Friday, February 26, 2016

Best Books for Mud Slushy Season

This is my "Shit, the book I wanted to review is boring as hell and I can't get past the first fifty pages, what do I do what do I do what do I doooooooo?" blog post.


I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm in Minnesota for school (Twin Cities area, specifically), and this is the time of year where it starts to get real gross out there.

See, when it rains in the summer, then it's just wet, but still warm enough (sometimes downright humid) to wear a short-sleeved shirt (though I usually go long-sleeved because I don't like that yucky feeling of rain water splashing on my skin). Quick note: this is actually my favorite kind of weather, because usually the sun's still shining, and the falling rain turns everything gold, and it's absolutely gorgeous. Grab some boots and an umbrella, and it's perfect walking weather.

In the winter, rain is snow, which equals snowball fights and awesomeness. And yeah, there's shoveling, but you don't have to go to the gym on shovel days! (Plus, I rent, so I don't even have to shovel, suckers!)

But this time of year, in that weird interval between winter and spring, when it rains, it's just gross. It's just cold enough that there's still snow on the ground, but it's mostly this mud-slushy that's 30-90% melted, depending on the temperature. And it's gray and chilly and gross and you just want to curl up in bed and sleep for the rest of the day.

In other words, late February/early March is perfect reading weather!

It's also perfect Netflix weather, but despite all the shows and movies I've reviewed, this is technically supposed to be a readers' blog, so this is a list of books, not shows. (Actually, I lied; I'm trying to be a writer, so this is the early stages of a writer's blog, but until I get more than just a few short stories out there, you get to read about other people's stuff.)

So in honor of Mud Slushy Season, here are my top seven personal favorite books/series. Enjoy!

7: Spock's World

by Diane Duane

This is from the original Star Trek series, taking place after the episode "Amok Time" (when Spock goes into pon farr). Vulcan considers seceding from the Federation and runs a planet-wide debate on the issue. It's all Vulcany political intrigue and a bit of corruption (which McCoy, in all of his awesomeness, is the one to figure out), but you also get flashbacks through the planet's history: from the first Vulcans who created language, through the super violent fun times, to Surak, to Spock's birth.

6: The House of the Scorpion

by Nancy Farmer

I read this one in middle school (so, a gazillion years ago) and it's still stuck with me. It's one of the most unique, most thought-provoking science fiction books I've ever read.

It's about a young boy who's the genetic clone of a drug lord. :)

5: The Other Boleyn Girl

by Philippa Gregory

I know, I know, this is not fantasy, sci-fi, or horror. However, it is an absolutely amazing historical fiction (that Hollywood butchered in movie format; don't ever see the movie, it sucks).

Everyone knows King Henry VIII had six wives, and that his second wife was Anne Boleyn, who's the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of Anne's rise and fall from power told from the point of view of her sister, Mary, who was Henry's mistress before he turned to Anne (and had two kids by him).

It's as historically accurate as you can get, but at the same time Philippa Gregory makes some really unusual and frankly chilling educated guesses to fill in the blanks. Plus, I love any story that involves King Henry VIII. I hate his guts, but I love his story.

4: Fullmetal Alchemist

by Hiromu Arakawa

This one's a manga, and you can read the English version for free here.

This is a...I don't even know how to describe it. It's based on a world that's run on alchemy instead of science. So I guess science fantasy?

Two brothers, both alchemical geniuses, are trying to find the Philosopher's Stone, because they did a huge no-no that backfired big time (they tried to raise their mother from the dead), so Edward lost his arm and his leg (and has automail instead, which is this world's version of prosthetic limbs) while Alphone's soul is encased in a suit of armor. They hope the Stone will return their bodies to normal and they can go back to their lives. At the same time, the government is corrupt to the core, a religious fanatic is out killing all of the alchemists, and fake humans are trying to destroy the world.

Normally, I don't read manga because it is notoriously sexist and objectifying for women. But even though this story focuses mostly on the men (er, boys; it's YA), it has some very strong, very cool women characters: the brothers' teacher, a sharp-shooter lieutenant, and there's a general who comes in near the end of the series who's a total badass.

This got two anime shows. The first one started while the manga was still in progress, so it diverges about halfway through and has a completely different ending, and a movie. Still pretty good, though. The second anime--Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood--follows the manga verbatim with very few exceptions. That one's better.

3: Harry Potter

by J. K. Rowling

He was so cute! :D

Still cute. :)

You cannot have a list of book favorites without putting this on there. You just can't.

2: Percy Jackson Series/Heroes of Olympus Series

by Rick Riordan

Technically these are two different series, but they're all in the same world with the same characters, so I'm throwing them in as one.

Greek gods are real, and they're still having demigod kids. Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon (god of the sea) and has to go on a quest to save the world about a hundred times. In Heroes of Olympus, we find out that the Greek gods all basically have multiple personality disorder, and there's a camp of Roman demigods on the other side of the country. So Greeks and Romans team up and save the world again.

This series is great because it's hilarious while also focusing on the incredibly important issues of family and ethics, but not in the corny way that happens in most YA series. The bad guy in the Percy Jackson Series is...well, not totally justified, but you can see exactly why he's doing what he's doing and it's impossible not to empathize with him.

There's also a lot of strong women (Annabeth, daughter of Athena, is amazing) and the romantic subplot doesn't come up until book 4, and then it's hilarious because Percy is so clueless. (The romance comes on a bit thick in Heroes of Olympus. There are seven main characters and they're all in a relationship, which is a bit ridiculous. The one single major character we get in the last book doesn't get nearly as much screen time, and she spends a scene or two all mopey because she's told by Aphrodite/Venus that she'll never be in a relationship with another demigod. But on the other hand, one of the characters is gay and the almost-relationship he has with another guy is SOOOOO CUTE, because he...well, I can't tell you. This is not a spoilers post.)

And, just like The Other Boleyn Girl, do not watch the movie. It sucks. (Well, actually, the first one was ok, but the second one was terrible with only one redeeming quality: the character Tyson, who does not get nearly enough screen time.)

1: A Song of Ice and Fire Series (re: Game of Thrones)

by George R. R. Martin

I pretty much already covered this in a previous post, so I'll just direct you there. Suffice it to say, George R. R. Martin is my personal god.


Thanks for reading! :)

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