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Alison Croggon

T5M: Top 5 Dream Fictional Vacation Spots

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

Hello, friends! It’s my birthday today, and I just moved into my first apartment over the weekend, so I am BEAT! My muscles have never been so sore, even when I first started going to the gym and lifting weights. In fact, one could even say I need a vacation! Here are my top 5 dream fictional vacation spots ;D

5. Middle Earth

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I mean, I wouldn’t want to visit when Sauron is doing his bit with the Ring, but the scenic imagery in these books is unparalleled. Tolkien was a master of placing you in the environment so exactly, you’re surprised to look up from the book and realize you’re not there. Especially in the fall time! Autumn is my favorite season, so I’d love to visit then. Perhaps the elves, or the hobbits, to wander the explosively colorful forests or sample some cider. If I were braver I’d venture underground to visit the dwarves, but alas! I’m not made of such stern stuff.

He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

4. Pellinor

 

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One of the things I love most about this series is the imagery. The descriptions of the countryside the characters journey through is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, but I also love the food descriptions. Just as in Middle Earth too, there are many different regions with different types of food, and Alison Croggon details them all lovingly. I love to eat, so I’d travel to Pellinor for the food alone!

The taste on her palate was pungent and rich, the flavor of woodlands and dark earth simmered in sunshine. ― Alison Croggon, The Naming

3. Assassin’s Creed series

This one is a little unusual, as the Assassin’s Creed series takes place in real history, with some sci-fi elements. The biggest being that the main character relives the memories of his ancestors, which are locked in his DNA, by use of a machine called the Animus. Therefore, the games are highly accurate to their respective time periods, and totally immersive. I’ve since fallen off with this series (Black Flag was where I stopped playing), but I go back to the early games again and again. It’s easy to lose myself for hours in their landscapes.

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Assassin’s Creed is stylistically my favorite, as it takes place in the Middle East during the Third Crusades. Middle Eastern art and architecture is my favorite style, and was a joy to study in school. Playing a game within that place in history is a wonderful experience for me.

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The runner up would have to be Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, which takes place in Constantinople in the 16th century. That sprawling city, with it’s eclectic mixture of Middle Eastern and European elements, made me curious enough to research and seek out information on Constantinople, and the Turkish empire, on my own.

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And of course, who WOULDN’T want to visit the Renaissance Italy of Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, and rub elbows with the master artists??? I think I need say no more ;D Hurry up and invent that Animus already!

2. Themyscira

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I mean, come on! It’s also known as Paradise Island! There are beaches to lay on and tan with the ocean steps away. There’s ancient Greek art and architecture galore for an art nerd like me. Plus, it’s protected by the Greek gods, so there’s a guarantee your vacation will be uninterrupted by mortal danger… and even if there is, the entire island is populated by badass warrior women, so you’d be safe. Who wouldn’t want to visit???

1. Agrabah

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Daring sword fights, magic spells, princes in disguise… wait, I think I’m mixing up my Disney movies, but I daresay the sentiment remains the same ;D The lush textures and flavors of Broadway and live-action Aladdin adaptations were totally spellbinding for me. What I wouldn’t give to wander the marketplaces of Agrabah: to run my hands over the silks and jewels, to taste the fruits and delicacies, and drown in all the scents! And visit the royal palace, to lounge sunbathing beside the fountains and make friends with a certain tiger ;D And, of course, if you’re up for a little adventure, the Cave of Wonders is only a camel ride away.

Any of my dream fictional vacation spots make your list, too?

Kathleen

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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Bromances

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

This week, it’s all about the dudes! And their friendships!

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5. Roland and Eddie – The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

I know this one’s a little out there… but let’s be honest, this whole series is a little out there =P Roland and Eddie meet in the second book, when Roland essentially enters Eddie’s mind and helps him successfully (depending on your point of view) complete a heroin smuggling. Eddie gets sucked into Roland’s world, and though they definitely don’t start out as friends, they do come to a sort of understanding. Really, it just makes me laugh whenever Eddie throws out some word or phrase common in the ’80s and Roland becomes confused XD

(Plz no spoilers in the comments, as I’m maybe halfway through the third book =3 )

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4. Cadvan and Saliman – The Pellinor series by Alison Croggon

The main character of this series, Maerad, finds out she is a Bard when she stumbles across Cadvan in the keep where she lives as a slave. Cadvan becomes her mentor and companion throughout the series, and is just as interesting and complex as a character as Maerad. Cadvan’s good friend Saliman plays a large role in the series as well, and we get to know him better in the third book. Both Cadvan and Saliman speak highly of the other, and reminisce on their younger days when they learned the ways of Barding. Though they are apart for much of the series, you can tell they have a strong bond.

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3. Harry and Ron – Harry Potter

Ever since Ron asked Harry if he could sit on the train with him on their first ride to Hogwarts, these two boys have been best friends. Sure, they have their ups and downs, and periods they don’t speak to each other. But they have a special bond. Ron was Harry’s very first friend, and they’ve stayed together through thick and thin. You can’t really go on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord without becoming BFFs anyway.

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2. … Everyone – The Lord of the Rings

There really isn’t one bromance I’d pick over another when it comes to LoTR. It’s the whole thing. There’s Frodo and Sam, of course, whose rock-solid friendship is at the core of the series. Merry and Pippin are a lively duo, and are just as steadfast to the rest of the Fellowship as they are to each other. Legolas and Gimli each overcome the prejudices they have for the other’s races to become the best of friends. And there are many more besides. In a trilogy full of bromances, it’s very hard to pick just one! =P

(Also see my last sentence for Harry and Ron, ‘cuz it’s equally true here)

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1. Hawke/Inquisitor and Varric – Dragon Age II/Inquisition

Listen… Varric is the bestest best friend in a video game to ever exist. He’s definitely my favorite character in the entire series. Varric is a storyteller and a merchant prince of the Dwarves. He first appears in Dragon Age II, when he offers Hawke a place on his excavation of an abandoned dwarf settlement in the Deep Roads. Hawke and Varric are betrayed and left for dead underground by Varric’s brother, Bartrand, and Varric swears revenge. Hawke and Varric develop a fast friendship; underneath Varric’s storyteller’s swagger and wily ways, he has a heart of gold, and in some ways acts as Hawke’s conscience. It’s easy to fall in love with him as a character, and I was overjoyed to have him as a companion again in Dragon Age: Inquisition. My Inquisitor is probably no match for Hawke… but I hope she’s earned his friendship all the same.

Any of these bromances your favorites, too? =P

– Kathleen

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

“YAAAASSSSSSSS!!!!!” – Me when I saw this prompt. I mainly read fantasy outside of comics and GN’s so I was super excited to put this together and share my favorites with you guys!!! =D

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5. The Hollows series by Kim Harrison

Meet Rachel Morgan, a witch runner who attracts trouble more than honey attracts a pixy. Together with her roommates and business partners, vampire Ivy Tamwood and pixy Jenks, they solve crimes, butt heads with drug-dealing warlords, and occasionally save the world.

If this prompt had been a month ago, this series might have been higher on the list. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it! The series started off strong, but lost momentum around the middle for me. I just finished the last book and feel like I slogged through it just to get it over with. What made it make the list was the excellent characterization, humorous tone, and interesting world-building. It’s a good alternative to grittier and darker urban fantasies. I have fond memories of reading the first couple books with my friends in college ❤

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4. Trickster’s Choice/Queen by Tamora Pierce

I want to personally thank Tamora Pierce for single-handedly getting me into the fantasy genre. I read the Song of the Lioness series for the first time in middle school, fell in love, and immediately wanted more. I’m 99% sure I read her entire section in my middle school library… and my teachers let me go hang out in the library during homeroom and do it!

My mom got me these two books as a Christmas gift while I was in high school, and I fell back into the world of Tortall – every bit as magical as I remembered, but a bit more grown up and complex for the older reader I was. Aly is a compassionate, plucky, and resourceful heroine, determined to do good in the world but make a name for herself out of her famous mother’s shadow.

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3. Jill Kismet series by Lilith Saintcrow

This is the first urban fantasy series I read… and I absolutely love it. Honestly, nothing else I’ve read even comes close to the standards I’ve set by this series. It’s kind of interesting I like it so much, because it’s much more graphic and violent than what I normally read. But what keeps me coming back is the heart-pounding action, fascinating world (present day at time of publication but basically with demons and Hunters who kill them), and Jill herself. She’s cracked, but doesn’t let herself become broken. She has sharp edges and a bite to match her rather loud bark, but she ultimately cares about people and has a great capacity to love. I cry with her and cheer for her every time I re-read the series. Saintcrow is now one of my all-time favorite authors.

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2. East by Edith Pattou

This book was my first encounter with the fairy tale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.” I can still remember the first time I read it, being absolutely spellbound by this blend of history and fantasy. The POV alternates between Rose, the main character who is taken by the ice bear and who consequently has to travel “east of the sun and west of the moon” to save him, her brother, her father, and at times the ice bear. Rose is tenacious and incredibly intelligent, with a strong sense of justice: a wonderful heroine. If you like Beauty and the Beast but wish it had more adventure, you’ll love this.

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1. The Pellinor series by Alison Croggon

Honestly… this series is just my favorite of all time. It follows a girl named Maerad as she’s rescued from slavery and thrust into the (literally) magical world of the Bards, who weave their spells through song and lore and tending growing things. Maerad knows no one in this world, but they know her, for she has been the one foretold to cast down the Nameless One as he rises again to power.

The writing… is just. Beautiful. It’s lush and lyrical, you really feel like you’re in the world of Pellinor. There’s a very strong sense of place and atmosphere (very much like Lord of the Rings). The plot is revealed slowly, but artfully. Each and every character is well-rounded and feels like a dear friend. I promise you will not regret picking these up.

Honorable mentions include:

  • Lord of the Rings (of course, they’re classics)
  • Harry Potter (IT WAS JUST SO CLOSE GUYS ESPECIALLY WITH THE ILLUSTRATED EDITIONS)
  • Warbreaker and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (most interesting magical systems out there, but Mistborn series as a whole just can’t hold my attention. Warbreaker is a standalone tho)
  • Anything Donna Jo Napoli has ever written
  • And my current read I am just way too excited about: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (… I may be excited about it partially because it’s not a Hollows novel…).

Any of mine make your list, too? =P

– Kathleen

Edit: Oh my gosh lol I had totally forgotten it was International Women’s Day! And I just happened to write a post of fantasy books all featuring fantastic female leads!!! That’s just too funny X,D Happy happy! ❤

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