The Disney Parks Book Tag

I love Disney. It doesn’t matter how old I get, the child within will always adore it. I’ve been wanting to take another trip to Disney World for some time now (despite my bank account pretty much screaming at the very idea). There’s just something about the rides, food, fireworks, shows and general sense of happiness wherever you go that’s irresistible. However, with the pandemic making a trip pretty much impossible for the foreseeable future, virtual travel will have to do for the moment. Cue this Disney Parks Book Tag created by Alexandra at Reading by Starlight. I stumbled across this one via Brittany at Perfectly Tolerable and knew I had to do it.

The Rules

  • Mention the creator of the tag and link back to original post [Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight]
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
  • Tag 5+ friends
  • Feel free to copy the heading graphics (thanks Alexandra!)

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It may not be a “jungle” cruise, but it’s definitely set along a river (which was a challenge for me to find in itself!) Just a more desert type one. Death on the Nile involves famous detective Hercule Poroit taking a trip to Egypt and, as usual, getting wrapped up in an investigation after a newlywed heiress and socialite is found shot to death in a cabin on his Nile cruise. As you’d expect from a Christie novel, there’s a solid cast of characters, each with mysterious backstories to unravel, and a vast array of clues, red herrings and motives. As far as quick, well crafted mystery novels go, and one from the queen of crime herself to boot, this is a good one.

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Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle 3#) – Jay Kristoff

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I have to say, I haven’t read all that many books which revolve largely around sea based travel. Maybe two? Three if I’m generous? While the majority of Darkdawn doesn’t take place on a ship, part of it does. A pirate ship to be exact, because any other kind wouldn’t be nearly as fun. The time on said ship introduces us to some quirky and memorable characters and gives us both sweet and angsty character moments. It also involves Mia & co. doing their best to stay afloat as they face off against a storm of epic proportions created by angry and powerful gods determined to stop them from reaching their goal. There may be a sea monster or two as well.

Verity – Colleen Hoover

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I’ve read a couple of thrillers now and Verity by Colleen Hoover has definitely been my favourite, part of the reason for which is the creepy atmosphere created by the isolated manor house setting. The book centres around a writer named Lowen, recently hired to finish a series by bestselling author Verity Crawford who has been seriously injured in a terrible accident. Lowen visits the family estate to go through Verity’s notes but ends up finding a autobiographical manuscript which details some troubling revelations about the years prior to Verity’s accident. Next thing you know, Lowen’s questioning what’s real, what’s not, whether she’s being watched…you get the vibe. I highly recommend this one!


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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 1#) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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YA fan favourite Illuminae will never not be a perfect answer for this type of prompt. It’s gripping from start to finish. I mean, the book opens with the invasion and evacuation of a planet and then later involves a zombie virus, crazy AI, space battles, and twists & turns galore. It’s just ridiculous amounts of fun. The characters are great, the story is super engaging and the writing format is really refreshing. Sitting down and reading this in one sitting is entirely reasonable because once you get stuck in, you have to keep going. Even if you’re not a huge sci-fi fan, there’s a high chance you’ll enjoy it.


The Sookie Stackhouse Series – Charlaine Harris

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The problem with reading a bunch of fantasy novels is that when geographical prompts like this come up, finding a suitable book becomes a tad bit difficult. Even more so when it’s this narrow. Luckily enough, I’ve read several of the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris which are set in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. These are the novels that were adapted to create HBO’s True Blood. Just in case you weren’t already aware, the series is set in a world where humans know about vampires and it follows a telepathic waitress named Sookie who falls in love with a vampire, Bill. They’re not always the best written books but fun as far as paranormal romance goes. Plus, I quite enjoy the mystery elements in them. What’s love without a little murder?


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Not a castle in the traditional sense of the word but hey, that’s what Howl’s magical moving home is referred to, so why question it? The castle is a significant setting in the book. While the outside is held together by magic and has stone walls and turrets which billow smoke, the inside looks more like a welcoming cottage with a hearth and plenty of knickknacks. It also happens to have a magical front door which opens onto several different locations in the land of Ingary depending on which direction the knob above it is turned to. The windows, too, will often look out onto different places. The castle is home to self-absorbed ladies man/wizard Howl, his crabby fire demon Calcifer, Howl’s teenage assistant, Michael, and later Sophie, cursed to look like an old crone.


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

I don’t think anyone can debate my answer for this prompt (especially since the ride is the Mad Tea Party). Were you to investigate the themes and subtext in Alice it may bring you to some less than whimsical ideas, but just reading the book for what it is, it’s definitely strange and unusual in a fun and playful way. This is especially so if you’re a kid reading it for the first time. Food and drink which alter your size, babies changing into pigs, a grinning Cheshire cat, a court trial over the theft of some tarts, and a hare who’s somehow always late – it’s certainly magical and mesmerizing. Caroll’s use of parody, poetry and nursery rhymes probably also help its case somewhat in the whimsical department.


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I’m having difficulty thinking of many books I’ve read that would fit this prompt (you’d think there’d be more mountain journeys in the fantasy I’ve read), so I’ll just go with the first thing that jumped to mind, The Lord of the Rings. If you’ve read the books or seen the amazing film trilogy, you’ll know that in the first entry of the series, The Fellowship of the Ring, the eleven members of the fellowship attempt to make their way across the narrow and dangerous pass of the Misty Mountains to reach the elven realm of Lothlórien. Due to a terrible blizzard, they’re forced to turn back. Instead, they take the route through the mountains and into the Mines of Moria which brings them a great deal of trouble and misery.


The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

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The Poppy War was one of my favourite reads of 2019. The first in an adult fantasy series, the world and story events are drawn heavily from China and its history, particularly the Second Sino-Japanese War including the Rape of Nanjing. For this reason, it can be a brutal read to tackle at times (the author doesn’t shy away from the atrocities of war), but it’s also exceptionally well done. The book follows Rin, an orphan who gets accepted to a prestigious military academy and works her butt off to eventually become a soldier in a long standing war. There’s action, great characters, magic, emotional moments, just an overall fantastic book.


Saga – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

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I’m going with a comic series for this one. Saga is 100% one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever read and yes, some of the stuff in it may be for shock value but it’s also a lot of fun to read. The plot has fantastic momentum and is a perfect blend of action, adventure, romance and comedy. The series is narrated by a girl named Hazel who recalls how her parents met, fell in love and escaped with a baby despite being soldiers on two different sides of a never-ending galactic war. In their quest to find a safe place to raise their daughter, the two come up against a host of obstacles including bounty hunters, alien monsters, ghosts, and more.


Have you ever been to Disney World or Disneyland? If so, what was your favourite part? Mine was definitely Space Mountain and the Mickey ice cream sandwiches!

If you haven’t, and you had the chance to go, what would be the thing you’d be most excited to do/try?

The Cliché Book Tag

I’m always on the look out for fun book tags to pass the time with and this one recently caught my eye. I tried to backtrack through all the tagging to find the original creator but unfortunately reached a bit of a dead end with a deactivated blog. *sigh* Still, let’s tackle some terrible (yet, fabulous) cliches.

Actions Speak Louder than Words: A Book that Wasn’t or Couldn’t be Better than the Movie

The Lord of the Rings Series – J. R. R. Tolkien

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I know, according to Tolkien fans, there’s probably a special place in book hell reserved especially for me purely for having this opinion. But to that I say: worth it. I gave The Lord of the Rings book series a red hot go, I really did, but I couldn’t make it past The Two Towers. SO. MUCH. UNNECESSARY. INFORMATION. I was drowning in it. Add in a smug writing style and not enough attention devoted to the actual story & its big dramatic moments, and I’m out. On the other hand, the movies are some of my favourite films – the scenery, music, costumes, humour, amazing battle sequences, wonderful characters – AH, I love them. Amazing.


The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side: A Rags to Riches or Riches to Rags Story

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Evelyn Hugo is easily one of my favourite books and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is Evelyn herself. Evelyn comes from a Cuban immigrant family with very little to their names and wants nothing more than to get out of Hell’s Kitchen, away from her alcoholic father and his heavy hand, and to make it to Hollywood. At fifteen, she marries, moves to California and slowly starts to work her way towards becoming one of the country’s most famous actresses. Wealth, fame, notoriety – it’s not an easy road and she has to sacrifice a lot of herself to get there, but get there she does and with plenty of cash to spend.


The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree: A Parent-Child Relationship you Love

Anne & Matthew (Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery)

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While Matthew and Anne aren’t blood related, their relationship is 100% that of father and daughter. Where Anne is a massive chatterbox, Matthew is quiet and more than happy to sit and listen to her prattle on for hours. She makes him laugh and he’s there when she needs some encouragement. Every time I think of their relationship, I’m reminded of two things, 1) him going out to buy Anne a dress with puffed sleeves, knowing it was the one thing she wanted more than anything, and 2) shortly before he died, him calling Anne his girl, who he was proud of. *cries*


You Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover: A Great Book that Needs a Better Cover

This Savage Song – V. E. Schwab

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I really enjoyed The Monsters of Verity duology but goodness me, the UK/Aus covers for these books were lazy and boring. The font looks like it could be chilling on the front of a copy of Twilight while the graphic design elements aren’t doing anything for anyone. I mean, at least the sequel tried to incorporate a violin but this rose seems really out of place. Every time I look at the US covers for this series I think about what could have been and wish I’d taken the time to order them from Book Depository. Re-cover these, stat!


You Can’t Please Everyone: A Book You Hate That Everyone Loves

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

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I don’t know if the problem is that I read Mara Dyer too long after books of its type were popular or whether it’s just me. Still, either way, I really don’t get how this ended up with a 4.06 average star rating on Goodreads. It’s full of tropes & cliches – the bitchy mean girl, the comic relief bestie, the bad boy love interest. *sigh* The thing that frustrates me the most is that the author starts out by trying to hook the reader using a paranormal mystery plotline but in reality it’s just a romance and an unhealthy, eye-roll worthy one at that. Also, the slut shaming in this book – not cool.


What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger: A Book That Made You A Better Person For Having Read It

Becoming – Michelle Obama

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I’m slightly cheating here as I’m not finished this yet but eh. Michelle Obama is an elegant, intelligent, kind and inspiring woman, but at the same time she’s wonderfully relatable in so many ways. So far, her biography has already taught me a lot about life, relationships, motherhood, loss, the experiences of African Americans, and growing up working class in the US. She shares many pieces of advice/wisdom that I think people could benefit from – some I wish I had heard earlier, and others I’m glad to have before they become relevant. I honestly believe I’ll be a better person for having read this.


Love Is Blind: A Book With A Disabled Character Or Actual Blind Love

100 Days of Sunlight – Abbie Emmons

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It’s pretty sad that when trying to think of an answer for this prompt, only four books came to mind. It might just be my limited reading range but somehow I don’t feel like that’s the case. 100 days of Sunlight actually fits both parts of this prompt as the two lead characters are Tessa, a girl with temporary blindness, and Weston, an amputee. The story revolves around Weston assisting Tessa with producing content for her poetry blog during her period of vision impairment and helping her to experience the world despite her disability. As you would expect of a fluffy YA contemporary, the two eventually fall in love.


Ignorance Is Bliss: A Book That’s Bad But You Just Don’t Want To Admit It

The Selection – Kiera Cass

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I know the prompt says to select a book you don’t want to admit is bad, but I have repeatedly said that I realise how dodgy The Selection series is. The thing is, I just don’t care. I binge read this series like a kid shoveling in Halloween candy. The story is tropey (hello there, love triangle), the world building is as weak as anything, the lead character can be a whingey pain in the butt and the story is kind of a feminist’s nightmare, but I DO NOT CARE. It’s the reality TV of YA fiction. Loveably trashy.


There’s No Time Like The Present: Your Favorite Contemporary Book

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

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I hate questions involving the word ‘favourite’. They’re just downright cruel because I have a long list of favourites, thank you very much! The Time Traveler’s Wife has been a favourite of mine for years now. I received it as a gift from my mum and fell instantly in love. While it does involve time travel, its main story is grounded in the present. The ending has made me cry on more than one occasion. I will say though, the last time I read it was about 7 years ago so who knows whether it’d still remain a favourite. Guess I’ll add it to the enormous list of books I want to re-read but don’t have the time to.


Better Safe Than Sorry: A Book You Don’t Want To Read In Case It’s Bad

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson

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Ask an avid fantasy reader about their favourite series and I guarantee you they’ll mention The Stormlight Archive. The love for this series is insane. If I order my to-read shelf by average rating, The Way of Kings is no.2 on 4.65! So, I have to question, how can anything with that much hype possibly live up to it? According to reviews I’ve seen, the book has a bunch of different characters to follow, involves a heavy amount of world building and takes a good while for the story to get going. For these reasons I’m really concerned that won’t enjoy it. And yet, it’s still on my to-read shelf after all this time. So maybe, just maybe I’ll eventually take the plunge.


That’s it! We’re done. I had fun with this tag. While cliches certainly make you want to roll your eyes, they’re also kind of fun to play around with. What’s your favourite cliche?

The Fellowship of the Ring Tag

This fabulous Lord of the Rings themed tag (and it’s lovely graphics) comes from Nandini @ Unputdownable Books. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of the LotR books (too wordy and too much info dumping, although they do have some really wonderful individual quotes, as you can see from this post) but I looooovvveeee the movies so when I stumbled across this, I knew I had to do it. Nandini’s also added in Gollum just to round out the question total.


Gandalf – A Book that Taught You Something

The Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling

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I’m going to double down on Nandini’s obvious answer for this one with good old HP. I grew up with this series and I think I learned a lot about bravery, friendship and loyalty from it. Hermione, in particular, taught me a lot about having a great work ethic and not being ashamed of being smart. Luna showcased the fact that it’s okay to be a little bit quirky and not to worry about what others think of you when you have good friends who accept you as you are. From Neville, I learnt that you can still be brave even if you’re scared and that it’s important to call people out on things even if they happen to be friends. Honestly, I could keep going but better not otherwise we’ll be here all day. 

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Frodo – A Book that Left a Mark on You

Sadie – Courtney Summers

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Sadie was such a raw, emotional and unflinchingly honest read. The book goes to some pretty dark and deep places, and tackles some heavy topics. I don’t think I’ve read many things like it. As a result, it really burrowed its way into my thoughts and emotions. Even without the sudden and open ending, I still think this book would have been playing on me for a long time afterwards. It’s definitely not something I’ll easily forget for a long time.

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Legolas – A Book You Finished in One Sitting

The Selection – Kiera Cass

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I find it difficult to get enough time to read books in one sitting because of my schedule but also because the books I read are often a bit too big. So, instead, I’ve picked something I raced through like there was no tomorrow (which also happens to be very short). The Selection is not well written and its main character, America, can be extremely frustrating, but it’s just so darn addictive in its trashy-ness. I mean, it’s the dystopian Bachelor. I had an absolute ball reading this book and finished it in no time at all.  It’s comfort fiction at its best.

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Gimli – A Book that Features an Unlikely Friendship

Zelie & Amari (Children of Blood & Bone – Toni Adeyemi)

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While I didn’t absolutely adore Children of Blood and Bone in its entirety, one of the parts I really enjoyed was the development of Zelie and Amari’s friendship. These two are from very different worlds and part of a social structure that puts them at odds with one another. When the book starts out, Zelie is extremely judgemental and resentful of Amari, treating her like the snobby and useless princess she believes her to be. However, over time she comes to realise that Amari is a lot more than this. Zelie helps Amari to come out of her shell and be brave. In turn, at the end of the book when Zelie needs it most, Amari is there for her and pushes her to stay strong even when it seems like all hope is lost.

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Merry – A Book that Pleasantly Surprised You

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

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I went into Fangirl thinking it’d be another cute, fluffy YA contemporary book that I’d enjoy but because of the hype would likely end up feeling a bit overrated. In the end, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it (a lot) but especially by the fact that it actually covered some more serious issues like mental health, broken families, and binge drinking. This book gave me some serious fanfiction nostaglia and while I’m not crazy about it like some people are, I wouldn’t say it’s massively overrated. Also, Levi = major love heart eyes.

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Pippin – A Book that Made You Laugh

The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

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Books rarely manage to make me laugh out loud beyond a casual snort, or maybe a slightly heavier breath, but as I mentioned in my recent review, The Hating Game did it on multiple occasions. I just love the banter and snark between Lucy and Josh – they have fantastic chemistry and although the barbs can be brutal on occasion, I can’t help cracking up when the real winners come out. Lucy, as a narrator, also manages to come up with some pretty funny commentary on events, while even some of the situations themselves are just amusing on their own (e.g. paintball warfare).

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Boromir – A Book/Series that You Think Ended Too Soon

Shades of Magic Series – V. E. Schwab**

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Okay, with already three books in this series I’m probably just being greedy. Also, considering the fact that a lot of series go on far too long beyond where they should have finished, Schwab likely did the right thing going out on a high. Still, I want MORE. *spoilers* A Conjuring of Light ends with Kell and Lila going off to explore the world together. Rhy has become king and is back together with Alucard. I would love to have read about Kell & Lila’s adventures, seen more of the world beyond the taste we got in book 3, and found out how Rhy rebuilt Red London/learned how to be a ruler. *end spoilers* I also feel like there’s a whole bunch of questions I’d really like to get answers for, in particular about Kell’s and Lila’s backgrounds.

** Okay, in the process of writing this post, I’ve actually just realised (HOW DID I MISS THIS) that last year Schwab signed a book deal for three more novels set in the same world as ADSOM. It’ll be called Threads of Power *jumps up and down and screams in excitement*. Okay, it’s not a direct sequel but I’ll take it!

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Sam – A Book with Memorable Side Characters Who Stole the Show

The Shadowhunters Books – Cassandra Clare

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Last year I re-read the first two books in this series (I will eventually re-read/read the rest, okay! I’m slow!) and realised that my favourite characters actually weren’t in them as much as I remembered. Over time, I think Cassie realised that although Jace, Clary and Simon were her leads,  people really loved Isabelle, Alec and Magnus, and as a result, they became much more present as time went on. Honestly, Magnus and Alec are so shortchanged in the early books, it’s almost criminal. I’m so glad that over time they got more page time to properly develop their stories and relationships.

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Aragorn – A Good Book with a Bad/Average Cover

Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead

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I’ve mentioned my eternal love for the Vampire Academy books repeatedly on this blog. It’s one of my absolute favourite series (exciting plots, fantastic characters, dramatic and funny writing, fab ships, and a great friendship at its heart) but the one thing I just can’t get behind is the covers. *sigh* Especially the first book in the series. What is it about YA books and their tendency to put random models on covers in awkward or weird positions? Worse, they’ve been recovered a couple of times and can never seem to come up with a winner. Even the 10th-anniversary edition is lacking a wow factor. Just because a book has vampires in it does not mean it has to look seedy.

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Gollum – A Book that had Great Potential but Disappointed You in the End

Sabriel – Garth Nix

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Sabriel is one of those books in fantasy circles that people seem to really talk up and Garth Nix isn’t exactly an unknown author either. The book has an interesting concept, too, and with all this in mind, I thought I’d be in for a really great read. Parts of it were good but on the whole, I had such a hard time getting into it and often found myself bored. The magic system that I’d heard so many amazing things about massively confused me and the world itself just felt a little odd. If there was one thing I did quite like it was Mogget, Sabriel’s massively powerful magical companion trapped in a cat’s body.


And there we have it. Done and dusted. You guys know I’m not one for tagging people but if you’re a LotR fan and would love to do this tag, I highly recommend it- just make sure to link back to Nandini’s original post.

Who’s your favourite member of the fellowship? Mine is definitely Sam – that sweet little hobbit, saving the world with his heart of gold and a frying pan. But if we’re talking movies,  I should also mention that I’m with you, Eowyn – Aragorn is a total dreamboat.

The Narnia Book Tag

I haven’t done a booktag for a while and after seeing that Nadwa from Painfully Fictional had done this awesome tag the other week, I thought I’d give it a go. Yes, I know I answer a lot of questions in my tags with the same books over and over again but they’re just so good and work for so many things!

Narnia – A Magical World You Would Like to Visit

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I’ve desperately tried to wrack my brain for an answer that isn’t my usual cliché for this one but I can’t help myself: I JUST WANT TO GO TO HOGWARTS, OKAY?! Ever since I was about six years old, I’ve wanted to be a part of J. K. Rowling’s wizarding world. I want to eat crazy food, fly brooms, cast spells, encounter magical creatures, and take magical trains to mystical places. I want moving pictures, conversations with ghosts, and epic games of violent chess. I want it alllll….take me there!

The Magician’s Nephew – A Book You Think is Underrated

Lexicon (Max Barry) – One of the few books I’ve read by Australian authors and very different to anything I’ve read before. If you’ve never heard of it, I highly recommend giving it a look up. It’s all about how a special order are able to use the power of words to create some very interesting effects on people and how destructive that power proves to be. There are two concurrent narratives and eventually they converge but with a lot of mystery involved as to how until the end.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – A classic that you love?

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As I’ve said before, I’m not really one for classics. They’re just not my thing and because of that I haven’t really read many of them. If I had to choose though, I’d probably go with Dracula by Bram Stoker. I wouldn’t say I loved it but I definitely powered through it in the space of about one day.

The Horse and his Boy – A Book You Picked Up Without Knowing What it was About

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) – I didn’t really know all that much about what to expect with this book when I read it. My mum had told me it was good and I knew it was making the rounds on the media circuit so I decided to give it a try. It was definitely a darker ride than I was expecting but very enjoyable.

Prince Caspian – A Sequel that You Loved

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A Gathering of Shadows (V. E. Schwab) – I really loved A Darker Shade of Magic, but unlike a lot of other people, I think I actually enjoyed book 2 even more. Pirates, a charismatic new character, a magic competition, and an epic and dramatic ending, I was in heaven!

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – A Quest You’d Like to be a Part of

I actually can’t answer this one. While there are so many exciting and amazing quests in books that are fantastic to read about, with the dangers along the way none of them are exactly things I’d like to be along the ride for. I’d much rather cheer and cry from the sidelines.

The Silver Chair – A Book You Didn’t Expect to Love

Cinder (Marissa Meyer) – I read this one as the fantasy book of the month for my Goodreads bloggers group. I’d heard people raving about the series for ages and to be honest, I’d written it off as a forgettable 3-star read before I even started. I was shocked to discover that I really, really enjoyed it! I bought the sequel mere minutes after finishing it. If that isn’t an indication of a great book, I don’t know what is.

The Last Battle – A Perfect Ending to a Series You Love

The Clockwork Princess (Cassandra Clare) – I was actually happy with how this story ended – everyone finished up happily and the love triangle even resolved itself in a way that ensured no matter which side you were rooting for, you got something out of it. The characters fought, they won, what else can I say, really?

The Pevensies – A Siblinghood of Friendship You’d Love to be a Part of

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Fred & George Weasley (HP, Obviously pre-Book 7) – Just imagine the fun and mischief we’d have together. Secret passages, portable swamps, fireworks, I’m giddy just thinking about it.

Eustace Scrubb – A character who grew on you?

Ronan Lynch (The Raven Cycle – Maggie Stiefvater) –  Yep, I read The Dream Thieves and yes, Ronan grew on me. Like a fungus. He’s self-destructive, kind of an ass, a little weird, and yet, here we are.

Tumnus – Your favourite mystical creature

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This one is so hard! The magical creatures just in Harry Potter alone are huge. I think I’d probably have to go with a dragon, nothing beats their majesty, intelligence and just sheer bad-ass-ery. That, or a unicorn because PRETTY.

Reepicheep: A Loyal Character

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Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of the Rings – J. R.R Tolkien) – You’ll never find a more loyal character. The amount of crap Sam puts up with definitely gets him the award for MVP in this series. That boy would have followed Frodo to hell and back, and he basically did. If only every gardener was this amazing to their employer.

The Wardrobe – Your Favourite Hideout/Place to Read

Even though I do most of my reading on the train these days, my favourite place to read is in the comfort of my own bed. In winter, I’m surrounded by blankets and in summer, I love lying on top of the covers in the sunlight, lazing away an afternoon.

However, if I ever manage to score myself the perfect window seat, now that would be what book nerd dreams are made of.


And…we’re done! Because I suck, I’m not tagging anyone. If you’d love to do this, please do! I’d love to see your answers because it’s a cute tag. Hope you’re all having a splendid week.

Let’s Talk: Magic!

Recently I made a promise to myself that I’d make an effort to publish more discussion posts. These days I find that a lot of my content, aside from my usual book reviews, has become tags and memes and while that’s definitely fun, I need to put the occasional more substantial thing up. So here I am talking about something very serious and important which will require a great deal of critical thinking. Just kidding, I’m discussing magic.

Before I start, let’s get one very important thing out of the way first:

I love it. I do. I love it so, SO much. In terms of books, it’s like crack cocaine for me– I just can’t get enough. Not that I have much (aka ANY) experience with crack cocaine. Anyway, one of the daily prompts for a photo challenge I was doing on Instagram recently was book tropes you love. As I read a lot of fantasy books, this was definitely the first thing that sprang to mind. Magic is used a lot in fantasy and I never seem to get sick of it, probably because it’s always slightly different in everything I read. Sometimes it’s done amazingly well and serves to drive the story along, and in others it’s kind of background noise. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Here I’ve decided to take a look at some of the different forms in which magic seems to commonly pop up in fiction. Shall we?

Magical Objects

This one is definitely familiar territory, especially considering some of the most famous books in the fantasy genre have utilised magic in this form. It’s not usually the only kind of magic in the story – usually because the object has been imbued with magic by someone in particular. And here I give you the most obvious example of this kind of magic ever…

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Why yes, I am talking about Sauron (also known as Mr I-like-to-hang-around-as-a-creepy-giant-eye-of-fire-on-top-of-a-gothic-tower) and his precious, the One Ring of Power. Sure, you’ve got magic in other forms here but a magical object is the driving force in this particular plot line. And to put it simply, it’s pretty damn cool. Sure, it does have a tendency to drive people completely freakin’ bonkers and possess the potential to give a sorcerer the power to take over the world but like…invisibility, immortality and shiny, woo! This kind of magic is pretty straightforward and a solid way to drive plot because it creates conflict easily. If you’ve got a magical object which gives someone great power, of course there’s always going to be a screaming match followed by people drawing pointy, sharp objects to fight over it.

Examples: 

  • Excalibur (The Once and Future King by T. H. White)
  • The Sword of Shannara (The Shannara Chronicles by Terry )
  • The Deathly Hallows, The Philosopher’s Stone, & Tom Riddle’s Diary (Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling)
  • Mjolnir (Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman)
  • Liveships (Liveship Traders Triology – Robin Hobb)

Magical Places

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Anyone who’s grown up loving fantasy like The Chronicles of Narnia can understand the appeal of this one. There’s something wonderfully exciting about a place that just screams magic. I’m not just talking about a fantasy land where people happen to be able to do magic but places that actually have their own magic and fuel the magic of other things by simply existing. These are the kinds of stories where we’re often exposed to fantastical creatures and events that seem to go against logic, time and reason. They provide the backdrop for average people to do and see amazing things and on occasion also allow for a plot revolving around an effort to return magic to the world or fix a problem with it.

More Examples:

  • Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis)
  • Fillory (The Magicians – Lev Grossman)
  • Cabeswater (The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater)
  • Neverwhere (Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman)
  • Neverland (Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie)

Verbal Magic

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Using words to create magic is probably one of the most common methods found in fiction. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve come across this one and yet, I’m still not bored. A lot of the time this goes hand in hand with the use of particular gestures as well as the final type of magic on my list, natural ability. I find that this kind of magic often requires a fair degree of study to get good at which is why we have amazing books like Harry Potter which get to spend years focusing on characters broadening their magical abilities through knowledge of new words and motions. Then again, you might also have a story where the person simply needs to know a word to activate a spell but physically doesn’t have the power to pull it off without dying, as in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Series.

And because I love examples:

  • Blood magic (A Darker Shade of Magic Series – V.E. Schwab)
  • The Dresden Files – Jim Butcher
  • Uprooted – Naomi Novik

Written Magic

This one’s a little more uncommon as people tend to focus on verbal magic rather than written. I mean, for obvious reasons of course. It’s not like in the middle of an epic battle the hero can just call a time out because, “Sorry, mate, just got to write out a couple of things to give me a magical edge here.” One great example of this kind of magic can be found in Cassandra Clare’s shadowhunter books. In all three of her series, shadowhunters carve angelic language symbols onto their skin to give themselves specific abilities. The above gif is of course for illustrative purposes. It is definitely not because Matthew Daddario looks good without a shirt on. At all. I am a serious book blogger after all…*cough*

Only two examples *cries* (if we verge into manga territory):

  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Death Note

Magic & Intent or Natural ability

And so we reach the most common kind of magic in books these days. Here, people are simply born magical or not. To exercise their magical abilities, they simply focus their will upon doing something, much like using a muscle. Except way, way cooler. With this form of magic, authors tend to get away with not having to go into too much detail as to where magic comes from – people just have it and pass it on most of the time. Just like any other skill, usually it requires time and practice to strengthen individual people’s abilities and similarly people are always born with different degrees of talent. In the end, they think it or they wave a hand, and it happens. I could list hundreds of examples of this one without much effort at all and this is why how the magic is used and the story it fits into are so important.

I just really love examples, okay:

  • A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab
  • Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
  • The Red Queen Series – Victoria Aveyard
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses Series – Sarah J. Maas
  • The Grisha Triology – Leigh Bardugo

I have to make a special mention to the Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson which is such an original and wonderful magic system that it’s difficult to pigeonhole it into just one category. In these books, while you must be born with the natural ability to use magic, you’re unable to do so unless you consume small quantities of specific kinds of metals. The kind of metal you have influences what abilities you can use. From here it’s a matter of will, gestures, and practice. Scientific concepts such as gravity also come into play in how magic can be used.

I’m sure there are heaps of other forms of magic in books that I haven’t mentioned here and other unique systems which don’t fit under these headings but I think I’ve captured the general gist.

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Let’s Talk!

Do you enjoy reading books about magic? Or does it detract from other things too much for you?

If you do, what kinds of magic do you enjoy reading about? What are some of your favourite novels that feature magic? I have too many to count and I’m always finding more!

Love ash

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Villains, Criminals & Other Nasties

As usual, TTT is a weekly meme by the The Broke and the Bookish and it’s currently on hiatus so that means picking whatever takes my fancy from the list of previous topics. This week I’m doing villains. In no particular order here are some of what I consider to be the best:

Voldemort (Harry Potter Series –  J. K. Rowling)

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Snake-like face, soul split into multiple pieces in order to cheat death, set on murdering teenagers year after year… yep, as if I wasn’t going to put him on this list.

Ramsey Bolton (A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin)

I’d wager that when you think about the crappiest of the Song of Ice and Fire villains your mind either jumps to a) Joffrey Baratheon or b) this little shit:

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When your favourite past times include flaying, raping, dismemberment, and feeding people to your dogs, you definitely deserve a spot on a top 10 villains list.

It or Pennywise (It – Stephen King)

Books don’t usually manage to scare me, but I’ll admit that for most of this novel I was a little bit nervous. If you aren’t afraid of clowns, this’ll help you understand why someone could be. A creepy, clown shaped, ancient entity that can make your worst fears a reality and spends his time eating children…

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Nope. Nope. Nope. I’m out.

Amy Dunn (Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn)

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I wish I could find a better way to describe Amy than this, but here it is: This bitch be crazy. Like verging on sociopath material. In a book full of shades of grey characters, it’s saying something that Amy’s able to stand out. I won’t say much about the why and how because SPOILERS but trust me, she belongs here for a reason.

The Darkling (Shadow & Bone – Leigh Bardugo)

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This is probably one of the few likeable villains on my list. And by likeable I mean I actually sat around thinking: if this guy basically succeeded in killing everyone else in the book right now, I’d probably be cool with that. That is some solid charisma right there. I can’t even explain it, he’s evil. Really, really evil. But do I like him more than the love interest? Yep, 100%.

Count Olaf (A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket)

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Count Olaf isn’t what you’d call a successful villain but you do have to give him points for determination. No matter how many times he’s defeated by three intelligent orphans, he’s back at it in the next book with another not so brilliant plan, a terrible disguise, and and high levels of self-confidence.

 

Annie (Misery – Stephen King)

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The second of the two King villains on this list. Anyone who will smash your legs with a sledgehammer to get you to write a novel, uses individual hairs as a security system, and can survive being hit in the head with a typewriter is someone to be very, very afraid of. Annie is, to put it bluntly, freakin’ crazy.

Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal – Thomas Harris)

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I love intelligent villains. Sure, crazy ones are fun on occasion but having a villain that actually poses a challenge for the hero in more than just a physical sense is fantastic. Hannibal is a great example of this. He’s articulate, calculating, suave, and well, happens to be a cannibal. While he’s not actually the central villain of either of these novels, there’s never a moment when you’re not wondering exactly what’s going on inside his head and suspecting that it’s something sinister.

The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis)

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Anyone who can manage to turn sweets into something dodgy is bad news in my books. Sure, there’s the turning people into ice sculptures, killing Aslan, stopping the change of seasons and well, kind of removing all joy from the world, but honestly, for me, her biggest act of villainy is probably stopping Christmas from ever happening. How dare she! I LOVE Christmas.

The Witch King of Angmar (The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien)

So originally I was going to put Sauron in this spot but then I realised that he kind of does stuff all and just sits around on his fiery butt while everyone else does all the work for him. And then we have this guy…

 lotr lord of the rings nazgul witch king of angmar GIF

Head of the Nazgul, rides a massive dragon-like creature, almost kills Frodo with a poisoned blade, wields a mace like a nutjob, and is just generally creepy as all hell. No man can kill this guy. Lucky we had Eowyn.

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Book to Movie & TV adaptations

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. As I said last week, it’s currently on hiatus and because I haven’t been participating until now, I have heaps of past topics to choose from until it comes back in August! This week I’m doing adaptations. The original topic was just movies but I’ve decided to extend it to include TV shows as well. So here are 10 adaptations that I feel managed to live up to the source material, or even managed to exceed it. I’ve only listed ones that I’ve both seen the adaptation and read at least one book (that is, if it’s a series). Trust me when I say this is just a very small portion of the adaptations out there that I completely love.


1. Harry Potter

How could I not put this on my list? While the bigger book adaptations did have their flaws, I still enjoy the film series massively as a whole. However, the first three movies are really close to the books and are absolutely fantastic. I still get the same amazing feeling of wonder every time I see Philosopher’s Stone.


2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The author wrote the screenplay, the cast was perfectly chosen – enough said.


3. Silence of the Lambs

Such a great thriller in both forms. Hannibal Lecter does come off a little differently in the book to the film but each form is fantastic.


4. Poldark (2015)

The show, the first season at least, is ridiculously close to the first and second books and has the benefit of (a) Aidan Turner and (b) being able to see the beauty of the sweeping Cornish landscape.


5. The Lord of the Rings

I actually am not a fan of these books. The films, however, are one of my favourite film series ever. They’re shot spectacularly, acted well and manage to bring out Tolkien’s great plot without having to deal with his smug, over informative writing style.


6. Game of Thrones

This is a fantasy adaptation done extremely right. I love this show. Me and millions of others around the world. It’d be a crime to leave it off a list like this. Great characters, amazing shooting locations, appreciation for the source material, and a willingness to go big, this is definitely the adaptation fans deserved.


7. Outlander

One of my favourite shows as I’m currently doing a rewatch, it’s very much on the brain. I’ve mentioned it a hundred times, and I’ll mention it a hundred times more in the future. The actors are perfect in their roles and the story follows the books quite closely, even when it comes to things you’d rather not see. Action, romance, history, beautiful scenery, a swoon worthy lead… I’m in heaven, really.


8. Matilda

I almost put Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here, but I’ve decided to go with Matilda. It’s a great story and translated really well to screen. Definitely something I enjoyed watching a lot as a kid.


9. Anne of Green Gables (1985)

So, let’s just ignore the third TV movie and focus on the first two which are really great, especially the original. It’s really close to the book and Megan Follows is perfect as Anne. To be honest, I find the most recent Netflix adaptation a bit too dark and gritty which is not why I enjoy Anne. These films encapsulate the feeling of Montgomery’s characters and story really well.


10. The Hunger Games

Fantastic adaptations of a great series of books. I even feel that the second movie, Catching Fire, improves on the book in many ways. It always hits me hard when I finish the series in either form.


There we are, finished! There are a lot of other amazing movies and TV shows I’ve seen which were adaptations of books but because I haven’t read the original source material, I couldn’t list them.  Guess I’ll have to get reading! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the new It adaptation later this year even though I get absolutely terrified in horror films and it’s recently been announced that Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle will be getting it’s own Syfy TV series soon so that’s exciting!

Which adaptations have been your favourite? Which adaptations are you most looking forward to?

Love Ashley