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Guilty Reader Book Tag

Since I’m currently working my way through War and Peace, and have decided to DNF American War (my first DNF of the year!), I thought I’d spend some time doing a book tag.  My friend Rachel @ pace, amore, libri did this and I thought it looked like fun!

1. Have You Ever Regifted A Book That You’ve Been Given?

Well, I don’t know if this counts, but I’ve donated a book that I was gifted. Someone got me The Da Vinci Code back when I was obsessed with it, but as my tastes changed I wanted to clear up some space on my bookshelf, so it went off to the library. (Also, why is this the only question that has all the words capitalized?)

2. Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

Not really? Like, I’ll be specific about what I mean.  If I DNFed a book, I’ll say I DNFed it. If I read thorough reviews with screenshots (a la The Continent or The Black Witch), I’ll also say that. If I’m familiar with the story through cultural osmosis or SparkNotes, I’ll also say that.

3. Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

I’ve actually never borrowed a book from another person.  My childhood friends were not big on reading, so usually they were the ones borrowing from me, if reading at all.  My best friend definitely still has some of my books at her house.

4. Have you ever read a series out of order?

Actually, yes! Harry Potter! So, here’s the story: after a lot of convincing, my mom basically forced me read The Sorcerer’s Stone. I liked it waaaaay more than I thought I would, so I headed over to the library to borrow Chamber of Secrets. Unfortunately, the copies were all checked out.  I loved the series so much, though, that I just couldn’t wait, and so I checked out the next available book in the series: Prisoner of Azkaban.  Then, once I was done, Chamber of Secrets was back, so I read it, and then I continued in order.  Back then, we didn’t have much money, so buying books when the library was right there was out of the question, and so all I could do was wait!

5. Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?

I loathe spoilers, so I’m very careful about only spoiling if someone explicitly asks me to spoil it for them.

6. Have you ever doggy eared a book?

I used to do this often, because, believe it or not, I didn’t realize bookmarks were a thing.

7. Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?

No?  Why would I do that?  /Rachel

8. Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?

I repeat: why would I do that?  I guess this means for books that it’s ’embarrassing’ to have read like Twilight or something?  I read Twilight when I was 15 and I hated it so I didn’t read the rest of the series.  I don’t mind admitting to that.  /Rachel

9. Have you every skipped a chapter or a section of a book?

Not skipped, but I will sometimes skim portions if a book is particularly dull and I’m close to finishing it.  Or with something like War and Peace, where I’m currently slogging through the Battle of Austerlitz and skimming various paragraphs that are all about flanks and cavalry and vanguards.  Like, if I wanted to read about battles in excruciating detail, I’d pick up a textbook on military history.

10. Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?

Nope! I’m actually really particular about this, as nothing annoys me so much as literary snobbery.  This happens a lot to YA readers, as we’re often told YA books are not “real” books or they’re automatically worse in quality or something.

 

Like Rachel I won’t tag anyone since I wasn’t tagged, but do pingback to me if you do this so I can read your answers!

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The Great Ask Tag of 1812

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I have seen Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 four times and counting (I already have tickets to see it another two times RIP my bank account) because it is an incredible piece of theatre. After I see it the sixth time I will likely post something talking more in depth about my experience with it and its intense draw for me, but for now, here’s an ask meme I stumbled upon on Tumblr.

 

1. Which song do you want to see performed live the most?

Well, I’ve seen them all, and I think the pieces where the whole ensemble is on stage (The Duel, Preparations, Balaga, The Abduction) are freaking incredible. The cast is absolutely bursting with manic, frenzied energy and it’s infectious.

2. Were you a fan of Comet before it came to Broadway?

Not at all! In fact I had never even heard of it before it came to Broadway. I am a fan of Rachel Chavkin, having seen her Hadestown three times, but I only realized she was directing Great Comet literally the day before I saw it for the first time. I don’t even remember why I wanted to see it in the first place.

3. Act 1 or Act 2?

Ahhhhh that’s tough! The first time I saw it I thought Act 2 was better, but I think it depends on who’s playing Pierre, since he has more solos in Act 2.

4. Favorite character?

Helene Bezukhova, followed closely by her brother Anatole! I just think the pair of them are fascinating characters and quite the dynamic duo.  I could write pages and pages of headcanons for both of them. They are so utterly flawed and rather terrible privileged selfish people, but they have these small moments when kinder traits shine through and it is super intriguing to me. Helene in particular I find interesting because she is a woman who so brazenly owns her sexuality and is taking charge of her own life.

5. Least favorite character? 

I just started reading War and Peace, so perhaps I’m blurring the lines a little here, but I don’t like Andrei.  So far in the book he comes off as a misogynist. If we’re talking strictly about the show, hmm, perhaps his father?

6. What would you do to stop Comet from closing?

A Lot. I literally had a dream about the Great Comet’s closure, clearly I am very distressed!

7. Off-Broadway or Broadway cast recording?

I have actually never listened to the Off-Broadway recording! That’s next on my list.

8. Has Comet made you read or want to read War and Peace?

Yup! I tend to shy away from classics, and I never ever would have picked up the gigantic tome that is War and Peace if it weren’t for this show. I started reading it yesterday and I’m about 60 pages in so far; it’s so much fun tying the show to the characters in the book! It definitely makes the reading experience more interesting.

9. Favorite cast member? 

I am obsessed with Lucas Steele and Amber Gray, particularly the pair of  them together. According to interviews they are rather good friends, as they have been performing together for so long. It really shows in their performance, too, in the way they interact; their chemistry is off the charts. When I saw the show last night Amber’s understudy was playing Helene and her interactions with Lucas, while good, just weren’t the same.

10. Favorite Natasha?

I’ve only seen Denee Benton and Shoba Narayan in action, but I loved them both! They’re both gorgeous and adorable and have beautiful voices; they play Natasha a little bit differently but both their performances are wonderful.

11. Favorite Pierre?

I’ve seen all the Pierres, so my ranking is thus: Groban, Oak, Scott, Dave. I actually really dislike Dave’s Pierre; his voice really grates.  I think Groban has the best vocals, Oak has the best stage presence, and Scott does a really great job of combining those two things.

12. Character you relate to the most? 

I just…really love Helene for some reason? We are absolutely nothing alike at all, but I sympathize with her so much. She’s married to this man she detests, whom she only married because her father arranged the marriage, and she’s just trying to eek out whatever pleasure she can from life. If that means hurting other people, so be it. It’s not a great character trait, but it just makes her so fascinating, particularly as a female villain.

13. Do you ship Anatole and Dolokhov?

100%.  I fully believe Anatole and Dolokhov and Helene have a threesome going on.

14. Do you ship Hélène and Marya?

Meh, not really?

15. Do you ship Dolokhov and Hélène?

If Anatole comes along, then sure. Otherwise, meh.

16. Do you ship Anatole and Natasha?

Kind of! I’m actually really fascinated by this whole thing. In the show, when Pierre is looking for Anatole and Anatole is singing “It is essential that I see Natasha; how can I see her?” he is clearly very distraught.  He looks disheveled and nearly on the verge of tears as he goes through her letters; it certainly doesn’t look like he’s a rake who doesn’t give a shit about anything. I do think he’s really just a privileged man who’s totally oblivious to consequences and just as rash and impulsive as Natasha herself.  I think he really did fall in love with her and decided he had to have her and consequences be damned.  Like, he just doesn’t think about other people or rules or traditions but I don’t think he’s malicious; in fact so far in War and Peace Anatole comes off as rather benevolent, someone invested in making sure everyone has a good time.

17. Have you met anyone in the cast? If so who did you meet?

Nope! I’ve been tempted to wait outside the stage door before but like…I would be an awkward mess.

18. Fuck, marry, kill; Dolokhov, Anatole, and Hélène.

Kill Dolokhov, fuck Anatole, marry Helene.

19. Have you seen Comet?

Four times and counting!

20. How long have you been a Comet fan?

Not very long! I first saw it right before Groban left which was…early this summer, I think?

21. The Duel or Letters?

The Duel. It’s a wild party from start to finish, with strobe lights and cast members dressed up like they’re at a 90s rave, nonstop dancing…it’s ridiculous.  But Letters is awesome too, especially when Lucas sings the “Nataly, Nataly, Nataly!!” bit at the end.

22. Pierre or Dust and Ashes?

Dust and Ashes!

23. Moscow or Sunday Morning?

Moscow, although there’s something to be said for the way Grace McLean belts out “Time for church!” in Sunday Morning.

24. Character you want to play?

Helene, hands down.

25. Have you written Comet fan fiction?

Haven’t quite reached that level of obsession yet, but I’m getting there.

26. Have you read Comet fan fiction?

See above.

27. Anatole’s and Dolokhov’s kiss or Marya’s and Hélène’s kiss?

Anatole and Dolokhov kiss??? How have I seen this show four times and never noticed this?

28. Favorite song?

This is nearly impossible to answer! I’m very, very fond of the Prologue, especially on stage when the spotlight jumps so quickly from  character to character! The Opera is fantastic for the way it introduces Dolokhov, Helene, and Anatole.  The Ball and Letters are fantastic because Lucas gets to belt out some incredible lines.  The Duel, Preparations, Balaga, and The Aduction are an insane nonstop party with the entire cast dancing like it’s their last day on Earth and a million ridiculous things happening all over the stage.  I’m also fond of Sonya & Natasha, In My House, The Private and Intimate Life of the House (“And tiiiiiiiiime moooooooves ooooooooon!”), Moscow, and Charming (AMBER!), A Call to Pierre, and Pierre & Anatole.

…I think it would have just been easier to name my least favorite songs.

29. Least favorite song?

Definitely Pierre & Natasha and The Great Comet of 1812.  They’re such a snooze fest compared to the rest of the musical! Whenever I listen to the album I always skip these.

30. Favorite lyric?

A single one? Hmm…I’m fond of “the queen of society: beautiful, barely clothed!” and “We lived, laughed, and loved!” and “Smash your glasses on the floor!” and “Here’s to happiness, freedom, and life!”

31. Own any merch?

Not yet! Yesterday I lingered around the merch station thinking I might buy a t-shirt, but I left and ended up buying tickets for another show instead.  I might still buy the t-shirt, though! If the merch is available online I’ll browse and think on it.

32. Have you listed to or are a fan of any of the cast members’ solo music?

I like Lulu Fall’s work! She was only an ensemble cast member, though. I’ve tried out Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet but didn’t like it much, nor do I like Grace McLean’s music. I haven’t listened to anything of anyone else’s yet, though I would love to try it if someone pointed me towards it!

33. Can you play any Comet songs on an instrument?

I can’t do anything music related to save my life. I’m not exactly tone-deaf, but rather close. I wish more than anything that I could sing, but alas.  Perhaps that’s why I’m such a fan of this show; everyone in it is clearly so multi-talented.  Singing, dancing, acting, instruments…they do it all splendidly!

34. Do you follow all of the cast on social media?

Not all, but a few! Lucas and Denee are the first who come to mind. I think I follow Shoba as well? Not sure.

35. Do you have a dream cast? If so who is in it?

After I finish reading War and Peace you can bet your ass I’m doing a gigantic fancast.

36. Character you would be best friends with irl?

I’m just…in love with Helene, you guys.  I also think Anatole would be a really fun friend to have.

37. First song you heard from Comet?

The Prologue!

38. Describe Comet using 5 words.

Mesmerizing, Carnivalesque, Enthralling, Enchanting, Eclectic

39. Can you pronounce all the Russian and French in the show correctly?

I don’t speak either language but I tend to be rather decent at accents, so yes!

40. How did you become a Comet fan?

I mentioned this briefly before, but I sort of went to see the show on a whim? Like, a theater friend had said it was a really good show and that the soundtrack was kind of electropop/chamber pop/opera-ish and I was immediately fascinated because I really love that type of music. The fact that a black woman is the leading lady was also a huge draw.  I didn’t even know it was about War and Peace until like the day before when I read summaries online. I had no idea what I was getting into! The first time I saw it I liked it a lot, but it was really only after the second time that I truly fell in love. There’s so much going on that you really appreciate it more the second time when you’re not trying to keep track of everything and you already know everyone’s names and what happens.
I want to tag people, but I don’t know who’s seen this except Rachel @ pace, amore, libri and Chelsie @ Spotlight on Stories! If you’re a Great Comet fan, please let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Tuesday: Favorite Retellings

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Bookworm.  When I saw my friend Rachel at pace, amore, libri doing it, it looked like fun, so I decided to do it too, especially given this month’s Top 5 Wednesday topics are…not doing it for me.

Anyway, what I’ve discovered from this is I apparently don’t read a lot of retellings! I’m not sure why, as I quite like them. Let me know in the comments if there are any retellings you are fond of; I’m always on the lookout for Hades/Persephone retellings in particular, but I’m open to all.

 

Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum
The original: The King in Yellow by Robert Chambers

I hesitate to call this a retelling.  The King in Yellow is a book of creepy short stories that were actually a precursor to Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos; Lovecraft makes references to the stories in his own work.  Downum’s work sort of…borrows that world for her own story rather than retelling any particular Chambers tale.  The important thing, though, is that she manages to capture just how fucking creepy the mythos of Carcos and the King in Yellow are.  It’s atmospheric and hella weird, and a great modern adaptation of this strange mythos.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
The original: Beauty and the Beast

I don’t know why I thought this was a Bluebeard retelling.  Though, I suppose, the two are rather similar.  Cruel Beauty’s strength is in its two main protagonists rather than its world-building (which is weak and derivative and confounding); Nyx and Ignifex.  Nyx (Beauty) is bitter and selfish and I love female characters who are unlikeable.  Ignifex is dark and witty and charming and rakish. Their interactions are delightful. The book reads like a fairy tale, so not everything always makes perfect sense, but it’s a treat.

The Kiesha’ra by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The original: Romeo and Juliet

I only learned this was based on Romeo and Juliet very, very recently.  I would say this is an extremely loose retelling, with only the first two books really having much to do with the Shakespeare play.  This was one of my favorite series as a teen; I read it over ten times (though I suspect it wouldn’t hold up as well if I re-read it now).  It tells the story of Zane and Danica, who come from two opposing shape-shifting species, the serpiente and the avians, who have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. Zane and Danica decide to come together and marry in order to bring peace to their societies and they end up falling in love for real. This is straight-up high fantasy, with fantastic worldbuilding and characters. The third book was also my first experience with a lesbian character, and that was very formative for me as a youngster.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
The original: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White

These series has received a lot of well-received criticism for its portrayal of Asian cultures.  It’s true that its world-building is weak and somewhat nonsensical, but it’s a fun series nonetheless.  It gives me “Found Family” vibes and it’s basically one adventure after the other. It’s also a very interesting twist on the original fairytales; the world of the Lunar Chronicles is a dystopia with cyborgs.  In fact, Cinder, one of the protagonists, is part-cyborg herself, which is a super intriguing twist on the Cinderella story! I have yet to read Winter, the final book in this series, but it’s waiting for me on my Kindle.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The original: The Iliad

I have to mention The Song of Achilles, even though I don’t think I loved it as much as most people did, nor am I familiar with the source material.  Still,  this book deserves mentioning for the beautiful, loving relationship between Achilles and Patroclus and its lovely prose.  I hadn’t expected to enjoy this book when I first picked it up, but I was really pleasantly surprised that it kept me hooked.  It also featured some really entertaining side characters; I really hope Madeline Miller writes about Odysseus at some point, because his snark was hilarious.

 

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

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The Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award

My friend Rachel @ pace, amore, libri nominated me! Thanks, Rachel, this was fun!

What’s the last movie you saw and what did you think of it?

I watched this random horror movie called The Void because I read some article that it was really good.  It…well, I don’t know how I would describe it.  It was weird in an unsatisfying sort of way.  Supposedly it was trying to tap into Lovecraftian cosmic horror but it also had many elements of a 50s B-horror film.  It was the type of movie that was trying to do too many things at once and ended up being kind of confusing.

Do you have any weird or random talents?

According to my brother my talent is making people want to puncture their eardrums when I sing…other than that, no, I don’t think so!

What’s your favorite song at the moment?

I’m currently obsessing over the entire soundtrack of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812!

What time of day do you do most of your blogging?

I probably shouldn’t say this on a public platform, but normally during the day, because those are the hours I’m at work and I’m usually most focused (and have the most free time, oddly enough).

What’s your favorite museum that you’ve been to?

So, the MET is amazing, but I feel like that’s a cop-out answer, so I’m gonna go with the Chester Beatty museum in Dublin.  It features some dude’s private collection of old texts, including old Qurans and stuff.  It’s a tiny museum but it’s set up really nicely and is very peaceful.

When’s the last time you went to a wedding?

Oh man…uhh….let’s see…I have no idea, actually! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long. Oh, no, wait! I just remembered! It was two years ago; my best friend’s sister got married.  I don’t go to a lot of weddings, haha. I don’t know very many people and all my family lives in Egypt!

Do you have a celebrity doppelganger?

Okay, so my family all insists I look like Donia Samir Ghanem but I couldn’t disagree more!

If you were a cat, what color cat would you be? (Very important question.)

Either all black or all white or all orange! I’m a fan of single-color cats.

Do you have a favorite publisher or publisher imprint?

I’m fond of ABRAMS Amulet Books because they always have really great book designs, but their content hasn’t always appealed to me.  Content-wise I’m a huuuuuuge fan of Tor and Orbit.

Have you ever dressed up like a fictional character? (Bonus points for photo evidence.)

Nope! Always wanted to cosplay, though.

What’s your favorite thing about your city (or state, or country)?

I’m not a huge fan of New York City, but I appreciate its diversity and convenience.

I’ll tag…anyone who wants to do it I’M SORRY I’m terrible at this tagging thing.