Q is for (Books About) Quirky Characters #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

I love quirky characters, especially when they feel authentic, not like the author was trying to insert a bunch of quirks just to distinguish Character A from Character B.

The Martian, by Andy Weir (science fiction): Mark Watney is probably one of my all-time favorite characters. When he gets stranded on Mars, he doesn’t let anything get him down for long. He deals with each challenge as they come, cursing a little and keeping his sense of humor. The book does a better job of showing this character’s personality than the movie does (of course), but the movie is still worth watching.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (YA): Full disclosure: I liked the first one better than the second two. If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably stop after the first. But anyway, the first book did something unique in using old photographs and building a book (and characters) around them. Because the children are all peculiar, they’ve developed some quirks which makes them fun to read about.

John Dies At the End by David Wong (?): I’m honestly not sure how to classify this book… maybe science fiction or fantasy? It’s weird though. The movie didn’t do a good job of capturing the awesomeness of the book, but I’m not sure any movie could. David Wong (the narrator of the book) was involved in a huge conspiracy after taking a drug called soy sauce. Weird things happen to him and his friend John, and the way they react to the events is strange and fun. The sequel was as good as the original. If you read it, be warned: some of it probably won’t make sense. And that’s okay.

What are your favorite books about quirky characters?

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I is for (Books About) Identity #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

Many YA books question the nature of identity. It goes along with being a teen. I remember talking about big philosophical questions and being so sure of who and what I was going to be. It’s an important part of the process of growing up. The following are some of my favorite books on this topic.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (YA contemporary): Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in a poor black neighborhood where crime is commonplace but goes to school with primarily rich white kids. One night, she’s out with a black male friend who’s shot by a white cop while reaching for a hairbrush. Her white friends’ reactions are very different from her black friends’ reactions to the shooting, and Starr isn’t sure how to navigate two different worlds.

I loved this book because it doesn’t provide any easy or definite answers. Starr questions the kids and adults around her, trying to make sense of what happened. Because of this, she starts questioning her own assumptions about race, as well as those of both groups of friends.

Every Day, by David Levithan (YA fantasy): A doesn’t think of him/herself as male or female since they wake up in a different body every day. A has always inhabited someone different every day, and has just accepted that’s the way it is until they fall in love with Rhiannon. Once that happens, A has to make their way to Rhiannon every day. This book questions the nature of love and identity. What is it that makes us who we are? It’s a fascinating, original book, and I loved every moment of it. It was recently made into a movie, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova (contemporary): At 50, Alice is a linguistics professor. When she becomes increasingly forgetful, she goes to the doctor and ends up diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Who are we without our ability to remember? This book was heartwrenching but wonderful. (I like to have my heart wrenched.)

What books have you read about identity?

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C is for (Books About) Children

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

My list only contains books about kids for adults. Younger children as main characters add a whole different dimension to books for adults.

Me & Emma, by Elizabeth Flock (literary): This book was so unexpectedly good! It was one of those that someone gave me, and I had no idea what to expect. The narrator is 8-year-old Carrie, who lives in a bad situation and just wants to protect her younger sister, Emma. They decide to run away from home, which doesn’t go as plan. This book has a huge twist at the end that’s disturbing but makes for wonderful reading. You’ve been warned.

Firestarter, by Stephen King (horror): This has been one of my favorite books forever. The experiments that Charlie’s parents participated in, giving them psychic powers, seem like something that could have happened. Charlie has pyrokinesis, so of course, the government wants her. Stephen King is a master of horror, and in my mind, this is his masterpiece.

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens (literary): I didn’t know what to expect before reading this, but it’s really good. I learned some things about Victorian London and got to read an entertaining story at the same time. Oliver is a great protagonist, and I enjoyed following him and seeing the events that happened through his eyes.

Lightning, by Dean Koontz (horror? thriller? romance? really, I never know how to classify Koontz books): I read that Koontz had a hard time selling this book, as the first section is the main character, Laura, as a child. The whole book isn’t like that; she grows up and we follow her from there. If you’re someone who likes books that don’t just do one thing, this one may be for you.

What’s your favorite non-children’s book about a child?

A is for (Books About) Anxiety

Welcome to another year of blogging A to Z, when I yet again started preparing in February and then didn’t write any posts.

Procrastination, I know thee well.

Anyhoo… For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

Anxiety is one of those things that a lot of people suffer with. People talk about it more than they did in the past, and I’m glad some of the stigma is going away. I think that fiction books are an important part of that process since we can see the inner lives of characters in a way that we can’t (and don’t want to) see our neighbors’, or friends’, or our family member’s anxiety.

Turtles All The Way Down, by John Green (YA): The main character in this book is struggling with obsessive-compulsive behaviors, which significantly interfere with her life. I thought this book did a great job of showing Aza’s anxiety without beating you over the head with it. I also loved that she and her best friend argue, but end up understanding one another and loving one another more than before.

Sushi for Beginners, by Marian Keyes (romance): Ashling is never diagnosed as anxious, but she worries about everything. She has a huge purse which has everything anyone could possibly need in it: band-aids, rescue remedy… everything. When she takes a new job, she has to deal with her perfect boss and the boss’s sexy boss, who probably hates her because she tries too hard. The characters in this book undergo a lot of change and learn to accept themselves and others.

Uncanny, by Sarah Fine (YA science fiction/ thriller): Cora doesn’t remember the night her sister died. She turned off her Cerepin (the computer attached to her that records everything) and even she suspects that she might have done something to her sister. She’s always struggled with anxieties and fears, but her anxiety gets worse as she tries to avoid remembering what happened that night.

Fan Girl, by Rainbow Rowell (YA Romance): Cath is uncomfortable with new people and new situations. So when she gets to college, and her twin sister doesn’t want to room with her, she’s thrown way out of her comfort zone. Her only consolation is the fanfiction she writes. But as various people push her out of her comfort zone, she realizes maybe she can have a life in the real world.

I’m trying to keep these lists short since I know there are a lot of A to Z blogs to read.

Are there any books with anxious main characters that you’d add to the list?

Z is for Zsadist

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8478Zsadist is a character in the Brotherhood of the Black Dagger series, by JR Ward. These books are shelved in romance, and while they do have a lot of things in common with regular romance books, I think it’s an oversimplification.

The Brotherhood is a group of vampires who protect their species from the Lessers. The Brotherhood are scary, badass vampires who have no interest in humans. In this universe, vampires take blood from one another, as human blood would be too weak to sustain them.

Each book focuses on a different brother and his romantic attachment to a female. There’s sex and romance and all the typical stuff you find in a romance novel, including a “happily ever after” ending.

One of the reasons I love these books is that each of the brothers struggles with some form of disability. One brother is blind. Another has a prosthetic leg. Another struggles with a “beast” that emerges whenever he gets too emotional. And they’re still badass.

Zsadist is considered the coldest and cruelest of the brothers. When he was a young man, he was kidnapped and sold to a female who abused him physically, emotionally, and sexually. Because of that, he’s really just frightened of everyone, especially women, and uses his hard persona to keep everyone away. Though he’s loyal to the brothers, even they pretty much think he’s a psychopath.

When Zsadist meets a female who’s interested in him, he reacts the way you might expect: with fear that comes across as cruelty.

His story happens in the third book of the series, Lover Awakened. He’s really well-drawn. At times, my heart ached for him. But he didn’t come across as pitiful. He’s someone who was coping with his abuse in the only way he knew how, and I loved how he still managed to be a hero when it mattered.

It’s rare to see a male survivor of sexual abuse in a story, much less one who’s still masculine and tough. In a later book, he counsels a younger male about living with this kind of trauma, and it’s a powerful thing. The more fiction talks about it, the more we take steps to destigmatize it for the survivors.

Because his book is the third in the series, we get to see him from other points of view first. His behavior makes him look like the horrible person everyone believed. I think it’s a powerful reminder that we can never truly know another person’s story unless we’re in their head.

These are great books. If you’re not usually into romance, give these a try anyway. They focus as heavily on the vampire world and war as they do on the love story.

How do you feel about vampire books? Can’t get enough or overdone?

Y is for Yoda

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8479There aren’t many characters whose names start with “Y.” In fact, I could only come up with two: Yoda and Yorick. And though I’ve been known to throw out the quote, “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him Horatio,” I don’t think being a skull in a soliloquy qualifies as a great character.

Luckily, I actually like Yoda and think he’s a legitimately great character. Full disclosure: I used to read Star Wars books when I was a teenager, but I don’t remember if Yoda was in them. So my saying that he’s a great character is based on the movies.

In science fiction and fantasy, there’s almost always a wise old sage to teach the main character how to be whatever they are. As a sage, Yoda is an unexpected one (at least I assume I was surprised the first time I saw the movie… it was a long time ago). Luke doesn’t even know who he is when they first meet because Yoda engages in silly and annoying antics to see what Luke is like.

When Yoda does get serious though, he’s quite good at what he does. He’s able to use and manipulate the force, showing Luke that it can be done. While I’m a fan of the original trilogy and have little use for I, II, and III, the lightsaber scene with Yoda against Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones is one of the best scenes in all the movies.

All these qualities: the ability to play dumb when it suits, throwing out lessons, being able to mop the floor with an opponent, are all qualities of good sages. One other quality that I think happens often (though not always) is the mentor reluctantly taking on the apprentice. Yoda just wasn’t sure of Luke in the beginning, and told Obi Wan that.

Even though he is pretty standard, Yoda is still one of my favorite mentors. Maybe it’s because of his small stature. I’m short, and everyone always underestimates me too. It just goes to show that size doesn’t really matter for much.

 

X is for Weapon X

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8471Weapon X, aka Wolverine, is a character I know best from the movies. I love the X-men, and like many people, I especially love Wolverine.

Because this is primarily a book blog, I went to the library and got my first X-men comic, and read it through so that I could blend my opinion on Wolverine from the comics and movies.

No matter what, he’s still a great character. Wolverine is a (pardon the pun) lone wolf who doesn’t want to care about anyone. He comes off as brusque and anti-social.

He’s got a big heart, and wants to make connections with other people. But I guess it can be difficult when other people have an expiration date, and you can heal from any injury.

He’s got adamantium claws that cut him every time he uses them. So he’s used to dealing with pain. I guess if you’ve got all that going on, you’re not going to show very much on the surface. Because while you can get used to pain, it doesn’t make it hurt less.

I haven’t seen all the Wolverine movies, but I did see the most recent one, Logan. While it was pretty good, I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. I’ll stick with the original X-men movie.

Oh, and I liked the comic. 🙂