Five Fantasies Which Deserve a TV Show Other than Lord of the Rings

Don't get me wrong. I love Lord of the Rings I saw all of the movies in theater when I was in high school and I've read the books. Lord of the Rings is wonderful and brilliant and nearly all fantasy we have now exists because of this trilogy. 

But when I heard that Amazon was planning to make a Game of Thrones style TV show based on LOTR, I couldn't help but roll my eyes. 

As wonderful as LOTR is, it's already had it's time in the spotlight. There are a ton of other fantasy novels which deserve just as much recognition and could make for amazing TV shows. 

The Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff

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Gentle friends, if you like Game of Thrones this series has everything you could possibly want. A bad-ass female assassin lead, graphic violence, revenge, sex, dark magic, a snarky shadow creature/familiar... it's epic and set in a fantasy world inspired by Florence, Italy. The first two books are published and they're fantastic.

The Kate Daniels Series by Illona Andrews

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These books are urban fantasy, so a show wouldn't have the exact feel of Game of Thrones. But with it's post-apocalyptic (or as the book calls it - post-magic) world I can for sure see it having a Walking Dead vibe. Just replace zombies with vampires who have their minds controlled by the bad guys. Kate is one of my favorite leading characters and there's a shape-shifting beast lord that's a lion. A LION. Can it get an more epic than that? I didn't think so.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers

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They're nuns who are assassins. NEED I SAY MORE???? But seriously, it's a historical fantasy where we follow three young women who serve the god of death as his handmaidens. The main plot line also follows real medieval political conflicts between Britain and France. It's an awesome blend of fantasy and historical that I think would appeal to Game of Thrones fans as well as those who like shows such as The Tudors and Reign.

The Diviners Series by Libba Bray

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With the awesome setting of the 1920s that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has, I think people will LOVE The Diviners. I just listened to the first book in audio over Halloween and it was phenomenal. You have multiple character points of view, magic, a ridiculously creep villain, love triangles, and the fun historical background. I can't wait to listen to the next one and would love to see it on screen.

The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

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I've read the first book of the Grisha Trilogy called Shadow and Bone and it was fantastic. I'm overly excited to continue with the series, then read the spin off duology as well. Nearly everyone I've heard who's read Bardugo's books have fallen in love and I've heard nothing but good things for each book. It's a pretty classic fantasy where you have a "chosen" one type of character who learns she has magic, but you also have this awesome Russian inspired backdrop and the whole thing is epic. Many people like the spin off duology even more.

Other Fantasies I've Heard Rumors of a TV Show/Movie in the Works I'm Excited For

Again, I've only heard rumors for some of these. Who who knows if it'll happen or not, so please don't take my word for any of this. Then if any of these aren't happening, they should. 

The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss (I've actually heard this might be both a TV show AND a movie and Lin-Manuel Miranda is doing the music. Needless to say, I'M SO EXCITED.)

- The Shades of Magic Trilogy by VE Schwab.

- The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. (I'm a massive fangirl for this author and let's just say, if they ruin this TV show I'm going to become all Aelin fire-breathing-bitch-queen on them)

- The A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas. 

- The Vampire Chronicles By Anne Rice. (Yes, there have already been some movies based on her books, Interview with the Vampire being the most famous. But it's been a long time since then, Queen of the Damned in my opinion was awful, and I'm really excited for this TV show because there are so many characters and plots to explore.) 

The Paper Magician series by Charlie N Holmberg. 

Special Shout-Outs

Since Harry Potter has had it's time in the spotlight and we have the whole Fantastic Beasts franchise happening at the moment, I'm pretty happy with Harry Potter. That being said - if they were to do a TV show about the four founders of Hogwarts, I'd 1000% be there.

I've only read one Brandon Sanderson book and that was Mistborn. A lot of people LOVE this series and I can totally see it as an epic TV show or movie, but it wasn't one of my favorites even though there were elements I enjoyed. However, I've heard a ton of people tell me that I would really enjoy Warbreaker, and his most recent book in his Stormlight Archive series just was released. Since I haven't actually read his other books, I can't recommend them being adapted. But, I have a hunch Sanderson's books would be on many people's lists similar to mine. 

I have a ton of other epic fantasy books on my TBR, and I'm learning that I've barely scratched the surface of what fantasy novels are out there. We should totally recognize great works such as Lord of the Rings, but also realize that even more has come out since then and deserve just as much hype. 

Are there any adaptations you've loved? Did I miss any upcoming movies or TV shows? What fantasies do you want to see adapted? Are you excited for this rumored Lord of the Rings show?

I'm An Aunt!

Well, my friends, I'm sure you've seen this all over my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else, but I'm just going to continue to gush because it's all I can think about and focus on and... sometimes you just need an easy blog post.

I'm an aunt!

Okay... technically I've been an aunt my entire life. But that's another story for another blog post.

My sister had her first baby on Thursday, November 9 at 9:38pm. Her name is Elsie and is by far the cutest baby I've ever seen.

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Not that I'm partial or anything.

(YES, I'M SURE YOUR BABY IS THE CUTEST TOO.)

Originally, she was scheduled to have her c-section on Friday morning. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was at work Thursday evening and got a text saying that her BP was high and was going in at 9:30pm that night. 

Naturally, I started to freak out. Did I need to find someone to cover my shift? Was my sister okay? Did they need anything? Was this an emergency?

Thankfully, some friends who know far more about these things than I do, talked me down and I realized by the time all was said and done I probably wouldn't even be considered allowed to visit until at least midnight and my sister was going to be just fine. (They even had to explain to me that BP = blood pressure. Duh. You'd think I would have been able to figure that one out on my own.) So, my mom and I went over to the hospital right at noon the next day when they would let us in.

Elsie is adorable, happy, sweet, and sleeps a lot. My sister and brother-in-law are doing great, and everyone is ridiculously happy. 

So, if anyone asks me what's new in my life they'll be shown a bazillion photos of the baby that all look exactly like the other but I SWEAR THEY'RE DIFFERENT BECAUSE SHE'S CLEARLY MAKING A DIFFERENT FACIAL EXPRESSION IN EACH ONE. 

Yup. I'm that aunt and I don't care. 

Also, since we can nick-name her "Elle" you know I'll be buying her a stuffed chihuahua named Bruiser and a pink Harvard Law shirt because... obviously. 

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My Writing Process: Characters

Over the last few months I've been sharing about my process when I am writing a novel. Previously, I wrote about brainstorming, then last month I wrote about outlining. Today, I'll talk about one of my favorite elements.

Creating characters.

For me, characters are one of the most important part of a novel. The plot might be simple, the magic ordinary, writing style not that great, etc. But if you have characters that I can completely fall in love with? Or even characters I may not like, but I find fascinating? I forget about the rest. Characters are the heart of a book and are what make you care about the story.

Then, building relationships around those characters. I love figuring out who is friends with who, their family dynamics, who will fall in and out of love, and seeing the differences between my protagonists and antagonists.  

I will admit, for my current project, Vampire Snow White, figuring out my cast is pretty easy since it's a retelling. The cast is already there for me! Snow White, an evil queen/stepmother, a huntsman, the "prince," the "seven dwarfs," etc. But, the trick was still to find ways to make them unique to my book, and not in a way which is done often and would speak to my story the best. 

The Main Character

This should be pretty obvious, but your main character is the one you should be spending the most time with. It's who the whole book is about after all! The author should know this character the best out of all of them. 

Honestly, I'm slightly in love with my vampire version of Snow White. She completely fascinates me, and I think she's much different than your "typical" Snow White. Making her a vampire, and a particularly old on, gave her a much different vibe than other characters I've written before. I've loved trying to see the world through her eyes.

When you're the scariest thing in the room - what are you afraid of? When you've lived for several centuries, how do you view people and culture? What memories and time periods stand out to you the most? Why does the evil queen want you dead? What did you do to her? What is it about the prince character that you're drawn to? Why would you decide to live in a house with seven strangers? 

Slowly, the pieces of her came together. I also took inspiration from some of my favorite vampire and historical figures I think she would appreciate. Researching the origin of the tale also helped me to shape her character. 

The Antagonist

I love reading and watching a great antagonist. They can make or break a story. But for some reason, I struggle writing them. I'm still working on my evil queen/stepmother character. She just isn't coming to me. 

Maybe I'm just not evil minded enough. Who knows?

But, something I love to do when I have an antagonist is to compare them to my main character. I figure out how they're alike, and then see the ways they're different. Maybe they have similar backgrounds and personality traits, but they make different choices. 

A classic example of this is in Harry Potter. As Harry learns Voldemort's history and plans, he notices that in many ways they are very alike. But, they made very different choices, which makes them excellent foils against one another. 

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Visuals

As I've said in previous blog posts, I'm a pretty visual person when it comes to my characters. On my secret Pinterest boards, I pin images of who inspires my characters and it helps a lot. When I was first brainstorming about my "prince" character, he wasn't very clear in my head. He was just "some magic warlock sexy man guy." Then, I saw a photo of an actor and it was like lightening struck. I just though "that's him." All of the sudden I could sense his personality, his background, his style, and his values. He wasn't just the quintessential love interest. He was a person. 

To Keep in Mind

When stuck on a character, the biggest thing to think of always is "what do they want, and what's preventing them from getting it?" Then, from there you can figure out why they want that certain thing, what would be the first things they try, who is in their way, etc. 

Then, I think about their core values. Are they loyal? Are they selfish? Do they put friends or family first? What's the most important thing to them? 

When you know their values, you can think of what would cause them to betray those values. You think about what can make or break the character. What's going to push them to their limits. 

If you do a search on Google or Pinterest, you can find a ton of character sketches which are really helpful to start brainstorming characters. Scrivener has a character sketch template which is pretty bare bones where you can map out some key elements of their physical features, a few personality traits, background information, and a brief bio. For some people that works well. For others, they may want more details and you can find a ton of templates to help figure out the tiniest things like favorite colors, most embarrassing moment, people they admire, and favorite foods. 

For me, I like to do these to an extent, but don't always go full out for each character. Sometimes, they just come to me and develop as I write. But, I do find character sketches useful when I'm getting stuck and they help me dig a bit deeper than just the surface level information. 

Many times, I love to do character interviews. These were fun when I had longer commutes and during my drive I could put on some music and have a "conversation" with a character. It was surprising how much information I had stored away in my head that I didn't realize was there once I started "talking" to them!

Also, I've learned that you don't always have to like a character. But I do find that thinking they are interesting is important. I remember when I read the book Gone Girl that I really didn't like any of the characters. But they were fascinating, so I wanted to keep reading. 

 

Who are some of your favorite characters from books, TV, or movies? What do you think makes them so great?

October Reading Round Up

Happy Halloween, friends! If you want a quick, spooky, read check out my post from Friday where I try some Flash Fiction!

For October, I decided to focus my reading on thrillers, horror, and urban fantasy. Or just books which featured Halloween type creatures. Which made this month really fun and a little creepy. What more do you need at Halloween? 

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Some notes on how I review:

I rate books on a 5 star scale. One being the lowest, five the highest. Most of the books you see me review will get at least a 3 star rating because I enjoyed it. Usually, if I'm not enjoying a book, I don't finish it, and therefore won't have much of a review. Then, I also have included trigger warnings for those who find those helpful. If there are any I have missed, please let me know. 

These are all of my personal opinions on each book. If you would like plot summaries, click on the title of the book and it will lead you to it's Goodreads page. 

Also, when you see my use of the word "trope," do not take it as a negative comment, particularly with romance books. It is simply a term to express different standards in the genre. (Ex. friends to lovers trope)

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

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  • Genre: Dark Fantasy
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Rating: 4 Stars

I started this book in September and finished it at the beginning of October. The only thing with this book is that I personally wasn't able to focus on it as much as I would have liked. I'm not sure what it was, but I don't think I was in the right mindset for it. I may need to go back and do some re-reading at some point. 

But, I will say my favorite part of this book was Mia's emotional arc. It was fascinating to watch her see what she was becoming and having to deal with that and the choices she makes in light of it. It's intense, dark, graphic, and the end was great! If you liked the first book, you'll like this one too. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: The first book Nevernight, you like the idea of the Throne of Glass series but want something more intense and dark, assassins, gladiators
  • Trigger Warnings: graphic violence, graphic sexual scenes, slavery, abuse, injury, sickness... basically the whole book is one big trigger warning. It's pretty dark. 

The Diviners by Libba Bray

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  • Genre: Young Adult Historical Paranormal
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Rating: 5 stars

This was my favorite book this month. It was SO SO GOOD. I've been meaning to read it for years and everyone who's read it has told me I'd love it and they were right! 

Evie was such a delightful protagonist being a fun, party-girl, flapper living up life in the 1920s but showing everyone around her she's more than what she appears. But I loved all of the other characters too. It switches between several points of view and towards the end they start to come together, and I can't wait to start the second book to see how they all connect. The 1920s setting was fun, the paranormal mystery was soooooo creepy, and there are some budding romances I'm excited to see develop. This was also perfect for Halloween because it was creepy enough where I had that Halloween feel and got chills, but wasn't so creepy where I had nightmares. 

I listened to the audiobook for this and I highly recommend it. The narrator is amazing and I'll for sure be listening to the remainder of the series. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: other books by Libba Bray, the 1920s, ghost stories, ensemble casts
  • Trigger Warnings: mild violence, nightmares, murders (relatively "off screen"), sexism, using religion for violence and hate, hate crimes, ghosts and occult, racism 

Magic Breaks by Illona Andrews

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  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Library Paperback
  • Rating: 4.5 Stars

I just can't get enough of the Kate Daniels series! It's so perfect and wonderful and there aren't enough words to express how awesome it is! 

I wish I could give more details about this one, but since it's the 7th in the series, I can't share a whole lot without giving away spoilers. The book starts with an intro from the authors saying how it has the feel of a finale, but it's not a finale. It wraps up one story arc, and the next book will continue with another one. It did have that feel a bit, but I definitely could tell the story was still going to go on. The only reason I bumped it down to 4.5 stars is that the first half I had a hard time focusing and getting into it. Which, that's pretty typical for me and these books. But it was worse than usual. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: the other Kate Daniels books, urban fantasy, epic battles, love stories
  • Trigger Warnings: graphic violence, torture, starvation

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K Hamilton

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  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: ebook
  • Rating: 3 stars

I've been meaning to try the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books for a long time now. It's one of the staples of the urban fantasy and helped bring the genre into the spotlight. Halloween was the perfect time to give it a shot.

This book was... okay. The world was interesting and the villain was fantastic. But compared to other urban fantasies, I felt it didn't really live up. If I had read this book as my introduction to urban fantasy as so many other people did, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. At the same time, I also know that when I start a new urban fantasy series it takes me a couple of books to really get into it. So, that being said, I'll still try the next one or two to see if my opinion changes. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: Vampires, zombies, urban fantasy, books with creepy children antagonists
  • Trigger Warnings: violence, sexual abuse, scars

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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  • Genre: Young Adult Slasher/Horror/Thriller
  • Format: ebook
  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

This was... interesting. I literally never read slasher/horror/thriller books. Or at least it's pretty rare when I do. Back in Jr. High and High School I read some Lois Duncan books (she wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer) but since then... not so much. Therefore, I don't have any reference as to what to compare this book to. 

Stephanie Perkins is popular for her adorable contemporary romances, and I'm a HUGE fan of her books. But, she's a big fan of horror and slasher movies, so she gave writing this book a try. There was definitely the cute teen romance Perkins excels at, and I liked them a lot. (Although, not as much as her others.) The mystery was... fine. There were a couple moments I got creeped out, but not as much as I would have hoped from a book of this genre. But, it was entertaining and a good quick Halloween read.

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: Lois Duncan Books, Slasher Movies, Contemporary Teen Romance, bad-boy-loner trope
  • Trigger Warnings: Blood, gore, violent murders, hazing

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

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  • Genre: Horror/Thriller
  • Format: ebook
  • Rating: 5 Stars

This book was the surprise of the month. I read it in practically one sitting and it was incredible. Dan Wells is one of the hosts for my favorite writing podcast, Writing Excuses, and I've been wanting to read one of his books for a while. This one I had found on sale for Kindle a while back and it became a movie so I figured it was a good place to start. I knew I'd probably enjoy it, but not as much as I did. 

I loved that John Cleaver grew up in a morgue because I grew up in a funeral home, so that was really fun for me! And I learned more about body preparation in the first four chapters than I did in the 18 years I lived in a funeral home! 

This book is more of a character study than anything else, and it was fascinating. It was like being in the mind of a serial killer, but the character isn't ACTUALLY a serial killer. Then seeing his spiral downward and the paranormal twist... SO GOOD. This book was incredible and I can't wait to read the next one and watch the movie. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: horror, character studies, psychology, paranormal, unique home settings
  • Trigger Warnings: dead bodies, brutal murder, sociopathic tendencies 

The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

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  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

This book's concept is super fascinating! She's a demon hunter (the last demon hunter) but has these tattoos covering her body which are also demons who protect her. The tattoos are passed down from mother to daughter with each generation. The world was dark and gritty, and I really liked how the focus of the book was more on the bond between mother-daughter-grandmother vs. the romance. There is a romantic interest(who is a Pied-Piper former priest who has to walk with a cane and is AMAZING), but they're already in a committed relationship and it's not the main focus. Which, that is unusual in books in general but particularly for this genre. 

The big thing that made it not a full 4 or 5 star book is that it was hard to follow sometimes. Part of it was also my fault because I was reading it as part of a read-a-thon at the end of October, so I did a lot more speed reading than I normally would have. But, I definitely want to continue with this series. 

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: urban fantasy, own voices, demons, magic, family-focused stories
  • Trigger Warnings: abuse, torture

The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson (aka: Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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  • Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

Surprisingly, I did not read this book because the actress who plays Tara from Buffy wrote it. I found it on the Barnes and Noble website for like $2 and when I realized who the author was it was just an added bonus. 

I really liked how the focus of this book was on the bond of the blood sisters. It's definitely a female-squad-goals type of a book which I really like. You get the different perspectives of each of the sisters and you see flashbacks of what happened in the past which I really enjoyed. Benson has a beautiful writing style as well. It felt a little cramped though. She wanted to put so much into it that things felt rushed. There also were some moments which dealt with sexual abuse and a drugged sex fantasy scene which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. But, I would be open to reading other books in the series.

  • You'll like this book if you also enjoy: Movies like Practical Magic and The Craft, witches, magic, squad goals
  • Trigger Warnings: sexual and physical abuse

Currently Reading:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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  • Genre: Mystery
  • Format: Audiobook

With the movie coming out in November, I decided it was high time I read the book. I read And Then There Were None back in Jr. High but nothing else by Agatha Christie. I know, it's a crime.

It's good so far, I'm about halfway through. I'm listening to the audiobook narrated by Dan Stevens (Matthew from Downton Abbey and the beast from Beauty and the Beast ) and OH GOODNESS HE'S AMAZING. All of his voices are perfect! I will definitely listen to other books he's narrated after this. 

 

So, what have you been reading this month? Do you do anything particular to get into the Halloween spirit?