Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Costumes For The Very Bookish

Halloween Costumes For The Very Bookish

In past, I've done characters I'd like to costume/cosplay. This year, I'm recommending some offbeat ones that non-bookish people may or may not "get".

Jane Austen - Oh, to own a Regency style dress, throw out Pride & Prejudice quotes, and offer people autographs with a quill!

Bambi - Doesn't everyone love Bambi?? I had a lot of fun reading and writing the review for the classic. Cool example found on Pinterest!

Boo Radley - Southern Literature's man of mystery. Also fairly easy to pull off, just add newspaper, scissors, and maybe some soap dolls.

Edgar Allan Poe's Raven - Be sure to rap at people's door and cry "Nevermore!"

Edgar Allan Poe's Purloined Letter - Not to be outdone by spooky birds, you could also be Poe's mysterious lost letter. Be sure to hide out in the open! I couldn't find an example...but this idea would work if you make it more "antique" looking...

Hogwart's Sorting Hat - Why be judged by the hat, when you can be the hat? Have fun labeling people into groups all night long. Thanks, cosplay dot com.

The Eye of Sauron - Nothing's more creepy than keeping an eye on all Middle-Earth, especially hobbits. Photo credit from Kerry My Heart blog.

Buttercup the Cat - Forget Katniss, Buttercup is the real survivor of The Hunger Games series!

The Twilight Apple - I guess one could argue that the whole series started with that fateful apple...be sure to add some glitter to dazzle everyone.

Dune's Giant Sandworm Shai Hulud - Thank you, instructables.com for actually having this costume! Be sure to have sugar and spice and everything nice for your fellow party go-ers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Characters I'd Name A Child After

Characters I'd Name A Child After

Aww, zee babies! So precious! I feel like this is the perfect book blog topic for me. Not cause I'm a mom, but because I'm a true name enthusiast. For years, I've used baby name websites to name characters (for creative writing and video games (Sims)) and even helped moms-to-be brainstorm ideas on forums.

Here some characters names I love and would actually use!


Strider (Lord of the Rings) - So, long story short, my first "we-had-a-baby" dream after Oshie and I married was about a son with an unusual "S" name. Therefore, I've been obsessed with "S" names. After reading The Fellowship of the Ring, I feel in love with the heroic Aragorn's nickname.

Atreyu (The Neverending Story) - I had such a crush on him as a little girl. Oshie has already told me no for this one, lol. If I had my way, I'd probably use it as a middle name...for example, Paul Atreyu. Wait, that might be too much like Paul Atreides from Dune. Hmm.

Atticus (To Kill A Mockingbird) - All-in-all, I think it's cool the name has recently become more popular. I've loved it and wanted to use it since I was a tween. I'm kinda on the fence now with the controversy over "Go Set A Watchman".

St. John (Jane Eyre) - Although he isn't the romantic hero of the book, I was intrigued by the unusual "S" name. Pronounced Sinjun, it's rarely seen in this day and age. However, unfortunately, it would probably be mispronounced all the time.

Oak (Far From The Maddening Crowd) - Having recently seen and read "Far From The Madding Crowd" it's hard not to love Gabriel Oak's character. He's so steadfast, easy-going, and devoted. I know several Gabriels, and although the name is angelic, as a nature-lover, I really like Oak!

Prince (The Little Prince, various fairy tales) - Ok, so this mostly started as a joke between me and Oshie that our son would be a "little prince". However, it's went so far and become such a apart of our conversations that it's kind of grown on Oshie. Still, I'm thinking that people would assume the name was after the musician.

Beowulf (Epic Poem) - Another, mostly joke between me and Oshie. It was an important read during our high school years. There's Wolfgang, so why not Beowulf? With our "word name" last name, it'd make for a baby name of epic styling. Our son would certainly stand out from the crowd.


Anne (Anne of Green Gables) - It has to be Anne with an E! If I have a daughter, I hope she has a great wit and imagination like Anne. My late grandmother also loved the series, so for me, it'd be a way to remember her as well.

Elizabeth (Pride & Prejudice) - Although it's a classic name used by Queens and Princesses, I'd be sure to let everyone know the character behind the namesake. Equal parts bold and loyal, Elizabeth is an forgettable character. Here's to hoping I don't turn into Mrs. Bennet.

Estella (Great Expectations) - After watching several film and tv versions of the books and loving the manga, Oshie and I have been impressed by the name. It's both graceful and not commonly used. I hear the character grows and changes, all depending on which ending of the book you read. Apparently, Dickens created two endings!

Alice (Alice In Wonderland, Alice via Twilight) - Never been a fan of the Disney cartoon, but I love the books and the manga it's inspired. In my family, I feel like I'm the over-planner for people's birthdays, weddings, showers, etc., so I kinda identify with Alice Cullen. And, Oshie and I have fun memories of seeing the movies together.

Rey/Rei (Star Wars: TFA, Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Mars) - Even my family has suggested we name a girl after the cool Star Wars character. Prior to The Force Awakens movie, books, comics, etc., Oshie and I liked the Japanese name spelled "Rei" after several manga characters. Cute, quick to spell.

Arrietty (The Borrowers) - Oshie was the one who originally suggested this name. It's unique and adorable, while having an elemental feel. She'd probably get nicknamed Arie or Etty, which also stand out from the crowd.

Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz) - Odds are, we'd probably have a dark-haired little girl just like the main character. As a baby, my first music box played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," so it has a special place in my heart. Love the nickname Dot and Dottie, too!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Classics Corner: Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

This is going to be a slight movie review as well...since the movie inspired me to read the book, and I can't really explain it any other way.

In 2015, I was very excited to learn about the "Far From The Madding Crowd" movie. At the time, coming off Downton Abbey and Outlander, I was still craving a good costume drama.

And the movie REALLY fit the bill. The picturesque countryside and the "twist" ending were just what the doctor ordered, escapism wise. I ended up seeing the movie twice in theaters, winning an AWESOME prize pack from a theater company, buying the DVD for myself and others, and finally purchasing a copy of the book. 

When I bought the book, I stuck up a conversation with the B&N clerk about the author (a rare thing for me, being an introvert). The clerk hoped I liked the book, even though Thomas Hardy probably "hated women."

This took me aback for a brief moment. Was this something I wanted to read?? The movie seemed to empower the female lead...and although dramatic, there was an underlaying sweet romance to it. Was the book vastly different?? Was I going to hate it?? Shock! Horror! Angst! 

Having finally read it, the answer is it is different, but no, I don't hate it.

Whereas the movie makes the female lead, Bathsheba Everdene, the main character, the book focuses much more on the male lead, Gabriel Oak.

The first few chapters focus on Gabriel's farm, his attraction to Bathsheba, the night she saves him, his proposal, and the tragedy against his dreams. We then follow Oak to his next line of work and his interactions with his fellow farmhands. The story doesn't focus on Bathsheba until she starts making mistakes.

Therefore, the book is Oak's story, while the movie is much more Bathsheba's story and viewpoint. I'm not sure if the screenwriters and director thought this would make the movie flow better or if it's reparation for Hardy's treatment of his female lead.

Although Hardy puts Bathsheba in a power position as a wealthy female land owner, as an author, Hardy puts her down a lot. As though, between the lines, he's saying, "you silly female character, you." It's definitely odd. I can see where some ladies would be offended by it.

In the same vein as some men might be offended by “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

To enjoy the story you have to take it with a grain of salt and consider the time frame when the book was first published. It wasn't so bad I wanted to stop reading, but it did shock me now and again.

As with most book vs. movies, everything in the book is intensified. Bathsheba is more naive and coy. Gabriel is more true blue. I felt even more pity for Farmer Boldwood...and much, much less pity for Sergeant Troy.

The book is still very dramatic and romantic. What's more, Hardy had a knack for weaving a sense of community into the story. I got lost in the rural English countryside and started to wonder more about Hardy's personal background. Surely, he knew some humble farm "folk" in his lifetime whom he based some of these delightful farmhand characters?

Overall, the story will stick with me a long time. I don't doubt that I will eventually re-read it and re-listen to it on Librivox. It feels like the great-grandmother of many of the contemporary romantic dramas and love triangles that we enjoy today.

And, Gabriel's character? Well, he proves a hero doesn't have to be a high born gentleman to be noble.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review: Pop Manga Coloring Book: A Surreal Journey Through a Cute, Curious, Bizarre, and Beautiful World

Pop Manga Coloring Book: A Surreal Journey Through a Cute, Curious, Bizarre, and Beautiful WorldPop Manga Coloring Book: A Surreal Journey Through a Cute, Curious, Bizarre, and Beautiful World by Camilla d'Errico
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Because I enjoyed d'Errico's "Pop Painting" art instruction, I decided to check out her coloring book as well.

I think it's a perfect gift for the manga/anime lover, young or old.

Camilla d'Errico's pages are both magical and unique to behold. Some are surreal and emotional, others are whimsical and sweet. The majority of her subjects are female characters in fantasy or scifi settings. There's something cute for everyone, be it: robots, mermaids, birds, butterflies, icecream, deer, squid, unicorns, and other magical beasts.

The character details and patterns are sure to provide hours of coloring.

4.5 stars. I only wish the pages were thicker and could take watercolor pencils. Otherwise, truly wonderful.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 14, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday Winnie-The-Pooh!

Winnie-The-Pooh was first published October 14, 1926 by A. A. Milne. Now celebrating 90 years!

It's hard to believe that, in some cases, five generations have known and loved the classic book and it's beloved characters.

To this day, Pooh is recognized by fans around the world. The story and characters have been adapted into countless movies and merchandise.

One of my favorite "book" memories is my grandmother reading "Winnie-The-Pooh" to me. It's a simple story, but entirely sweet and, at times, motivational. Highly recommended for the kiddos in your life, or if you've never had the joy of reading it yourself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Villains I Secretly (or not so secretly) Love

Villains I Secretly (or not so secretly) Love

And I use the word "villain" lightly. I see most of these as anti-heroes or characters who are, or could be, redeemed. It's not really in my personality to like straight-up baddies ;-)

Snape - Poor Snape. At first, I was probably biased towards the character because I liked Alan Rickman. When I started reading the series (about 2004), the character felt like that one-crazy-teacher/professor-who's-always-strict. After learning about his unconditional love and devotion for Lily, I couldn't help but admire him.

Vegeta - As I said, it's not typical of my personality, so I'm going to stretch this to manga and comic characters as well. Poor Prince Vegeta. I feel for him, because he works so hard to be the best, but always comes up short (Goku's power is over 9000...so, yeah). Kinda humanizes Vegeta.

Kylo Ren - I have been a Star Wars fangirl forever. Typically, I like Luke or Obi-wan...so I dunno what happened here. Stockholm Syndrome maybe?? His mysterious backstory seems fascinatingly complex, being the son and nephew of the main heroes...*fingers crossed* I hope he'll be redeemed. Can't wait for The Force Awakens graphic novel and the next Aftermath novel in 2017.

Loki - And, it's not just because of Tom Hiddleston (though, it's alright if you like him ;) ). Similar to Vegeta, Loki will never to be best or the strongest. I kinda feel for his "daddy issues" and being the large shadow of his adopted brother. Loki wanted to make people proud...but went about it the wrong way.

Captain Hook - I'm probably biased for this one, cause, while many boys wanted to be Peter Pan, Oshie wanted to grow up to be Captain Hook. I mean, Hook is an officer, and I assume, a gentleman. And he is trapped on the island as an adult surrounded by super wild kids. I mean, I'm afraid of crocs, too.

Long John Silver - Not the restaurant, haha. Huh, maybe I have a thing for pirates. For the most part, he's kind and helpful to the main character, Jim. I'm glad he lives to fight another day.

Heathcliff - Poor Heathcliff...he's the grandpa of all tortured romantic heroes and villains. Rejected by his love, he turns into a bitter, dark, obsessed villain. I feel for him...up to a certain point.

King Haggard - Much like Heathcliff, you get the feeling that Haggard was once an ok guy, until he became obsessed. Again, I feel a little sorry for him. He can't find anything to make him happy and makes others miserable in the process.

President Snow - I don't love him personally, but I love that he is the perfect antagonist for Katniss. Their moments together are tense and chilling. The ending between them was a shock, but at the same time, very fitting.

Dracula - Again, I don't love him personally. But I respect that he paved the way for other anti-heroes and redeemable vampire characters that I do like. The book is good, the 1931 film is amazing for its time.

Bellatrix Lestrange - Her character interests me because unlike a lot of lady villains, she truly is vile! A lot times, I feel that female villains are considered "bad" for being cruel emotionally. Bellatrix is crazy for all the above! She's a basket case thru and thru.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Review: Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon

Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art PhenomenonPop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon by Camilla d'Errico
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I wasn't previously familiar with d'Errico's work, I was intrigued by this book's beautiful cover. I am an art enthusiast (I could spend hours on Tumblr and Deviantart), who secretly wishes for more time to dabble in painting.

Overall, I found the book very encouraging. Unlike a lot of "how-to" books, which feel robotic and technical, it seemed that d'Errico cares about her audience. In the first chapters of the book, she takes the time to explain Pop Surrealism, focus on inspiration and becoming a better artist, as well as, tools of the trade, and the artist's studio. As someone "looking to get her feet wet" I found this helpful and thought-provoking.

The second part of the book includes step-by-step examples. It was amazing to see the progression of each piece! Tons of heart-felt good advice. Highly recommended for aspirating artists and art lovers alike.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

View all my reviews


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