I am having a particularly rough time existing, so I am taking advantage of post ideas that make me smile. May this bring you joy, too. For Top 5 Wednesday this week, we are celebrating friendships all over the blogosphere. And, that, is worth smiling for. Here are my favorites buddies.
Ah, welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday where I break the rules. This is becoming a trademark of mine (or so I assume). Today, rather than talk about books, I want to talk about free works of media that can help someone be more woke.
Getting redeemed is often reserved for villains, but today, I am going to be talking about all kinds of characters. Top 5 Wednesday’s topic for this week is so on point that I have to join in.
There are very few redeemed villains in my reading experience–at least, not ones I can remember. Many of them are like mini-villains. It’s sort of like when you play video games and you have varying levels of villains that you have to face.
Before I go any further, I want to include this fascinating article on redemption arcs in media and literature. Its author highlights different stories with redeemed characters (effectively and ineffectively).
For Top 5 Wednesday, this week’s discussion topic centers around book tropes that were presented in a refreshing way. Unlike many of my fellow readers, I tend to have no hard feelings about tropes. However, I want to present the biggest surprises I have encountered while reading stories that could’ve gone on a completely different route. I used some resources to nail some of the book tropes that connected with me best.
Oh, and SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BOOK TROPES AND HOW THEY TURN OUT IN CERTAIN NOVELS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
In honor of Father’s Day, the wonderful Top 5 Wednesday group assigned a topic for dads. To be more specific, I am dedicating my blog post today to celebrate the top 5 dads (or dad figures) in my 2018 reads thus far.
Complicated Dad Figures
5. Timekeeper by Tara Sim
My opinion on this book fluctuates. After distancing myself from it, I have come to like the romance in it. Furthermore, the complicated dad figure in this book is perfection.
But, I love how he’s not perfect and that there are layers to his relationship with the main plot of the story.
4. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
In this case, the dad figure is a grandfather. This dad figure has a secret and it really tears her image to a mess. I like it a lot. It’s such a plot twist, too, and I could’ve never seen it coming.
3. A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Again, I don’t want to spoil this story. Henrietta ends up with two strong dad figures. Their relationships are complex and messy. One figure is unsure of her and even betrays her to an extent. The other dad dude is almost a trickster figure. You know how no one can count on those.
2. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Helig
Another book I am not too sure about because, surprise, the dad figure is so frustrating. He is so driven by guilt and love that he dismisses his daughter’s value as a person. It strikes a nerve, I suppose.
I find myself thinking of this dilemma often, though. Does the dad figure get his way? Does he strike a deal with his daughter? Is there a way to compromise and meet in the middle?
1. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Perry may not be Talon’s actual dad, but listen, this is one heck of an uncle. He risks everything for his nephew. Their bond is absolutely sweet and touching. They have trust between them.
Today’s Top 5 Wednesday is all about science fiction and fantasy authors. More specifically, it is about what people rely on as auto-buy authors. Now, I am not a cool kid who reads tons of sci-fi or fantasy consistently. So, this post is kind of wishful thinking (and a bit of a prediction, perhaps).
5. Gail Carriger
I only read the first novel in her Parasol Protectorate series and it was such a blast. Following her on Twitter and Goodreads kind of led me to see just how incredibly talented and hilarious she is. I don’t know if steampunk counts as fantasy or science fiction but I am counting her among my favorites.
4. Victoria Schwab
Cool kids know that Schwab writes complex morally ambiguous characters like no one else can. I just keep thinking of A Darker Shade of Magic and how Holland was such a haunting figure. Plus, the connection between Kell and Rhy, Lucard and Lila, was just impeccable. I randomly remember parts of that finale and get shivers.
3. Cinda Williams Chima
Again, I have seen her books mentioned in so many places. I ended up gathering quite a huge number of her books. When I had read the Demon King, I struggled with the pacing a bit but loved the characters. All I need to do is read more of her work and adjust to how SFF normally comes across in books. I really am out of practice with science fiction and fantasy as a genre.
Okay, this man is incredible. I only read The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It blew my mind (quite a bit). Obviously, I am going to read more of his work. I already have a really good feeling about Gaiman novels. My hope is to perhaps find the stories that resonate with me.
1. Brandon Sanderson
Some people say that this dude had (or used to have) negative attitudes toward the LGBT+ community. It sounds like he doesn’t think the same way anymore (or something along those lines). I am aware of these things, and so I have mixed feelings about having him be an auto-buy kind of writer to me. Still, I do think that people grow and change. Plus, his books sound really good. I haven’t found anything to show that he holds these beliefs anymore.
To me, auto-buy authors are kind of a very loose category of writers because, technically, nobody is really an auto-buy author to me. I like to know more about the books they have written first. These writers are just ones who have written about topics I found interesting.
Who are your auto-buy SFF authors?
For this week’s Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt was to share the funniest characters in books, movies, or shows. Naturally, I am narrowing it down to the (mostly) Young Adult novels that I have adored thus far in my reading experience.
5. Derrick from the Falconer by Elizabeth May
Words cannot possibly describe how much I love Derrick the Pixie. His love for honey and Aileana know no bounds. He somehow balances being funny with being brave, kind, passionate, and always, always hungry. Loyal and feisty, he is my favorite pixie ever.
Here is a brief description of his behaviors from the perspective of someone who has seen some messed up things in this world.
“What the hell is wrong with your pixie?”-Gavin
4. Monty from the Gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue by Mackenzie Lee
Sometimes, being a spoiled privileged and entitled brat can amuse people around you. Monty is just so clueless. It is often when he asks questions that seem so simple, that is when I laugh at him most.
Here is one of my favorite moments featuring him and my darling queen Felicity.
“Just thinking about all that blood.” I nearly shudder. “Doesn’t it make you a bit squeamish?”
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” she replies, and Percy and I go fantastically red in unison.”
3. Blue Sargent from The Raven Cycle by Maggie
That girl is way too cool for me to fully express it. I find her limitless in her humor, wit, and charm. She is the teenager who ticks you off for being a smart-ass but you still want to write down what she says. Blue Sargent, a girl with a doomed love life and a heavy burden to carry, is not only funny sometimes. She is often met with things not going her way on such an epic scale, it makes me laugh.
“Wait!’ called Blue. ‘Will you tell me about my father?”
“No,” Gwenllian replied. “I will get mayonnaise.”
2. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
While Aza’s OCD strikes a nerve, I do think she and Daisy say the funniest things in this novel. It overwhelms me sometimes to think of this book because of Daisy. Her perspective changed my approach to friendships as someone with obsessive thoughts and depression. Her commentary on mundane things made me laugh, though. She’s a good kid.
1. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Sarah Rees Brennan is hilarious. She and Cassandra Clare make me laugh, without fail. I have read The Demon’s Lexicon ages ago. Many books later, I still fondly think of Nick and Jamie’s interactions.
Here’s an example:
“I expected something a little more castle-shaped,” said Jamie.
“Nothing lasts forever,” Nick said. “Except demons, of course.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re a charming conversationalist?” Jamie asked.
“No,” Nick replied honestly.
“I cannot tell you how much that surprises me,” Jamie told him, and Nick gave him a half smile.
Here is another one of those gems:
“Sometimes when you pull knives on people, they get this impression that you’re going to hurt them, and then they’re completely terrified. Crazy, I know!”
“Okay,” said Nick. He turned to Jamie & popped his left wrist sheath again. “Look.”
Jamie backed up. “Which part of ‘completely terrified’ did you translate as ‘show us your knives, Nick’? Don’t show me your knives, Nick. I have no interest in your knives.”
Nick rolled his eyes. “This is a quillon dagger. That’s a knife with a sword handle. I like it because it has a good grip for stabbing.”
“Why do you say these things?” Jamie inquired piteously. “Is it to make me sad?”
“I didn’t have you cornered,” Nick went on. “You could’ve run. And this dagger doesn’t have an even weight distribution; it’s absolute rubbish for throwing. If I had any intention of hurting you, I’d have used a knife I could throw.”
Jamie blinked. “I will remember those words always. I may try to forget them, but I sense that I won’t be able to.”
Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday. The prompt for this week is about the top 5 teachers or mentors. For me, I am going to focus on more recent reads that are not the typical answers I use.
Investigator-type teachers: A Madness so discreet
Not all teachers stand in classrooms. And, not all classrooms are in schools. The doctor in this story is an investigator who helps Grace come to terms with her own mind. To me, some lessons are less about scholarship and more about acceptance and forgiving oneself. Grace leads a whole journey into vengeance and peace within herself in this story. While the story was not 100% entertaining, I found the end result to be powerful.
Plus, that voice-person in the insane asylum was also a teacher I will never forget.
camp half blood’s teachers: Chiron
I actually feel like Chiron is much closer to how I view effective teachers. He balances between hands-on teaching and providing students with some distance to grow as heroes. He is patient, withholds the right amount of information, and leads students into a comfortable existence but also one that has tasks and challenges.
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
― Albert Einstein
roaring good time teachers: Under the Never Sky
Okay, so I have not finished this series yet, but the first book amused me endlessly. Mainly, Roar stole the show. I loved how he and Perry teach Aria about living outside of the world she grew up in. There is also a character living among the “savages” who is very modern in his reliance on technology. I want to see more of him. He is interesting.
Finally, the best teacher ever has to be Perry’s nephew. He teaches Aria and Perry that some things are universal, like family.
The glittering Court Teachers
Adelaide is a countess who escapes the stifling future she was expected to have and steps into the life of one of her maids as a student in the Glittering Court. While I think Cedric and Adelaide teach each other plenty of things about a religion frowned upon, about love, about the importance of equality within a marriage, I think also they mostly learn about the foundations of relationships beyond the confines of their time.
Besides, I have a feeling that Adelaide’s two roommates will also be incredible teachers. I am curious about Mira and Tamsin; how will their points of view change my perception of the story! They certainly are mysterious ladies.
lovers as teachers: an ember in the ashes
This book quickly became a favorite of mine. At first, I hesitated to pick it up because it sounded rather grim and upsetting. But, once I started reading it, it became impossible to stop. My favorite teachers within the story are Laia and Elias, sure, but also Helene. I want to see more from her perspective as Elias’ friend and as someone who is pushed and urged to question the ways of her people. The attitude toward the scholars and the slaves is one that these two friends grapple with throughout the story, particularly the end. I am eager to see how they’ll make peace with that.
I didn’t immediately gravitate toward science fiction and fantasy stories as a whole. But, particularly in film, there was something inaccessible about the genre for me as a woman of color. Many people are rather protective of these science fiction and fantasy stories, and it is intimidating. For Top 5 Wednesday, I will be sharing my top five favorite science fiction and fantasy stories in films (as a newbie to this genre).
5. Super 8
While I do not recall how this story came into my life, I remember the impact it had on me clearly. A tale of a group of friends who curse a lot as they navigate a strange series of occurrences in their town. Curious, they investigate further.
At a surface level, this story does not seem to fit the science fiction mold. Afterall, it is very much set in this world, our real world. But, the beauty of this is the eerie fantastical wonderment of the main group of characters, all young boys, and one girl.
4. Princess bride
I will never forget watching this film for the first time. It has shaped who I am as a person who loves and appreciates a good fantasy. The humorous tone of the story, light and accessible, was devoid of all pretension. Granted, it is not science fiction in any way but it is still other-worldly and charming.
The BBC show of this story was something I stumbled across in a very bizarre set of circumstances. My family does not have cable television and I somehow found a channel streaming the very first episodes of the show. It was the Livejournal days, and people were using Merlin mood themes. I was intrigued so much that I squealed upon seeing these two dudes onscreen for the first time.
Besides dealing with characters I was curious about, I found the relationship between magic and non-magic folk to be fascinating.
2. guardians of the galaxy
As much as I like Captain America and Tony Stark, my heart will always be set on the underdogs, the unlikely heroes, and the strangely comical but brave. I love Star-Lord and his crew of guardians.
It is funny because I hesitated to watch these Marvel films for so long and now I am such a fan of them. They cheer me up.
Nevertheless, Guardians of the Galaxy remains as the most tangible and relatable characters. I love them.
“I am Groot.”
OH, and Spiderman is another favorite (Plus Iron Man).
1. Star Wars
Even though I started truly enjoying this saga after watching The Force Awakens, I am actually uncertain about the latest installment (I haven’t watched it yet). So far, I love Rey, Poe, and Finn, but I worry about the series not connecting as beautifully as the original trilogy did.
Princess Leia and Han Solo are going to be dear to me forever. They were so charming and real. Still, I am intrigued by the nature of evil and good, friendship, love, and all the shades of grey that can be explored in the newer trilogy.
Like Finn, I don’t want to go back to Jakku.
In my early days of reading for pleasure regularly, I was mostly relying on one genre. This genre is, and will probably always be, my safe place. It is urban fantasy. For Top 5 Wednesday this week, the topic is to share our top 5 urban fantasy novels. I am very excited to talk about these books.
5. City of Bones by Cassandra clare
I had read some of Clare’s fan fiction in my early college days. She makes me laugh. Many people do this thing where they list every rumor about an author, every damning coincidence, or every mistake they ever made. When it comes to Cassie Clare, there’s a lot of stigma. Her work is somehow belittled because, oh, it has things in common with other work. It deterred me from reading her stuff for a long time.
However, when I did start reading her books, I was inspired and comforted. It still doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever read. It’s funny, because when I was working on my thesis, it became very clear how derivative literature can be. That’s the fun part. Anyway, this book brings me so much joy.
4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning thief by rick riordan
When I read this book, I was early in my graduate school days. I remember getting it from the library, and simply not knowing how awesome it was going to be. This series is often mocked, too, as you’ll notice a common thread within my post. It got so bad with people calling it “childish” and “unoriginal.”
To me, this series created such a fun and humorous series of adventures, cool characters, wonderful relationships. All of these things were established with the backdrop of rich mythology incorporated into the average daily life.
3. The Spiderwick Chronicles: The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizi
Another quite rich world presented with a balance between adventure and normalcy. Three siblings go on a quest that is so breathtaking in its richness. I find myself thinking of this series often, particularly how it flows into another trilogy afterwards. With that said, I think the cool feature of this series is how it is accessible to younger readers while not being patronizing to older ones at the same time.
2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
This novel flirts with magical realism, and it makes me happy. To me, one of the features of urban fantasy involves younger characters going on quests despite their age and stature in society. We have Adam Parrish in these books, a poor boy from an abusive family, and he is given so much power and agency. It really is empowering to readers, I find. Same with Ronan Lynch.
But, even more beautiful is the commentary on strength in its varying forms. Sometimes, you don’t really do much to be powerful. Look at Blue Sargent’s abilities, her lineage, personality. Perfection.
1. Soulless by gail carriger
Steampunk is hit or miss for me so far. In this story, the main character is witty, with a seemingly normal appearance. Many side characters claim that she is not a conventional beauty due to heritage. And, she is soulless-all powers of the supernatural do not work on her. Romance, intrigue, mystery are all rolled into one delightful candy-like novel.