Booking Through Thursday: Different Kind of Romance

Ted asks:

Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Who and what about them did you love?

Well the short answer is, yes. Multiple times. Here is a glance at a few characters that really stand out to me in particular.

Captain George Wentworth from Persuasion by Jane Austen

I think Captain Wentworth is impossible not to love. He is everything masculinity should be. Strong, but not rigid. Proud, but not to a fault. Also, he speaks to the heart of every single person who has ever lost a love over a misunderstanding, or circumstance, or happenstance. He is the promise of love conquering over all even when time and everything else imaginable has intervened in the worst way possible.

Edward Fairfax Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Rochester is all about charisma. He has one of the strongest charismas of any character that I have ever encountered, and charisma is inherently attractive to me. I’ve always thought of Rochester as Anne Shirley’s “someone who could be wicked but wouldn’t.” Of course, Rochester was a little wicked, but he changed his ways for Jane. He was tempted to go on in his wicked ways, but Jane wouldn’t allow it, and eventually was able to marry her rightfully.

Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I know, I know. A lot of people don’t care for Ron. A lot of people write him off as the jealous one of the HP trio who simply can’t grow up. This is not how I see Ron. I see Ron as someone who, despite having less natural ability or inclination towards greatness, wanted nothing more than to be great. As someone on my tumblr list pointed out, we see this in the very first book. In the Mirror of Erised, Ron sees himself as having made great accomplishments. His greatest desire was to be Extraordinary. And that’s really something we can all relate to, isn’t it? This isn’t even going into his unquestionable loyalty—maybe it was overridden by jealousy once in a while, but whenever it counted, Ron never hesitated.

Finn in the Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale

This one is a little more obscure, but one of the dearest characters to my heart. Finn is the epitome of the slow burn. His love for Enna is calm and quiet, but fierce and strong. Finn probably says less than 150 words in all four of the Books of Bayern, but his action and presence are tremendous in their quiet steadiness. He was also willing to change himself—make himself stronger and better for Enna. He’s like what Westley from The Princess Bride would have been, had he never become the Dread Pirate Roberts. (Speaking. Of. I love Westley. I guess for the same reasons.)

Booking Through Thursday: Only Five

Before we get started, two things:

1) Today is my first post at the Dojo! Go read about my love of the Pomodoro Technique!

2) This is my 100th post on this blog! Woohoo!

And now, back to today’s originally scheduled BTT question:

If you had to pick only 5 books to read ever again, what would they be and why?’

I’m not going to mention my LDS quad in this, because that’s a given and the reasons therefore should also be fairly obvious, though if I really were given only five books, this would of course be one of them, as I try to read a little every day. On to the more objectionable stuff… I’m going to make two seperate lists here:

Cheater List

1) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Because I want brilliance, and I want a lot of it.

2) The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson – Because no other poet has satisfied me as much, as consistently.

3) The Complete Works of Jane Austin – (See reason for #1)

4) The Complete Works of Ray Bradbury – I’m not totally married to this, but I’ve really loved a lot of Bradbury shorts, and I think I’d need something short and diverse.

5) The Complete Harry Potter – Okay, I know this isn’t a volume yet… but you know it will be someday.

Non-Cheater List

1) Jane Eyre. I don’t know that I could ever get tired of this book. For some people it’s Pride & Prejudice, but for me it’s Jane Eyre.
2) Little Women. I start reading this almost every Christmas. I have to admit, I don’t usually read the whole thing through, but I’ve read it enough that it’s one of my oldest and sweetest friends. Even though a very big part of me still wants Jo to marry Laurie.
3) Anne of the Island. Why this one? Because this is the book where Anne rejects Gilbert and then realizes that she loves him. Ah, the tortuous angst. I love it. I am all over it.
4) Enna Burning by Shannon Hale. Again, it’s all about the long-withheld requitement of love in this one. Plus Enna is awesome. Which I like. I don’t think I’d get tired of it.
5) I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenburg. This book has saved my sanity more than once. If I were say, on a desert island or something, I think I’d need literature like that. For those moments I’m not trying to feel all the fall-in-love pangs that I’m so addicted to.
If you’re stopping by for BTT, be sure to check out my Books are for Lovers post. Buy a book on Valentine’s to show your local bookstore some love!

Friday Five: Five Authors I Stalk

And by stalk, I mean that I follow them on their blogs, their twitter, their Goodreads page… pretty much anywhere I can find them online. Not half so creepy or crazy, right? Right? Well… ahem.

So, here we go, along with links so that you can follow them too, if you so choose:

1) Maggie Stiefvater, author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and her faerie earlier duo, Lament and Ballad.

Website :: Blog :: Twitter :: Goodreads

Merry Sisters of Fate (where she takes turns writing stories with Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, and guest authors)

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Maggie, and that includes her rambliest of blog posts. She’s written some very helpful advice for writers, too, which has been enlightening. I find insights particularly interesting since she’s an artist and a musician, which gives her writing a lyricism and aesthetic that’s hard to find, especially in YA ficiton. I’ve branched into following her two CP’s also, and especially enjoy Tessa Gratton’s blog.

2) Shannon Hale, author of the Books of Bayern, Book of a Thousand Days, etc.

Website :: Blog :: Twitter :: Goodreads

I really try to keep up with Shannon Hale’s announcements and things, mainly because I just love, love, love her books. Some of her characters are absolute loves of mine, so I like to know what’s going on in her bookish world as soon as I can.

3) Jackson Pearce, author of Sisters Red, Sweetly, etc.

Website :: Blog :: Twitter :: Goodreads :: Tumblr :: Youtube

Okay, really her website is her blog again, and her blog is almost exclusively vlogs from her youtube channel, but I’ve linked all so you have options of where you want to follow what. I started watching Jackson’s youtube videos before I ever started reading her books. I stuck around, and actually picked up her novel Sisters Red because I found her to be so witty and fun on her vlogs. Be warned, though, she does have some very strong opinions on some things, and isn’t afraid to offend people with what she says. She errs on the side of snark a little much sometimes, I think, but most of the time she’s very fun to pay attention to, and if nothing else, a great example of how to maximize your use of social media.

4) Beth Revis, author of Across the Universe and A Million Suns

Website :: Blog :: Twitter :: Goodreads :: Tumblr

I also followed Beth Revis before reading her book (I’m reading Across the Universe now, if you remember). I found her on Twitter, then Tumblr, and finally really started reading her blog recently, and I’ve enjoyed them all immensely. I had wanted to read her book before I found her online—it was getting amazing reviews—but I enjoyed getting to know a bit about her personality online before diving in.

5) Jasper Fforde, author of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series.

Website :: Blog :: Twitter :: Goodreads

Okay, actually it’s difficult to get updates from Jasper… he’d rather be writing, and I’m A-OK with that. He is one of my absolute favorite authors, though, so I have to include his links. I can’t wait to read his newest novel which is for a youth audience and is about dragon tamers and rediscovering magic. I’m in love with it already.

Something Expansive

What author set off that spark of inspiration for your current Work in Progress?

I don’t know that there’s one particular author who set off the inspiration for my WIP. I’d been reading a lot of young adult and middle grade fantasy of various types, and really what drove me to work on this story was the wish to write something expansive. Not “epic” necessarily… but definitely expansive.

If I had to point fingers, though… I think I’d have to single out Shannon Hale.

Despite what I just said, I’m really not much of a reader of fantasy. There is very little of it out there that doesn’t give me the urge to roll my eyes… especially high fantasy. Unless you’re J.R.R. Tolkein or Brandon Mull, you can keep your dragons to  yourself, thanks. And fairies? There was the occasional brilliant book (Lament and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater) but mostly they seemed like a thinly veiled analogy for teen angst, which I didn’t care for. And unless it’s Harry Potter, don’t even talk about wizards.

But Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl reminded me of the fantasy that I loved—had always loved. Fairy tale magic. Subtle, natural magic. Magic like the whispering of words on the wind, or later on in the series, of the language of fire and water. The Goose Girl also had this wide, sweeping landscape and crossed whole nations. It had castles and communities and class-action suits. Okay, not exactly that last one, but close enough—a group of people who were fighting for equal standing, for recognition.

Shannon Hale’s world was so real that I felt like I’d been there, maybe in a dream. I wanted to create something like that. A dream-memory-worthy world. That sure sounded expansive to me. I didn’t want to retell a fairy tale, though. Too many people were doing that… or just about to do that. I wanted to write my own fairy tale. It’s one I’ve fallen dearly in love with, with elements from many of my favorite stories throughout folklore, but I’d like to think with my own special twist.

Other inspirations for my WIP include things like Willow, The Princess Bride, and The Polar Bear King, a movie that I loved to death when I was a kid. I wanted my world to stand alongside worlds like these… quietly magical, wonderfully alive fantasy. Even Robin Hood has had its influence here and there.

Another thing all these worlds have in common? The hero in the story isn’t quite what you’d expect. Sad girl, pirate, misfit… There’s a lesson in a lot of these stories that strength can come to anybody who stands up and fights for it. That’s something I wanted to write about, too. About extreme conditions, extreme need making even an outcast into a hero.

Wish me luck with it.

In which Lisa talks about the things that entertained her in 2010

So, I have an embarrassing admission to make.  I got barely any reading done in 2010.  In all, I finished only about a baker’s dozen worth of books.  Two of those were re-reads.  One of those re-reads was scripture, so I probably shouldn’t even count it (but I do).

Two more of these books were novellas, including Bree Tanner.  (The other was Henry James’ Daisy Miller).

So, if you take those out, I read only nine books this year.  Even including them, I finished exactly 40 less books than I did in 2009.  Humph.

I have a lot of excuses for this.  First of all, I was being seriously courted and then got engaged and then had a wedding to plan and then got married.  C’mon, just looking at that sentence wears me out a little. 😉

The books I did read, though, were amazingIncarceron by Catherine Fisher, for example.  I’ve never been sucked into a fantastical world as quickly and fully as I was here, or at least, not in a very, very long time.

I’ve also started and thoroughly enjoyed the Percy Jackson series.  The movie, not so much.  The books, however, are a fast-paced wallop of fun, fun, fun.  You don’t see the character-development much, but when it hits, it doesn’t feel forced, either.

I also read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, and cannot recommend it highly enough.  Such thorough detail and beautiful tie-ins with history, along with some seriously strong characters.  Lastly, I was able to read Shannon Hale’s fourth Bayern novel, Forest Born, and while it took me some getting into, I ended up loving the character as much as any of Hale’s other darlings.

I did see a lot of movies this year, a la the serious courting that I mentioned before.  My favorite was, of course, Harry Potter.  The Potter franchise really does continue to get better and better, and the fact that there’s only one film left rips me up a little bit.  The first installment of Deathly Hallows followed the book so surprisingly well (after so much was left out of earlier films) that I couldn’t help but be grateful for David Yates’ devotion to the project.  And want to read the novels all over again, pronto, which I think is something a good book-based movie should always do.

My other favorite of the year, I have to admit, was Despicable Me.  That movie was too cute for words, and I can’t wait to own it.  The littlest girl was my favorite, followed closely, of course, by the minions.  Rounding out my favorite flicks of the year?  Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man II (yes, two RDJ, but then I’ve always loved him!) and Tangled.

I’m a little ashamed to say that I don’t think I’ve made any significant music discoveries in 2010.  Really this year was about immersing myself in old favorites, and getting to know their older stuff better.  Mainly Tegan and Sara, and Badly Drawn Boy.

TV was sparse this year for me, too… but Gossip Girl continues to be a delicious guilty pleasure… and Vampire Diaries has really surprised me with how much its made me love it.  You can blame Ian Somerhalder for that.  I sure do.  I also caught up on Lost this year (again, thanks to Ian Somerhalder)… which maybe deserves a post of its own.

And that was my year of entertainment in 2010.  How did yours look?  Probably a lot more impressive than mine…