Monday, October 31, 2016

Review: Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schroder

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she's ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don't deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigans Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.

Rating: 3 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a hard review to write because the book was one that I really wanted to like, but I had some difficulties with it that in the end lessened my enjoyment of the overall story.

This book was asking a lot, both of itself and the audience. There are a lot of things going on in this book in a short amount of time: Wren is grieving for her father; her mother is seemingly losing it because she isn't dealing with the grief, she's running away from it; Wren is being bullied and peer pressured, all while being 12 years old so there's puberty to contend with.

For a middle grade book, I'll agree that these are important topics, but I felt at times like Wren had things stacked against her rather more than the average reader is going to want to contend with. Maybe that would've worked out if the writing had matched the load of emotional baggage, but I felt like there was a disconnect at some point between the two that made the story line lag and fail where it might have pulled through. It might not help that this was a rather short book, so there wasn't much time to resolve things (240 pages in the hardcover edition).

It's an alright book, but I wouldn't say there was anything in the treatment of Wren's difficulties or the writing style itself that lent this book any particular shine.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2017 Reading Challenges TBR

I'm looking forward to this already. 2016 was not the best year for readathons and I'm not entirely sure that 2017 will be much better, but I have to start somewhere and that somewhere is going to be the Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2017. As a book blogger, not a bookTuber, the video challenges are exciting but not so much for me, but the reading challenges went up today and I wanted to make a TBR right away because why the heck not?

Challenge One: Read the Group Book

I've actually got this out from the library right now, but I won't have time to really give it a go before it has to go back, so I won't actually start it. Hopefully I'll pick up my own copy sometime between now and the bibliothon, or I can always request it again.

Challenge Two: Throwback - Pick any past Bibliothon Reading Challenge

Read a book with your favorite mythical character

In my case, that would be mermaids. I love all the stories about mermaids as a child and would often pretend I was one. I think that was the only reason I joined the swim team in high school. I love swimming, but dear god did I hate doing it competitively, so major oops on that end.

This book has been on my shelf for ages, so I'd like to finally get to it and see if it's worth it. There are a few books in the series by now, so if I really like it I can pick up the rest.

Challenge Three: Read a 2016 New Release

I've had this one on my shelf since it came out and I'm annoyed that it's taken me this long to get around to it. It might be a good one to read in the middle of winter, though. I don't really care for the heat, but the middle of January in New Jersey can get a bit bleak so this sounds like the ticket for a cheer up.

Challenge Four: Read a book a BookTuber recommends to you

Thank you to MissSassieKassie for this recommendation. I think I tried it once and it wasn't for me, but it's been awhile so why not give it another shot?

Challenge Five: Read a book you were really excited for but never picked up

This is supposed to be a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling. That is one of my favorite stories of all time, so of course I was excited when I heard about it. I just never really got around to reading it, even though I own it and the sequel. 

Challenge Six: Read a retelling

I'm 90% sure this is going to be in a subscription box I get for November, so I'll try to save it for the bibliothon. :)

Challenge Seven: Read a diverse book

I'd meant to read this for a past readathon, but didn't make it so I'll put it here and hopefully check it out. The premise sounds really unique and interesting, so I might even go "out of order" and do challenge seven first!

So there you have my intended books for the Winter Biannual Bibliothon. If you want to check it out, the reading challenge video is here and the video challenge video is here. It's always a lot of fun to watch the videos, even if I don't make any. The New Year should be fun!

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween Book Tag

It's almost Halloween and what better tag to do the Friday before than the Halloween Book Tag? This tag was created by Naomi the Book Lover (Happy Birthday to her - lucky to have a birthday on Halloween!), but I saw this tag on Jesse the Reader's channel. Check out both videos because they've both got some great books as the answers.

Carving Pumpkins:
What book would you carve up and light on fire?

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews had a lot of buzz going for it around the time I picked it up. It sounded like something I would've liked regardless, so I bought a paperback copy and started reading. I kept reading even though all the signs were there that it was not going to be a good read; I was hoping it would get better. Spoiler alert: it didn't. It was a horrible book. Nothing f'ing happened, the characters were a disappointment, and I wouldn't mind carving this one up for the Halloween pyre.

Trick or Treat:
What character is a treat, what character is a trick?

Treat: Iko from Cinder by Marissa Meyer is definitely a treat for me. She's always got a quip ready and I can't think of a time when she's down (I haven't finished the series quite yet).

Trick: The Darkling in Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo was a trick of the highest order. Okay, maybe some people saw his betrayal coming, but I was really hoping for it not to be true. Up until the last quarter of the book, really, I was hoping that things would turn out to be a horrible misunderstanding, his mother would be a terrible liar, something like that. Nope, he's just a jerk who wants to murder and take over the world. Damn it.

Candy Corn:
What book is always sweet?

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya is always good for a sweet time. Sure there are a few tough time to get through, issues that need to be discussed, but overall there's a lot that makes up for that stuff.

What character would you love to visit you as a ghost?

Marco and Celia from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern are interesting magicians. One was born with an enormous amount of talent, one was taught magic. Through their trials they end up creating something amazing, fall in love, but also die (sort of?). I'd love to visit with them as ghosts because hopefully they'd be in a teaching mood and could pass on some of what they learned in their short lives.

Dressing Up in Costume:
What character would you want to be for a day?

Lada Dragwyla from And I Darken by Kiersten White might be a bit much for some people, but if I'm only going to be this character for a day, it might as well be someone that's the complete opposite of my personality. Lada's so strong, so forceful; she doesn't take any crap from anyone and that's awesome.

Wizards and Witches:
What is your favorite Harry Potter moment?

I don't know that I'd say there's one specific moment in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling that's my favorite, even though it is my favorite book, it's more a couple things that happen. While Harry has been accepted by this point as an honorary Weasley, this is the first book when he meets members of what would have been his family had his parents lived: his uncles Remus and Sirius. He doesn't get much time with either of them when he has this knowledge, and in fact spends most of the book thinking Sirius is a murderer, but it's still a monumental occasion in the series.

Blood and Gore:
What book was so creepy that you had to take a break from it for awhile?

Misery by Stephen King isn't really bloody or gorey except for a couple of scenes, but it had a spectacular creep factor that made it difficult to read it in one straight shot. I'd get this weird feeling in my stomach or goosebumps like something was watching me out of the corner of my eye. That's when I knew it was time for a happy read for awhile.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Spooky Settings

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Thoughts on Tomes, created by Gingerreadslainey. Check out the Goodreads group here.

Halloween is almost here (YES!) and to celebrate it, this week's Top 5 Wednesday is all about my favorite spooky settings. These are going to be a mix of settings that I've read already and thought were fantastically creepy and ones that I'm looking forward to reading, whether I've heard about them from someone else or whether I've seen the movie version and now want to read the source material.

5. Fangorn Forest, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein

I've been meaning to get to Lord of the Rings forever. The movies are old favorites and I can only imagine how much more amazing the book is. Fangorn Forest first appears in the second movie in the trilogy, The Two Towers, and the lighting and music set a very eerie tone. I look forward to reading this volume of the book to see if it is the same on the page.

4. Cabeswater, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

There are little pockets of Cabeswater that are creepy, but I don't think that most people would call it creepy as a whole. The thing that creeps me out the most about it is the seasons changing as Blue and company journey through it, all in the span of an hour or less. That sort of pacing would get my senses up, definitely ramp up the paranoia, because obviously that is not normal and how do you fight against something like that?

3. Castle Gloom, Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan

Castle Gloom is the one of the best castle environments I've ever read in middle grade literature. It's got all manner of dark creatures being mentioned, the threat of undead, dark passageways, and more. Let's not forget, sequestered away, the GIANT BAT. :D

2. The Forest, The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Forest in this book was so freaky. You think you're getting into a nice retelling of your favorite fairy tales, you think you'll run into some nice woodland creatures? NOPE! Everything is off in one way or another. It's the not knowing and the thinking you do know that creeps me out. It keeps you from being able to keep your feet and in a weird situation, that's the best you can usually hope for. What do you have if not that?

1. New Hampshire College Prep, Asylum by Madeleine Roux

I haven't finished this book yet, but let me tell you why it ranks so high. It's take place in a former insane asylum. It's chock full of old photos that really set you into the setting. GHOSTS, MAN! This is not a book I'm going to read at night, let me tell you. I have a think about insane asylums. I will read them, but I tend to have a weird feeling about doing it at night. Something about the darkness makes it feel like these places could be even more real than simple ink on the page and midnight is the last time I want to feel vulnerable.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Stephen King Novels On My TBR

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme that is brought to us by The Broke & the Bookish. Check out the topic list here.

This week's Top 10 Tuesday is a Halloween themed freebie. When I think of Halloween, I think horror. When I think horror and fiction, I first think of the master of horror, Stephen King. I haven't read as many of his books as I'd like because I usually need a recovery period after reading one; he's very good at getting into your head and under your skin. I do want to read more, though, so to celebrate Halloween, I'm sharing with you the Top 10 Stephen King Novels On My TBR.

10. 11/22/63

I'm not entirely sure this is one of his more horror-y books; oh well. I picked this paperback up and though it sounded interesting. There's some kind of time travel involved, always a plus, and I've become more interested in our history lately, so it being centered around the day that JFK was assassinated adds some interest. I wonder what Stephen King's going to have to say about time travel?

9. Firestarter

A pyrokinetic child? Oh boy. This will either be really interesting or really bad (as in all adults better run their asses off and leave some cake behind for that kid or else they're toast!).

8. Cell

Cell is probably the most likely scenario out of any that King has written and that should scare the hell out of anyone. I'm anxious to read this one and see where the premise goes: a zombie horde created by a signal delivered via cell phone? Knowing how many cell phones are out there, we'd be doomed very quickly.

7. Cujo

Puppy! ;_; I already think I know what's coming, so there's definitely some trepidation towards this title. Am I going to still love dogs as much as I do now after reading this book? I've heard that yes, so that makes me feel better, but I still have the feeling that I shouldn't read this while around any, similar to how I probably shouldn't have watched a certain movie under similar circumstances (see my entry for Pet Semetary).

6. Christine

I've long had the sneaking suspicion that I would die in some sort of car accident, whether it was my fault or someone else's. Christine, therefore, holds a certain amount of terror for me before I even turn to page one. A killer car? Yikes. Hopefully reading the book will help me confront some of my distrust of motorvehicles.

5. Under the Dome

Big books need love and boy is this a big book. I think it is the biggest of all King books. It's also one of the ones that scares me on a more personal level. While the dome is presumably quite large so as to encompass a small town, the thought of being trapped there brings up feelings of claustrophobia and I think I'd end up going mad before long if I were stuck there, supernatural forces or no.

4. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

I've heard that this is a classic among King fans and now that there's a television/movie production coming out with Idris Elba in it <3, it's been moved up higher on the TBR. 

3. It

Any time I ask someone to recommend a Stephen King novel, this is one of the ones they mention. I'm a bit hesitant to read it at the moment because of all the clown nonsense going on in the US, especially since it has been creeping closer to my hometown. It is on the list, but cautiously.

2. Pet Semetary

I made two mistakes when I watched this movie: 1) I watched it around 2 a.m. in the morning, which in and of itself wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for 2) I watched it when my son was around the same age as the child in film. Not having known what the film was all about, that was a BIG oops!

However, I do still want to read the book because the story was really good at getting me into a sufficiently freaked out mood and that's a horror movie/book's job, right?

1. The Shining

I have seen the Stanley Kubrick movie and loved it. It was satisfyingly scary and a real treat to watch after dark. I'm particularly interested in reading the book because I have heard that there was a lot of controversy regarding the execution of this adaptation, certain changes that were made, that sort of thing. Being able to read the original source material should prove interesting, to say the least. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer

In Remember to Forget from Watty Award-winning author Ashley Royer, Levi has refused to speak since the tragic death of his girlfriend, Delia, and can't seem to come out of his depression and hindering self-doubt. Desperate to make some positive change in Levi’s life, his mother sends him to live with his father in Maine. Though the idea of moving from Australia to America seems completely daunting, Levi passively accepts his fate, but once he lands faces personal struggles and self-doubt at the same time he and his dad battle through resentment and misunderstanding. And then, while at therapy, Levi meets Delilah, a girl who eerily reminds him of someone he lost.

Rating: 1 Star

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In the beginning of the book, Levi is an annoying little shit. His attitude is terrible and I won't give him a pass because he's grieving. I understand grief, I understand depression, and I don't know if it's because he was a horrible person or whether the writing was overdone to portray his depression, but he was a jerk to the people around him and manipulative towards his father. One moment that stands out as especially petty was in the airport when he made it seem like he needed help only to his father off. It was rude, plain and simple. And I'm sorry, but what teenager doesn't realize that countries have different currency? Clearly you can't use Australian dollars in an American restaurant. These events made him very unsympathetic and for an unhappy reading experience. If you're going to have this sort of downswing in action, at least try not to have it happen in the first ten percent of the book. It makes it so difficult to want to carry on.

Something that bothered me with Levi and his therapist Candace was Candace allowing Delilah to be in the room at the same time she was in session with Levi. That's a big problem in a few respects: privacy, patient confidentiality, common sense. All so Delilah could find a file for her? No, I'm sorry, no therapist worth their salt is going to have an unauthorized person in session with their client like that and if they did, then they're a horrible therapist. She's discussing his issues, his medications, everything in front of this stranger. What is wrong with you, Candace? And yes, I'm quite sure she's in the same room because she is able to see what Levi is writing on his whiteboard; Candace does not repeat it out loud. That whole scene made me angry.

Going on toward the half way point of the book, I was still having a hard time finding any way to feel sympathetic toward Levi. He was written as a perfect jerk towards those around him and while I might agree that those in the throws of depression and grief can push away those that are close to them, the narrative didn't feel like that. It felt like an ordinary seventeen year old boy being a complete jerk.

Even when he sort of stopped being a jerk, his personality didn't get better, it simply flat lined. The storytelling did too, for that matter. From 45% onward, there story fell into neutral territory. The story was boring, the characters became flat; there wasn't anything that made me really want to continue. I ended up breezing through the rest of the book so that I would be able to find out the ending and give a fair opinion of the second half of the book.

There just didn't seem to be a point. There wasn't any "action" from the midway point onward that made reading it interesting, no big resolution that signaled the end of the story. Things just went along and then stopped.

I noticed that this was an expanded version of the original Wattpad story and I can't say that it seems to have been a good idea. There was a lot of padding that could have been avoiding with some good editing. There was an opportunity here to tell a story about teenage grief and depression, along with the contrast of having to move between countries in the midst of all that, but the opportunity and the story went unfulfilled, leaving this reader with a one star book.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Monthly Recommendations: Monster Mash

Monthly Recommendations is a monthly meme created by Kayla Rayne and Trina. Each month features a different topic for us to recommend our favorite books for that month. Please stop by the Goodreads group to share your recommendations, check out other links, etc.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I've always loved books about paranormal creatures and this time of the year is when they get more popular and there seems to be a bigger crowd to talk about with about my favorites. It's also the best time to get new favorites, what with publishing companies releasing especially creepy book seasonally.

Below are some of my favorite books with paranormal creatures, whether they be vampires, ghouls, Frankenstein creatures, etc. Please let me know if you've read any of these, what you thought of them, or if you've got any recommendations of your own.

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Creature: Frankenstein

I had the pleasure of meeting Mackenzi Lee at a book event a few months ago and had the chance to speak with her about her book. Her passion for the Frankenstein mythology was catching and encouraged me to add this to the top of my TBR pile. It's a good story whether you've read the original Frankenstein story or not.

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake#1) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book Creatures: Vampires, Zombies

Series Creatures: Vampires, Zombies, Were-animals, Ghouls, Fey, etc.

This is the first book in one of my favorite series. I'm a few books behind now that it's at 25 books, but it has almost every kind of paranormal creature you can think of, too many to list here. Guilty Pleasures starts out fairly slow with zombies and vampires, but you get introduced to more creatures fairly quickly. Book #2, The Laughing Corpse, has a Lamia if I remember correctly.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Creatures: Walker, werewolves, gremlin, vampires

Mercy Thompson, the main character of this series, is a walker and a total badass. She's a strong character both physically and in temperament. There are more creatures that come into play eventually, but her finding out more about her heritage as a walker and dealing with her werewolf neighbor are two of the biggest plot points in the series.

Demon in My View (Den of Shadows #2) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Creatures: Vampires, witches

The Den of Shadows series was one of my favorite series as a teenager, but none of them more so than Demon in My View. The main character is an author that writes about vampires and would love nothing more than to become one of the creatures she writes about because she feels so out of place in the human world. What she doesn't know is that the characters in her novels are all real and they've started to take notice of this. 

You can read this book on it's own, I think, but there are a couple of characters that show up from the first book, In the Forests of the Night, that might be of interest when the pop up here.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, October 21, 2016

If You Like This Book, Try This One!

I read a wide variety of books, but for the last year or so my favored genres has been middle grade and young adult fiction (and all the sub-genres that come with them!). I've noticed a few books that I think might have a cross audience and wanted to share them with you today.

If You Liked...

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

...You Might Like...

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Both books deal with magicians involved in duels that have their very lives on the line, but each has something that is incredibly special and each has an atmosphere that brings the story to life in a different way. The Crown's Game is set in Imperial Russia and the visuals are very well written; The Night Circus brings the reader right into the story itself and makes you feel like a part of the story with chapter breaks written like it's for you. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in these worlds, but I wouldn't mind giving it a try.

If You Liked...

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

...You Might Like...

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I know there have been a lot of blurbs written about The Magicians that liken it to an adult Harry Potter, but once you get past the college for magic students, it really isn't. The story has a lot more in common with The Chronicles of Narnia: a magic land that is accessed by a wardrobe (CoN) / grandfather clock (TM), you can only go when IT (the land) thinks you're ready. There are lots of little similarities, but there's also the adventure that these groups of "kids" go through. The Magicians is a trilogy that is admittedly darker than The Chronicles of Narnia, but it's a step up for those of us that have grown up loving the thought of stepping through a door in our world and finding ourselves in Narnia or Fillory, as Quinn and his friends do (eventually).

If You Liked...

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

...You Might Like...

Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout

I love books about kids that are smart, but even more I love books about kids that are super smart. In The Mysterious Benedict Society you meet a group of kids that are really intelligent both in the traditional book sense and in the more practical, hands-on sense. They are gathered together to take on a villain that their mentor can't take down and isn't that awesome, when the kids triumph even when the adults think they can't?

Genius: The Game is the first book in a new series that is the YA answer to The Mysterious Benedict Society. The teens in this book are a bit older and they definitely are more high tech. There's hacking, tech speak galore, and a mastermind that befits a thriller of the genre. It's a little more intense and not as humorous as The Mysterious Benedict Society, but still worth the read.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: Wonder Women by Sam Maggs

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

Rating: 4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

There were few people in this book that I had heard of before I picked it up. Ada Lovelace? Sure. She's one of the earliest computer programmers. Other than that, no one sounded familiar and that is a crying shame. All of the women in this book did such amazing and mind bending things, but did not get the recognition they deserved.

Sam Maggs, author of The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy, did her best to bring attention to a wide range of women whose accomplishments were largely unrecognized in their time due to their gender and continue to be less recognized than their male counterparts. Maggs pulls from a variety of fields for this work, most notably the sciences (chemistry & physics). Her enthusiasm for shining the spotlight on these people is catching and I think that Wonder Women is a good introductory work.

The book is simply too short to go in-depth on these women and their works to get more than a superficial understanding of how imposing of them are. Some are obvious (Marie Curie and radiation, Rosalind Franklin and DNA), but other women mentioned are gone over so quickly I don't actually know what they've done to merit a spot in the book. Case in point: Marie M. Daly was the first Black American woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry. Aside from a few paragraphs explaining that she went through school well and quickly, you don't know what she did in her field. Did she make any discoveries? Make any advancements in her field?

If you're looking for a good source for women in S.T.E.M. fields that need more recognition, this is a book that is an easily accessible stepping stone into that journey. There's also chapters on women involved in espionage, adventure, and innovation. From medicine to rocket science to mountaineers, there's something for everyone and I'm implore you to not only read this book, but look more into the lives and works of the women mentioned. They deserve that much.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Literary Names I'd Give a Child

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme that is brought to us by The Broke & the Bookish. Check out the topic list here

When my husband and I found out we were going to have a baby, we of course went over all the literary names that were up for possible child names. There were a ton as we didn't know 1) whether it was a boy or a girl, and 2) whether we'd have more children, so how many middle names can we feasibly give this kid?

Obviously there are only just so many names you can give a kid (I am not Sookie from Gilmore Girls with her second kid - I think Martha had six or seven names by the end!), so there are some spares and I'll point out which ones we did and did not use. :)

10. Coraline (Coraline)

When I first found out I was pregnant, I was obsessed with this book and with the movie. Both are excellent and good for re-reads, re-watches, etc. Because I was so into it at the time was the reason why Coraline was bandied about as a possible name for a daughter and for awhile there it was a front runner, but after awhile the charm off and something else took the top spot (which we still ended up not using because hey, boy child).

Would we ever consider if for another child? Maybe, but since we didn't get to use our first choice of a girl's name, Coraline probably won't be moving up the list.

9. Charlotte

Charlotte was a brilliant character. Her ending was quite sad, but she never let the inevitable get her down or stand in her way of saving Wilbur. I think that showed a lot of courage and intelligence. It would be a good name for a girl, plus it's the name of my favorite aunt. It's a great name, plus I really like that it has Charlie as a nickname.

8. Lucy

Lucy had the adventures that we can only dream of: finding a door to a magical land, making friends with fantastical creatures, and saving the world from a terrible evil. If that Lucy were the only one then the name might carry too much weight, but it's common enough that it won't and it still retains it's literary roots. 

7. Emmeline 

This name wasn't one of the major characters and, to be honest, you might have over looked it. Emmeline Vance was a member of the Order of the Phoenix not once but twice. Quite the accomplished witch. I'm not sure what it was about this name that made it stick in my head, but Emmeline is a nice name that I've considered strongly for a daughter's first name. It's good on it's own, but it also has the possibility of a nickname (Emma).

6. Perenelle

I don't remember much about this series. I read it awhile ago, but it's basically about Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle. They're immortal and living in present day San Francisco when one day John Dee catches up to them and wants the secret book they have that contains the secret to immortality.

There are a lot of different characters in here that are awesome like Scathach, St. Germain, and Joan of Arc, but Perenelle was pretty badass from what I remember. Her name was on the list as a middle name for a daughter.

5. Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)

A wise, badass wizard that starts some trouble, but comes out (more or less) alright? Gandalf is one of my favorite characters and he definitely made the list of potential kids names, though it was a middle name.

4. Westley (The Princess Bride)

I've got a soft spot in my heart for literary characters that start from the bottom and work their way to the top, even better if they fight their way there when no one thinks they can do it. Westley was a perfect example of this. He was a farm boy that wanted to do better for his true love, so he set off to find his fortune. Granted he ran into some pirate trouble, but did he let that stop him? Hell no! He became the most feared pirate in the world, went home, saved his true love even when he thought she didn't love him anymore, ended up mostly dead, came back from the mostly dead state of things (thanks to some kick ass friends), and ended things pretty happily (the ending's a bit open ended on purpose - thanks Mr. Goldman).

So, yeah, pretty admirable guy here. This is the name that's at the top of the list for a second born son in our family.

3. Helena (MirrorMask)

Helena is like a grittier, modern day version of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Her story, which I first saw as a film, was definitely mind-bending, but she had a tenacity about her that I much admired. She had a lot of talents, too, that I would hope for in a daughter: athletic, intelligent, artistic. This would've been our first choice for a girl's first name.

2. Albus (Harry Potter series)

Albus Dumbledore may have done a lot of stupid things in his life, but for the majority of it he was a brilliant wizard that fought against tyranny in government, the greatest dark wizard of his age, and his own personal demons. He was one of the few Harry Potter characters that I wanted to name a child after and, while we didn't think Albus would be a great first name, it did become our son's first middle name. Here's to you, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (maybe these two have more in common that I thought #longarsename).

1. Tristan/Tristran (Stardust)

There's a little explaining to do here. First things first, I have yet to finish reading Stardust, my husband has. In the book the hero's name is Tristran (notice the extra R there). We have both seen the movie, though, and loved it. In the film the hero's name is Tristan (minus the extra R - apparently the production thought it would be difficult for audiences to hear/say). We loved this hero so much in the film and agreed that he was a good hero in the book (heavy input for my husband there), we decided to name our son Tristan (because it would be easier for a kid to say the name without the extra R).

Side note: he's five now and, hindsight being what it is, we wish we'd gone with Tristran instead because we slip up all the time. Oh well.