Pastiche vs. Fanfiction

Can you believe that I am 35 years old, have a BA in English, and had never heard the word ‘pastiche’ until a month ago?!? Fanfic, on the other hand…I’ve been a lover of fanfic since I discovered it at age 12 (when we finally got a computer, lol) and stumbled across my first fanfic online (Questies represent!).

From what I can tell, Pastiche vs Fanfiction is a matter of “a penny is a coin, but a coin isn’t necessarily a penny”. A pastiche IS fanfiction, but of a certain type: it must attempt to mimic the writing style and flair of the original works (it’s also usually published, but that’s more of a class difference rather than a writing difference, so I’m discounting it).

For example: Lyndsay Faye, a well-known Sherlock Homes pastiche writer, has put out several books, including her debut Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson. This book follows not only the tone of the originals, but the style, presenting itself as an original work by Dr. Watson and mimicking the writing of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Whereas: Many of my favorite Sherlock Holmes fanfictions are based more on the television shows/movies rather than the original stories (and let’s not even attempt to figure out if a fanfic based on a tv show based on a book still counts as a pastiche!). The stories tend to present with a viewer’s POV, which can include snippets from the criminals/victims lives that the boys would have no way of knowing about. Almost none of them follow the original style, with Dr. Watson narrating the events, or are even set in the appropriate time frame. Many of them don’t even feature cases, but are more “slice of life” stories.

None of this is to say that one is necessarily “better” than the other. I love both types of work equally. It’s true that most published pastiches will have a higher quality of writing, but that’s true of any “published” vs “non-published” work and I have always been willing to admit that I’ve read some fanfiction that was better than the books they were based on (including Harry Potter, which is huge coming from me). The value is in the story; if it is a good story then it is a worthy story, regardless of it’s origins.

Pastiches For You to Try

Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes (Loren D. Estleman)

Hardy Boys: The House on the Point: A Tribute to Franklin W. Dixon & The Hardy Boys (Benjamin Hoff)

Gone with the Wind: Scarlett (Alexandra Ripley)

Multiple Authors: The British Museum is Falling Down (David Lodge)

I’m sure I’m missing some nuances in defining the two; there seems to be a lot of debate over whether or not certain books would be considered a pastiche, an homage, or fanfiction. Honestly I think people sometimes make things TOO complicated, so this is my simple definition. Feel free to add your take on the debate in the comments. 🙂


Mini-Reviews – Books for Bibliophiles

Hey all! I don’t really feel like doing a full review today, so instead I’m going to do some mini-reviews for Books for Bibliophiles. 🙂

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life (Annie Spence)

dearfahrenheit451Description from GoodreadsLibrarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations.

My Review: I loved this book so much that I plan to purchase it as a reference book. The letters were funny and poignant, and the lists of “what to read when you don’t know what to read” were spot on. I highly recommend this for any bibliophile.

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

My Review: I dare you to tell anyone who is NOT a bibliophile that you are reading a non-fiction book about a lady who decided to read a random shelf of books in her library, and not have them look at you like you’ve grown a second head. To be fair, it DOES sound a bit crazy, but this book was actually very interesting. Rose not only describes the books, but the world in which they were written and the authors themselves. It was pretty fascinating…but also spoiler-y, so don’t read the sections about books in your TBR pile. 😉

84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)

84CharingCrossRdDescription from GoodreadsThis charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world.

My Review: This really was a charming little book. Reading correspondence between a book seller and a reader doesn’t SOUND like it would be interesting, but it really was. It was also short, so it wouldn’t kill you to give it a try, now would it? 😉

The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

PhantomTollboothDescription from GoodreadsFor Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams…

My Review: Yes, this is a kid’s book. Yes, it’s not really about books. But it IS for lovers of language. This was a fun little adventure book and I think it would be a good introduction to word-play for children.

Read any good books-about-books lately? Post about them here! I’m always looking for suggestions!



Sweeping the Shelves #7

Howdy folks! Welcome to the seventh installment of Sweeping the Shelves, the weekly challenge where I try to convince myself that I DON’T NEED ALL THESE BOOKS! 🙂

The Bridge at Ardendale (JW Kent)

bridgeatardendaleDescription from GoodreadsSo, what does a legendary mercenary do when he retires? “He finds him an out of the way place… where they grow good barley and hops. Sets his-self up brewing ale, and mayhap finds a soft, curvy lass or two to keep his bones warm at night….” But when Fergus walked into the Upper Arden Valley he found far more than he had bargained for.

Final Verdict: I’ll be honest, this is one that, based purely on it’s description, I probably would have donated. But it was written by a co-worker, so I have to at least try it. 😉 — KEEP

The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)

forgottengardenDescription from GoodreadsCassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Final Verdict: Well, what bibliophile can resist a description like that? — KEEP

Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)

neverwhereDescription from GoodreadsUnder the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Final Verdict: I really, really want to read this, I just keep not getting around to it. Ooo, wait…I think…::checks phone::…YES! Mom got me the radio drama version of this for Christmas!!! Bye bye, paperback! — DONATE

People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks)

peopleofthebookDescription from Goodreads: In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation. 

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love. 

Final Verdict: Ok, I take back what I said for The Forgotten Garden…what kind of bibliophile can resist a description like THAT? — DEFINITELY KEEP

The Wreckers (Iain Lawrence)

thewreckersDescription from GoodreadsThere was once a village bred by evil. On the barren coast of Cornwall, England, lived a community who prayed for shipwrecks, a community who lured storm-tossed ships to crash upon the sharp rocks of their shore. They fed and clothed themselves with the loot salvaged from the wreckage; dead sailors’ tools and trinkets became decorations for their homes. Most never questioned their murderous way of life. Then, upon that pirates’ shore crashed the ship The Isle of Skye. And the youngest of its crew members, 14-year-old John Spencer, survived the wreck. But would he escape the wreckers? This is his harrowing tale.

Final Verdict: Well, I snagged this one from a library sale to give to my niece and nephew, so I guess that counts as donating it. But I’m gonna read it first! 😉 — DONATE

Today’s Count: Keep = 3, Donate = 2

Overall Count: Keep = 22, Donate = 13

Book Review – A Curious Beginning

Book: A Curious Beginning – Author: Deanna Raybourn

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Historical

Description from Goodreads:

London, 1887. – After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

My Review:

I had a feeling I was going to like this book, and boy was I right!

Veronica is a wonderful character. Spunky, clever, and resourceful, she’s the kind of person you’d want to have on your side when you are in trouble. Though a bit prone to swooning, which is explained, she’s still one of the most capable women I’ve ever read in this time period. Think a slightly more restrained, Victorian-era Phryne Fisher with a bent towards science and you’ll be getting fairly close. 🙂

Her compatriot and soon-to-be-beau (not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious for the majority of the book), Stoker, was also an interesting character. A bit hard-headed and quick to anger, he’s also very loyal and protective…and fairly open-minded when dealing with the extremely ‘modern-thinking’ Veronica. It was nice to see a male figure in a Victorian era book that wasn’t astonished that women might actually know a thing or two and can form their own opinions without relying on a man to explain things to them.

The mystery was intriguing. We are kind of thrown into the mix, just like Veronica, with no clue which characters to trust or what exactly is going on. Those are my favorite kind of mysteries, where you have to figure out the clues right alongside the main characters. I will say that I totally figured out the ‘big surprise’ at the end. Lucky guess really, but I’m still claiming it! 😉

The only thing that bugged me about the book was that Veronica completely refused to believe she could possibly be in danger for WAY too much of the book. There is such a thing as too oblivious and she was pushing the mark. How many kidnapping attempts and random attacks do you have to experience before you get the fact that these guys might be after YOU? It wasn’t a deal-breaker or anything, but I honestly would have sided with Stoker if he’d smacked her upside the head. 😉

Anyway, I really would recommend this one for mystery lovers, especially if you like books set in the Victorian era and/or strong female protagonists.

Similar Book(s):

Lady of Ashes – Christine Trent

The Anatomist’s Wife – Anna Lee Huber

Jackaby – William Ritter


Booksgiving 2018

Three years ago, Jenny Lawson (one of my favorite authors) started a new tradition. She wanted to send a few copies of her book to fans who needed a pick-me-up. When she posted about it on her blog, a ton of her readers thought it was a brilliant idea and wanted to help send books to those who needed them. Thus Booksgiving was born.

This year is the Third Annual Booksgiving. To participate, all you have to do is create a wishlist on Amazon with the one book you’ve been wanting for a while and post a link to it in the comments (make sure you attach your shipping address to your wishlist!!!). Then you scroll through the comments and pick someone else to send a book to (if you have the funds at the moment; sending is NOT required, just encouraged).

I’ve already had my wishlist book purchased and now a copy of Keeper of the Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is winging it’s way to my house. (Thanks Bookgiver!!! 🙂 ) I myself purchased a book for a teacher in an inner-city school who wrote that she is looking for books for her students; inspiring books that will help increase their sense of self-worth.

This is a wonderful tradition and I hope to keep participating in the future. Knowing that I share the love of reading with so many people is amazing and hopefully the book I donated will bring a some light into at least one child’s life.

I highly recommend you get on the bandwagon and share in the joy. What a great day! 🙂

Sweeping the Shelves #6

Welcome on, welcome all, to the sixth installment of my Sweeping the Shelves challenge. The goal? To share my abundance of TBR books with the world instead of hoarding them “just in case I want to read them”.

The Accomplice (Elizabeth Ironside)

theaccompliceDescription from Goodreads: Jean Loftus has lived at Asshe House for more than 40 years. Its tidy contours, the soft colors of the garden, speak to an orderly, gracious life, a supremely English life. But when workmen unearth a skeleton from that garden, the skeletons from Jean’s past begin rising, similarly, to the surface. And the life they speak to – a childhood in Revolutionary Russia, chaotic years as a refugee between the two world wars – was neither orderly nor English. Zita Daunsey, Jean’s neighbor in this cozy Sussex town, would like to help Jean protect her secrets. But this task is made more difficult with the sudden arrival of a mysterious, aggressively inquisitive Russian student. Whose body has been moldering in the garden? What aging sins is Jean so anxious to conceal? And in trying to help the past stay buried, at what point does Zita become an accomplice to it?

Final Verdict: I…I don’t remember this book. At all. Not buying it, not even scanning it into my Libib app for this challenge. It looks REALLY interesting though! I shouldn’t have read the description, now I’m intrigued… — KEEP

Big Stone Gap (Ariana Trigiani)

bigstonegapDescription from GoodreadsNestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town’s self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a “mountain girl’s body and a flat behind.” She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she’s not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave’s fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever. 

Final Verdict: Eh, I dunno. This one has pretty good reviews, but I don’t know if it’s really up my alley. Maybe I’ll just watch the movie. (Blasphemy, I know. 😉 ) — DONATE

Flesh and Bone – Body Farm #2 (Jefferson Bass)

fleshandboneDescription from GoodreadsAnthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton founded Tennessee’s world-famous Body Farm—a small piece of land where corpses are left to decay in order to gain important forensic information. Now, in the wake of a shocking crime in nearby Chattanooga, he’s called upon by Jess Carter—the rising star of the state’s medical examiners—to help her unravel a murderous puzzle. But after re-creating the death scene at the Body Farm, Brockton discovers his career, reputation, and life are in dire jeopardy when a second, unexplained corpse appears in the grisly setting.

Accused of a horrific crime—transformed overnight from a respected professor to a hated and feared pariah—Bill Brockton will need every ounce of his formidable forensic skills to escape the ingeniously woven net that’s tightening around him . . . and to prove the seemingly impossible: his own innocence.

Final Verdict: I normally try not to keep books that aren’t the first of the series, but I really like the premise of this one. And it looks like my library has the first novel, so I can try it out and see if I like it. — KEEP (FOR NOW)

One Mountain Away (Emilie Richards)

onemountainawayDescription from GoodreadsWith nothing but brains, ambition and sheer nerve, Charlotte Hale built a career as a tough, savvy real-estate developer. Her reputation is rock solid…but her life is empty. One terrifying day, Charlotte realizes that her friends are as grasping and insincere as she is. Far worse, she’s alienated her family so completely that she’s never held or spoken to her only granddaughter. 

Charlotte vows to make amends, not simply with her considerable wealth, but by offering a hand instead of a handout. Putting in hours and energy instead of putting in an appearance. Opening her home and heart instead of her wallet. With each wrenching, exhilarating, joyful decision, she finds her path to friendship, love and forgiveness—even as she learns what it truly means to build a legacy.

Final Verdict: Aw, this one sounds sweet! And it has amazingly good reviews! I think I’ll keep it. 🙂 — KEEP

The World to Come (Dara Horn)

worldtocomeDescription from Goodreads: A million-dollar Chagall is stolen from a museum during a singles’ cocktail hour. The unlikely thief, former child prodigy Benjamin Ziskind, is convinced that the painting once hung in his parents’ living room. This work of art opens a door through which we discover his family’s startling history–from an orphanage in Soviet Russia where Chagall taught to suburban New Jersey and the jungles of Vietnam.

Final Verdict: Hm. This one seems to be a “love it or hate it” kind of book, according to the Goodreads reviews. But it sounds kind of interesting and my library doesn’t have a copy, so I might keep it for now and give it a try. — KEEP

Today’s Count: Keep = 4, Donate = 1 (oops, lol)

Overall Count: Keep = 19, Donate = 11

T5W – Because Less Known Doesn’t Mean Less Good

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hidden Gems in Your Favorite Genre

Now, I don’t know that I have a favorite genre per se, so I’m going to tweak this a bit and do Hidden Gems in SOME of My Favorite Genres (one book for each genre).

Cozy Mystery

Cozy Mysteries are my favorite bookish guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I like them so much, especially considering the main characters usually really annoy me. 😉 But I do. I love them SO MUCH! They are what I reach for when I’ve had a really stressful day and just don’t want to think anymore.

CWM_750x600-300x184My current favorite Cozy Mystery series is the Creative Woman Mysteries series published by Annie’s. The series follows Shannon, who inherits her grandmother’s estate and craft business. The first mystery she solves involves part of her inheritance, but she ends up playing the amateur detective for all sorts of mysteries throughout the series. Though she ends up falling into a few of the habits that really annoy me with Cozies (TELL THE COPS WHEN YOU FIND EVIDENCE), she’s actually a pretty likable character who is usually just trying help her friends out of trouble.


I honestly used to never read non-fiction books. I’m not sure why, maybe it came from having enough of reality and wanting my reading time to be an escape. But the last couple of years, I’ve been giving them another go.

furiouslyhappy.jpgMy current favorite Non-Fiction book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I LOVE Jenny Lawson. She has a way of talking about mental issues that allows you to laugh at yourself and helps you feel better instead of just more miserable. Reading her books is like chatting with a good friend…a good friend with an insane sense of humor. This book and her previous one, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, have found their way onto my ‘favorites’ stand right next to my bed, so they are in easy reach when I’m feeling really blue.


I think Science Fiction may have been my first ‘favorite genre’. (I blame you, SeaQuest DSV! 🙂 ) I love a good sci-fi, regardless of whether it’s space-y, steampunk, monster-filled, or even dystopian. As long as the story is good, I’m all for it.

27213244My current favorite Sci-Fi novel is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The world building alone in this novel is amazing. She manages to pack as much detail and nuance as an entire series of Star Trek into just one novel. I also loved the characters. They all seemed very real and like people I would probably get along with in real life. It honestly felt a bit like Firefly, but with a fresh cast…and less crime. 😉


Fantasies are only second to Sci-Fi’s in timing, because I may have fallen in love with the genre later, but I love it just as much!

magemotherseriesMy current favorite (which could also be considered a YA favorite) is the Magemother series by Austin J. Bailey. This is a nice little series; easy to read, but exciting and fun. I can’t really describe it without giving all the plot points away, so I’ll just say that I practically binged the first book and the novella and am really looking forward to the second & third books. Thankfully, I bought the omnibus of the whole series, so I don’t have to wait very long. 🙂

Books About Books

I can’t help it, I love books so much that I also love books ABOUT books. These types of books can span multiple genres (romances, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction…), so I’ve turned them into their OWN genre instead. 😉

28517611My current favorite Book About Books is Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper by Jackson Lear. This is one of the few books that I’ve downloaded from one of those Facebook ads that actually worked out for me. 😉 This books is HILARIOUS and anyone who loves books will love it. The references alone are awesome, but the wit of the writing is amazing. Who knew I could like the Grim Reaper so much?

How about you? What are your favorite hidden gems?