Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Dads in Literature

In May I paid tribute to my mom with a list of my favourite fictional mothers, so it seemed only fair that this week I count down my top ten favourite fictional fathers/father figures. When it comes to fiction, it can be difficult to find positive father figures. In fact, I could probably create an entire list of awful fathers (and three-quarters of them would be from Lost!), which is all the more reason to celebrate those positive fathers who make an impression. Want to join in the fun? Head on over to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

242801. Jean Valjean (Les Miserables)
As a huge fan of both the book and the musical, how could I not place Jean Valjean at the top of this list? The ultimate in adopted fathers, Valjean keeps his promise to Fantine, retrieving her daughter Cosette, who has been treated as a servant, from the Thénardiers and raising Cosette as his own. Despite the looming threat of Javert, Jean Valjean ensures that Cosette wants for nothing. The love in this father-daughter relationship is incredibly moving. Cosette and Valjean are so lacking in love that when they are brought together the bond is that much stronger between them. He thinks the world of his daughter, and she of him. When Cosette worries that her father is eating the poor brown bread, she insists that she will eat what he does, knowing that he will not let her do so and will accept the white bread for her sake. When Valjean learns that his daughter has a young man who loves her and intends to fight on the barricades he is initially relieved that the man (Marius) will certainly die, but feels such guilt that he goes to the barricades and rescues the young man, carrying Marius on his back through the sewers to safety for Cosette’s sake. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!

“When he saw Cosette, when he had taken possession of her, carried her off, and delivered her, he felt his heart moved within him.
All the passion and affection within him awoke, and rushed towards that child. He approached the bed, where she lay sleeping, and trembled with joy. He suffered all the pangs of a mother, and he knew not what it meant; for that great and singular movement of a heart which begins to love is a very obscure and a very sweet thing.
Poor old man, with a perfectly new heart!”

26572. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Through the book and the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch has made such an impression as a positive role model and father that he can be found on just about every list of great fictional fathers. Controversy about the recent sequel aside, Atticus deserves this place of honour. He is a model of fairness and justice, encouraging daughter Scout to see things from the perspective of others, and defending the cause of social outcasts.

“Atticus, he was real nice.”
“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

j6n48z3. Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter)
Like his wife Molly, Arthur is a wonderful parent not just to his red-headed brood, but also to the orphaned Harry. Admittedly it has been a long time since I read Harry Potter, but I remember Arthur as being the kind of man who believes in the equality of muggles and magical folk, who may not be ambitious but he is good, and who cares deeply about the wellbeing of his family. The Weasleys may be poor, but they are rich in love with parents like Molly and Arthur on their side.

Pachinko4. Isak (Pachinko)
Above all, what I loved about Pachinko was its characters. This fabulous multi-generational novel about a Korean family through the twentieth century has characters who are real, who work hard, and who are generally good people. Isak is one such character. A young and sickly, missionary, he encounters the pregnant Sunja at her mother’s boarding house and decides it is his destiny to give this young unmarried woman’s child a name. He marries Sunja and brings her with him to Japan, raising her first son Noa as his own, as well as their biological child, Noa’s younger half-brother Mozasu. Although he endures hardship, including the discrimination that Koreans living in Japan face, poverty, and even torture and unjust imprisonment, Isak is a kind husband and father who tries to do right by his family and his faith.

alittlelife5. Harold (A Little Life)
One of the things that prevents A Little Life from being the bleakest book on the planet (don’t get me wrong, it is definitely still DARK, but there is some light in the darkness) is Jude St. Francis’ support system, and Harold Stein, the Harvard law school professor who officially adopts an adult Jude as his son, is a big part of that. Having lost his biological son Jacob to sickness in childhood, Harold tries to make Jude feel like he is Harold’s son and selflessly takes the troubled Jude’s sorrows into his life. And if your heart hasn’t already been broken earlier in this 700-page novel, the final letter written by Harold will definitely do it.

134966. Ned Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire)
It goes without saying that Eddard Stark, in following his principles and honour, does not always make the best decisions, but he obviously cares deeply for his family and children. I loved the glimpses we see throughout the first book of Ned’s regard for his wife and children. He never admonishes tomboy Arya or expects her to act more like a lady (likely because she reminds him of his deceased sister), even hiring a swordsman to instruct Arya in the basics of how to use her sword Needle. Although the reader doesn’t see as much of Ned with his other children, his love for them is always clear.

“She had never loved him so much as she did in that instant.”

162830147. Bob Cratchit (A Christmas Carol)
Surprisingly A Christmas Carol is the only Dickens this English major has read, but it’s an interesting book and involves, of course, an excellent father in Bob Cratchit. Although they are a very poor family, as Cratchit, the clerk at Scrooge’s moneylending firm, is overworked and underpaid, they are kind and respectable. Cratchit clearly loves sickly son Tiny Tim and for the rest of his family and works hard to ensure his family’s survival.

81331908. Matthew Cuthburt (Anne of Green Gables)
His sister Marilla is a fair but sometimes sharp-tongued woman, who sometimes finds herself in conflict with imaginative Anne Shirley, the girl they accidentally received from the orphanage instead of a boy to help with the farm, but shy kindly Matthew takes a liking to Anne from the start. While Marilla serves as the stern parental figure, Matthew spoils Anne and serves as a sympathetic ear and a “kindred spirit”. Noticing that Anne is dressed more plainly than her friends, he buys a dress in the new fashion with puffed sleeves as a Christmas present for Anne, which brings her to tears of joy. This father figure bond with Anne has stuck with me all of these years and still comes to mind when I think of positive father-daughter bonds.

“That’s a Christmas present for you, Anne,” said Matthew shyly. “Why–why–Anne, don’t you like it? Well now–well now.”
For Anne’s eyes had suddenly filled with tears.
“Like it! Oh, Matthew!” Anne laid the dress over a chair and clasped her hands. “Matthew, it’s perfectly exquisite. Oh, I can never thank you enough. Look at those sleeves! Oh, it seems to me this must be a happy dream.”

15q8eaf9. Pyotr (The Bear and the Nightingale)
A recent favourite of mine was The Bear and the Nightingale. Like Pachinko, this was a book I loved because the characters are so vividly rendered and likable. The story centers around Pyotr Vladimirovich’s daughter, Vasilisa who is compassionate but also wild and brave, with something of the supernatural about her. Despite the fact that the novel is set in medieval Russia, Pyotr obviously loves and admires his family, especially his daughter, who reminds him of his deceased wife. Although he invites strife by bringing home a highborn woman as a new bride (who turns out to be very devout and spooked by the northern household spirits, which she believes to be devils) this is obviously not Pyotr’s intent and he tries to do the best he can for his children.

1118107010. The King (The Balloon Tree)
The Balloon Tree was my favourite picture book as a child and it remains a favourite today. The beautifully rendered artwork, the fantasy story about a princess and a kingdom that she saves, and that fairytale balloon tree sent my imagination soaring. In the story, the King leaves for a tournament, telling his beloved daughter Princess Leora “If anything goes wrong, release a bunch of balloons from the castle tower. Wherever I am, I will see them and come home right away.” Leora’s evil uncle wants to become king though and the first thing he does is pop every balloon in the kingdom. It’s up to Leora to find one remaining balloon to save her kingdom. Of course she does, plants it, and a beautiful tree full of balloons grows, releasing enough balloons to warn the King and bring him back in time.

Have you read any of these books? Who are your favourite literary fathers or father-figures?

T5W: Books for Your Hogwarts House

Ravenclaw_Crest_1 (1)
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is Books For Your Hogwarts House and yes, you guessed it, this Librarian is a proud Ravenclaw! Like many book bloggers I suspect, I have always loved books and learning. I pursued first an undergraduate degree in English, and then a graduate degree in library and information science, and I value and admire creativity and intelligence in others.

This winter my parents and I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the first time. Before we went, all of us took the house percentage quizzes and it turns out we’re a family of Ravenclaws (except for my brother, a Slytherin)!

Without further ado, here are the five books I think represent Ravenclaw well:

JonathanStrange1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
When I began to consider books that represent Ravenclaw, Susanna Clarke’s historical fantasy about English magic during the Napoleonic Wars immediately came to mind. Although magical history and theory is studied, practical magic is believed to be long dead, until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his ability. He becomes a celebrity overnight, and takes on a student in another practicing magician, the young and dashing Jonathan Strange, but their differences in style strain the partnership.

Why should Ravenclaws read it?
Obviously the subject matter, the history and revival of English magic, is a perfect fit for the intellectually curious Ravenclaw, and readers will enjoy Jonathan Strange’s somewhat unconventional uses of magic. The author’s wit has been compared to Jane Austen, and this well-researched novel even includes footnotes about the history of magic and texts for further study!

1226382. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde is surely synonymous with the word wit by now, and for good reason! My favourite work of his has to be the brilliant comedic play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which satirizes Victorian ways. Featuring mistaken identities, double lives, and a misplaced handbag, this popular farce is well worth a read.

Why should Ravenclaws read it?
Although the play is over a century old, it still manages to be funny and the infamous scene with the muffins always makes me laugh. Wilde’s works are perfect for the Ravenclaw reader who values “wit beyond measure” as man’s greatest treasure.

162993. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Although I enjoy a good mystery, I have to admit that I’m one of those people who rarely puts it all together before the end. Because of this, I have immense respect for anyone who can write an engaging mystery, and Agatha Christie is the master of this genre. I haven’t read many of her books yet, but I found And Then There Were None, a story where ten strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island begin to be killed off until there is no one left, incredibly atmospheric and clever.

Why should Ravenclaws read it?
Christie shows ingenuity in bringing all of the characters’ deaths in line with the ten little soldiers poem. The way in which she paints a psychological portrait of each of these people with a dark secret and the way she keeps the reader guessing until the very end with red herrings and plot twists is brilliant to read and sure to draw admiration from the Ravenclaw reader.

ioj8xt4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven is one of my favourite books. It’s perhaps a more controversial Ravenclaw choice, but I love the central theme in this soft post-apocalyptic novel, “because survival is insufficient”. I feel like it’s a very Ravenclaw concept, this idea that civilization and life is more than just getting by and surviving, there has to be a preservation of art and knowledge and a purpose to existence. This is demonstrated in the ways in which the characters carry on after the world as they know it ends. Kristen joins the travelling symphony as an actress, performing Shakespeare with its enduring appeal, to survivors of the pandemic. Clark opens the museum of civilization at the airport to preserve the way of life before and hold objects that no longer have any practical use, like high heels and a motorcycle, and a minor character begins printing a newspaper.

Why should Ravenclaws read it?
Station Eleven features culture and creativity and preservation of knowledge, told through beautiful prose in a story that is completely unique in setting the action during the pandemic, in its first days, and then fifteen years, entirely skipping the early days following the end of the world and the mayhem and brutality to tell a story about the new culture that begins to emerge and hope for the future.

2983175. Sandman by Neil Gaiman
(Art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III)
I was a little stuck on exactly which Neil Gaiman book belongs on this list, but ultimately went for his critically acclaimed Sandman graphic novels. For me, Sandman (and Neil Gaiman in general) represent that wildly imaginative, original, and eccentric part of Ravenclaw, much like Luna Lovegood. The Sandman comics are stories about stories. They’re not always linear, they’re not always easy to understand, but they’re always incredibly creative and interesting. The stories focus on Morpheus, the anthropomorphic personification of dreams, one of seven Endless, along with Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium–who was once Delight–and Destruction, and blend history, mythology, and horror.

Why should Ravenclaws read it?
The Sandman comics are unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and in that way represent the eccentricity and uniqueness of this house. Neil Gaiman’s brain is a fountain of original thought, which is perhaps at peak weirdness in Sandman. The series won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s definitely worth checking out for the sheer imagination and creativity of the work.

Which Hogwarts house would you be in? And which books do you think represent your house?

Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2017

After the fabulous month of reading I had in April, May was a bit of a disappointment. The majority of the six books I read were enjoyable reads in the three to three-and-a-half star range, with only two books I gave four stars. I’m definitely hoping that June will be a better month for me!

I was hoping to review Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray, which I really enjoyed and gave a solid four stars, but I’m having a busy couple of weeks and have contracted the summer cold that’s going around here, so not this month.

May17

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett small 4 stars + Review
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde small 3 half stars + Review
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu  small-3-stars + Review
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli small 3 half stars + Review
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee small 3 half stars + Review
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray small 4 stars

Book of the Month: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett – Although I didn’t love it as much as the first two books of the trilogy, this is a worthy conclusion that offers closure to the characters we know and love.

Runner-Up: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray – This exactly the kind of sci-fi I enjoy, a meditation on what makes us human that also touches on subjects of the environment, politics, and class, and features likable dynamic characters in Abel and Noemi.

Least Favourite: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu – It’s a great book, it just wasn’t a great book for me. A little more science than I like in my sci-fi and without well developed characters and an engaging plot to make up for it.

Have you read any of these? What did you think? What were your best and worst reads of the month?

Seen on Stage:
The mediocre reading month was made up by a fabulous month of Toronto theatre. Onegin and La Bohème were both amazing, and I can’t recommend them highly enough:

Onegin (musical) by the Musical Stage Company (x2) – Review
La Bohème (opera) by Against the Grain Theatre – Review
Porgy & Bess in Concert by Soulpepper

I hope everyone has a wonderful June!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Of H2 2017

This week’s topic is the Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017. Weirdly enough a bunch of books I’m anticipating have just come out or are coming out in June, just short of making this list. A further few are due out in January 2018, just after the cut off. I managed to find ten books due out this summer and fall that I’m really looking forward to reading though.

Want to join in the fun? Head on over to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

255288081. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
(Release date: October 3, 2017)
A friend of mine who read an ARC has been raving about this for ages, and I’ve generally only heard positive things about this book. Certainly the premise sounds right up my alley, and I love that my home city of Toronto plays a role, so I can’t wait to give it a try!

Synopsis: Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendant of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she’ll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire’s greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria.

318177492. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
(Release date: August 15, 2017)
The first book in her Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season, deservedly won the Hugo Award for Best Novel last year and its follow-up, Obelisk Gate, is nominated this year. Both books are like nothing I have ever read before. Jemisin’s prose and world-building is exquisite, her fiction diverse, and her stories incredibly engaging. I can’t wait to finish the trilogy this summer with The Stone Sky.

Synopsis: The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.
Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.
For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

342732363. Little Fires Everywhere by Celene Ng
(Release date: September 12, 2017)
I LOVED Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You and ranked it number four on my list of the best books I read in 2016. It was the kind of novel I was still thinking about days, and even weeks after finishing it. The prose was exquisite, the subject (a Chinese-American family’s struggles with sexism and race in 1970s America) one not often dealt with, and the characters were all flawed and nuanced. Based on the strength of that one book I would read just about anything this author puts out.

Synopsis: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

335668714. The Speaker by Traci Chee
(Release date: November 7, 2017)
I really enjoyed Traci Chee’s first book in this series, The Reader, which struck me as something of a love letter to books and those who love to read, but in a fascinating YA fantasy story. I remember loving both of the protagonists, Sefia and Archer, and I can’t wait to read what happens next in their story.

Synopsis: After barely escaping the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer are on the run again and slip into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Haunted by painful memories, Archer struggles to overcome the trauma of his past with the impressors, whose cruelty plagues him whenever he closes his eyes. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally finds a way to combat his nightmares: by hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive.

With Sefia’s help, Archer travels across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while she continues to investigate the mysterious Book and secrets it contains. But the more battles they fight, the more fights Archer craves, until his thirst for violence threatens to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny.

253532865. Provenance by Ann Leckie 
(Release date: September 26, 2017)
I still have to read the final volume in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, but I love the world-building, the inventiveness of the plot, and the characters, particularly snarky with a heart of gold former ship Breq/Justice of Toren. Ann Leckie is definitely on the list of authors I would try just about anything by, and I can’t wait for this new book.

Synopsis: A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned. Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

340769526. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
(Release date: September 26, 2017)
I’m not usually a short stories person, but at this point I think I’ll read just about anything Leigh Bardugo writes, and I love the rich world-building she’s done through the Grisha trilogy and then through the Six of Crows duology. I can’t wait to read more from her vivid imagination.

Synopsis: Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

285261927. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright
(Release date: October 3, 2017)
I’ve heard a few good things about this one, mostly because I gather it’s about 4 queer teenagers battling to save the planet. I’m all for increased diversity in fiction and this sounds really interesting, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

Synopsis: During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

297607788. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
(Release date: October 3, 2017)
Victoria Schwab’s blurb reads: “A love letter to my favorite kind of fantasy―rich, expansive, and grounded in human truth. It is a story of star-crossed loves, of fate and power and passion, and it is simply exquisite.” I also gather it’s Mongolian-inspired epic fantasy and involves queer protagonists, so this is definitely one I’ll be reading!

Synopsis: The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.

339582309. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao
(Release date: October 10, 2017)
I don’t know much about this one, but it looks really interesting! An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny, it apparently features an anti-heroine and a richly developed fantasy world – sign me up!

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

2992370710. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
(Release date: September 19, 2017)
I gave the first book in the series 3.5 stars on goodreads, saying that I definitely had some issues with it, but I was engaged enough to keep reading and to continue the series. I loved the concept, but thought it started off very slowly and the writing style and plot felt a little younger skewing within the YA genre. I’m still excited about the next book though.

Synopsis: The battle for the Crown has begun, but which of the three sisters will prevail?

With the unforgettable events of the Quickening behind them and the Ascension Year underway, all bets are off. Katharine, once the weak and feeble sister, is stronger than ever before. Arsinoe, after discovering the truth about her powers, must figure out how to make her secret talent work in her favor without anyone finding out. And Mirabella, once thought to be the strongest sister of all and the certain Queen Crowned, faces attacks like never before—ones that put those around her in danger she can’t seem to prevent.

Are you looking forward to reading any of these? What are your most anticipated books for the rest of the year?

T5W: Favourite Minor Characters

Top Five Wednesday is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Want to join in the fun? Check out the goodreads group!

I took a bit of a detour the last few weeks to do a few Top Ten Tuesdays, but I’m back to Top 5 Wednesday with a list of my Favourite Minor Characters! I think the hardest part of compiling this list was trying to determine which characters counted as minor. This week’s topic defines minor characters as ‘less than a sidekick or a side character’ and uses the example of Ron and Hermione being side characters, while Lavender Brown, Oliver Wood, and Dean Thomas are minor characters. I’ve tried to keep to characters who are less than a sidekick, so hopefully I’m not too far off base here!

Without further ado, here’s my list:

3511981. Danny Hislop (The Lymond Chronicles)
I could probably make an entire top five list of my favourite minor characters from The Lymond Chronicles, but Danny Hislop is definitely at the top of it! I’m pretty sure it’s actually impossible to dislike Danny. From his first appearance as a soldier of Saint Mary’s he provides a much needed lightness to the series, asking why the men follow Francis Crawford of Lymond and assuming (correctly) that he’s gorgeous. Upon meeting Francis for the first time he actually moans, and proceeds to follow Lymond as much for the drama and out of curiosity than anything else.
Here are a few of his best lines:

“Gorgeous I called him and that he is…..And nasty I called him, and that, Maeve, was a shrewd piece of insight, for nasty he certainly is. And a clever bastard, I called him…Not to his face, dear. We’re not all born to be heroes. But what he may not know, Maeve, is that I’m a clever bastard as well.’

“As a reward for… what is your principal characteristic, would you say?”
“Treacherousness,” said Danny, gloriously.

“‘Do you think he will notice?’ Danny said. ‘I sometimes feel if I placed myself nude on the floor between the Voevoda and one of his meetings, he wouldn’t even walk round me.’”

173785082. The Women of 300 Fox Way (The Raven Cycle)
It feels only right to consider this formidable set of women as one (although if I had to pick a single woman it would be my favourite, Persephone). Blue’s family consists of her mother, Maura, Estonian psychic Persephone with her cloud of pale hair, confident Calla, Maura’s sister Jimi, and her daughter Orla. Growing up in this environment, surrounded by psychics with distinct but strong personalities, has clearly shaped Blue to be the self-assured individual she is, and I love that there is this sisterhood feeling to 300 Fox Way. All of the women are fully-realized despite the fact that they mostly play minor roles in the story, and I would happily read a collection of short stories about these ladies.

“Persephone said, “What an unpleasant young man.”
Calla let the curtains drift shut. She remarked, “I got his license plate number.”
“I hope he never finds what he’s looking for,” Maura said.
Retrieving her two cards from the table, Persephone said, a little regretfully, “He’s trying awfully hard. I rather think he’ll find something.”
Maura whirled toward Blue. “Blue, if you ever see that man again, you just walk the other way.”
“No,” Calla corrected. “Kick him in the nuts. Then run the other way.”

72601883. Finnick Odair (The Hunger Games)
Oh Finnick. Introduced as a somewhat cocky flirtatious male victor from district 4, as Katniss gets to know him, she and the reader discover that there’s more to Finnick than meets the eye. He is close to Mags, an elderly woman who was his mentor, and he is deeply in love with “mad” Annie Cresta, who is also a former victor. As an ally to Katniss and Peeta in the Quarter Quell, he helps to keep them alive and is an integral part of the story in Mockingjay where he falls into depression over Annie’s captivity by the Capitol, but assists in creating rebel propaganda, where it’s revealed that he was prostituted to wealthy citizens by President Snow, who threatened the people he loves. Probably my favourite character in these books besides Katniss herself, I have all kinds of feelings about Finnick Odair.

“Finnick!” Something between a shriek and a cry of joy. A lovely if somewhat bedraggled young woman–dark tangled hair, sea green eyes–runs toward us in nothing but a sheet. “Finnick!” And suddenly, it’s as if there’s no one in the world but these two, crashing through space to reach each other. They collide, enfold, lose their balance, and slam against a wall, where they stay. Clinging into one being. Indivisible.
A pang of jealousy hits me. Not for either Finnick or Annie but for their certainty. No one seeing them could doubt their love.”

226373584. Cardenio (Doctrine of Labyrinths series)
Cardenio is a true minor character. A cade-skiff who drags the river under the city for bodies, he’s shy, quick to blush, and perhaps the best listener Mildmay has ever met. His role in the plot is minor. Cardenio sometimes offers information, but for Mildmay who is chronically underestimating himself and who has been used by some of those closest to him for their own purposes, including Kolkiss who raised him as a thief and assassin and took sexual advantage of him, and his brother Felix who often treats him poorly, Cardenio is the one person who wants nothing from him, who is just a good friend. (Ignore the truly awful cover that makes this look like a paranormal romance with a tattooed redhead, it’s actually a dark fantasy quartet.)

“Okay?” I said.
“Yeah. Really okay.  I mean, nobody’s ever given me this good a present before. Thanks.”
“Hey, you’re the only person I know’s ever made it to journeyman cade-skiff. That’s gotta be worth something.”
He blushed like a girl, and I let him off the hook by asking him to tell me what kind of thing he was learning this decad. We talked the way we always did, about everything under the sun. Cardenio was maybe the best listener I’d ever met. With him I didn’t feel like I had to worry about my scar.”

crookedkingdom5. Nikolai Lantsov/Sturmhond (Crooked Kingdom)
Okay, I’m sort of cheating since Nikolai is a character who had a larger role in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, but he appears more briefly in Crooked Kingdom. A snarky pirate king with a heart of gold, how could I not love Nikolai? I might have squealed a little when he popped up in Crooked Kingdom. I’m fascinated by characters who are malleable/able to code switch when in different company (like Prince Hal in Henry IV) and Nikolai is one of these characters, using his persona as Sturmhond the pirate to negotiate in situations where he cannot go as King of Ravka. Seeing him match wits with Kaz Brekker in Crooked Kingdom was a particular delight. Should Ms. Bardugo ever write more of Nikolai’s story I’ll be among the first in line to read it!

“Ravka is grateful for your service,” Sturmhond said as they turned to go. “And so is the crown.” He waved once. In the late afternoon light, with the sun behind him, he looked less like a privateer and more like… but that was just silly.”

Honourable mention to:

Jaqen H’ghar (A Song of Ice and Fire)
A girl is fascinated by Jaqen H’ghar, from his unusual manner of speaking to his relationship with Arya Stark, to his mysterious past.

The Red God has his due, sweet girl, and only death may pay for life. This girl took three that were his. This girl must give three in their places. Speak the names, and a man will do the rest.

Margaret Erskine (The Lymond Chronicles)
Anyone who puts up with Francis Crawford deserves a medal really, but especially Margaret Erskine. Overshadowed by her glamourous mother, she is often overlooked or pitied, having been widowed twice by age 19 (I think?), but Margaret is intelligent and uses her ability to be unnoticed to watch everything around her and use it to her advantage. At the end of Queens’ Play offers Lymond some advice that sticks with him through the rest of the series. Also she has this gem:

“Silently, Margaret Erskine held open the door. Lymond’s eyebrows shot up. ‘My dear, have patience. My wounds are to be salved.’
‘Go away and bleed to death,’ said his onetime savior sharply. ‘On behalf of the female sex I feel I may cheer every lesion.’

Who are your favourite minor characters?

This or That Book Tag

Hi readers,

The wonderful Aditi from Readers Rule has nominated me for the This or That Book Tag, which looks like a lot of fun, so here goes!

Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks)
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag other people to do this tag to spread the love!

This or That?

Reading on the couch or on the bed?
There’s something about reading in bed that is just so enjoyable. It’s definitely where I curl up to finish an emotional book, surrounded by blankets. I have a pet cockatiel named Poe, who I adore but she tends to eat books and the living room is her domain, so I’m more likely to read in bed.

Male main character or female main character?

both

I really don’t have a strong preference! I love finding a female protagonist that I admire, who is strong, capable, and flawed, but many of my favourite main characters are male. Really as long as there are interesting three-dimensional female characters contained in the book they don’t have to be the main character for me to enjoy it.

Sweet snacks or salty snacks?
I have a major sweet tooth, so pass me the chocolate!

Trilogies or quartets?
I haven’t come across many quartets actually, mostly trilogies or sequels these days. Out of the two options I’ll take the trilogy though. Four books always seems to stretch out further and I don’t want to wait years for a series that may never be finished.

First person POV or third POV?
Third person generally, but I have read some well done first person, it’s not a deal breaker.

Reading at night or in the morning?
I love the idea of reading at night, and certainly when I’m REALLY into something I do stay up reading it, but more often I wind up reading in the morning. On a warm weekend I like to grab a coffee or tea and sit on a park bench mid-morning and read while the world is still fairly quiet and the sun isn’t at peak strength.

Libraries or bookstores?
Honestly both, but if I had to choose, libraries. I live in a large city with a fabulous library system and it saved me so much money. Sometimes there’s a bit of a wait, but I love that so many books are at my fingertips! As a Librarian, I also feel that libraries are important to communities as one of the last free public spaces where you don’t have to buy a coffee or food to be able to sit for several hours. There are few things I enjoy more than browsing a bookstore though!

Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry?
Books that make me cry! I seem to enjoy books where the main character *suffers* (A Little Life, the Doctrine of Labyrinths series, THE LYMOND CHRONICLES), and although I’m not someone who cries easily at books, I do love being moved to tears that are genuine and feel earned. I have a bit of a thing and don’t enjoy books that feel emotionally manipulative, like they’re just trying to draw tears, though.

Black book covers or white covers?
Black book covers. I enjoy the sleek look they have.

Character driven or plot driven?
This is another case where I really need both for a book to be a homerun for me. I need to feel engaged, if not with all characters than at least with a few of the characters, for me to want to continue with a book, no matter how interesting the plot is, and similarly if there are great characters but nothing at all happens, I get bored. I like character-driven plotty novels!

I Nominate:

As always, if you aren’t interested, don’t do tags, or have already done this one, feel free to ignore it!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Moms in Literature

As you can probably tell, my mom and I are very close, so I jumped at the chance to celebrate other great mothers in fiction this week for Mother’s Day. Want to join in the fun? Head on over to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

242801. Fantine (Les Miserables)
It may be partially the fact that I have been so shaped by the musical, and then, as an adult, by the book Les Miserables, but Fantine is the first example of a great mother who comes to mind. Everything Fantine does is for her daughter. Seeing the way that the innkeeper’s wife Thenardier treats her own daughters, Fantine naively entrusts Cosette to the woman’s care and regularly sends money and clothing to pay for her daughter’s expenses. As the Thenardiers, who treat abuse Cosette and treat her as a servant, claim more and more money, Fantine sells her two front teeth, and her golden blonde hair, before turning to the streets and selling herself. Ultimately she suffers from tuberculosis and dies before seeing her daughter again, but it is clear that Cosette is the light of her life.

“Calm yourself, my child,” said the doctor. “Your child is here.”
Fantine’s eyes beamed and filled her whole face with light. She clasped her hands with an expression which contained all that is possible to prayer in the way of violence and tenderness.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, “bring her to me!”
Touching illusion of a mother! Cosette was, for her, still the little child who is carried.

Pachinko2. Sunja (Pachinko)
The thing I loved most about Pachinko (one of my favourite reads so far this year!) was its incredibly likable yet flawed characters. There are multiple mothers in this story, such as Yangjin, who lets her daughter go because she knows it will give her the best opportunity to make a life for herself, but knows that saying goodbye means she may never see the girl again, but my favourite is Sunja. More than anything Pachinko is Sunja’s story, one of hard work as she makes candy and sells her sister-in-law’s kimchi in a marketplace all day to make money, and as she swallows her pride and goes to Hansu, the gangster who lied to her and got her pregnant, in order to pay for her son’s schooling when he’s accepted to a prestigious Japanese university. She doesn’t always make the right decision and she faces the consequences of her choices, but I believe that she always tries to do the right thing for her children and she certainly works hard, sacrifice for them, and loves them.

79378433. Ma (Room)
Room is undoubtedly as fascinating as it is because it’s written from the perspective of a five-year-old boy and his limited worldview. Through this perspective the reader, who has a broader understanding of what’s happening, sees just how hard Ma tries to shield her son from harm, ordering him into a wardrobe on the nights when Old Nick may arrive to rape her. I also marveled at how well this young mother raises a son in such a confined environment. Limiting his TV intake, creating new and entertaining games and ways of keeping physically fit, and fiercely loving her boy.

3512114. Kate Somerville (The Lymond Chronicles)
There are a few mothers in the Lymond Chronicles and many of them raise conflicting emotions in me, but not superb Kate! Is there anyone who has read these books that doesn’t love Kate? A plain, sensible young woman in a stained gown, Kate becomes a young widow raising a daughter alone on the border between England and Scotland. Down-to-earth, she consistently provides practical advice to both her daughter Philippa and Francis Crawford, who becomes a friend of the family. I adore Kate for the way she parents with love but also good common sense, ensuring that Philippa grows into an admirable and self-sufficient young woman, and for the way she offers some peace and normality to the distinctly not normal life of Francis Crawford.

“Lymond said softly, ‘That is the only thing you may not say to me. . . . Kate, superb Kate: I will not be mothered.’

‘Mothered!’ Kate’s small, undistinguished face was black with annoyance. ‘I would sooner mother a vampire. I am merely trying to point out what your browbeaten theorists at St Mary’s ought surely to have mentioned in passing. Health is a weapon of war. Unless you obtain adequate rest, first your judgement will go, and then every other qualification you may have to command, and either way, the forces of light will have a field-day in the end.”

619005. Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan (The Vorkosigan Saga)
A rare sci-fi and fantasy mom on this list, I adore Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan. A former commander of a ship and a formidable woman, Cordelia becomes pregnant in Barrayar but is targeted along with her government official husband by a nerve gas. Although she receives an antidote, she is told that it will weaken her unborn child, turning its bones to jelly, and is encouraged to abort. Cordelia makes the choice to keep the fetus and, thanks to woman-centric uterine replicator technology that means a woman doesn’t have to carry their child to term inside them, she’s able to save the planet from civil war while her baby grows, presenting the severed head of the leader of the coup d’etat to her husband in a memorable scene. Although her son Miles is physically small and fragile, he is also incredibly intelligent and courageous. Cordelia raises her differently abled son with love and opts not to have more children, although she would like them, because healthy children could endanger her son’s life and position as heir.

3412886. Marmee (Little Women)
I have to admit, it’s been several years since I’ve read Little Women and my impression of Marmee is more from the books than Louisa May Alcott’s novel, but Marmee struck me as the quintessential mother. She works hard and keeps the household running while her husband is off at war, and she carries out charity work for the less fortunate and encourages her daughters to do the same. Most of all she is patient, counseling and consoling her girls. Ultimately she leads by example, showing that there are more important things in life than money and possessions, and believing that education is important so her daughters can think for themselves. 

j6n48z7. Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
(Spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Harry Potter is very much a story about mothers and their love for their children. Lily’s love for Harry (she died trying to protect him) is what makes him “The Boy Who Lived”., while Narcissa lies to Voldemort, telling him that Harry is dead, once she learns that her son Draco is still living and she has an opportunity to protect him. My favourite Harry Potter mom definitely has to be Molly Weasley though. Mrs. Weasley’s kindness means that she is in many ways a mother to Harry too, welcoming him into their home for the holidays and knitting a sweater for him at Christmas. Don’t let this generosity fool you though, when it comes to her children, Molly is not to be crossed! After dangerous Death eater Bellatrix LeStrange nearly hits daughter Ginny with a Killing Curse, Molly is enraged, challenging Bellatrix to a duel and killing her.

60416898. Catelyn Stark (ASoIaF)
Catelyn Stark, when her agency and storyline have not been taken away from her *ahem*, is a one of the small number of positive and present SFF novel mothers I can think of. Although Catelyn doesn’t always make the best choices, she means well and believes that she is doing the right thing for her family. Certainly she takes some heat from fans for her attitude towards Jon Snow, but she believes him to be Ned’s son, making Snow a constantly present symbol of her husband’s believed infidelity. I don’t always agree with Catelyn Stark and the fact that she makes Jon feel like an outsider, but I understand her motivations. Catelyn’s love for her children is absolute and she will do anything to see Sansa and Arya, who she believes to be hostages in King’s Landing, returned safely, including freeing Jaime Lannister.

TheDreamThieves9. Maura Sargent (The Raven Cycle)
In YA it’s often rare for the parents to play any roles at all, let alone positive ones. While other parental figures in The Raven Cycle run the gamut from joyful loving Aurora to Adam’s father, I think Maura Sargent is striking for a few reasons. It’s mentioned at one point that Maura’s daughter Blue is rich in love. Indeed confident independent, entirely original Blue is the product of the kind of home where she supported and free to be herself. Although Maura isn’t single-handedly responsible for this environment, the kinship and bustle that come from having Calla and Persephone and extended family at 300 Fox Way, also plays a role, Maura is a huge part of why Blue is so interesting a character.

1570430710. Alana (Saga)
An army deserter in a mixed marriage (their two races are engaged in war) her main priority is keeping her daughter Hazel safe. Together with husband Marko, Alana flees from those who would harm the first cross-species baby to survive more than a few weeks. She spends many pages in the first issues of Saga kicking butt with baby Hazel strapped to her body, and even after Hazel is capable of walking, Alana is still fiercely protective of her daughter and will fight anyone who comes between them. She isn’t a perfect mother. The stresses of being on the run and being a mother lead her to pick up a drug habit from a co-worker. But Alana’s love for Hazel is still keenly felt in this ongoing comic series.

Have you read any of these books? Who are some of your favourite fictional mothers?

Top Books Both Mom and I Loved

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

While my mom didn’t single-handedly create my love of reading, she definitely nurtured it and helped it grow. My mom kept up-to-date on children’s books that were well-regarded, like Newbery award winners, but never forced me to read a particular type of book. My childhood was a combination of children’s classics, like The Borrowers, Dr. Doolittle, and Pippi Longstocking, fantasy series like the Prydain Chronicles and the Narnia Chronicles, and series books, including The Boxcar Children, Saddle Club, and Babysitter’s Club.

gglam
(Mom and I holding A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder‘s Tony Award for Best Musical)

My mom is the most important person in my life. She’s kind, she is always there to listen when I’m having a bad day or need help, and she’s a lot of fun to be around. We’ve traveled together to New York, taking in the sights by day and seeing some truly fabulous Broadway shows by night, we discuss television shows (Black Sails! The 100!) that we both love, and, of course, we read, often lending books to one another. So in honour of Mother’s Day and how incredibly lucky I am to have such a wonderful mom, here’s a list of the top 10 books my mom and I both loved.

j6n48zHarry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
This is perhaps an obvious choice, but Harry Potter has to be on this list because it spanned the period from childhood to adulthood for me and encapsulates how the way we read changes. My mom was always on top of what was new and noteworthy in children’s literature so we started reading Harry Potter before the movies came out and before it had become the phenomenon that it is today. The first few books she read aloud, with my younger brother and I listening beside her on the couch. When new books were published in the series, my mom pre-ordered a copy that her and I took turns reading on our own, moving our bookmarks and being careful not to lose our family member’s place. For the final book, we attended a midnight release party at the bookstore and brought the last Harry Potter book home with us. Although I’m grown and have my own apartment, so our current form of book sharing usually involves one of us reading the book then lending it to the other, this is how it all started; One book, two bookmarks.

186074The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind was recommended to me by a few co-workers at Chapters, a bookstore chain in Canada. I loved the book and passed it on to my mom, who also loved it. Although we weren’t as impressed with the second volume in the series, we’re both eagerly awaiting a publication date for the final book in the trilogy. I had the opportunity to attend a Patrick Rothfuss reading and signing about five years ago where he spoke about a fantasy novella he was working on about a mother who goes off to have adventures after her kids are grown. He pointed out that the only times moms get to be badass or the hero is when their kids are in danger, perhaps their husband, and I thought it was really interesting that he was writing about an adventurous mother who was adventuring just for her. Sadly I don’t know what ever became of the novella, if he finished and published it or not, but I’d love to read more about moms having adventures without their kids!

10626594The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races is one of my favourite books, and it was recommended to me by my mom. As a girl I went through a prolonged horse phase that included three Halloweens of handmade (by my talented mom) horse-related costumes (jockey, cowgirl, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer). I even took riding lessons for a few years, although I didn’t have enough interest to continue. My mom rode into her twenties though and has an enduring love for horses as well. I don’t know if this book has the same appeal for people who don’t love horses, but for those who do it is a must-read about the friendships between horses and riders, and with a supernatural element in the wild water horses.

9361589The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus grabbed my mom right away. I was in grad school and didn’t have time to read for pleasure, but she told me to put it on my tbr for when I finished, calling it the best book she had read in awhile. As usual, my mom was right. The Night Circus is enchanting with its vivid descriptions of the circus tents standing out as particularly unique and memorable. It’s not a perfect book and the romance is a little overdone, but we both adored The Night Circus.

11870085The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
One of my cousins gifted The Fault in Our Stars, John Green’s tragic YA novel about Hazel, a girl with terminal cancer, and the boy she falls in love with, to my mother for Christmas. Mom loved the book, recommended it to me, and we discussed how although the subject matter is depressing, the writing style and the humour throughout keeps it from feeling overly dark. I don’t think either of us expected to enjoy the book as much as we ultimately did.

ioj8xtStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
When trying to come up with a book gift for an individual we didn’t know very well, Station Eleven was on both of our short lists. I think this is one my mom read first and recommended to me, but both of us loved this tale of hope after a pandemic wipes out most of the world’s population. Melding the past before the disease broke out, the days directly following disease, and fifteen years in the future as a travelling symphony travels a circuit through the wasteland that remains performing music and Shakespeare for the survivors, this book is beautifully written, thoughtful, and uplifting.

17910048The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Recommended to me by a friend, it was one of those books I loved so much that I forced it upon ended up lending it to my mom, who also loved it! This fantasy novel tells the story of a half-goblin son of the emperor who has grown up in an isolated exile, but when his father and the others in line for the throne are all killed in an “accident”, the naive, but earnest Maia takes his place as the surviving rightful heir. The world-building is fabulous and the court intrigue well-written, but what really struck me was how refreshing it is, in this world of anti-heroes and dark protagonist, to have a main character who is just so *nice*. Maia’s efforts to do the right thing by everyone when he doesn’t always know what all of the rules or customs of society are, is really endearing and you root for him.

26409580The Swan Riders by Erin Bow
I loved the first book in this YA dystopian duology, but The Swan Riders improved upon it, providing more of my favourite character, Talis, the snarky overseer AI. Some of the dialogue is laugh out loud funny, and the overall theme of what it is that makes us human and why it’s important is poignant. Since this was a quick read, I borrowed it from my local library and had time to lend it to my mom before it had to be returned, and we both really enjoyed it!

AConjuringOfLightThe Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
This series is such a great read. I love the relationships between characters, especially serious loyal Kell, and impulsive dangerous Lila, the imaginative settings of Red London and White London, and the way Schwab builds up an antagonist (Holland) and makes us feel pity for him. The pacing is excellent. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and I loved how the stakes are raised with each book in the trilogy. My mom’s review of the final book in the series, A Conjuring of Light, was “WOW. That is all.” I totally agree.

crookedkingdomSix of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The Six of Crows series is one that I recommend to absolutely everyone, and I think my mom had a similar reaction to it. Bardugo’s characters are flawed and real and so damn likable. The worldbuilding is gritty, the dialogue is clever, and the plot is full of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. I have rarely been so sorry to leave a cast of characters behind, but I loved the way it all wrapped up.

Wishing everyone a great day of reading and I hope all mothers out there have a fabulous Mother’s Day!