Category Archives: List

Mermaid Tales: Recommended Reading

To follow up yesterday’s rather fishy post, I thought I’d list some great mermaid reads!  You should be able to find most of these at your public library, so dig in!  (My personal favorite is Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli!).

1.) Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of “The Little Mermaid” (Debbie Viguie)mermaid book4

2.) Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale (Carolyn Turgeon)

3.) The Forbidden Sea (Sheila A. Nielson)

4.) The Vicious Deep (Zoraida Cordova)

5.) Lies Beneath (Anne Greenwood Brown)

6.) Lost Voices trilogy (Sarah Porter)

7.) The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen)

8.) The Syrena Legacy series (Anna Banks)

9.) To Catch a Mermaid (Suzanne Selfors)

mermaid book110.) Mermaid Tales from Around the World (Mary Pope Osborne)

11.) A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World (Shirley Climo)

12.) Daughters of the Sea trilogy (Kathryn Lasky)

13.) Ingo series (Helen Dunmore)

14.) Sirena (Donna Jo Napoli)

15.) Rising (Holly Kelly)

16.) The Secret of the Emerald Sea (Heather Matthews)

17.) Water trilogy (Kara Dalkey)

18.) Antara (Marilena Mexi)

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Top Fairy Tales and Retellings from 2013

So many great fairy tales, fairy tale retellings, and fantasy books from 2013 … and too little time to read them! Heading into 2014 I am certain there will be many more to add to my list. I’ve included several here which, according to Goodreads, were some of the top reads for the year. Have you read any on the list – or maybe all of them?! Which were your favorites?

TheMothInTheMirror   TheKingdomOfLittleWounds   RagsAndBones

5.5"X8.5" Post Card Template   Hunter HuntmansStory   Hero

ColdSpell   Beauty   Scarlet

Fantastic Beasts … Where DO You Find Them?

fantastic beasts5

 

By now you will have heard plenty of news about J.K. Rowling’s latest project – a movie version of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The book itself, written by the fictional Newt Scamander, features more than 80 fantastical beasts and beings. Some of them, such as the pixie, the kelpie, the unicorn, the mer-people and the dragon, are well-known to even the most half-hearted fantasy fans. But there are quite a few exceptions. Here are a few fun ones.

 

  1. Puffskein: A sphere of soft ur that is fond of eating leftovers and even the occasional spider. It emits a humming sound when it isfantastic beasts5 contented. Fred and George Weasley modified the Puffskein to make the Pygmy Puff.
  2. Jobberknoll: A speckled blue bird that never utters a peep until the moment before its death. And in that moment, it utters a long scream which consists of every sound it has ever heard – backward. Its feathers are used in Memory Charms and Truth Serums.
  3. Ashwinder: A thin, gray wisp with glowing red eyes that rises from embers to lay its eggs in a dark corner before it dies. It only lives about an hour.
  4. Bowtruckle: A twig-like creature, about the size of a person’s hand, which serves as the guardian for its home tree (which it looks very similar to!). A peaceful being, but can become violent when its tree is threatened.
  5. Chizpurfle: A crab-like, parasitic creature that is attracted to magic. It often attacks magical objects such as wands and cauldrons. When it can find no magic, it will resort to attacking Muggles’ electrical devices and wires.
  6. Glumbumble: This furry flying insect produces a treacle that induces melancholy, which can be used as an antidote to treat hysteria. It nests in dark places and feeds on nettles.
  7. Streeler: A giant snail which changes colors hourly. Streeler venom is one of the few things that can kill a Horklump.
  8. Diricawl: Muggles think of this plump, flightless bird as the extinct dodo bird. But the wizarding world knows it is not extinct – rather, it can disappear and reappear when needed as an escape method. Thus Muggles have not seen it for many years.

Many of the creatures in Rowling’s book (and upcoming movie) are ones she invented herself, although the classic fairytale beasts emerge here and there as well.  If you could create a magical beast, what would it be?

fantastic beasts2

What 10 Books Mean to Me in 10 Words or Less

O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come. – Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley

This week I thought I would simply share with you 10 books (ok, or series…!) from the long list of books that have meant the most to me throughout the past 20+ years of my life. I set myself the challenge of stating how each book affected me in 10 words or less – no simple task!

My words may be a description of the book, or simply the way in which the book changed me – sometimes both.

10. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingwayold man and the sea

An old man’s stubborn heart touched my young one.

 

9. Queenmaker by India Edghill

An age-old tale from an intimate perspective.

 

8. The Bible

God’s heart – the light to my path.jane eyre

 

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A passionate, restless, plain girl, much like myself.

 

6. Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood by Meredith Ann Pierce

A spell of words woven into a deep-earth, epic journey.

wildwood dancing

 

5. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

My childish dreams merged strangely and naturally here.

 

4. The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken

Quirky, edgy. Wild imagination that opened new worlds.

 

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

My heart’s fairytale with a true secret at center.

 

2. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Proof that the beauty of words could break a heart.

 

1. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

A lesson that “Nothing is yet in its true form.”

 

Ten words … that’s hard!  It leaves much to say on the thoughts and emotions I felt for each of these books. What about you? Which are the books that have made the most impact on you – heart, mind, and soul – through the years? Can you describe one or two of them in 10 words or less? Comment below. I’d love to hear about them!

8 Reasons Why Readers and Writers Should Be On Pinterest, and 4 Lists of Awesome Boards to Follow

dragon computerWhen I first discovered Pinterest, I will admit – I was addicted for about two months straight. My husband didn’t know what had happened to me – I rarely came up for air. So many pictures! So many ideas! So many sites, and thoughts, and inspiration! All in one place, too. And I’m an organizer … ooh, I loved organizing my pins into boards, and my boards into groups… Everything was in its place. Just how I like it.

I soon noticed, though, that things in the real world were most definitely NOT in place. The laundry, for instance. And the dishes. I mean, who has TIME for those things, when you are so busy pinning brilliant ideas about them?? I certainly did not.

After I mellowed out a bit, and stopped getting depressed because I didn’t have “the house of my dreams,” and hadn’t followed the “10 steps to a perfectly organized life,” I found another, more inspiring, reason for Pinterest …

It can be a great tool for writing, and an excellent resource for reading.

I began a Pinterest account specifically dedicated to book lovers, readers, and aspiring writers, and the rest is history! I soon discovered there are thousands of others who are just as obsessed with books as I am. (If you want to visit my Pinterest page and see/follow my boards, click here!).

So, how does Pinterest help the reader and/or writer, you ask? Well, here are some of the ways I have found it useful:

1.  Inspiration. I like to surf pins, especially of fantasy and fairytale imagery, to get inspiration for stories I want to write, or to better visualize the one I am currently writing.underwater castle
2.  Quotes. Yeah, they’re all over Pinterest, but if you get choosy about who you follow, you can filter out the corny, melodramatic, and pointless ones! I especially like to follow boards with quotes from my favorite authors or books, and I love quotes about reading and writing as well. Try following a board of quotes that is honed in to something specific you like (i.e. fantasy, humor, dogs, forgiveness – you name it!).
3.  Recommendations and reviews. There are boards dedicated entirely to book recommendations and book reviews, and many of these boards are split into genre (Romance, Historical, Biography, etc.) or age-group (middle grade, young adult, etc.), which makes it even easier to navigate to the specific ones you would like to follow.
4.  Writing prompts. Ideas to file away for future use.
5.  Literary media. Follow your favorite authors’ or publishers’ boards (or someone else’s boards about those authors!) to get updates on interviews, blog posts, giveaways, upcoming book releases, and contests.
6.  Eye candy. Yep, you heard me. Some people call it “book porn,” although that’s a bit much for me. It comes to the same thing, though … people who simply love pictures of books, libraries, cozy reading nooks, and everything else bookish. Sometimes, when I’m not drooling, I actually get some great ideas from these pictures when it comes to organization and/or display (and believe me, with upwards of 3,000 books in my house, I need those tips!).
7.  Geekery. Find nifty accessories, clothing, gadgets, and other paraphanalia made specifically with book lovers in mind. This one is just plain fun. Quotation cufflinks, anyone?  literary cufflinks
8.  Articles and posts. This one sounds kind of boring, I realize, but if you are a writer and, like me, don’t have time every day to read posts from the 30+ writing blogs you follow … what could be easier than just pinning them to a board to save for a lazy Sunday afternoon?

So, with these excellent reasons in mind, I set myself a fun assignment and researched some of my personal favorite boards so I could list them for you to check out. If you are a reader, a writer, a book reviewer, a lover of fantasy and fairytale imagery, or all of these things – you won’t want to miss these! Just be sure you don’t drown in all the bookish goodness!

Boards for Readers
Read Aloud Book Recommendations for Children
Teen Book Recommendations
Our Book Reviews
Night Owl Reviews
Fantasy Book Reviews
Author Interviews
Book Trailers

Boards for Writers
Sharing Writing Tips
Writing Prompts
Your Writer Platform
Getting Help With Your Writing
Business of Writing: Publishing and More
Quotes: Writing

Boards for Fairytale & Fantasy Lovers
Once Upon A Time …
Tales
The Wee People
Fairy Dust
Mystery and Mischief
Other World
Mystical
Makin’ Magic

Boards for Bibliophiles
The Library
Book Art and Display
Book Gear
Literary Humor
Beyond Books~Shops and Stores
Reading Nooks

If you are on Pinterest already, in a reading or writing capacity, what are some of the ways in which you have found it useful? I’d love to hear. It may just inspire me to add one, or two … or maybe ten more boards to my own profile!

4 Characteristics of an Epic Book

booksHave you ever read a book, and for some indescribable reason you simply could not feel a connection with it?  Perhaps you’re a person who can put a book like that right back on the shelf without a problem, or drop it in the library’s return slot and never think about it again, if you begin reading it and realize it’s not for you.  But not me.

In the past, when I came upon a book like this – one I could not get into at all – I put myself through torture, made myself finish the book even if it bored me to tears.  Now that I have finished my third decade of life, I realize I simply don’t have the time to do that, and I finally admitted to myself that I just don’t like it, either.  Who says I have to finish every book I start?  What a freeing feeling!  Why did I ever think differently?

The problem is I am always left with a sense of …. well, something being wrong.  Maybe it’s a need for closure.  Not in the sense of needing to know how the story ends, necessarily, but rather in needing to understand why I couldn’t connect with it to begin with.  I have been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, and this has created a keener sense of a story’s mechanics, an author’s style, than I might have ever been aware of otherwise.

Lately this happened to me.  And instead of just dealing with the uncomfortable feeling the book gave me, despite the fact that I actually quite enjoyed parts of it, I decided to sit myself down and figure out exactly what I felt was missing.  I soon realized if you want to know what’s missing from a recipe, you have to know the recipe to begin with.  So, I decided to write down my “requirements” for a great book.

Don’t get me wrong.  If a book doesn’t have one or two of these characteristics it doesn’t mean I won’t read it.  Because books don’t follow rules.  Sometimes there is a mysterious x-factor that keeps me turning pages, surprising even myself.  So – the list is not a strict one; but it did, in the end, help me realize what was “missing” from the book I had been reading [sigh of relief!].

My list is not genre or age-specific, since these characteristics span all types of fiction books.  Here goes:

  1. A compelling plot.  No matter how great your prose is, or how handy you are with turning a unique phrase, your book simply won’t stand without an intriguing storyline that keeps the reader wanting more.  This is not an argument for fast-paced, action-packed scenes – not a bit.  It just means that the plot simply needs to be interesting.  It needs to take me somewhere unexpected and exciting.
  2. A protagonist who is human.  But you like heroes who happen to be dragons, you say?  Okay.  I still say your dragon needs to be human.  The protagonist needs to have relatable struggles, whether internal or external, that draw me in and form an emotional connection.  Because, let’s be honest, if I can’t relate to the hero, I’m not gonna care what happens to him, even if the author kills him off.  If I have the capability of shrugging my shoulders and saying “Eh,” when something horrible happens to the hero … the author is doing something wrong (and yes, I have done this before).quill.and.ink
  3. A journey.  Whether the characters stay in one place, or even in one room, for the entirety of the book, a journey needs to take place.  A journey of understanding, of love, of coming to terms with self or others, of forgiveness, of strength or acceptance … the list could go on and on; take your pick.  And if the journey happens to be an actual physical journey – well, that’s fine, too.  But my favorite books, I’ve noticed, usually incorporate the physical and emotional journeys together, intertwining them in such delicious ways that you can barely discern the difference between them (The Lord of the Rings, anyone??).
  4. Good writing.  I’m not talking about good grammar here, and I’m not even talking about writing that “flows.”  I mean writing that is unique to the author.  Writing that shows me this author has a voice and knows how to use it.  This is a hard one to describe, really, because it’s more of a feeling than anything specific you can pin down when reading a book.  But if you are a reader, you know what I mean.  And this one is also very open to preference.  Believe me, some authors have a definitive voice … and I just don’t happen to like their voice.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it.  And when I come across a book with the three former characteristics, and find that the author is just one darn good storyteller on top of everything … well, those are the books that find homes on the shelves in my house.

But that’s just me.  I’m curious to know … what makes (or doesn’t make, for that matter) a great book for YOU?

The Food of Fantasies (Part 3)

peter rabbit“Cooking is a kind of everyday magic.” Juliet Blackwell

Are you ready for the third and final fairytale food post? I’ve split the group of recommendations into two – the first group is for the kiddos, the second is for us older ones. These were so fun, just let me say. You don’t even have to be a cook (and I’m not!) to get some prime enjoyment out of these books. The illustrations, the accompanying stories and rhymes, and even the names of the recipes themselves are enough to keep you turning the pages, though you may have no intention at all of stepping a toe into your kitchen!

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the “food” posts if you haven’t already.

A list for the little kiddos:

1. Teddy Bears’ Picnic Cookbook (Abigail Darling)
2. The Boxcar Children Cookbook (Diane Blain)wind in the willows3
3. Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook (Georgeanne Brennan)    winnie the pooh picnic
4. Winnie-the-Pooh Teatime Cookbook
5. Winnie-the-Pooh Picnic Cookbook
6. The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook (Kate Macdonald)
7. Cooking with Anne of Green Gables (Sullivan Entertainment)
8. Peter Rabbit’s Natural Foods Cookbook (Arnold Dobrin)
9. The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook (Arabella Boxer)
10. The Secret Garden Cookbook (Amy Cotler)
11. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes (Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl)
12. The Beatrix Potter Country Cookery Book (Margaret Lane)
13. Book Cooks: 26 Recipes from A-Z Inspired by Favorite Children’s Books (Cheryl Apgar)

gameofthrones1narnia1

And now a list for the big kids!
1. Wookiee Cookies: A Star Wars Cookbook (Robin Davis)
2. A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook (Chelsea Monroe-Cassel)
3. The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook (Alan Kistler)
4. The Official Narnia Cookbook (Douglas Gresham)
5. The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook (Dinah Bucholz)
6. Regional Cooking from Middle Earth: Recipes of the Third Age (Emerald Took)
7. The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook (Dinah Bucholz)
8. The Book Club Cook Book (Judy Gelman)
9. The Book Lover’s Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature (Shaunda Kennedy Wenger)

Now it’s your turn to cook up some whimsical, fantastical recipes on your own! Here is a list of links to some fun and interesting things to make.  Comment below with your own ideas or links to more recipes!

Marilla’s Plum Pudding (Anne of Green Gables)
Star Wars recipes (including Wookiee Pies, Ice Cream Clones, and Death Star Popcorn Balls)
Buzz-Worthy Bee Cupcakes and Hive (Winnie the Pooh)
The Boxcar Children Beef Stew RecipeThree-Finger Hobb’s Breakfast (A Game of Thrones)
Licorice Wands (Harry Potter)
Tea with Mr. Tumnus (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Beatrix Potter’s Recipe for Gingerbread (Peter Rabbit)
Bag End Apple Bread (The Lord of the Rings)

harry potter

The Food of Fantasies (Part 1)

“You’re a wizard,” I snapped. “Can’t you just use magic to make your own food?”
“Ah, yes,” he retorted. “Because mud pies are so very delicious and the wind fills empty stomachs quite nicely.” — Alexandra Bracken (Brightly Woven)

fairytalefood4

Whether it’s a steaming pot of stone soup on the village square, Anne pouring you some raspberry cordial (or is it currant wine?!) on the front porch of Green Gables, a mug of butterbeer with your friends around a table at the Hog’s Head, or a very delicious-looking red apple handed to you by a old woman peddling on a forest road – let’s just admit it, we want to taste these things. After all, our minds are tasting the stories they come from, we see the places and people in our imaginations – why shouldn’t we take it a step forward and bridge the gap, make part of the story palpable and real and … delicious? What is it about these foods that draw us in and remain in our minds long after the story we have read is put back on the shelf, if not our desire to crawl into the stories themselves?

As I research cookbooks based on famous books and fairy tales, I have come across many different recipes and even series. It’s amazing how inspired readers can become, all because of the food or drinks they read about in a favorite book. And even more amazing is the sheer volume of these types of cookbooks there are to choose from, once you start to look. There are dishes that existed before the books were written, and have been made famous by being featured in a book. And then there are the dishes that the authors have created solely for the purpose of their story (some of which prove most definitely that the authors should stick to writing, and not cooking!). Either way, and however delectable (or occasionally disgusting) these dishes turn out to be, we, the addictive, obsessive readers, are most definitely going to try them.

fairytalefood6I’m no cook myself, and I won’t be attempting to come up with my own special version of green eggs and ham anytime soon (my husband would shudder to imagine such a thing put into my hands) – but I’m not adverse to trying the recipes invented by others. I couldn’t decide whether to focus on fairytale and fantasy cookbooks (since, after all, that’s what I’m blogging about), but I got so excited when I visited the library and saw all the options out there, that I’ve decided to go a bit wider. Over the next week or two I will do brief reviews of the books and sites I come across, and even hope to post reports of how it goes in the kitchen when I (gulp!) try some of these recipes out. My 6-year-old has kindly volunteered to help me, and is, as I write this, on my bed pouring over stacks of cookbooks, looking very much like a miniature, somewhat harassed editor.

So stay tuned for my next blog post, later this week, of the fairytale cookbook reviews (I’ve decided to begin with the fairytale genre and proceed outward from there for the following reviews). And in the meantime, check out some of the following links and sites for some super-fun recipes to try!

RECIPES:
Elven Lembas Bread (The Lord of the Rings)fairytalefood
Raspberry Cordial (Anne of Green Gables)
Cauldron Cakes and Butterbeer (Harry Potter)
Turkish Delight (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)
Mr. McGregor’s Winter Garden Vegetable Pies (Peter Rabbit)
Miniature Castle Cakes

SITES:
Book Eats
Paper/Plates
Kat Cooks the Books
Inn at the Crossroads
Fictional Food

The Cat in Fantasy Lit

crookshanks

When you begin to think about it, cats have played some crucial roles in literature, specifically sci-fi and fantasy.  What is it that’s so alluring about a magical cat?  A talking cat?  Or even a goddess cat?

From ancient Egyptian times, when the Goddess Bastet (in the form of a cat) was worshipped, and even before, cats have always held a certain mystery and fascination for us humans.  In medieval times, cats in general, and black cats specifically, were thought to be evil.  Women who took them in to care for the poor mistreated or neglected animals were in turn labeled witches.

I myself love cats … I’ve owned probably over a hundred of them over the course of my life.  And while my husband might argue with you as to whether I’m a witch or not … depending on the day … like any cat lover, I can tell you they are anything but evil.  Spooky sometimes, yes.  Spastic and quirky … yeah.  Moody and uppity and picky – uh-huh.  The one thing I know from my years of cat experiences is that, without a doubt, cats definitely have personality.  And I suppose that’s why they so naturally fit into literature, whether as characters themselves, or as interesting sidekicks.

Here’s a list of fantasy and sci-fi cats you should definitely check out.  Who is your favorite feline in fantasy?aslan

  1. The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  2. Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  3. Crookshanks in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
  4. Fritti Tailchaser in Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams
  5. Magicats! books (collection of cat stories) edited by Jack Dann
  6. The ThunderClan cats in the Warriors series by Erin Hunter
  7. Rhiow and the team of cat-wizards in the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane
  8. Gareth in Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
  9. The cat with no name in Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  10. “The Cat” in The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce
  11. Thelma, Roger, James and Harriet in Catwings by Ursula Le Guin
  12. Goldeneyes in the Catmage Chronicles by Meryl Yourish

Teen Book Review Sites

books3So you’re a young adult, or you’re an … older than young … adult like myself who happens to love YA fiction.  You’d like to know what’s out there without going to too much trouble, and you want to know up front if it’s going to be worth the read before you even begin.  Well, who doesn’t?  Well, I’ve compiled a list of great sites to visit with some of the latest in YA fiction.  One or two of the sites cater particularly to fantasy, I’ll warn you, but if you’re like me and you prefer fantasy anyway, that’s for the best.  Do yourself a favor and check some of these sites out!

Fantasy Book Reviews

This one is one of my favorites.  Just two chicks doing fantasy and sci-fi YA reviews.  The best part for me is that they give each book a ranking, or grade, like in school.  A through F (even pluses and minuses!).  They rank the book for additional things as well:  sexual content, language, violence, drug or alcohol use, etc.  Lastly, they give their personal recommendation for the age the book is appropriate for.  Neat, thorough, and trustworthy, especially if you are a parent who likes to screen what your teen is reading without having to sit and read every single book yourself!

Young Adult Books Central

Lots of different search options, including “top reader rated,” “most reviewed ya books” and “hottest books,” among many others.  You’ll get access to a short description of the book you’re looking at, plus get to read all the reviews others have left for it.  You can even sign up for an account and write your own reviews.

Young Adult Book Reviews

This blog, as the author states herself, is not strictly tied to the YA genre.  She reviews all types of books.  She’s witty and clever.  Worth following.

The Literate Mother

Conservative, reliable content ratings for language, violence, sexual content and adult themes.  Reviews are done by eight different mothers of multiples.  Another great one for monitoring your teen’s reading.

Flamingnet Teen

Join their mailing list to get book reviews, or check out their site for thousands of reviewed books for teens.  Become a student reviewer yourself through Flamingnet, or even start your own book club through their site.  I also liked the link, under “resources” for author interviews.

Nathan Lumbatis

Exploring Faith Through Fantasy

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

Writing & Publishing, e-Books & Book Marketing

The New Authors Fellowship

For unpublished authors. By unpublished authors.

Worthy 2 Read

"Whatever is worthy . . ." Phil. 4:8

Loyal Books Blog

Indepth Children's Book Reviews from a Christian Mom's Perspective

The Story Sanctuary

Teen book reviews from a Christian world-view.

Fairy Tale Fanatic

Food, Fairy Tales, and Consumption.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Blog & website of children's book author Tara Lazar

Rewrite, Reword, Rework

Rebecca LuElla Miller's editing tips and services

I am a mermaid

A delicate, ladylike blog for mermaids and the humans who love them

The Matt Walsh Blog

Absolute Truths (and alpaca grooming tips)

Daniel Whyte IV

Writer. Student. Web Developer. Radio Producer.

Lisen Minetti

A Work in Progress

Druid Life

Pagan reflections from a Druid author - life, community, inspiration, health, hope, and radical change