Books I've Read · Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday – Heroine Edition

I love this week’s topic so much! The lovely folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish” have decided to honor all those awesome female characters who are smart, strong, and don’t take any of your crap!

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

1. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) – Do I even need to say why? She is strong, deadly with a bow, yet compassionate enough to take care of those around her, even the ones who are technically her enemies (although it’s so hard to think of Rue as her enemy, but you know what I mean).

2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) – If you need a smart heroine, look no further. This girl is the “brightest witch of her age” and isn’t afraid to use those smarts to kick some serious butt. She also takes care of her friends and, come on, who didn’t cheer when she slapped Draco?

3. Morgaine (Mists of Avalon) – She breaks with tradition, fights for her family and the man she loves, all the while trying to remain faithful to her traditions and the Goddess. Morgaine is a very flawed heroine, but she is one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever read.

4. Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre) – Jane does things her own way. This might seem like a strange choice, but I admire Jane so much. She knew what she wanted out of life and wouldn’t listen to anyone who told her she couldn’t have it.

5. Polgara (The Belgariad/Mallorean) – Polgara the Sorceress. She is awesome. One of the first fantasy heroines I ever read, she has spent her many centuries on this earth tirelessly looking after the heirs to the Rivan throne, keeping them safe from all the people trying to kill them. And if she needs to, she can shut down a fight.

6. Meghan Chase (The Iron Fey) – Meghan is a pretty interesting character. She has had a lot of things thrown at her (finding out that she’s part fey, for one), but she keeps fighting back, not willing to give up. I’m still reading this series, but I’m very impressed with her so far.

7. Alanna (Song of the Lioness) – The original girl hero! This girl wants to learn how to be a knight. Oh wait. Girls aren’t allowed to become knights? Too bad! Alanna goes to the city in disguise and lives as a boy for years, becoming as good (if not better) at the sword as any of the boys she trains with. And she can do some pretty cool magic too.

8. Meg Murray (A Wrinkle in Time) – The plain, simple girl who saves the world. Meg knows that she doesn’t know how to rescue her father and brother from the evil that is taking over the world. Sure doesn’t stop her from trying though.

9. Lessa (Dragonriders of Pern) – She spends years hidden in plain sight as a serving girl in the hold where she was once the heir. She survives to defeat the man who took it away from her family, and then is called to become the rider of the Queen dragon of Pern.

10. Clary Fray (Mortal Instruments) – With a sarcastic streak as her main weapon, Clary gets pulled into the Shadowhunter world not knowing anything about the demons she’s fighting, and yet, she survives. Clary stays strong while learning that her entire life has basically been a lie, then goes out to fight the father she never knew, who is trying to take over the Shadow Word and destroy the Downworlders who are her friends.

There you have it! I’m sure I’ve missed some amazing female characters, so let me know who you would add to this list.

Writing challenge update:

7947 / 30000
Stacking the Shelves

The Iron Daughter Has Been Found!

It’s time for “Stacking the Shelves,” hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. My new book for this week comes courtesy of my friendly neighborhood library. I started reading the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa last year, but only read the first book. Since then, I’ve really been wanting to finish the series, but the books were never in the library. They were always checked out with a waiting list. I put my name on the waiting list for the digital copy (it was shorter), but as weeks went by, I never heard anything from them. Until Saturday! I got an email saying that The Iron Daughter (book 2 in the series) was back and ready to be checked out by me! And since it’s through their digital download/ebook section, I could get the book on the weekend, even though the library was closed! Yay!

And yes, I already got on the waiting list for books 3 and 4.

One other brief announcement – I had mentioned before that I have started a podcast with a friend of mine talking about books called Bibliophiles Anonymous. We are doing quite well, up to six episodes now. It’s been a lot of fun, although we haven’t had very many people listen yet. If you would like to hear two very geeky girls talk about books, check us out! Once we get more of a listener base, we’re going to start doing things like trivia contests, free book giveaways, and other cool stuff! Come listen! Tell your friends! We’re on iTunes and YouTube.

Writing challenge update:

7168 / 30000
Books I've Read · Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday – Halloween Edition

This week, the folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish” are talking about the scary stories. The things that go bump in the night. The creepy, eerie feeling that you get when you know that you’re not alone in the house.

I don’t usually read “scary stories,” so instead of ten, I will only give you five. But I would be glad to take any suggestions.

Top Ten (or Five) Books To Get In The Halloween Spirit

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I first read this in college and it was not what I expected at all. Everyone has seen the old movies based on this book, but the book itself is something completely different. No mad scientist screaming, “It’s alive!!!!!” Instead, it’s a creepy, moral question of whether a man should act like God and create life in a way that was never intended, and the determined quest of a man (or monster) trying to hold the man who created him accountable for his actions.

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker – Another classic. We’ve had Frankenstein’s monster, now let’s have vampires! The way they’re supposed to be (ie not sparkly). Dracula is scary in the way that he is able to draw people to him. The people hunting him know that he is dangerous, and yet they are at times helpless in his power.

3. Feed by Mira Grant – A more modern piece this time. I haven’t actually finished this book yet, but I’m almost there. This book is about zombies, but it’s actually a lot more than that. Unlike most zombie stories, which deal about the “Rising,” this book deals with how the world has changed since zombies came into the picture. It’s actually more of a political thriller than a horror story, but still – there are zombies, which makes it definitely Halloween-ish to me.

4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – I reviewed this book on an earlier post (which you can read here). What’s Halloween without a good ghost story? This book is a bit different from your traditional ghost story though. The ghosts are not the scariest thing in the book. Not sure what would get that title. Perhaps the Sleer, a strange creature that lives in a cave at the back of the graveyard. Or the man Jack, brutally murdered an entire family, except for one little boy who escaped, and is determined to finish the job.

5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – I don’t think most people would include this as a Halloween book, but to me, it’s very sinister and creepy. A young, good looking man gains immortality and because of this, becomes increasingly more cruel and corrupt. Although his face remains the same, the changes take place on a portrait of him. As he grows old (and remains the same), the portrait becomes hideous and monstrous, showing him what he has truly become inside. It eventually drives him insane. Scary, right?

And here’s my writing progress so far:

2267 / 30000
Stacking the Shelves · Writing

Shelf Stacking and Writing Challenges

First up, my entry for “Stacking the Shelves,” hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. Here are the books that have entered my collection last week:

  • The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce – The third book in the Song of the Lioness series that I’m reading with Mark Reads. Reading with them, I should finish the previous book, In the Hand of the Goddess, tomorrow.
  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa – This one I got from the library. I had already read it earlier this year, but I want to try and read the other books in the series and couldn’t remember what had happened in this one.

Finally, I wanted to tell everyone that my writer’s group started their NaNoWriMo style writing challenge yesterday! Yay! This means that I will be updating the blog more, even if it’s just to make a quick post outlining my progress. I’m hoping this will keep me motivated.

Here’s my goal: our challenge lasts six weeks, instead of the traditional month of November for NaNo. Instead of trying to write 50,000 words, I am aiming for a more modest 30,000. I believe this will bring me close to completing my first draft of the novel.

This is so exciting! I’ve even found this nifty little meter to keep track of my progress.

1505 / 30000

Wish me luck!

Movies I've Seen

Everything today is thoroughly modern . . .

This weekend, I was bopping around YouTube (as I often do) in search of clips from my favorite musicals. I came across a user who had the entire movie version of a show that I haven’t seen in years – Thoroughly Modern Millie. The movie version stars Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing (just to name a few) and it is just so adorable! I challenge anyone to watch it and not grin the whole time.

The story follows Millie, a young woman in the 1920’s. She has come to New York to become a modern woman. Her ultimate goal? To find a job working for a good looking, single boss and marry him. I guess that was modern thinking for women back then. Along the way, she meets Jimmy, a young man who she almost immediately falls for, Miss Dorothy, a young lady fresh off the train who is even more naive than Millie is, and Muzzy, a wealthy woman who lives her life to the fullest.

These characters are wrapped around a slight mystery about girls from the hotel where Millie lives disappearing suddenly with no word. The show is very politically INcorrect (sorry to any Chinese-Americans who watch it – they’re the very stereotypical bad guys in this), but the goofiness of the rest of the show is worth it. It’s a whole lot of fun.

A few years ago, there was a revival of the show on Broadway. Here’s a video of their performance on the Tony Awards, featuring Sutton Foster (who I adore) in the title role. Enjoy!

Books I've Read

A ghost story with a twist . . .

Gearing up for Halloween means reading spooky, scary ghost stories, right? Okay, in my case, not usually. But this one is really, really, really good – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

The story begins with a murder. An entire family is murdered by a man named Jack – all except the youngest boy, a toddler, who manages to crawl out of the house and into a nearby graveyard. Once inside the graveyard, the boy is found by the ghosts that live there who decide to take care of him. They name him “Nobody” and he is adopted by two of the ghosts, Mr. and Mrs. Owens. Another mysterious figure, named Silas, agrees to be his guardian and provide for him.

As Bod grows up, he learns a lot about the people buried in the graveyard, but he is almost completely cut off from the normal world. He has a handful of normal friends, most notably a young girl named Scarlett. The trouble is that Bod is the only one who can see the ghosts. He explores the graveyard and surrounding areas, becoming almost like a ghost himself. Throughout the story is the mystery of why “the man Jack” tried to kill Bod. It is clear that Bod is only safe in the graveyard where the ghosts can watch out for him.

This story was very creative. It addressed problems that I would never have thought of. For example, there are a few children of varying ages among the ghosts. Bod plays with one little ghost boy as a child, but Bod grows up. The ghost boy doesn’t. It’s really sad to see how Bod feels about it, how distant he feels from his friend, who is still a child.

Full of mysteries, secret societies, a really creepy creature called the “Sleer,” and a whole host of entertaining ghosts, this story is a great story for Halloween, especially if you don’t want anything too scary. And the illustrations are really fun, too. This book won both the Carnegie Medal and the Newberry Medal, both high awards for Children’s Literature, and there is no question why. It’s awesome.


Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday – Genre Edition

Here we are at another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish.” This week was actually really hard for me to narrow down. The topic was “Top Ten Authors in ______ Genre” (fill in the blank with your genre of choice). At first I couldn’t decide which genre to pick, either Young Adult or Fantasy. There is a lot of crossover between those two, but if I was going to pick one, I wanted to be a purist. Example: if I was doing YA authors, I wanted to choose authors who didn’t write YA Fantasy. Or Fantasy authors who didn’t write for YA.

Am I overthinking this? Of course. I tend to do that, if you hadn’t noticed.

Once I narrowed down the topic, I had a really hard time picking my authors. Since I read so many books, I’m blaming my insomnia for this one. But here we go.

Top Ten (or Actually Eight) Favorite Fantasy Authors

1. David Eddings – I’ve mentioned him before, but I’ll do it again. The Belgariad series was the first real fantasy series I ever read. And I loved it, of course.

2. Mary Stewart – Many of you know that I adore King Arthur stories. Mary Stewart’s Merlin series was one of the first ones I read and it is amazing, telling the life story of Merlin the Enchanter.

3. Marion Zimmer Bradley – If we’re going to talk about Arthurian legends, then we have to put Marion Zimmer Bradley on the list. I still maintain that The Mists of Avalon is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

4. Anne McCaffery – The Dragon Lady! The one who wrote the most definitive series about dragons that has ever existed. I really need to read all of those, but have you seen how many there are? Tons!

5. Guy Gavriel Kay – I discovered him from a Tavern Book Club long ago when we read Tigana. A fabulous book, with a great story world and a hopeful yet tragic ending.

6. George R.R. Martin – This is fairly recent discovery for me. I was given the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series for Christmas last year. I quickly bought the rest of them.

7. Mercedes Lackey – I haven’t read very many of Lackey’s books, just because there are so many of them. The ones I have read have been from her smaller series and I’ve enjoyed them quite a bit. I do plan on reading her Valdemar books when I have a chance.

8. J.R.R. Tolkien – You cannot have a list of the best fantasy authors without mentioning the granddaddy of them all. Do I need to say more?

So help me out here. I know I’m missing a whole bunch of really amazing authors. Please fill in the holes!