Classic Remarks: Favorite Couples

This week Krysta and Briana atย Pages Unboundย are hosting the discussion:ย Who are some of your favorite classic couples?

Thank you, Krysta and Briana, for asking who are “some of” my favorite couples. Because I could just tell you all about Elizabeth and Darcy for a whole blog post, but I’m assuming that isn’t what anyone wants to read, lol.

No surprise that most of my favorite classic novels have great romances at the center of them. The only question will be whether I can keep this list to a reasonable length…

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy

Is there anything more cliche? But I admit, Pride and Prejudice is probably my favorite book in the whole world. I love watching Elizabeth fall in love with Mr. Darcy. I love watching Mr. Darcy pretend to be indifferent. I love all the ridiculous characters. I love how they become better people for one another. But mostly I love Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. *sigh*

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How to Write YA Fantasy

Main Character

Your main character absolutely MUST be a teenage girl. Ideally she should have a traditionally masculine identity, such as a warrior or hunter, and she must be proficient with weapons. A bow would be best, but knifes are okay too. She should have a tragic backstory that probably includes the death of one or both of her parents.

World Building

If you can come up with a unique magic system that would be best, but the most important thing is that there is some impediment to magic use. Possibly magic users are persecuted, maybe magic is something only a very few understand, but more likely magic has mysteriously or sinisterly disappeared. This should be an especial problem for the main character and her family who have depended on magic in the past.

This should be high fantasy, but it should probably be based on a culture that isn’t white so that you don’t get compared to Sarah J. Maas or J.R.R. Tolkien. Urban fantasy isn’t particularly popular right now, probably because the market was so over-saturated with it in the early 2010s. So find a way to make high fantasy unique.

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5 Most Detestable Characters that We Love to Hate

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.

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2021 Bookish Resolutions

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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2020 in Review

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.

Book Stats

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…

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Top 10 Middle-Grade Books of 2020

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.

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Top 10 of 2020

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

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Utterly brilliant historical fiction. Captivating and compelling.

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5 “Bad” Books I Actually Really Like

I’m going to start by saying I don’t know that there is such a thing as a “bad” book. While definitely some books are better than others, and for sure the writing in some books is just terrible, I don’t know that a book can be “bad”.

Okay, I take it back, there are some books that are DEFINITELY bad in every way.

But I don’t think you have to only like things that are “good.” I mean, for one thing, good/bad is so subjective! But for another thing, your enjoyment of a thing isn’t necessarily tied to its quality. I have definitely experienced movies/TV that are so bad I can’t enjoy it, but most of the time I can like something even when I can tell it’s not awesome if it’s achieving whatever it set out to do. This book was supposed to make me laugh, and it did. Yay!

Okay, glad I got that out of the way.

This list are books that the book community on the whole has determined are terrible, and that I to some extent agree are not awesome, but I still love them anyway.

1. Twilight

I resisted Twilight for a LONG time. By the time the movie came out literally everyone I knew had read it except for me, and then I saw the movie which was terrible, and so I refused to read it. Until I did. And yes, it was just as bad as everyone says. The dialogue is particularly awful. But … I have still read the whole series. More than once.

I don’t know what it is that makes me keep reading. It’s not the romance. Maybe it’s the melodrama? It’s definitely at least part the Pacific Northwest setting. Whatever it is, so many people enjoy this book that I’m done criticizing it or apologizing for liking it.


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How to know when your TBR is too long

Looking at your tbr gives you anxiety.
Books are supposed to make us feel happy and relaxed! If your tbr makes you anxious, it’s probably because there are too many books on it, my friends.

You look at some of the books and think “I’ve never even seen that book before!”
I think we all have books on our tbr that we can’t remember the plot of or why we added them. But if you’re looking at a book and you don’t even RECOGNIZE it, the problem is either a cover change or you have so many books you can’t even remember them all.

There’s not enough room on your shelves for all your unread books.
When books are falling on the floor, when you can bathe in the pile of books on the floor, your tbr is probably too long.

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Dear cover designers, please don’t…

As book bloggers we can all pretty much agree that good cover design is a must. A great cover can make you pick-up a book, and a terrible cover can make you pass it up.

That is NOT what I’m here to talk about today.

Rather, today I would like to talk about cover design pet-peeves that don’t necessarily detract from the look of the cover, but bother me for other reasons. They aren’t things that make a cover ugly, but are things that may make me vaguely annoyed or grumpy. These things don’t make the cover bad, but they could still be improved in my oh so humble opinion.

Don’t include a dragon just for decoration.

I guess this most often happens when cover designers are imitating medieval page illuminations, so it doesn’t happen very often. But seriously, if I see a dragon I want to read about a freaking dragon, okay? Putting a dragon on the cover of a fantasy book that doesn’t have dragons in it is extremely misleading, and it isn’t fair to people who read every dragon book they can find (aka me).

This happened to me once in college. The book was called The Book of Joby, and there were no dragons. The book was fine, I guess, but I was seriously disappointed when I got to the last few chapters and realized no surprise dragons were coming to save or ruin the day.


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