Posts Tagged 'wolf hall'

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created to share lists with other bookish folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list, we were asked to list our top ten most frustrating characters ever! This is a great idea for a list, and it’s one that I mulled over quite a bit, since frustrating characters are poised on a bit of a tight-rope. Some remain likeable, and some are just…not.

1. Rex and Rose Marie Walls, from The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
Perhaps because I read it so recently, author Jeannette Walls’ parents immediately sprang to mind as the epitome of “frustrating.” In my review, I spoke about struggling to feel sympathetic for them–the way Walls herself seems to!–but ultimately being unable to understand or forgive their negligence and cruelty toward their children.

2. Quentin Coldwater, from The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Quentin is whiny, arrogant, thoughtless, and decidedly unsympathetic. And he’s our protagonist! You’ll want to shake him constantly throughout these novels. That being said, he’s a fairly-realistic sketch of what a teenage boy with magical powers would be like.

3. Susan Norton, from Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Ugh, Susan. You’ve watched horror movies–you know what happens to blonde girls who go wandering around creepy mansions on their own! (You can read the rest of my review here.)

4. Henry VIII, from Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Compared to Cromwell, our main character, Henry VIII comes across as immature and undisciplined. While Cromwell has had to work hard for every opportunity afforded to him, the blue-blooded nobility look down upon him for his humble origins. (Review here.)

5. Llewellyn, from No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
The entire book–and all of its attendant cold-blooded murder and mayhem–could have been averted if you just didn’t pick up that bag of cash in the desert, Llewellyn.

6. Zoe from White Horse by Alex Adams
In my review, I found White Horse to be a frustrating book overall, due in part to protagonist Zoe. She really didn’t display any of the characteristics I would expect to find in one of the only survivors of a global apocalypse, and never seemed to learn from the mistakes that got her companions killed in various ways. Her totally inappropriate obsession with her therapist also drove me nuts.

7. Samad, from White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Like entry #9 in my list, White Teeth is populated by frustrating characters. Smith’s characters feel so realistic that even the poor choices they make are understandable. For me, Samad was one of the more frustrating individuals; he not only cheated on his wife, but also drives his sons away with his unreasonable demands and his lack of sympathy for the struggles of first-generation immigrants. Read my review here.

8. Tris, from Divergent (Divergent Trilogy #1) by Veronica Roth

9. Everyone in The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I couldn’t choose between Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell, who are all frustrating in different ways: Madeleine for her romanticism and playacting at adulthood; Leonard for his inability to take his mental illness seriously; and Mitchell for being generally privileged, pretentious, and unable to understand why a girl he’s friends with might not want to date him. More complaints here.

10. Lacey Yeagar, from An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
The consummate social climber, Lacey uses her youth and beauty to charm countless men into furthering her career and her expensive tastes. And unfortunately, because the novel is not from her point of view, we are never really given much chance to empathize with her. As I said in my review, “An Object of Beauty failed to wow me.”

Who are your top ten most frustrating characters? Feel free to link to your own post in the comments!


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books for People who Like George R.R. Martin

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s prompt was to list the top ten books for people who like a certain author. Our challenge was to pick an author and give book recommendations based on that author! As you can see, I have chosen George R.R. Martin, AKA the bearded troll god, writer of A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF).

So! If you like George R.R. Martin, you might also like:

1. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
Though there are some sci-fi elements (time travel!), much of this book focuses on the harsh realities of medieval life, including dirt, disease, and lack of scientific knowledge. Willis also has Martin’s same penchant for killing off your favorite characters, sympathetic and otherwise.

2. Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
To really appreciate Martin, you also need to appreciate the fantasy tropes he’s dismantling. For better or worse, many of these tropes originated with Tolkien’s massive fantasy epic. (Which isn’t to say they aren’t a good story, too!) Both also have massive casts of characters and impressively interwoven relationships.

3. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
Martin’s tales are filled with sex and violence, and thoroughly break down the idea of the good and noble knight. Duncan’s novel (first in a trilogy) reworks the werewolf–lately somewhat neutered by its depictions in Twilight and its ilk–into a savage beast that revels in killing. Both are pretty dark at times, but also give reasons for hope.

4. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
Carey’s world-building, like Martin’s, is fantastic. This series takes place in Terre D’Ange, a fictionalized version of France in a very different version of Europe. Her imaginative religions rival Martin’s for sure. (And her sex scenes are much better written.)

5. The Wolf Hall trilogy, by Hilary Mantel
Shifting alliances, gray morality, court politicking–the only difference is the lack of magic in Mantel’s world. Otherwise, you’re basically reading about Littlefinger.

6. Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler
Perhaps a bit of a leap, but I think Butler challenges sci-fi and fantasy conventions just as well as Martin does. A challenging and thought-provoking read.

7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
This just has a lot of the same bleakness and same glimmers of hope that I think ASoIaF offers.

8. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
One of Martin’s great strengths is showing the cruelty, violence, and consequences of war. Haldeman does the same thing, albeit in a sci-fi setting.

9. The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss
I haven’t actually read this one yet, despite it being on my TBR list for ages, but a quick glance at its back cover and reviews makes me think that it would be a perfect follow-up to your time in Westeros.

10. Beyond the Wall, edited by James Lowder
In my review, I suggested this book for readers who are already fans of Martin’s series who want to delve a little deeper into its themes, motivations, and characters.

ASoIaF fans, got any other suggestions? Feel free to leave your thoughts–and your own TTT lists–in the comments!

Review: Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

It’s so, so deliciously fun to read about characters who are unrepentantly good at what they do–even (or especially) if what they do isn’t very nice. Competent, confident characters are just cool. Think about it: Wolverine. Michonne. Han Solo. Samuel L. Jackson. Dean Winchester. Thomas Cromwell.

The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, a path, if you can only see it.

Yes, Thomas Cromwell, friend and minister to King Henry the VIII of England. Cromwell is a magnificent bastard, and I mean that in the best way possible. Even as he helps to engineer the downfall of Anne Boleyn, I couldn’t help but root for him; he does what he needs to do to ensure Henry’s happiness and his own house’s security, and does it with ruthless competence.

In Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to her Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, she follows Cromwell in the weeks immediately preceding the fall of Anne Boleyn. Whereas Wolf Hall took place over the course of a few years, the action in Bring Up the Bodies is compressed, to great effect: we jump right into the action and the pace doesn’t let up until the final pages. I found it just as un-put-down-able as Wolf Hall, which was one of my favorite reads of 2010.

Continue reading ‘Review: Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel’

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books You’d Like to See Made Into Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. For today, we were asked to list the top ten books  we  would like to see made into movies. I prefer watching action and adventure movies, so my list will reflect that!

1. The Zona, by Nathan Yocum
In my review of this action-adventure novel, I actually wrote that I could see this making an amazing movie! Think about it: a post-apocalyptic United States, where a brutal theocracy rules the West, and Preachers are sanctioned assassins. Not only would I see this movie, I’d be there in the front row on opening night.

2. The Last Werewolf, by Glen Duncan
I recently watched An American Werewolf in London and really enjoyed it (surprisingly, since I am a scaredy-cat and can’t watch most horror movies). I would love to see Duncan’s The Last Werewolf adapted for the screen with that same level of horror and black humor! This is the kind of supernatural thriller that would actually provide thrills.

3. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
There is a glut of television shows/books/media in general about the Tudors, but I’ve never experienced such a thoughtful and moving portrait as I found in Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Keeping the focus on Cromwell would be  a welcome change from all the Henry/Anne Boleyn stuff out there. (And hey, looks like I’m in luck! BBC and HBO are making a Wold Hall miniseries! Woohoo!)

4. Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy
Okay, this would be tough, due to the unrelenting violence and general bleakness of the text. No Country for Old Men did a great job of representing McCarthy, though, and I think it can be done, if the novel’s themes are made clear. The struggle between the Kid and the Judge is so powerful and thought-provoking! (A film was planned, actually, but seems to have stalled.)

5. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
I know there were plans to film this entire series, which were scrapped due to the poor box office performance of The Golden Compass movie. However, I think The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglasswould be wonderful to see on screen, if the filmmakers truly committed to the transgressive and mature themes of the books.
6. Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
You’d probably have to tone down some of the sex, but it would still be an incredibly charged movie! The world-building is so strong in the book, and it would be so cool to see Terre d’Ange on screen. Now, who should play Phaedre?
7. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
It’s such a snarky, funny book; filmed with that tongue-in-cheek manner in mind, it could be really hilarious! I’d like to see Crowley and Aziraphale’s friendship visually. I kind of imagine this movie looking like a mash-up of the television show Supernatural (which I am currently totally obsessed with) and Dogma.
8. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien Soon, this will be a reality!

9.  Passage, by Connie Willis I know I mention this book on nearly every TTT, but it’s just because I love it so gosh-darn much! It could be tricky to film, but the “death experience” scenes would be gorgeous. I picture them having this surreal, floating quality, in contrast to the highly-focused, everyday business of the hospital. Oh man. Now I really want this to be a movie!

10. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I actually didn’t enjoy reading Middlesex. However, I could see it being a fantastic movie, if its quirkiness was truly embraced. Like a Forrest Gump coming of age movie for the millennial set. I’m imagining Wes Anderson directing…

Fridays Finds (Feb 12)!

 What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS! Hosted by MizB at, where else, Should Be Reading.

Some interesting Friday Finds for ol’ tarynwanderer this week!


  • Out, by Natsuo Kirino, is a psychological thriller about four Japanese women with unhappy lives who become linked and tangled due to a murder. First spotted (it’s a striking cover!) being read on the 1 train uptown, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to read for ages now. I’ve already marked it as a ‘to-read’ on my Goodreads.
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, is about Thomas Cromwell, a commoner who becomes one of King Henry VIII’s most trusted advisers and influential in the creation of the Church of England. I had heard this title  bandied about, but only really got interested in reading after books i done read’s review. Originally I thought it was a fantasy novel (with that title, come on!) but it still sounds like a totally interesting and engaging portrait of someone that history has been less than kind to.
  • Picking Bones From Ash,  by Marie Mutsuki Mockett, is a tale of a mother and a daughter, post-war Japan, coming-of-age, and family secrets. What can I say? I LOVE the title. And that cover, holy crap–it’s gorgeous. And according to Amazon, there is a mix of magical realism and history too. Definitely on my TBR list!

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