Monday, August 31, 2015

Curious Wren Blog Party Tag!

I know it's not Day One anymore... but oh well...

My lovely twitterfriend Annie Hawthorne has joined the blogging world! You can find her at Curious Wren. WELCOME!

In celebration, she is having a blogging party and giveaway, and has shared some questions in a tag. She also offers coffee, tea, cake, and handfuls of chocolate chips. How can I not participate?

1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?

I just finished Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones. It's a sci-fi superhero thriller thing, and it was decent. Not superb though, so I wouldn't jump excitedly to recommend it. But give it a try if you are looking for something fun and adventurous.

2. Describe the perfect reading spot.

Luckily, it's an actual place: he couch on my screened in porch, in nice weather. It's outside, but bugless, and the couch is possibly the most comfortable thing on the planet. Ideally, there would be a bookshelf on the porch as well, for easy access, but we all know outside isn't the best place to store books.

3. Favorite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?

Ideally, the last, but I've yet to gain a large enough number of readers to sustain me. So I generally make up for it with water, tea, or lemonade.

4. Share favorite quotes from four books.

I have the crappiest memory, so this is possibly the most difficult question for me to answer. But Elizabeth Wein, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, and Terry Pratchett have some awesome quotes.

5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?

Fantasy: Narnia and LOTR.
Dystopia: Hmmm. Brave New World, perhaps?
Contemporary: I... don't have one? I did like If I Stay, though, so maybe that?
Sci-fi: The Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis. But I haven't read much Sci-fi.
Classic: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

6. List three authors you've collected the most books from.

-Shakespeare. I've got the complete collection, plus a bunch of Folgers editions. Because I'm lazy, I don't want to go upstairs and actually count, but I'm going to guess... 10?
-CS Lewis. I have the Complete Chronicles of Narnia, plus Surprised by Joy, which makes 8.
-Third place is a tie between a bunch, with 4 books, but let's go with Marissa Meyer.

7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature?

YES. It's lovely. Unless it's used as a way to explain everything and get out of actually making clever plot points.

8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.

I actually have a draft of a post on book covers sitting in my blogger drafts, so I'm not going to answer this question as fully as I could, because that post will be going up soon. But I really really like artsy covers, like the ones a lot of MG books have.

9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.

Blue Sargent because I was just on tumblr and looking through Raven Cycle stuffs.
But really, she's kind of and epic character (like all of Maggie Stiefvater's characters), so she deserves to be mentioned.

10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?

I don't lend out books. I don't OWN many books, since the library is my friend, so if I recommend a book to you, it's your job to acquire it. (Also, yes, they are my babies.)


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beautiful People #12 // Zaneta and Angelina


Today we're looking at two friends from Masked Souls (also known as VeniceNovel because I'm not sure how much I like that title):

Zaneta and Angelina 

Zaneta and Angelina

Zaneta  Angelina  

1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?

They've been friends since they were tiny children (about seven years old?) and met up while playing on the banks of the canals, so I guess that would be... ten years? They live a short walk away from each other, so it was a convenient friendship. They're pretty close, since they grew up together, and Zaneta's longing for sparkle in every part of her life naturally grasped on to Angelina, who is playful sparkle incarnate.

2. What's their earliest memory of being best friends?

Zaneta would say that it was when Angelina took her side against Angelina's brother, Giovanni, in an argument. Angelina, though she won't admit it, worships her older brother to a certain extent, and Zaneta appreciated that Angelina considered her a good enough friend to take her side in the discussion.

3. Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?

Their tempers are very similar. They flare up quickly, and then disappear just as quickly. They don't fight as much as they have five minute squabbles before returning to love again.

4. Are their personalities similar, or do they compliment each other?

At many levels, their personalities are very similar. They both laugh easily, cry easily, and get angry easily. At first glance, Zaneta appears to be the more headstrong and tough one, and Angelina the weaker, more delicate, and more superficial one, and I suppose this is true to a certain extent. But Angelina has hidden strength, and Zaneta can be just as flighty as Angelina. 

I suppose they compliment each other by being similar. Angelina satisfies Zaneta's need for sparkle and superficiality and pretty nothings, and Zaneta satisfies Angelina's desire for a friend who takes her seriously. 

Also, I think an interesting study is a comparison of their flirting methods. :-) Angelina is a hair twirler, giggler, and an "Oh dear, could you help me with ____?" All the while overwhelmingly elegant in swooshing skirts.
Zaneta can make flattery sound honest, and has the most fantastically charming smile in all of Venice. She has a touch of mystery and adventure to her that is kinda irresistible. And she can be clumsy sometimes, but forgiveably so, because she's kinda cute, you know? 

5. Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?

I think it depends on the situation. At parties, Angelina is the leader, and Zaneta learns from her. On the street, hanging out with friends (and many beaus), they are equal. And in the marketplace or when interacting with the slightly more lower classes, Zaneta leads, and Angelina follows.

6. Do they have any secrets from each other?

Angelina is secretly shipping Zaneta and Giovanni very VERY HARD. (This would be a good place to point out that Giovanni is Zaneta's friend too, just not as close as Angelina. He's kind of taken on a big-brother role with Zaneta as well, since she was always hanging out with his sister.)
handsome stranger (i.e. Nicolo)

Zaneta has many secrets that she acquires over the course of the story (though not in the beginning). Some, she tells Angelina (like meeting the handsome stranger during Carnivale). But many she keeps to herself (like the mysterious cloaked and creepy man who had been having odd deals with her father, or like her father suddenly getting arrested with no warning for no reason, or like the note her father left in the workshop about a very odd mask he had been working on).

7. How well do they know each other's quirks and habits?

Angelina has taught herself how to look very very interested and enraptured when she isn't interested at all. Zaneta can tell the difference between interested Angelina and fake-interested Angelina, which is something not everyone can do.

8. What kind of things do they like to do together?

Rowing on the canals is always fun, especially if they can recruit some cute guy to row for them (which isn't hard for them to do). Angelina hosts a lot of parties, and Zaneta is always invited. And when there aren't people to hang out with (or boys to flirt with), they like to sit on the front stoop of Soranzi Masks and chat and watch the boats float down the canal.

9. Describe each character's fashion style (use pictures if you'd like!) How are their styles different/similar?

Well, Angelina's a little higher on the aristocracy pole than Zaneta (though not by much), so it impacts the dress. This isn't at ALL historically accurate, but I'm not writing hist fic here. Anyway, here are pictures:

Angelina, daily wear
18th century gown reproduction  Other Dress #2dayslook #watsonlucy723 #OtherDress
Angelina, Carnivale dress

Quiet moment by on @deviantART - I'm not 100% sure this was based off 17th century dress, but it does remind me a lot of how women were depicted in the Dutch and Flemish genre paintings of the time, so....
Zaneta, daily wear
Dress, 1660s, Museum of Fashion Bath
Zaneta, Carnivale dress

 Now that I look at these pictures, I see how horribly historically off some of them are. *shrugs* I'm afraid if I focus too much on historical accuracy, I'll never get to my story, so oh well.

10. How would their lives be different without each other?

Zaneta would go to less parties. She would probably get into more mischief than she already does. Going to the dances with Angelina keeps her out of trouble. 

Angelina wouldn't have someone to talk to about serious matters, since a lot of people see her as kinda superficial.

This is the last Beautiful People post this month, I promise... (Finally caught up!) Check out the other friendship-themed posts and join the linky HERE!

Oh and before you go, some news: I got a tumblr! Which might not have been the best idea considering I start school tomorrow. Oh well.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beautiful People #11 // Angelina


Continuing on with my Beautiful People barrage of posts...

And with my VeniceNovel inundation!

Today, I'm going to introduce you to a character who showed up briefly in one of the first Beautiful People posts: Angelina Caro, Zaneta's best friend.


1. What's their favorite ice cream flavor?

Anything fruity! Though she prefers sorbets.

2. Your character is getting ready for a night out. Where are they going? What are they wearing? Who will they be with?

Since it's a night out, I can't say that she's preparing for a party at her own house, which is a very common occurrence in her life. But she also goes out to many parties of her friends, so I'm guessing that's what she's doing for this question. She is on the border of upper-middle-class and lower-class-nobility, so she still gets invited to many of the posh parties. She and her brother are going together to this one - it's being hosted by one of his business partners. Angelina is hoping that many of her beaus will be there, but even if they're not, she's confident in her ability to make some new ones. She's very resourceful like that. :-)

Angelina is wearing a pink gown with lace all over, and pearls. It's not new-new, but it's only a second wearing so it'll have to do. See? She is resourceful.

3. Look at your character's feet. Describe what you see there. Do they wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Are they in socks that are ratty and full of holes? What do they consider comfortable, and what do they consider agony?

For daily wear, Angelina has a few pairs of nice little black lace-up boots, sturdy enough for the Venetian cobblestones, but adorable enough to be enticing when she lifts up her skirts climbing stairs. For parties, her shoes are more colorful dancing shoes, depending on the style of her dress.
Angelina will suffer for beauty without a peep. Agony would be having to wear ugly shoes.

4. Do they have any birthmark or scars? Where are they and how did they get them?

Though Angelina got some bruises as a kid frolicking around the streets of Venice, there's nothing that lasted as a scar, and now she's old enough to know better than to get into those kinds of rough-and-tumble situations.

In terms of birthmarks, she does have a slight hint of freckle on her nose, which she is mortified by and does her best to hide.

5. What kind of music do they listen to? Does it change depending on their mood or is it always consistent? (Feel free to share samples!)

Angelina loves dancing music, and will always get up and dance at the slightest suggestion. She's been to orchestral and choral performances, but usually spends most of the time making eyes at the cute guys in the audience next to her. Once she made the (very attractive) cellist blush by smiling at him, and found it a very entertaining game to see how flustered she could make him. Don't ask her how the music was at that concert - she won't remember.

6. Do they have any musical talent? Play an instrument? How's their singing voice?

Angelina sings decently, nothing to be ashamed of. She used to play the piano but not very well.

7. What kind of book would you catch them reading?

Some kind of romantic thing, with lots of elegant descriptions of trees and fields and castles.

8. How would they spend their summers (or their holiday)?

Parties! Dances! Howe else?

9. It's Saturday at noon. What is your character doing? Give details. Ex. If they're eating breakfast what's on the menu? Are they hiking, shopping, lazing around?

Chatting with Zaneta while sitting by the Grand Canal, watching the gondolas.

10. Is there anything your character wants to be free of?

The judgment of others that she is just parties and flirting and pretty dresses. Well, she is parties and flirting and pretty dresses, but it's not the entirety of her, and people think it is.

What do you think of Angelina? And - important question - what's your favorite ice cream flavor? (Mine's chocolate anything.)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beautiful People #10 // Besina and Bartolomeo


Well lookie here! I finally am doing more Beautiful People posts! And because I missed the June and July ones I thought I'd go back and fill those out first. (So prepare yourself for three BP posts in a row!)

And I've also decided to return to work on my VeniceNovel (also called, for now, Masked Souls, but that might change). It is the only novel that my heart really wants at this point, and I'm working on revamping the whole plot and making it beautiful.

Today we're talking about June's Beautiful People theme - parents. Specifically, Zaneta's parents. I do not yet have any pictures of them. Oh well.

1. Do they know both their biological parents? Why/why not?

Yes. Zaneta has two awesome parents - Besina and Bartolomeo. (In the original version of this story, Bartolomeo dies early on. That's not happening anymore - yay! - though he does get abducted and is thus not present for most of the story anyway.)

2. Have they inherited any physical resemblances from their parents?

Zaneta inherited her mother's petite facial features and willowy stature, though she is taller than her mom. She also has a hint of her father's deep and twinkling eyes, though hers are very green and his are blue-green. She has a robustness about her that can only come from her father, too.

3. What's their parental figure(s) dress style? Add pictures if you like!

Both of Zaneta's parents dress in working class outfits of the Venetian 17th century (ish). Besina wears airy blouses, thick skirts, and an apron over it all. Bartolomeo often wears his maskmaking smock, but only when he's at work. He would never leave the house with it on.

4. Do they share any personality traits with their parental figures? And which do they take after most?

Zaneta takes more after her father than her mother, in terms of personality. They are both vivacious, hot tempered, and quick to laugh (loudly). However, Besina has a certain tranquil mystery about her that Zaneta shares, though more in the sly mystery aspect than in the tranquil aspect.

5. Do they get on with their parental figure(s) or do they clash?

Overall, it's a pretty happy family. Zaneta argues with her parents as much as any teenager might, but she really relies on them both for advice (though in different matters) and loves them very much (and knows it).

6. If they had to describe their parental figure(s) in one word, what would it be?

Zaneta would probably describe them both as artists, though in different senses of the word. Bartolomeo is the best maskmaker in Venice, with extremely dexterous hands, despite his large size.
Besina is an artist of life. She somehow makes everything beautiful.

7. How has their parental figure(s) helped them most in their life?

Bartolomeo has taught Zaneta maskmaking - and so, indirectly, an appreciation for beauty, magic, and mystery.
Besina has taught Zaneta how to see that beauty, magic, and mystery in everyday life.

8. What was their biggest fight with their parental figure(s)?

Zaneta has had many, many fights with both her parents, though they were petty, short, and easily resolved. The biggest fight probably happens near the beginning of the novel, and basically involves Zaneta being stupid on a Carnivale night and not coming home until the next morning. Obviously her parents are going to be angry.

9. Tracing back the family tree, what nationalities are in their ancestry?

The Soranzi are Venetian through and through, and proud of it! (There might have been a Turk somewhere a long time ago, but they don't talk about that.)

10. What's their favorite memory with their parental figure(s)?

Oh, this is kind of impossible, because Zaneta's had such a splendid life with her parents. Her favorite memories are kind of mixtures of a bunch of different times. Her favorite memory of her father would probably be a conglomeration of all the times she's spent sitting on her father's workbench watching him put the finishing touches on a mask.
Her favorite memory of her mother is the way her mother plays with her hair when they're cuddling on a bed or couch.

What do you think of Besina and Bartolomeo? And if you could describe YOUR parents in one word (each) what would they be?

Read the rest of my Beautiful People posts here!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

You know that I don't buy books - usually - unless I've read them already, thanks to my public library. This is to ensure that my personal library is filled with only my favorites. (Why waste money on something I didn't adore?)

However, this week's topic is Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors, and I think I have a few. There are some writers that - whether I've read one book of theirs so far or all their books - have got me utterly sold on their writing style, enough that I will spend money on a book of theirs without having read it, since I am 94.7% guaranteed to love it.

[However, because I am not a rich person, I would like to change this topic to: Auto-Buy Authors if I had the money to Auto-Buy without great consideration of my limited funds.]

[And we will also turn this into a Top Five because I am stingy with giving out my UTTER DEVOTION to authors. I'm scared of wasting time on a bad book. So you really have to PROVE YOURSELF to be on this list.]

[This list also excludes classic authors, because they are no longer producing new books.]

Without further ado, let's start with the obvious one:

1. Maggie Stiefvater

Because she is QUEEN. And she has proven herself OVER and OVER and OVER again to me - her writing is EXCELLENCE. I've only read The Raven Cycle and The Scorpio Races, but anything that she's ever written or will write assuredly has a spot on my TBR.

2. Elizabeth Wein

Can there be two queens? Because Elizabeth Wein is the other one. Maggie is Queen of Magical Realism and Elizabeth Wein is Queen of Historical Fiction. Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire BLEW MY MIND, and I am so so so excited to read Black Dove White Raven. I enter into her books knowing my heart will be goo and my mind will be in pieces by the end. We readers are so masochistic. 
3. Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles show that Marissa Meyer is capable not only of writing something fun, but also utterly clever. The way her plots twist into each other is just so CLEVER I LOVE IT. As is the way she incorporates tiny hints to the fairy tales she is retelling. TOP NOTCH.

4. Laini Taylor

I've only read her Daughter of Smoke and Bone books (and those very recently), but I am in love with the masterful weave of her plot. It twists all over the place and I WISH I could plot like that SO BADLY. I'm also super in love with her characters. I want to HUG THEM ALL. (Especially Zuzana.)

5. Holly Black

But hold! You say. You have read but one of Holly Black's books. Is she worthy of a place on your list?
The answer, my friend, is yes. It's true, I've only read The Darkest Part of the Forest, but instantly after I finished I put everything by her on my TBR, so if that's not evidence of how much I love her writing, I don't know what is. It gives me shivers - both good and bad - and I LOVE that!

What authors do you automatically buy - no matter what the storyline or genre of their latest book? Let me know in the comments! And link me your Top Ten Tuesdays!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius // In which Sophia rants about romance

 Love is real in the town of Grimbaud, and Fallon Dupree has dreamed of attending high school there for years. After all, generations of Duprees have successfully followed the (100% accurate!) love fortunes from Zita’s famous Love Charms Shop to happily marry their high school sweethearts. It’s a tradition. So she is both stunned and devastated when her fortune states that she will NEVER find love.

Fortunately, Fallon isn’t the only student with a terrible love fortune, and a rebellion is brewing. Fallon is determined to take control of her own fate—even if it means working with a notorious heartbreaker like Sebastian.

Will Fallon and Sebastian be able to overthrow Zita’s tyranny and fall in love?

This book had such a cute premise. It had such an adorable cast of characters. It was set up to be sweet and squeeable and heart-meltable.

And, in parts, it was all those things. But it had the potential to be so much better.

Why didn't I like it as much as I hoped I would?

Let me just say, as an initial disclaimer, I'm not one for romance being the central plot. But this one (even though it's marketed as YA, and the characters are 15) seemed a little MG to me, so I thought it would be cute. I'm always up for some heartfelt MG cuteness. 

So my issue wasn't with the romances themselves. It was more with how the book seemed to always be pushing romantic love and finding-your-soulmate as the most important thing in life. I vehemently do NOT agree with this at all. However, at first, I was forgiving with the constant mention (by parents, teachers, students, everyone in the town of Grimbaud) of, "You're going to finally find happiness when you find your other half." 

Then we met the spinsters and bachelors and the people who hadn't found love in "right" way. In these characters, I was expecting to meet people who defied the stereotypes that the town put on them as cat ladies and sloppy bachelors who lived to be lonely and occupy their time with trivialities until they die. BUT THEY DIDN'T. They fit these stereotypes perfectly. And everyone seems to think that singleness is some kind of disease?

Seriously? And the townspeople's problematic view is never corrected?

There is one character who, after getting her love fortune that tells her that she will never find love, decides to enjoy herself and travel through all of Europe. Yay! I thought, Good for you! She's an educated woman (a librarian), who actually takes matters into her own hands. But then does she finally see life as larger than herself, enrich her soul with the art and culture of the world, and finally find fulfillment? No. She returns to her teensy town of Grimbaud, depressed that she hasn't found her "soulmate," and joins the rest of the spinsters in their Spinster Homes, reading romance novels in order to satisfy her ever present craving for a significant other. 

Guys, sexual and romantic love is a beautiful thing, but it's not the end-all-be-all. Your life will not end if you do not get married. Find fulfillment in yourself, and if a soulmate comes along, then, that's super exciting! But don't live your life (like the characters in Grimbaud do) with the expectation that all your problems will be solved once you meet the perfect partner. Cuz they won't. (Surprise!)

And when they finally addressed the excellence of friendship, they didn't give it full credit, in my opinion. 

Excuse me, friendship is a kind of love, and can be just as strong - or stronger - than romantic love.

I was hoping (after a while, in vain) that Fallon, our main character, would defy her "no love for you" fortune by running with it, and becoming happy and successful and fulfilled WITHOUT a boyfriend/husband. What a triumph over the love fortunes THAT would be! In your face, Zita! But no. I don't think it's spoilery to say that by the end of the book there were four neat little couples wrapped up neatly in a bow, as expected. 

But there were parts about the book that I DID LIKE:

~ Fallon, our protagonist was hilarious and book loving and kinda OCD about housekeeping and knows her mind and is a top notch student. So much love to her!

~ Nico, Fallon's friend was adorable and I would totally ship them if he weren't the "gay best friend." Actually, all the characters were top notch and I loved them all! (Or hated them, as required.)

~The descriptions of the town is super cute and I would love to visit. (Though I'd never live there haha.)  Though I don't understand why they'd need love charms normally (like, when Zita wasn't there) since love is magical in itself?

~ The cover is THE MOST CUTE THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. Just look at it. Squeeeee!

Anyway, this book is definitely adorable, and perhaps I was reading into it more that I was supposed to. I just get super strung up whenever anyone says being single is worse than being in a relationship, any relationship. But maybe this book will be better for you! I know lots of people found it fun and cute and there's even a sequel coming out eventually. 

Have you read Love Fortunes and Other Disasters? What did you think? Would you live in a town that valued romantic love above all else?

Thanks to Swoon Reads for the ARC! Love Fortunes and Other Disasters came out May 2015 and I am super late with this review. Whoops. Sorry!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Renaissance Fair Frolickings

Last Saturday, I went to the Bristol Ren Faire with my sister and some friends, and it was EPIC. I know this has nothing to do with books or literature, but I'm assuming you lovely readers would like to hear of my adventures. :-) Prepare for AN OVERWHELMING AMOUNT of photos. (I mean, "portraits.")

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to go to a Ren Faire, ever since I was a tiny hobbit and found out that Ren Faires were a thing. And finally, over ten years later, I got to go to one. WHY DID I NOT GO SOONER

My friends and I dressed up in all the Renaissancey stuff we could dig out of our basements:

We were greeted at the gate by a very raggedy and toothless old lady, who posed for a picture.

After being overwhelemed by the sheer magnitude of the faire (it's seriously like a little village), we found the fairie glen, which might possibly be my favorite part of the faire. My new career goal is to become a fairie.

This one had a spider web and would tie magical string bits onto the wrists of children. 

This was a quaint fairie couple. The yellow pixie would hop around and the orange fellow would just stare at people mysteriously and try to eat stones that the children gave him.

The yellow pixie is my absolute favorite fairie and I want to have one in my garden.

 Next, we went to see some comedians. The best of the shows we saw was a trio called Barely Balenced who did very impressive acrobatics. They called themselves Small, Medium, and Large, and the cutest thing is that Small and Medium are married! (Large is their best friend and personal bodyguard.) 



Then we went to see the jousts. Our knight was the green knight, Don Vincenzo from Italy - he didn't win much, but he was awesome nonetheless. The MC of the jousts was the Duchess Anastasia, Lady of Chivalry - yet another career goal for me. She was EPICNESS INCARNATE.

We saw both the Queen's Joust and the Fight To The Death (where Don Vincenzo died). But then he resurrected so we took a selfie... I mean, a "portrait":

We ate calzones in honor of our Italian knight. And my sister ate a giant turkey leg, which was very delicious:

This lady lets children paint on her skirt while she tells them stories. Another career goal for me. Can I just live at the Ren Faire please?

We also danced around a Maypole! It was so very exciting.

After some archery, we met up once more with the raggedy, toothless lady from the entrance. Her name is Lady Ettie and she has tea parties with the children. (We also got photobombed :-P )

We found an armory, where you could buy swords and daggers and whatnot. My sister's dream of actually touching a real dagger was fulfilled.

At the end of the day, the Queen's parade passed us by, and so we got to shout HUZZAH! and LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!

The Queen's parade attracted some more fairies:

This one was a deer spirit:

We waited until most of the visitors had left, and it was kind of epic to have the faire to (mostly) ourselves. It's surreal. I HAVE to return next year because this was SUCH a great experience.

Have you been to a Renaissance Faire? Tell me about it! If you haven't - would you go? Would you dress up?