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{film+book} howl’s moving castle

of note: in my desire to compare book and film, I have to spoil the book a bit, but only a bit.


Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) is inarguably one of Studio Ghibli’s finest and best-known films. Its direction/screenplay is by the masterful Hayao Miyazaki. We have seen it countless times, enjoying the unusual story of a young woman cursed with old age and a mysterious wizard who lives in a moving castle. The animation is beautiful and its magic captures the imagination.

howl's moving castle moving poster

For those unfamiliar: Sophie Hatter is a seemingly ordinary girl who is a milliner at the family shop. This is her life until the Witch of the Waste comes to the shop and curses her with old age. Unable to stay and face explanation, Sophie decides to leave home and in doing so encounters the infamous young wizard Howl’s moving castle. Striking a deal with the fire demon who mans the hearth of the castle, Sophie insists on making herself useful until each can solve the others’ problem.

Sophie had a brief but memorable encounter with Howl previously when he rescues her from a pair of overly amorous soldiers—Howl, who is rumored to seduce young women only to eat their hearts. It is Howl who is blamed for bringing Sophie to the lamentable attention of a jealous Witch of the Waste. Howl finds Sophie frustrating, but also useful, and he seems to have a soft-spot for the orphaned. As the film progresses we learn that there is more to it. In the meanwhile, Howl is a busy trying to avoid the Witch of the Waste’s scorn and hiding from his King’s war and its devastating effects.

Howl, like Sophie and others, must eventually make a decision to no longer run away from their fates. With Howl it is the war, especially as he is really the only one powerful enough to make a difference. Not one for self-sacrifice, Howl finds his purpose in Sophie. And Sophie finds her own inner daring. She finds strength in the curse, and asserts her own will in overcoming it. If for no other reason we watch Miyazaki films for their heroes. Popular to Miyazaki films, there are also observations on the destructiveness of war; the machine versus nature; and the interplay/marriage between magick and industrial innovation.

howls-moving-castleHowl's_Moving_Castle_(Book_Cover)The film is based on Diana Wynne Jones’ (DWJ) novel of the same name. DWJ’s novel was first published in 1986 with Greenwillow Books and found revival in 2001 with new editions in paperback under the same publisher. While Natalya has owned Howl’s Moving Castle and House of Many Ways (a companion written/pub. 2008), she has only recently taken to reading them in earnest. She then insisted on reading them to me. They are fantastic for the read-aloud. They are miserable for the film—which we, of course, insisted on re-watching upon completing the novel.

Miyazaki based his own work on DWJ’s, and while there is a faithfulness in the film, he does have his own storytelling intentions. There most remarkable differences are in characterization. Many of the motivations are there, just reframed—much for sake of time and Miyazaki’s focus on a kingdom at war, which is diminished in the novel. The villains are the warmongers. In the novel, it is a toss up between fear and ambition—which I suppose are really just logs in the same fire. It comes down to a matter of heart and the strength of it.


As with the film, Howl and Sophie, individually, have to decide to courageously meet their fates instead of running or hiding away. However, we come to learn in the novel that Sophie has magic. She is quite powerful, but it takes her a long time to realize it. The reader learns of it long before, through subtle allusions at first. The Witch of the Waste sees Sophie not as a sexual threat per se, but a magical one. She systematically eliminates her competition as she comes across them and — well, that is a spoiler I can keep. The Witch is a woman scorned by Howl. He did what he is known to do: court a young woman and once she falls in love with him, he dumps her. He is a complicated hero…

In the film, the Witch is exorcised and some nugget of goodness surfaces from somewhere. In the book she is unrepentantly not good, and this is especially important because of the role of a fire demon in relation to their human. In the film, Howl’s fire demon Calcifer is somewhat jocular (like his voice talent Billy Crystal), and while the novel carves a soft spot in him for Sophie he kind of dark—and he is credibly mysterious (though the reader can work this one out, too). This fantasy novel is rife with good mysteries.

In the film, Howl is beautiful and charming and vain. In the novel, he is all these things to a more gloriously comedic degree. Howl is tormented by a curse (we learn) and his doom is inevitable. Maybe some of that drama is warranted. Love the use of a John Donne poem here. He is a womanizer, and the tension is incredible when we find that his sights have landed on Sophie’s sister. [Sophie has two younger sisters who are actual characters in the book.] Sophie is concerned for her sister’s heart, but by the time Howl’s “affections” seem to shift, we glimpse jealousy—something Sophie struggles to deal with rather awesomely.


And Sophie is awesome—so pragmatic… That Sophie is aged is a stroke of genius I can appreciate in the film. Acting like an “old lady” it seems only fitting that she actually become one. The aches and pains that slow her down are frustrations. The novel touches on the more troubling aspects: she has lost ~60 years of her life, and she is vulnerable–especially in her encounters with the terrifying Radish Head (a difference in film/book). I adore that Sophie is granted a confidence in her dealings. She cares less what people think of her which makes her more assertive and allows her to take more risks. Of course, being immune to Howl at the start is all well and good, but as things change…

Sophie is a delayer, finding some excuse or another, and this plays out beautifully in so many ways. Entering the novel, I’d thought that this imaginative world was built to inhabit interesting characters who are driven by the conflicts it has acquired, but the story really is driven by these characters and their conflicts; hence the diminishing of the war Howl is keen to avoid. It is merely part of a greater thing that he is avoiding. They have their excuses which direct their actions which creates all sorts of interesting and hilarious conflicts for each other and the world about them. This isn’t to say there is not some sinister goings-on. Where has the King’s brother and the court sorcerer gotten to? Surely Howl will have to confront the Witch of the Waste eventually. And what of Sophie, and Calcifer?

The novel, though very funny, is also dark; it just keeps you laughing and turning pages for what’s next to dwell overly upon it, until that there is not running and hiding any longer.


As with most films based upon books, there are lost characters and casting choices. The film has the child Markl where DWJ writes a young adolescent apprentice Michael Fisher—Markl keeps the story childish and Sophie maternal; Michael is a wonderful source of humor and tension. The film collapses two characters into one (Penstemmen/Suliman; Martha/Lettie). The novel’s use of these characters lends a sense of history and family to Howl and Sophie. Howl’s background is cleverly revealed; DWJ’s black doorway is easily the better of the two (though I can understand why Miyazaki couldn’t afford the complication).

I do not believe it is a given that the book is better than the film (when it is published first). And with Howl’s Moving Castle, the film has a charm of its own, crafted in gorgeous animation and based upon the wonderful wit and imagination of two fantastic creatives Hayao Miyazaki and Diana Wynne Jones. Comparative with the book, however, it merely scratches the surface. The book is more superlative in every way.

Own both, just do not imbibe them in too close proximity to one another.

book list · Children's · cinema · concenter · juvenile lit · Picture book · young adult lit

{wraps} favorites of 2012

girl reading by el

{girl reading by emma leonard}

it is proving inevitable that I will read something on New Year’s Eve that will edge itself onto a favorites list. Sarah Beth Durst’s Vessel was a serious contender, but Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon did slip into the Top 3 YA reads. so without further ado, I will close out 2012 properly with contemplating my favorite reads of the years.

 comic 2012

I read quite a few COMICS of varying fashions and for various ages…but the first two were the easiest picks:

Pluto(vol 1-7) Pluto (vol 8) by Urasawa x Tezuka

Womanthology: Heroic

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire (review pending)

with a special mention of the lovely final installment of Amelia Rules! : Her Permanent Record by Jimmy Gownley (review pending)

pb 2012

I read a lot more PICTURE BOOKS this year, I’m sure 31 in 31 Days in October didn’t hurt. So many good ones and these still linger:

Nora the Mind Reader by Orit Gidal, illus. Aya Gordon-Noy

the little bit scary people by Emily Jenkins, Illus Alexandra Boiger

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

juvenile 2012


My Name is Mina by David Almond… no surprise here.

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin…so taken with this author this year.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate…a sweet surprise. [review pending]

ya 2012

Young Adult

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley…lovely lovely writing, & just thoroughly enjoyed the story. [review pending

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness…one I wish I would have written.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman…refreshing and impressive in so many ways.

lit 2012

Of the Older Crowd and the sort I plan to make more time for in 2013…

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman…tough and brilliant.

You are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett…wow, mind-blowing

The Curfew by Jesse Ball…my love affair continues.

film 2012

I anticipated plenty in the FILMS of 2012:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), dir. Peter Jackson

Brave (2012), dir.  Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012), dir. Christopher Nolan

foreign 2012

favorite foreign:

Les émotifs anonymes[Romantics Anonymous] (2010), Jean-Pierre Améris.

The Warrior’s Way (2010), dir. Sngmoo Lee

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011), dir David Gelb (documentary)

tv 2012

Television what does these all have in common? yeah… looking forward to at least one last season w/ Wallander and many more of the others:

Wallander, series 3 (2012), w/ Kenneth Brannaugh. Doctor Who, series 7. Sherlock, series 2. Downton Abbey, series 2.

sean 2012

Sean started and ended his year with Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. He discovered China Mieville with Kraken and The City and The City. Both authors have unique storytelling styles and their stories are wholly original in their content.  And a fun family quote from Kraken: “Billy says there’s a squid cult.”

n 2012

Natalya has out-read us all: no shocker there. We lost count how many times she read Brandon Sanderson’s The Mistborn Trilogy alone. Who made her list?

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

a little wanting song by Cath Crowley

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Fly Trap by Frances Hardinge

The False Pirnce by Jennifer Nielsen

A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

series:  Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley, Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, added the last 3 of The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowery.

book list

{challenge} – days of picture books

איה גורדון – Aya Gordon

One of the blogs I follow, Shelf Elf, celebrated September with a picture book a day. She was inspired by Candlewick Press’ year-long celebration of the picture book and thought to join in. I thought maybe I could try it. I am not a Children’s Librarian or a parent to a small child (N is 12), and I read them differently sometimes and over time. But I love picture books and find that their presence and significance can and does reach well beyond childhood.

So, 31 Days of Picture Books was a crazy scheme—for me. It started off better than it ended with days becoming squished together. Next time I will plan all the posts the month before to avoid those down days of illness and busy-ness. The primary goal was to read & review 31 books for the 31 days of October. I didn’t want to review any of the ones Shelf Elf had, nor re-post any I had reviewed before. Happily, I found good ones; although I am deliberating the idea that if I ever do this again, picking more books and only reviewing the ones I would place in my own library. The Red Shoes tied me up for a few days. But then again I am yet the bookseller or librarian—yet, so I am not curating anything here. Just experiencing them. So we’ll see.

I did find books I would love to own, and more that I would love everyone to have access to. I feel blessed to have such a well-stocked Public Library and a charming (if not exceptionally quiet) indie bookstore down the street. Did I have any favorites out of the 31? sure. Did you?

I know I found some authors and illustrators to keep in mind and am contemplating a few more Illustrator features, it’s been a while. Any particular artist you would like me to highlight?

I created a pin board for picture books on Pinterest called “pb&…”

Turns out October was a good month to do this, because between here, Shelf Elf’s 30 days, and Candlewick Press thus far, maybe you have found some good new picture books to celebrate Picture Book month with throughout November. Maybe you have found some good gift ideas for the holidays.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming; whatever that actually looks like.

book list · horror/scary

{challenge} & that’s a RIP

{The Evil Snowman by Zeeksie (aka Serj)}

Before we move onto Winter cheer, R.eader’s I.mbibing P.eril VII has come to a close.

Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings is an awesome host—thanks for putting it all together, friend—and I look forward to The Sci-Fi Experience coming up next. If you can only manage a few Challenges a year, keep Stainless Steel Droppings in mind because they are fun and attract the best people.

I hope next year to indulge myself much more than I managed this year. But I did enjoy myself and found many a great reading recommendation or screen suggestion these past two months. Plenty that will not wait for next year’s RIP.

So what did I manage this year?

books, noticeably all Juvenile or Young Adult. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (& Siobhan Dowd); Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley; Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrowwritten & illustrated by Katy Towell; Chime by Franny Billingsley;  Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (review pending); I did read some Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but those would be less “review” than usual.

picture books Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide/Carson Ellis; Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex;  Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean

comics Young Lovecraft (vol. 2) by Jose Oliver  Bartolo Torres (review pending).

screen meant to watch more but we didn’t. It was enough to keep up w/ television—which does include Bones and some episodes of Grimm.  North by Northwest (1959), dir. Alfred Hitchcock;  Wallander, series 3 (2012), w/ Kenneth Branagh, BBC;  Prometheus (2012), dir. Ridley Scott, review pending but it was creepy even if it didn’t have that awesome soundtrack from the trailers.

participated in the “A Grave Tale” activity

Sean and Natalya watched and read. Natalya watched some Doctor Who as well as North by Northwest, and some Grimm. Sean watched Cabin in the Woods (2012) dir. Joss Whedon at least once along with all the afforementioned.

Sean read Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore (a lot of hilarity, but mystery and distress as well). Natalya enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (which I started but it had to be returned), In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz, Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”…not sure what else because she moves through things so quickly—even that massive tome Susanna Clarke wrote called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell with which she is nearly finished.

So that is it for this year’s RIP! Hope you experienced some good reads and found more than a few books to try.

book list · juvenile lit · recommend · young adult lit

{book list} n’s summer reading recs (pt2)

Yesterday, Natalya began her list of 20 summer reading recommendations, and today we list the second set of ten. These books are in no particular order, and they range across age and content. Enjoy!  ~L


Yes! Your favorite contributor on the blog is back! (And will hopefully keep updating and more lists and reviews.) This time around I have created a list of some of the best reads for summertime. They are listed from first to twentieth using the criteria of how light (cheerful) or humorous, how thick, how easy to read, and how enjoyable the book is overall. All the books are fantastic, even the last one is great, so you just read them all, or pick the ones that seem to appeal to you. Enjoy and continue to have a wonderful summer!

11. Bridge to Terabithiaby Katherine Paterson (HarperCollins 1977).

I know I promised to stay light, but here I go, a horribly sad book. But it is truly a classic and is still the perfect summer book, a book about two children becoming friends, whose imagination that makes you truly believe in magic. So creative and inspiring, if not bitter- really, really, bitter-sweet, it still ends perfectly–happily even.

12. Alex and the Ironic Gentlemanby Adrienne Kress (Weinstein Books 2007).

A longtime favorite, as you already probably know, I find that this book is readable in every season! But fitting my criteria, it is once more on my list, as it is filled with odd circumstances. Adrienne Kress’ characters absolutely sparkle with extraordinary personalities and her plot never ceases to amaze, no matter how many times you read it–500 times for me and I still grin with pleasure, even though I’ve memorized most of it. It really is the perfect summer adventure story.

13. School of Fear(book1) by Gitty Daneshvari (Little, Brown Books 2009).

Despite its name, this book is a light, off-the-wall, and funny read about a group of children going to a “school” to “cure” their phobias. The school is peculiar and they are not impressed by its methods, as none of them are working, but when tragedy hits and they suspect foul play. Being the only ones that can help, can they set aside their fears? A truly hilarious adventure will make you glad you read it.

[N’s omphaloskepsis review]

14. Page by Paigeby Laura Lee Gulledge (Abrams 2011)

This book is on the line between a graphic novel and a notebook full of illustrations used by our main character to express herself, as she finds a path toward opening up to her new friends, learning to ask for help, and opening up more as they spread joy through art and creativity by projects throughout the city. The author’s own unique vision and creativity makes this book a very enjoyable read.

[omphaloskepsis review]

15. Remarkableby Lizzie K. Foley (Dial 2012)

This is a fun, wonky book where in the town of Remarkable, everybody is remarkable at something, except our main character. This book has a wandering plot, with random coincidences finding connection to form a mystery that only Jane can solve with her unremarkableness. This is just a truly fun story, something light to read.

[omphaloskepsis review]

16. Nationby Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins 2008)

This book is one of friendship and some love, of responsibility and faith towards a religion. After his clan is swept out by a huge wave, a young boy is left on his home island, alone. A young girl, from England is the only survivor of a shipwreck. Speaking different languages and having different cultures, they are speaking to each other only through pictures and motions. Once other survivors come to the island, the pair soon has their own clan to take care of, and with it problems. Reading the two’s interactions is enjoyable and the author has a way of keeping the story fairly light, while still having deep morals.

17. A Tale of Two Castlesby Gail Carson Levine (HarperTeen 2011).

When you hear Gail Carson Levine’s name, you know the story ought to be good. In this book, she creates an adventure where her main character, hoping to be an actor, has to solve a mystery in the castle with only the aid of the dragon. Her brave, witty characters make this read yet another success.

18. The Tiger Risingby Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick 2002).

Though I promised to keep this list light, I could not help but add this fairly sad story by Kate DiCamill. It is a beautifully written book, full of beautiful things and ugly lives and the connection of a girl and a boy held together by a beautiful discovery, and ending with a realistic action of love. A warning: if you want to avoid something sad, I would not read this this season. But it truly is elegantly written story, unfortunately, a little overshadowed by the brilliance and popularity of her other books. If you don’t mind a few tears, you should read this book.

19. The Princess Brideby William Goldman (Ballantine 1973).

You might be familiar with this movie, it has originated from a book, and it is equally enjoyable, I can assure you. The book is a bit lengthy, exceeding one of my criteria, but it is a book of true love, and has some of the best characters and plots I have read.

20. Kingdom Keepers series (Disney After Dark, book 1) by Ridley Pearson (Disney Press 2005).

This adventure does have a little bit of a sinister side, but as long as you are not scared easily and don’t read it before bed you will be fine. The creativity of the author of the conflict is amazing and it is truly a classic, but different adventure.

book list · chapter/series · guestblogger · N · recommend

{book list} n’s summer reading recs (pt1)

I’ve a guest-blogger today. Natalya (aka the daughter) promised me some posts and a couple weeks in, she hammers out one with 2-parts! Come back tomorrow for numbers 11-20 of her summer reading book recommendations. ~L


Yes! Your favorite contributor on the blog is back! (And will hopefully keep updating and more lists and reviews.) This time around I have created a list of some of the best reads for summertime. They are listed from first to twentieth using the criteria of how light (cheerful) or humorous, how thick, how easy to read, and how enjoyable the book is overall. All the books are fantastic, even the last one is great, so you just read them all, or pick the ones that seem to appeal to you. Enjoy and continue to have a wonderful summer!

1. The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg (Aladdin 2004)

This is a quirky, fantastic book, featuring Margaret Rose and her uncles and her uncles’ towers. This book is about the realistic fact that all good things must come to an end and how, while her uncles are giving into it, Margaret is refusing to let go of the tower, no matter what. This story gives you the contented feeling that there is nothing that determination and creativity can’t conquer.

2. Letters from Campby Kate Klise (HarperTrophy 1999).

One thing I admire of this series of different books is that it never has pure narrative. Never. It consists of letters, menus, schedules, pictures, and more, but carries the plot better than some books with the traditional narrative. This book shows how evil summer camps may be and the bravery and resourcefulness of children. The clashing of characters and brothers and sisters is hilarious as they communicate by letters and eventually work together to fight the horrible camp counselors and owners. A fairly quick, but captivating read.

3. Savvyby Ingrid Law (Dial 2000).

What power would you inherit on your 13thbirthday? This is a book of magic, but in a practical, down-home sense. Our character is so well-created, you feel who she is, why she would do something. This is an awe-inspiring journey of a girl trying to go and save her daddy, with a–I promise–happy ending.

[omphaloskepsis review]

4. Chompby Carl Hiaason (Random House 2012).

Another glorious book from Carl Hiaasen! This book talks of endangered animals and blends a world of humorous circumstances and hilariously written characters as a popular wildlife TV show and animal trainers have to sort their differences and work together to find TV star Derek Badger while protecting a young girl from her abusive father who is hunting for her. You will be racing through it, praising Carl Hiaasen once more!

5. Because of Winn-Dixieby Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press 2000).

This popular summer classic runs a beautiful chill up my spine, at the beauty, and the characters; especially at the bittersweet ending. If you haven’t read it, ask yourself, “What am I doing? How in the world have I not read this book?” and start reading. If you have read it, read it again and maybe again. The friendship between the two characters and the more friendships that come from it will warm your heart more than imaginable.

6. Un Lun Dunby China Mieville (DelRey 2007).

This book is the thing that fantasy-lovers will drool over! The oddness of everything shows China Mieville’s creativity, while the comparisons with London (which will leave you laughing hours later) show his wit. He leads you in, making you believe this is a normal fantasy, using the usual characters, the usual plot, and suddenly turns everything around; leading you into the fantastic realm he has created. The rapturing story will suck you into it, only to reluctantly spit you back out when you finish the story!

[omphaloskepsis review]

7. The Westing Gameby Ellen Raskin (Puffin 1978)

This mystery has become a favorite of mine. It is a mystery not only to read, but for you to solve! (I’m still waiting for the board game though.) The characters Raskin creates and the ways each come about are surprisingly unique and clever and the resolution is fitting, perfect even, although it certainly won’t cross your mind immediately, if at all. Sit back and relax with this clever, cleverly written mystery.

8. My Name is Minaby David Almond (Hodder Children’s Books 2010).

This book is a companion to Skellig, but has its own story and is perfect just by itself. Mina, a free-spirited young girl, is fighting her way into the mix of what is normal, and what her own feelings are. Not only is it an enjoyable read, with a character you come to love, there are activities for you to do, perfect for filling your summer with!

[omphaloskepsis review]

9. Utterly Me, Clarice Beanby Lauren Child (Candlewick 2002).

This book is a favorite in the household, and beginning to a hilarious series. This story is about a young girl and looks like it is written by one, with the unique changing and positioning of the writing. Clarice Bean is a creative, outgoing, young girl, determined to be a detective, just like the main character of her favorite series. This book, while aimed towards the younger audiences, is perfect for both young and old.

10. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disastersby Lenore Look, LeUyen Pham (illustrator) (Random House 2009).

I have to admit, this is a little kid’s book. Yes, it is. But you can’t be too old for a good book, can you? This little boy, Alvin, is scared of everything. Yes, this is a book in a series. The whole family is fairly quirky. His father curses in Shakespearean, his brother too. Even though this book is short, and might not be an award-winner; it is short and sweet, making you laugh your socks off. Trust me, children and young adult books can be the best type.

[omphaloskepsis review]


———–comeback tomorrow for 11-20 on the list of summer recommendations.

book list

{books} 2011

number of books read in 2011: 143; notably, plenty were picture books, juvenile fiction, and comics. Next year I will record page numbers (was too lazy to back track this time). I did read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, so yay! me for fitting in a tome! (those who know me understand.)

Children’s Picture Books: 15.   Juvenile Fiction: 53.  Young Adult: 12.  Older: 20.  Non-fiction: 3 (not counting tales in Children’s/Juvenile)

Comics: Juvenile: 19.   Young Adult: 19.   Older: 2

in both comic & literature, juvenile & adult: 15 short story collections, 7 of which were anthologies

of the book would be non-fiction, only one of which is adult non-fiction.

47 were parts of a series.

all but 31 were published in the U.S. by U.S. authors.

25 of the authors were not-white; 44 of the books had at least one significant non-white protagonist. [a few white authors are writing non-white protags. I don’t recall any non-white author writing only white protags.]

Authors: 61 males; 54 females. [rarely a threat for me to find balance here].

the majority of the reads were Fantasy, Tales, and Contemporary Dramas, though I registered an increase in Historical Fiction (~20). Need to expand into non-fiction more.

30 were published in 2010. 46 were published 2011 (a vast improvement to the usual.)

of note: I need to break down Juvenile Fiction a bit as it is rather expansive; and figure out YA a bit better, because there is so much crossing over and around and through…


Best of my Reads:

Juvenile Fiction: Twighlight Robbery aka Fly Trap by Frances Hardinge. It is a given when Hardinge has a book out, it will be the top read. Lian Tanner’s Museum of Thieves is right up there, as well as Ellen Potter’s The Knee Bone Boy and Shug by Jenny Han (must read more of her). Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy was my favorite series to discover, one of my favorite discoveries period.

Young Adult: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was one of my first reads of 2011, and is the best YA in 2011. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs should be mentioned, as well as the inimitable Laini Taylor with Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Of the Older… I’m really in trouble here. I read some phenomenal books (however few); I need to read more so as to make this easier, I think.

[The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson; The Curfew by Jesse Ball; The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes; The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss; Sorry by Gail Jones; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell;The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu; A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi; After the Quake by Haruki Murakami; The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester; The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson; Alan Bradley put two Flavia de Luce Mysteries out…]

Here’s a “Top 3″: yeah, right. no matter how I approach it, most all elbowing for the position; especially the first 10 listed. Notably, I wouldn’t just recommend many out of hand. [but I will recommend via request.]

In comics/graphic novels: Shaun Tan upends everyone so I am putting him in a class of his own. I discovered Sara Varon of Robot Dreams and Bake Sale this year, was happy to meet her, as well as Faith Erin Hicks who has Friends with Boys coming out in 2012 and I am going to read more of hers. Of note, Hope Larson will have an adaptation out of A Wrinkle in Time in 2012 (love her work). I found a lot of published web-comics, so I obviously need to subscribe to some on-line reads.

Juvenile: Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile was just fun! Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is a must.

Young Adult: The Color Trilogy by Kim Dong Hwa; Woolvs in the Sitee by Margaret Wild and Anna Spudvilas

Older…: Bayou (vol 1) by Jeremy Love was most affecting, as was Deogratias by J.P. Stassen.


challenges completed: The Science Fiction Experience (non-challenge); Once Upon a Time Challenge; and Reader’s Imbibing Peril. notice they are all of “Stainless Steel Droppings.” I don’t know how many more I will add to this this year. I really want to do the Europa Challenge (via “Boston Bibliophile”) this year, which encouraged me to read the remarkable Gail Jones book Sorry.


for interested parties:

Sean’s top reads 2011 (in no particular order): Zero History by William Gibson, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, After Dark by Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi; The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (to note, feels Sanderson found his stride in Jordan’s Wheel of Time: Towers of Midnight).

(half-10, half-11) Natalya’s top reads 2011 (in no particular order): Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage, Catching Fire (#2)Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson; Albatross by Josie Bloss. She was excited to discover Tamora Pierce and Edgar Allen Poe this year.


I will wrap-up films tomorrow. then on with catch-up reviews and reads I didn’t manage in 2011, but look forward to in 2012: to include: Divergent by Veronica Roth, finishing Erin Bow’s Plain Kate (which, surprisingly, underwhelmed me), and I’ve James Gleick’s Information, he is favorite of Sean’s that I hope to read this year. I’ve a large TBR pile I want to put a dent in in 2012, but I hope to finish my degree in 2012, so we’ll see how much reading of my choosing I will fit in this year.