Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Characters + Book Characters Mash-Up

Have you ever imagined characters from books as classic Christmas characters? No? Well, neither had I until I made up this post!

I decided that it might be fun to match up some somewhat well-known characters from books and match them up with some classic, well-loved Christmas characters. The result is somewhat silly, but I had a really fun time coming up with this and I'd love to hear your thoughts on my choices and what characters you might pick for these Christmas characters as well! Also, please note that this entire post is written in a non-serious manner, so please don't take it too seriously if you disagree with anything!

 🎅Santa Claus: 
Hagrid & Albus Dumbledore
Image result for hagrid smilingImage result for albus dumbledore smiling
Who better to play Santa Clause than the biggest, furriest, jolliest man I can think of? Hagrid! Of course, I could also picture Dumbledore as a pretty good Santa Clause because of his general charm and quirkiness, so I had to go with both of them. 

🤶 Mrs. Claus:
Mrs. Weasley

I had a hard time trying to think of the perfect motherly figure for this one, and despite the various options that I came up with, nothing jumped out at me as much as our favorite mother, Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Weasley is a caring and thoughtful woman, not to mention the fact that she obviously is pretty good at raising kids--and making them great presents! She readily takes in Harry and Hermione with her family at many times throughout the series and she's also an incredibly tough woman, a trait that I have no doubt Mrs. Clause also has. 

Ebenezer Scrooge:
Kaz 'Dirtyhands' Brekker (Six of Crows)
Ah, who better than the thief himself to be our Scrooge? First, there's the obvious comparison that Scrooge likes to steal money from people and Kaz also likes to literally steal money (and more) from people. But there is also the fact that Scrooge is totally not into Christmas spirit or doing festive things and Kaz most definitely does not seem the type to like festive things either. However, both characters seem to find a little  bit of a heart by the end of their story, which only serves to bring these characters in a full circle together.
Image: (Kaz) Merwild

The Grinch:
Severus Snape
Honestly, is there an explanation needed? Who else can you imagine taking away Christmas from children? Snape is the perfect Grinch.

Cindy Lou Who:
It was hard to find a Cindy Lou Who, but Evie's enthusiasm and complete adoption of the 20's  slang and lifestyle just make me think that she is also someone who could deal with a grumpy Grinch figure. And she would also probably want to make the entire town festive because she is always up for a party.

Rudolph is a character who seems to be yearning for something more than what he is. He wants to fit in and be as important as the other reindeer, but he struggles to do so. Just like Rudolph, Mabel and A-through-L want to become more and know more about themselves, as well. 

The Abominable Snowman:
The Polar Bear (Iorek Byrnison)(His Dark Materials)
Okay, so this one is a little silly, I know, but it totally works! I actually had a few ideas for the abominable snowman--believe it or not--but I think our polar bear friend fits best.

Jack Skellington:
Lazlo Strange (Strange the Dreamer)
I'm not entirely sure why, but as soon as I tried to find a matching character for Jack Skellington, Lazlo was the first person to pop up. Something about the way that Jack Skellington wants to bring the new Christmas spirit into Halloween Town just really reminds me of how Lazlo wants to explore and rediscover the city of Weep and share the beauty within it. I think these two would get along splendidly, anyway.
Image: (Lazlo) Lesya BlackBirdInk

Buddy the Elf:
Cassian (ACOTAR), Henry Montague (The Gentleman's Guide...), & (classic) Peter Pan
Just imagining the damage that those three characters could do if they were put together... *shudder* I think all three of these characters would do just as many crazy and adventurous things as Buddy the Elf does in the classic movie. They might not all be quite as... energetic as Buddy, but the adventurous spirit is all there.
Image: (Cassian) AnneShoemaker

John McClane (Die Hard):
Mia Corvere (Nevernight) & Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher) 
In my family, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. There is simply no debate and I will not let you tell me otherwise. John McClane is a 'take-no-nonsense' type of man who is obviously unafraid to jump into danger, and that is why I chose both Mia and The Witcher (though, if we're being fair, I think we all know that Mia and Geralt could kick McClane's ass any day).
Image: (Mia) LesyaBlackbird

Hans Gruber (Die Hard):
Saruman (LOTR)
Hans Gruber is your classic bad guy, so of course I had to take it to the classic with Saruman as well (though Voldemort was my next choice). It's maybe a bit of a stretch, but wouldn't you love to see Mia Corvere or Geralt battle Saruman? I think I would. Plus, it would be just like Saruman to ruin a Christmas Party. 

Susan Walker (Miracle on 34th Street):
Egwene (Wheel of Time) and Hermione Granger 
Susan Walker is a little girl who knows what she wants and she will not be fooled by placating words. Thus, I feel that Egwene and Hermione fit her best, as they are both women that will not take anything but the real Santa, and I think that they would also wish for similar things that Susan does. 

Who would you cast as classic Christmas characters?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

S. by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst

S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. Mulholland Books, 2013. Hardcover. 456 pages. 

I read this book back in July, but I've had a review stewing within me for a while and I also feel like I've seen this book around a bit more lately, so I thought I would go ahead and put up my own review of it. I'll also include a few pictures that highlight the aesthetic and format of this book. In short, this book is... a bit crazy. But it's also captivating. The book itself comes in a lovely slipcase cover and is designed to look like an old used library book.

Ignore the Christmas decor. Admire the beauty of S.!
If you'd like more visuals, there is also a book trailer (and more
photos below!)

I will try to explain the very basic premise of the story to the best of my abilities, but bear with me. The general plot is that there is a young woman--a soon-to-graduate college senior--who stumbles upon a book called Ship of Theseus one day in her college library, and in it she also finds notes in the margins from a grad student who is studying the book. The fictional author of Ship of Theseus is V.M. Straka, an incredibly secretive and mysterious author whose identity is unknown. The two soon begin writing notes back and forth in the margins, notes that are at first fairly simple and conventional, but eventually the two begin to unearth and develop deeper theories and conspiracies that surround the book, its contents, and its author. In addition, the two slowly become closer and closer and develop a much deeper relationship as a result. 

The first area of this book that I will discuss is the format, which I will then follow with a review of the content and my overall thoughts about this book.

To begin, I found this entire concept to be rather brilliant, if we're being honest. I thought the marginalia idea was incredibly clever, and I also have a special interest in books about mysterious books and authors, so this completely hit all of my interests. The reason I was so drawn to the margin notes in this book is because I love reading other people's notes about things, so this just sort of rolled that interest up with an already fascinating storyline, which created a really inventive book. 

Honestly, I'm still not even sure what the heck that circle thing is, but whatever.
It's cool.

One particular thing about the margin-writing that I had mixed feelings about, however, was the usage of different colored pens. In general, I'm impressed by the idea of using different colors/thicknesses of pens/markers to note the passing of time and give an idea of what notes were added first versus what notes were added most recently by the characters. On the surface, I loved this. But as I progressed, I became unsure: should I read the old notes first and go back and read the later ones? does it matter what order? will reading the recent notes spoil something? And the conclusion I came up with was this: it doesn't matter! I don't actually know if the authors intended it to be read a certain way or not, but personally, I think this book is meant to be an experiment that is unique to each reader. I tried reading only the older notes at first, but I soon realized that that was too frustrating and I ended up just reading them all together on the same page as I came upon them.

Another reading issue that presented itself was whether one should read the text of Ship of Theseus itself an then go back and read the notes or if one should read the text and marginalia of each page at the same time, so I experimented with this. I tried reading the text and the marginalia all at the same time, but this quickly became a bit too disjointed and confusing to keep track of everything. What I ended up doing was read the text of an entire chapter, then going back and reading the marginalia of that chapter. It was still a bit odd, but it worked best for me and I was able to better keep up with the story. 

And now that I've discussed the format and reading experiencing at length, let's move on the story itself!

I have incredibly mixed feelings. The story overall is thought-provoking and definitely made me continue to want to know what was going to happen. Without question, I preferred reading the marginalia far, far more than the story told in Ship of Theseus. Ship of Theseus was, frankly, such a bore at times. I was interested in it in the beginning, and there were a few interesting parts in it, but overall... it was hard to get through.

Ship of Theseus is not a very action-heavy text and it relies much more on character intrigue and a lot abstract mysterious happenings that I just couldn't get into. That being said, it is still absolutely the kind of thing that I can see a lot of people enjoying, so I would still recommend giving it a chance. I just didn't have the patience at the time to enjoy it for some reason; it is something that I might go back to one day to reread, but for now I am just leaving it at my being disappointed by that text.

As I mentioned, however, the story told in the margins by the two students, Jennifer and Eric, was much more interesting. In their discussions, they deliberate over their search for the identity of Straka and the entire conspiracy that seems to surround Ship of Theseus and those involved. They also begin to discuss more and more personal issues that add so much to this novel--it really becomes almost thriller-like in the suspense that is created.

The writing of this book was extremely well-done and it is incredibly obvious that Abrams and Dorst are talented men--there is no doubt about that. Despite the text of Ship of Theseus not completely grabbing me, I still found myself rather enthralled by S. Some might say its gimmicky, but I don't think it was meant to be. I found it to be an truly interesting book format experiment that developed into a great story and conspiracy to attempt to figure it out. And, of course, it's one of those books that leaves much unsaid and up for reader to discuss. And they do, because I have seen specific forums and the like dedicated to fans of this book.

Overall, I gave S. four stars! I highly recommend it if you are looking for something a little different and incredibly intriguing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
Publication Date: January 16th, 2018
Pre-order: Book Depository

From Goodreads:

Blood and Sand
"The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic--and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus....

Roma Victor. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to build an empire--an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master's favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end--and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...."

Ancient Rome, Spartacus, gladiators..... I am ready for this book. I feel like this book could easily fall into a lot of cliches, but if it's done right it could be amazing, and I'm aiming for the latter. I am very much looking forward to this release!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. This is meme in which bloggers share the first chapter of a book that they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

I've been wanting to read Bird Box for a long time now, a desire which I recently shared that desire in my winter reading plans post. Well, I'm hoping to pick it up extremely soon from my library, so here is a sneak at the first paragraph(s)!

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

This excerpt can be found at

"Malorie stands in the kitchen, thinking. 

Her hands are damp. She is trembling. She taps her toe nervously on the cracked tile floor. It is early; the sun is probably only peeking above the horizon. She watches its meager light turn the heavy window drapes a softer shade of black and thinks, 

That was a fog. The children sleep under chicken wire draped in black cloth down the hall. Maybe they heard her moments ago on her knees in the yard. Whatever noise she made must have traveled through the microphones, then the amplifiers that sat beside their beds. 

She looks to her hands and detects the subtlest sheen in the candlelight. Yes, they are damp. The morning’s dew is still fresh upon them."

What do you think? Would you keep reading this book? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. Harper Voyager, 2017. Hardcover. 528 pages.

This was quite an ambitious book, and I have to say that I was very impressed by it!

The first thing that I have to say about The City of Brass is that the diversity in this novel is fantastic, and I truly appreciated reading this own voices Muslim fantasy. Chakraborty has invested so much time, effort, and authenticity into this world. It was so unique and such a breath of fresh air. That being said, let's move into the content of the book!

The City of Brass centers on two main characters, Nahri and Ali, whose perspectives we switch back and forth between. Nahri is portrayed as being in her early twenties and living in Cairo, Egypt; she uses her mysterious magical ability at healing to help others during the daylight hours, but acts as a thief at night. I personally expected that to be a larger aspect of the novel, but it's actually a fairly short part of the beginning. Nahri does not know where her magical affinity comes from, but during one particular healing ceremony she attends she accidentally summons a djinn/daeva warrior named Dara, which is where her part in our story truly begins.

Ali is a young djinn prince who lives in a magical called Daevabad. Ali has an older brother named Muntadhir, and it is Muntadhir who is next in line for the throne. Ali, on the other hand, is being trained to become a sort of body guard/protector to Muntadhir, which essentially means that his life will be fixed solely on his own family, rather than creating his own. He also becomes extremely religious and lives his life in a devout manner. I found Ali to be an intriguing character, but not one that I was particularly fond of.

The relationships between all of the characters--and there are many characters!--vary greatly, and there is much tension at play between just about everyone. Although most of the characters were played in a consistent manner, I found Nahri's actions slightly inconsistent at times, as she seemed to go back and forth quite a bit with her actions and overall personality. Her relationship with Dara was probably one of the character relationships that I enjoyed the most, as I felt that there was a lot of intrigue between the two of them. In fact, I think that Dara is probably the character that I found the most interesting in this entire novel. 

One of the main conflicts featured in this story is that of the injustice and oppression of different cultures and peoples because of blood status and purity. At heart, this is a common conflict that we can all probably understand from our own experiences in our world. This aspect of the novel is written extremely well. The violence and is incredibly--and unfortunately-- very real. The rest of the overall plot and goal of this story is one that I won't go into in more detail about because, for one, I don't want to accidentally spoil anything, and two, it's far too complex for me to even attempt.

Where my main issues with this novel began was with the world itself and the various blood groups, political issues, the histories, stories, cultures... Look, I love when an author puts a lot of thought and detail into a novel, but Chakraborty made this too complex. This story didn't need that much complexity, and even if it did, it simply wasn't done in a great manner. There was too much information thrown around at various times and I couldn't keep up with it at all. The writing just felt a bit messy and disjointed, and the pacing was extremely off. At times this novel flew by and I was completely hooked, but that was intermixed with far too many slow, explanatory parts that took away from everything else. 

On the whole, I ended up enjoying this novel in the end, but there were far too many parts that I didn't like for me to give this a full four stars. It was beautifully written at times and I was able to see Chakraborty's writing skills soar, but then I felt as if she just got lot in this large, complex world at other times and reverted to a less-engaging style. 

Overall, I've given The City of Brass three-and-three-quater-stars! Despite the faults, I would still recommend this to anyone looking for an exciting fantasy that features more diversity and a more unique overall setting.

*I received an ARC of City of Brass courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Friday, December 8, 2017

If You Like... You Might Also Like (Part 1 of ?)

Reading Recommendations

I have always been a huge fan of "if you like.. you might also like" types of posts, so I thought it was about time that I finally got around to putting up one of my own! I've decided to make this a semi-regular series of posts, though there won't be any definite schedule. Below are a few of my suggestions--I hope you find something you like!

 you might also like The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I read Every Heart a Doorway about two months ago and I immediately fell in love with the entire story and concept. I just finished The Hazel Wood the other day and I was beyond impressed by the scope and concept of it as well, and I couldn't help but be reminded of Every Heart a Doorway at many points while I was reading it. Both books take the ideas of fairy tales and classic stories and turn them into something entirely real, showcasing the darker and more mysterious side of them. If you loved Every Heart a Doorway, I highly, highly recommend you check out The Hazel Wood when it comes out in January! (I'll also be posting my review it closer to its release date!)

The one thing that each of these books undoubtedly share is brilliant and exceptionally talented writing. Honestly, just looking at each of thsoe books and thinking about each author's prose... it's almost too much beauty in one go, but I think we can do it. I've suggested The Crimson Petal and the White and The Queen of the Night because they both follow a particular character throughout many momentous occasions in their lives, following them through many changes and experiences, both good and bad. Both are heartbreaking, beautiful, and truly a wonderful reading experience.

If you, like me, love fairy tale-inspired retellings and stories, then you probably have already heard of Jodi Lynn Anderson's gorgeous Peter Pan-inspired tale that is told from the perspective of Tinker Bell. If you're still interested in a Peter Pan-inspired tale (or if you just want to further explore Neverland), then I highly recommend you check out Lost Boy and Alias Hook. Both of my suggestions focus on Captain Hook and tell a slightly different story about Peter. 

you might also like The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

If you love the clever book references and witty dialogue and storytelling of The Invisible Library, then you need to go check out its predecessor, The Eyre Affair. These are both so sharply written and perfect for anyone who loves both subtle and obvious references to countless literary classics. Both of these books are incredibly inventive and truly so much fun. 

Both The Miniaturist and Mrs. Poe capture that same subtle tensity that can be found in the atmosphere of The Paying Guests, as well as the continuous mystery and intrigue that is also present in The Paying Guests. If you are a historical fiction fan centered on women who are forced into various events and situations, look no further.

That's all for today! In future series installments, I'll have suggestions for books such as House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, and many more!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili

Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili. #HelpAfricanAlbinos, 2017. Ebook. 309 pages.

It's not easy to find a good starting ground to begin discussion of Then She Was Born, a novel meant to raise awareness about an injustice and horrific issue that is all too common in certain parts of the world and is supported by both the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis.

Then She was Born is about a young girl named Adimu who born to a couple in Tanzania. She is perfectly normal--except, of course, for the fact that she is born albino. In this culture, albinos are viewed in a highly superstitious manner as evil omens and harbingers of bad luck; in fact, most albino babies are simply killed. Adimu, however, is saved by her grandmother, Nkamba, who proceeds to raise her as her own child.

This is a novel about ignorance, struggle, superstition, greed, and how all of those things combine to create a toxic and dangerous environment. There is much to learn from these pages, and I think Gentili did a wonderful job of conveying the struggles faced by albinos and their inability to be accepted in some societies. This is certainly an issue that I don't think many people are aware exist, and I can wholeheartedly say that I think this book does a great job of portraying the issue in a well-rounded and informative manner.

The characters were all well-written and although many underwent changes that fit in well with the pacing of the novel, there were a few characters that didn't quite fit. Instead, there were a few characters that felt as if they were only there to further the plot rather than serve a more well-rounded function.

I found the plot itself a bit lacking at times and wished that there had been slightly better pacing to keep my interest up. Although the topic and overall story is eye-opening, the story itself still needed to be engaging enough to make me want to keep reading, and there were times when I wasn't as compelled to keep reading as I would have lied to be. I also would have liked to see Gentili discuss how the tribes themselves could work to change their attitude towards albinos while still maintaining many of their own unique cultural attributes, rather than focus solely on using Western science. Despite this, I still found Then She Was Born to be a good story overall that entertained and informed at the same time.

Overall, I've given Then She Was Born four stars! This is an incredibly important and informative book that does indeed bring much awareness to this vital human rights issue.

You might also like:
The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila
Confessions of an Accidental Zoo Curator by Annette Libeskind Berkovits