Thursday, February 14, 2013

Non-Fictional Feelings for Fictional Characters

In honor of Valentine's Day I thought I'd give in to the societally-enforced atmosphere of romance and present a softer side of BookWench. In that spirit I've compiled another Top 11 List* of my literary crushes, in chronological order of when I fell for them. I will warn you – there is a vampire on this list, but not one of the sparkly kind, because every girl needs a guilty pleasure book boyfriend. So tonight, since I am without a real-life Valentine, I'll spend the night with one of these gentlemen, or maybe meet someone new, for a literary one-night stand.

BookWench's Top 11 Literary Crushes

  1. Dickon – A Secret Garden – Oh Dickon, my first literary love. I read A Secret Garden so many times my copy finally lost the will to live and fell apart. This is also the beginning of my life-long obsession with British men and their lovely accents. Dickon was the friend who would help you with your secret plan, while speaking with a Welsh accent and having adorable freckles. Nine-year-old me was smitten.
  2. Gilbert Blythe – Anne Of Green Gables series – Sweet Canadian Gilbert stole my heart when he saved Anne Shirley from drowning in a creek. I waited for so many books for Anne to come to her senses and fall in love with him too, and suffered right along with her as he lay on his deathbed. Seriously people, that chapter waiting to hear if he lives or dies destroyed my eleven-year-old heart. I still read through this entire series every few years, and my fondness for Gilbert is still holding strong.
  1. John Reid – Time Enough for Drums by Anne Rinaldi – I feel like this is one of those books that only I have strong memories of, and no one else has ever heard of it. In fact, in creating this list I attempted to hunt down a copy to re-read it and none of the bookstores or libraries near me had a copy in stock. The book follows a young girl, Jemima, during the early days of the Revolutionary war, and John Reid is her very strict tutor who later turns out to be an American spy. Handsome, brave and really smart – twelve-year-old me was sold. (He is also one of only three Americans on this list. Seriously – I love the Brits.)
  2. Arthur Dent/ Ford Prefect- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Which character has the larger claim to my heart changes almost every time I read the books. I love Ford's easy-going, towel-loving, universe traveling spirit, but I also want to drink tea with Arthur until he feels better about the crazy life events that led to him living on a spaceship. Either way, I still love them both. I even wrote Arthur into my show because I have so much affection for him.
This is where the list shifts from nice guys to smart-asses and bad boys. Thanks puberty!
  1. Benedick – Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare – Number five on this list, but number one in my heart, and of course it's Shakespeare. I directed this show in high school and fell hard for the main character. He's smart and witty and loyal and, his most attractive trait, he falls for a strong, smart woman. He can't always express his emotions well, but when you need him to avenge your cousin he will totally challenge his best friend to a duel for you. That's love.
  2. Fred & George Weasley – the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – In college my friend Paul and I had conversations about marrying the Weasley twins, he would take the gay one and I would take the straight one (which one was which was never decided) and we would live in the wizarding world with our sons, both named Aiden. It's important to work these things out in case you run into fictional characters. How can you not love a pair of troublemaking Brits with access to magic and a crazy extended family? My love was immediate and deep. When Deathly Hallows came out and I hit the Battle of Hogwarts, my brother could hear me crying from another room. It was not pretty, and I didn't stop crying for the next few hours. Here's hoping that George is the straight one. (Paul has a wonderful real-life Valentine now, so I'm the only one still waiting for a Weasley.)
  3. Count Almasy – The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje – Brooding, mysterious, British, played by Ralph Fiennes in the movie – be still my heart. Ondaatje's poetic style makes it almost impossible not to fall madly in love....“Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theatre of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book.” My heart swells and breaks a million times over every time I read this book.
  4. Jean-Claude – the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton – Here's the vampire I promised, from my guilty pleasure book series. Jean-Claude is not a brooding, guilty, sparkly sad excuse for a vampire, he's a predator in every aspect of his life – and he enjoys being at the top of the food chain. Beautiful, immortal bad boy with a French accent – who also happens to be a bit of an incubus – I totally understand why bad-ass vampire hunter Anita Blake fell for him.
  5. Nick – Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – This book takes place in one night in New York City, and it feels like one of those nights that could only take place there. Nick is the guy I wish I could've met in college, and even though I read it after graduating and moving away, whenever I read this book I'm immediately eighteen again and back in Manhattan. He's also the nicest guy to make this half of the list.
  6. Harry Dresden – The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher – Probably the most sarcastic and mouthy of the smart-asses on this list, and that's why I love him. That and he's a wizard with an amazing magical arsenal, a talking skull, a supernatural dog, an actual fairy godmother, and a willingness to defend those he loves to the death. He talks a good game, comes off as gruff and tough, but with a mushy center and a sense of loyalty and justice that makes him an amazing literary crush.
  7. Will – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare – I read the first two books in the series as an adult, and my inner sixteen-year-old fell in love. Another bad-boy whose hard exterior hides a dark secret and an immense capacity for love. My heart broke over and over again as more of Will's backstory was revealed. And the end of A Clockwork Prince...I won't spoil it, but rarely has a book left me so emotionally devastated. My inner teenager is now waiting not at all patiently for the next book in the series to come out, because I need to make sure Will is okay.

Honorable Mentions -
Frank Hardy – Only in the Nancy Drew/ Hardy Boys Super Mystery The Last Resort, when he and Nancy get trapped in an avalanche.
Westley - A Princess Bride by William Goldman– Only half counts because the crush was born from the movie, not the book. Definitely my first movie crush, and, along with Dickon, made me a life-long Anglophile.

So these are the men who have stuck with me through my lonely Valentine's Days past. My love for them will never fade, and as I search the world for a real life boyfriend these men make excellent company, and a completely unrealistic bar to measure prospective dates by. (I'm well aware that these men/ storybook love are not readily available in the real world, yet another reason why the real world needs some work.) It's a fun list to compile and an excellent walk through my literary memory lane, and also a fun conversation starter in a large group. Seriously – try it, it's so much fun.

Book crushes of your own? Leave them in the comments!

*Top 11 Lists still inspired by the 11 Points blogs by Sam Greenspan, my blog crush.  See - imaginary romance everywhere!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Review: The Curiosities

I finally managed to write a review in the format I laid out in October.  We'll see how it goes.

The Curiosities
by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff
Released: 2012    ISBN: 978-0-7613-7527-2

This collection of short stories was compiled from the website, which the authors started to challenge themselves to write weekly short fiction to consistently stretch their writing muscles. I picked it up because I love Stiefvater's novels, and was intrigued by the idea of quickly written, mostly unedited stories that also broke down their inspiration and process in writing them.
The thirty-three stories in the collection run the gamut of subjects from King Arthur to zombies to fairy tales to a world where fires never die out to a moment of pure mean girl jealousy. They're not all perfect- but that's the point. They all have a moment the author wanted to explore further, and it could potentially turn into a larger story, or a part of the world of one of their novels, the entire purpose was to get it onto paper and follow where these half-formed ideas want to lead them.
Scattered throughout the book are notes from the authors, in their own handwriting, both explaining their own works or commenting on their cohorts' stories. (There are also doodles, which I appreciate, since most of my writing notebooks are also covered in horrible doodles.) That, and the introductions to each story, were actually the most interesting thing for me. They really laid out their processes and thought patterns that led to each story, as well as the things they still feel they need to work on. As a writer I was amazed at how well they could articulate their inspirations and their writing process, as well being allowed to see their weaknesses.
My favorite of the stories was Berserk by Tessa Gratton, which managed to put a modern spin on Norse Mythology while still working in the patterns and cadence of the ancient eddas. I also enjoy the fact that there are tons of stories on the website that were not in the collection, so it's like the book doesn't have to end.

Recommend- Absolutely. I would recommend it to anyone that likes Young Adult fiction, as well as any writers. It's like a very intimate interview about writing as well as a simple motivator to write more.

Genre – Young Adult Anthology. It's hard to narrow it down any further since they cover so many types of stories, but it definitely has a magical bent to it.

Post-It Flags- 15. I will probably purchase it at some point.

A Favorite Quote- “Luis had two years of a liberal arts education – the two years that instilled principles but not the two years that instilled when to shut up about them.” from Another Sun by Maggie Stiefvater

Let me know if you like this format, like me doing reviews, have suggestions, or even if you hate me with a fiery passion.  I like comments.