Ten Books I Plan to Read in 2017

My last post like this was all the way back in 2015, and it’s funny because I still haven’t read most of those books. But this year will be different, I say, for the fourth year in a row.

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1) The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin.

That’s right, I’m calling it. This book will be published this year. I know I said this last year and the the year before that, but I mean it this time. I mean, he has to finish it eventually, right?

Right?

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What a boring cover

2) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

I pick this book because it’s short, it’s supposed to be great, as well as an easy read. That’s what I love about YA books: they’re all quick to read, even when they’re bad. Plus, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, and come to think of it, I haven’t seen her act in anything since Harry Potter, so I hope to watch it after finishing this. 

Image result for extremely loud and incredibly close3) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safran Foer

I remember seeing the trailer to this movie and thinking, “I don’t know what this is about, but I like it.” I never got to see to see the movie, but I heard the reviews for both it and the book were very divisive. It was either the most beautiful, heartwarming novel you’ve ever read, or a three hundred page piece of trash that belongs in the depths of hell.

I will get to decide which it is.

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4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Fun fact, I actually read the first fifty pages or so, and found it fascinating. Sure, the main character was kind of a jerk to his friend, but I assume he’ll grow out of that. Plus I really want to learn more about the history of the middle east. The gist of what I know is this: Afghanistan got fucked over real bad in the 1970s, and I’m pretty sure the Russians were responsible, because the Russians are sort of awful like that. Although I’m sure the U.S. was also at fault in one way or another, because at one point in the novel Henry Kissinger was mentioned, and that guy’s famous for being a bit of a war criminal. Either way, I doubt this book has a happy ending.

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5) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

I also read about 80 pages into this book, and I loved every moment of it. Although I do find it kind of arrogant of the author to just ignore the rules of punctuation. “Pff, I don’t need commas or quotation marks,” I can imagine him thinking. “My story is just that powerful.

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6) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

I know, I know. It’s been over three years and I still haven’t read this book. However, I recently started getting back into King’s Dark Tower series, after putting it aside for a long time, so I think I’m ready to go back into his work. 

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7) The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith

It’s a romance novel about two lesbians in the fifties, which was recommended to me by Engie from Musings from Neville’s Navel. While I wasn’t a fan of The Maze Runner, I do tend to love most of the books she recommends me. Like A Game of Thrones, or Between the World and Me, or The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Or V for Vendetta.

So intend to get around to reading this book, and the pages will be soaked with my heart-shaped tears.

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8) Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams

This is the third book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and if it’s half as funny as the first two, I will be in for a good time. 

Seriously, though. You know how rare it is for me to laugh out loud when reading a book? Usually I just smile, or exhale out of my nose, but Adams sends me into fits. And then I find myself thinking about scenes from the books months afterwards and I crack up again, and then I have to explain to people why I just started laughing for seemingly no reason.

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9) I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.

I remember seeing the Will Smith movie adaptation for this, and thinking, “meh, seven out of ten.” But apparently the book is completely different? Also, the book is currently sitting on a shelf in my basement, and no one knows how it got there, which adds quite a bit to its mystique.

10) Maggie Stiefvater’s new book, whatever it is.

Stiefvater’s become one of those authors whose books I would immediately buy the moment they were released. Other authors include John Green, Markus Zusak, George R. R. Martin, and Suzanne Collins. If any of them publish a new book this year, I guarantee I’ll be buying it, no matter what the circumstances.


So what are you planning to read this year? And if you’ve read any of the novels above, feel free to share your (non-spoilery) thoughts. Oh, and Happy New Year!

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Nothing Like an Award to Keep Your Spirits Up…

So throughout the past couple months, I’ve received a bunch of awards. This isn’t surprising, (I mean, have you met me?) but I’m flattered nonetheless. Most of these awards were season-based, so I decided to go with the one nomination that doesn’t belong to a specific time of the year: the Sunshine Blogger Award.

I was nominated by the always snazzy Katie Nichols. She’s only tried to kill me twice this year, so I’m extra thankful.

The rules:

–Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. (Check!)

–Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. (Yeah, not happening.)

–Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (Also not doing this, because Standards.)

–List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

 

1.  If you could only read one fictional book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would probably be a really dense book; one where you’ll discover something new each time you read it. So if you’re allowed to pick a series, I’d pick A Song of Ice and Fire, and if you’re allowed to pick just one book, it would be Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell. I haven’t read it yet, but I heard it’s good and long, so a reread would probably be rewarding.


2.  What type of computer do you use for blogging?

My chromebook. Bought it over a year ago for 180 bucks and it’s been working like a charm ever since. #quitethebargain


3.  What was the last album you listened to straight through?

Atlas: Year One, by Sleeping at Last. This is one of those albums where every song sounds good, but only handful can give you an actual eargasm. Those three songs were Earth, Saturn, and Neptune. Listen … if you dare.


4.  What is your favorite holiday sweet?

Come to think of it, I don’t really like any food that goes specifically with a certain holiday. I guess I do like the Christmas-themed designs of Coca-Cola cans.

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Those polar bears would maul you to death if they got the chance.

5.  Are you known for making a signature dish or food?  If so, what is it?

I don’t cook much, but I do make scrambled eggs and toast. I can also make microwavable popcorn with ease. 

6.  Would you consider your handwriting to be sloppy or neat (or somewhere in between)?

Depends on the pen and my current state of mind. That being said, it’s always legible.


7.  What is the awesomest-looking book you own, and why?

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That’s not my hand, by the way. Photo credit goes to MightyGirl.com.

You may not be that impressed, but I think the cover sets the tone for the book perfectly. And it can’t be stressed enough just how good the paperback Stephen King books feel in your hands. The pages feel so clean, the font is so easy on the eyes … in fact just writing this makes me want to buy another King novel.

8.  Name your three biggest fandoms.

Bitch please. I don’t do fandoms. Fandoms are for dweebs and dorks and no-lifes, not for a cool dude like me. I do have a reversible belt, after all.

That being said: 1) Harry Potter. I don’t talk about the series much these days, but it will never not hold a special place in my heart. 2) A Song of Ice and Fire. I could talk about these books for days. 3) No idea. There’s probably a Stephen King fandom I’d get along well with. Maybe The Raven Cycle. Those were good books. Hopefully I’ll write something one day that inspires a fandom;  my dream is to get death threats in the mail after killing off a beloved character.


9.  Favorite childhood movie?

Finding Nemo. It’s funny, and an emotional rollercoaster? But how?

10.  Pizza or tacos?

Sicilian pizza any day of the week. With tacos, the shell always breaks on the first bite.

11.  Name three books that everyone on earth should read.

Keep in mind that I’m not picking these books necessarily because they’re my favorite, but because I like the message behind them.

  1. Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut. In part because I think it deserves more attention than Vonnegut’s more famous work, but also because I think it has some really neat things to say regarding morality and whatnot. Plus, in a world where millions of World War II books are published each year, Vonnegut managed to write one with a fresh perspective. (That last point is true for a lot of his books. But this is one is even fresher.)
  2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth. There’s a movie adaptation coming out soon, so the book should be getting a nice boost in popularity, but then again, the movie rarely does the book justice. So just read it already. It’s about a lesbian growing up with a very conservative family in 1990s Montana, who gets sent to a gay conversion camp. Some thoughts:
    • It’s about the importance of understanding people and respecting them for who they are.
    • It’s also sort of glorified pot and normalized shoplifting, but I’m okay with that.
    • I feel like, in most stories like this, you’d expect the conservative relatives and the people running the camp to be demonized — to be written like one-dimensional homophobes taken straight out of an after-school special. But nope, they’re written with just as much humanity as anyone else. It would’ve been so easy for the author to write them off as Evil, but she didn’t, and for that, I salute her.
  3. It, by Stephen King. Sure, it’s violent and scary, and it ends with a bizarre, offensive sex scene that makes it clear the author was snorting coke while writing it. (Apparently he remained high during the editing and revision stage, and so was his editor.) Nevertheless, the things King has to say regarding friendship and childhood are powerful, and should still be relevant for years to come.
    • I also want everyone to be just as scared as clowns as I am.
    • Should note that while it’s been over four years since I read it, I can still remember characters like Stuttering Bill, Bevvy, and Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier, and some scenes — the rock fight, Ben’s first encounter with Henry Bowers, the part where Pennywise takes the form of a security guard with a dog’s head, (that was weird) — are still etched in my mind, and will probably never go away.
  4. Bonus Mention: V for Vendetta, and 1984. I can’t help but feel like these two books, (especially 1984, with its Groupthink and Newspeak) are becoming increasingly relevant.

And that is all! Thank you Katie, and thank you, America. I wont be nominating anyone, because I wouldn’t want to be a bother. Good night. Sweet Dreams. Don’t let the bed bugs eat open your veins and crawl around your circulatory system.

Books I Plan to Read in 2015 (And a Look Back at Those Read Last Year)

So it’s becoming sort of a tradition on this blog to make a list of ten books I plan to read the following year. This time I’ll be doing something slightly different. In addition to listing ten books, I will also be reviewing the books I planned to read in 2014.

Now, for last year’s books:

1) Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. [Haven’t finished yet]

I’m about three hundred fifty pages into this novel, and I’m not entirely sure what to feel about it. It hasn’t quite hooked me in like my first Sanderson book, The Way of Kings, has, and besides Vin and Elend, I don’t really care about any of the characters. But then again, the last three hundred pages of TWoK were easily its best pages, so hopefully the next three hundred pages of Mistborn will be just as great. Hey, you never know.

2) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King [Didn’t read.]

I can’t believe I still haven’t read this book. I don’t have an excuse; this book’s been on my kindle since last Christmas, and I’ve wanted to read it since 2012.

I’ll get around to it eventually.

3) A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin [Read.]

This book was easily the best in the series so far. It was simply stunning. The last five hundred pages were basically just one huge, groundbreaking event after another, yet it never felt tired or excessive, because all these events had been built up to for literally thousands of pages. Not to mention it was the most satisfying of the novels. If George R. R. Martin just decided to stop writing and become a lumberjack right after writing this, I wouldn’t have been that upset.

4) World War Z, by Max Brooks [Didn’t read.]

I haven’t read this either, which can probably be attributed to my declining interest in zombie stories over the last twelve months. What? They’re overdone.

(An exception: The Last of Us, a videogame I got for Christmas, and ended up beating today. Greatest. Video game. Ever. If anyone has this on the ps4, please comment immediately with your psn username so I could shoot you with my crossbow in the multiplayer mode.)

5) Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman [Read]

This was the book where I realized just how funny Neil Gaiman could be. This was hilarious, and deeply moving at the same time. Plus it had some scary parts, which I didn’t expect.

Also, can I also just point out that this might just be the only book I’ve read that centers around an almost entirely black cast and yet isn’t about racism? Why is this so rare?

6) The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. [Didn’t read.]

I can’t seem to find this book anywhere.

7) The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K Rowling. [Didn’t read either]

Heh, I didn’t either of these books. I will one day, though. I swear.

8) The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater [Read]

I must admit, the first book didn’t really grab me. It was good and all, but the characters didn’t seem nearly as well-defined and interesting as they’d become later on. Except for Blue and Noah . (They are perfect.) It wasn’t until reading its sequel, The Dream Thieves, that it became clear just how great this series was.

9) Any Book, by Agatha Christie. [Read]

I read two of her books: And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The first book was amazing, and completely took me by surprise. The second one wasn’t quite as good. It wasn’t as tense and I managed to guess the killer about fifteen pages before it was revealed. #skillsofdeduction

10) Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo [Didn’t finish yet]

I’m almost six hundred pages into this beast of a novel, and I’m not even halfway through. That being said, I loved the first four hundred pages or so, but after that the story’s started to drag, and I’m growing restless. I still want to see what happens to Cossette and Jean Valjean, though, so I plan on continuing the read.

And, now onto the books I plan to read in 2015:

1) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

That’s right. I put this on the list twice. I also need to (finally) finish up the rest of his Dark Tower series. The first three books were amazing and I finished through them all within a month. And then I got to the flashback portions of Wizard and Glass and I just grew bored and stopped reading. But the thing is, I still want to know if Roland finds the Dark Tower or not, and if so, what exactly is up with that Dark Tower anyway?

Also, I’m told that King wrote himself into the series (as a character!) which is a sign of either genius or complete insanity. Possibly both. Either way, he has piqued my interest.

2) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

You know that video game I was talking about earlier, The Last of Us? Well apparently, that was partially based off this book, so I assume the book will be scary, funny, poignant, dark and cynical all at the same time. And they’ll be a badass teenage girl named Ellie. (I hope.)

3) The Great Gatsby, by Scott F. Fitzgerald

I’ve heard this book is overrated so many times that I’m beginning to think it’s actually underrated. Does that make sense? I think it does.

4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Why? Because I see this book everywhere, that’s why.

5) Jonathon Strange and Mrs. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

I have no idea what this is about. But judging from the title, I’m going to guess and say: it’s kind of like a Harry Potter-esque story, but with like, sex and stuff. Oh, and it takes place in Victorian London.

6) Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

Because with the exception of Nightmare in Silver, Neil Gaiman hasn’t let me down once. Not to mention, this book features characters with beads for eyes, and that sounds terrifying.

7) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

How have I not read this book yet? Supposedly it deals with topics such as depression, sexual abuse, drugs, mental illness, homophobia and a bunch of other terrible things in only two hundred or so pages, and I kind of want to see how it pulls that all off without feeling like a soap opera.

(I don’t actually watch soap operas, so for all I know that last sentence was completely inaccurate.)

Also, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, so that’s always a plus.

8) Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve only read one book by good ol’ Kurt, and it was Mother Night, a story about a Nazi war criminal who was actually an American spy, and it was amazing, in every sense of the word. I finished it in one day.

But when you ask someone what their favorite Vonnegut novel is, they almost never say Mother Night, which leads me to believe that perhaps there are even better Vonnegut novels out there in the world, such as this one.

9) Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

I know absolutely nothing about this book, except that apparently it was important enough to have a commonly known phrase created because of it.

10) Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Because my blog friends like it, for some reason, and I’ve decided to give it a try. Apparently it’s a retelling of Cinderella, but with cyborgs. . . Sounds interesting.

So, what do you think of my to-read list? What books do you plan on reading this year? And most importantly, do you have The Last of Us on the playstation 4? Because that game’s rad.

Books I’ve Thrown Across the Room (TCWT)

(Caution: Spoilers for the listed books. You have been warned.)

I’m not doing the November TCWT blog chain, mostly because I couldn’t think of a decent response, and I’d sort of forgot to apply until it about ten seconds ago. But because I’m a total rebel, I’m going to go back in time and try out one of their old prompts. This one was from all the way back in January 2012, back before I even had a blog:

What are examples of books you’ve thrown across the room? Why did you throw them?

To be honest, I’ve never actually thrown a book across a room, mostly because I have a kindle now, and technology is expensive, and also because I’m not the type of hot-head to actually throw a book full-force at a wall. The most I’d do is put the book down.

Also, books are friends, and we should not harm them in any way.

That being said, here’s a few books that made my throwing arm restless:

1) A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin.

I never threw the book during Ned’s death, or the Red Wedding, because I’d been spoiled beforehand on those moments so it didn’t have as much of an effect on me.

But because Arya’s storyline has mostly been disconnected with the main plot, her future was always a complete mystery. I had no idea where she’d eventually end up or what she’d become; I was just hoping that she would eventually make it back to Winterfell to be with her family. Well, what was left of her family, anyway. Oh, how naive I was back then.

So, going into this book, I was so excited to see the eventual Arya-Bran reunion, and to see the two of them fill each other in on everything’s that happened in the since they’ve been apart. (Bran would be able to summarize all the interesting things he’s done in one sentence: “I met a wildling.”)

But then Yoren died, and my hopes were crushed, sort of like the Viper’s skull. They were briefly lifted when Arya and her friends managed to escape, but then when they were captured by the Mountain’s men, and my hopes were quickly then stabbed in the throat, just like poor Lommy.

On the bright side, this led to what some of the most gripping story arcin the entire series, so I can’t complain much.

2) The Long Walk, by Stephen King.

This was one of those books that I picked up one day, not expecting anything, then by the time I put it down I had read one hundred twenty pages without even realizing it. Seriously, this book was fantastic. Addictive, a tiny bit depressing, and physically painful to read, but I mean that in the best way possible. And all of that was ruined on the final page.

It’s not about what happened at the end of the book, but how sudden, rushed and confusing the whole thing was. It was like the author realized he had thirty seconds left before the deadline, so he just quickly wrote the final page and sent it in.

3) Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson.

When I first read this book, I was in fourth or third grade, and I’d never read a book featuring a major death like this. Or at least, not a major death so random and sudden as Leslie’s was.

Keep in mind, at this age I hadn’t had much experience with this whole “death” thing. I didn’t quite grasp the finality of it all in real life, let alone in a happy-go-lucky children’s book about a wonderful fantasy world.* So I spent the last third of the book expecting Leslie to show up, hopefully by popping out of a cake, and reveal that she wasn’t actually dead at all. When this never happened, I was pretty upset and disappointed.

Looking back at it now, I realize that had my wish been granted, the book would’ve never been so successful to begin with.

*Or at least, that’s what I thought the book was. In my defense, the movie version of the book had just come out and the trailers were so ridiculously misleading that the movie’s marketing team should be sued for false advertisements.

(Also, I apologize for any typos in this post. I’m a tiny bit sleep deprived at the moment, so feel free to point any of them out for me.)

My Favorite Beginnings and Endings (TCWT)

Hey, y’all. It’s time for the monthly TCWT blog chain post, and unlike the last one, this entry will be on time. This month’s prompt is:

“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”

Oh, well this is gonna be easy. I’ve read a decent amount of books, many of which have some pretty spectacular beginnings and even better endings. First, I shall start off with the beginnings:

A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin

When I first started this giant mammoth of a novel I was surprised by how readable it was. The only other epic fantasy series I’d read at the time was Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, so I came into this expecting purple prose and a bunch of names I couldn’t quite pronounce. I was wrong on both accounts. Mostly. The prologue perfectly eases the reader into this harsh, cold world, without the boring pages of info-dumping so many fantasy novels resort to. Excuse me while I list a few of the things this prologue introduces you to:

  • A giant 700 foot wall made of ice.
  • Three characters who are surprisingly well rounded, considering how little page time they get.
  • Oh, and EVIL ICE ZOMBIES.

Honestly, as intriguing openings go, you can’t get any better than that. The only possible exception I could think of would be evil ice unicorns, but that’s a bit of a stretch. In fact, the only beginning better than this would have to be:

Stephen King’s IT: (Spoilers, but only for the first 30 pages of this 1,008 page book.)

The ending to this giant novel was, well, a bit of a mess, if I dare say so. But the first section introduced you to the town of Derry, and made it clear that despite it’s cheery outlook, it is a dark and deadly place.

It opens up with a nice five year old kid named George losing his paper boat down a sewer drain. He’s all upset, until he sees a friendly clown in the gutter, holding his paper boat. This is the innocent little conversation the two of them had, with most of the descriptions cut out for brevity’s sake:

“Want your boat, Georgie?” The clown smiled.

“I sure do,” he said.

“‘I sure do. That’s good! That’s very good! And how about a balloon?”

“Well, sure!” He reached forward . . . and then drew his hand reluctantly back. “I’m not supposed to take stuff from strangers. My dad said so.”

“Very wise of your dad,” the clown in the storm-drain said, smiling. “Very wise indeed. Therefore I will introduce myself. I, Georgie, am Mr. Bob Gray, also known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Pennywise, meet George Denbrough. George, meet Pennywise. And now we know each other. I’m not a stranger to you, and you’re not a stranger to me. Kee-rect?”

George giggled. “I guess so.”

Shortly after this, Pennywise finally convinces George to put his hand through the drain, and then rips the poor kid’s arm off. The kid dies from a mix of shock and blood loss. Don’t feel too bad, though. The kid was an idiot. If any halfway intelligent person saw a clown hanging about in a sewage drain, they wouldn’t dare touch him, not even with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. Besides, we all know that kid was going to end up dying later anyway, probably from forgetting to stop the car before stepping out, or maybe by starving to death after getting his hand stuck in a vending machine. By not killing him, Pennywise would’ve simply prolonged the inevitable.

But enough with the horribly-insensitive jokes on poor Georgie’s behalf: now I’m going to talk about the chapter after that, which is still technically the beginning.

This chapter takes place before, during and after a hate crime against an innocent gay couple in Derry, the town in which the novel takes place. To sum it up, a group of homophobic jerks saw an openly gay person named Adrian wearing a hat saying “I [heart] Derry!” So they felt that their “civic pride” had been wounded by seeing him wear that hat. One thing led to another, and they beat him up and threw him off a bridge, where Adrian was then finished off by Pennywise the Clown.

Here, King makes it clear that 1: What happened to the kid was horrible, and 2: The town of Derry is extremely homophobic, much more so than the towns surrounding it. This is partially shown in a flashback to when Don (Adrian’s boyfriend) takes him to see underneath the town’s bridge, where it’s littered with hundreds of writings like “STICK NAILS IN THE EYES OF ALL FAGGOTS (FOR GOD)!” and other even worse quotes I’m not going to include, because then my blog will probably get flagged or something.

Then you get this particular piece:

“Whoever writes these little homilies has got a case of the deep down crazies. I’d feel better if I thought it was just one person, one isolated sickie, but . . .” Don swept his arm vaguely down the length of the Kissing Bridge. “There’s a lot of this stuff . . . and I don’t think just one person did it. That’s why I want to leave Derry, Ade. Too many places and too many people seem to have the deep-down crazies.”

And that’s why Derry is so terrifying. Not just because of the crazy clown demon-thingy running amok and killing children and whatnot, but because that evil presence seems to be influencing the rest of the population. There’s racism and homophobia everywhere in the world, but there’s a much larger concentration of said hatred in this small, seemingly ideal town.

(As you may have been able to tell, It is the only book on this list I have with me at the moment, which is why I went into so much more detail.)

Some other great beginnings:

The Dark Knight. I know it’s not a book, but that opening scene was fantastic.

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak. It starts off with the funniest bank robbery I’ve ever read, which admittedly isn’t saying much.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. It opens with the brutal murder of an infant’s family, yet it’s described in a surprisingly child-friendly way.

Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve only read the prologue, but it was amazing. Whoever this Kelsier guy is, I want to high-five him.

Carrie, by Stephen King. (Spoilers for the beginning.) It starts off with the main character getting her period in the school locker room, which is embarrassing enough, but what makes it even worse is the fact that her crazy religious mother never bothered to tell her anything about the menstrual cycle, so she was freaking out, thinking she was dying, while all the other girls made fun of her. This gives her what I like to call INSTANT SYMPATHY POINTS from the reader, and that’s something only well written characters can get.

Now, what are my favorite endings, you ask?

Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

While I didn’t like the first three chapters, I was hooked by the end of chapter four and I loved everything about it, especially the final lines:

“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

These words are so moving and powerful (even more so when you know the circumstances surrounding them) that they’ve been quoted a billion times since, almost as often as the book’s opening lines.* Commissioner Gordon even quoted them at the end of The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises

Just because of the A Tale of Two Cities quote, mentioned above.

Then I’d pick The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Anyone who’s read that book should know why.

photo credit: cheeseburger.com

And finally, I’d pick A Game of Thrones. Again. (Caution: Spoilers.)

This book started with ice, and ended with fire. Daenerys Targaryen started out as basically a sex slave, sold to a guy who was thrice her age and didn’t even speak the same language. I have yet to be put in such a predicament, but I assume my thoughts about it would be something along the lines of, “Well this isn’t very fun.” Yet Dany, over the course of the novel, grows from a shy, unambitious thirteen (yes, thirteen) year old girl, to a strong and confident ruler, and this makes her storyline the most satisfying one in the first book.

Oh, and dragons. She becomes the Mother of Dragons. If, after reading or watching this scene, you didn’t immediately pump your fist in the air, there are only two possible explanations:

1) Both of your fists have been stolen by the notorious Fist Thief of 1987, or:

2) You are a bad person, and your family probably doesn’t even love you.

Check out the other blogs in the blog chain:

September 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:

Prompt: “What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?” 

7th – http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/

8th – http://zarahoffman.com/

9th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

10th – http://www.elizamcfarlish.weebly.com/

11th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

12th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

14th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

15th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

16th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

17th – http://ttkesley.wordpress.com/

18th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

19th – http://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

20th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

24th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/

and http://www.paperdaydreams.com/

25th – http://write-where-you-are.blogspot.de/

and http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

26th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

and http://anmksmeanderingmind.wordpress.com/

27th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

and http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

28th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/

and http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

29th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

30th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

*I hated those opening lines. I blame my English teacher for making me repeat them so many times.

What Characters Are You Most Like? (TCWT Blog Chain)

Sorry for the late post. I was totally going to finish it on time, but my family unexpectedly took me to visit my cousins’ house up in the untamed north (New Hampshire) where I wasn’t able to use the internet for a while. Well, I probably could have asked to used the computer or something, but I was too busy playing Kan Jam and rediscovering my passion for Guitar Hero to try. Besides, I’d been thinking over the prompt for weeks at that point and I still couldn’t come up with a satisfactory answer.

This is a horrible excuse, I know. I will make it up to you somehow, by writing a post that’ll blow you away, what with my mad linguistic skills and nice hair and all.

This month’s prompt, as you should’ve been able to tell from the title, is:

“What characters are you most like?”

This is the type of prompt that requires you to be brutally honest with yourself, and to list your flaws and weaknesses and share them openly with the internet. If you don’t do this, you’ll end up picking characters that you aren’t actually like, but you wish you were, and people will roll your eyes at your selection and say “Ha. As if!”

For example, I came dangerously close to picking Omar Little from The Wire.

For those who aren’t familiar with Omar, he is basically Robin Hood. A gay black American Robin Hood who’s been roaming around the streets of West Baltimore robbing drug dealers for the last decade or so. He’s not afraid to shoot anyone who messes with him, but he never harms innocents, he never swears, and he’s the type of guy to show up in court wear a snazzy track suit with a tie. Even homophobic racists love Omar, he’s simply that cool.

Unfortunately, I am not like Omar. We don’t have a whole lot in common. When I walk down a street, I don’t hear shouts of “Matthew’s coming! Yo Matthew’s coming!” as everyone runs away. I don’t have a shotgun, and I’ve never pretended to be an eighty year old man in a wheelchair just to put a few drug dealers off guard. I would like to pretend I’m as badass* as Omar, but that is not the case and will probably never be. Now excuse me while I cry for the next hour or so.

Now would also be good time to admit that I am not Batman, nor am I anything like Sherlock Holmes, Han Solo, that guy from those Old Spice commercials, Finnick Odair, The Doctor, Albus Dumbledore, Atticus Finch, Jack Sparrow**, Jack Shephard, Jack Bauer, Jack Reacher, Jack Dawson or Jack Skellington. (There are a lot of Jacks.) I’m really more of a Quentin Jacobson type of guy.

Quentin’s a slightly nerdy teenager who obsesses over and idolizes a girl he barely talks to anymore. Okay, maybe that’s not the most flattering description of him, (you all probably think he’s a creepy stalker, and therefore you’ll think I’m a creepy stalker, and that’s not good), so I should also add that he’s reasonably well adjusted, has a great sense of empathy and is willing to pull some pretty groovy stunts, once his crush Margo manages to unleash his bold, more mischievous side.

I saw myself in him a lot, both the good and the bad. I understood why he’d like Margo as much as he did, and why in the beginning he went through such lengths to impress her and in the end we went through such lengths to find her and figure out who she really was. For the most part, I would have done the exact same things he did throughout the novel, and yes, that includes spending the night in an abandoned, asbestos-filled building reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

I think I need help.

There’s also Stuttering Bill (real name: Bill Denbrough) from Stephen King’s It, who is really just all types of awesome, a word I don’t use that often, you know. All the main characters were fantastic and well written, and I felt like I’d known each and every one of them my entire life. (Note: that’s impressive.) But Bill was the one I could relate to the most. I never had a stutter, as far as I can recall, but I did have some serious speech problems as a kid and still do, though not nearly as bad. I’ve gotta say, King nailed the whole experience down, from the bullying he went through to the frustration he felt each day, not being able to complete a full sentence without screwing it up. Yet despite this, he still manages to stick up for himself and his friends in times of struggle, and he even becomes the unofficial leader of his little gang of outcasts to which all the main characters belonged.

Sure, I never had a younger brother who died shortly after getting his arm bit off by a clown (that happened like, five pages in, so it’s barely a spoiler), but that doesn’t mean I can’t relate to him in just about every other way. He also loved to write as a kid, and even ended up a successful author as an adult, which is exactly what’s going to happen to me. *fingers crossed.*

He’s also described as being very handsome countless times throughout the novel, which is yet another thing we have in common. We might as well be twins.

So in conclusion, I am not Omar. Instead I’d consider myself a less obsessive Quentin, or a less stuttery Bill, or perhaps I’m Hawkeye. I would make an amazing Hawkeye.

 ****

August 2014 blog chain prompt/schedule:

5th – http:// semilegacy.blogspot.com/

6th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

9th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

10th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

11th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

12th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

13th – http://uniquelyanonymous.wordpress.com/

14th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

15th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

16th – http://nutfreenerd.wordpress.com/

17th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

18th – http://writers-place-for-you.blogspot.de/

19th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

20th – https://taratherese.wordpress.com/

21st – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

24th – http://theweirdystation.wordpress.com/

25th – http://teenageink.wordpress.com/

26th – http://www.adventuringthroughpages.wordpress.com/

27th – http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

28th – http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

29th – http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

and http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

30th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

and http://www.turtlesinmysoup.blogspot.com/

31st – http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

*It occurred to me that by praising Omar and calling him a badass, I’ve probably completely missed the point. *shrugs* Oh well.

**Captain Jack Sparrow. Sorry.

Books and Spells—Because I Don’t Talk Enough About Books Already

By the way, that title above is not sarcasm. I should really talk more about books on this blog than I already do. My book-related posts get twelve BILLION more views than my non-book-related posts. Coincidence? Maybe.

I first saw this on Musings From Neville’s Navel, and thought, “I should do a post about this.” I then proceeded to completely forget about that decision until I stumbled across A Mirror Made of Words, and now I’m writing this as fast as I can so I don’t forget about it later.

Reparo
Fixes damaged objects

A book that needs some serious fixing: The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey. This book switched between a total of four point of view characters, and I thought only two of them were necessary. One of them actively ruined my enjoyment of another character’s POV just by existing. Also, the obnoxious romantic subplot was obnoxious, and Ben Parish could use some flaws besides being “too caring.”

Lumos
Creates a narrow beam of light

A book that deserves more attention: The Underland Chronicles, by Suzanne Collins. Second best children’s series I’ve ever read, and the final book was particularly amazing.

Nox
Counters the effects of Lumos

An overhyped book: Would I get attacked if I said The Lord of the RingsAdmittedly, I read the book a long time ago, and it wasn’t until I was about 65% through The Fellowship of the Ring that I finally got hooked into the story. And even still, the descriptions were way too much. While I loved the next two books, but no book should take over two hundred pages to get a reader invested in the story, and I don’t want Tolkien to get away with it.

I plan to read TLotR again some day, and I’ll probably enjoy it much more than I did the first time.

Accio
Summons an object from a significant distance

A book you’re anticipating: George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter. It doesn’t seem to be coming out any time soon, but I’d rather have him take his time than write a rushed novel with plot holes and inconsistencies. As long as he doesn’t die first, I’ll be fine.

Alohomora
Opens unlocked doors, unless bewitched

A book you want to be more open about: I guess I’d pick Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, not because I feel uncomfortable about it, but because more people should be aware that there are concentration camps in North Korea where people are forced to live in Holocaust-esque conditions, and no one is doing anything about it. (I don’t think I answered this question correctly.)

Expecto Patronum
Conjures an incarnation of positive feelings.

A book that made you cry, or at least want to: The Book Thief. I love how the summary of this book and movie trailer makes it sound like a happy story of a girl learning to read in Nazi Germany. And then you read it and realize that this is a tragedy you’re reading, and the summary lied to you, that manipulative bastard.

Morsmordre
Conjures the Dark Mark

A book you wish to mark as one of your favorites: I can’t say The Book Thief? I guess I’ll go with To Kill a Mockingbird, because it proves that classics can be both thought-provoking and fun to read.

Petrificus Totalus
Petrifies victim.

A book you wish to keep forever: Paper Towns, because I love that book for reasons I myself am not even sure of.

Riddikulus
Used against a boggart

A book with a deceiving synopsis: Bridge to Terabithia.  I thought it was a fantasy novel about two kids discovering a secret fantasy world and having a bunch of fun adventures. It turned out to be a contemporary novel with a tragic ending, and it had the same plot as a certain John Green novel, but for kids! Not that I blame it for having the same plot as the JG novel, because that novel (not naming it!) came out years later.

Lacarnum Inflamarae
Shoots fireballs

A book you wish to burn out of your mind completely: John Green’s Paper Towns, so I can experience it again without any idea of how much I’d end up liking it.

Wingardium Leviosa
Levitates objects

A book you wish to reread: Stephen King’s The Shining.

Avada Kedavra
Causes instant death

Worst book EVER: The Scarlet Letter. Burn in hell, Hawthorne, or at least get a better editor.

Stupefy
Puts victim in an unconscious state

A book with a chapter you couldn’t seem to get over: The Purple Wedding in Storm of Swords. Joffrey was such a great king, he didn’t deserve to die… *cries*

Confundo
Causes befuddlement or forgetfulness

A book that generally confused you: The Gunslinger, by Stephen King. I loved this book (#lifechanging) but the transitions between scenes were sometimes confusing, and I couldn’t go a paragraph without bumping into a really long word I’ve never heard of.

Crucio
Inflicts unbearable pain

A book that was a pain to read:  A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin, in the best way possible. This was a cruel, mean book. Even more so than its predecessors, considering all the hell he put his characters through. There were characters that you just wanted to stab repeatedly in inappropriate areas, who never seemed to get any comeuppance. That is, until the last third of the book or so, that is, when Martin decided to finally give the good guys a break.

I should also mention that A Storm of Swords is the my favorite fantasy novel I’ve read so far. Over a thousand pages long and not a single paragraph was dull.

Episkey
Heals relatively minor injuries

A feel good book that you enjoyed: An Abundance of Katherines. Despite my complaints about it, I still thought it was a fun book to read, and it had a mostly uplifting ending. Though to be honest, I would’ve picked Paper Towns already but I’ve already mentioned that a bunch of times.

Impedimenta
Impedes target’s progress

A book that kept you up all night reading: The Hunger Games, and Gregor and the Code of Claw. Suzanne Collins is just really good at writing suspenseful novels.

Silencio
Immediate silencing

A book that left you speechless after you read it: The Running Man, because there was a twist near the end that I certainly did not see coming. I think I actually gasped, which is not something I usually do. Ever.

Legilimens
Allows you to delve into someone’s mind

A book with well-developed characters: A Song of Ice and Fire. With the exception of some in AFfC, every single POV character has felt like a real person. There are very few characters that have matched the complexity of Tyrion Lannister, a very, very flawed man who I just can’t help but root for.

Levicorpus
A spell that turns you upside down

A book that changed your mind about a character from its prequel: My opinion of Severus Snape changed completely in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In just one chapter, Snape went from a character I detested to one of my favorite characters in the whole series.

Obliviate
Used to hide memories

A book with a story you can’t remember: Junie B. Jones (the whole series). I remember loving these books as a kid, but I don’t remember anything about them now. The only thing I remember is when Crybaby Will ended up being amazing at pull-ups in the field day one.

Peskipiksi Pesternomi
Useless spell

A boring book that had absolutely no effect on you: The Scarlet Letter. I don’t even remember what the book was about, but I do remember thinking “wow, Hawthorne uses a lot of commas.”

Reducto
Breaks through solid objects

A book that convinced you to reconsider a certain genre: The Walking Dead: Volume 1: Days Gone By. This book reminded me that comic books exist. I was never the type of guy to be all “Oh, I don’t read comics. They’re too juvenile.” (That was an actual quote from someone in my school, believe it or not.) But I was never really into them either. UNTIL NOW.

Rictusempra
Tickling spell

A book that made you laugh: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Need I explain why?

Sectusempra
Offensive spell that violently wounds the target

A book that may have scarred you for life: The Stand (Unabridged Version), by Stephen King. I read this when I was eleven, going on twelve. And there were some scenes here definitely not appropriate for someone my age.

That being said, I’d still gladly give this book to an eleven year old, because I’m a terrible person.

Tarantallegra
Makes you dance uncontrollably

A series finale that made you feel giddy: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. Wait, I can’t talk about TV shows? Well, then. I guess it’ll have to be the final Chronicles of Narnia book. The seventh novel was the most exciting, in my opinion, even if the whole Christian metaphors were a bit heavy handed.

Bombarda Maxima
Causes an explosion that breaks through obstacles

A book that made you explode with feels: I am the Messenger. The first 90% of this book was amazing, almost rivaling The Book Thief. The last ten percent? Not so much.

Finite Incantatem
Nullifies other spells

A book you thought you’d dislike but ended up loving: A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about how the book was so boring and that nothing happens, which wasn’t true. I didn’t exactly love it, but it was much better than I expected it to be.

To end this post: I will ask if any of the readers here are planning to do Camp NaNoWriMo next month. If your answer is yes and you would like to be cabin mates (because who wouldn’t?) please comment with your username.

Also, if anyone has a Words with Friends account, please play a game with “mbswizzle42.” Warning: I tend to gloat when I’m winning.