Top Ten Books I ReRead

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday (and a Day) by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was the top 10 Books to Reread. I puzzled about that…Books I’ve reread the most? Books I’d like to reread for the first time? I decided to go with books that I’ve reread a lot in recent memory, as opposed to of all time. So, here it is:

Top Ten Books For My Rereading Pleasure

1. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
Every spring. “There had been a long debate in Council on ‘The Advisability of Inviting Fairies to the Christrening.'”
ordinary princess

2. Gwinna by Barbara Helen Berger
Gwinna

3. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Every fall, this retelling of Tam Lin. “The Night is Hallow’een, my love, the morni s Hallows’ Day-”
perilousgard2

4. Let Your Mind Alone by James Thurber
-This book includes several wonderful satires about early self-help advice and just humorous essays about life that work wonders about putting things in perspective, covering issues like travel, wanting a javelin, turtle-catching, and solving life problems with index cards, plays, and ghostly visitors. I reread it whenever I need to take my mind off of life-problems or just laugh.
typewriter ribbon-1

5. The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett

6. The works of A.A. Milne
“Forget about the crackers, And forget about the candy; I’m sure a box of chocolates Would never come in handy; I don’t like oranges, I don’t want nuts, And I HAVE got a pocket-knife That almost cuts. But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all, Bring me a big, red india-rubber ball!”
alg_winnie_and_friends_001

7. A Royal Pain by Ellen Conford
-It’s just such a fun one to read out loud. “Right off the bat I have to say that no matter what you may have read in the papers, I don’t think I was such a terrible princess.”
a-royal-pain-img

8. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
-Have you read those ogre and bird languages out loud? It’s marvelous!

9. The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern (William Goldman)
Princess-Bride-movie_572

10. My Mother, She Killed Me, My Father, He Ate Me edited by Kate Bernheimer
-This collection of fairy tale retellings is spooky, and funny, and touching, and haunting, and wonderful.
My-Mother-She-Killed-Me

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Bring Me….a Fairy Tale Shrubbery!

So, I was thinking about fairy tales, as you do, and something occurred to me: on a surface, practical level, the lesson of an awful lot of them seems to be that the better gardener will win. Check this out:

1. Beauty and the Beast-The Beast gets the girl because he has the garden with the best roses. If Beauty’s family were better at gardening, she wouldn’t have had to ask for a rose and they wouldn’t have found themselves in that problem in the first place.
beautybeastrose

2. Twelve Dancing Princesses-The gardener just is the one who gets the princess, because she would rather marry a gardener.
kn_12dancing

3. Rapunzel-If the young couple could have just grown their own garden, they never would have had to deal with the witch.

4. Red Riding Hood-If her family had a pretty flower garden, she wouldn’t have needed to wander about the woods for a bouquet or admiring the floral scenery and the wolf’s trick wouldn’t have worked.
Little-Red-Riding-Hood-Final_small_hr

5. Cinderella-how did she manage to get to the ball so quickly and snazzily, AND run away in time for the prince not to see her transformation back to rags while wearing just one flimsy glass shoe? They had a thriving pumpkin patch.

6. Snow White-If the dwarves or Snow White could grow their own fruit they wouldn’t bother with apple-sellers, would they? (Clothing items like combs and ribbons are a different matter of course, but then those were absurdly easy to undo in any case.)

7. The Princess and the Frog-The only positive thing about the princess in most portrayals is that her family had a wonderful garden for the prince-turned-frog to live in, and that is clearly the underlying reason why she manages to marry well. Also, when you’re a frog beautiful gardens are clearly what you look for when you need a princess to kiss you, so that garden lies at the base of the happiness of both title characters.

8. The Juniper Tree-A well-kept tree can even resurrect the dead, in this one!

9. The Wild Swans-If the sister could just have maintained a royal garden once she was queen, she could have slipped some nettles in and not needed to go running around graveyards, getting accused of witchcraft and all the shirts might have been finished!
plucked-nettles-hans-andersens-fairy-tales

10. The Firebird-With no well-grown cherry orchards, this magical creature would not have shown up.

11. Jack and the Beanstalk-If those giants had simply been attentive gardeners, they could have weeded out troublesome beanstalks and kept all their own treasure, at least before a third visit!

As a matter of fact, a lot of fairy tales seem to show that problems arise when people use being in the woods as an excuse not to do their own gardening. It leaves them open to wildflower delays and poisoned fruit. Clearly, we all need to grow our own gardens instead of just hiding behind trees, which is actually quite disappointing since even as a young girl I wanted a yard full of blossoming flowers so I could have that beauty without having to really garden. Yet, look at the evidence! Witches win when they grow thorns. Beautiful gardens attract firebirds, princes, and insightful beauties. Gardening well can get even “villains” new children or keep them out. Maybe I should get one…

Any other fairy tale gardening/shrubberies you can think of? Bring it here and place it here beside this shrubbery, only slightly lower in the comments, so we get the two-level effect…

Top Ten Most Underrated Childhood Books

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was top 10 underrated books in a genre, and I have chosen to do Childhood Books because frankly, there are too many wonderful books that no one else seems to have read and/or are out of print. So, if any of you have also enjoyed these works, please tell me!

Most Underrated Childhood Books

-Picture book section:

1. The Keris Emerald by Mary Parke Johnson
books_Keris

This is a fairy tale about a Russian lad who wants to gain the attention of a princess by giving her the greatest of all emeralds, hidden in the forest of the Keris fairies and guarded by a snow leopard…It’s gorgeous, and strange, and lovely.

2. The Princess on the Nut by Michelle Nikly and Jean Claverie
books_nut

This is the tale of the son of the princess on the pea and his search for a bride who isn’t so “perfect” or princessy as his mother. The pictures are gorgeous and give a lot of extra information, too!

3. The Magic Pumpkin by Lucille E. Sette and Phyllis L. Tildes
books_squiggs

One of my favorite Halloween books, The Magic Pumpkin is about old Mr. Squiggs, who loves Halloween because he gets to be even more unpleasant and dreadful, and it is sanctioned! I love the way this writing goes in threes: how he interacts with men, with women, with children, his jack-o-lanterns are dreadful, are hideous, are frightening! Only this year, the pumpkin has something to say about being so horrible.

4. All works by Barbara Helen Berger
Gwinna Animalia
This artist/writer creates such gorgeous, magical works that I cannot recommend them enough. My first was “Grandfather Twilight” and I think that’s the easiest one to find, though.
Grandfather-Twilight-petting-dog

5. This Is the Place for Me by Joanna Cole and William Van Horn
books_placeforme

This charming book is about a bear who’s fed up with his house and goes looking for a better place to live. I still think of this bear when I need some perspective or am thinking of making crazy, impulsive life-choices, and the images still make me smile in amusement, so what more could one want in a picture book?

(Extra): Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady by Selina Hastings and Juan Wijngaard
books_loathly

-Since it’s a well-known tale I felt this was more of an extra mention, but this work probably began my great love with all things Arthurian, the artwork is amazing, and it’s just one of the most vibrant treasures.

Chapter Books:

6. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
ordinary princess

Again, I cannot recommend it enough-a committee suggesting they hire a dragon to help wed their plain daughter, a princess who runs off rather than having it and finds living with animals in the wood a rather unpractical affair and so gets work with her non-anthropomorphized squirrel and crow…read it! I do every spring.

7. The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
perilousgard2

And this is the book I read every fall. It’s set in England during Mary Tudor’s reign, with the stubborn, curious, and practical Kate sent into exile in a palace full of mysterious circumstances and tales of living elves…It’s a retelling and expansion of the Tam Lin tale and it’s brilliant.

8. The Gammage Cup: A Novel of the Minnipins by Carol Kendall and Erik Blegvad
TheGammageCup1

This world is delightfully filled with poetry, courage, and discovery.

9. A Royal Pain by Ellen Conford
a-royal-pain-img

This one is more real-world…almost. “A sixteen-year-old in Kansas, who discovers she is really a princess, is taken to a tiny European monarchy to assume her duties and marry a distasteful neighboring prince, and in the ensuing weeks tries to become such a “royal pain” that everyone will want to be rid of her.” It’s great fun, and a good read-aloud book.

10. My Angelica by Carol Lynch Williams
books_angelica

Angelica is an elementary student who dreams of becoming a great and famous romance writer! Unfortunately, her book is filled with sentimental tripe wrapped in hilariously absurd euphemisms. Her best friend is both a good poet who’s aware of this problem and utterly in love with her. It’s a ridiculously charming read. Why it didn’t catch on I do not know.

So! How about you guys? What are your favorite childhood books that other people’s lack of knowledge keeps you from talking about? Have you read any of these?

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2011
A steampunk historical mystery review

Heartlessthumb

Alexia Tarabotti faces continued assassination attempts on her person with hilarious resignation. Not so when a deranged ghost reports a plot against the queen. Alexia’s investigations lead her headlong into the Kingair plot of the past, the secrets of other women, and oh, yes-her final month of pregnancy.

Firmly back in London, and in control of husband, home, and helping, Alexia’s indomitable spunk and efficiency return this series to the light-hearted antics of Soulless. Heartless allows Alexia to upend supernatural society, even while it delves more deeply into her supporting cast. Biffy, Lyle, and Lord Maccon all hold together and even out the tone of this work so that the deep undertones begun in Blameless continue to support the world and characters of this creamier, more refreshing novel, like a tart on firm, chocolate crust. With plenty of fun and significant revelations, Heartless is an enjoyable rush to a climactic, parasol-dropping crescendo that will have you searching for the last book in Gail Carriger’s series.

Colbert on Disney

i69bZwW.jpg JPEG Image, 450 × 455 pixels.

7 Deadly Sins (of Reading) Meme

Who can resist a sinful reading meme?

GREED – What is your most inexpensive book?
-At the moment I believe this would be “Thirteenth Night” by Alan Gordon, bought from a library sale for either a quarter or fifty cents. Shakespeare, and Jesters running the world, and murderous mystery, oh my!
thirteenth_night

It seems strange that it’s the cheapest instead of most expensive work, which I am not sure about in my collection, but what springs to mind is “The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Arthurian Legends” edited by Roman Coghlan. It’s gorgeous and out-of-print and I felt guilty, although I’m sure it wasn’t that much bought second-hand….but it made me feel a lot greedier than buying things at library sales!
arthurian_legends


WRATH – What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

-Definitely Alison Weir. I find her such a good source-finder, and her writing does have a wonderfully engaging quality so she’s fun to read, but then she goes and twists all the evidence around so her books always find people guilty or innocent depending on the current trend, and sometimes she even SAYS in there that this was a common thing with no meaning, but then she proceeds to find meaning in it anyway, and I’m sure it influences a lot of people, including my mother, and it is Frustrating. *glares*

GLUTTONY – What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?
-I find this question rather bemusing as it has never occurred to me to have shame over rereading books…I get it over rewatching TV sometimes? I suppose the book I’ve probably read the most over the years is “The Ordinary Princess” by M.M. Kaye-it is my springtime book and one of the most delightful novellas ever, where the king’s advisers have committee meetings and the princess’s animal friends aren’t anthropomorphized at all. It’s also probably the one I’ve read to other people the most, so there’s that. And if that makes me a glutton, then so be it-NO SHAME! YOU SHOULD READ IT! In the springtime, at any rate…
ordinary princess

SLOTH – What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?
-This would be Otto von Bismarck’s autobiography in volumes which I started and found very amusing, but am too lazy to get back into. His iron fist allowed him to write too much without tiring his hand, apparently. Also Proust.


PRIDE – What book do you talk most about to sound like an intellectual reader?

-I really don’t think I do this outside of research papers. o.O I remember in high school I did it with having read “Ivanhoe” for fun and enjoyed it.

LUST – What attributes do you find attractive in male or female characters?
-Dark, curly/unruly hair of the longish variety and an accent, preferably Irish. Also, intense stares. Yeah. In males, specifically.


ENVY – What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

-WHY MUST I PICK? That’s just ridiculously hard. Which I suppose makes me very envious since I’d like people to just hand me a lot of books as gifts. I shall say that the rare, out-of-print Barbara Helen Berger books like “Animalia” and “When the Sun Rose” would be particularly special.
Animalia

So, how about all the guilty readers out there? What are your seven deadly sins?

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 2)

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 2)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2010

A steampunk historical romance review

GermanChangeless

Changeless sees the intrepid Alexia Tarabotti settled into a position of power, both as muhjah to the queen and Alpha of the Woolsey pack. So when immortals of all kinds suddenly begin to lose their powers on a wide scale, Conall Maccon runs off to tend to his old Scottish pack, and suspicious activity begins to follow Alexia around, she is naturally up to the task.

This sequel considerably broadens Carriger’s world in several directions, by introducing the rest of Conall’s werewolf pack, delving into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the Alpha’s move to London, taking readers to Scotland, and uncovering more details about this world’s intriguing rules and wherefores. The new characters are introduced and expanded without taking away from the original characters’ growth, the numerous mysteries facing Alexia keep the plot steaming along full-speed ahead, and this heroine performs her antics with such aplomb that I didn’t mind that some questions don’t get wrapped up until later books. Amazingly, the clothing details of bizarre hats and edgy attire attain even greater heights of distinction in this work.

In short, this is the vindicated and indomitable Alexia Maccon as everyone loves to see her, and the plot has enough going on to keep her busy and readers highly entertained. However, unlike Soulless, this book ends on an abrupt note that requires swift continuation into Blameless, so have it at the ready.

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