The Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who Have More Brains than Brawn

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who ___________. Because of my love for smart characters, I decided to go with characters who have more brains than brawn. For most of the books/characters selected, their braininess is an important factor of the book, or I’ve only read the first book but I think it will come in handy in future books. My choices, in no particular order…

1.  The Winner’s Curse, Kestrel

GR-thewinnerscurseMy favorite thing about this book was definitely the mind games. Kestrel is not a fighter, but she is a strategist. I still haven’t read the follow-up, but I hear it’s also twisty turny, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Kestrel thinking and planning and acting on her strategies.

2. Harry Potter, Hermione

hp-hermione2I loved Hermione from the beginning, as I could completely relate with her studious ways, but I also loved her arc, how she ultimately cared more about her friends than her studies. And let’s just say that Harry would have been completely lost with Hermione’s smarts helping him out along the way.

3. All Fall Down, Megan

gr-allfalldownMegan is a secondary character that we don’t get a ton of, but we see that she has skills and, like Hermione, values friendship as well. I have a feeling we’ll get to see more of Megan’s smarts saving the day in future Embassy Row books.

4. Mistborn, Elend

gr-mistbornOK, this is probably the furthest stretch, but he loves books, and he’s clearly more cerebral and less of a fighter. I still need to read books 2 and 3 (I’m starting to miss the world after a few months away, but I’ve decided I will definitely read them next month!), but I bet he’s going to be helping Vin out in the future.

5. The Hunger Games, Beetee

hg-beetee2I think this is pretty obvious. Though Beetee is not in the first book, he is definitely an important character in the second and third books and helps Katniss in her fight against the Capital.

6. Seraphina, Kiggs & Seraphina

GR-seraphinaJust to make myself perfectly clear, this is only a recommendation for Seraphina, not Shadow Scale because Irejectitlalalalalaitdoesnotexistinmyheadcanon. Anyhow, Seraphina and Kiggs are both bookish people who love reading the philosophers and frequently use their brains to solve problems to help diffuse the tension between people and dragons.

7. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes

sherlockholmes2I just love Sherlock Holmes, because he’s just BRILLIANT. Watson’s a smart cookie too, for sure, but Holmes’ powers of observation and deductive reasoning just make his detective work so fascinating to me.

8. Across a Star-Swept Sea, Persis and Justen

acrossastarsweptPersis is incredibly smart, but she doesn’t act like it to cover up her role as The Wild Poppy. Meanwhile, Justen is a smart scientist seeking a cure for a disease he feels partly responsible for. I love when Persis actually lets a part of her true self shine through to Justen and they speak as equals for just a moment. And I love them individually for how they use their intelligence.

9. Ender’s Game, Ender

enders-game2So, let’s just say this kid is a pretty big deal. And what he does he does not with brawn, but with his brain, with strategy.

1o. Cress, Cress

cressCress might be lacking in the social aptitude department, but make no mistake, this girl is a gifted hacker, and she is a beneficial help to Cinder.

Bonus! Fitz and Simmons from TV’s Agents of SHIELD

fitzsimmons1fitzsimmons2If you follow me on Twitter, it’s no secret to you that I am an Agents of SHIELD fangirl. And I love these two and all their science babble. I want book characters like these two!

Who are your favorite smart characters from books?

Mini Reviews: The Body Electric and All Fall Down

The Body Electric by Beth Revis

gr-thebodyelectric– The world building was really interesting. I especially loved all the technology featured. I found out after reading that this is actually the same universe as the Across the Universe trilogy, just what’s happening on Earth, so I thought that was neat.

– The characters were pretty bland, but I did like Ella better than Amy from Across the Universe. Both Ella and Jack have personalities, so they’re not completely cardboard, but nothing about them really stands out from the pages. After I finished reading, I saw where Revis said that Ella was actually based somewhat on Rick Deckard from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which I thought was an interesting concept. I definitely would have liked to have seen that played out more.

– The conspiracies got to be a little too much for me after a while. When you start being annoyed by how many weird plot twists there are, that’s not a good thing.

– Editing wise: This book repeated itself a lot. I felt like Revis wasn’t counting on us remembering things we read 50 pages before. Sometimes when I read long books that take a while I forget things from 200 pages ago, but I didn’t need to be reminded of certain events or certain relations with people over and over again in this 300-something page book. Also, I got to sick of every reference to bees. Everything goes back to bees. By the time I read All Fall Down (which, I had read The Deathly Hallows between these two books) there was just one reference to a bee I was like, No, not bees again! 

Overall, the story this one was pretty interesting, but I would have like to have seen more dynamic characters and a plot that maybe felt a little less dystopian/conspiracist and more just straight-up sci-fi.

Content Advisory: Moderate language (I don’t think there were any f-words), mild sexual content (there is kissing and a non-graphic memory of sex), and some violence. 

3stars2All Fall Down by Ally Carter

gr-allfalldownThis was my first Ally Carter book and I will definitely be coming back for more. I could tell that her tone was light, even when dealing with serious issues, which I think some people might not like, but it doesn’t bother me as long as I feel like she’s still dealing with the serious issues, which I feel she did. There were ZERO swear words in this book, which I really appreciated, and there was also ZERO romance (though I think there will be some in future books for this series).

Through most of the book, I was really finding no fault with it, though it wasn’t exactly blowing me away in a 5 star manner, but then the plot thickened and really picked up my interest, but then towards the end I was left confused by a couple of things. (Highlight for spoilers) I don’t understand what exactly happened that made Grace accidentally kill her mom. So she saw her mom’s death being staged (Why was she around? That was really poor planning, guys.), and so I guess she reacted emotionally (which is a tendency of hers) and sought to take care of the man who she felt killed her mother. But where did she get the gun? How did she end up shooting her mom? Is she THAT bad of a shot? Did her mom run out in front of the gun? I just don’t understand logistically how it all went down, and Ms. Chancellor only half explains it. 

Also, it really, really PO’s me to no end when adults in stories will lie, lie, lie to teens in order to “protect” them from the truth. I’m sorry, but just stop it. Just tell the truth. You made this girl believe she was crazy and screwed her up for 3 really essential years of her adolescence. Way to go, guys. 

And lastly, how did they expect Grace to trust Dominic enough to go off to another country with him if they weren’t going to play it straight with her? Again, Dumb Adult Syndrome really irritates me, and these adults seemed so competent and not like idiots until all this stuff came out at the end. 

Grace was a good character though. I liked how she was flawed but still sympathetic, even though she was not always likable. I think Carter did a really good job of finding that balance with her. I loved the secondary characters: Alexi, Noah, Megan, and Rosie, and I just love that she had people who really cared about her and supported her. I look forward to seeing more of them.

This book ends with the almost-revelation of a secret that will definitely be featured in the next book, and I look forward to reading more.

Content advisory: Some violence and traumatic memories, no language or sexual content. 

4stars2If you’ve read either of these books, what are your thoughts?

Recently Spotted Redesigns

I feel redesigned book covers is a pretty well covered topic in the book blogging world, but I recently spotted two redesigned book covers while browsing a bookstore that I had not seen on the Internet yet, and felt compelled to share!

The Redesign I Don’t Like

breathe-annie-breatheAfter reading just the first sentence of Things I Can’t Forget, I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to read any book Kenneally has set within a 50 mile radius of where I live (you can see me explain that here), but the cover for Breathe, Annie, Breathe really caught my eye when I first saw it. I think it was the font and the illustrated clouds, so cute! Also, it seemed to be pretty clearly about running.

With the redesign, on the other hand, we have something so much more generic. The focus is more so on a romance than on the running, which is fine, but it’s not where near as creative or interesting. I’m curious if they felt they needed to make this book seem more in line with her others.

The Redesign I Do Like

landry-parkI don’t dislike the original cover for Landry Park, but I really, really like the new one. I love the dress, I like the font, and I just really like the whole feel of it. I have no idea which one is more reflective of the actual story, but this new cover definitely caught my attention in a way the first one had not.

What do you think of these redesigns? Do you agree or disagree with my assessments of them?

Discussion: Plot Vs. Character?

I am always shocked when someone says they care more about the plot of the book than the characters. This boggles my mind to no end, because what’s the point if you don’t connect with the characters? I plan to do another post soon about the hero’s story arc, and to me that arc makes or breaks a story. But of course, I have to wonder…

tonystark-too-much-to-askI mean seriously, if you make me love characters enough, I will devour scenes where they just sit around and talk, but I have to admit, plot is imperative to make the story move forward. Can the character have an arc without a real journey? But what do the journey and the arc matter if you don’t even care about the character in the first place?

princessbride-intellectRecently I read The Body Electric by Beth Revis, and I found I had the same problem with it that I did with Across the Universe: the characters felt so bland even though they were in an intriguing world with high stakes. But since I didn’t care about the characters too much, what difference did it make? And then right after I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Of course it’s an unfair comparison, but let’s look at it anyway: I had gotten to know these characters and were already attached to them, but through their circumstances they grow leaps and bounds just in this one book. And when I read Shadow Scale, I was thrown into an interesting world with characters I already knew and loved, once again, but the arc felt so static. What was the point of the journey, ultimately? I really had no idea.

Characters help connect me to the story. The plot moves the characters through an arc. And if the arc is successful and I see positive change on the other side (or really well executed negative change), then I am ultimately satisfied with the story.

plot-vs-charactersDo you consider yourself more of a plot person or a character person? What do you think matters most in a story/character arc?

My Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books.

This was a hard one. First off, book quotes. I love awesome book quotes, but I sometimes keep track of them, sometimes don’t, and when I do, I do so in a myriad of ways, so finding them again is always questionable. Secondly, these quotes were supposed to challenge, inspire, make you think. I feel like my favorite fiction quotes deal more with the characters, or the way something is described, rather than inspire me. However, I did come up with 10 quotes, that are probably not my true top 10 (I didn’t want to overrun this TTT with C.S. Lewis), but that do inspire me, both in fiction and non-fiction.

Disclaimer: I have not read 3 of these books. I know you’re thinking, What?! Two of them I have seen movie adaptations, and the quotes were in those as well. For one, the quote is in a book I have read, I just have not read the book it originated from. Onward!

the-four-lovesC.S. Lewis is always on the money when he talks about love; he has so many great quotes about it. This one is challenging because it’s the realization that love really can and does hurt, but as he also explains, the only way to avoid it is to give your heart to no one or nothing, at all, period.

the-book-thiefAs a reader and a writer, I can definitely relate to this, and it challenges me as the latter.

little-womenWhen I first read this in Little Women, I felt as if Marmee was my mom talking to me. I had so many of Jo’s interests and I could see so much of myself in her, and so it really felt personal to read that about having extraordinary gifts. Of course, 10+ years later I have let life get me down at times: my career is no where near what I anticipated or had hoped (though I found contentment with where I am). But, I move forward. I continue to write, and my life is not over. Reading this inspires me to keep working towards that not ordinary life.

unbrokenSo much happened to Louie as a POW in WWII, and I remember when it came to this moment in the book, I mean it just made it really real. I teared up at the thought of Louie going through all the horrible stuff he did, then to come back to his safe, quiet home that had been marred by war, though not the way he had. When he returned he struggled with that sense of normalcy after so much pain. His journey was far from over at this point, but it was a beginning moment in his path to healing.

bird-by-birdAs a perfectionist, oh I can relate. And perfectionism hurts when you’re trying to write out that first draft (or two or three), which was what Lamott was referring to here. I have to write without fear of getting the words wrong; I just need to write from my heart.

lesmiserablesSo this is also a line from the musical, and when I heard it for the first time it really struck me. As someone who reads the Bible, I find it Biblical too. When you care and love for others, especially those who are hopeless, you really seeing God through it. It’s so simple but so powerful.

allegiantSay whatever you want about Allegiant, but this quote really stood out to me when I read it. It’s easy to allow ourselves to just overlook something we don’t like, but truth is truth.

the-giverI can’t imagine not being able to share memories, holding them in like Jonas had to. Sometimes the most fun I have it sitting down and reminiscing with someone.

mistbornI think this quote has a similar theme to others I’ve shared; that faith and belief aren’t always going to be appealing, but you have to stay strong through the hard times and hold on to that faith.

the-two-towersI love Sam’s whole speech, about how people in all these stories have all these opportunities to turn back, but instead they face the darkness and push through, and it’s exactly what he and Frodo and the others go through. But this is a powerful moment, the acknowledgment that despite all the bad, there is good, and it’s worth it to keep going it for that.

These lovely pictures are from Unsplash, Gratisography, and Raumrot

Which of my Top 10 quotes is your favorite? What is another favorite inspiring book quote for you?

I Read Shadow Scale and I Was Disappointed

I adored Seraphina when I read it last year. I even reread it before Shadow Scale‘s release because I wanted to be prepped for being back in the world. I couldn’t wait to get back in the world. But as the title of this blog post clearly states, I was not entirely happy with the result. It wasn’t dull or safe, if only it was, instead I just flat out did not understand the point of a lot of what happened in the story; and the ending left me feeling so hollow, especially when things did not play out the way I wanted them to, with nothing better or at least hopeful to counterbalance these things.

I will say one more thing before I get into the spoilery part of this. As someone who hopes to be published one day, I don’t ever want to make it appear like I’m bad-mouthing an author. Because of this, I have considered lately not posting negative reviews, since I feel I’m getting closer to hopefully becoming an author myself. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed all my books so far this year until now. I disagree with choices Hartman made in this book, but ultimately it’s her story and creation and I respect that, even I don’t care for the result. I want to make that clear because I might get ranty, but it’s only because I love Seraphina’s character so much and I felt so invested, only to be let down. I wouldn’t post this review if it had not been a highly a highly anticipated sequel for me.

(And if you haven’t read it I wouldn’t scroll down at all due to GIFs at the bottom, though I know I will get less comments that way, but I just really want to warn you!)


gr-shadow-scaleThe pacing of this book was quite strange in my opinion, kind of like Mockingjay. It starts off in Godderd, and I feel like I read that part so long ago I don’t even remember much of what happened other than Abdo and Lars experimenting with mind-fire. Then Seraphina sets off on her journey to find the other half-dragons. At first it was kind of interesting; she has varied success with those she comes in contact with the others of her kind. I was along for the ride because I love Seraphina, and Abdo too, though it was sad once he had his accident and was so much less himself.

Anyhow, I was going along with the story, not loving the pace but tolerating it, but then everything between Porphyry and going back to Godderd just felt sort of odd. I don’t know how to explain it. I was just really, really ready to move on at that point. The Porphyry part sort of dragged for me with not much happening (though I thought the setting was interesting), and then all the flying and walking and hanging out in caves was just boring.

The big bright spot of Porphyry was finally getting Kiggs back in the story. He has a new beard and Seraphina loves it! Ah it’s so cute! They do their best to maintain appearances though, but seriously, there seems to be no backing down, nothing to indicate the future heartache.

Now, in case you’re thinking I’m dense because of the prologue, I will say it worried me. I did know that them not being together in the end was a possibility, but I had hoped if that was the case, it would have been handled much differently. Mostly I was hoping I misinterpreted what I thought I was reading between Seraphina’s words to the historian.

And then what’s worse about how everything went down is that Glisselda doesn’t even love Kiggs that way because she loves Serpahina. It would have been more manageable if she loved Kiggs, because at least one of them could love the other in their marriage. Instead it’s entirely political, which might be realistic, but this is a book and I want my happy ending, dangit. But my ships have been sunk before, Louisa May Alcott did it without making me hate Little Women. So what’s the difference?

Well, where is Seraphina’s happiness? Or Kiggs’? I love them both dearly and want them to be happy. But I don’t feel we good closure for Seraphina AT ALL. She says she’s OK but I don’t see any development to indicate this or feel it from her. Orma doesn’t know who she is, so that sucks. If she absolutely could not be with Kiggs in Hartman’s mind, could we at least be able to go through Serpahina’s thought process and end up OK in the end with her? Maybe Josquin could come back in her life and we can see a hint of a possible romance there? (By the way what happened to him after that accident? I was expecting follow-up but we never got it!) Not that it has to be about romance, but I just want the girl to be happy, and being back home with her music and peace without her uncle or Kiggs or even Abdo is not enough for me.

And now seems just a good as time as any to bring up Orma. There was so little Orma in this sequel it was ridiculous. I understand why in the context of this particular story, but quite frankly I don’t think we needed this story. I think this could have played out differently. I loved Orma in the first book, and I wanted more of him and his snark.

So Pandowdy takes Jannoula to live in the cave with him for the next millennium? Why? What’s the point? Does he actually know he will be able to withstand her? It just feels like that leaves the door open for her to come back. I guess Hartman was trying to be humane, but honestly someone should have killed that woman. I’m sorry she had a crappy life but she was evil.

And The actual war is so glossed over it doesn’t even feel like it happened. I thought the book was going to be much more focused on the actual war, not the politics of its impendent.

There is so much detail about what Seraphina is able to do at the end with the fire and is she a Saint and all this stuff and I don’t like it really tied in well with the story overall and I especially don’t think it really did anything for the ending. I mean, the whole thing about half-dragon Saints and their abilities was really interesting. but everything felt so empty at the end anyway it was just like eh, what was the point?

But most of all, I’m furious about the Kiggs thing. There are few romances I have shipped harder than Seraphina and Kiggs, and she kept building it up in this book only to cut it off abruptly with lame reasoning that is reduced to a few sentences. If you’re going to burn my ship down, at least let there be gut-wrenching conversations, thorough thinking-it-out sessions, and one last goodbye kiss with all the feels. (I mean seriously, that scene early in the book when Kiggs is holding the book between him and Seraphina and he kisses it because he cannot kiss her I about lost it! It was the sweetest thing ever and then what?! UGH.) otp-feelsAt least sink my ship in a blaze of glory.

go-down-with-shipI hate for anyone else to feel the way I do, but I would also love to know if I’m not alone! Was anyone else disappointed by the ending of Seraphina’s story in Shadow Scale?

6 Reasons Why You Should Watch Big Hero 6

1. It’s Set in San Fransokyo, Which is Awesome

Big-Hero-6-sanfranSo the movie is set in a futuristic city called San Fransokyo, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. It was so interesting and my biggest complaint about the movie would probably be that we didn’t get to learn more about it! I’d love it if they set more movies in this city, even with different characters!

2. Baymax is the Most Lovable Robot Ever

hariy-babyI mean, seriously, is this not the cutest thing ever? It is. And that’s just some of the lovableness.

3. Awesome, Supportive Friends & Family

BIG HERO 6Hiro goes through a lot in this movie, but everyone in his life, including his brother’s college friends that he barely knows, are super awesome and supportive. A lot of times we MC in a story has to go through everything alone, or with just a significant other, and it was so nice to see the MC was not alone, even when he thought he wanted to be.

4. There is Zero Romance & You Will Not Miss It

I love romance just as much as most anyone else, but it was also kind of refreshing to watch a movie where everyone was just friends and there wasn’t even a hint of romance. The love in this movie is all familial.

5. Girl Power!

bighero6-gogoIn addition to Hiro and Baymax, Big Hero 6 consists of two guys and two girls, with both of the girls and one of the guys being students from the university Hiro’s brother attends and who are incredibly smart. They know about science and are working on awesome projects that ultimately end up as part of the superhero identities.

6. Surprise Cameo!

I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprise, but if you’re a fan of a certain franchise you’ll definitely appreciate this!

Have you seen Big Hero 6? Why do you think others should watch it?