Tag: fantasy books

Five Frigid Books for a Warm Winter

On a personal level, I could be more broken up about it being 45 every day in NYC, but there is definitely something not in the spirit of things. Since this winter’s been so warm, get your fix of snow and frost with these books about deep winter.

 

Winterwood – Shea Ernshaw

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We have witches! We have winter choked woods! Actually, witch might be a stretch, but there’s something wrong in the Winterwood, and Nora Walker might have to find it. When a boy comes out of the woods alive after a brutal snowstorm, its secrets become too important to ignore.

 

Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater

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We’ve got another forest, yall, but I admit I’m a sucker for them. Every winter Grace watches the wolves in the woods behind her house, feeling she understands them. They end up being more connected than she could have possibly imagined, and she’s drawn further into their world of curses and winter.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

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Vasilisa has always seen things and other people don’t, but is especially fascinated with the ice demon Frost. When her new stepmother forbids the traditions that appease and strengthen the spirits of the land, it’s up to Vasilisa and the things only she can know to save their crops, their community, and all their lives.

 

East – Edith Pattou

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Rose war wilder than her sisters since birth, and despite her mother’s efforts, can’t be kept from adventure. When a white bear promises her family prosperity if he can take her away, she agrees easily. But the bear is more than he appears, and running away into the cold was barely the beginning.

 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C. S. Lewis

Image result for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Image via Seven Miles of Steel Thistles

A classic, but always worth a reread. In a land held in eternal winter by the terrifying White Witch, four children discover a grand destiny and an opportunity to save a world, even if it’s not their own. If you haven’t read it, you absolutely must, and if you have, you still probably should.

 


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Images via Goodreads

Featured image via The National

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter movies

7 Facts About Minerva McGonagall

Today, October 4th marks the day of two very important birthdays: mine (not to brag) and my personal favorite Hogwarts professor, one who has proven to be the wisest and most badass character in all of Harry Potter, Minerva McGonagall!

 

Professor Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter movies

Image via Vulture

 

While this surface-level description paints her in a blindingly positive light, the reality is that deep down (if you do your research), she has been through far more than anyone, muggle or wizard, had ever gone through or could even bear to live with and is actually one of the most tragic characters within the world that Rowling has crafted around the “Boy Who Lived,” all of which just adds an extra layer to her already complex character that came to be an all-round crowd favorite amongst the Potterheads (including me).

So, here are seven facts about Minerva McGonagall that you may not have known about from just reading the books or watching the movies. (Also, Maggie Smith’s strong acting chops adds another layer to the reader’s imagination of McGonagall’s badassery.)

 

1. Her sorting into Gryffindor took over five minutes

 

Sorting Hat on Hermione in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' movie

Image via Thought Catalog

 

If you actually counted every time a young witch or wizard gets sorted into a house in any of the movies, then you would get no more than a minute, or two tops.

Very much like Hermione (my personal favorite character of the series and whom the Hat was initially stumped on placing in either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor), Minerva has the special kind of qualities that can really stump – or stall – the Sorting Hat for at least five minutes straight upon placing a new-coming student into a House that it’s quite literally a “Hat-Stall,” until she was finally placed in Gryffindor, just like Hermione, and has really lived up to her House name in more ways than just being the House Head!

 

2. She was named after the Roman name for a Greek goddess

 

Painting of Athena with spear and shield

Image via commons.wikimedia.org

 

Speaking of living up to Gryffindor’s name, if you ever studied Greek/Roman mythology, then you should probably recognize McGonagall’s first name Minerva, which was the Roman name given to the Greek goddess Athena (a.k.a. goddess of wisdom, courage, and justice, especially when it comes to warfare).

As for her surname McGonagall, while it for sure shows off her Scottish lineage and was actually named after the Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall (a.k.a. the worst poet known throughout the U.K.), it’s actually a name that’s not at all within the Wizarding World, which brings us to this fact…

 

3. She is a half-blood witch

 

Professor McGonagall duelling in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie

Image via Bustle

While her mother Isobel Ross was a full-blooded witch, Minerva’s father Robert McGonagall, however, was a muggle, and Isobel, sworn by the International Statute of Secrecy not to reveal herself or anything about the Wizarding World to muggles, did not tell Robert until long after the birth of their first child Minerva, who started to exhibit her magical abilities to her parents.

Robert decided to stay and keep Isobel’s identity a secret, showing how loving and loyal her husband really was, and when her parents even later had two boys, Minerva helped her mother out in cleaning up the messes caused by her brothers’ magic.

(Keep her magically-mixed parents in mind: they will pop up again later…)

 

 

 

4. She won awards for Transfiguration and later, the Order of Merlin: First Class

 

Professor McGonagall teaching Transfiguration in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' movie

Image via YouTube

 

Not only is she awesome at her job teaching Transfiguration and at being a freakin’ Animagus (a.k.a. a product of Transfiguration that already made her more than qualified in teaching Transfiguration), she won awards for doing what she does best, including her badges for Prefect and Head Girl, top grades for her O.W.L and N.E.W.T exams, and upon leaving school, the Transfiguration Today: Most Promising Newcomer award.

Also, after the Battle of Hogwarts, because of her strong display of bravery (by far, her truest moment of living up to her Head of Gryffindor name) in protecting the Hogwarts grounds against Voldemort and his Death Eaters, she so rightfully earned the Order of Merlin: First Class, an award specifically given for acts of bravery or entertainment within the Wizarding World.

 

5. She was engaged to a muggle (for less than a day)

 

Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' movie

Image via Radio Times

 

Now, here is just a taste of what makes Minerva a tragic character of the series…

The summer after graduating from Hogwarts, Minerva returned home to Scotland and met Dougal McGregor, who was the son of a muggle farmer and with whom Minerva fell deeply in love. In fact, later that very summer, she accepted his proposal to marry him!

However, and this is the part where I get back to her parents, not willing to make the same mistake her mother made but still not willing to risk the secrecy of the Wizarding World, Minerva broke off the proposal the very next morning after their engagement, but she very much later regretted her decision to do so: during Voldemort’s rise, McGregor was murdered in the crossfire of an anti-muggle attack by the Death Eaters.

Try looking at her the same way you did before…

 

 

 

6. She married her former boss (for three years)

 

Professor McGonagall in 'Harry Potter' movie

Image via Hollywood.com

 

 

If you thought the previous point about Minerva’s tragic life was dark (but then again, this is the world of Harry Potter we’re talking about), here’s an extra dark layer…

While Elphinstone Urquart (Minerva’s boss from her first job working at the Ministry of Magic, a fact that I didn’t much room to make for on this list) over the years had asked Minerva to marry him, even while she was briefly engaged to McGregor, at one point, she finally accepted his proposal and of course, married and lived with him in a cottage at Hogsmeade. However, their marriage only lasted three years, as Urquart died from a Venomous Tentacula bite, and Minerva moved back to her Hogwarts chambers, leaving behind the home she shared with her last love.

I swear Minerva can never catch a break with her personal life!

 

7. She got to be permanent headmistress after Voldemort’s defeat

 

Professor McGonagall at the Battle of Hogwarts in 'Harry Potter and the DEathly Hallows: Part 2' movie

Image via The Book Addict’s Guide to MBTI

 

Well. At least she’s got one of many things going for her: after the Battle of Hogwarts, she was appointed Headmistress of Hogwarts. Permanently! And that is where we see her today…

I don’t think it’s too much of a coincidence that she and I both share a birthday: we’re both smart Libras with so much to offer the world. Happy Birthday, Minerva, my Hogwarts kindred spirit.

Also, to anyone out there in the U.K. if you ever find a normal-looking tabby cat looking down at a map, then you know where Minerva McGonagall is…

 

Featured Image via Wizards And Whatnot

6 Reasons You Should Read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows Duology

After finishing Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, it bumped The Lunar Chronicles right out of the top-spot as my favorite book series (sorry Marissa Meyer, but you’re always in my heart). This high-fantasy heist series is a striking read. I can’t get enough of the characters, the narrative, the world. Despite having read it a few years ago, to this day it’s left me with the biggest book-hangover of my life. Here are the top six reasons why you need to read this duology too.

 

 

6. You don’t have to read her first series to understand it

Grisha Trilogy

Image via Goodreads

 

While technically a sequel series to Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, you definitely don’t have to be well-versed in the world to dive right into these books. I personally didn’t read any of the original series and was still able to fall head-first into everything Six of Crows had to offer. It’s completely different than the first series with all new characters. And while I’m told there are a few minor cameos by characters from the Grisha Trilogy, this duology works brilliantly as a standalone.

 

5. It doesn’t play into YA fiction tropes

YA love triangle

Image via WordPress

 

Spoiler alert: there are no lost princesses in this duology! No love triangles, no “I’m not like other girls” girls, and absolutely no Chosen Ones. Even though this is a fantasy novel (and a high fantasy one at that), it strays greatly from the YA conventions of the fantasy genre. With those elements gone, it makes way for a truly unpredictable narrative. With the absence of these stylistic tropes, this series makes way for different aspects of YA to be explored. Not to mention without the comforting predictability of the high fantasy story structure, you’re constantly on your toes while you’re reading.

 

 

4. It delves into real-world issues

 

World Vs. Money

Image via Investopedia

 

Ketterdam is where the duology is primarily set and it’s a nation that is so dedicated to capitalism that it’s a religion to them. Bardugo uses these books to explore the dangers of a country that values money above all else. As a consequence of this world, we see characters as members of gangs, having to be prostitutes, and being plagued by illness and addiction. Bardugo paints a grimy world—one that requires her teenage-aged protagonists to grow up faster than most and she writes the psyche of each character so incredibly well.

 

3. The writing is extraordinary

 

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Image via WordPress

 

Bardugo’s one of those authors whose writing just hits you. She balances the serious with the loving and the heartbreaking. And despite how grim the subject matter might seem, the duology still manages to be uplifting, relatable and hilarious. Not to mention quotable as hell. Careful, though. You might end up with a Six of Crows quote as your Twitter bio.

 

 

2. The diversity is on point

 

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Image via We Heart It

 

Much needed discussions in the YA community about diversity are finally being had. And as a tough critic on the lack of book characters of color and how they’re treated when they are there, I can actually give these series a stamp of approval. Not only are the characters racially diverse, but Bardugo is also inclusive in other ways. There’s a character that is plus sized, characters with both physical and mental disabilities, and LGBT+ representation. And when I say LGBT+ representation, I don’t just mean That One Gay Character in the main friend group and his under-developed boyfriend. I’m talking MULTIPLE queer characters of varying identities that are fleshed out. Not only is this diversity baked into the narrative, but it’s also not tokenized or stereotyped. Bardugo strikes a nice balance between writing her diversity so obscurely that nobody knows they are until she retroactively tells us in interviews (looking at you J.K. Rowling) and making that diversity the sole trait of those characters. She’s able to write diverse characters as people and that’s what we want when we ask for representation.

 

1. It’s going to be a TV series

 

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Image via Vox

 

This is your chance to be the “I saw it first” friend. As of January of this year, Netflix has ordered an eight episode series of Shadow & Bone and Six of Crows. While there’s no details on how yet, the show will be combining both of Bardugo’s book series to make the show. Get a jump on the narrative by reading the Six of Crows duology. Not only will you be ahead of the curve for what is sure to be a highly talked about adaptation, but it’ll also be fun watching the world and character you know come to life onscreen.

 

Featured image via Affinity Magazine

Artwork from The Scorpio Races

Join Maggie Stiefvater’s ‘The Scorpio Races’ Read-Along!

We know renowned YA fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater for her endlessly imaginative stories— dead Welsh kings who grant wishes, carnivorous water horses who probably don’t, werewolves who recite German poetry and teenagers who do teenager things (like throwing Molotov cocktails into sports cars). We also know her for her Scorpio misanthropy and personal misadventures, including street-racing and leather-wearing. A Scorpio herself, Stiefvater is kicking off this November with a read-along of… you guessed it… The Scorpio Races.

 

 

'The Scorpio Races' by Maggie Stiefvater

Image Via drunkinbookreview.wordpress.com

 

 

The novel opens: “It is the first day of November, so today, someone will die.” Each November on the fictional island of Thisby, water horses rise from the sea— all twice as fast as real horses and a thousand times more deadly. Winning the Scorpio Races means fame and fortune, but entering the Scorpio Races could mean death. Carnivorous and distinctly hungry, the water horses make mincemeat far more often than they make winners. Sean, the reigning champion, has survived to win the race— many times before. Puck, who desperately needs the money, has never even made a previous attempt. But both of them still have one thing to learn… a lot can happen before the finish line.

 

 

Maggie Stiefvater, author of 'The Scorpio Races'

Image Via play.google.com

 

 

This November 1, 2018 will not be nearly so whimsically morbid. Instead, readers will have a chance to join Stiefvater’s read-along (this link also works). Provide your own feedback and get insider content directly from the author. Following the original release of The Scorpio Races, Stiefvater herself said that “a novel is a conversation starter, and if the author isn’t there for the after-party, both the writer and the reader are missing a lot.” Make sure you don’t miss out on anything this November by joining in on the fun! For more information, check out Stiefvater’s Twitter and Tumblr over the next few days.

 

 

Featured Image Via maggiestiefvater.com

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‘Inkheart’ Author Cornelia Funke Teams with Guillermo del Toro for ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Novel

The Bookseller reports that the visionary director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro, and Cornelia Funke, the author of bestseller The Thief Lord and Inkheart, have written a book for adults based on 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno in Spanish).

 

The film is a dark fairy tale set during the horrific events of the Spanish civil war, following a young girl who discovers a world of magical creatures and a ten-foot faun who tells her she is a changeling, the daughter of the fairy king. She must prove herself to the faun by completing several strange tasks before she can be welcomed back to court. All the while, the girl’s stepfather, an authoritarian army captain, is attempting to eradicate the rebels based in the surrounding countryside.

 

Both del Toro and Funke are absolute masters of their craft, and both have written numerous astounding fantasy stories. Funke said that not only was the film one of her favorites but that “…fantasy is the sharpest tool to develop and unveil all the miracles and the terrors of our reality.” 

 

Here is my favorite scene from Pan’s Labyrinth, just in case you don’t want to sleep tonight. I can’t wait to see it in print.

 

 

Feature Image Via MoviFone