Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Destination

I believe I may have mentioned this, but tomorrow I set flight for California. Never before have I been so far west; I have looked forward to going there since I was eleven or so. We are to go to San Francisco, Big Sir, Yosemite, and Monterrey. I hope to see the ocean sunfish at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium: I always wanted to.

There are a couple of wee issues arisen from this excursion: 1) I might not blog as frequently or on time, 2) I prefer not to bring library books across the country, even though they constitute much of my reading, and 3) I won't be able to attend a lot of the filming for the library. But I'll try to make the most of this. It's California! What could go wrong?

You just lost the game.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Second Attempt at Vegetarianism

"The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit." - W. Somerset Maugham

"An intellectual is someone who has found something more interesting than sex." - Edgar Wallace

Once upon a time, I was a vegetarian. I lasted for about a month before my blood's iron levels went down and I had trouble sleeping. Now, I am trying it again, half a year later, with the hopes of gaining enough protein via other mediums (eggs, nuts, supplements). The thing is, not only did I feel bad with my closest friends "converting" and my allegedly not being able to, but my sister, also one, has shown me slaughterhouse footage. And it is horrifying what they do to living creatures before killing them. Makes me not want to eat even bacon, and that is saying something. I was never huge on poultry, but beef and pork are, in general, tasty; I think I could sacrifice, though. I've thought about owning chickens someday...we'll see.

Mind you, I'm not vegan - I don't think I could do that. But I learned on Sunday that one can make awesome veggie sandwiches using lettuce, tomato, provolone, and mayonnaise. It has milk and egg in it, but no meat. I suppose I've been "vegi" for about twenty-four hours now. Hopefully I'll last longer this time, maybe indefinitely.

Peace and love,

Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

My first experience with Count Dracula was the movie Van Helsing, and my second a play from Cary Applause! in October 2009. Shortly after that I watched the 1979 film with Frank Langella, then the 1992 one with Gary Oldman, and earlier this year (I think) the one with Bela Lugosi, released in 1931. I loved all of these, but the book is better than any of them.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bram Stoker's classic horror novel, woe unto thee, it is set (and was published) in 1897. Jonathan Harker goes on a business trip to the Carpathian Mountains of Romania to work for Count Dracula, who he soon realizes is not altogether human. The Count later shows up in Harker's home of London, where he hopes to make his residence and take over, for during his lifetime the Count was a fierce warrior who conquered lands. Harker and a small band of vampire hunters team up to hunt down the terrible Count before it is too late.

This novel started out rather slow, but one, I don't mind slow and two, it was written in 1897, before people had the distractions of video games and telly and all that. It had a very gloomy tone to it, which I loved. The only thing that I didn't quite understand was how Dracula transformed himself into a vampire without being bitten. I often wonder at this, and for werewolves too: where did the first come from? Before there was one to be bitten by?

Otherwise I really loved this book, and it's about time I've finally read it. I recommend it to any horror, vampire, or dark fantasy fan.

Final grade: B

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Short Story: Mystery Meat

“Sir?” Jacob Tyler tapped on Warden Jameson’s door.
            “Yes, Tyler, come in.” The warden stuck a pencil into his large file book to hold his place. “How can I help you?”
            “Well, lately we’ve been running low on meat for the prisoners.”
            Jameson raised his eyebrows and said, “Can you ship in more by next week?”
            “We could, but sir, I’m afraid it would hurt our budget. However, I have a suggestion.”


            The death-row prisoners were fighting over lunch again. Stupid stuff, really, thought Mark Hussey. “Hey,” he said. “Buck.”
            “Yeah?” said the large man next to him.
            “You ever been in a fight?”
            “Hells yeah! Been fightin’ since m’ youth!” Buck Clayton hawked and spat. “Not over nothin’ like this, though.”
            “Before I killed my woman and landed here, damn old hag stabbed me with a pencil. Lead’s still in there.”
            “Gad!” said Buck. “This meat is awful!”
            Mark froze as he heard the voice of a guard: “Markus Edgar Hussey.” It was time to die.
            Mark rose, jelly-legged, to meet his fate. He did not manage to say goodbye. Oddly enough, he began to think of The Green Mile and John Coffey. Well, here goes nothing.


            Buck noticed one day that the meat tasted much better. He could not quite place what it was; in fact, he had never tasted anything quite like it before. Wherever Mark is now, he thought, at least he’s not here.
            Cursing, Buck spat out something dark and shiny: a pencil lead.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Movie Review: Super 8 (2011)

I've seen this movie twice now. It's not my first J.J. Abrams film - I think that might have been Star Trek (2009), but I think it's the best yet. Plus, Steven Spielberg is the main producer, so that ought to say something. The plot of this movie is not entirely clear until you actually see it: I don't want to give to much away. But I shall say this:

A group of middle-school students in 1979 are making a film by railroad tracks with a super 8 camera when a massive train crash occurs. In the panicked confusion, they leave the camera rolling and catch something on it. The train, shall we say, was not empty. And a bunch of scary sci-fi things happen.

Very touching movie, funny, sad, and above all, it had the feel to it of an older movie, like a classic. I really can't think of anything wrong with Super 8, but I wouldn't recommend it to young children due to some very loud and intense parts. But it was great.

Final grade: A

Friday, June 24, 2011

Books, Books, Books!

"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently discovered the website Goodreads via my former Creative Writing teacher's blog. I already have a Shelfari, but I went ahead and created an account anyway. I like this site because I can sort things onto multiple "shelves". I don't prefer it to Shelfari, nor vice versa, but it's a good site. I found someone from my book club there and discovered we are both huge Neil Gaiman fans. One of the many things I'm currently reading (semi-reading in this case) is the second Sandman graphic novel by Gaiman, titled The Doll's House. I loved the first one because it was of the mind-bending variety and featured the Lord of Dreams. Very interesting.

I am currently nearing the end of Dracula and really liking it. Vampires - when they don't sparkle - are something I love reading about. Until recently my favorite book was Stephen King's second novel, 'Salem's Lot (it is now The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine). If anyone shares this affinity, he or she ought to check out The Vampire Archives, edited by Otto Penzler. It contains over a thousand pages of centuries of vampire fiction, including M.E. Braddon, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ray Bradbury, Anne Rice, Bram Stoker, and countless others.

I must read Wither by Lauren DeStefano soon for Printz, so that I know what everyone is talking about. I just wanted to have a post about books, and I can guarantee more of these. But for now I must leave.

Au revoir,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Structure (Day, Not Story)

"I might repeat to myself slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound - if I can remember any of the damn things." - Dorothy Parker (from a quote book I intend to use more often)

I'm currently having a conversation with Emily H about the structure of a summer day. We agree that a person feels better after a day when that day has been filled with events. I try to do plenty of varying things each day, including reading for at least an hour, the same with writing, practicing piano for a certain amount of time, etc., etc. I also like to leave the house on a daily basis to prevent cabin fever. One thing we discussed earlier was horses: I would love to live on a horse farm, but it sounds like a lot of money and work. My current thought in my ever-shifting career plan is architect; not sure if they can afford horses and their care, but taking care of the animals would keep one from "going dull."

The thing is, when one "keeps the saw sharp" one doesn't need to worry about getting back into the habit: falling out of them is easy, but getting back into them is not.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Doctor Who: Legends of a Time Lord, Christmas Special 2010 - "Blackbird"

I'm subscribed to this great DW podcast, which I've actually been listening to longer than I've been watching the show, and this is, to my knowledge, the most recent episode. It was really interesting, what with the witchcraft and the ravens (crows? I cannot remember) that killed people. The problem was that at the end, there was no "to be continued" despite a cliffhanger, and the episode was not called "Part One". What happened? What happens next? What I do recall is an ad for a Star Trek podcast. It sounded good: I never watched any ST show, but I saw the 2009 movie and it was awesome. Speaking of J.J. Abrams, I ought to post a review for Super 8 soon. I need to watch it again - my mom hasn't seen it yet - and then I should be posting my critique. I'll say this: I really liked it. Really beautiful movie.

On random side notes, I'm listening to Elvis Costello for the first "official" time now. I like the music. I've been going back to my childhood by watching Avatar: The Last Airbender here. I never watched all of them in order, but I've seen many bits and sort of know the story. It's a good show. Finished watching the six-hour epic adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand - also quite good, though not as much as the book, as is usually the case. A couple of exceptions I can think of are Twilight (not a huge fan of the movies, but I can at least bear them more than the books), Iron Man comics (good stories but really cheesy dialog), and two books by Neil Gaiman - Stardust and Coraline (I loved both the book and movie for both Gaimans, but the movies were slightly better in my opinion).

This is the longest post I've done in a while!

Poem: Bloodrose

Deep in the valleys of the Thorn Mountains
Grows the Bloodrose, taking life from the weak
Of moral stature, spewing great fountains
Of crimson fluid to restore the meek
Who have done no harm to the flowers sleek
Which sprout up from the newly blood-drenched earth
And bask in not sunrays, but the blood creek
That flows from the flowering point of birth.

The pure of heart will thank the tall, red flowers
And go about their ways, feeling remorse
For villains slain, despite many hours
Strapped to the backside of a speeding horse;
For although life will take its evil course,
Being glad of riddance will transform one
Into but the very same, dark sort of force
That prior to this sought to reform one.

One will begin to wonder at this:
Do the roses really have the full right
To take blood from others, a deathly kiss
To restore the righteous back to the light?
Must they inspire such amounts of cold fright
In other evil hearts, to serve and judge?
There will surely be a storm, a great fight,
To reduce the Bloodroses to scarlet sludge.

The Bloodroses have served their awful ways
And now the time has gone to give them praise:
The restored must make a choice: will they turn
Against the very flowers which did raise
Them from the hateful, white, glowering blaze
In which the unjust must surely now burn?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I do realize I did not post last night. I also realize how late this is tonight. I have no good excuse for last night other then that I forgot until it was after midnight. Tonight I was at a friend's house filming, or rather practice-filming, for the Rot & Ruin book trailer for our library. It's fun, as it involves plenty of sword action - I love swords. But my mother doesn't trust me with a real one. Hence, I have a wooden one and a plastic one. Someday I'll have real ones (although possibly with dulled edges); I especially fancy katanas and French rapiers. Maybe I ought to take a fencing class sometime, but oh! do I have so many things to do.

This friend has a really nice piece of land complete with horses. She also has a nice selection of books. What can I say? I love observing bookcases. Her mother is a fantastic cook who made us spaghetti and garlic bread, and the dad is nice too.

In case I have not mentioned, I have ridden horseback in the past. Mind you, it's been a while, but I have. I enjoy it greatly. I might be riding again soon, at long last, at Dead Broke Farm in Raleigh -  the place I first rode at. I'd ridden in the kiddie corrals before at parties and state fairs, but Dead Broke was the first place at which I really rode. I visited the place after years in November and they had Guinea-fowl and turkeys and chickens as well as a miniature horse.

Oh, I must go and record a YouTube video now if I can. Fare thee well!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lemon Curry?

The title is almost completely random (Monty Python reference). But today was quite busy: I went to the Eva Perry Library, where I have Printz meetings, and worked on ideas for a Rot & Ruin book trailer before doing a sort of written game of Chinese whispering (I put down "Lemon curry?" to begin - hence the "almost"). After, we traveled to Quail Ridge for writer's group. Everyone read really good stuff and so I am proud.

I might attempt to write a play soon.... Wish me luck. I have not much else to say, for I am tired.  I apologize.

Goodnight. Love,

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Volunteer Shift

In case I haven't mentioned in the past, I volunteered for two hours today at the West Regional Library. What I basically did this time was label and shelve books on hold. It really did not seem like two hours, because it was actually quite a bit of fun. Those of you who live in my area ought to visit WRL sometime; it's a great library.

I've thought about looking into library science as a career...not sure yet. I want to do something theatre-related, and maybe I could also be a librarian. It is said that library-folk oft have another job. I'm not sure what to study to be a playwright - creative writing? Theatre arts? I might also act, but perhaps as more of a hobby than as an actual career. The same goes for playing music.

I also might have mentioned my plans to move to Europe. They remain intact, although I'm not quite sure how the transition works. Brighton and Hove, in the United Kingdom, sounds like a gorgeous place to live. Who knows? I might even do something for BBC - creative people sometimes do many things, like Brian Jacques and Ray Bradbury. I'm starting to read scripts, currently Shakespeare's Othello, to get a feel for the craft. I read here that it takes at least ten years to become a good playwright, and I think I have that much time.

Maybe I'll do that now.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Plan L

Another late post. Oh look, it's raining; I only just noticed. Says something about my vigilance, does it not? I do love rain, though. My favorite weather. Second place belongs to snow.

I was speaking to my mother today about my future - I plan eventually to move to the United Kingdom (more specifically, Brighton and Hove, which is on the southern coast of England). I told her I wanted to become a librarian and she said that they make less than enough money to support themselves and that there might not "be a future" in the career. I hope that's not so - the latter, that is. I could work another job (such as theatre), but I don't want libraries to disappear. Not at all! I'm thinking of majoring in library science and in theatre arts, and minoring in creative writing. Not sure if I want  to act or manage the stage or write plays or what (hopefully all, though management is not a must), but theatre in general is becoming very appealing. Good thing I have camp in a month or so.

I do not require a large home; a flat or a cottage would do for me, stuffed with books and at least one cat. What can I say? I'm a cat person. I would like to either start or join a writers' conference.

I really must go now; goodnight.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Day Well Spent

I mentioned in an earlier post I saw X-Men: First Class this afternoon. After that I read for a while, then attended an orientation for volunteers at a local library. This is going to be fun. I met some new people there who seemed nice, plus I'll get to be around books, AND I get volunteer credit. This'll be great.

That was a short post, but it's nearly Thursday. Sorry!


Movie Review: Transformers (2007)

My gods, did I loathe this film. It's gone foggy now - I saw it when I was twelve - but let me say this to Michael Bay: There is a difference between plot and special effects! Same to Roland Emmerich. Now, I hear Mr. Bay is a great person in life: my sister tells me that he found an online video of a lady throwing puppies into a river and offered ten thousand dollars to whoever found out who the lady was. All the same, he sucks as a director. Good person, bad artist. The opposite goes for Roman Polanski, I hear. He makes some pretty good films sometimes (The Ghost Writer; Rosemary's Baby), but in life he raped a sixteen-year-old girl.

I digress. I save my "F" rating for true bombs, such as Epic Movie (2007), but this movie did nothing for me. I may be young, but I know an awful movie when I see one.

Final grade: D

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

I went to see this with a friend today, and I rather enjoyed it. Mind, I haven't seen one and two, but I saw three and four respectively when they came out. I loved Magneto's history - very sad - and Charles Xavier was a great character. The pacing between action and non-action was pretty much good, and the special effects were spectacular. I enjoyed the, shall we say, cameo at one part.

What I didn't understand was this: Why would an ex-Nazi join Russia? Weren't fascists and communists enemies? And diamonds are supposed to be the strongest thing in the world, so how could the lady who turns into diamonds be throttled by metal? Again, I could be wrong about either of those.

But overall, I enjoyed the movie. I really ought to watch them all in order.

Final grade: B

Monday, June 6, 2011

About Medwyn Goodall

He is a New Age artist who is quite good, but not everyone knows of him. I first discovered "Behold the Darkness" on YouTube, and proceeded to buy his entire album Comet. I enjoyed "Ice Crystals" and "Future Written" (the first track; there are two called that) in particular. Very calming music, but it also makes you think of astronomy and such. "Behold the Darkness" has a darker feel to it, but it's the best one on there in my opinion. he has other albums too, but I do not own them. An A to this album, and to Goodall in general. If you haven't heard him and like New Age, look him up. You likely won't regret it.


Abbey Road - The Beatles

My first album review must be brief; I have school in a bit. This might be my favorite Beatles album of the ones I have on iTunes--all the songs are great. I especially liked "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End," all of which run together as one larger piece. Just beautiful. My friend Hannah saw Paul McCartney perform when she was younger, and my sisters and mother saw Ringo Starr last summer. I really want to, and I was not happy they didn't ask if I wanted to come see him. I tell myself I will someday, but they are both up there in years.... Even so, I hear Paul is getting married. That's really awesome. I'm happy for him and hope it ends up well. But this album was great; maybe I'll even go to the title road someday. Fingers crossed, eh?

Brief it was; I must depart the computer. Oh yes, this album gets a big A.


Movie Review: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)

I believe this was my first encounter with Joss Whedon, also known for Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (show is awesome, movie's supposed to suck), and Dollhouse. I've not seen the others listed, aside from two episodes of Buffy, but I enjoyed Dr. Horrible a lot. Not too long, and I think it started as an online movie. Neil Patrick Harris is a brilliant actor...and singer, as it turns out. I actually sang along with what I could remember, the music is so good. A lot better than a lot of modern-day stuff.

Notorious supervillain Dr. Horrible is trying to make his way into the Evil League of Evil, and after failing a heist because of his pompous nemesis Captain Hammer, he finds the only way into the League is something even he dare not do: murder.

It's a great movie, very funny and quirky, and fun to watch. The climax, for those of you who have seen it, seemed a bit random by chance (hint: boom!), and I don't mean to spoil, but it seemed a bit too lucky...and unlucky. If you are confused, watch the blasted film! It's great!

Final grade: B.


Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

I thought I'd review this while it was fresh in my head, although I have yet to critique the first three. This is currently my favorite franchise, the first being the best, and as much as I enjoyed this one, I'd have made a few things clearer. Why would the British Navy let a former pirate join their ranks? Where did Blackbeard's powers come from? How could he have survived being beheaded but not stabbed? Even with these weaknesses, I had a lot of fun watching this film and have seen it twice already.

I thought Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides would be a prequel to the first three, but it takes place after 3. After losing the Black Pearl to Blackbeard, Barbossa and Captain Jack Sparrow team up to track down the mystical Fountain of Youth before Blackbeard or the Spanish get there first. In The Curse of the Black Pearl, there was the titular Pearl, inDead Man's Chest and At World's End there was the Flying Dutchman, and in this there wasQueen Anne's Revenge, which was a real ship just recently discovered off the coast of (I think) North Carolina. Blackbeard's ship. What I am saying is that there are several really cool ships in the franchise. Blackbeard is a great villain and I liked how they kept true to real history by having him light his beard on fire. Hans Zimmer, my favorite soundtrack musician, scored this movie quite well. I enjoyed his work on 2 and 3 as well, particularly with "The Kraken," "Davy Jones," "Hoist the Colours," And "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time."

If you like fantasy, mind-bending, swashbuckling adventure and hilarious witticisms, watch this movie. I personally don't usually see things in 3D, just because it usually is not in 3D, but says so to make extra money. 2D is fine, but I love this movie. I give it a B.

TV Review: Doctor Who: Season One (2005)

Yes, I'm still a newbie to this, but I loved this first epic, mind-bending season. Not sure which episode was my favorite, but maybe "Dalek." Those Daleks are just awesome. I enjoyed watching the world end, meeting Charles Dickens (Charlie Boy), the Slitheen, and those gargoyle-esque monsters which appeared in a paradox. Captain Jack Harkness was brilliant. Eccleston (and Tennant) are great actors; I should like to see their movies sometime.

Now on a critical scale: I found the idea of living plastic a bit odd, and was not sure where the display dummies got laser guns. It was a bit silly for a trashcan to belch after eating Mickey. Oh, and it seemed to happen too often in the beginning that they'd try to help an alien that turned out to be hostile.

Other than those things, I loved this season and look forward to the next. Started a spin-off earlier called Torchwood and it also seems good. BBC has some really cool programs, fromMonty Python's Flying Circus to Sherlock to the Whoverse. I have yet to see their versions of Narnia and Hitchhiker's Guide, but I hear the latter is good--better than the 2005 movie, which I heard sucked. BBC Narnia I know nothing of.

So a B to this season, almost an A.


Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

I saw this movie when I was ten, and for some reason remembered very little of it. I watched it recently and loved it. As demonstrated by Alex Sokoloff, it is a great example of plot structure: great stakes, awesome characters, cool opening scene, etc. And it's a Steven Spielberg film, which says enough by itself.

Set during World War II, the plot involves Indiana Jones, a hunter of ancient archaeological treasures, who must find the Lost Ark of the Covenant, which holds the Ten Commandments of biblical legend. Indy does not believe in myth, but the Nazis are after it too: they want to give their army unnatural powers. Indy travels to South America, Tibet, and Egypt throughout the film, and the settings by themselves are amazing. He solves age-old puzzles and fights plenty of villains, and the romance is also well done. I love the capuchin monkey (Ruby, was it?), who also acts in Night at the Museum and Pirates of the Caribbean, among other things. Monkeys live long. The villains are really creepy, and the adventure is a lot of fun. I have yet to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which I heard is good but not as good as this, but this is a great adventure film. I give it an A.


Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

I enjoyed this movie a lot, but I would have done it in a slightly different way. I loved the world, the rhyming, the characters, etc. Beautiful visuals, too. I liked the way the Jabberwocky was not shown until near the end, just as I love the way the villain from Christopher Paolini'sInheritance book cycle has yet to make an appearance. I think that gives off an ominous aura of mystery, which is really cool. Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen was hilarious ("OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!"), as was Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Of course, it was only semi-faithful to the books - yes, Through the Looking-Glass elements were present as well - but why would it be entirely so? As great as the books are, they lacked a modern plot, and the film would have been scorned for that.

The main part I didn't get was how the Red Queen controlled the Jabberwocky. It seems like the beast would be in charge. A blogger once stated that it was wrong for Alice not to tell her sister that the boy courting her sister kissed another girl, but I think others would have gotten onto Burton if she had told her. It's a situation where one cannot please all, so I took up the neutral position on it, meaning the what-can-you-do position.

I give this movie a B, because I overall loved it, but it wasn't perfect.


Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

So I never actually read the book (yet) or saw any other version, but this one was, well, decent. I liked the storyline, and some of the settings were just gorgeous, but it was very slow-moving. Don't get me wrong: I liked it, but it was not my favorite. I'd give it a C. I like the main actress, Mia Wasikowska, and she was a great Alice Kingsley in Tim Burton's spectacular 2010 film Alice in Wonderland. Jane just couldn't seem to make up her mind over whether she wanted to be with Mr. Rochester, and it was unclear why she returned to him. But the dialogue was quite good and the time period was quite believable. So overall a C.

Any of you have anything to add?

Movie Review: Thor (2011)

I loved this movie. I've seen Kenneth Branagh act (not live, as my parents did before my lifetime), but I believe this is the first movie I've seen which he directed. For those of you not familiar with Norse myth, Thor is the god of thunder. In this movie, he is not precisely a god, but he, his brother Loki, and their father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins, who is brilliant, and who, by coincidence, my parents also saw live, but at a different time) are revered as such. When Odin defeated the frost giants, he sealed the gateway between his home world of Asgard and the land of the giants, and for years the people lived in peace. When Thor is a young man, he lusts for war and blood, and in his arrogance he causes such. His father takes from him his power and sends him to our Earth. He must regain his honor and therefore his power, and defeat a traitor (no spoilers here).

I never read a whole lot of superhero comics - a few Iron Mans, and that's about it. This movie urged me to read the Thor comics, however. In the case of  Iron Man - and I have heard this is often true - I liked the movies better, because even though I liked the comics, they were kind of cheesy. I still might look into these - just maybe the individual ones instead of one of the huge Essentials collections.

I'd give this movie a B - nothing really wrong with it, it just wasn't the greatest film of all time. I loved it, however, and I hope for a sequel (they'd better, seeing as after the credits was a bonus scene with a cliffhanger).

What do you think?

Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King

First off, Stephen King is currently my favorite author, my favorite book being'Salem's Lot, and this is not only his longest singular work (his longest work is the Dark Tower series, of which I have read the first three out of seven) - it is the longest book I have read to date. According to Yahoo! Answers, it consists of 464,218 words. Both editions I read from (one was rain-soaked and I bought an older copy) had 1,141 pages. It is an awesome epic novel and I recommend it to the epic fantasy and/or horror fan.

After a deadly plague released by a government mistake sweeps across the world and wipes out ninety-something percent of the population, those who survived take two sides: the good guys flock to 108-year-old Mother Abagail in Colorado and the bad guys run to Las Vegas to Randall Flagg, a demon or devil of some sort who appears human but can both shape-shift and project his soul into animals. He gives off an aura of extreme, cold terror to Abagail's people, and eventually a few brave men decide to journey from Boulder, Colorado, to Vegas on foot to confront the dark man, as Flagg is often called...for the ultimate stand.

I really loved this book, but the climax, shall we say, was a bit of a deus ex machina. Meaning "God of the Machine." I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that God quite literally had a hand in things, where he could have helped the entire time. That is the same problem I had with C.S. Lewis and his Narnia books, which I need to read the rest of still: God reaches in and fixes things. The movie Avatar (the James Cameron one with blue people, not The Last Airbender) did this too: "Jake! Eywa heard you!!!"

But other than that, the writing was quite good. I was never quite sure who the main character was, but I don't think there really was one: Star Wars does that too. More of an "overall epic story" thing.

Final grade: B

Book Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

My second book read for Printz (though I am told it already won our award - oh well) is Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I thought it was really good, and definitely agree with the award. However, it was unclear how zombies first came to be. That was about the only flaw.

Years after First Night, the start of the zombie apocalypse, Benny Imura purchases a zombie card set with a rare non-zombie piece in it: the Lost Girl. He begins to wonder who she is, and finds his own hero, Charlie Matthias, after it. His half-brother Tom convinces him that Charlie is not a good person, and that sometimes humans are worse monsters than zoms. The half-brothers flee into the great Rot and Ruin, outside their fenced-in town, to pursue Charlie and his cronies as they hunt the Lost Girl to bring her to Gameland - a zom-human arena.

Very good book, which I'd give a B for that one imperfection. Otherwise it's great. I think this was my first zombie novel; not sure as to whether Pet Sematary counts.


Book Review: The Floating Islands by Rachel Neumeier

This is a book I read for Printz (my library's YA book club), and I must say, I loved it. The world it is set in is amazing, and some of the concepts are fascinating. It alternates chapters between two characters: Trei and his female cousin Araenѐ.

PLOT: After Trei loses his parents and sister in a disaster, he moves to the Floating Islands with Araenѐ and her parents, his aunt and uncle. Trei becomes a kajurai (a winged person), and Araenѐ, dressed as a boy due to sexism, attends the hidden school, where she learns magic. They both find themselves caught in a war between the Islands and the imperial nation of Tolounn, whence Trei came from. Trei finds himself divided between two homes, and Araenѐ is held back for being a girl. To find the outcome, read it.

I know I also gave Redwall an "A", but this book just seemed practically flawless to me. It had every element of awesome, and contained a beautiful story. If any of you like YA and/or high fantasy (meaning set in another world), I would check this book out of a library, or buy it. Excellent.

Book Review: Redwall by Brian Jacques

This book was also my first audio book (at least, the first I finished). Written in the 80's by Brian Jacques, this book sparked an entire series that continued until the author's death in February. Rest in peace, Brian. We love you.

The book centers around the young mouse Matthias of Redwall Abbey, who finds himself in the middle of a fierce conflict between mice and rats, with various other woodland creatures on either side. He discovers an old poem that may help him against the vile rat Cluny the Scourge, and has to solve the poem's riddle while fending off sparrows, foxes, a terrible adder, etc.

I loved this book, and I think I'll have to give it an "A". Not every time does that happen, but I guess I started on a really positive note here. I loved the descriptions of food, setting, and everything else. Brian had some great writing skills. I thought at first it might be one of those books where all the villains die and all the good guys live, but he killed off a good number of each.
*No spoilers here; I'll put warnings if there are in future posts.

I believe there was a TV cartoon series about a decade ago; I'll have to watch it. I started to, and got distracted.

To thank (other than Brian Jacques) I have Emily R, without whom I might have waited a while longer before starting this wonderful book. Kudos to you!

Right, that is all!
-Lewis Winter

Summer at Last

So this is it: I am free. I plan to read more than ever now, and I am already making my way through The Best of Cemetery Dance. Tonight my mother, sisters, and I watched a quarter of Stephen King's The Stand - very good teleplay with a rather scary villain. I walked most of the way to my mother's house today, which is saying something; it's a good way from my school and I would have probably gone all the way if not for my book-bag weighing down on my back and threatening to break it. Ah, I won't have to worry about that for a while.

I counted the library books I have out, and I believe I have exactly twenty-five. I hope to read at least most of them this summer. One was a quick read, a galley from Printz called Requiem: Poems from the Terezin Ghetto. It was quite sad and disturbing, but I appreciated the poetry.

Speaking of books, I might move my reviews to this blog and keep one after all. Also, "The Worlds of Winter" is old - how about "The Winter Journal"? (With the former I needed a title and didn't know what to call it).

I might be volunteering at a local library this summer. We'll see how that turns out.

I must close the journal now, but I shall post again soon!

Au revoir,

Friday, June 3, 2011

Last Post of the [School] Year

The next time I plan to post, sometime on Monday, I shall be on my summer holiday. So this is my last post this school year. On Monday I have my Creative Writing exam, which will mime a novel submission packet. I already did a synopsis (and it's not the novel I'm working on now, ha), so I'm already about a quarter done. I can't say I'll miss Biology, but CW I definitely will. My teacher is just awesome.

Went to Printz today and found out the book I had planned to review was not up for review. I reviewed it anyway. If any are wondering, it was Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry and it was awesome. They told us of some thing for picture book illustrators; that might be worth a shot. I do draw...occasionally. Doodle is a more accurate word. I've thought of writing them, and perhaps I shall, but many of my tales are quite dark. One is only slightly dark (a witch turning children into pumpkins), so maybe I'll try that.

Speaking of libraries, I have a crap ton of books out now: summer reading? Almost done with The Stand; will post a review when I finish. I have a cool vintage edition now that I had to recycle my newish one, which was rain-soaked a week ago. The villain is one of literature's best bad guys ever. I also lost my three-and-a-half-year-old iPod to the rain. My first ever, my precious thing.... I tore it apart and threw the pieces away. I have another now and I still listen to Mossflower on it. I have also been listening to a bit of Grateful Dead lately. They're pretty good, actually. I haven't paid attention to the lyrics, but the music sounds good.

Might watch Romero's Night of the Living Dead this weekend. We'll see. I got it at a used bookstore that also sold CDs and DVDs. It's supposed to be good.

Time to wrap up.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Plan D

OK, I don't really know which plan letter this is. But I am once again thinking of a new blogging pattern. I'm thinking I'll [try to] post on this one every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. With my other blogs the current plan is "post whenever I have something to post," but I am trying to make this more regular. I have been making it regular to a degree, but not entirely.

I cannot tarry tonight, for I have a final exam tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Writing group went well tonight; I really enjoyed everything I heard. We even got to act out a play at one part. The bloke with the play, who goes to my school and had my Creative Writing class last year, had me play a dragon. Ironically, I also played a dragon in my own CW play. I love dragons, in case I never mentioned.

In fact, it was the love of dragons that inspired me to begin writing seriously long ago, back when I was ten. I always wanted to write an epic fantasy series, realizing years later that stand-alone novels are a better start. Maybe I'll write a series - someday. That could be fun. But I'd like to have a few things out there already. I still like epic fantasy, but prefer urban nowadays. I also like horror and science fiction. If I ever do write that epic thing, I'd like to combine genres. And make it really weird, as if I were on drugs. That sounds good.

My summer is semi-planned out, with a couple of camps (writing and acting) and hopefully guitar lessons. I shall continue piano as well. I'm wondering if there is a niche for epic rock? I made it up, but I hope it either exists or could potentially exist. Basically, as it sounds, it would be rock music combined with epic cinematic pieces. Guitars and choirs, maybe.

Just a thought.