6 Funko Pop figurines based on the characters from Six of Crow. From left to right, they are Wylan, Matthias, Inej, Kaz, Nina, and Jesper.

DIY Bookish Figurines Part 2 (Featuring Criminals and Thieves)

Approximately a thousand years ago in June 2020, I wrote a blog post about a new hobby I started during the quarantine: creating Funko Pop figurines inspired by my favorite book characters. My first project was June and Day, the protagonists of one of my all-time favorite books, Legend by Marie Lu. In that post, I talked about my research, the tools I used, the sources that inspired me, and the process behind each figurine.

When I finally finished those first two figurines, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I was pleased with how they’d turned out, especially for a first attempt, and I was already looking forward to the next project I’d be working on.

So, naturally, since I’m an overachiever, my next project was much more ambitious: the six main characters from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology.

Since I’ve already gotten into the nitty gritty of my creation process in my first post, I’m going to spend this one focusing more on each character and the choices and challenges for each one. Without further ado, here they all are, in order of creation.

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A close up of a stack of books. The ones on the left are stacked vertically, while the ones on the right are stacked horizontally.

Book Blurb Wishlist

Do you ever just look at stuff that you wrote years ago and think, “Wow, what on earth was I talking about?”

I have that experience pretty often. I’ve had this blog for almost five years, you know. But this post isn’t about how cringeworthy I might have been when I first started this blog – in fact, it’s actually about one of my favorite posts I wrote in the early days of Maggie’s Musings.

Even as a high school student, I had a bone to pick with story tropes. Not much has changed in that regard, at least. I wrote a post about my “Book Blurb Blacklist,” 15 things that would immediately turn me off from reading a book. It was a delightfully snarky post, and looking back now, I still agree with pretty much all of it.

However, there’s a question that has gone unanswered for far too long: What are the things – tropes, phrases, whatever – that make me actually want to read a book?

I aim to answer that today.

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A stack of books. From top to bottom, they are: The Near Witch, Outside In, Circe, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, The Weight of our Sky, Unravel the Dusk, Children of Blood and Bone, and Ninth House.

10 Books I Want to Read Before I Collapse from Exhaustion at the End of 2020

In 2020, I set a goal to read 65 books. I set it a bit higher than my previous reading challenges, which were usually in the 45-50 range, but I knew I would be able to meet it.

The thing is… I wasn’t really expecting to meet it so soon.

Since I no longer have my big reading goal looming over me, I want to be more intentional about what books I read throughout the rest of the year. This is for two main reasons:

  • I still have some smaller reading goals to complete, like reading #OwnVoices diverse books and nonfiction books.
  • I may or may not have gone on a book shopping spree the last few months, and now I have several books on my shelves that I should read before I buy any new ones.

Charmaine did a list like this at the beginning of July (which makes a lot more sense, since she still had half a year to work with), so I stole it felt inspired by it and decided to make my own reading commitment for what’s left of the year.

So without further ado, here are 10 books I want to read before the end of 2020!

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A Nintendo Switch displaying a selection of games. All of the games are faded except for the game Transistor. The cover shows a red-haired woman in a golden dress weilding a cyberpunk sword.

I Won’t Become A Number in the System | Exploring the Ending in Supergiant’s Transistor

I don’t usually write two deep analysis posts in a row, but I’m making an exception. Last week, as I was preparing for my blog post about Bastion and how it creates weighty, impactful choices for its players, I realized something similar about another game from Supergiant, Transistor.

Transistor was the first Supergiant Games title that I played, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I fell in love with its art, music, and mechanics that were unlike anything else I had ever played before. It was what opened the door for me to try Bastion and, later on, Hades.

Like Bastion, Transistor is also about decisions. However, it is not about how or why we choose one thing over another, but instead one’s right to make decisions at all.

As with my previous post, there are big spoilers for the end of Transistor up ahead. I’ll also be referencing some of the endgame elements from Bastion that I used last time, so beware of that as well. As usual, I highly recommend these games and encourage you to play them before coming back, but I’ll explain enough background that you can read this without playing too.

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A hand holding a Nintendo Switch. The screen displays the splash image for the game Bastion

I’ll See You In The Next One | How Supergiant’s Bastion Creates Choices With Narrative Impact

Video games are driven by decisions. The primary thing that sets video games apart from film or literature is the level of interaction involved, and that interaction comes through making decisions.

These days, there are entire genres of video games dedicated to decision-making, like visual novels. Apart from that, making choices is still a core part of narrative-driven games in other genres.

Bastion

Bastion, the first game developed by Supergiant Games in 2011, is a typical action RPG on the surface. Beneath that, however, is a well-written story that culminates in two very charged decisions at the end of the game. The final scenes of Bastion have stuck with me since I finished the game a few months ago, and today, I’m going to take a closer look at what makes the game’s conclusion work so well.

Since I’m discussing the end of the game, spoilers for Bastion are below! I highly recommend playing the game for yourself first, but if you already have or just aren’t really a gamer, click to read on.

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Never Have I Ever Tag | Writer’s Life

You might’ve played a game called “Never Have I Ever” at some point in your life. Usually, the goal is to make other people admit embarrassing things about themselves. I’m told it’s fun, though I’ve never played.

…Until today, that is. Today, I’m participating in the “Never Have I Ever” writer’s tag so I can finally come clean about all of the ways in which I’m a Bad Writer. Okay, maybe not bad, but I definitely realized I fall into fewer author stereotypes than I thought.

I got this tag from Paper Fury, so be sure to visit her post as well!

And without further ado, on to the questions!

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Two funko pop figurines depicting Day and June from Legend by Marie Lu. The figurines are standing in front of a stack of the Legend trilogy.

Making My Own Bookish Figurines

It seems like everyone and their weird uncle has started a new hobby lately. Some people are baking bread, making soap or candles, or learning a new language.

Me?

Well, I’ve also started a new “quarantine hobby.” It was a terrible idea, not because I hate it, but because I’ve become practically obsessed with it over the past few weeks and I can’t make myself stop.

I started making custom figurines.

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A copy of The Hunger Games sits against a background of scattered book pages.

May The Odds Be (N)ever In Your Favor

Here’s your hot take for the week: We don’t understand The Hunger Games.

“But Maggie,” I hear you say, “How could we not understand The Hunger Games? It was the biggest teen movie franchise since Twilight! Don’t you remember reading about how well the movies performed commercially? Didn’t you give a presentation on the cultural impact of dystopian fiction on young adults?”

I did indeed give such a presentation, but that doesn’t debunk my claim right off the bat. There are plenty of readers and viewers of The Hunger Games who looked beyond the hype and saw the message of the story – we wouldn’t still be talking about it otherwise. But in general, our society has missed the point.

Let’s get one other thing out of the way: The Hunger Games is not my favorite book or film series, not by a long shot. If you asked me to name my top ten books of all time, I doubt it would make the list. That’s not to say it’s a bad book though! I think it’s an excellent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better understand young adult literature. Personally though, I’m more interested in how The Hunger Games is (or maybe was) a cultural phenomenon.

For those reading this who missed out on The Hunger Games or just did not care, here’s the premise: a futuristic and dystopian nation known as Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which 24 “tributes” between the ages of 12-18 are selected to participate in a televised fight to the death. The heroine, Katniss, volunteers for the Games to take the place of her younger sister Prim. Fair warning, there will be plenty of spoilers as we keep going!

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games.

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Taking It From The Top | Writer’s Life

A mental image for your consideration: It is 11:36 at night. The room is dim, with the only light coming from out-of-season Christmas lights strung around the perimeter of the ceiling. On the desk is a half-empty bowl of Goldfish crackers and a bottle of strawberry-kiwi flavored water. Someone is sitting at the desk, shoulders hunched over the keyboard in front of her. She types for a few minutes, then snatches a handful of Goldfish crackers absently and stuffs them into her mouth. The typing resumes.

If you could picture that, you probably have a pretty good idea of how I’ve spent several of my nights over the past few weeks. But before I go into the details of what I’ve been working on lately, let’s do a quick recap of everything that’s led up to this point.

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Afterwords: 7 Spectacular Songs from Video Games

A few years ago, I was just beginning my foray into video game soundtracks. I had just finished my first year of college, and during that time I discovered that while my usual playlist made it difficult for me to focus on my work, instrumental soundtracks had the opposite effect. So I wrote a blog post ranking my favorite songs at the time.

Since then, I’ve expanded my horizons and listened to music from movies, TV series, and even some video games I never played before. Even though I’m not a musician, I find myself picking up on different themes in the soundtracks of my favorite games. I pay attention to the music, and it enhances my experience.

In light of that, I figured it was about time to revisit my list of favorites. I gave myself a few rules this time around:

  1. No music with lyrics. So even though “Paper Boats” from Transistor is one of my favorites, it won’t make the cut. You should still listen to it though.
  2. Only one song per game/franchise/composer. My playlist is much more varied now, and I want that to show through on this list.

On a side note, I did try to list composers in addition to the game’s title! If I didn’t know who composed the exact song, I just listed whoever was credited on Wikipedia. I also tried to link each track where I could, but it’s not uncommon for soundtracks to “disappear” from YouTube often. Apologies if there are any broken links here!

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite soundtrack songs that keep me going!

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