Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Villains

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

Villains used to be a character to be hated, someone that the main character had to triumph over and that was it. However, in recent years, I've begun noticing more well developed villains in literature, both newly written ones and ones that I've finally read about from older titles. They're much more interesting now and I've got a few favorites that I like reading about.

5. The Queen of Hearts, Alice in Wonderland

The Queen of Hearts is amazing in her insanity and nonsense. While the depiction of her in the Disney movie is more of a combination of the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen, thus given her some mellow moments, the Queen from the book is a host of immense fury, liable to fly off the handle at the slightest offense. She is an unapologetic villain and doesn't let anyone or anything get in her way, even if that means sentencing them to beheading. Evil through and through, she was comical in her actions (what evil dictator plays croquet?) and plays her part of villain well.

4. Gestalt, The Rook

Gestalt is a very creepy villain because they're both one villain and four separate villains at one time. Confused? Well, this is a supernatural novel and there are several powers that one might have. Not everyone hast them, but of those that two, "one" is Gestalt: a single soul that is spread over four bodies. Quadruplets, if you will. One woman and three men that move independently but share a hive mind and you can see it when you look into their eyes.

There are quite a few events involving their unique situation that come into play regarding the main story line, but saying anymore would definitely qualify as spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that if you look into one person's eyes and feel the weight of four looking back, it's at a minimum disconcerting. You really have no idea what Gestalt is capable of until you read The Rook.

3. The Darkling, Shadow and Bone

The Darkling was a mysterious one. I thought that he was an anti-hero at first, but not necessarily bad. He turned out to be very good at keeping his true evil hidden, though, and how he acted up until then had me convinced that maybe his mother was lying. Maybe he really was a good guy? Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding? No, he is just that good at being bad.

2. Jadis, The Chronicles of Narnia

She never seems to go away. Jadis is quite adept at manipulation, as seen when she gets Edmund to betray his siblings. I thought she was especially terrifying in The Magician's Nephew. During her first appearance, we find out more about her origins, what she'd have been like if she was in our world, and just how terrified she was of Narnia in the beginning (with good reason!). Tilda Swinton portrayed her very well in the Narnia films and was my favorite of all the times I've seen the White Witch in a film.

1. Nothing, The Neverending Story

The Nothing is the most terrifying monster of all, and my favorite, because it is symbolically the most realistic one. The Nothing in Fantastica represents the lost of imagination and without imagination, that world is nothing. It rings true in our world today, when quite a lot of the time children are told to stop dreaming and to grow up quick as they can. That is a horrid fate because if you don't have imagination, you're barely able to cope with the depressing aspects of this world, whichever you may come into contact with (and I do hope they're few).

The Nothing doesn't look scary, precisely, but it is a big, gaping emptiness and looking into it, I imagine, would feel like having your anxiety, depression, your saddest thoughts of all, eating at you from the inside out and going on to consume everything around you.

It is both the most frightening and my favorite villain on this list because I think the author managed to encapsulate something so human in a fictional character, but he also showed that it was possible to push it back. Bastian manages this through his journey of reading The Neverending Story and believing in himself and the book. It's such a little thing, but it's power was more immense that anyone could have realized.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 YA Books to Preorder for the Holidays

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

Sometimes it is really hard to know what to buy for the book lover in your life. I know, I know, we say books are what we want, but there are so many to choose from, how will you know where to start? I'm going to help you out a little with a list of the Top 10 books I think you should preorder for the Young Adult Book Lover in your life.

Preorders are an amazing thing. Not only does that take a bit of worry off our minds, if you submit the receipt for us, we can also benefit from the preorder gifts for our favorite titles.

Windwitch (The Witchlands #2)
Release Date: 10 January 2017)
US Preorder Bonus Here

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1)
Release Date: 10 January 2017
Amazon  -  Google Play  -  Kobo
Preorder Bonus Link Here

History Is All You Left Me
Release Date: 17 January 2017

King's Cage (Red Queen #3)
Release Date: 7 February 2017

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)
Release Date: 21 February 2017

The Hate U Give 
Release Date: 28 February 2017

Perfect ( Flawed #2)
Release Date: 4 April 2017

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)
Release Date: 2 May 2017

The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2)
Release Date: 17 May 2017

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)
Release Date: 13 June 2017)

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Beauty and the Beast Tag

Beauty and the Beast is, hands down, my favorite Disney movie and has been ever since I saw it as a child. I relate to Belle a lot, wanting to move away from her small town and see the world, not to mention her being a bookworm. When I discovered there was a book tag, I thought I'd do it so there'd be one bright spot today as this post will be live on Black Friday in the US.

I saw this tag originally on The Bibliophile Girl written by Kirsty. The creator of this tag is another blogger, also called Kirsty,  and she writes at Kirsty and the Cat Read

‘Tale as Old as Time’
A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading.

It's overused, I know, but I don't mind so much the trope of the Chosen One. As long as it's done well, I mean, it's still an exciting device to use and has been for hundreds of years. You've got the classic Greek heroes to more modern examples like Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, and countless young adult heroines.

A book you bought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too.

All of Brian Selznick's books are beautiful, but this was my first. The cover is beautiful, especially with the clockwork detail beneath the title, but it's defining beauty is when you look between the covers. It's a combination of the written word and the illustrations within telling the story of an orphan boy living in a Paris train station, keeping all of the clocks working, that make the magic come to life.

A book you didn’t expect much from but pleasantly surprised you

I received this book as a part of my OwlCrate subscription last year and only got around to reading it this year. At the time that I received it, I think that I looked at it and thought that it wasn't something I would have picked up myself, so I wasn't sure what I was going to think about it.

I was very happy when I did finally read it because it turned out to be a four star read and one of my favorite reads of the year. There was a lot of emotion in it and the plot twist near the end was so heartbreaking that I actually found myself in tears. While that doesn't sound like a good thing, it really is and I'm hoping to share it with as many people as possible now.

A book everyone loves but you don’t

I see this graphic novel get recommended a lot and I know it is well liked. My husband has read the first few volumes and likes it a lot. I read the first volume but I just could not get into it. The art is done nicely enough, but the story felt sluggish and boring.

A loyal sidekick you can’t help but love more than their counterpart

Samwise Gamgee never got near enough credit in Lord of the Rings. He carries Frodo through most of the journey, emotionally, figuratively, literally at the end. He's a supportive figure and does what he can for Frodo, even when he sees Frodo veering toward a dark place (i.e. when Smeagol shows up).

'Mrs. Potts, Chip, LumiƩr, and Cogsworth'
 A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable

The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati taught me something valuable, in that it is possible for fiction to get a mental illness portrayal correct for once. A lot of the time the author either gets the facts completely wrong or over exaggerates a facet of the illness to the point of absurdity and offense. Ms. Fortunati, while writing about a difficult topic (bipolar disorder), showed me that she cared and that there was someone out there was strove to get it right.

‘Something There’
A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end

The first time I tried to read A Series of Unfortunate Events I remember disliking it a great deal, but I tried again this year and have so far been enjoying each volume more than the next. I think the humor was lost on me as a child. I've gotten a bit more expansive as I've gotten older in terms of what I find funny. Dry humor is much more pleasing to me, for example, so bring on the rest of the Unfortunate Events.

‘Be Our Guest’ 
A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner.

There are so many to choose from, but the first one that comes to mind is Albus Dumbledore at Christmas Dinner. Any time I read about him at Christmas Dinner with the Hogwarts students, he always sounded like a fun person. There were times when he was at the head table, but in Year Three he sat at the small table with everyone and made them all feel welcome. For all the problems I had with him regarding Harry over the years, he does know how to treat his guests at the holidays.

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

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Harry Potter Thursday: Would you rather break into Gringotts or the Ministry of Magic?

Harry Potter Thursday is a weekly meme created by Uncorked Thoughts.

This week's question was a no brainer for me. I would much rather break into:

There are so many reasons, but most of them boil down to the fact that it's much easier and I'm much more likely to escape this endeavor with my life and my skin.

I mean, really, would you want to mess with a Gringotts Goblin?

The bank, besides being the more intimidating of two, warns you right on the front door what's going to happen if you even attempt to break in:

Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there.

Every single person that ever speaks about this prior to the Golden Trio actually succeeding in getting into Bellatrix's vault says you'd be mad to try and rob it. Not only is it protected by goblins and the Ukrainian Ironbelly, but there are scores of enchantments protecting it, not to mention the sheer size of the underground labyrinth containing all the vaults. How would you ever find your way out again even if you did manage to get what you were after?

The Ministry, on the other hand, sounds like a much safer bet and I think it would be a lot easier to. Wizards don't seem to put as much stock in certain security measures like Muggles do, so there would be way around things (ever heard of picking locks?). 

There are multiple points of entry, so even if someone did catch onto you, you'd be able to plan a backup escape route. There's the fireplaces, the visitor's entrances, the toilets (not ideal, but there you go), etc.

It would be super easy to blend in as well, as long as you've got your cover story ready. While there might be a wide variety of magical creatures allowed into the Ministry, the vast majority are human and with the amount of people working there, you'd have a bit of leeway, being a new face. Pick an obscure department, if possible, maybe even the Department of Mysteries? No one knows anything that goes on down there, so it would probably be a good course.

Now, here's the next important question, outside of which is the safer bet: why would you break into the Ministry of Magic in the first place?

Well, there's a lot of choices. You could be a spy, looking for a scroll on the latest law being passed. It's got to be written down somewhere and while there might be a magical way to look at something, that would be guarded against. Someone looking at the hard copy, though? Much less likely and you'd have a better rate of success.

If you're trying to steal something, whatever it might be, the Ministry probably doesn't have the curses and such on it that Gringotts does. It doesn't exactly post it on the entrance, does it? What would one be stealing from the Ministry, you might ask? I'm not sure, but let's see. There are things that were confiscated in raids on Wizard homes. There's prototypes of items being developed. There's any number of magical items that the other Wizards working there might be carrying on them at any given time. 

The possibilities are endless, aren't they? I'd be much more comfortable breaking into the Ministry than Gringotts, though I wouldn't mind having Hermione along for the ride. She's got the experience of having done this before and that can't hurt our chances, can it?

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to Re-Read

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

I love to re-read books, even when I'm being threatened by my over enormous TBR pile. That is the ultimate compliment to be paid a book, I think, That you would spend your time and energy revisiting that story means that there was something special about it. The author clearly did something right in that case.

This week I'll share with you five books that I want to re-read in particular (leaving out, of course, Harry Potter, because otherwise I'd be here all day talking about them, but YES, I will always re-read HP).

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I first read this book before I ever visited the Strand, where a great deal of the action takes place. Having since visited it, I want to re-read this story and be able to accurately picture all the things that these characters do as they engage in dare after dare. I love how well Rachel and David write together and I look forward to not only re-reading this book, but to getting my hands on the sequel as well.

The Art of Asking, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer is an amazing person in a lot of ways. She's smart, brave, fearless. When things do get to her, she doesn't sugar coat them. Her honesty is brutal and I think that's something that is sorely needed sometimes. She doesn't glamorize her life. Instead she uses her experience as a teaching tool for people that might need help. From what I can tell, she's the kind of person that would give you the last bite of food on her plate or the coat off her back is you needed it and asked. I want to re-read this book and see what I can learn upon a second reading. I think she has a lot more to teach.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This was a multi-layered mystery and I'm not sure that I remember all the twists and turns that it takes. I need to re-read it to get back to the core of the story and figure out what really happened to these characters.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I loved the magical environment of the Circus the first time and I want to read it again, this time listening to it from the ever wonderful narrator Jim Dale. That's bound to add just another layer to the experience of this tale.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has long been my favorite Betty Smith book. It's tale of Francie Nolan's childhood in poverty is poignant and so important in this day. We can't forget that this is what it was like for thousands of people, the children of immigrants, in the early 1900s, and what it is still like for millions of poor people.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I'm Thankful For

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

Seeing as this is a Top 10 Tuesday post and not a list every book ever post (because, let's be real, I'm thankful for a lot more than 10 books), I've decided to list the top 10 books I remember reading or being read growing up. These books formed a reading love in me and thank the gods for them or who knows where I'd be now?

1. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelans

This is one of the earliest books I remember reading with my great-grandmother and grandmother. I can't remember the story word for word except the first two lines, but I remember loving to look at the watercolor-esque pictures and hear about these girls living in a big house together. I don't think I realized at the time that it was a boarding school.

2. Curious George by H.A. Rey

I can't remember the first time I heard this story, but I remember having an old Curious George doll growing up that I loved almost as much as my Lambie (most precious lamb doll ever!) so that's a high compliment for him.

3. Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm 

Every weekend I spent with my great-grandmother, she would read me a story before bedtime. Madeline was popular, but not so much as this volume of the Brothers Grimm. My favorite story was The Brementown Musicians.

4. Bread and Jam for Frances by Russel Hoban

I loved trying the different foods that Frances is exposed to in this book. They weren't anything extravagant or anything, but still simply delicious (eggs, spaghetti and meatballs, yum!).

5. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

This sounded like a lot of fun, playing a board game that came to life. Realistically, though? Not so much!

6. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

The sweetest little bull! I fell in love with Ferdinand and his simple nature, sitting all day beneath the trees and smelling the flowers. :)

7. The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack

My aunt read this to me because it meant a lot to her when she was a little girl, so it's kind of a family favorite since it was first published in 1933. It's been in the family long enough to become our own kind of classic, so having a book that goes that far back is something to be thankful for because it's a connection with generations past.

8. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka

I barely remember this, but it was the first time I ever met an author way back in elementary school. The school organized a school trip to a reading and signing. That was the bug, I think, that started my love of going to bookish events.

9. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

One of the first books I learned to read, I thought it was awesome that a cute little mouse could learn to ride a motorcycle. I'm sure there was some discussion of whether or not I could teach our hamster to do the same thing with a Hot Wheels, Luckily I was persuaded to keep reading Ralph S. Mouse books instead.

10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

This was my favorite book of sixth grade and I was thankful that it was the chosen book that our class had to read. Sixth grade was the last year of elementary school, so we were experimenting with switching classes to get used to it. In the English class our teacher had us all reading this book aloud, but to be honest, I was reading ahead and had to be sure to keep my place so I could scoot back and read my piece when it was time. Not always successful. ;) I was thankful for this book because it made the whole transition period a lot easier to take.

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