Ten Fantastic Mash-ups We Need Right Now

When I first read this week’s assignment for Top Ten Tuesday, my heart fell. It sounded like an impossibly difficult task:

Pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined.

Sometimes a challenge is a good thing. This made me think about some of my favorite stories in an entirely new way. And who knows? One of these mashups may inspire me for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month).


1. Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson (A Robin Hood re-telling) + One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

This could turn into a madcap romp, something akin to Cervantes’ Don Quixote, but contained within the walls of a mental asylum.

2. Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll + One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.

Can you imagine Alice trying to track down criminals in wonderland, waffling between The Mad Hatter (Joseph Morelli) and The Cheshire Cat (Ranger), etc. Of course, the Queen of Hearts would morph into Joyce Bernhardt.

3. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys + Pinnochio (in reverse)

A person gradually becomes less human, but becomes more “perfect.”

4. Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare + Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick

A robot tries to make a human “nicer.”

5. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley + Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

A scientist tries to make his monster master the social graces and falls in love.

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte + The Little Mermaid

Some gothic shenanigans take place beneath the waves.

7. Aladdin’s Lamp + Emma by Jane Austen.

Social visits and match making get real interesting when a magical teapot appears.

8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding + 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James


9. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Iriving + Sherlock Holmes or Dana Skully (rational skeptic)

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott + Ready Player One by Ernest Kline

It’d be interesting to see what Amy, Jo, Beth and Meg would get up to in a virtual reality world.


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s topic is Books You’d Mash Together (pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined) (Submitted by Rissi @ Finding Wonderland)

Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

When contemplating ten popular books that lived up to the hype, it dawned on me that this could be a really easy list to create. There are, after all, seven Harry Potter books. I’d only have to come up with three more.

harry potter

I loved all of the Harry Potter books. I’ve read them all multiple times. I’ve read them along with my kids. My daughter and I are currently re-watching all the movies. It’s safe to say that I believe these books totally earned the hype–and they’re holding up remarkably well to the passage of time.

I’m not going to take the easy way out here. Here are ten OTHER books that earned the hype:

hunger gamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her little sister’s place as a tribute to the annual games hosted in the capitol, where representatives from each district battle to the death. Other competitors are bigger, stronger, faster and better trained. Can Katniss survive? Can she stand up to the oppressive regime forcing this barbaric ritual on the disenfranchised?

Katniss is everything you want in a hero. She’s honorable. She’s wily. She’s determined. This series had me on tenterhooks wanting to know how the heck Katniss was going to get herself out of increasingly dangerous situations. It’s not just a series of action scenes and suspenseful moments. There’s plenty of romance, too.

timetravelerThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Henry, a librarian with a taste for adventure, is the first person to be diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder. Whenever his genetic clock resets he is pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. This condition complicates the already complicated scenario of falling in love with Clare, a beautiful art student, and maintaining a relationship with her.

Not only is this novel wonderfully imaginative in its construction, it’s beautifully told and a real tear-jerker. I recommend having a box of Kleenex handy.

kite runnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. As the Afghan monarchy was crumbling, the friendship of two boys was put to the test–and broke. While they were constant companions during peaceful times, their differences in caste put a wedge between them. Amir belongs to the ruling Pashtun caste and enjoys the privileges of being the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant. Hassan, his servant, is a Hazara, a poor and despised caste. As the years pass by, Amir never ceases to regret abandoning his childhood friend. Eventually, he sets out to discover what had become of him and to make amends.

This tale is epic in scope, passionately written, and provides keen observations about human nature, love and redemption.

waterforelephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Jacob is an Ivy league drop out who ran way to join a traveling circus, which was struggling to survive during the Great Depression. Because of his training in veterinary medicine, he is put in charge of caring for the menagerie, chief of which is a seemingly intractable elephant named Rosie. In this colorful setting, Jacob falls for the beautiful star of an equestrian act. Unfortunately, she is shackled to August, a cruel animal-trainer.

This is a beautifully written book. The narrative voice is distinct and the setting is uniquely captivating. I will be honest though: the romance wasn’t as important to me as the welfare of Rosie, an incredible creature given an unfair lot in life.

dragonThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Michael Blomkvist, a journalist with a raging drive to uncover the truth, and Lisbeth Salander, a young woman with deep-seated anger against the world and an unparalleled ability to hack into computer systems, join forces to solve the 40 year-old mystery of the disappearance of a young woman from one of Sweden’s wealthiest families. During the course of the investigation, they grapple with their own demons.

This book is remarkable not only for unraveling such a complicated and tragic mystery, but also for the powerful character studies, and keen observations of social and family dynamics. This is one book where I’d be hard-pressed to say whether it was more character driven or plot driven. I believe it’s an incredible example of both types of narrative and one of the key reasons this book appeals to a large audience.

guernseyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Shortly after the second world war, writer Juliet Ashton strikes up a correspondence with the residents of the isolated island of Guernsey. She learns about the ordeals of this eccentric group of characters as they coped with the German occupation of their home. Through the letters, these people reveal bare their hearts and express a deep love of the written word.

It’s a deeply moving portrait of a small community of resilient people in the toughest of times. I’m sure I cried over this one and have a longing to re-read it.

naemofthewindThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the tale of the making of the greatest wizard the world has ever known. Kvothe had humble beginnings as a player in a traveling troupe of actors and then as a homeless orphan in a crime-ridden city, but through a daring bid to enter a famous school of magic, his career begins to take shape. His ambition and hard work bring him a great deal of fame until he commits a crime that forces him to flee as a fugitive.

Not since I first read Tolkien’s book about the hairy-footed hobbit did a fantasy world enthrall me as much as this one did. It’s fully realized with a fascinating society peopled a marvelous array of characters. It’s gritty and shies away from sentimental. It’s downright poetic. I’ve read it twice and expect I’ll read it again.

persepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi. In this graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi recounds her coming of age in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Regular growing pains are tough enough, but they become charged with greater meaning and greater risk when set amidst political upheaval. In her brave voice, tinged with both humor and sorrow, she explores notions of individual and social freedoms, homecoming and alienation.

I am not generally a reader of graphic novels, but I loved this. The narrator’s tone is so candid and so human that I felt a bond with her even though our lived experiences and homelands are so different.

oveA Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. Ove is a curmudgeon. He is committed to his long-standing principles, impatient with his neighbors, and blunt in his criticisms. He’s also deeply lonely. When a boisterous family moves in next door, we expect him to explode, but they weasel their way into his heart and he into theirs.

I know I’ve mentioned this book before, but it’s one of my favorites and I had to include it here. I adore the old grouch. Behind his confrontational and unpleasant exterior beats a tender heart. His old friends are described in a tender fashion and the new neighbors are so lively, warm and wonderful. I cried my eyes out over this one.

Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green. When attending a support group for cancer kids, Hazel feels a mixture of impatience with the project and pity for her fellow patients. But then something unexpected happens: Augustus enters the room, and with a few incisive words, shakes everything up. Hazel had believed she was good and ready for the end of her story, but this twist recharges her zest for life and love for the people around her.

It was inevitable that I was going to cry my eyes out over The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. There is so much wit and charm oozing out of these characters that you can’t help but become attached. And when the inevitable happens, well, you just have to cry, regretting the loss but cherishing the pleasure of having witnessed something beautiful.


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s topic is popular books that lived up to the hype.

Ten Books to Make You Salivate

I like food. Do you like food too? I bet you do.

In addition to actually eating food (an activity I highly recommend), reading about it  gives me a great deal of pleasure. In fact, I can’t seem to turn away from a book that contains these ingredients: bread and/or cakes (big or small), redemption, self-discovery, empowerment, and LUUUUUUUV.

Dear Reader, you look famished. Can I tempt you with one of the following?

Sourdough by Robin Sloan. Lois Clary is a software engineer who was entrusted with a special sourdough starter. As she learns to care for it, her life is transformed and magical things begin to happen. I created my own starter after reading this book and baked several loaves of bread. MMM…

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. This is the love story between a talented chef and a food critic. A coconut cake played an important role in the main character’s journey towards self-knowledge and opens her up to the possibility of love. I’m tempted to bake Grandma Luella’s coconut cake to see if it brings me the same sort of understanding and deep bond with my special person. Plus, I’m sure it would be deeee-lish-ous!

Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks. After her husband leaves her for another woman, Wynter Morrison runs away to Seattle and gets a job in a bakery, where the ritual of kneading dough and feeding customers provides her with the healing she needs. This appealed to me on three levels: recovery after divorce, living in Seattle (my hometown), and baking bread. It was just what the doctor ordered at a particular time in my life.

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. This book is not like the others. It’s not fiction; rather, it’s a heartfelt memoir by one of my foodie heroes. Each story culminates in a recipe that evokes certain memories and feelings for the author. I’m curious about the pickled grapes!

How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue. Two friends, one, a free-spirited baker, and the other, a wealthy business woman, try to heal the rift in their friendship by opening a bakery together. There are tearful scenes, hunky men, and sweet treats. This is junk food for the brain. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. This plot might sound familiar. Polly Waterford moves to a new town after experiencing a tough breakup. She begins baking and selling bread from her shop, and in so doing, forges ties with the small community, finds herself, and falls in love. This is a thoroughly satisfying read, particularly for the bread baking details and the description of the seaside resort.

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig. And now for something different: Claire O’Neil can taste feelings (!) and knows just how to customize her creations to help the people who come to her shop. (It’s not so different that the comfort factor is lost: girl whose life is a mess moves into town, sets up shop, bakes a lot of yummy things, finds herself, and falls in love.)

One for the Money by Janet Ivanovich. This one is different from all the others because the main character can’t cook anything to save her life; however, she eats with gusto. I swear, every time I read a Stephanie Plum novel I end up with a craving for fried chicken and donuts. Her grandmother also shoots a roast turkey by accident (or on purpose?) one time, so there’s that. I love Stephanie, the bumbling bounty hunter. The whole series is hilarious and bad for your waistline.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal. Elena Alvarez moves to Aspen, Colorado to pursue her dream of cooking in a celebrated restaurant. She makes a lot of delectable meals and spars with the restaurant owner who is as delicious as any entrée she whips up.

Bliss by Hilary Fields. Serafina Wilde moves to Santa Fe to get away from a disastrous relationship and to pursue her dream of running a bakery. Her Aunt Pauline gives her the jump start she needs by allowing her to take over the family business, Pauline’s House of Passion, provided she maintain the “back room.” It’s a fun and sexy romp…with cupcakes.

(Full Disclosure: Hilary Fields is a college friend of mine.)


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s topic is Books with Sensory Reading Memories. These are the books that are linked to very specific memories for you: where you were, what time of year it was, who you were with, what you were eating, etc. Ideas include books you read while on vacation, books that made you hungry for certain foods, books you’ve buddy read with loved ones, etc. (Submitted by Jessica @ A Cocoon of Books)