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


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?