Some of my Fantasy Favorites

As a number of people know, one of my favorite genres in books are fantasies. There is something special about being in a made-up world with creatures and beasts that don’t exist. They truly allow you to escape into those world. Now what are some of my favorites?

Harry Potter:

This was one of the series that made me fall in love with fantasy. Lots of magic, wizards, witches, creatures such as Hippogriffs, Phoenix, and others. The world of Hogwarts is incredible. Same with the characters- the ones that usually came straight to mind is the trio. Started on the movies and later read the books. Now it is time for a reread.

Chronicles of Narnia

Narnia is the other series that made me fall in love with fantasy. Just like HP, started with the movies and then read the books. I love Narnia as a country- talking animals, dancing trees, and other things. It is just so incredible a world. I also hope to reread the series.

Lord of the Rings

Well, my love for Narnia and HP brought me to read this series. I started with The Hobbit and then read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I love the Hobbits a lot- I don’t love just Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. I also love Legolas and Aragorn for instance. Middle Earth it incredible- along with Hobbits, there are elves, dwarves, and obviously humans. In some ways, I think HP is what drew me to reading the series.

I really think J. K. Rowling got inspired by this series for HP. Sam reminds me of Ron and Hermione, Merry and Pippin reminds me of Fred and George, the Ring is similar to the Horcruxes, Sauron and Voldemort are dark lords, and both series have a spider attack- the list continues after that.

Uprooted

This was my first Naomi Novik book. There are a few plot twists here and there. I love these characters- from the Dragon to the protagonist, Kaisa, and crazily enough- the corrupted wood acts as a character.

Spinning Silver

A retelling of Rumplestilskein. It is very original- the only struggle I had with this book was the multiple points of view. Original characters and Original world. This was recommended by Park Road Books when they talked at a church event- at the time they were advertising Spinning Silver, and due to already falling in love with Uprooted, I knew I wanted this book. Both are Naomi Novik books.

Shades of Magic

The setting is a bit complicated- just picture 18th century London, and split that into four parallel, but vastly different Londons- Red, White, Grey, and Black. Just like Lord of the Rings and HP, there is also an item that can easily corrupt especially if it gets in the wrong hands. I have the creating of the new language, the Antari, and amazing characters. I love Kell, Lila, and Alcuard Emery for instance. If you love London, different kinds of magic, character-driven, and fast-paced series, you will love this series. I was recommended this book by Park Road Books- it took me a couple years till I read the first book.

The Princess Bride

Well, I have loved this story since watching the movie as a child. Here is my main problem with the book- chapters that are way too language. You might think you are reading an abridged book, but in reality you are reading an unabridged book. Crazily enough, as I was reading this book, I kept on visualizing scenes in the movie. I could easily tell when a certain part of the plot would happen. This book is extremely faithful to the movies. It is a story that just never gets old- true love, adventures and, miracles.

Avalon

Usually, I buy one book in a series, but for Avalon- I found a book, which was home to three Avalon books. There is a lot of magic in this book, which was found in the stones. Adrienne, Kara, and Emily have an incredible friendship with themselves and with other creatures. Every one of them is extremely close to one of the animals- it is different for all them.

Wizard of OZ

Sister’s Grimm

This series does show us characters we heard of before, but at the same time introducing us to new characters. I don’t fully remember why I loved this series.

Land of Stories

This literally feels like a fairy tale. You have characters in there like Goldilocks, Red Redding Hood, and other well-known characters. That world is incredible- it centers on two twins, Alex and Conner. One loves fantasy and fairy tales (Alex), while her twin brother (Conner) doesn’t. Funnily enough, technically the Land of Stories is literally found in a magical book.

His Dark Materials

This is the series I am currently reading. In some ways, I can see Lila in Lyra. Lila, yes is a thief- Lyra was also a kinda of liar and a schemer. Sounds kinda of similar to Lila. When I found that out, I was willing to read the series. Of all the series I love, the title of this particular series is, in my opinion, not a very good title.

While this book was banned due to religious reasons, that does not stop me from loving the series. I love Lyra, the main character, and I love the world and the altheiometer (which is The Golden Compass). That device is incredible in what it looks like and what it can do. Yes, I have seen anti-spiritual themes in the series- but that has no effect on my love for the series. When you have an incredible protagonist and an incredible world, that can make up for that. I do love Will as well- he wasn’t introduced until the 2nd book. It can be hared to know who can be trusted and who cannot in this series. In some ways, I feel like the series is referring to the Old Testament God. While I don’t agree about what some of the characters think about God, it is kinda of interesting to read. In a way, it shows science vs God. In a way, our world was created due to both God and nature.

Conclusion:

I am still in the middle of the last book of His Dark Materials. What I plan to read in the future belongs to the Nevermoor series- I heard that fans of HP will love this series. I already mentioned, I hope to reread HP and Chronicles of Narnia. There is a classic book I read, that may not be a fantasy, feels like a fairy tale- that was Secret Garden. Most of my TBR list is mostly made of classics.

Labor Day Weekend- COVID

If it wasn’t for COVID, I wouldn’t be at home this weekend. Labor Day is when my Parish goes to Kanuga for a Parish Retreat. A time of fellowship, square dancing, hiking, etc…… Kanuga means a lot to me. Kanuga is a place where the fellowship of my church gets stronger. Eventually, I secured the role of hike leader-my dad is the other. There have been years with singing songs like “Servant Song”, “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”, and “Sanctuary”. Servant Song has two meanings- the first being connected to Kanuga and the 2nd being connected to the Bristol Pilgrimage.

I have been to Kanuga for more than just Parish Weekends. I went there for Thanksgiving and Winterlight. In case anyone wondering, Winterlight is a high school youth conference- December 27-January 1st. Below are pictures from Winterlight and Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving- my family did go over Thanksgiving. I was able to weave baskets and make an actual hiking stick. From then on, I use my hiking sticks for other hikes I go on. I ended up carving off the first half of the stick to have something smooth to hold- the rest is just bark. My stick also the words Thanksgiving, the year, and my name on it. I kept part of the bark on so that way it actually looks like a hiking stick.

About Winterlight- we sing three times a day and consists of a banquet, service project, New Year’s Eve Dance, and honoring the seniors. There is some free time- where we can choose what we want to do: one of the ones I picked was playing games. We spend part of the day with our assigned small group- the programs consist of singing, and eventually breaking into our small group. I went for 11th and 12th grade. Whenever I think of high school, Winterlight comes straight to mind. Winterlight was where I discovered my love for contemporary christian music. That event means a lot to me.

The Upcoming School Year

As the school year begins, I am so glad that I graduated high school and college when I did. I never had to put up with the whole pandemic. Fletcher and Gardner Webb are the schools that mean a lot to me. Fletcher really did help me prepare for college.

When I am thinking of GWU, I am wondering how will students get the social life. While college is focused on classes, the thing that really makes college exciting is the social activities. From clubs to Candy and Critters, Pinterest Night, Pumpkin Painting, The Gathering (student-led worship service), Formal, Skate Night, Fall Break and Spring Break trips (mission trips and Disney), etc…. all were some of the best parts of GWU. Now what in the world are students supposed to do outside of their studies. These social events give students a break from studying- you need the break in order to deal with stress.

While Fletcher doesn’t mean as much to me as GWU, I am still wondering about the social life. It is harder to think of the social life at Fletcher: after all it was a small K-12. From prom to clubs to holiday parties to book projects to silly things like Senior Prank- now what?

Of course there are the non-school memories: Great Wolf Lodge, Montreat, Kanuga (Parish Weekends and Winterlight), Rent (and the other musicals I saw with my family), Alaska, Chicago, England- just the social stuff that happened that has nothing related to GWU or Fletcher. These type of social activities can still happen- just not those particular ones: meaning you still can hang out with friends, go with your family downtown or walk on the Greenways.

CPCC- The In Between

After graduating from Fletcher, I did not want to go to Central Piedmont Community College. I really wanted to be at Gardner Webb- I knew I was meant to be there. However, I spent two years at community college, where there was actually some highlights.

Musicals

Godspell

Well, the very first musical I fell in love with during the college years was Godspell. CPCC did that production in my first semester- little did I know I would see some of those actors in future CPCC productions. What I remember about Godspell was some of the costumes: from hippie to a lady in a pink dress holding a star. My favorite song is “We Beseech Thee”. Godspell is one of two biblical musicals I love. I was recommended to watch Godspell because of my love for Stephen Schwartz.

Les Mis

Before Les Mis, I actually signed up to be an usher for CPCC. Due to that, I ended up seeing Les Mis three times (once with family and twice as an usher). I fell in love with Les Mis during my 1st year of college. CPCC did their production in November of 2013. Ryan Deal, my Valjean, was also Jesus in Godspell. Yes, this was a community college production, but I called it phenomenal. Halton Theater has both an orchestra and balcony- the orchestra is deep (I was sitting in row Q near the center when I saw Les Mis with my family). CPCC’S production of Les Mis was truly the motor for wanting to see the musical in London. Because of CPCC, I was able to start doing more in theater than just being in the audience.

For an extra credit assignment for my communication class, I ended up critiquing the actress, who played Eponine. That was because I really was still puzzled on why I love the character in the first place. Les Mis did start this pattern of seeing Les Mis every other year- each year was seen in different theaters (from Halton to Queen’s to Peace Center to Ovens). The reason why I saw the stage show six times was due to ushering.

Some Enchanted Evening

Once again, I was an usher. It is basically a concert that showcases songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein. My 2nd show I saw at Halton. This wouldn’t be the last time I saw some musical theatre production at CPCC. Those other musicals would happen after Gardner Webb.

Volunteering

I did end up volunteering. I was part of a service club, participated in Martin Luther King Day, and went on Alternative Spring Break. Martin Luther King Day means you literally show up at CPCC, and you are randomly assigned a service project- so you have to show up prepared for anything. Alternative Spring Break happened in Atlanta, Georgia: that was a mission trip. We did some things outside of volunteering: like visiting the Georgia Aquarium.

Classes

Why would I put down classes as one of the highlights? Well, there are some classes I am so glad I took at CPCC. My first round of history was one of them- I had to take my 2nd history class with Gardner Webb: their Western Civilization classes are much harder than CPCC’s. So at least I got one out of the way. I don’t know what made me take this class- psychology (that would eventually lead to taking Sociology at Gardner Webb).

In some ways, I learned more about acting in my Communications class: they did offer some extra credit assignments. One of which was to critique a sermon: I literally had to ask “can I critique an actor instead of a sermon”. Well, guess what- I did critique an actor: during Les Mis. The reason why I choose the actress, who played Eponine (Kayla Ferguson), was because I still could not quite understand why I even loved that character.

Musicals- the 2nd Round

Oklahoma

By this point, I already graduated from Gardner Webb. But, I still decided to see musicals at CPCC. After all, their musicals are always well-done. They combine students with professionals with the community. Oklahoma was a theater date with mom: we got seats in the balcony. Actors/actresses did move sets, which went smoothly. Two actors I had seen in Godspell were Laurey and Will Parker. People think Oklahoma is just about this dance social: but it actually is truly a love story between Curly and Laurey. Like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there was a 2nd romance. Both of the couples were part of a love triangle. In addition, it is also about Oklahoma becoming a state.

Fun fact: Ashton Guthrie, who played Curly, would end up in another summer CPCC musical.

Grease

This time around, I went to see Grease with my sister and one of our friends. Once again, actors moved set pieces, which did flow smoothly. CPCC did get permission to use songs that were originally not part of the stage show. I just knew how different the stage show was when I heard the first song. There were a couple of new songs I never knew existed in Grease.

Newsies

Well, I had already seen Newsies by this point, but not with CPCC. I really wanted to see Newsies at CPCC, but as it got closer to when Newsies was playing at CPCC, It did feel like I wouldn’t see it. There was no sign of my parents getting tickets. When the last day of the production happened, I literally believed I wouldn’t be seeing the CPCC production.

However, things would come unexpected. One of my best friends from Gardner Webb just shown up at my house. I thought we were just going to go shopping. On the drive, she did ask what do you want to today: “I really wanted to see Newsies”. Guess what happened- the two of us ended up in the Will Call Line to pick up Newsies tickets. As a matter of fact, my friend hadn’t seen a stage show in years- so at intermission when the lights got on, she thought the show was over. I had to say, that is what happens at intermission: the lights go up.

Ashton Guthrie was Jack Kelly- I already saw him as Curly. Here is what I really loved about the casting of Crutchie: he was an actor of color. Jack and Crutchie are my favorite Newsies because of the intimate and deep bond those two have. The towers were still there, but had to be moved by actors/actresses: still flowed smoothly. While Joey Barreiro still remains my favorite Jack Kelly, Ashton was able to add a since of maturity in Jack. Jack is the Newsies leader so the mature nature I saw from Ashton worked for the character. I still felt innocence coming from the character- which did not show up until “Something to Believe In”. Like any CPCC musical, well-done. This was actually her graduation present to me: the best I had.

Due to seeing three CPCC productions over the summer, I was able to see five musicals in 2018: the other two were with Blumenthal.

Musical Duets

Duets in musicals are some of the best incredible songs. A lot of them are romance numbers, but there are some that have nothing to do with that common theme. I have come across romance, death, friendship, and family when it comes to duets. What are some of my favorite duets?

Romance

  1. Whole New World
  2. Something to Believe In
  3. Heart Full of Love
  4. All I Ask of You
  5. I Should Tell You
  6. I’ll Cover You
  7. Light my Candle
  8. Take Me or Leave Me
  9. Something Good
  10. Sixteen going on Seventeen
  11. As Long as Your’e Mine
  12. Rewrite the Stars
  13. People will Say we’re in Love
  14. Million Miles Away
  15. Love Song
  16. Somewhere
  17. Tonight
  18. Suddenly Seymour
  19. Sun and Moon
  20. Last Night of the World

Death

As a matter of fact, some deaths have two emotions. It is called knowing the characters. It can be hard to enjoy death if it isn’t memorable- songs help make a death memorable. Pretty much all memorable deaths are happening when a character isn’t alone.

  1. Come to Me
  2. A Little Fall of Rain

Friendship/Family

  1. Santa Fe (Prologue)
  2. No Matter What
  3. For Good

Antagonist/Protagonist

  1. Confrontation
  2. Phantom of the Opera
  3. Point of No Return

Other duets

  1. Million Dreams
  2. What you Own