There’s something so satisfying about reading a truly evil villain. Sometimes, if they’re especially over the top, we even end up loving how much we hate them. These are the characters we are rooting for to die, get utterly humiliated, or otherwise get their come-uppance. These are the characters we never get tired of raving about how horrible they are. These characters make their books even more unforgettable.
Professor Umbridge from Harry Potter
Hands down, Umbridge is at the top of my list. I know in 2021 this is a bit of a controversial opinion, but I just hate this women so friggen much. The fact that she delights from torturing children is just HORRIBLE, but her superficial qualities like her annoying laugh and pink cardigans make hating her much more fun than, say, hating Bellatrix Lestrange.
I think my favorite thing about the introduction of Umbridge as a villain is that it introduces into the Harry Potter series the concept of a shade of grey between good and evil. Here is a woman that isn’t a death eater, and is in fact on the side of the “good guys”. However, she is just as twisted as those who are killing people in the name of blood purity. Later in the series, she hops right on that bandwagon as soon as it enters the government. To me, she represents the danger of those with backwards ideas and more ambition than compassion working in and for our government.
All these years later, and Umbridge is still the most hated character in the fandom. We will never get tired of her, and book 5 just wouldn’t be the same without her.
This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What do you think of graphic novel adaptations of classic novels? What makes one successful? Or what makes one not work? Do you have any to recommend?
Normally I don’t like to insert myself into a conversation if I don’t have a strong opinion or any background knowledge. And given the fact that I didn’t know people made graphic novel adaptations of the classics prior to reading the prompt for this discussion, this definitely should be a situation in which I don’t have a strong opinion.
But frankly, my immediate response is pure horror.
Not at a graphic novel. Not AT. ALL. I love graphic novels! They are amazing, and young people seem really connect with them, especially those who think they aren’t strong readers. I really enjoy graphic novels too, though mostly of the YA/MG variety. So I want to repeat, I take no issue with graphic novels.
Nor to I feel horrified when I see graphic novel adaptation of modern favorites. Percy Jackson and Twilight both got the graphic novel treatment, and I’m sure those graphic novels are … fine. But in those cases, the author is alive to give permission to the adaptor, if they aren’t writing the adaptation themselves. That’s a big deal. It means they get to give their stamp of approval to make sure the adaptation has the spirit of the original. I think it’s also pretty easy to recognize that they aren’t the same thing, and you can enjoy either one without necessarily having to have a preference or even have read both. Also, both those books have a little bit of an action/adventure feel to them, which makes WAY more sense for a graphic novel than, say, The Poet X.
I used to be the kind of person who finished a book, then looked around my room to figure out what I was going to read next. Maybe I would find something, maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe I would have to wait a few days until I went to the bookstore before I even started another book. *laughs* Obviously being a book blogger changed THAT.
I know some bloggers make really detailed tbr lists each month, scheduling what books need to be read in what order. Others have so many unread books sitting in their house that they make NO plans, just mood read to the extreme. For those of us who use the library and depend on inter-library-loan, we have to plan at least one book ahead because it takes time for our books to get to us.
These days I more or less plan a monthly tbr. If you’ve been following me for very long you probably know about my genre rotation schedule, and typically I plan all the books in a rotation together. Since I’m using more than one library and ILL, I find it helpful to order all necessary books off my list at the same time. Then I read them in the order they arrive in, or if they all come in at once I just read whatever I feel like first.
What about YOU? How far ahead do you plan your tbr? Let me know in the comments!
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.
Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. [redacted by reviewer because I feel like this is spoilery]
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.
This is going to be a short review, because I didn’t really connect with this book, but I’m not sure that I fully understand why.
Well, 2020 is over (thank God), but on Tuesday I was tagged by Hundreds and Thousands of Books, and I feel like the year isn’t so far gone that I can’t still participate. It’s been ages since I’ve done a tag. 🙂
A book you were really excited for I had been waiting a year and a half for Hilary Mantel’s conclusion to her beloved Thomas Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror and the Light. It’s one of the the only books I pre-ordered before June. Fortunately, it was *just* as amazing as I hoped it would be, and ended up being my favorite book of the year. I laughed, I cried, I was so absorbed.
I am not typically the kind to set New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I don’t know the last time I did. My philosophy is, if I see something that needs to change I should just do it, not wait for some arbitrary date. But, as it happens, this December I’ve noticed several things about my reading life that I would like to change, but can’t bring myself to do anything about during the holidays. So January 1 (or more probably January 9, lol) seems like as good a time as any to start. 🙂
1. Read more diversely
This has actually been a resolution of mine the past two years, and I’ve been doing better. But last year, even after I made a pointed effort, still fewer than half the books I read were by authors of color. While I kept up with my stats throughout the year (which really helped), it was easy to pass blame on all the random books I was gifted, or the MG awards list not being diverse enough. This year, none of that! It’s time for fewer excuses and more results.
Goal: 50% or more books this year by authors of color
Thank goodness 2020 is over, amiright??? I seem to remember saying the same thing at this time last year, though I can’t for the life of me remember what everyone hated so much about 2019. I mean, I know why my year was miserable, but in hindsight 2019 was pretty swell.
That being said, my 2020 was pretty awesome. I started my dream job, I am *finally* finished with grad school, I moved back to my hometown and don’t have a commute for the first time in eight years, and I got to spend so much quality time with my kids. I mean, I get that overall this year sucked, but for me and my family things are great in spite of everything. Plus, it was an AWESOME reading year. Let’s get on to that, shall we?
Top 10 of 2020
See full post here. You can also see my Top 10 Middle Grade books here.
Books Read: 112 What is that?!?! Who am I?!?! I admit, this was not my plan going into this year, and I don’t know that it will ever happen again…
As I started my career as an elementary school librarian, I had access to almost any middle grade book I could wish to read, as well as a good reason to prioritize middle grade literature. And y’all, I’m so glad I did. I’ve fallen in love with MG books all over again, and I like them SO MUCH MORE than I ever liked YA. Which is saying something, because I read and enjoy plenty of YA.
I can’t begin to express to you how poorly this list represents some of the AMAZING MG books I’ve read this year. Narrowing it down to ten was easy in June, when I started this list, but as I went through the year and watched book after book get knocked off, I fully appreciated just how wonderful the MG literature being written right now really is.
So for those of you with kids or who want to dive back in to MG literature, here are my Top 10 of 2020.
Please note that this is books I personally read in 2020, NOT books published in 2020.
1. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
The writing is so lovely, the characters fully realized, and the story so full of hope. Maybe my favorite MG book ever.
HOLY SMOKES! What a great year for books I’ve had! This is, hands’ down, the best reading year I have ever had. Ever. I know I say that every year, but there are eight, count ’em, EIGHT five-star books on this list. YOWZAH!
In all seriousness, I’m so excited to share this list with you all.
1. The Mirror & the Light
Utterly brilliant historical fiction. Captivating and compelling.
When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.
Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.
In trying to decide upon a rating for The Henna Wars, I think I finally understand why people give half-star ratings. Four stars means “I loved this book!”, and while I did enjoy The Henna Wars quite a lot, it didn’t really stand out enough from other YA romances enough for me to say I “loved” it. But three stars (“I liked it”) doesn’t seem adequate to describe quite how much I enjoyed it either. So, three and a half stars, I guess.