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  • Tara Sonin 5:00 pm on 2018/02/22 Permalink
    Tags: a darker shade of magic, , , almost a scandal, black daggar brotherhood, , , , , , flowers from the storm, forged in steele, , , , , , , , , , , , london's perfect scoundrel, , , , , , pride and prejudice, , romancing mr. bridgerton, , , , , the danger of desire, , the lady hellion, , the secret pearl, , , , , to beguile a beast, victoria schwab, , yours until dawn   

    A Romance (or Two!) For Every Astrological Sign 

    Do you believe fate is written in the stars? Are you obsessed with learning how the stars will align for your life in any given season? Then this list of Astrology-inspired romances is for you!

    Aries
    Aries signs are strong, full of leadership. They can be heroic and caring, but also impulsive and competitive. They love being the best at things—including, and especially, at winning the hearts of those they admire.  

    Black Dagger Brotherhood, by J. R. Ward
    Wrath is the leader of a group of vampires known as the Black Dagger Brotherhood—and he is set on vengeance against the people who killed his parents. After centuries of violence in pursuit of this goal, he meets a woman who will make him wonder if fighting for love is better than fighting for revenge.

    Forged in Steele, by Maya Banks
    Nothing says Aries more than military background fighters who work beyond the confines of the US Government, right? In this sexy novel, Steele leads his team on dangerous missions, protecting his heart in a thick layer of ice. Until he meets Maren, a doctor he cannot stop himself from wanting to protect, despite the secret he knows she is keeping.

    Taurus
    Known for being organized, supportive people, Taurus signs are ruled by the “Earth” element. They are patient and romantic, but can have a stubborn side, especially when it comes to the security of those they love. (Also, they can have a streak for indulging in the finer things in life!)

    A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
    Diana is a scholar at the top of her game…and a reluctant witch at the center of a grand conspiracy. She knows she should stay away from Matthew, a vampire and supposed enemy of her kind, but when she discovers that all of the supernatural world is after her because she possesses a dangerous document that could shake their order, she turns to him for protection.

    A Darker Shade of Magic, by Victoria Schwab
    Kell is one of the last Atari, a magical being with the ability to travel between worlds. He is essential to keeping the balance of magic between the worlds…but when he cannot help himself from stealing an item that does not belong in his world and the consequences prove fatal, he must risk it all to right the wrong before it claims the lives of those he loves.

    Gemini
    Geminis do not respond well to authority. They are adventurous and fun, but always like to be on the winning side of any debate. Some might call them judgmental, but that’s what makes their wit so striking.

    The Wolf and the Dove, by Kathleen Woodiwiss
    Aislinn’s home has been ravaged by a conqueror in this medieval romance. He is strong and courageous, but responsible for so much pain…and yet, she finds herself drawn to him even as she vows to destroy him.

    Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai
    For one night every year, Livvy and Nicholas share a night of passion…even though their families hate one another. That is, until Livvy reneged on the deal, and something changed. But suddenly she is back, and Nicholas finds himself craving answers just as much as he continues to crave her.

    Cancer
    Nurturers, homebodies, and romantics—that’s who Cancers are. Sure, they may be prone to gossip and competition, but their hearts are incredibly sensitive and loyal to those they trust. (Just don’t break that trust, or else.)

    Yours Until Dawn, by Teresa Medeiros
    Samantha is a nurse charged with healing a fallen soldier back to health, but her task is difficult. Gabriel lost his sight, the woman he loved, and his place in the world. But her determination and care slowly brings him into the light, and into the arms of a woman who loves him like no other.

    Flowers from the Storm, by Laura Kinsale
    A classic story of love through pain and hardship, Maddy Timms finds herself in the unique position of being the only one who can save the dangerous, fascinating Duke of Jervaulx from himself.

    Leo
    Leos have a love of honesty that can get them in trouble. Sometimes jealous, often generous, Leos command attention and energy wherever they go. Named after the lion, it won’t surprise you to learn that Leos are natural leaders.

    Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
    Noble, proud, and heroic, Jamie Fraser embodies all of the qualities above…as does his love, Claire, who finds herself thrown into a different time and forced to marry the Highlander to keep herself safe. Two strong-willed souls battle for dominance in their relationship, but each will sacrifice everything to save the other if need be.

    London’s Perfect Scoundrel, by Loretta Chase
    Evelyn knows that the Marquis of St. Aubyn is not a man who should be trusted, but she needs his help in a mission more important than her pride. Headstrong and refusing to back down even when he denies her, eventually their fiery temperaments give way to flames in their hearts.

    Virgo
    Helpful and hardworking, Virgos are friends to all. Known for being practical (to the point of being preachy), these Earth signs get a lot of satisfaction out of creating things on their own.

    The Duchess Deal, by Tessa Dare
    A marriage of convenience is a practical thing to do. So the Duke of Ashbury decides that he will marry Emma Gladstone and employ a set of rules to ensure that they not cross any boundaries he isn’t prepared for. But Emma wants more than just a convenient marriage, she wants passion, and love…and their battle of wills will not cease until she gets what she wants.

    Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas
    Not wanting to entrap her inheritance in the hands of unscrupulous relatives, Evangeline decides she needs to marry someone who will keep it safe. So she decides to marry Lord St. Vincent, a rake beyond compare, and is determined to make him into the husband she knows she deserves.

    Libra
    The sign of the scales is known to embody balance and partnership, but Libras also have a dramatic side! They are ruled by the planet Venus—the planet of love—so they are often charming and romantic…and are often riled by things they deem unfair.

    If You Deceive, by Kresley Cole
    Ethan MacCarrick’s life was changed rorever when he was beaten and scarred as payment for a crime he was innocent of committing. Paid for by a powerful nobleman, Ethan has decided there will be no justice until he has bankrupted the man. But it still isn’t enough, so he decides fair is fair: he will seduce the man’s daughter, bed her, and then cast her aside, a ruined woman. But soon, he finds himself falling for his target.

    The Serpent Prince, by Elizabeth Hoyt
    Simon is a Viscount hell-bent on revenge after being beaten almost to death. But his mission is put on hold while Lucy helps him heal—and when the attackers start to target her as well, he must make a choice between the woman he has grown to love and the fight that could cost them their lives.

    Scorpio
    Scorpios do not take no for an answer. Headstrong, passionate, and motivated by how much they can control both in and outside the bedroom, they are as intense as any romance love interest can get. Their symbol is the scorpion, so their bark can have some bite…but when they are on your side, there’s nothing better.

    The Siren, by Tiffany Reisz
    If a romance as described above is your cup of tea, you must meet Soren and Nora, the protagonists at the heart of the Original Sinners series. Soren is a Dominant, but more than that, he feels an inner need to hurt people (and derives sexual pleasure from it) that he controls by way of BDSM. Nora is his submissive—but she’s also the most prominent Dominatrix at the underground club they both visit. How did this arrangement unfold? You have to read the whole series to learn the full story.

    The Secret, by Julie Garwood
    Iain Maitland, a Highland clan Laird, totally fits this mold. When Judith Hampton meets him as her escort into the Highlands to help a friend give birth, she finds him to be everything her polite society has taught her to fear. Cold, calculating, and strong beyond belief; but eventually Judith’s light begins to warm Iain’s heart.

    Sagittarius
    A Sagittarius will never turn down a dare! These rule-breakers are fun-seeking adventurers you will never have a dull day with.

    The Danger of Desire, by Sabrina Jeffries
    Delia Trevor is the heroine inspired by this zodiac sign; seeking revenge for her brother’s death, she disguises herself as a man to infiltrate high society. Gambling with not only her reputation but her life, she finds herself in danger when the infamous Warren, Marquess of Knightford, recognizes her.

    Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, by Sarah MacLean
    Gabriel St. John defies all the rules—he’s a known rake, his skills at seduction both admired and reviled in high society. Lady Calpurnia is the opposite: a total rule-follower, but not for long. Since no one wants to marry her anyway, she decides to pursue him, and together, they find a love that dares to break the mold.

    Capricorn
    Ever seen someone with a color-coded planner? They are probably a Capricorn. Known for being ambitious and organized, these folks are rarely quitters. But dedication can be a double-edged sword, as sometimes Capricorns can be cold.  

    To Beguile a Beast, by Elizabeth Hoyt
    Helen has made mistakes in the past, but she is determined not to give up and to find a new life for herself. So when she takes a job as the mysterious and reclusive Sir Alistair’s housekeeper and finds him to be as cold and unfeeling as his reputation let on, her work is cut out for her. She isn’t afraid of his scars, or his past, or of what will happen if they fall in love.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters are all still unmarried, which presents a problem for her lower-class family, which still has five children to support. But she is headstrong and refuses to marry for less than true love…and when a man she despises interferes with her sister’s happiness, she knows he is the last man she could ever love.

    Aquarius
    These Air-ruled people are friendly and eccentric, known for being inviting and kind. They always seek to root out injustice where they find it, and are at their best when they have a mission to achieve. But be careful: sometimes having a mission can lead someone on a path towards their own destruction.  

    The Lady Hellion, by Joanna Shupe
    Sophie has never shied away from a good fight: her latest battle is to protect the rights of prostitutes, but no one takes her seriously as a woman. So she decides to dress as a man to command the attention her cause desires…and to get an accomplice in her quest, like Damien Beecham, the only man she trusts to help her despite him having broken her heart months ago.

    Almost a Scandal, by Elizabeth Essex
    Sally Kent’s family has always served in the Navy…but when her brother decides not to, she is determined to take his place, even if she has to disguise herself in order to serve. The problem? She’s distracted by the disarmingly handsome Lieutenant David Colyear, who knows without a doubt that there’s a woman on board his ship whose secret he must keep.

    Pisces
    Fantasy lovers known for having huge imaginations, this Fish sign is always on the lookout for perfect love. But sometimes that can lead them into dangerous situations, where they trust people they shouldn’t.

    The Secret Pearl, by Mary Balogh
    Fleur has resorted to desperate lengths to stay alive and afloat in London society. So when she gets a chance to be a governess and escape a life on the streets, she jumps at the chance…only to find her new employer is the mysterious man who took her to bed one night she could never forget.

    Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, by Julia Quinn
    Colin Bridgerton is charming, handsome, totally gossip-worthy…and his sister’s best friend, Penelope, has been secretly in love with him for years. When she discovers a secret that changes how she sees him—and Colin’s feelings for her begin to change—will the scandal of his past bring down their romance?

    What’s your sign? And what’s your favorite romance?

    The post A Romance (or Two!) For Every Astrological Sign appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Cristina Merrill 5:00 pm on 2018/01/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , curmudgeons, , , , , , , , lovable grumps, pride and prejudice, , ,   

    Our Favorite Sexy Curmudgeons: 8 Guys Whose Frowns We Want to Turn Upside Down 

    No one wants to be tied to a grump, but once in a while we come across that brooding kind of man we wouldn’t mind cheering up. You know the type. He doesn’t give the best first impression, but once you get to know him, it’s easy to look past his gruff exterior and appreciate the wonderful man within. (And you just know all of that seriousness and pent-up longing will release itself in some very pleasant ways!) Guys like these may not always make the best Plus Ones at dinner parties, but they’ll definitely make you remember dessert.

    Here are 8 of the sexiest curmudgeons in romance who can brood all they want!

    Hareton from Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
    No, we are NOT going in the Heathcliff direction! (True, he had it rough, but he was still awful.) Instead, let’s focus on Hareton. He wasn’t raised under the best of circumstances, to say the least, but throughout his harsh life he managed to show an innate sweetness. As he grew older he displayed a loyalty that would bode well for his upcoming marriage to young Catherine. A guy like that may not make the best impression on society, and he might curse in your presence upon your first meeting, but he’ll ultimately stay faithful to you and he’ll always be honest about his feelings.

    Sir William of Miraval in Candle in the Window, by Christina Dodd
    Sir William of Miraval is not the happiest of knights. He was blinded in battle, and his caretakers are growing frustrated with his awful attitude and poor hygiene. (Dude’s quite depressed, so he gets a pass at being curmudgeonly.) He meets his match when Lady Saura of Roget is summoned to help him get his act together. She’s blind, too, but this is a woman who know how to run a house and keep everyone in line. William soon falls in love with her, and he displays a fierce loyalty that would make any woman sigh. William, we knew that beneath that rugged, filthy, muscled exterior was a tender-hearted man yearning to break free!

    Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    There are many mighty good reasons why Mr. Darcy ALWAYS comes up in romantic conversations. He didn’t always have the best manners, and he could hardly be called the life of the party, but when a guy is willing to help your crazy family by keeping your nutty sister on the straight and narrow, well, there’s a lot to be said for that. (Imagine a guy who stays with you even though your extended family posts weird things on social media on an hourly basis.) Mr. Darcy, you practically invented the smolder, so you can smolder all you want!

    Wulfgar from The Wolf and the Dove, by Kathleen Woodiwiss
    To be fair, this Medieval knight had an exceptionally harsh life. He was a bastard, which wasn’t easy in those days. (He and Jon Snow of Game of Thrones would probably have a great deal to talk about.) You’re also under a lot of pressure when William the Conqueror wants you to, well, help him conquer England. This attitude of his mostly changes, though, when his posse conquers Darkenwald, the home of the very proud and beautiful Aislinn. It takes a very long time until they actually get along, and boy it’s fun to read that roller coaster of a relationship. Carry on with your growling ways, Wulfgar, and flex your muscles while you’re at it!

    Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
    Love him or hate him, Mr. Rochester was a curmudgeonly curmudgeon who needed some major intervention—and lots of time to soul-search—before he could find some inner peace and have his happy ending with Jane. True, he’d been through a lot in his life—bad marriage, saddled with a kid he wasn’t even sure was his, lost his eyesight, lost his hand, and more—but that doesn’t excuse some of the things he did. (Buddy, you might want to consider taking up poetry writing!) Still, he had some good qualities, and he ultimately changed for the better thanks to Jane. Mr. Rochester, brood as you please, and please make sure you show Jane your appreciation as often as humanely possible!

    Rocco from A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber
    Poor Rocco’s a little bit in over his head. He’s the macho-est of macho men, and he has a teenage daughter with whom he doesn’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Fortunately he meets Nichole, the modern-day equivalent of a gently-bred lady who recently ditched her cheating husband. Rocco may be more at home in a biker bar than, well, in many other places, but he’s solid, muscly proof that surprises can come in the most unexpected of packages. Rocco, bring on the cranky. We know that inside you’re really just a marshmallow with nothing but love for your woman!

    Rhys Winterborne in Marrying Winterborne, by Lisa Kleypas
    Welshman Rhys Winterborne worked extremely hard to get to where he is. He owns a major department store, and even though he is supremely wealthy, his modest background means that society doesn’t have much room for him at their social gatherings. He’s determined to win over his lady love, and what’s more, he knows he’s not always the most pleasant man to be around. You can’t go wrong with a guy who admits his faults and is eager to prove his devotion. That said, he also shows an exceptionally sweet and caring side. Rhys, no one is fooled! Admit it. You’re a softie.

    Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades series, by E.L. James
    Christian makes all of the other guys on this list seem joyful by comparison. He spends a lot of time brooding over Anastasia and his dark past. (Christian, buddy, you should seriously consider volunteering at an animal shelter. Giving your time just might help!) And he certainly knows how to, ahem, release his frustrations. Whether his dark ways turn you on or off, no woman can deny that life with Christian would never be boring!

    Who are your favorite fictional curmudgeons?

    The post Our Favorite Sexy Curmudgeons: 8 Guys Whose Frowns We Want to Turn Upside Down appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 7:00 pm on 2016/06/22 Permalink
    Tags: castles, , here comes the bride, , pride and prejudice, , something borrowed, the bride quartet,   

    7 Romances to Read During Wedding Season 

    Summer is the season of love and weddings, so no matter where you are in the process of planning your wedding (or just find yourself a frequent guest at one!) here are some sweet and swoony romances to sweep you off your feet.

    The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
    If you’re constantly scrolling through royal weddings for inspiration to add to your Pinterest board, then definitely read The Royal We! It’s a tale as old as time: regular-gal Bex travels from America to Oxford and finds herself falling for Prince Nicholas, the heir to the British crown. What I love most about this book is that it covers their entire relationship, not just the falling in love part! Over five years you see Bex wrestle with the changes and challenges of living and loving a monarch— and we, the readers, get to live vicariously through her.

    Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
    A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Sign me up. The roles of women have certainly changed, as has the general acceptance of their being single as they approach middle-age, but the central plot is still the same: Liz is a magazine writer who lives in New York City, as does her sister, Jane. But when their father has a health scare, they go home to find their family in shambles. Enter, of course, the men: in this version, Bingley is a doctor who took a turn on a Bachelor-esque  TV show, and Darcy is a neurosurgeon (still with a chip on his shoulder). The modern updates to the characters make for a much more relatable and funny read.

    Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
    Of course if you’re going to read the retelling, you should try your hand at the original! Did you fall in love with your intended the moment you set eyes on each other? Or, like Lizzie and Darcy, did you have some “prejudices” and “pride” (see what I did there?) to overcome before you could say “I do”? A classic historical romance that will remind you that people are always more than what they seem.

    Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin
    Okay, so this scenario might be every bride’s nightmare, but I love this book so much (it’s my favorite of Emily Giffin’s novels). Rachel has always been a good girl, a loyal friend, a rule-follower…until one night she ends up in bed with her best friend’s fiancé. This novel is all about how falling in love is NOT always a fairy tale. When Rachel has to make a choice between keeping her BFF in the dark-and keeping silent to save her own skin, the lines between good and bad are crossed, friendships are tested, and true love comes at a cost.

    Marrying Winterborne, by Lisa Kleypas
    I had to put one of Lisa Kleypas’ novels on here—she’s the queen of historical romance, and a perfect pick for a bride (or bridesmaid) looking to escape the harsh realities of seating charts and family feuds. Her newest novel, Marrying Winterborne, will introduce you to one my new all-time favorite heroes: Rhys Winterborne, a man of “new money” and cunning, with an eye for beautiful things. When he meets lady Helen Ravenel, nothing will stop him from possessing her—least of all her virtue. We first met these characters in the first Ravenel’s novel, Cold-Hearted Rake, and they do not disappoint! Winterborne is devastatingly charming, and eventually, compassionate, while Helen is a passionate heroine with a mind of her own.

    Castles, by Julie Garwood
    Alessandra and Colin from the Crown’s Spies series are one of my favorite reluctant-to-wed couples. An orphaned princess taking refuge with a Duke’s family, Alessandra must wed to protect her kingdom from the will of a bloodthirsty general who would marry her first. But Colin, the Duke’s son, does not want to marry—especially someone his father picks. They strike up a bargain that he will help her choose her husband from the leftover candidates…and in the process, they fall in love.

    The Bride Quartetby Nora Roberts
    Okay, I’ve cheated a bit: this option is four books in one: Vision in White, Bed of Roses, Savor the Moment, and Happy Ever After. Whether you’ve just gotten engaged, are in the middle of planning your wedding, or are about to embark on your honeymoon, the Bride Quartet is one of my favorite Nora Roberts series. Four best friends run a wedding planning company together, and in each installment, meets the man of their dreams!

    What are your favorite wedding-season romances?

     
  • Kat Rosenfield 5:15 pm on 2016/04/07 Permalink
    Tags: , curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal, dangerous liaisons, , pride and prejudice, public enemies, ,   

    The 10 Worst Traitors in Fiction 

    Whether for love, for money, or just for the fun of it, hideous betrayal never fails to make for a compelling story. From classic literature to contemporary fantasy, some characters are the best of the best (or worst of the worst, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to disloyal shenanigans. Below, we’ve rounded up the ten biggest traitors on the page.

    Winston, 1984
    There’s no shortage of double-crossing in George Orwell’s bleak dystopian novel about a man struggling beneath the thumb—and constant surveillance—of an all-powerful government; Winston has been sold up the river several times over by the time he turns traitor himself. But the moment when he cries out, “Do it to Julia!” (the “it” in question being mauled to death by rats) is a stunner of a betrayal, as Winston gives up not just the woman he loves, but the last dying shred of his own humanity.

    Brutus, Julius Caesar
    Et tu, Brute? Damn straight, Ceezy. The whole Roman senate rose up to assassinate Caesar in Shakespeare’s political tragedy, but it was Brutus’ knife that cut the deepest —because in addition to doing serious damage to Caesar’s epidermis and internal organs, it also really hurt his feelings.

    Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Everyone put your hands together for the most hideous traitor in wizarding history. Peter Pettigrew not only sold out his friends to Voldemort, he allowed Sirius to take the fall for it while he himself lived a life of luxury as the Weasleys’ prized pet rat. If not for this son-of-a-blast-ended-skrewt, James and Lily Potter would still be alive—along with Cedric Diggory and all the many wizards who lost their lives during the second coming of the Dark Lord.

    Charles Trask, East of Eden
    Steinbeck’s novel inspired by the story of Cain and Abel is packed end-to-end with double-crossings and back-stabbings by three generations of perpetrators. Out of the book’s many betrayals, the moment when Charles Trask drugs his brother Adam and takes his wife to bed is a standout for sheer soullessness.

    The Marquise de Merteuil, Dangerous Liaisons
    This old-school epistolary dive into the sexual intrigues of the aristocracy in France’s Ancien Regime is rife with two-faced friends and lovers, but no one plays all sides like the beautiful, villainous Marquise. By the time she gets her comeuppance in the form of exile and a ruined face, she has betrayed basically every major character in the book—sometimes more than once.

    Edmund Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    The good news is, Edmund ultimately redeemed himself to become a crowned King of Narnia and a wise, just ruler, along with the rest of the Pevensies. The bad news is what he did to require redemption: he sold his sibs and Mr. Tumnus down the river for a few bites of Turkish delight—which makes him not just a traitor, but a traitor with abominable taste in candy.

    Dennis Nedry, Jurassic Park
    Granted, Nedry didn’t have a world-ending catastrophe in mind when he betrayed his employer, stealing a bunch of dinosaur embryos and shutting down Jurassic Park’s security systems in order to make his escape. He just wanted to make a quick, cool million bucks. But for sheer scale of consequences, Dennis Nedry is one helluva turncoat; even Benedict Arnold fell short of unleashing a horde of hungry velociraptors on an unsuspecting public in the process of changing sides.

    Mr. Wickham, Pride & Prejudice
    Bad, naughty Wickham made a play for the honor of Darcy’s sister, shamelessly flirted with half the Bennett daughters, and nearly brought the family to ruin when he seduced Lydia into eloping with him when he abandoned his military post. Not only is the dude a traitor to King and country, he’s a traitor to every basic Edwardian notion of common masculine decency.

    Danglars, Mondego, and Caterousse, The Count of Monte Cristo
    These so-called “friends” of Edmond Dantès were so jealous of his good fortune in life and love, they accused him of treason, kicking off a series of increasingly unfortunate events that culminated in Dantès’ imprisonment in a 19th-century island supermax jail. (Bonus extra traitor credit: Mondego not only sold Dantès up the river, he married the man’s fiancé to boot. Rude.) On the other hand, you don’t get this epic tale of adventure and vengeance without a big, stinkin’ betrayal to kick it off, so…thanks, gentlemen.

    Gollum, The Lord of the Rings
    Poor, pathetic Gollum battled his demons all the way to Mordor, but his heart always belonged to the One Ring—aka his preciousssssss. Hence, the ghastly moment when he stopped leading the heroic Frodo toward Mount Doom, and started luring him into the lair of a giant, Hobbit-eating spider.

     
  • Nicole Hill 3:30 pm on 2014/12/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , charlotte's web, , , , , , , , minerva mcgonagall, pride and prejudice, , , , , ,   

    9 Characters We Resolve to Be More Like in 2015 

    Ms. FrizzleConsidering the sheer quantity of baked goods that has traveled coast to coast this holiday season, it would be easy to peg weight loss or fitness as a New Year’s resolution. But let’s be real: same story, different chapter. You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darlings. In fact, you can easily draw inspiration from some literary favorites. Here are but a few of the characters we resolve to be more like in 2015.

    Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
    As S Club 7 once said, “Reach for the stars.” Discounting the biblical, there are few more wholly, purely good characters than Atticus. The saintly Maycomb lawyer doesn’t let his children, Scout and Jem, backslide, and holds himself to an equally high standard, in more ways than just his heroic representation of Tom Robinson. For 2015, a nice mantra would be Atticus’s wise words: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

    Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling)
    Minerva McGonagall takes no ish, and she is glorious. Our resolution to act more like Atticus Finch does not extend to dealing with the likes of Dolores Umbridge, who is so artfully treated to McGonagall’s pitch-perfect passive (and outright) aggression: “May I offer you a cough drop, Dolores?” She is as skilled at transfiguration as she is at zingers: “I generally do not permit people to talk when I am talking.” She is wise: “Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger, at any rate.” And though she’s a strict disciplinarian, she knows how to let her hair down: see Ball, Yule. Basically, she’s perfect.

    Elrond Half-elven (The Lord of the Rings, et al, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
    The saga of Middle-earth could very well have been called Elrond and the Unending Parade of Undesired Houseguests. And he is nothing if not an obliging host, even when Boromir gets sassy at his Council or when a gaggle of hobbits are eating him out of his Last Homely House. Maybe that sense of patience and hospitality comes with being 6,000 years old, or maybe he’s got access to something better than Old Toby. However the Lord of Rivendell does it, his elvish flexibility is something to emulate.

    Arthur Dent (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, by Douglas Adams)
    Acting like Arthur Dent is a wonderful resolution simply because it seems so achievable. An ordinary (if civic-minded) man is thrust into the middle of repeated intergalactic hijinks and, if somewhat grumpily, rises to the challenge and adapts. The man just wants a cup of tea in his own house, and instead he winds up on a cross-galactic joyride to hell with history’s most dysfunctional Scooby gang (former crush, not-human-after-all best friend, manic two-headed despot, depressed robot, and all). Of course he’s a bit irritable. But overall, he handles the time-traveling, planet-exploding, and temporal-state-shifting with poise. So by Magrathea, you can make it through whatever obstacles are thrown at you.

    Hodor (A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin)
    Gentle giant Hodor is, I’d wager, the most overall contented person in Westeros. I grant you, this is not a high bar to set, but that should not diminish Hodor’s loyalty, genial nature, or empathy. Bran is not always a peach to serve, but Hodor never treats the little lordling like a royal pain in the Hodor. He just keeps on plugging. He is a national treasure of endurance and goodwill.

    Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
    A modern woman way ahead of her restrictive time, Lizzy has a lot to teach us about being comfortable in your own skin. Unlike others around her *coughLydiacough*, Elizabeth is sharp as a tack with a quicker sense of humor and suffers little in the way of foolishness. She’s not perfect (sometimes being headstrong can be a flaw), but she’s an attainable version of confidence and clarity, which is apparently catnip to swoony country gentry.

    Templeton (Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White)
    Charlotte gets all the (admittedly, deserved) praise, but the rat is admirable in his own “carpe diem” sort of way. Life is too short, so eat the danged cake…and the cheese, and the grapes, and the corn dogs, and the whole watermelons…

    The Lorax (The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss)
    Unlike that masochistic martyr The Giving Tree, this voice of the woodlands sets nothing but a healthy example. A tree-hugger with a fabulous mustache, the Lorax is a portrait of stewardship and activism. It should be everyone’s goal this year to plant a Truffula Tree and watch it grow.

    Ms. Frizzle (The Magic School Bus series, by Joanna Cole)
    Because sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is how maintain your joie de vivre. Look to Valerie Frizzle, the world’s most reckless and popular science teacher, when you need some inspiration to make each and every day fun and educational. Forget the waivers and safety training—just dive right into life.

     
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