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I stared out the backseat window of the car as my parents drove me to Pendragon University.

I discovered a new book and instantly loved the title: Pendragon University. The author is also known as JenKristo on deviantArt, where I’ve mostly known her Transformers fan fiction writings. When I read the summary on the deviantArt Artist Comment that she had included, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it or not simply because it featured a human teen in a school of supernatural teens, and when I’d read stories with a similar premise before, they sounded a lot like each other or not very well written. And everyone who browses a book to read wants to be engaged by the story, which means the writing has to be good, if not great. I am extremely happy to say that I found both the story of Pendragon University and the writing to be great. In fact, if I hadn’t known it was her first novel, I would have begun looking for her other books to read them, as well.

The third line reeled me into the story like a fish on a hook:

My sketchbook was on my lap, and I doodled on it unconsciously.

Because I draw and I write, was instantly interested in someone who was doing one of the same things that I do, and wanted to see what was next. The character doing the doodling was Darcy Hill, who turned out to be the protagonist. Darcy applied to a number of colleges, along with Pendragon University, when a pamphlet about their art department came in the mail. She has trouble with her grades in school, but is a marvelous artist – and to her surprise, she is accepted by the university. To add further mystery to the whole process, there is very little information about it aside from the fact that about three percent of all applicants are accepted while the rest are turned away. Most curious!

Within her first day of being at Pendragon University, Darcy is repeatedly asked what she is and her response, “an art major”, only seems to draw amusement. She eventually discovers that she has been accepted to an “inhuman university” – a university for paranormal individuals. The reason for her acceptance to the university, as a human, seems to be connected to Ulrich, a boy that she had encountered on her first day and that she met again in the fitness room. When she recognized the music he was listening to, he left and moments later the song came on over the speakers in the ceiling but he didn’t return. When she tries asking about him, she is not answered.

Darcy quickly learns the dangers of this new world when she runs into a werewolf that’s a member of the Lycan Guild, an anti-vampire pack (sort of like in the Underworld movies) and are going to kill Darcy, except a black shape appears and kills some of the Lycan werewolves, which drives off the rest, thus rescuing her.

This next part was really wild – suddenly we are in Spain of 1498, where a person is created: Pendragon. Pendragon’s first memory is of some young priests and a woman, who are making life from nothing. The woman becomes his mother; she gave him the body of a young man but he has the mind of a child. The woman puts pearls in his mouth and a dead grackle, a bird, on his back. As the pearls melt, the bird is absorbed, leaving two black marks until there is pain and two wings burst from his shoulders. In this snippet of Pendragon’s history, there wasn’t too much, and there wasn’t too little. It was one of those perfect little miniature cliffhangers that leave you wondering just what the heck happens to the character before you’re redirected to the rest of the story and must force yourself to be patient.

Pendragon is the architect who made the school buildings for Pendragon University, as well as Wyvern City and the various statues found in the school grounds. According to what we are told in the early stages of the story, he disappeared a couple of years previously, and all of the staff talk about him in the historical sense. Not a single one will tell the students if they have any clue as to what might have happened to him.

At this point in the story, it seems that all Darcy has to do is survive her time at the school, and possibly find out who Ulrich is and what it is that keeps saving her. Of course, it’s always the easy goals that hide the harder ones from sight.

Ms. Smallwood’s story had just the right bits of this and that to make a story that is completely seamless and refreshingly original, and I could not help but be inspired by her imagination at the same time I was busy admiring what she’d done with it. And while there was some romance in the story, it was not the main focus, and was written in a beautifully subtle way that I could completely believe.

I would like to give Ms. Kaitlin Smallwood a standing ovation, but I’m not sure how many others have read her wonderful book, and I can’t clone myself, so I shall just have to settle for applause. You have a wonderfully creative mind, Ms. Smallwood, and I look forward to your future publications: both your fantasy titles and your fan fiction ones. In the meantime, I shall just admire Pendragon University and its art.

Special thanks to my Aunt for buying this book for me, before it even occurred to me to start either doing my not-so-subtle-indirect asking, or just asking plainly. You’re the best, A.K.

And special thanks to my elder sister, Z, for assisting me with the editing of this reivew so that it could look as nice as possible.

If you enjoyed the Harry Potter books, or the Keys to the Kingdon series by Garth Nix, you will love this story, too. And the link to the Amazon page can be found by clicking on the cover at the top of this post.

Hello O Reader of the Blog! It seems that I have had a bit of a… hibernation period, in terms of blogging. ^^’ Sorry about that. Today, I come out of my hibernation to wish you a happy day full of green, and if you want to watch something green…. :D Have you or have you not heard of TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)? Because there’s going to be a new TV show (and movie) for it next year. At the end of this post, I think I’ll have a mini-rant about two things regarding that new TV show, but for now, we’re on green things! :D For a green book, why not check out the Fablehaven series? There’s lots of forest in it, and the covers have green on them (not all, but most have some of that lovely emerald colour). For food, why not check out my sister’s Matcha marshmallows? I don’t particularly fancy them myself, but hey, you might! ^_^

Oh, and just so you know… I’ll be transfering a few of my old book reviews over onto this blog, as well as writing a new one soon for The Shadow Alchemist by Pierre Pevel, which I am almost finished with. After that I’ll be starting on Whispers by Phoebe Kitanidis, which looks very very interesting. :D I’m itching to start reading it….

Warning: The following is a mini-rant about two things this writer has seen for the 2012 series of TMNT.

Let’s not dawdle shall we? The two points I want to bring up are Mikey and Donny’s weapons. They gave Mikey a blinkin’ KUSARIGAMA!!!!! I know he’s had weapon changes before (grappling hook, tonfa), but STILL…. I’m going to miss his nunchuks. D: And Donny has NEVER had a weapon change as far as I’m aware. At least he got to keep a staff weapon (even if it does now have a blade on the end, making it a bisento (I think)). I am really hoping there’s a good reason for the weapon change, otherwise I shall be vastly upset about that (not that I’m not now). And the bandana tails for all the turltes are shorter, with Mikey’s being the shortest .The one good thing is that Raph’s eyes are now golden. That is always a good thing. Putting aside my few grievances with what I’ve seen so far, I eagerly anticipate the new TV show, simply because it’s TMNT. :P What’s not to love about four mutant turtles? :D

 

Soren is watching you

Ah, deviantArt, you helped me to discover so many cool pictures and artists and yet, at the same time you are also quietly assisting me in procrastinating with my writing by effortlessly eating up the hours with browsing your site!

The only other things I seem to do are the things an everyday person who isn’t an author or aspiring to be one can do. *sigh* However, it did do a good thing. What is this you might ask? What good could possibly come from something that is preventing me from writing stories that might or might not make me well known and successful? I’m actually practicing my drawing again! A lovely side effect is that it has inspired MORE stories!

The graphic at the top was done with my tablet and it has been great to learn rediscover all the tools and tricks of the trade. Let me know what you think and if there is anything I should attempt to draw for you dear readers…

"You could say I was in command of the whole thing."

Legend of the Guardians was mind blowing! I thought “How To Train Your Dragon” was epic but this… oh…. this just took the cake! Maybe even two cakes! While “How To Train Your Dragon” had tremendous flight scenes and really cool dragons, “Legend of the Guardians” has wonderfully realistic owls and the movements were all beautifully animated. All the owls have character and if you have read the series you can tell who each owl is by sight, if not by name. Naturally, if you’ve read most of the series like me before you even watched the movie you are bound to make comparisons.

Soren was supposed to be younger than Kludd, Eglantine wasn’t able to talk much yet, Ms. Plithiver was an entirely different colour, Twilight was NOT a bard, etc. However, the writing and the animation were so seamless that unless I am mentioning dissatisfaction over the fact that certain things were changed, I cannot find fault in this movie. I hope one day to own it and my favorite owls (in terms of design) were Bubo (who didn’t get a single line) and Ezylryb. In terms of character, my favorites were Soren’s Da, Twilight, Digger, the Echidna (“IT WAS FORETOLD! Doubter”), Nyra, Kludd, and Metalbeak. Metalbeak was just evil!

While watching the movie, my grandmother and I were keeping up a constant stream of dialogue. Either I was telling her what a certain part was like in the book or she was commenting on Elemere’s knight-like appearance (he was her favorite in terms of design). Sometimes, like when Soren and Gylfie escaped from the Pure Ones and Grimble was killed, you would really begin to wonder if all was going to continue being well for them (even if you had read the books and new that yes, they would be perfectly fine). Of course, their next encounter is with Digger, who’s a whole lot more hyper than he is in the books (in the books he was a thinker, very sweet and quiet). Twilight was hilarious and he referred to Ms. Plithiver as “dinner”in just the right amount of times in my opinion.

So let me calm down so that I can write this properly…

In the beginning when we meet Soren’s family you would think that all is perfectly fine and that Soren’s going to spend the whole movie with gentle parental guidance (once again, only if you hadn’t read the books). It’s all so sweet and calm and Soren’s helmet was very cute and made out of three leaves. When their father (who they simply call “Da”) tells them to go to bed, they are going to do so but then Eglantine and Soren start acting out one of the battles that their father told them about. Eglantine got Soren with a head butt to the gut which was highly entertaining for me.

After going to sleep, we are suddenly launched into Soren and Kludd’s first branching lesson, in which Kludd’s flight is ‘noisy’, while Soren manages to be perfectly quiet. When the lesson is over and their parents go, Soren convinces Kludd to practice with him. This was one of the first major differences from the book for me. Sure, Soren didn’t have the helmet in the book and Kludd was older and Soren wasn’t able to do branching yet but how Kludd and Soren both fell to the ground in the movie was greatly at odds (to me) with how Kludd simply kicked the extremely young Soren out of the nest in the books.

Yes, Kludd is a rotten egg! Then they’re attacked by some weird creature (my Grandma said it might have been a Tasmanian Devil I think) and Soren demonstrates that he’s learned some things from their father’s stories when he goes straight for the creature’s eyes. Next comes St. Aggies owls to kidnap them and whisk them away from home. When Gylfie and Soren quietly introduced themselves on the flight to the ‘orphanage’, I got my first look at Grimble. I’d seen the other main characters from movie poster pictures and they had been pretty close to the pictures I had in my mind of him. However, Grimble was nothing like what I’d imagined. He was supposed to be a shade of brown and wasn’t supposed to have blood on his facial feathers, etc. The list went on and on both vocally and mentally as I watched the flight.

Skip skip skip, moon-blinking, skip skip skip, “Oi! You with the vacant expression!” skip “That’s all of them.” Skip skip skip… AH YES! Grimble takes them to the library and then reveals that he is going to teach them to “FWYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!” :D At that point I was like “YES! THEY DIDN’T MAKE HIM A VILLAIN!” which was followed by relieved chatter. I was also hoping that they wouldn’t kill him in the movie and that he’d also get to escape.

SPOILER ALERT: Unfortunately, it seems they decided to kill him in the movie too. -.- R.I.P. Grimble, you shall be sorely missed…

In all honesty, I am leaving out lots of details because A) I don’t want to suddenly spout the whole storyline and the PLOT TWIST OF DOOM and B) I’ve forgotten a few details and don’t want to give you the wrong idea… or have I already? MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

… Is it obvious I have had sugar, even though I shouldn’t be when I am sick? :P

EVERYONE SHOULD REALLY WATCH THIS MOVIE! Perhaps I’ll make a stamp about how someone must watch a certain movie… Hmm… Tomb Raider shall definitely be included… I’ll have to watch it again so I can write a decent review… *dashes off to do so and consume more candy*

Either they are going to be friends, or one is intending to attack the other.

The wonderful thing about stories is that they can contain many sorts of unlikely friendships like predators and prey being the best of buddies and never wondering how the other might taste. For example, there’s the friendship of the lion and the tuna (plus his school of friends who can construct a breathing aparatus out of kelp) from “The Other Guys” that you would have to pause if you want to attempt to catch all the jokes and references. There’s the homunculus and the forest brownie from Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (admittedly, they were at each other’s throats at first. But they did become buddies in the end!) Here are a couple other examples:

  • Tommy and Petra in The Calder Game by Blue Balliette (though admittedly, their friendship was a little bit inevitable seeing as they both had Calder as a friend).
  • Lord Umber and the woman in charge of his accounts (though she is more like a terrifying aquaintance you don’t want to talk to) from Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese.
  • Twig and the Banderbear (reading the description you’d have thought it would tear him apart as soon as it saw him or at least impaled him on its tusks when he pulled that bad tooth out) from Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart.

My point is that even though some of my above examples weren’t very good (I had some good ones, but I couldn’t remember the title or character names which annoys me) you can get away with highly unusual friendships in stories. Heck, Kendra Kandlestar and the unger who actually turned out to be ________ managed to strike a friendship that was so endearing and yet so frustrating at times that you love it and remember it forever! By the way, that example was taken from Kendra Kandlestar and the Door to Unger by Lee Edward Fodi. Ratchet Ringtail is definitely my favorite character out of those books!

You have to wonder where good authors get some of these ideas. Some seem obvious from the start and others are less obvious but guessable. I find some seem completely impossible but still end up happening. How do authors write those sorts of things? How are they able to choose the right words that will convey the characters of the pair/group, in such a way that they’ll be utterly lovable (in one of the many definitions of lovable) and also thoroughly memorable?

How would you make an unlikely friendship (one that doesn’t revolve around lovestruck werewolves and glittery vampires deciding “Hey! You ain’t half bad!”)?  Personally, I’d make a situation where a light elf and a dark elf were forced to work together. They’re supposed to be opposites right! It wouldn’t be a romance setting so “opposites attract” wouldn’t apply. Another example of unusual friendships would perhaps be a griffin and a horse, seeing as they’re enemies (can you believe that hippogriffs were supposed to be just a ‘scholarly joke’?) It wouldn’t exactly be original, but hey! It could happen … right?

Post Script: One more highly unlikely friendship would be myself and a chicken. How I love their wings and not in an I-want-to-pet-you-way!

What is one of the more unlikely pairings you have created or read that made an impression on you?

So, I did get to posting this a little late, but better late than never! The best book I have read this December is As You Wish by Jackson Pearce. That link is to my not-so-small and not-so-obsessed review of it. My interest in Jinn only exists because of how well his character was written…I promise! I’d been waiting to read it forever, got it for Christmas and then promptly read one hundred and eighty pages during the day (which was an accomplishment seeing as we had visitors) and finished the rest the next day. Needless to say, I was very pleased with it and it is now under my “To recommend BUT never to lend” set of tags. Sisters Red is also in there seeing as it was also written by Jackson Pearce and I absolutely admire her. Now excuse me while I go compose a rough outline for a comment to be posted on her next video. I want to ask her to explain exactly how one goes about getting a critique group started like hers (critique group discovery for absolute n00bs, I guess it could be called).

Teach me your mystical drawing skillzzzz....

Okay; you know in my About page how I mention Rihokshahas and a warning about smoking ravens? Well, you will finally get proof that the smoking raven does exist! Thanks to the spectacular drawing skills of my friend, Ember, I now have a smoking raven banner. :D All I did was send her a Cartolina e-card and she offered to either make an e-card for me, or do a banner for my blog. So I chose the blog, and then she made the most perfect banner in history by following my vague guidelines of  “oh, I would love to have an image of a smoking raven writing something.”  Of course, she did ask me things like, “quill or pen?”, “what sort of pipe should the raven be smoking?” and “what background colour and size?” I think the green smoke was a particularly nice touch. :P Makes me wonder what he’s filling his lungs with, exactly? XD  Thank you so much, Ember! And I trust your blog is successful – that’s because you are doing what all successful people do: you keep at it! :)  (I’m already subscribed. ;))  [The raven above is bowing his head reverentially in thanks to you:]

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