Around the World in 14 Days: Scotland

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Fàilte gu Alba! Or, in English, “Welcome to Scotland!”

Today’s post is part of the 2016 Book Blogger Creativity Project, run by Nori @ ReadWriteLove 28. The project is intended to promote creativity and new friendships among book bloggers, and participants are divided into teams and tasked with developing a unique post idea. I’m pleased to be a member of the Red Team, which has, for our project, decided to take a figurative, literary journey around the world.

Each stop on our team’s mini blog tour features books from a different country. I’ve always been fascinated with Scotland, and that’s the country I’ve chosen to represent for my stop. So let’s put on some bagpipe music, dig out the clan tartan and step into the Scottish highlands!

Book cover for Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen and Robert J. HarrisGirl in a Cage by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris: Girl in a Cage is the book that first got me interested in historical fiction. It’s based on the true story of Marjorie Bruce, a Scottish princess who was kidnapped by the English king during the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 1300s. Marjorie, only 12 years old, was imprisoned in an outdoor cage, where she was tormented and ridiculed by the English. It’s stunning and terrible to believe that a young girl could have been mistreated this way, but in the story Marjorie withstands the abuse with amazing courage and strength.

The Moorchild Book cover for THe Moorchild by Eloise McGrawby Eloise Jarvis McGraw: It’s been a long time since I last read The Moorchild, but every time I think of it I’m overwhelmed with feelings of wildness and magic and longing. The protagonist, Moql/Saaski, is a strange young girl who’s never fit in in her village. Suspected of being a fairy changeling, Saaski is torn between the lure of the fae and her desire to belong with her family. Although the book isn’t explicitly set in Scotland, it has a strong Scotch/Irish vibe, with bagpipes, heather-covered moors, and tales of the fair folk.

Mary, Queen of Scotland and the IslesBook cover for Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George by Margaret George: I’ve read quite a few books about Mary Queen of Scots, but George’s book is my favorite. It’s no mean feat to make it through the book in its entirety – it’s pretty hefty, with close to 900 pages and a hearty dose of historical details. Historical minutiae can be hit or miss for me, but George uses it to spin such a complex, believable picture of Mary and the people, culture, and times surrounding her that I was enrapt.

Outlander Book cover for Outlander by Diana Gabaldonby Diana Gabaldon: Outlander is one of those rare books that not only lives up to, but exceeds all of the hype surrounding it. I’m not usually big on time travel books, nor on adult fiction, but this tale of a World War II nurse who’s magically transported to the Scottish highlands in the 1740s is phenomenal. As great as the book is, the TV adaptation on Starz is even better. I’m utterly obsessed, and waiting for the release of Season 3 will likely be the death of me.

An Earthly Knight Book cover for An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughtonby Janet McNaughton: This was the first – and, so far, best – retelling I’ve read of the Scottish legend The Ballad of Tam Lin. It tells of the story of young Jenny, the daughter of a 12th-century nobleman, who falls in love with a mysterious young man and must free him from the clutches of the Queen of the Fae. Like many of the other books on the list, it’s also chock-full of awesome historical information.

Book cover for The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane PeacockThe Dark Missions of Edgar Brim by Shane Peacock: I just started reading this novel a few days ago, so I can’t speak to much of the plot. It’s got a deliciously strange, gothic feel, though: a grim, imposing school on the mist-covered Scottish moors; eccentric professors who take a ghoulish interest in grisly murders and the occult; and a young boy for whom stories literally come alive, for better or worse. I can’t wait to see what else this book has in store!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to novels set in Scotland! Don’t forget to continue your bookish journey around the world by stopping by to visit the other members of the Red Team!

2016 Retelling Challenge

I’m trying something new this year, something I’m both nervous and excited for: I’m participating in a challenge for the very first time. My Bloglovin’ feed has been overflowing with posts about the various challenges my fellow bloggers will be undertaking in 2016, and when I saw that The Daily Prophecy would be hosting a Retelling Challenge, I couldn’t resist signing up.Retelling Challenge button

The challenge is primarily focused on fairy tale retellings, though mythology, legends, and folk tales are fair game as well. I read a ton of retellings in an average year – in 2015 I devoted an entire month to reimagined fairy tales – so the reading itself shouldn’t be too difficult for me.

The real challenge, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, will be the act of participating, period. I’m a relative newbie when it comes to taking part in the blogging community, so I’m hoping that this challenge will help me get out there and start interacting with other readers and bloggers. I’m also hoping it will help me be a more disciplined blogger by requiring me to post regular updates and get used to tweeting with the #fairytaleRC hashtag. Fingers crossed!

For the Retelling Challenge, I’m aspiring to reach the “Evil Queen” level by reading 10-15 retellings in 2016. Here are a few of the titles on my TBR list:

Book cover for The Crystal Heart by Sophie Masson Book cover for Spirited by Nancy Holder

Book cover for Fairytale ConfessionsBook cover for A Curse of Ash and Iron by Christine NorrisBook cover for Valiant by Sarah McGuireBook cover for Daughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierBook cover for Stitching Snow by R. C. LewisBook cover for The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy Book cover for Rose and Thunder by Lilith Saintcrow

Book cover for Bryony and Roses by T. Kingfisher

Book cover for Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

In the Hot Seat with the Hot Chocolates

The Hot Seat with the Hot Chocolates

I was browsing through the great content over at Books & Sensibility today and came upon a post called “In The Hot Seat with the Hot Chocolates.” The post is part of the Book Blogger Creativity Project and consists of 20 questions submitted by some of the bloggers on the project’s Team Chocolate.

I had a lot of fun reading Kat’s answers, especially since it was a great way to get to know her better. When I got to the end of the post, I was delighted to see an invitation for other bloggers to participate as well, even those not part of the Book Blogger Creativity Project. My own answers to the “In the Hot Seat” questions are below.

Questions from Olivia at The Candid Cover

Movie poster of The Perks of Being a Wallflower1. Are you a fan of book-to-movie adaptations? If so, which is your favorite?

Absolutely! I can’t resist watching book-to-movie adaptations, even if the trailer is iffy and I suspect the film will be despicable. The best adaptation I’ve watched so far is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is incredibly true to the novel. It probably helps that the author, Stephen Chbosky, wrote the screenplay AND directed the film.

2. Do you ever have crushes on characters in books? Who is your current crush?

Yes, all the time. It’s actually a little embarrassing how many book characters I’ve fallen for. Some of most notable are Jacob from Twilight, Will Herondale from the Infernal Devices trilogy, and Josh in Boy Toy (read my review here).

Questions from Elizabeth at The Evil Overlord

3. How long does it take you to pull together a review after you’ve read the book?

Eons! Every now and then inspiration will strike and I’ll manage to write an entire review immediately after finishing a book. Usually, though, I agonize over reviews for weeks or months if I don’t have a specific deadline to meet.

4. Do you read ahead or skip certain elements in a book? Why?

Sometimes when I’m not feeling a book and am tempted to quit reading it, but still want to know the outcome, I may skim instead of reading word for word. This doesn’t happen often, though.

Questions from Milka at Read, Read, Read

Book cover for Gone by Michael Grant5. Which book would you like to see turned into a film or a TV series? Who would you cast for the roles of the main characters?

I’m dying to see Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series turned into movies, and I’d also like to see Michael Grant’s Gone series as a TV show (read my review of the first book here). I don’t have a dream cast, though – I’d prefer the roles to be played by “unknowns.” That way when I watch the movie or show I’ll just see the characters, not the celebrities playing them.

6. Which fictional character would you like to go on a date with? What would you do?

I’d like to go out with Levi from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. I wouldn’t care what we’d do on the date, since I imagine that any activity with Levi would be fun and sweet and adorable by virtue of him being there. However, I do like the idea of reading aloud to him the way Cath did in Fangirl. That’s one of the scenes that made me fall for him.

Questions from Kat at Books & Sensibility

7. What is the last book you pre-ordered or purchased the day it came out?

The most recent book I bought on its release day was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. The most memorable one that I pre-ordered, though, was Champion by Marie Lu – I nearly went crazy waiting for that book.

8. Which author do you think is amazing that you feel like doesn’t get enough love?

Megan Whalen Turner, author of the Queen’s Thief series. Her books are phenomenal, but I haven’t met a single person who’s read them.

Questions from Alice at Alice’s Book Vault

9. What book, if there is one, has given you the worst book hangover?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was miserable for a solid two weeks after finishing it.

10. What series do you wish would never end? That you could always get more of?

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I can’t get enough of Eugenides’ genius schemes and tricks.

Book cover for The Thief by Megan Whalen TurnerBook cover for The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen TurnerBook cover for The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen TurnerBook cover for A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

Questions from Wesaun at Oreos & Books

11. If you had to face your biggest fear or fears with a character to be your guide along the way, which would you choose?

Strangely enough, the first character who comes to mind is Jazz Dent from Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series. Jazz spent his childhood being schooled in murder by his serial killer father, so he’s seen some jacked-up stuff and would know a lot about overcoming fear. The only downside is that Jazz is pretty scary himself, so I’d probably be intimidated by him.

Let Life Be Merry temporary tattoo

12. What’s a book that would inspire you to do a cosplay/nail art/clothing/other? Why?

Any and all Robin Hood books make me want to cosplay, especially Robin McKinley’s The Outlaws of Sherwood and A. C. Gaughen’s Scarlet. I love the idea of heroic outlaws thumbing their noses at a crooked sheriff while defending the downtrodden. I was super excited when I picked up a temporary Robin Hood tattoo from the Litographs booth at BEA earlier this year!

Questions from Brittany at The Passionate Bookworms

13. What is the last book you DNF’d? At what point did you stop and why?

I didn’t finish Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama. I only had a few chapters to go, and it wasn’t a bad book, but I just got bored and wanted to move on to other things.

14. What do you think the next trend of books will be? For a long while it was dystopian, what is your prediction for the next big genre?

It’s not really a genre, but I’ve seen a ton of blog tour and review requests for New Adult fiction lately. I think that’s a market that will continue to expand over the next couple of years.

Questions from Nori at ReadWriteRepeat28

Book cover for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern15. If you could visit any world in any book, which world would you visit?

I’d love to visit the Cirque des Rêves from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (read my review here). It’s such a magical, fantastical place, a black-and-white wonderland full of whimsical delights and enchantments.

16. Who is your book boyfriend/girlfriend OR what character do you think could be your best friend?

I have too many book boyfriends to count, so I’m going to go with the best friend option. My BFF would be Jacky Faber from L. A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack series. She’s spunky, entertaining, and devious, and I think we’d have a lot of fun together. Plus, she’s a pirate, which makes me love her even more.

Questions from Tee at Me, Books & the Internet

17. Which book character do you think you’re most like? Why?

Allyson Healey from Gayle Forman’s Just One Day is the only character that’s ever made me stop and say, “Wow – this girl is ME!” Her feelings about travel, her outlook on life, and her reactions to the things that happen throughout the book mirrored my own feelings exactly.

18. Have you ever read a book that had a moment that happened to you in real life? If so, what book and what moment?

Not exactly, but I empathize a lot with Cath from Fangirl. Although our circumstances were different, we both struggled through our freshman year of college, and I really related to her social anxiety.

Question from Elly at A Hufflepuff’s Thoughts

19. Choose one shelf from your bookshelf. What does it look like? (take a picture)

Shelf from my bookcase

This is my “Signed Books And Books That Are Related To Those Signed Books” shelf. For example, I have three books that are autographed by Maggie Stiefvater, so all of the other books I have by her are shelved with the signed ones. Likewise, my autographed copy of Dearest is organized alongside all my other fairy tale retellings.

20. If you could have any animal/non-human character from any book, who/what would you choose and why?

I recently reread The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and was reminded of how much I love the bond between Sean Kendrick and his water horse Corr. It’d be awesome to have Corr in real life, as long as I also had Sean’s horse whisperer mojo.

Thanks for letting me join in on the Q&A, Team Chocolate! It was great getting to read your own answers and “meet” you all!