Friday, December 21, 2012

'Tis the Season for Guest Posts and The Hobbit

I grew up with knowledge of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It was my family's tradition to watch the old cartoon versions every year on Halloween and we switched to Peter Jackson's versions with delight when they came out. When I was old enough, I read the books and loved them. So it was with great expectations that I waited for this movie, and with great excitement I went to see it.

Maybe I was too excited and built my expectations too high, because I was a little bit disappointed. They added a lot of things that weren't in the book; I haven't read The Silmarillion or other background lore, so I'm not entirely sure what they got from Tolkien and what they made up. The whole Necromancer plot and the pale orc are not part of The Hobbit, anyway. The movie definitely didn't have to be so long. I feel like they're just doing everything they can to milk the story and lengthen it into three movies so they can make more money (well, of course they are), and that is sad.

That being said, it was still enjoyable. I absolutely loved Martin Freeman's performance as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin. Their acting made the movie for me. The scenes from Middle Earth were beautiful, as expected. The dwarves' haunting singing and Bilbo riddling with Gollum were also two of my favourite parts.

What did you think of The Hobbit?

Guest Posting News

It really does seem to be the season for me to visit other blogs and websites. Stop by sci-fi author Eric Diehl's blog today for a re-post of my review for Terry Brooks' Wards if Faerie.

Also, I am opening up Geek Banter for guest posts in the new year! If you would like to post here on a geeky topic (this could be on anything from TV shows, movies, books, video games, writing, fantasy, sci-fi, or other geek culture), shoot me an email and let me know what you would like to post about.

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post at Mithril Wisdom

Join me over at Mithril Wisdom today where I am bantering about gamer names. Whether you are a gamer or not, do stop by for some entertaining examples. Thanks to Jamie for having me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: THE SEVEN MARKETS

Author: David Hoffman
Publisher: Ohbalto Media
Pub Date: November 22, 2012

Her whole life, Ellie MacReady has heard stories of the mysterious market that comes only once every century for three days.It's said the market is full of wonders--delicious foods, unusual trinkets, and strange travelers.When she finds out the market is coming to her town, Ellie is overcome with excitement. She can't wait to explore it with her soon-to-be fiance, Joshua.

She is unaware of the danger the market brings with it, however, in the form of an irresistible, self-centered prince who always gets what he wants. And at this market, he wants Ellie.

Imaginative, thrilling, and original, The Seven Markets is the most creative book I've read this year. Though it focuses on the main character, Ellie, every chapter was different and I didn't know what to expect next, which is what I loved about it.

The story begins in the 18th century, with a fantasy-like feel to it as there are mentions of magic and the market itself is other-worldly. However, it proceeds in leaps and bounds across time and we witness seven markets in a row, like the title suggests. As the markets only come once every century, the story ends well into the future. That's right, this book is both fantasy and sci-fi. Hoffman leaves the boundaries of what is expected of a genre writer well behind him in this fantastical mash-up.

Ellie gets caught up in something bigger than the small-town 18th century life she was expecting to live, and her journey is a harsh one. I can't say I liked her personality very much until the very end, and not feeling attached to the main character is usually a deal breaker for me, but her story was so fascinating I couldn't put this book down.

The one thing I didn't like was being jerked around in time--I wish these transitions could have been made smoother. First we were in the 18th century, then suddenly the story jumps to the 19th with no breather in between, and so on. However, I'm not sure how else spanning that many centuries could have been done without making the novel 1000 pages long.

This book fascinated me. Do pick it up and give it a read if you are looking for something unconventional in the sci-fi/fantasy realm.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cheers Cavanaugh Blogfest

Today is the first day of the Cheers Cavanaugh blogfest, hosted by Mark Koopman, Morgan Shamy, Stephen Tremp and David Powers King. The point of the fest is for us bloggers to raise our glasses to our ninja friend Alex, who is a nexus in the blogging community. He was one of the first to follow and comment on my blog, and continues to be the first to comment on my posts. Thank you, Alex, for finding the time to comment and for caring about so many people.

I'm combining the answers to the questions in the following piece of flash fiction:

Cosbolt pilot Alex J. Cavanaugh looked at the doctor, his brown eyes filled with concern.

"So? What's the verdict, doc?"

Doctor Phil sighed. "I'm sorry, Cavanaugh, I can't clear you to go back into space. The IWSG radiation you were exposed to from flying near that supernova could have... unexpected... effects. I want you on Earth so I can keep a close eye on you."

Cavanaugh's expression just then reminded the doc of Nathan Fillion as Mal in Firefly, when he realized the Browncoats had lost the war. Doctor Phil felt a spark of pity for the man.

"But what am I supposed to do now?" Cavanaugh asked. "All I ever knew was flying."

"I don't know... take up a hobby. Write. Pick up the guitar. Fall in love and get married. Take your pick."

It was a year later that Alex realized, ironically, he had followed the doctor's advice to the letter. So far, the radiation hadn't had any effects on him that he could tell, unless it was the cause of his new-found ability to read and type at ninja-like speeds and take in the information of hundreds of blogs almost as soon as he clicked their links. 

Life on Earth, he discovered, was good.

And a special thank you to Mrs. Cavanaugh for allowing us to spend time with the ninja captain. I assume you rock as much as your husband does!

Cheers, Cavanaugh :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

IWSG: Revision

With the end of NaNo, those who got down 50,000 words are perhaps starting to rewrite and revise. For some authors, this is their favourite part of the writing process. It is not mine because it means I have to face the plot holes and gaps in my story and come up with magical solutions to fix them. However, I am rolling up my sleeves and getting ready to reorganize my tangled mess, because I am attached to this story I created and I want to know what happens to the characters.

Once I have revised it and got down a full, organized draft, I will send it off to my critique partners, and then the process of revision will be begin again after I have their feedback. (Why do you need critique partners, you ask? Why can't you just finish a story on your own and get it published? Whoo boy, well that is a whole other topic post. Trust me. You need them.)

For those of you beginning the revision process, here are some words of advice from Terry Brooks' Sometimes the Magic Works:

"If you are ever completely satisfied with something you have written, you are setting your sights too low. But if you can't let go of your material even after you have done the best that you can with it, you are setting your sights too high" (196).

How do you know when to stop revising and pronounce your story done? I don't have an answer, but I think I'll know the place when I get to it. Best of luck in your writing, and have fun with your revisions, friends!

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Check the link for some of the other blogs participating in this event! 

In other news: Join me at TV Geek Army today where I'm posting about Once Upon a Time and Disney, a topic I briefly touched on here a few weeks ago. If you're watching the show, stop by and say hi!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tribute to the Commodore 64


The first computer my family owned was a Commodore 64. I still remember having stacks of those floppy disks and having to type in LOAD"*",8,1 into the main screen before starting a game. Those were the days. The C64 was my introduction to gaming, where my love of solving puzzles and juking a joystick all began.

Here are some of my favourite C64 games:

Jumpman
The title is self-explanatory. Jump around the levels collecting coins and avoiding bullets! I still remember the chest-pounding feeling when you heard the sound of the bullet being shot at you.
 

Archon
Like chess but so much cooler! You control fantasy creatures on a chess-like board, each with their own special abilities, and when two enemies occupy the same square the game shifts to a battle board and you fight in real time! I really think they should make an updated version of this game.
 

Winter Games
Is it my failing memory, or were a lot of these Olympic games all about mashing buttons and jerking the joystick back and forth? Whatever, they were still super fun. Also, it dawns on me that Commodore 64 games didn't come with manuals or instructions--or at least, we didn't have any. Sometimes it took forever just figuring out what you were supposed to do.


Caveman Ugh-lympics
Another Olympics game, but caveman style. My favourite event was fire making, where you had to frantically rub two sticks together in the effort to make sparks and start a fire, bonking your opponent on the head whenever you could to prevent him from beating you.


Quest for Tires
This was a family favourite. Ride along on your little stone wheel and hop over boulders and other obstacles in order to rescue your girlfriend who has been captured by a dinosaur.


Do you remember the Commodore 64? If not, what system introduced you to gaming and what were your favourite first games?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

End of NaNo and U Got the Look

Well, it is the end of NaNoWriMo! Did I make it to 50,000? No. Did I make it to my goal of 30,000? Yes! And that is 30,000 more words than I would have had if I hadn't participated, so woohoo! To all you NaNo-ers, give yourself a pat on the back for getting down words this month, whether or not you "won," and take a break.

I've been tagged for the U Got the Look meme by Tyrean, where you hunt down the word "look" in your WIP and post the surrounding paragraphs, so here is a piece of my NaNo project:

He had to hold on for ten seconds. She heard pounding footsteps approaching from the corridor behind her, but ignored them
1… 2… 3… 4…
The cylinder ripped away from the wall and Taren flew towards the opening as if in slow motion, still gripping the piece of metal in his arms as though it could save him.
No. This couldn’t happen.
She locked eyes with him, realizing this would be the last time she would look at him alive, and something changed in her. It was as though a switch had turned on in her head, unlocking a power she never knew she had.

I will pass on the meme to Annalisa Crawford, Alex Brown, and Ellie Garratt because I know you ladies participated in and won NaNo, so feel free to share a snippet with us too!

Have a great weekend, you awesome people, you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Blog Look

So I took a break from NaNo to fool around a bit with my blog look, something I've been meaning to do for a while. One thing I wanted to change was having the white text on the black background, because I thought that might be harder to read. What do you think? Do you prefer the black background? Do you like serif or sans serif fonts when you are reading online? (For your reference, sans serif fonts are the ones that don't use the small lines at the ends of the characters, they just use straight lines, like Arial. Serif fonts have the small lines, like Times New Roman.) Hate the new look completely? *sniff* it's okay, you can tell me...

But really, constructive criticism is welcome! What do you think is most important in a well designed blog?

And to all you NaNo-ers out there--keep up the good work! Only a few days left to go!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update

You know how no matter how nicely you put away those earbud headphones, they still end up completely tangled the next time you take them out? (I blame that on what I call headphone gremlins. Nasty, mischievous creatures.) Well my novel feels like a huge box of hundreds of tangled up headphones. It is messy. It is out of order. It is a messy, out of order, tangled jumble of character development and storyline.

All right, maybe it's not THAT bad. But I am a neat freak and so it is bugging me! But NaNoWriMo is all about pumping out that first draft without worrying about going back to edit, so as much as I want to, I am trying not to look back.

On the upside, since I started late to NaNo, I made a 30,000 word goal for myself, and I am at 26,000 words now, so I've upped my goal to 40,000 by the end of the month. Hurray for getting words down on the page!

How is your NaNo project coming? Fighting off the temptation of going back to edit and organize too? One week of madness left to go!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2012 Trailer

I am taking a break from furiously working on my NaNo project to bring you this trailer:


Who's excited for the Christmas special and looking forward to meeting the new companion? Who was sad to see Amy and Rory go? I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of Amy at the very beginning, but she grew on me and I absolutely loved Rory. They will be missed. The new companion looks like she's got a lot of spunk, though, and I'm looking forward to how she's connected to the character who died from the first episode of the season.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh, How I Miss You blogfest

Today's the Oh, How I Miss You blogfest hosted by Andrew Leon, Matthew Rush, and Alex J. Cavanaugh where we post about the bloggers we really miss and the bloggers we would really miss if they disappeared!

Blogger I miss

Jeremy at Geeky Tendencies is a fellow geeky blogger I miss. I made a lot of friends and found many great blogs when I started blogging, but none were quite as geeky as mine. Then I found Jeremy's blog, and it was a fantastic place of geekiness! Jeremy hasn't been blogging since the summer, though this is understandable since he is dealing with a lot of things including chemotherapy. Miss you, Jeremy!

Bloggers I would miss if they quit

It was hard to pick just three, because I would miss quite a few of you, including some gems I've only just begun to follow.

I have to mention the ninja captain Alex J. Cavanaugh as he is such a great blogging buddy. He is almost always the first one to comment on my posts, and almost always says something that makes me grin. I don't know how you keep up with everyone, Alex, but I would miss you if you stopped!

Jamie at Mithril Wisdom writes one of my favourite blogs to stop by. Jamie is a fantastic guy who always responds to comments and visits my blog in return. I am constantly inspired by his insightful posts and passion for geek culture!

Oh, there are so many others I would miss (my list of awesome blogs on the side says it all). But lastly I will give a shout out to Tyrean Martinson for being a sweetie and writing such heartfelt posts and comments.

Who would you miss if they stopped blogging?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: A COMING OF AGE

Author: Timothy Zahn
Publisher: Open Road
Pub Date: October 16, 2012 (first published 1984)

The first colonists to reach Tigris thought they had found Eden... but the planet had a horrifying effect on their children. Babies born there developed frightening telekinetic powers at the age of five. No one could control them -- and as the changelings grew and became aware of their abilities they initiated a bloodbath of chaos and violence that nearly destroyed the planet.

Two centuries after the Lost Generation, Tigrins have learned to cope with their strange planet and its effects. But a new threat is rising. In secret a medical researcher is experimenting with the TK ability. His guinea pigs are stolen children; his object, to extend their powers past adolescence and into adulthood. If he succeeds, Tigris faces disintegration.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)

After reading this book, I am adding more Timothy Zahn novels to my to-read pile. The story was not what I was expecting, but it was fantastic. I was expecting a fast-paced action story, and instead I got a thought-provoking detective novel. 

The world building is what makes this story shine. Zahn asks the question "What would happen to our society if children suddenly developed the powers of telekinesis?" His answer: A world dependent on depriving children of knowledge until after their powers disappear at puberty, keeping them in line with a "hive" system where the children mentor each other. This new society also gives reign to adults who kidnap kids from their hives, exploit their abilities through manipulation, and then discard them after the kids reach puberty, leaving them without a home or education.

It is a bit slow moving at first, but picks up as the mystery of a kidnapped boy unravels. The story mainly follows three characters: Lisa, a girl struggling with her upcoming transition to adulthood and loss of her teeking abilities; Tirrell, the detective looking for the kidnapped boy; and Omega, a "prophet" manipulating a large group of children for his own purposes. It is only near the end of the book that we discover how these characters' lives intersect as answers to the mystery are revealed.

A Coming of Age is a fascinating read with a thought-provoking set of events and characters. If sci-fi mixed with a healthy dose of gritty mystery sounds good to you, give this one a go!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

First Scenes

Well I posted my insecurities about not having time for NaNo and crazy November on Monday (thank you for all your encouraging responses!), but I don't want to skip an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I am still very behind on NaNo, but I do have some words down. That's still something, right?

Here's my question for you: How important do you think your very first scene is, and how much do you end up re-writing it? I think first scenes are super important, because they will be the first thing the editor, literary agent, or reader sees. It should have some kind of tension, should introduce the characters and plot but not dump tons of info on them.

For interest's sake, here's the first 160 words of my NaNo project. You tell me. Would you keep reading? 

“We’re not supposed to be in here,” Anasta said, glancing around the low-lit storage room that gave off a comforting hum as it was right above the engine room, the heart of the ship.
“I’m telling you, I traced the power glitch to this room,” her brother, Taren, replied, tapping commands into his datapad with one hand while holding it with the other.
“It was just a little glitch,” Anasta persisted. “Harley can fix it tomorrow.”
Taren, his grey eyes the same changing shade as hers fixed on the screen, didn’t appear to be listening to her any more. She sighed. Why did she always let him get her into trouble? On the other hand, he probably could fix it. Possibly without even leaving a digital trail for Harley to find tomorrow so they wouldn’t get in trouble for being in there. Her fifteen-year-old brother knew the Anemo’s systems almost as well as the thirty-year-old techie did.

How is your NaNo or other writing project going? Is your first scene what you hoped it would be?

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Check the link for some of the other blogs participating in this event!

Monday, November 5, 2012

November Craziness and I'm Thankful for My Readers



I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which may have been a crazy plan because guess how many words I have written? 0 out of 50,000. That is right. I'm afraid to sign in to my profile on the website to see how many words my fantastic blogging buddies have gotten down already.

The reason I haven't written anything is because the beginning of the month was crazy. I moved out of my old apartment and moved in to a new one. I've been going to job interviews, and this weekend I worked 11 hour days at a comic convention. Soooo... do I just give up because it's day 5 already? Heck, no. I am going to start working on it today. I may have to lower my 50,000 word goal to something more manageable, like 30,000, but that's okay.

So if I disappear for most of November from my blog and yours, this November craziness is why, and I apologize for my absence.

How are you NaNoWriMo participants doing? Feel free to gloat about your high word count--I don't mind :) Getting those words down is exciting.

And now... the I’m Thankful for my Readers Blog Hop, hosted by Tara and VikLit.

I've always been thankful for my dad, who has encouraged me in my writing, helped me think through plots, and read first drafts (telling me they were all awesome even if they were crap, of course. haha).

I am thankful for my new CP VikLit! It is great to be kept accountable and have someone encourage me to keep at it!

I am thankful for you blog readers and blogging buddies, who have given amazing support whenever I have posted any of my writing (I haven't posted much, but what I have has been well received).

Thanks all! Enjoy this crazy month.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Once Upon a Time -- Too Disneyfied?

I enjoy watching Once Upon a Time, a show where fairy tale characters live in Storybrooke, Maine, because they were transported there by an evil queen's curse. The show is now in its second season. I like how the show switches between the characters' lives in this world and their previous lives in the fairy tale world.

I love how the writers put twists on the well known tales. For example (**SPOILER ALERT**), Rumpelstiltzkin turns out to be the beast in the Beauty and the Beast story, Red Riding hood is actually a werewolf, the queen from Snow White has a fascinating back story about how she turned evil, and Rumpelstiltzkin seems to have his manipulating hands in every fairy tale.

I am, however, getting a little overwhelmed with how Disneyfied the show is becoming. Once Upon a Time is the production of ABC, which is a Disney-owned channel. Therefore, there are lots of references to the Disney versions of these tales, particularly in the naming of characters (i.e. the seven dwarfs, Aurora, the Blue Fairy, Maleficent, etc.). I can live with that, but now we also have characters showing up from Disney movies that aren't even based on fairy tales; the likes of Captain Hook, the Mad Hatter, and Mulan have appeared, with more to follow. There is danger of the show getting too convoluted by combining so many different worlds. I wonder where they will draw the line and who is going to show up next... Simba? Robin Hood? Tarzan?

I still watch and greatly enjoy the show (particularly for Robert Carlyle's intriguing characterization of Rumplestiltzkin), but I wish it focused more on the original versions of fairy tales.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Revolution - Who's Watching?


I've been watching J.J. Abram's new show Revolution, and I'm interested. It's about a near-future world where the power goes out. Nothing works anymore--no cars, no planes, no technology, no electricity. A girl named Charlie sets out to save her brother with a small band of survivalists after he has been captured and her father killed.

The man who has captured her brother is one of those insufferable self-righteous villains that are so frustrating (great acting from Giancarlo Esposito, I must say). I am impressed with the acting and the characters all around, actually. Even Charlie's brother Danny, who I at first thought was a brainless pretty boy who couldn't take care of himself, is getting some screen time and is turning out to be a tough, admirable teen. I was pleasantly surprised how he stood up to his captor and didn't bend to the attempts to manipulate him.

Abram's first seasons always seem to turn out best and then they get too complicated (Fringe, Lost, and Alias come to mind), but I do have high hopes that I will continue to enjoy this show. Anyone else watching? What do you think so far?

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Well I've been tagged for this blog meme three times by the lovely Mina Burrows, Jamie Ayres, and Shell Flower, so I figure I better do this post!

1. What is the title of your book?
The working title is Shifter, but I don't really like it so I think it will change by the end.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
It all started after my brother and I had just finished watching one of the Star Wars movies, and I asked him what colour lightsaber he would choose if he was a Jedi. That's right. Oh, you want the rest of the story? Well there really isn't much to tell... that sparked the conversation that eventually developed into the idea for this novel. We both liked the idea of a brother and sister who had telekinetic powers learning to use them at a training facility. And no, it is not a Star Wars novel.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
YA Sci-Fi.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The characters are young, since it is YA, and I am not a fan of most of the well known young actors out there. It would also be tricky because the main characters are twins so they have to look somewhat similar. I'm thinking maybe some unknowns. A couple younger actors I do really like are Ellen Page (Inception, X3) and Molly Quinn (Castle). Can't think of any boys. For older actors, I think Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Hugo Weaving (Lord of the Rings), Jeremy Renner (The Avengers), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter), Helen Bonham Carter (Harry Potter) and Charlize Theron (The Italian Job) should be in it. Wow, that is an interesting cast now that I look at that list. lol.

5. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
After a terrifying accident, 15-year-old Anasta Dreav discovers she can move things with her mind and, along with her brother, starts training to join the ranks of elite military operatives called Shifters.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I would like to go the traditional publishing route.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
One month. I did it for NaNoWriMo last year, and am completely rewriting it for NaNoWriMo this year!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I haven't read a lot of YA sci-fi. In fact, I don't know if I've read any. I guess I'd compare it to Divergent by Veronica Roth or A Coming of Age by Timothy Zahn (which I've only just started reading so I'm not sure if it is a good comparison, but they is about kids and telekinesis).

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Jesus, Star Wars, my dad, my brother, and lots of other people and things.

10. What else about your book might pique readers' interest?
Well it's about a galactic war, two kids trying to make a difference after their mother has been captured, a secret training program for kids with telekinetic powers, telekinetic children with grudges, an AI with personality to boot... what's not to like? In my plotting class I was asked to pick out my themes from the plot, and I discovered I was writing about "Good vs. Evil," "Family Bonds," "Love Requires Sacrifice," and "Not letting yourself be defined by others" among other things.

This blog meme has been around the block, and I feel like all my writing blogger buddies have participated already, but if you haven't, by all means do so and let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Timothy Zahn Ebook News

I know Timothy Zahn from his Star Wars novels (The Thrawn Trilogy), but he is also the author of many original works, including the Blackcollar Series, Spinneret, Deadman Switch, The Backlash Mission, Triplet, and A Coming of Age. I am pleased to announce these books are now available as ebooks!

To celebrate the release, here is a mini-documentary on Zahn:


I like how he compares writing to playing both sides of a game of chess (especially because I enjoy playing chess). When you have clever protagonists and antagonists, first you figure out a good move for one side, then turn the board around and figure out how the other side will get out of that sticky situation! Great comparison, Zahn.

A bit more on Zahn's books:
  • The Blackcollar Series is a military science fiction series about a group of superhuman combatants
  • A Coming of Age is a thoughtful tribute to what it means to come of age, face your fears, and even save the world. Readers of Dune, A Wrinkle in Time, Ender's Game, and The Chronicles of Narnia will be delighted to discover another tale that records the difficult yet crucial passage into adulthood.
  • Spinneret poses a scientific puzzle whose answer could threaten humanity's salvation, or destruction.
Well I for one am captivated by the comparisons for A Coming of Age. A book like Dune, A Wrinkle in Time, Ender's Game, and Chronicles of Narnia? Let me at it. It is also about  telekinesis, which is what my work in progress is about, and I'd love to see another author's take on the subject. I've already got a copy on my Kindle and have started reading it, and I will be sure to post a review on it when I am finished.

You can check out Zahn's author page for more info on the releases and to see the brand new covers.

Are you a Zahn fan? Which of these books sounds interesting to you?


Monday, October 15, 2012

Relationship Arcs

As some of you know, I've been taking a course on plotting for pantsers by paranormal romance author Suzanne Johnson. I don't write paranormal romance, but the lessons are just as applicable to sci-fi and fantasy! She is taking us through several lessons a week which are helping me develop my basic plot ideas and characters. I am learning tons, but even if I wasn't, the course is keeping me accountable and making me actually get the work done.

One of the most interesting techniques she uses when plotting is planning relationship arcs. I've never thought of doing this before, but it makes perfect sense and is so helpful in defining the plot. What you do is take your main characters and match them up with every other character in the book and define their relationship at the beginning of the book and how it changes at the end (if it does change). You can also define the relationships between your supporting characters (the important ones, anyway), and this really helps to lay the groundwork for your novel.

It is a lot of list making, but I am already seeing the plot of my novel unfold as I work on this.

Have you plotters out there ever thought of doing this? What are some of your techniques?

If you are interested in reading more about Suzanne's plotting method, you can check out her explanation of it here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Car Buying Adventures

Well I was planning on posting something yesterday about the plotting for pantsers class I've been taking, but then I had a crazy day and didn't have time, so I will post on that later.

I bought my first car (used) the day before yesterday, and was pretty excited. The dealer even gave me a deal and threw in brand new winter tires and a new battery. I spent a bit more on it than I wanted, but I hoped it would be worth it. Then this light with an exclamation mark in a circle came on as I was driving, and I asked my brother when I got home what that meant, and he said it was the parking break symbol. Whaaat? I drove home with the parking break on? How embarrassing.

Go outside the next day, and ALL the tires are flat. All of them. Turned out that was not the parking break symbol, it was the tire pressure one. I was pretty mad, because they were supposed to be new tires, and I was afraid I'd been scammed. One tire flat, maybe... but all four?? But after calling the dealer, they sent someone to fill the tires with air so I could drive it back to them and they found out what was wrong and fixed it, all for free. It had been an honest mistake on their part. Whew. Thank goodness for honest people. Well, that is a good way to run a business, because I will probably go back to them now if anything needs fixing later.

And that was my adventure yesterday.

So, do share your own crazy or embarrassing car stories. I know you have them!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cover Reveal: THE FAERIE GUARDIAN


Today, I'm honoured to help reveal the cover of Rachel Morgan's The Faerie Guardian! Isn't it lovely? I've enjoyed reading Guardian and Labyrinth, and now they are compiled in one book along with Traitor and Masquerade! Congratulations, Rachel!

Title: The Faerie Guardian
Author: Rachel Morgan
Release Date: 5 Nov 2012
Add to Goodreads

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? Not when you factor in evil faeries, long-lost family members, and inconvenient feelings of the romantic kind. Vi is about to find herself tangled up in a dangerous plot—and it’ll take all her training to get out of it alive.

[This novel was originally published in four separate parts: Guardian, Labyrinth, Traitor and Masquerade. It includes bonus scenes at the end.]

Giveaway Time!

The bonus scenes at the end of the book are NOT written from the main character's point of view. If you'd like to win a $10 Amazon gift card, all you have to do is guess whose point of view these scenes are written from! Head on over to the cover reveal post at Rachel Morgan Writes and fill in the Rafflecopter form. There's a list of characters there that you can choose from. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pantser or Plotter?

I mentioned I was a pantser working on becoming a plotter to some of my friends when they questioned how my writing was going, and they laughed in confusion and asked what that meant. I guess that is writing terminology at its finest!

I find being a pantser is a lot of work. I have to write, then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. This is okay for short stories, but I wrote a draft of the novel I'm working on and it is a mess. So I want to try writing a detailed outline and then rewriting it. A lot of writers love being pantsers and that is just what works for them, and that may be the case for me too, but I'm going to give this a shot.

I am actually participating in a neat online class this month with paranormal author Suzanne Johnson where she shares her method of plotting. I am sure I will learn a ton, though even if I don't, it will still get me working on that outline, which is great! The unfortunate truth is that sometimes I need accountability to get anything done.

What about you? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Check the link for some of the other blogs participating in this event!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Publisher: Angry Robot
Pub Date: October 2, 2012

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)


Pirates and assassins, you say? Yes, please. What I liked most about this book was the unconventional heroine and hero. Ananna is not beautiful, shy, or princess-like in any way. She is a pirate, and she acts and talks like a pirate. I especially enjoyed the scenes where she and Naji get a ride on a ship during their journey, and you really see her shine as she is in her element helping the crew sail it.

Naji reminds me of Howl from Howl's Moving Castle. He is brooding, grumpy, and totally oblivious to Ananna's feelings. Yet you can't help but like him and wonder about his past and how he got the scar on his face. The few moments where you see his vulnerability make me curious to know him better, and I hope the author will deliver in the next installments of the series.

I was expected more of a climax in the story, but there wasn't really one. The summary pretty much sums up what happens, though it is a great adventure. The ending leaves it wide open for the sequel. I enjoyed the Arabian/piratey flavour of this novel, and look forward to the next one.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall 2012 TV Shows

These are the shows airing this fall that I am looking forward to watching or have already started watching. I'm not sure if I will have time to catch all of them. What shows will you be keeping up with this fall?

Doctor Who -- Season 7 started Saturday, September 1
I will be sad to see Rory and Amy go.


Revolution -- Season 1 started Monday, September 17
Interesting premise for a new show by J.J. Abrams. I will give it a try!


The Big Bang Theory -- Season 6 started Thursday, September 27
While the first seasons are still the best, I will be keeping up with the geeks in this show.


Fringe -- Season 5 starts Friday, September 28 (today!)
I am a little wary about how the final season of Fringe will turn out. The episodes have been getting a little weird, but I still really enjoyed Season 4. I don't like that there is no sign of Olivia in these trailers. Who wants to watch Fringe without Olivia? I'm sure she will turn up, but I hope they don't leave her out of many episodes.


Once Upon a Time -- Season 2 starts Sunday, September 30
Season 1 ended with magic entering the world. I am curious to see what will happen next!


Merlin -- Season 5 starts Saturday, October 6
Things have definitely changed throughout this series. Arthur is king, Guinevere queen. The knights of the round table are forming. Please let Arthur find out that Merlin is a wizard in this season, that's all I have to say.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Favourite Children's Books - Part 2

Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda

Emily Rodda writes great fantasy adventure for kids. The books are short and action packed, so they are great for kids who are having trouble getting into reading. They are about a trio of heroes--a blacksmith's son, a palace guard, and a wild forest girl--who find themselves on a quest to rid the land of Deltora from the evil Shadow Lord. The stories are refreshing as there are no wizards, vampires, or werewolves. There is lots of puzzle solving involved, which I loved as a child. There are also plot twists, fantastic creatures, and monsters. You will fall in love with the main characters and watch them grow throughout the series. The series order is #1: The Forests of Silence, #2: The Lake of Tears, #3: City of the Rats, #4: The Shifting Sands, #5: Dread Mountain, #6: The Maze of the Beast, #7: The Valley of the Lost, and #8: Return to Del.

Junior Jedi Knights by Nancy Richardson

These books got me reading at a young age. I read them over and over again. They are about Han and Leia's youngest son Anakin who goes to the Jedi Academy at the age of eleven to begin his training. On his first day there, he meets a girl named Tahiri, and they discover that they are stronger in the Force when they are together. They also find out that they share a dream about traveling down the river by the academy on a raft, and that there is some secret to be discovered there. This series is about adventure and friendship--great for young kids. The series order is #1: The Golden Globe, #2: Lyric's World, and #3: Promises. There is also #4: Anakin's Quest and #5: Vader's Fortress, though they are by a different author and the writing is not quite as wonderful as it is in the first three.

Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones

I read these when I was in college and fell in love with Diana Wynne Jones's magical worlds and whimsical story telling. The series is about Chrestomanci, which is the title for a wizard who is in charge of supervising the use of magic in southern England. The pictures Jones paints are colourful, full of adventure and magic, and just plain fun. The series order is #1: Charmed Life, #2: The Lives of Christopher Chant, #3: Witch Week, #4: The Magicians of Caprona, #5: Conrad's Fate, #6: The Pinhoe Egg, and #7: Mixed Magics.


The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

This is another book that is just plain fun. My best friend and I read and re-read it throughout our childhoods. It is about siblings Jo, Bessie, and Fanny who take their cousin on adventures to the Magic Faraway Tree, where they introduce him to some crazy characters who live in the tree and the many different lands that appear magically at the top of the tree every so often, from the Land of Spells, to the land of Do-As-You-Please, to the land of Topsy-Turvy. They get into trouble and have wonderful adventures. This book is Enid Blyton's imagination at its finest.


A Wolf Story by James Byron Huggins

A Wolf Story is a Christian allegory and animal tale that follows the story of a silver wolf named Aramus. It is an action-packed, suspenseful tale about a battle between good and evil that rages across a harsh, frigid wilderness. I might class it as a darker version of Watership Down.







And there you have it, some of my favourite childhood books. Tell me about yours!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Favourite Children's Books - Part 1

I loved reading as a kid, and these series are a huge reason why. If you have children who hate reading, I challenge you to try some of these books with them and see if they don't spark some interest.

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

I loved this series as a kid and I still read them today. They are about an assistant pig-keeper who desperately wants to be a hero and finds himself thrown into a struggle between good and evil in the land of Prydain. These books are full of adventure, fun, and they promote good morals without shoving them in your face. You will fall in love with the characters Eilonwy, a sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, an eccentric bard; Doli, a grumpy dwarf; and Gurgi, Taren's loyal companion. Disney's The Black Cauldron was based on one of these books, though it doesn't do the series justice at all. The series order is #1: The Book of Three, #2: The Black Cauldron, #3: The Castle of Llyr, #4: Taran Wanderer, and #5: The High King.

The Seventh Tower by Garth Nix

Though Garth Nix is known more for his Abhorsen series, I was introduced to the author through this series first, and it is still my favourite of his. I just love the unique world building. The world is covered in darkness, and 13-year-old Tal lives in a castle of seven towers where the Chosen live, people who use light magic through sunstones and master shadow creatures that guard them. With Tal's father missing, it falls on his shoulders to find a sunstone for his family, and after exhausting every other option he ends up trying to steal one by climbing the Red Tower. He falls into darkness and discovers a strange world of warriors living in a land of ice. Along his journey, Tal makes friends and enemies, uncovers secrets, and realizes that there is so much more to the world of darkness and his life as a sheltered Chosen than he had first realized. The series order is #1: The Fall, #2: Castle, #3: Aenir, #4: Above the Veil, #5: Into Battle, and #6: The Violet Keystone.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted was one of the few "girly" books that I read and loved. It is a wonderfully entertaining spin on the Cinderella story, where Ella is put under a curse at birth and has to obey any order given to her. Ella is saucy and smart--nothing like the gentle, quiet Cinderella the story is based on. On her way to locate the fairy that cast the curse on her, she finds herself in the company of ogres, elves, and a friendly prince. The story is funny and heartwarming, and will keep any young girl reading to the end. It is also nothing like the movie based on it.


The Archives of Anthropos by John White

John White's children asked him to write a book for them just like C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and that's just what he did. These books are allegorical fantasy similar to Narnia, but in a world all their own. My mom read them to me when I was in the hospital with appendicitis, and I remember absolutely loving them, and her telling me that I probably wouldn't remember them once I got out of the hospital because I was taking so many painkillers at the time. I assured her I would, of course, remember such fantastic stories. But sure enough, I had to re-read them later because I forgot what happened. Though I'm not complaining I got to enjoy them twice for the first time. The story begins on John's birthday, the day his grandmother is going to tell him the secret of his locket and his parents, but before he can find out he is magically transported to a strange land of magic, wizards, and strange creatures, where people know him as the Sword Bearer. The series order is #1: The Sword Bearer, #2: Gaal the Conqueror, #3: The Tower of Geburah, #4: The Iron Sceptre, #5: Quest for the King, and #6: The Dark Lord's Demise.

Jedi Apprentice by Jude Watson

Yes, I was a Star Wars fan from a young age. This series follows young Obi-Wan Kenobi's journey to become a Jedi Knight, and it is fantastic for young readers. It begins with 12-year-old Obi-Wan training at the Jedi Temple and learning to use the Force and a lightsaber, though since he cannot control his anger, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn refuses to take him on as an apprentice. They are forced into a journey together, and Obi-Wan learns about Qui-Gon's past and faced incredible challenges. The series is filled with action and adventure, just like Star Wars books should be. There are 18 books in the series, so I won't list them all here, but they are short and easy to read.


Read any of these? Want to read any of these or think you might try them with your kids? What are your favourite children's books?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favourites Blogfest


It is Alex J. Cavanaugh's Genre Favourites Blofest today, and I am pleased to join in the fun of listing our favourite genres in movies, music, and books. Thanks for hosting this, Alex! Be sure and visit the link for other participants in the blogfest.

 Favourite movie genre: Science Fiction

I love stories that take place in space, or that take place in our world with sci-fi elements (time travel, anyone?). I was introduced to Star Wars as a little girl and my love of sci-fi has only grown from there. I love the interesting technology and endless opportunities sci-fi offers. Some of my favourite movies are Star Wars, X-Men, Back to the Future, and Serenity. I also am a huge fan of the TV shows Doctor Who, Firefly, Fringe, and Stargate.



Favourite music genre: Progressive Metal

My favourite bands and genres change as I get tired of what I've been listening to, but right now I've been enjoying Progressive Metal. I find it was an acquired taste, as it is very different from other genres. It is not something that you will hear on most radio stations. I have been enjoying Seventh Wonder, Dream Theater, Kamelot, and Symphony X. I also love instrumental music, especially from video games. There are so many awesome soundtracks from video games like Halo, Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Zelda, and more.

Favourite book genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy

I love reading about other worlds. For those of us with big imaginations who love to escape into another realm or planet, sci-fi and fantasy is the genre. Some of my favourite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, J.K. Rowling, Sara Creasy, Lloyd Alexander, Orson Scott Card, and Diana Wynne Jones.




  
Guilty pleasure book genre: YA and Middle Grade

Kid books are just so much fun. Even as an adult I still go back and read my favourite children's books, and look for new YA novels to read. Sometimes I get funny looks when I am exploring the kids' section in the library, but I don't care. Kid books rock.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Video Game Review: LEAGUE OF LEGENDS

League of Legends is my most recent addiction. It is an online multiplayer game developed by Riot Games, free to play. If you've played Warcraft III Defense of the Ancients maps, it is similar to those, but much more awesome.

The gist of the game is that you play as a champion defending your nexus from the opposite team and trying to destroy their nexus. The two team's lanes are connected by lanes, and minions periodically spawn at the bases and fight each other down the lanes. You can push your minions forward by destroying the other team's minions.

There are about 100 champions to choose from, and each have their own special abilities and strengths. The classes are assassin, fighter, tank, mage, and support, or a combination of the above. The fun of the game is learning your particular hero and figuring out how to itemize and strategize against other heroes, as well as learning how to play as a team.


You can play either 3v3 or 5v5. You can invite friends to play with you, or the client will match you with random teammates. I find it much funner playing with friends. The downside of playing LoL on your own is that you can get stuck with teammates who are either terrible or annoying (or both). You'd be surprised how many gamers out there are whining complainers. Riot wisely installed a mute button for just this situation, however. Myself, I just like to have fun! I do not speak for everyone, of course; I have played rounds with nice people and good losers too.

Riot was really smart in how they released this game because although LoL is free to play, the free heroes change each week, and you really want to get to know a hero well to play with at first. I ended up loving the game and then spending ten bucks on riot points to unlock a couple heroes I liked. You also build up influence points as you play, and can unlock heroes and runes with those.

If you are looking for a super fun game to play with gamer friends, test this one out. Do try to get all your friends addicted at once, though, because it is hard to play with lower level friends once you reach the higher levels.

Played League of Legends? Addicted like me? What champions do you play as?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Review: SHADOWFELL

Author: Juliet Marillier
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: September 11, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.

Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.
(Synopsis from Goodreads)

Shadowfell suffers from slow start syndrome. It took me three months to finish reading it. I am disappointed it was so hard to get through, because I enjoyed the world building and the idea of magical folk lurking just beyond sight. The reason I had such trouble with it was because more than half of the story was spent following Neryn's plodding journey. It was a lot of walking and struggling over difficult terrain without much excitement. She was running from the Enforcers who are out to bring her to King Keldec and turn her into a weapon, but she never got caught and really wasn't in danger at all.

Her relationship with Flint, the stranger who rescues her and helps her on her journey, was the focus of much of the story, but I think it would have been stronger if there had been more danger and action along the journey. They did a lot of walking and talking, and Neryn did a lot of doubting his intentions, and this just didn't hold my interest.

However, at the end of the novel it does start to get interesting. A battle occurs. Neryn is put in danger. Conflicts arise. I zoomed through the last twenty percent of the story right to the end when I had given up hope of being interested. Now I think I might pick up the next book in the series with the hopes that the pace will pick up where it left off, because it does have potential. Fingers crossed for a more exciting sequel.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why I Like Scrivener

Dear fellow writers, when I got this writing program it just made writing easier. Suddenly, I wanted to write more often. I wasn't having as many problems concentrating as before. My head was constantly in the clouds of imagination and creation, and I got so much done.

Hahaha. I can't even type that with a straight face.

No, Scrivener will not magically help you to write more or increase your desire to write. But it is a really handy program, and I will tell you why I now use it instead of Word for my works in progress.

One of the things I found annoying using Word was that I had to have separate files for my manuscript and research, so I didn't have to keep scrolling up and up and up to find my character information or my page of place names. Also, when the document gets long, it is hard to find a particular spot that you are looking for because, again, you have to scroll through many pages.

In Scrivener, you can divide your work into sections; I like to divide them into chapters. You can also have separate pages for your research and open the document in a split-screen view so you can see the chapter you are working on AND your research pages. Everything is handily located at a menu to your left for easy access. And don't worry, when you are done, Scrivener will compile all your chapters into one document.

One of my other favourite features is you can take a snapshot of a section that you want to rewrite, and then it will always be there in the file after you have made changes if you ever want to go back and look at the original version. Nothing is lost.

There are a ton of other cool things you can do with this program, from tagging sections to tell you whose point of view they are from, to marking the status as complete or in progress, to adding summaries to sections to keep yourself organized.

No, it will not make you a better writer, but it is extremely handy at keeping you organized. You can get it here or download a trial version if you want to check it out. The tutorial is helpful in learning everything it can do.


What do you use to write? A different writing program? Word? Plain old pencil and paper?

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Check the link for some of the other blogs participating in this event!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Working Titles

Again I apologize for my absence in the blogosphere. It has been a crazy week, and I have now officially moved, though am still looking for a job. Huzzah!

I didn't realize that films often have working titles before they are released, whether to keep details secret from the public or because they haven't come up with a better title yet. Check out Empire Online for some fun re-imagined movie posters. Some of them are funny, some of them are just bad. My favourites are for The Avengers and Captain America.

As an avid Star Wars fan, I am ashamed I never knew about Blue Harvest. Apparently this was a pretty well known title, and there is Blue Harvest memorabilia available from who knows where. The producers even gave this so-called horror film the tagline "Horror Beyond Imagination." Lucas wanted to avoid attention while the movie was in production and also didn't want to be overcharged for company services who would probably milk everything they could get if they realized they were providing a service for a Star Wars movie.

What's your favourite working title that you've heard of?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Warehouse 13 Season 4, Episode 5: No Pain No Gain

Wow, I am getting behind in these posts. Sorry, guys! As usual, SPOILER ALERT: In these episode reviews I will be discussing what happens without being careful about what I say, so don't read on unless you have seen it or don't care about spoilers.

A lot of people are saying that Warehouse 13 is losing its magic, but I am still really enjoying it. There are mysteries developing that I am very curious about, and the characters are highly entertaining to watch, as usual. Artie is still trying to figure out how Claudia turns "evil," and the new problem has arisen of artifacts disappearing from the warehouse.

Pete "wishing" Myka pregnant was an amusing side plot (aside from the ethical issue of what happened to the baby after the artifact was bagged, but we won't go there). I was expecting Myka to be a lot more upset when she thought Pete had died. After all, they just had a very cute moment where he admitted he loved her! You could show a bit more concern, Myka.

What did you think about the unfolding events in this episode?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: DIVERGENT

Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Pub Date: April 28, 2011

In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

This book is much like The Hunger Games, but I enjoyed it more. Tris is a tough, likeable character with enough spunk to go against everyone she knows and loves. She is selfish at times, makes mistakes, and is just so very human. She is a believable character, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective.

I also enjoyed reading about dystopian Chicago. I've been to Chicago once, so I actually recognized some of the landmarks mentioned, and it is always cool to see a place in writing and be able to say "Hey, I've been there!". The five factions are a fascinating idea. Each one was created to uphold a particular ideal: courage, selflessness, intelligence, honesty, and peace. It kind of reminded me of Hogwarts, how everyone gets to choose their faction and gets divided into them. 

I find dystopian fiction interesting because it explores how humans strive for perfection, but never achieve it because we are imperfect. Divergent quite obviously states that, and is fabulously written. There are also a few point where you can see the author's belief in God coming through, which I appreciated.

I love a good action story, and there was plenty of action to keep me happy here, plus some good twists and turns in the plot. I am impressed that the author was only 22 when she wrote this; I am about the same age as she is now, so it gives me hope that I can get a book published too, even though I am young! Her writing style is fabulous, and immerses you completely in the thoughts of Tris. I am looking forward to the next in the series.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Movie Review: THE BOURNE LEGACY

Great action scenes combined with stellar acting from Renner and Weisz make The Bourne Legacy a highly entertaining movie. I'd seen the first three Bourne movies and liked them a lot, though my memory was foggy on the plot details so I was a little concerned I wouldn't understand what was going on in this film. However, I needn't have worried, for though the plot draws on details from the past movies, it is easy to understand on its own.

I actually enjoyed this movie even better than the first ones (though many other reviewers say the opposite). I think it is partly because I like Jeremy Renner better than Matt Damon, and Rachel Weisz is also one of my favourite actors. The storyline intrigued me too; who can resist a plot about a government trying to create super agents?

Edward Norton did a good job of playing Byer, the guy trying to track down and kill all the agents in the program, but he has such a distinctive voice that all I could think of when I heard him was "Hey, that's Steve from The Italian Job," as that's the only other movie I've seen him in. But he does do a good "bad guy," you've gotta admit.

There are not many surprises in the story, and it relies on the great action sequences and the fantastic acting to keep you captivated, which worked for me. I was on the edge of my seat for most of this movie. I was also impressed that they developed a relationship between Renner and Weisz's characters without including a sex scene. Bravo, Universal! I would watch this movie again, for sure.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: WARDS OF FAERIE

Author: Terry Brooks
Publisher: Del Rey
Pub Date: August 21, 2012

During a time where science and magic are vying for primacy over the Four Lands, young Druid Aphenglow Elessedil discovers a diary that may lead to the missing Elfstones. Their powerful magic might turn the tide in a coming war, but the journey to recover them is full of dangers and secrets. The Elfstones have been missing from the world for centuries, and many have tried and failed to find them. What perils await the Druids on their search, no one knows. But they are willing to take the risk, and let others take the risk with them.

I haven't picked up a book and been unable to put it down for a long while. I was unable to put Wards of Faerie down, however, and I was reminded why Terry Brooks is my favourite author. He has a way of spinning magic into his words that I love. His characters are very "human" (not necessarily literally, but you know what I mean), and I care about what happens to them. The story follows several main characters, and every time the perspective shifts, I think "Noooo! I want to know what happens to that character!" but then I get engrossed in the next one's story. Brooks is a master at keeping you turning the pages.

I enjoyed being immersed in the world of Shannara once more. All the familiar names were there--the Ohmsfords, the Elessedils, the Leahs--and some new ones as well. I was excited when I heard Brooks was writing this book, because I have always wanted to learn more about the other Elfstones. The blue Elfstones are seeking stones used for guidance and protection; they have been useful in many a quest. What do the other Elfstones do, I wonder? What other colours are there? How were they lost when the blue Elfstones can find anything in the world? This series is going to answer those questions.

Wards of Faerie is only the beginning of the quest, and most of the story is spent introducing the characters and gathering the special group of druids, dwarves, humans, and elves who will take part in it. Yet there is never a dull moment, with assassins attacking Aphenglow, the prime minister plotting against the druids, the Ohmsfords escaping with their lives on an airship, and the druid-led team exploring an unknown land.

Brooks knows how to write fantasy at its best, and I recommend this book whether you have previously entered and loved the world of Shannara or not. It is a journey you won't forget.