Tag: pop culture

Goodreads Choice Awards 2019: Fantasy Picks

For the past eleven years, Goodreads has run an annual reader award, where book lovers can vote on their favorite books based on the categories: Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, YA Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Humor, Nonfiction, Memoir & Autobiography, History & Autobiography, Science & Technology, Food & Cookbooks, Graphic Novels & Comics, Poetry, Debut Novel, Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade & Children’s, and Picture Books. This definitely puts into perspective how much is published every single year, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably excited to add twenty more books to your “to be read” list. This is one of those fantastic occasions where readers are able to decide what books they feel should earn an award, so if you weren’t able to participate in the voting this year, then definitely vote in the 2020 book awards!

One might note that there are two distinct categories for fantasy literature that has been published in this past year. This article will highlight the two winners from the Goodreads’ 2019 Annual Choice Awards, and it will also recognize the four runner-up nominees from both sections. To see both lists in their entirety, check out the 2019 Fantasy list and the 2019 YA Fantasy list.

***BOOK DESCRIPTIONS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

 

2019 top picks for fantasy

5. The Red Scrolls of Magic by cassandra clare and Wesley Chu

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.”

 

4. The Priory of the orange tree by samantha shannon

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens. The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door. Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic. Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.”

 

3. Fire & blood by George R.R. Martin

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.”

 

2. starless sea by Erin Morgenstern

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.”

 

Goodreads 2019 winner: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

“Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.”

 

image via wallpaper flare

 

2019 top picks for YA fantasy

5. Wilder Girls by Rory Power

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.”

 

4. King of Scars by Leigh bardugo

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.”

 

3. Queen of Air and Darkness by cassandra clare

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.”

 

2. Wayward son by Rainbow Rowell

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch? What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light… That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…”

 

goodreads 2019 winner: The Wicked king by Holly Black

image via goodreads

Quoted from the book’s page on Goodreads: “You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

“The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

“After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.”

 

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Why It’s Okay To Watch The Adaptation Before Reading The Book

I know, I know. This isn’t a popular opinion. After my list of reasons why people should read The Witcher before watching the Netflix adaptation of the books, it may also be an opinion not readily associated with me. However, I do, personally, believe that it is one hundred percent acceptable for folks to watch or play an adaptation before they read the story that it was based off of.

Why is that?

Well, there are a number of reasons. The first reason is that individuals might not even know that the book exists in the first place. Prior to first watching Howl’s Moving Castle and seeing the note beneath the title card, I had no idea that the Ghibli film was based off of a book–a book written by one of my favorite authors at that! All the same, it isn’t possible for people to keep track of every single adaptation that is released and then track down said adaptation’s literary counterpart.

image via mc crocker books – wordpress

I believe that any adaptation worth its salt will encourage individuals to then actively seek out the book to further immerse themselves in the world that they saw on the silver screen. When I learned that Howl’s Moving Castle was based off of a book, I went out and got the book and its sequel. I then proceeded to read through the book three times. I would literally finish the story and then flip back to the first page and start all over again. So, for me, I think that an adaptation can advertise the book, and in doing so, more people can seek out that story and enjoy it. Granted, the story and the film might be drastically different, but those differences might make it so that the story and the adaptation can then be viewed as entities that are unique in their own way.

but also Consider the people who struggle to read

image via readbrightly

These individuals might have dyslexia. They might have a hard time sitting still long enough to read a story. There might be some neurological elements that come into play here that make it exceedingly difficult to absorb the narrative without completely blocking out everything else. Sometimes, a film adaptation is the remedy to this situation.

There are also individuals who have difficulty finding the time or energy to read long stories. If one works a particularly taxing job, reading might not be their ideal pastime because of the focus it requires. Perhaps the only time a person has to devote to recreational reading occurs when they’re sitting in a waiting room or when their children are asleep.

 

For these individuals, an adaptation can certainly solve a number of problems. Consuming a television show or a movie doesn’t take as much time as reading a book can. Movies, more often than not, don’t usually exceed two hours; television shows range anywhere from a half hour to an hour per episode. So if an individual has a particularly restrictive schedule, they can take into account the run time of an adaptation and plan accordingly. Whereas with a book, there is more of a time commitment involved–which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just something that needs to be taken into account.

And… some people have had really bad experiences with reading

image via treehugger

I’m going to ask you, dear reader, to let me finish this point before passing judgement. I have always been an avid reader. When school and life were difficult, I would go hide in a book. It was my escape, and it was my refuge. So for me, I didn’t truly understand why some individuals that I encountered didn’t like to read.

But then I asked them.

One of my relatives told me that the reason he stopped reading after high school was because he hated the required reading that he was made to read for his literature classes. It didn’t help that he was forced to read some extremely heavy books with a short window of time. For him, it was the pressure, and he ended up feeling burnt out and disinterested from that point onward. If he watched an adaptation, then he was able to enjoy the story without experiencing the same pressure he felt while he was in school.

 

A lot of my classmates in my English program echoed this idea of burn out too. Given that several of our classes would require us to read one book a week, and then we would have to dig into the book, analyze, and answer questions on various topics related to the narrative, quite a few English majors began to hate reading outside of course work. This problem was only worsened if you had a course load where you had three or five classes that were all literature focused. Those classes would often carry the same expectation that you were reading one book a week, so that would sometimes result in an English major reading up to three to five books every week. The last thing a lot of us would want to do after reading two hundred or more pages a night for class was go and read for pleasure. This wasn’t the case for everyone, but quite a few of my classmates would opt to read for fun over breaks, and during the semester, film adaptations were ideal. It was a lot easier to sit down for two hours and watch a movie, knowing that it wouldn’t occupy the entire night. After finishing an adapted film or an episode, we could go back to studying or, even better, sleep.

So it’s okay to watch the adaptation first

image via hero machine

While I did encourage readers in my past article to read The Witcher series before watching the Netflix adaptation, I did so with the concern that many fans would judge the Netflix series based upon the decisions made in the video game… which is another adaptation and isn’t technically considered canon to the book series that Sapkowski published. To give one example: I have seen several articles written by authors that are upset at the fact that Yennefer and Ciri have more pronounced roles in the Netflix adaptation than they do in the games. Their experiences within the plot are explored, and that has upset quite a few game fans. Fans of the books know that these two characters do have ample time spent in the narrative from their points of view. So part of me feared that knee jerk reaction of a new fan of the story writing off the entire adaptation without giving it a chance because, of an article that expressed an opinion more driven by the writer’s experiences with the games.

 

While I don’t view this article as a correction of my first one, because I do stand by what I wrote, I do want to emphasize to my readers that everyone’s situation is different. We need to recognize the limitations that are imposed on others by their lives and their health.

We also need to recognize that a good adaptation should attract readers to a book series, and even if someone decides to never read the story it’s based off of, that’s okay. At the end of the day, what is important is that there are individuals who enjoy an incarnation of a story that means something to a lot of people.

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Seven Words Shakespeare Invented

Did you know Shakespeare invented more than 1700 words? Probably. Maybe. There’s a bunch of controversy. Still, he definitely invented some words we use every day. You can probably find the long list if you really want, but here are seven. You may sense a theme.

 

 

1. Countless

Image via Astronomy.com

 

This is a pretty pedestrian word. Obviously Shakespeare didn’t invent the idea of counting, but he did give us a useful way to talk about it. It’s definitely faster than saying ‘without measure’.

 

2. Gloomy

Image via Imagekind

 

What would we do without the word gloomy? No synonym comes close. Dark? Shadowy? Get out of here. In this, the gloomiest season, it’s only right we honor the word itself.

 

 

3. Critic

Image via The List

 

Where would we be without critics? How would we know what super hero movies are actually worth the trouble? In 2019, it’s hard, and I say that as a fan.

 

 

4. Bloody

Image via The Craftory

 

Another one that’s hella seasonably appropriate. Another one where there are no good synonyms, though I feel like if you want to convey it there are some fun gothic options.

 

 

5. Pious

Image via Flickr

 

This one’s got ‘devout’ but pious does have a different vibe, maybe more smugness? Whatever it is, you can never have too many synonyms. Words, words, words.

 

 

6. Lonely

Image via Cru

 

Whatever would we do without lonely? Loneliness, lonesome, just a lot of feeling in a small space. Shakespeare knew what was up, though it doesn’t seem like HE was ever alone.

 

 

7. Majestic

Image via Reddit

 

Majestic is a great word, for both serious and ironic usage (a lot of the images I found were derpy lions and unlikely centaurs). It conveys something ‘great’ just doesn’t.

 

 

 

Featured image via ThoughtCo

Quiz – Which Troubled Bird Are You?

The Mincing Mockingbird’s Guide to Troubled Birds is one of the most amazing and inexplicable thing I’ve ever read. Those birds have been through some stuff. Which one are you?

 

Featured image via Imger 

The Ringer Lands Huge Books Deals!!

Bill Simmons’ sports and pop-culture media company The Ringer is opening up book publishing as a new avenue for its writers and podcast personalities. Founded in 2016 after Simmons’ moved on from GrantlandThe Ringer now boasts a thriving lineup of writers, editors, and podcasters that cover all things sports and pop culture. Now, some of those creatives are making new waves in the publishing industry via the Grand Central Publishing imprint.

 

Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons, Image via Hollywood Reporter

 

Shea Serrano’s Movies (and Other Things), scheduled to release October 8th, will be the first book coming out of this new deal between The Ringer and Grand Central Publishing. Movies (and Other Things) follows Serrano’s Basketball (and Other Things) which notably made Barack Obama’s 2017 year-end list.

In a statement on Tuesday, Serrano said:

Working at The Ringer has been the most creatively fulfilling and auspicious job I have ever had, and I am profoundly proud that Movies (And Other Things) will be the first official book put out under the Ringer Books imprint. Please buy a copy of it or go to hell.

 

 

Sal Iacono’s gambling guide and Claire McNear’s deep dive into Jeopardy! are slated for publication later this year. Though, perhaps readers shouldn’t take Iacono’s “guide” too seriously. McNear recently wrote a feature on James Holzhaur’s outstanding 32-game winning streak earlier this year.

In Simmons’ own words:

We gravitate toward quality ideas, unique storytelling and talented voices, and we know from experience that we can use The Ringer’s various resources to raise awareness for any project that matters to us. Once we clicked with the wonderful folks at Grand Central, this became a no-brainer.

Sports and book lovers should keep an eye out for all the great things coming out of this deal!

 

 

 

Featured image via Adweek