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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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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Tuesday Top Ten-People I Wish To Meet

Hello everyone! How’s everyone’s week going so far? I’m hoping its good and that everyone is healthy and all that. I only say that because I’m cooped up in bed with a major head cold. Like, click I’m pretty sure my face has swollen up to be the size of South America, online or so it feels like.

And my boyfriend and I celebrated our five year anniversary and in the next couple weeks I have Valentine’s Day, viagra 60mg Gallifrey One (the Doctor Who convention), my birthday and all that this entails, and LADA is putting on an event at the Pasadena Library and so much is going on. And I’m sick. So. Lame.

It so figures.

But the good thing is, being sick leaves me with a lot of free time to watch old episodes of Glee and Vampire Diaries and to write blog posts for you guys!

So enjoy this week’s Top Ten: the top ten people I wish I could meet right now.

10. Suzanne Collins

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Honestly, meeting her would just be really cool because she’s a really good author and I truly enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy. I’d kind of like to meet every single author that I love because I want to ask them questions: what inspires them, how do they deal with writers block, etc etc. Suzanne Collins created three immensely successful books that are becoming equally successful movies and that’s inspiring. More and more over the years, women writers are becoming more successful and more prominent. Its fantastic that these insanely good and successful books that everybody is reading and enjoying are coming from women. Suzanne Collins is a great writer, creating an addicting world and people of all ages, races, genders, etc. are reading her books. That’s awesome.  

9. Cinda Williams Chima 

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This is a much under-appreciated woman, at least the way I see it. I picked up her books randomly at a bookstore one day and fell in love with her books and her writing. She’s a jewel in the heaps and heaps of books that are hitting shelves in the young adult literature section. Because young adult literature is at its prime, and everyone seems to be jumping on board, a lot of the good stuff gets lost in the shuffle and I think Cinda Williams Chima is one of the authors. Her work is amazing, but I haven’t met a lot of people who have read her. Which is sad because most of my friends are bibliophiles like me. I would love to meet this woman because she’s an absolutely fantastic writer, and she creates a unique fantasy world. A lot of fantasies nowadays seem to parallel or mimic Lord of the Rings, or Tamora Pierce, or Star Wars or Harry Potter, to the point of annoyance. Not Chima. Her worlds are so real, she’s put so much work and thought into them. Her characters are fun and you can’t help but love them, the way only a lover of books could. I would like to go up to her and say, hey, maybe the world isn’t falling at its knees at your feet and maybe you don’t have a movie to blow it up but this fan right here loves your work and can’t stop telling people how fantastic it is.

8. Gary Oldman 

GREAT British Film Reception To Honor The British Nominees Of The 84th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Okay, I mostly have superficial reasons for wanting to meet Gary Oldman. Plain and simple, I think he’s a great actor and he’s a very handsome, sexy man. I mean, look at this picture; he’s obviously a lot older than me, you can see the salt and pepper in his hair, but he is soooo insanely attractive to me. And I think a lot of that comes from the iconic roles he has played: Sirius Black (my favorite HP male character) in Harry Potter, Commissioner Gordon in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, Sid in Sid and Nancy, and he plays like a hundred different bad guys. He makes a seriously sexy bad guy. He’s a great actor, and many young actors have been quoted, saying that they are inspired from Oldman, that he an aspiration for them. He’s one of those understated actors. He’s not in your face, you’re not seeing him on Entertainment Tonight or all over the papers, but he comes in, does his job and does it well and thats it. Classic.

7. Rick Riordan 

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I feel like Rick Riordan would be a seriously fun guy to meet, mostly because his books are seriously fun to read. I’d also like to meet him so I can go up to him and shake him really hard, yelling “WHY THE HELL DID YOU LET PERCY AND ANNABETH DROP INTO TARTARUS AND END THE BOOK THAT WAY? WHY WHY WHY?!?!?! I’d probably get escorted away very very quickly. But his books are very humorous. Sure, the world is usually in a disaster in his books and Percy or Jason or Annabeth or Piper or Leo or Hazel or whoever has to save it, but there’s always time for that humor and its just so hilarious. I feel like he would be a super fun person to hang out with, and I’d imagine he’d be a really awesome dad, and I think awesome dads are…awesome. Probably because I have one. But I think he’d be a fun person to bounce ideas off of, and I’d like to do that because he’s a good writer, but he isn’t complicated. Its the kind of writing I like to do. I like my stories to be fun, because I just don’t think that I am life changing. Rick Riordan is who I go to for fun and I’d like to learn how to write fun books like that.

6. Libba Bray

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I think I’d really like to meet Libba Bray so I can just tell her how absolutely amazing I think that her writing is. I know that A Great and Terrible Beauty once had been optioned for a movie and I am actually pretty okay with the fact that it just never came to be. Her books are just too precious to touch and I feel like the women empowerment that is in her novels would be lost to the big screen. I love that her novels have that feminist touch, in that the females have the power, but they’re aren’t so much so that Bray is beating down on men. Obviously she’s not; she’s married, has a son, and I’d imagine she’s in love. But she presents these stories in worlds where women don’t have power, especially in Victorian England, with her most popular series. I love that Gemma, Pippa, Felicity and Ann are in this world where they have no choices, that their lives are set up for them: debuts and husbands they don’t love for some of them and a life as governess for horrible children for others. But she gives them powers, gives them the link to the realms and gives the powers to make their own futures. Not only are they fun to read, and they have that fantasy element to them, but they’re empowering, they’re inspiring, they’re life changing.

5. Karen Gillan 

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This one is going to be kind of short. She’s hot. She is way super hot. I loved all the Doctor Who companions but she was the first one where I was like WHOA. I have a huge crush on this one. And yes, its more than just that. Amy is an awesome companion in that she is the Doctor’s equal at times, she keeps him in line and doesn’t listen to a word that he says. Her relationship with Rory is adorable and they make it look so real, while being alternately cheesy and not too cheesy. And she’s seriously gorgeous. I have a redhead thing going on when it comes to the girls (see: Christina Hendricks). So I would really like ot meet her so I could drool a bit in presence.

4. David Tennant 

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Best. Doctor. Ever. The first season of Doctor Who pulled me in, gave me enough curiosity to keep on watching but it was the second season, it was David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor that really grabbed me and made me an addict for this show. David Tennant was able to capture exactly what the Doctor is and should be. He has the youthfulness but also the intellect of someone who is old. He is excited at the little discoveries of his life but he has this worldly knowledge of how he believes things should be. He does his best to save everyone that he can and he does it so well. I love as you watch him go from unknowing to discovery, his process as he figures it out. I love when he gets angry because he shows his anger so well and you believe it, and you know why so many people fear him. When it was time for him to leave, for the Tenth doctor to regenerate, it was heartbreaking because he was SUCH a good Doctor.

3. Mike Trout 

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This guy totally stands out on this now doesn’t he? But seriously I would love love love to meet him. I would say about 50% of that is because the guy is seriously hot, like…wow, I haven’t seen a baseball player this hot in a very long time, and who cares that he’s three and a half years younger than me? But I also do want to meet him because he’s on my absolute favorite baseball team and I worship baseball and Mike Trout is a fantastic ball player. He came onto the scene last season and just blew up baseball. There isn’t a baseball fan out there that doesn’t know Mike Trout. Unanimous decision as Rookie of the Year, and while he had no chance at actually winning, he gave Cabrera some pause as a candidate. More young kids are watching baseball because of him, and he’s brought attention to his small New Jersey town, Millville, which has been struggling heavily in this downturn economy. If you watched the Little League series at all, you saw that most of the US kids said Mike Trout was their favorite player. He’s awesome, he’s hot and I want to be able to say that I met him.

2. Tamora Pierce

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I’ve written an entire blog post on how much I adore Tamora Pierce. I could go on and on and on and on and on….literally forever on reasons why I would like to meet this lady. Part of it is because I haven’t had the chance to meet her yet, and I’ve been greedily reading her books since I was 15 years old. Ten years, and she’s never made a trip to California that is either near me or that I am able to go to. I would just like to go up to her and tell her thank you, thank you for writing such wonderful books that continue to reach out to readers for over thirty years. Thank you for providing such perfect heroines. Thank you for being an author that I could look up to. Thank you for being something so different in this overflow of books. Thank you for bringing me my pen pal, one of my longest friends. Thank you for just being such a badass writer. That’s why I’d like to meet her.

1. J.K. Rowling 

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I think this is the one person in the world where I would fall apart at the seams if I met her. I would cry, and laugh, maybe even pee my pants a little if she was ever in front of me. Remember the way girls were when they used to see the Beatles? How they would cry and scream and faint and just look like they were going absolutely mad? Yeah, that would be me, in front of dear ol Jo Rowling. She has written my seven favorite books in the entire world. She has given me a world to escape to, values and morals to love, characters to love, a person to aspire to be. Harry Potter has done for me what nothing else has ever been able to do. I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it. This woman and her stories literally changed my life. There is a reason, many reasons, that I have four Harry Potter symbols, words permanently tattooed on my skin. That is what she has given me. I would love to meet her so I could just tell her how much she has done for me, how much that she has changed me and my life. I would  like to thank her for her stories because without them, I don’t know who I would have been.

I’m pretty sure that this list will continue to change, day by day.

A couple people will point out that I didn’t include Andrew McMahon (from Something Corporate, my allll time favorite band), Cassandra Clare or Meg Cabot. Well I’ve met Andrew twice, I’ve met Cassie once and will be meeting her again in March and I’ve met Meg Cabot four or five times, I’ve lost cost.

Who would you like to meet?