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


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


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.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Warehouse 13 Season 4, Episode 3: Personal Effects

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 few interesting developments in this one. Both Leena and, I think, Pete are now suspicious that something is going on with Artie. I wonder how they are going to solve this problem without undoing everything and going back to when the warehouse was destroyed. I look forward to finding out.

Claudia feeling Steve's pain (literally) was a totally unexpected plot development. Is that a side effect because Claudia brought him back? Also very interesting. I'm not sure why Steve is keeping it a secret, either.

And once again, where is H.G.??

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Childhood Monster

Bristling, brown fur. Sharp claws. A feral snarl. He creeps up on you silently when you're not paying attention, because you are focused on your play. His paws are so quiet on the grass you don't notice until he is upon you. His name is Rover.

"Rover's gonna get you if you go out into the woods alone, Alli," my brother used to say.

I'm not sure if he did this so that I wouldn't get lost by myself, or because he enjoyed the look of wide-eyed fear that crossed my face when he said it. I probably had more nightmares about that wolf than any other scary creature I might have dreamed up! They were those kind where you are safe if you can just get into the house before he catches you, but you can't move faster than someone slogging through chest-deep mud. Don't you just hate those?

This post is part of Christine Rains' blogfest that she is hosting from August 7 to 9 to celebrate the release of her paranormal romance novella, Fearless. Congratulations on the release, Christine! Check out her blog for information on Fearless or go here to read about other bloggers' childhood monsters! What was yours?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Review: WHITE RAVEN

Author: Irina Lopatina
Publisher: Light Messages
Pub Date: July 30, 2012

Terrifying creatures are invading the kingdom of Areya, and no one knows where they are coming from. Grand Duke Vlady believes he can fend them off with the help of the magical sword, Urart, but his nephew Prince Vraigo knows better. Endowed with magical abilities, Vraigo believes they must find the source of these evil creatures in order to defeat them, and sets off on a quest to discover answers to his questions. When Urart is stolen from the Duke's armory, the kingdom is in even greater peril and Vraigo must find it, along with the terrible being who is behind the appearance of the monsters. On his journey, he allies himself with magical creatures like werewolves and drevalyankas, and discovers a strange world he never knew existed.

I was struck by how nicely White Raven translated from Russian into English while still preserving a unique voice. I loved how the writing reminded me of J.R.R. Tolkien and fairy tales. Lopatina has created a wonderfully rich world full of enchanting creatures like drevalyankas, pikshas, and yagas--a world full of wonder and magic that is everyday life for Vraigo, the main character.

The story itself is your typical fantasy plot of young man trying to fight back against evil and journeying on a quest to find a lost object, but the writing style and rich world building make it well worth the read. I especially enjoyed learning about the fantasy beings that Vraigo comes across; he is best friends with two druids, he makes friends with a she-werewolf who I am most interested in learning more about, and is joined on his quest by a drevalyanka (which the character from our world mistakes for a green dog) who sits on his shoulder or inside his shirt most of the time and helps him on his journey.

I guess I didn't completely read the synopsis, because I was surprised when halfway into the story, Vraigo finds himself in our world in the twenty-first century. I generally prefer stories that take place in fantasy lands and stay there, but I enjoyed the change of pace here and watching Vraigo try to make sense of this strange new world.

I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to the next in the series.

Note: There is a special promotion going on extended for this blog tour! Orders placed through the Light Messages site will be $12.00 per book instead of $16.95, and you will receive a personalized, signed postcard from the author, Irina Lopatina. These postcards feature landscapes from Altai, Siberia--the inspiration for Areya (how cool is that!). Go here to place an order. You can also receive a personalized, signed book plate for the front of your book by submitting a photo of yourself and your book here.

It is also my pleasure to have the author herself stop by with a few answers to some questions I asked her!

Q & A with the Author

1. I know Russian landscape helped inspire White Raven. Can you tell us more?
I would rather say that these were Siberian landscapes and Altai Mountains, the region where I live. Huge, modern cities coexist here with centuries-old impenetrable forests, mighty rivers and mountains. All this beauty of nature exists in the kingdom which is depicted in White Raven. The beauty of this region is a little otherworldly, so it was a small leap from my home to Areya.

2. Is there a particular message you want your readers to take out of your book?
I think that the world around us is not only beautiful but also incredibly complex. So someone--even someone with special abilities (such as magical abilities)--has to put significant efforts to show one's worth. Heroes of White Raven meet a challenge sent by the koschei and manifest themselves in full in the struggle against him. Facing challenge with a fight is the natural state of man in our world.

3. What authors and/or books have influenced you in your writing?
In my writing, I am not guided by someone else's works. I write as I think. But, of course, I read a great number of novels by many excellent writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, Andre Alice Norton, Stanislaw Lem, the Russian authors Nick Perumov and Svyatoslav Loginov, as well as the wonderfully charming Russian fairy tales.

4. What are you working on now?
I have a rule not to reveal the secrets of a book that is not yet completed. The only thing I can say right now is that I am working on my fifth novel.

This post was part of a TLC Book Tour for White Raven. Go here for a list of the rest of the tour stops, and to read more reviews of the book.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Warehouse 13 Season 4, Episode 2: An Evil Within

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.

I wasn't sure if Claudia would actually get to bring Steve back... but voila! She did! I am excited to have him back, because he is a fun character. And now I'm sure there will be some interesting plot developments with that metronome. I keep thinking he is like one of those superheroes with a weakness now. The metronome is his Achille's heel or Superman's Kryptonite, if you will.

Were you surprised that Pete's mom lied about giving permission? I thought it was a bit strange that the regents would give permission to use an artifact like that, but I still didn't realize she had lied until she admitted it at the end. Good plot twist.

I am left with two questions at the end of this episode:
1) Who or what is the evil that Artie has released? We are supposed to think that it is Claudia, but I bet this is a trick and it is actually something else. Could it be Steve? Artie himself?
2) Where was H.G. in this episode??

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Generally, I have a pile of ideas for my story, and sometimes I just don't know where to start in organizing them. Orson Scott Card, in his book How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, writes:
"That big pile of ideas is just that--a pile, shapeless, chaotic. Before you can tell a meaningful story, you have to hone and sharpen your understanding of the world, and that begins with the fundamental rules, the natural laws." (36)
There are so many things to think about in a fictional universe. If it's fantasy, how does the magic system work? How do people in this society behave? What creatures are there and how do they behave? If it's sci-fi, how does space travel work? Time travel? There are so many time travel rules possible that I don't even know if I want to ever try writing about it, as cool as time travel is. If you go back in time, can you make changes that effect the future? Or are you invisible when you go back? Or do you go back into someone else's mind? Or do you go back into your own mind?

I am starting to think I might have to join the ranks of outliners. With all these rules to think about, it makes sense to work it all out before I actually start writing.

Do you have trouble sorting out the vast number of ideas in your head? Does it overwhelm you thinking that it is your story and you can do anything with it, so you wonder where to even start? Are you an outliner? And what time travel rules have you seen work the best, with the least plot holes?

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!