My Dream Bookish Panel

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

As a card-carrying fangirl, I love when I get the chance to go to conventions to meet my favourite actors and actresses. I love watching panels from conventions where they answer questions given to them by fans and tell anecdotes from the set and so on. The majority of the time I end up nearly falling off of my chair because they are just too witty. I know who my ideal panel of actors and actresses would be but what about my dream panel of authors and fictional characters. In this blog post, I share with you four fictional characters and four authors that I would have on my imaginary panel.

F I C T I O N A L   C H A R A C T E R S

I honestly could cheat and say that I would have Captain Kathryn Janeway on the panel as a fictional character. Why not? She's a literary fictional character thanks to the Star Trek: Voyager pocket book series. There are dozens of books for Voyager. Ergo, Captain Janeway is a fictional character and could take up a seat on the panel. But I'll be fair here.

A N N A B E T H    C H A S E
The daughter of Athena. If you know me, or truthfully if you've looked at the header image of this blog, Annabeth will not come as any kind of surprise. Athena is my favourite of the Greek deities and as a result, her daughter, Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series is by default (and a lot of merit), is my favourite character. Take a seat, Annabeth. 

D O N A T E L L A    D R A G M A
Despite not featuring heavily in Caraval, Donatella still made an impact on me. At the beginning of the book she's very much a wilful girl who does whatever she wants without any regard for the consequences. Then she's taken captive at Caraval. The participants have to solve the clues to find her. Then she appears again at the end and drops the biggest bombshell that I did not see coming. She really surprised me as a character. She reminded me of Morgana from BBC's Merlin. She appears to be this weak, willful, spoilt girl but at the end, she completely blew me away with her intelligence and her determination. I loved it. Plus, since I've fancast her as Katie McGrath, why wouldn't want her on my dream panel?

The Muse of Nightmares. YES! I absolutely loved Sarai when I was reading Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. To be honest, it truly was a coin toss between Sarai and Minya. Yes, Minya. The pint-sized little evil one. She was a contender because I love my villains. Nevertheless, I went with Sarai because her story, her abilities and her history with regard to the other characters.

This is probably where I would include a male fictional character. To be completely honest, I haven't encountered a fictional male character that I like beyond Percy Jackson. I dislike Harry Potter with a passion. Most males in the books that I read are chauvinist brutes, wusses, overly weak or just plain meh. After digging through the recesses of my brain, I've come up with....

N I K O L A I    L A N T S O V
After falling madly in love with The Darkling in Shadow & Bone, the first book in the Grisha trilogy, I was not expecting myself to fall even deeper in love with Nikolai Lantsov in Siege & Storm. This guy, let me tell know, is sarcasm, wit, charisma and charm personified. I absolutely loved his witty nature. He always had an answer for everything and he could disable even the most cold-hearted person with just a look. I loved him so the honourary bloke on the panel card goes to Nikolai. 


Like with having Captain Kathryn Janeway as a fictional character, I could also have Kate Mulgrew as an author. But for the sake of keeping the obsessive-fangirl out of this post, I'll pick the following four...

R I C K    R I O R D A N
A man that writes about Greek, Roman and Norse mythologies? HOW CAN HE NOT BE FIRST IN LINE?

D A N I E L L E    S T E E L
Danielle Steel, really? You've never mentioned her. Yes, Danielle Steel. Since birth I have been surrounded by Danielle Steel books. My mother has every single book that Danielle Steel has ever written. She has an entire bookcase dedicated to all of her books, and a number of which she has multiple copies. They aren't even different covers. They're the exact same book. She has three copies of 'Malice'. My first foray into recreational reading was by picking up Danielle Steel books. I must preface this by saying that I was about 15 years old and I am not Danielle Steel's target demographic. Nevertheless, I have read a number of her books and have thoroughly enjoyed her books. Every time a number release from her comes into work, I instantly pick it up to surprise my Mum. Lately, she's been releasing books every few months and I would love to know how she comes up with stories so quickly and how she cranks them out so quickly. I just bought Mum a book in July and another is due in September. What? 

L E I G H    B A R D U G O
One of my favourite author discoveries since Ransom Riggs. I love Leigh Bardugo's writing. I've loved it since I read Shadow & Bone, the first book in the Grisha trilogy. I have currently read the first two books in this series and have loved every single sentence of them. I love the way that she seamlessly uses Russian phrases and terms in her sentences without losing so much as a beat. 

E L I Z A B E T H    W E I N
I have only read one book by Elizabeth Wein and that was Code Name Verity. I adored that book. I was extremely confused by it for the longest time but then like a light-bulb, everything started to make sense and in that moment, my mind was blown. I'm looking forward to picking up Rose Under Fire and she has also penned a Star Wars novel which I am beyond intrigued and excited for. She writes strong female characters that dare to push the boundaries of what people expect from them. In Code Name Verity, her two lead characters, 'Verity' and Maddie were between them, a pilot, a translator, a bomber, an interrogator, a resistance fighter, a collaborator, a traitor and a soldier at one point or another. I loved them so much. 


What would I ask my favourite characters and favourite authors. Naturally I should ask about their whole writing process and what made them come up with their characters yaddy yaddy yadda. But where would the fun be in that?

My question to Annabeth would be with regard to her author. This is assuming that the characters know that they're fictional constructs and are facing their creator for the first time.... What about yourself would you like your author, Rick Riordan to change about you? Your answer cannot be that you wished for less peril or, 'a broken ankle? Seriously?'

My next question would be to Leigh Bardugo and Rick Riordan. How do they feel their characters would be in the two met? What would happen if Camp Half-Blood met the Grisha? I know that sparks would fly for sure and by sparks, I mean magic and a lot of it. And possible some fighting. I don't know.

Another question I would have for Leigh Bardugo is how she seamlessly segways those Russian phrases into her prose without so much as making the reader stumbling over it. As  a reader, I'm conscious of the flow of writing. If a phrase or a word just doesn't sit right in a sentence, I'm stumbling over it and I'm reading the sentence again. I hate having the read sentences again.

I'm not sure what I would ask Danielle Steel beyond the typical question of where she gets her inspiration from. This past year alone she's churning out books like nobody's business and I don't know how she does it. They aren't even short books. How does she do it?

To Elizabeth Wein I would ask what the ultimate character for her would be. Would it be a combination of Verity, a hint of Annabeth Chase with the determination of Donatella Dragma? Or something else. Also, if she could, what alter-ego would she give to Annabeth Chase. Oh my goodness, a team-up between Rick Riordan and Elizabeth Wein would be on a level of epic proportions.

Nikolai, how are you so awesome?

T H E   M O D E R A T O R

A N N A    K E N D R I C K
She's an author so she counts. She is freaking hilarious. I am such a sucker for the Pitch Perfect movies. I love Beca so much and I loved her book, Scrappy Little Nobody. I laughed out loud on practically every page. Anna Kendrick is ridiculous witty that it isn't fair. She would be the perfect moderator for this. I don't know if any of these characters and authors will appreciate her wit but I sure as hell will. Though I would pay good money to see Anna Kendrick go up against Nikolai Lantsov.

W H E R E ?

Ideally, I would love the conference room of the USS Voyager. Seriously, I could use Voyager as an answer for anything. It's a gift. I can still use it, right? This is my blog post and I say it counts so it'll take place in the conference room of the USS Voyager. If I'm going to have fictional characters, I might as well use a fictional setting. LOGIC.

There you have it, my dream book-ish panel, fictional characters and authors. There may be characters you didn't expect and some authors that you didn't anticipate me picking. Let me know what dream panel you would have, what you would ask them and who would moderate the mayhem. In the meantime, you can use EventBrite to check out what book related events are happening around you. I love checking out their stuff. Facebook even lets me know what people I'm friends with are interested in attending and letting me know what else is on offer.

The Raven Boys || Maggie Stiefvater

Saturday, 12 August 2017

I finally gave in to the hype surrounding The Raven Cycle Quartet by Maggie Stiefvater and purchased the series. At the beginning of the month, the first book was picked up and I delved into the word of Blue Sargent and the Raven Boys.

When I picked this series up, all I knew was that the main character, Blue, came from a family of psychics and that she had been told throughout her life that when she kissed her true love, he would die. Such a cheerful read already, right? It gets weirder. I also knew that the Raven Boys (which the book is named after) are on a hunt to find a legendary noble called Glendower who has been missing for thousands of years and are on a mission to wake him up. Physics and legends? Where do I sign?

The first thing that I will mention is that this book had a lot of links to Sanctuary for me. If you're unfamiliar with Sanctuary, it was a Syfy TV show starring Amanda Tapping; it follows a 176-year-old Victorian doctor in modern-day Old City, (*cough*Vancouver*cough*), who is on a mission to protect the Abnormals (creatures/people with supernatural and unexplained abilities) of the world. This book reminded me a lot of that series if only for the names dropped into this book. Helen, Ashley and Declan were dropped. Ashley and Declan were actually in a relationship in the book which made me ridiculously happy because I ship their characters beyond reasoning in the TV series even though they never shared a scene. Yup, you read that correctly. So when I read that two characters called Declan and Ashley were in a relationship...

If I could've kissed Maggie Stiefvater, I would've. 

Also, the character of Helen could fly helicopters (and miraculously not crash them) and honestly, she was just as sassy as Helen Magnus. And there was a crap tonne of Latin strewn throughout the book. Bhalasaam, anyone? This book made me think that Maggie Stiefvater was either a fan of Sanctuary or was aware of it as she wrote this series. Whenever I write stories, I always use the names of some of my favourite characters from TV. I wonder if Maggie Stiefvater did the same thing...

Okay, back to the actual book.

Aside from adoring the names of the characters, I loved the characters themselves. I loved them all. Usually, there are characters that I simply don't care much for, but I adored them all. Okay, I will admit that I hated Whelk. His storyline killed my attention for the majority of the book until his role started to really make sense. That's when he became interesting.

I do have a soft spot for Ronan. Everybody loves a bad boy, right?

Sanctuary again, sorry. I'm really not sorry.

What I loved the most about this book was the writing. I found it very easy to get into and to stay interested in. The writing flowed beautifully and that's what I constantly look for in writing. If it doesn't flow smoothly then it detracts from my enjoyment of it. The writing also made me believe in the characters and their authenticity in the way that they spoke and interacted. Everything felt organic and unforced and didn't move with haste. The Raven Boys themselves felt like typical private school characters; the rich philanthropist, the thug that doesn't want to do anything but has a heart of gold, the poor kid that breaks his back to pay for his tuition with a shit home life, and lastly, the quiet one. 

The plot of the book itself was intriguing and very captivating. From the first page to the very last, I was hooked to the plot. I was surprised by a number of the twists and turns in the plot. There were things that I didn't expect and when the fantastical aspect started to come into play, I was onboard and I had my seat-belt buckled for the ride. 

The only downside that I can find to this novel is that it felt very much like a staging book. By that, I mean that this book gave the reader all of the information that they needed in order to set up the rest of the series. When I look back on The Raven Boys, I don't feel like a lot actually happened. Yes, the plot was fantastic and I loved it, but for me, there didn't seem to be a lot going on, it felt like it had a lot of exposition. There were probably three instances where my interest was truly piqued and that made me want to read on and on and on past my bed-time. 

Nevertheless, this was a very strong first book to a series and I can only imagine where it goes from here. I cannot wait to continue on onto the rest of the books. I wonder how many more Sanctuary references I can create with the characters. It's a gift that I have. I regret nothing.

Let me know what your thoughts are on The Raven Boys if you have read it. 

Heroes of Olympus || The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Friday, 4 August 2017

When I started reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians at the end of March, I had no idea that the series had grown to span another series called, 'Heroes of Olympus'. I knew that the original series was more than one book because of the movies that were subsequently spawned; two having been made. I have such an obsession with Greek Mythology that it was a no-brainer that I had to picked up the entire Olympians series and then the following Heroes of Olympus series.

When I found out the titles involved in the Olympus series I was most excited for was 'The Mark of Athena', the third book in the series. Athena is my favourite out of all of the Olympian gods. I love the story surrounding her birth, the naming of Athens, how she created Medusa and basically everything about her. So, The Mark of Athena was a highly anticipated read for me. 

When you think of Athena, you instantly think of Athens, right? Therefore, you would assume that this book with her name in the title would be set in Athens or a new version of Athens like New Rome aka Camp Jupiter in The Son of Neptune. Right?

Imagine my surprise when a good chunk of The Mark of Athena was set in Rome. Italy. Not Greece. Italy. That threw me off somewhat.

I've been to Rome and Athens. I was very excited to read that the characters were walking around places that I visited when I was in Rome. It really helped me visualise what was happening because Rome is such a unique place. It has narrow side streets where you would never expect them, the traffic is ridiculous and there are ruins everywhere. You throw a stone and you'll more than likely strike a ruin. They are everywhere. It would easy to get lost in the labyrinthian Rome that my imagination would concoct but with my own knowledge of Rome, it helped to focus my mind. 

What I loved most about this book in the series is that I got to learn an awful lot more about Annabeth and Athena and their relationship, however frayed due to Athena's war between her two personae; Athena and Minerva. I felt a lot of sympathy for Athena because she has been the only Olympian god, so far, that has found it difficult to navigate between her Greek and Roman personalities. Mostly because Athena and Minerva are so different that she finds it difficult to marry the two and it feels like personality overload. Athena is such a powerful and strong personality in Greek Mythology whereas Minerva has been stripped of some of Athena's more powerful attributes and downgraded somewhat. I can imagine it being difficult for Athena to go from such a strong character to an essentially weaker one.

I wanted Annabeth to succeed at her quest to follow the Mark of Athena because I wanted it to help Athena. Of course, I wanted a successful quest to help unite the Greek and Roman sides too.

I loved that Annabeth got to face such unique tasks in order to follow the mark. She faced her greatest fears and she showed a lot of pure determination and true grit. Annabeth shows why she's my favourite character. I will admit that I am biased towards Annabeth because she is a daughter of Athena. I also will admit, that when I watched the movies I was wondering how Athena had children because she's a maiden goddess. That thought was quickly answered in the first book series and I love that this discrepancy is mirrored in the Roman demigods' minds when they find out that 'Minerva' has children. Spoiler alert - it has to do with Athena's birth. I wonder if Minerva was born the same way (Roman mythology isn't my forte). I really want them to find this out but Annabeth didn't feel like furnishing them with that bit of information. TELL THEM GIRL AND SHUT THEM UP. #TeamHalfBlood

I adore Rick Riordan's writing. I don't know what it is about his writing that makes me devour his books in a matter of days. I love that his writing is so informal yet undeniably clever. The amount of cultural references that I recognise are bountiful. I love when they pop up because they cement it in the modern day and also serve to remind me of my age.

Also his characters. I love his characters. I adore how smart they are without being egotistical about it. Most of them, anyway. I love how proud they are of their demigod status yet recognise the flaws in their godly parent. Also, they are snarky as hell and I love when they get snarky.

The ending of The Mark of Athena was something that I was not expecting at all. When I read that last ten pages or so, I literally blocked out everything else around me and simply focused on the words on the page. An epic read. I didn't give it 5 stars, however and my reasoning is that the action sequences, specifically the ones in Rome, overwhelmed me. Slightly. That dampened my enjoyment somewhat as I did get lost to the action.

Nevertheless, I loved The Mark of Athena. I love Rick Riordan's books and I cannot wait to continue on with the series and read The House of Hades which will be my August Rick Riordan Read. I pretty much read a Rick Riordan book every month. I don't want to finish them and then have nothing to read for months on end. 

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