Top Five Wednesday

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.


Typically, we read about our protagonist being taught by someone wiser than they, whether is it is a teacher as we know them or more of a supernatural/magical mentor. Talk about some of your favorites!

p.s. For the love of god please do not choose Harry Potter characters that is just TOO EASY 🙂

#5 – BROM from Eragon by Christopher Paolini

I think Brom was my second-favorite character after Roran in this series, so I’ll include him on this list as being one of the more interesting mentor characters I remember.

#4 – CASSIAN from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I know people have many different opinions about him, but I thought Cassian was such a good friend and teacher to Feyre in the second book in the series. I wished we’d gotten to see more of it.

#3 – ELEANOR WEST from Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Miss Eleanor’s Home for Wayward Children was the setting for this novella, and I found Eleanor herself so warm-hearted and intelligent. She was complex in ways that were hard to pin down, but I really liked a lot what she added to the story and how much she cared for her pupils.

#2 – SARKAN from Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Sarkan is such a wonderful grump and even though he’s definitely a flawed character, I found him such a delightful part of reading the book!

#1 – MERLIN from The Once and Future King by T.H. White

The way White write Merlin is so endearing and charming, and I remember laughing out loud several times when I was reading this book last semester. He’s definitely part of the reason this book was one of my top books of 2017!

This was so much harder than I expected! The top three came easily, but after that I had a much harder time. Who are your favorite (non-Hogwarts) mentor figures?


10,000th Post Giveaway!


Hello, everyone! This week, I finally hit 10,000 posts on tumblr! I’ve had this blog for four years now, and most of you joined me within the last eighteen months or so. Since then, this blog has grown tremendously, all thanks to you! To celebrate, I’d like to host another giveaway! 

The prizes are as follows:

*Note: Twilight/Life & Death includes light markings and annotations regarding differences between the two.

Terms & Conditions:

First and foremost, this giveaway is not sponsored by Tumblr, and any information collected as a result of this giveaway is not shared with Tumblr or its affiliates.

There are a couple of rules for this giveaway, so please read closely.

  1. You must be following me on Tumblr. Any other follows (on Twitter, IG, FB, etc.) are optional, but count as entries. You can enter as many times as you’d like. The link to enter is at the bottom of this post! Do not submit the password as a reply to this post–that ruins it for everyone else. LIKES AND REBLOGS ARE NOT ENTRIES. YOU MUST FOLLOW THE LINK.
  2. For the Grand Prize, you must be located within the U.S. (shipping costs would be too excessive for me otherwise). 
  3. For Second Prize, I can ship internationally! 
  4. For Third Prize, each winner gets to pick a book from the selection in the order they are drawn. Please understand that if someone claims the book before you, you must select a different book!
  5. The giveaway ends on 2/28. Please allow up to a month following the end of the giveaway for your prize to be delivered. I unfortunately cannot control the mail system. 😉
  6. Winners will be chosen randomly, but shipping restrictions are a factor. If an international winner gets selected for the Grand Prize, I will have to redraw. Expense overrides perceived fairness in this case. I will reach out to winners via email or tumblr to get information about where to send the prizes.


Enjoy, and thank you for following! Please reblog so word gets around!

Top Five Wednesday

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.


Some books we disliked or they were just okay, but they still have a lot of discussion points to sink your teeth into.

#5 – The Selection by Kiera Cass

I know some people love this book, and I can sort of understand why, but for me it was kind of a trashfire. I didn’t like the characters, the world, the plot–none of it. Even so, I did read the rest of the series just to find out how bad it could get (spoiler: pretty bad). But bad books offer a lot of material to discuss and talk about, so this makes the list for me!

#4 – Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon

I hated this book when I first read it, though I’ll admit I wonder if I’d feel the same if I reread it now that I’m older. I had a lot of thoughts about the quality of the retelling and the take on the mermaid’s sexuality and all that. I’ll probably reread it at some point to be able to discuss it better, but from my memory I have a lot to say on it as is.

#3 – Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I DNFed this one because I became uncomfortable with the painful amount of misogyny in this book. It had a clever premise of blending two different kinds of desert cultures, but it wasn’t done sensitively and just wound up reinforcing damaging stereotypes. This book offers interesting discussion points on cultural appropriation, how unexamined white privilege can damage a book, and sensitivity reading.

#2 – The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

I wouldn’t say “discuss” so much as “rant about,” because this book was so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. That said, there’s a lot to talk about with regard to female agency, the use of fairies, and the sheer number of inaccuracies concerning the life of a grad student in the humanities. If you’ve read this book, hit me up, because I love to hate it.

#1 – A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Okay, so I hesitate to say I like discussing this book because I feel like I’ve said most of what there is to say, but this book offers a lot of material for discussing not only things like representation, toxic masculinity, and cultural appropriation, but also things like writing as a craft, what makes good prose, and the editing process. It’s a good case study, even though talking about it is still rather bitter.

The books above represent books that I DNFed and books that I finished, but all books that I rated three stars or less. I have strong feelings about all of them, which is why it’s so easy (and sometimes fun) to discuss them! What are the books you disliked or hated but still enjoy discussing? I’d love to hear about them!

I love fairytales and mythology, and books inspired by them (can’t wait for unrooted btw), so i need to ask: what are some “rookie mistakes” that authors make in using myths and tales as the basis for their stories? Not just new writers, but what are some things that popular writers (like Maas, Meyer, etc) do that you would do differently? I feel like the age of vampire and werewolf stories has ended, and the age of retellings began in the last couple of years, in terms of popularity. Thoughts?

[pt 2] What do you think is the key to writing a good story inspired by a fairytale, in terms of cliches to avoid and areas to focus on? Take Maas for example (whose stories intrigue me, even if I don’t like them at times): what is her strong point in this regard? What does she do right and wrong?

Ooh this is such a great set of questions! My answer to this got long, so heads up. 😉

I think the #1 rookie mistake people make when retelling fairy tales is going off of their recollection of the fairy tale and/or the Disney version without really interrogating the tale’s history or underlying meaning. This technique (or lack thereof) will result in a really shallow retelling that’s no more than an imitation. The other thing I see modern writers do a lot is say “I’m writing a fairy tale, but FEMINIST” without doing the work to study the history of gender and fairy tales OR read the work of existing feminist scholars who have worked with fairy tales specifically. This is true for any genre, really, but if you want to make A Point, you need to know what you’re talking about. 

As far as what other writers do that I would do differently … that’s a tricky question, because there are bits and pieces I like from many different writers and strategies of theirs that I’ve incorporated into my own work. When it comes to the process of adaptation, there are many perspectives and specific techniques that writers use based on their particular projects. This can be everything from POV to the amount of liberty taken with the source to something like genderbending. I personally love writers who breathe more life into fairy tale characters, and I also like to have a solid sense of place. I don’t think enough writers explore the possibilities they could with multicultural variants or diversifying existing European stories, so that’s something I like to focus on. 

To kind of synthesize the above and answer your next question, I’d say that if a writer wants to retell a fairy tale, they should know it in as many forms as possible. When developing Unrooted, I read variants of Snow White from Greece, Italy, Russia, Turkey, and Chile, to name a few. I learned the history of the story’s development, how it changed over time, and why. I read multiple critical interpretations (which eventually started me on the road to my Ph.D), and considered at length the implications of every choice I made in adaptation. Some writers may do this more than others, but I think every writer adapting a fairy tale should do it in some degree. Otherwise, changes that seem “cool” have a major affect on the delivery and structure of a story that fundamentally alters it in important ways.

Scholars in adaptation theory have many opinions on this, but my perspective tends to be that a “successful” (I use the term loosely) retelling has to be in dialogue with its source material, rather than just copying it or changing it for aesthetic reasons. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, for example, should have something to say, explicitly or implicitly, about the power dynamics of marriage, wealth, and social class. Adaptations that approach is as “it’s just Stockholm Syndrome!!!” are very much missing the point. Similarly, a retelling of Snow White should consider mother-daughter relationships, patriarchal standards and values of beauty and age, and sexual maturity. Again, these concerns can be addressed on a spectrum and don’t have to be in your face, but they’re things that I believe a writer should be thinking about when they adapt a fairy tale. 

Much of this is my own educated opinion on the matter, but its something on which reasonable people can (and do) disagree on in adaptation studies. I actually wrote a term paper this semester on Maas’s adaptation “success” and found that, while by my standards she misses the mark (her approach at looking at power imbalances romanticizes rather than interrogates them), by other standards she does quite well. Jacques Derrida’s concept of bricolage allows for looser interpretation, with the understanding that such interpretation forces new meaning onto the story. I personally dislike the process of forcing new meanings onto stories without the requisite legwork committed to making that new meaning function–or, without that new meaning being progressive and a deliberate move performed in conversation with the source material. My conclusion on ACOTAR was that Maas’s “new meaning” was regressive when taken as part of the legacy of Beauty and the Beast and its adaptations, and while it structurally has much in common with its source tales (also including East of the Sun and West of the Moon), the specific changes made did not push the narrative forward on a metatextual level. I plan to keep working on this paper and hopefully publish one day under my academic alter ego, and if that ever happens, I’ll provide information about it. 

Fairy tale retellings come and go in waves–there was a major one around 2011-2014 at the time Once Upon a Time premiered. It’s dimmed somewhat since then, but fairy tales are always relevant and there is constantly a conversation surrounding these stories that mean so much to so many people. I’m excited to be a part of that conversation, and I’m so happy to hear you’re excited about Unrooted. I can’t wait to share it with you. ❤

Top Five Wednesday


Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.


In honor of NaNo wrapping up, discuss some authors you’d like to write like. Whether its their writing style, what genre they write in, or how many books they manage to churn out a year!

#5 – Sarah J. Maas

This probably seems odd to include her on the list given my changed feelings about her work, but I do still admire how she makes her readers care so deeply for her characters. That’s something I’d love to achieve in my own work.

#4 – Tanith Lee

Tanith Lee’s White as Snow will always haunt me, and I hope one day to be able to write a grittier, disturbing story with the same quality she did.

#3 – Leigh Bardugo

I particularly admire Bardugo’s skill with humor and dialogue. I especially struggle with the former, and I’d love for it to come more naturally the way it does for Leigh Bardugo.

#2 – V.E. Schwab

I love the worldbuilding of the Shades of Magic series and how intimidating her villains are! I also find her dialogue to be so on point, and I’d love to emulate that in my own writing.

#1 – Naomi Novik

I love the way that Novik balances vivid description and character in her writing. Sometimes I feel like I exchange one for the other, but I’d love to be able to handle them as well as she does! The whole award-winning writer thing isn’t too bad, either!

If you’re a writer (or even if you aren’t), who do you admire as a role model? Who would you like to be able to write like, and in what ways? Share in the comments/reblogs! I hope you all had success with NaNoWriMo, and stay tuned for December’s topics!

December TBR


#1 – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Reason: Reading for School (Literary Theory)

Thoughts: Yep, picking up this sucker again, but this time it’s because I’m writing a paper on it. So. 

Genre: NA Fantasy

#2 – Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder by Cristina Bacchilega

Reason: Reading for School (Literary Theory)

Thoughts: This will likely inform a lot of the background on the above-mentioned paper, and it will also be AWESOME.

Genre: Nonfiction

#3 – Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Reason: Reading for Fun

Thoughts: This sounds like a lovely retelling and a perfect winter read!

Genre: YA Fantasy

#4 – Ahkenaten: Dweller in Truth by Naguib Mahfouz

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching this novel next semester, so I need to read it ahead of time. 

Genre: Fiction

#5 – A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Reason: Reading for Fun

Thoughts: I’m so ready to finish this series! Thank goodness for winter break!

Genre: Adult Fantasy

#6 – Hunted by Megan Spooner

Reason: Reading for Fun and School

Thoughts: I got this in a book haul earlier this year, and people have been telling me to read it for ages. I’m excited to get to it! It may also be relevant to the paper I’m writing about ACOTAR, but I won’t know until I read it.

Genre: YA Fantasy

#7 – Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Reason: Reading for Fun 

Thoughts: This was another book haul buy, and the premise sounds great, so I can’t wait to dig in.

Genre: YA Fantasy

#8 – Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching this next semester, so I need to get it read. I’m excited to read fundamental Russian literature, though!

Genre: Drama

#9 – Equus by Peter Shaffer

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching this next semester.

Genre: Drama

#10 – Medea and Other Plays by Euripedes

Reason: Reading for Work (Writing the World)

Thoughts: I’m teaching Medea and Helen next semester. It’s gonna be a super cheerful syllabus, can you tell?

Genre: Drama

I will almost certainly read more than this during the month of December, but these are the ones I’m certain I’ll get through. Check out the wrap-up at the end of the month to see how I succeeded! 

Top Five Wednesday


Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.

Today, the theme is BOOKS YOU’RE THANKFUL FOR!

For whatever reason, big or small.

#5 – Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

I’m so thankful for such well-done representation for asexuality–specifically heteromantic asexuality! It was a fun and relatable book, and it meant a lot to me that the rep was so good!

#4 – Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

This book got a mention last week for Prince Char, but I’m really thankful to this book overall for being the best first example of a fairy-tale retelling I could ask for. I think it was this book that first inspired my love for the genre, and it remains a favorite to this day.

#3 – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Although I’m no longer part of the fandom and no longer have the same positive feelings for this book and its sequels, I cannot deny the role it played in the success of its blog and opening many doors for me as a writer. I made many friends in the fandom, gained confidence as a writer through fanfiction, and have a platform on this blog in large part due to this series. So I’m thankful for it, even if my relationship with it has changed significantly.

#2 – Fairy Tale as Myth/Myth as Fairy Tale by Jack Zipes

This may seem an odd choice because it’s nonfiction, but this was the first book I read that showed me that people could make a career researching fairy tales. Because of this book, I began to nurture my dream of being a professor, and it stayed with me for years. Now I’m getting my Ph.D studying fairy tales, and it’s all because I picked up this book when I was a teenager.

#1 – The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

This series was fundamental to my childhood, and this list would be absolutely remiss if it did not include Harry Potter. This was the first long-length series I invested in, my first fandom, and the kind of story that inspired me on such a deep level I’m probably not even aware of it all. So I will always be thankful for Harry Potter.

Which books are you thankful for? Why? I’m interested to hear, so feel free to share in comments/reblogs!

Top Five Wednesday


Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday! Every week, join me and other bloggers/booktubers as we discuss our Top 5 Books according to the theme from the Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group! This group, started by @thoughtsontomes and @gingerreadslainey, has prompts every week.

Today, the theme is PROBLEMATIC FAVES!

Characters you don’t want to love, but you can’t help liking.

#5 – Nyx from Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Nyx is an unlikable heroine if there ever was one, but I still really root for her in her story. She’s abrasive and sometimes lacks emotional intelligence, but she’s tough and her romance with Ignifex is so dynamic. I enjoy rereading this book from time to time for Nyx. 

#4 – Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury

Parting is such sweet sorrow. You all know I loved Rhys. He and Feyre were my OTP for a whole year. I eventually just became so burned by ACOWAR and so disillusioned by his entitled, toxic masculinity and faux-feminism that I had to let him go. But I’d be lying if I didn’t include him on this list of problematic faves. And I miss him. 😦

#3 – Warner from the Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

So, I never really bought into the total “redemption” of Warner that the fandom peddles because I think a lot of his behavior goes uncritiqued, but that’s what makes him one of my problematic faves! He’s the kind of YA love interest that I don’t want to see more of, but at the same time, Waaaaarrrrnnnneeeerrrrr. I die whenever he’s on the page in Ignite Me. So … I’m trash!

#2 – Sarkan from Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Sarkan is an ass, and he never really stops being an ass, but I LOVE HIM OKAY?! I wrote a whole 20,000 word fanfiction just so I could feel better about liking him. His relationship with Agnieszka isn’t exactly the healthiest but DAMN do I root for them! So yes, Sarkan = serious problematic fave.

#1 – Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I should not love someone this sketchy so much, but Jane Eyre remains my #1 go-to when I need a deep and compelling romance. Rochester is kind of a creep, he’s made terrible decisions, and he’s 100% problematic, but I really can’t bring myself to stop loving him and the part he plays in Jane’s story.

Who are your problematic faves? I know they abound in the book world, but maybe your problematic faves come from TV or movies! Whatever they are, feel free to share in a comment or reblog! 

THINK OF THIS BEST CASE SCENARIO. MAYBE Sarah is partially pushing the publication back because she’s rewriting to include more diversity? Like wouldn’t that be awesome? And also, although it’s disappointing, it’s probably good that she’s pushing it back. IMHO dedicating yourself to two books a year is a struggle and probably not healthy at all 😶

Yeah, definitely! This is something good that could totally come out of this, and I really hope that’s the case. It’s definitely not that I don’t want to read about Chaol (my puppy) but two books a year is a monstrous effort, especially considering how long SJM’s books are. I just hope she doesn’t exhaust herself!