Characters I’d Love to Dress Up as for Halloween

Halloween used to be one of my top favorite holidays. Dressing up and going door-to-door begging for candy with friends was the perfect way to spend a crisp, October evening. But, the excitement for this suger-infused holiday sort of fizzled out when I realized that as an adult, I had to buy my own candy (and worse, share it with all the kids in the neighborhood. Puh!). I haven’t really had an excuse to dress up since college (and even then I just alternated between a fairy and a zombie). If I had an excuse to dress up for Halloween this year, these would be my top five choices:

Zoey Left 4 Dead1. Zoey from Left 4 Dead

Finding a playable, strong female character (who is not sexualized) can be challenging to find in video games, so when I discovered Zoey in Left 4 Dead, I fell in love. She’s a horror film nerd, who wears comfy sneakers, jeans, a pink track jacket, and her hair tied back. She doesn’t have cleavage spilling out or a bare belly because that’s not really practical during a zombie apocalypse. Zoey just seems real. Aside from being able to assemble the costume out of clothes already in my closet, I would just need two cap guns and a bright red first aid pack!

shepherd2. Commander Shepherd from Mass Effect

Now, my Commander Shepherd had short black hair styled into a bob, but like the Commander Shepherd above, she totally kicked butt and saved the universe. Well…maybe. I never got to finish Mass Effect 3. Honestly, I try not to think about the Mass Effect series because I’m trying to save money. The more I think about how amazing the games are, the more likely I am to go out and buy an XBox 360 just so I can play these games.

Lilith as "the Siren" from Borderlands3. Lilith as “the Siren” from Borderlands

The only games I could possibly love more than the Mass Effect games are the Borderlands games. I love both Siren characters– Lilith from Borderlands and Maya from Borderlands 2. But, I was unstoppable as Lilith wielding a Maliwan Hellfire (we don’t need no water…). How could she not make this list? Actually, I’m pretty sure dressing up as Lilith for Halloween won’t be satisfactory– can I just be her?

Hermione4. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

Not everyone on this list wields guns. Hermione relies on her smarts, her books, and her wand to fend of evil. She’s been my hero since I was ten years old, so it’s no surprise she would make it on this list.

Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings5. Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings

Éowyn– she casts aside her nobility and becomes a shieldmaiden. And then. AND THEN! She killed what no man could.

This post is so full of girl power. I feel like starting a riot.

What characters would you like to dress up as for Halloween?

 

The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick host Five Fandom Friday. I totally didn’t know it was a thing until today, which is why I’m posting this on a Sunday.

My Top 5 Gateway Fandoms

I am a geek. I’m pretty sure I’ve always been a geek. And, my mom is still getting over it. These are my top 5 gateway fandoms that made me the gal I am today.

SNES-USA

Super Nintendo

The first time I saw one of these, I was about four years old. My brother came for a visit, and he brought his console. I watched as he and my dad played Super Mario. I was too afraid to ask for a turn, but I wanted to play video games too, so I grabbed my Aladdin handheld from my room and played along beside them. A year or two later, I begged my mom for a Super Nintendo, and one day it was waiting for me under the Christmas tree. Of course I had Super Mario and the Donkey Kong games, but I was (and still am) terrible at platform games. I loved Super Mario Kart, and I used to rush down to the basement before everyone woke up to play the game and narrate the race like the sportscasters on TV. The game that was my absolute favorite though? Mario’s Time Machine!

Mario's Time MachineOf course it would be a game that’s nerdy. Mario’s Time Machine is an educational video game, where Mario goes back in time to return artifacts stolen by Bowser.

timemachineamericaMarios_Time_Machine_SNES_ScreenShot4

You walked around towns in different time periods (This is Philadelphia during the American Revolution), and you talked to different people from history. Then there was a page from a history book that required you to fill in the blanks in order to get the stolen artifact back. Now that you know this, number two on my list should come as no surprise.

250px-Carmen_Sandiego

Carmen Sandiego

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was on TV when I was really, really young. I was terrible at the game show because I was four, but I still watched it, and I still knew all the words to the theme song. Then my mom bought  me Carmen Sandiego Junior Detective, which looking back, that computer game had really lame gameplay. My all time favorite was Carmen Sandiego’s Great Chase Through Time. I was introduced to so many important historical people for the first time, like Queen Hatshepsut and Murasaki Shikibu. If I still had this game, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be playing it right now instead of typing up this post.

TSA-ChinaSetI was such a good Super Sleuth that my mom bought a subscription to Highlight’s Top Secret Adventures. Every month, I would received a portfolio that told me all about the stolen artifact, cards of all the suspected villains, a fact-filled guide to the country that needed my help, and an activity book that, once completed, revealed the real criminal. THIS IS STILL A THING!

Both Carmen Sandiego and Mario’s Time Machine fueled my love for human history. It was my favorite subject in school, and I still spend hours reading up on different people and subjects. Earlier this year I was briefly obsessed with the stone age, and I read article after article and watched documentary after documentary about the evolution of our early ancestors. I just sort of kept going and now I’m in the Early Bronze Age– Ancient Sumer, and I recently read Hammurabi’s Code and The Epic of Gilgamesh.

Final_Fantasy_VIII_LogoFinal Fantasy VIII

Let’s get back to video games for a second. My interest in video games didn’t cease after SNES even though my mom thought it would be a good idea to sell the console and all my cartridges for $50 at a garage sale when I was nine. I know. I still cry on the inside whenever I think about it. But, I got over it because I had the PC and all of my educational games (sup’ Carmen Sandiego and Purple Moon games?). Somehow, I ended up with a Playstation One, and I don’t think I even had to beg for it. I was 13-ish, and I was only familiar with racing games and platform games. (For the longest time, I was obsessed with the Spyro games. I would play them and replay them.) And then in high school, my friend introduced me to Final Fantasy VIII– my first RPG. It was such a new experience that I couldn’t figure out how to get past the first disk, so my friend gave me a handy (100+ page) guide to help me out. The storyline. The music. The side quests. The battle system and leveling up. I played it during spring break my junior year of high school. I took breaks only to go to the bathroom and to make quesadillas. I stayed up until 3:00 in the morning. I got so pissed during one of the boss battles that I chucked my controller at the console, and then I panicked because I thought I broke the game. I spent 80+ hours trying to beat the game. It was like a nuclear bomb exploded in my brain completely changing the world of video games for me. I needed more. I bought Final Fantasy VII (which I still haven’t beat). I BEGGED for Playstation 2 when it came out, and then I rushed to Gamestop to buy Final Fantasy X and even X-2. I was introduced to Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for the PC. And then the XBox 360 happened along with the Fallout games and Skyrim and BORDERLANDS. OHMYGAAAAAAAAH!

To this day though, Final Fantasy VIII is still my favorite. The graphics are terrible and the outcome of the story never changes, but I replay it all the time.

The Lord of the Rings movie trilogyThe Lord of the Rings

Or more lovingly, “LOTR”. When I saw the trailer for the Fellowship of the Ring in theaters, I knew I had to see it– Elijah Wood was going to be in it, and I LOVED Flipper. So, I dragged my parents to see the film on Christmas day. Then they ended up falling asleep during the film. I ended up dragging each of my (two) friends to the theater after that so I could watch it just one more time. I asked for a DVD player for my birthday just so I could buy the extended version, and I ended up watching the Fellowship of the Ring 15 more times the first year it was released on video.

This was the first time I ever became ridiculously obsessed with something. My friends and I came up with elven aliases and back stories, and we all fought over Legolas in the notes we would pass to each other during 8th grade English class. We wrote reaaaaaaaally bad fanfictions and role played adventures in Middle Earth in AIM chat rooms.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter

I’m not sure I even need to go farther with this one.

 

What are your gateway fandoms?

The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick host Five Fandom Friday. I totally didn’t know it was a thing until today, which is why I’m posting this on a Sunday.

The Mood Reader

I am a mood reader, but my moods change as quickly as the weather in Michigan. This makes focusing on one book at a time challenging. I’ve mentioned before that I have multiple books going at a time– sometimes I’m switching between five different books! And considering I am a slow and easily distracted reader, it takes me a long time to finish what I start. I don’t generally give this habit much thought, unless another blogger writes about peculiar reading habits, inviting discussion in their comments. But, lately I find myself growing frustrated by it because how do you write about books if you don’t finish any?! I have a feeling it will be a while before I’m ready to write another review, so here are the books I’ve started and the moods I have to be in to read them:

onesummer_small One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson. By now you must know that I’m a big fan of Bill Bryson, but I can’t just read Bryson any ol’ time. Most of the time, his books are best enjoyed while doing a bit of traveling yourself. One Summer, however, is best enjoyed when I’m feeling nostalgic for the good ol’ days. Preferably on a back porch during the dog days of summer with a glass of iced, sweet tea within reach. I think the average temperature this summer was 75 degrees, and while I absolutely appreciated this because I have a low tolerance for anything close to “sweltering”, this season didn’t really feel much like summer, and that’s my excuse for taking so long to read this book.

universeThe Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking. Half the time I’m reading whimsical young adult books. The other half, I’m reading non-fiction books. No subject matter is too daunting too me, which is how I ended up with The Universe in a Nutshell. Also, there were illustrations. I’ve actually read a fair amount of this book, but I started on a chapter that I find particularly challenging. It takes everything I know to be true about atoms and throws it into the garbage; apparently there is more to an atom than protons, neutrons, and electrons, like bosons and quarks (and their particular “flavors”, which really just describes how the subatomic particles spin). It’s all very fascinating, but I have to be feeling especially curious and patient because I spend a lot of time doing research to understand the ideas in this book.

sunburnedcountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. I must be nuts to read two Billy Bryson books at one time. Actually…yes, I am. I feel like I’ve read a little too much of Bryson recently. I did finish A Walk in the Woods earlier this year. To make matters worse, In A Sunburned Country is probably my least favorite Bryson book. He likes Australia a little too much, so this book isn’t nearly as snarky and funny as his other books. I have to feel nondescript to read this book. It’s the book I pick up when I’m waiting in line…

spoonThe Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean. Phew! In the defense of this book, it’s absolutely fascinating and funny, but I think I have too much non-fiction in my life. I’m frequently switching between this book and the next book on my list depending on whether I’m at home or I’m at work.

exiledThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima. The more frustrated I am in the real world, the more I want to immerse myself in the fantastic seven realms. Especially now, since Hans Allister and Princess Raisa are  at Mystwerk House and Wein House (read: BOARDING SCHOOOOOOL!!!) Considering my accounting software has been out of commission for the past three days, which just makes me really, really behind at work, and I’ve dealt with really awful customers lately, all I want to do is bury my nose in this book. I just want to get swept away amongst warriors and mages.

Does your mood influence the types of books you read? Are you good at sticking to one book at a time, or do you switch between different books depending on your mood, like me?

I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

[Warning: this post may contain spoilers]

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, someone talked me into reading the series. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about it, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. While Twilight focused on Bella and Edward’s relationship,  New Moon, focused on Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. I finished book two just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring; I actually skipped nearly an entire chapter of this book because it could not hold my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk– she was over-compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. Their attitudes were so unappealing that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy; attempting to finish the book became a challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences, and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because, while I liked the movie's ending a little better than the book's ending, it was still a "cop-out", and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

Hogwarts is My Home

Just in case you forgot.

A Mid-Year Resolution

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

This is it, everyone. This is the week I will finish Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. I have declared it my goal, and I will not rest until I have finished the very final page.

I am notorious for starting book series and not finishing them. I’ve mentioned on a handful of occasions that the only series I’ve ever finished is Harry Potter, but that all changes this week. Not that I will ever openly admit that I read the Twilight series, but the fact will remain– I will be able to officially say “I’ve read two series in my 26 years of existence”.

Breaking Dawn has been especially challenging to finish. I started reading the book two summers ago. After about page 500, I set the book down, and I haven’t picked it back up. By now, most people would have cut ties with the book, but with only 200 pages remaining, I cannot in good conscience just give up. This is truly a testament to my endurance.

I am having a hard time getting back in to the groove of reading this book though. I find that I can only read about 20 pages at a time before feeling a sort of hollowness in my chest. Supernatural Bella is such a terrible being. She’s supposed to be almost-perfect, but oh gosh, she’s so mean and arrogant and I just…I really kind of hate her, and I really do not like reading about her.  I’d rather read about human Bella, who was clumsy and emotionless and really quite like Melba Toast.

Am I bonkers for doing this? For insisting on finishing a book–a terrible book– just so I can claim I’ve finished a series? Have you ever endured a series (or even just a single book) just to say you’ve read it, and which one was it?

Is it possible to re-read a series too many times?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’ve mentioned before (here and here), when the seasons shift from Summer into Autumn, I re-read the Harry Potter series. The crisp air, the Fall colors, and the overcast skies make me think about feasts in the Great Hall, trips to Hogsmeade, and mugs of butterbeer. This year, the hankering to re-read Harry Potter has come two seasons early. I blame it on Al Roker, who has been reciting Harry Potter-themed trivia on Comcast On Demand for the chance to win tickets to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After hearing Hedwig’s theme for the umpteenth time, I could resist no longer, and I decided to hunt for my books. You’d think I wouldn’t have to “hunt” for something I cherish and read so frequently though. Alas! I am dreadfully unorganized.

I embarked on another re-read around midnight on Saturday. After cracking open the cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the 8th time, at least, I was struck by a memory of my first, true re-read. My final semester at college, right before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part one) hit theaters, I decided to re-read the series from start to finish. I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time in probably 10 years, and I was flabbergasted by how much I forgot. I had become so accustomed to the introduction in the movie that I forgot all about Vernon Dursely’s uncomfortable day at Grunnings and the shower of shooting stars over Kent, which was probably bewitched by Dedalus Diggle. Since then, it’s been a rare occasion that more than a year should pass before picking up at least one of the books to read (last year was one such occasion), and I feel I could practically recite parts of the series.

I wonder if there is such thing as reading a book (or in my case, a series) too many times. Is it possible that one day, the spell these books have cast on me will run its course? …Naaaaaah! Surely not. That’s kind of like saying one day I will stop craving my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup!

What book(s) do you frequently re-read? Have you ever felt like you read a book too many times?