Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings I’ve Read

This post is a part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme on The Broke and the Bookish. Check out their blog for other lists!

Cinder, Scarlett, and Cress by Stephanie Meyer. I started reading Cinder and the other books in this series last year, and I was immediately super impressed that Meyer follows the basic story of the fairy tales, while making it her own thing entirely. In particular she blew my mind with Cress, her retelling of Rapunzel, when she seamlessly integrated some elements that I had forgotten occurred in the fairy tale.

Dearskin by Robin McKinley. I first read this book, a retelling of Donkeyskin, in high school from my school library. Honestly, I think that book was in there by mistake, since a big part of the story involves incest and rape, but I’m so glad it was there. It’s an excellent, emotional book, and I’ve read it a couple of times since.

The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block. This is an anthology of fairy tale retellings.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. It’s Snow White, but figuring out which character is the princess, and which one is the evil stepmother, is part of the fun in this one.

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Obviously this has to be on here.

There’s five for me! There are probably others that I’m forgetting, or others that I forgot/didn’t know were fairy tales to begin with.

What fairy tale retellings do you love? Let me know, and go to Broke and Bookish to add your list!

Reading Problems: Quitting on Them Books

Sometime last year, I came to a decision that’s changed my reading: I was going to let myself give up on books.

I’ve given up on books before. Three separate starts couldn’t get me through The Count of Monte Cristo, and I just could not handle the third Shopaholic book. But it was always with a lot of hemming, a lot of guilt. How could I leave this book unfinished? How could I abandon this story?

Here’s how. My Goodreads list of books to read is in the hundreds. And even that’s just the mountainous tip of the book pile. There are books that I forget to add, new novels that don’t make it to that list, and all the other books, kid’s lit and nonfiction, that I just pick up on a whim and begin. When I’m reading a book that I wasn’t in the right mood for, or that I honestly don’t like, I think of all those books that I could be reading, that I’d rather be reading.

So why don’t I just read those instead?

I have more books on my list than I could read in a lifetime. I shouldn’t feel obligated to waste more of that time than I have to.

Do you abandon books? Does it kill you inside, or are you fine with it? Or maybe I’m just spouting blasphemy as far as you’re concerned? Let me know, and tell me some books you’ve ditched!

The Bone Season (The Bone Season, #1)Here are some recent ditches of mine, some because I just didn’t feel like it as much as I thought I would, others because I just could not enjoy myself, at all (you can guess what’s what!):

  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • Kafka by the Shore by Haruki Murakami
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • Dodger by Terry Pratchett
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell

What I’m Listening To: Podcasts

A little while ago, being someone who suddenly decided to get into podcasts but sick of not having an easy way to find them built into my listening device, a.k.a. phone, I dug up an Android app — Podcast Addict — and started digging around. What started with me just wanting an easy way to listen to This American Life and some random nerdy stuff turned into a whole page of subscriptions that keeps growing. Here are three of my favorite things to listen to, in order of how they show up on my list.

Dear Hank & John. Hank and John Green, whose videos got me into Youtube, started their own podcast shortly after I began devouring them. It can be funny, but mostly it’s deep or just interesting, and it’s fun to listen to them go back and forth rather than in their separate videos.

Enchanted Tiki Talk. Three dudes talk about Disney World. I started to get into this one more over WDW Radio because they seem like only slightly older versions of me and my friends, and as much as they love Disney World they tend to take a realistic look at everything, which I appreciate. Also they talk about the food a lot, so yaaaaaay.

Stuff Mom Never Told You. This funny and infinitely fascinating feminist podcast has taught me about transgender and bisexual people, female carpenters, OCD, and dad bods (a day on the internet I totally missed). I don’t listen to every new episode, but I’ve gone back over a year through their catalogue to find some really interesting stuff I didn’t even know about.

Do you listen to Podcasts? What are your favorites? Any suggestions for a nerdy feminist lady who loves cartoons, comics, and food? Let me know!

Books on My Summer To-Be-Read List

It’s been some time since I wrote a blog post! Partly because I have things going on in my life (I’m moving! Agh!) and partly because I’ve been in that awful I-don’t-know-what-to-write quagmire. I figured I’d use a Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish to get me back in the swing of things. Today: books on my summer to be read list.

  • 23899174In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Judy Blume has a new book! I haven’t read any of her adult books before, but I started getting into a Judy Blume kick last year and I have heard good things about this one, and also it’s Judy Blume so let’s just do it.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I’m fully aware this has been on lists before, but I’ve actually started reading it! It’s a thousand pages, though, so it’s going to take a chunk of my summer to get through.
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. This is one of those fantasy novels that came out a while ago that I’ve meant to read, but never have.
  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer. A bonus book in the Lunar Chronicles series. After reading the first three back to back, I’ll need this to tide me over until Winter comes out.
  • Drawn & 22752444Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels. A collection of comics and essays about comics. Margaret Atwood writes an essay about Kate Beaton! Wow.
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. I liked Wives and Daughters. This is shorter than that, so probably good for a summer read.
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab. I don’t know much about this except that people I know seem to like it, and the cover looks cool.
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. See above.
  • Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. Night Watch!

No children’s books, I know…right now I can’t think of a specific one I want to read, but rest assured, I will spend plenty of time reading books for twelve-year-olds this summer. =D

What do you all plan to read?

Quick Look: “Here Comes Mud Season” by Sean Hurley

Driving to my job a couple Saturdays ago, I turned on NHPR and listened to Weekend Edition to get my through the last twists of the road, and a new story by Sean Hurley came up.

I’ve heard Sean Hurley on the radio before, and I’ve always liked his stories, and the way he reads them — such a deep, soothing voice, he sounds like a storyteller, like someone you want to listen to. Even so, his name never stuck in my head until this new essay, “Here Comes Mud Season”.
Muddy footpath - geograph.org.uk - 959135
I loved the tale, describing his son breaking the thin sheets of ice in the winter, followed by splashing through mud puddles when winter gives way to the “softness” of spring. I especially love his statement, that “This used to be my job.” It’s one of those things that every kid in four season part of the world does, a universal experience, but you don’t always think of it as such.

What really drew me in, trapped me, were his descriptions, some of them funny, some of them beautiful. One in particular grabbed me right in the chest, when he describes what everything looks like now that spring has begun:

My neighborhood looks like a wet cat waking up in an unmade bed.  Like we didn’t know it, but secretly we’ve been living on a planet made of damp paper bags.

The words drew a long, whispered “wow” out of my chest. They were perfect, making up one of the most correct descriptions of something I’ve ever heard. It’s exactly the way I want to write. Phrases like that, so different and exact, are what I reach for whenever I stare at one of my generic metaphors and try to make it something more.

That morning, sitting in my car, waiting for Hurley’s essay to end — even though I knew I should be going inside and preparing for the line of patrons at the door — not only reminded me of the damp beauty of the state I decided to live in, but also of everything I hope to be when I sit down at my desk with my notebook, and scribble, and cross out, and scribble again.

Books on My Spring To-Be-Read List

This is part of Top Ten Tuesday (yes, I know it’s Wednesday) on The Broke and the Bookish. This week: what books do I want to read this spring?

Men at Arms by Terry PratchettMen at Arms by Terry Pratchett. I’m reading Guards! Guards! right now, and I have read this book before, but I want to go through all the Watch books in order in my quest to finally read all of Sir Terry’s books.

Dodger by Terry Pratchett. Not a Discworld book! (I think?) But I’ve been meaning to grab it for a while.

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachman. I’m getting back into my middle grade story, so it’s time to read a bunch more middle grade books.

The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs. More middle grade lit! This is an older one, but it was a favorite of my husband’s when he was a kid.

The Sculptor, graphic novel by Scott McCloudThe Copernicus Legacy: The Serpant’s Curse by Tony Abbott. I…should have read this one already, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud. I’ve got my library copy wasting away in my book basket.

Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link. Short stories! Yes! This should be good.

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis. A new adult novel that sounds really fascinating (a girl gets abandoned in a store by her mother). So long as it doesn’t get depressing at the end.

Cress and Fairest by Marissa Meyer. I’m putting them both in the same spot because I just, just started Cress.

That’s me! I might actually get to these ones? We’ll see.

What about you? What do you plan on reading?

Book (and Cartoon) Thoughts: Teen Fantasy and Crystal Gems

Some varying thoughts on things I love that have been pinging in my head.

I’ve been reading a lot of great teen fantasy lately. I loved Cinder and it’s sequel Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, and I’m just waiting to finish up a couple other half-read things before I dive into the copy of Cress sitting tantalizingly in my Nook. The other day I finished Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, and I could hardly handle how much I enjoyed that (I’ll have a mini review of it, likely next week).

I went into a Books-a-Million for the first time yesterday, realizing that’s what took over a Borders I used to go to when I was in college. It partly reminded me how much I miss Borders, but also got me thrilled by how big of a graphic novel section they have (not to mention the area of just nerdy merchandise). It was a little messy, and a little sparse, but I’m hoping that’s just because it was the middle of the week and they were organizing.

As for cartoons, there was a big reveal episode of Gravity Falls, and now I just want to know when the next episode airs.

Steven Universe, Pearl, Rose's Scabbard
I need one of these hugs.

Cartoon Network has been playing Steven Universe episodes all week, though their way-too-early airtime means I have to wait a day, putting me a day behind. They’re drawing into the end of the season, which means the plot is getting heavy, but Rebecca Sugar and her team are revealing more and more about the characters, who they really are, and how the loss of Steven’s mother a long time ago affects them all differently. And oh man, the Pearl episode, Rose’s Scabbard? I need to watch that a hundred times. Basically I end each episode in a state of extreme emotion, so I may have a heart attack before this whole thing’s done. (I might need to write another big post on this show.)

Really, what an age to be an adult who loves books and cartoons made for children.

Bookish Problems I Have

Though there are not ten listed here, this post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme: what are some bookish problems you have? Some of these are goofy, some have to do with space, and some are just weird ways I read.

  • Not Enough Shelves. Though I’ve done some culling in my book collection, I still deal with double-stacked shelves and books piled under desks (I’m kicking some right now). I’ve gotten my collection down almost to it’s purest form, so the next solution is more shelving! …Except that there are no more walls.
  • Too Many Books to Read. Sometimes, when I’m shelving books at the library, I look at all the new books and think, “Wow, I want to read a dozen of these.” Then I remember all the books on the graphic novel shelf, in the fantasy section, the classics, those children’s books, and then all the unread books back home…I have to stop touching the books then before I slide into a tear-soaked panic.
  • TSUNDOKU. I know I have books to read at home. And I have library books I’ve been renewing for weeks. But then I go to the store and suddenly I have five more books. It is a very real problem.
  • My Dog. Sometimes when I’m reading she starts licking the corner of my book, trying to figure out what’s more fascinating than she is. Or I’ll be dutifully rubbing her ears, but god forbid I stop for 1.5 seconds so I can turn the page, causing her to nudge my arm or whap me with her paws until I start again. (Yeah, much worse problems to have. And I realize, I made her this way, but she’s so dang cute.)
  • Can’t Always Visualize Characters. I feel like this sounds bad, but I don’t always manage to fully visualize people when I’m reading. If I slow down in my reading to think about it, I realize that most of the time people are like fuzzy outlines in my head, and unless I put a considerable amount of conscious effort into imagining them — THIS is what their hair looks like, THIS is what the dress looks like — they stay that way the whole time. Maybe that’s why I like comics so much…?
  • Flipping Ahead. I flip ahead through pages to see how much longer a chapter or an entire book is, so I can measure how many pages I have to go. Sometimes this is good — I don’t want to start 20 pages of unbroken text when I want to go to sleep in 10 minutes — but it makes me feel impatient about finishing a book, and I’ve even accidentally spoiled things for myself in the past, and I hate spoilers with a fiery rage. Reading on my Nook helps with this, since I can’t easily flip ahead, but then I find myself overcome by WANT to flip forward.

There’s my list — do you have any bookish problems? Let me know, or make your own list!

Fantasy Novels I Want to Read

For this list, I’m not talking children’s books or creepy magical realism. I mean hefty, high fantasy, the kind that are published in hardcovers that could be used as murder weapons and get reprinted in mass markets so thick that no matter how much you don’t want to crack the spine I’m sorry if you want to get through the middle you’re going to have to crack the spine.

After reading the Mistborn trilogy, and now finishing up Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson, I have a hankering not just for his books, but for fat fantasy in general. I used to gobble those books up as a teenager, with Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern and the first several volumes of Terry Brooks’ now seemingly-infinite Shanara books. There’s a lot that I want to get into, and a lot that I feel I’ve missed.

  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. I just said that I love Sanderson now, so this should be obvious. Elantris is not as long as his other books (I’ve seen it side-by-side on the shelf) but it’s his first one, and also a stand-alone story, which would be nice to read.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. Yeah, two Sanderson books. But, this is the first of an epically long series that, currently, is only two books deep. They are monstrous books, but here’s a chance to get in at the beginning on something that could be big and wonderful.
  • Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn. Nothing particular drawing me to this book (except for dragons maybe), but I picked up this and its immediate sequel from the library when the fantasy section was going through a weed, so now those books are taking up a lovely little chunky space on my shelf. Like I’ve said, I need to get through the backlog, and I’ll probably love it besides.
  • Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I feel like I did something wrong, having never once read anything by Robin Hobb. Am I missing out? Am I a bad fantasy fan? I want to amend this.
  • Something by Mercedes Lackey. I’m even more positive I’ve done something wrong by never reading a book by Mercedes Lackey. She’s written so many, I’m not even sure where to start. Any ideas?

If anyone reading this has any other suggestions for wonderful fantasy novels I may have missed, let me know — I am wide open for ideas. And if you have read anything on my list, please tell me, are they worth it?

This post was written as part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme on The Broke and the Bookish, where they asked if there were books in a certain genre you felt you needed to read. Do you have any books you want to get to, or feel like you’ve missed out on?

My Favorite Graphic Novels (As a Kid and Teen)

As I finished off my list of favorite graphic novels last week, I realized something: I was listing my favorite comics now, books that have meant something to me as an adult, or at least into adulthood. Even some of the ones that I think would have been important to middle school me, like Smile, did not exist then, and if there were manga series being sold in bookstores before I hit high school, I never saw them. Comics have branched into my specific tastes more and more over the years, but I always knew it was a medium for me, and I managed to find some graphic novel stories to cling to.Read More »