Book of the Week: Alanna, The First Adventure

I was thinking of what book to write this week’s Book of the Week post about and couldn’t really think of which to write about. I’ve read a couple new books in the last few weeks but I haven’t really cared enough to write about them. I started making new sections on my blogs. I put up a new “Writing Advice” section, treatment where you can go to get writing advice from authors that you enjoy. I’ve personally emailed, tumblr-ed, tweeted, Facebook messaged, etc. these authors and I’ve gotten a nice response from some really awesome authors, so you should definitely check it out.
Then I added two more sections, Recommended Books : Young Adult and Recommended Books: Adult, and I realized how many of the books that I have recommended to people just haven’t been reviewed on this blog. And I’m kind of aiming to fix that. So I decided to start with one of my absolute favorie authors, Tamora Pierce, and her very first Tortall books.
So for your enjoyment, here is this week’s Book of the Week:
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Picture 7
Genre:
young adult, fantasy
Part of a Series?:
yes, the first installment of the Song of the Lioness quartet
You May Like if You Liked:
Harry Potter, Cinda Williams Chima’s fantasy novels
Plot Summary:
Alanna of Trebond has reached the age of ten and it’s time to send her off to the convent to learn how to be a proper lady. Of course, she doesn’t want to go; she wants to go the palace to learn to be a knight. Her twin brother, Thom, wants to learn to be a powerful sorcerer and has no desire to become a knight. Of course they come up with a brilliant idea to switch places and Alanna heads to the palace disguised as Alan, ready to begin her training as a knight. But training to be a knight isn’t as easy as she thought it was, especially when she is trying to conceal her idea her identity as a girl. Soon though she makes friends with her fellow pages, Prince Jonathan, Gary, Raoul, Alex and the king of thieves, George Cooper. Then Jonathan’s uncle, Roger, returns to court and Alanna had a funny feeling about him that she just can’t shake.
The Bad: 
The first Tamora Pierce book I read was the series of Alanna’s daughter. Sorry, small spoiler. I won’t tell you who it’s with though! But that was stupid because there are THREE series before that one! Whoops!
So eventually I went back and read the original series. And honestly, there’s nothing bad about it in my head. I think one complaint someone might have is that its simpler, a child’s book. This doesn’t bother me, because of all the good reasons below, and because Tamora’s writing and stories get more complex as her books progress and I do believe they are very young adult books.
The Good: 
There is SO much good about this book. First off, the characters. Alanna is a wonderful character because she is SO determined and she’s such a strong female character. Alanna: The First Adventure was first published back in 1983, before the burst of young adult literature and strong heroines hit us all. I think Tamora Pierce was doing something before a lot of other authors were. Alanna disguises her gender in a place where it is NOT easy to do so to become a knight, which is a crazy challenge all in itself. She’s also really small, so she’s not even built like a normal page/squire would be built. But that’s what makes it even better. Alanna is trying to become a knight under extraordinary circumstances, and her size only makes the goal that much harder. But she works so hard, she practices over and over again, she even works as hard as possible to overcome a cruel bully. As the stories progress, she becomes stronger and smarter and she’s one of THE strongest female characters I have ever read in the many, many novels I’ve read.
There’s also the world of Tortall that Tamora Pierce has created. It is very reminiscent of those stories we read as children with princes and princesses, knights in shining armor but in a young adult setting with some serious issues going on, serious villians. You have villians fighting for the crown, and you have bullies picking on those who are different from them, you have a girl’s life in danger every day because of her hidden gender. And she creates such a REAL world; she knows the kingdom, she knows the neighboring kingdom well, and she knows the kingdoms across the sea, and she has histories for these kingdoms. She knows her myths and legends, she knows her history. Her worlds, the creatures, the people, the myths and legends and rules and laws…they all have backing to them. She isn’t pulling this out of nothing, she truly knows what she is talking about, which makes her world believable and makes her world a world that readers want to live in.
She also creates a wonderful story. You can’t help but root for Alanna as she tries to pull off this incredible and seemingly impossible task. She is trying to handle so much, and she’s so young in this book. It takes place over the course of…I’d say three or four years and its just so much for a 10 to 14 year old handle. She’s learning to be a knight, she’s learning to hone her magical skills, she’s making friends, dealing with a bully, and on and on. But even though its just a fantastical story, its so believable too. I think Tammy has so many fans, but I think sometimes there’s a lack of new fans in her case because of the overwhelming flux of teen paranormal romance and the popularity that it has. Her books are good, clean, fun fantasy novels with fantastic characters, strong female leads and enough romance without being too cheesy.
Rating: 
Five out of Five stars. Tamora Pierce is a goddess.
Recommended or Not? 
Definitely. I recommend this book highly because there is so much to read after this. There are three more books in this series,  then the four book Immortals series, the four book Protector of the Small series and then the two book series, Tricksters. Then there’s also the prequel series, Beka Cooper, series. And Tammy only gets better and better as the series go along and all of her books are pure golden fantasy with action, humor, romance, and on and on…and she always has kickass female characters. Pick up a Tammy book now.
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Top Twelve Fictional Places (Oh Why Can’t They Exist?!)

Some of the best things about all these fandoms I’m obsessed with are the awesome worlds that come along with them. I think that’s partly what makes some of these fandoms so damn awesome: the fact that they’re taking place in some mystical, fictional place where amazing things happen. There are so many fictional worlds out there that I wish really existed and there are definitely places that I wish existed. So, of course, I created a list. I had to. I love lists :D and what a better list than one describing all of my favorite fictional places!

WhataNerdGirlSays’ Top 12 Fictional Places 

12. Pokemon World (Kanto, Johto, Etc). 

Pokemon Blue, Yellow and Red are my favorite video games of all time. They were really the first video games that I got into. I adored the show, I collected the cards, I played the game. Of course I did. To this day, I still love watching the show and playing the game (not so much the cards, I just never could understand it haha). I love the world of Kanto. For one thing, you’re ten years old and you’re ready to leave home and go on an awesome adventure. I don’t think I was old enough to walk home from school when I was ten years old! Then there’s all the awesome people, the pokemon, the training, the cool places to go, the battles, and so on. I wish this place was real! I could totally train pokemon! That or I’d just catch them all and stare at them all day because they’re so damn cute.

11. The Kingdom in Howl’s Moving Castle

“In the land of Ingary where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist…”

This mostly comes from Hayao Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli team. They do an amazing job in all of their movies; their animation is stunning and the artwork is beautiful. This is what makes me want to live in Howl and Sophie’s world, known as Ingary in the books. I don’t know that they ever call it by anything in the movies but its called Ingary in the books. Yeah, the kingdoms are a little screwed up in their pointless war, but once that’s all done, I feel like it’d be an awesome place to live. The city where the palace is located is bustling and busy and so fantastically metropolitan. Then there’s the beach front town where Howl’s other shop is located where there’s the vast ocean and street market. Plus there’s magic and fancy clothes and it’d be so fun to do all of that. Oh yeah, and I want a fire demon named Calcifer, voiced by Billy Crystal.

10. Hundred Acre Wood

“Wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

 I have a completely unhealthy obsession with Winnie the Pooh for a fangirl of twenty-four. I ADORE Winnie the Pooh. I love the old A.A. Milne stories and I can’t get enough of the Disney adaptations. I will sit on that ride over and over again at DisneyLand and you can catch me singing various songs from the movies at any point in time. Is it no wonder that I think it would absolutely and totally brilliant to live in the Hundred Acre Wood. When I think of the Hundred Acre Wood, I think of childhood. It represents childhood so much; think of the last original Disney movie where Christopher Robin leaves the forest to grow up and go to school. And who doesn’t want to revisit their childhood when it involves adventures with a silly ‘ol bear and a nervous little piglet and a gloomy donkey and a bouncy tigger? I know this girl does.

8. Rivendell/the Shire

“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”

I’d like to say that I would love to just live in Middle Earth, but besides Rivendell and the Shire, Middle Earth kind of scares me, even after its saved. It’s so vast and unknown and there are so many creatures of unknown out there and it seems so dangerous. I like to stick close to home. Hobbits don’t stray to far from home, and some people may not like that much, but I don’t think there’s much harm in that. Of course, I want adventures and fun, but in the end, I love coming home. And the Shire is a quaint little countryside home that is perfect for those Hobbits. Besides, I would fit in sooooo well with Hobbits. And there’s Rivendell, where the lure is just the beauty and mysteriousness of it. Elves are such a mystery, even after all the encounters you have with them. They’re gorgeous (hello, Orlando Bloom in a wig. Hubba hubba). There is something very magical about Rivendell.

8. The Burrow

 

“It’s not much, but its home.”

I am part of a big family. I so know what its like to be a Weasley. There are seven kids in the Weasley family and there are six in my family. I think this is partly why Ron is one of my favorite characters; I can totally relate on the whole big family thing. That being said, the Burrow just sounds like everything I could’ve ever wanted in a home. It has the family together in once place, being a family together. It doesn’t have a forced feeling. It’s a real home, with messes in the rooms and the gardens, and homemade blankets and sweaters all over the place and a homemade dinner every night. Even though the Weasleys are poor, they have the Burrow and the Burrow is their home. It feels like a home. Its where their family gathers to be TOGETHER. Its where Harry gets his real, first experience on what its like to have a home and a family. And that fact that it’s a hodgepodge of rooms and additions makes it that much better. Like everything else Weasley, it’s a little crooked, a little out of place, but perfect in every way.

7. Narnia

“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”

Now I’ve probably said it about a million times already, but I mean MOVIE Narnia, not book Narnia. My quote is from the books, and don’t get me wrong, I do like the books but well that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. I like the idea of Narnia, as this secret place that the Pevensies escape to and its where they belong and where they are able to become themselves. If the Hundred Acre Wood was childhood, Narnia is that middle ground, where a child becomes an adult. All the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that pass into Narnia give to Narnia…but Narnia gives them just as much back. I like the idea of being able to find a secret, magical land in the back of a wardrobe where I’m going to have adventures and learn more about myself and the world.

6. Tortall

 

“Does anyone in this land act like they’re supposed to?”

The quote itself explains it. Tortall is a land of its own, where things happen that seem so out of the ordinary. The King’s Champion is a woman, one of the most powerful mages in all the world is a woman, there’s woman fighting, there’s schools for the lower classes, there’s so much. Tortall has everything a fangirl could need with knights and mages and fantastic creatures and all of that, but it’s so revolutionary at the same time. It shows equality and tolerance. It promotes the idea of educating your population, all of it. It has a king and queen, who get to know their people, who act like normal people. Girls are amazing in Tortall; they’re clever and ambitious and powerful, just as they are in the real world. I would live in Tortall, easily. I could become a female knight or a mage (if I had the Gift) or a scholar or a Queen’s Riders or join the King’s Own. Tortall represents a sort of crazy wishful world, an example of what we should be. It’s not perfect but its near enough and King Jonathan and Queen Thayet work their butts off to make it so.

5. Time and Space in The Tardis

 

“Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Outside those doors, we might see anything. We could find new worlds, terrifying monsters, impossible things. And if you come with me… nothing will ever be the same again!”

The Doctor has a way of pulling you, making you want to go with him, even though its dangerous. And it IS dangerous. The Doctor gets himself into crazy, insane, dangerous situations where your life, his life, a species life, the universe is at stake. And yet, you see amazing things as well. There’s a reason that his companions are so enamored with him; there’s a reason they’re so attached and they find it nearly impossible to leave. The Doctor gives you the entire universe, a life that is amazing and unique and different every single time. You literally have the entire universe in the palm of your hand. Anywhere in time and space.You can go anywhere you’d want to go. I couldn’t even begin to make a list of the places I wished to see. I wish that the Doctor’s world existed. I wish he existed and he’d take me along with him.

4. Camp Half-Blood

“Keeping Young Heroes Safe from Harm (Mostly) For Over Three Millennia”

I’ve been absolutely obsessed with Greek mythology for a good chunk of my life. It’s fun and it’s interesting. It was the religion of these people; these tales were what they used to explain everything, whether it was to do with the body, or the nature or anything. I remember wanting to name my cat “Artemis” once and everyone made fun of me. It took me awhile before reading the Percy Jackson series because I thought of it as a little kids’ series. Mistake one. Harry Potter is a kids series and I ADORE it. And I adore Percy as well. How cool to be a demigod, with a god or goddess as a parent (though in the book, they all seem pissed at their parents) and to have cool powers and save the world. Camp Half-Blood sounds so COOL. I wish I could live there. Its like all my obsession with Greek mythology come to life! Obviously I couldn’t be a daughter of Artemis, even though she was always my favorite, but I’d imagine being a daughter of Athena. Athena seems like a good Ravenclaw counterpart.

3. The Galaxy

“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes”

I want to be a Jedi. I want to live in the Star Wars universe. I want a lightsaber and a blaster. I want to be Princess Leia. I want to rip Han Solo’s clothes off. I want to fly an X-wing or the Millenium Falcon. I want to race pod-racers. I want to save the galaxy. I want to live by the Force and battle the Dark side. I want to be part of the Rebel Alliance. George Lucas created a wonderful, vast, epic world and who wouldn’t want to be a part of it? The fact that the first movie came out in 1977, over thirty years ago, and still enjoys a crazy popularity just shows how captivating this world is. It has those classic elements of a typical fantasy, with the princess and the “knight in shining armor” with the swords (lightsabers) and the evil empire taking over. It has a magical component, it has the wide old man and the loyal retainers. And yet it is set in this badass science fiction world. Its the best of both.

2. Idris 

“To a Shadowhunter, Idris is always home.” 

Shadowhunters are humans who have angel blood and spend their lives fighting demons, and keeping the earth safe from demons. There are Shadowhunters stationed all across the world to keep it safe but their home is the country of Idris, and its capital city, the glass city, Alicante. It is described in the books as the sort of Jerusalem for Shadowhunters. I want to be part of this world and live in Alicante because I want to be a Shadowhunter and marry Jace Lightwood. I’m half-way kidding with that.There’s something intriguing about a glass city where the world’s most powerful warriors and protectors live.

1. Hogwarts

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

“Hogwarts was the first and best home he had known. He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here. ” 

How much do I really have to explain about this? Hogwarts is my home just as much as it was to Harry and Snape and Tom Riddle. It was the first time I ever felt like I was a part of something. I learned the meaning of good and evil, right and wrong, the meaning of friendship, of love, of bravery, of tolerance, of courage, of happiness and sadness, of gain and loss. I get teared up just thinking about it, just reading those quotes by Queen Rowling. There is nothing in this world that has touched me or changed me like these books have. How could I not want to go to Hogwarts? Its enchanting, and mysterious, and fun and wonderful. It’s every good word that is out there. There is no fictional place in the world of movies and books that I wish was real like Hogwarts. Its real for us. It will always be real for us. Always.

So that’s my list of favorite fictional places. I’m sure there’s about a hundred more that you all are thinking of so share them in the comments! You know I always love hearing from you :D

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Book of the Week: Trickster’s Choice

Welcome ot my newly weekly segment. Now, drugs normally I’m going to be posting this around Thursday, ed Friday or Saturday to keep it nicely spaced out from the Tuesday Three. For now, approved the first one will be posted today because I’m sick in bed and I need something to do besides watching Once Upon a Time reruns.

So now, I will introduce you to the new weekly blog: Book of the Week. Each week I will review a book for you. It may be a book that I’ve already read in the past, it may be a new book, it may be a book I absolutely hated. Eitehr way, I’m sharing a book with you guys :D I also asked my good friend, Jackie, the awesome nerd-writer over at seekingbazinga.com, to help contribute to this.

For the first week, I decided to do one of my favorite books of all time. This book is both popular and overlooked at the same time.

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce

Book One of The Trickster Series by Tamora Pierce

Tamora’s Series (in Order)

The Song of the Lioness (Alanna)
The Immortals (Daine)
The Protector of the Small (Keladry)
The Trickster Series (Aly)

The Plot:

This is the first book of Tamora’s fourth series in the Tortall world. Now, it IS helpful if you read the series in order. But it doesn’t ruin the experience. The first Tortall book I picked up was this one. Tortall is a fictional land where there are kings and queens, knights and mages, magical creatures and all sorts of fun and awesome stuff.

Now, Alianne of Pirates Swoop is the daughter of the King’s Champion (who also happens to be the first female knight in over 100 years) and the King’s Spymaster. Her brother, Thom, is learning to be a mage at the palace university and her twin brother, Alan, is being trained to be a Knight of the realm. Aly is sixteen years old, an adult, and has yet to find her way in the world.

However, she knows exactly what she wants to do: she wants to be a spy. Trained at her father’s knee, she is clever and knows the way of a spy world. Of course, she is a well-bred, noble girl and that is out of the question. After getting into an argument with her mother about her future, she does what any other normal sixteen year old would do: she takes her ship out to sea, to go on a nice little sail until her mother leaves again.

Her ship is soon attacked and boarded by pirates and she is sold into slavery in the nearby Copper Isles. Ever the clever girl, she makes herself as ugly as possible in the slave pens to deter anyone buying her as a bed warmer. Instead she is given to the Balitang family, a rich noble family in the heart of the Copper Isles kingdom. She begins to learn the history of the country: how it was once called the Kyprish Isles and was ruled by the brown-skinned raka people…that is until the white luarins from the nearby countries invaded and took over.

It doesn’t take long for Aly to get swept up in a secret, underground rebellion involving the raka slaves and servants of the Balitang house, a trickster god by the name of Kyprioth and the two eldest daughters of the family, Saraiyu and Dovesary, who are both luarin and raka, and have royal blood in each line.

The Good or the Bad:

Obviously since this is one of my favorite books in the entire world, it is definitely good. There are several reasons for this.

Tamora Pierce is amazing at writing fantastic strong female characters. And I love strong female characters (see: Joss Whedon). Aly is only sixteen-years-old and gets sold into slavery in a foreign country, a country which is hostile toward her own. Despite all of this, she’s insanely clever and smart. She fits herself in so well, and gets information without seeming like she is getting information. She forms a bond with the trickster god, Kyprioth, that is more like friendship than worship. Once she uncovers the rebellion going on in the house, she’s intrigued. She’s fighting her hardest to escape and make her way back home but the history of the country and the intricacy of the rebellion is almost like fun for her. Its a chance to finally use all the skills and intelligence she has.

As much as I love all the series of Tamora’s, I love this one the most. Yes, because it was the first series I read of hers, but also because I love how much more complex this story was. The ideas of slavery and invading another country and taking it as their own…these are not new ideas. These ideas are part of our own history. It seems like almost a little bit of a political statement on the part of Pierce. Its just another interesting way to read about slavery and conquering, from the conquered point of view.

There are also amazing characters in this book, besides just Aly. If anyone ever needed a lesson on character development, this is a person to go to. Every single one of her characters are individual and unique and written so well. There’s a character for everyone. All these characters are so round and believable, I can’t think of any of the characters that are flat. And the villians, the royal family of the Copper Isles, are so evil, in such a conniving, sneaky, slippery ways. You’re literally disgusted at the things they do, especially once you start reading the second book.

The best part? There’s romance (which I do love) but its not mushy or forced and roll-your-eye worthy. And  no love triangle. Aly feels something for her new friend, Nawat, but she is more concerned with her task at hand than love. She’s so focused and driven. LOVE it.

So I definitely recommend this book, to anyone. I would recommend it more to girls/women but I’ve heard of guys liking it as well. The link above is a direct link to its amazon page, where you can pick it up in paperback for under 10 dollars. I hope to hear from some of you that you’ve read it or that you plan to! Check out the Tuesday Three tomorrow and keep an eye out for my Comikaze blog coming soon!

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