Christmas is right around the corner, and one of my favourite stories to read, or watch, is The Nutcracker. The story originated in Germany in 1816 by E.T.A Hoffmann and was later transformed into a ballet in 1892 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovshy, Marius Petipa, and Lev Ivanov. It tells the story of Clara a young girl who on Christmas Eve receives a Toy soldier Nutcracker from her uncle Drosselys. Later that night, her nutcracker defeats the evil mouse king and his mice army and she is rushed away to a magical land there many dolls perform for her including The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.
I thought it would be fun to make up my own Book TAG incorporating the story. The main rule is… you can only include books you’ve read this year! I am going to TAG anyone who loves stories and Christmas!
Name your favourite Protagonist in a story that you have read this year.
Merricat Blackwood is one of the most intriguing yet disturbing characters that I have read this year. One moment you pity and admire her, the next moment you rethink everything. She is a young girl who lives with her sister and uncle in a large estate. Most of her family is murdered by poison one night and the accused , Merricat’s sister is acquitted. I think of Merricat as an inspiration for Wednesday Addams. This story is told by her and she is an unreliable character which makes it hard to form an opinion about her. The more and more you get to know her and her family, the more you realize something is not right. It is a story about the origins of a haunted house and a wonderful read for those who love freakishly haunting tales.
2. The Harlequin Doll
This book had you on the floor laughing.
This book is the kind of book that you don’t want to finish so you start reading it VERY slowly. I loved the humor, the story, and the characters. It is a very loose historical fiction about the 9 day queen Jane of England. Some of the story is fact, but most of it is magical realism and humor at its finest. If you love historical fiction, the Tudors, talking animals, and fun, please read this. If not, please read this.
3. The Nutcracker Prince
Who is a character that has fought against the odds?
I really fell in love with this book. I think the message is loud and clear. It is about a Nigerian young woman who leaves her country to start a new life in America. Along the way she has to deal with a lot of turmoil in her attempt to assimilate to the American culture. What I loved about the story, are her struggles with trying to create her own identity, as we all must do, but in her case she is also trying to find herself in a foreign part of the world to her. You also see how other people who lived with her in Nigeria change after living in America, or Europe for a while. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is an extremely talented author and I would highly recommend this book. I also recommend you check out her Ted Talk, We should all be Feminists.
4. The Mouse King
What was the darkest character you’ve encountered this year?
Kurt Barlow is the scariest Vampire/demonic thing I have encountered this year. Stephen King, the master of horror has a way of making you want to close the book and hide under your covers for the next 3-4 days. Although this book is very slow, and at times I found myself so confused due to the amount of characters in this story ( some characters I felt added nothing and I literally had to write them down and constantly look back at my list to figure out who the hell he was referring to), I have to say the reward was worth it. This story is rich with everything every horror loving person wants… gore, haunting, chills, folklore. It is about a vampire who invades a small town of Maine and the frights that ensue. This vampire doesn’t care if you are a toddler or an elder. Everyone is fair game.
5. Uncle Drosselmeyer
Name a book or character that blurred the lines of good and evil?
*Bonus* Name a story that ended in a way you didn’t expect.
Victor from “Vicious” by V.E Schwab is such a lovable yet evil character. In many ways, this book reminds me of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (which is why I love it so much). It tells the story of two college mates who are studying people with extraordinary gifts ( think X men) such as being able to heal themselves, or mind control. They begin experimenting their theories and it takes a turn downwards from there. Schwab asks us the question what makes a person good or evil? Can someone be both? The best part of this story are the characters. Each one is faulted in some way, which makes them believable. I also enjoyed the structure of the story. It goes back and forth in time (past and present) and gives you little pieces at a time to put together to form the larger story plot.
Wait what? Hold on let me go back a couple of pages… that was my response to the ending of this story. Overall, the story was a classic murder mystery, and I can now see how many people have been inspired by Agatha Christie’s brilliant work. This story is set on a train where a murder takes place and a famous detective by the name of Hercule Poirot must find out who did it! The writing is witty and yet at times slow, but overall its a classic that all should read.
6. Sugar Plum Fairy
Describe the most beautiful story you’ve read.
I have leaped onto this bandwagon. Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus” is beautiful in that you are surrounded in the atmosphere of the magic within these pages. She engages all of your senses until you feel you are right in the center of it all. This story is about a magical circus that only opens at night and has cloud mazes, illusionists, paper animals, and so many other dream like performances. The writing is beautiful and vivid. There are some parts where the author is talking directly to you and showing you around the circus. Those were my favourite parts.
7. China, Hungarian, Arabian dolls
A book that is set in a country that you don’t live in
Ok, this may be a cheat, but I can’t not put this book in here somewhere and technically it is set in space which is not where I live. What I loved about this YA sci-fi is the way it is written. It is in the form of emails, chatroom messages, scribbles of papers, and computer coding. The book is thick, but I got through it in a day! I don’t want to give too much away but think spaceship, conspiracy, zombies…
8. The Cavalier
Describe a fictional character that you wish you could spend the day with. What Christmas activities would you do?
Another YA book that I fell in love with this year was ” Heartless” It is an Alice in Wonderland retelling set before Alice ever fell down the rabbit hole. It is about the Queen of Hearts before she was a ruthless queen, when she was just a girl who wanted to be a baker.
I would want to spend the day with the Cheshire cat cause I love his wit and mischiefs. I would take him Christmas shopping and watch him run a-mock.
9. Dance of the Snowflakes
Name a story that would be a perfect read for the winter season.
This story is set in Russia during the brutal winter months. It is inspired by Russian fairytales. Do I really need to say more? Winter… Russian fairytales…. :o!! ok, fine. It centers around a young girl named Vasilisa who is able to speak to demons and spirits and her encounter with Frost, a winter demon. The story is slow and dreary much like winter, but overall I thought the characters although not lovable, and plot was beautifully written. This book is perfect to get you through the cold nights.
10. The Grand Finale
Which book do you think everyone should read before the year is through?
This was by far my favourite read of the year. This dystopian world is frightening and Atwood’s message is front and center. It is about the life of Offred who lives as a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. Due to pollution, most women are infertile and the population is dwindling as a result. Women who are still fertile are used as “handmaids” ( or slaves) and sent to different households (of wealth and power) and made to procreate with the men. Once they are pregnant and have the baby, they are sent to another household. After reading the book, I watched the Hulu series and loved it.
Feel free to use this TAG! Happy Holidays to everyone! What were some of your favourite books this year?