Thursday, May 25, 2017

Robin Hood Week Tag

Thanks to Olivia at Meanwhile, In Rivendell..., I've gotten back from a two-week trip (and consequent internet break) just in time to catch the second half of Robin Hood Week. Time to wax nostalgic about good-looking men beating each other up. Here goes the tag:

What was your first exposure to Robin Hood?

The animated Disney movie, one of those movies that I don't remember watching for the first time because it was so long ago and I watched it so many times. On VHS, of course.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how big a fan are you?

5? I'm into it more than the average person, and I love the swashbuckling idea of a bunch of guys partying and sneaking around and stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But I haven't seen every version, and I read the book so long ago that I don't remember it very well. So I'm not a die-hard fan, just like I'm not a die-hard fan of Tolkien because I could never make it through The Silmarillion. *hides*

How many versions and spin-offs of the legend have you experienced?

Five. The Disney version, Prince of Thieves, and the BBC version *blissful nostalgic sigh*. Ah yes, and the original book. I read it when I was eight or so and I loved the ending. It was depressing but epic and very, very fitting.

And Leverage, if that counts...? I've only watched the first few episodes but it's growing on me.

What is your favorite version of Robin Hood (can be book, movie, TV series, anything)?

The BBC show, if you haven't guessed. It's cheesy and my parents claim that the acting is "worse than Merlin," which to them means a lot. But it's nostalgic for me because I watched it a couple years ago, and the visuals are gorgeous, and the cheesiness is the over-the-top kind  that I love in Pirates of the Caribbean and Merlin.

Prince of Thieves gets second place, if only for Alan Rickman:

Are you one of the lads? (Meaning, have you watched/are you a fan of the BBC show?)

Are Twinkies delicious?

Who is your favorite Merry Man?

Allan in the BBC version. His character arc is painful but rich, and he is rather good-looking. Not that that matters, of course. Hehe.

And the fact that he fits my conflicted-Flynn Rider-type crush complex doesn't hurt.

"I'm not being funny, but..."

Do you have a favorite portrayal of Lady Marian?

Lucy Griffith in, of course, the BBC version. She's not my favorite actress but she's pretty and has beautiful costumes, and Robin cares about her which makes me care. And she's more of a get-up-and-go character than the other Lady Marians I have seen portrayed.

Do you have any interest in or aptitude at archery?

Interest, yes--if I can play with Hawkeye's exploding arrows. *evil grin* As for aptitude, I'd rather not talk about that, thank you very much.

Fact or fiction -- which do you think? 

Huh, this question is the first time I've ever thought about Robin Hood being real--it was always just a legend to me. I think it's better that way because I'm sure the real-life version would have been a lot more grimy and frightening and sweaty and slow-moving and morally conflicting than the story version.

Do you think Robin Hood has been "done to death," or are there still new twists that can be found?

A sci-fi Robin Hood would be cool, like what Marissa Meyer did with fairy tales in the Lunar Chronicles.

Something this awesome can never be done to death.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Take a moment.

Turn off whatever music system you have going--Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, or a plain old CD player--and listen.

Listen to the silence.

Notice the new sounds around you, no longer covered by the music. The wind faintly rushing by outside, barely heard through the window. The clock ticking behind you that you only just notice now. The motorcycle revving up on a distant highway.

And the new visuals. The late afternoon sunlight streaming through the window, leaving shadowy evidence of the bush right outside. The computer screen in front of you that suddenly has a lot of dust on it. The green grass just poking up from its brown ancestors outside the window.

Smells. Musty old room. A slight freshness from outside.

Feelings. The ache in your back from sitting in such an uncomfortable position. Your muscles that are restless from not getting exercise today. That weird lump in your throat that seems to signal that you're about to cry, but you don't.

And I'll leave tastes to you.

In the silence, life is more real than the screen in front of you.

That is why silence is hard. And that is also why silence is necessary.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Tag

Hellooo everyone, I've been hankering to do a tag and since I've just finished a productive day of schoolwork I feel obliged to relax in some way. Tonight this way happens to be typing frantically on the keyboard and listening to Owl City.  ❤️  His music gives me novel nostalgia because I got into it for the first time during NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, thanks to Meredith's Beauty and the Beast week back in May, I have an excellent opportunity for a tag! I wouldn't say I'm "into" Beauty and the Beast but I have grown to appreciate it more.

1.When did you first experience Beauty and the Beast?

Whenever I first watched the Disney cartoon. I was probably five...?

2. In what forms(book, movie, retelling) have you experienced Beauty and the Beast?

Three. The animated Disney movie, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and a few episodes of Once Upon a Time, a couple of which had Belle in them. 

3. Who is your favorite character in Beauty and the  Beast?

The Beast. He's courageous and caring and everything I want in a guy, and he's also fluffy.  :D

4. What is your favorite song from the cartoon Beauty and the Beast?

"Gaston," hands down. Pure genius.

I was looking for something else, but this is too perfect.
5. If you were turned into a piece of furniture what would you want it to be?

A candlestick, like Lumiere. There are so many uses for flaming hands...

6. What would your dream cast for Beauty and the Beast be? (This can be as elaborate or simple as you desire.)

Honestly it's harder to come up with something that's better than the cast of the live movie. *shrug*

7. If your school were performing BatB which character would you want to play?

Belle, because she has the coolest songs. Even though singing is not my forte.

8. Like Belle, do you enjoy reading books multiple times?

Only certain books. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for example, I've read twice and it still makes me laugh out loud. And anything by Chesterton needs a reread in order to actually understand it.  xP

9. If you were to write a retelling, what would you change?

I'd make it science fiction, and have Marissa Meyer write it. 

#copout   ^_^

10. Are roses your favorite flowers? 

Nope. Probably dahlias.

Or tulips.

Or yellow snapdragons, because they look like buttered popcorn.

Thanks, Meredith! Happy belated Beauty and the Beast week to you all.  :D

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What I've Been Up To (Basically Books and More Books)

I think it says something about myself that I tried to save the background picture for my header and got this:

So anyway, my internet hiatus gave me a lot more time to read, and made me rediscover how much I love reading. One of the best feelings in the world is reading the last sentence of a book and finding it so beautiful that you just sort of stroke the page and then hug the book to your chest and read the last line over and over again.

Plus I lucked out on thought-provoking, strongly written books in the past two months or so. Here are some brief reviews--think of them as book popcorn. Being thrown at you. Through a computer screen. I've always had trouble with analogies.


The Unwind Dystology
Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman is now one of my favorite authors, thanks to Aimee at To the Barricade, whose rave reviews got me hooked.

His character development is impeccable, his plotting is twisty but makes sense, and his prose is slick without trying too hard to be YA-ish. He's especially good at describing things in a way that reminds me of those "relatable posts" on Pinterest--he comes up with the best little details. For example:

Roland glares at Connor and Connor glares back. Then he says what he always says at moments like this.
"Nice socks."
Although Roland doesn't look down right away, it derails him just enough for him to back off. He doesn't check to see if his socks match until he thinks Connor isn't looking. And the moment he does, Connor snickers. Small victories are bet­ter than none.

^^I tried it (as a joke). It works.

Anyway, the plot of the Unwind Dystology is that there was a full-out war between the pro-life and pro-choice groups, and the terrible compromise they made was to only permit "retroactive abortions," which meant basically killing teenagers to solve the problems of teen crime and population growth. The main characters are teenagers living in the aftermath of this legislation and trying to stay alive, and maybe change the world while they're at it.

Yes, it's a disturbing plot. But this series made me think more than any other series I've read, and Mom and I still find ourselves discussing the moral issues and character development a month later. Plus it's pro-life in the long run.

Content: PG-13. (Detailed violence, language, suggestive content, and adult themes, all handled with teens in mind.)

The Schwa Was Here
Neal Shusterman

You knew I wasn't done with Shusterman, didn't you?

This one's in first-person, narrated by an easily distracted teenage boy in New York. It cracked me up and, unexpectedly, made me cry. The symbolism is great, and it kind of reminded me of The Great Gatsby.

It's too weird to explain properly. Just read it.

Content: PG (mild language and a few crude comments)

Neal Shusterman

Yep, still not done with this guy. Let's just say this is by Neal Shusterman so it's good, although it's basically a darker version of The Schwa Was Here.

Content: PG-13 (Intense domestic violence, some language, and the occasional crude comment)

The Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss
Also entitled, "A Huge Disappointment but Not Quite a Waste of Time...?"

I LOVED this book. I'm not sure whether I should have, but I did.

It had all the necessities: complex characters, a very sweet friendzone, a dark and brooding protagonist, dragons, a scientifically described magic system, and humor. And a GORGEOUS writing style. Probably the prettiest writing style I have ever read (besides Tolkien's, of course).

Check this out:

“Go out in the early days of winter, after the first cold snap of the season. Find a pool of water with a sheet of ice across the top, still fresh and new and clear as glass. Near the shore the ice will hold you. Slide out farther. Farther. Eventually you'll find the place where the surface just barely bears your weight. There you will feel what I felt. The ice splinters under your feet. Look down and you can see the white cracks darting through the ice like mad, elaborate spiderwebs. It is perfectly silent, but you can feel the sudden sharp vibrations through the bottoms of your feet.
That is what happened when Denna smiled at me.” 

So, you ask, why did I just call this gorgeous book a huge disappointment?

Because of its STUPID SEQUEL. See, the thing about this series (which I believe is projected to be a trilogy) is that it starts out with the main character as a disillusioned middle-aged innkeeper who is "waiting to die." Then it has a massive fast-backward to the MC as a kid, and goes from there to describe how he massively messed up his life.

It sounds depressing. And it is. And it sounds like the suspense would be ruined because you already know what happens to him, but it's not. It's just that instead of wondering what will happen, you wonder how it will happen. Also the writing style is so gorgeous that it's hard to stop reading anyway.

Anyway, the problem with the second book, which I'm not even putting on this list because I stopped reading it, is that it takes the main character's flaws too far, and in an explicit direction that was demeaning to women. That put me off the story enough to put it down even though it was so, so good.

In conclusion, it hurts to say this, but DON'T READ THIS BOOK. You will just be disappointed because the second one is so immoral and lame. But The Name of the Wind will nevertheless go down as one of my favorite fantasy books of all time.

Content: PG-13...? (Violence, the occasional bit of explicit language, and a lot of suggestive stuff that would probably push the PG-13 rating. Mostly because the main characters are immature teenage boys.)


Ta-da! Lots of intensity. I think I literally cried over every one of those books, so yeah, you should read them too.  ;P

I will leave you with a highly satisfying gif:

Have you read a particularly awesome or affecting book in the last month or two? And if you've read any of the ones I've just reviewed, what's your opinion?