Favorite Things + Happiness Tag

Two similar tags today — the Tag of Happiness and These are a Few of My Favorite Things Tag. It’s all about happy favorites. ^_^ And LISTS! (Because lists.)

Obviously, this post is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorites/things that make me happy. 😄 Just whatever I thought of off the top of my head. *nods*

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things Tag

I was tagged by Shantelle @ A Writer’s Heart for These Are a Few of My Favorite Things Tag — thanks Shantelle! ^_^ (Everyone check out her lovely blog, do!)

The rules are: (1) Write down ten of my favorite things, and (2) Tag at least three others.

(These may be all bookish/writerly. Just warning you. *coughcough*)

10 of My Favorite Things (which make me happy)

  1. That feeling you get when you spot a book at a library sale that you’ve been wanting to read.
  2. The hushed quiet inner energy of delight and wonder at all the awaiting worlds of books you feel when you step into a bookstore or library.
  3. Writing the last sentence of a story.
  4. Reorganizing my bookshelves.
  5. Starting a new journal or notebook (extra points if it’s with a new pen!).
  6. NaNoWriMo. (It also makes me despairing and panicky and insane, but happy is probably the dominating factor. Most of the time. So… yeah. A favorite. :))
  7. Playing with book lists etc. on Goodreads.
  8. Blogging.
  9. The little rush of buzzing fuzzy-feeling of happy excitement when someone comments on my blog. ^_^
  10. Getting book mail in the mail.  ❤

Tag of Happiness

Shantelle @ A Writer’s Heart and Abi @ Rambling Writer tagged me for The Tag of Happiness! Thanks very much to both of you! Being tagged made me happy. ^_^

Once again, not an exhaustive list…

Guidelines:

  • Take the banner and put it in your post
  • List as many things as you want in each category
  • Come up with more categories if you wish
  • Tag as many people as you want

Songs That Make Me Happy

  • Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey
  • Never-Ending Road by Loreena McKennit
  • Forbidden Friendship (from How to Train Your Dragon)
  • Dreaming of Bag End (The Hobbit soundtrack)
  • basically the entire soundtrack of The Return of the King

Books That Make Me Happy

Um. How long do you have? 😄 …I will restrain myself to a few. *cough*

  • Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones)
  • The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)
  • Paper Crowns (Mirriam Neal)
  • The Gammage Cup (Carol Kendall)
  • The Ordinary Princess (M. M. Kaye)
  • The Penderwicks (Jeanne Birdsall)
  • Broken Glass and Corroded Thorns (Emma Clifton)
  • Illusionarium (Heather Dixon)
  • Searching for Dragons (Patricia C. Wrede)
  • Prince Valiant (Hal Foster)

Movies That Make Me Happy

  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Prince of Persia
  • How to Train Your Dragon (#1 and #2)
  • The Avengers
  • Tangled

Short Films That Make Me Happy (category I added)

  • La Luna (Pixar short with Brave)
  • The Blue Umbrella (Pixar short with Monsters University)

Foods That Make Me Happy

  • Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Tortellini
  • strawberries
  • apricots
  • Strawberry Haagen-dazs ice-cream
  • anything chocolate
  • most lemon/mint/orange flavored things

Words That Make Me Happy

  • Enigma
  • Recalcitrant
  • Adamant
  • Twilight (or… I used to like it, before it was ruined… *sniffs*)
  • Grey
  • Paradox
  • Resplendent
  • Infinity

Scents That Make Me Happy

  • vanilla
  • peppermint
  • fresh-cut grass
  • the approach of rain

Random Things That Make Me Happy

  • otters
  • hummingbirds
  • roses
  • Scottish accents
  • puffins
  • Celtic crosses
  • fireflies and stars at night

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How about you, roadlings? Do any of these make you happy? What are a few of your favorite things? Steal the tag if it would make you happy! 🙂

(And please tell me I’m not the only one with a certain song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head. 😄 *frolics away humming something about brown paper packages tied up with strings*)

Top 15 Favorite Reads of 2015

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As is traditional (last year’s is here) it’s time for a list of the best books I read in 2015! YAY! Because lists and books and favorites are all the best things ever. ❤

I read some gems this year, and though it was super painful trying to pick favorites, these (especially the ones near the top) make my heart explode in happiness just from looking at the titles, so I think they’re some good ones! My list is roughly in order of amount of loving them, and doesn’t include rereads. So here we go! (Prepare for much squealing…)

My top 15 reads of 2015

1. Broken Glass – Emma Clifton (in Five Glass Slippers)

brokenglasscoverSo… I spontaneously reviewed this awhile back. And it’s made it to the very top of my list this year. IT’S JUST SO PERFECT AND MY FIRST STEAMPUNK FANTASY AND ALL THE CHARACTERRRRRRRRRRRS!!!! Ahem. I just really really love this story! I want to read it again (and I’ve already read it twice). It’s just perfection and bursting with humor and snark and great dialog and plots and sooo many characters I love, especially Marius and Darcy and Henry, and it’s FUN but then it gets epic at the end and it’s so British AND I JUST LOVE IIIIIIIT! ❤ It makes me grin and keep grinning and unable to STOP grinning, whenever I think of it. GAAAHH! *tackle-hugs story* ALL OF THE LOVE! *gives Darcy and Marius an extra hug*

2. Archer’s Goon – Diana Wynne Jones

HOW. DO. I. DESCRIBE. THIS. BOOK. Ummm… I can’t! *flails around* It was Diana Wynne Jones which means it was pure distilled BRILLIANCE mixed up with total uniqueness, absolutely FANTASTIC humor, and just ALL OF THE PLOT TWISTS. Mind. Blown. I can’t get over it and it’s amazing and I think I need to read it again right now. I still love Howl’s Moving Castle the best of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (I mean… it’s my favorite book EVER besides The Lord of the Rings) BUT I THINK ARCHER’S GOON MIGHT BE SECOND. Maybe. Ahem. All of the characters are fantastic and the dialog and the humor and it’s timey-wimey and sci-fi and fantasy and modern and super confusing and I just love it a lot. Ack. ❤

3. The Ordinary Princess – M. M. Kaye

This was, in a word, PERFECT. ^_^ It just makes me so happy. I can’t. *beams and huggles book* It’s a sort of original fairytale type of thing, feeling like it has some hints of Sleeping Beauty and maybe a couple others, but mostly its own thing. It was just a quick read that was ADORABLE and sweet and perfect, and I loved the illustrations, and the character of the Ordinary Princess herself was awesome, and Peregrine who I loved a ton, and they were so cute together and just alskdjljlsjk it makes me happy and is a perfect little book. ^_^ ❤

4. Illusionarium – Heather Dixon

I’ve been dying to read this ever since reading Entwined. Needless to say, I pounced on it. The internet is probably still reeling with the incoherent fangirling babbles I shared on this blog about Illusionarium… Ahem. So suffice it to say, despite the creepiness, that I LOVED THIS BOOK AND THE DIALOG AND HUMOR AND EPIC STEAMPUNKNESS AND ESPECIALLY LOCKWOOD. LOCKWOOOOD!!!!! *flails around forever and a day* Basically, Lockwood. ❤ I just can’t get over that indescribable airguardsman snarky fiery epic trigger-happy roguish awesome Lieutenant Lockwood. (And he and Jonathan are a great pair. 😄 I love themmm.) (BUT LOCKWOOD. SO MUCH. ❤ ❤ ❤ )

5. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones books are always wonderful, but this one’s one of my top, like… four? of hers? (Howl’s Moving Castle, Archer’s Goon, The Crown of Dalemark, and this, are my favorites.) This was the conclusion to the Chrestomanci series, which I started late in 2014, and read most of this year. AAAHHH I LOVED THIS BOOK. It returned to the hero of the first book, Cat (who is great), and there were shenanigans and it had sooo much more of Chrestomanci himself than a lot of the others (which is pretty much my one complaint usually, since he usually only shows up a little in the midst of other people’s adventures). THERE WAS ALSO A GRIFFIN. AND CHRESTOMANCI AND AND AND ASLKDJFLK I just really really really love Chrestomanci and I need some fancy dressing gowns to wear around the house like he does. Except he has a castle… BASICALLY I WANT TO LIVE AT CHRESTOMANCI CASTLE AND READ ABOUT CHRESTOMANCI FOREVER. Because CHRESTOMANCI!!!!! ❤ ❤ Ahem.

6. Frederica – Georgette Heyer

After reading and loving The Grand Sophy in 2014, I wanted to try another Georgette Heyer, so this happened. I LOVED IT. The characters, just… aaagh! I loved them. LORD ALVERSTOKE. He’s one of those kind of awful fellows who’s sort of vain/spoiled, a lot like Howl actually, and yet he ends up being all noble too and just alskdjflklaskdj I love Alverstoke, he’s wonderful. And his relationship with the heroine and with her younger brothers — just YES! I don’t actually read a lot of regency historical romance sorts of things but this one was great. There’s also an airballoon and a crash and all of the DIALOG, my goodness it’s wonderful.

7. The Penderwicks in Spring – Jeanne Birdsall

AAAAHHHHH. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I read the first three Penderwick books (I even reread them this year!) and it was amazing. I was actually surprised because in a way it was so SAD but also the usual hilarious and just… I love the Penderwicks, okay. I LOVE THEMMMM. This family. Just. THEY ARE PRECIOUS. *gathers them in a hug* It was a little strange because it’s years after the previous ones and the three older girls are like TEENS and Batty’s 11 and… yes. o.o And I should have been upset, especially with all the sad, but I just LOVED. IT. SO. MUCH. Also there were like ten billion characters and the author juggled them all SO well and the writing is golden and ALL OF THE FEELS. I wish I could write like that. Basically I waited a long time for it and it did NOT disappoint. ❤

8. Conrad’s Fate – Diana Wynne Jones

This was a sort of Chrestomanci prequel because it involves him (Christopher) when he was a teen. LET ME FLAIL. Like Illusionarium, it was a great buddy-movie story (as I call them; even when they’re not movies… *cough*) and… Chrestomanci and the hero are so much fun together and I DON’T EVEN KNOW. But it was Diana Wynne Jones and I remember having so much fun and just really ENJOYING this! *flail* Chrestomanci as a youngster is just fabulous to read about, so sneaky but refined but clever and just brilliant and the dialog and I just loved it. ❤

9. Power of Three – Diana Wynne Jones

How. I. What. It. SOMETHING! *flailing* This was totally not what I was expecting and it was so DIFFERENT (something Diana Wynne Jones excels at) and PLOT TWIST! Wow. Also I loved all of the characters, especially the two who were like the hero (you’ll understand if you’ve read it), and it just had a lot of brilliance going on! It was epic. It felt rather different than her other stuff–a bit more like the Dalemark books than her “fun” ones… But I still adored it. Plus, the flashback where the fellows were drunk and met Titch was sheer gold. *dies of laughter*

10. Plenilune – Jennifer Freitag

This is here basically because DAMMERUNG!!!!! It was EXHAUSTING to read and took me from Christmas till August to read… like really heavy chocolate cake. Or the ocean. It was a little much, kind of too rich if you know what I mean, but it was totally worth it for Dammerung. He’s, like, possibly my favorite character this year. Possibly one of my top favorite characters of EVER. Like… HE’S UP THERE WITH HOWL, OKAY? Dammerung is just AMAZING and this monster of a 600+ page book of exhaustingly gorgeous poetical prose is totally worth it just for him. (And Rupert was amazing too. I have very complex feels about Rupert. Which makes me super glad that Dammerung is there to cancel those out because he just blows everything away with his amazingness). Like… he’s funny and powerful and heroic and epic and just… HE’S LIKE THE COOLEST EVER. Dammerung has a very special place in my heart. ^____^ ❤ ❤ ❤

11. The Skin Map – Stephen R. Lawhead

This was an AMAZING book. Contemporary/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi-ish/historical… it has a little bit of everything. The writing and setting and just the entire thing is STUNNINGLY well done, not to mention the cast of characters, each of whom I love to bits! Arthur, Cosimo, Kit, Etzel, Wilhemina! (I even love the heroine!) Just. Gaaahh. It was a fantastic book, and would have been much higher up the list if it weren’t for something that happened in the last twenty pages… *cough cough* But I’ve actually gotten over that (mostly) and all I can think of is how amazing this book was and how much I want to read the sequels! *huggles all the characters* It was just a DELIGHT to read!

stonecurse12. Stone Curse – Jenelle Schmidt (in Five Enchanted Roses)

I reviewed this one on the blog and just YES. Beauty and the Beast retelling, which I ALWAYS love… And RITTER! ❤ Ritter and his heroicness and humor and just aaaahh I love him so much! And the setting and the fairytale feel and BAREND the Beast, down to loving the heroine, Karyna, a ton as well. I just… Gaaah. ^_^ *huggles all of them* The whole cast of characters and their relationships… just fantastic. SUCH A GREAT READ! ❤

13. Corroded Thorns – Emma Clifton

Aaand I also reviewed this one (more Beauty and the Beast, yay!) and it’s the sequel to my top favorite of the year, Broken Glass, and I sort of consider them one book because it’s so interconnected, sooo I couldn’t resist putting this on the list too! DARCY!!! Eeep. I just looooved this story and the characters AND THE ENDING WAS PERFECTION OH MY GOODNESS SO MUCH LOVE FOR THAT. ❤

14. Tahn – L. A. Kelly

This was the VERY first book I read in 2015, so it’s possibly a little hazy in my memory… But I know it was an exciting adventuresome read, with some good stuff, and was a little grittier than I usually like but still fabulous. And, like with Plenilune, it’s mostly here for one of my favorite characters of the year, namely the title character himself, Tahn. Tahn is the absolute epitome of my favorite archetype of characters, what I call the “dark guy”. (I’ve heard “anti-hero” used as well.) But I really really love him and his story and it was awesome.

15. The Book of Sight – Deborah Dunlevy

This book… I don’t know. It just made me happy. It was one of my first “random” ebooks I tried, since it was free on Kindle at the time and sounded interesting. I got so addicted that I’ve since bought all three of the sequels which are currently out (looking forward to reading The Poisoned Cure soon!) and already hoping the fifth/final book will come out soon! It’s a modern fantasy story, and it just… somehow kind of reminds me of the sort of stories I’m writing with my Kedran’s Wood series. I just enjoy it and it’s about these kids, a group of friends, in a little modern town, and their dealings with fantastical stuff that they start running into. Also, I really love Dominic. But it’s just a fun read, so… yes. It makes me think of sunshine. 🙂

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You mayyy notice a trend*, which is that books are much likelier to be extremely loved/high on my list when there’s a particular character I really like in the story… What can I say. I’m evidently extremely attached to fictional people. But I’d say that Dammerung, Lockwood, and Chrestomanci are my favorite characters this year. THEY’RE THE BESSST!

(*Whaaat, you thought I was going to say that the trend was Howl? HAHAHA. Fooled you. 😄 Ahem. Sorry. Howl does whatever he likes, and apparently that includes stealing the show in a blogpost that doesn’t even involve him… *cough*)

So there’s my list! Have you read any of these? (You totally should!) Do you have any favorite reads of 2015? TELL ALL IN THE COMMENTS! ^_^

Hopefully this next year of 2016 will hold some wonderful reads in it for all of us! ❤

Happy New Year, everyone!

Illusionarium Fangirling Babbles

You may remember that I keep occasionally babbling incoherently about how much I liked that book Illusionarium. If I liked it that much, I should actually review it and tell people about it, right? Or at least explain to my poor blog readers what on earth (or possibly off of it… in an alternate world, perhaps?) I was talking about.

Well, I’ve vaguely been meaning to review it, but was kind of overwhelmed by the idea. That happens to perfectionist me sometimes… But then! I realized that I had done a rather long and in-depth excitedly-flailing ramble to a good friend about it in an email soon after I had read it…

That was sort of a review, wasn’t it? So I decided I’d tweak that some and post it as a review. (I also don’t usually reference lots of other books/characters/authors/films/shows in reviews, but there’s a lot of that in this; I’m bolding the references.)

Here is my almost-review incoherent-ish fangirling babble for Illusionarium by Heather Dixon.

My goodness! I had so much fun with this book. 😀

It’s like The Night Circus meets Inception meets Mirriam Neal‘s book Disconnect meets Doctor Who meets Steampunk meets the kind of lively writing and boisterous characters who sound 1000% British of Entwined, (which is about the only similar thing, although it’s by the same author) and it’s also told in first-person from the POV of a guy, and since the last thing I read like that was that Curseworkers Trilogy (White Cat and co.) by Holly Black, it made me think of that, and also a little of Hiccup from the How to Train Your Dragon movie. A little. Just because. So… yeah, wow. Lots of reminders, and yet it was like nothing I’d ever read or seen! Oh, and there’s also kind of crazy outfits in a lot of it, kind of really colorful raggedy steampunkish clothing, I guess, and there’s a ton of masquerade-type mask things for awhile too, so that’s probably where most of the Doctor Who reminding came from — besides a wee bit of timey-wimey ness and the creepy-factor — but it kind of reminded me of The Girl in the Fireplace episode–was that what it was called?

It was also my first steampunk book! *gasp* I’d always wanted to try some steampunk and never got around to it before this. I think the steampunk element in Illusionarium wasn’t an extreme focus of it, kind of more like background… Most of the story was focused on the illusion stuff, which was some weird mix of stuff like the magic in The Night Circus, and science, and hallucination stuff like… like in Batman Begins (ooh, another thing I’m comparing it too. XD) and the Inception stuff about sharing dreams, or in this case illusions, and sort of being able to build stuff with your mind. *shrug* Anyways! Not SUPER steampunky, mostly it was just a whole lot of WEIRD mixed together. 😄 But I did loooove the steamunk feel and want to read more! I think this was a more fantasy-feeling steampunk and I know there’s more mechanical, realistic type ones, so I don’t know if this is even a really good sample of steampunk. But still. I feel quite excited to have finally officially read my first steampunk and now I really want to get to other steampunk books I have lying around and try them out! (I’ve since only read Broken Glass and Corroded Thorns by Emma Clifton, which I ADORED obviously, and were also extra fantasy versions of steampunk… But that only makes me want to read more steampunk, even more!)

Anyways, like I said, it’s kind of got things that remind me of stuff all over the place, but at the same time, really I’ve just never read anything like it! So much unique! At least for me. It was crazy but awesome. 😄

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Pretty much my ONLY complaint was some of the creepy aspects of it… I just don’t get along well with really creepy kinds of things. At first I was creeped out because of this plague thing that turns people’s blood black so their veins make it look like black spider webs climbing up their skin and it just creeped me out… till I got used to it and ran into the rest of the creepiness in the book, which had to do with people kind of splitting and growing extra eyes and fingers etc. Maybe most people wouldn’t mind but IT KIND OF CREEPED ME OUT OKAY. O_O Meep. But aside from those two things, I positively ADORED it! 😀 But if you don’t have much of a problem with slightly creepy stuff maybe you wouldn’t mind, I don’t know. *shrug*

I’ve seen a lot of reviewers complaining about it not wowing them… EXCUSE ME? *splutters* It was breathtaking and edge-of-your-seat! It was… amazing! (Or maybe I don’t read exciting books. *shrug*) But you might have to go in not expecting much, and then just see if it catches you or not. It certainly wowed ME. I had no CLUE what it would be like, going in, so it just sort of wowed me extra because it was so DIFFERENT and I just loved the characters. 😀

The dialog. THE DIALOG. I loved it so much and it was one of my favorite things. Especially Lockwood’s. 😄 But… I’m getting ahead of myself here. I think I love books with super good dialog that I love to quote, lots of great humor, and characters who are sorta sarcastic and snarky…

And I haven’t even gotten to my favorite part!

Okay, so I LOVED the hero, and thought for awhile that he would be my favorite
character (sometimes it can get worrying with first-person narrators because sometimes it’s just hard to really really like them… unless that’s just me) but he was just so funny and dry but also felt sort of like a “normal” hero, and I just loved watching his struggles as he went up and down trying to find the right thing to do… I loved that and it was great. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed the main character’s “journey” this much in a long while… He also had these really hilarious, dry, witty asides he would put in occasional footnotes. It was so unique and hilarious! BUT. He wasn’t even my favorite!

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My absolute favorite thing about the entire book had to be this one character, Lieutenant Lockwood, who’s this awesome sixteen-year-old Royal Airguardsman with an eyepatch who has the most outrageous personality and is so amazing and fun and hilarious and epic that I simply don’t have a place for him in my Character Categories! O_O

It’s usually characters like Howl and Chrestomanci [both by Diana Wynne Jones] and Florian [Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander] and Azrael [Mirriam Neal again] that I can’t pigeonhole, but Lockwood… I can’t with him either! :O It’s so weird… I think the closest I could get would be somewhere in with Peter Pan from Peter Pan in Scarlet, mixed with a pirate guy named Tamo in The Pirate’s Son by the author who wrote Peter Pan in Scarlet (Geraldine McCaughrean; she must be good at that kind of character…) but not quite. I don’t know! It’s quite odd! O_O I mean, Lockwood has the same young-awesome-kind-of-savage-but-also-carefree-and-epic-with-a-pistol sort of feeling as McCaughrean‘s version of Peter Pan, and Tamo, but so much MORE too. LOOKWOOD’S JUST UNIQUE AND I LOVE HIM.

It’s very rare and odd these days for me to find a character that just DOESN’T fit in my character pigeonholes! (Which I need to do a post about sometime…) And it usually means they’re awesome. 😄

I just loooove Lockwood and have been going around squealing about him ever since I was like halfway through the book. A few weeks after I read it, I flipped back through the book and reread basically every bit that had Lockwood in it. Yes. I love him that much. And I want to go do it again now! *flail*

Lockwood Lockwood Lockwood.

I just love him too much. I know I’m just fangirling and not making any sense probably, and repeating myself, but I don’t care.

I JUST CAN’T EXPLAIN LOCKWOOD OKAY. HE’S TOO AMAZING TO EXPLAIN IN MY OWN WORDS. YOU JUST HAVE TO READ HIM FOR YOURSELF.

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Basically, Illusionarium had a couple elements that were too creepy for me, but overall it was totally unique and my first steampunk and I really enjoyed it and it has one of my new favorite characters.

And it made me happy. It was kind of terrifying and thrillerish and made my heart beat too fast probably but it just… MADE ME HAPPY. I want to beam and huggle it forever. Just… if that’s not what you want books to do for you, I don’t know what is.

An equation for you. (Ha! Inside joke… Equations are a big part of the book; like… sciencey stuff and all.)

Illusionarium + Lockwood – creepiness = best. thing. ever.

If it weren’t for the creepy aspects, it might be like my favorite book this year (okay so it’s up against some pretty stiff competition… so I dunno. BUT STILL). It was just AWESOME.

(Plus, cover love. We can be shallow and love it for the cover, right? ❤ )

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Anyways! There is my ramble/babble about Illusionarium, because it’s definitely not coherent enough to quite call it a review. 😉

But if you think THAT was incoherent fangirling… Here’s the “review” I originally posted on Goodreads as soon as I’d finished reading it:

illusionariumreview

A Reaction: Should We Read What Everyone Else Is Reading?

Note: This started out as a comment I was writing after reading Cait @ Paper Fury‘s post “Should We Read What Everyone Else Is Reading” and the comments afterward.

It was an interesting post about a fascinating quote, namely:

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” Haruki Murakami

My comment got REALLY long and kind of unrelated so I decided to turn my comment into a blog post, so here it is.

But first, do go read Cait’s post so that you understand mine! (Hers is a quicky post and very amusing so it won’t be hard to read, I promise).

Okay, have you read it? Good.

On to my reply:

Wow. This is an intense discussion. o.o I have mixed thoughts as well.

Okay, so for ME, I’m actually NOT a book blogger! *gasp* I read books primarily for ME and occasionally someone will ask me to review their book, or I’ll see a book I
wanted to read up for review.

But mostly I don’t read a lot of the modern/mainstream books simply because they don’t come my way/don’t sound interesting. Me and my life/background/thoughts are entirely different than most people out there. Some of these just DON’T APPEAL TO ME even though they are are totally relateable to everyone else out there. And that’s what I’m trying to say here.

The Hunger Games, Divergent… I hate dystopian; it depresses me. I like a little HOPE in my books, please and thank you, and reading about a bunch of people living in the dirt being oppressed by an evil government living in luxury is just… not my idea of fun reading.

Harry Potter? Any and every contemporary YA book of ever? I was homeschooled; I just don’t GET any of the books set in a public school (magical or not) because I don’t understand the classroom politics and groups and cliques and obsessions and backstabbing and jerks and bullies and “popular girls” and “popular guys” and football and sports and things. It’s not a culture I find interesting/relateable, or anything I WANT to read about because it is not me. IT JUST DOES NOT INTEREST ME AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY IT INTERESTS OTHER PEOPLE. (I mean, I know WHY but… again, not me.) (And no, it doesn’t help to read books about homeschoolers because, contrary to popular belief, all homeschoolers are actually super different than each other.)

City of Bones? Twilight? I’m just not the biggest fan of paranormal. *shrug*

Cinder? Again, not a fan of dystopian and not very much of sci-fi either.

Percy Jackson? The modern thing again, AND I’ve never been a fan of Greek myths… Dunno why, but I prefer Celtic stuff and King Arthur and fairytales… Greek stuff has always felt… greasy to me. 😛

I could go on and on with lists of popular books and why the sound of them just doesn’t interest me. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t enjoy them if I read them — I very well might! I just don’t want to spend all of that time finding out, when I could be reading books I think I’ll want to read.

Time (especially reading time) is precious.

And I don’t see a point in reading a whole lot of books that do not appeal to me, just because they appeal to everyone else.

And that’s my point. I’m so “out there” MYSELF that I don’t find the popular books interesting at all because I’m just different from everyone else.

And I do think a lot of that is BECAUSE I grew up reading different books. I grew up reading old books and fantasy recommended by family members and really close friends (recommendations are good, actually — I’m not saying otherwise!) and random interesting-looking fantasy books that I found second-hand at library sales. I find gems that nobody’s heard of, and yes it’s sad when I don’t have anyone to talk to about it…

But again, I read for ME.

So discussion or bookblogging isn’t a big thing for me, I guess. I read what I want to read, and most of the time that happens to be something not many people have heard about.

Books do shape you. So what I grew up reading has shaped me, and what others grew up reading has shaped them, and I think that’s the point of the quote. If we all read the same books, yes we’ll still be different people because everyone IS unique and we all have our own thoughts — but we’ll still be more similar.

I like to compare it to TV shows.

Nearly everyone I know LOVES Doctor Who. I think that’s because there’s a little bit of something in it for everyone. So it reaches the broadest range of audience — and consequently everyone loves it because they found the part in it to click for them. I enjoy some Doctor Who (fun! The Doctor himself!), but I’m not obsessed with it, simply because I don’t feel like every single episode/part appeals to me. But then you take a lesser-known show, like Leverage, or Hustle, or especially Firefly, and those are much less heard about/talked about, but I love them so much more! I think they’re directed to a certain smaller select audience, and tailored directly for them instead of aiming for EVERYONE, and therefore to the select audience, it’s ten-times better.

I think there’s a sense in which that quote just means if everyone was ONLY reading Twilight/Hunger Games/Harry Potter, and not branching out at all (which is not true — you all say you read other things and find new gems and we all end up reading things nobody’s read as well) there just would not be a bunch of NEW ideas from DIFFERENT books coming into our heads. It’s not meant to say we all think the same — which is definitely not true, as Cait and others are pointing out — it’s just that if we all only read the same things, where would the recommendations of the random book nobody’s heard of but is awesome come from? And how can different, important, more “out there” ideas find their way to us, if we all only read the generally popular stuff? It’s just… new ideas and new books have to come from somewhere, and if everyone ONLY reads the “mainstream”, “popular” ones, there would be less new thoughts showing up EXCEPT ABOUT THOSE BOOKS. That’s all. 🙂

But really, again, I only read FOR ME, and because I’m not a book blogger, it’s not that big of a deal to me like it is to you guys, I think. And occasionally I do feel a resistance to reading a book if EVERYONE had recommended it because in my experience if everyone loves a book, it’s usually more of a case of what I said about the TV shows (something for everyone, but not everything for me) and so I generally don’t care as much for said book… OR I just have a rebellious tendency because I AM very much about reading what *I* want to read, not what everyone else says I should — because I want to make my own way! A rebel… that’s me. 😉

So part of it is stubbornness, part of it is past experience, and part of it is just not being interested in most of the popular books, simply because of personal taste and life experience and cultural background.

BUT don’t get me wrong: I DO LOVE GETTING BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS.

(I feel like this entire post should come with an enormous disclaimer. 😄 Especially when I say generic things like “everyone”, which I don’t REALLY mean… It’s just general… >.>)

That being said, nobody should read books ONLY because they’re popular and I think everyone should read what they want to, but as was pointed out, there is a reason things become popular, yes, and sometimes it’s useful to read popular things just so you can understand the culture around you.

Like (back to shows) I understand the internet SO much better having seen some Doctor Who and knowing at least a bit about Supernatural, and having seen Sherlock. (Sherlock is awesome, BTW.) There are just some things that are so cultural that one needs to understand them to understand people. Like, I might end up reading the Harry Potter books (that’s a big controversy too because some people hate them but I’m not going into that today) not because everyone says I have to or because they interest me a SUPER amount, but because it’s gotten to the point where enough of my friends have HP as their “core fandom” that I just can’t understand them very well without reading it… Just like most people wouldn’t necessarily understand me without having read (or at least seen) MY “core fandom” which is The Lord of the Rings. And I might read The Hunger Games because I’ve been seeing the movies with my brother, and again it’s a cultural understanding thing. Sometimes it’s not worth holding out against “popular” or against “uninterested” if it means that if you DO read them you will have a deeper friendship with your friends and understand them better. But those popular books aren’t a real high priority right now, because I read for ME. I might read them, eventually… I might not. I have other stuff to read right now because I’m excited about other things, and that’s the point.

I do love it when I read someone’s blog and they mention a book and I’m like I’VE READ THAT! YES!!! But I read slowly enough and there are so many books I DO want to read, that I’m not going to specifically tailor my reading just so that I can read all the books everyone else is reading, just so I can talk about them with everyone.

I’ve run across a very small handful of books that I consider to be “perfect”. The more popular on the list would be The Lord of the Rings, The Penderwicks, and The Horse and His Boy. But a lot of them most people have never heard of. Howl’s Moving Castle, The Gammage Cup, The Ordinary Princess, Prince Valiant (YES!), Searching for Dragons, The Kestrel, The Boggart, The Reluctant Dragon, more recently Broken Glass in the Five Glass Slippers collection, and near the very top a book that’s not even PUBLISHED yet, Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal.

And I have others that are top favorites of mine, but even favorites sometimes have something you didn’t like quite as much, but as far as I-HAVE-LITERALLY-NO-COMPLAINTS-ABOUT-THIS-BOOK those are pretty few and far between and I don’t think one will run across those little gems if one only reads the “popular” books. NOT because popular books aren’t good, but because they’re aimed toward everyone, not the specific smaller group that is you.

But those books I mentioned, I just think of them and I’m happy without any reservation, and I always want to reread them. They’re not necessarily my FAVORITES (okay, so some of them are) but they’re the most perfect books I’ve ever read.

And I do love talking with people about books we’ve both read — it’s the funnest thing in the world! — but it’s even BETTER when I meet someone who has read and liked one of my favorites or one of these “perfect” books because they ARE more rare and less popular, and they’re a part of my heart, and if someone has read and loved one or several of them, I know this person is a kindred soul. 🙂 It wouldn’t be QUITE the same if it was a book I loved that EVERYONE had read and everyone had loved, you know what I mean? In a way, it wouldn’t be as special.

Books are extremely subjective. We all come to a book differently and take something different away, and that’s as it should be! A book that one person might love, another might hate, and yet another might feel meh about. I’m not disagreeing with Cait, or with any of her brilliant commenters, I’m just putting my own thoughts out there. 🙂

I don’t know if there’s a point to this. I just started typing reactions to Cait’s post and this is what came out, and I decided that 1) it was too long to actually post as a comment and 2) it might be make an interesting read as a blog post!

So. Bookish thoughts.

Deborah out.

Corroded Thorns

ctcoverCorroded Thorns
by Emma Clifton

5 stars!

Young Adult / Fantasy / Steampunk / Fairy Tale Re-Telling / Beauty and the Beast / Novella

Sequel to Broken Glass (review here) in Five Glass Slippers

I received an e-copy of this book from the author in return from my honest review; I was not required to be positive; these opinions are entirely my own.


As the sequel to BROKEN GLASS (found in the FIVE GLASS SLIPPERS anthology), I was so excited to read CORRODED THORNS to experience the rest of Darcy’s story! And boy does it ever not disappoint!

I loved this book so much that I read it twice in one week. I have an occasional urge to do that with other books, but almost never follow through. But this time I just couldn’t help myself! Fortunately it’s a novella so I was able to read it in a sitting, and it’s one of those perfect novellas that feels exactly the right size.

As a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I so enjoyed watching the plot unfold and picking out the similarities and twists. It’s a favorite fairytale of mine, particularly that it shows how even really horrid characters can find redemption. I LOVE fairytale retellings, and this has to be one of my favorite versions of Beauty and the Beast! I simply adored it.

The plot behind the normal Beauty and the Beast part of the story was so awesome — I loved that there was so much more going on under the surface than meets the eye and it TOTALLY made sense for the story; plus, fascinating fairy godmother politics! Isn’t that just cool? It was all so interesting to read about!

It was a gorgeous world, the settings felt so alive and real and everything was extremely vivid in my mind, despite the relative shortness of the tale. I really felt like I was in that old dark castle on the lake! The touch of steampunkness was SO cool and original (steampunk Beauty and the Beast? Yes please!), and I don’t usually notice this but I LOVED the magic in this story! It was just… I can’t describe it but it was perfect and seamless and interesting. Just… really well done.

In the interests of being fair and looking at both sides… Complaints? Umm, it took me a moment to think of any. There’s hardly anything wrong with this book! I did sometimes have a hard time visualizing exactly what the Beast looked like. I wished there had been a little more description on that, since my mental image kept changing. That being said, it was still an extremely awesome idea the way he was done!

At first as I started out, I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t feel just like the first one, BROKEN GLASS, which was hilarious and mad-dash and there were so many characters running around making a mess and being fabulous. But that’s only a partial complaint, because I quickly grew to love CORRODED THORNS just as much, despite its different feeling, and perhaps more because this one was much more straightforward of a plot, mostly following the one storyline, so I ended up more invested and just loved watching Darcy and Madeline’s story unfolding!

So don’t expect CORRODED THORNS to have exactly the same feel as BROKEN GLASS. This one is a little less whimsical and has a darker, more serious and epic feel to it (but there are still fabulous characters and some hilarious parts, never fear!). But I ended up loving that about it. They’re just different stories but you can still feel that they’re connected as well.

And now we get to the best part. The characters! I LOVED THEM.

  • Madeline is such a sweet, insecure, mousey thing and I found myself really really liking her. She’s so used to being a failure and yet she KEEPS TRYING and I love that about her. I can’t even quite describe it but… Madeline’s just so likeable. (Also tea and cucumber sandwiches.)
  • Young Niles was an unexpected but splendid (and rather important) addition, the one servant who stayed behind for the Beast. Gaahh, I just adored him! He was such an original, cheerful, stubborn, friendly fellow and was just fabulous! Yes, yes and yes. His role in the story really surprised me and I thought it was so cool!
  • Darcy… Ah, Darcy. What does one even say about him? DARCY. That is all. Despite his somewhat beastly tendencies, you still love him and it’s just incredible watching his story-arc leading from BROKEN GLASS and progressing through this one. It was amazing to read about, quite believable, awesome, and extremely well done. DARCY IS MY FAVORITE. I just loved loved loved reading this story about him! Especially his snark. So much fun.

Darcy, Niles, and Madeline make for a splendid main cast. Their interactions are just the best! The humor, the gems of hilarious lines… I loved it all! The other characters were interesting as well. Basically look forward to a great cast of characters in this book.

The ending. THE ENDING! There was one of those moments near the end where I suddenly stopped reading and went oh no — it’s about to be over — I don’t want it to END!! But then it stayed just the right extra amount of time to wrap up the things I wanted addressed and it felt… I don’t know… like a reward and it was just PERFECT! AAAHH. I loved it so much! Also, the glimpse of some characters from the first at the end totally made the book!! It made me so very very happy!

And not to give anything away, but this book contains my favorite proposal scene EVER. Yes, it was that good. ❤

Gaahh, how can I say enough wonderful things about this wonderful book? I feel like I’m falling woefully short! For such a small tale, it was packed to bursting with fabulousness. There was much incoherent squealing and babbling about its awesomeness on my part after finishing it. EEEK! ❤ And then I had to reread it only a few days later because I couldn’t help myself — I had to enjoy its loveliness again!

Basically it was glorious, epic, funny and full of characters I loved a ton, plus a setting I was completely immersed in (I want to live there!), and of course Beauty and the Beast! What more can you want?

I adore it and love it to bits and it just made me indescribably happy!

Back Cover Copy

From Goodreads:

A fairy godmother—in prison? Madeline can’t remember even being a fairy godmother, let alone doing something bad enough to land her in a cell. When a mysterious lady sends her back to her old village with cryptic instructions and no answers to her many questions, Madeline must find a way to free her father, who has been imprisoned in a tower by a terrible beast.

First banished by his father the king, then cursed by an angry fairy, Prince Darcy will do anything to escape this fate and achieve revenge and power. Just when he thinks his chance has arrived, by some cruel trick of fate a girl from his past returns and once again wreaks havoc on his life. Worse still, he begins to question what he truly desires.

Published July 14, 2015.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

Emma Clifton has been thinking up stories before she knew how to type them out. Reading books such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Door Within Trilogy, and Redwall inspired her to take her writing more seriously. Though her rigorous homeschool education keeps her busy, she also enjoys sewing, reading, and spending time with her family in beautiful Northern Virginia.

Emma won a place in the bestselling Five Glass Slippers anthology of Cinderella retellings with her enormously popular novella, “Broken Glass.”

To find out more about Emma and her work, visit:

www.PeppermintandProse.wordpress.com

(You can also find her on Goodreads.)