books · features · shanti

Characters I love

Hi Virtually Readers! One of the top things that will make me love a book is when I feel like the characters are really well written. Characters are the heart of all novels. The setting and the plot is a way to showcase (usually human) beings who have to make complicated choices. In the choices and in the ambiguity, they’re more human; more like us. At their best, well written characters help me to know myself better. Today I thought I’d share a quick list of who some of my favourite characters are and why.

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books · features · shanti

The Bookish Planet: The Castle

it’s time for another installment of The Bookish Planet, the feature where we give a guided tour of settings seen in a lot of books. Today, the feature is The Castle. They are often found in Magical Forests, within fantasy kingdoms. The Castle is exciting, magnificent, sometimes crumbling, sometimes lavish. No matter which castle you end up in, something exciting will be going on.

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books · features · lists · shanti

#SettinginStone tbr

It’s a new year which means a lot of people are posting tbr’s. I was reading blog posts this morning and was thinking oh yeah, reading challenges, they’re not my thing….and then I remembered that I’m actually hosting the chillest, coolest reading challenge for the first two months of the year, aka Setting in Stone, and if you participate, I would be delighted (and surprised but I’m trying not to betray my low expectations). Anyway, I thought I’d share some books that I want to read for this challenge–and if you add recommendations in the comments, I’ll add them to the post!

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books · discussions · features · shanti

Setting in Stone: Settings vs. Character

Hi Virtually Readers! It’s almost Christmas oh my goodness! I am in New Zealand now which is bizarre but I’m dealing with it. However, I do have a lot of things going on in my life, so I’m not sure how active I’m going to be blogwise for January–but I’m still trying to make Setting in Stone happen. And I would be delighted (not to mention surprised) if you, yes you, joined in. In my last post I mentioned that I was going to write a post about diversity of seting vs. diversity of character. I have not planned this at all but here we go.

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features · lists · Shar

‘Tis the Season of Rereading: How to choose what to reread (ft. a handy flowchart)

Hi Virtually Readers! I haven’t had any time to reread this week (although I WILL I swear) so today I’m doing something different: a guide to deciding what to reread. In the comments of several of our posts, people have said something like ‘I’d love to join in/reread, but I don’t know which book to choose’. I’ve always been a big rereader, so it surprises me that some bookworms aren’t (which is okay). This is a step by step checklist guide thingy to choosing a book to reread.  Continue reading “‘Tis the Season of Rereading: How to choose what to reread (ft. a handy flowchart)”

books · features · shanti

‘Tis the Season of Rereading: Inheritance

In August 2016, I decided I wanted to reread this series and David Eddings Belgariad and write some kind of post/series on my blog about women is classic typical fantasy. I finished Brisingr. I finished Queen of Sorcery. I got to the prologue of Magicians Gambit. I got 100 pages into Inheritance. Then I stopped and the post didn’t get written, though I did have Thoughts. Now I want to do it again, but I’ve forgotten half the stuff. (though, shoutout, isn’t the summary at the start of each book THE BEST?) So. Maybe later. But I thought that the 32 hours of this audiobook with a 21 day library deadline would motivate me to finish and it did and I seriously enjoyed it.  Eragon is definitely ‘classic fantasy’ in the sense that it is a European-ish culture, mediveal, and based around battles. I don’t think I’ve read this since it first came out in 2011, and I noticed different things now, obviously. So for today’s episode of ‘Tis the Season of Rereading, our seasonal rereading feature, I”m talking about Inheritance.

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discussions · features · Shar

’tis the season of rereading Alice Oseman

It’s getting to be the Christmas time of year, Virtually Readers, and that means one thing: ‘Tis the season of rereading! (Also, like trees and food and sometimes snow and presents and the birth or Jesus but mostly, rereading). It’s the first of December, so it’s time for our yearly super fun feature! Continue reading “’tis the season of rereading Alice Oseman”

books · features · shanti

The Bookish Planet: Europe to Americans

Hi Virtually Readers! Welcome back to another Bookish Planet. Today’s guide features Europe. Yes, all of Europe. It might seem like a big place than you can’t generlise with a travel guide under a thousand words, but you’re wrong. If you’re an American, especially an American under the age of twenty, it’s very easy to see all the important bits of Europe AND find yourself within the space of, say, a single summer. This guide will introduce you to the Europe that Americans know. Also, shoutout to Marie @Drizzle and Hurricane Books, who is not only a lovely person but also inspired and gave me feedback on this post. 

Featured in: Girl at Sea, Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, Just One Day, The Girl’s Guide to Summer, Wanderlost, Heist Society, Anna and the French Kiss, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Love and Gelato. 

Description: Europe is always sunny. This is because, if you’re a sensible YA character, you will only visit it in summer. You will only be able to travel to the places that people have heard of: Paris and Amsterdam are in, Darby and Abruzzo are out. You will be amazed at all the history, the people, the effective public transport, and of course the food. If you’re not eating gelato on every second page (if you’re in Italy) or croissants and baguettes (in France), or paella (in Spain), you’re probably not in Europe. There is no such thing as obscure region specialities, because people in the US won’t belive you if you ate something they haven’t heard of. And if you can’t see an iconic sight, like the Eiffel Tower or the bridges of Venice, then you are probably not doing a good enough job at being in romantic places; try harder. There will be iconic places everywhere; well, as long as you go where the rest of the tourists go. Occasionally you’ll feel obliged to eat at a small and slightly grimy café, just to prove that you went off the beaten path sometimes; but you’ll be much more comfortable in the places where you’re surrounded by other foreigners. The important parts of a country—the parts where you can find yourself AND fall in love—are not determined by the people that live there, but by your travel guide (like this one, and I’ll quickly list them for you: Sagrada Familia, Eiffel Tower, [sunny beach in South France with sunbathers], the Colosseum, Big Ben (if you count the UK as part of Europe, and you’re an American Anglophile, so you do), the temple to Athena whose name you can’t remember in Athens, the canals and bridges of Venice. Alternately, read any of the books listed above and you’ll find all the other important sights.). Oh, and you’re not really go into any of these countries because they don’t feature in any movies you’ve ever watched about Europe, so therefore must not exist: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Kosovo. Basically the Balkans and the Baltic.)

People: Yeah, the people are a really appealing part of Europe. If you’re a young, you’re sure to meet people in two categories: 1, grumpy old people who suck at English, hate tourists, and make you feel like you’re seeing the real Europe; and 2, attractive and cool young people of whatever gender you find attractive who know local secrets (ooh, exciting), enjoy drinking because the drinking age in Europe is 18 or younger, and will somehow have enough money to accompany you on part of your travels. There are other people in Europe, but if you meet people who deviate from the national norm (Muslim Danes, Italian speaking Swiss, black Spanish), you’ll be in the minority, and again you might not really be in Europe, because as we know, all Europeans are white, except for the ones who are really really tanned. But, just be warned, you might fall in love with one of these Europeans, and the one you fall in love with will definitely speak English and there won’t be any issues with, say, your parents or their parents that will stop this romance from being the only one that will ever matter. 

History: Ugh. History. Do I even need to cover this? You probably know it all already. The Germans caused WWII and are sorry, don’t worry, they’re cool now; they occupied France (was there something called the Maignot line that didn’t work?) and then there was Russia for a while, just all over everything, ugh, and Germany was split, and then some wall fell, how fun, and the Cold War happened and then at some point there were rich cities in Italy that paid Leonardo Da Vinci to make stuff. Oh, and there were Crusades, how fun right? And there were dark ages, oh my goodness, America never had Dark Ages because Christopher Columbus escaped from them and started America, good for him. There’s lots of history, you’re going to be soaking it in all day, you’re a total expert. 

Where to Stay: You might have to stay in one or two youth hostels. Sorry about that! But it’s a great location to meet other young people who are having a fun time. Mostly though you have a lot of cash and not much explanation of where it comes from, so you get to stay in swanky hotel rooms in perfect locations with little to no supervision. And if you’re lucky you’ll get to be in a swanky bus or a boat that is somehow available to you. If you make friends with the locals* you can maybe stay with them and experience ‘authentic cuisine’, which will probably be a three course meal. There are places to stay everywhere in Europe as long as you only go where other tourists go.

*the English speaking, inexplicably good looking locals

Dangers: There might be some people who will try to rip you off. But you have a ridiculous amount of money for an eighteen year old without a job, so that shouldn’t trouble you. Otherwise, there are pickpockets, but, despite this being your first trip, you’re far too savvy a traveler to let them bother you. 

So, was this painfully true? Do you think Europe is romanticized? Tell me in the comments! 

books · discussions · features · shanti

Setting in Stone 6: Demographics

Demographics are details about the people of a place. Population size, ethnic makeup, what jobs people have, poverty and literacy levels, all that. I find them fascinating, revealing, and important. I also find them shockingly absent from books, especially fantasy books. In this installment of Setting in Stone, the topic is, surprisingly enough, demographics, why they matter in stories, and how to write them. Continue reading “Setting in Stone 6: Demographics”

books · discussions · features · shanti

Setting in Stone 5: Devilish Details

Welcome back, Virtually Readers, to Setting in Stone, the best discussion series ever probably. Some months ago, I read a fantasy book with four states explicitly named: a fantasy equivalent Russia, where the book was set, a fantasy equivalent France, Persia, and China. In terms of technology which the characters had, this was probably in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Then, a character drank rum. Rum is made from sugar, and at the time (as far as I know) was grown in the Caribbean, by slaves. (and if you want to know more about this, read a Tom Standage book). I did not like said book, for a whole host of reasons (and if you want to know which book it is, go stalk my ‘meh’ shelf on goodreads), but one of the reasons was the author’s ignorance of detail. Continue reading “Setting in Stone 5: Devilish Details”