Top Ten Tuesday – November 21: Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

November 21: Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For (Happy Thanksgiving week in the USA!)

I feel like this list is redundant of last week’s topic. The books I would want my future children/Godchildren/nieces/nephews to read are the same books I am thankful for. They changed and shaped me in someway and for some of them I became a part of a fandom.

So, in addition to last week’s list I will add these books that I am thankful for.

1-3) All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

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I have read them more than once, participated in the Real Time Reading events and am part of a Facebook group where I can talk about it with other obsessed fans. Now that they are filming a TV series, and that only fuels the obsession.

4-7) Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer.
I made so many friends through this fandom and am still friends with a few of them today. I am thankful to Twilight for those friendships. Back in the day we would go to the midnight book launches, the movie screenings, the morning talk shows, and would try to meet Rob on the set of Remember Me.

8) Star Wars. There are too many books and comic books to count here, but when I was 13 I read my first EU books: Jedi Academy Trilogy by Kevin J. Anderson (Jedi Search, Dark Apprentice, Champions of the Force). I didn’t really get into the EU again until Revenge of the Sith was about to come out. By then I had soooooooo many to catch up on and it helped to be part of a Star Wars book club on a message board. I was on a binge read and wish I just kept up with it when I was 13 in the mid-90s. Now they’re considered “Legends” and there is a new Disney canon, but I still have shelves and piles of those old EU novels and comic books.

9) A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice.
I remember I bought this from a mail order book club way, way back in the day (17 years ago!) I loved it so much and gave it to a friend to borrow when she was going to Sicily for the summer. She was visiting family in the middle of nowhere and to keep her from boredom I let her borrow it. She was (and still is) the only friend I have that I trust with my books because she is just as neurotic with them as I am. Thing is, her younger sister read it before she did while in Sicily. I should have warned her about the adult themes! But it was the start of our own mini book club. We don’t trade books as often as we used to, but this was the first and I’ll always remember that.

10) She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
This is another book that was part of our mini book club. My friend read it first and suggested it to me. We even came up with a list of our dream cast for the movie (that was never made) giving the roles to our favorite actors and actress of the day. From time to time we say to each other, “Remember our casting list for She’s Come Undone?”
I would love to reread it some time and do an updated dream cast.

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New York Comic Con 2017 – Sunday, October 8

Sunday, October 8

My sister decided to splurge for Mark Hamill’s autograph. (The price went up since he was last at NYCC in 2011). So in the morning she queued for his signing. Mark had the photo ops first, but the queues get really long real fast.

I left her briefly to go to Rob Reid’s signing at Random House’s booth.

I purchased After On. It was on sale and I got an ARC for Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins with the purchase. Rob’s first book, Year Zero, was a giveaway. He signed both copies.

I was wearing my new Jurassic Park shirt and Rob was wearing a shirt with the Jurassic Park logo, only his said “Golden Gate Park”.

Rob remembered me from the Deleted Scenes panel on Friday. (I was sitting in the front row.) I said the David Hasselhoff scene was hysterical and that really sold the book for me, and too bad it wasn’t in the book (After On). But he said that the character who writes the reviews is in there and all the reviews are online.

I pointed out our sort-of matching shirts and asked for a photo.

Then he said that he hopes I like After On. I read the first page while waiting on the queue. It’s funny.

Then I went back to wait on Mark’s queue. It was a long wait. First he had his photo ops. Then he had a break and I assume had some lunch (it’s only fair). So of course the autograph session stared like more than an hour late. The first people on the queue were cosplaying as Beauty and the (human) Beast. They were spectacular. Wish I had asked for a photo. Hundreds of others were asking.

Finally we get up to talk to Mark. Since my sister was the one actually getting her photo with him signed I just observed.

Mark saw their photo and said, “Look how cute you are.” I think my sister was too nervous and I had to tell her afterward that he said this. She was concentrating on the whole speech she prepared.
She told him that we were at his conversation last night. Mark had said how when he got the script for “The Last Jedi” he was surprised/disappointed about how Luke had lost his optimism.
My sister said she agreed with that and added that Luke also lost his Original Trilogy persistence to save Ben/Kylo.
Mark responded that he “has to be careful” of what he says, but it’s not a long wait. It will be answered before we know it.
We said we’d be there opening weekend and thanked him.

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Top Ten Tuesday – November 14: Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

November 14: Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read (Or nieces and nephews, Godchildren, etc.)

1) The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. I don’t expect them to read all of the books in the series because there are a LOT. But I still have the ones I read and it’s really the series that got me into reading in the first place. To share that with a younger generation would mean a lot.

2) Harry Potter, books 1-7. There are so many wonderful themes about love and friendship, and it’s a great coming of age story set in a magical realm. And really such a huge part of pop-culture. It would also be great to see it though fresh, innocent eyes. You can vicariously relive the feeling of reading it for the first time through their perspective.

3-5) Between Shades of Gray and Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. These YA stories set during World War II are incredibly sad but so essential. I think learning a little bit of history through historical fiction is important. It builds empathy.

6) Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. If I had to read this in school when I was 11 and cry my eyes out, then so do the children!

These next few I would wait till the children were a bit older, like their mid-teen years when they could understand and appreciate them more.

7) Red Rising series by Pierce Brown. How could I not get the kids into my favorite literary science fiction story? Next to Star Wars, this is a must.

8) The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. A coming of age story for every teen.

9) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. It is a flawless masterpiece. Besides, by the time they are old enough to read it they’ll already have the movie with Keira Knightley memorized.

10) Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel. There are some good life lessons in here. It’s a spiritual self help book by one of my favorite singer-songwriters. These future children would already be raised listing to her songs and like the title says, “songs are only half the story.”

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Obviously I would have them read my entire library, but these 10 will do for this list.

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Should you ever go back?

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’ biggest scandal from more than a decade ago involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as Abby tries to find out what really happened to Kaycee, she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game,” which will threaten the reputations, and lives, of the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Book Con 2017 so I can’t say how this differs from the final printed version.
My friend borrowed my ARC and read it first. She’s a fan of Krysten’s acting work but was disappointed in her first novel. She said there was too much environmental stuff. She just wanted the hometown story.
That lowered my expectations about the novel. I thought I would be bored with environmental jargon.  I felt the opposite.  Abby leaves most of the environmental research to her team, and 3/4 of the way through they go back to Chicago to continue investigating there. Abby becomes more and more obsessed with what happened to her friend, Kaycee, ten years ago, and the scholarship conspiracy at Optimal.
**Minor spoilers below**

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Top Ten Tuesday: November 7: Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

November 7: Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders (Leaders of what? That’s your decision. Who could lead a country, an army, a book club, a classroom, etc. Or maybe characters that would be trendsetters?)

I am going to go with the book club theme. I thought about doing leaders of a country, solar system, galaxy or an army, but all I could come up with were characters that already do that in their stories. I also thought about trendsetters but all could think of was Alice Cullen and Rosalie Hale from Twilight.

Top 5 Book Club Leaders

1)Hermione from Harry Potter. She is the most obvious first person to come to mind. I don’t need to say more.

2)Maddie from Everything, Everything. Poor girl was isolated and wrote her reviews online. But once she was free she could make new friends through a book club then eventual be its leader.

3)Roque from Red Rising. It would be more of a poetry reading.

4)Diana from All Souls Trilogy. It would be filled with a bunch of creatures wanting to know the secrets of Ashmole 782.

5) Jo March from Little Women. They would act out the stories with costumes and voices.

New York Comic Con 2017- Saturday, October 7

Saturday, October 7

I would have really liked to see this panel, even though it was $45 and a separate ticketed event. You didn’t have to have a NYCC badge to attend. However, I already had bought my photo op with Mark Hamill that morning.

From a Certain Point of View: A Star Wars 40th Anniversary Celebration
October 07, 2017, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Hudson Mercantile – 500 W 36th St

In 1977 a princess, a farm boy, a scoundrel, a Wookiee, two droids, an old wizard, and a man in black set us off on a galaxy full of adventure. Forty years later, join an all-star panel of authors to celebrate the legacy of Star Wars with a new anthology that retells the story of Star Wars through the eyes of the background characters and creatures that bring the galaxy to life.

Moderated by Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo, this unique panel promises fun new insights into the characters and scenes of the film that you think you know, and features a rotating cast of more than a dozen Star Wars authors and contributors, including but not limited to: Ben Acker, Pierce Brown, Adam Christopher, Zoraida Cordova, Delilah Dawson, Jason Fry, Kieron Gillen, Claudia Gray, EK Johnston, Mur Lafferty, John Jackson Miller, Daniel José Older, Mallory Ortberg, Beth Revis, Cavan Scott, Charles Soule, Marc Thompson, Elizabeth Wein, and Chuck Wendig.

A ticket to this not to be missed event includes a New York Comic Con exclusive edition of From a Certain Point of View: A Star Wars 40th Anniversary Celebration, pre-signed by over a dozen of the contributing authors. This edition is extremely limited with only 1,000 copies in print.

Yay for youtube though. The panel is up and it is so funny.

My photo with Mark Hamill came out really nice. My sister’s photo is so cute. Mark is touching her chin, like he’s lifting it up with the tip of his fingers. She was so giddy about it.

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The Tournament by Matthew Reilly

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“A complete success; action fans and PBS types can share their enthusiasm” (Booklist, starred review) when a young Queen Elizabeth I is thrust into a gripping game of deception and lust at the height of the Ottoman Empire in this edge-of-your-seat historical thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Zoo of China and Temple.

The year is 1546, and Suleiman the Magnificent, the feared Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issues an invitation to every king in Europe: You are invited to send your finest player to compete in a chess tournament to determine the champion of the known world.

Thousands converge on Constantinople, including the English court’s champion and his guide, the esteemed scholar Roger Ascham. Seeing a chance to enlighten the mind of a student, Ascham brings along Elizabeth Tudor, a brilliant young woman not yet consumed by royal duties in Henry VIII’s court.

Yet on the opening night of the tournament, a powerful guest of the Sultan is murdered. Soon, barbaric deaths, diplomatic corruption, and unimaginable depravity, sexual and otherwise, unfold before Elizabeth’s and Ascham’s eyes. The pair soon realizes that the real chess game is being played within the court itself and its most treacherous element is that a stranger in a strange land is only as safe as her host is gracious.

 

I got this book last year at NYCC.

There were many things I enjoyed about The Tournament, but I have a few criticisms.

This is very much like a fan fiction of actual historical figures.  But I like fan fiction and historical fiction so it was right up my alley. Besides Elizabeth I, Roger Aschman, and Suleiman, there are appearances from Michelangelo, Ivan the Terrible, and Ignatius of Loyola. Fictional characters are mixed in and the chess tournament and the murders are completely fictional.

I was invested in the murder(s) mystery and read through it quickly to find out the results. Sometimes I felt that Aschman was spelling things out to Elizabeth (and thus the reader) like a child, but then I remembered that she’s 13 and in 1546 a lot more innocent than than 13 year olds of today.

I liked how each part began with a brief, one page history of the history of chess pieces. I never knew the rook was once a chariot,  the bishop were elephants and the queen was the king’s minister. Besides solving the murders, the chess tournament was my favorite part.

Thank goodness for the maps printed at the beginning and for the list of the players for each match. I would have been lost without them.

One critique I have is that the language seemed a bit too modern for the time period. It’s not a huge distraction, but at times I said to myself, “That’s not how they would have phrased that.”

Another critique was the repetitive descriptions of gratuitous sex. Yes, there is a warning at the very beginning of the book.  I understand getting the point across that the horrible exploitation of women and children happened then (and sadly happen still).  So, I guess what my issue is is that Elise’s descriptions night after night were like – enough already. And that no one, except for a few voiced concerns from Elizabeth (that Elise brushed off), told her how naive she was being. (Did she learn nothing from Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard?) Also, I was fully expecting Elise or someone to start showing signs of a STD, or the Plague.

4 out of 5 chess pieces.