Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

BOOKISH BEASTS: More and More Beasts!


Welcome to a quick addition to our BOOKISH BEASTS feature from January!  We have one last guest for you on this first day of February because we knew that you just could not get enough of our literary creatures.  Please take a few minutes to welcome Booktuber, Johannah.  She going to talk about beasts in general, and there is lots of them to mention. Enjoy! 

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Beasts have been roaming around here for centuries. Tigers, Lions and Bears Oh my! But even more so in literature.

I’m going to be listing some books and referencing some of the beasts mentioned in the books here. I like lists, it’s easy to get my thoughts down that way and it reads less like a silly term paper from college. I’m also including some of my favorite books in this!

1. Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown:
I loved how She shaped Sirens to be evil mermaids to lure men down to the deep blue ocean. Granted in her story I think it was a guy. Now, that dates back to Mythology and how Sirens would use their beautiful voices to sing sailors to their watery grave. When I was in the Navy and we were out to sea for long periods of time - I’d joke and tell them I saw a Siren in the water and to not fall over board.

2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling:
Ron is terrified of spiders - An Acromantula or Aragog is a giant spider in the dark forest who’s actually blind and owned by Hagrid. The Acromantula is from the rainforests in southeast Asia and a wizard-bred species created to guard dwellings or treasures. Technically speaking - a spider isn’t a beast but one of this size I think we can say it is.

3. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin:
You’re probably thinking that book doesn’t have any beasts in it - Oh but it does. The beast is in your own head. What if your family and friends think you're going crazy because according to them it is ALL in your head. But to Mara Dyer - it isn’t ALL in her head. This book will have you second guessing if she is or isn’t crazy that is for sure!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer:
This has a couple ‘beasts’ in it - the deadly plague that threatens to wipe out the population as everyone tries to scramble for a cure before it takes everyone. And last but not least Cinders evil step mother and sister. It’s a different type of retelling of Cinderella that I LOVED SO much more than the Disney version.

5. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
This beast is a nasty one if you're not careful with what you're thinking - like literally - Everyone in this town can hear everyone else’s thoughts and that can be very dangerous.

Last but not least!

6. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamliton, Steele Savage:
This book I didn’t actually physically read - my 7th grade teacher read the greek mythology parts to us and had us draw out some of the people or creatures in it like King Midas's touch turned anything into Gold - hey that’s what he wished for and that’s what he got! Dummy - you can’t eat gold. Or Hades the god of the underworld - I remember drawing him on a throne surrounded by the dead and a sign that said once you enter you can not leave.

These are just a few of the books with evil beasts in them - some are actual ones and some are ones you create yourself or ones that just happen to be beasts of another nature altogether. Writing this has made me realize I need to read more fantasy books and maybe I’d come across more. HA HA!!!

Friday, January 29, 2016

BOOKISH BEASTS: The Wrap-Up


What a month of BOOKISH BEASTS & LITERARY CREATURES!!  

We have had so many amazing guests share their favorite BOOKISH BEASTS this month.  In case you may have missed something, let's take a quick peek at the full list again.


A huge thank you goes out to all our guests who contributed this month, as well as to all our fans that stopped by to read and comment.  Be sure to stay tuned for another great month here at Book Bloggers International.  We are changing gears with some steamy romance reads, but we are still expecting lots of great conversations from book bloggers and book lovers around the world!

Before we close out for the month of BOOKISH BEASTS, chime in with your personal favorite beast or literary creature in the comment sections below!  We want to know!!

Monday, January 25, 2016

BOOKISH BEASTS: Hobbits


We are heading into magical lands today with Paige of The Book Carousel.  The topic can be debated as to whether it falls into BOOKISH BEASTS, but it definitely fits into LITERARY CREATURES ... Hobbits!

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As a real life Hobbit, I find a strange connection between myself and those within J.R.R Tolkien’s much loved fantasy series. You’re probably wondering; “But, Paige- what on earth makes you a Hobbit?” I’ll make a list of the parallels between, shall I?

For starters, Hobbits are small creatures. Even the tallest Hobbits ‘rarely exceeded 4 feet in height.’ [1] Well, guess what: I’m barely 5ft. In fact, I’m 5ft and half an inch. I’m not even 5”1. How ludicrous is that.

Second of all, Hobbits are known for their love of mushrooms. Frodo himself was regularly chased out of farmer Maggot’s field for trying to nick his fungi. Farmer Maggot definitely was not a fun guy. Mushrooms are essentially my favourite food. Fried, raw, stuffed; you name it, I’ll eat it, and love it. I don’t even know why, there’s just something delicious about them- most of the time, I even pick my own mushrooms from our field. (Don’t worry, I’m always careful).

I could probably eat 6 [2] meals a day. (There’s no ‘probably’ about it, let’s be honest).

Now this next one might seem rather gross: but I hate wearing socks. I will only do so if it is absolutely necessary – like, if it’s freezing, or if I’m putting trainers or horse boots on.  Therefore, it isn’t hard to imagine that my feet are quite rough; and, no doubt, so are hobbits. They don’t even have shoes to wear.

[3]

Last of all, I like to imagine (as do most people, I assume) that I will live a long life. I’d like to reach a ripe old age, and since Hobbits live longer than men- well, maybe I’ll live long enough to receive a letter from the King/Queen!

So, yes, the creator and owner of The Book Carousel is a real life hobbit. Take from that what you will. But enough about me; it’s time to talk about the Hobbits.

I’ve already pointed out their small stature. Their range is 2 to 4 feet, with the average height being 3”5. For scale, think of your little brother or sister or cousin or a friend’s sibling. It’s quite little, isn’t it?

 [4]

Look at old Bilbo, exceeding the average!

They live an unadventurous life- it was such a scandal when both Bilbo and Frodo left the Shire. That’s another reason for as to why they don’t wear shoes; besides their thick, durable skin, the Shire has soft ground, and being an unadventurous species, they rarely left the Shire.

Hobbits come in 3 types: Fallohides, Stoors and Harfoots. Each sub-species (I don’t think the term ‘breed’ is applicable here), has its own prominent characteristics.

Fallohides
-          Originate from the forest and the woodlands.
-          The tallest kind, with fairer skin and hair.
-          Skilled in hunting and language
-          It was two Fallohides who begun the expedition to the shire; hence, it can be assumed that the Bagginses are descendants of this kind.

Stoors
-          Broad and heavy
-          Crossed the Misty Mountains to find their home
-          Many moved to the Shire in the Third Age

Harfoots
-          The most common kind
-          Smaller than Fallohides, with darker skin. It is most likely that Sam is a Harfoot.
-          Far less adventurous than their brethren
-          Preferred Hobbit holes to be in mountain sides

Speaking of Hobbit holes- the portrayal of their architecture in Jackson’s films is breath taking. The Shire replica in New Zealand is a place that is on my bucket list- and it should be on yours!

Tolkien claims to be the inventor of the word ‘Hobbit’, as he expressed that “‘on a blank leaf I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why.’” This is debated, for there is no official record; but this is not something that I find myself inclined to discuss. (Partly because I have absolutely no idea where I would begin research into the matter).

Tolkien has, arguably, created the most magnificent and well known fantasy series to date. Other publications with as much reverence as his could only be either Harry Potter, by J.K Rowling, and A Game of Thrones, by George R.R Martin.

So, if The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are not books you have as of yet read, I implore you to! Tolkien takes you on a magical and mythical journey, one that is full of fleshed out races like the Hobbits.

Thank you so much for reading, and also a thank you to Book Bloggers International for allowing me to write!

Sources

2 – In the movie adaptation, 7 meals are listed; however, the actual quote is ‘…being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).’
4 – I cannot find the original ‘Weta’ version of this, so unfortunately I can only provide this link to a Tumblr post: http://nobodysuspectsthebutterfly.tumblr.com/post/70953470349/onionjulius-theheirsofdurin-tall-for-a
5 - The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, No 163, to W.H. Auden, dated 1955

Friday, January 22, 2016

BOOKISH BEASTS: Aliens


We have covered a wide array of beasts so far this month, but today Julianne of Outlandish Lit is bringing us another literary creature that we can't seem to live without these days . . . aliens!  Read on for a little something out of this world!


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Aliens. There's so much to love about them. Why? Because we know literally nothing about them. Sure, there are some archetypes: short grays, tall grays, reptilians, alpha-draconians (and they are all fighting to control the earth and enslave the human race right now. WAKE UP, SHEEPLE). But what's so great about aliens is that they currently exist as an idea. They could be evil, they could be benevolent, they could be new to the galaxy, or they could have been here on earth ~all along~. All we really have is our imaginations to play with the idea of extraterrestrials, which makes them prime material for interesting books. So until we make first contact, here are some of the great, wildly different books about extraterrestrials you should check out that maybe you haven't before. STUDY UP, because they're coming.



SHORT STORIES


The short story "Out of All Them Bright Stars" by Nancy Kress is a phenomenal example of the root of all alien stories. One way or another, they're a commentary on humanity. What's valuable about it, what needs to change. In this story, the aliens have made first contact and are living amongst humans. In a small vignette, the main character witnesses prejudice against an individual alien in a diner. It's so powerful. Read it online here.





This is one of the kinds of alien stories I just go crazy for. In "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke, a crew of astronauts finds a strange object on the moon surrounded by a forcefield. What's the implication of this object? Where did it come from? And what would happen if they were to break it? The ending thrills AND chills. You can read it here








GRAPHIC NOVELS


Though I haven't been loving all the single issue comics coming after it, Trees, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis is so so solid. The aliens in this comic series are the strong silent type. By that I mean they are enormous tree-like columnar structures that plant themselves down in big cities, destroying a bunch of stuff, and then don't do anything. At all. What is the meaning behind them?? Is there sentience? Who sent them and where are they? This is my kind of extraterrestrial mystery.






And then there are the aliens full of personality. And in the Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan (all 5 volumes out so far are 100% worth reading), the aliens are incredibly human. Two soldiers from warring factions of a space war fall in love and have to deal with the consequences of pursuing that love. And some of the other species they run into are amazing/hilarious/grotesque. If you like aliens AND fun, you must give Saga a read.






FICTION

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor is one of the only real first contact stories on this list, and it's a great one. Something crashes into the sea near Lagos, Nigeria and an alien ambassador begins to communicate with three separate people. She promises them that they want to positively impact humans; that they just need some place to live. But convincing the rest of Nigeria of that is a whole ordeal that tears the city apart. Lagoon is another alien story that that forces us to take a look at our own world. 




Now this is my all-time favorite alien book. If you're looking for really truly original and alien aliens, you have GOT to read this. Embassytown by China MiĆ©ville. Humans live alongside the indigenous species called Ariekei on a planet. I'm not even going to try to describe the Ariekei race to you, it's too bizarre. But this book takes an amazing look at linguistics and the importance of language on this alien planet. And it is so so good.







BONUS


If you're ready for a little bit of ~serious research~ now that you know aliens are alive and well in the universe and on our planet, you should probably read Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken. This is the book that every person interviewed on Ancient Aliens read as a kid. A lot of it is farfetched, but I have to say, the thought that aliens could have shaped our past is super interesting to think about. SHOW ME PROOF THAT THEY DIDN'T. That's what I thought.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

BOOKISH BEASTS: Zombies


I (Tif from Tif Talks Books) am popping in today as both the coordinator of this monthly event, as well as a writer for one of my favorite BOOKISH BEASTS . . . zombies!!  Enjoy!!

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The Undead.

The Walking Dead.

The Unconsecrated.

The Hungries.

Zombies.

I had no idea that stories about zombies could truly become so fascinating and addicting.  I can't even remember which book started it all, but I can tell you that I tend to always enjoy a book about the undead.  Here are just a few of my personal favorites . . .

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman:  For those that are unaware, The Walking Dead began as a comic series and not the fabulous TV show that is so popular these days.  Illustrated completely in black and white, readers follow a small group of individuals that are fighting to survive in a zombie-infested world.  The story line is the same between comic and show, but there are a number of differences between the two as well, which makes this fan happy to keep guessing.

World War Z by Max Brooks:  Yet another story that originated as a book before the movie.  This novel is written from multiple perspectives and reads more like a journal of accounts at the time of the zombie breakout.  The film is much different from the book, and almost dare I say, engaging because of the zombie super speed.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan:  This book is one of the first zombie books that I have ever read, or rather listened to in this case.  It was nothing what I expected from a zombie novel, including the name of the beasts themselves.  I have yet to return to this series, but I hope to in the near future after a quick re-read of the first.

The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant:  The set of three books chronicling the lives of bloggers in a zombie apocalypse still stands as one of my all-time faves.  It follows a brother and sister through some pretty fantastical adventures as they try to find the truth behind the zombies while trying to survive.

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry:  Patient Zero is the first of Maberry's Joe Ledger series, and features zombies as the beasts.  The rest of the series features a multitude of other beasts along the way, but it kicks off with a whirl of undead to get you hooked.

Last, but not least, I am currently in the midst of listening to another zombie novel that has the potential of becoming another all-time favorite . . .

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey:  When I first began reading this novel, I had no idea that zombies would come into play.  But, they do, and it is in such an unique and different way that I quickly fell into the story.  I was saddened when the audio expired on me, but I shouted a quick cheer when I just received a notice that I was able to check it out again this week.  I can't wait to dive back in and find out what happens next.

This list is just the beginning!  What other zombie novels have you hungry for more?

Monday, January 18, 2016

BOOKISH BEASTS: Technology


Today, we are taking a bit different turn in our BOOKISH BEASTS feature.  Please welcome Dinara Tengri who explores technology as a beast.

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Technology is not a traditional monster in literature in movies, but it's one of the most popular. Unlike werewolves and vampires, robots and AI are not living things. They're nothing but wires and circuits. And maybe that's what makes them so frightening. They've been created by us, and yet we cannot fully understand them.

If you look at the lore, most of the books and movies share the same basic ideas. Either the technology is just evil, and wants to destroy/enslave humanity. Or, we have become too dependent on it and run the risk of becoming helpless and obsolete.

The first scenario is perfectly realised in movies like Terminator and Matrix. Both these movies tell the story of our creation becoming smarter than us and turning against us.

The other scenario is illustrated in Isaac Asimov's Robot novels. The robots in Asimov's books are governed by the Three Laws of Robotics and they can't willingly hurt humans. All they want is to serve and to help us. But the humanity runs the risk of turning into helpless babies with robot nursemaids waiting on our every need.

Are there any other reasons we find technology so frightening in science fiction, other than the obvious fear of becoming a slave or a spoiled baby? Take the short story, The Veldt, by Ray Bradbury, for example. Bradbury didn't bad-mouth technology itself, but he often asked the question: what will happen if technology will become such a huge part of our lives that it will be more important to us than our friends and family?

The Veldt is about a family that lives in a "smart" house in a not too distant future, and this house does everything for them, like cooking their dinner and tying their shoelaces. But the crowning achievement of this house is the children's Nursery. It's a room that can transform itself according to your wishes and imagination. If you want to play in Alice's Wonderland, the room will read your telepathic signals and create Wonderland, replicating every sight, sound and smell that you're thinking about. If you want to spend a day in the African Veldt, it will give you the Veldt, complete with the hot blazing sun, and the bloodthirsty lions.

At first, the parents are happy to give their children this Nursery, because the children are a little psychotic and the parents think it will help them to get more Zen. Pretty soon, though, they get a feeling that something's wrong, because the children only want to play in the Veldt. This goes on for weeks, and the parents start to worry that the kids may be stuck in the same pattern. But it's not just that they don't want to change the Nursery from the Veldt to something else, say a green forest. There is something about that Nursery, something about that Veldt that feels wrong. Something that is unsettling and alarming to the parents. The smells are too strong, the "sun" is too hot, and the lions look way too real. They're just 3D projections, but the way they're looking at you from the distance while munching on some carcass, makes you think that they're actually there, in flesh. The parents even arrange for their friendly neighbourhood psychologist to come and take a look at the Nursery. In the meantime, they decide to lock it off, which enrages the children. That same night, the parents hear a scream, somewhere in the house. A scream that sounds a little too familiar.

I won't spoil the rest of the story because it's one of those stories that you must experience for yourself.

The Nursery isn't the real monster in this story. But it is a reflection of the children's innermost desires and dreams. A projection of their imagination. The adults - both the parents and the psychologist feel ill at ease in that room, as if there is something sick in the atmosphere, and it's the reflection of how the children really feel on the inside.

Are the children stuck in a destructive loop? They get more psychotic and isolated in the Nursery because it gives them everything they need, even replacing their parents. And the more psychotic they get, the more real the Veldt becomes. It's like the Nursery feeds on the kids' negativity.

Just like vampires and werewolves, technology is only as scary as we want it to be. And I want it to be really scary. I want it to be a reflection of ourselves. I want the lines between virtual reality and "real" reality blurred. I want the relationship between humans and the machines to be complicated.

Lastly, I really recommend listening to the audio version of The Veldt, narrated by none other than Leonard Nimoy. Check it out on Youtube. I listened to it myself to prepare for this article.