Today's topic, as I participate in this weekend's WriteOnCon, is another Top Ten Tuesday prompt: books I read because of the hype. Originally, I was the kind of person who avoided hyped books. I don't do that anymore, thank goodness!
I do read a lot of YA,. Most traditionally published YA novels are on my TBR as soon as they sell to a publisher. But I might fast-track my reading of a book or add one to my list that I was uncertain about (or one that isn't YA) if I'm seeing a lot of hype about it online.
Here are ten examples:
1) The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Holly Black's past work hasn't really been for me--tricky fae amorality doesn't fit well with my personality. But this YA fantasy trilogy has been EV. ER. Y. WHERE. in the YA lit world, and one of my trusted friends recommended it. So in December 2019, I read the first book. I enjoyed how passionate and intriguing it is, and I look forward to where the the story goes!
2) Wilder Girls by Rory Power. This YA sci-fi horror novel was already on my TBR, but when I saw all the hype about it after its release, I bumped it up and read it earlier than I might have. In October 2019, it became one of my recommended books--brilliant, fascinating stuff.
3) The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. If it was released nowadays, this YA fantasy trilogy probably would've already been on my TBR, but in 2014, I was new to Goodreads and not yet following book deals on Publisher's Weekly. Later, I heard how popular it was, and I gave the first book a read in October 2019. I liked it!
Hey, friends! This blog post idea is taken from the Top Ten Tuesday archive. It's a thought that's never really occurred to me before, but it marries two of my favorite things: fictional characters and social media. I'm excited to get into it!
1) Wanda Maximoff (MCU). Since she's my current favorite, this pick is unsurprising. I'd love to follow her adventures with the Avengers in real time and get more of an insight into her life and her personality. I imagine her being an Instagram kind of person.
2) Vision (MCU). As the other half of my Avengers OTP, Vision is another obvious choice here. In all honesty, I'd probably follow all of the Avengers, because I love them, but these are the two I doubt I'd ever unfollow, even if their feeds somehow became boring. I imagine Vision being active on Twitter.
3) Newt Scamander (Wizarding World). I don't know how he'd do on social media, seeing how socially awkward he is, but I adore Newt. I'd at least have to check his feed out. I can imagine him posting lots of videos and pictures of magical animals on YouTube or Instagram (if that weren't illegal and technologically impossible in his time). His granddaughter-in-law Luna would also be an interesting one to follow!
Today, inspired by Top Ten Tuesday, I figured I'd talk about some of the traits I like best in characters--and also in real life people, haha. These traits probably won't come as a surprise; you can see them in these posts about my favorite male and female characters or in this more recent Tumblr list of favorites. These qualities do tend to differ a little based on gender--maybe because I pick female characters I want to be like and male characters I'd want to date? I'm not sure. But for this post, I'm going to be splitting things up as such. Enjoy!
Soft: One of the major features of the male characters I love best is that they are soft. I am not interested in any Alpha Male types. Not here, no sirree! I want sweethearts whom I feel safe being around. I want boys who respect other people, who are gentle, loyal, and trustworthy, who have self-control They are adorable and good. They can also be incredibly powerful, but they use that power with wisdom and compassion, letting their softness guide them. See: Vision from Marvel, Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games, Newt Scamander from the Wizarding World, Finn from Star Wars.
Anyone who's followed this blog for a while knows that I love to analyze stories. I write a lot of casual analyses on this blog, looking at anything from The Hunger Games to The Phantom of the Opera to To Kill a Mockingbird. (You can find more in the Thoughts On Stories tag.)
But I also wrote a lot of formal analyses of literature during my studies for my English BA, and I'm proud of that work. So I thought today I'd create a little portfolio, sharing links to PDFs of the essays and papers I kept from my undergraduate work. Just in case someone out there has a craving for some more serious analysis. Also, to show off.
Here we go!
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of my favorite classics, which is true for many people. In fact, in October it was voted America's favorite book. As such, I thought it might be appropriate for me to talk today about why it's one of my favorites.
The first thing we need to recognize is that To Kill a Mockingbird is not a novel about a black man. Nor is it fully a novel about racism. Many black critics and social justice activists point out that it falls into the "white savior trope" of focusing on a "good" white person and their fight against racism instead of focusing on the actual black people. That in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, since there's a place for many different stories in the world--but very nearly all the stories we have about racism are like that. Certainly, the popular ones are, and not recognizing that would be wrong. The stories of black people need to be heard, much more than another story about a white person, and their stories need to be told by black people themselves. When white people constantly envelop racism in self-soothing narratives about white saviors, it's unhelpful and disempowering to others, and acting like To Kill a Mockingbird is the book about racism only worsens things.
(For some of these important diverse, own voices stories, at least in the YA sector, I recommend checking out Rich in Color.)
Welcome to September, everyone!
Today I thought I'd share some examples of technology from science fiction that I can't wait to see become the norm in real life. Sci-fi is probably my favorite genre, both to read and to watch, and I think it's great how it has inspired (and continues to inspire) the real-life creation of many technologies. But there are still a whole lot of things from sci-fi that we have yet to create, and I want them.
When people complain about the existence of modern technology, what they fail to recognize is that technological advances often improve quality of life for disabled people. Every invention that allows tasks to be accomplished more easily makes it possible for disabled people to do something that we couldn't before. For example, most of my life is conducted via the Internet. Without it, my disabilities would make it impossible for me to accomplish as much as I do and to have the social life that I do.
As such, most of the technologies on this list aren't just cool or useful; they can also act as disability accommodations. These technologies would allow me, and many, many other disabled people, to live a better, fuller life. For example:
Many disabled people are unable to drive. Many more struggle to endure long distance travel. Others have mobility issues that make walking difficult. All of these things are true for me at this point in time, and so one of the sci-fi technologies I most look forward to is teleportation.
Many sci-fi worlds possess the ability to instantaneously teleport across various distances. Star Trek, for example, has transporters that can move people (and objects) across feet or across thousands of miles. Many fantasy worlds also have this power, such as Harry Potter's Apparation.
Hey, everyone! It's time for part two of my favorite fictional characters update, about my favorite male characters. If you haven't already, you can check out the list of my favorite female characters here.
Vision is a Marvel superhero who has been in the comics since 1968 and was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2015.
In the MCU, Vision is a synthetic human (an android, but a little more complex than that) whose body was created with synthetic flesh, a computerized nervous system, and the Mind Gem, which, as I said in part one, is an immensely powerful but little understood Infinity Stone. An evil AI named Ultron created the body to be his own, but the Avengers stole it from him before he could finish uploading himself. Then Tony Stark and Bruce Banner decided to upload Tony's AI assistant and friend, JARVIS, into the body's system. The other Avengers tried to stop them, but Thor Odinson used his lightning powers to bring Vision to life, stating that he had seen him in a vision given to him when Wanda Maximoff manipulated his thoughts and that Vision was a necessary part of the universe's future.
Within the last couple of years, I've posted updates on my favorite romantic relationships, TV shows, poems, movies, writing idols, music artists, and more. But one topic that I haven't updated my readers on for a long time is my favorite fictional characters. Yes, I've talked about fictional parents, favorite side characters, favorite villains, and other such topics, but the one post I've written on my favorite characters overall comes from the first year of my blog, 2012. My interests have changed a lot since then!
Favorite characters are difficult to choose, as I'm sure you all know, and there are so many characters that I love who will not be included on this list. Still, I'm going to update you on which characters I now look up to and love most. Since there are so many, this post is going to be a two-parter, with female characters first and male characters next week.
Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch, is a Marvel superhero (and sometimes, villain). She's been in the comics since 1964, and was introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2015.
Wanda has a troubled past. In the MCU, she and her twin brother, Pietro, were orphaned at the age of 10 in a bomb strike. The bomb was originally created by Stark Industries, the tech company owned by future Avenger Tony Stark. After the bombing, the twins became political protestors for peace in their turmoiled Eastern European home of Sokovia.
During these protests, when they were in their late teens, Wanda and Pietro were approached by HYDRA, a Nazi group then disguised as the Avengers' support team. HYDRA promised to grant the twins the power they needed to "make things right." So Wanda and Pietro became part of a human experiment using the Mind Gem, an immensely powerful but little understood Infinity Stone. In the end, they were the only survivors of the experiment. Pietro gained superspeed, while Wanda developed energy manipulation powers that include telekinesis, telepathy, and mind control.
Back when I first started this blog, I posted a handful of times about my writing idols. Since then, my list of writing idols has grown a good bit. Honestly, there are so many fantastic writers out there in the world, and there's so much I admire about and want to learn from them. I know I'll never be able to achieve what many of these writers have--sometimes you just have natural talent in some areas and natural ineptitude in others--but in recognizing them and their skill, I take the first step towards improving my own writing. So today I thought I'd post an updated list of my writing idols and what it is that I admire most about them.
1) J.K. Rowling. Forever and always, I will look up to the author of Harry Potter and the ongoing Cormoran Strike series (as Robert Galbraith). She's fantastic in so many different ways. Most of all, I admire her charitable work, her clean and relatable characterization, and her thorough worldbuilding.
2) Hans Christian Andersen. I have a lot in common with this guy, and after reading the full collection of his fairytales, I came to admire not only the beauty and magic of his stories, but also the way he brought deeper meaning, often religious in nature, into them.
3) Neal Shusterman. This author is another one whose worldbuilding I look up to. It's complex and thoughtful and makes me see the world differently. I also admire his creativity in coming up with strange and unique premises for all his books, which include the Unwind Dystology, Challenger Deep, and the ongoing Arc of a Scythe trilogy.
A while back, I shared a list of my ten most-read authors. Since then, I've gone through and added all the books I can remember reading when I was younger to my Goodreads. Obviously there will still be many that I've forgotten, but my Goodreads now has a more accurate representation of my reading habits through the years. As such, I thought I'd share an updated list of the authors I've read the most books by.
1) Ann M. Martin. I've read 42 books by The Baby-Sitters Club's author, which is unsurprising. It was one of my favorite series as a kid/tween. Dawn was my favorite character from the original Baby-Sitters Club group, purely because she had blond hair down to her waist just like I wanted, but in the later groups I developed a much stronger liking for Mallory.
2) Ben M. Baglio. Around the same time, Baglio was the author of two other of my favorite series, Animal Ark and Dolphin Diaries. (Both are about young girls working to help save and protect animals.) As such, he comes in second with 34 books read.
3) Meg Cabot. This author of many books across various genres, specializing in light reads for women and girls, came in first in my old post. In my updated list, she's in third with 33 books read. As I said in that post, Avalon High might be my favorite book of hers, although it's hard to choose.
4) Erin Hunter. I've now read 28 books by the author team who created Warriors and a number of other MG animal-centric fantasy series.
As I've said before, I really liked the newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. It might even be my favorite of the Star Wars movies, although it's hard to pick! So I was a little surprised at all the uproar after the release. Many fans hated The Last Jedi. One of the big complaints I've seen is that Luke was out of character, that there's no way he would exile himself to a distant planet with a threat like the First Order on the horizon and that he would never believe the Jedi should end. But I think Luke was perfectly in character. So here's my analysis of The Last Jedi from Luke's point of view: how his ill-informed comparison between Kylo and Anakin led him to make this choice--and how, in The Last Jedi, he realizes it was a mistake.
Today, because my next "Waiting On" Wednesday does not yet have a cover, I'll be doing the Seven Deadly Sins of Reading Tag, as seen here.
GREED: What is the most and least expensive book on your shelves?
I have honestly no idea, since I get most of my books as gifts. Which I guess means they're all the least expensive, LOL, at least for me!
WRATH: What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?
I'm on pretty good terms with most the authors I read, except for James Patterson, whom I strongly dislike. I don't think I have a mixed love/hate relationship with any of them.
GLUTTONY: What book have you devoured over again and again?
I do a fair amount of rereads. The series with the most rereads for me is, unsurprisingly, Harry Potter, but the series I've reread the most often recently is Renee Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn Duology, which is definitely delicious.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today, we're sharing our Top Ten Books I Want My Children To Read. Enjoy!
1) The LDS scripture quad. Now some of this I probably wouldn't want them to read until they're older (Old Testament, I'm looking at you), but I do want my future kids to be familiar with the scriptures, and to one day read them in their entirety.
2) J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Uh, duh.
3) Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games Trilogy. I think this one is important enough to share with my kids.
4) C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. This is really the classic of children's fantasy, and I'd want my kids to at least read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, if not the entire series.
5) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. If we're doing the classic of children's fantasy, we have to do the classic of children's sci-fi as well. Plus, this presents a fantastic female character for them to look up to, which is an important thing for both boys and girls.
One topic you run into a lot with bookish types is what format of books they prefer. After all, in the modern world, there are a lot of options for reading: paperback, hardback, audio, e-book. Some people like to collect old books, or ARCs, or first editions. Some people are snobs about it, insisting that audio or e-books aren't "real" reading, with which I strongly disagree.
For my part, I consider content to be a lot more important than the delivery. One of the best thing about audio and e-books is that they make stories more accessible, and, as a social justice/disability advocate, I believe that accessibility is key to combating injustice and inequality. Accessibility gives people options. I know people who can only manage to read through audio books, and it makes me so happy that those books exist. It's one of my biggest hopes that when I finally get published, my books will be available in all those formats, e-book and audio as well as the standard ones.
Now, personally, I prefer to read paperbacks. Even though I'm not picky about format, something about the real pages is enjoyable to me, as opposed to the e-copies. I'm not really sure why. Maybe I find it easier on the eyes, taking a break from screens. But e-books don't really bother me. On the other hand, audio books drive me absolutely crazy. I really respect their importance for other people, but I cannot stand listening to them myself. I just read too fast on my own to be able to tolerate the slower pace and lack of control that comes with the audio format. I prefer paperback over hardback simply because they're lighter-weight and more portable. However, I recognize that when it comes to income, hardbacks pay off more for the author, and since I get most of my books from the library, I'll take whichever one is available.
All of that to say, I'd love to hear from you about this. What formats do you read in? Which do you prefer? Let me know! I'll see you again tomorrow.
In the past year, I've gotten into Star Trek. I'm working my way through The Next Generation right now, and let me tell you, it's a great show full of interesting ideas and important social concepts. However, one episode has been niggling at me ever since I saw it.
In "Angel One," the team visits a planet occupied by a misandristic society, in which men have few to no rights. This society is depicted through a simple role reversal between men and women--and it's really, in my opinion, not at all accurate to what a misandristic society what look like. Sexism derives from a deeper and more complex base that would lead to many more differences between such a society and our own patriarchal culture. The very core idea of misogyny, after all, is that the feminine is inherently lesser than the masculine. What exactly we call "feminine" and "masculine" does differ between cultures, but I think that in looking at the biological differences between the sexes, we can get something of an idea of what a society that values the feminine over the masculine would look like:
*Contains discussion of the human body, including sexual characteristics and sexual attraction*
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today I'm going into the archives to share my Top Ten Side Characters from books.
1) Minerva McGonagall from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. Professor McGonagall is legit, and no one is allowed to argue with me on that point. She's probably the best teacher at Hogwarts as well as an incredible support to Dumbledore and the rest of the good guys in the story. I relate to her a lot, honestly, especially after learning more about her heartbreaking backstory. Although she's a Gryffindor, she could have been a Ravenclaw like me, which makes her extra awesome, and she can turn into a cat at will. Minerva McGonagall is the bomb.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is a Mother's Day special: the top ten best mothers in literature. Unfortunately, in YA and children's lit, a lot of the time parents (especially mothers) are absent, and most of the rest of the time, they're pretty terrible people. So I'm going to try to see if I can get to ten with both mothers and fathers by doing my Top Ten Favorite Parents in Literature.
1) Molly Weasley from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. I mean, this one's pretty obvious. Molly is a super legit woman who manages to be feminine (i.e. her love for Celestina Warbeck), a motherly type (she makes monogrammed sweaters!), and also totally fierce (like when she killed Bellatrix, that was pretty awesome). Like all the good guys in the Harry Potter books, she eschews wizarding prejudices. She makes the best of living in poverty. She manages her own six kids along with the two kids she basically adopts, Harry and Hermione, and even when they drive her nuts, she never for a second acts like she doesn't love them. (Her husband, Arthur, is pretty legit too, for the record, though he's not nearly as fierce as Molly.)
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is about what we want to see more of in books, but I feel like I already covered that in this post. So instead, I'm going to swing around from last week's Top Ten Tuesday and talk about some book covers I don't like.
While most of the time cover artists do a good job, sometimes even great books published by top tier publishers end up looking like self-published messes. In line with that, here are my Top Ten Least Favorite Book Covers!
1) The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace. This is the one time I remember actually getting mad over a book cover. Becky Wallace's debut is a great YA fantasy novel with plenty of magic and romance--but its cover looks totally amateurish. The font, the color scheme, the weird blurry picture, they all add up to something that doesn't even begin to capture the spirit of the story. The only thing I like about this is the girl's striking eyes. Like, WHAT EVEN?!
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is the opposite of last week's: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Not Want to Read a Book. Now, I'm not very picky, at least when it comes to YA, so most of these aren't even a definite turn-off. But they will cause me to think twice before reading. So check them out!
1) Call-outs from the social justice community. Look, I'm not here for books that promote sexism/racism/ableism, etc. So if Twitter gets up in arms about a book a few months before it comes out, I'm probably going to delete it from my list. I'll check out the analysis first, to be sure it makes sense, but most likely, I'll listen to what's being said.
2) Too much "white boy." I don't really know how to explain this, but some books are just so painfully white and male. They're not at all self-aware, they're full of ridiculous angst, they use other people as props, and they're unoriginal. I've heard enough about white dudes! Tell me stories that I haven't read in all my lit classes already. (This Twitter account portrays "white boy" storytelling pretty well.) Westerns, detective novels, and "coming of age" stories are the worst offenders, but "white boy" overabundance can happen in any genre.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is Top Ten Things That Make Me Want to Read a Book. I've already shared most of these in my post about tropes that I love, but I'm going to go ahead and go over them again anyway. Here are ten things that will (almost!) always make me pick up a YA novel--and sometimes even an MG or adult book. (You'll see a lot of these in my "Waiting On" Wednesday picks.)
1) Chronic pain representation. There are so few books out there that feature chronic pain, and that was really hard on me when I first developed fibromyalgia. What was I supposed to do without a story to guide me? Which direction was I supposed to go? How could I possibly still be the hero of my own life when disability seemed to disqualify me from that? So whenever I see a book with chronic pain representation now, I'm ready to snap it up! Especially if it's a book in my preferred sci-fi/fantasy realm, because that's extra special. I will also often read books about other disabilities and chronic illnesses.
2) Mental illness representation. This is basically the same idea as the disability rep, but I'm pleased to say that there are more books on mental illness than there are on physical disability, at least. I especially go for books on OCD or bipolar disorder, because those are particularly important to me, and I'm least likely to go for one about an eating disorder, because there are quite a few of those.
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