Top 5 Wednesdays: Characters I’d Like to Cosplay

This was a surprisingly hard prompt for me since I’m not really interested in cosplaying in general. I think people have created some amazing and beautiful costumes, but it has never been something I’ve had a strong interest in trying. Even for Halloween, I had the same costume for most of my life — a long black robe which could be either a witch or a vampire, depending what I felt like that year. I also had a hard time with it because many of my favourite books are contemporary, and it seems hard to cosplay a character who is basically a regular person.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series – When I first read this series, I immediately felt a connection to Hermione, especially when she was described as being a bookworm with bushy hair. At the time I first read the book, my curly hair was always bushy and frizzy. I also really related to her Yule Ball moment where everyone got to see her dressed up and with straight hair for the first time, since something similar happened to me.

Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events – I still think Violet is one of the most underrated characters, who doesn’t get nearly enough recognition. To cosplay as Violet, I would need a hair ribbon and probably some kind of tool belt to show the talent for invention which makes her such an interesting character.

Wednesday or Morticia Addams from The Addams Family – I’ve always been obsessed with the Addams family, and Morticia and Wednesday are both my favourites. I would love to be able to pull off a Morticia costume well although I’m neither tall enough nor thin enough to make it work. I did once try to dress up as Wednesday for a costume day at the summer camp I worked at, only to realize that the children there were too young to have any idea who Wednesday was.

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games – This would be a fairly easy costume to put together. Katniss is another of my all-time favourite characters, and I remember the costume being quite trendy when the books and movies had just come out. All I’d need for this one would be a bow and arrow, and to find an outfit that looks a bit like hers.

Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone – It was between this one and Feyre from the ACOTAR series, but I decided to give the edge to Karou just because of her blue hair, which would at least make it a bit more of a costume. I have never dyed my hair any colour, and I don’t think I’d ever be bold enough to dye it blue if it wasn’t for a costume.

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Halloween Freebie – 10 Creepy Book Covers from my TBR

It’s my birthday today, and I had a hectic weekend so no chance to write my post in advance, so unfortunately I don’t have time for much more than a quick post this time. I was lucky that this week’s prompt is a freebie, so it gives me the chance to choose my own topic. I don’t often write posts that are solely based on cover art since I tend to prefer commenting a bit more about the content of the book or why I’m interested in it, but I think Halloween (or the night before, at least) is the perfect time to just take a look at some of the creepiest covers that I still have on my TBR. It seems only fair to include more than 10 books, to make up for the fact that no explanations are given.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Stacking the Shelves (#12)

I think this month may actually set a new record for the least books added, at least for a while. Last month, I thought I hadn’t added too many and was surprised to realize that I’d added over 5 full pages to my Goodreads TBR. This month, I only added 2 and a half pages, and a good chunk of that was the books in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series. I guess I must have spent less time this month randomly browsing Goodreads. Either that, or I’d already added all the books I wanted to add from the lists of upcoming releases. I’m sure I’ll have another flood of books coming in as we start to get more information about new releases for 2019.

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviewsand ReadingReality

1) Forgotten by Nicole Trope

35932546I can’t remember exactly how I came across this book, but as soon as I saw that it had been compared to Jodi Picoult, I knew I wanted to read it. It is about a mother named Malia who decides to leave her baby asleep in the car while she runs into the store to buy some milk, and comes back to find him missing. The detective, Ali Greenberg, who takes the case has also lost a child of her own. It also includes a perspective from an elderly woman named Edna who lives at a boarding house, and may hold the key to finding Malia’s son. To be honest, I have yet to find a missing child story that I really enjoyed the whole way through. I find many of them tend to become predictable and even though I’ll keep reading to see whether I was right, it loses my interest. I’m especially curious about this one because of the comparisons to Jodi Picoult, and I think it could be an interesting angle to also address the issue of the mother’s actions, and how that affects the way people see her case.

2) When You Were Older by Catherine Ryan Hyde

16172578I think I’ve seen this book around on Goodreads a few times but never really looked into what it was about until recently. It is about a man named Russell who is delayed by a phone call, causing him to be late to work — to his job at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. This call changes his life in more ways than one since it spares him from the devastating attack, but also brought the news that his mother has passed away, leaving him solely responsible for his brother Ben who is cognitively impaired due to brain damage. Russell is forced to go back to his hometown and take care of the brother that he had been happy to leave behind. This book reminds me vaguely of Rain Man, although that dealt with a brother with autism rather than brain damage. It was also written by the author who wrote Pay It Forward, which I have never read but I really enjoyed that movie as well. I’m always interested in seeing stories about the other family members in a family where someone has a disability, since it is a perspective that we still don’t see particularly often.

3) Yesternight by Cat Winters

25566506It was the cover art that first drew me to this one, but it also sounds like a fascinating story. This book is about a child psychologist named Alice Lind who is administering IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren in 1925. One of the children, a 7-year-old named Janie, begins to tell disturbing stories that seem to be about her own past life and death. Alice decides to investigate her case, putting her professional reputation at risk. Stories of children claiming to remember past lives have always fascinated me, although I have not read very much about the topic. The one book that I have read (The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin) was excellent, and I’ve been meaning to read more along those lines. As someone who studied psychology myself, I’m always excited to read about characters who are in the field, and this story seems absolutely fascinating. I’m especially interested to see a story about this time period since it is one that I have rarely (if ever) read from, so it would definitely be a change.

4) Slothilda: Living the Sloth Life by Dante Fabiero and Best Bear Ever!: A Little Year of Liz Climo by Liz Climo

3782758537952866I’m grouping these two together because I added them to my TBR for very similar reasons. Both are books of cartoons featuring adorable animals in relatable daily situations. I’ve seen Liz Climo’s cartoons often on Facebook, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any of the Slothilda series. Both of these books will be very quick to read, but I always love these kinds of cute cartoons. I actually have another of Liz Climo’s books on my TBR as well, but I’ve never picked it up because it felt like too much of a cheat to count it toward any of my reading challenges, and I usually don’t have enough time to read anything else. I may need to pick these up as extras though since they really won’t take long, and they look like a lot of fun!

5) Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen

40848323This is a book I found on a list of upcoming YA releases for 2019, and it isn’t due out until the middle of June. It is about two teenagers, Mia and Jake, whose mothers are best friends and are convinced that they should date, even though Mia and Jake hate each other. Deciding they’ve had enough of their parents’ pressure, Mia and Jake decide to pretend to break and then stage a horrible breakup, only to realize that they may not hate each other as much as they though. This book sounds completely predictable, but it also could be a lot of fun to read, if I’m in the right mood for it. I like hate-to-love relationships, and I often enjoy the fake dating trope as well, and this one has both. I’m a little worried about how interesting it will be considering the entire plot is basically spelled out in the synopsis, but if it has great character dynamics, I’m sure I’ll love it.

6) Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

41016382This is another upcoming YA release due out next June. It is about a girl named Haley who starts texting with a boy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II. The synopsis is a tiny bit confusing, but it seems like there are two boys with the same name, one of whom is someone Haley hates. As she starts to text more often with Martin, they develop a strong bond through texting, but Haley isn’t sure who Martin is and Martin doesn’t know that. Partly I’m interested in reading this just to see how there can possibly be two boys with such a highly specific name in common. I would understand if it was a very common name, but this one really isn’t. I also tend to love stories that involve social media and friendships that develop online or through texting. To be honest, I had to read the synopsis a couple of times just to make sure I had the premise straight, but it sounds like it might be a cute YA story.

7) Our Little Lies by Sue Watson

41040396I think what first drew me to this book is that the cover reminded me a bit of a couple of other thrillers I’d added to my list this year, so it automatically drew me in. It is about a woman named Marianne who lives in a beautiful house in a great neighbourhood, with her husband and three children, after struggling through a difficult past. When her husband Simon says another woman’s name, Marianne starts to feel suspicious but writes it off as her own paranoia, until she starts to learn more about the woman Simon mentioned, and starts to realize that she may have reason to feel paranoid. I’m always up for a good psychological thriller, and this has been compared to both The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go, which I loved. I was surprised when I started to look into what else the author had written, and discovered that the rest of her books are contemporary romances, usually involving some kind of food in the title. This book definitely seems like a big departure, but I haven’t read any of her previous work so I don’t think it will matter much to me.

8) The Spite Game by Anna Snoekstra

37585579I discovered Anna Snoekstra when one of her books, Little Secrets, showed up on Book Outlet and immediately caught my interest, although I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. The Spite Game is her most recent release, which is about a woman named Ava who was mercilessly bullied in high school and sets out to seek revenge on the girls who tormented her, even though they are all now adults. Ava is definitely a different kind of character than I normally read about, but I see a lot of potential here for a very fascinating story. This book is just coming out this Tuesday, so there haven’t been many reviews for it yet. The earliest reviews seem to agree that even though the synopsis pretty much details the direction the plot will go, what makes it interesting is the way the story plays out. I’ve seen quite a few stories about bullying, but I can’t remember ever seeing one where the desire for revenge has been so long-lasting to carry over into adult life. It sounds like a really interesting premise.

9) The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

39863405I have almost all of Sally Hepworth’s books on my TBR even though I’ve yet to read anything by her. I stumbled across this one while browsing Goodreads, and it caught my attention because I recognized the author’s name as someone I’ve been meaning to try.The Mother-in-Law is an upcoming release due out in April, which is about a woman named Lucy, who has always had a polite but distant relationship with her mother-in-law, Diana. Five years later, Diana has been found dead with a suicide note near her body claiming she no longer wants to live because of a battle with cancer, but the autopsy report suggests a very different story. Lucy and Diana’s difficult relationship seems to be a central focus here, with the book told from the perspectives of both women. I think of all the Sally Hepworth books on my list, this is the one that I’m most interested in trying first, although I’ll have to wait a while until it is released.

10) This Bright Beauty by Emily Maine Cavanagh

35290948This book came up recently in my Goodreads feed after a couple of people I follow added it to their TBRs as well. It is about Franci, and her identical twin Lottie who struggles with bipolar disorder. After years of having to take care of her sister, Franci moves away to start building her own life, but when Lottie gets into an accident, Franci discovers that her sister has an infant daughter. Not wanting to leave the baby alone in Lottie’s care, Franci is forced back into her role of trying to protect and take care of her sister, and begins to uncover other secrets from Lottie’s past that she has been hiding since childhood. This book has been out since March 1 of this year, but I hadn’t heard anything about it until last week. I like books that focus on character and relationship dynamics, and as I mentioned above, I think stories about family members of people who have a disability or mental illness are still underrepresented. This sounds like a very interesting story and I’m curious to see if the fact that the main characters are twins plays much of a role.

11) Snap by Belinda Bauer

35687802This is another book that came up recently in my Goodreads feed, and the title reminded me of Bang by Barry Lyga, even though the books have nothing else in common. This book is about a young boy named Jack whose mother leaves him in charge of his siblings when the car breaks down, but she never returns. Days later, she is found dead from a stab wound and Jack’s father eventually walks away from the family, unable to handle his grief, leaving Jack solely in charge when he is only 14. Jack is forced to do whatever he can to take care of his younger sisters, including becoming a burglar, and in the course of one of his burglaries, he discovers evidence that he thinks is connected to his mother’s death. This was another book where I found the synopsis very vague, and had to look at some of the reviews to really get a sense of what the book was about in a bit more detail. It sounds like an interesting story and it definitely has a unique angle by having the main character start out as a child left in such a difficult role. I’ve seen some great reviews for this one so far, so I’m interested in giving it a try.

12) The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

34842042I saw this one yesterday in my local newspaper, and found it very intriguing. This book was advertised as a modernized version of the Narnia series. It focuses on two sisters, Evelyn and Philippa, who were transported to a forest kingdom called Woodlands while escaping from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. When they return, Evelyn is desperate to get back to the kingdom, while Philippa is determined to move forward with her life and find a place in the real world. To be honest, I’m not sure a modernized version of Narnia was something that was really needed but the story itself sounds pretty interesting. The author has mentioned that although she loved the Narnia books, she was disappointed with the female characters and thought the books “reinforced cultural stereotypes and champions colonial narratives.” I think the series is a product of its time, so it seems a bit odd to me to criticize it for being colonial or stereotypcial when those were the common attitudes when it was written. She also wanted to show the affects of traumatic events more realistically, with the characters struggling with the aftereffects of the war. I actually almost wish it hadn’t been treated as a newer Narnia since it sounds like an interesting enough story on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books Featuring Ghosts (On My TBR)

Technically, this week’s prompt asked for our favourite books featuring a creature of our choice, but I don’t think I’ve read enough of any one specific create to make a complete list of 5. I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with ghost stories. I found them completely fascinating but they also tend to terrify me. I blame that on the fact that I watched The Sixth Sense when I was way too young for it. It’s probably been close to 20 years since then and I’ve never watched it again, but there are specific scenes that have still stuck with me. I’ve always been very creeped out by ghosts even though I don’t believe they are real so I’ve avoided reading too many ghost stories. When I do read them, I often pick something that is a bit more low-key, along the lines of Anya’s Ghost or Anna Dressed in Blood, although I have to say that the best (and scariest) one I’ve read it Little Girls by Ronald Malfi. I read that three years ago, and it was a book completely outside my comfort zone but I ended up loving it. I decided to alter this week’s prompt slightly to focus on some of the stories featuring ghosts that I’m most looking forward to reading instead of recommending the few that I’ve already read, since I think I’ve talked about many of them in detail already.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe

880062I’ve had this one on my TBR for about two years already, but never picked it up since I had a hard time finding it. It’s not surprising since the book has been out since the early 90s, and I often have trouble finding books that are a bit older. The book is about a couple named Charles and Laura whose daughter Naomi disappears and is later found murdered. Soon after, Charles and Laura start to hear strange sounds from the attic and from Naomi’s room, and weird things start to happen in their home, leading them to decide to solve Naomi’s murder and find out what is causing all the supernatural occurrences in their house. I think I added this book to my list because it was recommended for people who enjoyed Little Girls, so I would expect this one to be along the same lines. It is another book that is really outside my comfort zone, so I’d really need to be in the right mood to finally pick it up.

2) The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

35533431To be honest, I’m not 100% if this book is a ghost story itself or if there is just a ghost story as part of a subplot in it, but I’ve heard great things about it. This book alternates between two timelines — one following several roommates at the Idlewild Hall, a boarding school for “troubled girls” in 1950, and the other following a journalist named Fiona who is writing about the restoration of the building for the local paper in 2014. The cover art alone for this one was enough to make it capture my attention, and I’ve seen nothing but amazing reviews for it. Many of the reviews have mentioned that the book has a very creepy atmosphere, which is something that I tend to love although it seems very difficult to find it done especially well. I’m always looking for books that have a kind of Gothic feel to them, and it seems like this one might be along the lines. Actually, the more I look at the synopsis for this one again, the more I want to move it to the top of my priority list. I just hope it actually is a ghost story, otherwise it doesn’t really belong on this list.

3) The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

18509623This is another one that has been on my TBR since 2016, although I’d heard about it earlier than that. This book is based on a Japanese ghost story, narrated by the ghost herself who avenges the deaths of murdered children, seeking revenge for her own murder hundreds of years before. When she notices a boy with strange tattoos covering his body, she feels compelled to help him lift the curse that’s been placed upon him, even following him back to Japan. I avoided this book for a long time because I assumed it would be like all of those Japanese horror movies that I avoid (ie. The Ring or The Grudge) because they are too scary for me, but I tend to have an easier time with creepy books than with movies. Just looking through all of the Goodreads reviews, I’ve seen so many mentions of creepy children, creepy dolls, evil spirits, and more. It sounds like a very scary book but I’m willing to eventually give it a try.

4) The House by Christina Lauren

24885831This one has been on my TBR list for even longer — since 2015! I even bought a copy this year from Book Outlet hoping that it would give me a bit of a push to read it. After seven years at boarding school, Delilah returns home where she is immediately drawn to Gavin, a guy who lives in a strange and isolated house at the edge of town. I think I keep putting this one off because it is a YA book, and I’m usually not such of a fan of YA books that attempt to be scary. What sets this book apart from other ghost stories is that it is the house itself which is haunted, becoming a character of its own that is jealous and obsessed with keeping Gavin for itself while doing everything in its power to drive Delilah away. I’m a little more open to reading this one now since I also read Autoboyography by Christina Lauren and I absolutely loved that one, so I’m a bit more inclined to think I might like this.

5) City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

35403058I added this one to my TBR based on Victoria Schwab’s name alone, before I’d even seen what the plot synopsis was. This book is about a girl named Cassidy Blake who can see ghosts, and her parents are a ghost-hunting team called The Inspectres. When they are called to a haunted house in Scotland as part of their new TV show, Cassidy and her best friend Jacob (who is a ghost himself) go with them, and soon meet another girl named Lara who teaches them to help ghosts move beyond the Veil. I’m a little hesitant because this one is a middle grade book, which I often find hit-or-miss, but I usually love Victoria Schwab’s writing so I’m not too worried.  It reminds me a bit of the show Ghost Whisperer, which I used to watch all the time, so I’m definitely interested in trying it.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Most Entertaining TV and Movie Villains

I was kind of dreading this week’s prompt when I first saw it on the list since I had very recently made a post about favourite villains, and found that one tough enough. I was starting to feel like I’ve been talking about the same few characters/books repeatedly, so I wanted to do something a bit more fresh. I decided to go in a bit of a different direction with this prompt and mention some of my favourite villains from TV shows and movies instead. I love villains who are genuinely scary or at least creepy, but I also find that some of my favourite villains of all-time tend to be the funny, unconventional villains. Here are just a few of the most memorable for me.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1. Debbie Jellinsky from The Addams Family Values

Addams Family Values (1993)The Addams Family is one of my all-time favourite series, in all of its incarnations. I love the original comics, and the New Addams Family TV series was my favourite show for most of my childhood, followed later on by the original series. The Addams Family Values has always been one of my favourite movies, and I thought Debbie was an amazing villain. Debbie Jellinsky was a black widow who married wealthy men only to kill them and inherit their money. In this movie, she sets her sights on the eccentric Uncle Fester who is thrilled to finally have someone fall in love with him, coming to the family as a nanny for the children to win Fester over. A huge factor in why she was so memorable for me was Joan Cusack’s amazing performance as Debbie. I found her such an interesting character with a perfect balance of humour and creepiness, like The Addams Family in general.

2) Agatha Trunchbull from Matilda

screen-shot-2017-06-02-at-20-00-36This is the other iconic villain of my childhood, and yet another of my all-time favourite movies. Miss Trunchbull is like every child’s worst nightmare of a teacher or principal. She is cruel and violent, has extremely strict and unreasonable rules, and frightens the children into obeying her. I was terrified of her when I was younger, especially because of the horrific “chokey” — a room full of nails, broken glass, etc. where she puts children as punishment for disobeying. It also doesn’t help that Miss Trunchbull is physically very intimidating due to her size and strength, as well as her loud and commanding voice. She demands that people follow her rules and punishes them horribly for any mistakes. I especially used to hate her because she could switch very quickly from acting sweet to shouting and threatening. Luckily, I have never met a teacher like her in real life!

3) Megamind from Megamind

54cb5fb1479bc_-_megamind_1110-mdMegamind was actually the first character who came to mind when I started thinking of unconventional villains, to the point where I almost have a hard time classifying him as a villain at all. The whole concept of the movie is that Megamind is a villain who finally manages to achieve the unthinkable — he defeats the superhero who is his rival, and soon realizes that he doesn’t know what to do with himself without a hero to battle. He sets out to try and create a new hero to become his nemesis instead. This movie was hilarious and completely exceeded my expectations. I went into it not expecting very much at all, and ending up really enjoying the movie! Megamind himself is a funny and interesting character, and I loved the unique angle of a villain realizing that he actually needs a hero to fight. I’m surprised there haven’t been more stories told from that perspective.

4) Gru from Despicable Me

moviedespicableme-600x400I think I first saw this movie around the same time that I first saw Megamind, and I originally kind of lumped them both together. Like Megamind, it is tough to consider Gru a villain despite his frequent villainous acts because we get to see such a different side to him. The movie franchise begins with Gru adopting three orphan sisters as part of his plan to steal a shrink ray from another rival villain. I absolutely loved seeing Gru try to balance his “career” as a villain with his new responsibilities as a father to the girls. He is such a funny and sarcastic character, and it is so interesting to see him try to stay true to himself while also setting a good example for the kids. I kind of wrote this movie off at first because I thought it would be too childish, but when I actually gave it a fair chance, I loved it and the sequels are also great!

5) Hades from Hercules

php8j8typpm-hades_6576There are so many Disney villains that I could choose, but when I think of which ones are most entertaining to watch, it would have to be Hades. As far as villains go, Hades is not necessarily the scariest (I think that would still go to Scar or maybe Jafar), but he is definitely memorable. Hades is the god of the underworld, who wants to take control of Mount Olympus as king of all gods. When the Fates prophesize that Hercules might stop Hades from unleashing the titans to take control of Olympus, he decides to turn his nephew mortal and have him killed to get him out of the way. He soon realizes that it had not gone according to plan, and Hercules is not only still alive, but also has retained some of his god-like strength. The majority of the movie focuses on Hades’ attempts to eliminate Hercules, and he is absolutely hilarious! He was never a Disney villain that scared me, but I loved his sarcasm and also how he came up with clever schemes instead of just relying on brute force.

6) Dr. Evil from Austin Powers

austinpowers-drevil-quotes-700x313I think this was one of my first “real” movie villains that I ever saw, and he is still one of the most memorable. As a parody of spy movies, it’s no surprise that Dr. Evil is a complete joke of a villain in a lot of ways. He considers himself a brilliant mind who seeks to take over the world, with a team of eccentric henchmen to help him. Dr. Evil often tries to hold the world ransom unless world leaders do as he says by paying him off with huge sums of money. To complicate it further, Dr. Evil was cryogenically frozen to escape capture by Austin Powers, only to be unfrozen 30 years later. Part of what makes him so funny is his difficulty adapting to all the changes in the world in the time he was frozen, such as understanding how much money is now worth. His interactions with Austin are amazing, and this is still one of the funniest series I’ve ever seen.

7) Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 5)

glorificusThere are many Buffy villains that I could choose, and I was originally torn between choosing Spike or Dark Willow, but I decided to go for Glory instead. Glory was one of the most compelling villains on the entire show, and one of the only ones that I thought was a true match for Buffy in terms of her power. Glory was a god banished from a hell dimension whose only goal was to get out of our world get return back home. In order to do that, she needed the power of The Key, which was a mystical ancient power needed to break down the boundaries between dimensions, allowing all kinds of demons and other creatures to be unleashed into our world. To complicate things even further, Glory shared  a body with a human man, and anyone who witnessed the transformation between the two would immediately forget what they saw (leading to this classic scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b8hTeQj3GY). Not only was Glory extremely powerful, but she was also a very interesting character to watch.

8) Loki from Thor/The Avengers

wrath_of_a_god__loki_x_reader__ch_1_by_ahiannon-dab7dhqI think a huge part of why I love Loki so much is because of the brilliant acting job by Tom Hiddleston, who really brings the character to life. Loki is Thor’s brother and a trickster, whose loyalties are always in question even (and maybe especially) when he appears to be doing what is right. For me, Loki is by far one of the most interesting parts of the Marvel Universe movies. He is cunning and clever, but also can be unpredictable and very mischievous. Loki resents Thor for being their father’s favourite, and shows little care for anyone other than himself. He also has a range of interesting abilities including his powers of sorcery which allow him to control and manipulate others, more than making up for his inferior strength (at least compared to some of the other characters). He is an extremely compelling character to watch, and definitely a highlight of the movie franchise.

9) Syndrome from The Incredibles

syndromeThis may be a bit of an odd choice, but I’ve always found Syndrome a very interesting villain. Syndrome was a young boy who idolized Mr. Incredible and longed to be his sidekick, only to be rejected every step of the way despite his talent for creating technology that make up for his lack of powers. As he grew up, Syndrome set out to first establish himself as the most powerful hero, and eventually to nullify their powers by selling technology to allow everyone to do what the heroes can because “when everyone is super, no one will be.” I’ve always found heroes that use their intellect as a primary weapon particularly interesting, and Syndrome is no exception. He is cruel and vindictive, but also uses his abilities to create amazing kinds of technology that really would allow everyone to have “super” powers. I’ve always found him interesting because even while having some really cruel plans, he still has this geeky side to him and really seems like just a kid who was steered in the wrong direction.

10) The Phantom of the Opera

mv5botg4mzizndi2m15bml5banbnxkftztcwotc1njgymw-_v1_sy1000_cr006571000_al_Technically, this could apply to the book as well, but I was thinking specifically of the version of the character from the musical. There is no doubt that the Phantom is a creepy and villainous character, but you can’t help but have some sympathy for him at the same time. In the musical and movie version, the Phantom becomes obsessed with Christine and tries to build her up as the opera’s newest star, but his obsession with her also leads to his kidnapping her in hopes that she will fall in love with him. Christine is frightened by his face beneath the mask, and wants to escape from the Phantom’s influence to be with Raoul instead. The 2004 movie version with Gerard Butler was the first version I’d ever seen, and I saw the stage version not too long afterwards. In both cases, I found it hard not to sympathize a bit with the Phantom because of the difficult life he’d led due to the way others fear him, but it definitely does not excuse his actions. He is a very intriguing character.

 

Discussion: When is a Spoiler Not a Spoiler?

Spoilers seem to be a topic that has come up for discussion quite a bit lately, especially in the context of providing trigger warnings. It’s come to mind lately when I realized that just about any time I talk about a book, I’m always a little worried about spoiling it. My mom and I often exchange book recommendations, and although there are many books that I read that she also wants to read, there are nearly double as many that she has no interest in at all. I find myself always asking before talking about any book with her whether she plans on reading it, so I know how much detail I can go into. One of the reasons I generally avoid writing reviews both here and on Goodreads is because I find it nearly impossible to discuss a book well without going into at least some detail about the plot, which puts it at risk of spoiling things for others. I once got criticized on my review of the Addams Family soundtrack for the Broadway musical because I had revealed the entire plot in the context of commenting on each song. At the time, I had reasonably assumed that anyone who was looking to buy the album had already seen and enjoyed the show, and therefore wouldn’t mind if the plot was discussed. It literally didn’t even cross my mind to put a spoiler tag on it. I find there are a few major debates when it comes to spoilers, and it can get quite controversial.

How Much Time Needs to Pass?

The most basic debate when it comes to spoilers seems to be about how much time needs to pass before something can be discussed without worrying about spoiling anything for people who might be interested. The general rule seems to be that after a book (or TV show, or movie) has been out for several months, and those who are interested have had a reasonable amount of time/opportunity to try it, it becomes “safe” to go into more detail. This one is especially relevant for me because I tend to be quite behind on the trends. Just yesterday, I started reading Throne of Glass for the first time, despite the book being out for 6 years already. This one might be a bit more of a gray area because it is an ongoing series with the last book just published very recently, but I think it’s safe to assume that details of the earlier books in the series will be easily available online and in reviews.

It’s not just this series either. I tend to actively avoid books that are overhyped until some of the hype finally dies down. Usually, it’s because the sheer amount of hype puts me off since I think it can’t possibly be that good, but I often end up finally caving in and trying it. I think it is fair to expect that in the flurry of activity in the first few months after something new and exciting is released, we should be extra careful to avoid spoilers (or at least indicate that the review/comment might contain spoilers) because there are many people who might be interested in trying it but who have not had the chance yet. However, the further away we get from the release date, the more freedom I think there should be in the conversation. After all, we don’t see people complaining about being spoiled for the classics. When it comes to classics specifically, we often know the details of the story through adaptations long before we brave reading the original text, but no one seems to mind those kinds of “spoilers” or even consider them as such. When it comes to a popular series like Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, Game of Thrones, etc. it becomes a bit more tricky. There are so many people who enter into fandoms late and expect not to see any spoilers, but when you’re showing up to a discussion years after it first started, it’s inevitable that details will be mentioned.

How much detail is too specific?

I’ve mentioned this story a few times before, but I was spoiled for the major character death at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. To be fair, I had already predicted who it would be, so it wasn’t too much of a shock to find out that I was right. I was just irritated because my friend came up to me and said “I won’t tell you what happened, but I’ll just say you’re an excellent prophet.” It was frustrating for me anyway because I didn’t want to know anything before I started reading it (and she knew that!). I’ve realized since then that it could have been much worse. At least she didn’t tell me exactly how it happened or what led up to that point, so even though I knew how it would end, I still was excited to read the story and find out what happened and why.

I’ve noticed in the past few months that there seems to be a difference between revealing the ending or other key events, and revealing very specific detail. For me, I find spoilers about specific details much more irritating. I don’t always mind knowing how a book ends because I still generally want to see how the author gets the characters to that point. I think this also factors into how people can manage avoiding spoilers even long after the books are out. When I was reading the Court of Thorns and Roses series earlier this year, I knew through reading other people’s reviews that a major character would die, including which character it was. It was annoying, but didn’t bother me too much because I had no idea how it would happen, when it would happen, etc. I know now to proceed with caution when reading reviews of very popular books or series in case of these kinds of spoilers, especially when it is a sequel. It’s incredibly difficult to talk about a sequel without giving some spoilers for the first book. What bothers me more is knowing exactly step-by-step how a story will play out, or the details of a specific incident or turning point in the story, especially when that is supposed to be the twist.

What makes it even more tricky sometimes is when the synopsis on Goodreads or on the back of the book itself is a bit of a spoiler. I like when the synopsis is detailed enough to give me a decent sense of what the story is about so I know whether I want to read it, but sometimes they get way too specific. It’s like how so many movie trailers recently tend to show you basically the entire movie condensed down into 2 minutes. I want to know what I’m getting myself into, but I still want to have at least some surprises.

Spoilers vs. Trigger Warnings

This is by far the most controversial of the debates around spoilers that I’ve seen, and to be honest, I can see both sides. The debate basically centers on the idea that authors and publishers, as well as reviewers, should provide “trigger warnings” for books to alert readers to the fact that there is potentially distressing material in it.  The thinking behind it is that it allows people who might be triggered by specific kinds of content (ie. suicide, sexual assault, self-harm, eating disorders, etc.) have the ability to know that this kind of content is in the book, and decide for themselves whether they are comfortable reading it. On the other side of the debate are people who argue that trigger warnings sometimes too much of a spoiler about what will happen in the book and can ruin the story for them.

Personally, I am more inclined to think that trigger warnings often border on spoilers but I also think it is important for people to be able to feel safe and comfortable with the books they are choosing. I think a great compromise is something that I’ve noticed recently, where the trigger warning is included on the page with copyright information at the beginning of the book. This is a great way to handle it because people who want to see the trigger warnings can go there to check, whereas those who wish to avoid spoilers can skip that page. For myself, I tend to find trigger warnings can be spoiler-y when they reveal very specific plot points that are intended to be a twist. I also find some of them can be a bit unnecessary. Do we really need a trigger warning to say that The Hate U Give involves racism and police violence,  when that is literally what the book is about? I often find that potentially triggering content is fairly clearly stated in the plot synopsis, so it makes the warnings seem a bit redundant.

As I said, I see both sides of this. I have multiple people in my life who deal with a variety of mental health issues, and even struggle with anxiety myself. I had a close friend who committed suicide in our late teens. These are topics that are potentially triggering, but I’ve been lucky enough to read books covering these kinds of topics without any problems. On the other hand, even though I’ve never been sexually assaulted or personally experienced any kind of violence, I found myself very strongly affected by graphic rape and sexual assault scenes in books and on TV shows. I had a panic attack while reading a fairly graphic scene that took place in the first chapter of a YA book that I knew was about a girl who was raped, to the point where I had to put down the book and think about whether I would be able to continue. Knowing in advance what the book was about didn’t prevent my reaction to it, which was especially surprising because I didn’t know it was something that would upset me so strongly. I hesitate to use the word “triggered” for myself since I don’t think it’s quite the same thing as someone who has been through the experience reading it. On the other hand, having a detailed warning about a specific scene at the end of Season 2 of Thirteen Reasons Why did help me mentally prepare myself to handle that scene, which was still horrifying to watch but not quite as shocking as it could have been.

I’ve also seen some complaints that people wanting trigger warnings is a sign that we are too oversensitive. Just today, I read an article that mentioned how trigger warnings can be a problem because “life doesn’t come with trigger warnings.” Essentially, the concern was that getting people used to being warned in advance any time something might upset them prevents them from confronting or working through the issue. At the same time, I don’t think it’s fair for others to assume or try to dictate when someone can or will feel comfortable, and trigger warnings will help them avoid specific topics until they feel prepared enough to handle it. I do think we need to take caution not to overdo it and label everything as a potential trigger, but I don’t see a problem with putting warnings in books as long as people have the option to avoid seeing the possible spoilers if they choose to.

Discussion Time: What’s you’re most irritating spoiler story? Where do you stand on the trigger warning vs. spoiler debate?

Top 5 Wednesdays: Favourite Monsters/Mythical Creatures

For some reason, I found it kind of difficult to narrow this one down to specific monsters, so I decided to broaden it a bit to focus on the kinds of monsters/creatures that I like to read about. I’m not a fan of horror, but I do enjoy fantasy books which also tend to have a lot of monsters or supernatural creatures. It’s kind of funny because I wouldn’t necessarily think that I often go for books that involve any kind of supernatural or paranormal creatures, but when I look back at the books I read and even the movies or TV series that I enjoy, I’ve realized that many of them actually do involve monsters of some kind.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Witches

In my recent post recommending books about witches, I mentioned how I generally love to read stories about witches, even though I haven’t read too many. It’s kind of tough to actually consider a witch a monster since most of them are otherwise normal people, but I tend to find it fascinating when people are able to do magic. It’s also hard to classify them as monsters when the character has magical powers but is otherwise the hero of the story. I especially love stories about people learning to use their powers, and I think witches can also make very interesting and frightening villains.

2) Vampires

I should clarify that I don’t mean the Twilight kind of vampire, but more along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer vampires. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said that I actively avoid stories that involve vampires, and to some degree that is still true. I think a lot of that has to do with the sheer volume of vampire stories, which makes it tough to weed out the kind I like from all the others. If I see the word “vampire” in a synopsis, my gut reaction is often to avoid the book, but I often end up enjoying the stories that I do read or watch that involve vampires. I think part of my interest in vampire stories is because I love reading all about vampire lore and history, and many of these books tend to have a very gothic feel.

3) Demons

I guess “demon” is a fairly generic term for a monster in general, but what I had in mind was everything from the chimaera in Daughter of Smoke and Bone to A Monster Calls to This Savage SongThis Savage Song to (once again) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is just such a range of kinds of demons that an author come up with, so there is lots of room for creativity and I tend to find it interesting to see how authors craft the world to explain where the demons came from and what they are able to do.  I actually really like the Buffy approach to demons where many of them are a kind of metaphor for real-life problems.

4) Ghosts

This is another one where if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have said that I actively avoid anything to do with ghosts. I’ve always been afraid of stories involving ghosts, even going so far as to hide a book I once had that involved a ghost because it creeped me out too much (I was 8), and always putting another children’s book involving a ghost on the cover upside down so I wouldn’t have to see it. Ghost stories scare me and I don’t read them very often at all, but I was surprised to realize that I’ve really enjoyed every one that I’ve read. I think there is a lot that can be done with ghosts to make a really fascinating story, and they can also range from really creepy (ie. Little Girls by Ronald Malfi) to pretty light (ie. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol).

5) Monstrous people

Even more creepy than ghosts for me are stories about the more realistic kind of monster — monstrous people. I’m thinking specifically of stories that involve characters who do something truly horrible such as serial killers, stalkers, or psychopaths (ie. We Need to Talk About Kevin or You). These are in some ways much more scary for me because these situations are real and could possibly happen. As much as ghost stories freak me out, I can at least tell myself that they are just stories and it won’t happen. Reading about a psychopath or serial killer, on the other hand, is scary on a completely different level because at the back of my mind is always the idea that this person actually could exist. It completely takes away that level of separation that I tend to have from other supernatural monsters, and makes it horrifying in a completely different way.