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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #5

Looking for updates? Hang tight!
 Auggie is finishing grad. school (finals due on May 4th!) 
and Tori is healing from surgery, but we'll be 
back in the game soon. Want more info? Here you go!

Hello bliblio friendship! 
This 2015 one of our blogging goals is to participate in more Meme's! Wooo!


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I was finally (it felt like I waited forever) approved on Edelweiss to read this title. Not only am I stoked to read it I can't wait to own it. I want that beautiful cover shining in my bookshelf!

13455099Title:Mechanica
Author: Betsy Cornwell
Genre: Fantasy - Fairytale Retelling
Publication: August 4, 2015
Pages: 304

Summary:

Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.

What are YOU not so patiently waiting for?

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

News!



So... I've got some news. 

I'm getting married.  :) 

And I'm floundering in term papers which are all due by April 12th. My finals are then due by May 4th so between now and then it's gonna be sparse! We can't wait to rejuvenate for the spring. Eeee!

Bear with us! Both Tori (who is healing marvelously by the way and finally got to go back to work this week) and I have been THRILLED with the support from our readers. Even though this has been a bit of a down month we've reached a record number in our visits and are very thankful for all of you. 

We're both so ready for the upcoming spring so we can get back to READING. I have a TBR list that just won't quit! (And I'm certainly not asking it to). 

Hope all of you are enjoying you first weeks of spring!

Until Next Blog, 

Read On! 


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Uncross the Stars: Author Interview



Book & Author Details


Uncross the Stars by Janell Rhiannon
Publication date: December 15th, 2014
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Fiona Lavender is the new girl at school. She has a chip on her shoulder and a pension for poetry. Dario Martinez is the star quarterback, and the most unattainable guy on campus. Their stars cross when they are paired to study Romeo and Juliet for a senior English project. Their connection is fragile and undeniable. But, Dario is afraid of what love will do; and Fiona is waiting for love to claim her. Will they uncross the stars and find the love they both need to heal their pasts?

Purchase:

 



AUTHOR BIO:


Janell has been writing since she was in grade school. In high school, her 9th grade English teacher suggested she consider a career in writing. After a decade in college and a Master's degree in history, she settled into teaching.
 
Writing never stopped. Stories never stopped. READING fiction never stopped. Now, she writes and publishes on-line. Invisible Wings is her first YA novel, a compilation of short stories centered on teenage life triumphs and tragedies. She believes being a teenager is difficult and wrote Invisible Wings to let teens know they aren't alone. That they matter. That even though life is rough, they can still find beauty and love. 

 
Beside the YA stories close to her heart, she adores Mythology and Fairy tales. Anything magical and mystical. And dragons. And gargoyles. 

 
She currently lives in CA. 

 
Visit her at Facebook @Janell Rhiannon Author. If you want to see what projects are in the works or find out more about the her, visit

 






Interview With the Author

1. What sparked your interest in becoming an author?

I always loved telling and writing stories. And I’ve always kept journals of story fragments, napkins with ideas, and snippets of paper with doodles of characters. I think that it wasn’t so much of a spark as it was something I did naturally. I did come late to the indie author platform because I was busy doing what I was “supposed to be doing.” Then, a few years ago, I realized that my life was more than half over, if I am lucky enough to live into my 90s, and I hadn’t even tried to do the very thing I loved doing: write the damn stories. 

2. Who are the authors that have inspired you the most?

I’ve been inspired by the classic authors: Homer and Shakespeare. My love of mythology stems from studying and thinking about the Iliad and the Odyssey. My love of tragedy began with Shakespeare. I feel that tragedy mirrors life in a powerful way, a way that profoundly touches my heart.

3. Are any of your characters reflections of your own self or those you know? Give us a hint as to who!

Ah! Such a great question! The mother-daughter interaction between Fiona and her mom is based on the tension I’ve always had with my mom. I never had the easy relationship that some mother/daughters have for a variety of reasons. In the end, we all get one mom so learning to accept that moms are people too was huge for me. And honestly, the older you get and muddle through various aspects of parenting yourself, you realize that your youthful ideas about being a parent were just that...youthful.

4. Is there a book out there that changed your life?

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. This book completely changed the way I saw not only storytelling, but life as well. It connected myth and reality for me. I’ve never been able to see a movie, read a book, or go through my world and not think about “the Hero Journey.”

5. Was this book inspired by a particular event or happening in your life or was it just brilliant random moment?


I guess it was just a random idea I had about a boy and a girl whose stars were crossed...really I suppose I was thinking one day about fate. I was thinking about some of the traumatic things in my life and realized all those were fate as well as all the good things. Mind blown.

6. When you hit a road block in writing how do you overcome?

I walk or run on the treadmill in my office...or pick up dog poop. Really, I like to just walk and listen to music and let my mind wander. And then there’s always my sister. She always knows what to say. I’ve not written anything in about two months, because I’m percolating. I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to go in...the it hit me. I really want to return to the mythology. There’s always on line dating sites if you want to entertain yourself. Truly I could write a book on it.

7. What is your favorite writing snack/drink?


I like wine or hot lemon water. I don’t really snack when I’m writing.

8. You get an opportunity to spend the afternoon with your favorite author. Who is it and how will you spend your time together?

This is hard and I’m going to cheat on my answer. There are three authors who I talk to a lot on Facebook, but we’ve never met: Chastity Bush, Kendall Gray and Micalea Smeltzer. I’ve read their books, chatted, shared stuff...they crack me up. So, I want to meet all of them at a lunch in a beachside restaurant in Santa Monica that stretches into dinner, too much wine, food and laughing. I hope we’d talk about everything under the sun.

9. What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this work?

Trying to revise and revise. It got to the point where I didn’t want to even look at it any more.

10. What is your advice to aspiring authors who are penning their first work as we speak?

Keep writing and don’t let anyone tell you that your dream isn’t practical or doable. Do it any way. Do it for yourself. Find someone who will tell you your work sucks and why. Then, fix it. Don’t worry about negative reviews. I’ve had some. It burns. But, a reader took time to consider your work. Be grateful, because what if no one read it ever? That would be a hard burn:)

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: "Crimson Bound" by Rosamund Hodge



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Title: Crimson Bound

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Genre: YA Fairytale Retell/Fantasy

Publication: May 5, 2015

Pages:448



Summary: 

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.

(This is a standalone novel, not part of the Cruel Beauty Universe.



Auggie's Review
      
Readable/Nothing Special

This one was disappointing for various reasons but I'm still trying to decide between a 2.5 or 3 stars because some of the dialogue was really good (read witty and funny), but the overall put-together of it just fell flat for me.

One thing specifically that bugged me was that this was supposed to be set in a Versailles-like atmosphere but I don't feel the author brought that across as strongly as I was hoping, almost as though it was added in as an afterthought. Aside from the French names and the occasional use of polite titles such as "mademoiselle", I couldn't envision Versailles.

There was some very rigid storytelling (flashbacks mostly, or almost everything in italics) and the romance/lusty moments felt too contrived and interrupted the story at what felt like inopportune moments. This book tried to be spicy but just didn't quite make it there. 


I think there was also a point where the author tried to make a very strong point about our main character's control over her own sexuality by having her sleep with a man she is strongly attracted to but not in love with. This progressive sort of "own yourself!" moment is spoiled by the fact that she was making the decision during a powerful episode of self-hate. Ruins it a bit there...

Rachelle, whom I wanted to love, was just too full of self-loathing to be fully likeable. A bit of self-hatred goes a long way and getting the reader to understand that she despises herself for the things she did to become forestborn doesn't take quite so many reminders. When your main character, whose inner voice you're hearing at every turn, has no hope for herself...ever... it becomes a rather grudging read.

Another issue, I'm not so sure we could call this one a fairytale retelling.  I can't imagine that someone who hadn't read the synopsis would be able to figure out that this was a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Similarities? Red cloak. Check.... seductive bad-guy villain with murderous intentions? Check... Uh... I guess Rachelle's aunt was the grannie?

The sun and the moon bit were clever, and so was the "rebirth" concept. I have a feeling the author studied this Fairytale in an academic sense at some point in her life, and bravo for her (that is not sarcasm, I love when people do research!). If the author did indeed mean to include some of the anthropological theory about little red riding hood/wolf being symbols of the sun and moon and the natural solar cycles, as well as the concepts of rebirth then great, but I'm not sure how many readers would actually be aware of the author's literary theory tie-ins surrounding LRR enough for it to matter.


For me, this just wasn't a strong enough retelling. I might have enjoyed this book more had I not been trying to figure out how it related to the Perrault/ Grimm originals (in a non theoretical way) half the time. 

To be clear... this is not a crap-trash book, the ideas were pretty clever and the heroine was one tough cookie! There are things to like about this book... but my personal expectations for a great fairytell retelling weren't met and, for me, the romance felt stilted and unnatural.


Auggie is the 28 year old whirlwind owner of Auggie-Talk. A Teen Librarian and bibliobibuli by nature as well as a (potentially obsessive) lover of Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman. One can normally find Auggie neck deep in reading, writing, or daydreaming (sometimes all three at once).  She's also been known to drink too much caffeine and eat too many lemon flavored sweets.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Helia's Shadow by K.C. Neal




Book & Author details:

Helia’s Shadow: Part One by K.C. Neal
(The Starlight Age #1)
Publication date: November 23rd 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Helia’s Shadow is for fans of The 5th Wave (Rick Yancey), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Divergent (Veronica Roth), and Legend (Marie Lu).

When the aliens arrived, they were hailed as the saviors of a dying Earth and dwindling human race. But the aliens didn’t come to help. Now, one human girl’s ingenious invention and one alien boy’s awakened heart are humanity’s last hope…

Nineteen years ago, aliens arrived on a barely habitable Earth with advanced technology and the promise of ensuring human survival in exchange for a place to settle. They were hailed as the saviors of humans and Earth.

Today, 16-year-old Helia wants two things in life: to step out of her over-protective mother’s shadow and become an engineer, and to stop hiding her relationship with alien boy Kalo. But the world definitely isn’t ready for a human-alien romance. And worse, the human-alien partnership is crumbling. Humans are arrested without explanation. Some of them are never seen again.

When the alien leader imprisons her mother on a false charge, Helia discovers the aliens never intended to help humans at all. Now, she must join forces with alien rebels. If she succeeds, humans have a chance at survival and she has a chance at love. If she fails, the dwindling human race dies out in slavery.




Purchase


AUTHOR BIO:

In previous iterations of my professional life, I worked as a bench chemist, a lab equipment tester, a biotech researcher, and a medical writer. Strangely, this sequence has not led to my dream job: drummer in a rock band. But my current gig is pretty sweet.

I love colored pens and sticky notes, sunsets and sunrises, digging my fingers into the dirt and nurturing the things that grow in it, and learning anything and everything. I’m a scientist who studies astrology, a go-with-the-flow Type A, and an impatient practitioner of daily meditation. A big bag of contradictions, just like everyone else.

Author links



          
Entertaining/Pleasant Read

Oh, aliens. Oh silly earth people who decimated their planet via nuclear war. Oh forbidden love. 

Sci-Fi Dystopian fans rejoice! This post-apocalypse style story will set your heart a racin' as there is nothing even remotely cute about humans nearly wiping themselves out of existence and aliens coming to colonize the planet. Yet somehow, even in all the muck of nuclear fallout and alien takeover love can happen. Love knows no race, no disability, no age, no gender, no intergalactic species. *sigh* Yeah, love is great.

Despite the romance aspects I do believe that this managed to be a solid story without the off-limits relationship (which was still sweet, okay, I admit it) . I may have read a bit deeper than intended because I kept connecting the dots between the big-brother aliens and some of our own fauxpas against humanity in both recent and current history.

Helia is a great heroine with strengths that carry her through without too much support from secondary individuals (more of this, please). Many of the characters presented (ex: Gordon, Ellerine, Helia's mother) felt natural and necessary to the plot and added depth to the overall experience of this book. And I mean, they weren't flat useless characters used to fill up page space.  As far as Kalo (the alien love interest), he was most certainly likable. I'm afraid I can't say much more than that because my opinion doesn't extend past that. He was just... likeable.

Most certainly action packed, with a pace that didn't lag unnecessarily around any boring plot points. Though I discovered that I'm not necessarily a fan of alien-themed Sci-Fi, I was pleased with the entire concept of this book overall, the character development, plot set up and world depiction (tragic and beautiful all at once). While this wasn't my favorite read of all time, it certainly wasn't boring. 

I would absolutely recommend it to readers with a strong interest in sci-fi or dystopian themes.





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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten All Time Favorite Books from the Past Three Years



 Happy March, Book Babes!
Whew! February was ROUGH!.

Tori and I both got caught up in a whirl wind not of
out own making, so the blog got benched for a few weeks. 
Things are finally beginning to settle down, though Tori is
still awaiting surgery so send her love. She'll be back with us
soon! 
 I just submitted my ePortfolio for Grad School and landed a wonderful 
new job (I'll squee all about it later!) so I can finally take a breather and
 get the blog back on schedule. I'm backed up with book reviews so watch
out March! It's gonna be book review bonanza!!!
But first! TTT!



Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This week's top ten topic is: 
  All Time Favorite Books from the Past Three Years
  1. - "Enchanted" by Alethea Kontis

This book. This. Book. *fangirl crying* 


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2. "Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman

 I was so excited about this Gaiman title. If this man wasn't married and I wasn't already with the love of my life... *dreamy eyes* What was I doing? Oh! Right. Book. I was really pleased with this title. My only complaint? It wasn't longer.

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3. "A Snicker of Magic" by Natalie Lloyd

It's been an extremely long time since I've been so inspired by a middlegrade work, and not since Diana Wynne Jones have I been so lost in a book that finishing it felt like leaving home.

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 4. "Dogsbody" by Diana Wynne Jones

This book made me cry. On a plane. In front of people. I had to pretend to be looking out the window to hide my tear streaked face. The FEELS!!!!!

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5.  "Collector of Dying Breaths" by M.J. Rose
 An absolutely delightful book, and my first ever read of M.J. Rose. Hooked from the start with the compelling story and decadent imagery. Thank Jones she's a prolific writer. 

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6.  Discovery of Witches

 Love is not a strong enough word for the feelings I have towards this book. Perhaps "worship" might be a bit more of an appropriate sentiment. Hated the book for the first few chapters, especially after the vampire was introduced. Actually, I didn't care for the vampire stuff at all but everything else was so freakin' great that it made up for it ten fold. Marry me Deborah! (Look at what you did. Turned me into a polygamist. You and Neil both. For shame.)

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7.  "Dead Ever After" by Charlaine Harris

I don't care what anyone else says about this series or this author.  I love Sookie, we are best friends, and I support (most of) her romantic decisions. So halt those flapping lips! I will hear none of your Sookie blasphemy! Unless you want to talk about the HBO show "True Blood" and all the ways it failed. In that case, go for it.

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8.  Fire and Hemlock

I have a smoldering passion for Tam Lin stories. This is by far the best one I've laid my hands on to date. If you're not sure who Tam Lin is, get thee to google. Now. Then read this book. 
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9.  "The Thief of Always" by Clive Barker

Please please please write more middlegrade/ya Mr. Barker! PLEASE! I need more of your awesome work to read to my future children (and goodness knows I can't read your adult works to them. I doubt I'll be quite that progressive of a parent.)

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10. "Jewels of the Sun" by Nora Roberts

I have to get sappy here for a second. I read Romance, just not a lot of it because I can't seem to locate enough of the types of romances that I like. This one was... *heavy, happy sigh*. Yeah, yeah. So I'm into the sparkly, magical, romantic happily ever afters. Wanna fight about it? Me neither. Let's hug! 

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What are your Top Ten this week?

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Heroines




NEWS:  
  POOR TORI IS HAVING SURGERY SOON and is all sickly. 

Any sunshiny words of encouragement for her to
help her through her time of suck are greatly appreciated. 

 Her surgery is the beginning of March so send her lots
and lots of fluffy thoughts to get her healed up ASAP!


Don't worry, she's going to be right as rain! But she's taking a well-needed restup and will be back with AuggieTalk as soon as she can. She sends her love to all of you!!!

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

This week's top ten topic is: 
My Favorite Heroines


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1. Felicity Pickle - From "A Snicker of Magic" - I can hardly explain to you how much I love Felicity. She can SEE spoken words. They float, fly, slink, and run around her all day long and she takes them, saves them, and turns them into something extraordinary. She's the daughter of a single mom that can't seem to stay in one place very long but this girl is bright, and sunny, and full of magic despite it. The love inside Fleciity is unreal and she is one of the most magical gals I've ever had the pleasure of getting to know through a book.

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2. Sophie Hatter - From "Howls Moving Castle" - This woman is unstoppable. Shy, quiet, and generally uninterested in the world outside her little hat shop... That is until a jealous witch turns her into an 80 year old lady! Does Sophie freak out? Nope. She just kind of casually goes out to find a new life, runs into the evil wizard's moving castle, and makes herself right at home without permission. She has zero trouble making friends with a fire demon, outsmarts (and befriends) the witch who cursed her, goes up against some pretty crazy beasties, and endears herself to Wizard Howl.

Most amazing thing? Sophie is so incredibly awesome that even while looking like an 80 year old grandma the young and handsome Wizard Howl falls in love with her. You rock so hard, Sophie.

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3. Sookie Stackhouse - From "Sookie Stackhouse Series" - This gal has faced down the meanest of the mean, all with a polite southern smile and a "get the hell off my lawn" attitude. She's comfortable with her body, is a shameless sun worshiper, and won't take any of your nonsense, I don't care if you're a demon/fairy/vampire/king, thank you very much. Sexy, sassy, and no-nonsense. I love this girl!



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4. Maree - From "Deep Secret" - She is so incredibly awkward and initially just genuinely unlikeable. On the surface she's a take-no-bullcrap killjoy who is very likely to not care about anyone except for herself and her cousin. What she actually is, underneath all that outer misery, is the kind of woman who follows her gut instincts and does what she feels is right regardless of whether or not its against the rules. She also tends to love very strongly and is a powerful character despite some of her initially off putting characteristics.


Basically she's a warm hug disguised as sandpaper. I rather like her.

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5. Meg Murry - From "A Wrinkle in Time".  This girl has no idea how awesome she is. What's phenomenal is that she's a totally regular gal. She gets confused, afraid, and is unsure about things. She's not extremely athletic, or prom queen gorgeous, but she's open-minded, and loving, and CURIOUS. When adventure comes to her she goes with it and experiences some of the most extraordinary things just by being herself.




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6. Coraline - From "Coraline" This is a case of an average kid facing extraordinarily horrifying (and I mean sewing buttons into eyes horrifying) circumstances and rising to the challenge for the sake of her family. The fact that she's overly curious, a bit naughty, and a little selfish isn't anything special. She's a kid. But those characteristics dissolve into strength, courage, and even kindness when things get difficult. Probably why she didn't end up as another ghost in the closet.


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7. Jane- From "Jane Eyre" - I love Jane mostly because I don't think I could ever be strong enough to make it through the things she did without becoming increasingly bitter and disagreeable. I'd say she's a pretty awesome representation of how a human being should be. Kind and true to themselves. She could have totally given up her principals and gone off to live with Rochester despite the fact they couldn't marry. She could have also married the luke-warm missionary. She did neither of these things because she wasn't willing to betray herself and her desires for something less. This girl definitely lives by her heart. That makes her quite lovely.

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8. Candy Quackenbush - From "Abarat" - Who could not love a girl with a name like that? Candy is just as interesting as her name and learning to navigate an alternate world that is equal parts beautiful, fascinating, and terrifying. Her ability to make friends and overcome obstacles despite all of the weird and miserable things seeming to happen around her is pretty inspiring.



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9. Lady Murasaki - From "The Diary of Lady Murasaki". This woman is just freakin' awesome. Not only is her own personal diary extremely interesting and engaging but she WROTE THE FIRST NOVEL. Yeah, that's right. A kick rear Japanese lady wrote the first ever novel, "The Tale of Genji".  And it's great.

She's the real deal people!

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10. Annabeth - From " Percy Jackson and the Olympians" and "Heroes of Olympus" - This one is kind of a "Duh". The girl is the daughter of Greek Goddess Athena (the female equal to Zeus!). She's just kick butt. Do I really have to explain this?


What are your top tens this week?



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