blogging · books · features · shanti

Interview: Michelle Cooper, Author of Dr. Huxley’s Bequest

Hi Virtually Readers! Remember a few weeks ago when I reviewed Dr. Huxley’s Bequest, a really wonderful exploration of the history of medicine that covers a lot of ground? It’s a fascinating book, and Michelle Cooper, who wrote it, is one of my favourite authors. She is an incredible researcher, and uses her characters and stories to bring history–and now science–to life. She was gracious enough to let me interview her (which I promptly derailed by losing her email in my spam folder). If you want to learn about Tasmanian Devil milk and Michelle’s research process, you’ll definitely want to read the interview below.

Continue reading “Interview: Michelle Cooper, Author of Dr. Huxley’s Bequest”

books · features · shanti

What I look for in genres

Hi Virtually Readers! I’ve been thinking about genre in books a lot lately because I’m taking an English course that is essentially about genre. We’ve talked about romance, gothic, romantic comedies, and we’re about to start detective stories. I’m really appreciating some of the things this is making me think about–especially the conclusion that there is no such thing as a ‘pure’ genre. All stories use elements from different genres. For instance, the book ‘Trouble is a Friend of Mine’ is ostensibly a mystery story, but it also has elements of comedy and horror. I thought that I’d talk a little bit about what I look for in different genres, and some of my favourite books from each of those.

Continue reading “What I look for in genres”

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.

Continue reading “Characters I love”

books

10 Books to celebrate Diwali

Hi Virtually Readers! This weekend is Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights (kind of the exact opposite of Halloween haha). There’s a lot to this tradition that I’m not really qualified to explain but basically: fireworks, lamps, and good food, paired with a sexist myth about homecoming and why kings are necessary. Anyway, I thought that I’d make a list of books that are fully of light/fill me with light/somehow match Diwali.

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  1. These Broken Stars series.

C’mon, the last book is called ‘Their Fractured Light’. How could I not? These books have lots and lots of stars, and mystery and space and all sorts of adventure, perfect for binging over your long Diwali weekend.

  1. The Secret Life of Bees

This book is filled with summer sun and buzzing bees. It tells the story of a girl and her (black) nursemaid, who have run away. They encounter three black beekeepers who show them a different way to understand the world. (it’s more complicated than that, trust me, but you might have to read my review to find out why)

  1. All the Bright Places

I listened to this audio over about 5 months, but it’s very good. It’s about finding the light in your life even when everything seems like darkness. It’s about finding friendship when you thought you’d discover despair. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful all at once, and will match the Diwali fireworks in the dark sky quite well.

  1. The Burning Sky

Because sky’s burn when they’re filled with fireworks, haha. But really, this is a historical-fantasy-romance thing about a magic kingdom and powers and travel between worlds, which is lovely escapism. The way that Titus doesn’t trust Iolanthe is sort of like how Ram doesn’t trust Sita in the Diwali myth.

  1. Written in the Stars

This book wasn’t my favourite, because I feel like it mis represented South Asian culture in many ways by just showing a single stereotype, but hey, in the Ramayana, the epic that Diwali is based on, there were all sorts of forced marriages and girls at risk, so if you want to confront that more somber aspect, go for this one!

  1. Brown Girl in the Ring

This is a decidedly weird book about post-apocalyptic Toronto that I read a while ago. It’s about risk and telling the truth and confronting your own power, and all the little elements that Nalo Hopkinson buries inside the story will make you feel like fireworks are going off as you start to see the big pictures (it’s a stretch, I know)

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  1. Illuminae

How could I not include this one? More space, more fireworks (or explosions, really), more feels, and lots of engagement with this unique text. This book is lots of fun, even though I lost my copy. The fire in your soul as you try to get hold of a copy of Gemina will match the fire in the sky of people celebrating Diwali.

  1. Seraphina

Dragons breathe fire. Diwali involves fire. Need I say more than dragons? But this take on a common myth is lots of fun, and Seraphina Dombegh is a heroine you can root for.

  1. Book of a Thousand Days

Obscure myth? Society that represses women? Strong brave women anyway? Magic powers and heroes and surprises? This novel has some similarities to the story of Sita, and I loved it. Read it, love it, think about it (and all those other clichéd things).

  1. The End of Night

This is, in fact, a non fiction book. It sticks more to the light theme, and is about the human relationship with night and what light pollution means and is, and so on. It’s very well written and very interesting, and sort of inspired my AP Research project. Something to think about as you watch lights shoot across the sky (sky, skkkyyyyyy. Sorry about the Katy Perry)

So none of these books are explicitly Indian, but I hope that this post inspires you to learn more about Diwali if you don’t already, and maybe pick up a few of these fabulous books.

Which books get you in a festive mood? Are you celebrating anything this weekend? And have you read any of these books? tell me in the comments!

book review · books · shanti

Mini Reviews, #?

It’s AP week. If you’re not American/don’t go to an American school, just know that it means that I’m spending lots of time in exam halls. It also means I’m really stressed. So, it’s a mini-review sort of week. Have fun reading.

-Shanti

mini reviews

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.(Four stars)

I *mostly* loved The Night Circus. I really liked the style of storytelling, the parts and the occasional second person, and how well planned it was. The gorgeous imagery worked really well to convey the atmosphere. The concept was amazing. I liked the lovers fighting, because the dynamic was so fun to read. I guess my problem was that there was a lot of implicit stuff. It was sort of left open to interpretation– and I never really understood the magic system. I get that a lot of the characters were in the same boat, but on the fighting, the nature of the game, the nature of the circus, the characters feelings were sometimes made unclear by nature of the writing style that I also liked. It’s a complicated book, and I can really appreciate all that Morgenstern has done– but the fact remains that at the end of the day I couldn’t tell you much about Marcos and Celia except that they didn’t want to kill each other.
P.S. My favourite character was totally Isobel. She was Baroness Schraeder in the best of ways, with a mysterious past and some evil thrown in to boot.

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood (four stars)

Cloudwish was really good. I wasn’t expecting it to be as much of a love story as it was, but I still enjoyed it. I also liked the way that the magic was dealt with, though it was more contemporary than I expected. Still, the concept was fabulous, and I loved the Melbourne setting- I’ve been to Melbourne and recognising places made me happy. Van Uoc is a fabulous character, and I identified with her workaholic scholarschip-girl-at-private-school struggles, because I’ve encountered some of them myself. I also have Asian parents but my situation is very different– still, I liked that part of the story. I wished there was a bit more resolution on her parents story but that was okay, and the refugee aspect– in fact, all the diversity made me cheer, and provided a fantastic counterpoint to the romance. (also, it made me hate some aspects of the Australian government more) Read Cloudwish for a fun contemporary about finding who you really are and fulfilling expectations.

The End of Night by Paul Bogard. (five stars)

<non-fiction, non-YA alert>

I don’t live on a road. I live in the middle of a forest. But still, the nearby city leaches it’s light into my sky. I see only a few stars. I have, however, encountered true night, one on the Bortle scale. I found it at midnight in the Indian Himalaya, on a cool summer night when it was five degrees outside. It was glorious.
Why am I telling you this? It’s because Bogard’s central thesis is that the unpolluted night sky is a deeply nourishing sight for humans. If we love and know the night sky, we can fight to protect it. But urbanisation and urban lights are isolating people from this most vital of experiences.
This is seriously one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. I picked it up because I was doing research for a project about light, and saw Bogard and his book mentioned on James Madison University’s page about light. The first three chapters were particularly relevant for my project, and by the time I had read those I was hooked into the rest of the book. The End of Night is seriously well written. I would describe the prose style as ‘practical and beautiful’. He doesn’t waste words, but makes you deeply invested in what he’s saying– and does it so, so well. Bogard covers a LOT in The End of Night, from lighting design to urbanisation to telescopes to legends, and it’s all fascinating. From doing some research of my own, I had a bit more context, but he really introduces the topic really well, and it’s so interesting. I read this in Dehli, as well, a city plagued by horrible air and noise and water and yes, light pollution, a city isolated from the beauty of the natural world in many ways. I guess my one complaint with The End of Night was that Bogard didn’t talk much about LDC’s, staying fairly American centric.
Seriously, if you are interested in stars and night-time and the issue of light pollution or just want to read good writing, read The End of Nigh
t.

</non-fiction, non-YA alert>

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander (3 stars)

The The Art of Not Breathing was an interesting book. I liked the mystery, the descriptions of freediving, the setting in Scotland, Elsie’s attitude towards school, the way it portrayed the issues with eating and the idea that your family can break you and make you. But I didn’t really like Elsie herself, even though she was interesting, and it just felt excessively dramatic at times. Hence, the 3 stars. The mystery was really interesting though, and that’s why I stuck with this novel.

Have you read any of these? What’s the most awesome non-fiction you’ve ever encountered? Tell me in the comments (but bear in mind that it’ll take me a while to reply)

 

book review · books · shanti

I’m a PASSENGER on this ship

Hi Virtually Readers! I made the highly sensible life choice about a month ago to buy Passenger. It had gotten a lot of hype, and I’m glad to say it was deserved hype. The story definitely isn’t unputdownable/fast-paced, but it’s still lots of fun. Etta was a bit of stereotypical character, but overall the settings, the adventure, and the relationships between the characters drew me to the story and kept me there.

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Etta Spencer is a violin prodigy. When tragedy strikes and a mysterious power tied closely to her musical abilities manifests, Etta is pulled back through time to 1776 in the midst of a fierce sea battle.

Her capture was orchestrated by the Ironwoods, the most powerful family in the Colonies. Nicholas Carter, handsome, young, prize master of a privateering ship, has been charged with retrieving and delivering her to the family – unharmed.

Etta learns her fate is entwined with an object of untold value from her past. Ironwood is desperate to secure his future, but Etta must find it first in order to return home. Embarking on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind from a mysterious traveller, the true nature of the object and Ironwood’s dangerous game, could mean the end for Nicholas and Etta …


Passenger is a time travel book. So it makes sense that the settings vary widely. Passenger is set in 18th century New York, second world war London, 17th century Damascus, Angkor Wat and the modern day. These diverse settings were so interesting. (and I’m holding out for India in book two. Let’s face, the other setting I love in books—New Zealand—doesn’t have that much history that’s relevant to the world, even though it’s awesome. ) The quest linked all these settings. I loved how the mystery/search worked in the book. Though time travel is not that unique of a concept, I really liked how it was explained here. The rivers of time seemed quite sensible, as well as the location specific tunnels. Each revolution of the sun will has a strand of time linked to it, so you come out on the same date in a different year. I mean, according to science, time travel isn’t possible (because the amount of mass in the universe is supposed to be constant—so if you time travel, there’s too much mass in one place and not enough in another) Either way, I love historical fiction and the time travel worked really well to create intrigue anywhen and everywhere.

Passenger is, at it’s heart, an adventure story. However, it also is a story of trust, and friendship, gender and cultural barriers and knowing yourself. If you want a really fastpaced book, Passenger might not be for you. It does invest a lot of words in the characterisation of Etta and Nicholas, and describing settings. I didn’t find it riveting all the time, but the action was exciting, and it was by no means hard to read. The adventure is bound by time, because the characters have an agreement they have to fulfil by a certain date (September 30th) The adventure was very dramatic, and I loved how the families alliances and scheming and, for lack of a better word, history, worked together to create tension. The ending was a little lacking… I have this problem that I know people will live if there’s a sequel, and the quest wasn’t really completed, but all the more reason to read the next book, I guess.

I loved the relationships between the characters in Passenger. In the end, they were probably the highlight of the book. Nicholas and Etta are the character’s whose (third person) point of views we hear from, but Sophia, Rose, Cyrus, and to a lesser extent, Julian, feature too. My favourite relationship was certainly the one between Rose (Etta’s mother) and Etta. It was very complex, because as Etta travelled, she discovered more and more about her mother, which made her question everything she thought she knew. Rose is sort of mysterious and a little bit irritating, but she’s such a cool character, and the time travel (almost) chase was very interesting to read about. I loved how Etta’s feelings about her mother levolved through the novel. Etta and Nicholas are obviously the other key relationship. They have different reasons for working together, but they become friends. (and then they kiss, because a male-female relationship never stay platonic in YA). Nicholas is black, and he had a terrible father, and the sea is where he finds freedom. He sort of has an inferiority complex as well, and he has a very defined, 18th century idea of what masculinity is and that women are the weaker sex etc. (but Etta’s headstrong tendencies soon set him straight on that.) Etta is confused about who to trust and who to lie to, and she’s very upset about what happened to Alice (her violin instructor). She also is trying to prioritise the role of violin playing in her life. She’s smart and sassy and passionate about justice. I loved both of the MCs. Cyrus also makes the perfectly creepy villain, and Sophia is this adorable (and a little bit evil), sassy sidekick with conscience issues. Just like in the Darkest Minds books, the characters in Passenger entranced with their complexity as their journey is chronicled over all 480 pages. (yes. Passenger is long).

It’s not the most fast paced, but the time travel, the different settings, the adventure and the amazing characters caused me to adore Passenger. I encourage you to pick it up!

Have you read Passenger? Is it not the most pretty book of them all? What’s a book you read recently with awesome relationships? tell me in the comments.

books · shanti

Middle grade book recommendations

There are those days that happen to the best of us. The days when you don’t want to read an existential, angsty YA novel. You want to read something cute, and interesting and short and fun. Those are the days when you read middle grade novel, which means it’s geared towards 9-13 year olds. But it can be hard to know what MG to read when you haven’t been following trends for a while. These are some of my favourite MG books and why I like them.

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From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This book has a lot of things going for it. Firstly, it’s set in a museum. (You may not know this, but I ADORE museums. Museums are amazing) It also features a fabulous sibling relationship. It’s set in 1960’s New York and the author does such a great job of bringing the setting to life. Claudia and Jamie’s amateur sleuthing and associated adventures will probably delight you. Read this if you want a story of siblings running away to an awesome place and having adventures there.

The True Meaning of Smekday. This book is honestly one of my favourite books of all time. It is hilarious, it has some awesome discussions of the role of race, there are aliens and Cats and Fake- Disney world and alien technology. It also uses a variety of formats—as well as your traditional prose, you have ‘photos’, pictures and comics which is fun. And did I mention it was hilarious? Read this if you want a fabulous story of a girl and her cat and her alien having to defeat the other aliens and find her mother.

Artemis Fowl: The Artemis Fowl series is almost a YA crossover, but when it’s starts it’s all middle grade. Artemis is a genius whose father has gone missing and his mother is seriously depressed. So he launches on the obvious course of action—along with his bodyguard, catch a fairy and ransom it for gold to use on a rescue mission. Artemis Fowl (the book) has one of the most perfect blends of science/technology and magic that I’ve ever seen, and it’s hilarious and it’s set in Ireland. Read it for a story of adventure, the definition of evil and flautulent dwarves.

Percy Jackson: You probably saw this one coming. It has sarcasm and myths and adventure and travel enough to satisfy anyone. The whole series is really fun, but start off with the first book to be introduced to Percy’s world. Read for a story of gods and evil and flying running shoes. ( I swear it makes sense)

Anne of Green Gables. Classic books for the win! Anne of Green Gables is a very character oriented story about a red-headed orphan who is taken into a home who thought she was a boy (it was the fault of bureaucracy) She is passionate and more than a little melodramatic, which gets her into all sorts of scrapes, but ultimately Anne is a story of finding friends and family where you thought you had none. It’s also hilarious, has lots of classic book references, and has an enchanting setting in Prince Edward Island. I read Anne many times through my childhood, and I’m thinking I might need to reread (out of curiosity, would anyone be interested in buddy reading with me? Or else I could convince Shar to do it…) Read Anne of Green Gables for a story about friendship, forgiveness and melodrama that is hilarious an amazing.

George: This is definitely the most recently published book on this list, and I only read it two days ago. George is perfect for when you’re feeling sad and need a quick read to cheer you up—it was only 90 pages in my ebook version. George uses some of the stereotypes of a middle grade novel—the school bully, the older and wiser brother, the single mum, the kind yet stern principal—to defy the biggest stereotype and tell the story of Melissa, a young woman who knows that know matter what the world and her body tells her, she’s really a girl. Melissa/George really wants to play Charlotte (from Charlotte’s Web­) in the play and with the help of the people around her (as well as some people who don’t help) she attempts to reach her dreams of performing. Even if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of transgender people, George is a well written and ultimately uplifting addition to the middle grade genre. I really enjoyed it. Read George for a beautiful tale of overcoming struggles and stereotypes, friendship, and finding belonging.

The Mysterious Benedict Society. For a middle grade book, it was on the longer side, but it’s really fun. It tells the story of four resourceful kids, all with different skills, who have to go to a mysterious school on an island at the bequest of an old man, to defeat the terrible things happening on an island. This book has lots of puzzle to it, and Kate is my favourite, but each character (Sticky, Constance, Kate and Reynie) has an interesting backstory and adds something to the team. I loved their adventures. Maybe as an older reader, you’ll spot some of the plot twists, but that doesn’t prevent The Mysterious… from being a bundle of fun. Read this if you like adventure and mystery and friendship all working together to defeat evil.

So what are some of your favourite books from when you were younger? Have you read any of these? Tell me in the comments!

book review

‘Tis the Season of Rereading: The Host

Okay, I’ll admit it. I read the Host (for the third time back in September) Still I think my review fits in quite well with what we’re trying to do with ‘Tis the Season of Rereading. As a side note, The Season of Rereading (aka school holidays) are almost finished. So this is either the last or second last post. Do you have any feedback?

-Shanti

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

I’ve read Twilight. I don’t think it was the worst book ever, responsible for the degeneration of the nations youth, but it wasn’t fabulous. It’s easy to see why it appealed to so many people however- and why so many people disliked it. The thing is, I liked the Host. This is my third time rereading it. It was fun- the love triangle was a complex one, the premise was very well executed and I really loved how the deeper themes of identity, family and belonging were woven into the story. It wasn’t perfect- but it was perfectly enjoyable. Stephenie Meyer gets a lot of bad rap, but maybe it’s time to rethink that.
You’ve probably seen the Host around. But in case you haven’t, here is the premise: Earth has been invaded by a species of peaceful aliens, who use human bodies to live inside (Hosts, as it were) This particular soul, Wanderer, is placed in a body who resists her, and then floods her mind with images of the people she loves. Because the soul is essentially human, she starts to feel love for them too. Over the next 600 pages the consequences of that love are explored.  This whole idea was done very well- it’s pretty long and I wasn’t often bored. There are many elements to  the plot, all quite complex ones, that I could really appreciate.
This book is marketed as ‘the only love triangle to feature two bodies. This is true, I guess- there are two bodies, but as is emphasised over and over, it is the body, Melanie, who loves Jared, and Wanda is affected too, but doesn’t love him for herself, not really. The complexity of relationships when a body belongs to two ‘people’ is really interesting, and it was something I really enjoyed seeing. I liked the characters. Wanda is anti violence, meek and compassionate, and Melanie is not. It is really their relationship that is central to this novel, rather than the relationships with Jared, Jamie, Jeb or (j)Ian. All of those characters were complex too, though. I really liked how the outpost and the relationships in it kept evolving as Wanda was accepted. I also loved how complex she was- she feels the very real betrayal of her own kind, but understands the appeal of humanity as well.
Of course, you have to wonder who you are when you share a body. I could actually see some parallels to the Fifth Wave, What’s Left of Me and One in that respect here. Wanda struggles, because only some of her memories are her own, and she doesn’t know what that means. As she develops into a fully fleshed character, her struggle-and Melanie’s struggle-for individuality s very clear. And The Host also deals with the idea of family. Jamie and Jared are Melanie’s family. But who is Wanderer’s family. As Wanda makes friends, she begins to realise that family goes far deeper than blood. It was slightly clichéd, but I liked that anyway. Another theme, connected to the other two, was belonging. Do you belong among your own kind? Who is your own kind? Is it possible to belong in a stolen body? I appreciated the exploration of these themes, and really relished how the ending solidified it all. Wanda is a character easy to empathise with, and the struggles that she went through were a big part of that.
The main thing that I didn’t like about the host was the pacing. It’s a huge book, and it took me the better part of a long weekend to read. But the pacing was off. It would rush through the important weeks while Wanda/Melanie was accepted. It dragged through the getting lost in the desert. It sped through earth shaking kisses, then spent pages describing a soccer game. The worldbuilding was interspersed throughout. I don’t like info dumps, but for a first time reader, the first hundred pages could be really confusing. I also found that some of the descriptions could get repetitive. The internal and external dialogue was excellent, but some of the narration was quite boring.
The Host is a very interesting book, and I liked it. It bears rereading well, with a good plot and good characters and a good story. Sometimes, authors deserve a second chance.

Have you read the Host? What do you think of rereading books with a bad reputation? tell me in the comments!

book review

Newt’s Emerald; a collection of recipes

This book wasn’t bad. But it needed to be longer to fully develop the characters, and it felt a bit forced, especially the romance. It didn’t change how I think about books like Garth Ni’x’s Old Kingdom trilogy did. Yet it was still lots of fun. And I’m reviewing a bit differently today.

-Shanti

A Regency romance with magical elements, featuring an eighteen-year-old heroine and a dashing young hero – and a case of mistaken identity.

After the Newington Emerald is stolen at the height of a conjured storm, eighteen-year-old Lady Truthful Newington goes to London to search for the magical heirloom of her house. But as no well-bred young lady can hunt the metropolis for a stolen jewel, she has to disguise herself as a man, and is soon caught up in a dangerous adventure where she must risk her life, her reputation.and her heart.

Balancing twin roles as a young lady coming out in her first season and as an intrepid young man up against an evil sorceress isn’t easy, but Truthful has to manage it. Her father’s life and even the fate of England may depend upon her recovering the Newington Emerald!

A recipe for an awesome, yet slightly forced romance
One Heroine
A pint of deception
A sprinkling of kissing tension
Handsome Bachelors with a past (add to taste)
A title or two (Lady, Duke, Sir etc.)
Some suspicious circumstances
Society events

Take the heroine and stir gently, adding in the Circumstance once she is sufficiently perturbed. After three days of margination in Circumstance, add the Handsome Bachelor(s) to taste. This is also the ideal time to add deception. Pour half a pint of deception, and add a tablespoon at all Society events. Allow to soften. Then pour pure seawater over Heroine and Bachelor(s) and ta-da! You have Romance.
A Recipe for suspicious circumstances
It can be hard to find the right kind of circumstances to suit your story. I’ve found that this one is ideal for alternate-universe Regency Romances
A dash of history
One treasure of unknown power and worth
The Streets of London
One Tablespoon of magic
One and a half measures of Powerful People Desiring of Revenge.
3 conveniently serendipitous encounters.
One Bone Wand

Take the history and mix it thoroughly with magic. Leave for three hundred years. At this time, add One of your measures of Powerful People Desirous of Revenge. Two years later, add the bone wand. Then wait for nine years. At this time, place the Treasure of Unknown Power within the mixture, but hide it from outside forces. Then fold in the other half measure of Powerful people Desirous of Revenge. Over the next three weeks, add Serendipitous Encounters at times when they will strengthen the flavour of the Circumstances. After this time, your Circumstances are ready to use.
A recipe for somewhat predictable adventure
It can be hard to work adventure into your story when your heroine lives in the early nineteenth century. She obviously can’t begin her adventure as a girl, and so must cross dress. Here’s how to carry that out most effectively.
One heroine, bereft of Precious Powerful Jewel
Corset, ensorcelled Moustache, and men’s clothing.
Two Horses.
Handsome Bachelors, to taste.
One Surprising storm
Two ounces of kidnapping.
5 teaspoons of Resourcefulness.
Three Cousins
One Alias
One barrel

Adventure, unlike Circumstances, doesn’t need nearly so much time to bake. You create Nineteenth century adventure like this. Place Bereft Heroine in a pan. Add two spoons of resourcefulness. Then bring gently to the boil, adding the Corset, Ensorcelled Moustache, Men’s clothing, and Alias as you do so. Now dice the horses (I promise it’s not too bloody) and stir. With the horses, sprinkle in Handsome Bachelor(s), then pour into the almost watertight barrel. Pour in Surprising storm and both ounces of kidnapping and shake. Place mixture in serving dish, then garnish with Cousins. Thus, adventure is created.

A recipe for Female heroine, restrained. (ideally used as dressing)

Great aunt

Historical values of early 19th century

Noblegirl, who hasn’t been presented yet

One cup of confusion

Object of fabulous wealth

Shake all ingredients together until well mixed. Your heroine is ready. Use in all required situations in the early nineteenth century.

Can you share any bookish recipes? What did you think of mine? Have you read any Garth Nix yet? Tell me in the comments!

books

Advice for Characters

Hello people! I am currently rather happy because I finally have break from school. I tried to write an interesting discussion post about religion (which I will finish eventually), but I got distracted. And I’ve already posted two reviews this week so I need to switch it up. So today, I’m writing a post about all the advice I always want to scream at book characters. (and there won’t be spoilers) (and links go to my review or goodreads)(and movie characters. Trust me, I love watching movies with other people, but they don’t feel the same way. Don’t ask me about Dolphin Tale (or do. I used my super skills to predict the entire plot correctly, including the timing of montages)) (expect sarcasm) ( I really like parentheses, okay)

-Shanti

character adviceGreen Valentine: No, Astrid, it is NOT a good idea to keep your identity secret. There will be trouble. And HEARTBREAK. Trust me. I’ve seen this happen a million times before. It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but only your soul dies. Or maybe like Pride and Prejudice, because you’ll both hate each other. Don’t do it. Noooooooo.

Rose Daughter: Please, Father. Don’t take the object from the enchanted place. You will regret it. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE. Fairytales are there to teach you something.

Sever: *sarcasm voice* Yes, Rhine, approach the terrorists, that’s a GREAT idea.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Okay, Gwendolen, I have an idea. Why don’t you leave the discussion of agricultural depression to people who know what agricultural depression is, and talk about something ladylike. Muffins, for example, are a truly excellent conversation topic.

Solitaire: Tori, you are a great person. You’re intelligent, thoughtful, and have friends. Don’t waste your life on tumblr. Don’t moan about things. Get out and do something. Yes, I will force you if I have to. Please. Use your brain to solve this problem instead of staring stupidly at your laptop.

When We Wake: Tegan, my friend, you have just landed in a new century. I know things look fishy, but why don’t you give it two more months. Two more months to settle in a make friends before you investigate the military responsible for your life. I know human lives are in the balance- but could you just take it easy. And be polite to reporters for goodness sake.

Emmy and Oliver: Go easy on your parents, Emmy. Maybe you should only bring up one of the things that you’ve been hiding for them at a time. It’s a shock to their systems- you said it yourself. Be gentle: parents are people too.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue: *sarcasm voice* Go and explore the cursed cave, then. I’m sure nothing bad will happen to you. I’m sure none of the wrong sleepers will be woken. I’m sure that there are no hornets whatsoever.

Madame Tussaud: MARRY [spoiler] But seriously, it will be way better for you. Independent women are allowed to love.

The One: It is a truth universally acknowledged that keeping important secrets often causes the destruction of relationships.

A Ring of Endless Light: I think we can all agree that three boys is too many boys. (to be leading on at least)

Dance of Shadows: How about NOT going to the ballet school where your sister died due to mysterious unknown forces and instead lodging a police complaint?

So what did you think? Who would you advise? And have you read any of these? Are parentheses the best thing ever? ( Full disclaimer: I really enjoyed some of these books.) Be sarcastic in the comments!