I found this book tag from Marc Nash, and A Little But A Lot while reading The Corner of Laura‘s post. Since I’ve had the most fun filling out lists this past month, I thought I would give this a go! (I would love if anyone tags me for any future book tags.)
Since I read a few pages of this book daily, I write in the margins all the time. Once I finish reading it, I get another copy and start all over again. I do write and mark all my favorite books. It’s a habit I developed in college.
Fun story, I actual lent my copy of this book to a sibling and it disappeared for years. So, I bought a new one and low and behold a few months ago it popped up again! That’s why it doesn’t count for the previous question really.
The Last Book I Argued Over
Funny thing, I don’t argue over books. I’m pretty respectful of other people’s opinions and feelings about books, movies, and television. To each his own. I do argue about manga quite a bit but that doesn’t apply right now.
I don’t pre-order books because too many times I pre-ordered a book and hated, and regretted wasting money. So sad. However! The one time I can think of where I preordered and loved a book was Absolute Midnight. I waited six years for it and it didn’t disappoint!
This will be a fun post for me! Though I listed these books in an order, I actually don’t know what my absolute favorite book is. My mood and tastes shift like the wind! What I do know is these are the consistent novels I’ve loved throughout my reading life.
For this post I’ll being doing something a little different.
I’ll list book details for the curious onlooker
For series, I’ll list my favorite book
How old I was when I read them
Why I read them
My first impression
My favorite character
The last time I read them
Let the list commence! Warning! I probably will change my mind within a few months. My tastes change all the time. These books are the most common ones I list when people ask me. Also, I did not include manga because they deserve their own list.
A boy and dog trapped aboard the Flying Dutchman, are sent off on an eternal journey by an avenging angel, roaming the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need. Their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy nineteenth century village whose existence is at stake. Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved.
Goodreads Overview, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman
When did I first read them? I read the first book when I was 12 and finished the last book in the trilogy when I was 17.
Why Did I Read Them? I actually loved Jacques other Redwall series and wanted to give his then new series a try.
What was my first impression? I found this series fascinating. The idea of a boy and his dog escaping the infamous pirate The Flying Dutchman captured my imagination. Ben and his dog Ned’s purpose, to follow God’s voice to help people, really touched me. It made me wonder about guardian angels and what I would do if God asked me to do the same thing.
Who is my favorite character? Definitely Ben. He is such a sweet young man.
When was the last time I read it? I last read this series in 2010.
First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a little private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. A famous nursery rhyme is framed and hung in every room of the mansion:
“Ten little boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine. Nine little boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight. Eight little boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there then there were seven. Seven little boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in half and then there were six. Six little boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five. Five little boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four. Four little boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. Three little boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Two little boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one. One little boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.”
When they realize that murders are occurring as described in the rhyme, terror mounts. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. Who has choreographed this dastardly scheme? And who will be left to tell the tale? Only the dead are above suspicion.
When did I first read it? I was 24, a teacher at a middle school.
Why Did I Read it? I randomly thought about the 1946 movie and couldn’t remember how it ended. So, I went to the library and checked the book out.
What was my first impression? So chilling. I had watched the move from 1945 but nothing prepared me for the book. Agatha Christie is a true genius. She is the only mystery writer I can’t guess the full mystery for.
Who is my favorite character? Does the author count? Just kidding. I don’t have one. All the characters are fascinating to study because of the overhanging mystery.
When was the last time you read it? I’ve only read it once. So, it was in 2014.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
When Did I First Read It? I was 22, a college student at BYU Idaho.
Why Did I Read it? I found the first book in my college library and decided to give it a try.
What Was My First Impression? I know I love a book series when I can picture the time and place I read it. I fell in love with Sage and his skills, as well as how he faced oncoming trials in his country. I can’t say too much because I’ll ruin the mystery.
Who is My Favorite Character? Sage. Mystery solved! I have a thing for intelligent and snarky characters.
When was the Last Time I Read it? In 2015 while I read the books aloud to my Dad.
Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.
When Did I First Read it? I was 21. I read it on Halloween Day.
Why Did I Read it? I found it on Amazon and decided to read it because of the amazing art and cover.
What Was My First Impression? This book meant a lot to me. My cousin had died several years before. My two aunts also had cancer at the time. I did not expect to connect so well to Ness’s poetic take on facing personal monsters.
Who is My Favorite Character? The Monster made from the old yew tree.
When Was the Last Time I Read it? 2018 after I got back from my mission.
This was the boy’s mantra as he plodded through the desert alone, left to die by his vengeful grandfather. Johannes Verne was soon to be rescued by outlaws, but no one could save him from the lasting memory of his grandfather’s eyes, full of impenetrable hatred. Raised in part by Indians, then befriended by a mysterious woman, Johannes grew up to become a rugged adventurer and an educated man. But even now, strengthened by the love of a golden-haired girl and well on his way to making a fortune in bustling early-day Los Angeles, the past may rise up to threaten his future once more. And this time only the ancient gods of the desert can save him.
When Did I First Read it? I was 23, on a car trip somewhere in New Mexico.
Why Did I Read it? My Dad was listening to the audio book in the car and I had no choice but to listen because I couldn’t read my own book.
What Was My First Impression? The audio book held me spellbound. For the first time since I listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks by Jim Dale, I wanted to do nothing more than sit in the car and listen to Johannes’s story in California. This was especially surprising because I don’t like Westerns.
Who is My Favorite Character? Johannes Verne or his father Zachery Verne.
When Was the Last Time I Read it? I read it a second time when I was 23 to help my sister with her book report.
Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster, lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he is not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….
In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.
The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.
Only it’s different.
At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.
Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.
Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.
All children mythologize their birth…So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter’s collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.
The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself — all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter’s story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.
As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.
Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida’s storytelling but remains suspicious of the author’s sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
When Did I First Read it? I was 19, working at a College Theater.
Why Did I Read it? I bought it because the cover, and overview on the back cover kept intriguing me every time I went to Hastings.
What Was My First Impression? This book held me spellbound. It’s one of the few books I couldn’t put down, even while working at my job. It’s message and warning are haunting.
Who is My Favorite Character? . . . Oh gosh I don’t know. I don’t think it applies for a story like this. Margaret perhaps? Or the Doctor who visits her and Vida?
When Was the Last Time I Read it? Back in 2014 I reread it.
13. The Pianist, Władysław Szpilman (1946) (This is not a misprint. I forgot to add this book to my list and I couldn’t decide if I liked it more than The Thirteenth Tale.)
The last live broadcast on Polish Radio, on September 23, 1939, was Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor, played by a young pianist named Wladyslaw Szpilman, until his playing was interrupted by German shelling. It was the same piece and the same pianist, when broadcasting was resumed six years later. The Pianist is Szpilman’s account of the years inbetween, of the death and cruelty inflicted on the Jews of Warsaw and on Warsaw itself, related with a dispassionate restraint borne of shock. Szpilman, now 88, has not looked at his description since he wrote it in 1946 (the same time as Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man?; it is too personally painful. The rest of us have no such excuse.
Szpilman’s family were deported to Treblinka, where they were exterminated; he survived only because a music-loving policeman recognised him. This was only the first in a series of fatefully lucky escapes that littered his life as he hid among the rubble and corpses of the Warsaw Ghetto, growing thinner and hungrier, yet condemned to live. Ironically it was a German officer, Wilm Hosenfeld, who saved Szpilman’s life by bringing food and an eiderdown to the derelict ruin where he discovered him. Hosenfeld died seven years later in a Stalingrad labour camp, but portions of his diary, reprinted here, tell of his outraged incomprehension of the madness and evil he witnessed, thereby establishing an effective counterpoint to ground the nightmarish vision of the pianist in a desperate reality. Szpilman originally published his account in Poland in 1946, but it was almost immediately withdrawn by Stalin’s Polish minions as it unashamedly described collaborations by Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews with the Nazis. In 1997 it was published in Germany after Szpilman’s son found it on his father’s bookcase. This admirably robust translation by Anthea Bell is the first in the English language. There were 3,500,000 Jews in Poland before the Nazi occupation; after it there were 240,000. Wladyslaw Szpilman’s extraordinary account of his own miraculous survival offers a voice across the years for the faceless millions who lost their lives. –David Vincent
Why Did I Read it? I wanted to read the book because the author was a musician and I learned about the movie.
What was My First Impression? This first hand account about the horrors and crimes made against the Polish was chilling. I think it is one of the most important autobiographies ever written.
Who is My Favorite Character? Since it is an autobiography, there really can’t be. Wilm Hosenfeld, the German Officer who saved Szpilman’s life, has become one of my heroes both for those he saved and for what he wrote.
When was the Last Time I Read it? I have read it only once when I was 22.
The king’s scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king’s prison. The magus is interested only in the thief’s abilities.
What Gen is interested in is anyone’s guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
When Did I First Read it? I was probably 19 when I read the first book. However, it wasn’t until I was 29 I finally read the sequels. Not because I didn’t want to, but because my brother and father commandeered my books.
Why Did I Read it? I found the first book at the book store and liked its historical background.
What was My First Impression? I devoured The Thief when I was a teenager. When I finally read the next books I couldn’t stop reading until I finished sometime near 4 in the morning. I actually read The King of Attolia twice in a row because I loved it so much.
Who is My Favorite Character? Eugenides. I love his wit and willingness to change. He is also incredibly intelligent and well read.
When was the Last Time I Read it? Last year in 2020.
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who treated him with the utmost care and adored him completely.
And then, one day, he was lost.
Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the top of a garbage heap to the fireside of a hoboes’ camp, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. And along the way, we are shown a true miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.
Thirteen year-old Natalie Minks loves machines, particularly automata — self operating mechanical devices, usually powered by clockwork. When Jake Limberleg and his travelling medicine show arrive in her small Missouri town with a mysterious vehicle under a tarp, and an uncanny ability to make Natalie’s half-built automaton move, she feels in her gut that something about this caravan of healers is a bit off. Her uneasiness leads her to investigate the intricate maze of the medicine show, where she discovers a horrible truth, and realizes that only she has the power to set things right.
Set in 1914, The Boneshaker is a gripping, richly textured novel about family, community, courage, and looking evil directly in the face in order to conquer it.
Why Did I Read it? The cover caught me. I passed by it several times at Hastings and finally gave in and bought it because I couldn’t find anything else.
What was My First Impression? I totally geeked out. I love steampunk books and anything that mentions old machinery from the early 20th century. Plus, it had a similar Halloweeny feel like the miniseries Over the GardenWall(2014). I also love blues music and old stories about the devil in the South.
Who is My Favorite Character? Probably Tom. He is old but wise.
When was the Last Time I read it? October 2020. If you noticed a connection between my Halloween favorites and my favorite books you are not going crazy. October and Autumn are my favorite times of the year.
Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart when her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an ultimatum: If she lives with him for one year, he will ensure her father makes it home safely. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes.
In his enchanted house beneath a mountain, each room must be sewn together to keep the home from unraveling, and something new and dark and strange lies behind every door. When centuries-old secrets unfold, Echo discovers a magical library full of books-turned-mirrors, and a young man named Hal who is trapped inside of them. As the year ticks by, the rooms begin to disappear, and Echo must solve the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before her time is up, otherwise Echo, the wolf, and Hal will be lost forever.
When Did I First Read it? When I was 28 while living in Utah.
Why Did I Read it? When I read the synopsis and introduction pages, I saw Meyer loved Edith Patou’s book East. I love Edith’s book and the fairytale East of the Sun West of the Moon so I bought it and read it.
What was My First Impression? I thought it was magical. I loved every moment of it.
Who is My Favorite Character? Echo. She is an inspiring hero. I admire her love and loyalty.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Goodreads Overview, The Bear and the Nightengale
My Favorite Book? Don’t have one. I love them all.
When Did I First Read it? I was 26, freshly returned from Russia.
Why Did I Read it? Because I had just returned from Russia, I saw the cover for the first book, read the premise, and bought it on the spot to read.
What was my First Impression? Arden’s depiction of Russian folk tales and history was so beautiful to me. I had not fallen in love with a book so fast in a long time.
Who is My Favorite Character? Vasya or the Winter King Morozko. I love how much each of them grow. I loved Vasya so much because she was so real.
When was the Last Time I Read it? I finally read the last book The Winter of the Witch in 2020. I have only ever read the books once each.
High in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.
When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love.
A magical fantasy that is fast-paced and easy-to-read. Charlie Bone has a special gift- he can hear people in photographs talking!
The fabulous powers of the Red King were passed down through his descendants, after turning up quite unexpectedly, in someone who had no idea where they came from. This is what happened to Charlie Bone, and to some of the children he met behind the grim, gray walls of Bloor’s Academy.
His scheming aunts decide to send him to Bloor Academy, a school for geniuses where he uses his gifts to discover the truth despite all the dangers that lie ahead.
My Favorite Book: Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors, Book 4
When Did I First Read Them? I read the first book when 13. I followed the books all the way till I was 19.
Why Did I Read Them? I wanted to know why my cousin Jenny liked them. I was somewhat of a Harry Potter snob and told her it was a rip off of Rowling’s series. However, I changed my mind after reading the first few chapters.
What was My First Impression? I realized within the first few chapters this was the perfect book series for me. I love all the arts, especially music so Bloor’s academy would be a wonderful school for me. I also have always dreamed of hearing and traveling into photographs.
Who is My Favorite Character? Probably Uncle Paton. He really does deserve the happy ending he got.
When was the Last Time I read Them? 2019 I read most of the books in the series again before my attention shifted.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.
Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.
So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it–in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family–she readily agrees.
Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose–and realizes her journey has only just begun.
When Did I First Read Them? I read the first book when I was 14 years old. The second I read at 28.
Why Did I Read Them? I found the first book in my middle school library and read it on a whim. I read the second because of how much I love the first.
What was My First Impression? I didn’t like the first book when I was 14. I even remember telling my dad in his office how boring it was. However, I re-read the book a year later and realized I was wrong.
Who is My Favorite Character? The Bear or Rose. They are the perfect team!
When was the Last Time I Read Them? In summer 2019.
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.
Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.
Candy lives in Chickentown USA: the most boring place in the world, her heart bursting for some clue as to what her future may hold. She is soon to find out: swept out of our world by a giant wave, she finds herself in another place entirely…
The Abarat: a vast archipelago where every island is a different hour of the day, from the sunlit wonders of Three in the Afternoon, where dragons roam, to the dark terrors of the island of Midnight, ruled by Christopher Carrion.
Candy has a place in this extraordinary world: she has been brought here to help save the Abarat from the dark forces that are stirring at its heart. Forces older than time itself, and more evil than anything Candy has ever encountered.
When Did I First Read Them? I was 14, still lamenting I couldn’t read the 5th Harry Potter book yet.
Why Did I Read Them? My mother insisted I would like the first book. The first time she borrowed it from the library I ignored it. When I went to the library again, I checked it out because I felt guilty.
What was My First Impression? I thought Abarat’s world and characters were enchanting. I wanted to step into the book and go there with Candy.
Who is My Favorite Character? I think Christopher Carrion the most interesting. Candy and Malingo are probably my favorites.
Life circumstances today reminded me there are still things in this world I fear. I know others besides myself suffer at times from PTSD. These feelings are rooted in fear and are triggered randomly.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”
I don’t like viewing my reoccurring symptoms as a disorder. The word ‘disorder’ puts my Obsessive Compulsion into overdrive. It makes me want to rid myself of any feelings of fear in order to avoid shameful judgment. Seeing it that way causes me unnecessary stress and anxiety. I view these feelings as they are, naturally occurring feelings I face and overcome sometimes. There is no shame in feeling fear or being sensitive to our trauma.
Sometimes it feels like these emotions and thoughts are me. But one of the benefits of studying yoga is separating who we are from our thoughts, feelings, and other elusive human characteristics. I love how Caroline McHugh talks about identity in her TED talkThe Art of Being Yourself.
You are not your thoughts because you think them. And you can’t be your feelings because otherwise who’s the you that feels them? You are not what you have. You are not what you do. You are not even who you love or who loves you. There has to be something underneath all that.
I featured artwork from Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls to illustrate how giving our fears and traumas a name helps overcome them. Just as Connor needed to speak his truth about what he feared most, we all need to face our monsters. But just like Connor, our monsters take on different forms based on our experiences. As real and frightening as our fears are to us we can overcome them.
There are important truths I remind myself of to help me endure my mental pain and trauma.
My personal worth doesn’t hinge on my experiences. Individual worth is inherent. That is what yoga is for, so we can se our true, glorious selves.
I am not alone. I have friends, family, and other kindred spirits who I can turn to. Most importantly, no matter where I am I can turn to God in prayer.
I grow beyond my fears. I’ve overcome fears before and I can do it again.
Though this may not seem like a yoga post, I really believe facing and seeing these parts of ourselves reflects how we practice and teach others. I hope my thoughts and feelings came across well enough.
October is my Favorite month. My birthday is on the 15th, Orange is my favorite color, pumpkins are my favorite vegetable, Autumn is my favorite season, I love the way the leaves change and some of my favorite movies can only be watched during this season.
Needless to say, I have a myriad of traditions I do the whole month. Since I will be traveling for over a year I thought I could list them in several posts so it does not seem I am abandoning them. This post is my October books/ series.
1. Avatar series, Clive Barker (2002-?)
I read this when I was fourteen and loved it almost instantly. The artwork is fantastic, the characters weird and exciting, the land of Abarat became my Wonderland and the story appeals to my German soul with how it mixes dark themes with beautiful ideas. Unfortunately, each book is released every four to six years. Ugh… I am still waiting for book four.
2. The Thief of Always, Clive Barker (1992)
Before there was Coraline there was this frightening coming of age story. The premise is so ingenious to me, where Mr. Hood lures children into a house where each time in the day is a different season. There is innocence and beauty in this story as well. Supposedly, Barker was planning to make it into an animated film but I think when Coraline came out that dream died.
3. The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, Claire Legrand (2012)
I discovered this book this year and absolutely loved it. With its spooky beginning and terrifying villain it made me wonder (since I was a teacher) how we as a society measure normalcy. Bugs have never been so scary nor manners school.
4. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairland Series (2011-?)
This series speaks to my pumpkin and autumn loving soul. It is a modern fairytale with a lovely twist. If my dream life could be put into a book it would be these. I love the prose and conversations which take familiar ideas and give them a twist.
5. The Orphan’s Tales Series, Catherynne M. Valente
Gritty and alive with Eastern culture this series surprised me with its insightful style and message. Many of the stories seem eerily familiar but interpreted from a female perspective.
6. Coraline, Neil Gaimen 2006
I read the book after I saw the 2009 film and love to devour it before I go to bed. If you did not notice, I love stories where children learn to fight their own demons. In this case, Coraline is more perceptive then she was in the movie and takes each of the trials with courage.
7. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaimen (2008)
This book practically screams Halloween. It takes place in a graveyard and has vampires, werewolves and ghosts. True, they are not the real evil in the story. But, again, the main character must learn and grow even when chased by the murderer Jack.
8. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness (2011)
Two years ago I read this book on Halloween and found its eerie sadness enchanting. This is truly one of the most powerful books I have ever read and love to reflect on its profound messages every Halloween. Autumn is the time when things go to sleep, when death creeps closer to our door. But death is not always a bad thing. I really hope they do not butcher this story in the upcoming movie. It would be a horrible shame.
8. Boneshaker Series, Kate Milford (2010-?)
This series is utterly unique and feels like an old post-civil war tale similar to stories like The Devil and Daniel Webster. It feeds off American folklore but sings like a steampunk novel, eerie and at times heart stopping. I have often loved the idea of a crossroads being the beginning of something spectacular.