October 2010


Happy Halloween, people!

Okay, we all know the big, commonly talked about mythical creatures. Griffins (my fav’rite,) dragons, fairies, elves, etc. However….. I’ve been looking through some other, not so widely known ones. Like adlets. They’re from Inuit mythology, and are like werewolves, except for the fact that they don’t shift from normal human mode to oh-my-gosh-I’m-a-freaky-monster mode. Or if you’re looking at some of the newer literature, it’s hot-guy-without-a-shirt mode to oh-my-gosh-I’m-a-big-cuddly-would-be-monster mode. But back to the subject of adlets. Supposedly, they were first created by a woman breeding with a wild red dog that had some interesting powers. Five pretty, very normal puppies were born, but five mutants were also born (the adlets). The adlets apparently tried to attack the mothership, and their daddy didn’t view that in a very good light. So of course he drove them off, but as with most heroes, he got serious injuries. Unlike the heroes in those fairy tales that most of us like (mainly because of the happy endings,) he died, and the woman fled. She put the puppies on a log or something that she could get them on to so they could at least float and sent them off to sea. They landed in Europe and apparently copied their deceased parent by mating with humans as well. I forget what happened in those cases, but my main focus is the adlets. Sometimes cannibalistic, red furred, werewolf look-alikes that have the added bonus of being vampiric? As a friend of mine put it, they are werewolf vampires, which is really cool. Now if only there was some way to mix dragons and griffins without it being obvious to everyone that that was what I was trying to do…

Another example of mythical creatures that aren’t very well known is the Abatwa. They’re from Zulu mythology, and they’re tiny humans that can ride ants. Cool and a possible story vehicle? Of course! I can already imagine a world where the normal sized humans have completely ruined the planet and the little people (literally) come to storm the cities, riding on the backs of an army of ants and other insects…. dragonflies carrying little packets of poison powder to be inhaled by the unsuspecting populace! Rereading that little segment, I have to admit that some of the story ideas seem quite twisted at times, but that is sometimes the nature of story writing.   I’m sure that my little thing about Abatwa going and killing ‘giants’ without being noticed is creepy (in a good way?), but it isn’t as creepy as some of the things out there, so I think we’ll put the stamp of ‘concern raising’ on this one.

There’s one other mythical creature  (out of the dozens I have found) that I’d like to mention here. Adar Llwch Gwin, from Welsh mythology. They are giant birds that understand human languages. They’re supposed to be like griffins in a way, and their name derives from the Welsh words llwch (“dust”) and gwin (“wine”), which I find an interesting fact. Why those two words? As well as understand human speech, they were supposed to obey whatever command that was given to them by their master, which didn’t turn out so well for one guy. He ordered them to attack the first man to enter battle, but King Arthur was delayed so their tore their master to bits. Do I love that story? Heck yes! He should have been a little bit more specific, or changed the wording. Expect the unexpected and all that.

Now that that’s done, I need a drink of water, and to finish reading that book.

Toodles!

Oh yes it can darling. Some books become stand alone ones when you feel like there should be a sequel (i.e. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke), or some series ending too soon (though not specifically a series, the Tiffany Aching stories from the Discworld are ending too soon in my opinion, with the last one being I Shall Wear Midnight). With some people, they think that a trilogy should be a series  (in some cases I agree, but only because I love them so much! *cough*Abhorsen*cough* Ahem.) Seeing as I can’t just write the sequels or series for the authors of said books…. I will make some lists of such instances where I think of  books which should have at least had a sequel, books that should have been the start of a series, and series that shouldn’t have ended; if I can bring any to mind…

List one: Books that should have had a sequel:

  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, for sure. I loved the book, and I really really really really really really wanted to see what happened next.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I can’t help the fact that I wanted to see if there were any little Mr. Darcy’s!
  • Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart. I wanted to read new acidic comments from Veronica the Budgie!
  • The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman. The scarecrow made me laugh. Maybe I should make a sign: “I WANT MORE SCARECROW LAUGHS!”
  • The Secret Order of the Gummstreet Girls by Elise Primavera. I loved that book so much, and I want more. :D

Those are the only ones that are occuring to me there, so here’s the next list.

List number two: Books that should have been the start of a series:

  • Dragon Rider, which was listed above.
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix. It should have been more than a trilogy, and should involve more of the Disreputable Dog (“…or Disreputable b**** if you want to get technical.”)
  • Larklight by Philip Reeve. I like their adventures! My wanting more doesn’t hurt anyone.
  • The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. The Whangdoodle was so sweet! I don’t need any more reasons.
  • Alpha Centauri by Robert Siegel. I want more of the centaurs, even though this is probably impossible….
  • Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I liked their adventures! I liked the letter format! If that wouldn’t have made me want more that would have been extremely weird.

And as for series that shouldn’t have ended… well, the only one I can think of at the moment is this one:

  • The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart

Why Mr. Stewart? Why? I loved those books! I only own one physical copy and two audiobooks from the series, sure, but I still love them! I read each and every book! In a couple of cases I read it multiple times! And now I’m stuck with hoping that the Farrow Ridges blog will update so I can read more and see a new illustration. It burns, it burns, I tell you!

And that’s the only stuff I could currently think of. :) What are the items you would have put on those three lists?

The best book I read in October was definitely The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi! I count it as the best because I waited a long time to get my hands on it, I read it in a day, and then proceeded to reread it. That and the fact that I simply loved the characters, world, and the illustrations throughout.

In second place for best book would be the novella Oathbreaker by M.R. Mathias, which I got for free on Smashwords. :) I liked the idea, the characters (especially the eagle), and the way things got resolved. It’s one of those short stories that I’m going to be finding myself opening to reread on a car trip when I stop being interested in the road (or my game of ‘count the horses’, with my highest score being fifty-seven if I remember correctly. I never write these things down….) and need something interesting to capture my attention and lock it into place.

Seeing as I’m still working through all the topic suggestions my awesome Aunt is suggesting (AAC shall be a tag, standing for Awesome Aunt Content that shall be used at the same time as another new tag: meow) I shall be using the AAS (Awesome Aunt Suggestions) tag so that she can look at all the posts she inspired :D So now I actually have to tell the masses (a.k.a. those who jump on the currently tiny bandwagon. Note: don’t fall off) what this post is about: that would be animals. To be precise, talking to animals. So the question (or questions) is this: If you could talk to an animal for a day, which animal would you choose, why would you choose it, and what in the heck would you talk about?

Here below I put my own answer.

For me, I find choosing one animal I’d like to be able to talk to for a day is a problematic thing. Mainly because I have to think about whether or not that animal might attack me if I get too close (I am not thinking about talking to zoo animals) and then there’s the problem of getting an inter-dimensional passport or a time machine. If I could only choose one that I’ve actually seen…. then I’d choose the heron, because I think they’re amazing and I’d like to know what it’s like to be a heron and what they do all day. If it could be a forest animal, I’d definitely choose the wolf (I think of it as a forest animal at least) because they are one of my favorite animals and we’d talk about what the life of a wolf is like…. from a wolf’s perspective, not a human one.

If I could choose a safari animal, then it’s either a lion or a a tiger. Reasons for that are obvious. For birds, I’d like to talk to a raven so that I could ask one if it would like to stay with me. Like a friend who drops in occasionally and is fed and given a warm place to stay when it’s raining, provided they don’t make a mess. For ocean animals, I’d like to talk to either a blue whale, a killer whale, a shark of some sort, or a seahorse. For monkey’s I’d like to talk to a gorilla and for dogs I’d like to talk to either an Irish Wolfhound, or an Azawakh.

And if we’re talking myths…. well most of the ones I like are able to speak english (by various physics defying means) so this question is a tough one. Hmm…. adlets. I don’t know if they can talk or not (in my story they can, they just don’t actually do it that much) but I don’t think they can. I’d choose them because A) They’re cool, B) They’re my current favorite myth, C) I repeat reason A, and D) I would like to be able to have some actual facts to use in my story that I could say were given to me by an actual adlet.

Now, if I was Dr. Doolittle and could talk to ALL of these creatures… I’d have probably fainted already. And not from the danger, oh no…. I’d have fainted from the hyperventilating and the excitement!

There are some of us who might stare at our sleeping parents and feel like prodding them until they wake up so that we may ask: “Why do parents exist?” Of course, that could just be me (in which case I can’t say I’m surprised) but still. It is an interesting question, seeing as it links (in my head) to ‘what do parents mean to you’ and by extension, the characters you write. Now, when considering that, we do also have to consider how our parents’ views influence us. Do we believe one thing or another? Why exactly? I’m pretty sure my belief that griffins exist somewhere in the world has nothing to do with my parents influencing me (they tell me that griffins don’t exist often enough for me to be able to say that, knowing that I’m not lying with that statement.)
But how would a character who is, for example, just born out of energy, or never knew their parents and grew up on their own, decide what to believe? Would their environment affect them, or would they be just so weirdly innocent that it is awe-inspiring, the lengths that their mind will go to to explain something in a way that coats it in sugar…. and a bit more sugar, for good measure.
What lenses do your characters look through, that were tinted by the lenses that their parental units see through? I can’t exactly speak for my characters (don’t know the ones I’m currently working with well enough yet) but I do know that parents mean the following things to me:
A) Good grief…. GET IT DONE ALREADY!!!!
B) Lots and lots of teasing, with embarrassing baby stories thrown in for good measure.
C) Encouragement…. Followed by a reminder that your creativity is splendid but could you please save it for once the chores are completed, etc?
D) Outrageous stories (particularly about learning to crawl, when it’s my Dad talking. Mom doesn’t usually think up outrageous stories about my time as a babybut I can’t seem to think of any good ones right now) mixed with a couple lies (i.e. When my Dad told me Mom had gone grocery shopping without me and I burst into tears, not knowing she was in the next room. Subsequently, I told her to give him trouble and never do it again, which, to her credit, she managed to do with a straight face.)
E) Finding the stuff you wrote as a little kid so you can be appalled with how atrocious your writing was (even though its only improvement is that the letters are smaller and less wonky).
F) Hugging (a.k.a. The loving assault of the parental units when they get in the door).
G) Teaching. What? Everyone likes knowing something their parents didn’t, then lecturing them on it! Or is that just me?
H) Editing posts. Mom makes sure I’m not overusing words, which would mean this might not be as interesting.
I) Occasional initiative to finish a story. Hasn’t someone other than me got the “I’ll finish reading it when you’ve completed the story” response to a puppy-eyed request for them to read it?
J) They are a driver for you until you are sixteen, or you have an older sibling who has their driver’s license (I’m looking’ at you sis. Get it so you can drive me places…. like the mall! Or better yet, the book store!)
K) Boosting your ego through telling you that you are wonderful etc. to which you just smile and nod distractedly, seeing as you are much too busy planning world take-over to notice compliments. If your favorite author or a bunch of free books had arrived for you that would be a totally different matter of course.
L) I promise this is the last one! They are also meant to tell you when even though you can hug a person to help them get warm in real life, you aren’t allowed to do it in the swimming pool (even if it’s for your sister or an imaginary crocodile person. You must have been imagining him trying to bite my fingers Mom, Chazz wouldn’t do that to me! We’ve been friends too long!)

A fun fact: Chazz existed for about five seconds in my head while I was practicing my “back rocket ship” with no floatation devices for the first time.

Book on hand? Check. Sister watching my every move? Check. Butterflies in stomach? Check. And finally: Box of tissues on hand? Check. Let’s get this party started!

Rating: 5/5

Reason: … This book is so well written and the characters are genius!  S.G. Rogers did such a fantastic job of this story.  And lucky me that I am, I actually won my own copy on GoodReads, thank goodness!!  No waiting to read it! Well…. maybe a little bit, but not that long because the postal system is simply outstanding in their delivery times – I have nothing but good things to say about those folks, too!  I so love the characters, the world, and how much of a genius S.G. Rogers is to think up a horrible, brilliant character like Elfysian…. I absolutely must get to the story, now.

I think most people would have described me as a normal, ordinary kid before my dad disappeared. When I say that he “disappeared,” I mean that literally. He vanished in a flash of light, with a sound like distant thunder. And because I was the only witness, I automatically became the suspect. That sort of suspicion tends to make you edgy, especially when you’ve just turned sixteen.

The above excerpt was how the story opened, and it totally grabbed my attention and made me curious about what happened next and what this story was all about; this is just what a good writer can accomplish quite easily with openings such as this. From reading the book’s summary on Goodreads, I was pretty sure I’d like it. However….. I was unaware of just how much I would… heck, I’d found out how many pages there were and was thinking “That doesn’t seem long enough to encompass everything mentioned in the summary.” Oh but it was, and it wasn’t rushed at all.  When you read it for yourself, you will see what I mean and be equally impressed by this writer’s skill.  Here’s a few of the things from the book that I especially liked:

  1. The ring and transporter cuff Jon needed to be wearing at the same time so that he could transport himself.
  2. The fact that his drawing something while wearing Ophelia (his dragon ring) made it become real.
  3. The whole idea of Yden.
  4. The fact that those who live in Yden think of “Yrth” as a sort of Hell, seeing as it has no magic.
  5. The delightful evilness that is Elfysian.

Before I go giving away most of the book (including the ending), I’ll stop here. The story follows Jon’s father disappearing, his going to Yden the first time, going to a public school instead of the art one he’d been going to before, having this Nomad princess and a drained wizard coming to warn him about Elfysian and the rest (as they say) is history. Of course, you’ll have to read the book so you actually know this history, but hey, reading is good for you. If asked if I’m going to lend it to friends so they can read it, the answer is “Of course!” And to say that I’m greatly excited about the idea of a sequel is an understatement of epic proportions.  Of course, I was told a little while ago (by the author) that she’s working on book three. At the time, she was working on the last chapter, if my memory serves me correctly.

It is so wonderful in this day and age to be able to communicate directly with authors whom one admires, and that amidst all that writing and creating, they still make time for their readers and respond so kindly.

Rating: 5/5

Reason: Great story, great characterization, great world-building and a really cool concept!

Before we get started, you should be aware that there are some spelling and grammatical errors in the book. However, don’t be distracted by this because the story is amazing. I am inclined to believe that the errors only exist because there were time restrictions for the book’s publishing so it couldn’t be edited properly or some other perfectly reasonable explanation, but it most certainly wasn’t the author’s fault. Now, on with the review! ^_^

Our main character is married, and has one of those “normal” lives where everything seems to have been drifting along at the same pace ever since they can remember. Of course that’s not true, but it seems that way to her. Her name is Caroyln, or Carli (her name for most of the story). She has weird dreams that she can only remember fragments of. She paints these fragments and is convinced that once she has all of them, they’ll fit together like a puzzle and her life will suddenly have meaning and be exciting. This doesn’t really happen of course, but you can’t blame a girl for dreaming. Except that she’s different from most people. Yes, I know that most main characters seem to be like normal people but they just happen to transform into a lizard or they just happen to be able to make things blow up just by waving their hand. However, Carli has to be one of my favorite not-so-normal main characters. You see, when she gets up to start her day at the beginning of the book, she starts having daydreams of a sort. She’s suddenly at this place with a sandstone building and a pool that has a mosaic of Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper in it. She keeps flickering back between the apparent daydream and her ‘real’ life. She feeds the cat and does other typical daily living tasks, flicks between the two realities, then goes outside to have a smoke. She sees some deer and then, “SHAZAM!”  (sorry, just had to say that), she’s suddenly back in the world with the sandstone building. This time though, there’s a hole in one of the garments in the mosaic in the pool, and it’s shooting a beam of light up into the air. At first I thought that it was possibly some aliens sending a message to other aliens to say ‘We are here! You can land now so we can destroy this place, etc.,’ but no. It’s for something far more sinister…. if you can call what the beam is actually for, sinister. Which you can’t really…. unless you think that a ____ actually is sinister, which I find almost impossible to comprehend. Notice how I tried to be clever by inserting a blank? Yeah.

So then these missiles go to intercept the beam for some reason or other, and at first Carli thinks they are around five feet long. Then, as they get closer, she realizes that they’re around the length of half a football field. For some reason my brain was not registering that there was still a good many pages left for me to read, and was worrying about the main character’s sense of self-preservation before we really learned her importance to the plot… and before we actually learned what the plot was.

The plot involves a girl who’s got a portal as part of her, seeing as she was born at a specific time when lunar activity was high and there was an eclipse or something. That’s what gave her the portal. This portal makes her a crossover, but even in that area she’s special, because she’s supposed to stop this group called the riders, and she got combat training in her dreams (is that not so cool that you are having a lot of trouble vanquishing the green-eyed monster?) so that she’d be able to do that. Only, she’s got her teacher from the dreams, Nicholas (or just Nick) looking after her. And he’s got a gun. Why that fact makes me grin in a maniacal manner I’m not quite sure, but it does. So they flee from the Riders, but then it turns out that they’re also fleeing from this group called The Union, because Nick abandoned them so he wouldn’t have to kill Carli. To hide from the Riders, they hide in a mirror which The Union set up ages ago, which is accessed by them pushing their hands into a hole on a beech tree. Riders can’t find them there, but Revenants and animals can. ‘Yipee!’ Or ‘Oh no!’, Whichever you prefer.

My favorite character was, I’m sorry to say, Haiden, even if he was an evil, evil dude and didn’t care about what he did around the end of the book. I still find the way she wrote about the character cool. What can I say? I’m mostly into anti-heroes and heroes, but I do fall for the occasional villain. The story ended in a way I honestly didn’t expect, with all the other stuff that happened. Purple lazer beams, weird ways of travel, cool creatures like Thambusches, and the whole ‘it’s nothing but sandstone and mirrors’ thing combined to make what is most certainly going to be my favorite book of the month when the time comes to answer the RTW prompt about the favorite book from October. This opinion is not at all influenced by the fact that I won a copy of this book, the fact that Ms. LaFontaine signed it (and there was a note to go with the signature, which made me very happy), or the fact that she’s a very nice person and agreed to become my friend on Goodreads.

If there is a sequel for this book, I am definitely going to read it – I love coming across stories that are so unique and intriguing and well-written that the story just stays with you, and you simply must re-read it from time to time.  I am also going to ask Ms. LaFontaine for any tips she might have regarding character creation, world building, and the various other candy that goes into the making of a story. Whether or not that candy is sour depends on the idea that is the driving force behind the words. Oh, and did I ever mention that I love the cover? I want to walk on that path and just admire the view… and hopefully meet a few Thambusches. Ones that don’t have a reason to possibly attack me. :D Another thing….. did I ever mention that this is her debut novel? Please, please let there be more! I promise to read them. *smiles as encouragingly as possible*

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