Beyond Books: Lost in Translation

I am afraid I am going to get all English Major on you guys today. I have to say that one of my favorite things about my current position as a Librarian are the research questions that I get to assist with every day. We often have a lot of trouble in the library when trying to find novels for bilingual patrons. Although there is a definite need in the library for novels that have been translated into different languages, due to budget constraints this rarely happens.This got me thinking about the value of literature, language and their working relationship. What resources are there for those who need things such as websites translated? As a research librarian, I clearly embarked on a journey to find answers to this question! I found many resources but was especially impressed by the translation software provided by Smartling. From what I can gather, based on the needs of the customer, Smartling uses human translation and the translation software platform so that the best quality and accuracy is provided. I am sure you all have experience using Google translate, and I am sure that you have found that sometimes their translation just doesn’t make sense. Smartling strives to preserve and carry over the original intent and purpose of the text, without losing anything in translation. Continue reading

Review: The Unwritten Series by Mike Carey

Title: The Unwritten Series

Author: Mike Carey

Publishing Information: Volume 1 published January 12th 2010 by Vertigo

Genre: Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror

Series Information: 10 Volumes

Format: Paperback, 144 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers who enjoy the Fables series by Bill Willingham, or those of you looking to foray into reading graphic novels without being overwhelmed by back issues and superheroes.

Related Reviews: Fables by Bill Willingham

Tom Taylor’s life was screwed from go. His father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. The problem is Dad modeled the fictional epic so closely to Tom’s real life that fans are constantly comparing him to his counterpart, turning him into the lamest variety of Z-level celebrity. In the final novel, it’s even implied that the fictional Tommy will crossover into the real world, giving delusional fans more excuses to harass Tom.

When an enormous scandal reveals that Tom might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that’s secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world, eventually finding himself at locations all featured on a very special map — one kept by the deadly group that charts places throughout world history where fictions have impacted and tangibly shaped reality, those stories ranging from famous literary works to folktales to pop culture. And in the process of figuring out what it all means, Tom will find himself having to figure out a huge conspiracy mystery that spans the entirety of the history of fiction.

The series starts off great, upon finishing volume one I immediately wanted to continue on in order to find out where the story was going. I loved Tommy as a character, he is incredibly flawed but perseveres through the continuous trials he is put through. Richie and Lizzie are secondary characters in the series but they are both given thorough story arcs that I loved. Lizzie is given a great backstory and Richie is provided an excellent story arc that really makes his character change and grow. Basically, no one is safe, which I love!

The best part about this series is that while telling a new story (that maybe has underlying aspects found in Harry Potter, just a little), Carey also brings in fantastic aspects from “classic” literature such as Moby Dick, Aesop’s Fables, and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Obviously, as an English major, this was right up my alley!

If I am being completely honest, it was volume 9, The Unwritten: Fables showing up on Netgalley that originally got me to start the entire Unwritten series. I had never heard of The Unwritten, but I am a lover of the Fables universe by Bill Willingham, so naturally when I saw that they were doing a crossover I had to jump on the chance to read it. I quickly ran to my library and checked out The Unwritten volumes 1-8 and read them in very short time. I am happy to say that I am now a lover of the series and I anticipate when volume 10 will be available.

For those of you who are debating trying out graphic novels, or for those of you looking for a unique and creative twist on some classic literature, you should definitely pick these up as soon as possible! Although they didn’t take the cake for my favorite graphic novel series, they’re certainly coming in at a close second.

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On The Same Page: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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On the Same Page is a new feature here on Books Take You Places that I am hosting along with two of my very dear friends, Amy (Tripping Over Books) and Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide). Essentially, we will be reading one book a month together and then doing a non-traditional review such as a playlist, character analysis, and so on…To find out more about this new feature, head on over to its dedication page!

Today I will be talking about Vicious by V.E. Schwab and in a few days I will be getting into a more traditional review of this novel because it really got me thinking about SO MANY THINGS that I want to share! For now, I thought it would be fun to go a different way (that is, away from the villains that I usually focus on) and focus on the different types of literary heroes. Keep in mind that these are all my personal opinions and the beauty is that these are layered characters and can therefore be defined in different ways.

The Willing Hero:

The willing hero is adventurous, committed, and brave. He (or she, except this is unfortunately uncommon) is willing to take great risks and make sacrifices to save others. Someone who is “born great” instead of “having greatness thrust upon him,” is also another important factor in the case of the willing hero. An obvious choice would be King Arthur; he was born with responsibilities and chooses to be a willing and kind leader. A lesser known example would be Jean Valjean, in Les Misérables, when he rushes to the barricade to try to save Marius for the sake of Cosette. 

The Unwilling Hero:

An unwilling hero is a more passive person, full of self doubt and hesitant to do anything to take themselves out of the safety they have built around them. This hero uses things such as brainpower to overcome obstacles, instead of brute strength that he (or she) is perhaps missing. You will almost always find this hero with a sidekick or some other outside force of motivation as they will lack the willpower to move forward on their own. A great example of the unwilling hero is Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings.

The Tragic Hero:

 Yay we get to use our brains! Let’s break it down into some characteristics of a tragic hero:

  • Overcome by inner demons
  •  Hamartia – Tragic flaw or error that leads to his or her downfall 
  • Peripeteia – A reversal of fortune brought about by his or her tragic flaw.
  •  Epiphany – The hero becomes self aware of his actions and consequences.
  • Catharsis – The audience feels pity for the hero. 

Excellent. Now who does this remind you of?

His call to action is of course, Dumbledore literally calling him to action to protect Harry as he grows and he is overcome by too many inner demons for us to count.

  • Hamartia –  Ohh it could be so many things! Trusting Dumbledore? Not trusting enough? Let’s say his inability to let go of the past and allow himself happiness.
  • Peripeteia – By holding back (even from Lily as a child) he misses out on so many opportunities for happiness. He had hoped that Lily would be avenged by his saving Harry but then learns that Harry must die in order for Voldemort to die as well.
  • Epiphany – He recognizes that Harry has Lily’s ability to love as well as her eyes, he realizes that had he let go of his hate and loved as Lily would have wanted him to he could have led a happier life.
  • Catharsis – Of course the audience feels pity for the hero while he begs Harry to take his tears and look at him one last time so that he can see the eyes of his beloved! 

The Byronic Hero:

This hero has often been described as unsmiling, broody, self respecting but also critical of himself and others. He is often a loner and is generally smarter than average. Ahh who does this bring to mind? My new beloved: 

As I previously stated, these heroes can fall into different categories but for fun let’s see how Sherlock fits in with the Byronic hero. He is broody, mysterious, has distaste for social norms, is arrogant and self-destructive. All beautiful qualities of a Byronic hero in literature. Sigh.

The Anti Hero: 

Ohh one of my favorites! The anti-hero is usually a rebel, someone who is perhaps looked at as an outlaw to society but who usually gains the audience’s sympathy. This is Victor Vale in Schwab’s novel Vicious, but it also relates to the one and only..

 Jack Sparrow! Willing to take the law into his own hands to obtain his goals yet he is simultaneously charming and selfish. He often chooses the “wrong” path if it is easier and gets him to his goal faster. I love him anyway!

Since we are tragically missing females in this list I am going to provide you with my favorite female anti-hero: Scarlett O’Hara!

She is incredibly self serving and uses her beauty and charm to obtain whatever she wants, at any cost. She doesn’t care who she hurts, and sometimes she works solely out of malice. Her drive? Survival. Self preservation at its finest. 

Please, discuss! Tell me what you think of my choices and who you would choose as your heroes! Other fun posts related to Vicious by V.E. Schwab can be found on Brittany and Amy’s blogs, so head on over!