Top 10 Tuesday: Best Reads of 2016

Today’s topic is Top 10 Best Books of 2016. However, I gave up on the concept of “10,” and then I gave up on the concept of “numbers,” so the books listed below are my favorite books that I read this year overall.

Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction:

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (filed under: Mythology Shenanigans, Riordan’s Final Form)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (filed under: Oh My Dragons, Dragon Narrative Of My Heart)
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (filed under: Found Family, Magical Shenanigans, Welsh Kings)
Half Lost by Sally Green (filed under: Worst Mentor Ever, Trees Are The Worst, Fantastic Character Arcs)
We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (filed under: Aliens I Guess, Hopeful Books)
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (filed under: Magic Heists, Leave Him In The Snow)
Kaleidoscope collection edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (filed under: STRONG COLLECTIONS, God Bless Us Every One)
Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig: (filed under: Fight The Patriarchy, Clever Girl)

Adult Fiction:

Middlemarch by George Eliot (filed under: Want To Read Again Immediately TBH, Knitted Arcs)
Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (filed under: Unlikely Friendships, I Want 5 Seasons and a Movie)
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (filed under: RomCom, Y2K, That Got Too Real)
Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold (filed under: Attack of the Clone, Science Shenanigans, Miles No)
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (filed under: A Star War!, Meet Cute)

Nonfiction:

How To Read and Why by Harold Bloom (filed under: Good In Spite of The Patriarchal Bias, How 2 Read)
Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe (filed under: Oh No I Am Reading A Science, How To Argument)

Children:

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All The Way Home by Catherynne Valente (filed under: Perfect Books, Fairy Tales, Orange)
The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff (filed under: Wow Rosemary Wow, Mess Me Up, Horses and Their Girls, Boys and Their Plans)
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman ( filed under: Fairy Tale Retellings, Lady Knights)

Graphic novels/comics:

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen (filed under: About Me)
Kanan Volume 1: The Last Padawan by Greg Weisman (filed under: Mess Me Up, A Star War!)
Irmina by Barbara Yellin (filed under: World War II, I Have A Sad)
Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton (filed under: Marry Me Kate, Lit Jokes)

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

 

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Scripture Sunday (7)

Merry Christmas!

Scripture Sunday is a weekly post (except I totally missed last week, sorry!) to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that were particularly interesting to me. I’m not a qualified expert in any way, so I will keep my thoughts to my highly-subjective impressions. My translation is NIV.

From my reading this week: 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

-1 Peter 3-9

Why I chose it:

Thank God that Jesus Christ is our living hope, and even though we can’t see Him, we love him, and he fills us with glorious joy. I really enjoyed rereading 1 Peter as a whole: what a hope-filled book!

A Christmas Carol: Staves 4-5

This post contains spoilers for the entirety of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

My apologies for the lateness of this post. I had hoped the holidays wouldn’t interfere too much with my blogging schedule BUT ALAS.

Thoughts? Feelings? Check out the #carolalong for others’ thoughts and feelings.

On to the fourth stave! When we left off last time, Scrooge was watching a member of the Nazgul float toward him and was, understandably, frightened nearly out of his stockings. Stave Four enters in with a rhythmic description:

“It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.”

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[My headcanon is that one of the Ringwraiths escaped and hung out for a while in the basement levels of shopping malls until Mandos caught him and gave him the job of Christmas Future. That’s the kind of shenanigan Mandos would pull, lbr.]

In Stave One we saw how the narrator gave human characteristics to buildings. Here we have a really great moment where it does the same but with the entire city: “They scarcely seemed to enter the City, for the City rather seemed to spring up about them, and encompass them of its own act.” 

Scrooge’s attitude has really improved. He assures Christmas Future that “I know your purpose is to do me good,” which is pretty trusting of him considering his situation, alone at night in some timeless timeline with a Nazgul for company. What if the ghosts WEREN’T armed with good intentions? That’s the horror movie version, I guess. In any case, Christmas Future shows Scrooge a couple of seemingly-innocuous conversations between his former colleagues. It’s pretty obvious to the reader what’s going on, but Scrooge is blissfully ignorant, although he has no doubt that “they had some latent moral for his own improvement.” Scrooge is still a very self-centered guy, did you notice? But at least he’s realized that he has a problem that needs to be improved upon.

The scene with the charwoman, the laundress, and the undertaker is pretty upsetting. I’m not sure if the line “If we haven’t all three met here without meaning it” is a reference to Macbeth but it reminded me of it. Their behavior and theft of the dead man’s things is horrifying to Scrooge, but their attitudes reflect his as they were at the beginning of the story. “Every person has a right to take care of themselves. He always did!” It isn’t explicitly said that his contempt for human life made them become contemptuous as well, but it’s interesting to think about. If Scrooge turns his life around, will these three be influenced by his change of heart and be better, too? On the other hand, I can’t imagine Bob Cratchit acting the way these three do, even given the means and opportunity. The narrator, with his usual lack of chill, compares the three to “obscene demons, marketing the corpse itself.”

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The Narrator, Revealed.

I’m always surprised that we don’t get to “see” the Cratchit’s response to Scrooge’s death. Do they just not care? The only people with a Feeling about Scrooge’s death are the debtors who suddenly have a lot more time to get their money together (ps I want to know more about them). Anyway, the Cratchits. They make me happy and sad both together.

Seriously, I am such trash for the setting descriptions in this book: “Here, then, the wretched man whose name he had now to learn lay underneath the ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses, overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up with too much burying, fat with repleted appetite. A worthy place!”

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Christmas Future, in spite of his scary appearance, is revealed to be “kind” in the last page of Stave Four. He doesn’t speak at any point, and has more in common with Past the record-keeper than Present, who has a brief but joyful life and has more influence on actual events.

I’ve mentioned previously how much time and the function of time is emphasized in this story. But I didn’t remember the culminating moment with Scrooge, when he proclaims to Christmas Future: “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.” (emphasis mine) Scrooge has learned his lesson, and is determined to keep it by remembering the lessons of his past, and his present, and his possible future. SO INTERESTING.

Stave Five is short and sweet and definitely my favorite bit. Scrooge is such a rascal – especially to Bob, poor guy! Scrooge: “Now that I’m good, I’m going to PRETEND TO BE EVIL and make Bob sad! Bwahahaha!” Bob needs therapy. I like how we finally see the familial resemblance between Scrooge and his nephew and it is their laugh. Scrooge shows himself to have “a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.” Awww.

There are two jokes in particular in this chapter that I love.

  1. “[Scrooge] had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle ever afterward…” Get it? Because alcohol is also called “spirits” and he didn’t see any ghosts but also he didn’t drink ever again? Bahahaha. Love it.
  2. “‘I don’t know what to do!’ cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath, and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings.” I don’t understand why Dickens would compare a hysterical old man with a guy who gets murdered by snakes because he defied the gods, but I’m into it. I’m really into it.
Laocoon_and_His_Sons.jpg
Laocoon and his sons are not having a Merry Christmas.

 

I’d like to end on that note, but Scrooge’s newfound enthusiasm for Christmas is fun, funny, and worthy of emulation.

“Oh, glorious! Glorious!”

“An intelligent boy! A remarkable boy!”

“It’s a wonderful knocker!”

“He looked so irresistibly pleasant.”

“[He] found that everything could yield him pleasure.”

“Nice girl! Very.”

“Wonderful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness!”

 

#CarolAlong

If you’ve been participating in our readalongs and haven’t checked out the hashtags, you are missing out. For A Christmas Carol, I’ve done the work for you and put the #carolalong tweets into a Storify.

If you think I missed some, link me and I’ll add them.

Of course, the readalong isn’t over yet and I anticipate many more excellent tweets.

Top 10 Tuesday: Under The Tree

So today’s prompt was “10 books I wouldn’t mind Santa leaving under the tree.” First of all, I wouldn’t mind ANY books under the tree. Second of all, I feel weird posting a wishlist here. So instead, I decided to list “10 people I wouldn’t mind showing up at my house on Christmas day.”

The following are listed alphabetically in an effort to reduce shenanigans.

  1. All of my siblings – except actually, they ALREADY visited for Christmas this last weekend. This list is going well so far….
  2. Amanda – Come for the art, stay for the feminism.
  3. Andre – I want him to get published already so I can buy ten copies of his book.
  4. Becky – Come for the comics reviews, stay for the feminism.
  5. Emily – Madame Wench of the Augustinian wenches. She should blog or something and share her excellent book taste with the galaxy.
  6. Gaia – She goes on epic adventures and always finds the best books for me.
  7. Jasmine – Come for the sass, stay for the feminism. Publishing guru and a wordsmithing genie.
  8. Kendra – Librarian genius of my heart tbh.
  9. Peter – I’m really distracted by his beautiful Instagram rn.
  10. Zack – I don’t understand how he breaks down the building blocks of language and then makes freaky sculptures with them, but it’s awesome.

There are lots of others I would like to see for Christmas. They probably know who they are.

Thanks for reading – I hope your holidays are filled with bookish joy.

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

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Jane Eyre Readalong

49d64d716732e05cdd7d43a97ed90458Our Jane Eyre Readalong starts in January! We will be reading the entire book from Jan. 1 through Mar. 4.

The discussion hashtag will be: #Eyrealong

Do the reading, join the conversation, ask questions or write posts, as you will! Join us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or whatever social media you desire.

There will be a Jane Eyre-related giveaway at some point. Stay tuned for details on how to enter.

Here is the reading schedule:

By January 7th  you should have chapters 1-6 read.

By January 14th you should have chapters 7-11 read.

By January 21st  you should have chapters 12-16 read.

By January 28th you should have chapters 17-19 read.

By February 4th you should have chapters 20-23 read.

By February 11th you should have chapters 24-26 read.

By February 18th you should have chapters 27-29 read.

By February 25th you should have chapters 30-34 read.

By March 4th you should have chapters 35-38 read.