Trollhunters

Trolls get a pretty bad rep in the fantasy world. They are dumb, slow, dirty, mean. Really the only likeable trolls I have ever seen have been in Frozen…I’ve yet to see Boxtrolls, so maybe those are ok too. But for the most part, trolls are pretty foul creatures.

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The mind of Guillermo del Toro is a wild and crazy place, so when I saw he had a new book coming out, I jumped at the chance to read it. I was not disappointed.

There’s something afoot in San Bernadino. It begins in 1967 when hundreds of kids go missing suddenly. Then, just as soon as it began, it stopped. Now, it’s starting again. Jim, whose dad has always been afraid of his own shadow, is starting to wonder about those bumps in the night. But when those “bumps” come for him, he finds out they are actually recruiting him to help save the town from the real problem–the Voldemort of the troll world. He had been defeated in 1967, but now he’s back, and seriously pissed off.

Trollhunters is no sophisticated novel, my friends, but the kids are going to love it. It’s akin to Goosebumps and Gremlins, and everything wonderful about middle school horror from the 80s and 90s. Deliciously ridiculous and just enough cheese and slime. Put this in the hands of a 10 year old and they will not come out of their room until it is finished. It’s one of those books that you just expect to find on a library shelf in worn paperback–I mean, did the Goosebumps books ever actually look pristine, or did they just come off the printer torn and dirty?

I’m not sure if del Toro has plans for a movie on this one. 2015 is almost too high quality for it. It needs to be on a fuzzy VHS tape. You’ll know what I mean when you read it.

 

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Published June 30.

WWW Wednesday 7/1/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

What did you just finish reading?

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Review up tomorrow)

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E Reichert

The Flying Circus by Susan Crandall

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy

 

The Quest, De Kleine Johannes

Remember my tangent from the other day about historical context, and how important it is to know the environment in which the book you are reading was written?

I just finished a horribly confusing book–until I googled. Sometimes, I just get so far in over my head that I have to look up what the book is about. And that’s ok. Reading these great works is about learning–if I don’t understand something from the book itself, I’m not above looking up the SparkNotes or Wiki!

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When I started reading Frederik van Eeden’s book, I thought it was going to be a book for children. Part I begins so sweetly, sort of an Alice in Wonderland meets The Hobbit type story. Johannes comes across a dragonfly that turns into a fairy-like creature, who shrinks him down to grass-size and takes him on an adventure. It’s a story that begs to be read chapter by chapter at night to a couple of tucked-in youngsters.

But then, the story kind of goes off a cliff and gets dark and darker. It twists and turns and becomes unrecognizable from where it begins, almost if the author descended into madness after he started. I quickly became confused, and probably should have given it up–but Part I was so delightful, I kept hoping it would go back to that.

It never did. The book becomes extremely evangelical, almost punishing in its sermons–at the same time it is full of crushing doubt. Like I said…it really felt like the narrator, if not the author himself, was not in control of his mind.

And then, in Part III, the book starts eluding to socialism and the Social Democratic Workers’ Party. It’s called a different name in the book, but it sounded so familiar that it clicked, and I knew the book was written in Holland just before WWI, so bam, that was it! Once I looked up that Party (<–Click there) it all made so much more sense. All the back and forth between religion and doubt, I THINK is a metaphor for the extremes in the party. There was so much that eluded to the battles between the branches. The Twelve Apostles fit in with that too. I could be way off, but it sure made the book come together for me.

This was a very difficult book to read, but it’s the first Dutch translation I’ve read, so I wanted to stick with it. If anyone has additional analysis on this, I’d love to hear it. I’m still very unsure about how I’ve interpreted it, but I had a hard time finding notes on this in English.

 

Also–I’ve been doing really great about getting a post up every day, but I’ve finally caught up with myself! Because I finished this book late in the day (and we have plans tonight) I am not sure I’ll be able to get one up tomorrow. We’ll see. If not, I’ll resume on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Dark Corners

So, I have a bit of a treat for you today. It’s like nothing I’ve ever posted on the blog before, and I’ll be honest, I’m a bit nervous about publishing it. I posted a rough draft on my Tumblr this morning, writing as I was inspired, but the tenses were a mess, and it was just what I woke up with out of my dream. I’ve rewritten it, fixed everything, added some. I’ve never written anything like this before, but I quite like it. For those of you unfamiliar with fanfiction, Drarry is a combination of Draco and Harry from Harry Potter. It’s a pretty common mashup, and one I’ve recently begun following.

This isn’t to everyone’s taste, but read on if your interested! Oh, and it’s pretty mellow. No R rated stuff here.

OK. Deep breath. Here goes.


 

“Look, let’s just get this over with, ok? I’m about as thrilled about this study partner thing as you are.”

“Deal. I can’t believe old McGonagall is making us do this.”

Harry and Draco find a quiet spot deep in the library stacks, settle down, and start passing books back and forth. They definitely aren’t happy about it, and fight the whole time at first. Not much gets accomplished besides quarreling, as per the usual.

Then something cruel is said about families, and Harry gets really upset and quiet. Draco, used to him fighting back, is concerned, so he makes some asshole comment about Harry giving up the fight.

Harry looks up with wet cheeks and said, “My parents are dead, Draco. Don’t you ever remember that?”

He gets up to leave, and as he’s gathering his things, Draco takes his hands and pulls him close. “I’m sorry, I’ve been an idiot.”

Harry is stiff at first, but then just sort of sags into Draco with relief and even though there is no music, they sort of sway together in the dark corner of the stacks.

“Draco, what are we doing?” Harry asks after a moment, pulling away slightly. This is nice, but he realizes what he’s doing, and with whom…and suddenly he feels…odd.

“Dancing in the stacks after curfew.” Draco dares, his lip slightly curled.

“No, I mean…we hate each other. We’ve always hated each other…” Harry trails off, feeling slightly silly now, but he doesn’t know what else to say.

“Have we though? Or has it just been easier to keep fighting like we were still kids, pretending we don’t care about every single look?”

Harry looks at Draco, his arch nemesis since they were boys. There’s always been such a strange pull, but yet… “We are on opposite sides of this war, Draco. You’re playing a very dangerous game.”

The smirk disappears from Draco’s face and it turns suddenly serious, a crease forming between his brows. “…dangerous game indeed…”

Draco pulls Harry hard toward him, and covers Harry’s mouth with his.

Harry feels all the breath go out of him at once, the way he did when the dementors attacked, and for a moment he fears he’s about to lose his soul.

But it isn’t a dementor. It is Draco. And it’s not his soul that Harry loses, it’s his heart, all at once, and completely. He grasps the back of Draco’s neck and kisses back hard, until they both need air, and when they stop, it’s Draco who has tears on cheeks.

Harry, short of breath, tries to hang onto him, knowing Draco is going to slip away. “You have to try and get out. He doesn’t need you. I need you. Don’t do whatever He’s asked you to do.”

Draco lays his head, just for a moment, on Harry’s shoulder, and whispers, “It’s too late.”

And then he’s gone. And Harry is alone.

 

The Marble Faun

Have I ever told you guys how much I hate Nathaniel Hawthorne?

I hate Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I don’t know why. I’ve never really been able to figure it out. I’ve tried to read The Scarlet Letter several times and have not once been able to get through the whole thing.

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Because The Marble Faun is on the Boxall’s list (along with a few other Hawthornes), I knew I’d have to get to it eventually…but I wasn’t looking forward to it. So, when it came due on my TBR, I figured I might as well get it out of the way.

It wasn’t AS torturous as I expected it to be…better than TSL, but still not great. Kind of wonky, actually. Very much not what I expected from an author I had previously only known in connection to a Puritan shame novel.

The Marble Faun is essentially a book of painting and sculpture descriptions, mixed in with gothic mystery and darkness. At first there is quite a lot of garden frolicking, that made me think of Fantasia or Midsummer Night’s Dream. But then, it starts to turn quite dark, and though I haven’t seen it, I started to make a connection to Pan’s Labyrinth.

And then, all of the sudden, there Pan was. The faun himself was quite a big part of the story, along with quite a dark, deep mysterious place that read an awful lot like the scenes I’ve seen (ha) from Guillermo de Toro’s vision. Now, I couldn’t find any relationship online between the movie and Hawthorne’s book, but I am certainly going to watch GDT’s film this weekend and see if what I have in my head is as interesting as I picture!

Has anyone read and seen both? I’d be curious if I’m the only one making the connection.

As far as the book goes, it wasn’t bad. The prose is typical Hawthorne, just very long and tedious (maybe that’s why I don’t care for him?) so it was hard to stay focused for long, but the lore was interesting. I certainly want to read more about Pan. Miriam was a little annoying though–very egotistical.

I can now say I’ve successfully completed a Hawthorne book. With one under my belt, maybe I can complete some others without scorning…though probably not.

 

Fulfill’s Boxall #84

WWW Wednesday 5/27/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont (Review tomorrow)

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne (groaaaaaan…we’ll see if I get all the way through this one)

Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

The Hogwarts Library

I touched a bit on my excitement for expanded series when I reviewed Four recently. JK Rowling is the master of pleasing her fandom with Pottermore. She also put out The Hogwarts Library, as a nod to Hermoine. These three short books raise proceeds for Comic Relief and Lumos. None of the books take long to read, but are a marvelous edition to the original series. For us die hard fans–they definitely tickle our need for everything magical.

Quidditch Through the Ages

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To be honest…Quidditch was my least favorite part of Harry Potter. I think it is mostly because no matter what happened Griffindor ALWAYS won (or almost always). Kind of takes the fun out of the sport, doesn’t it? I mean, high school sports are always full of drama, but there was always so much nastiness in it.

Still, reading about the history of Quidditch was pretty interesting. I have a better grasp on the teams now, when they go to the big cup game, and I am firmly against baskets! My favorite part was reading about the cranky old witch who wrote the first game down in her diary. Damn idiot boys throwing leather balls into her garden!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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The middle book in the set is pretty much just an encyclopedia of the different creatures in the wizarding world. While the descriptions of some of the beasts are interesting, there’s really not much to it. (Although someone’s been up to some mischief with a quill…) I am curious to see how they will turn this A-Z reference guide into a movie, and how many of the critters will make it!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

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Being the great lover of fairy tales that I am, this book was my favorite of the three. How amusing to read stories where the witches are the protagonist, instead of the evil ones like in the fable we grew up with! Of course, The Tale of the Three Brothers was familiar, but The Fountain of Fair Fortune was the one I loved the most. It was such an uplifting story.

The commentary by Dumbledore added so much more to the book too. Like all the others in The Hogwarts Library–it’s sometimes easy to forget that these aren’t genuine nonfiction. More than once, out of habit, I started to add one of the notated books to my Goodreads, only to blink into reality and facepalm myself. Those aren’t real reference books! For hardcore Harry Potter fans like myself, the Library only extends our world just a bit further…and our madness too. It just can’t be helped.

I would encourage any fan of the original series to pick these up. They are cute, look great on a shelf, and support great charities for kids in need. And that’s something Dumbledore would have been pretty proud of.

 

Red Queen

Everyone has been reading Red Queen lately. It is the new it cover right now. Of course it is–it’s gorgeous!

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I’ve seen mixed reviews, but I knew I had to get my hands on this story. It took me a little while to get from the library, but yay! Just in time for our last minute road trip.

The structure of Aveyard’s book is familiar, and I think that might be the cause for the mixed feelings. It’s another combat dystopian:  female main character, relying on two males for help, which of course leads to the inevitable love triangle. (There’s actually a third mixed in there too–can’t tell if he’s just buddy buddy or what that relationship is meant to be yet.) So, yes, the framing is nothing extremely unique. I’m ok with that though.

I very much enjoyed the world Aveyard created. There are two types of humans–Red blood (lower class) and Silver blood (upper class). The Reds are forced into a kind of serfdom society and mandatory military service at 18. Life means desperate poverty and misery. Silvers have special abilities–like manipulating minds or throwing fire, and they battle each other for power and notoriety. Reds lack this power and so they are held down by the stronger Silvers.

However, a rebellion is rising up among the Reds and one young girl is caught between the two societies.

This is only the first book in the series, and of course now I’m dying for the continuation. I had a hard time putting Red Queen down. Even though the tropes were familiar and somewhat predictable, I like this kind of book, and it was a fantastic addition to the genre.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #31:  A book with bad reviews

Written in Red

Fanfiction of fairy tales is the “it” thing right now, and I am loving it! For some reason Red Riding Hood especially seems to be popular. She was never my favorite character growing up, but I do love the modern day remixes.

Book Club Fiction is reading Written in Red this month, and while it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in one of their readalongs–I was able to get this one from my library in time. I am so glad I did!

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I will say that at first, I wasn’t too sure about it. The prologue really doesn’t explain what the Others are very well, and so the whole time I was thinking “Oooook….so you’re saying if Native Americans just would have been evil cannibals, the white men wouldn’t have come in and taken over?” It just seemed a little…off. Once I got into the story and realized the author wasn’t talking about people at all, it made perfect sense, but at first, I was more than a little concerned.

Don’t let the prologue scare you like it did me. The Others are actually ancient earth natives. Terra Indigene. Their basic form is a pumped up form of animal (Wolf, Crow, Coyote, Bear, even Vampire), but they have adapted to be able to shift into human shape as necessary. However, they hate humans, and see them as just another form of meat that they somehow have to live with.

Meg, however, doesn’t smell like prey for some reason. She’s different, and they don’t know why. But she is scared and needs shelter, so they hire her on. Suddenly things get super complicated.

I loved this story. It was both scary and also gentle. There was friendship, but not exactly romance. I kept expecting it to break off into romance, because, you know, that’s what always happens in books like this. But it never came, and it was a nice change.

I do want to give you a trigger warning. There is quite a bit of discussion and a couple of scenes with cutting. Meg was in a cult type culture before she came to The Others where the girls were cut to induce prophecies. If that will trigger you, please don’t read this book, or proceed with caution, as it is a big part of the story. Please take care of yourself!

Two books in a row that I couldn’t put down? Maybe my slump is finally over! *fingers crossed*

 

Fulfills Popsugar #37:  A book with a color in the title

 

WWW Wednesday 4/8/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Atonement by Ian McEwan

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

Emma by Jane Austen

The Iron King by Maurice Druon

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

House of Echoes by Brendan Duffy

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

 

This list may change. I’m picking up a stack of library books from my hold requests tonight, so who knows what I’ll actually read next!