Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tell Me Tuesday #7: In which Elizabeth attempts to conquer the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees


I hadn't done much reading in the past couple months because between work and audition prep I was just too exhausted, but I made up for it by binge reading like crazy in the past two weeks!  The Goodreads Choice Awards are also out, and it's made me want to start reviewing books again - until this week I hadn't read a single one of the YA options (and at that I've now still only read one and it didn't make the final cut so I still won't have read any).  All I'd read any of....were the picture books hahaha!  Anyway, I'm hoping to play catch up and thinking of picking up reviews again (but then I think of all the books I have to read and...well we'll see.)

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy, #2)Blackout (Newsflesh Trilogy, #3)

I just finished rereading the Newsflesh Trilogy, which I obviously love since I've talked about it like a zillion times since I read it last year. I have to say that on a reread there were plenty of things I'd forgotten enough for me to be shocked/heartbroken a second time, things I appreciated even more with foreknowledge, and that there were also things I remember feeling a bit off about the story, and on a reread they bothered me more. Particularly in the third book - there's these quippy characters with animal names that feel really two sided - it feels like there was more to the story with them, but the parts of that story were cut out so it feels both overly flippant and like they're just caricatures. Bah. But all in all, I would still recommend these in a heartbeat and given some time will almost certainly reread them again  (but I wish I could read them for the first time all over again!)  

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)

In the car I've been listening to The Magicians, and oh man has this been a rocky book for me. It only resembles Harry Potter in that it has a magical school and if you removed every likeable trait in every character (except Alice I liked her). This wouldn't condemn the book on its own (but fuck you everyone who thinks it's better because the characters are all shitty and therefore "more adult". That you being a universal one and not a specific one since 99% of my readers are YA readers so you know what I mean).  Unfortunately on top  of all of that, the pacing is ridiculously bad.  It's divided into three "books".  The first book? Over half of the book and as far as I can tell it had no plot at all.  The second book? Maybe like 3 or 4 chapters full of predictable things that the characters do because they're "adults" and in "adult books" and also because they're freaking terrible people.  It's only in the third book that any action happens, and that it takes it's overt references to the Chronicles of Narnia (while it does also reference Harry Potter, I'd say it's clear that CoN is what it is modeled after most explicitly) and made it adult in a way that is believable to me - i.e. there are real consequences, and putting a bunch of people straight out of college into fantasy battle scenes doesn't suddenly make them badasses.  There are real consequences in a way we don't see in CoN, which I appreciated.

That being said I may also have been greatly mollified after Wikapedia-ing what happens in the next two books because I was hating this one so much I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish listening to it even though I only had a few discs left.  So basically the last "book" and the narrator were the only redeeming qualities here.

More Happy Than Not

I'm not gonna lie, if I knew more about More Happy Than Not, I almost certainly wouldn't have read it (or at least not for another 5 years since that's my going rate for preparing myself for emotional trauma).  In an effort to be able to vote for anything other than a picture book for the Goodreads Choice Awards, I picked this up because A. The library didn't have a copy of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda wasn't there yet and B. Because all of the authors at the Baltimore Book Festival YA booth recommended this like crazy (as well as plenty of bloggers I follow).  Like....I knew it was going to have some heart wrenching moments, but the ones I thought they were going to be about? TOTALLY NOT AT ALL.  And I spent the first third/half of this book going...well this is pretty good, but what's all the fuss about?  And then this THING happens and all of my problems I'd been having about certain things in the first half suddenly totally made sense and there were all these clues laid out but I swear NOBODY would have seen the THING that happened coming!  

Basically, it destroyed me.

Nimona The Princess and the Pony

Speaking of Goodreads Choice Awards books,  Nimona is heart-warming, heart-wrenching, witty, funny, well-drawn, and diverse in representations of gender roles, race, and sexuality.  Basically I definitely recommend it for anyone and everyone because I absolutely LOVED it.  All of the above can basically be said for Kate Beaton's The Princess and the Pony as well (not particularly heart-wrenching, but the rest stands). I loved it so much (and laughed so much reading it) that it's definitely going to give Red: A Crayon's Story a run for it's money for my Goodreads Choice Awards vote.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)The Royal We

So what's next on my reading agenda?  Well after More Happy Than Not, I'm going to need something cute and fluffy in my arsenal, and The Royal We looks like it will fit that (as well as give me something I will have read in the fiction category of the GRCA. Although it's a surprisingly big book so I'm hoping this isn't going to go terribly wrong on me and end up being horribly depressing).  I had planned on reading A Darker Shade of Magic, but since it didn't make the final cut, I'll probably be read ACoTaR or The Wrath and the Dawn instead.  (Shut up I know I have owned ACoTaR since May, and I STILL haven't read Queen of Shadows but....I'm scared gahhhh!!!)

In any case, wish me luck!  And happy reading to all of you :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Day in the Life #40: In which our intrepid Blogger returns!

Well, it certainly has been an eventful two months away from the blog!  So....well, let's just say this post is going to be long.  First I'll get the audition stuff out of the way:

I took my first professional audition in mid-October, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I handled it.  I didn't advance, but I was happy with how I played - musically, just not perfectly.  But most importantly I learned I can keep my head in a BIG audition (there must have been over a hundred oboists there which is a really big number for us - I think average is around 50 or 60, according to my friends who HAVE taken auditions regularly), and I knew immediately what I needed to fix for future auditions.  And as long as I'm happy with my performance and I've learned something from the audition, that's a good day in my book.

Unfortunately the same can't be said of my second audition.  It was a particularly stressful audition for me for a large number of reasons, but when it came down to it, none of those reasons were ones why it was bad. I just played REALLY poorly like...astronomically embarrassing levels of bad playing.  And I couldn't tell you why - I didn't think I was THAT nervous, and it started out really well, and it wasn't that I wasn't prepared well enough, it just....happened.  And well....that happens sometimes too.  But I did take something out of it, even if I couldn't walk away feeling proud of how I played.

Most important in all of this though, is that I am actually happy and even, dare I say, proud of myself for these auditions.  I've had a lot of customers come in and ask how the auditions went and gotten a lot of sympathetic noise about not making it, and comments on being glad that I'm so positive about  it.  But here's the thing - I'm not just saying this to try and put a happy face on not making it - I am actually, legitimately happy.  I'm twenty-five and taking my first auditions - I'd let myself come up with endless excuses why I didn't have time/couldn't do auditions before, and this is the first time I have really put myself out there.  And beyond that, do you know how rare it is to win your first audition? Or second?  Or any audition for that matter?  I'm pretty realistic about my chances here.  And I do feel good - the first audition for how well I played under stress for my first BIG audition, and the second for going and auditioning even though I only had two weeks to learn completely new rep.  I'm really not just pretending that I'm ok - I mean, yeah winning one of those jobs would have been incredible, and yeah I'm sure not advancing in an audition is going to get REAL old pretty soon, but for now?  I'm happy.

My past week free of audition prep has been just as eventful in the one week as my past two months have been (probably because of the fact that when you're in audition prep and working three jobs you pretty much only work and practice.  What is this eating or sleeping or having friends you speak of?)  Here's what's happened:

1. I made a pact with myself to go hiking every Wednesday since I only work in the evening and there's a great place to go hiking near work.
2. I made this pact after I discovered last minute that I didn't have any work this past Wednesday and so decided to go hiking because WHY NOT?
3.  This pact was rather short lived because it ended in this:

The short version is that I lost a really good hiking sock and I'm going to need a new pair of hiking boots.

And then there's the long version:  

I knew when I had to super glue the sides of my hiking boots down that I was probably going to have to get new hiking boots soonish.  I probably should have known that when you have to superglue parts of your shoes, they probably aren't going to be water proof anymore.  So when I unpleasantly discovered this while trying to careful wade ford across the shallow part of a river, I just said fuck it and tromped across the whole bloody stream, which of course soaked my shoes and socks.  You see, I had seen the PERFECT reading place up in a tree on the other side of the river (what, you mean you DON'T carry books with you while hiking and look for perfect reading nooks?).  In a moment of pure genius (note the sarcasm) I removed my boots and socks to let them dry on the branches of the tree (...because that matters when you're just going to have to cross the river again and soak them all over again?).  Of course you can see where that's going - I promptly knocked my sock into the water.  And guys...good hiking socks are expensive.  For some reason I'd thought I'd be able to get my stuff if I knocked them into the river because the tree was over a slow moving bit, but I forgot that in the process I'd likely knock everything else into the water too.  Also I forgot that reading in trees isn't actually that comfortable.  But hey at least it was a nice view? 

(At least as much as winter in the woods ever is)

So I cross back, re-soaking my shoes (again...things you should think about when you super glued your boots together), and about two minutes later my entire sole comes off.  At this point I'm maybe half-way through the hike which means I had to hike another two or three miles, and due to the heavy rain for the past couple days, it meant hiking up freaking MUD MOUNTAINS.  Do you know how hard that is with no sole on your shoe?!?  I didn't fall though, which is actually really impressive if I do say so myself.

So I won't be hiking anytime soon unless it hasn't been raining and is an easy enough hike for running shoes.  Also no water crossings for me as those CERTAINLY aren't waterproof :(.  And the likelihood of me affording new hiking boots anytime soon is pretty slim, so it looks like I'll have to wait until spring when it's warm enough to go play in the river with my Tivas.

Oh wait. Those broke too, I forgot.


But on the upside I've decided to use Instagram for pictures of my hiking book nooks? Because I WILL get back into the wilderness if it bloody well kills me!  It's the only form of exercise I enjoy AND it's free (minus the cost of hiking boots. UGGHHHHH).

Anyway, this post is entirely too long, so I'm going to link up the few posts I saved up on my hiatus...while I go and sob because my Bloglovin feed I have to go through is literally 1001 posts long.

Fun Things

Texts from Edgar Allen Poe - Guys if you read anything read this because it's probably the funniest thing I've encountered in the past two months.
Rebecca says All Your Faves are Hufflepuffs (PREACH IT GIRL!)
Christina recommends Adult Fiction for YA Readers.
Cait created a quiz: Guess the Book From Food Quotes

Serious Things

How 9/11 Was Displayed In Non-American Countries.

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Teal Trick or Treat Blog Hop (and giveaway): Books That Gave Me Nightmares

A couple months ago Nori started #BBCreativityProject, a way to build the book blogging community and come up with fresh ideas (I encourage you to check it out - there's been a lot of great posts).  And thus Teal Team was born!  Our Teal Trick or Treat is a 10 day feature leading up to Halloween with a variety of posts dedicated to the paranormal and horror of the holiday’s history, culture, films, and books, as well as a giveaway hosted by the lovely Rachel.

(On a sidenote to my regular readers, sadly this does not mean I'm off my hiatus - I just decided to make an exception for such a fun project!  I have another audition the first week of November, but after that expect to see me around with a vengeance!)  But onwards to the spooky reads that scared their way into my dreams!

Misery by Steven King


To regular readers of this blog, it should be no surprise that this is the first book that pops into my mind.  I suppose technically it doesn't qualify for this list - that would have required me to get much sleep at all, but any book that makes you call your mother at 2 am sobbing in terror and then cry yourself to sleep with all the lights on when you're in your twenties counts as a nightmare. Just a waking one.  (And surprisingly, I've just discovered I gave it 4 stars. I'm not sure what I expected since it DID do it's job as a horror novel, but this implies that I actually liked the book. Which I did not. At all. I don't know what I was thinking, reading this!!)

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories #1)

What kid in the 90's didn't read this series?  And what kid didn't get nightmares from this?? Seriously, I'm pretty sure these story collections weren't actually for kids.  For one, the artwork is TERRIFYING.   I mean, take a look at these:


Frankly, I still find these terrifying and a bit of me deeply regrets reminding myself how terrifying I found these.  THESE ARE NOT DRAWINGS FOR KIDS, GUYS.  (Or at least not for weenie adults kids like me).  If the stories weren't scary enough (they were), these pictures would have sealed the deal on their own!  I particularly remember the story of the woman with the ribbon around her neck and when she untied the ribbon her head fell off.  To be honest, it wouldn't have ranked in the scariest stories in the series, but she definitely featured in my dreams. (And oddly maybe I was less squeamish as a kid because I'm pretty sure I read these stories over and over. But I think it may have had less terrifying pictures in that particular book which makes a big difference)

The Birds by Daphne du Maurier

The Birds 

I can't remember when we read this in school, but I'm pretty sure we paired it with scenes from Hitchcock's movie as well, and while most people probably don't get scared from old black and white movies, I remain a scaredy cat at all times, so I of course freaked out every time I saw a bird for days after I read/watched this.  I definitely had being pecked to death dreams after this.  (Although I think mine were sparrows not seagulls which is kind of weird.  Luckily it didn't take and I think birds are cute again.)

Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy, #1)The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)

Both these series were included in my favourite books I read last year, and they were instrumental in revealing to me that I have a loop hole when it comes to scary books: turns out that I LOVE zombies!  Who would have known?  BUT - just because I love them, doesn't mean I'm immune to zombie nightmares.  For about a week during and after I read each series I pretty much exclusively dreamt about zombies. Luckily, for some reason I think about zombie strategy plans enough that I feel much more prepared for said nightmares, so they end up feeling more like adventures than things of terror. 

The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin

The Cold Equations and Other Stories 

Ok first can I just say....oh my god this cover?!? And it was done in 2003 too! It looks like what you expect on romance fantasy novels from the 80s for god's sake!  Definitely not evocative of what I read, for sure.  The Cold Equations is a story I still think about quite a lot, and it's been over a decade since I would have last read it.  (If you haven't read it, it's a short story and it is really thought provoking.  It's also singlehandedly the biggest reason why I wouldn't be interested in space travel in my lifetime)  It also fits a bit more into what my nightmares are usually like - nightmares for me aren't things of pure physical terror, they're more emotionally horrifying for me.  They aren't usually about falling or showing up naked or have monsters - they're about people dying usually involving some level of responsibility on my part.  So it probably shouldn't have come as a surprise that this one was going to show up in various forms in my dreams for years afterwards.  It's a particularly powerful short story (if not one I'm in any rush to reread. It's not like I ENJOY giving myself nightmares).   In fact, really if I could remember which books gave me nightmares like this one, most of them would be stories that I found to be powerful stories, not powerfully horrifying stories.

That doesn't mean I'm ready to jump into Stephen King anytime soon.  I'm not an idiot.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 23rd - Lucy @ The Reading Emporium shares her Halloween 2015 bucket list 
October 24th - Maryam @ Once Upon a Story  has some Halloween horoscopes
October 25th - Melissa @ Live, Love, Read imagines YA characters at a masquerade
October 26th - Bea @ Beatrice Learns to Read interviews author Mindy McGinnis
October 27th - Nicole @ Nicole has read... tells us who is on her supernatural guest list
October 28th - Stephanie @ Steph in Wonderland has delicious Halloween treats and drinks
October 29th - Nori @ ReadWriteLove28 shows us the creepiest YA covers
October 30th - Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books talks about horror movie tropes and cliches
October 31st - Stop by all our blogs to see our bookish Halloween costumes!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Top Ten Series I Need To Finish

Hosted by: The Broke and Bookish
 You know, I've become somewhat notorious for not completing series lately, which is really weird because I didn't used to be that way inclined at all!  But I suppose I'm reading more ongoing series these days (and then I get scared by the last book which is why so many of these I've read all but the last book).  The first half of these are series I plan to savor though, so I don't expect to finish them soon as some of them have been beloved since I was a kid, and all of these authors have died so I know I won't be getting anything new from them *sniffles*.  The second half I have no excuses for though, so I need to get to them haha!

Redwall by Brian Jacques

Martin the Warrior (Redwall, #6)

Man, this series is such a definitive part of my childhood. I am so sad that I've only got about three books in the series left. I own almost all the books too, although I'm sure I'm missing a few other than the last ones I haven't read.  The one pictured above is my favourite, although Mariel of Redwall was a close favourite!

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30)

Happily for me, I only discovered Terry Pratchett in the past year, so I've only read The Wee Free Men.  I have so many Discworld books to look forward to!  Now if only I could figure out what order to read it in....

Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

The Message (Animorphs, #4)

Speaking of definitive parts of childhood, I'm pretty sure I didn't read anything else during 5th grade.  (Ok that's a lie. I read Harry Potter too. But still.) I'm actually surprised I never finished the series, and I'm a little foggy on how far I actually got since I looked up what happened a few years ago.  Turns out that libraries don't have the whole series together anymore! So I've started collecting my own copies of this because I am determined to shove this series into every kid old enough to handle it's face because it is one of those IMPORTANT series. Important with a capital I.

Pern by Anne McCaffrey

 Dragonflight (Pern, #1)

 Ah sci-fi telepathic dragons. How can you NOT love this series?  And there are so many branches off of it that, like Discworld, it's sometimes hard to know what to read next!  Luckily I have quite a few of these left to read as well :)

Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones

 Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1)

Oh I love Diana Wynne Jones and I still have her longest series to look forward to!  


Gods & Monsters by Kelly Keaton

A Beautiful Evil (Gods & Monsters, #2)

 Holy crap! In looking up this series I just discovered there's a fourth book that was just published!  ..that..I marked as to read already so I must have known about it and forgotten about it and gone through this whole swirl of emotions already.  Whoops.  I seriously LOVED the first two books in this series though, the mythology and world building are really awesome, and it uses the two together in a fairly unique way for what you usually see. I mean...post-apocalyptic, paranormal, Greek mythology? How often do you see THAT combination?

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

 Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)

I've enjoyed the first two books a lot, but it's missing that something that has me jumping to the next book. It's weird because as soon as I started the second book (which I also delayed on) I was like...oh yeah I really liked this! Why did I take so long? ...and yet here I am doing the exact same thing on the third book haha

Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)

There's just so many books!! I know there's a lot of books in the other series I listed earlier, but with the exception of Animorphs, the stories are somewhat self contained so it doesn't MATTER that much if you remember things between books!  I got thoroughly confused with this series after waiting to long and am going to have to commit to rereading it and there's just so many more books left to get to!  How on earth does he manage to write so many??

Hound Saga by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Princess and the Hound (The Hound Saga, #1)

So I'm an unpopular opinion on this one, but I REALLY liked this story.  It's very much an original fairy tale, but told in a similar manner and style to a traditional one.  And that is just so my thing.  So of course I want to read the rest!  But I'm bad about going to the library for hard copies (although I DO think this library has one - my last one didn't), so I haven't checked the next book out yet.

Killer Unicorns by Diana Peterfreund

Rampant (Killer Unicorns, #1)

GUYS GUYS GUYS IT'S VENOMOUS, MAN-EATING UNICORNS!! I mean come on.  It's AWESOME.  Plus it has an interesting dialogue on sex that I feel you don't get to see too often, particularly in fantasy based novels. (Hint: sex positivity, but about NOT having sex! I'm happy enough when I see sex positivity of any kind, but it's always about having sex, which is good too, but I like having both options!)  But I really, REALLY don't have an excuse with this one - my awesome Secret Santa bought be a copy for my Christmas present, and I've had 9 months to get to it already...I just haven't.  BUT I WILL.

What about you guys? What series are you behind on?  Tell me or leave a link in the comments!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Day in the Life #39 + August Wrap Up

First, I just wanted to send out a big thank you to everyone who has commented on the blog, (or sent me tweets!)  Every message from you guys is always such a huge boost for me, and I have had some really lovely conversations with you guys over the past few weeks.  Last Tuesday I found out that two of my colleagues died, one of whom I had been fairly close with my first year in grad school, and it was just such a help that you guys have been so open and friendly, and really your comments just carried me through that (even thought none of you knew anything about this).  Sometimes I get to feeling a bit cursed, because short of people who have survived war or natural disaster, I feel like I've had more friends and family die in my lifetime than most of my other friends (my age) combined.  Which is really a self-pitying way of putting it seeing as I'm one of the lucky ones who has gotten through life this far, and being surrounded by so many positive people both in person and online snaps me out of that nonsense pretty quickly because I really have had such a lucky life.  But these two have been in my thoughts constantly over the last couple weeks, and every time I listen to a CSO recording of Tchaikovsky 4, I will almost certainly think of Alex.  
So, basically the past couple weeks have been INTENSE.  I had an audition tape due on Tuesday, but had planned on finishing everything by Monday night to submit it.  There were a series of problems:

1. I couldn't get the link for submitting to work
2. It was a video/audio audition tape and while I had the audio....I accidentally deleted the video.  Because I am dumb. But it was a good lesson to know.
3. When I DID get the link to work they said they weren't accepting submissions anymore even though the deadline. 

So basically I didn't sleep (and Monday and Tuesdays I work at two jobs so I have loooooong days) and spent my first four hours awake on Tuesday anxiously awaiting an e-mail saying whether they'd let me submit or not, only to realize that when they did say it was ok that I literally had 45 minutes to get a take of my concerto. So basically I cycled between despair, elation, and exhaustion haha.  The good news is that I got a good take on my second try which is AWESOME because the Mozart is super not my forte.  Unfortunately, the likelihood of me ever being called for this group is slim since I only found out about the audition two weeks ago and they're kind of doing a first come first serve which has been open since June and there's only ever going to be one oboe position open (also assuming they even like the tape I sent in).  BUT it was definitely well worth doing.  It didn't cost me any money, and it really jump started me on the Mozart (which I usually procrastinate on working on since I have such a hard time with it).  It also means I have video recordings saved up for the next time a video recording comes in on short notice which is an investment in and of itself!

So it was a rough, stressful time I've been spending away from the blog, but it definitely hasn't been all bad.

Bookish Discussions

Yash shares How Fan Art Affects My TBR Pile.
Iowa barber gives haircuts to children in exchange for them reading stories to him
Mark lists 5 Things Dystopias Get Wrong About Dictatorships.
Catherine wrote an article on What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name.
Kelley designed another Tarot of YA Lit: 2. The High Priestess.
Abby explores The Psychology of Fandom: Why We Get Attached to Fictional Characters.
Jamie talks about Perception, Reality & Our Super Reader Community.

Specific Authors/Books

Amy rants about Casual Sexism in Fantasy & The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace.
Emily says that James Potter Didn’t Change So That Lily Evans Would Marry Him.
Heather went to the Jane Austen Center And The Fashion Museum (and I am so jealous!)
Amy talks about Why We Need More Girls Like Rose Hathaway. (Yes!! So much yes!)
Theresa talks about why Clive Barker is amazing, influential, and just all around incredible.

Bookish Fun Stuff

18 “Game Of Thrones” Moments Improved By “Monty Python And The Holy Grail” Quotes - These are PRICELESS.  I'm torn between #16 and #18 being my favourites haha!
La La talks about her Tell Me Tuesday feature (which you should all do because it is fun!)
There's a Gentleman Bastards readalong going on (in case you wanted to join in!).  I've been crazy busy so haven't been able to reread the series as I'd planned, but I've enjoyed the posts analyzing what's going on, as well as fun ones like Kritika's favourite quotes so far! (Edit: I think it might be over now actually...this is what happens when I get behind on sharing posts!)
Gillian wrote up another YA Sorting Hat: Book Boyfriends Part II.


Amanda Palmer shares her concerns as an artist and soon-to-be mother in No, I Am Not Crowdfunding This Baby.
Stephen Colbert outlines Why He Thinks Women Should Be in Charge of Everything.
Jeff says No, It's Not Your Opinion. You're Just Wrong.
Sarah and Nicole posted a guide on How To Tell If You Are In A Korean Drama. (HAHAHAHA.  But...yeah...it's pretty on point.)
Daniel writes an expose: People who should be released from jail are dying there instead.
Sara talks about Villain Soundtracks.
Mari Ness analyzes The Last of the Classic Disney Greats: Sleeping Beauty in a way I never would have thought of on my own, and it's very interesting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Books On My Manga and Anime 101 Syllabus

Hosted by: The Broke and Bookish

 What would be on my syllabus if I taught Manga and Anime 101?  Well funny you should ask that.  Needless to say, a lot of these titles are going to start sounding very familiar to my regular readers students.  In fact, a good portion of these are probably going to be discussed later in the semester, so be prepared! ;)


Why?:  Because it is practically peerless when it comes to character development, world building, and plot.  This is also a great anime (and I'm assuming manga although I haven't read it yet) for someone new to anime because it is so strong as a show and because it doesn't have a lot of the quirks (that can often feel like an inside joke that you aren't getting when you first start getting into the medium) that many other animes have.  I have a thing about anime opening themes, and this is definitely one of my favourites.


 Why?:  This would be good for a later class because you need to have at least a small understanding of shoujo manga for it to work.  It's a great dissection of shoujo manga because it's a satire, but never in a way that ridicules the genre in a mean way, just playfully points out how ridiculous it sometimes can be.

 While neither of these shows are really up my alley, nor would they be the ones I would generally recommend to a friend, they are incredibly important.  These shows are what brought anime into Western culture.  Without these shows, I probably never would have had the opportunity to even see an anime! 

Why?:  To show that audience divisions in anime/manga are not so clear cut (Hint: Despite appearances, this is not in fact a shoujo series).  It would also be good to point out how powerful anime can be - they actually created a band for the show that went on tours. (Also, the music is AWESOME. I bought the entire soundtrack.)

http://images-cdn.moviepilot.com/image/upload/c_fill,h_236,w_507/t_mp_quality/19hm-cowboy-bebop-fan-cast-jpeg-95386.jpgWhat Avatar: The Last Airbender Character Are You?

This would be great for a discussion on what makes something anime or not (plus both shows are fantastic).  Cowboy Bebop is Japanese, but feels very Western, while AtLA is technically not anime as it is not Japanese but actually a Western created show that relies heavily on Asian artwork.


Why?: For one, I don't have any other josei on this list. For two, it's one of the best anime/mangas I've seen.  It's also pretty progressive as far as manga goes - it features a cross dresser and as far as I've seen it's done pretty realistically (as in the character isn't just used to be a punchline.  In fact, he's probably the most normal character in the series).  I'd recommend this one for newbies to anime/manga!  Also, it has one of my favourite openings ever. 

Hana Yori Dango by Yoko Kamio


Ok first let me get this off my chest. I much prefer Yoko Kamio's Cat Street. I think it is better in every possible way as I have some SERIOUS issues with Hana Yori Dango.  But if we're going to talk about influential manga, it would be incredibly remiss of me not to look at this one.  There's something to be said of a manga that is over a decade old and is still the best selling shoujo manga of all time.  It has been adapted not only into a manga and two Japanese live dramas, but also three Taiwanese dramas, a Korean drama, an Indian drama, and even an American remake.  It's influence on shoujo manga as a whole and on other cultures is immeasurable.

Too bad it couldn't have been Cat Street instead.


 xxxHolic by CLAMP

Why?: The artwork is without comparison the best I've come across in manga, so this one would be a good one to focus on the visual aspects of the medium.  It's also created by an all female group which is awesome.  It's got a great opening as well.


Why?:  I feel like it's impossible to do a class mentioning anime without looking at Miyazaki's work.  Really any of his works would be great - most people I know found him through Howl's Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke is I think one of his most iconic works, or there Nausicaa of the Valley, which is also a manga incidentally. (But I haven't watched/read either yet).  Spirited Away is my personal favourite (closely followed by Princess Mononoke, or if we open it up to any Studio Ghibli work, then The Cat Returns), but really you could choose any of Miyazaki's films because they're all beautiful.

Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura


Why?: If I were going to try and get someone to read a manga, I'd do exactly what my friend did to me: trick them by having them watch this anime until they're hooked and HAVE to know what happens.  I could wax poetical about how Kyoko is one of my all time favourite heroines ever, or how Ren and Kyoko are probably my ultimate OTP, or how as a musician I relate to the story line here about acting so much but those have less to do with teaching and more to do with me.  So I guess really...it's because it's my favourite and just everyone should read it!