The latest Japanese Godzilla is getting an extension on its run in US theaters this weekend. Shin Godzilla is one of the best of the franchise, so to celebrate, here are my favorite kaiju villains/frenemies of Godzilla from Toho.
I know, I know - Fall is just beginning. But holiday books are already showing up in stores, as they seem to show up earlier and earlier every year.
This year, just in time for the holidays, Secret Santa will be available in print. It's already available through Createspace and will trickle down to other retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon soon. I'm really happy with the design for this one, and I hope you all love it too!
Secret Santa is my first young reader novel, and blends the Santa Claus story with European myths of faerie, in a magical adventure tale.
Holly Hamilton hates Christmas.
Since her parents died last year, she's been watching out for her brother in an orphanage, where they pick pockets for the unforgiving Mr. Grott, who's some sort of supervillain-in-training. The looming holiday brings back painful memories for Holly, and her brother getting his hopes up for presents he will never receive serves to make her feel angrier than ever.
That all changes one day when circumstances (and a sleigh pulled by a gaggle of ornery reindeer) whisk the orphans to The North Pole, where they meet creatures they'd only read about in fairytales. Thus begins Holly's adventures in Tinseltown, where she learns the logistics behind Christmas, and uncovers the secret origins of the elves, and even Santa himself.
Some things you can't fit onto a top five list, so here's the first of a series of top twenty lists. Having graduated with a B.A. in English, I have an affection for the classics and even to this day strive to read one a month. These are my personal favorites.
1. The Mysteries of Udolpho
by Ann Radcliffe
The Mysteries of Udolpho has been thrilling readers for over two hundred years and holds a critically important place in the history of gothic literature, the rise of romanticism, and the development of the modern detective novel. The novel has something for everyone: Although Radcliffe subtitled The Mysteries of Udolpho "a romance," this gothic thriller is also in part a travelogue, a sentimental novel, a novel of manners, a female Bildungsroman, and a mystery--it even contains a selection of poems. While readers will enjoy wondering whether heroine Emily St. Aubert will ever escape the clutches of her step-uncle Montoni to reunite with her stalwart lover Valancourt, they will also ponder the eerie music, odd family resemblances, unexpected corpses, and sinister disappearances that haunt Emily--and whose mysteries Emily seeks to solve.
- Description from the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading edition
2. The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
The victim of betrayal by friends and an insidious plot to hide another's perfidy, innocent young sailor Edmond Dantes is imprisoned for life at the island fortress of the Chateau d'If. After fourteen years, he makes a harrowing escape and works his way to the island of Monte Cristo, where he recovers abundant treasures whose location were made known to him by a fellow prisoner. Wealthy beyond imagination, Dantes sets about engineering the downfall and ruin of the men who stole his youth and robbed him of everything that he held dear in life.
- Description from the Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions series
by Bram Stoker
'Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window' A chilling masterpiece of the horror genre, Dracula also illuminated dark corners of Victorian sexuality. When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to advise Count Dracula on a London home, he makes a horrifying discovery. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman's neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the arrival of his 'Master', while a determined group of adversaries prepares to face the terrifying Count.
- Description from the Penguin English Library Edition
4. Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Few have failed to be charmed by the witty and independent spirit of Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s beloved classic Pride and Prejudice. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows us the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
- Description from the Penguin Classics edition
5. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
One of Stevenson’s most famous and enduringly popular works, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde describes the mysterious relationship between a respectable and affable doctor and his brutal associate. Set in the grimy streets of Victorian London, this tale of murder, split personality, and obscure science, with its chilling final revelation, became an instant horror classic when it was first published in 1886 and has enthralled and terrified generations of readers ever since.
- Description from the Evergreens Series
6. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.
Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again . . .
- Description from the HarperCollins edition
7. The Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe
The Romance of the Forest evokes a world drenched in both horror and natural splendor, beset with abductions and imprisonments, and centered upon the frequently terrified but still resourceful and determined heroine Adeline. The Gothic Romance stands perfectly poised between the eighteenth century and the oncoming Age of Romanticism, offering moral lessons, pure thrills, and a new kind of fiction with more prominence given to atmospheric setting and sustained suspense than ever before.
- Description from Oxford's World's Classics Series
8. The Scarlet Pimpernel
by Baroness Orczy
The year is 1792. The French Revolution, driven to excess by its own triumph, has turned into a reign of terror. Daily, tumbrels bearing new victims to the guillotine roll over the cobbled streets of Paris.… Thus the stage is set for one of the most enthralling novels of historical adventure ever written.
The mysterious figure known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, sworn to rescue helpless men, women, and children from their doom; his implacable foe, the French agent Chauvelin, relentlessly hunting him down; and lovely Marguerite Blakeney, a beautiful French exile married to an English lord and caught in a terrible conflict of loyalties—all play their parts in a suspenseful tale that ranges from the squalid slums of Paris to the aristocratic salons of London, from intrigue on a great English country estate to the final denouement on the cliffs of the French coast.
- Description from the Signet Classics Series
9. A Room With a View
by E.M. Forster
A charming tale of the battle between bourgeois repression and radical romanticism, E. M. Forster’s third novel has long been the most popular of his early works. A young girl, Lucy Honeychurch, and her chaperon—products of proper Edwardian England—visit a tempestuous, passionate Italy. Their “room with a view” allows them to look into a world far different from their own, a world unconcerned with convention, unfettered by social rituals, and unafraid of emotion. Soon Lucy finds herself bound to an obviously “unsuitable” man, the melancholic George Emerson, whose improper advances she dare not publicize. Back home, her friend and mentor Charlotte Bartlett and her mother, try to manipulate her into marriage with the more “appropriate” but smotheringly dull Cecil Vyse, whose surname suggests the imprisoning effect he would have on Lucy’s spirit.
A colorful gallery of characters, including George’s riotously funny father, Lucy’s sullen brother, the novelist Eleanor Lavish, and the reverend Mr. Beebe, line up on either side, and A Room with a View unfolds as a delightfully satiric comedy of manners and an immensely satisfying love story.
- Description from the Barnes & Noble Classics Series
10. Moll Flanders
by Daniel Defoe
One of the most determined, energetic, and lusty heroines in all of English literature, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders will do anything to avoid poverty. Born in Newgate Prison, she was for twelve years a whore, five times a wife (once to her own brother), twelve years a thief, and eight years a transported felon in Virginia before finally escaping from the life of immorality and wickedness imposed on her by society. She is as much a survivor, and just as resourceful, as Defoe’s other great literary creation, Robinson Crusoe.
Celebrated as “a masterpiece of characterization” by E. M. Forster, Moll Flanders is both a cunning examination of social morés and a hugely entertaining story filled with scandalous sexual and criminal adventures. In Moll, Defoe created a character of limitless interest, in spite of her unconcealed ethical shortcomings. Taking Moll through the echelons of eighteenth-century English society, Defoe seldom moralizes as he champions the personal qualities of self-reliance, perseverance, and hard work—even when it takes the form of crime.
- Description from the Barnes & Noble Classics Series
11. In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.
- Description from the Vintage International Series
12. Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte
Immediately recognized as a masterpiece when it was first published in 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is an extraordinary coming-of-age story featuring one of the most independent and strong-willed female protagonists in all of literature. Poor and plain, Jane Eyre begins life as a lonely orphan in the household of her hateful aunt. Despite the oppression she endures at home, and the later torture of boarding school, Jane manages to emerge with her spirit and integrity unbroken. She becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she finds herself falling in love with her employer—the dark, impassioned Mr. Rochester. But an explosive secret tears apart their relationship, forcing Jane to face poverty and isolation once again.
- Description from the Barnes & Noble Classics Series
13. The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The second in L. Frank Baum's Oz series, The Marvelous Land of Oz, brings readers back to a fantastical journey with a young boy named Tip. Following Tip's adventure, we meet charming new characters, such as Jack the Pumpkinhead, the Wooden Sawhorse, and the Gump, as well as some familiar old ones, like the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. After more than a hundred years since its first publication, The Marvelous Land of Oz continues to charm its readers on an adventure of discovery to the Emerald City.
- Description from the Disney Publishing Worldwide edition
by Jane Austen
Emma Woodhouse is a wealthy, exquisite, and thoroughly self-deluded young woman who has "lived in the world with very little to distress or vex her."
Jane Austen exercises her taste for cutting social observation and her talent for investing seemingly trivial events with profound moral significance as Emma traverses a gentle satire of provincial balls and drawing rooms, along the way encountering the sweet Harriet Smith, the chatty and tedious Miss Bates, and her absurd father Mr. Woodhouse–a memorable gallery of Austen's finest personages. Thinking herself impervious to romance of any kind, Emma tries to arrange a wealthy marriage for poor Harriet, but refuses to recognize her own feelings for the gallant Mr. Knightley. What ensues is a delightful series of scheming escapades in which every social machination and bit of "tittle-tattle" is steeped in Austen's delicious irony. Ultimately, Emma discovers that "Perfect happiness, even in memory, is not common."
Virginia Woolf called Jane Austen "the most perfect artist among women," and Emma Woodhouse is arguably her most perfect creation. Though Austen found her heroine to be a person whom "no one but myself will much like," Emma is her most cleverly woven, riotously comedic, and pleasing novel of manners.
- Description from the Barnes & Noble Classics Series
by E. M. Forster
Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and into his father's firm. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way—except that his is homosexual. Written during 1913 and 1914, immediately after Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. "Happiness," Forster wrote, "is its keynote.... In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."
- Description from the Norton W.W. & Company, Inc. edition
16. The Patchwork Girl of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
In this dazzling tale, L. Frank Baum proves once again his power to delight and enchant readers of all ages. Follow the adventures of a charming new band of characters as they explore the wondrous land of Oz and discover that you learn more by traveling than by staying at home.
Forced to venture out of the dark forest, Unc Nunkie and Ojo the Unlucky call on the Crooked Magician, who introduces them to his latest creation: a living girl made out of patchwork quilts and cotton stuffing. But when an accident leaves beloved Unc Nunkie a motionless statue, it is up to Ojo to save him. In his search for the magic ingredients that will restore his uncle to life, Ojo is joined by the Patchwork Girl and by the conceited Glass Cat, who boasts of her hard ruby heart, the resourceful Shaggy Man, and the lovable block-headed Woozy, whose tail hairs are just one of the things Ojo needs to rescue Une Nunkie.
As they travel to the Emerald City, home of the wise and powerful Ozma, they meet Dorothy, the kind and sensible girl from Kansas; the gallant Scarecrow; and, of course, Toto. But no one proves more loyal than the spirited Patchwork Girl, who, although she was brought to life as a servant, is determined to see the wide world for herself.
- Description from the Leeaf Classics edition
17. The Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
After her parents' death, Mary Lennox-a plain, sickly, and unloved little girl-leaves her home in India to stay in her uncle's English manor. There, thanks to a very special hidden garden and some wonderful new friends, she undergoes a physical and spiritual transformation that ultimately affects the lives of all around her.
- Description from the Sterling Illustrated Children's Classics Series
18. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty rabbit underground and comes face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all literature.
The mad Hatter, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the grinning Cheshire-Cat, Tweedledum, and Tweedledee could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense Lewis Carroll. In this brilliant satire of rigid Victorian society, Carroll also illuminates the fears, anxieties, and complexities of growing up. He was one of the few adult writers to enter successfully the children’s world of make-believe, where the impossible becomes possible, the unreal, real, and where the heights of adventure are limited only by the depths of imagination.
- Description from the 100th AnniversarySignet Classics edition
19. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Kenneth Grahame's exuberant yet whimsical The Wind in the Willows belongs to the golden age of children's classic novels. These charming, exciting and humorous tales of the riverbank and its life featuring the wonderfully imagined Ratty, Mole, Badger and the irrepressible but conceited Toad of Toad Hall — whose passion for motor cars ("The only way to travel! Here today — in next week tomorrow") lands him in many scrapes — still continue exert their charm over adults as well as children.
-Description from the Puffin Classics Series
20. A Study in Scarlet
by Arthur Conan Doyle
Written in 1886, the story marks the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who would become among the most famous characters in literature. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes, an amateur detective, to his friend and chronicler Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his "study in scarlet": "There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."
The first episode of the original Star Trek series aired fifty years ago today. As I'm a huge Star Trek fan, I wanted to acknowledge it in some way, and since I love strong female characters, I thought I would take a look at my favorites from the various Star Trek shows. There are plenty of great characters to choose form, but these are my favorites...
1. Lwaxana Troi
(Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)