Saturday, December 2, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - November 2017

Wait--November disappeared? I left it right there, turned around for one second, and when I looked back, it was gone!

I suspect many of us are feeling that way, especially all of you who participated in NaNoWriMo! I could use a really long nap right about now. But before I crawl into hibernation, I suppose you're expecting some witty summaries of how November shaped up in my corner of the world, right?

Well, the month opened up with my 22nd birthday.
Po Po Po
And what with blueberry bran muffins for breakfast and a rousing game of bingo in the evening, it's been confirmed that I am now an old lady. It was a lovely day, despite school taking up half of it, and a few days later I received a surprise birthday package in the mail from a dear friend (you know who you are!). Later on I also went out for coffee with another good friend whom I hadn't really chatted with in--oops--close to a year, so that was fun too. (You know who you are as well!)

Let's see, what else . . .

My little sis had a birthday too! The end of the year is when half the family's birthdays snowball into Christmas, so there's always lots of shopping involved. Speaking of which, I started Christmas shopping in November too, but still have a ways to go. That, plus putting up the Christmas tree and seeing the glittering hoarfrost all over the trees on my way to work this morning, means the festive feels are rolling in.

I bought a painting from another friend of mine who was selling her artwork at a local craft faire, and the green-and-blue colors match my room quite nicely.

I finally moved a two-foot stack of books--all acquired last summer--off my desk! Had to clear a shelf to make room for them, but at least now they have a home. Any other book dragons out there struggling to fit your hoard into your existing shelves? It's tough.

So basically lots of little happenings this month, because school was intense. All the assignment due dates, quizzes, and studying kind of fell into November, plus the deadline for a group project was (and still is) looming, so much of my spare time was funneled into textbooks. Unfortunately. This is why I'm heading off to hibernate!

P.S. Marvel's Infinity War trailer dropped and I am F R E A K I N G  O U T.

Subplots on the Screen

Yes, yes, I watched more of Once Upon a Time season 3 and The Flash season 3, both of which are still great! And is it just me, or have I been stuck on these seasons for months?!

Wonder Woman

(I actually watched this in October, but somehow forgot to include it in that month's S&S post.) Back when I first heard they were making a Wonder Woman movie, I'll admit I rolled my eyes, expecting two hours of overly-feministic claptrap. The character's appearance in Batman v. Superman didn't impress me much--she seemed like just another beautiful, kick-butt heroine with little personality.

Buuuut then I started hearing great reviews from friends who were watching Wonder Woman, and when I finally saw it myself--well, I realized they were right! It wasn't a perfect movie (and it did bear some amusing resemblances to Captain America: The First Avenger), but it was one of the best DC films I've seen. Diana's strong moral compass and pure view of the world rang true for me. ("But the war is that way!") Seeing her charge into battle, inspiring dozens of men to follow her into the fray, almost brought me to tears. Plus, it was super fun to see an Amazonian women at odds with American WWI society.

The Dark Tower
The preview gave me chills! I've never watched nor read anything by Stephen King, but this one had enough of a fantasy vibe (and less of a horror vibe) to interest me. Unfortunately, the plot lacked the depth I was hoping for, and the boy, Jake, could have had a lot more personality. I did enjoy it, though! Matthew McConaughy was the BEST as the Man in Black. He saved the movie for me. So did Idris Elba as the Gunslinger--both were really cool characters. The score was fantastic too.

Not sure if this is true, but apparently the movie was based off a whole series of books by Stephen King, so maybe that's why it felt like it was missing something. Anyway, I don't regret watching it.

Soooo good! This is a movie about human trafficking, so it wasn't an easy watch, but the filmmakers did a good job of conveying the worst parts in a subtle, implied way. Even so, there was lots of emotion, and some characters I wanted to smack really hard--disgustingly hard.

Did you know that Joel Smallbone from For King & Country played the lead role? He did a stellar job. Actually, the whole movie was surprisingly good quality. Sorry, but you never know if a Christian film is going to feel low-budget. Terribly unfortunate, and I have many thoughts on that topic, but that's for another day. This movie was great, though, even if it wrapped up a bit quickly!

Due to the subject matter, I would caution younger viewers to use discernment when deciding whether to see it themselves.

Storylines on the Page

Prodigy Prince // Natasha Sapienza

The author was so sweet and gave me a free e-book copy in exchange for review! (All opinions are my own.) This was a high fantasy novel that kind of toed the line between MG and YA, and the action starts right off the bat with Prince Nuelle's older brother leaving him in the role of Supreme Prince. It was a really creative story, exceedingly colorful in all senses of the word, with things like magenta grass and blue hair and elemental-ish superpowers. My favorite powers are spoilery, however, so I can't talk about them!

A slew of fantasy creatures and battles kept the pace running at high-speed; the Savage Shifters in particular were nifty because they were actually limited in their shapeshifting powers (hallelujah for realistic limits!).

I'm a big sucker for training sequences and heroes banding together in an Avengers-like style, so that was another plus for me. My favorite scene, however, took place in an infirmary, where a certain character with healing powers literally absorbed the wounded people's pain.

My main quibble was that the pace didn't allow me to delve as deeply into the mind of the protagonist or the nuances of the storyworld as much as I wanted to. I posted a longer review on Goodreads HERE. (Just an FYI, I believe Natasha is making some changes to the story before she fully releases it, but if you're interested, definitely add it to your to-read list on GR!) Three stars!

The Tomb of the Sea Witch // Kyle Robert Schultz

Eeep, I loved this one! The Beast of Talesend was really fun, don't get me wrong, but somehow the sequel was just BETTER. I laughed out loud numerous times while the characters went undercover at the Warrengate Academy of Advanced Magic and dealt with threats from the sea (sirens! mermaids! artefacts! oh my!). Full of twists and turns that honestly surprised me, humor on nearly every page, lots of snark, and deliciously fun spins on several different fairy tales at once, this little book was like fluffy chocolate cake. No, make that Black Forest Cake, because the surprises and jokes are like . . . cherries? No? Analogy's not working? Okay, fine. It was a great book, and I'm so glad I bought it straight from the author at Realm Makers last summer!

I caught a few unfortunate typos, but am still giving it five stars!

A Time to Die // Nadine Brandes

Another book I bought at Realm Makers, yay! And OH. MY. GOODNESS. This trilogy gets a lot of hype, at least in my reader circles, and I was desperately hoping it would live up to all those glowing reviews. IT DID. Bless Nadine's heart, it did.

This is one of the most unusual dystopian novels I've read, because it's infused with a lot more faith and hard questions and almost urban fantasy-ish settings than others. One setting in particular almost felt out of place, but I found it so fascinating that I didn't care.

But let's get back to the beginning. PARVIN. She is gold. I related to her so stinking much. In a society where everyone has a Clock counting down the time until they die, she has a year left and yearns to find her purpose, some way to make her last days count. She swings from apathy to passion a few times throughout the course of the novel, which was uncomfortably realistic (but in a good way). And she's something of a writer--well, technically an autobiographer--so that was neat.

Some quickie thoughts on other characters:

  • Parvin's mom was hard to like at first, but that was on purpose, and I felt their somewhat rocky relationship was done really well.
  • Parvin's twin brother was lovable, except for a few times when he was annoyingly secretive.
  • A certain man with a fedora was verrrrry hateable.
  • Jude--I have conflicting feelings about this guy even now. At times I hated him too, at other times I adored him. He was flawed, temperamental, but he had his reasons. So my undecided opinion is not a bad thing! Just an observation!
  • Hawke--okay, him I like. He had some moments that made me unsure as well, but in other ways he reminded me of the beloved Remko from Rachelle Dekker's Seer trilogy, minus the stutter. I want more Hawke in the next two instalments!
  • Willow was precious.
  • One minor character had a strong Ecclesiastes ("everything is useless!") vibe going on, which was intriguing.
  • The Albinos were despicable and strange and yet some of them had redeeming qualities.

I don't even know how to sum up my thoughts on this book! I've been thinking about it for weeks since finishing it. It brought me close to tears. It resonated with me powerfully. The emotions were palpable, the writing was excellent, and the worldbuilding was fleshed out wonderfully. Low cities and high cities, a humongous wall, tightropes, wilderness, a train, the Dregs, emotigraphs, super cool suits: all of it shone through the pages brilliantly. Nadine writes with truckloads of heart, and consequently, mine was broken in a beautiful way.

Can't wait to read the next two! Five stars!

A Midsummer Night's Dream // Shakespeare

GASP, what is this? Tracey read a classic? A Shakespeare play, no less? Why yes, I'm not a completely uncultured bookdragon. Sometimes the classic bug bites me, and I'm in the mood for old books. That happened this month, so I picked up this wee little play and enjoyed it immensely. All I knew about it going in was that Puck was in it. And I wanted to read about Puck. And I was not disappointed. He was one of my favorite parts--a mischievous imp who, together with Oberon, mess everything up for the play's main characters. This was a comedy of errors indeed. Very amusing.

And essentially we have a love square going on. (Thanks, Shakespeare, for inspiring 98% of all modern YA romances--although it looks like you were really just poking fun at the melodrama.) It's all rather over-the-top and hilarious, but there are also gorgeous descriptions woven throughout, along with musings on the nature of art, love's blindness, and imagination.

"The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact . . ."

Also, Nick Bottom and the other peasant actors are officially the second-best thing ever. Puck is still the best! Another five stars.

In other book news . . .

I won a discount on a PageHabit book box in October, caved in, and subscribed. My box arrived early November, containing two new hardcover YA books--both annotated by the authors--and a small collection of bookish goodies. Quite fun! But it's an American-based company, and so it's not exactly cheap for a Canadian . . . so my plan was to unsubscribe after my first box, at least for now while I'm a student paying tuition fees. Except I forgot to unsubscribe in time, and now my second box is in the mail. Oops! Oh well, it means a couple more new books.

Subplots on My Writing Desk

Hey, remember last month when I told y'all that I was going to edit my Snow White retelling for the Rooglewood contest before the end of November so that I could have a month off writing?

That didn't happen. Instead, school happened.

I think I had exactly four editing sessions the entire month, and the first two were spent reading over the novella and making notes.

But as of now, I did my first pass through chapters 1-4 (out of 9 in total). So . . . I can still finish before the deadline on December 31st. And on the plus side, it's not as much of a mess as I originally thought? So yay? I don't know, I guess I've been dealing with some writer's doubt on this one. But it's starting to shape up a bit--progress!

Oh, guess what! I also have a title AT LAST! No longer must I refer to it as Epically Confused and Possibly Schizophrenic Snow White Retelling (or ECaPSSWR). No, now it is called Mirrors Never Lie. Having something to call it is a relief!

[image via Pinterest; graphic my own]

Hello, final month of 2017!

November was a packed month, so I can't wait to get final exams done and over with so that I can take Christmas break! How did all of you fare this month? Did you survive NaNo? Has it snowed yet wherever you live? Whatcha think of the new novella title? Pour yourself a hot chocolate and let's chat!


  1. Priceless is so. Flipping. Good. I love it so much. (For king and country actually wrote the whole thing, and directed too, I think!)

    1. YES. IT'S AMAZING. I'm just in awe of the quality work FK&C did to produce it!

  2. Happy belated birthday! I too liked Priceless, shed lots of tears. It reminded me of Bryan's unpublished The Scent of Her Soul.
    I really like your title, and I hope your retelling makes it into the book. I got Five Magic Spindles based on your review and am on the fourth story. I will get the new book if your story is in it. =)

    1. Thank you! :) Priceless is a tearjerker, that's for sure. And if The Scent of Her Soul is similar, that's another reason I'm looking forward to reading it one day!

      Glad you like the title! Awww, you're so kind--thank you again!!! Winning the contest would be pretty amazing. And you purchased Five Magic Spindles, hooray! I hope you're enjoying it.

  3. Mirrors Never Lie!!! AWESIME TITLE.

    And Jude ....!!! *wails and wails* I might be the only one but he is like my fave character from that book idk why??

    SHAKESPREARE THO <333 Idk why either here but even though I roll mybeyes at most YA romance Shakespeare romance is just ... HEY IT'S CLASSIC AND I LOVE IT... I know I'm weird.




      ALSO HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! 22 isn't too old ... but it's old compared to me haha!

    2. THANK YOU! *beams*

      My feelings about Jude keep waffling back and forth! I *mostly* really liked him, but I can see in some ways why other reader's didn't? XD But...yeah. I shall join you in the wailing.

      LOL, I guess Shakespeare is allowed to be sappy and dramatic because he came first? XD I don't know, it just kind of works for him!

      (I wish we could edit comments! I cringe at my own typos too!)

      THANK YOOOOUUU! Yep, I'm pretty much Granny Tracey now. XDDD

  4. HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! Best wishes with edits! You can do it! Go go go!

    1. THANK YOU, TORI! <3 I just finished the first round of edits today, which feels great! :D Hope your December is off to a wonderful start.

  5. Happy belated birthday!
    Was your painter friend Kianna from that October 2016 post by any chance? I remember her art!
    I really need to read A Time to Die, I've heard so many good things about it.
    Yay, ECaPSSWR now has a name that's much easier to say and type!

    1. Thanks, Blue!

      Yes, it was Kianna! I'm surprised you remember. She'll be delighted to hear that. :) She had a number of beautiful pieces for sale--tigers and dancers made of paint and pretty flowers--but I ended up buying a smaller abstract one.

      Yes, A Time to Die was fantastic! Not *everyone* enjoys that kind of book, but I absolutely loved it. I hope you enjoy it too!

      LOL, three cheers for that! It's such a relief having a real title for it. XD

  6. How IS November over? IT WENT BY SO FAST. *flaaails*

    First of all, HAPPY (late) BIRTHDAY!!!! I do so hope it was a lovely one! My sweet Tracey deserves a lovely birthday. *huggles* Happy birthday to your sis as well! :D

    Goodness, with all the school going on, I'm in awe at your ability to do other things on top of homework! What a crazy month you've had! o.O I do hope you will get a nice break soon!


    I'm DYING to see Wonder Woman! I literally did the SAME thing as you--rolling my eyes when it first was announced, expecting an emotionless, kickbutt female warrior. Yep, yep. But, just like you, as I saw the reviews roll in and heard even die hard Marvel fans rave over it, I realized I need to see this thing! Haven't gotten to it yet, but I definitely need to!
    I'm also intrigued by Dark Tower! I'm not one for horror, but, as you said, it looks way more fantasy-esque than straight up horror. That's a shame it felt a bit lacking, but it still sounds like it was an entertaining movie. (And yeah, it is based off an entire series of books, so that very well may have been the problem.)
    Priceless is another one I really, REALLY want to watch! It's good to see Christian media taking a stand about heavy subjects and not just sticking to fluffy things, you know? So yes, I must watch it! I apparently need to do a lot of movie watching. XD

    YOU READ TOMB OF THE SEA WITCH!!!! Wasn't it hilarious? The anti-hero school killed me. XD And the Mythfits were the BEST! Lolz. Those stories are just so fun!

    Oooh, and you read A Time to Die too! Wow, that book. O_O It definitely had a VERY different vibe from most dystopian, and I really liked that! And Nadine was nooooot afraid to hurt her characters (or readers). The things that happened to Parvin... MEEEEP. It wasn't my favoritest book of all time, but I did thoroughly enjoy it and Nadine is a BRILLIANT writer. The details and world building and CHARACTER building she did! The characters are soooo real and deep! I actually have the 2nd book coming my way in the mail as we speak. Can't wait for it to get here! (Also Hawke yes. I liked him a lot. A lot a lot! Iwantmoreofhimplease.)

    That's so fun you read A Midsummer Night's Dream! I read it yeeears ago (I'm talking early teen years), and totally loved it! It's so hilarious and crazy. XD I need to reread it!

    I'm sorry school took over most of your editing plans, but you still have time! And it looks like you're making awesome progress. You're doing great! I mean, I'm in awe at your ability to WRITE it amidst all the craziness, and now editing, too! You're always so dedicated to your writing. YOU'RE DOING AWESOME. And I'm sooo excited it has a title, and such an intriguing one at that! :D It's all gonna be great! *sends you motivational cookies*

    I do so hope final exams go well as well as editing, and that afterwards you'll be able to have a VERY MUCH deserved break! Happy December, my dear! <333

    1. I don't knoooooow! I could've sworn it was October like, yesterday. XD

      EEEP, THANK YOU! <333 I'll pass the birthday wishes on to my sis too.

      It was pretty busy, but I'm allllmost at the point where I get to take a break. I'm so excited about that! But goodness, YOU'VE been busy last month too! I don't know how you managed to even keep up with commenting on blogs during a double NaNo. o.o

      Haha, so it wasn't just me who had that initial reaction! I would definitely say it was one of the best DC films I've seen. (I enjoyed Nolan's Batman trilogy and Man of Steel, but most other DC movies are a bit meh to me... What can I say, I'm a Marvel fan!) I'll be really interested to hear your thoughts on Wonder Woman whenever you do watch it!
      And also your thoughts on Dark Tower. It was still entertaining, despite some places it was lacking a little bit.
      YES YES, PRICELESS WAS BEAUTIFUL. I so appreciated the way they tackled a difficult subject with such grace and honesty.

      Oh my goodness gracious, I just LOVED all the funny twists on fairytale tropes! And the Mythfits! Ah, they were precious! Thinking back, the class dynamic with that group reminds me a smidgen of Percy Jackson humor... xD I can't wait to read the other books in the Beaumont and Beaseley series.

      You're right, it WAS a very different vibe! Which was kinda nice, because we can only take so many "I turn sixteen and society sorts me into an oppressive system and I must leave my family and become who I am and take down the government" kind of stories. XD (Okay, but I did really like Divergent, even if that's exactly what I just described. But that's another topic.) I can see why A Time to Die wouldn't be everyone's favorite, but alskfjslkfj yes, poor Parvin! She went through SO much. O.O And absolutely, it was the character building that made me love the book so much. Oooh, you've got the next book on the way--exciting! (Much much more of Hawke please and thank you.)

      Haha, that's great! It's a really fast read, and quite amusing.

      THANK YOU, GIRL. You're seriously a big encouragement. Aaaaand as of today I finished the first round of edits! I think with one more round to brush up a few spots and add in some foreshadowing, it'll be good to go. *noms all the motivational cookies*

      Again, thank you, darling! I hope December has started off great for you, and that you enjoy a month of relaxing and reading and not writing! ^_^

  7. Oh yay! Someone else in their twenties who does older people things! I'm not alone! I hope you had an excellent birthday.

    I love the title! It evokes a sense of intrigue. I love it when books do that.

    1. High five for another old/young lady! XD Thank you, I certainly did.

      Awww, I'm happy to hear that! It took me FOREVER to settle on a title, and in the end I went back to one of my first ideas. Glad you like it. :D

  8. I'm late on this, but here I am -*ahem* I wouldn't call 22 an old lady ;) I guess this means I'm about a month ancienter than you.

    Priceless was so unexpectedly good. I especially love the movie version of the song. One scene in it particularly struck me. They handlied it so gently, but I think I was affected more than if they had been brutal with it.

    But, yeah, Christian movies are a hit or miss. Have you seen The Case for Christ?

    1. And it appears I'm a bit late in replying to you--sorry about that! LOL, you ancient soul. ;)

      "Unexpectedly good" is the perfect way to describe it. YES, oh my goodness, the slow version of that song in the movie nearly brought me to tears.

      I haven't seen that one yet, but I really want to! I hear it's a good one. Have you watched it?

    2. I have watched The Case for Christ, and I'd say it's probably pretty far up there on the Christian movie list. I got lost in the story and wasn't painfully aware of the acting or dialogue.

    3. That makes me want to see it even more! Being able to get lost in the story is a big, big plus for ANY kind of entertainment! :D

  9. First: Happy birthday! I haven't been on blogger much lately ;)

    Love so many of these movies/ shows/ books... or want to read/ watch them. Really want to read Nadine's book. And soooo loving the Flash episodes! My family and I are watching them together :)

    1. Thank you, Keturah! <3

      High five for similar tastes, then! Nadine Brandes is an amazing writer; I hope you enjoy her books whenever you get to them. :) Eeek, you're watching The Flash?! I LOVE THAT SHOW SO MUCH!!!

  10. I muchly approve of the Loki gif. :D Also *FREAKS OUT WITH YOU* CAN IT BE MAY ALREADY? I NEED MORE AVENGERS. O_O

    I agree about Wonder Woman! It did have some very close similarities of Captain America First Avenger, but I still enjoyed it very, very much! :)

    ACK I NEED TO READ A TIME TO DIE. It SO looks like my genre! Not quite dystopian, urban fantasy-ish, with epic worldbuilding! YES. <3


    I hope you have a nice December break and a merry Christmas! <3 (It's nearly Christmas already?! O_O)

    1. Heehee, thank you. I've been on such a Marvel kick lately! XD PLEASE BE MAY RIGHT NOW PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. But I'm also super nervous for all the Avengers because it feels like someone--or multiple someones--could die in this one. D:

      I happened to love Captain America: The First Avenger, so I guess the similarities didn't bug me too much either! ;D Wonder Woman was a great movie.

      YESSSS READ IT. It's finally available on Amazon again! <3 I definitely need to buy the second and third books ASAP.


      You too, Madeline! Yikes, how is Christmas so close already?!

  11. OK, somehow I thought I signed up for email updates for your blog. But I guess it must've been Bloglovin, which I rarely visit... So wonder I haven't been getting notifications when your new posts go live. *blushes* (We follow each other on Goodreads, too, btw.)

    That's a great title for the novella! It makes me curious about what kind of spin you've put on the Snow White story. I hope you'll be able to carve out enough time so you can revise / edit / finish it in time for the contest deadline!

    Wasn't Wonder Woman so much fun?? I'm actually feeling a bit fatigued by the superhero films, but WW was a much-needed breath of fresh air. It wasn't perfect, I agree, but it was incredibly enjoyable, especially thanks to Diana's character.

    November was pretty good; productive on both the Christmas shopping and writing fronts. It's just mind-boggling that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now Christmas is, what, 3 weeks away? Two?? :o

    Happy belated birthday, btw!

    1. Oh dear, I hope it wasn't a tech problem on my end! I actually have no idea how well the email updates work for my blog, because I have no way to track it. I don't even know how many people use it. XD (But yes, I do remember you from GR! And I see you in the comments section of Tori's blog all the time.)

      Thanks; I'm glad you think so! I'm plugging through the third draft this week, so it looks like I'm just about done. ^_^

      It was a pleasant surprise! I love her character so much. I can see how you--and probably many others--are getting somewhat weary of superhero flicks. I'm still loving most of them myself, but there have been a few that are such drags. -_-

      Sounds like a great November! Woohoo for early Christmas shopping too--I still have a bit more to buy in the next two weeks. XD

      Thanks! I hope your December is off to a great start, Sara!