Top Ten Best Books to Read Round Halloween!

Top 10 Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish-top 10 books to read for Halloween! (For those of us who aren’t into horror!)

 

1. Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

-Mysterious sightings of a woman in green believed to be the queen of the fairies, creepy goings-on round the keep…and minstrel songs of fey folk sacrificing Tam Lin on Hallow’s Eve.  “But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, if ye will,
For well I think ye may.”

 

2. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

-I once described this book as the modern negative (in terms of what’s dark is light and vice versa) of Jane Eyre, and I still think it’s an apt description.

 

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

-Demons named the Archbishop of Canterbury and other titles!  The Dance of the Macabre!  Magical ghosts!  What more do you want?

 

4. Little Witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet  (Minikin Snickasnee really should have been in my list of favorite names!)

-It’s not easy being a wicked witch’s daughter.  It’s also not so easy dealing with the host of magical creatures on call through her magical powders…or going to school.

little witch3

 

5. The Magic Thief by Sarah Prinneas (Crows!)

-This breaks from the exact Halloween tradition a bit, but crows!  And magic!  And mystery!

 

6. Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

-Having to dress up like the dark lord or a wizardly guide can be irritating.  Having to do it for different groups all tourist season can be murder!

Darklordofderkholmcover

 

7. Chronicles of Chrestomanci v. 2: Witch Week and Witches of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones

-Witches, witches everywhere, with everyday horrors rubbing shoulders with magical happenings, flying statues, and of course-cats who run the household.

 

8. Hexes, Inc. by Vivian Vande Velde

-A collection of stories all about people who try ordering hexes from the company.  Naturally, everything ends well…*scoff*

 

9. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard

-Death and murder everywhere converge in two confused, comical performers.

 

10. I don’t care if it’s cheating-http://shoebox.lomara.org/ by ladyjaida and Rave.

-Wizarding ghost stories, Dumbledore pranks, and Marauders, oh my!

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Similar Posts:

https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/top-ten-literary-character-names/

-https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/top-ten-favorite-secondary-characters/

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Arrested Development 4×7, “Colony Collapse”

Attested Development: Can’t Getaway from the SPOILERS.

 

This is the return of Gob, resurrecting his life from the consummation of his relationship with Ann, and removing all doubts that he’s been filled with holes (in his memory), died (to his entourage), and come back to his father.  Will Arnett sells everything he does brilliantly.  The only problem is that sometimes no one told him when to stop selling-like with stammering shticks and the reel about forget-me-nows.  Properly edited, this episode would have been perfect.  As it is, it’s a bit long, but still plants it right on the Ann.  Gob’s wedding ends even worse than his previous magicapades, his entourage stint is actually believable, and Gob’s total mental lock on every relationship he thinks he’s in means that it matters a looot less whether he actually has good characters to interact with or not-he’s got relationship dynamics all by himself.  On top of which, he now has a magic-related quest: That’s a clear-cut situation with the promise of comedy.  Whereas most of the other characters are dealing with more difficult situations without easy answers.

 

OTHER THOUGHTS:

1. Gob does have a knack for finding girlfriends who can get him on TV shows, doesn’t he?

2. MICE-alaneous is actually a charming name, and it is reassuringly consistent that all of Gob’s magic animals share the same fate.  Who wants to bet the mice get eaten by a seal in a yellow bowtie?

3. I love the giant HER?

4. This is the second marriage Gob’s had without anyone paying attention.

5. Who do we suppose really sabotaged Gob’s magic trick?

 

Winterling by Sarah Prineas review

Winterling

By: Sarah Prineas

(http://sarah-prineas.com/)

Harper 2012

A middle-grade fantasy review

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Fer’s grown up surrounded by the magic of a home filled with herbs, honey, and healing, but she doesn’t quite seem to fit.  Then she rescues a boy with yellow eyes from a land filled with the magic of nature, wildness, and secrets.  Suddenly, Fer has reason to believe she can belong somewhere.  Maybe she can learn more about who she is and what happened to her parents in the other land, a place where magic rules and all oaths bind.  The Way is open.

Prineas’s writing envelopes you, enfolding into this world where familiar stories draw close and breathe warm.  The magical world of Winterling doesn’t need to pull you anywhere, it visits your home with a smile and warm pastry.  Fer, the young girl out discovering, leads the story in a gentle, natural way.  It’s wonderfully easy to absorb her reactions and relax into her thoughts because they aren’t just a heroine’s thoughts, but the organic musings of a misfit girl.  Moreover, the book does not devolve into a battle between the good and bad sides of its heroine; Fer’s character grows, but is always whole and open to the reader.  This harmony between the adventure and its discoverer makes Winterling an easy, comforting read.  Prineas balances the pace by adding sections from yellow-eyed Rook’s rough point-of-view.  This sinks the reader more firmly into the world and builds suspense, ensuring that this is a cup of tea that keeps you awake and eager, rather than lulling into sleep.

Winterling is a scrumptious snack of fairytale images, an independent heroine, and crystal-bright writing.  It’s a perfect tale for reading at the ending of winter and the coming of spring.

Once Upon a Time 2×11 and 2×12

SPOILERS AHEAD

2×11 “The Outsider”

1. If Hook had any intelligence at all, he would have realized Belle was important to Rumpelstiltskin after Regina stopped him killing her in Fairy Tale Land.  This could well be the case, but I’m trying to give this character the best chance I can, so let’s say he can put two and two together.  Ergo, he found out about the shawl from Archie, not Belle.  In that case: how does Archie know?  We never see Mr. Gold going to counseling.  Once Hook has it, why doesn’t he burn it or tear it or something?  Much more sure than just luring him after it.  Is his whole plan just to lure Gold there so he can alienate his girl by killing him?  That seems more calculated than Hook is capable of, and also not particularly satisfying to Hook as he wouldn’t get to see Rumpelstiltskin being in pain.  This whole thing with the shawl is just strange when he stashed it somewhere but didn’t do anything to harm it.

2. Why is there not something somewhere to indicate that Hook had to learn what cars are?  My first thought at the end was, “Of course Hook gets it-he doesn’t know about cars.”  Yet clearly he followed Gold and Belle in their car.  It still makes sense he’d be less aware of the car sounds that mean danger and thus get hit, but the point is: Hook should be in a totally foreign land and we’ve seen him being nothing but totally self-assured.  I have a problem with this.

3. Belle escapes from Hook by going into….the elevator.  Granted, the mechanisms in that building look whackadoo, but are we really supposed to believe a pirate can’t turn the knobs and figure it out?  He did just see her do it, after all.  The most obvious answer is that we find out Hook just wanted a diversion, not to get to Belle, but still-how did Belle and Gold fall for that?

4. Speaking of Hook’s strange behavior at the library, why in the hell would he need a random rope knot there?  Did he just drop it as a clue?  I mean, really.

5. Most importantly, as I’ve been saying since season one: RUMPLESTILTSKIN, OF ALL PEOPLE, SHOULD HAVE ALL KINDS OF SECURITY ON HIS SHOP.  I do not understand this lack of security-he knows he’s got a lot of people’s valuable things, he knows the people have now remembered the things they want, he knows he has enemies, he has magic, HOW DOES HE NOT PUT MAGICAL SECURITY ON HIS GODDAMN SHOP?  This will never stop vexing me.

6. Why didn’t Philip write in other languages, too?  He’s a prince, he probably learned more than one.  The language of the realm you’re in is an excellent place to start, but if that doesn’t work, why not try others?

7. The ending was wonderful and did manage to save this overall sloppy and vexing episode.  Let’s face it-that ending was awesome.

2×12, “In the Name of the Brother”

1. The dilemma of whether or not to let stranger die makes no sense.  In their very first look at the cell phone, they say that if people don’t hear from him they’ll come looking.  If they let the guy die then not only will people come to Storybrooke, they’ll come already armed with lawyers, coroners, and police.  This is far from the solution to everyone’s problems.  Make sense, please.

2. You’d think with Emma’s experience with the law she’d be better at playing sheriff.

3. Rumplestiltskin is doing everything I expect him to do.  Trying to cure her with true love’s kiss, check.  Trying to convince her even when he shouldn’t, check.  Managing to make the cup a talisman raises questions as last episode he claimed he didn’t have enough potion to enchant anything after the shawl and therefore she couldn’t come.  The shawl’s been enchanted and hey, presto-he’s made some more.  Clearly, he just didn’t really want Belle to come along or else didn’t care enough about it before to wait, or else he could’ve just stayed the extra, what-day?  And made Belle her talisman before.  This is a fly in the ambrosia of their love story. (In my head the real answer is that he feels it’d be unfair to her and that it will go better if he shows up alone instead of with a for all intents and purposes stepmother, but still.  Don’t lie about it, just say that.)

4. Belle’s behavior does not sit well with me.  If she doesn’t remember Gold at all, than she must only remember the asylum.  If she only remembers the asylum, how the hell would she know if castles and magic are crazy or not?  She shouldn’t.  Someone telling her she was someplace she couldn’t remember would still be freaky, particularly with a gunshot wound and no memory of how she came to be in that circumstance, but she shouldn’t be sitting there telling him magical things are crazy.  Get away from her-yes, magic isn’t real-no.  Moreover, we saw her being rescued by a genuinely crazy and creepy-talking man: Jefferson.  She was far from freaked out at him.  Thus, even Belle’s awareness of creepy guys should not be this high.  Again, some yes, with the gunshot wound and outside of the place she remembers.  But they had her talking like someone with memories of a normal Maine life, and she. is. not.  (By the way, this is not to be construed as me being angry at her for putting Gold off or breaking the cup, because even without specifically knowing magic is bad and having lowered creep awareness, that could well have happened.  I am upset at the writers for making Belle’s behavior inconsistent with their own story.)

5. Again, Ruby rocks, saves the day, and should always be in charge.

6. Why is no one concerned with Dr. Whale operating when he’s drunk?  This just doesn’t seem to be a thing?

7.  I do admire Cora.  Wish there’d been more explanation of the globe, however.  Also, it does not vex me that she managed to get into Rumple’s, hopefully at least by now, MAGICALLY SECURED shop.  She’s the Queen of Hearts.

8. It makes total sense to me that Gold wants Emma with him.  This is no longer going to be the long-as-it-takes, reunion with his son that he planned.  Gold wants to get back to Belle as soon as possible, making this a fetching trip.  Gold no longer has time to accustom himself to the outside world, it’ll go faster with someone who knows it.  Moreover, he doesn’t know if Bae will want to see him, let alone want to come back to Storybrooke with him, and having someone along with him will help Gold control his urges and get his son to come back without alienating him too much.  Or at least, the chances would be better in Gold’s head.  Moreover, Emma reunited with her son after years apart and therefore should have more sympathy for him and his quest than the others.

All in all, a much better episode.  I am excited to see what comes next!

Once Upon a Time 2×8 ‘Into the Deep’

Well, the season seems to have hit its stride now.

 

Spoilery Notes:

 

1. The rules for these hearts are getting way too complicated, now.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if it’s that simple to turn heartless corpses into zombies, when Regina was royally pissed off and grasping at anything that might spoil Snow and Charming’s lives, perhaps she might have tried her veritable army of heart zombies before destroying her homeland, facing a huge life transition, and killing the person she loved most??  I suppose this might be a a stolen-heart option that Regina didn’t learn.  Still, this bothers me.  Plus, now there’s the puppeteer version of stolen-heart usage.  This puts a new light on Regina’s dealings with Graham when she took him as her sex slave.  Perhaps puppetry only extends to talking and you can’t use it to enforce actions?  Or perhaps this is a way in which Regina is less monstrous than Cora-she simply tells Graham how much power she has over him, but still gives him the freedom of choice about whether to abide by her rules or face the consequences?  Or maybe Regina didn’t know that, either?  In which case, either she was still a lousy student in her power black leather or Rumplestiltskin had majorly changed his curriculum.  Also, so are hearts two-way listening devices?  In order for it to be useful Cora needed to know when Aurora found the others and what she was being asked.  However, we didn’t hear any voices coming through the heart, and also that seems like a bigger magical leap.  Hearts contain life-yes, therefore they can reanimate bodies-fine, people can “speak from the heart”-bit of a semantic-heavy stretch but it does work from the basic full-body control and centralized power of the heart, so alright…I suppose you can also “listen with your heart,” but that’s only got semantics and no other power, tradition, or biological support.  It’s hard to buy, and the show did nothing to try and sell this two-way puppetry power.  Also, it begs the question-if you could just do that than why bother to kill Lancelot and support being in two places?  Surely it’d be simpler to just hang out with his heart and puppet him.  Perhaps she tried to just take his heart, but he was such a good fighter she had to actually kill him?  With so many heart possibilities around, I just don’t understand why these uses do not seem to have come into play before now.  It makes the villains either slow, boring, or unbelievable.  Think things through, show, we do have a complicated backstory to line information up with.

 

2. They seem to be making Cora more like the classic Maleficent all the time: the close crow pet, those heart-zombies did rather resemble the dust-colored minions in “Sleeping Beauty”, she shape-shifts…Plus, this episode was filled with other “Sleeping Beauty” references.  This interests me.  I prefer Cora as the show’s version of Maleficent than the Maleficent from last season in human form.

 

3. There should be more exploration of Belle and Real World things.  They are fun.  Also, they make condiments magical.

 

4. Rumplestiltskin, you had best compose a policy on what level of incident requires you to break a date.  Otherwise I foresee you  never being able to order Belle dessert.  And if condiments are magical, she will be blown away by things involving candy or smothered in chocolate.

 

5. Please, show writers, please let that squid ink be related to Ursula from “The Little Mermaid.”  That is the way to make things awesome.

 

6. This necklace does not seem to be all that Gold promised it would be.  What’s up with that?  Also, David, when you say you’ll guard something with your life, I expect you not to just leave it lying on the floor YOU ARE TRYING TO SMASH.  Plain luck that it landed close enough to you to find again after you got through, and that was your first gift from your grandson, even if it’s not turning out to be all that useful!  I would say thank goodness he’s asleep now and can’t run around making me more irritated at him, except I’m quite sure the show will still manage to work him into all the episodes.  At least he’ll be cut off from having what I consider dis-satisfactory relations with Henry or inadequately running the town.  Just because George is a destructive douche does not make him wrong.  Maybe now everyone will listen to Ruby, as they should.

 

7. I would also like to say “thank goodness the show finally took a stand on Hook’s personality,” but I  foresee them still trying to swing him back into the light before everything’s done.  Personally, the times when I’ve liked him best is when he’s been Cora’s pretty boytoy.  He’s good at that and it keeps his douche-swaggery in check.  Plus, there’s more looking at him and actually hearing sense since Cora does most of the talking.  It’s a good deal.  I can even give up all ideas of Captain Jack Sparrow references if Hook can just stay in his place and stop trying to fill all the male roles the show wants going on at once, even though they are contradictory: anguished lover who lost, cocky player, rebel boy, junior villain, bad boy who needs saving, boy with a crush….get over it, guys-he can’t pull all that off.  Too many roles for only one actual part.

 

8. The original room David found himself Sleep Cursed to is reminiscent of the Phantom of the Opera’s torture chamber.  It would be an interesting twist if the reason the Phantom looks so different and needs to wear a mask is because he never found out how to get out of the burning room, so his flesh is constantly awful, and it was PTSD trauma from sleeping for so long that made him want to create things like his torture chamber.  Can we get that cross-over in here?

 

9. If Cora was such a monster and had such an army of hearts from killing people, why does no one else seem to know about her?  Did she only kill orphans with no friends?

 

 

 

Once Upon a Time “The Crocodile”

Otherwise known as “Women Will Leave You.”

 

SPOILERS:

 

1.What on earth are the information channels around here?  How the hell does Hook know about Neverland? Did he hang out with Jefferson a lot?  Are there like owls that go between the worlds as well as around Hogwarts?  Did Hook come from there and is an ex-Peter Pan type and that’ll be the crux of the war between him and whoever Peter Pan is?  How does he contact Cora in probable-Wonderland or FTL?  How is this working?

 

2. Also, how do these magic beans work, exactly?  There’s no incantation or anything-are they psychic?  Hook thought ‘Neverland’ whereas Bae thought ‘land without magic’, so that’s where they wound up?  Cause in that case it’s no wonder they’re so rare, they have to be bred for telepathy AND world-traveling.  There must be a better system.

 

3. Smee looks exactly like himself.  Kudos for that.

 

4. So, Belle apparently knows Grumpy, who worked in mines or hid in cabins in the woods all his life, but she doesn’t appear to know anyone else from FTL who’s not Rumple or her dad?  How the hell would she know any dwarves????  *logic fail*

 

5. We have yet more evidence that the leader really worth the salt is Ruby.  Always listen to Ruby!

 

6. If your find spell only works on things that belonged to other people, then you probably should’ve given Belle a present, dude.  I would expect you to have covered your bases in this matter.

 

7. Surely with all the panic someone should’ve thought of guarding the mine shafts that go out of town, too?  That sounds right up Grumpy’s street, and he is after all the guy who began working on this problem.  It’s unbelievable he of all people wouldn’t have caught the passages in the MINE.  If Ruby was in charge I bet she would’ve thought of that.  Speaking of which, I didn’t notice anyone setting up any guards about that STILL after what happened in this episode.  Charming, you’re still failing.

 

8. This episode is the epitome of what I’ve long thought is this show’s main problem: they’re trying to write a lot of strong female characters without being sure about what that actually means.  Take Belle-she’s supposed to be strong in her emotional capabilities and her courage for loving a monster.  This started well last season, but this episode it fell apart.  Why?  Because they thought her just walking out on him would be the stronger move, even though the speech they had her deliver was more of a warning and should’ve just been the precursor for her venturing forth to think and give him space to reflect on her ultimatum.  From that point the episode could’ve gone the same, but no-her just leaving seemed like the ‘strong female’ thing to the writers, so they made that illogical decision.  Then every word she spoke to her dad made her sound like a teenager because they thought her insisting on her rights and independence without explaining anything would make a stronger statement than just telling him things.  Then after the mine ride, she had the weakest lines ever.  Now, it does totally make sense to me that at this point Belle is just done and needs everyone to back off.  After all, she didn’t sleep well, she faced the fact she might have to leave her love for the second time, she began to realize how much she’d missed out on by being shut out of the real world, she got kidnapped, she reunited with a dad who TRIED TO DESTROY HER MIND.  Being saved by the guy she’s thinkign of leaving would only be more confusing, and in any case half of that would be enough to say Just Get Away Everyone.  That lesser statement giving her time to think would have been totally logical and made her new dating thing with Rumple less wishy-washy.  But the writers thought that for Belle to be strong she had to make a “never see again” statement instead, because their ‘strong’=’shows total conviction in what she’s doing even if it’s wrong’, so they made her make less sense and ultimately seem weaker.  I could go on about how similar misunderstandings of  how to write strong female characters have plagued the other women in this show, but let’s just leave it at this most enormous mess, shall we?

 

9. I’m pretty sure Hook’s name is James.

 

10. I’m pretty sure Belle should’ve showed some kind of horror/shock/SOMETHING in response to Rumple admitting he was behind the fucking curse, not really Regina.  Is the show just assuming this is common knowledge to characters just cause we know it?  Cause it’s not.  And I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t react like that, even Belle.  Man, does that girl have a rotten life.  With that dad at home, betrothed to guy she didn’t like, prisoner of Rumple’s is still a prisoner and slave even if she did fall for him, in a mental institution, let out with no knowledge of the world or the food that is here…..where the hell is Archie Jiminy Cricket???  If anyone needs him, it’s her.

In more palatable news (…sortof)

the ragbag – how to make cockle bread -or- for wunderpantry:….

Apparently England used to host a specialty baked good called “cockle bread.”  It involved women kneading/shaping bread dough to their nether regions and then presenting the baked loaf to their preferred man.

“cockle bread was a popular stuart-era baked good said to excite the passions of men. young women would make it for the objects of their affection by sitting on raw dough with their naked derriere, kneading it with their privy parts by madly wriggling around and singing the cockle bread song:

my dame is sick and gonne to bed
and i’ll go mould my cockle bread
up with my heels and down with my head
and this is the way to mould cockle bread”

-Apparently garnered from brand’s popular antiques (1905).

I went looking into this and found an alternative shaping method in Lisa Splittgerber :: Aphrodisiacs in the Libro de buen amor: Serranas’ Sexy Secrets:

“…the tradition of cockle bread which was described as:

. . . a small piece of dough which the girl would knead and then press against the vulva. The dough, moulded to this shape, was then baked in the normal way and the loaf presented to the man she sought to attract. If he ate it, he would fall beneath her spell and be powerless to resist. Similar types of charms have been used throughout Europe and indeed may still be used in primitive country regions (Taberner 46-47).”

Wikipedia says:

John Aubrey wrote of it: Young wenches have a wanton sport which they call ‘moulding of cocklebread’ – they get upon a table-board, and then gather up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can then they wabble to and fro with their buttocks as if they were kneading of dough with their arses, and say these words: ‘My dame is sick and gone to bed/ And I’ll go mould my cocklebread’. I did imagine nothing to have been in this but mere wantonness of youth … but I find in Buchardus’s book Methodus Confitendi … one of the articles of interrogating a young woman is, if she did ever subjugere panem clunibus, and then bake it, and give it to the one she loved to eat … So here I find it to be a relic of natural magic, an unlawful philtrum [i.e. aphrodisiac or love charm]. [from A. McLaren, Reproductive Rituals (1984), p. 37].

Nursery rhyme

In the 19th and 20th centuries, Cockle-Bread was a children’s game in which one squats on his/her haunches with hands clasped beneath the thighs, while others grasp his/her arms and swing him/her to and fro. This action was often accompanied by a rhyme:

My granny is sick and now is dead
And we’ll go mould some cocklety bread
Up with the heels and down with the head
And that’s the way to make cocklety bread.”
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Forget bread and circuses!  Give me bread, sex, magic, and rhymes-it’s a much more rounded survival plan.    Also, as entertaining!  If the arenas hosted competition in these arts…actually, that picture’s not really that different from how ancient Roman life is often depicted now.  Still, the point is made. 

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