RIPX Round Up

 

rip10300If you remember way back in September I decided to take part in R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X hosted this year by the Estella Society. The goal was simple; read books that embody the “halloween” or “fall” spirit. The spooky, the chillers, the thrillers. There were also options for short stories and movies, which I also took part in.

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Peril the Second: Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P.categories.

The first book read for RIPX was “Daughters of Witching Hill” by Mary Sharratt, a fictional retelling of the events of the Pendle Witch trails that took place in Lancashire, England in 1612. As someone who got pretty hooked on the Salem witch trials (and honestly the interest hasn’t let go, I really want “The Witches by Stacy Schiff, and honestly I wore my Salem, Mass. “It’s a wicked good time” shirt yesterday without shame) it was interesting to read about another witch trial in a different country that had very different causes (this one being old white men threatened by women). I’ve had this book for awhile and never got around to reading it, but I’m very thankful for RIPX for giving me the push to finally read it. I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in anything to do with witches, witch trials, life in the 1600s, ect. You can find my review here.

The second book I read for RIPX was actually a reread of “Wicked” by Gregory Maguire. I can’t really explain the relationship I had with this book. I remember reading it in high school and it felt like my first “grown up” book. It was the first book I read with sex in it, anyways. But it was the bandaid I ripped that got me into reading more “grown up” books. Beyond that I genuinely love this book. You might be more familiar with the Broadway musical by the same name and roughly based on it. This is a very rare occurrence, because even though the musical lightened the themes and basically “disney-fied” it, I still love both versions. Both have a place in my heart and I honestly don’t dislike the completely different adaptation.

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Peril On the Screen: This is for those of us that like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. It may be something on the small screen or large. It might be a television show, like Dark Shadows or Midsomer Murders, or your favorite film

For this part of the RIPX challenge I threw myself a mini Johnny Depp marathon, because honestly when you think “scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare” who else are you going to watch? I watched “Sleepy Hollow”, “From Hell”, and finally “Sweeney Todd”. Jokingly, I pointed out that it was like a trilogy, where Johnny Depp goes from investigating murders to eventually having enough of it and becoming the psycho murderer himself.

Of the three I think “Sweeney Todd” is still my favorite. They’re all fantastic, of course, but Sweeney Todd was my first Rated R flick. (What’s with this pattern of my first “grown up” stuff being creepy musicals about murderers?) I have a love-hate relationship with “From Hell”, on one hand it’s a pretty okay movie with Johnny Depp and Robbie Coltrane (not playing a giant). It also has the added bonus of being about my favorite serial killer in history (Jack The Ripper). Sadly, it’s just an okay movie, and it’s even less of an okay adaptation of an amazing graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell.

eddiecampbell2Since I’ve never met Johnny Depp and have in fact met Eddie Campbell, and Eddie Campbell drew me a little Jack the Ripper; novel wins out.

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Peril of the Short Story:We are big fans of short stories and the desire for them is perhaps no greater than in Autumn.

I technically read two books that were anthologies of short stories by two authors. The first was “Major Tales and Poems” by Edgar Allan Poe. You can find more about this in my midway recap of the challenge. I fell in love with Poe right around the time I got interested in the Salem witch trials. When you go to read Poe, Poe Delivers. The real surprises were the stories of his detective Dupin, which I found to be some of my favorites of the lot.

Which leads me to the next set of short stories. I finally got around to reading my “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle book. Originally published in 1812, it is a collection of 12 Holmes stories. Each of the Holmes stories has relatively the same structure; Watson describes the mundane happenings without a case, Holmes bursts in with a case, the person coming to them with it shows up rather suddenly, the case it told, Holmes disappears for a bit comes back, drags Watson to go solve it. The police procedurals of the 1800s, and yet each just as interesting as the last. Of the 12 I read, 2 I had already read, and I would have to say my favorites include “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” and “A Case of Identity”


My RIPX reading will be continuing into November as I just got my hands on “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins, and fully intend on buying “The Witches” by Stacy Schiff this month as well. I fully enjoyed this challenge. As I said when I signed up, this is my literary weakness. I’ve never been one for the typical Halloween “Thrillers” or “Slashers” but give me a good Gothic novel or psychological chiller and I’m good to go. I love the symbolism in the genre and the history of it. I can’t wait for it to come back around next year.

BONUS SUGGESTION: Spotify has a “Southern Gothic” playlist that pretty much embodies this challenge and is really good to get you in the mood for reading about ghosts, and murders, and boarding up dead wives in brick walls (seriously, Poe, why?).
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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon – Mid-Event Survey

12 hours in (well give or take for actual reading time) and here are my stats so far:

Books Finished: 2 (already started pre-readathon)
Mini-challenges entered: 5
Planned books to finish: 3

1. What are you reading right now?: Currently I am actively reading Macbeth by Shakespear
2. How many books have you read so far?: Finished two previously started books and worked on 2 more.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?: I’m looking forward to starting Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer (I’ve been meaning to read more of her) and the second half of Wicked that I need to read.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?: OKAY LETS TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AT STARBUCKS.

SO, I was sitting in Starbucks, having settled myself into a comfortable nest in the corner of the long booth. Perfectly content, working my way through Sherlock Holmes, when this guy sat down. Now, not that big of a deal (beyond those booth seats being awkwardly close, and now I can’t stretch my leg out beside me. I can get over this). No, the big deal is this guy keeps SNUFFING HIS NOSE AND WONT GET UP AND JUST BLOW IT. I attempt to counter act this by sticking my headphones in and cranking up music. NOPE every 30 odd seconds I can hear it.

The worst part is he was really nice when I accidentally knocked a bit of my drink over. But dear lord just BLOW YOUR NOSE STOP MAKING THAT NOISE!

By the time the wailing child joined the chorus about an hour later I gave it up and left.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?: I feel like I’m way more relaxed than I was last time I did this. Last time I was SO concerned with finishing multiple novels (mainly cause I saw so many people’s stacks that had like 5+ novels in them and I was like “THEY’RE GOING TO READ ALL THAT!” found out, people don’t normally end up finishing their stacks.).

Mini-Challenge Book Scavenger Hunt

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The hour 9 mini challenge is a scavenger hunt using a book currently reading. I will be using Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” to find the following:

 Book Scavenger Hunt List
1.  Something hard: “The Tin Woodman was picking nits out of the Lion’s mane, and the Lion was muttering and squirming from the aggravation.” Prologue
2.  Something fast: “Galinda clutched her parcel of clothes to her breast. The old goat who sprawled on the seat across from her was missing the Wittica stop. She was glad that trains made passengers sleepy.” Part 2: Gillikin
3.  Something sweet: “But she woke up just then, and in the moonlight covered herself with a blanket. She smiled at him drowsily and called him “Yero, my hero,” and that melted his heart.”  Part 3: City Of Emeralds
4.  Something high: “A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind’s forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.” Prologue
5.  Something funny: “”Don’t go to the effort, I’ll let myself out the way I came in.” He looked up at the pear tree. “Poor thing, I’ve splintered some good-size limbs.” “Pity the poor tree. Why would you do that to it?” “Well, I was startled,” he said, “and I had a choice: either flip myself like a wood nymph through the leaves. Or else just climb quietly down on the other side of the stable, into the street, and go back to my life. Which would you choose?” Part 2: Gillikin

Readathon Mini-challenge; Top Ten List

Top Ten thoughts you have when you go too long without a break from reading.

  1. Why does my neck hurt?
  2. My mouth tastes funny…kinda like the Sahara.
  3. I’ll just move my leg…and now I can’t feel my foot, great.
  4. What was that noise? Probably nothing…
  5. Have I read this sentence already?
  6. Okay, that noise was definitely something falling over…not my problem right now.
  7. What time is it?
  8. Where did the sun go?
  9. Definitely just kept rereading that sentence over and over, no big deal. It was a good sentence anyways.
  10. Taking my pants off one handed without looking will be easy…yeah I should have worn a skirt to readathon in.

Daughters Of The Witching Hill; mini-review

 

51+OzuX7CmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I very much enjoyed this book. I’ve had it for awhile, since Borders went out of business and their books were 200% off (okay it wasn’t that much). I was going through a phase around that time; we had just took a trip to Salem and I still looked fondly back on the Crucible. Okay maybe I’m not entirely out of this phrase considering I’m currently wearing my “It’s a Wicked Good Time” Salem, Mass. shirt.

So, I might be biased, but looking at this book objectively I still love it. Historically, it takes place in the late 1500s-early 1600s. There’s references to which monarch is in command when they switch (as they were switching a lot until Bess the First took over) and how that effects the people. From my limited knowledge the book is historically accurate of country living in England during that time. I particularly liked looking at the peasantry of this era, as typically it’s royalty that get the attention.

Additionally, I found the discussion of religion in the book particularly interesting as the main character Bess is old enough to have remembered when Catholicism was the religion of England and lived through Mary the Bloody and finally Elizabeth I. The tension between the old and new religion, and the conflict of the mythology that was seemingly accepted in old Catholicism, sparked my interest early in the novel.

There are a few plots that go unfinished, but I find a few loose ends realistic; you don’t tie up everything before you die in real life after all. But above all the novel gave me what I wanted; a realistic and interesting tale based off a real historic event. The backstories were rich, the characters reasonable, and the explanations clever. I was thankful it was a historic novel written in plain language, it added to the overall tone of the book.

Daughters Of The Witching Hill was the perfect light read (if not also tragic) to start autumn. Cleverly written, with interesting and different characters, and just enough witchy-ness for the season.

Daughters Of The Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt
Added to Reading England 2015
Apart of R.I.P.X Reading Challenge

R.I.P.X Update

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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X

In 11th grade I had a teacher who did a lot for my love of literature and my confidence that I wanted to continue studying it. Among the countless other things he did for me, he showed me that people can have a favorite author. That might seem like a common thing, but from my isolated small town this was a big discovery. This teacher’s favorite author happened to be Edgar Allan Poe.

We spent 2 months on his work in a class that had up until then been broken into genres. My teacher’s license plate was a variation of NEVERMORE and he had an Edgar Allan Poe action figure hung up on the bulletin board at the front of the class. He loved Poe, and through that taught me it was okay to obsess over someone who died hundreds of years ago and did nothing else in their life by write.

Well, thanks to R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X I finally got around to reading those short stories and poems from Poe that I didn’t read in 11th grade.

I am reading from the “Major Tales and Poems” Borders publication (which tells you how long I’ve had this book). What this edition does REALLY well is the order it’s presented the short stories. They flow from one to the other naturally, and tend to share a theme with the one before it. However, the one annoyance I have with it is that Poe tends to quote in French, Italian, or sometimes Latin, yet this edition has not provided a single translation.

Since I’m taking a break before tackling the poems I’ll tell you my top ten favorite short stories from those that I had not previously read (in no particular order);

The Fall of the House of Usher
The Premature Burial
William Wilson
The Gold-Bug
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Purloined Letter
The Oblong Box
The Oval Portrait
Eleonora

The five that I had previously read are;

The Tell-Tale Heart
The Black Cat *
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Cask of Amontillado
The Masque of the Red Death

*Yes, it has the word cat in the title. IF YOU LIKE CATS DO NOT READ THIS SHORT STORY!!!

The three bolded titles above are of Poe’s detective “C Auguste Dupin”. The first “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is often considered the first fictional detective story. I highly recommend it. I loved it. The second “The Mystery of Marie Roget” is actually based on a real life murder of Mary Roger. The third is very good as well (although I have no fun fact about it).

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This weekend I also decided to have a small movie marathon in the tone of RIPX. It was also, not surprisingly, a Johnny Depp marathon. It could have been a Tim Burton marathon, but I got away with 1 of the 3 not being directed by him.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)
From Hell (2001)
Sweeney Todd (2007)

I’ve seen all of these before and own the last two so this was more for my lazy Saturday viewing. After reading Edgar Allan Poe for an entire 2 weeks you get pulled into a mood.

I’ve always liked the changes Burton made to the tale of Sleepy Hollow. It didn’t feel as jarring as a lot of differing interpretations can be. I understand Burton’s decision to not stick Depp in a bunch of prosthetics to make his Ichabod canonically “ugly” but to let it show through in his actions and choices. I also kinda love the fact that Christopher Walken, an actor known for his voice never speaks. And I do agree with the crew about the set; it looks like what walking through Burton’s mind must look like.

Sweeney Todd was the first rated R movie I was allowed to see in the theater (with my mom). I was SO excited for this movie and I still love it (even if Anthony Stewart Head’s role got practically cut). It’s really one of those adaptations where you just look at it and go “My god they got the perfect director and the perfect actors and literally what the hell could you change about this.”

From Hell holds a special creepy spot in my heart. I don’t know why I like the story of Jack the Ripper so much, but I do. When we went on the Whitechapel tour on my studyabroad I freaked the professor out by how much I knew about Jack the Ripper. I actually wasn’t aware that the movie was based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell until I took a true crime class in which we read it.

On a side note I absolutely love this graphic novel. I don’t 100% agree with the theory it poses (even though it’s really thought out and frickin cool), but it’s wonderfully written and the art is beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because I heard Eddie Campell speak on campus and had him sign the paper I wrote on From Hell and then he drew a wittle Jack the Ripper on it

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Look at that little cutie serial killer.

Top Ten Tuesday – Sept 8th

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Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

September 8:  Ten Finished Series I Have YET to Finish (topic first done in 2012)


As I watch this my alma mater The Ohio State University is playing VT so let’s see how multitasking during commercials go for writing a TTT Post.

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It had to be mentioned in a post about series.

This week is finished series I have yet to finish. This was kinda difficult and I fudged a few to give myself a full list of ten. I tend to finish series if I start them and you’ll find there’s a trend with the ones I have not; they’re series I started in middle school  or high school (except for one).

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1.) The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis: I got really into the first movie and thus read The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe. I had intentions of reading the entire series and went on to read The Magician’s Nephew, and that’s when I stopped. Between the first and second movie I lost interest and with it, lost interest in the books. I always meant to go back and read them just to say I had, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m still holding onto hope that one day I’ll go back to them.

2.) Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Another series started in middle school thanks to a movie. I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and vaguely remember attempting to start The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, but never got around to really getting into it and I think I eventually just lost interest in it. I might go back to this one eventually, I do own a giant book with all 5 in it.

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Literally my favorite Tom Cruise movie ever; made better by the fact Lestat is 6 feet tall in the books.

3.) The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice: And the pattern continues; middle school Alyssa gets momentarily obsessed with a movie and goes on to read the book without having the attention span to read the rest of the novels in the series. I have started buying more Anne Rice novels (vampire ones, not Jesus ones) and I did get about midway through The Vampire Lestat before my interests moved on. I really don’t know why I stopped because I remember liking it a lot. So this one has a good chanced of being finished one day.

4.) The Lord Of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: I TRIED! I TRIED SO HARD! I’ve actually read The Hobbit twice so I’m kinda proud of that one. The Fellowship Of the Ring, I do no lie, probably took me about 4 years cause I got to the Tom Bombadil chapters and just could not wrap my 8th grade mind around why this was enjoyable. I do believe when I last left off I was in the first quarter of The Two Towers and it’s basically a war novel and cannot sit myself down to finish it where I left off like 8 years ago.

I am most sorry to the late Sir Christopher Lee who has unknowingly been guilt tripping me about this since I first heard him talk about rereading the entire trilogy every year on the actor’s commentary of the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring.

5.) The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire: “whaaaaaaat? Alyssa you talk about these books all the time.” I KNOW DON’T REMIND ME! Okay, so here’s my excuse. I read the first book my freshman year of high school, that was the same year the second book came out. The third book came out my sophomore year and already my excitement was waning. Mainly cause it wasn’t that heavily of a promoted book series (outside of the connection to the musical) and I wasn’t that into looking up book info on the internet. The final book in the series came out my freshman year of college and between that time I had attempted another one of Maguire’s books and the magic had kinda faded. Add in that the third book follows a different story line than the 1, 2, and 4th books; I feel like I need to restart the series before I try and tackle the 4th again but I fully intend to finish that 4th book.


Side note: OSU just got scored on I will not be held responsible for my annoyed tone from here on out.


The following two series are not exactly finished but they could be if they wanted to be.

6.) The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon: I should like this book/series but there was just too much romance and not enough other stuff to keep my interest. As I have warned many of people who have attempted it, midway through you will hit the “…and then they had sex” phase and want to bash your head with the giant book. That entire section of the book ruined it and the series for me. The only thing giving the series an ounce of hope of me reading it is the fact my mother is obsessed with it, has every book on her kindle, which I now have access to through Amazon Household. Additionally, I know this series isn’t finished yet, but according to my mom it could have been and there was a time where Gabaldon thought to have it finished where it is but has since decided to keep writing (*cough*money*cough*)(nah I don’t blame her, I’d do the same.)

7.) The Maze Runner series by James Dashner: I read the first book with the intention of seeing the movie and continuing the series. I got through the first one, never saw the movie, and have yet to pick up the second book. I think I’m “Post apocalyptic-experimented on teenagers”‘d out. I can’t take anymore. I’ve heard Dashner might be writing another prequel novel but for now I’ll count them finished.

The following books are not so much series as their authors chose just to write about this world multiple times.

8.) The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz series by L. Frank Baum: Did you know there’s 14 of these things?  And those are the ones just by Baum. I sure wasn’t up for that kind of commitment when I read the first one. Besides, I was pretty satisfied with the first, not entirely itching to know more. Considering they’re not as well known as the first also makes me okay with having just read the first.

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9.) Peter Pan by JM Barrie: Barrie wrote 3 works about Peter Pan. The original Peter Pan play, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (an origin story), and “Peter and Wendy” a novel sequel to the original that uses themes from Barrie’s sequel play “An After Thought”. This is another where I’m satisfied with the original story, so I don’t feel as thought I’m missing much having not read the sequels.


And with OSU being scored on again and my inability to think of a 10th series that I have not finished and is also finished I think we can call this post done.


What series have you not been able to finished? Any of these that I should “get on it” to finish?

 

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Hosted by The Estella Society

I’ve decided to take part in this year’s R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril mainly cause I find the genres to be literary crack. Poe was one of the first poets I found I actually liked, let alone love. My mom made a stop on our summer road trip to Salem Mass. cause I might have gone through a serious Crucible phase of life. My favorite week of my study abroad was our “Mysteries of London” week where I became best friends with the guest professor while also freaking him out on my knowledge of Jack the Ripper during our tour of White Chapel. And during my last year at college I was taking a “Classic Horror Monster” Literature/Film class the same semester I was taking a “true crime”  literature class.

From the challenge’s page:

“Without further ado, pick your poison, won’t you? September 1st is here, and we’re ready to begin!

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

That is what embodies the stories, written and visual, that we celebrate with the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event.

As time has wound on, we’ve discovered that simple rules are best:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others. “

The challenge will run from Sept. 1 – October 31st. I probably wont get officially started until the weekend but here’s my challenge pile.

RIPX

 

I’ve read a lot of Poe’s short stories and poems, but I plan to read through those in the collected works volume I have of his work. Same goes for my Sherlock Holmes collected works.

I read Dracula and Frankenstein for my “Classic Horror Monster” class but like the majority of English Majors who are taking multiple lit classes during their senior year; I heavy duty skimmed em.

“Vampire Stories” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a book I vaguely remember reading a few of the stories from but never finished. (But seriously, who knew Conan Doyle wrote vampire stories.)

“Daughters Of The Witching Hill” by Mary Sharratt is a novel I picked up way back when Borders was going out of business. The novel was inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trials.

 

JSMN-cover1library-mt-char-jacketI also intend to buy these two novels by the end of the challenge. I’ve been wanting to have them anyways, this is just good timing for it. They’re “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell”, a novel set in England during the Napoleonic Wars where Magic once was practiced and existed in England. And “The Library At Mount Char” a recent release set around murders and a cult-ish like group.

Top Ten Tuesday – Sept. 1st

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Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish


September 1: Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With

Okay, so…this was a fun one. Why? You may ask. Lets just say that I don’t get along with a lot of characters. I mean it takes a very special character for me to actually adore. A lot of characters I’m pretty neutral on. But there are just as many I can’t stand. Here’s the thing, I will admit I lean towards the “villain”. I’m a slytherin, I can’t help it. Now, there are some villains I even dislike (looking at you Umbridge), but I can still appreciate for how great their character is (I mean everyone hates her, that has to count for something) and often miss them when they’re gone (Joffrey was a little shit but at least he caused stuff to happen).

So, when creating this list (and the 3 subsequent drafts) I decided to pick my favorite category of dislike:

The Top Ten Characters That Made Me Think “OHMYGOD SHUT UP” Everytime They Talked.

SPOILERS WILL BE STATED.

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Alyssa, isn’t this about Claire? Why this gif? My Blog, My Rules.

1.) Claire – The Outlander Series: Okay, so…here’s the thing…I wanted to like her. I really did…but…She’s one of those people who seem to want to be one thing but she’s not. It bugged me to no end that she supposedly missed her husband SO MUCH and was dying to get to him but was obviously finding it okay to stay where she was. She very easily had sex with this other guy “BUT NO SHE HAD TO!” No she could have been like “Yo, they can’t see in here lets just make loud noises and bounce on the bed we’re good. Neither of us really want in this marriage anyways.” She legit disregards orders from a leader and then gets all offended when she’s punished for it. And above all else. All things I could forgive. SHE FORGAVE HER HUSBAND FOR BEATING HER LIKE FOUR DAYS AFTER IT HAPPENED AFTER BEING PISSED AND SAID SHE DESERVED IT NO YOU DRAG HIM THROUGH HELL AND HIGHWATER TO FEMINISM DON’T GIVE IN TO THAT SHIT.

2.)  Madame Bovary – Madame Bovary: There really was no hope for me to like a woman seeking to have an affair because she thinks it’ll make her a glamorous woman, who’s mad at her doctor husband because he’s not rich after he married her and got her off a freakin farm and if she hadn’t married him she would have never got to that party in the first place. Literally every life choice she made was dumb as hell. She wasn’t forced into marrying her husband. He was nice and bought her literally everything she wanted even when he drove him in debt. Plus, she was a horrible mother. Plus, she just sounds exhausting. Like literally, the two guys she had affairs with got exhausted by her.

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However, you should watch this version just for Tom Hardy’s wig.

3.) Catherine and Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights: Since these two seem to think they have the same freakin soul they count as well. How freaking dramatic can two people be? Well, there’s a reason these two are on the list and Romeo & Juliet aren’t cause AT LEAST THOSE TWO WERE 14, YOU ARE GROWN ASS ADULTS! Heathcliff was just slightly more tolerable than Catherine if only because she had that stupid speech about being made up of the same stuff as him.

4.) James Potter – The Harry Potter Series: OHMYGOD the surge of James & Lily Potter fans that have come out of the HP Fandom in the past years are OBNOXIOUS. Maybe it’s because I just don’t like the marauders that much, but I honestly don’t see how from the very little we’re given about James Potter people can be as obsessively in love with him as they are. As far as I’m concerned he’s an arrogant jock who wore down the girl he liked OVER SEVEN YEARS and lucked out cause a prophecy was made about their kid so they had to procreate. Maybe if Rowling would have actually written this miraculous transformation from obnoxious twit that so many Marauders fans tell me happened I would like him better.

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We know, Cersei.

5.) Cersei Lannister – A Song Of Ice And Fire: Alright, listen up. Game Of Thrones did this thing where they decided to try to make Cersei Lannister more likable by making her arc “She did it for her kids!” which okay, that works, but Cersei Lannister in the books IS SO MUCH MORE RUTHLESS AND UNRELENTING AND ANNOYING! Every single choice she makes in the books IS WRONG and she makes them because she’s paranoid as HELL. She’s literally the type of person to shout “You think [insert thing] AND YOU KNOW IT” in a fight and that is one of my major pet peeves, so. She thinks she knows what everyone around her is thinking or going to do and I swear 95% of the time she’s wrong. Like, I don’t give a crap that she boinks her brother she’s just so annoying. And even when she messes up SHE JUST KEEPS GOING AND MAKES IT WORSE! She’s obviously a horrid leader, but she doesn’t even care if she takes Westeros down in a blaze of wildfire she just wants to be on top of the ashes and it’s obnoxious.

6.) Gus – The Fault In Our Stars: I feel a little bad about putting a guy with cancer on this list but I can’t help it. He had me rolling my eyes every time it came around for his dialogue. Hazel was almost up here with him, but she actually made me feel bad about his death so I gave her a break. He’s the guy in every philosophy/religion/lit class who talks too much. I understand he had been through a lot and he was trying to keep his spirits up, but Hazel seemed to be doing just find with her realistic world view; so I can stake it on that he was just seriously annoying, cancer or no cancer.

7.) Holden Caulfield – Catcher In The Rye: Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake a prozac and get doooooown ooooooofff your hiiiiiiiiigh hoooooorse you annoying, pretentious, personal hero to every english major bro, whiny rich boy.

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-hits play on Avril Lavigne CD-

8.) Bella Swan – Twilight Series: -takes a deep breath- How many dumb life choices can one person make? If she had a dollar for every time she made up her own mind she’d make fifty cents. 13 year old me who actually read and liked the first Twilight book for a time would have told you her worst life choice was not picking Jacob. 23 year old me in retrospect has to say her worst life choice WAS NOT CALLING THE FREAKIN COPS ON HER EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE STALKER BOYFRIEND!

9.) Marilyn Lee – Everything I never Told you: This is a rather new one, I recently read the book so that might be why she’s fresh on my mind and made the list. I think our main conflict was the way she handled things and her second wave feminist way of thinking. She was also really selfish and placed herself above her mother and children. I liked the intent of her dreams, but her ways of reaching them were horrid. I really couldn’t forgive her after she left her family without a word.

10.) Pope Joan – Pope Joan: This is a case where a character is presented as being too smart, too clever, too kind, too good that my dark slytherin heart can’t take it, and then add in that they seem to never be wrong and I want to throw a book across the room. I actually agreed with a lot of what she said, but her ideals just were not 800s AD way of thinking and it annoyed me to no end.

And now we’ve come to my honorable mentions. However, these are very special honorable mentions. These two characters managed to come from the depths of eye rolls to actually being admired in my eyes.

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Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games Trilogy: Ask anyone who was reading this series with me and they’ll tell you many of texts were sent with simply “Katniss is a biiiiiiiitch” I really didn’t like her. I was constantly annoyed with her. (JUST FREAKIN PICK ONE AND GET OVER IT!) But I have come to realize that I actually have a lot in common with her. Her choices make a hell of a lot more sense in retrospect. She’s not as big as a bitch as I initially remembered, and it might have had to do with my adoration of Peeta that I disliked her during the third book.

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Harry James Potter, sometimes you just act too much like your damn dad for your own good. Like many, when we hit Order Of The Phoenix we had had a little bit enough of whiny Harry. Of course, once again, in retrospect the poor 15 year old was still with one hell of a case of PTSD. I did find him annoying in other books, don’t get me wrong, and once again the Slytherin nature in me has to dislike his obnoxious Gryffindor qualities. We now have a light-hearted relationship where I mock him but deep in my heart love him. (Although, not gonna lie, kinda like the Potter Puppet Pals and A Very Potter Musical versions of him more.)

Pope Joan: Whoop There It is.

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross is a 1996 novel depicting the fictional life of the only female Pope. Taking place during the 800s, the novel spans from Joan’s birth in Frankland til her death in Rome. The central source of the novel is taken from what some would call protestant propaganda and many just a myth of the catholic church. As the story goes, Pope John VII reigned for a little over 2 years during the middle ages, the end of his reign came when during a processional from St. Peter to the Lateran on the Via Sacra of Rome he gave birth to a child (this is depicted in the below images) and was thus found to be a woman.

Whether Pope Joan was a real person or not has been up for debate for centuries, as Cross explains in the author’s notes at the end of the novel. Evidence that there were attempts to erase Pope Joan’s reign from history have been found, as have evidence of others attempting to reinstate her reign to the records. Never the less, Cross has taken what little information is known about Pope Joan and flushed it out to a full length “biography”.

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According to Good Reads Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross has an average rating of 4.06; I would say this is a bit high. While there are plenty of good points to the book, the number of bad ones make me question what people saw in this novel to make it seem so phenomenal in the reviews. I wouldn’t say I was entirely let down by them, those reviews who gave the book around a 3 star rating seemed to have the same complaints as I’m about to make.

I’ll start with my most nit-picking tiny detail of a complaint that almost ruined the entire book for me. This book was written in 1996. At the end of the novel Cross goes into detail how much research she put forth in to the book to make it as historically accurate as she could. This didn’t add up to me for one glaring mistake. By this time we were well aware that the typical depiction of vikings was inaccurate and incorrect. Why then, if she put so much research into making everything as historically accurate as she could, down to apologizing for making her viking attack some 20 years before it actually happened in that particular town, did she not apologize for her depiction of the vikings? She said they had gold horned helmets for Christ’s sake. Although we only see them ones, the ridiculousness of them having “gold horned helmets” and “Dragon ships” and describing every one of them as “giants” did little more than pillage and raid the town and then leave left me aghast and honestly stuck with me through the rest of the book to the point I began to question the historical accuracy of the rest of the novel.

My major complaint of the novel is the development of the character. popejoanCross does a brilliant job with world building (more on that later) her characters are all lacking, including the main one Joan. Joan is depicted as being smart, witty, caring, thoughtful, very intelligent, philosophical, and logical. She literally can do no wrong and at times it’s a bit jarring how quickly she comes up with something to get herself out a trouble. Or how lucky she gets when she’s going with a last ditch effort. (At one point she came close to discovering germ theory around 840AD and I almost threw the book.)

Her only flaw, that’s brought up as a flaw, is that she cares too much and needs to act more political. However, she rarely takes this advice and even when she doesn’t things don’t turn out too bad. When she slips up and says or does something that would typically turn out poorly, there’s ultimately one person around who appreciates Joan and saves her. This gets annoying about half way through the novel when you realize everything bad that happens to Joan is because of someone else, and never herself.

The secondary characters are your basic underdeveloped caricatures of medieval characters (save perhaps Gerold, who’s the progressive knight in shining armor to save Joan from a world of misogynists). This isn’t too much of a problem because the novel goes through what seems at least 50 side characters, none of which are in the entire novel. They appear for their short respected time before Joan moves on to a new cast of characters to deal with. This becomes a problem when you realize each new adventure Joan sets out on as the same “set cast” there is also the misogynistic man in power, the sympathetic man Joan depends on, and the group that Joan eventually sways to her line of thinking. The only diverge from this is when at one point the misogynistic man is replaced by a misogynistic woman.

pope_joan (1)As for the good points of this novel. As I mentioned, Cross does a wonderful job of world building. Her ability to seamlessly incorporate true historical events is excellent, second only to her ability to weave in subplots throughout the novel and reference them at a later time. With a novel as long as this one, it’s almost like a memory of your own when Joan recollects about a past event. Besides the one event mentioned above, the rest of the novel from my limited knowledge seems historically accurate. Nothing beyond the vikings depiction was glaringly out of date.

Additionally, perhaps what makes the novel so popular is the fact that for a novel that takes place in the 9th century, it reads rather casually. I only ran into trouble with pronunciation when it came to the names of the Romans. There is latin throughout the book but always closely followed by an english translation. The dialogue flowed naturally, but maintained it’s period feel which was a very subtle balance that Cross pulled off rather well.

For a novel that takes place primarily in monasteries and the Vatican, it’s a rather progressive tale. Honestly, I think you would likely enjoy the book more the less religious you are. The size can be a little daunting but it’s a very easy read and doesn’t take much effort to get back into after a break. I would recommend to anyone seeking a pre-tudors era novel or anyone just interested in the myth of Pope Joan.