Little Evil

Alright, this isn’t a blog where I review movies, but I can’t keep this one to myself.

So, Little Evil is a movie I discovered on Netflix recently that is essentially a parody of The Omen and, oh, my goodness, was it worth it!  This movie was so funny, especially since a lot of it was how normal people would probably react to the horrible scenes (some of the time, other times, it was just wonderfully ridiculous).

I loved this movie!  It made me smile the entire time.  What made it even better, though, is the presence of a transgender character.  It’s not made a big deal of, people just accept it, and he is easily my favorite side character of the whole movie since he’s so fun.

Loved the ending, too.  Plus, the song at the end credits: killer!

…I’m gonna watch it again!

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (which should really be called ‘portrait’, not ‘picture’, but whatever) is a very…intriguing read.  Written in the late 1800s, this book follows the life story of an aristocrat named Dorian Gray whose portrait is the one that ages while he remains forever young.  How that happened is up for debate, yet it seems to be implied that some strange power was put into the portrait because the man who painted it was in love with Dorian.

Anyway, I picked up this book because I had heard that Wilde’s own homosexuality influenced this particular project, but I was rather disappointed that the extent of that was only implied in the main narrative.  I suppose that, for the time of publication, where homosexuality was actually considered a crime, even having that much was a huge risk, so I’ll refrain from lamenting the lack of homosexual relations.

Speaking of which, it is strongly hinted at that the title character is bisexual as well as someone who has no qualms about manipulating ex-lovers into doing what he wants.  I hated this character.  He is one of the most despicable, detestable and all around horrid human beings.  I’ve never wanted to strangle a main character so much.  And I mean that in the best way possible.

Wilde did a fantastic job of creating an unlikable character while keeping the reader engaged, though his writing made it kind of obvious that he was a playwright, not an author.  It wasn’t bad, but there was no need for that much exposition in dialogue.  While Wilde’s writing style was…typical of this era, I also have to say that, at times, it was distractingly poetic.  I know that’s a strange thing to say, but it really comes down to personal taste.  I prefer my prose to be invisible so I can enjoy the story – I don’t want to miss what’s going on outside because I’m appreciating the stained glass window.

All in all, it was a good read.  But Wilde’s plays are better.

Check out the YouTube version of this review here!  Warning: video contains spoilers.

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The First Draft Really is Easiest

Wow, I didn’t expect this second draft to be so hard.  All the adding in scenes, putting in proper foreshadowing, changing direction, making sure the story actually makes sense, giving characters names (that last one’s not just me, right?).  Phew.  Lots of hard work.

But, you know what makes it more difficult?  The mentality of: “But, I just did that.”  I already know what the story is, and I like it, so going back to the beginning to make adjustments is…I don’t even know what the word is.  Kind of like realizing you have to wash the dishes again because the dishwasher didn’t do a good job.  …That might be too harsh.

Anyway, this second draft really is difficult to wrangle.  I know I can get it to a point I actually feel satisfied with, I just have to push through those lackluster feelings…somehow.  Any tips?

Enchantress

I don’t want to do this, I really don’t.   I was doing so well, too – actually finishing each book and liking the story, at least, despite some annoyances.  It pains me so much to do this, especially since I know the author can actually generate good stuff, but this was just, oh, so poorly written.  (*Deep breath*) Here goes.

Enchantress by James Maxwell is the first book in The Evermen Saga.  The little that I read focused on a poor orphan young lady, Ella, who works as hard as she can to join the ranks of students in the Enchanter Academy (I think that’s what Maxwell called it, I’m a little fuzzy on that little detail).  Ella also has an older brother, Miro, who is training to be a soldier.  …I don’t really know much beyond that, though I did skim some of the final chapters.  Naturally, I have no idea how the plot ended up there, but the writing does not at all get better by the end.

And, you know what, there really is some emotional connection to the main characters.  Ella seems like a sweet person who Maxwell tries to portray as intelligent, but that doesn’t come off very well.  I tried, I really tried to relate to these characters, but it was like trying to grasp a ray of light – I know there’s something there, but I can’t quite get a hold of it.

The premise of the story looks interesting, it really does, but the writing was just so muddled.  I was confused about what was happening and there would be a random time skip of a year between chapters which would’ve been fine, but it felt way too early for that kind of thing in the story.  Not to mention that there was a flashback in the prologue!  Who does that?!

I think Maxwell was doing third-person omniscient by changing perspectives from one chapter to the next, but I’m not entirely sure.  Honestly, the enjoyment of this book may come down to personal taste of writing style – someone out there would probably really enjoy this book.

I don’t recommend this series.  It is so painfully obvious that this was a first novel.  I do, however, recommend this author.  His current series, The Shifting Tides, is actually pretty good – I’ve even beta read one of them.  Just skip The Evermen Saga, but go ahead and give this self-published author a chance.

For a slightly snarkier review, check out my YouTube video here.  Warning: video contains spoilers.

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To My Inner Critic

Dear Inner Critic,

Shut the hell up.  I know you think I’m terrible.  I know you think I’ll never be good enough.  Your incessant yelling in my ear almost has me convinced that I will never be a published author because you keep telling me I can’t.

But let me tell you something.  I have friends by the name of Determination and Perseverance that stand by my side and their encouragements will drown out your negativity.  And if they can’t, then we’ll just tag team and beat you to a pulp.  So, if you know what’s good for you, stop talking and go away.

Can’t do that?  Fine.  Then let me tell you, I can do it, I am a good writer, even when you have me believing I’m not.  Maybe I’m not good enough right now, but I will get better – besides, what you’re saying isn’t good enough is the first draft and not the final piece.  You will not be my downfall.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have work to do.  Shut your trap because you’re not helping.

Regards,

The Writer Who Doesn’t Need You

White Sand

Well, this is going to be interesting.  Instead of your typical book, today, I’ll be reviewing a graphic novel which is not something I’m usually inclined to read.  But, it’s part of the Cosmere, so…you see where this is going.  White Sand by Brandon Sanderson (story), Rik Hoskin (script), and Julius Gopez (artwork) is a story that takes place on a bizarre, stationary planet where one half is always day and the other always night.  As the first part in a series, the events that take place probably precedes all the current Cosmere books – I’ve heard rumors of this being the backstory of other mysterious characters that make appearances in the Cosmere.

So, this book was frickin’ awesome!  Sanderson came up with a fantastic world and already has me intrigued with the multiple stories he’s begun to introduce.  To keep it simple, and spoiler-free, I’ll only focus on the main character, Kenton.  Kenton is a weakling sand master (more on that in a bit) whose whole purpose is to prove himself…I don’t think I can say anymore without giving everything away, but I liked him well enough.  To be honest, I wouldn’t say he’s an amazing character or anything like that, but certainly someone you find yourself rooting for.

And the magic of sand mastery itself was fascinating.  Apparently, the magic of this world involves controlling ribbons of sands to fly, fight, and who knows at else.  Some can even turn sand into water – which is particularly important when the setting (for this story) is mostly desert.  Oh, the setting!  I can’t even begin to describe it.  The artwork was just absolutely gorgeous – I don’t think any words can do it justice.

Um,…this is usually where I talk about the writing style of the author, but I guess I can’t really do that here.  But the story portrayed through Gopez’ artistry was stunning, so I’ll leave it at that.  I will most certainly get my hands on the sequel as soon as it comes out.

Check out the YouTube version of this review here!  Warning: video contains spoilers.

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New Writing Schedule

Alright, I’m going to try something a little different.  Before, I was doing about twenty minutes a day dedicated to writing.  …Yeah, that wasn’t working so well.

Part of the problem was that in the mornings I’m pretty out of it, so no writing getting done then and when I get home from work I am exhausted (I’ve got a pretty physically intensive job, so there’s that).

However, there is a day of the week where I have no commitments to anyone ever, so what I’m going to try is to dedicate that entire day to just writing.  Treat it like any other work day and do a seven hour stint of writing just that one time a week.  …I have no idea why I didn’t think of this before.

So, I’ll try it out and see how it goes.

The Desert Spear

Don’t you hate it when what you praised in the first book annoys you in the second?  That’s what happened to me for The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett (check out my review of the previous book, The Warded Man), the second book in The Demon Cycle.  Luckily, that was only in the first section of the book where the entire life story of an antagonist we’d already met was portrayed even though there was already advancement in the main plot!  I am sad to admit I skipped a majority of those chapters (especially since it seemed he was trying too hard to make us hate the antagonist’s culture).

That said, the book wasn’t bad, however, the first portion left such a bitter taste that I found myself annoyed by the littlest of things throughout a majority of the book.  But the last fourth of the book?  …Worth it.  So, instead of me complaining about my nit-picks, let’s focus on the good stuff.

Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer have returned and as a seamless team…at first.  Um, there’s not as much drama as that last sentence implied – this isn’t some infighting story or anything like that.  Again, I don’t want to go into too much detail because I don’t want to risk spoiling the story, but let me fangirl about Leesha.  This woman is incredible; I love her so much as a female lead because she is one of the strongest ones I’ve seen.  On that note, Brett does a great job in his portrayal of women throughout and, strangely enough, also makes me doubt the authenticity of the men.  Particularly, there were a few moments where Rojer seemed to act out of character…the rest just seemed a little wishy-washy in their portrayal.

So, moving on, I really loved that Brett introduced a new form of demon (not a spoiler – it’s on the blurb) and he didn’t reveal them to the characters right away.  He did a very subtle integration of the new demon species that had a fantastic payoff, though I wish we saw the characters having a bit more suspicion that something was amiss.

Brett’s writing style seemed to be more telling than showing for the first three fourths.  The entire time I was reading, I was wondering if this was a new development or if I’d just been blinded by the last story to not notice he’d always written that way.  Then I read the last quarter and it felt just like the first book. …I don’t know what happened during his whole writing process, but, for me, there was a very noticeable difference.  Along with an introduction of some new perspectives (although they were characters previously introduced), Brett actually did tell a very intriguing story.  I’m most excited about what he’ll do with the character Renna in future books.

Check out the YouTube version of this review here!  Warning: video contains spoilers.

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Note: Sorry for the late review.  I totally blanked on it this morning and had to wait ’til I got home from work to finally post.

I Quit!

I finally quit that job I hated!  Oh, it is such a relief to finally be out of there.  For anyone concerned, it’s not like that was the only job I was working.

Actually, the whole reason I quit was because the costs outweighed the benefits.  The entire summer, I was available Wednesdays and made sure I was never scheduled at my first job only to not be scheduled at all by the second job.  It was infuriating.  What sense did it make for me to sit around all day when I could be working?

So, I finally quit and picked up more hours at my first job where I know I’ll get hours.  Even better is that the first job gave me a raise recently.  So, yeah, I think I’ll stick with working a job I like with people who actually appreciate me for a while, even if I am going to still be flat broke.  Getting something more related to the field I studied in school can come later.

But I am so happy to finally be free of that place.  I’m sure you will all miss terribly my tales of woe.

The Black Cauldron

The second book in The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, The Black Cauldron continues following the adventures of characters introduced in The Book of Three.  It was…there are no words.  It was bad…the essence of the book is just really…dumb.  That’s not to say the story made no sense, but it felt really rushed and…not contrived, exactly, but two steps shy of it.  Events happened quickly, close relationships sprung out of nowhere, and there were way too many convenient coincidences.

So, the actual story of The Black Cauldron is Taran, the rather naive/dumb main character, and company going on a quest to find the Black Cauldron (who would’ve guessed?) and destroy it so the king of darkness can never use it again.  Something like that, anyway – yes, I finished the book, the story is just that undefined.  To say the least, I really didn’t care for it (I can recall one page – count it: one! – where I read an absolutely stunning scene).

Let’s see, what I’ve said about the characters in my review of the last book is pretty much the same.  Taran is dumb, yet somehow gets looked to as a leader, and Eilonwy is a sexist character.  Why would you bother having a character with a background in magic just to put them in the kitchen?  It makes no sense; sure, she goes on the adventure anyway, but not once does she actually use any magic.

Alexander’s writing style was…well, not annoying, but definitely way more tell than show.  I was extremely confused whenever he talked about close attachments between characters who’ve only shared two or three conversations.  It might be a children’s book, but he really could’ve tried harder.  Will I be reading the rest of the series?  Nope.

I’m doing something special with this one on my YouTube channel, so you should definitely check it out here.  Warning: videos contains spoilers (for both the book and the Disney movie).

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