Bibliomancy for Beginners Winter Session: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Can you believe it? TWO Bibliomancy videos over this break? We can’t believe it either! That’s why, for this episode, you get our two best Bibliomancers! (Actually this is also because Taylor is in Scotland but you know. Michaela and I are still the best.)

For this episode we read American Gods by Neil Gaiman which was a slog, let me tell you. We’ll make it interesting though, we promise! We always do.

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Bibliomancy for Beginners: “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Welcome to tonight’s belated episode of Bibliomancy for Beginners! Tonight we have Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett on tap. This is definitely going to be a good one, so don’t miss out!

Good OmensAccording to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

Top Ten Books That Will Make You (Or At Least Me) Cry

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So, it’s actually really hard for books to make me cry.  And honestly, often I don’t read the kind of book that does.  I have to be in a very specific mood to intentionally put myself in the way of a thing that will make me THAT miserable.  So this is a very specific list of books that have made ME cry, instead of the more general ‘you’ mentioned in the meme.

1.  Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein: seriously, how do you NOT cry when reading this book?  Verity is so beautiful and so brave and Maddie is so stubborn and courageous and FRIENDSHIP and TRAGEDY and EVERYTHING IS HARD OKAY.

2.  Rose Under Fire, also by Elizabeth Wein: in case Code Name Verity didn’t make me cry hard enough, the exact same author turned around and came out with a book that was even harder to read.

3.  The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver: one of these days I’m going to get around to talking about why this is NOT the middle-aged mom book that everyone thinks it is, and why it was perfect for my fifteen-year-old angst-ridden self, and why I love it so dearly.  But in the meantime, know that her descriptions of grief and mourning, especially the numb few days after a death, are spot-on, and made me cry.

4.  Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson: this book broke my heart the first time I read it and I ended up crying in the backseat on the way home from the bookstore.  (The bookstore was an hour away, I had a while to read it.)  Then I read it again, a few years later, when I’d been much closer to similarly horrible events, and my heart broke all over again.

5.  Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes: did they make you read this one in school?  Apparently they do that, but I read it on my own.  Fun fact: losing my mental facilities is one of the deepest, most poignant fears I have.  Yeah.

6.  Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater: okay, this one’s not quite fair, but I don’t read a lot of books that make me cry!  I read it after a breakup and the genuine sweetness of the romance in this book was beautiful and hopeful and incredibly hard to take.

7.  Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater: this one IS fair.  There is a scene in this book in which Grace is sick–maybe dying–and her parents, because they don’t like or trust her boyfriend, won’t let him see her.  Hospitals have a deep sort of horror for me–I’ve spent too much time in them, not as a patient but as a loved one–and the fear of not being able to be close to someone I love when they’re dying, to lose out on what could be their last moments, is something I absolutely would have had to face, if my parents hadn’t been so understanding about my desire to stay close.  Other people’s parents made it abundantly clear to me that they wouldn’t have let me stay, and that terrified and saddened me.  The utter powerlessness of a hospital is incredibly hard to take.

So yeah that scene made me cry.

8.  Last Night I Sang To The Monster, by Benjamin Alire Saenz: wow, it’s been forever since I’ve read this book.  I don’t know if it’s as good, or as sad, as I remember it being.  But it’s another book that had me crying on the way home from the bookstore.

9.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman: this one made me cry IN THE FIRST FREAKING CHAPTER.  SERIOUSLY THE THING WAS NOT OKAY.  …beautiful amazing book, though, please read it?

10.  The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery: I reread this recently, after my boyfriend, who gets very literary when he’s tired, read some pieces of it to me in French.   I originally read it when I was extremely little, and although I didn’t remember much of it, the feeling of it stayed with me.

I have no idea why it made me cry, but it did.  Maybe it’s the clash of childhood and adulthood, maybe it’s the simple childlike sadness.  I know the themes of regret really do me in–and I know it wouldn’t hit me so hard if it didn’t carry associations from my very, very early days of reading, when I was too little to have a barrier between my feelings and the page.  But it’s as beautiful as I remember it being, more like a poem, really, than a story.

Five Cool Short Stories You Can Read Online

I don’t think short stories get enough love.  Novels will always have my devotion because I love being immersed, but sometimes short stories can do things that novels can’t.  They can do more in less time, and leave you with incredibly strong impressions because there’s often only one big thing per story.  Instead of following a whole sprawling plot, you are entirely absorbed by that one big thing.  Good novels leave you with contentedness or complicated feelings; short stories leave you feeling like you just had a really, really vivid dream, or maybe got punched in the gut.

So because short stories don’t get enough love, and because the novel I’m reading right now is a beta-read and therefore not up for review, I thought I’d post a few short stories I like that can be read online, and why I like them, and then invite everybody to share their favorites, or their thoughts on the ones I posted.

Giantkiller, by Brenna Yovanoff: YA authors Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton, and Maggie Stiefvater used to run this short story blog.  There are years worth of stories up there, especially if you go into the Livejournal archives.  This one is one of the last ones posted, and…I have an unreasonable amount of love for it.  It starts out as a story about a couple of dysfunctional brothers, and then rapidly devolves into something weird and alien and scary.  And even then it’s about the choices, not the monsters.

Oh, and there are predatory groupies.

How To Talk To Girls At Partiesby Neil Gaiman: I don’t know if this counts as YA.  It’s kind of hard to pin this guy down to a genre sometimes.  In a nutshell: a couple of awkward boys go to a party to meet girls.  It is definitely, definitely not the party they were looking for.

My reasons for liking this one are pretty simple: it’s kind of surreal, and the main character is so charmingly clueless as he tries to make normal conversations with abnormal people, and nobody is apologetic about how weird they are.  Also, I kind of like seeing people find out that they’re in over their heads.

Blood Like Apples, by Tessa Gratton: another story from the Merry Fates blog!  If you like new twists on old mythology, you’ll like this one.  If you read The Lost Sun and liked it, here’s a familiar character for you, but it stands alone beautifully.  Fenris Wolf talks about why she has not swallowed the sun and ended the world yet.  There is kissing.

The Rapid Advance of Sorrow, by Theodora Goss: this story may be one of my favorite things I’ve read all year. It’s the most literary thing on this list, but it’s also definitely fantasy, in a strange, metaphorical, nightmarish way.  There’s an invasion, but not the kind with tanks.  There’s magic, but not the kind that can be explained.  There’s a lot of snow, and sad people.  It’s gorgeous.

What Used To Be Good Still Is, by Emma Bull: I read this one in the Firebirds Rising anthology, and I adored it, and I still adore it.  It’s about a mountain being dug up for mining, and a girl who can feel what’s wrong with the mountain.  It’s wistful, and sweet, and kind of beautiful.  I can’t say what else I like about it due to spoilers, but it’s really awesome.

So what are your favorite short stories?  If you decided to read one or two or all of these, what did you think?

TOP TEN MOST MEMORABLE SECONDARY CHARACTERS

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

I tried to remind myself that ‘memorable’ does not always mean ‘awesome’, but this came out mostly good guys anyway, with the exception of Kossil and the technical boy.  Do the bad guys not get fleshed-out secondary characters?  Or am I just low on imagination right now?  (Also, hi everybody!  First Real Marina Post is apparently a Top Ten post!  Welcome to my literary tastes!)  Anyway, in no particular order…

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The Magic of Books

So I am going to do something really crazy right now and blog about my life. yes, it relates to books and my relationship with them, but not in the cut-and-dry or fangirl way I usually do. So you’ve been warned.

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