Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Fictional Couples

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a REWIND topic, so in order to get into the spirit of the season, I elected to write about the Top Ten Fictional Couples, which was a topic originally posted September 28, 2010.

1. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Naturally. I love the fact that they don’t fall in love at first sight and have to grow to love one another. And their witty barbs! I just love them as a couple.

2. Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. They are so horrible. They deserve each other, and their longing to be together (and Heathcliff’s overly developed sense of vengeance) threatens everyone they know.

3. Romeo and Juliet. OK, despite what I said about liking that Lizzie and Darcy grow to love each other, I admit I’m a sucker for this teenage infatuation. Of course, it’s great fun to teach, also.

4. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. I like how he has to become worthy of her and that she learns she doesn’t have to settle.

5. Lt. Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley. Ohmygosh I cried at the end of that book.

6. Tristan and Isolde. OK, it was a love potion, but man, that almost makes it worse. They didn’t have any choice but to be desperately in love!

7. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar. What a sad love story. Talk about star-crossed lovers. Great short story, if you haven’t read it, but I think the movie is better because the characters are more fully developed.

8. Severus Snape and Lily Evans. OK, technically not a couple because it was one-sided, but man, what devotion. Always.

9. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. They kind of deserved each other. I think they eventually found their way back to each other, but perhaps not in the way Alexandra Ripley imagined.

10. Meggie Cleary and Father Ralph de Briccasart. Oh, in another world, they could have been together. Love them!

Who are your favorite literary couples?

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Ten Fictional Crushes

cap on yellow

Some time back, I discussed some historical crushes, and I have previously discussed my ten fictional best friends. Why not share my ten fictional crushes? Since this weeks’ Top Ten Tuesday is a “pick your own” topic, this weeks seems like the perfect time. Don’t necessarily view these in a particular order.

  1. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. If you have read the [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] series, I don’t need to say any more. You know exactly what I’m talking about. My husband is a redhead, and let’s just say my crush on Jamie may have contributed to my interest in red-headed men.
  2. Severus Snape. OK, I admit this one is weird. He’s mean. He’s given to pettiness. That comment he makes about Hermione’s teeth in [amazon_link id=”0439139600″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire[/amazon_link] is pretty much unforgivable. I just really love his characterization. When I discovered in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link] that he had carried a torch for Lily Evans Potter for most of his life, I was sold. In fact, my favorite chapter in the whole book series is “The Prince’s Tale” in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link]. Plus, Alan Rickman.
  3. Faramir. Yeah, Aragorn was never my cup of tea, but Faramir is a really cool guy, and I was glad when Eowyn woke up to that fact and ditched her awkward crush on Aragorn for true love with Faramir. He’s noble and brave. Pippin thought so highly of him that he named his son after him, you know.
  4. Father Ralph de Briccasart. Just like Meggie. Sigh. Richard Chamberlain in that miniseries probably contributes as much to my Father Ralph crush as Alan Rickman’s portrayal does to my Snape crush.
  5. Rhett Butler. So bad. So smooth. And yet so in love with Scarlett (for whatever reason!). Honestly, Margaret Mitchell had to have been thinking about Clark Gable when she wrote the novel because he’s just perfect for the part. I remember when I read the book the first time, even though I hadn’t seen the movie, I knew Clark Gable played the role in it, and I thought even then that she had to have been thinking about Gable. I have to say, that first time, I pictured Scarlett as a redhead, even though she’s described as having dark hair, but now Vivian Leigh just is Scarlett.
  6. Captain Frederick Wentworth. Come on. You’ve read that letter, haven’t you? If you have, you need no further explanation. Plus, he’s a keeper. Even though he was rejected, he was still in love with Anne, and he gave her a second chance. I can’t imagine they were anything but perfectly happy together.
  7. Louis de Pointe du Lac. Lestat was a bit stuck on himself for my taste, and favorite book in the Vampire Chronicles has always been [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link].
  8. Speaking of which, Edward Cullen. Yeah, I know. This one is really wrong. I don’t like this about myself, but there it is.
  9. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Naturally. I actually have a mug at work labeled Mrs. Darcy. I had a travel mug with the same label, but it broke, and a friend bought me a new Mrs. Darcy mug for Christmas. That is a good friend.
  10. This last is a bit of a cheat, but Nate from the book I’m currently writing, which is as yet untitled. I see him as a sort of amalgamation of Jeff Buckley and Jack White. He’s kind of dreamy. He is based on the Irish hero Naoise from the Legend of Deirdre.

photo credit: Darwin Bell

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Top Ten Tuesday

Surprise Endings

Top Ten Tuesday

Warning! Here be spoilers!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about the Book Endings that Left Me with My Mouth Hanging Open. The ends of each of the following books are discussed, so if you want to read them and want to be surprised, read no further: Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins; The Giver, Lois Lowry; Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier; Lord of the Flies, William Golding; Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell;  Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen; Possession, A.S. Byatt; The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield; The Ghost Writer, John Harwood, The Egyptologist, Arthur Phillips. Nota bene: I will be discussing the end of many of the Harry Potter books and why I didn’t find some of them as shocking as others seem to have found them.

Here is your last chance to stop reading if you don’t want the endings of those ten books spoiled.

I mean it.

For real.

Continue reading “Surprise Endings”

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Musing Mondays

Monday Musings—September 5, 2011

Musing MondaysThis week’s musing asks: Who do you think is the hottest male/female character from a book?

Ha, ha! This is a funny question. I only had to think about it for a minute. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] series, of course. Listen, my husband is a redhead, and he and all the other redheads out there can thank Jamie for making everyone else understand why redheaded men are sexy.

Why is Jamie “hot”? He is not afraid to be a man and have whatever feelings he has. He never tries to hide his feelings. He also has the courage not to impede Claire from being whatever she wants to be, which is an unusual trait in a man of his time (eighteenth century Scotland). He also loves Claire with an intense and lasting love that transcends time. He can be stubborn and frustrating at times, but honestly, it’s always in a predictable way—it’s usually because someone he loves feels threatened, and he thinks they are being kind of stupid. Not that they are necessarily being stupid, but that he thinks they are, mind. Another thing I like about Jamie is the joy with which he approaches life and his sense of humor. He has more funny quotes than any ten other characters in that series. In addition to all of that, he is also strong, a survivor. He has been through some of the worst humanity can throw at another person and come out the other side if not unscathed, then at least with a sense of humor and a sense of himself intact. He also shows a surprising open-mindedness for a man of his era—his affection for Lord John Grey, even after find out Grey is homosexual and is attracted to Jamie, is sincere and undiminished by the news, and his acceptance of Claire (even as outlandish as her tale truly is) is pretty remarkable.

Sorry, ladies, no pics. This one has not been made into a movie, and I prefer not to speculate (you can Google it if you’re curious), but here is a link to all the Jamie Fraser merch you could want at Cafe Press.

Honorable mentions:

Fitzwilliam Darcy from [amazon_link id=”0143105426″ target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link]

Rhett Butler from [amazon_link id=”1451635621″ target=”_blank” ]Gone with the Wind[/amazon_link]

Louis de Pointe du Lac (had to be at least one vampire… wait, I do have another one—hang on) from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, but specifically [amazon_link id=”0345409647″ target=”_blank” ]Interview with the Vampire[/amazon_link]

Captain Frederick Wentworth from [amazon_link id=”193659451X” target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link]

and Matthew Clairmont (no pics—no movie… yet; also my other vampire) from [amazon_link id=”0670022411″ target=”_blank” ]A Discovery of Witches[/amazon_link].

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Booking Through Thursday: Life-Changing

36.52: The Blue Room

This week’s Booking Through Thursday prompt is “Which book changed your life?” I’m not sure I can pick just one book, but I’ll talk about a few books I’ve read that I considered monumental or life-changing in some way.

Gone With the Wind was the first “adult” book I’d read. I remember my mom had it out in the living room, and I was turning it over and looking at it. She asked me if I wanted to read it. It was really thick. The mass market paperback copy my mom had was about 1,000 pages long. It never occurred to me I might be ready to read an adult book, or that my mom thought I could. I am not sure why because my mother never tried to prevent me from reading anything. She always encouraged me to read. Because it opened the door of adult fiction to me, Gone With the Wind will remain important to me.

To Kill a Mockingbird opened some doors for me, too. It was the first book I read for school that I can remember enjoying—and I didn’t read it until 11th grade, so that’s a sad statement in itself. I loved the characters. I love the voice. I loved everything about it.

The Lord of the Rings opened the doors of fantasy fiction to me. Prior to reading this epic, I hadn’t really read much fantasy, but I truly enjoyed this book. Another benefit to my reading this book has been a connection with my father. It’s a favorite of his as well, and it gave us many great discussions.

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series has been influential to my own writing. I learned a lot about the craft of writing from Diana Gabaldon, both through examining her choices as a writer and in reading about them in The Outlandish Companion.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has brought me a great deal of joy. I began reading it at a time when I wasn’t very happy, and it was something I shared with my oldest daughter. I will always treasure our first read of it together. But beyond that, it’s given me a hobby and interest that I’ve enjoyed. I owe J.K. Rowling many, many countless hours of happiness. It has been nice to escape into her world from time to time. I’ve been mocked both directly and indirectly for being an adult fan of this series, and the only thing I have to say to those people is that I’m sad they have nothing better to do than to scrutinize anyone’s reading choices, especially when they’re relatively harmless—I mean, it’s not like I read instruction manuals for how to build bombs or get away with nefarious crimes.

photo credit: by Janine

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Battle of Maldon

Statue of Brythnoth, Earl of EssexHave you ever heard of the Battle of Maldon? It happened on this date in 991 when Vikings invaded Essex, inspiring an Old English poem that influenced the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien.

August 12 marks the birthday of the former British poet laureate Robert Southey 1in 1774. I always remember an Introduction to Literature professor I had freshman year of college tried to tell us Southey was the father of Frankenstein novelist Mary Shelley. Nope. William Godwin was. August 12 also marks the anniversary of the deaths of poets William Blake in 1837 and James Russell Lowell in 1891 as well as the death of Thomas Mann in 1955 and Ian Fleming in 1964.

August 13 marks the anniversary of the death of H. G. Wells in 1946.

August 14 is the birthday of American romance novelist Danielle Steele.

August 15 marks the anniversary of the death of Duncan at the hand of Macbeth and Macbeth himself 17 years later at the hands of Malcolm (Máel Coluim mac Donnchada). Shakespeare telescopes these events in his play Macbeth. Sir Walter Scott was also born on that date in 1771 and Stieg Larsson in 1954.

August 16 marks the birthday of T. E. Lawrence in 1888, Georgette Heyer in 1902, and Charles Bukowski in 1920. British poet Andrew Marvell died on August 16 in 17678. August 16 also marks the anniversary of the date in 1949 when Gone With the Wind novelist Margaret Mitchell died after injuries suffered when she was hit by a car on Peachtree Street.

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Books That Change Lives

Last week Lifehacker asked its readers to vote for the books that changed their lives. I think the resulting list gives a lot of insight into the kind of readers Lifehacker has, but it also made me wonder what I would say if someone asked me to list books that had changed my life. Whenever I have to fill out profiles that ask for my favorite books, I always say “too many to list,” which is quite true, but I wonder if I can narrow down the books that changed my life? In no particular order, this is my list:

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This story of racism and prejudice in the Deep South profoundly affected me when I first read it in the 11th grade. If I recall, it was the only assigned reading in high school that I actually read ahead of the reading schedule. I really enjoyed that book. Since then, whenever I have shared it with students, I have fallen in love all over again — with the language, the characters, the story it tells. Harper Lee calls her novel “a love story” (the paperback version linked here includes this reference Lee makes on its back cover). It took me a long time to figure out what she meant, but I believe I understand.

Gone With the WindGone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

While today I find the characterization of the African-American characters to be at best romantic and at worst racist, I have to admit this book was my first “adult” novel and really taught me how amazing and wonderful the world of books could truly be. I took the book with me everywhere and read it whenever I had a free moment. It took me two or three weeks to finish the first time I read it. I think I will most likely always have a soft spot for this novel.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 10th Anniversary EditionHarry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling

No other books have given me so much delight and have so frequently been on my re-reading cycle. Believe it or not, I have endured a lot of criticism for liking these books — some of it from people I am close to. I have had to defend my interest in these books to adults who think I should know better than to love children’s books. I just can’t understand why those people feel it necessary to be so narrow-minded and joyless. Why should they care? I fell in love with these books some time during my reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. If I had to select an exact moment, it might be when Hagrid shows up at the hut in the sea. In fact, my favorite scene in any of the books remains Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley to get his school supplies.

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Containing some of the most beautiful prose in American literature, The Great Gatsby remains one of my favorite books to teach. I have many of my favorite passages highlighted. I actually enjoy the language more than the plot of the story. I pulled out my favorite passages and wrote about them many years ago.

The Mists of AvalonThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I know I really like a book when I finish and wish with all my heart that I had written it. Why I feel it necessary to make it even more mine than it is after having read it, I’m not sure, but I have felt it several times. However, I think the fist time I felt it was after reading this novel. I still maintain, even after ten years have passed since I read it, that it is the best rendition of the King Arthur story I’ve read. I’ve never looked at the character Morgan le Faye the same way since then (or Guinevere, for that matter). To me, this novel was pitch-perfect, or it was when I read it. I was enthralled by it.

I’m sure I could expand upon this list with a bit more thought. It would never include any Ayn Rand, however.

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