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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Bout of Books Daily Updates

Day 1 (in Ottawa): I read Black Widow: Deadly Origins by Paul Cornell. Yes, it’s a comic book. I regret nothing.

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Day 2 (on a plane): I read a solid 100 pages of Blood and Iron, as well as five issues of Robin, one issue of The Immortal Iron Fist, two issues of Black Widow, and one issue of Ms. Marvel. I REGRET NOTHING AT ALL RIGHT NOW.

Day 3 (home at last!): I….have a few regrets about this day, haha. I read a LOT of comics, mostly issues that I bought at Comic Con. To name a few, a bunch of Midnighter (I was laughing so hard, omg, I don’t even know what they’re doing, ever, with this poor guy…also LOL THE ISSUE WHERE HE PUTS ACTUAL HEARTS ON APOLLO’S GRAVE OMG you just cannot predict this stuff), a couple of Jenny Sparks, Robin, Young Avengers (#4 AWWWWWWW YISS SO BEAUTIFUL ASDFGHJKL), Hawkeye (#10, I miss Aja’s art), some Secret Avengers, and a single-volume indie called Debris by Wiebe and Rossmo. The latter had gorgeous art and a cool story that ended abruptly.

Comics aside, I did read about 50 pages of The Age of Innocence. The protagonist started out obsessed with appearances and also misogynist but he has had a few epiphanies and I’m starting to grow fond of him. 🙂 I know he won’t marry Olenska but I WANT HIM TO.

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Day 4: I finished reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and read Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority.

TGoI was really, really excellent; lots of the themes have to do with social expectations but there’s a love triangle between a guy who is in love with a woman who is not his wife, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the guy’s wife is NOT portrayed as evil or stupid. She’s very smart and kind, in fact, but all three characters have flaws. Anyway, well-done! Four for you, Wharton!

Jenny Sparks is a comic spin-off of The Authority title, and it was fun to see the characters before they team up; I don’t think there’s any other comic that shows that. Funny story, though: The Authority was in the first big batch of comics I ever read, in spring 2012, and as I’ve read more and more comics, the more I’ve realized JUST HOW WEIRD and truly outrageous The Authority is, comparatively. I’m a little alarmed now to think of how I assumed most comics were like it, but maybe a little less violent. Ah well.

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I’ve also been visiting blogs but verrryyyy slowly. I hope to visit more of you soon! 🙂

Total pages read so far (not counting comics): 386

Books finished: 1

Comicbooks finished: 4

Day 5: I read Roverandom by JRR Tolkien and a big chunk of The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell. Roverandom was a weird little book, but it was fun to contrast the wizard with Gandalf. VERY DIFFERENT TOLKIEN WIZARDS. Cadet is growing on me. 🙂 I have a book-crush on Savoy.

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Total pages read so far (not counting comics): 592

Books finished: 2

Comicbooks finished: 4

Day 6: I finished The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell, and read My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudestky. I enjoyed reading both of them, I might read sequels if sequels ever appeared, but neither really stood out as amazing. Ah well.

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Total pages read so far: 811

Books finished: 4

Day 7: I finished Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear, as well as Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brien. AWWWW YISS. I’m awesome.

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Total pages read: 1389

Total books finished: 6

Review: HAMMERED by Elizabeth Bear

185638Hammered is set in the near future of an alternate Earth, where the U.S. is very weak and Canada and China are the competing powers. The Canadian government is working on a super-secret project (of course) and are trying to recruit their best and brightest.

Jenny Casey is supposedly retired from active military service, and is doing her best to live a quiet life in a small town with her gangster friends. However, she’s an extremely valuable piece of military hardware, as much of her body has been replaced with prosthetics, mechanical parts, and computer hardware. Jenny’s best friend, Gabe Castaign, and a scientist convicted of treason, are entangled in the project as well, which has something to do with a rogue artificial intelligence nick-named Richard Fenyman.

The world-building is top-notch, as usual for Bear (I am a fan but seriously. World-building). The world is pretty bleak, and I really question whether it’s not just going to all end in tears, but the denseness of the writing is really rewarding if you pay attention. The science and tech were all really interesting, believable, and necessary to the story (which, you know, is always nice when that happen in scifi (I mean, what?)). Another characteristic of Bear that shows up in this novel is the use of red herrings. Several characters and ominous hints are dropped, that might pay off later in the story but are probably just trying to lead our heroes astray. It’s used effectively here and I like it, but can be a lot to keep track of.

Speaking of which, Hammered begins slowly and continues so. You read that right, my primary complaint is ONCE AGAIN THE PACING. I realize this is the first in the trilogy, and this is also the main reason I am beginning to loathe trilogies. The first book is all emotional build-up and the slow unveiling of the conflict and various revelations. There is a lot going on in this story, between all of the back-story for the AI projects and for Jenny (told via flashbacks), Richard’s shenanigans, the murder mystery in Hartford, Jenny’s health, the SEKKRET PROJECT, and Leah’s adventures in cyberspace. But for all that, it still crawls along for most of the first half. The fastest moving section of the story was the quest to find out who murdered a cop in Hartford and whether it’s connected to a bunch of tainted drugs on the street. It was interesting how this black and white, “hunt for evil” sort of plot contrasted with how Jenny has to deal with the grayer areas by herself (with mixed results for everyone, really). I wasn’t convinced, however, that the Hartford sub-plot was essential to the overall story.

Trilogies, man. They’ll kill me. I just want to kick them in the face and tell them to be a standalone novel.

The characters in Hammered are very complex. Bear likes breaking her characters down to their most basic parts and seeing what they choose to do after that, and she definitely does that with Jenny here, as well as the gangster Razorface (He has metal teeth. It’s great.), and Elspeth, the brilliant AI scientist. I really love them, as well as Gabe and Gabe’s daughter Leah, who is a believable thirteen-year-old, which made me very happy: few things make me angrier in a book than badly-written children or teenagers.

Jenny herself, our intrepid heroine, is kind of a downer, but she has so many reasons to be a downer that you can’t really blame her. Except that you can because she’s determined to be a downer always, and you want to hug and slap her sometimes, which is probably how Gabe feels. She’s like one of those brooding heroes from gothic romances; they obsess over their troubles which are pretty extreme but you want them to just focus on happy things.

PS: I love Richard and I want more sassy-AI always.

I’m going to finish reading this trilogy, but maybe not immediately; it requires a lot of emotional stamina.

Bout of Books: Page 48 mini-challenge

Booking In Heels has a great challenge for today! Here are the rules:

Turn to page 48 of your current book, or 48% if you’re using an e-reader.
Take the first complete sentence on that page and copy it.
Now you’re going to continue the story! Ignoring the real plot or anything else you know about that book, add four new sentences of your very own. You can morph the plot completely, kill everybody off or go off on a huge tangent – anything goes!

From page 48 of Carnival by Elizabeth Bear:

Normally, he would have felt it happen, felt it fall into place with an almost audible click.

My brain may or may not have plunged into the gutter like a penguin into icy water, however I overcame my baser instincts. Here is my continuation of it:

But he was so distracted by the other patient, a tall fierce woman who insisted that she could replace her metal limb herself, no thanks to you, you crazy, greasy, wood-fingered lad. His own leg, a full size bigger and made of a brand-new alloy (guaranteed to last twice as long as steel) was already attached by the time he dragged his eyes away from the woman. The limb-dealer finished making the connections between his metal leg and flesh, and then handed him a stiff sheet which read “Instructions for Care and Cleaning” at the top. He already had the full text memorized, but took the sheet anyway.

Bout of Books: Cover Love mini-challenge

MsBuff’s Bout of Books mini-challenge for today is to share your favorite cover and/or the funniest cover you’ve seen. Here are a few of my faves!

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: 75th Anniversary edition. I got this for Christmas, and it looks way more gorgeous in real life. The insides of the covers have Thorin’s map and a smaller-scale map of Mirkwood and surrounding lands. It’s awesome.

3136191All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear. I really like all of the covers for Bear’s “Edda of Burdens” series, but this one is my favorite. I haven’t even read these, trollololol, but I love Bear.

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Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones. DWJ’s books don’t always get great covers, but when they do, they’re damn fabulous. This is my ultimate favorite.

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Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. I generally hate YA covers with photos, models, photomanips, etc. The new-ish silhouette trend makes me incredibly happy, and Unspoken has my favorite so far.