Archive | February 2016

Tales of Old (Fantasy Love Feb. Mini-Challenge 3)

FantasyLoveFebruaryReadingChallenge

A brief post today…

The mini-challenge of the third week of the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge is to read an original fairy tale (Grimm… Hans Christian Anderson…) and then to answer the following questions. (Ooh, I like this one. :))

I’ve read most of the “classic” ones, and was at a loss as to which fairy tale to read (especially since I figured I’d be tempted to pick The Twelve Dancing Princesses, as my favorite… but I’ve already read every version of that I can find, so…), but I remembered that awhile back I’d been in the middle of reading through a collection called “The World’s Best Fairy Tales“, and hadn’t finished. So I pulled it from my shelf and opened it where I’d left off…

1. What fairy tale did you read?

The Tinderbox (Hans Christian Anderson; the book said it was from the Andrew Lang collection). It’s the one about the soldier, the tinderbox (naturally), the princess, and the three dogs with the interestingly large eyes… (Teacups, saucers, and millstones or towers were I believe the operative words…) It sort of sticks in your mind once you’ve read it!

2. Did you enjoy it?

I’d say so. It’s kind of odd, as many fairytales are, but I vaguely recall a shortened, illustrated version of it from a collection of children’s tales and verse, which I remember I loved. It has some similarities to a few other fairy tales, like perhaps Aladdin and his lamp, though obviously I — as a person rabidly mildly interested with The Twelve Dancing Princesses — ended up noticing that it has a slight resemblance to that… opening with a soldier meeting an old woman, and having an underground place with an emphasis on three areas and having copper, silver, and gold, and a princess who her parent(s) are worried about going out at night. …Okay, so maybe I’m over-thinking it. πŸ˜‰ Anyways, it’s a short tale, and interesting, with an occasional amusing turn of phrase. I’m not the biggest fan of Anderson, and some of it’s… weird… but still pretty fun. πŸ™‚

3. If there is a movie version of it, which is better? If there’s not a movie version, do you think there should be an adaption?

If there is, I haven’t seen it… πŸ˜› And I think it would make an odd movie! There’s kind of not that much to it? But I supposed all adaptions of fairy tales manage to build more on the story than was originally there…

4. Is this the first original fairy tale you’ve read?

Not at all — I’ve read many others! πŸ™‚

5. Do you want to read any more original tales now?

Yes, I hope to read many more in the future! Fairy tales are fascinating. πŸ™‚

***

In case you can’t tell, I’m having a lot of fun being a part of these Fantasy Love February challenges. πŸ˜€

Fantasy Fan-Art

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I’m a bit late to the party, but I’m linking up with this week’s Mini Challenge for the Fantasy Love February (hosted by Grace @ Fictionally) which is to share some Fantastic Art! πŸ™‚

(See the challenge post with the other linkers here — even join in the linkup if you like, with some fantasy art or photography or poetry or whatever! πŸ™‚ — and read about the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge here.)

I have no claims that these bits of fan-art are fantastic in any way other than that they are a) fan-art and, b) from fantasy books I love… but here you go. I am very rarely artistic with anything other than words, hence writing is my art of choice instead of drawing… But I do occasionally draw things, if I have inspiration. (Which is rare.) I’m also a perfectionist so I rarely consider something “finished” but oh well.

Here are a couple of fan art pieces that I drew once upon a time. (Once Upon A Time. Get it? πŸ˜€ Like… fairytales and fantasy and… Ahem. Nevermind… :P) (Also I hope it’s not cheating to not actually draw/make something this week? I really wanted to but had no inspiration and no time. *sadface*)

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Achan Cham from The Blood of Kings Trilogy (By Darkness Hid, To Darkness Fled, From Darkness Won) by Jill Williamson

As you can see, I sketched this from the cover of the third book, From Darkness Won, just as a sketching exercise, and didn’t spend too much effort on it. (Which is why there seems to be something wrong with his nose, in particular…? Also my scanner seemed to decide it would be a great time to act up and not scan properly… πŸ˜› My apologies.)

Achan is the hero of the Blood of Kings trilogy and just for the record he’s one of my favoritest heroes EVER.

Like… ordinarily my favorite character in a book tends to be some side character who doesn’t get much screen time page time. But I think I can honestly say that Achan is my favorite character in the trilogy. He’s just great and has this dry sense of humor and makes mistakes but keeps trying and you just gotta love him. Best main character ever! (Or one of, at least.)

I seriously need to reread those books… They’re really fabulous Medieval Fantasy! And if you haven’t read them, they’re definitely worth a read. πŸ™‚

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Rakkety Tam MacBurl (from Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques in the Redwall series)

Slightly cartoonish, but I had a lot of fun with this one — not to mention it’s an oddity in that it’s one of my few drawings that actually has color!

For those who don’t know (you’re missing out!) Rakkety Tam is an awesome squirrel warrior in one of the Redwall books, and he (obviously) wears a kilt and has a Scottish accent and is basically one of my favorite Redwall characters and one of my favorite Redwall books. Though I admit I haven’t actually READ it… in that I listened to the audiobook (several times) because of the fabulous full cast and all their glorious accents. Seriously. So much awesome. Anyways he’s a fabulous warrior hero, and he’s Scottish, and he’s a squirrel, and basically what is not to love? ❀ (For those who are curious, my top favorite Redwall books are Mossflower, Taggerung, and Rakkety Tam. And they are all overdue for a reread… or perhaps a relisten?)

So there is my foray into some fantasy fan-art.

Make sure to check out the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge (I’ve read 2 on my list so far…), and also remember that February is Fantasy Month! Jenelle Schmidt is still having some fantastic (in more ways than one) posts on her site as well. Join the fun! πŸ™‚

*happily twirls in all of the fantasy-ness*

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Yes, I Like Character Descriptions!

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Reaction post to Cait Grace’s question-raising post “Do You Even Like Character Descriptions?” over at Paper Fury (which, FYI, is my very favorite book blog and is hilarious and insightful).

Cait has a tendency to bring up interesting bookish topics, and I was writing out a comment there in response to this one, but decided to turn it into a post of my own, because I had no idea I had so many thoughts or thought so strongly on this topic! o.o (I’ve actually done this before with one of her posts…) Huzzah for bookish discussion starters! (Thanks, Cait! πŸ˜€ )

(This is in no way to bash her post or opinion, or anything! She raised some fabulous points, and I would just like to share some ramblings of my own on the topic, because this book blog is exactly for things like this when I would randomly like to talk about bookish things on a Saturday morning. πŸ™‚ )

So go read her post first. Done? Okay. Here we go…

***

Okay, so here is a case where I disagree. I want ALL the descriptions!! I’ve gotten SO frustrated with books these days where people DO think less is more and are afraid of “telling” and actually bothering to EXPLAIN what their characters look like to us poor readers, and have been told not to infodump. So they tell us nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. For like paaaages. And then suddenly they start to drop little hints… and then you realize you’ve been imagining the characters ENTIRELY WRONG. And you have to try to re-imagine them but… nope. It doesn’t work. THIS DRIVES ME INSANE.

And then you spend the rest of the book trying (unsuccessfully) to twist your already fully-created mental image of the character into the version the author is TELLING you (too late) that they look like. Even if you do eventually manage to see it right, it’s exhausting, and it’s not nice when it takes a ton of effort just to see what the author says. That’s not how books are supposed to be.

Honestly, this happened with me with Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which I’m going to use as en example. Don’t get me wrong. I ADORED that book (except for the creepiness being a bit much for this squeamish reader…). But honestly I was so annoyed that it didn’t come right out and describe the characters and have done with it right at the beginning so that we could move on. Like, is it so hard to just say “Kaz was seventeen and tall and thin as a musket and had gorgeous raven-black hair and an angular face and” etc. going on about his fabulous coat and black eyes and black gloves and his raven cane. Like, is that so hard??

Fabulous authors can pull these things off if they want to, if they’re not afraid of what they’ve been “told” to do… And there are some amazing and gorgeous descriptions in Six of Crows, too! So it’s not like there’s none… There just could have been enough to not leave me confused…

I’ll be honest, it took me like CHAPTERS to even begin to get the correct mental image of Kaz and the rest. Because Kaz had a cane and a raspy voice? At first, I thought he was like fifty or sixty. DON’T JUDGE. I DID. Like… an old man. And then something else happened (I think it mentioned his hair being black?) and I was like ohhh maybe he’s like thirty? AND THEN EVENTUALLY IT COMES OUT AND SAYS OH BY THE WAY HE’S SEVENTEEN. And I’m like ohhhhhhhhhhhhh. Okay. He’s three years younger than me and he’s awesome and handsome and cool AND IT TOOK ME LIKE A CHAPTER OR THREE TO KNOW THIS. Ugh.

It’s partly my fault, because I should have known that it’s YA and hence he had to be 18 years or younger? But for those not aware of that thing OUTSIDE OF THE BOOK I MIGHT ADD, it’s just tragic to not even know what the character looks like.

I mean, giving little tidbits at a time instead of just outright saying things can be a good mode of suspense? I’m okay with that for most things in a book. But not what things LOOK like. We shouldn’t be in suspense over things that if we were actually THERE, we would SEE with our eyes!

Because books are not like movies. We cannot SEE the things unless the author TELLS us or IMPLIES to us.

I think authors have a responsibility to tell the reader things!! Leaving us in the dark is mean at worse, or neglectful at best… We authors can see the entire story in our head, but the reader only gets as much of it as we happen to write. (I remember I once sent my first NaNo story to someone to beta read, and at one point I said the characters ran to the corner. The reader wrote back and said “the corner of what?” Because I had entirely neglected to describe the fact that they were in this awesome broken down tower thing!! I saw it all in my head, and forgot to mention it.)

So yes, getting back to Six of Crows: because I was clueless and it didn’t occur to me that they would all be kids because it was YA, I literally did not realize, for like a chapter or three, that Kaz and all of his gang were young. I literally thought that they were just grown up people! Like… a regular gang! And then I figured it out and was like “ohhhhh. That’s so much cooler that they’re young!” This could have been avoided with a simple sentence or even word about it.

But like I’m saying, this happens with lots of books these days, not just Six of Crows, I’m just using it as an example (and I love the book!! I just… wish more things had been outright stated). Authors seem afraid of telling the reader things. And this bothers me.

When there’s a movie, you can imagine the characters because you SEE the faces and the whole person and what they look like. So that’s easy. But in a book, it’s just words, and words are powerful but they have to be the right ones. And I do just imagine characters a certain way unless it’s outright stated, so I’d like to have that, please and thank you… And I think this is largely why people do use over the top descriptions, like extravagant eye colors… I’m guilty of it myself. πŸ˜› People can understand things like colors, but you can’t really fully describe a FACE. We’re drawn to things like eyes and hair of particular color/kinds because we can easily grasp what those look like.

Because of the imagination thing, building things out of words, that is why things ARE so open to interpretation, which is actually a wonderful thing about books, because readers can each have their own individual versions in their head, and that’s what makes it unique!

But unless there are specific things to pin these descriptions around (like vague age, hair color, curly hair, eye color, etc., even if they ARE unrealistic) then all the imaginations are going to vary so differently, and like Cait said, they are really good indications of the characters!

Like, getting away from faces, the way characters dress is a HUGE indication of their personality! Even just a choice mention of that particular red scarf with the sparkles, or that dark blue fedora, or that black leather jacket (yes, I know some people say it’s a cliche but I still love it and will not apologize).

And I’m not saying that there should be necessarily ALWAYS mounds of description every time a character comes in… I’m aware that some people don’t like lots (personally, I don’t mind). I’m just saying, give us the basics fairly soon after we meet them so that we can imagine them somewhat correctly! And yes, something visual that sets them aside as a quirk so that we remember them out of the hordes of other characters we read. People REMEMBER Holmes’ hat, Kaz’s crow-headed cane, Howl’s blue-and-silver suit, Katniss’s braid, and various unique eye- or hair-coloring etc., which, call it unrealistic if you will, but does a marvelous job of setting characters aside in your mind.

This is getting rather long and rambly and I feel like I had other things to say, but there you go. My bookish rambles of the day.

Long story short: I like description in books, particularly for characters, and I like it early enough to do some good. πŸ™‚

Fantasy Love February Nightstand Books

Today’s post is a mix of… well, of three different things, all scrumptiously rolled together into one.

Firstly: Nightstand Books, which is a fun bookish monthly meme, the first Wednesday of every month, held by Jenelle and D.J.

Secondly: Jenelle is also doing a Fantasy month thing for February… Check out her post here!

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In case you don’t know, fantasy is my FAVORITE.

Thirdly: Grace @ Fictionally is holding a Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge which I am — tentatively? — joining in on. (That is, I hope to be able to read a bunch of fantasy, but my reading goals always tend to do whatever they want instead of what I want, soo… we’ll see.)

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So! Because Nightstand Books is about what we’re reading this month, and since the first part of the first mini-challenge within the Fantasy Love February Reading Challenge is to post the book/books you plan/hope to read for the challenge… and since this all relates to fantasy… it’s all coming together in this post!

Apparently February is a lovely (see what I did there?) time to celebrate fantasy. Huzzah! It’s the perfect excuse for me to read some fantasy books I’ve been meaning to read.

Here’s my nightstand currently… (Not all of it’s fantasy… but that’s why this is the Nightstand Books part…)

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I’m working on going through all the Holmes stories, so right now I’m working through The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which contains three collections of short stories (one of which I read last month) as well as The Hound of the Baskervilles. I’m currently in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes; then it’s on to Hound and Return. I’m loving reading these, especially since short stories can be read fairly quickly, and I simply adore the original illustrations by Sidney Paget! They’re the essence of the Holmes tales, right there. ❀

Also started The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien). I read most of this book quite some time ago, but never actually got all the way to the end, and it’s been a long time so I don’t really remember them… Hence, I’m restarting and hoping to go through the whole thing this time. It’s fascinating and I love being in the mind of my favorite author.

Similar story to above: The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones is a book I’ve read bits of but never sat down to read all the way through. Set up as an A-Z “guidebook” to Fantasyland, it’s tongue-in-cheek, making fun of cliches and just having a rollick, and it’s quite hilarious.

So those are what I’m currently in. (I’d also kind of like to read a few of the books I didn’t get to in January, like Rising Shadows and The Poisoned Cure… but we’ll see.)

But! Then I’d also like to read some fantasy for said reading challenge. So these are (tentatively) what I’m hoping to read in February.

Aaand I may end up suddenly having a bunch of other books to review, or going to the library and getting a bunch of random things, or having no time to read because I’m busy and/or writing, so this may not happen, but I’m hoping to, anyway!

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So… Nightstand round #2 (yes, Tough Guide to Fantasyland is in both. πŸ˜€ )

What’s on your nightstand? Anything fantasy-ish? πŸ˜‰

Dream away in those pages…

~The Page Dreamer

Reading Roundup #1

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It’s been a month since I started this blog! Hurray! More importantly, we’re a month into this new year of 2016, and I read several lovely books in January, so I’m here to start a monthly trend on The Page Dreamer: a Reading Roundup to record what I read each month!

I started out the month by reading some books I’ve been meaning to read for review and hadn’t gotten around to yet, interspersed with a couple random books… As I finished a book on the 22nd, I looked back and went “Wait a minute. I’ve read six books in three weeks.” Six books is what I generally average in a month when I’m neither super busy nor reading a lot. But I felt like all I’d been doing the last three weeks was read–how was it I hadn’t read more?? That was when I realized… “Oh… they’re all enormous books.”

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I keep a spreadsheet of books I read every year. Because it’s so fun. And yes, that’s 2222 pages total right there…

So then, having gotten the large ones of a pressing nature out of the way, I ate some smaller bite-sized books which were a nice change. ^_^

I also… um… seem to be having a problem with being too generous with my star ratings? I do this at the beginning of every year because I have nothing to compare with and am generally feeling magnanimous. So… all the five stars! (Except for two.) Oops?

And I read three books in a row (not counting the nonfiction) which featured enormous sea monster serpent things. (The Sunken Realm, Goddess Tithe, Out of Darkness Rising.) Go me. πŸ˜€

Books I read in January 2016

{My Review}

5starrating1. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones — I really loved this! Of course, it’s by one of my top-two favorite authors, sooo… that’s not surprising. πŸ˜‰ And it’s about books and writing and it’s a retelling and a lovely friendship/romance and has Tom Lynn. All-round win on this one!

{My review on The Road of a Writer}

5starrating2. Yorien’s Hand by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (The Minstrel’s Song, #3) — So enjoyed this, and am really looking forward to going back to read the first two books in the series! I loved the world, adventure, dragons, and characters (especially Brant & Kiernan Kane!). Fabulous Epic Fantasy. ❀

{My Review}

3starrating3. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke — I loved most of this one, but was slightly disappointed by the ending… Still, I’m glad I read it and it’s definitely worth reading for those less picky about their endings than I! πŸ˜‰ Venice and brothers and the mysterious boy Scipio and detective Victor who has pet tortoises.

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{My Review}

5starrating4. Prince of Demargen by E. Kaiser Writes (Thaw, #3) — This was a very interesting sequel to a Frozen-like story (The Snow Queen retelling) and I’m very much looking forward to reading the first two in the series. But it’s quite rich and I love Hess a ton and it’s brilliantly written.

5starrating5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes #3) — I haven’t reviewed this one… It’s actually a reread, ish… I think I’ve read them all before? But I don’t really remember them so I’m working on going through all the Holmes stories — yay! This is the first collection of short stories (after the first two novels), and has twelve stories in all. My favorites I think are The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet, and The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle. Anyways I’m loving reading through Holmes — so awesome, and I love him and Watson: they’re a great pair! πŸ™‚

{My review on The Road of a Writer}

5starrating6. The Sunken Realm by Serena Chase (Eyes of E’veria #4) — Pirates, time-travel, a Twelve Dancing Princesses twist, romance, Christian themes and fabulous fantasy, not to mention Cazien. ❀ I can’t 100% recommend it due to some mature content and general scariness, but otherwise fabulous.

5starrating7. Goddess Tithe by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Tales of Goldstone Wood, #2.5) — Haven’t reviewed this either, but oh my goodness, I adored it! *huggles little book* Set in the midst of Veiled Rose (book 2) which is the last Goldstone Wood book I read, it’s just a perfect little tale at sea, with mystery and fantasy and an elegant perfectness to the writing. I loved Munny and he and Leo’s relationship was so fun — they don’t even speak the same language, which made it hilarious! XD Anyways it has a bit of everything and was kinda bittersweet and perfect. ^_^ ❀

{My Review}

4starrating8. Impactivity: How to Set the World on Fire Without Burning Out, by Tracy Higley — Interesting non-fiction of a self-help, time-management, inspirational sort of thing. I hope to put some of its ideas to use… Hopefully I’ll read it again. Very well put together.

5starrating9. Out of Darkness Rising by Gillian Bronte Adams — Also didn’t review. But it was so so beautiful. A little novella, I read it in a sitting, and it’s a gorgeous allegory. It was incredibly well written — I love this author’s style! — and just… gaah. Words fail me. It was such an amazing allegorical story! ❀ It was so immersive and detailed, I really felt pulled in, and the timeless tale of love and salvation was so beautifully woven. It made me really love the Prince and his Father and look to the allegory beneath, pointing upward. Just an awesome story. (Not to mention one of my favorite covers!)

5starrating10. Half-Blood by Jaye L. Knight (Ilyon Chronicles, #0.5) — Everyone and their cousin seems to be after me to read this series, so I finally sat down and read the prequel novella in an attempt to get me hooked enough to not be too daunted by the length of the later books… It’s kinda dark and likely not everyone’s cup of tea, but I didn’t mind it so much since I’ve read similar tales before. Jace is awesome (naturally) and I love Rayad too, and I’m looking forward to continuing the series. πŸ™‚ (Ya know, once I get over the length… >.> *cough* I’m sorry, long books tend to get postponed by this skittish reader…)

Have you read any of these?

What have you been reading?

Dream away in those pages…

~The Page Dreamer