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May. 31st, 2014

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Rose/Scorpius Ficafest?

So, does anyone know who's modding smrw_ficafest these days? Because it never got off the ground last summer, and I was just wondering if anything was going to happen this year. I really enjoyed writing for that fest; I hope it hasn't died altogether.

Jan. 1st, 2014

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Reading in Review: 2013

I know it seems like I've disappeared from LiveJournal, but I swear that's not the case. Life is just crazy and my free time has dropped to just about zero. But it's five years now that I've been following my reading challenge here on LJ, so let's not let the ball drop this year!

Statistics of 2013:

Total books read: 120
New books: 60
Rereads: 60
Average length of book: 303 pages
Average number of books per month: 10
Best month by number: January (15 books)
Best month by pages: November (average 384 pages)
Worst month by number: November (3 books)
Worst month by pages: February (average 172 pages)
2013 Final TallyCollapse )

Now for the best and worst! And again, for the sake of ease and fairness, I'm going to limit my answers to the new books I read last year.

Best Book: Mockingbird by Kathryn Eskine, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, Nation by Terry Pratchett
Favorite Book: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, The House of Hades by Rick Riordan, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
Most Interesting Book: Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell, Every Day by David Levithan, Room by Emma Donaghue

Least Favorite Book?
Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel Thomas

Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?:
Disappointing: Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan. Disappointing even with the knowledge that it most likely would not live up to the awesomeness of its title.
Book I wish I liked more than I did: After by Amy Efaw. This is a wonderful look at teen pregnancy and how the media affects young girls dealing with sexuality, but the message in the end and the author's note afterword left a really, really bad taste in my mouth.

Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Return to Me by Justina Chen was astoundingly good, and I was not expecting it.
Book you recommended to people most in 2013?
Nation by Terry Pratchett
The Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer

Best series you discovered in 2013?
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013?
Sharon Draper, Marissa Meyer
Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Room by Emma Donaghue
Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Mark of Athena and House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Book you most anticipated in 2013?
Mark of Athena and House of Hades by Rick Riordan
Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Every Day by David Levithan
Nation by Terry Pratchett
William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Princess of the SIlver Woods by Jessica Day George (though, to be fair, I had to wait for the right fairy tale month)
Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
“This was not the time to say “I don’t know.” The brothers had begging, hungry looks, like dogs waiting to be fed. They wanted an answer. It would be nice if it was the right answer, but if it couldn’t be, then any answer would do, because then we would stop being worried...and then his mind caught alight.

That’s what the gods are! An answer that will do! Because there’s food to be caught and babies to be born and life to be lived and so there is no time for big, complicated, and worrying answers! Please give us a simple answer, so that we don’t have to think, because if we think, we might find answers that don’t fit the way we want the world to be.” - Nation by Terry Pratchett

“When first love ends, most people eventually know there will be more to come. They are not through with love. Love is not through with them. It will never be the same as the first, but it will be better in different ways.” - Every Day by David Levithan

“You saved me life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I'm yours. The me that's me right now is yours. Always.” - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

“[Luke, holding stormtrooper helmet.] Alas, poor stormtrooper, I knew ye not,/ yet have I taken both uniform and life/ From thee. What manner of a man wert thou?/ A man of inf'nite jest or cruelty?/ A man with helpmate and with children too?/ A man who hath his Empire serv'd with pride?/ A man, perhaps, who wish'd for perfect peace?/ What'er thou wert, goodman, thy pardon grant/ Unto the one who took thy place: e'en me.” - William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher
Book That You Read In 2013 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2014?
The Lunar Chronicles, Mark of Athena, House of Hades, Nation, and many, many others
Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014?
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, Cress by Marissa Meyer, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, John Green's new book

Any changes in reading habits in 2013?
I'm branching out in genre a bit, but nothing I can really put a finger on. I have been reading (and tempted to read) more memoirs.

Reading Goal for 2014?
Scaling down a bit because a) I no longer work a job where reading tons of books is part of my job description and b) I just barely made the goal (seriously, I finished book 120 at four minutes to midnight). So my goal is 100 for the coming year, 50 new.
Here's to another year of reading!

Aug. 22nd, 2013

ravenclaw imagine

My New Etsy Shop!

Hello all!

So I recently started an Etsy shop for my Harry Potter crafts. It's called RavenclawCrafts, and I'd love it if you could go and check it out!

I’m adding listings as I finish projects to photograph, but I make earrings, calligraphy art, and Harry Potter character cross stitches, and almost everything is customizable. You give me what you want, and I’ll make it.

Thanks for checking it out!

Jul. 4th, 2013


Reading in Review: June 2013

June's Books:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley
* Dear Max and * Bravo, Max! by Sally Grindley
* Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C Wrede
Searching for Dragons by Patricia C Wrede
* A City Tossed and Broken by Judy Blundell
* Hear My Sorrow by Deborah Hopkinson

I guess the upside to having less time to read is that I have fewer books to review at the end of each month? I dunno, I'm looking for the silver lining. Anyway, onto the reviews!

Reviews under the cutCollapse )

Total so far: 61 books
Currently Reading:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
How They Met by David Levithan
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Jun. 3rd, 2013


Reading in Review: February-May 2013

So much for promising to keep up with these reading in review posts . . .

But now that I've finished my fairy tale review project, I'm hoping to be better. So here goes. February through May.

16. Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale
17.* Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood    
18.* Firegirl by Tony Abbott
19.* Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy and Alison Blank
20. Crazy Jack by Donna Jo Napoli         
21. Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
22.* Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
23.* Every Day by David Levithan
24. The Thief and the Beanstalk by PW Catanese
25.* Room by Emma Donaghue
26.* The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
27. The World Above by Cameron Dokey
28. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

February's ReviewCollapse )

29. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
30. Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
31. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
32.* Cinder by Marissa Meyer
33.* Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer     
34.* Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough
35. Gregor the Overlander (audio) by Suzanne Collins                

March's ReviewsCollapse )
36. The Wee Free Men (audio) by Terry Pratchett
37. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
38. Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde
39. Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
40.* Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
41. Scarlet Moon by Debbie Vigue
42.* Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation by Tommy Greenwald
43.* Princess of the Silver Wood by Jessica Day George

April's ReviewsCollapse )

44. Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey
45. Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
46. The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
47.* Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser 
48. Sleeping Beauty: The One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass
49.* Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
50. A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
51.* Thornspell by Helen Lowe
52.* Five Summers by Una Lamarche 

May's ReviewsCollapse )

Phew. Okay.

Currently reading:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Apr. 5th, 2013

jk rowling magic

A Pretty Great Week

Real life romance-y stuff under the cut. Read at your own risk: the cute is a bit thick at times. :)

Icky Yucky Gross Romantic Stuff :)Collapse )

Feb. 1st, 2013


Reading in Review: January 2013

New Year's Resolution? I'm actually gonna do twelve of these, on time this year. Geez, last year was pathetic. Anyway, onto the books I read this month!

1. Snow by Tracy Lynn  
2.* Girl, Stolen by April Henry
3.* Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen
4.* Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell
5.* After Eli by Rebecca Rupp
6. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
7.* A Friendship for Today by Patricia C McKissack
8.* Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe
9.* Fairest of All by Serena Valentino
10. * We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
11.* Remember Little Rock by Paul Robert Walker
12.* Return to Me by Justina Chen
13.* Remember Me As You By by L. King Perez
14.* Fire From the Rock by Sharon M. Draper
15.* Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Looking at my list for each month, you can usually tell the following: what fairy tale is featured in the fairy tale review blog, and what project I'm working on for the library! Is it bad to say that, even though I read 15 books this month, I miss reading for fun? Of those 15 titles, only three weren't read for a project. But onto my thoughts!

Full reviews under the cutCollapse )
Currently reading:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg (another desegregation novel)
Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood (yet another desegregation novel, the last one, I think)
Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale (Jack and the Beanstalk this month!)

Truly. I'm enjoying the books I'm reading for work and the fairy tale reviews, but I've had Mark of Athena in my possession for a week now, and I haven't cracked the spine yet because I just don't have the time!!

Anyway, I'll be back next month, hell or high water!

Jan. 25th, 2013

story ends

Fairy Tale Reviews: Fairest of All

Fairest of All by Serena Valentino

Target Audience: YA/Teen

Summary: For anyone who’s seen Walt Disney’s Snow White, you’ll know that the Wicked Queen is one evil woman! After all, it’s not everyone who wants to cut out their teenage step-daughter’s heart and have it delivered back in a locked keepsake box. (And even if this sort of thing is a common urge, we don’t know many people who have acted upon it.)

Now, for the first time, we’ll examine the life of the Wicked Queen and find out just what it is that makes her so nasty. Here’s a hint: the creepy-looking man in the magic mirror is not just some random spooky visage—and he just might have something to do with the Queen’s wicked ways!

Type of Adaptation: Retelling with a perspective shift

Really, I could call this an adaptation of an adaptation, with a perspective shift, because the evil Queen in question here is very specifically Disney’s evil Queen. This book exists to show us her backstory, her character, how she became who she was. And it does so very well. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, but let me tell you, I am entirely on board. This book was wonderful.

This is the story of the Queen. Just like in the movie, she is given no name. What she is given is a history. She is the daughter of a renowned mirror maker who has no love for her. As is revealed over the course of the narrative, this man is a Piece Of Work. The Queen’s mother died giving birth to her, and her father never forgave her for that. He hated his daughter, and made that hatred known. He called her ugly her entire life, made it clear that no one would ever want to be with her.

full review under the cutCollapse )

I kind of adore this book. Let’s go to the checklist.

Make Snow White less of a mindless ninny? I was all prepared to say no, given that this was Disney’s Snow White. But Valentino managed it. We don’t see a lot of her, true enough, but what we do see is an empowered young woman with an exceptional capacity for love and forgiveness.

Strengthen the Queen’s motivation? Absolutely. That’s what the entire book was about. And it was done so, so well.

Understand how poison and murder work? Disney actually did a decent job of this. I do like that, in Disney’s version, it’s an enchantment not straight poison because that really does make more sense.

Fill in the background? Beautifully. The prince made his appearance sooner, we got the backstory of the King and Queen, we understood how she came to work magic, we got an explanation for the mirror. Just beautifully done.

Jan. 18th, 2013

story ends

Fairy Tale Reviews: Fairest

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Target Audience: Middle Grade/YA

Summary: In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has-a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince - and a dangerous new queen.

Type of Adaptation: Retelling

So, we haven’t yet talked about Gail Carson Levine’s utterly masterful Ella Enchanted, which is really one of the reasons I read fairy tale adaptations at all, because we haven’t gotten to Cinderella yet. It’s coming. I promise. But we’re not there yet.

But this book came later, a companion novel with two crossover characters set in a different country in the same universe, and man was I excited when this book came out. And rereading it was delightful, going back and visiting one of these fairy tale worlds that I love so dearly. And if anyone can improve the fairy tale of Snow White, it’s Gail Carson Levine.

Because here’s what I love about how Levine approaches fairy tales. She takes a common glaring issue of the original story and works it into her narrative. For Cinderella, it’s the question of why Cinderella never tried to defy her stepmother. For Snow White, though, it’s the point that if a girl actually had white skin, black hair, and blood red lips, she’d look pretty hideous, actually.

full review behind the cutCollapse )

I love the way in which the narrative is spun a little differently here, but with all the necessary elements still worked in. Let’s to the checklist.

Make Snow White less of a mindless ninny? Yes, but what I love is that Aza is still noticeably flawed. She longs for beauty, obsesses over it, and it’s not until nearly the end of the novel that she realizes that she has been as vocal a critic about her appearance as anyone else, and that her pursuit of beauty is what caused many of the problems she faced. She’s smart and clever and we like her, but she is still very flawed, which is as it should be because it gave her somewhere to go.

Strengthen the Queen’s motivation? Yes. I love that this Queen isn’t inherently evil. She’s just young and scared and silly, and another villain is feeding off of that and using her. She goes after Aza yes because she’s prettier, but also because she knows the secret, and that puts Ivi in danger. It’s beautifully intricate.

Understand how poison and murder work? Eh, okay. See, again, like in the original, I’m confused about how this went down – was the apple poisoned, enchanted, or did it just get caught in her throat? I really don’t know, and it’s the one part of the novel I wish had been done better. If your windpipe is blocked, then it’s blocked and you suffocate. If it’s only mostly blocked, you don’t lie in a coma for three days. But if it’s poison or an enchantment, then why did it disappear after the apple was dislodged? I am confused about the apple, is my point, which means, sadly, no check.

Fill in the background? I love this world of Levine’s. I love it in Ella Enchanted, and I love it here. Her range of species is so diverse and well-drawn, and the traditions based around song? Lovely. But my favorite part about this novel? That we don’t discover who Aza is in the end. Remember, she wasn’t the innkeeper’s biological daughter. Someone left her in that room. But we never find out who. She’s never revealed to be a secret princess or the illegitimate daughter of nobility or anything like that. We’re left not knowing. And I love it.

Beautifully rendered, and lovely to reread.

Jan. 11th, 2013

story ends

Fairy Tale Reviews: Snow in Summer

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen

Target Audience: Middle Grade/YA

Summary: With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father's garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother. But when the baby dies soon after he's born, taking Summer's mama with him, Summer's fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and magical mirrors into Summer's world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she's up to no good - and is afraid she's powerless to stop her.

Type of adaptation: Historical recontextualization

So, let me tell you what I love about this book. I love how ambiguous it is. I love how seamlessly Jane Yolen has adapted this story in the superstitious subconscious that was early twentieth century rural American life. Because yeah, if you want to, you can read this book as if it’s saying that magic and witches and charms and curses are, in fact, real. But you can also read it in a completely different way, that the power of the charms evidenced in the story is nothing more than coincidence and superstition. This is a thing that I love about this book.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

full review under the cutCollapse )

And I’ll admit, this suffers some classic Jane Yolen full-length novel flaws (which I hate pointing out because I so adore Yolen as a short story writer!) – the pacing of the end is not great, it feels like she had to rush and squeeze it in, and elements are introduced and then disappear. But overall the voice and tone and adaptation were done very well, so I don’t have much to complain about.

To the checklist!

Make Snow White less of a mindless ninny? Yes. Don’t get me wrong, Snow is still very much a child, but Yolen makes that work in her favor. We see her overcoming a lot of what held her back when she was eleven as she grows older and realizes that this is not how families work. And she is resourceful and clever and cautious – she’s just a bit overly kind in the end. But not a mindless ninny, by any stretch.

Strengthen the Queen’s motivation? Yes. She was such a fascinating and well-drawn character.

Understand how poison and murder works? Yeah, much more believable here, and I’m choosing to ignore the niggling voice telling me that I think sucking poison out of a snakebite is a myth . . .

Fill in the background? Beautifully. The father was under an enchantment, too weak and besot to step in. The backdrop of small town Appalachia fit this story a lot better than I thought it would going in. So major kudos there.

Not without its flaws, but well done.

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