Category: Fantasy

Jul 31

Happee Birthdae Harry!

Fantasy 32

Greetings Bookworms!

You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been in a VERY Harry Potter mood of late. I’ve been listening to the entire Harry Potter series on audio the past few weeks while chugging through some seriously busy times at my day job. (Yes, I have a real job. No, it has nothing to do with books.) Since I’ve been chilling in the HP universe, I remembered that today is Harry’s Birthday! I’m assuming he got back from the Quidditch World Cup alright, of course, and that he’s celebrating at home with the fam. 34 is a big year- he’s officially DOUBLE the age of a legal wizard. So. Yeah. We’re getting old, Harry. At least you’ve got a few years on me.

Mmmm cake a la Hagrid. (image source)

Mmmm cake a la Hagrid. (image source)

In order to celebrate with all my fellow Potterheads, I thought it might be fun to do a little roundup of HP quizzes. Don’t pretend you haven’t gotten sucked into a BuzzFeed quiz. We both know better, and I’m fresh out of veritaserum to wring the truth out of you.

1, First things first, if you haven’t already been sorted into your house via Pottermore’s official sorting, you need to go and do that. Click HERE. Chop Chop. I’m a Ravenclaw (no surprise to me.) Holla!

2. For all the ladies in the house (or dudes who are interested), you can take THIS QUIZ to find out what female Harry Potter character you’d be. I got Minerva McGonagall, and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Who are you?

female hp characters3. If you don’t feel like being gender specific, you could take THIS QUIZ that will let you be any HP character, male or female. I got Albus Dumbledore. Must be that we both enjoy reading and gin & tonics? I really see no other similarities. I’m flattered, but c’mon.

4. OR you could find out which Hogwarts professor you’d be. I’m Dumbledore AGAIN, which makes me question this quiz’s value because I’m CLEARLY McGonagall. Pfft. (Not that Dumbledore isn’t awesome, because he so is. I’m just not that wise. Or that patient. Or that good at secrets. I’d have blurted ALL THE THINGS out to Harry immediately. For good or ill.)

5. You could also find out what secondary HP character you’d be. You might end up being Dean Thomas, like I did. I mean, he’s living every muggle-born’s dream. It could be worse!

6. You could answer the age-old question (if you’re being interviewed by me anyway) and find out what form your patronus would take. This quiz told me my patronus would be a horse, but I’m pretty sure I only got that result because prehistoric penguin wasn’t an option. I mean, really. This guy would take some dementors OUT.

prehistoricpenguin

I think that’s quite enough for one day, but I’m always open to more RIDDIKULUS-ness when it comes to all things Harry Potter. Happy Birthday, boy wizard (even though you’re now a man-wizard with gray hair and kids and stuff.)

Did you take any of the quizzes? What were your results?!

PS: If you’re still pining for Potter, check out some HP inspired tattoos HERE.

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Jul 21

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction 10

Zdravsvtvuyte Bookworms!
That was a Russian greeting, because I’m all about setting the scene, and I recently finished reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not hugely into YA fiction, but I read an article on Book Riot last year and the series landed on my radar. Kit Steckliener wrote the piece, and I typically trust her opinion. I figured if anyone was going to steer me toward YA that I’d enjoy, Kit would be a good bet.

shadow-and-bone_hi-res-677x1024 Shadow and Bone is set in Ravka, which has a Russian vibe about it. The country has been divide in half by something called a Shadow Fold, which is dark and full of man-eating creatures who take large chunks out of those who would try to pass. Alina Starkov is a bit of a misfit- an orphan with no discernible talents. She’s serving in the army with her BFF (who happens to be a super handsome boy she’s a little bit in love with) when she’s required to cross the Fold. In the midst of the chaos, she busts out with some magical skills she was unaware she had, and is swept into the world of the mysterious Grisha. The Grisha are people with magical talents who get to wear these sweet robes and live in a castle. Swank digs and duds aside, Alina has to navigate this new world and, you know, try to save the world while she’s at it.

There were some elements of Shadow and Bone I really liked. I thought the whole Grisha concept was pretty cool. I don’t run into a lot with a Russian folklore twist to it (though, I really have no idea if this is based on folklore at all, being unfamiliar with Slavic mythology, but it feels sort of fairy tale-ish.) I’m down with magic. I like dark and mysterious. I like cool outfits. I wish I could keep it positive, but I had some issues with this book, too…

The way the Grisha do magic reminded me a LOT of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (review). Only… The Name of the Wind did it better. Plus there was a love triangle, and now that I am a grumpy, jaded old person, I have no patience of love triangles. Sadly, for me the bad outweighed the good. I don’t know if I’ll bother with the rest of the series. Sad trombone.

Tell me something, Bookworms. Have you ever run across two similar story lines but thought one was done much better than the other? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Apr 14

How I Was April Fooled by The Princess Bride

Fairy Tales, Fantasy 55

Hey there, Bookworms!

I am typically a curmudgeon about books that become movies. I am often underwhelmed and find myself keeping score of what they changed to adapt the book to the screen and why Hollywood was wrong for doing it. Things were all kinds of different for me when it came to The Princess Bride. I have seen the movie about a zillion times, starting when I was a kid. I didn’t realize it was adapted from a book until waaaaay after I’d perfected my “INCONCEIVABLE!” I was curious, though, so I decided I’d tackle the book version, formally titled The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman. (It’s quite a mouthful.)

I’ve mentioned that I’m pretty gullible, right? If Goldman had been playing an April Fool’s prank with this book, I’d totally have fallen for it. Goldman begins the book by saying that he isn’t writing the story, but abridging a classic work of literature his father read to him while he was recovering from pneumonia as a child. He claimed his father was a Florinese immigrant, that the tales within the book were at least partially true (if not a bit embellished, as such tales often are), and that he was merely paraphrasing another’s work. I THOUGHT that Florin and Guilder sounded like fake countries, but my knowledge of Europe is not infallible. They could very well have been countries at one point once upon a time and then been swallowed up. I mean, Poland lost its “I’m a country” status plenty of times throughout history, the poor dear.

Despite my innate gullibility, it wasn’t long before my BS meter started pinging, and I turned to Wikipedia. Not only is there no original work by S. Morgenstern, there’s no Florin or Guilder (they sound familiar because they used to be currency.) Heck, even the wife and son Goldman claims to have are fictional. The Princess Bride was actually inspired by stories Goldman used to tell his daughters, and he masterminded the whole thing, fake countries and all. Well played, Goldman.

I deserve the mocking. (Source)

I deserve the mocking. (Source)

After I stopped feeling like a nincompoop, I settled in to enjoy the story. The bulk of the action plays out very similarly to the movie- it’s a pretty faithful adaptation. The Grandfather and Fred Savage bits are indeed quite different, but it still totally works. Fabulous example of book to movie done right, if you ask me. If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride or read the book, you should probably stop what you’re doing right now and go do one or the other. How does one go through life without these critical cultural references? I mean, there’s FEZZIK, the coolest soft-hearted giant ever! (The coolest soft-hearted half-giant is, of course, Hagrid.) Evil Humperdink and the 6 fingered Count Rugen. Miracle friggin MAX! Westley and Buttercup and their grand romance… “As you wish…” Siiiiigh. And of course, there’s this:

inigomontoya

REVENGE! (source)

Just read it. Or watch it. Okay? If you need MORE reasons, check out Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity and her fabulous post (and more GIF-y goodness) 10 Life Lessons from The Princess Bride.

I know a ton of you Bookworms have seen and/or read The Princess Bride. Tell me your favorite moments! 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. You would NOT be committing a blunder to do so, though I don’t recommend getting into a land war in Asia.*

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Dec 30

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Time Travel 31

Hi Ho there, Bookworms!

I hope everyone’s holidays were spectacular! I know I enjoyed myself, but now ’tis the season to get back in the swing of things. Shall we?

I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about how I would cope if I were sucked back in time. I blame Diana Gabaldon for my obsession, but the concept is pretty universal. What would you do? My biggest concern is the fact that I wear contacts. I can’t believe that people back in the day had significantly better eyesight that the current population, which makes me wonder how they coped with the blurriness… Of course, I can afford to focus on trivialities like eyesight because that because my ancestor weren’t enslaved simply based on the color of their skin. Slavery was THE WORST.

kindredKindred by Octavia Butler explores the story of a woman named Dana. Dana lives in the 1970s in California with her husband. She’s African American and he’s a white dude, but aside from the occasional bigot with an attitude problem (who are sometimes family members), they’re able to live a fairly nice life… That is, until the day when Dana is mysteriously transported back in time and space and winds up in antebellum Maryland.

Time AND space! How much does that suck? She was totally living in California in the 1970s, but back when it became a state in 1850? Slavery wasn’t legal. Still sucked to be black because civil rights were awful, but at least you weren’t OWNED. Poor Dana is linked to this redheaded kid who lives on a frickin’ plantation in Maryland. She gets yanked back across time and space every time his life is in danger, which for this kid is a LOT. Time travels a lot faster in the past than in the present, so five years in the antebellum South is little more than eight days when coming back to the here and now. Oh yeah. That’s the other part. In order to GET back? Dana has to nearly die herself. Sooo, that sucks.

I really enjoyed this book and the concept of time travel being linked to a specific person. Dana’s struggles as a modern woman encountering slavery are stunning. She comments over and over again on the ease of accepting the most outrageous sorts of dehumanization. It gives a unique perspective to a modern reader who simply cannot fathom how slavery ever existed. I do, however, have one small complaint. The ending was a bit abrupt. I felt that Dana’s “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment should have come earlier, but that’s just a tiny objection intermixed with a whole heap of love. If you have any interest in fiction involving time travel or the antebellum period in history, I highly recommend you check out Kindred by Octavia Butler.

So, Bookworms. If you were to be carried back in time (let’s leave out the SPACE part for the sake of argument), what would be your biggest concern? Spectacles? Pestilence? Lack of deodorant? Tell me!

*If you make a purchase of Kindred using a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 08

Top Ten Tuesday: Best and Worst Series Enders

Children's Fiction, Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fantasy, Top Ten Tuesday, Young Adult Fiction 51

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!

Anybody else noticed that series are ALL THE RAGE these days? It seems like nobody feels like writing a stand alone book anymore… Or something. I’m a pretty big fan of series on the whole. Sometimes though, the last book in the series is truly a make or break moment. Today, the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list out our favorite and not so favorite series enders. Are you ready?!

toptentuesday

My Favorites:

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. I don’t know if I can properly describe the level of satisfaction I felt during that epilogue. It ended beautifully, and as desperately as I want more and more and more Harry Potter, I am pleased with the way things wrapped up.

2. MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. I loved everything about this series. I loved the weird names for gene spliced animals, the screwy scary fast food joints, the trippy cults- everything. I waited a good 4 years for the final book and I was NOT disappointed. That Atwood. She knows what she’s doing.

margaret-atwood-dystopic-trilogy

3. The Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. This ending wasn’t perfect because I wasn’t crazy about some of Katniss’s decisions. However, I liked that Collins emphasized the psychological implications of the horrors the characters endured. Plus, I’m a sucker for a “happy as circumstances will allow” ending.

4Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. This was the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. The series ran out of steam and started getting pretty random somewhere around book 7, so my expectations for the series wrap up weren’t too high. However, I was quite pleased because I’d been rooting for one particular romance since book one and it totally happened. Yay for that!

Not So Favorites:

5. Son by Lois Lowry. Okay, so The Giver is one of the most amazing books since ever. It’s complete awesomeness. The rest of the series, however? It’s a little odd and a tiny bit preachy. The final installment, Son, spent an inordinate amount of time discussing climbing a cliff and a really bizarre supernatural twist. It was okay, but I think The Giver would have been better off with an epilogue than an additional 3 books.

son

6. The Death Cure by James Dashner. I started out loving The Maze Runner books and they progressively got less awesome. I mean, the ending was okay, but it felt like a cop out. Like Dashner couldn’t come up with a really supremely awesome ending and just sort of threw one in? Eh. Just not fantastic.

7. Reached by Ally Condie. I should start this out by saying that this book was by far my favorite in the Matched trilogy. I was actually very pleased with the direction the series went in the end, but GAH. The series as a whole was just such a disappointment for me. Love triangle. Bits and pieces of other dysopias all over the place. Just… No.

Jury is Out

(These series are not yet finished, but I’m invested, so….)

8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s highly unlikely that I WON’T love the final installment of the Outlander series, aside from the fact that I’ll be a big ridiculous crybaby because it’s over…

9. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I’m pretty stoked for the upcoming release of Allegiant. It will totally make or break the series for me. It’s due out Oct 22. Very excited!

Divergent hc c(2)

10. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I can’t say that I think these are the greatest books ever, but I have enjoyed the novelty of Cinder and Scarlet so far. I love fractured fairy tales- it’s okay that they’re predictable, they’re FAIRY TALES. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, in spite of the occasional cheesiness.

What about you, Bookworms? Got a series ender that you loved and/or hated?! Tell us about it!

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Sep 19

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy, Supernatural 47

Hola Bookworms,

It’s occurred to me that while I chatter to y’all incessently, I very rarely discuss what I spend the vast majority of my time doing. That’s right. I’ve got a grown-up job. I don’t talk about my job much for a couple of reasons. First, it has absolutely nothing to do with books. Second, it seems like a bad idea to go yammering about your job on the internet. That said, I do like to mention where I get my books, and this particular book came to me through work. I have a new co-worker. During the course of a “getting to know you” type conversation, he mentioned that he read a lot of fantasy novels. Being the curious cat that I am, I asked him which were his favorites. Of COURSE it was nothing I’d ever read. I mean, how likely would that be anyway? I’ve only ever read a smattering of fantasy, the odds were not in my favor. I’ve been feeling unworthy of the genre since I read and did not enjoy Tolkien.

nameofthewindShortly after this conversation, a copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss appeared on my desk. I took one look at the well worn paperback and thought, “Way to stick your foot in your mouth, Katie. Now you’ve got to read this ginormous fantasy novel because it would be rude not to.” To add to my nervousness? I noticed it was a SIGNED COPY! I’m a terrible liar, so if I didn’t like the book, I’d have to figure out a way to explain that to someone who was clearly a superfan of Rothfuss. Quite the pickle, no?

As it turns out, the book gods smiled on my poor conflicted soul, because I read it and was sucked in. The Name of the Wind was a great book, despite the fact that they never actually told me what the name of the wind is. (I’m hoping the wind’s name is Herman Reginald Van Der Hooden, because I like saying it.)

We are introduced to a mysterious innkeeper who calls himself Kote. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Kote and his assistant Bast than meets the eye. “Kote” is in hiding. He is actually a figure of some note who is driven into obscurity for unknown reasons. A scribe arrives in town shortly after the novel begins as he is attempting to track the infamous Kvothe. Kote = Kvothe. I might have thought he’d pick a less similar name as his pseudonym, but what do I know? (I’m thinking changing my name from Katie to Karen and trading my MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron… My fingernails DO shine like justice… It could work.)

Kvothe is persuaded to tell his story, and what a tale it is! Our Kvothe was born into a band of traveling performers. He is trained in the arts of drama, music, and showmanship at a young age. Everything begins to change for Kvothe when their band comes across an arcanist who is down on his luck. (This is a fantasy novel, it wouldn’t be appropriate just to call someone a “dude who can do magic.”) The arcanist Abenthy takes Kvothe on as a student, and Kvothe turns out to be the Doogie Howser of magic. The kid is a prodigy. All is going well until one evening when Kvothe’s troupe is mysteriously murdered. We follow Kvothe on his adventures in orphandom, and what crazy adventures they turn out to be!

I really enjoyed this novel. I found the world-building to be superb. One of the biggest problems I have when I try to read fantasy novels (which is pretty much limited to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin) is that I have a hard time slogging through them. Ordinarily I find myself getting bogged down in description and tertiary characters. That wasn’t the case here at all- every character that was introduced I found engaging, and every interaction served to propel the narrative. It’s just my luck that this is the first book in a trilogy that is not yet complete. This book ends with quite a few unanswered questions that will gnaw at my soul until I tackle book 2 (which won’t be for a while because I’ve over-committed myself as usual.) Of course, as heaven knows, reading book 2 will only gnaw away at my soul until book 3 is released. It figures that not even a week after I got closure on the MaddAddam series, I’m waiting again! Le sigh.

So Bookworms. Tell me. Have you ever taken a chance on a book or a genre that wasn’t typically your cup of tea and been pleasantly surprised? Anybody out there read The Name of the Wind? What did you think?

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Sep 05

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Coming of Age, Dystopian, Fantasy, Frightening, Young Adult Fiction 61

Hey There Bookworms,

I have been putting off reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent for quite a while now. I really enjoy a good YA dystopia, but the market has been rather saturated with them lately. After reading and not loving Ally Condie’s Matched series, I was skeptical to try again… It’s a darn good thing I did, because right now the Divergent series only ranks below The Hunger Games in my personal ranking of YA dystopias. I KNOW!

Divergent hc c(2)

Alright. We begin in what I can only assume is a post apocalyptic Chicago. Lake Michigan has dried into marshland, and a mere sliver of the city is inhabited. The rest is in ruins. (I enjoyed this book all the more because I’m familiar with the major landmarks and buildings in the Windy City. I grew up in the Chicago burbs, and while I won’t call myself a native,I know Navy Pier from Millenium Park and the Sears Tower from the Hancock building. “Willis” Tower my foot.)

Anyway. The new civilization inhabiting Chicago is split into five major factions. The factions are sort of like fraternities and sororities on steroids. They each value a different virtue above all else. I imagine that Roth named her factions specifically to expand teenage vocabularies (for which I salute her!) Erudite values knowledge, Candor values truth, Abnegation values selflessness, Amity values kindness, and Dauntless values bravery.

Beatrice Prior has just turned 16. She was raised in Abnegation, the, uh Amish equivalent in this society. Not really Amish, I guess, but they’re very modest and focus on the needs of others before themselves. They’re big on feeding the poor and service. A very nice faction, on the whole, but they are discouraged from looking in mirrors and their lives are really regimented. Beatrice, like all the the 16 year olds in the community, is on the precipice of a huge decision. She is about to choose her faction. Being born in Abnegation doesn’t mean she has to stay there. Each student is given an aptitude test to determine where they are best suited, but they have the option to choose a different faction.

The students get to choose where they will go, but they’re not guaranteed acceptance. They have to go through a training and initiation phase, and not everyone makes it. Those who don’t are cast out to live among the “factionless.” The factionless work menial jobs and live in poverty, so it behooves the students to do their best to choose wisely. The problem Beatrice is facing is that her aptitude test was inconclusive. She has to embrace ONE faction, but her test results indicate that she’s got an aptitude for THREE. She’s considered “Divergent” as a result and that is a dangerous thing to be. DUN DUN DUN!

I don’t want to talk too much about this book, because it’s hard to discuss without getting super spoiler happy. I like this book too much to spoil it! Roth does some awesome world building in this novel. Her dystopian Chicago is well drawn and disturbingly lifelike. I love the implications of the faction system. I think it offers some good lessons on the gray areas of life and the importance of seeing things from other people’s perspectives.

After having read this book, I couldn’t help but imagine myself in a faction! Much in the way I dubbed myself a Ravenclaw after reading Harry Potter, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what faction I’d have landed in. I’m so confused! They’re all so flawed, but they’ve all got good qualities too. So far, the only two I’ve been able to rule out are Dauntless (because I’m a giant chicken) and Candor (because even though I suck at lying, I think living in an environment of CONSTANT brutal honesty would be REALLY bad for my overly sensitive self.) This leaves me with Erudite, but I don’t know if I could even go there because despite my inherent bookwormy nerdiness, they’re SUPER science-y folk, and that’s never been my academic forte. I think I’d flunk at Abnegation, because I rather like mirrors and though I’d like to be selfless, I know I’m not that perfect. I suppose I’d chill in Amity, because they grow stuff (I like to garden) and they’re all about being nice to each other… Then again… Maybe I’m Divergent between Erudite, Amity, and Abnegation. I’m all kinds of complicated.

What faction do you think YOU would land in, Bookworms? Where do you see yourself fitting in?

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Sep 04

Take Me Down, Six Underground (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)

Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural, Travel 53

Well Hello Bookworms,

I am not much of a world traveler, so it may surprise you to know I have, in fact, left the good old USA on occasion. When I was in college, I took a mini-mester in London. It was a two week trip where our instructors traveled with us. We took three hours of class a day and spent the rest of the time sight seeing and rambling around trying not to be overly obnoxious. Not sure that we succeeded. In any case, we were supplied with two week pass to the London underground. Thus, I became entranced with “The Tube.”

The London subway system is a massive network of underground tunnels, like any subway. However, having never used a subway system in any other major city, I found it weirdly romantic and exciting. This is likely because I was commuting to tourist destinations instead of work… I imagine the mystique would fade quite quickly if it were part of your day-to-day routine…

That’s the case for Richard Mayhew, the protagonist in Neil Gaiman’s NeverwhereRichard moves to London from Scotland. After a few years of commuting on the Tube, it’s lost its intrigue. He is concerned primarily with his job and his (rather pushy and unpleasant) fiance Jessica. All is well until one night as they head off to dinner.

Richard and Jessica unexpectedly encounter a young woman on the sidewalk… Bleeding profusely. Richard feels compelled to help while Jessica threatens to break off their engagement if Richard doesn’t continue on to their dinner. (Yeah, Jessica kind of sucks, though she DOES suggest calling an ambulance as they continue on their way, so I guess she’s only medium evil.) Richard, acting on instinct, takes the mysterious girl in his arms and back to his apartment after she implores him not to contact the authorities. Richard finds this a bit suspicious, but after a disturbing run-in with a pair of rather unsavory characters, Richard surmises the girl has good reason to keep a low profile. Richard then accompanies the girl on a strange adventure into another world known as London Below. neverwhere

This IS Neil Gaiman after all, you’ve got to expect some magic. London Below is situated in the space between subway platforms. It’s in the abandoned stations, the basements, and sewers of the city. It’s where the “people who fall through the cracks” end up. An odd mixture of characters make their homes in London Below. The underworld seems to be disconnected from time as we experience it, so you run into medieval monks as easily as Victorian castaways, the odd witch, and occasional bounty hunter. London Below is also extremely dangerous. Mythical beasts walk around unchecked. Rats converse with humans. Doors appear out of nowhere. Assassins run wild. But for all its strangeness, it’s also fascinating.

Neil Gaiman is a master of the creepy. He blends magic, mythology, and spooky ambiance seamlessly. I love that he chose the London Underground as his setting for this book! I always get excited when books are set in places I’ve been. I mean, it’s certainly cool to visit places you’ve never been in your reading, but there’s something about having a personal connection with a place. Anyway, I believe Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman to date. Perfect reading for the transition into fall. I recommend it to anyone in the mood for a little bit of an eerie adventure.

Have any of you Bookworms out there enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s work? Have you read Neverwhere? What did you think? Have you ever imagined a mysterious underground civilization hanging out in your city? (It’s okay if your imaginary underground city includes the Ninja Turtles. I know mine does.)

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Aug 09

Peter Pan Brings Out My Inner Cynical Grown Up

Children's Fiction, Classics, Coming of Age, Fairy Tales, Fantasy 46

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

Have you ever noticed that stories you knew as a child take on a very different meaning as you grow up? I was struck with just such a conundrum this week as I read (for the first time) Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie. That’s not to say I wasn’t familiar with the adventures of the one and only Peter Pan. Far from it.

We didn’t own the Disney version of Peter Pan– this is probably due to the fact that Disney randomly pulls movies off the shelves for periods of time and it wasn’t available when I was in my prime Pan years. We did, however, own a VHS recording of the glorious 1960 production of Peter Pan the musical starring Mary Martin. I watched it often, which is kind of weird, because it always creeped me out a bit. I was particularly bothered by the cake Captain Hook tried to lure the Lost Boys into eating, because despite the sinister green frosting, I was certain “so damp and rich a cake” would be delicious. (Even if it was poisoned.) I hoped that in reading the book, my brain could conjure up the magic of Neverland better than a full grown woman playing a 10 year old boy…

This is the Peter Pan I grew up with. Realistic, no? (Source)

This is the Peter Pan I grew up with. Realistic, no? (Source)

Magic my brain could not conjure, but creepiness? Creepiness came through in spades. First. Barrie kept emphasizing that Peter Pan still had all his baby teeth, though he was about 10 years old. That would look really weird, you know? Kids start losing teeth between the ages of 4 and 7… A normal 10 year old would have regular teeth. The idea of Peter wandering around Neverland with teeny tiny chicklets all up in his mug seriously bothered me.

I realize the play was originally written in 1904, so expecting cultural sensitivity is a little unfair of me. However, I’m pretty sure Native Americans don’t relish being referred to as “redskins” or “savages” even in whimsical children’s literature. The book didn’t give a particularly flattering portrayal of females either. Tinkerbell was a serious biz-nitch, and the mermaids were nasty wasty skunks. All Wendy ever wanted to do- even in NEVERLAND- was play mother to a troop of boys. Why couldn’t WENDY go out and have the adventures? Why was she always doing laundry?!

And that Peter Pan? I’ve heard of Peter Pan syndrome- it’s applied to men who refuse to grow up and won’t commit to a relationship. Basically they’re pretty big douchebags. However. The name of this syndrome is even  more appropriate than I realized, because Peter was kind of an ass. Seriously. Peter Pan is a rather cultish figure, if you think about it. He entices children to run away with him. He’s so completely invested in the illusion that he literally cannot tell if he and the Lost Boys are consuming real food or just pretending. (Which means he starves them half the time. Bad form, Peter!) He gets the boys into deadly confrontations with the “redskins” and pirates. Deadly, yo. These little boys are slaughtering people. What the what? Adventures, indeed! Hmph.

Peter Pan, JM Barrie 2

 

Now that I’ve eviscerated a timeless children’s classic, do I have anything nice to say? Sure. Nana was awesome. Any dog that can play nursemaid is a-okay in my book. I also rather enjoyed that Mr. Darling chose to punish himself after the children ran off by living in Nana’s kennel. That was amusing. And Smee. There’s something utterly charming about a pirate that has no idea how darn cute he is. I don’t know why, but Peter and Wendy just didn’t engage my childish wonder the way I’d hoped it would. (Although Hook, the 90s remake of Peter Pan starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman? THAT is a good time right there. I hate myself for liking a movie better than a book, but there it is. Please don’t shun me.)

What’s the moral of the tale of Katie and Peter Pan? Always go into classic children’s literature expecting it to be darker and creepier than you remember. I’m always able to remember this when heading into traditional fairy tales, but I suppose I should amend my theory to include any books with fairies as characters as well. Second star to the right and straight on till morning, Bookworms.

Have any of you ever revisited a childhood story and found it stranger than you recall? Tell me I’m not alone here!

 

 

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Aug 08

Everything You Never Knew You Wanted To Know: A Bookish Q&A

Blogging, Book Club, Children's Fiction, Classics, Coming of Age, Contemporary Fiction, E-Readers, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor 43

Hey Bookworms!

What’s this? Why it’s a survey about books! Why am I doing this? I may or may not be slightly behind in my reading. Plus, I like to change things up from time to time. So, I’d like to thank Rory at Fourth Street Review for inspiring Sarah of Sarah Says Read to complete this survey… I’d also like to thank Sarah for posting it so that I’d have something to jabber about today. My blog friends are the coolest.

Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

The octopus is a bookmark I got from a friend. Delightful, no?

Plus, my bookmark totally matched.

Your Favorite Book Cover:

I don’t think I can really claim to have a “favorite book cover.” Cover art usually isn’t something I get all swoony over. However, I really dug the cover of FangirlI’m in a coral and turquoise phase right now. Which leads me to this particular turmoil:

Katie: I really love coral and turquoise

Inner Snarky Voice: Oh really? You love coral and turquoise? Maybe you should move to Miami in the 80s and see if The Golden Girls need another roommate.

Katie: Ouch, Inner Snarky Voice. But kudos on working The Golden Girls into a blog post. Bea Arthur would be proud.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently ping ponging between Peter and Wendy by JM Barrie and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Luis Zafron. (Fellowship of the Worms pick, you guys! Although, a little housekeeping. Instead of tackling this on Monday the 12th, we’ll be doing it on Thursday the 15th. The blogoversary is on Monday and I’ve got a SWEET giveaway I want to do.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?

Oh goodness, I’ve got quite a stack. It’ll just depend on how the mood strikes me when it’s time to pick up the next one.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to? 

Oh yes. These too.

Oh yes. These too.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Yeah, they’re all classics. I need to fill in the holes left by my education.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?

We don’t get any magazines. Is that weird? And if we did, they wouldn’t be in our bathrooms. We wouldn’t want our reading material to be flagged, now would we?

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

That’s a bit of a sticky question, now isn’t it? There’s plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of books that I don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. To somebody. Somewhere. Who has terrible taste… Nah. Really, I can’t think of one. I’m going to abstain.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I just can’t. I don’t understand what all the hoopla was about. I’m either not smart enough or not cool enough to appreciate it. Probably a little bit of both. But. Meh.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. (Sarah and I concur on this one!) Seriously, I do recommend this to just about everyone because it’s got a little something for everyone. Sci-Fi? Historical Fiction? Romance? Naked Time? Trauma? Family Relationships? Practical applications of leeches? I’m telling you. Ev. Ry. Thing. And it’s completely amazeballs. So there’s that too,

Mmmm. Jamie Fraser... (Source)

Mmmm. Jamie Fraser… (Source)

What are your three favourite poems?

I don’t read a whole lot of poetry. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, it’s just that… If poetry were music it would be classical. I prefer my music to have guitars and lyrics. That said, Emily Dickinson is my homegirl.

Where do you usually get your books?

Most of the time I order titles for my Kindle from Amazon. I do occasionally get books via NetGalley, and the library, of course.

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

None that I remember. I do recall climbing trees a lot and wanting to drag a book up there with me, but a tree limb isn’t a comfortable lounging situation for more than a few minutes. Even a 10 year old backside could tell you that.

Gratuitous cute childhood photo.

Gratuitous cute childhood photo. I am like 3 or 4 here. Not 10. Late bloomer I was, but not THIS late.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?

I stayed up way too late finishing Fangirl last week. What can I say? I HAD TO KNOW THINGS.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?

Sometimes when I take those “have you read this” quizzes and they list “the collected works” of someone, I’ll go ahead and mark it if I’ve read  a handful of their stuff. No, I have not read ALL of Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe or Oscar Wilde. It seems unfair to have to have read the ENTIRE catalog to get credit. Humph.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?

I barely notice covers these days thanks to my digital predilections. I have, however, bought plenty of books just because they were on sale. I’m a sucker for a bargain bin.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?

When I was really small, we had this book about an owl. I remember it had a dark purple cover. No idea what it was called, but that was a frequent bedtime request. Once I could read to myself, I dearly loved pretty much anything by Beverly Cleary.

MORE gratuitous cute childhood photos...

MORE gratuitous cute childhood photos…

What book changed your life?

Changed my life? That’s a tall order, now isn’t it? I don’t know that it changed my life, but Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret soothed my tortured tween soul in ways nothing else could have.

What is your favourite passage from a book?

I’ve always loved Alice’s famous line “Curiouser and curiouser.” Because she was always messing up her words. Much like Amy in Little Women. I have a fondness for reaching beyond one’s vocabulary…

Who are your top five favourite authors?

Tough call but… Diana Gabaldon, JK Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Jojo Moyes, and Margaret Atwood. Aaaaand basically the only thing any of them have in common is that they’re female. Which is unintentional, but whatever. High five to my literary ladies!

What book has no one heard about but should read?

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. Yes, it was an Oprah’s book club pick, but it’s one that’s sort of been glossed over. I don’t hear much about it and it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?

Uhhh… I kind of hate the term “evangelist” because it has negative religious connotations for me. Although, since we’re on the topic of religion, let’s talk about ladies and their roles in it. How’s about The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? All awesome.

My brother got a Broadway musical, and all I got was this (awesome) book.

My brother got a Broadway musical, and all I got was this (awesome) book. Nobody bought me a technicolor dreamcoat.

What are your favourite books by a first time author?

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Go read this right now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

What is your favourite classic book?

That is a tough call, because I love me some classics. Probably Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Five other notable mentions?

Notable classics I actually enjoyed? Sure. Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Right. Now I’m supposed to tag people or something? Well I’m not doing that. But if you’re a blogger and you need a topic one day, I recommend this survey. Fun times, I tell you. Fun times. 

Anybody have anything to add to this list of goodness? Another question to me to answer? Your own answer to some of these? Talk to me, Bookworms!

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