Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Six "Unknown" books that You should Read this Winter.

I've realized that there are some masterpieces of literature that not many people know about, so I decided to tell all you all about them. Hopefully you will find at least a couple of them to be good and wholesome reads this season. 8-D

1.) Lark - Sally Watson



Set in seventeenth-century England under Cromwell, Sally Watson's LARK combines historical intrigue with romantic adventure in the high-spirited tale of a young girl who escapes from her uncle's stolid Puritan family.

Thirteen-year-old Lark is forced to stay with her puritan Uncle and his family after her Royalist parents are exiled to France. With an arranged marriage between Lark and her cousin Will-of-God looming in her future, Lark decides to flee to Scotland and stay with her sister who lives there. On the way, she meets young James Trelawney, a Royalist spy who takes her under his wing. At first he hopes to learn where Lark lives and return the curious runaway home, but as the two travel together they  build a strong friendship and grow to care for and protect one another. They find themselves in many complicated, insane situations, some incredibly dangerous. As the book mounts to a climax, members of Lark's family discover her whereabouts, James is caught in the middle of a battle, and a plan to rescue the young King Charles is set in motion - a plan both James and Lark may be a part of. - source.

This is a Must-Read for anyone who wants a soft, gentle romance, an adorable Scott who is seriously fabulous, a spunky, ridiculous girl who's a bit of a brat but definitely a lovable one, and lots of rambunctious adventures.

Ronia the Robber's Daughter - Astrid Lingred


Source

Ronia is the daughter of a robber chief named Matt. They live in a castle in the wilderness. The castle was struck by a bolt of lightning, a bolt which split the ground and divided the castle into two separate buildings, separated by a deep chasm. One half of the chasm is occupied by Ronia's band of Robbers, and the other half is occupied by robbers knows as the Borkas. Animosity grew up between the two robbers, and Ronia was not allowed to visit the opposite half of the castle, or to befriend any of the robbers living there.

One day, however, Ronia meets a boy of her age named Birk. The two  quickly becomes friends, but Birk is the son Borka's chief, and therefore such a friendship is forbidden by Ronia's father. When Matt discovers their secret he tries to end the friendship, but Ronia and Birk won't allow it and after a crucial climax between Ronia and her father, the two friends run away together and hide from their families in the wild, untamed forest. They share some incredible adventures and form a strong, lasting bond which no one can break.


This is a good book for anyone wanting a forest-adventure story with an adorable friendship that may or may not grow into something more, and amazing, well-written characters.


From Anna - Joan Little





From Anna* takes place in the 1930's and revolves around a nine-year old girl and the struggles they face when when they flee Nazi Germany, seeking refuge in Canada. For Anna the change is especially hard. She is a middle child, clumsy, awkward, and to herself, not particularly bright. Once in Canada however, Anna and her family soon discover a crucial predicament: Anna needs glasses. She is practically blind. 
   Once this discovery is made, Anna's life changes. Slowly she finds her own sense of self-worth and realizes that she has a plenty to give. She is like a blossom, just waiting to bloom.

This book is great for any reader who likes historical fiction, family stories, and strong messages about self-worth, hope, and growth.

*If you read From Anna, you'll also want the sequel Listen for the Singing. That one is about her brother joining the army in WW2, and the impact it has on his family, Anna, and himself.

A Charmed Life - Diana Wynne Jones



Cat admires and clings to his older sister Gwendolyn. She is all he has, and he clings to her viciously. Gwendolyn is a very promising young witch, capable of difficult and challenging spells, so there seems to be much for Cat to admire. However, trouble springs to life when the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Elated by the invitation to such a high-standing place of magic, Gwendolyn is eager to try her hand in the new waters, but she soon learns that no one in Chrestomanci Castle seems to acknowledge her incredible talents. With ever growing frustration and anger, she comes up with a scheme that could cause problems for all the worlds, including Cat's.

A Must-Read for anyone in need of a clever, ingenious fantasy with quirky characters and solid writing. (Honestly, if you're looking for those things you should read all the Chrestomanci books.)

The Thief - Megan Whalen

I don't know how 'unknown' this book is, but if you haven't heard of it now is the time to be educated.



"I can steal anything!," - so Gen, the thief proudly proclaims. But this claim soon gets him in trouble when the King's Scholar, the Magus, frees him from prison with the sole purpose of enlisting him in a job. It is no ordinary Job either. The Magnus wants Gen to steal an ancient treasure for the king, a treasure which no one has successfully recovered in generations. In fact it's more of a legend than anything else. Yet the Magnus is convinced the treasure is real, and he is determined to find and take it - and he isn't going to give Gen much choice in the matter.

For anyone who wants beautiful, flawless writing, strong characters, a medieval/mytholigical setting and a freaking amazing male lead who will leave you wishing there was more of him. (There are three other books in this series - and a fifth and sixth one on the way! - so that is something to keep in mind. As the series goes on there is some incredible character development, character perception, world-building and all out magnificent writing and story-telling. )

Bloomability - Claire Calderon



When Dinnie Doone is sent off to an international school in Switzerland, she finds herself uprooted and replanted in a strange, interesting, and beautiful new world. Surrounded by new friends, a new school, and new sights, Dinnie builds herself a home and discovers all the "bloomabilities" that life has to offer.

For anyone wanting a simple, slice-of-life story with interesting characters and a fun, relatable lead girl who will make you feel that you yourself are in Switzerland, studying the Italian language and making new friends.


The Ordinary Princess - M. M. Kaye




When Princess Amelia is born she is given many wonderful, virtuous gifts from the Fairies in the kingdom, and one that is not-so-wonderful from her Fairy god-mother. She is is given the gift of Ordinariness. Unlike her six beautiful sisters, she has brown mousy hair, freckles, and a 'unhealthy' craving for adventure. There aren't many princes who would want such a plain, strange princess. Even her name is ordinary! But when Amy's parents come up with a Knight-and-Dragon scheme to set their daughter up with a husband, Amy runs away. She decides it's time to take fate into her own hands. Since she is so ordinary, she finds it quite easy to get a job as a kitchen maid in a neighboring palace. She finds immense joy in the simplicity of earning her own money, sharing picnics with the woodland creatures, and being free for however short a time, of the demands of royalty. While she enjoys her hard-working freedom, Amy meets a curious man who hangs about the palace. "A Man-of-All-Work," he calls himself. He doesn't have much free time, but he begins to join Amy and her woodland creatures for the Thursday Afternoon picnics. Their friendship quickly grows, for Perry is a funny, venturesome man and even better, he is just as ordinary as she is! Has Amy found her prince-charming after all?

This book is a short, easy read, the kind of book you could finish in a couple hours or less. It is fun, and quirky, and don't let the princess-fleeing-from-marriage dissuade you. The Ordinary Princess is a heart-warming story full of odd traits and vagary that separate it from any other runaway-princess story you've every read or ever will read. It's comical, sweet, and engaging, with just enough romantic flair to be touching and emotional. (Not bad emotional, but that-was-so-cute-I-might-actually-cry emotional.)


I hope this have given you some reading ideas! Cold months always make me think of books and Hot Cocoa, so I thought I'd share some of my favourite books, books for curling up by the Fireplace with.

Peace out y'all!


*swings around cape and leaps off sage*


Bella

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Did THE THING.


This is Anime, This is Anime, Anime, Anime, Everybody Scream in Pain!


Hey y'all! Remember how I watched Avatar (The Last Airbender) a few weeks back? 

Well, ever since then I've been on an animated Cartoon high. So I did something crazy. I looked up what to watch after you finish Avatar.

Guess what came up? An anime called Fullmetal Alchemist; Brotherhood. (Hereon referred to as Fullmetal.)

I've heard of anime before, of course. I always thought it looked weird. The animation was unlike anything I'd ever seen, and then the stories seemed strange.

However, I looked up Fullmetal on Pinterest and the first thing I saw was this pin:

EDWARD ELRIC.

Y'all know I'm a sucker for Bro stories, yar? I was like, Eh, I'll try it. No harm in trying right?

Oh. My. Gosh.

FULLMETAL. 

Tiny and I binged the show in about two weeks, and when we finished we were like.... what now?

We started looking up anime. 

And now, a month later, I have gone down the anime hole without much hope of getting out.

I have come to a conclusion: I like anime. Don't get me wrong, they can get pretty weird. (It's Japan, guys.) But there is something very charming and engaging about anime. I think I finally understand what's drawn so many fans to this particular genre of TV over the years. Anime is vibrant and tangible. The characters are very alive. So far I have watched six anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. (I LOVE THIS ONE!) Attack on Titan, Noragami, Hunter x Hunter (Still watching) and Puella Magica I'm not doing the full name, it's too long., and Avatar: TLA. All of these are pretty good. Puella Magica is odd. I haven't finished it yet, but I enjoy it. Hunter x Hunter is also taking me some time to get used to but I think it's growing on me. I've tried some others too, and it seems to me that there are two kinds of anime. It can be great, or it can be a flop. If you find a good anime, it's really, really good. But if you find a weird anime, it's weird. And not that great.

Also, some anime can get dirty. So that is something to be aware of.

But if you find that really good anime, it is well worth it. It might be silly. It might be dumb. The characters can be very dramatic and over-the-top. The animations can be seriously weird and random. But if you can get past that, the stories and characters are worth it. They're worth the silliness and oddities.

Some of the anime listed I'm still watching and haven't finished yet, but I'd like to mention the two that (so far) I find on par with Avatar. Like, I want to own them on DVD.

First, Fullmetal.

After a horrible Alchemy experiment gone wrong, Alchemists Edward and Alphonse Elric must find some way to fix their disfigured bodies. As they search for some way of getting back to normal, they are slowly pulled down into a villainous plot which has taken root in their country, a plot that could destroy thousands of lives - and even the world.


I love, love, love Fullmetal. The characters are vibrant, layered, and interesting. The plot is amazing. The villains are great. The world is interesting. And it has Alchemy. It's like magic. But science-magic. 

It took me a little bit to get into this show. I'd never seen anime before, so I had to get used to the animation and the mood/feel of the series.  It could be so dumb and ridiculous, but it could also get downright disturbing and sad. It wasn't what I expected. Oh, and it has a kind of comic-book element which made me laugh. 


Animation VS animation. 

I think it was a comedy effect and I appreciated that they didn't do this sort of thing in emotional/serious moments. (When I watched other animes I noticed they would do similar things, so I think I'm right to assume that this is just how anime portrays comedy. The other anime I've seen aren't as crazy with their changes, but they will have funny comic-book like moments. I guess it's an animation style. 8-D It might have something to do with the fact that a good number of anime are based on magnas [Which are like Japanese graphic novels.])

Fullmetal gave me all the feels. You had weepy, romantic feels. You had brother feels.  Sad, shocked feels. Friendship feels. Family feels. You had THAT CHARACTER DIED??? feels. Happy Feels. Angsty feels. I hate that villain!!! feels. ALL THE FEELS! It's one of those shows that is super dopey and silly - like Avatar -  but there were several moments when the writers reminded you of the stakes and everything would suddenly be very serious. In fact it had more serious/sad moments than Avatar did. 

Something I really liked in Fullmetal was how well it handled failure and loss. I liked that grief was actually shown long-term. Like, if a comrade died everyone was affected and it made a lasting impression, right through the end of the series. If someone experienced failure or heartbreak, it often drove several of their actions in later episodes and seasons. Death, grief, loss, anger, betrayal, trauma - I really, really loved that things like that weren't brushed aside, but addressed and remembered. That's something you don't often see in shows, especially not to the extent that Fullmetal has it. I also really loved the character development and the emphasis on doing what was right, not what was easy. I loved that sacrifices were acknowledged and shown to be necessary. I loved that character arcs were built up in a believable way. I loved that villains and heroes clashed and fought, and it was actually realistic. I loved that characters had these epic moments where everything came to a head in the best way possible and you were like, BOOM! It was refreshing to see good story telling. Story telling that comes full freaking circle. 


I would definitely recommend Fullmetal to anyone who wants to try out anime. It's well done. It has a lot of heart, and even though the animation can be bizarre, and its really  dumb sometimes, It's also intense, emotional, exciting, and engaging. 

Some Things I would Warn Viewers About:

1.) There is a villain in the first season who wears a very low-cut dress.

2.) The content can sometimes be very dark and disturbing.

3.) There is lots of sadness.

4.) There is a good amount of swearing.

5.) There is a running theme through the anime concerning God. Some characters believed in Him. Some didn't. Some of the villains said things about God that I didn't like at all. But I don't think the writer was trying to be disrespectful. I think she was trying to show the contrasts in believers VS non-believers, and how people see God. I think she was also trying to show that even though there is a lot of evil in the world that doesn't mean there isn't a God - or at least some Divine Power - but not everyone is going to believe that. There were two episode near the end of the series that I didn't really like, but by the time I finished the finale I could see what she was driving at, and I appreciated what she was trying to do.  

The other anime I would like to own ASAP is Noragami.


cutest freakin' god ever.

I didn't know what to expect from Noragami. The plot on IMDB said it was about a minor god who was on a mission to get a shrine built for him. It didn't sound that great. But I saw a few gifs on Pinterest and I was like, Meh, I'll give it a go. 

Guys. There is so much more to Noragami than a god who wants a shrine. 

A better plot synopsis would be this:

          "Hiyori is a high-school girl whose life changes when she jumps in front of a bus to save the life of a teenage boy. After her encounter with him, her soul begins to slip in and out of her body and she doesn't have much control over it. Hoping that he might have answers, Hiyori successfully tracks down the boy she saved, and discovers that he is a god by the name of Yato. By saving his life she has become a sort of half-spirit, able to see the spirit world and those in it. Hiyori finds herself being drawn into the world of gods and phantoms, and gradually befriends Yato and his Regalia, a spirit which acts as a god's right-hand man. However, Yato has some frightening secrets, and slowly but surely his dark past begins to reveal itself."

Too fabulous.

So. What can I say about Noragami?

It. Is. Fabulous.

It reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson. The Percy Jackson I loved before Rick Riordan betrayed me.  It was like... Percy Jackson meets The Eight Days of Luke. There are gods in the story, but they seem more like demi-gods, like Loki and Odin in The Avengers. I wasn't bothered at all by the god element. It is handled very well. Besides, they never said God didn't exist. They only said that gods existed. And who's to say there couldn't be beings of great power which were created by God, and could battle evil spirits and stuff? It's not completely unlikely.

Just my thoughts. 8-D

I really love Yato. He's a minor god that gets barely any recognition. He wants to be known and loved throughout the world, but it's hard for such a little god to get noticed. So he runs around doing the most insignificant tasks and granting the smallest wishes, just to make people happy, just so that people will give a nod in his direction. It's kind of adorable.

Yato is ridiculous. He reminds me a lot of Howl. He is basically Howl as a god. He acts like such a giant dope, and that is a big reason I love him so much. The more you find out about him the more you realize he just really wants to be liked and make people happy, so he presents himself as funny and as un-threatening as he possibly can. I like that about him. But he's also incredibly dramatic. Like, Fainting-Because-Someone-Doesn't-Know-My-Name dramatic. He's a dork and he does such stupid, ridiculous things that sometimes you forget he's a god. I think that's part of why he does it. He makes you forget he isn't just a giant goof. He makes you forget he has another side to him, a dark, cold side.


 I am the Night, I am Vegeance... I am a Drama Queen.
-Yato, probably.


I like tormented protagonists. They are my weakness. Yato is definitely a tormented protagonist. He's such a cool character! Like, he's hilarious, but if you hurt someone he loves, if you wage war with him - you'd better watch out. He's dangerous in a fight. He knows how to win. You don't want Yato as your enemy. You really, really don't.


This is the land of the rising sun. Your desecration shall not be allowed!



Like Fullmetal, Noragami has some great character development. It even manages to pull off character perception. (And I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.) It had some good friendships, including a cute friendship with Yato and his little Regalia, Yukine. At first I wasn't sure I'd like Yukine. He was the spirit of a twelve-year old boy and he still had the issues a boy of that age would have. Like... ehm... dirty thoughts. You know. The joys of Puberty. On top of that he was a bit of a train-wreck, what you might call a very troubled person. But he grows up a lot and I got attached to him in season two. Especially after THE THING concerning a certain goddess and a sword fight.


Yukine.

Hiyori, Yukine and Yato made a good trio, and I found myself really liking their dynamic. I also liked the soft, sweet romance with Yato and Hiyori, 'cause that crap was adorable. The overall plot was fairly good and the whole anime was well worth the watch. Even the side characters got their own arcs and there were some good relationships/friendships there too.

My favourite thing about Noragami was the Christian element it had. I don't if this was intended, but there was a pretty strong Christian parallel concerning the relationship between a god and Regalia, and how the god bears the sufferings/struggles of his Regalia. If the Regalia feels pain or sorrow, the god shares in it. And if the Regalia does something bad, the god get's hurt. The god is the one who suffers for the wrongs of his servant.

It seemed very Christian-esque.

Things I would Warn Viewers about:

1.) There was one goddess who ran about poorly clad for most of season 1 and 2. She basically just wore a bra and skirt. It was awkward. I liked it when she got into full armor. I was like, "YAY! YOU'RE DECENT! Why don't you dress like that more?" (It was sad, because I ended up kind of liking this character, and I was annoyed that she didn't dress better.)

2.) In season one, Yukine is struggling with puberty and all the wonderful baggage that comes with being a twelve-year-old boy. He has some dirty thoughts/ideas and it can be inappropriate. He does grow out of this near the end of the season.

3.) The content can be disturbing and dark at times. It can also be surprisingly sad.

Now for some questions!

Have any of you watched Anime?


Do you like it?


Is there a particular Anime that you really, really love?

Can you recommend any good Anime for me? (Especially ones with friendships.)



*swings around cape and leaps off stage*



Bella

Pile of good things

Pile of good things