend to have some great representatives in the TV department.

6. Chuck

So Chuck is more of a comedy/romance, but it is about spies. And your average, hapless everyguy who just happens to get a super spy software burned into his brain. Happens all the time. Fans of Firefly will appreciate Adam Baldwin’s comic turn as the “humorless” and trigger-happy Agent Casey.

7. Daredevil (Season 1)

This one goes in the BE WARNED category – it’s very violent and appropriately rated for Mature audiences. However, Daredevil (the first season) has some of the best writing, acting, and moral complexity I’ve seen on TV. More akin to a novel (and the graphic novels it was based on) in it’s pacing, Daredevil was one of my top shows of the last five years.

8. Death Note

(anime, I haven’t tried the live-action)- Still worth watching if you’ve read the manga. Clever cat and mouse that lasts way longer than you thought possible? Check. Characters that make you question your judgement and give you conflicted feelings? Check. Lovely to look at? Check. This one is a classic for a lot of reasons.

9. White Collar

Another older show, but definitely worth watching. Smooth criminal Neal Caffrey becomes an (unwilling) consultant for the White Collar crime division, starting an odd-couple comedy meets crime show with a lot of style and great characters.

Ghosts, Ghouls, and Mayhem

10. Tokyo Ghoul

Just like the manga, the anime is short, beautiful, and very bloody. But don’t let that scare you away. It’s a the story of a gentle college student who becomes a monster in the most Shakespearean style of tragedy. From questioning morality to humanity, to what really makes us monsters, Tokyo Ghoul does it all. The score is also excellent.

11. Who Are You AND Let’s Fight, Ghost!

These two shows have four things in common – they are Korean, they involve ghosts, the heroine has circumstantial amnesia, and the male lead is played by popstar TaecYeon, but that’s where the resemblance ends.

Who Are You (후아유) is a detective show with important supernatural elements – female Detective Shi On returns after a terrible accident (that she can’t remember), and finds she can see ghosts. As she is drawn in by the ghosts and their unresolved stories, she stumbles upon a web of corruption that is tied to the memories she lost.

Let’s Fight, Ghost! (싸우자 귀신아 ) follows student Park Bong Pal as he exorcises ghosts for money. When he meets a cute female ghost who is more annoying that malicious, he starts to question everything he believed about ghosts, and opens up to more people and experiences. There are a lot of Grudge-esque  ghosts and a truly terrifying villain played by the talented Kwon Yool. This one is short and sweet at only 16 episodes, and it has a lot of hilarious moments to break up the ghost-chasing action.

12. Grimm

Ohhh, Monroe
Ohhh, Monroe

This inventive crime show blends supernatural/fairytale elements and procedural drama in the story of Portland detective Nick Burkhardt – who also happens to be a Grimm. The Grimm are like supernatural police, humans with powers who keep the Wesen (non-humans of various varieties) in check, and try to keep the balance between the “worlds.” It’s clever and fun, with characters you’ll root for, and it’s a must if you’re a fairytale nut. And it’s on its last season, so you won’t be waiting around long for the ending.

13. Doctor Who

This classic British show could probably have fit in any of these categories, and therefore, it doesn’t fit well in any of them. If you don’t know, it’s about a time-travelling alien (a Timelord) who wanders space and time with a human companion. Debates about seasons and Doctors abound, but everyone Whovian knows that it is worth the watch. From science to theology, to psychology, to downright silliness, there is a Doctor and an episode that has it.

Romantic Comedies

14. You Who Came from the Stars (별에서 온 그대 )

A romantic dramedy that is reminiscent of My Fair Lady, if the Professor was an elf-like alien, and Eliza was a spoiled actress. The premise works surprisingly well, and good acting and writing, compelling characters, and the usual dose of hilarity make this show one of my favorites ever!

15. Pride and Prejudice (BBC 1995)

For acting, production quality, faithfulness to the material, and being compulsively watchable, few things can beat the Andrew Davies penned P & P. Jane Austen’s classic novel has never been treated better. Still one of my favorites.

Honorable Mentions:

I rarely finish shows, and lately I have watched more nonfiction or documentary programs, but there are a few other shows I have enjoyed that didn’t make this list for one reason or another –

Supernatural – the drama about two brothers who really can’t die (where the world is always ending), with terrible plot holes, contradictory morality and theology, and general frustration. While I can’t recommend it morally (and I gripe a lot about it as a writer!), the show has its brilliant moments.

The Flash – A fun superhero show that has too many episodes for me to finish yet. Great cast, fun premise, and some good writing.

Psycho-Pass – an anime with an intriguing premise and great moral questions. I can’t recommend it because I haven’t watched enough yet!

Ice Fantasy – A beautiful Chinese drama starring all of the people who should have been elf extras in Lord of the Rings. One of the most lovely things I’ve ever seen – from the scenery to the actors to the costumes. But there are TONS of episodes, and I’m not very far into it!

Pinocchio (Korean Drama) I love this show so far, but I haven’t finished it yet. If you like your heart being twisted into knots, adorable characters that have terrible things happen to them, and alternately nasty and hilarious reporter drama, then you should check it out!

Boys over FlowersThe Cinderella-esque Korean school drama. Despite the fact that the drama sometimes annoyed me, I loved it enough to buy it. A fun cast, a relatable heroine, and lots of humor made this show one of the most popular and widely watched Korean dramas. And I’m sure that Lee Min Ho didn’t hurt things, 😉

So, have you seen any of these shows? Do you watch much tv? Is there a fall show that you’re looking forward to? Do you have any shows that I should watch?

Also, if you did a TTT, don’t forget to post the link so I can check it out!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Top 10 Things that Books Have Made Me Want to Learn or Do

Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish
Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish

So this week’s TTT is a chance to go back and do a Top 10 that you missed. I have missed A LOT of the recent Top 10’s, but the one I felt the most need to participate in was just a couple of weeks ago. “The Top 10 Things that Books Made Me Want to Learn or Do” is a topic that I haven’t written as much about, and as a writer*, there are a ton of things I have attempted or wanted to attempt because of books!! The difficult part was narrowing it down to just ten 😛

So – without further ado:

The Top 10 Things that Books have Made Me Want to Learn or Do:

  1. Forge a sword

If you’ve ever read a fantasy novel, you probably have read about that pivotal blade for the hero, or magical smith character. I have been fascinated by swordsmithing ever since I was little. The first book that made me think about it though? That’s tough. I’d probably go with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Aragorn’s sword is reforged from the shards of Narsil, a legendary blade of his ancestors. And it’s Aragorn’s remade blade Andúril that marks him as the “true king.” Now that, is a sword.

2. Become a samurai.
Maybe this is obvious, but Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” is one of my favorite movies.

Since I am A. Not Japanese, and B. Live in the 21st Century, the viability of this one is . . . err, nonexistent. But everything I read about these fascinating warriors always made me want to be them. In particular, Chris Bradford’s Young Samurai series sealed the deal. (After all, it’s about gaijin samurai).

3. Archery.

This is one that I actually went out and did. While I’m not a crack shot or anything (especially with my bad eyes), I’m not terrible. And I still love archery. It’s therapeutic. And I can blame Roger Lancelyn Green’s Adventures of Robin Hood for this one! (With LOTR’s Legolas in a close second)

4. Celtic-style Illumination

Illumination^^

I don’t recall when I discovered the children’s picture book Marguerite Makes a Book, but I was probably about six or seven. Anyhow, Marguerite is a young girl with an illuminator for a father. Marguerite dreams of illuminating a manuscript, and when her father needs help finishing a book for a noble lady’s birthday, it’s Marguerite who comes to his aid. I still love this book, and I have spent many an hour practicing calligraphy and illuminating bookmarks and other things!

5. Riding in a horse race

While I did take horseback riding lessons for a few years (and I went to a horse camp), and I do enjoy the occasional trail ride, I have yet to race a horse (or own one). I’m not really the jockey build (or height). But between Black BeautyMisty of Chincoteague, and Walter Farley’s novels, owning a horse and racing it was something I always wanted to do. Still, I did learn to take care of a horse and ride one because of books!

6. Knit a sweater.

There isn’t a single, specific book that made me want to do this. Rather, it was an idea that grew after reading enough historical fiction. So many of the heroines were skilled in weaving, crocheting, or knitting, that I was determined to figure it out. After a few failed attempts, I finally got the hang of it, and I’ve knit more than one sweater now, and designed my own patterns! It’s a skill that I’m really glad I worked at developing. A recent-ish book that really made me want to knit would be Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George. It’s the hero, not the heroine, who is the expert knitter of this fun little fairytale retelling. It is also, to date, the only book I’ve read where the villain was dispatched via knitting needle!

7. Go on an epic journey by foot, horse, ship, and/or wagon.

I still haven’t achieved this one 🙂 And I could name off at least a dozen books that made me want to do this. The HobbitLittle House on the Prairie, and The Hero and the Crown are just two of many, many others.

8. Get some beehives and become a beekeeper

I haven’t done this – yet! But I plan on having some hives someday (if I ever land somewhere permanently, that is). I have helped a beekeeper do their rounds, and studied bees and the homeopathic uses of honey. My fascination with the subject is pretty old, but one of the primary factors was Chalice by Robin McKinley. The Secret Life of Bees probably helped too 🙂

9. Go to a masquerade ball.

Err, doesn’t everyone want to do this? I love the idea of a fancy dress ball – but everyone knows that a masquerade is the most exciting (or frightening) type of costume party. So many things are revealed when your face is concealed, and all that jazz. Notable examples would be The Phantom of the Opera and Much Ado About Nothing, but there are a lot more!

10. Become an archivist in a crazy library.

To be honest, I’m halfway there. Every befuddled-looking, dusty person in lumpy clothes – a staple in fantasy novels, is a little (lot) like me. The library in the Abhorsen series, the library in The Thirteenth Tale, the library in Harry Potter, the Archives in the Kingkiller Chronicles – those are the places I want to go/live in the most. Maybe this will be my ultimate bucket list item?

THAT WAS HARD. There are so many things that books have made me want to do, or convinced me to learn. It’s one of the reasons I love books so much, to be honest.

*In the list of things I have learned/am learning how to do because of writing books – we can add learning Korean, dance tutorials, writing with my left hand, and living without modern conveniences, to name a few!

So – what sort of things have books made you want to do or made you do?

Monthly Rewind: April-pocalypse

And here I was, thinking April wouldn’t be crazy . . .

Nice to know I can still be naive, I guess?

April made my crazy March look -well- calm.

Have some more 10

So now it’s May, much too soon, and high time for the month in review link-up hosted by Nicole over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Click the links to look at what participants have been up to, and/or to join up.

On the Blog:

While I was hardly online in April, I did get a few things up, in spite of myself.

  1. I posted what happened in March – including a (slightly horrifying) pile of imported cds and dvds that . . . err, grew even larger in April. And everyone laughed at a rude waiter with me. That was fun.
  2. I continued working on Red as Blood, and posted a rather long introductory piece about The Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar and Grill
  3. I made a really exciting announcement about my debut novel, Knight of the Blue Surcoat.
  4. I counted down (just) 10 of the books that make me laugh to the point of tears for Top Ten Tuesday. It was basically just an excuse for me to use silly gifs.
  5. And just when we thought (*I thought) that I’d disappeared from the internet and you would never read anything writerly from me, I decided to post a thoroughly involved post/essay/article on the differences between Villains, Antagonists, and Antiheroes.
  6. Bonus* There was no Beautiful People for April, so I snatched an old one and featured Sull, the protagonist from Red as Blood. (I actually posted this in May, but I typed it up in April, so don’t tell anyone).

Off the Blog:

This is where things got busy . . .

I have been working away at my two jobs, which is a bit like juggling, but with all of yourself. I have been on bartending training shifts, which aren’t hard (since I have the experience), but they do involve longer hours. On the upside, I’m just living the life of my characters in Red as Blood (albeit with less space, and sadly, no aliens. Yet.)

I helped host a bridal shower for one of my best friends (cheers!), which made the imminent wedding seem, well, imminent . . . And my sister and I made many fruitless searches for bridesmaids’ dresses, as we’re both in the wedding.

My sister (the oft-mentioned Grace) made Hotteok (호떡) – or Korean sweet dessert pancakes/street food – which were amazing, but we ended up using them to make egg sandwiches because of the end of this video (if you don’t click through, it’s an interview with Bigbang, with a “cooking competition” at the end.) They aren’t exactly the same thing, but, whatever.

2016-04-30 14.18.37 2016-04-30 14.25.22

They were really good- by the way.

And while we’re on the subject of reality tv (sort-of), there is this new Korean show called “Fantastic Duos” and the concept is really fun (we should adopt it over here). A recognized artist records their part of a song, and then invites anyone and everyone to participate by recording the other part(s) as a duet on their smartphone. Some of the participants are chosen to perform later on the live show (with the artist looking on), and then one is selected to actually perform a live duet with the aforementioned artist. It’s a ton of fun to watch, and they’ve already gotten an incredible performance like this out of it:

I already knew Taeyang (from Bigbang) was a great vocalist, but this girl is crazy good, and it will be a surprise if she doesn’t land herself a record deal. Anyhow, you should watch this, as it’s beautiful. 😛

But I digress – when we weren’t cooking (how we spend the majority of our “free time”, for whatever reason) or watching snippets of reality shows,  I was cram-reading to get ready for book club in May, and a local tv appearance (more on that some other time), and getting ready for Book Expo in May.

To be honest – most of April is a blur – but I actually remember the end of it, because that’s when my sisters and I went to Chicago for the weekend. We actually helped at my friend’s bridal shower, and then got in the car and drove straight to Naperville to check into our hotel. This went faster than expected, giving us plenty of time to stop at the H Mart that was (almost) next door. I mainly just ended up buying vegetables (because that’s what I usually end up buying, regardless). The most exciting one was a radish that was larger than the upper part of my arm . . . Naturally, we stowed the vegetables and things at the hotel before we went over to the Rosemont Theatre for our BAP CONCERT!!!

(for a few pics, you can look at my Instagram feed)

At the Rosemont, we somehow ended up with pretty good seats. We were in the top section (there’s only a balcony and a floor section – it’s pretty small – about 5K seats), and we were in the direct center, so we could see really well (even without the screens). The crowd was far more diverse (especially in age) than any other concert I’ve been to – ranging from little kids to couples my grandparents’ age. And it was a great crowd – minus the extremely annoying and immature girls behind us. They screamed for the point of screaming (and so loudly/high-pitched that they could have broken glass), and talked about the band members like they weren’t even human. I’m an old-fashioned grouch though – I go to concerts because I love the music and want to see the performers live – so I might have overreacted, but still . . .

Other than those girls – everything was awesome. B.A.P are energetic, incredible performers, from their dancing to their impressive vocal talent. Despite the (moderate) language barrier, all of the guys have great stage presence and senses of humor, and they were so much fun to listen to/watch.

To give you an idea, here’s a video from one of the girls in the front row (from Youtube.com)

This is one of B.A.P’s older songs (1004 Angel – released 2014), so most of the crowd knew the (mostly Korean) lyrics, and sang along. When you have thousands of people who don’t all speak a language singing along anyway, that’s pretty cool. Naturally, if you were there you could actually hear B.A.P a lot better, but off a cell-phone camera, not so much!

At any rate, we got back WAY too late at night, but managed to beat the traffic :). The next morning, we found the closest PCA church (which turned out to be a church plant – Restoration Community Church), and they were so welcoming and friendly. After church, we decided to go to Chinatown instead of driving straight home (because I’ve actually never been there . . .). We mainly walked around, as the weather was glorious. We did stop at the Kpop store there, to buy something for my sister Lydia (who had been bummed that she couldn’t go). A cute snapback with the logo of one of her favorite bands did the trick ;P

After that, we continued wandering around and people watching (there were a ton of families out in their Sunday clothes – so so many cute babies). I thought about going to the Disney store (one of my other favorite things), but then I decided it was too hard, and we made the trek back to my car. Walking all afternoon is a little fatiguing after going to bed in the wee hours of the morning.

We finally headed back to Michigan, tired but still amped up (partially thanks to my too-loud music and the nice weather). And then it was back to work as usual!

And now, as it’s May 9th, I’m sitting in a beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and finally having time to write an update. Why Alabama? I flew down for Mother’s Day weekend (as the rest of my family was down here vacationing). And then – most of my siblings got sick, and my phone crashed so bad that it might never be fixed – so I borrowed my brother’s laptop, and here we are. I had all kinds of pictures for this post, but they are on my phone – which is too bad!

On the upside – I am stranded at the beach – so I really can’t complain. Also, I have an eARC of Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani (sequel to Sunbolt).

I have to be in Chicago (again) for Book Expo on Wednesday, so we’ll see how things go. In the meantime, I might head back out to the water. The weather in Alabama is lovely, warm and breezy, and the swimming has been even better (though I did spot two stingrays while I was in the water). Or I’ll pull out The Last Coffee Shop and continue my read through. But here’s to hoping that everyone feels better soon, that I don’t end up with the virus, and I make it to Book Expo in one piece!!

Happy May! If you’re a Mom, belated Happy Mother’s Day!

How was your April? Do you have any big plans for May? What was the last concert you went to?

 

TTT: Top 10 Books That Cracked Me Up

Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish
Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) was too awesome to resist! I love to laugh, as I’ve mentioned before, and there is nothing better than a funny book. Well, except a book that is funny AND really well written. On the other hand, I tend to laugh at things that *shouldn’t* be funny. Morbid humor, parody, and sarcasm = me in a nutshell.

Top 10 Books That Cracked Me Up (with gifs, because, why not?)

1. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

It goes without saying that any Terry Pratchett book is hilarious. And while Reaper Man made me laugh pretty hard, only Monstrous Regiment has made me laugh so hard I cried. If you have ever read a fantasy (or historical fiction) novel with the heroine disguised as a man, then at least part of this book will make you laugh. After all, it’s mainly about a group of women, disguised as men. Oh, and half of the women are also monsters, disguised as human. And there is one man, by the way, and he’s the only one who convinces anyone he’s a woman when they’re all, you guessed it, disguised as women later on. Confused yet?

2. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s drama was one thing that is consistent with both movie and book

Another obvious one – but it’s that funny. From Howl’s dramatic antics, to Sophie’s asides, there’s a reason I reread this one when I’m having a bad day. All of Jones’ novels are pretty funny, but the only one that comes close to HMC’s level of hilarity is The Dark Lord of Derkholm. If you haven’t read it – it’s a parody of fantasy novels, that is a fantasy novel, that manages to make some very good points along the way.

*pathetic*

3. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

One of the parts in the movie that was accurate

While the movie was pretty funny (if rather foul-mouthed), the book is about 50 thousand times more hilarious (and heartbreaking – but equally foul-mouthed). Pat is one of the most interesting, sweet, silly, and unique narrators of any adult novel. He had me alternating between laughing and crying so many times that it was a testament to Matthew Quick’s skill as a writer. Never has Kenny G been so funny, yet so freaky . . .

Another pretty accurate part ;P

4. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Despite the fact that Brosh is (also) sometimes a little foul-mouthed for me, there’s no denying that Hyperbole and a Half is hysterical. From the odd little drawings to the endless musings on the perfection of cake, these comics are relatable and laugh-out-loud funny.

And yes – Brosh is the source of this meme

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This might not be the obvious Gaiman pick, but it made me laugh the hardest. From the sly observations, to the cheeky prose, The Graveyard Book walks the fine line between hilarious and chilling. It’s also heartwarming, despite the fact that most of the characters are ghosts.

6. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

-That feeling when you die before the save point-

Before there was Sword Art Online, there was a snide little book about a teenage girl who got stuck in a VR fantasy world. She also had to win to escape – but it was a lot less glamorous. Heir Apparent was another book I picked up on vacation when I was a teenager. It’s not the most profound or best written book ever, but it’s still just as funny. Look out for a hilarious parody of every fantasy character type ever. My particular favorite is Sister Mary Ursula – the mystic devotee of everything, who spends a lot of time yakking about becoming one with, uhm, everything. But there are warrior girls in impractical outfits, dangerous princes, deadly barbarians, and lots, and lots, of failures as the heroine tries to beat a ridiculous game.

7. Every book in the Squire’s Tales Series by Gerald Morris

I referenced The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf in a previous list – and while that book is hilarious, the rest of the series is also very funny. From trope trolling to much-needed sense in the King Arthur narrative, Morris does a fantastic job of retelling these stories. There are fairies, knights in disguise, knights who take vows of silence (which he talks about endlessly), and loads of fair (?) maidens. There are sword fights and romances, and lots of absurd lines. Why haven’t you read one yet?

It’s like if the funniest bits of Monty Python were collected in a less crude book

8. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

I’ve mentioned how much I love this play before, so I’ll be brief: it’s really funny, and you should read it often. And the movie versions are all pretty good!

He isn’t in love – he has a toothache. Obviously.

9. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Imagine waking up with no memory, surrounded by bodies, with a strange letter telling you that you were a high-level supernatural operative, and someone wants you dead. That’s exactly what happens to Myfanwy Thomas. It doesn’t sound funny – but it’s the start of a hilarious yet suspenseful adventure yarn that is also one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. The part where they try to read the oracle – SO FUNNY! Better still, the sequel FINALLY comes out this June!!

10. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Ohhhh Haru . . .

The anime is funny, but the manga is even better. The characters range from quirky to downright terrifying – but they’re all pretty hilarious. It’s amazing how mangas can jump from cute to terrifying to hilarious to crazy and back again in a matter of pages . . .

Honorable mentions – The Time Paradox, Piratica, Adulthood is a Myth, Naruto, The Thief, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness . . .

Have you read any of these books, or do you plan to read them? What is one of the funniest books you’ve ever read?

TTT: Top 10 Books I Love but I Just Haven’t Talked About As Much (with quotes!)

toptentuesday
Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish

I know for myself (and probably most of you) that there are tons of books I’ve read that I absolutely loved – I just don’t talk about them as much. So naturally, I had to participate in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (if you don’t know what that is, click here) hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. So let’s get started.

lets-get-down-to-business-gif
Mulan = one of the best movies ever.

Top 10 Books I Love (I Just Don’t Talk About Them Much)

  1. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine (first read in 2001)

9780060293154
This is the cover I have

I love Ella Enchanted, but I actually prefer The Two Princesses of Bamarre. I discovered it in a tiny Northern Michigan bookstore when we were on vacation (15 years ago, *cough, cough*). At the age of twelve, I was obsessed with fantasy and still high off of reading through The Lord of the Rings by myself a couple of times (my dad read it to us when we were little). I was also at that stage when you’ve fallen in love with something (in my case, the feeling that LOTR gave me), and you read ravenously, just trying to find that feeling. This is also around when I discovered Robin McKinley and Patricia Wrede, who have remained lifelong favorites as well. Anyhow, this is a story about the bond between two sisters – one who starts out as the classic “hero,” and the other, who becomes a hero. And it was way before Frozen. ;P

“I put my fingers around the unmarked ring of the spyglass and twisted. The scene became clear. 
Oh no! A hairy brown spider clung to a vine! I couldn't go there!
I'd go to the desert to find a dragon. I began to reset the spyglass, but then I stopped myself. A spider was worse than a dragon?
No.
My first monsters would be spiders, then.” 

2. Dragon’s Milk (The Dragon Chronicles) by Susan Fletcher

“The wild creatures of the earth are as milk for the human spirit; to destroy them is to starve our souls.”

I love these covers <3

While Susan Fletcher is better known for Shadow Spinner (another one of my all time favorites), her Dragon Chronicles were some of the books I reread repeatedly growing up. It’s somewhere between MG and YA, as  I recall. The heroine, Kaeldra, is a gawky, awkward girl who gets thrust into a difficult situation – she basically becomes orphaned Draclings (baby dragons) nanny, in a world where dragons are misunderstood and hated. There are two sequels that take place in the same world, and I remember liking them just as much.

3. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

“We have our clothes, some more splendid than others,—this is our credit; but when a man dies he has only his skin;”

Over a thousand gripping pages (really!), The Count of Monte Cristo is an epic adventure and revenge drama with complex characters and intricate morality. Edmond Dantes is wrongfully imprisoned, and he swears to get the ultimate revenge on the man who put him there. Will Edmond follow his path to the end, or will his convictions and his fear of Heaven stop him before it’s too late? You’ll have to read it to find out. And if you saw that movie, it left out, well, almost the entire book. Another one of my all-time favorite novels, and a definite influence on my writing. On an interesting side note, the nonfiction book The Black Count (about Dumas’ father-an inspiration for a lot of the Count’s adventures) is also well worth the read.

“There are men who have suffered and who have not only gone on living, but even built a new fortune on the ruins of their former happiness. From the depths into which their enemies have plunged them, they have risen again with such vigor and glory that they have dominated their former conquerors and cast them down in their turn.”

4. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

One of the most beautifully written, lyrical fantasies I have ever read. It’s my favorite one of McKillip’s novels, and the one that made me track down her other novels. Sixteen year-old Sybel is given a baby to raise, even though her only companions up to that point were a fantastical menagerie of creatures. This book is gorgeous, magical, and if you haven’t read it, you should. A strong female lead, enduring themes, and amazing prose – this is one of those “so close to perfect it hurts” novels.

“What do you think love is- a thing to startle from the heart like a bird at every shout or blow? You can fly from me, high as you choose into your darkness, but you will see me always beneath you, no matter how far away, with my face turned to you. My heart is in your heart. I gave it to you with my name that night and you are its guardian, to treasure it, or let it whither and die. I do not understand you. I am angry with you. I am hurt and helpless, but nothing will fill the ache of the hollowness in me where your name would echo if I lost you.”

5. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

“Holy places are dark places. It is life and strength, not knowledge and words, that we get in them. Holy wisdom is not clear and thin like water, but thick and dark like blood.”

“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

I might have mentioned this book in passing, but I haven’t sung its praises enough. This was the last work Lewis completed, but it started out as one of his earliest projects. Most people know how C. S. Lewis loved Greek Myths and classic literature. Till We Have Faces is the story of Cupid and Psyche told from Psyche’s sister Orual’s perspective. But it isn’t a simple retelling – it’s a complex, dense, thought-provoking, and deeply philosophical novel that thoroughly explores the nature of love itself. Till We Have Faces is nothing you would expect if you’re only familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia – it’s more akin to The Four Loves, or C.S. Lewis’s essays on the power of myths and legends. If I could just take a handful of books to a deserted island, this would be one of them.

“Oh, I can see it happening, age after age, and growing worse the more you reveal your beauty: the son turning his back on the mother and the bride on her groom, stolen away by this everlasting calling, calling, calling of the gods. Taken where we can't follow. It would be far better for us if you were foul and ravening. We'd rather you drank their blood than stole their hearts. We'd rather they were ours and dead than yours and made immortal.” 

6. Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer

“Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.”

Twelve. Millionaire. Genius. Criminal. Artemis Fowl is all of those things. And Eoin Colfer sells it with the writing equivalent of a cheeky grin and a magician’s sleight of hand. One of my favorite middle grade series ever, Artemis Fowl is laugh out loud funny. The characters are hilarious, the plots are crazy, and at the center are the epic odd couple of Artemis and his loyal butler, Butler. Yes – Butler. Butler is the other best thing about these books.

“That was horrible. Horrible. That poor little guy."
Pex was unrepentant. "Yeah, well, he asked for it. Calling us ... all those things."
But---buried alive! That's like in that horror movie. Y'know -- the one with all the horror."
I think I saw that one. With all the words going up on the screen at the end?"
Yeah, that was it. Tell you the truth, those words kinda ruined it for me.”

7. The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf (The Squire’s Tales #3) by Gerald Morris

“I said you lie, knave!” shouted Beaumains, drawing his sword. “And for telling such craven falsehoods, you must die!”
The knight looked plaintively at Roger. “What’s wrong with this fellow?”
He was dropped on his head when he was a baby,” answered Roger.”

This book is hysterical – even if you haven’t read the Arthurian original that it reinterprets (The Kitchen Knight). I loved every book in this series, but this one is a definite stand out. It takes Arthurian story constructs and constants, and turns them completely on their heads, all while keeping the basic story intact. With its witty, sharp-tongued heroine, a dash of faeries, crazy characters, and of course, the aforementioned sense of humor, this is another book I’ve read repeatedly.

8Sorcery & Cecelia: or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

“I am determined to have the headache Thursday, if I have to hit myself with a rock to do it.”

Manners, Magic, and Mayhem

The concept behind this book is positively brilliant: two writers decided to write letters to each other, assuming the characters of Regency girls with magical aptitude. Their letters became this delightful light fantasy novel that mixes Jane Austen with Diana Wynne Jones’ style magic and hilarity. The sequel, The Grand Tour is equally funny, and highly recommended.

“She probably enjoys cutting up everyone's happiness. Not to mention cutting up other parts of people; given her penchant for poisoning people and turning them into beech trees, I fail to see how she has reached thirty without leaving a trail of bodies behind her.” 

9. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

While I’ve mentioned my affection for Pearl’s writing, I doubt I’ve praised this book enough. Dante’s Inferno is a favorite of mine, and this historical novel surrounds the translation of the Inferno made by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Oh, and there’s murder most foul, as well.* But who doesn’t like to watch a group of middle-aged writers solve a murder, all while being terribly literary?

“The force of Dante's poetry resonated most in those who did not confess the Catholic faith, for believers would inevitably have quibbles with Dante's theology. But for those most distant theologically, Dante's faith was so perfect, so unyielding, that a reader found himself compelled by the poetry to take it all to heart.”

10. The Kestrel (Westmark Trilogy #2) by Lloyd Alexander

The dedication in this book: “To those who know they are only human, but strive to be nothing less.”

Lloyd Alexander is another author I’ve touched on at times – with his excellent Prydain Chronicles being one of my favorite MG fantasy series ever. I’ve also named off Westmark in passing. But The Kestrel is one of the first, and best YA novels (that I have read) to deal with the trauma of war and fighting (especially for causes you believe in). Theo, the young printer’s devil from the first book, convincingly transforms into the Kestrel, a fearsome warrior and bogeyman to haunt the enemies dreams. Humanity, hatred, fear, rage- this book covers it all, in a surprisingly slim package. There are touches of Les Miserables and A Tale of Two Cities (two more of my all-time favorite novels), but it’s an easier read. Not convinced? Read this excellent review and see if it changes your mind.

Well, if nothing else, I’ve learned that I need a shelf just for silly fantasy novels (I hadn’t realized what a great favorite they were of mine until I started working on this list!)

Have you read any of these books, or do you intend to?

What are some favorite books that you don’t mention enough?

TTT: Top Ten Books On My Spring TBR

 

Top 10 Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted/created by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. For instructions on how to participate, click here.

I couldn’t pass this one up, as it’s nice and easy. My TBR stretches from here to Jupiter (and fills up half of my rental house), but picking out a few to focus on might help me get to more of them in the end

1. Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani

I'm not posting the cover today (even though it's gorgeous) because I'll be participating in the cover reveal tomorrow! Be sure to check out my blog for the cover, info on preorders, and other fun stuff! More importantly, Memories of Ash is diverse, layered fantasy and the sequel to Sunbolt, and I couldn't be more excited about it. Read my review of Sunbolt (or better yet, read the book), and get all excited with me.

2. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I actually just started this as a buddy read with blogger-friend Sara Letourneau . It was a little hard to get back into the swing of things (it's been over a year since I read The Name of the Wind), but it's good so far. I've decided that reading my favorite genre (epic fantasy) is like a mini vacation - not because it's easy, per se, but because it's a welcome respite from the business/stress of everyday life. So thank you, Patrick.

3. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

SO PRETTY
I heard about this one through Cait over at Paper Fury (she's part of the blog tour). Russia, dueling magicians, historical fantasy - this book sounds right up my alley!

4. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

MORE PRETTY COVERS
Persian-inspired fantasy? YES. Deserts, djinn, gunslingers and rakish foreigners? Please and thank you.

5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

I'm actually kind of embarrassed that I haven't read this :) I  mean, it's about magic and multiple Londons. Anyhow, I decided to fix this problem by buying a shiny paperback edition and putting it on my desk. Now I just have to read it.

6. Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale by David Kudler

I wanted to read this one as soon as I saw the title ( a kunoichi is the simplified/modernized term for a female ninja). It's a historical adventure novel set in 16th century Japan - and thanks to the author and NetGalley, I have an eARC of this one that I can start ASAP!

7. The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dei Randel

Now we have the Tang Dynasty of China. Mei, the young woman who became the most infamous empress in Chinese history, is the narrator of this debut novel. Naturally, I'm also fascinated by Chinese history, and this book looks really good. (Thanks for the eARC Sourcebooks!)

8. Masque by W. R. Gingell

And the prettiest cover yet
I literally read about this book ten minutes ago - and now I really want to read it. It's a murder mystery retelling of Beauty and the Beast by an indie author. The reviews compare it to Jane Austen, and say that the romance takes a backseat to the mystery. After reading just a few blurbs, I'm sold.

9. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Another one that I actually have a copy of. It's about time travel, and there's a ship on the cover. And I heard there was a Persian thief involved. That's really all it takes to make me want to read a book.

10. Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

Prehistoric Pride and Prejudice? I'll read that in a heartbeat. Warring clans and survival stuff are just bonuses. Honestly, this premise is fabulous.

So, are any of these on your TBR? (Are they now?) Which one looks the best to you? What book are you looking forward to reading this spring?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books That Really Weren’t My Thing (But I liked them anyway) – With gifs and reasons and stuff

Image Source: The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is a really fun topic (again) this week* – since it highlights books from genres or on topics that we don’t normally read, but that we really liked.

As a bookseller, it’s part of my job to read a diverse selection, so I have read plenty of books that I wouldn’t pick up because I simply wanted to. Here are 10 of the books I liked more than I thought I would!
As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and you can find out how to participate in the link-up right here. (Disclaimer: All images belong to respective copyright holders and are not being used for any financial gain)
And here we go . . .

Top 10 Books That I Liked (Even Though They Weren’t My Usual Reads)

1. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Why it isn’t me: I don’t usually go for cute and cuddly NYT bestsellers.


*Sniffles* Pushing Daisies!
How it changed my mind: While it was most definitely cute and cuddly, and bestselling, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry was sweet not sappy, and a love letter to books and bookstores. How could I not approve? The author really captured the charm of indie bookstores, reading, and the quirky people you meet in the bookish world.

2. The Iron Fey Series (And The Immortal Rules) by Julie Kagawa

Why they aren’t me: Two words- paranormal romance. And they were billed to me as “swoony,” which always earns an eyeroll (internally, of course, one must be polite).

My eyeliner is never this flawless, but this is how I’ll react . . .
How they changed my mind: While there was zero swooning, I did find the characters charming** enough to read every one of the Iron Fey books (and I even made it through the slight love triangle unscathed).
Anyhow, these books are like those giant cupcakes — you buy one and one becomes five and . . .  anyhow, I actually really enjoyed them. But I sort of felt like I had a sugar hangover after the fact. The characters are fun, the worlds are lovely (I especially love her take on the Fey), and Julie Kagawa is a good storytellerImmortal Rules was one of the more interesting vampire books I’ve come across, and I loved Kagawa’s take on a post-apocalyptic setting.

3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Why it isn’t me: It’s an adult contemporary romance/comedic novel. I don’t usually enjoy romantic comedies, and they only ask for an hour of my time. A book is much more demanding.

How it changed my mind: It was actually hilarious. The characters were quirky and fun, and I loved Don Tillman. He's autistic, brilliant, and so socially awkward that I was immediately charmed. Rosie was fun, but Don's narration won this novel for me.

4. The Benny Imura Series and The Joe Ledger Series by Jonathan Maberry

Why they aren’t me: I am not into zombies. Period. And the Joe Ledger series are an adult zombie series, which really isn’t my thing . . .

Before Rot & Ruin
How they changed my mind: TOM.*** While there are a lot of zombies in both series, they also include: strong characters, brother bonds that will make you cry in a hole, great action, swords, authentic and relatable teenage drama, adorable characters, plotlines, humor, philosophy, and really complicated but terrifying villains. And did I mention Tom Imura? No? Small oversight. And as for the Joe Ledger books - they're like a Clint Eastwood movie with zombies and humor. A little rough,**** but I liked them way more than I thought I would (I haven't read them all yet, but they're still going strong)
After

Why it isn’t me: I read some of Faulkner’s short stories for school and was driven mad by his stylistic decisions (run-on sentences, strange punctuation, etc). Despite my love of classic lit, we didn’t click.

Trying to capture that eerie, empty feel with a gif here
How it changed my mind: I saw how short it was, and picked it up on vacation. And I was completely won over by the eerie darkness, the strange style, the drama, the depiction of the South, the story, and the narrators. Faulkner went from my never-read-again list, to my read-everything-eventually list. Just because of this book.

6. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

So pretty

Why it isn’t me: I tend to avoid coming-of-age novels as a genre, especially when they sound like they’re just about teenagers doing teenage things (no, I never liked them when I was a teenager).

Couldn’t resist, mate
How it changed my mind: First, there was the evocative title. Second, I met a few people at Winter Institute who completely convinced me to read it with their love for this book. And then the author read an excerpt, and I loved her prose. The story is much more layered and complicated than what I expected, the characters are lovable and seem like real people, and the peek into 60's-70's Alaska was absolutely fascinating. If you like contemporary-ish YA at all, you should definitely give this book a shot.
Just look at this cover . . .

Why it isn’t me: While I love manga, I’m not much into the shoujo/school stuff/romance. I prefer shonen, hands down.

And Hiro – that kid with unlimited adult sass
How it changed my mind: Blogger Victoria Grace (Stori Tori) convinced me to watch the anime first, and I was hooked. I swear I've never been so invested in school clubs or random everyday life before. I had to read the manga because the anime doesn't have the entire story! And there are three very important things I haven't mentioned:
1. Everyone and everything is so darn cute!
2. The Chinese Zodiac have human forms, and they revert to animals when hugged by the opposite sex. It's weird and random and provides tons of hilarity.
3. The characters have surprising layers, and/or really dark sides.

8. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Why it isn’t me: See #2. Guys – this is so “not me” that I was almost too embarrassed to put it up (and I am not knocking anyone who likes these books, I promise). Paranormal romance, love triangles, ridiculously unrealistic characters, weird taxidermied-looking dudes on the covers, I could go on for days here – but they’re not my normal thing, obviously.

Taxidermy . . .
How it changed my mind: This was just a fun book. I stopped thinking and just giggled at the dialogue and got lost in the indulgent steampunk world and fun. Quirky, cute characters and plenty of action helped too.
Got to love that title though

Why it isn’t me: This is the sort of book I’d never even notice. Confessionals, anecdotes, personal mother-daughter stuff, chick-lit, etc.

Batman, are you trying to make us all feel bad?
How it changed my mind: I got this ARC from a box at work when I was desperately seeking a beachy read for a review program. The review was due in two days, and I needed something quick and easy. What I didn't expect was how much I enjoyed it! The stories were pretty relatable, and funnier than I thought they would be. As I have a close relationship with my mother, I found the mother-daughter stuff endearing and fun. It was easy to read, but only just fluffy enough. Sweet and sincere, I could honestly recommend it as a "beach read" to readers and non-readers alike.

10. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Why it isn’t me: I was fully persuaded that I didn’t like Dickens. (Too early of an exposure – which was my own fault!). Long, overrated, boring, and melodramatic – that’s what I thought. And Little Dorrit is basically moose-sized.

How it changed my mind: I watched the Masterpiece Theater (love MT!) version and was hooked, so I decided to give the book a chance. I liked it even better. It was hilarious - with a such a heady level of satire I was completely surprised, and the characters were brilliant. The Circumlocution Office still figures into my conversations. Anyhow, Little Dorrit rekindled my love for Victorian novels, and sparked a new one with Dickens' works in particular. Many years later, I'm still a loyal fangirl <3

So, what was the last book you read that was out of your comfort zone or not something you’d normally read? Why did you like it? Have you read any of these books?

Footnotes:
*Last week was 10 Songs that Should Be Books - which was a fabulous idea!
**Ash is my spirit animal (okay, one of my many spirit animals)
***Tom Imura = <3<3<3<3<3
****The Joe Ledger covers are gross. Who wants to look at this? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Songs That NEED to Be Books

Top 10 Songs that NEED to Be Books (Top 10 Tuesday on Wednesday)

Image Source: The Broke and the Bookish

When I saw this, I knew I had to participate, no matter how I managed to obtain internet. Next to books, music is my favorite thing in the world, and I could probably make a list that goes on for days. As I’ve written elsewhere, many/most of my own writing is either directly linked to music, or music is just one of the many ingredients. Either way, music and writing are inextricably connected for me.

The challenge here was limiting myself to 10! (So only one song per artists, or it will mainly be Within Temptation) Anyhow, I included videos where applicable, the song titles are linked to lyrics, and the bands are linked to their sites for more info.

1. Dark Wings by Within Temptation

There is a fantasy novel in almost every Within Temptation song (whether they were inspired by one, or it’s one that’s begging to be written!*). I have WT songs on almost every one of my novel playlists for a reason 🙂
So why pick Dark Wings? Look at the lyrics, listen to Sharon Den Adel’s vocals and the epic power of the music. This is a fantasy novel about the Faye, or some ancient winged race (related to dragons, maybe?)

2. Dragons by The Green Children

 Speaking of dragons, metaphorically, the song Dragons has a story. There are several parts to it (just click on The Green Children’s channel in the links to find the others – starting with Life Was Beautiful), but it isn’t a book. It needs to be. Like a modern Kay and Gerda in The Snow Queen, our video protagonists get separated and caught up in a sinister looking web of magic (?) or not.
The video visuals are amazing, and the dance pop ambiance makes it fun to listen to. And the lyrics are intriguing to boot. There is definitely a book here. One of the many bands I love that haven’t made it into a post yet, The Green Children are another frequent contributor to my novel playlists.

3. One Shot by B.A.P

Note – there is a bit of blood and violence in this video, but nothing too graphic.

Life choices are the major theme in this heavy-hitting song by B.A.P** The video above has handy subs for the lyrics, but it’s still pretty obvious what’s going on. But the surprise ending . . . This gives me all kinds of novel ideas. I’m thinking contemporary YA about a gang of street boys, with a sci-fi/time bending twist.

4. The Maiden and the Selkie by Heather Dale

If you’re into the Celtic/Folk/New Age music scene (or King Arthur), you’ve probably heard Canadian singer Heather Dale. Her music is based on folklore and legends, with her own spin.
I picked this song for the unique ending – the maiden is very proactive about this marrying a selkie prince business (basically Scottish were-seals). Instead of dying on command when she can’t marry her true love (a real danger in Celtic ballads), she finds a way around it. Applause for her. Embellish this story, and it could be a lot like a Tam Lin retelling.

5. Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra

Don’t feel like you have to watch all 17 minutes of the above performance, but I promise that it’s worthwhile! You might recognize this piece from the movie Master and Commander. It’s depth and haunting beauty always make me want to write – and if I could write something half as beautiful as this piece of music, I’d be pretty well pleased.
I love Thomas Tallis and his sacred/choral music, but Vaughan Williams (impressively) actually improved upon the original with his 1910 fantasia (above). Seriously, if this was a book, I think we’d all read it.

6. From Yesterday by 30 Seconds to Mars

This video is another one that needs a book. Not only is it gorgeous and evocative, the powerful lyrics of the song just shout novel at me every time. Sci-Fi, historical fiction, fantasy, it doesn’t matter. It would just be a really cool book, regardless. (Am I the only person who thinks that this video is better than a movie already?)

7. Shadows by Red

Lyrics, music, vocals, story, this song has it all. And it’s oh so intense.  We can follow up with So Far Away and Hold Me Now. If you like powerful vocals and messages with driving rock music, then you need some Red in your life.
 I’m envisioning this as urban fantasy with a character who walks the wire between life and death, and constantly suffers from crises of conscience and complex moral dilemmas. With Red serenading them in the background, how can they not be awesome?

8. When I’m Gone by The Click Five

Maybe it starts like this: A famous young detective was on his way to propose to his gf, and he was caught in a freak accident. Or was it just a freak accident? He comes back, but no one, including his girl, can see him. He doesn’t need/want revenge, and though he has some unsolved cases, he’s kind of puzzled as to why he didn’t pass over. And there’s your story – with lots of ghost-solving-mysteries along the way. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this.***
But I want a book where the aforementioned ghost is the hero/POV character. I feel like comic books and movies/tv shows have somewhat explored this (but they’re usually stupidly violent). At any rate, this is my ghost’s anthem.

9. Generation Throwaway by The Used

I am envisioning Les Mis meets Holes meets The Maze Runner.
Led by an uncompromising idealist, a ragtag group of misfits and recreants sets out to save the world, but it’s never that simple. I think I need to write this book already, and dedicate it to everyone else who listened to lots of pop punk/emo/post-hardcore as a teenager.

10. Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon

Who doesn’t want this to be a literal book? The lyrics are nuts. I want to read it. Modern, jaded British werewolves just minding their business in London. (On second thought, I might be the only person who wants to read this)

So there you go: 10 songs that needed to be novels, yesterday.

Would you read any of these if they were books? Have you heard any of these songs/bands? Did you watch any of my videos? Is there a song that you think really, really, needs to be a book? Sound off below 😉

Footnotes:
*Seriously – just look over their lyrics. Novels happening everywhere. This seems to be a defining characteristic of symphonic metal – Xandria, Delain, Epica, Nightwish, Kamelot, Sirenia, I could go on forever but google it and you’ll understand.
**B.A.P is the only Kpop band on this list. But I find that the theatrical, overblown nature of Kpop is more suggestive of characters or themes than complete novels. And it’s very good at that (Case in point – my current infatuation with Bigbang and Kim Junsu‘s stuff)
***Closest thing was the ghost fiance in the Kdrama “Who Are You?” He was epic.

Top Ten Tolkien Tribute for Hobbit Day 2015 (Quotes, Feelings, Fanart, and More!)

 
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
J. R. R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring
(All quotes and images are copyrighted to Tolkien’s estate, unless credited otherwise)
Have you ever heard a beautiful melody or song, forgotten to note it down, and then tirelessly searched for the half-remembered piece? Maybe you find it, or maybe you find other lovely songs that distract you momentarily. But eventually, if you look hard enough, you stumble across that first piece you were looking for, and it’s like losing something and finding something all at once. Because the searching was half of what you were chasing.
Maybe that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s as close as I can come to putting my feelings about The Lord of the Rings (and all of Tolkien’s works), into words. Which is a strange place for a writer to be! But regardless, every time I pick up The Lord of the Rings, it’s like coming home while catching an even worse case of wanderlust. But maybe I should clarify – it isn’t just LOTR that does that to me – I feel the same way every time I come back from a trip to someplace exciting.
You see, I’m a wanderer by nature. I don’t like to sit still, and as much as I love my home and my kitchen, I am endlessly fascinated by the thought of what might be outside my door. And Tolkien understood that feeling, and put it into words, better than I ever have:

“He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien

But a love for wandering isn’t the only writer’s legacy that Tolkien left us. In fact, some of the things that I love best about him are just the things that get him criticized in modern circles. He wrote about the pure and the good, the truly evil, the morally complicated, and he had a deep understanding of the importance of all of those things. In other words, he was quite old-fashioned. And frankly, anyone who says that he had little variation/representation of female characters is only partly right – they’ve obviously never read The Silmarillion.

So to celebrate Hobbit Day (Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday) here are my

Top Ten Favorite Things About Tolkien’s Writing (with quotes and illustrations)

1. Middle Earth

I dare anyone to make it through his books and not be in love with Middle Earth. From Hobbiton to The Lonely Mountain, to Ancient Númenor, Middle Earth is the mythical place I “miss” the most. And I confess that New Zealand is on my top 5 places I must go, because of the movies.

“He is a great enough magician to tap our most common nightmares, daydreams and twilight fancies, but he never invented them either: he found them a place to live, a green alternative to each day’s madness here in a poisoned world. We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers – thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.” ― Peter S. BeagleThe Tolkien Reader

 

2. Elves

People who know me were probably surprised that this isn’t the first one on the list.
http://dalomacchi.deviantart.com/art/Brothers-in-Beleriand-289711180
©2012-2015 daLomacchi Brothers in Beleriand by daLomacchi on Deviantart.com

I want to be an elf. Specifically, one of Tolkien’s elves. Wise, deadly, gracious, elegant, enigmatic – I think you get the point. A little bit of the Celtic fay folk, a little bit of every wise but dangerous counselor in fairy tales, and a dash of danger make Tolkien’s elves THE BEST. Even when parts of The Silmarillion practically had me shouting at them in anger (I’m looking at you, sons of Fëanor!), it was only because I loved them so much.

‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel for they will answer both no and yes.’
‘Is it indeed?’ laughed Gildor. ‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.” The Fellowship of the Ring

3.  Tolkien’s Quiet Wisdom

I’ll let him speak for himself here:

“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” The Hobbit

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” The Fellowship of the Ring

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” The Fellowship of the Ring

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.” The Two Towers

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.” The Two Towers

“But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.” The Return of the King

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.” The Children of Hurin

4. Tolkien’s Love for Language and Words

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lorynbrantz/not-all-those-who-wander-are-lost#.arRMMY0by
Source

See #3 for examples. But what else would you expect from a philologist? The man was in love with language. And I have yet to read anyone who topped him in the invented languages department. It’s more like he rediscovered something forgotten.

And speaking of languages – his translation of Beowulf is splendid (naturally). And if we’re talking poetry and language, look at The Fall of Arthur, or The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun.

And the Tengwar – so gorgeous! Source

5. HOBBITS

I personally think that Freeman is a fabulous Bilbo.
No tribute to Tolkien would be complete without mentioning the small, brave, and simple folk of the Shire. Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippen – they’re wonderful characters, and they have more heart and courage than most. And they really do appreciate the good things in life. I’d like to be an elf, but deep down, I know I’m more of a hobbit. I suspect that goes for all of us!

“Good morning!” he said at last. “We don’t want any adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The Water.” By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.“What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!” said Gandalf. “Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it won’t be good till I move off.” The Hobbit

6. All the Characters

From Tumblr.
I’ve mentioned elves and hobbits, but I haven’t specifically mentioned Faramir, Eowyn, Boromir, Thranduil, Aragorn, Luthien, FINROD, Galadriel, Gandalf, Elrond, Elwing, and I could go on . . . Even the more evil characters (especially in the Silmarillion) are fascinating. And they’re all epic. And epic = good.

7. The Aforementioned Values

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” 

Tolkien had an immense appreciation for all that was great and good in the world: Courage, Honor, Duty, Fidelity. Call me Captain America, but I think we could use some more of it all. And Tolkien’s characters always made me want to be noble, big-hearted, and selfless. There’s a lot to be said for doing your best, being your best, and seeking the best in others.

8. Tolkien’s Love for Nature

Tolkien was a self-proclaimed “tree-advocate.” And all you have to do is read a few chapters of his works to see his love for the natural world. Just contrast the Elves and Orcs, and you’ll see something interesting: Orcs rely on war machines and contraptions, while Elves tend and revere the earth. I don’t know if I was always a nature girl, or if I can blame Professor Tolkien for that too, but it really doesn’t matter. Tolkien was a great advocate of stewardship – of treating Creation with respect instead of taking it for granted. And I don’t know if he really gets enough credit for that.

The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.

9. The Worldbuilding

He is the Master of Worldbuilding. See #1. In fact, I was actually thinking of Tolkien when I named this blog. He’s the worldbuilder I aspire to be like.* Look at 1-8, and you’ll see evidence of this. Middle Earth is so vivid and real that thousands of us are homesick for it.

“Home is behind, the world ahead,And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back and home to bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!”

10. The Heart

I dare you to have dry eyes. One part that the movie did so well.
Again, I think this is pretty obvious from some of the other numbers on this list. But there is love for life, people, culture, history, lore, and all good things in Tolkien’s writing. Don’t believe me? Look at Sam Gamgee.

“Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go” The Return of the King

Honorable Mention: Tolkien’s great appreciation for food. This shouldn’t be undervalued, for sure.

So there you have it: My Top 10 Favorite Tolkien Things! Happy Hobbit Day! (Going to watch Return of the King now)

If you’re a Tolkien fan, what’s your favorite thing about him or his books? Feel free to gush away in the comments (I’ll join you).

Footnotes:
*In case you wondered, the Wordsmith I thought of [when naming my blog] was Shakespeare.

TTT: My Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2015 (So Far)

IMAGE CREDIT

So, once more, I was off having adventures* apart from my computer, and I have neglected my blog. But you just can’t blog and drive. Not yet. But I digress (as usual).

I am nearly always confused about what day it is, but my computer decrees that today is Tuesday, which means it’s time for the Top Ten Tuesday meme with The Broke and the Bookish. If you’d like to participate, click here.

The theme today is Top 10 Favorite Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015. Despite my busy work schedule, writing, and marathon driving, I have actually read a lot of books this year. So this might be hard. But I always try, I do.

MY TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2015 (SO FAR)

1. Both Thorn and Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

You may have read my review of Thorn here (if not, do it, or better yet, just read Thorn,) and if so, you know I loved this book. However, I liked her novella, Sunbolt, even more. Though I haven’t reviewed it here yet, I fully intend to, but you need to know that I liked it even more than Thorn. From the gorgeous prose to the fabulous world building, Khanani is a talent to watch, and her heroines are both strong and realistic. Do yourself a favor and read her books. Now.

“Absolutely. Justice served with a side of pineapple. That’s what I’m here for.”
Intisar Khanani, Sunbolt 

 

 

2. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorite movies, and I really enjoyed this genteel, humorous, and thoughtful look behind the scenes. As a bonus, Elwes really comes off as a gentleman and a thinker, which was nice. From backstage anecdotes to touching tributes, this book is a must read for any Bride aficionado.
And seriously, if all of that background stuff on the “Greatest Swordfight of All Time” didn’t make you pull out your DVD again, I don’t know what will.

“like a good wine without iocane powder, it seems to get better with time.”
Cary Elwes, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

 3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Shakespeare, viruses, aging actors, Michigan locales that I recognized, and so much more made me love this dreamy, nostalgic, and beautifully written novel. It’s basically a literary post-apocalyptic novel with real depth and imagination. The way every little detail ties into the plot gave me a severe case of writer’s envy. This was the first book of Emily St. John Mandel’s that I ever read, and it will not be the last.

“He found he was a man who repented almost everything, regrets crowding in around him like moths to a light. This was actually the main difference between twenty-one and fifty-one, he decided, the sheer volume of regret.”
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

4. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

 I tend to avoid most R-rated movies**, so I never saw the movie, but I did pick up the audiobook for one of my long drives last week.  I had no idea what to expect. However, I was utterly disarmed by Pat’s narrative after only three sentences. Quick’s depiction of mentally “different” characters is spot on, sensitive and never patronizing. From Pat’s endless repetition of certain phrases and ideas, to his obsession with staying fit and Eagles football, I loved every bit of this book. It was so funny, yet so sad, and one of the best contemporary novels I have read in a looooooong time.***

“Life is hard, Pat, and children have to be told how hard life can be.” “Why?” “So they will be sympathetic to others. So they will understand that some people have it harder than they do and that a trip through this world can be a wildly different experience, depending on what chemicals are raging through one’s mind.”
Matthew Quick, The Silver Linings Playbook 

5. Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Another book I recently reviewed, BW:FR was a fun spy novel that featured one of my favorite Avengers.
As an added bonus, my copy is a signed ARC that I got at BookExpo, which made it extra special.

“Natasha Romanoff hated pierogies—but more than that, she hated lies.
Lying she was fine with. Lying was a necessity, a tool of her tradecraft. It was being lied to that she hated, even if it was how she had been raised.
Everything Ivan used to say was a lie.“—Margaret Stohl, Black Widow: Forever Red

 6. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

This was one of those love it or hate it books, I think. Everyone was reading it, there was so much hype, yada yada.

Fortunately, I avoided most of that, and didn’t read any reviews, so I read Red Queen with zero expectations. The fun X-Men vibe and treacherous characters made for good reading, and it was far better than a lot of its fellows.
I really liked that the romance wasn’t the ultimate plot. (Power, betrayal, family, revolution, and all of that interesting stuff supplanted it).****

“It’s our nature. We destroy. It’s the constant of our kind. No matter the color of blood, man will always fall.”
Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen

7. Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson

I met Christie at BookExpo. She was a lovely person who made time to sign my book, even though she was tired and it was ten minutes after her official signing.

Where Women Are Kings was not a “fun” book — but it was a beautiful, compassionate, heart-rending story about a little boy with a tragic past, his troubled Nigerian birth mother, and the English family who just wants to love him.

“Your story begins in Nigeria, which is a place like heaven . . . Nigeria
is brightness and stars, and earth like the skin of your cheeks: brown-red,
soft and warm.” — Christie Watson, Where Women Are Kings

8. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I just wrote a post about my love for Cupid and Psyche/Beauty and the Beast retellings, so I’m sure that this isn’t a surprise. What is surprising is that it took me so long to get around to reading it!
From the romance***** to the world to the writing to the concept, I loved pretty much everything about this book, and I can’t wait to read more of Hodge’s writing.

“Why is he scared of the dark?”

I meant the words for a joke, but Shade nodded seriously. “Like all monsters. Because it reminds him of what he truly is”.”
Rosamund Hodge, Cruel Beauty 

9. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The only thing I really didn’t like about this was the ridiculous swooning woman cover. I was too embarrassed to read it until I found out that it was more like a romantic drama in the world of The Thief.

 Honestly, what’s with the ball gowns in a world based on Ancient Greece and Rome? Naturally, since it’s on my list, I really liked it anyhow. It was fluffy but not stupid, romantic but not soppy, and I enjoyed the worldbuilding.

 “She saw, yet again, that her friend’s compliments were just bits of art and artifice. They were paper swans, cunningly folded so that they could float on the air for a few moments. Nothing more.”
Marie Rutkoski, The Winner’s Curse 

 However, nothing prepared me for how epically horrible the sequel’s cover would be.


Just LOOK AT THIS FOR A MINUTE———–>

YOU DON’T/CAN’T HOLD A SWORD LIKE THAT, WOMAN!!!

 I won’t be able to read this one for awhile, no doubt.

10. William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher

I love both Shakespeare and Star Wars, so obviously this silly series is a hit with me. It’s hilarious and brilliant, and I have loved every installment. I can’t wait for the Attack of the Clones one, I’m anticipating more side-splitting humor of this variety:

“QUI-GON: I know not who you are or what you want, Yet I do have skills most particular, Acquir’d throughout a Jedi’s long career. These skills do make me nightmarish to such As you. Surrender now, and you shall live— If not, you shall be dead, and there’s an end.
MAUL: I’ll not be taken by you, man naïve; Your feeble skills are naught when match’d to mine. This is the moment I have longèd for: Two Jedi to assuage mine appetite.”
Ian Doescher, William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First

Footnotes:
*I drove up and down the country 4 times. Parts were fun, parts were dreary, but I felt like a trucker.
**I can easily count the R-rated films I’ve seen. Most of them just weren’t good enough to be worthwhile, but this is a matter of opinion. For the record, Slumdog Millionaire and The Fall were two of the worthwhile ones.
***The language is foul, often coarse or crass, and there is a lot of cursing. Just an FYI. 
****I swear I’m not anti-romance, really. I just get tired of it (especially the shallow faux-love in YA novels), and want exciting swashbuckling things to happen.
*****See, this book is basically a romance, and I loved it. Point. Proven.