Hi here’s another list of things I’ve read that are really important to me, on the loose theme of ‘fantasy urbanism.’ I still haven’t read Dhalgren.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. This is the most essential thing to read if you are even tangentially interested in anything about this list i think. Revelatory to me as a pulpy-literalistic fantasist.
Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson. Inspired by the Calvino book, an enormous overview of planned or dreamed cities that were never built.
Kalpa Imperial by Angélica Gorodischer. Some of my favorite secondary-world fiction I have ever read. Short stories from the history of an empire at the ludicrous extreme of size, depth, history. The English edition was translated by Ursula K. Le Guin who is my favorite.
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar. Beautiful book and deals with an invented setting and urban spaces with a more densely intellectual approach than I have ever seen.
Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas. An architectural history and “retroactive manifesto” for Manhattan, but some of the most interesting bits are about Coney Island in particular. Huge futuristic conflicts underlie every modern city.
The City & the City by China Miéville. This isn’t a lot of people’s favorites of his because its fantastic elements aren’t the loudest, but it’s so smart and bewildering and develops an allegory for emergent social strata in urban spaces that is really compelling.
The Event Factory by Renee Gladman. Just finished this; it feels loose and dreamlike and engages very clearly with real feelings of exploring new spaces, radically repurposing urban environments…
Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy. Not as totally concerned with cities as the rest of the list, but a really exciting and unusual example of worldbuilding from an intentionally political/utopian perspective.
Surregional Explorations by Max Cafard. The first few essays in this book deal with Surrealist and Situationist approaches to urban space and the unconscious of cities; it’s a weird jumbled book but I liked it
Perhaps the worst thing about being a reader is realizing you are one. Knowing that no matter how many series you devour, you’ll never be part of them. That no matter how many times you re-read a book you won’t ever know more than those counted pages.
And the very worst thing of it all is finishing a novel- even worse, a series- and then…nothing. You are left with the hangover and a bittersweet taste on your heart and maybe a tear or two rolling down your cheeks. One because it was beautiful, the other because it was so sad, and….and the rest because your life won’t ever be that interesting. Your ending will be terrible and just that. And you’ve just read something epic and fantastic and you want it. You want that story, those friends, that love. You want to be the protagonist, or even a nameless character, all to be part of something bigger than your own existence. All to escape this cruel reality we are to live. With nothing. With hollow people getting wasted and getting high and it’s all so empty so empty so empty
So empty and books are not. Stories are full of…of that something you don’t really know how to call. Transcendence, love, adventure, magic. It has something, it is something and you look around your dark room knowing your life won’t ever compare to that. There won’t be a love like that for you, or that kind of adventure and mystery and-and magic when you blow the candles on your birthday cake.
No matter what.
And that’s perhaps the worst part.
REQUESTED IMAGINE: omg so could i like request a Steve x Reader imagine where the reader is Jonathan and Will’s sister? She would be the middle child and like really anxious & shy and thru the hard times she gets really close with Steve and Jonathan doesn’t really like it but the reader ignores it. This would take place when Steve and the kids go into the Upside Down and he becomes really protective of the reader and makes sure that she’s ok when she’s really scared? Lots of angst and fluff? ( requested by @bookishdreamss )
PAIRING: Steve Harrington x Fem!Reader
WARNING: Swearing and Spoilers
WORD COUNT: 4.6K+
A/N: I had a little bit of a difficult time keeping Steve in character but also keeping the timeline - but! I think it turned out okay. I didn’t want it to be too too long either soo…. I hope you enjoy!
You were sitting at the breakfast table, aimlessly twirling your spoon in a bowl half full of cereal, taking a bite of it now and again. You were reading a book, something that was assigned for English class, George Orwell’s 1984, funnily enough. You see, your teacher wanted everyone to do a study on the book – considering it was that year. She wanted you to compare the differences and similarities from your life, to the life depicted by Orwell. You found yourself looking towards your mom, who was partially shaking in her seat.
I thought I’d take a moment to talk about one of my favorite
minor rogues in the Batman canon. It’s
not Clock King, it’s not Condiment King, it’s not even Killer Moth…
This is A.S. Scarlet, AKA The Bookworm, a character that was introduced in the
1966 Adam West TV series. The creators
came up with the idea for him in honor of National Reading week, so no points
for guessing what his shtick is. But
it’s the details that makes me really love him.
First of all, the costume and gadgets. I love this costume so much—it hits the sweet
spot between goofy and kind of awesome. The
brown pleather jacket is meant to echo “rare old book bindings” (because books
are bound with leather…?) and while it looks more than a bit uncomfortable (it
seriously creaks whenever he moves!), the tailoring on it is great. Plus it manages to look rather dapper.
The reading lamp on the fedora is pretty neat, but what I
really love are the glasses. When he
turns a knob on the side of the left frame, it opens a radio frequency that
allows him to communicate with his henchmen.
A few years later, the Green
Hornet TV show would come up with a similar device, but I love the fact
that a one-off Batman villain came up with it first.
Second of all, the henchmen themselves. Typically the henchmen on the ‘66 show, even
moreso than in modern Batman media, were big dumb galoots who had to be led
around by their nose to obvious answers by their bosses. But these guys didn’t really fit that
stereotype. Yeah, they were crappy
fighters and got their butts handed to them by Batman easily, but they were
miles more intelligent than your average goons.
They were articulate, kind of snobby, and always thinking on the same
wavelength as their boss. That, and they
were efficient—every scheme they
wanted to pull went off without a hitch.
Plus they’ve got some awesome codenames (Pressman, Typesetter, and my
favorite, Printer’s Devil).
And of course, there was the moll—Lydia Limpet (Francine
York). Most of the time the ‘66 molls
were there just to be empty-headed eye-candy, but not this girl. Not only does she have some genuinely
adorable chemistry with Bookworm—
(I ship these two like freaking FedEx.)
–but she is also darn intelligent in her own right.
When she’s taken into the Batcave and hypnotized to try to weasel out her
boss’s ultimate plan, she immediately twigs to the fact that the Dynamic Duo
know more than they should and feeds them false information. She also tricks Robin into gassing himself
into unconsciousness. All while
literally having her hands tied. She also
has quite a bit in common with Bookworm, sharing his love of literature. And then at the end, while most molls try to
weasel their way out by pleading with Batman and claiming they were just
innocent girls who tangled with the wrong crowd, Lydia accepts her fate and
allows herself to be arrested. She’s
completely unapologetic about the entire scheme, and I love that about her.
And third of all, the character of the Bookworm
himself. He’s played by one of the great
character actors, Roddy McDowall—
(whom you might know better as this little scamp)
–who makes Bookworm into much more than a one-note
baddie. He’s intelligent, certainly,
with high standards and an eidetic memory; and he’s also very theatrical and
cheerfully practically in a Riddler sort of way. But he’s also freaking scary. Most of the time, he has a very genteel, calm
demeanor with this constant smile of slight “you poor simple fools”-style amusement
on his face. But when things don’t go
his way, or when someone even says a wrong thing, he completely flips his gourd. In the beginning of his two-parter, Lydia
asks him why, with his brain and enthusiasm, he hasn’t written his own
book. And he blows up at her, admitting
that for all his brilliance he doesn’t actually have any originality, resorting
to “stolen plots” from other books, and accuses her of insulting him
further. He then picks up the heaviest
book in his lair and attempts to bash her brains in with it…all over an honest
Of course, he’s back in perfect control within minutes, but
for the rest of the episode you’re on edge every time he so much as snaps at
anyone. And it’s not the only time he
flies off the handle like that, either—after Batman and Robin escape one of his
deathtraps, he has another brief freakout before getting back to business. He’s a fascinating character to watch and
played by a fantastic actor to boot.
The two-part 1966 episode he’s in is a wild ride from start
to finish, including a possible assassination attempt, the first window cameo
ever, and some truly outrageous and convoluted deathtraps (appropriate for a
rogue who “like any struggling novelist, overcomplicates the plot!”). One of which involves a giant cookbook. I am not making that up. All the expected ‘60s weird is there, but it’s
still a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, that was the only appearance he made in
Batman media for a long time. McDowall
wanted to come back for another two-parter, but his busy schedule got in the
way. He didn’t show up again until a
1989 Huntress arc that gave him a new grim ‘n’ gritty backstory.
“A victim of child abuse, his mother would lock him in a
closet while she worked on puzzles. (Alexander) Wyvern once started a fire in the closet in a desperate attempt to get
his mother to release him – only to wind up badly burned and, after he got his
mother’s attention, badly beaten.
Psychologically damaged, the boy grew into a serial killer. Though the violent character bore little
resemblance to the literature-obsessed felon of the 1960s, this version did
still leave Riddler-style clues for the police to hunt him down. Bookworm ultimately met his demise when he
set a deadly trap for the Huntress.
Huntress dressed as his mother, frightening him into running away and
tripping his own contraption, killing him.”
(From the Batman wiki)
It was lame, and we don’t talk about it anymore.
He made a few cameos in Deathstroke
the Terminators and Teen Titans
comics in the 90s, as well as a itty bitty nonspeaking appearance in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
But in 2013 he made a glorious debut to comics in 2013 in
the Batman ’66 line, setting new
deathtraps and dropping new literary hints.
In one of his best appearances, he sets himself up as an adversary to
Batgirl, which is just perfect. Who
better to oppose Barbara Gordon, a librarian, than a book-themed supervillain?
(Yes, that is a giant bug demon. Long story.)
And in 2014 he reappeared in Gotham Academy, this time as the school’s English and theater
professor, which is even more perfect.
He’s a good teacher, if strict and a bit overdramatic. And let’s be honest, what isn’t cool about
having an ex-supervillain as a professor?
Also, this scene.
This scene is awesome.
Yes, that is Egghead as played by Vincent Price. Gotham
Academy is just the best.
TL;DR, the Bookworm is an awesome, oft-overlooked Batman
baddie whom I highly recommend every fan check out. You won’t regret it!
Okay book recs. Oh my god I have so many. I have a question after this that say’s POC book recs, so I’m going to keep this post to book recs that arent poc to keep these separated just for the sake of the anon’s that asked.
Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Trilogy with a new book - a ‘spin off series’ coming out next year) - I will fucking promote this book series until I die. This is hands down, one of the best books I have EVER read. Honestly, for me it sort of beats out Harry Potter (Which if you know me, I’m obsessed with. I mean, I had a Harry Potter Sweet 16. [I’m from Long Island. Everyone there has a Sweet 16]) Not only is Red Rising extremely diverse and beautifully written, but the storyline is incredible and the characters literally jump off the page. I dont think I’ve ever read a more human character than Darrow. Honestly PICK UP THIS BOOK. IT NEEDS MORE FUCKING ATTENTION.
^^^^bolded it so people know that this is the best book ever and needs the read.
Abarat by Clive Barker (Four books so far) - Now, this may not be everyones cup of tea. Maybe because I’m a painter, I appreciate him more. But his books are wonderfully illustrated with his paintings that follow along with the beautiful storyline. I recommend this book to the fucking stars. Its a fantastic story with amazing paintings. (Clive Barker, for those who don’t know, also created Hellraiser [Pin Head] and Midnight Meat Train along with a plethora of other stories. It’s worth the read.)
Song of Achilles (novel) - I mean, If you want to fucking CRY then this is the book for you. It’s so fucking depressing but so FUCKING GOOD. I mean, if you know the story of Achilles, then you know why its depressing. But that doesnt take away from the beautiful story between Achilles and Patroclus. Definitely recommend this book.
Along with that last book, a book that I feel goes hand in hand with it:
Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat (trilogy) - Now. A lot of people have a problem with this trilogy. I personally, as a (mixed, black) poc, have no problem with this book. It’s about two kingdoms, one of poc, Greek-like, and the other of boujee af french-like, white kingdom. In short, the Prince from the Greece inspired Kingdom is framed and shipped away to the french kingdom as a slave. Now, he becomes a slave (as a dark skinned man) to a white prince. There are a lot of things that happen like he gets whipped and other horrible shit. People have a problem with the book because of the dynamic between the two. They find it racist and insensitive. Here’s a great post as to why people don’t like the post, and the second comment is why I read it. I honestly find it to be a beautiful story that develops amazingly over time. I definitely recommend it.
Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (novel) - I’ve just recently read this book and I absolutely fucking loved it. It’s an extremely diverse, beautiful story. Personally, I found the story sad, funny, heart warming, and inclusive. They brush upon the difficulties that black men specifically, have with the judicial system, by having an African man whom is loving and kind, constantly blamed for crimes that he did not commit. Again, it’s a really lovely book and this stuck with me for a very long time. I really recommend it.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (novel) - If you don’t want to fucking SOB then don’t read it. If you want a beautiful story, I recommend this book to the stars. Honestly, I went into the book not knowing shit about it, just that people loved it. Then I realized that it was about fucking cancer and I was about to throw my god damned book because I don’t fend well with sad things. THEN I found out that it’s also now a movie with Liam Neeson. Ugh. I havent seen the movie yet, but damn was this book magical and heart breaking and wow… Read it. I personally fucking loved it.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (novel) - I mean, I feel like this book actually summed up my early college experience lol! I was writing fanfiction, roleplaying, cooping myself up in my room - the only difference was, I didnt have a quirky, beautiful, sweet man to hold me as I read outloud to him (if you read the book, then you know what I’m talking about). Honestly, this was a fucking amazing book and I loved it so much. it was feel good and extremely nostalgic for people of my generation (’94-’96 specifically) really well. If you loved Harry Potter, grew up with it, went to the midnight book releases and movie screenings, submerged yourself in the fanfiction, then you will love this book. I thought it was fantastic.
which leads me to this rec.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (novel) - Ugh. So in fangirl, there’s a fanfiction that the main character is writing. I know that this book is not the fanfiction, but it is named the same thing - so thats a nice connection. Again, if you love Harry Potter, if you love shipping Drarry (i dont because I find it problematic. But I feel if you like Drarry) then youd love this. I mean honestly, if you just like a cute story, with ridiculous spells, and adorable love, then read it. If you love Harry Potter ESPECIALLY READ THIS BOOK.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Trilogy) - Okay. Honestly, I havent seen many people promote this book series, but it is amazing and arguably, one of the most beautifully written trilogies that I have ever read (besides Red Rising. Ahem. Read it). It’s a wonderful story that comes together beautifully and is such a different book from your usual YA.
The Archived by Victoria Schwab (Series of two) - So, if Victoria Schwab sounds familiar, that’s because she also goes under V.E. Schwab okay. Listen. I know that everyone loves A Darker Shade of Magic. I havent finished that book yet and I bet it’s amazing. However, we cannot forget the other amazing books she has written. The Archived is such a lovely, creative story that deserves more credit. Honestly, I’ve never read a book like it before and it stuck with me for an extremely long time. Apparently there is a third book coming out that I have actually been waiting for forever. I’m not going to say much about it, but these books are wonderful and deserve the read.
Speaking of V.E. Schwab
Vicious by V.E. Schwab- This book deserves more recognition. Not only is the cover absolutely AMAZING, but the story is fuckign awesome. If you like Brandon Sanderson books, if you like superheros or Marvel and DC, read this fucking book. It’s fantastically written and needs to be read more. Get on it people.
I mean, these are just some books. I purposely stayed away from some YA series because I feel like a lot of people know about them. But I mean, some YA series that are well known that I like are:
Obviously Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (ONLY THE FIRST FUCKING BOOK. THE REST OF THE SERIES IS SHIT AND IF YOU WANT TO JUST READ THE FIRST BOOK THATS COOL. COME TO ME AND I’LL TELL YOU THE REST BECAUSE THAT SHIT WAS RIDICULOUS. IT HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL, IF ONLY RICK YANCY DIDN’T SHIT THE BED. ALSO THE MOVIE WAS SHIT)
So anyway.. i think this is all I’ve got right now haha. I’ll put my favourite books written by poc in the anon above this!
Full disclosure: My copy of Tomb of Annihilation and the ToA: Dice Set were provided by Wizards of the Coast prior to release for review.
Oh man am I excited about Tomb of Annihilation!
For those who might not know, ToA is D&D’s latest adventure book set in the jungle peninsula of Chult. It takes heavy inspiration from Tomb of Horrors, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Jungles of Chult, and a variety of other D&D adventures of old. Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time also consulted on it (and it shows!).
Much of the press coming out about this book focusses on the adventure’s exoticism and its lethality in equal measure; “A death curse lies upon Faerun where characters can’t be brought back from the dead! All clues lead to a colourful dinosaur-filled jungle crawl with deadly traps everywhere! Expect to be killed, over and over again!”
Now that I have the book, have read through it, and have run parts of it, is it worth your time and money?
“I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor…”
There is a ton going on in this adventure.
With the exception of Curse of Strahd, this is the D&D’s strongest entry in their series of hardcover adventure books. It has more good ideas per page than any other entry, and despite the clear inspiration it takes from old AD&D books, it features the most original content.
A Killer Hook. The inciting incident of a ‘Death Curse’ that prevents raise dead spells from working, and causes resurrected characters to slowly waste away, is great. It provides a weighty reason to travel across the world to Chult, and it remains a constant threat in the game because player character death is a very real possibility.
The Best of Old and New.ToA is a very old school style of adventure. Not only is it a gonzo wilderness hexcrawl where survival skills and mapping are big components of play, but it also features several trap and puzzle filled dungeons that require (and encourage!) player skill and clever thinking in order to solve. On top of this, a new “Meatgrinder Mode” is introduced that raises the Death Save DC from 10 to 15, making for a much more lethal adventure that feels at home with OSR adventures.
To balance this out, a variety of options have been made available to more narrative focused groups to take advantage of: unique and weird ways around permadeath, loads of interesting and challenging NPC’s, and a variety of story-filled side quests to keep RP loving players happy amid all the dungeon crawling. ToA really does provide the best of both worlds with this. To those worried that this adventure will be too ‘old school’ for them, rest assured.
Thoughtful, Self-Contained Design. ToA is one of D&D’s better organized fifth edition books. Like Curse of Strahd it’s an adventure isolated to a single region. It’s a big region, but not having to worry about or rely on the rest of the Forgotten Realms’ world and tropes makes things much simpler and more direct. This extends to the book itself. The hex map of Chult has been provided both filled in with all the locations, and also blank for players to fill in as they play. Best of all, both these versions are provided as a poster map!
All the important random tables and encounter tables are easily accessible in the back of the book, and a helpful table of all the major NPC’s (with name pronunciation guides) are available at the front of the book. This is a fantastic design decision and is very helpful.
(EDIT) New Player Options. Two new backgrounds are provided in ToA: The Anthropologist and the Archeologist. The former allows a PC to examine a foreign culture/species’ language and customs, allowing them to adopt them for a time to make communication possible. The latter has a lot of Indiana Jones flavour and grants the PC a special dungeon exploring tool or item.
All the Best Monsters.ToA has dinosaurs. A lot of them. It has tribal goblins with stacking powers. It has flying monkeys, unicorn bunnies, evil drop bears, an entire race of catpeople, man-eating plants, microscopic leeches, clouds of flesh-eating insects, and more! Plus, almost all of them can appear as undead as well. ToA provides more interesting monsters and creatures in a handful of pages than most bestiaries/monster manuals have in their entirety! Plus, the important monster stats from existing sources (Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide, etc) are provided in the back of the book as well, which means less switching between books!
“The horror…the horror…”
Not everything about the book is great though.
My usual gripes with WotC D&D books are still present. Dungeon maps aren’t labelled with their room names or contents, dungeon text still runs a little long, and the hex-map encounters could stand to be organized to a single page for easy reference.
What sucks is that what is otherwise an exemplary and interesting adventure is hurt by this lack of organization. The dungeons themselves are fantastic, relying on interesting and novel traps. Having them be laid out and presented with a greater emphasis on ‘ease of use’ would have made them much more accessible, in what is otherwise a book made with an eye towards DM accessibility.
“…if you understand me, Willard, you will do this for me”
Folks, Tomb of Annihilation is really freakin’ cool.
I feel like I say “No, really, this time this is the new D&D book you should get” a lot. With each new D&D release my initial impressions are positive, and they sour as time goes on.
I’ll say that Tomb of Annihilation does a lot of things right by me and by my taste in adventures.
It’s weird and gross and different and it doesn’t fall back on medieval fantasy tropes and cliches like a lot of Forgotten Realms stuff does. It’s better organized and more useful than most D&D adventure books, and you definitely get your money’s worth in terms of how much adventure content you get.
1) How do you think the mercs wake up in the morning (or afternoon)? 2) Who snores the loudest?
(Oh nice, this is going to be fun! :D)
Scout: Usually one of the last to go to bed because he’s got too much energy left, but he’s one of the last to get up in the morning and then complains loudly about the ungodly early hour of the day.
Soldier: Gets up the earliest and wakes everyone with his trumpet. Then he demands roll-calls which the others refuse to attend. So he plays with his raccoons instead.
He is just always… there in the morning. Since he wears the mask 24/7 (at least as far as the others know) nobody really knows when Pyro actually sleeps and when he’s awake and just lost in his fantasy world.
Demo: He usually sleeps for a long time and has to deal with horrible hangovers afterwards. He also sometimes wakes up in places he has no recollection of and the others have to look for him. In the morning he actually prefers a cup of tea.
He’s pretty grumpy in the morning, but unless you’re really annoying he won’t break your spine immediately.
His snoring is earthshaking and can be heard through the thickest walls. The others banished him to last room in a long corridor because they couldn’t sleep otherwise.
Engie: He likes sleeping in or enjoying a book before getting ready for the day, but he also doesn’t complain when he needs to get up early. He’s usually the one who prepares breakfast and offers coffee to the not-so-morning-people when they finally show up in the kitchen.
Medic: An absolute early bird. But also a night owl. It seems like he only sleeps, like, 4 hours a night and is working on his experiments the rest of the time. In the morning he’s eager, full of energy and in fantastic mood. The others hate him for it.
Sniper: The incarnation of a grumpy bum. Needs at least four cups of coffee before he starts functioning in the morning. He can sleep whenever and where ever he wants, yet he’s still always dozy - unless he’s on the battlefield.
Spy: He wakes up fairly early and then disappears to the bathroom for an hour to take a shower and to get dressed. When he enters the dining room for breakfast he is always booted and spurred and shows no sign of tiredness anymore. He likes tea more than coffee.
Can you recommend some good books for someone in a slump after finishing all the Outlander books? :)
You want me to recommend books? 😍😍😍
Now, for me, recommendations kind of depend on what kind of thing you’re looking for as well as what some of your other tastes include – i.e. the Outlander series is a good starting point, but I’d need to know more of what you like to give a truly effective recommendation.
But, there are plenty of books that I can recommend generally, so…
Lenny’s Book Recommendations Masterlist
Highest recommendations are in all caps. Sorting by genre/category but in no particular order. Also including links to my reviews for the ones I have reviews for. If anyone ever feels like talking books, please, please, please don’t hesitate to drop by my inbox/chat me up. If you have questions, recommendations, etc. I am always ready to talk books.
*These are by no means the only books I recommend. If you send me a list of your 5-10 favorite books/series, I can probably give you a more specific list of recommendations (this is an open invitation to do exactly this; I love tailoring recommendations).
Update: Newest additions are bolded
Young Adult Fiction
HUNGER GAMES TRILOGY by Suzanne Collins **cannot recommend highly enough** - dystopic young adult fiction at its best
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard - (I’m just starting Book 2) a bit of a cross between dystopic fiction and fantasy (so right in my genre sweet spot); Silvers rule over Reds but one Red girl threatens to upset that balance
Young Adult Historic Fiction
Mine Eyes Have Seen by Ann Rinaldi - John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry as experienced through one of his daughters
A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi - Salem witch trials through the eyes of a young woman who knows the accusers
Sisters of the Quantock Hills Quartet by Ruth Elwin Harris - four sisters (artistically inclined) deal with the trio of brothers they love as WW I impacts their lives
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES SERIES by L. M. Montgomery **not really historic fiction as it was contemporary, but SUCH an important book/series for young Lenny** - an eccentric and imaginative orphan girl is adopted by an elderly brother and sister on Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century
Time Travelers Quartet by Caroline B. Cooney - a teen girl stumbles through time to the Victorian era where she meets a young man and gets caught up in his family’s troubles
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene - a young Jewish girl encounters a young German POW during WW II
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse - a young girl’s reminiscences of family tragedy during the Dust Bowl; presented in poems, free verse
THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson - looking at serial killer H.H. Holmes and the development of the Chicago World’s Fair; both in action at the same time and in the same area
War is a Force that Gives us Meaning by Christ Hedges - a look at nationalistic wars in the 20th century and the patterns, similarities between them
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss - humor, punctuation, and history
The Boleyn Trilogy by Laura Andersen - what if Anne Boleyn had given birth to Henry VIII’s son after having had Elizabeth? A novel centered on that son’s reign and the friends he and Elizabeth have in common
The Tudor Legacy Trilogy by Laura Andersen (a sequel trilogy to The Boleyn Trilogy) - what if Elizabeth I had had an heir? Elizabeth’s marriage to Philip II of Spain is falling apart but she has her daughter Anne Isabel as her heir
Science Fiction/Dystopic Fiction
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (LOVED the adaptation; definitely recommend checking it out along with the book) - looking at women’s lives when reproduction falls under state/government control
THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER/THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS by Octavia Butler - environmental disaster ensues and chaos reigns but Lauren finds and creates a functioning community amongst fleeing survivors sharing her new and developing religion with them
MADDADDAM TRILOGY by Margaret Atwood (I seriously need HBO to get their shit together and get moving on the adaptation of this trilogy) - the world has ended as we know it thanks to one possibly mad scientist but some of humanity survived along with the humanoid species that scientist engineered
THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST by Claire North - some people turn out to be capable of being reborn into their same life over and over; they can affect the world around them but largely agree altering things drastically should be avoided… but not everyone is willing to follow the rules
Lilith’s Brood (the Xenogenesis Trilogy) by Octavia Butler (not going to be to everyone’s taste, even for sci fi lovers, but I just LOVE Octavia Butler) -aliens save what’s survived of the human race but seek to adapt themselves so that they can continue a new race/species with the humans; those children face trials of their own as the generations continue to develop (really good series if you’re interested in gender identity/non-binary sexuality, etc.)
Fledgling by Octavia Butler - a young surviving alien whom humans mistake for a vampire must find her way after the rest of her family are destroyed but others of her kind consider her an abomination and want her destroyed too
The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett - science fiction lite; a virus wipes out nearly the whole of the human race leaving the survivors scattered across space (where population and government issues had forced many to colonize) fighting to find each other and decide what their collective future should be
THE KILLER ANGELS by Mike Sharra - the battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of some of the commanders on both sides
The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert - a little girl escapes one of the trains headed to the death camps in WW II Poland but after the war is transported out of Poland (which is falling under Communist Russia’s thumb) and adopted by a family in Africa
Poldark Series by Winston Graham - the lives and trials of a mine owning family in Cornwall in the late 18th century; social/class issues a central theme
Silence by Shusaku Endo - a 17th centuryJesuit goes to Japan to investigate apostasy of a priest there and witnesses the plight of the local Christians **I had no idea until now that Silence movie I’ve seen advertised briefly was an adaptation of this book**
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré - Cold War espionage in England; there’s a mole giving valuable information to the Soviets and he must be found before too much is compromised
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy - a novel about the concentration camps in WW II and two children who try and manage to escape
North and South Trilogy by John Jakes - two young men bond at West Point and their families become fast friends but as tensions rise and war breaks out, they’re on opposite sides of the Civil War
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - a young woman is accused of murdering her employer and coworker in the mid-19th century and is convicted but there are many who doubt her guilt (inspired by a true case)
ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan **my favorite Ian McEwan novel and a fantastic movie adaptation** - perspective and appearances matter as a young girl’s accusation changes the lives of her sister and the young man she loves with fall out that carries the family through WW II
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver - a missionary brings his wife and four girls to the Belgian Congo in 1959 and it changes the family forever; the story is told in first person narration through each of the girls’ perspectives and is unparalleled
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (currently my favorite recent release recommendation) - Russian folktales are woven into a story where the traditions of the rural outskirts of society clash with the power and will of the Church
The Star-Touched Queen Series by Roshani Chokshi - the daughter of a raja is rumored to be cursed but there is one suitor who wants her and brings her to a realm she’s only heard of in stories; rooted in Indian mythology; Book 2, A Crown of Wishes follows the sister of the lead from Book 1 as she accompanies a young (and powerless) prince to the Otherworld to compete in the Tournament of Wishes
MOTHER NIGHT by Kurt Vonnegut - a politically indifferent playwright who ended up working for the Nazis writes his memoirs while on trial for the role he played in the regime
Room by Emma Donoghue - a young woman and her son escape the man who kidnapped the woman and kept her in isolation for years but then must adjust to the real world again; told from the young boy’s perspective
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - a young, poor African-American girl grows up in Depression Era Ohio; explores race relations, societal concepts of beauty, etc. (Morrison’s first novel)
A Mercy by Toni Morrison - explores the origins of slavery inearly America (1692), namely through the women living and working on a farm in Virginia (a group including immigrants, natives, and Africans)
The Yard by Alex Grecian - in the wake of Jack the Ripper, the new homicide division of Scotland Yard is under scrutiny but there also appears to be someone out to kill their detectives; interesting look at the early methods of both the detectives and forensic science
Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling (the second is my favorite cause I read revenge tragedies in one of my grad classes) - Cormoran Strike is a private detective in desperate need of paying clients; when a young woman shows up from a temp agency determined to do more than just reception work about the same time an old friend appears looking for answers in his famous model sister’s death, things begin to change for Strike’s business prospects
The Shining by Stephen King - a family settle into an enormous hotel in the mountains to live as caretakers there for the winter but the hotel appears to have other plans for them and especially the gifted son
The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (but watch out for book four; it was ghost written after Larsson’s death a few years ago and is not based on his notes for book four) - a disgraced reporter looks for a project to work on while his infamy blows over but gets dragged into a decades old case; a young hacker with her own issues with the Swedish government and social work system becomes involved too and an odd partnership is born; later the woman’s personal and family history begin to cause problems and garner the public’s attention for the wrong reasons
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie - a group of houseguests arrive at a large and secluded island home for a weekend away but their host doesn’t appear to be present and what’s more, none of them have met him or her; when people start dying, those remaining begin to suspect one another
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - when a child is killed in a hit-and-run crash, the authorities investigating find themselves dealing with a confusing mess while a woman somehow connected to the case and who recently relocated tries to rebuild a life for herself
The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness (third book was my favorite) - a young woman who’s long denied her calling as a witch stumbles across an ancient and powerful text that just about everyone in the supernatural world (that she’s done her best to ignore) wants
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern **going to do a reread of this sometime this year** - magicians battle with one another through proxies but those two proxies form an unexpected relationship
THE CHILD THIEF by Brom - a very dark and intriguing take on the Peter Pan story that borrows some Avalon mythology, the accompanying artwork is amazing, even in digital form
LORD OF THE RINGS by J. R. R. Tolkien (I’m not a fan of The Hobbit though) - the ring of power must be destroyed to prevent a dark lord from taking over MiddleEarth and an unassuming hobbit is entrusted with the task
The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter - a (wrongfully) disgraced student of magick meets up with a professor’s daughter who longs to learn and truths begin to emerge along with powers neither understand yet
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - a young man’s life appears to be falling into place before he is falsely accused of conspiring to restore Napoleon and imprisoned for twenty years; when he escapes, he seeks revenge on those who locked him away
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - when a young woman’s family circumstances force them to leave their home in the southern countryside and relocate to an industrial town in the north, she becomes acquainted with one of the mill owners and the poor conditions faced by the workers and their families; romantic, socio-economic, and philosophical tensions arise
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen - bad first impressions can still lead to deep love and understanding… eventually
PERSUASION by Jane Austen - when a woman’s former flame returns, she laments the advice that she’d followed years before in breaking off their engagement but is it too late or does he still have feelings for her too?
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoyevsky **possibly my favorite novel of all time but it’s definitely not for everyone** - a young man firmly believes that the ends justify the means, even when it comes to murder… until he tries it and finds himself wracked with guilt; can he be redeemed and if so, how?
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - a flirtation becomes an affair and a woman must decide how to handle her husband and her lover as her life changes against the backdrop of a drastically changing Russia
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton - a young woman learns the hard way just how difficult it is to keep running in the circles of high society when one has no money and must rely on the generosity of one’s friends, especially when rumors start to fly
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - a family is threatened by the changing tides in revolutionary Paris and they fight to escape to the safety of London
(**personally, my favorite Dickens novel is Our Mutual Friend but A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations aren’t as intimidating and are excellent for getting used to Dickens’ style**)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - a family is forced off their property by the banks and circumstances during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, so they head west where there are supposed to be plenty of jobs in California but will they survive the journey and will those jobs still be there when they and everyone else in their situation actually arrive
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck - a town is invaded in WW II and order is imposed by the invaders but it proves not to be as gentle as the invaders would have the people believe and the townsfolk aren’t as compliant as they first appear
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - **you either love magical realism or you hate it; I LOVE it** - the story of the Buendía family and the town they founded, Macondo, where unusual things tend to happen
Virgin Series by Radhika Sanghani - a young woman wants to lose her virginity but her embarrassing experiences in the past and navigating societal expectations have her worried it will never happen **very funny and body/sex positive*
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory - a novel about Catherine of Aragon and her marriages to two princes of England, Arthur and then his younger brother, Henry VIII
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory - the first in her Cousins War/War of the Roses series (I need to 1. watch the Starz adaptation of this book and 2. get around to reading the next books in this series)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory - a novel about Anne Boleyn’s sister, Mary, who had an affair with Henry VIII first and then watched her sister’s rise and fall
FUCK FINALLY I've been waiting for you to watch Wonder Woman, I L I V E for your reviews.
i watched the film in a subpar environment that consisted of an uncomfortable seat, people talking and using their BRIGHT AS FUCK PHONES JESSICA YOUR PHONE HAS A BRIGHTNESS OPTION, an unfortunate happestance of me sitting next to three tourists who obviously came out here to watch a film to “experience local culture” instead of being DC junkies like yours truly, and finally a broken popcorn machine that could be heard all the way inside the screening because fuck me, i guess
however, all that pales next to my spiritual awakening that happens to one after laying eyes upon diana prince. spoilers do follow
the new DC intro gave me an emotional boner of unknown dimensions. i created my own motherbox from my sheer love for the justice league. i distorted spacetime to such an extreme length, i’m now typing from the fifth dimension, hanging with
they made such an absolutely immense point to make sure the integrity, originality and overall appearance of the amazons was correct. the accents, the emotional strength, the doubts and the defiance in the face of family, the culture you can see from barely any scenes of straightforward interactions in such a way. the unapologetic stance towards who the amazons are and the fact we, the viewers, don’t get a say in shaping them
similarly, young diana,
no that’s it
i absolutely love how this version of the amazons know every language from man’s land. in many iterations (the most recent one too), diana doesn’t speak or understand english because her studies have been limited to all things concerning anything but man’s world. many times in the comics, the amazons themselves don’t have any knowledge of our language or culture, and those who do, have made sure to hide it. the fact diana speaks every language there is both makes the period of translation/learning quicker (a move that directly benefits the film’s pacing), and it showcases an amazon’s education in a concise but absolutely succesful way
they gave steve trevor a better and more canon characterization than he sometimes gets in the comics. from his goofiness around diana because hearteyes motherfucker, to his sense of duty both when it comes to knowing he can help and when he knows he can’t, to the way he explains just that to diana, how people can and can’t change, that things are never as simple as one bad guy controlling the war
i mean one bad guy was controlling the war but that’s not the point
fuck you, ares
i knew ludendorff wasn’t ares, if i wasn’t aware of the casting already, the fact they pointedly made him constantly appear superhumanly strong was a dead giveaway, so when david thewlis popped up like “sup the world’s lame i have daddy issues lmao”, it wasn’t a surprise… but my god no amount of cgi will ever make his speech and partial fight as nothing but a mortal man more powerful than it did before he went full transformer. the amount of power he exerted just by acting was phenomenal
what a wonderful twist for long-time fans who expected diana’s origins to go one way or another (clay baby or god baby, no inbetween), and getting one version just to have it turned around by the end of the movie. a clever move i wasn’t expecting
I MEAN SHE’S THE GODKILLER? NOT THE COOL AS FUCK SWORD??
this movie’s purpose was to explain why diana has abstained from helping us for so long. why she thinks humanity needs to fuck off for a bit, rethink our lives, maybe not try to start wars every other friday. and it did just that. this diana has rose-colored glasses, thinking everything fits in black and white boxes. ares is bad; humanity is good. ares influences humanity; humanity goes bad. only logical conclusion: humanity can be mended by ending ares. by the end of the film and with the help of steve, she learns things are nothing like that, and even by killing ares, the world isn’t ultimately mended
a++, 10/10 humor and accompanying characters that helped provide the circumstances without forcing it. the entire cast was astonishing
i sure am glad steve trevor is alive :-)
every little detail, from the colors, the way the lasso worked, the animations from diana’s mythology book in the beginning melding reality with art (both ancient greek/roman paintings and comics), to the music that made me want to punch someone from all the adrenaline… what an absolutely fantastic and, above all else, canonical movie. it gives us so many possibilities about diana’s future involvement with the rest of the olympian gods. can’t wait for the upcoming DCEU films
In a TV landscape inundated with comic book adaptations, Black Lightning distinguishes itself from the rest. I’m not even referring to the fact that this show has a black lead. Some of my friends complain about “forced” diversity. I myself see any diversity in stories, forced or not, to be a fantastic opportunity to see different life experiences. But I think that superhero shows are unique in showcasing the lead as champions for the disenfranchised. In any case I have seen media that has amazing representation but very poor story. This is not the case in Black Lightning.
Black Lightning is unique in that it showcases an older hero. A hero reluctant to go back to being a vigilante. He views being a vigilante as a thankless neverending battle where he is the only loser. He spends the course of the pilot finding a reason to fight again. What we end up with is a hero making a choice that has so much more weight than any made by the Flash or Supergirl. Kara and Barry are 20-somethings just getting a handle on life and their powers. Black Lightning is a hero that spent his younger years fighting the good fight and it almost broke him. He then built a civilian life that is just as impressive in its own way. But he always knew his job as a hero was never over. He had to go back to hunt his “Moby Dick”, the gangster Tobias Whale.
What I’m getting at is that it is so refreshing to see a superhero show with some dramatic weight, symbolism, and deals with social issues. They manage to make a street-level hero, epic.
Starting a new school after the halfway through the year is never a good move. But alas I had no choice. Here I was in the middle of fucking nowhere with no friends at all. I leant my head against the steering wheel. I chose my clothes to give me that extra boost of confidence, the whole town was full of preppy girls in pastel sweaters, that were destined to become housewives and boys that would go to college with big dreams but would settle of a preppy girl in an unhappy marriage, popping out kids because that’s what people do.
I chose black skinny jeans with rips at the knees, a plain black t-shirt with a red and black plaid shirt over the top. I completed my look with my Dr Martens, leather jacket and satchel. All dressed up I had managed the courage to leave the house but stopped on some street on the way to school. I was such a fucking wimp.
A knock on the window frightened me. I looked up to see the uniform of some cop. It wasn’t wound down the window I realised it was Hopper, he was the first adult I met in Hawkins. I had arrived on a cold winter’s day two days after the schools let out. I turned up in his office escorted by CPS officers, with only three bags, a couple of boxes, a guitar and my grandpa’s sleek black 1967 Mustang convertible to my name. Between the four of us with lots of coffee and cigarettes, my problems were half sorted. The big one was behind on schedule, I had nowhere to stay. Hopper kindly let me crash at his place with Jane for a week over Christmas.
Here is a list of books I have read this year that I have enjoyed so much I either will buy a copy for my shelves or already did.
Uprooted - Naomi Novik (What an adventure! I loved this book from beginning to end)
Catherynne M. Valente (Ok, I can admit I didn’t understand a lot of what happened in this book because I didn’t understand a lot of the Russian literature references - BUT THAT DID NOT STOP ME FROM LOVING THIS BOOK! Holy smokes what a book - Instant Fave.)
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden (’The Girl in the Tower’ is coming out in December and I am sooooo freaking excited!!!!)
Poison Study - Maria Snyder (I will try and pick up the other books in the series later on, but I enjoyed the first one and at times had a TOG feel)
The Night Mark and The Bourbon Thief - Tiffany Reisz (You can check my blog for my feels on these two books - quick and beautiful reads but prepare to be WRECKED by ‘The Bourbon Thief’ - I’m still recovering)
Blackwood and The Bad Guy- Celia Aaron (This author is magic! She writes erotica with plot so good! I buddy read ‘Blackwood’ with @propshophannah and we are both enthusiastic about it - it has a dark, mysterious feel and I could not get enough. My only complaint is that there is not more of it - I WANT MORE. So hot. SO HOT. ‘The Bad Guy’ was not AS good as ‘Blackwood’ but I still couldn’t put it down.)
The Arcana Chronicles - Kreslie Cole (I just really enjoyed them, not Earth shattering or anything but such an interesting plot with twists and turns and so many characters - I WAS SUCKED INTO THIS SERIES! And I need the next one pronto.
Labyrinth Lost - Cordia Zoraida (I didn’t finish this one but I intend to go back because it was really good but another book caught my attention more and put this one on Hiatus. If you haven’t already, pick up this book!)
Alex, Approximately and The Anatomical Shape of My Heart - Jenn Bennett (Both of these books were great, fun, quick reads that I LOVED the characters and locations)
Royally Screwed and Royally Matched - Emma Chase (Thanks @propshophannah for getting me into these two books of the same series - SO FUN. SO HOT. Ah I just loved them! You will have a huge smile on your face for most of these books. Looking forward to the next book ‘Royally Endowed’) also Hanna got me into the Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy and I breezed through them super hot super good.
Looking for sexy reads? PICK UP BOOKS BY CARA MCKENNA AND KYLIE SCOTT. I have read Curio and the Curio Vignettes, After Hours, Willing Victim and Brutal Game by Cara Mckenna and then the Stage Dive (4 books) and Dive Bar (still releasing, 2 so far) series by Kylie Scott and they are pretty much all panty disintegrating.
I’d also like to throw out there that anything by Morgan Matson has been a super enjoyable read for me. Starting with ‘Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour’ which sparked my Wanderlust but each of her books I read super fast because she has lovable characters, emotional conflicts, and great writing style. Check out also by her Second Chance Summer (Get your tissues ready though), Since You’ve Been Gone (Makes me feel young and adventurous), and The Unexpected Everything (So fun, Lovable).
My reviews for The Red - Tiffany Reisz (whooooooa) and Ten Days with the Highlander (Yipee!) are posted and I recommend.
I think I may have read these last year and previous years but I also loved loved loved ‘Vicious’ by V.E. Schwab, The Bungalow and The Violets of March will always be faves of mine by Sarah Jio, Pretty much ANYTHING by Libba Bray - The next installment of the Diviners series is coming out soon and I could not recommend that series more and her book Beauty Queens is so wacky but enjoyable. I will scream from the mountaintops about ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern for the rest of my life. It’s my thing. ‘The Bronze Horseman’ was epic (and the other two installments were OK and I read them to complete the story) but TBH was…..fantastic. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood is an instafave. Also I think it goes without saying that ACOTAR and TOG novels are a automatic read that I always enjoy. aaaaaaaand TID,TMI, TDA, etc by CC are also instareads for me. I preorder/buy those babies immediately. The Wrath and the Dawn + The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh were so freaking beautiful that I had preordered and sucked down Flame in the Mist (and looking forward to the next installment). OH OH OH and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was so moving.
So I am probably missing a ton but this is a short list of books I will soapbox for.
Currently reading: Return to your skin by Luz Gabás
, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee and
Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki
I am checking out your recommendations @sassyreads and if you have any others I’d love to hear about them.
I’m a recent convert actually - after maybe seven years of using blue pens, I realised that they were nice but they just weren’t cutting it (may I add that blue pens only look nice with other blue stationery and this led to considerable neglect of my pink highlighters, purple textas etc.) and so with much reluctance I brought myself over to the black-ink side. I try not to think about my brief (maybe not so brief) dabble in writing with blue pens because my notes are thriving now that I’ve switched to black! It was only a matter of time, everything else I own is black (or white or grey - neutral colours are fantastic for matching!). If you don’t believe me, when I first started my tombow collection (something I am adding to gradually, as I am sadly not rich enough to buy every shade in one go), I bought all the grayscale tombows first and have only just started collecting the different colours. This picture marks the rare appearance of my purple tombow, although it’s worth noting that basically the rest of the page is written in black ink. Old habits die hard, I guess.