Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names

I saw that this was the prompt for this week and I HAD TO DO IT. One thing I noticed while putting together this list is that often the best names in books, from a functional standpoint, are the most simple; a long, beautiful name can be distracting and/or hard to pronounce. But on the other hand, those long beautiful names can be so fun!

Here are my top 10 favorite character names (from books):

 

  1. Misty of Chincoteague. As a kid one of the first proper names I ran to figure out how to pronounce was Chincoteague. I still love saying it and reading it. Plus, the horse is called Misty. This just a genius combination and I don’t care if you disagree, you are wrong.
  2. Betsy-Tacy. Besty and Tacy are such epic BFFs that they go by a single name, and I love it.
  3. Rodian Romanovitch Raskolnikov. I mean, if you’re going to have a moral breakdown and murder an old lady with an ax, you might as well have as epic a name as possible.
  4.  Kamala Khan. It really rolls off the tongue and can sound both cute and badass (which is impressive, just like Kamala).
  5. Fai D. Flowright. It’s ridiculous and flowery, just like Fai. But appearances can be deceiving!
  6. Tristen Conn. Elizabeth Bear is the one of the best at beautiful and usable character names.
  7. Jane Fairfax. I love all Jane Austen names equally but Jane Fairfax is my favorite.
  8. Atomic Robo. I sometimes enjoy names that teach you about the character’s key physical traits. Plus Atomic Robo is simply fun to say.
  9. Newland Archer. Nobody does illustrative names like 19th century authors. Edith Wharton’s are more fun than, say, Thomas Hardy’s or Henry James.
  10. Winnie-the-Pooh. There is no reason on God’s green earth that a name like “Winnie-the-Pooh” should work, and yet it does.

 

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. What are your top 10 book character names?

 

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A Book for the Book Nerds

95979.jpgI recently read a fantastic book detailing the technology of books and bookshelves in the western world called The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski. I recommend reading it if you’re a bookworm or interested in learning about basic things that we take for granted.

The main questions this book answers are: “How and why did we get books in the form they are today? How and why did we get bookshelves in the form they are today?

The Book on the Bookshelf goes through the history of books in the western world, starting with scrolls, tablets, etc and going all the way through 1999 (when it was published), when e-readers were in development. This book is worth it if only for the (sometimes hilarious) speculation and analysis the potential effects of e-readers and e-books. It also goes into how we came to organize the books the way we do, and goes over the different ways of arranging books, which I found fascinating because I am constantly reorganizing my personal library.

However, whether or not you end up reading it, I’m going to share some (BUT NOT ALL) of my favorite facts that I learned from this book:

  • capsae are adorable-looking hat-boxes that one could use to carry one’s scrolls about with them. I want to get some scrolls and then I want to get a capsae and I want to frolic around and whip out my scrolls whenever I need to look up fun facts.

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    Online Source (this image of a capsae is also shown in The Book on the Bookshelf)
  •  Apparently in the 11th century, English Benedictines had really strict rules on using the limited-and-precious books they had. In some monasteries, the librarian would assign ONE book per brother per year to read. At the end of the year, the librarian would gather all the brothers and read off their names and the book they had been assigned. If the brother had NOT read their assigned book, they had to confess their terrible literary sin on their knees to the librarian. I’m not saying we should bring this one back, but….
  • Books were stored in locked chests, but eventually the chests were turned on one end and left open and shelves put in, leading to the first armarium which turned into bookshelves!
  • Monasteries had the biggest collections of books until the Reformation, when they DESTROYED ALL THE MONASTERIES AND BURNED ALL THE BOOKS because no one has any religious chill. The printing press took a while to replace all of those big collections. Boo!
  • Spines were considered ugly for a VERY LONG TIME, like until the 17th/18th centuries. Books were shelved with their spines facing the back, because no one wants to look at that ugly thing. Sometimes librarians used slips of paper sticking out of the pages to mark what book it was, since titles weren’t on the spines and the spines were facing the back.

 

There’s lots more where those came from! I really enjoyed this book, although I’d love to read something similar that looks at book technology around the world. This one didn’t often specify if/what technology we received from or gave to the middle-east, east, etc.

 

Hamilton Book Tag

I finally got around to doing the Hamilton book tag! You can watch the video below, or just read my answers to the prompts even further below.

Let me know if you end up doing this, too, because I want to read your answers!

THE QUESTIONS:

The Room Where It Happens (book world you would put yourself in): I would definitely choose Middle-Earth! I’ve spent years thinking about, reading about, and writing about that stupid place. I know all the best places to live, stop for coffee, or buy a horse.
The Schuyler Sisters (Underrated Female Character): Anne Elliott from Persuasion. She’s amazing and deserves so much more love than she gets. She’s sensible, not a show-off, kind, compassionate, observant, and loyal.
My Shot (A character that goes after what they want and doesn’t let anything stop them): I mean, I’m not sure if I should apply this in a good way or a bad way, but the first character that sprang to mind was Nathaniel from The Amulet of Samarkand. He is terrifyingly ambitious but also I love him.
Stay Alive (A character you wish was still alive): WOW UM SPOILERS for “The Tale of Beren and Luthien” (from The Silmarillion) but I’m still really upset about Finrod Felagund. I will probably always be really upset about Finrod Felagund.
Burn (The most heartbreaking end to a relationship you’ve ever read): SPOILERS for Doctrine of the Labyrinths series by Sarah Monette – um Felix and Gideon from The Mirador messed me up real bad.

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You’ll Be Back (Sassiest villain): Piper Greenmantle from The Raven Cycle. I mean, she’s also terrifying and ice-cold, but she can be pretty hilarious. I almost picked her husband Colin but I think she’s better.
The Reynolds Pamphlet (A book with a twist that you didn’t see coming): Any book by Megan Whalen Turner, several books by Timothy Zahn
Non-stop (A series you marathoned): SO MANY but I’ll mention The Lord of The Rings because it involved stealing from my brother, and honorary mention goes to The Mortal Instruments trilogy because I could barely put those books down even though it was the middle of a college term and it was INCREDIBLY STRESSFUL.
Satisfied (Favorite book with multiple POVs): The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, or any book in that series (The Heroes of Olympus).
Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story (A book/series you feel like will be remembered throughout history): The Lord of The Rings – I know I keep giving Tolkien answers but I can’t help how I feel! It’s already a classic, obviously, and so many of the themes and characters are universal, that even with its problematic elements I think it’s going to last a good long while!

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BONUS QUESTIONS:

Helpless (A relationship you were pulling for from the very start): I can’t think of any that I didn’t think were going to eventually get together. But I really liked Kate and Curran from the Kate Daniels series immediately, and shipped them, even though they are both kinda jerks at first.
Ten Duel Commandments (Favorite fight scene): Any of the duels in Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, but especially the opening chapter.
Say No To This (Guilty pleasure read): I don’t believe in guilty pleasure reads. I read them and love them or I don’t. But I think manga is the thing I get the most side-eyes for reading, and I know I’ve had to justify Fruits Basket more than once (even though it’s one of the best comic series, period, ever written).
What Comes Next (a series you wish had more books): The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, or Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (there are 2 sequels but I want more, obviously).

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Right Hand Man (Favorite BROTP): Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.
What’d I Miss (a book or series you were late to reading): I’m late to EVERYbook, let’s be real. I just recently read The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus and that party has been around for over 2000 years…

Dewey: Hours 1-3

I’m once again participating in Dewey’s 24-hour-Readathon.

Mini-challenges from Hours 1-3 below!

Opening Meme

What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

The wild suburbs of Oregon, where we tend our fields of Starbucks and raise our powerful hipsters and strong hippies.

Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

ALL OF THEM pictured here. Attachments is really amazing so far, as I expected from Rainbow Rowell.
Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Harvest Snaps LIGHTLY SALTEDDDDDD. They’re so good.
Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m a twenty-something crazy dog lady. I make nests out of books and totoros.

If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? 

I’ve got a couple of audiobooks in my stack, which I rarely listen to but I am GONNA DO IT. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, and Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.

TOP 5 BOOKISH CHILDHOOD MOMENTS

  1. Reading Winnie-the-Pooh and The House on Pooh Corner. Over and over and over and over. I definitely had a teddy bear phase and researched teddy bears and collected as many as I could – or rather rescued them from garage sales.
  2. The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Classic obviously, and I still reread these when I can.
  3. Pony Pals series: I gobbled these up, along with any other horse book I could get my hands on (including a horse health book, which leads into a funny story about how I figured out the birds and the bees (it had photos (I don’t know what else to say at this point))). PONY PALS WERE FUN.
  4. Reading Usagi Yojimbo while eating PB&J sandwiches was a staple of my childhood. Surprisingly violent considering I don’t generally like reading violence.
  5. I started reading Redwall by Brian Jacques in my pre-teens, convinced I could never read such a “big, grown-up book” and then I finished it in three days and it was all over, it was too late, I was a bookworm forever and ever and now I live in a room-full of books.

#ReadathonStory: Five Word Story

“One more page,” she cursed.

2014 Debuts: Mini Reviews #1

I utterly failed at the 2014 YA Debut Author Challenge. I didn’t read any during 2014 and I didn’t review any. But then that made me incredibly sad, so I decided to remedy the matter in some small way. I’m attempting to read 12 2014 debuts (along with 12 2015 debuts) this year. They will all get at least a mini-review.

So without further ado, this is the first batch, reviewing: Alienated by Melissa Landers, Landry Park by Bethany Hagen, Half Bad by Sally Green, and Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy.

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Alienated by Melissa Landers
As far as a YA Alien Romance goes, this was a lot of what I wanted. The alien species was well-thought out, with lots of alien tech and alien world-building and alien hierarchy and alien science and alien politics and alien interpersonal relationships. I enjoyed the humor and culture clash, but the romance became progressively sappier and more annoying. The MC and her family were delightfully real, funny and flawed, but I was offended by how her friends were treated by the narrative. They abandon her and then never really make it up. Why weren’t there any awesome friends in this book? It was her and her alien boyfriend against the world and I didn’t love that. The first half of the book was much better when they were trying to understand each other and there was a lot of more hilarity. I would read a sequel.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
Mediocre characters and a staggeringly weak collection of sub-plots were held together by an insta-love romance. I was very interested in the social justice crusade except that there wasn’t a crusade; the MC was very upset about the slave-class dying horrible deaths but then never did anything except worry about what the love interest actually thought about her. She expended more effort finding out who graffitied her house than on helping anyone. The rationale for why the world runs on nuclear power only made absolutely no sense. I would not read a sequel.

Half Bad by Sally Green
Book blurbs often claim that the book will “keep you on the edge of your seat” or that it’s a “fast-paced thriller” but rarely have I needed to read the next page as fast as in Half Bad. Wow-wow. I was trying to analyze what about it made me care so much so fast but I kept getting distracted by social prejudice, mortal peril, chases, torture…etc. The MC is one of my absolute favorite survivor characters, and all of the characters are tricky about their motivations, which I also love. The magic system is really complex and I want to know more. I need a sequel like air.

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
This is sicklit, which is not a genre I usually read, but the premise of NO CONSEQUENCES, WENCH DON’T CARE led me on. Nothing about this book was fun. Both of the leads are constantly miserable, either because of the MC’s illness or their dysfunctional relationship or both. All of the different relationships were really complex and interesting, whether familial, friendship, or romantic, with some good characterization. The plot was mediocre. It was a fully-contained story so it doesn’t need a sequel and neither do I.