Sunday, October 29, 2017

In Which I Shamelessly Generalize Generalizations

Real quotes from Art3mis Took's head: 

It's so annoying how modern YA novels are all dystopias with pointless love triangles.

I can't stand how modern music objectifies women.

Wow, every word that comes out of Tyler Joseph's [or insert favorite music artist's or author's] mouth is pure poetry.

Dear world, 
And most of all, dear me,

Please stop.

I know that generalizations are necessary. If we didn't have them we wouldn't have words--for example, if I didn't have a general idea of a computer, I wouldn't be able to say that my HP laptop is just as much a computer as a mac, and if I didn't have a general idea of what a Christian is I wouldn't be able to say that Lutherans and I have many theological differences but are still both Christians.

But I find myself generalizing so many things all the time, based on something I've read or heard, on my past experience, or on nothing at all.

A real-life history of Art3mis Took's generalizations

Everything by Justin Bieber is trash.
Everything by Justin Bieber is actually awesome--why do people keep hating on him?

Everyone who follows their religion to the t is trustworthy.
Um, actually my recent experience has made me an expert and no one who follows their religion to the t is trustworthy. Sorry, naïve younger self.

Liberal people are all pretentious jerks.
Conservative people are all pretentious jerks.
No wait, everyone is a pretentious jerk. Except for me, of course.


See, when I was younger I had a lot of generalizations, stereotypes, ideological clumpings, whatever you wanna call them, mostly borrowed from my family and friends, my own personality, and above all, the books that I read. I wasn't even conscious of these generalizations until events in my life started challenging them. And as my teen years have become increasingly angsty I've taken these dispelled generalizations and replaced them with...

...wait for it...

new generalizations.

Which aren't any closer to my own life experience.

What, you and I both ask, is my life experience?

A real-life history of Art3mis Took's real life

Well, Justin Bieber has some good songs like "Love Yourself," but that was written by Ed Sheeran so it's kind of a toss-up whether it actually counts to Justin's credit.

I've been hurt by people who are strongly religious but my strongly religious friends have also been the ones who helped me through that hurt.

And I don't think I've ever met someone who's really a pretentious jerk at real life, that is.

*waits for fallout from the Sherlock fandom*


The point is that real life is complicated, and I'm starting to realize more every day that where I'm tempted to think there's pure evil, there's always good in this world. And it's worth fighting for. (Why does everything always turn into a Tolkien quote?)

In conclusion:

Unwind, by Neal Shusterman, is a glorious modern young adult novel that handles pretty much everything, including a love triangle that is relevant to the story's themes, in an insightful and tasteful manner.

Sure, Ed Sheeeran has put out some objectifying songs *glares at "Shape of You"*, but his other hit "Perfect" is fairly clean and has lines like "I don't deserve this, darling you look perfect tonight." Interpret as you will but that's pretty adorable.

Actually I don't like all of Tyler Joseph's lyrics. For example...
*racks brain for a lyric that I don't like* 
...Never mind, Tyler's lyrics are, in fact, 100% perfect. 
But you get the point.

Your fellow citizen of this complicated planet, 
Art3mis Took

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tolkien Blog Party Tag

Thanks to the lovely Hamlette, each year we geeks have a chance to kick back, pour a cup of tea, and remember that The Lord of the Rings still exists and it is awesome. Even if we publish the tag late because we forgot about it until now.

1. How long have you been a Tolkien fan?

Ever since I read The Hobbit at the age of eight or so. 

2. Has your love of Middle-earth affected your life?

*goes to type, then pauses and frowns* 

Well, it's definitely influenced my reading life. As soon as I read The Hobbit I developed an appetite for sci-fi/fantasy, and books in this genre have greatly influenced the way I think about the world. These include Carl Sagan's Contact, Antoine St. Expert's The Little Prince, Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn, and many others. Also, if I hadn't been introduced to this genre I would never have gotten into Brandon Sanderson's online writing lessons and I would have never met my friend Meredith, who got me into blogging, and I would be quite a different person than I was before and I wouldn't be here answering these questions. 

So yes.

3. If you had to take the One Ring to Mordor, which character would you choose for your sole companion?

Sam. Because he is adorable and he would carry me the whole way.

4. Which is scarier, Shelob or the Balrog?

Definitely Shelob, at least in the way they are presented in the books/movies. I've never thought big monsters were that scary; it's the little, petty, crawly, claustrophobic ones like Shelob that give me the creeps.

5. Which two towers do you think Tolkien was referring to in the title The Two Towers?  (i.e. Orthanc, Barad-dûr, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul, or Minas Tirith)

No idea. My head hurts.

6. Whose wardrobe would you like to have?

Eowyn. Her gowns are so soft and flowy, especially this one:

I also want whatever this warm, fuzzy thing is:

I love that she is a fierce, driven warrior who is also not above cuddling with a blanket on a duvet.

7. What do you think an Ent Draught would taste like?

Strong, leafy tea with a beer-like aftertaste.

8. Where in Middle-earth would you like to live?

The Shire, because anywhere else would be way too stressful. I am Sam at heart. xD

9. Do you have any Tolkien-related opinions that surprise other people?

I can't stand The Silmarillion and I enjoy the movies more than the books because the books are just so dang hard to read. Also I think the songs from the books are really annoying and unnecessary. And Tolkien needs to work on his pacing. 

*whispers* Sorry, everyone.

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the books or movies.

I've got way more than ten, but for the sake of time I'll just refer you to my reply from last year. This is my idea of time management. 

*pauses to reconsider my life decisions*

Let's go deep in this comments section, comrade: Has your love for Middle-Earth affected your life?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Random Things #8: Savory Scenes of September

-2Cellos' cover of "Now We Are Free" from Gladiator (and how cool they try to look in the music video)

-Sightreading an all-string arrangement of Linkin Park's "Numb" with a college string club and feeling like the Piano Guys

-Discovering that a girl who sits ahead of me in one of my music classes is super nice and from Russia (!!!)

-Peanut Butter Captain Crunch is surprisingly tasty

-Actually enjoying math class (???) because my math professor is so enthusiastic

-My math professor saying that the solutions of this one problem go from zero to infinity, and half the class adding "...and beyond!"

-Feeling satisfyingly exhausted from a full day of schoolwork

-Homemade pepperoni pizza

-Drinking a London Fog for the first time (Earl Grey with tons of sugar and milk, and some vanilla)

-The sudden transition between summer and fall which always triggers Halloween nostalgia

-So many new babies!!!

-The super intense conductor of the symphony orchestra actually praising my section

-Planning and executing Bilbo's Birthday Party (on the actual date!!!)

-Binging Stranger Things and being super excited for the next season which comes out in October

-Discovering an awesome Bible study on campus

-Having a completely random conversation with a couple of guys about religion, college, and video games

-Getting into the Newsies Broadway show and deciding that one of my dreams is to write a musical

-Having a twenty one pilots moment with a guy in my class

-Watching cheesy, completely not-PC 60's TV shows with my mom

-Incredibly satisfying twists in Agents of SHIELD

-The sense of progress that comes from going to school

-Discovering how amazing Goodreads really is

What were some of your September highlights?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Why I Chose a Secular College Over a Christian One

In the middle-class conservative Christian subculture that I've been born into, college is nigh a given. Going to a Christian college is highly, highly recommended unless you want to become a partying relativist who makes Cheese-Whiz towers in his or her spare time.

Thus when I chose to go to a local community college I did it to save money and perhaps to be a rebel.

But after a few weeks of commuting to classes (look at experienced me  :P) I think even if I did have the money to pay the steep admission rates of a Christian private school, I would still make the same decision in a heartbeat. I know this will come as a shock to many, so here are some of my reasons (in list format, of course, because my brain is too fried right now for a logical sequence of ideas):

1. Exposure

My college English professor is a somewhat angry liberal who pushes the PG-13 rating in every class, and I wouldn't have it any other way. As a homeschooler I haven't had much interaction with the rest of the world except for online, and it is SO different in real life. I think going to a Christian college would have been nigh similar to homeschooling because I would still be around people who have the same general beliefs and language and boundaries, whereas here I can practice appreciating and learning from people who are vastly different from myself.

2. Faith

Even thinking about God in college is SO HARD. I've realized that for my whole life I've been just going with the flow around like-minded people.

3. Practicality

Now for the obvious: this college is much cheaper than any private college. Not only that, but here I can actually major in the subject that I love the most: music. And the professors and students are all plugged into my hometown community, which means that getting a job in music will (hopefully) be relatively easy. Also the professors here are amazing at what they do, and chosen specifically for their abilities rather than for their religious background.

In conclusion, I figure that I might as well pay for challenging and practical lessons in my area of study than for a Christian community that I'm already plugged into for free.

So there you have it! A condensed version of my current thoughts.

*ducks a barrage of Bibles and VeggieTales DVDs*

What do you think about going to a Christian college? Feel free to disagree!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Random Things #7: Awesome Stuff of August

--getting a rental cello from college, naming it Dahlia in the parking lot, and taking a selfie with it and my own cello

--the sass in this song:

--a warm hug from a friend

--cookie dough flavored ice cream sandwiches 

--the sheer existence of Veggie Tales silly song covers on YouTube

--a new paisley backpack

--playing hymns for people who are singing along with reckless enthusiasm

--Relient K's lyrics

--fluffy blankets on a chilly day

--driving on an empty highway late at night, glancing at the sunset and breathing in the chill air through an open window while blasting music

--playing cello for my baby nephew who is adorable

--watching Ip Man with friends, wincing at the violent parts and cheering at the end

--those rogue stars that you can see even though the sky isn't quite dark yet

--a day with literally nothing scheduled

--glorious comic book artwork (looking at you, Hawkeye and Daredevil)

--the sheer amazing amount of amazing bloggers out there

--helping with a retreat for a bunch of crazy middle schoolers, one of whom packed a go-pro (?)

--the incredibly satisfying feeling of playing the deeper strings of the guitar after playing just ukulele for a long time

--realizing there are way more things to be grateful for than just these

What are you grateful for this August?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

7 Favorite Songs Tag

MJ Watson (who has elected to make her blog private now) has tagged me to describe seven of my favorite songs, specifically my feelings and thoughts while listening to them, and why I like them.

So without further ado...cue the depressing lyrics!

1. My Shot (Clean Edit), Hamilton Original Broadway Cast

This one pumps me up whenever I'm feeling purposeless or lazy or just tired. It's also perfect because the runtime is exactly how long it takes for me to drive from my house to my church. #noregretsincludingcheesyhashtags

It talks about fighting against seemingly impossible odds:

"Rise up. When you're living on your knees, you rise up."

It then ends with Hamilton's decision to not view life as an experience, but as an opportunity:

"Ask anybody why we livin' fast and we laugh, reach for a flask--
We have to make this moment last, that's plenty...
Scratch that. This is not a moment, it's a movement
Where all the hungriest brothers with something to prove went"

The fast raps are super satisfying to sing along with now that I have the lyrics memorized. And the song reminds me of the real-life Alexander Hamilton, whom I feel like I know personally since reading the enormous biography that the play is based on. Seriously, guys, I got really emotional at the part when he died.

2. Drown, Tyler Joseph

You knew I couldn't go long without mentioning twenty one pilots in any form. This is from Tyler's album No Phun Intended, which he made when he was 17. The recordings aren't that great, but considering his age and his limited equipment it's an impressive album. It can only be found on YouTube, by the way.

But now for this song in particular. In dark moments it makes me feel less alone, and the lyrics are addressed to God so they help me to pray when I can't form the words myself.

"I wanna be a lot of things, so much pent up inside of me
I wanna be stronger, too long I've sat here undecidedly...
...And I'm back in front of you, Lord, with blood on the floor
Is the blood mine or yours? Don't wanna do this anymore,
Back and forth between being me and who you call me to be..."

3. Where the Light Shines Through, Switchfoot

Somehow Switchfoot reaches me more than a lot of other Christian bands. They have the same Christian genre formula that I usually dislike--talk about a problem in verse 1 and then resolve the problem by the chorus--but the way they do it feels more genuine than the other artists I've heard try this.

Unlike Tyler's music, which is usually just about the negative aspects of life, this song starts with the negative and goes to the positive--yes, there is a wound, but that's "where the light shines through."

"Yeah the only tattoos I have are scars,
I've got your name written on my heart"

4. Everything, Passenger

Passenger's music feels like running through a faraway forest and then jumping in the ocean on a deserted beach. For some reason it feels nostalgic to me, even though I only discovered his stuff recently.

This song is no exception, and the lyrics are a poignant and oft-needed reminder that it's impossible to be fulfilled in life without loving without counting the cost, and letting your heart be broken.

"They'll take your spark, they'll take everything
But nothing's ever something until you lose everything"

5. You Will Be Found, Dear Evan Hansen Original Broadway Cast

I love listening to Ben Platt's voice, and the gorgeous harmonies when the entire casts comes in on the chorus. It's pretty self-explanatory that this is another song for dark moments.

"Maybe there's a reason to believe you'll be ok."

6. Sailboat, Ben Rector

Another song for getting frustration out. Ben Rector's voice is beautiful too (what is it with Bens in the music industry??) and the lyrics are about loneliness and loss of direction, but they're also infused with hope and a feeling of freedom.

"I feel just like a sailboat
I don't know where I'm headed
But you can't make the wind blow
From a sailboat"

7. Little Wonders, Rob Thomas

This is the song that plays through the ending montage of Meet the Robinsons, which for many reasons is my favorite Disney movie and has influenced me deeply. Rob Thomas' raw vocals, mixed with the thoughtful lyrics, are the perfect combination and they encourage me to keep moving and enjoy little moments in life.

"Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulders
Don't you know, the hardest part is over...
...All falls away, but these small hours,
These little wonders
Still remain"

I'll be lazy and tag whoever feels like taking this tag. There are no rules--put in as many Jack Sparrow gifs as you want for all I care...

...but if you don't feel like doing the whole thing, what is your #1 favorite song, and why?

Friday, June 30, 2017

First Blogiversary!

John Green is an incredible source of GIFs
Like a twenty one pilots concert, this post will start out angsty and hopefully become something full of ukulele and bright colors. So here we go.

Mushy Oscar Speech Part

Skip this if you want to read the stats, grab a piece of pizza, and go on with your day.

A lot of the time I feel like no one "gets" me, for many reasons but especially since so much of me is invested in stories and characters and quotes, and many people don't value those things in the same way I do so it's hard to connect.

Of course, I've learned over years of experience that stories are not everything, and if I only relate to someone because he/she likes the same things I do, the conversation shuts down eventually once we've made all the fandom references possible. 

But it is good to know that there are other people out there who invest as much as I do in stories (and much more, in fact). You guys inspire me to read and also to write, and to remember that it's okay to be different. 

All you great bloggers I've had the privilege to discover this year have driven home to me the fact that difference is beautiful. Some of you have minimalistic blog settings, and use lots of superhero gifs. Some of you have flowery backdrops and talk about period dramas. Some of you mix all of those things together, and some of you are just weird.  ;) 

Some of you are introverts. Some are extroverts. Some write detailed posts on Meyers-Briggs and some don't know what that is, or don't care. 

There are so many different kinds of people, and I don't think I had realized before how beautiful that is. 

So thank you all for being awesome in unapologetically different ways. You remind me that fitness buffs are just as interesting and important as Marvel buffs. 

Not that they necessarily have to be separate people.

Celebratory Review Part
Including screenshots of blog stats because these are necessary for posterity.

We've made it, everybody! Through a year of GIFs, ranting, reviewing, and awkwardness. 

(For nostalgia purposes I'd like to link back to my first post ever, published, of course, on June 30 of last year. *hugs little me*)

Looking back over the blog, I've changed a lot. At this time in 2016 I didn't know there was such a thing as a blogging community, I hadn't written any ukulele songs, I had not written a first draft of a novel (or even gotten close), I wasn't as comfortable with my writing voice, I'd never heard of VlogBrothers, I had not seen High School Musical, I had never listened to twenty one pilots, and I was relatively normal, well-adjusted and productive.

Most of these changes are thanks to you who have been reading this blog, commenting on the blog whether online or offline, and just plain making amazing stuff on the internet whether you know I exist or not.

And now here's what you all have been waiting for: statistics.

To whoever seems to be reading the blog regularly from France (and maybe Russia...
?), hi, and that is awesome that you are reading from so far away!


Anyway thanks again, guys, and it seems only fitting that I end with Martin Freeman drinking an endless loop.

Comment below if you have anything in particular you'd like me to write about this coming year. Or if you feel like telling me about one of your favorite childhood summer memories. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Four Fictional Characters Tag

I have been tagged by the lovely Olivia to fill out the Four Fictional Characters Tag! (Thank you so much, by the way--this totally made my day.  :D)

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. List four fictional characters (use pictures if you want! They can be from movies or books) and, if you like, describe what they're like and why you believe they relate to you
3. Tag a few other blog people! Three, or four, or even twenty. :) Share the fun!
Be sure to let them know you've tagged them! 

1. Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

Wow, I didn't realize how close I felt to this character until I started looking up quotes and pictures. 

Eowyn isn't the character I look up to the most from LotR (that would be Sam of course <3), but she's the one I relate to most closely. Her quote about a cage is exactly the way I feel after watching The Return of the King or any other deeply inspirational movie. As an INFP (the "idealist" type) I want to do something epic, like shield-surfing down stairs while shooting orcs and/or saving the galaxy. I have trouble seeing the mundanity of life as beautiful, and I can't stand schedules, so Eowyn's anger at being kept on the sidelines is very relatable for me.

She can also be cheerful and adorable when she feels like it, and I relate to her love for the hobbits. If I was around Merry and Pippin I would be constantly sobbing and/or laughing.  xD

2. Jim Hawkins (Treasure Planet)

Seriously, who doesn't like a rebellious teenage kid who rides a hoverboard through explosions? 

Also he cares a lot about Silver's adorable shapeshifter named Morph, and I am a huge dog person and to me Morph is like a tiny labrador retriever, so that is basically the fulfillment of all my cuteness dreams.

And finally, father figure stories tear me apart every time. The part that always gets me is the montage of Silver training Jim mixed with Jim's memories of his father abandoning him, all with John Rzeznik's ballad "I'm Still Here" playing in the background. It perfectly explains Jim's bitterness against authority, combined with his emerging hope that Silver won't leave him like his dad did. 

me while watching that part, every time

3. Marvin (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Marvin the Paranoid Android walks through this story poking holes in arguments and depressing everyone around him with his despondent attitude. He's a humorous depiction of me on a bad day, who believes that everyone hates me and life is pointless and the only sensible thing left to do is lie down and cry. 

Also he is voiced by Alan Rickman, who is fantabulous.

4. Sebastian (La La Land)

Sebastian is awkward and quiet until Mia touches on the topic that he is really enthusiastic about--jazz music. Then he gets almost frighteningly worked up. I can relate to that because I'm relatively quiet until someone mentions something that I care about, like music or books or movies or writing or religion. Then I often scare people with my enthusiasm.

Also Sebastian feels limited by having to worry about money. 

...which of course brings us to a twenty one pilots lyric.

Instead of playing real jazz piano he's forced to play boring Christmas music to an equally bored audience, something I've done a couple times for Christmas parties. It's lucrative, but not fulfilling at all. So as a fellow pianist I related to him instantly.

And finally, his past failures have left him with misgivings about the future, expressed beautifully in "City of Stars":

And as an incoming college freshman I could not be more concerned about the future.  xD


That was a lot of fun! Hopefully it didn't get to depressing there, hehe. 

Thanks again to Olivia for tagging me, and I would now like to tag Meredith, Jenny/Nimrodel, Fawnabelle BagginsM.J. Watson, and Mary Horton. If y'all happen to be reading this, of course.  :)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trust // A Vignette-ish Thing

I found a ticket to fame
Held down by a cigarette butt on the corner of 4th and E.
Wrinkled, covered in greasy fingerprints, its plastic covering tarnished by years of ill use and disillusionment and suicide
But I picked it up anyway.

I found the station spotless--ample time to clean between visitors.
The conductor was a young guy, my age, with headphones in.
I sat alone in the rattling car, gold-plated seat digging into the backs of my knees
Until we stopped.

I got up but the young guy cursed over the intercom.
"Sorry for the inconvenience. We overreached our stop. Reversing soon."
My stomach lurched as the train chugged back the way we came.
I couldn't see out the gold tinted windows to our accidental surroundings and I wasn't sure I'd want to anyway
So I fiddled with my ticket, folding it over and over again until I couldn't.
Finally we stopped and I got off like nothing had happened, and
True, nothing had.
But I couldn't shake the feeling I got when we stopped and turned back from the end of the tracks.
The knowledge that this wasn't it. There was another stop later, an invisible mysterious more.
Some call it God.
Some call it the universe.
Some call it nothing.
And none can see out the window.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

10 Stages of Being Obsessed With a Band (Told in Twenty One Pilots Gifs)

1. Indifference

You hear one of their songs, and you're not sure what to think. "Meh," you decide, and go back to your comforting piano Pandora station.

You also have a good time making fun of your friend who is currently obsessed with them.

(You give your friend a noncommittal thumbs up, and then laugh at him/her.)

2. Grudging approval

One day the same song somehow shows up on your Pandora or Spotify, and you are bored so you click on it and you realize that you may, in fact, like this group.

Kind of a lot.

Which means you can't make fun of your friend anymore, so you feel betrayed by your musical preferences.

3. The Secret Binge

Whether through YouTube, Spotify, or the good old-fashioned library, you listen privately to every single song. You also watch concert recordings and acoustic performances, both of which may or may not make you cry from the beauty. (You need to watch these videos in order to check whether they are using autotune or not, and whether they get into the music. And how weird their fans are.)

Bonus points for dancing along like an ecstatic velociraptor.

4. The Not-So-Secret Binge

You give up on secrecy and download every album on iTunes, then spend the rest of your waking moments making your parents and/or friends watch the videos. (The acoustic ones, of course, because the music videos are too weird and the concert ones are too high-energy.)

After the initial I-told-you-so moment, you also bond with your friend who introduced you to them in the first place.

Bonus points for sharing inside lyric references and secret handshakes with said friend.

5. The Buying Spree

You buy band paraphernalia so you can hopefully meet people who like the same band. All you get are weird looks, but you feel very cool.

6. Stalking

You put your iTunes albums on shuffle and look up your band on Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and (when you're really desperate) the YouTube comment sections.

You smile and laugh at the cute posts and pretend that the posts you disagree with do not exist.

You find things like this.
And this.

7. Stunned Realization

You notice that the songs are constantly playing in your head, and that whenever someone unwittingly says a word that is in one of the band's many songs, you mentally finish the rest of the line.

Real-life example:

Family friend: "Could you put that in the kitchen sink please?"

My brain: "I'm a kitchen sink. You don't know what that means. Because a kitchen sink to you is not a kitchen sink to me, okay friend?"


8. Fading

You still listen to this band, but you start going back to groups that are your old favorites because you feel your interest in the music slowly sliding backwards. It is a terrible nausea-inducing feeling.

9. The Last Goodbye

Gradually this band has only become another fixture on your playlist. You say a tearful goodbye, grateful for all that this band has taught you.

10. Moving on

One day you hear a song that connects with you almost like the songs from your old favorite band ...and you're back to Step 1.

This was a lot of fun to make. :D Have you gone through this experience? Would you add any steps?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Underrated Books: A Splendiferous Guest Post by Meredith

My lovely friend Meredith graciously agreed to write a guest post. I made some very excited squee-ing noises and hand gestures over this and then I somehow forgot about it until a few months later when I realized I still hadn't posted it. *cough*

My sincere apologies, Meredith. I am sure your writing has only matured with age. 



Hello to Art3mis's readers! :) 

Art3mis has graciously invited me to write a post here, so I decided to talk about my favorite underrated books and series. Here goes. :) 

The Mysterious Benedict Society 
     Trenton Lee Stewart

Despite being targeted at a slightly younger audience, I love these books. They're fun and well-paced and I was rather obsessed as a tween. ^.^

The Wingfeather Saga
   Andrew Peterson

Read it. I can't say I love this series quite as much as some of my friends, but it's good on so many levels that it's hard to not at least like it. It balances the right level of humor with darkness and traditional fantasy elements with obscurity. Plus the characters are lovable and the plot twists kept me on my toes. Wow, I forgot how good these books were. ^.^

Chronicles of Prydain
   Lloyd Alexander

This is like a simpler, more compact Lord of the Rings. It has the epic characters, plots, and settings, but in a smaller package. 

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
   Elizabeth George Speare 

This one isn't as fantastic or dazzling as the others on my list, but the characters are good, and the romance is pretty adorable. It's set in colonial New England, which seems to be a rather neglected spot for historical fiction, so that's interesting. 

Mara Daughter of the Nile
   Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Here is one of the perfect-est books I've ever read. It's good on almost every level- and educational too, set in Ancient Egypt and all. But it's one of those historical fiction novels you don't read because it's educational, but because it's just a really good story. 

So there are some of my favorites, what would you add? 



Thank you so much, Meredith! You have excellent literary taste.  ;) 

Now I've got to go read a book, or maybe two or three...

Or four, because I need to read the Wingfeather Saga now.   ;)