Saturday, May 4, 2019

Subplots and Storylines - March & April 2019

Happy May! Last time Subplots and Storylines came around, I recapped January and February. It's strange to think it's only been two months since then . . . it feels like four, considering how much was packed into them!

[Note: be sure to catch the P.S. at the end of the post!]

Last day of college!
For one thing, after a torrential downpour of school projects--and a great big entrepreneurship tradeshow thingie--I am officially done college! I don't get my diploma until June. But the work is done. Classes are over. Exams have been written. I am no longer a student. (!!!) It's been an adventure and a half, I tell ya. Someday I might tell you all about it.

What else . . .

I registered for Realm Makers! I don't think I've announced that here yet, but yes--I'll be there for my third time in a row, and I can't wait. This time, my bro Josiah is coming with me!

In other news, we celebrated Easter, I squeezed in some friend time between college assignments (yay for Scrabble and London Fogs and pizza nights and trying African food for the first time!). I was also a bridesmaid in a dear friend's wedding.

My seven-year-old laptop rebelled and started crashing every time I used it. So I finally bought myself a shiny new one.*

*Feel like it needs a name, though . . . Maybe Sebastian. Because a) I like the name and b) it reminds me of Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan . . . and the laptop is sleek and metallic like Bucky's arm? IDK, man.

Aaaand on top of all of that, I started my new job this week! I'm now in the marketing department of a nonprofit organization. My head is spinning with all the new things I'm learning, but I positively love what I get to do and who I get to work with. God is so cool!

Here's yet another "and"--I joined the Havok team! Very excited to learn the ropes and start helping writers get their flash fiction into the world.

Screen Subplots

T V  S H O W S

I rewatched two episodes of The Flash season 3 and started The Flash season 4 (so good!). Also rewatched an episode of Once Upon a Time season 4.

M A R C H  M O V I E S

Christopher Robin
Heartwarming, nostalgic, and so, so perfect. I cried. Several times. The Hundred Acre Wood was my childhood love, and somehow Pooh still has the ability to say just the right thing in his simple way. I loved watching him and his friends help a grown-up Christopher Robin recapture his wonder.

"Sometimes when I'm going somewhere and I wait, somewhere comes to me."

Ralph Breaks the Internet
This was actually pretty cute (minus a few sort-of crass jokes). It ended up having a much deeper theme than I expected, dealing with what happens when best friends go different directions in life. And interpreting the Internet as an actual setting was really cool. Worth seeing if you liked the first one! (Also Gal Gadot was in it!)

"My autofill is a touch aggressive today."

Captain Marvel
IT WAS NOT AS BAD AS THE CRITICS SAID. I was leery after reviews (and Brie Larson herself) made it an ultra-feminism issue, but the movie didn't come off as preachy to me, thankfully.

And while it may not be my favorite Marvel movie to date, it was a fun addition with plenty of banter between Carol Danvers and Nick Fury, the surprise that is Goose, and 90's throwbacks. (Blockbuster, anyone?) Plus there was a super interesting take on the prejudices that drive war. I'm hoping for good things if we get any sequels!

"Do you know how to fly this thing?"
"That's a yes or no question."

A P R I L  M O V I E (S)

Avengers: Endgame
AHHHHHHHH!!!! Pardon the fangirl in me, but that movie is INCREDIBLE. I'm in awe at the scope of the thing, the emotional depth, the satisfying conclusion. Three hours of awesomeness and feels.

It's bittersweet to see this massive story come to an end. After all, I spent most of my teen years looking forward to the next MCU release date. But it's been a good ride. *immediately wants to go on a Marvel movie binge* Maybe I'll manage to collect my thoughts in a full review once more of the world has seen it!

(There are so many quotes I'd like to list here, but this one's from the trailer, so it's not spoilery.)

"Whatever it takes."

Page Storylines

M A R C H  B O O K S

Reclaiming Shilo Snow // Mary Weber
Remember me screeching about the amazingness of The Evaporation of Sofi Snow in the last S&S post? Well, the sequel continued with the same guts and heart as the first book. As Sofi and Miguel hurry to save Sofi's brother, more heartpounding twists hurtled me right to the satisfying finale.

Together, this duology is inspiring in the truest sense of the word. It holds up a mirror and asks us to find our humanity, to choose goodness over rightness, and to make every choice one of love.

(Goodreads review here.) 5 stars!

Songkeeper // Gillian Bronte Adams
Taking a decidedly darker turn than its prequel, Orphan's Song, this book follows Birdie through her struggle to hold onto hope when the Song feels distant, and Ky's misadventures as he tries to protect his Underground friends.

I took almost a month to read this (thanks, college). Maybe that's why the story seemed to lack that "just one more chapter" pull.

But hey, Gundhrold the griffin is still there, Amos is still his belligerent self, we get to explore the further reaches of Leira, and the ending plunges into the heart of darkness in order to reveal the cogs that have been turning the series' main conflict! So yay for that! I'm interested to see how everything shapes up in the third and final book.

(Full review on Goodreads.) 3.5-4 stars.

A P R I L  B O O K S

The Scent of Her Soul // Bryan Davis
In this human trafficking story with a speculative twist, Mike has the ability to track the scent of young girls’ souls. He’s been searching for his daughter (who was abducted three years ago) and trying in the meantime to rescue as many trafficked girls from prostitution as possible.

Needless to say, this was a sad, intense, and horrifying read—yet the heroes of the tale gave me hope. It’s absolutely sickening what goes on in our very own streets, right under our noses. But as Mike repeatedly reminds himself, “Every girl is special. Every girl is unique. Every girls needs a hero.”

Based on the subject matter, along with some swearing (which I felt was justified and not gratuitous), I would recommend this only for mature readers. Be advised that there is frequent talk of rape as well as on-screen violence. However, it was all very well-written from the perspective of motivating action in the reader. Mr. Davis has tackled an extremely difficult topic head on and has done an excellent job.

Sky in the Deep // Adrienne Young
When I finally cracked open Sky a year after its hyped release, I hoped I'd love it as much as I wanted to. Vikings! Battle! Family! Gorgeous cover! And now I can say I DID love it.

Eelyn's a kick-butt, axe-wielding heroine, but she has a heart, which kept her from becoming just another warrior girl. That heart might be iced over with anger and bitterness, but her slow thaw was perfect.

I kind of hated Fiske at the beginning. I was worried he’d be the typical alpha male love interest who “makes up” for his foul moods by being hot. Thankfully that wasn’t the case! He too had a heart, fiercely protective of his family, and I loved him for that.

And Halvard!!! My previous boy! He was exactly the innocent touch that both Eelyn and the book itself needed. Inge and Iri are great too, even if Iri got overshadowed by Fiske toward the end.

I also loved the Viking-inspired culture, the crisp setting, and the beautiful-yet-punchy prose. Some truly heart pounding scenes took place! (And this is the perfect comp title for one of my own books, so yay!)

Some small dislikes include a few places where it was unclear who was speaking, a couple of make-out sessions, etc. And readers should be aware that the violence is rather bloody, and there is one very gory torture scene I wasn't expecting.

Other than that, though, I loved it! The power of family—of blood and of choice—runs through from the first page to the last.

Sentinel // Jamie Foley
Sentinel feels like it waltzed through the Story Elements Grocery Store and picked up a few bags of fantasy, a box of dystopian, a bit of supernatural, and a smidgen of alternate universe. Throw in some generous helpings of humor and voila! I don't know what it is, but hey. Breaking genres is cool, even if it confused me a bit in the beginning.

I loved the magic academy, the whole aether magic thing going on (there were some superhero vibes), and the fact that we get a sibling relationship from the younger one's point-of-view.

There's a big cast of characters and lots of banter going on. A few of my favorite people...
  • Darien, the main character, is such a puppy--probably one of the more realistic 16-year-old boys I've read about (in terms of maturity).
  • Jet is just awesome.
  • Levi sounded exactly like Haymitch (*cough* I mean Woody Harrelson) in my head.
  • Sorvashti has a language barrier.

Some events felt like they needed more foreshadowing or explanation . . . just more development, in general. But I hear that a prequel novella should clear some of that up. Overall, though, it was a pretty fun story! (JET IS MY FAV. MUST READ MORE BECAUSE OF JET.)

(Full Goodreads review.) 4 stars.

Sword in the Stars (first edition) // Wayne Thomas Batson
Sword in the Stars plunges you into Batson's richest, broadest fantasy realm yet--the land of Myriad. Here we roam forested kingdoms and ancient ruins and dark keeps, following a large cast of characters in a cinematic style. Rereading this book was a huge nostalgia kick. This was one of the tales that shaped my love of fantasy. Now, seven years later, a bit of the shine has worn off, but I still love the heart and vision of this book.

Former assassin Alastair Coldhollow drives much of the plot forward. Wrestling with a bloody past and an addiction to Witchdrale, he nevertheless searches for the Halfainin, a hero prophesied to defeat the Dark King and save Myriad. But a baby he never wanted and a woman he meant to stay away from pull Alastair in another direction.

Before you know it, he becomes caught in a web of dark designs as his former master, King Morlan, secretly stirs the kingdoms to war.

I loved Alastair, Queen Maren (who's a total boss), the Shepherds, the slow decline of the people's faith, Cythraul (the creepy dude), and all the allegorical elements!

What I didn't love so much were some spelling/punctuation mistakes that could've been caught with another proofread. Also there's a continuity problem with a character death--but the new-and-improved second edition fixes that! (I checked.) The beginning third of the book meanders. A few anachronisms like "okay" threw me off a little bit.

But I was pleasantly surprised at how well the majority of this book held up so many years later!
Myriad is a world I can sink my teeth into, meaty enough to carry the rest of this series (which I think is supposed to be seven books long). I applaud Mr. Batson for setting the stage as he did, choosing poignant characters to head up a story playing out on a global scale.

(Full review on Goodreads, complete with a fully explained list of what I loved and didn't love.) 4 stars!

[I am also quite pleased that all six of these books either start with S or almost do, and all of the covers except Reclaiming Shilo Snow match really well. #aesthetics]

Written Subplots

Not much to report here yet, but in April I did write a short story very spontaneously. It was one of those "just for me" sorts of things and was so good for my head and heart. So take note, writers! If you need to spend some time writing something that you don't plan to do anything with, ever, give yourself that gift.

Hello, May!

What have you been up to? Have you seen Endgame yet?! Read any of those books--or do any of them look like they should go on your to-be-read pile?

P.S. I'm going on a blogging hiatus, probably for the month of May! Why? I'm going to start the Great Move (aka I'm moving from Blogger to my own website). I'll be back when everything is ready to go! In the meantime, pop in and visit me on Instagram. See you later!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Tag

Time to blow the dust off Adventure Awaits again! I didn't mean to be absent for a whole month, but I'm happy to report I've emerged from college alive and well.

Well. That status might change once I see Avengers: Endgame this weekend.
In preparation for possibly the greatest superhero film of the decade, the brilliant Christine Smith has invented an MCU tag, which I am blatantly stealing. (Spoilers for MCU films up to and including Captain Marvel will abound! You've been warned.)

Credit goes to Christine Smith

Here we go . . .

Thor // Pinterest

1. How were you introduced into the MCU fandom?

I'm pretty sure I have my brother, Josiah @ The Steadfast Pen, to thank for watching Captain America: The First Avenger and then telling me I'd love it too.

You should've heard me when the plane went down at the end. "That's how it ends?" I shrieked. Josiah didn't say a word and let me sit in agony until Cap wakes up in the present. Needless to say, I became a Marvel fan.

2. What’s your favorite Marvel film?


All of the Captain America movies, obviously, with Winter Soldier barely edging out the other two. Spider-Man: Homecoming is another huge favorite, because finally--FINALLY--we got a Peter Parker that was young enough, dorky enough, and earnest enough without being overly melodramatic. (Sorry, Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.) I also love all the Avengers films. And Thor: Ragnarok. And Doctor Strange. And--okay, I'll stop.

3. Top favorite Marvel character?

Preeeetty sure you've figured it out by now.

Captain America // Pinterest

Steve Rogers epitomizes true heroism. But Peter Parker is now tied as my favorite character ever since Homecoming.

"The spider is dead." // Pinterest

Very, very close runners-up (because I can never pick one favorite) include Bucky Barnes, Loki, Tony Stark, Peggy Carter, Shuri . . . the list goes on.

4. If you were transported into the MCU and had to trade places with one of the superheroes, who would you choose?

Um . . . none of them?! I wouldn't last five minutes.

I think I'll borrow Christine's answer and say Ant-Man, because he seems to have the calmest life of the bunch.

Scott Lang // Pinterest

But I'd take Thor's place on Asgard prior to Ragnarok, because it's pretty cool. Oooh, or Hawkeye whenever he gets a chance to chill on his farm with his kids.

Hawkeye // Pinterest

5. What are some of your favorite quotes from the films?

How many am I allowed to pick?

"You get hurt, hurt 'em back. You get killed, walk it off." -Captain America (Age of Ultron)

"Oh, we're using our made up names." -Spider-Man (Infinity War)

"Get this man a shield." -Black Panther (Infinity War)

"He's a friend from work!" -Thor (Ragnarok)

Hulk & Thor // Pinterest

"Elevator's not worthy." -Captain America (Age of Ultron)

"Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, 'No, you move.'" -Sharon Carter (Civil War)

"I promise you brother, the sun will shine on us again." -Loki (Infinity War)

"Language!" -Captain America (Age of Ultron)

"Doth Mother know you weareth her drapes?" -Iron Man (The Avengers)

"I've mastered the ability of standing so incredibly still that I become invisible to the eye. Watch." -Drax (Infinity War)

"I recognize that the council has made a decision, but given that it's a stupid-a** decision, I've elected to ignore it." -Nick Fury (The Avengers)

"Don't do anything stupid until I get back."
"How can I? You're taking all the stupid with you."
-Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers (The First Avenger)

"Do you know how to fly this thing?"
"We'll see."
"That's a yes or no question."
-Nick Fury and Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)

"Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather!" -Loki (The Dark World)

"I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!" -Yondu (Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II)

Okay, I'll stop here. There's way too many more!

6. Which crew would you want to be part of the most: Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Revengers?

The Avengers, hands down!

7. Favorite and least favorite ship?

Steve and Peggy are one of my favs. And . . . hmm. I feel like the MCU excels in bromances and friendship in general, but I can't think of very many romance pairings that I really, really love. Wait--if we're counting the Amazing Spider-Man films, then I adore Peter and Gwen together.

Least favorite ship? I'm not sure on that one either. I guess Bruce and Natasha.

8. Favorite and least favorite villain?

Favorite: LOKIIII. But I do get tired of the fangirls who excuse his crimes just because he's "misunderstood." He is that, but he also made some horrendous decisions. If he wasn't so charismatic, I doubt he'd be nearly as popular as he is. The reason I love Loki's character is because he's complicated--he has the potential for good and evil, and we see him waver between the two.

Loki // Pinterest

Least favorite: Abomination from The Incredible Hulk. First of all, that's probably my least favorite Marvel movie, and second, Abomination is just plain ugly to look at.

9. Unpopular MCU opinion?

Ultron is a fantastic villain. I'm not sure why people give him--and the whole movie--a hard time. He was perfectly chilling, the way he learned and planned and spoke as an AI.

"Everyone creates the thing they dread. Men of peace create engines of war. Invaders create Avengers. People create... smaller people? Er... children! I lost the word there. Children. Designed to supplant them. To help them... end."

Plus we have the bonus of Ultron being Tony Stark's fear-fuelled creation. Yay for internal conflict becoming external conflict!

10. What’s your favorite Stan Lee cameo scene?

CHRISTINE, STOP MAKING ME PICK. I laughed every time Stan Lee showed up on screen. It's going to be so different not to see him anymore.

But okay, if I have to choose, it's the "Tony Stank" comment in Civil War, but I also love the "Did it work?" line when he tries towing Mjolnir in the first Thor movie.

Thanks for letting me steal the tag, Christine! It's the perfect way to reminisce on all the Marvel adventures we've been given thus far . . . right before I go have my heart shredded for three hours in the theater.

Who's ready to see Avengers: Endgame? Have you seen it already? (Let's keep the comments spoiler-free for that movie if you have!) And tell me YOUR favorite Marvel character and Marvel quote!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

4 Years of Adventures

My, how time has flown! Adventure Awaits is past its toddler stage and is now four years old! (Who am I kidding, though; it's still a Very Small Child.)

Despite my spotty absences in the past seven months, I treasure this space. And the reason I treasure it is because of you! This is a gathering place for book dragons and adventurers and old souls. I've met so many wonderful people in the comments here. So thank you! If you've ever read a post or left a comment or two or a hundred, I appreciate you!

To celebrate four years of bloggerly adventures with all of you, I've dreamt up some reminiscent lists. Read on, friend. There might be some announcement-type items at the end.

Four Friends I've Met Through Blogging

I could probably list 400 friends I've met through Adventure Awaits (okay, maybe not quite that many), but four that spring to mind are . . .

  • Jenelle Schmidt - half of the brainpower behind the Silmarillion Awards, a lovely author, and supermom of four hobbits
  • Mary Horton - if it weren't for her adorably long comment years ago, I never would've met this lovely friend who steadfastly holds to the light
  • Blue - this fellow old soul deserves a gold star for her loyalty and faithful commenting
  • Emily - who became my Scottish pen pal and critique partner thanks to bonding over each others blogs

These four ladies are dear friends whom I probably wouldn't have met otherwise! And I honestly could sit here all day listing so many more, along with friends I met elsewhere but have since connected with through blogging as well. YOU ARE ALL AMAZING.

Four Guest Posts

We've seen a modest number of interviews and guest posts over the years, but here are four particularly good ones.

Four Special Things I've Written for the Blog

  • hey dreamer // a love letter to creatives and dreamers everywhere
  • The Cage // a creepy story for Halloween
  • Fantasy in My Veins // not a fictional story, but a tribute to the mark that fantasy has made on my life
  • Rewritten // a self-aware look at the torture characters go through (mwahaha)
And as a bonus (yep, we're breaking the rule of four), here's Ann Marie. As it turns out, this is one of the very earliest inspirations for my main work-in-progress, The Brightest Thread. I didn't know at the time that a spark from that flash fiction would become a faint echo in TBT!

Four Struggles of Blogging

  • Finding ideas! I'm out of practice due to college life, but blogger's block happens even when I'm posting regularly.

Searching For Inspiration - Writers Write
  • Taking the time to visit other blogs. I've been almost completely MIA on my friends' blogs lately, and I want to find a way to change that!

  • Imposter syndrome. You know how it goes. "Who am I to speak to others? What do I have to teach? I'm no expert. Who am I to inspire anyone? I'm as messed up as they are. I'm not like what people think I am." It's a load of garbage, but we probably all face those thoughts from time to time.

  • Balancing authenticity and privacy. I love sharing life with you all, but sometimes it's hard to know how much of life to share online.

Four Joys of Blogging

  • Connecting with followers and other bloggers. You all are the best, okay? I can't say it enough. It's the relationships formed that make this so fun and rewarding!

  • Writing discipline. Not counting these past few months (*cough*), blogging has helped me regularly exercise my writing muscles. Holding myself accountable to a schedule means learning how to show up to the table even when the Muse declines the invitation.

  • Reflection. My monthly Subplots and Storylines posts are signposts showing me how far I've come, inspirational posts cause me to reflect, and others force me to define my thoughts. It's a good exercise, putting what's in my head into actual words.

23 Awesome Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About “The Lego Movie” Vitruvius’ line, “Ah, we gotta write all that down ‘cause I’m not gonna remember any of it, but here we go,” wasn’t originally in the script. It was only added when Morgan Freeman said it during filming because he was frustrated with all the line changes.
  • Making a difference. I won't bother to quantify what sort of difference I make here. That's impossible. But I have long dreamed of lighting hearts aflame with words. Publishing is a long, long journey, so it has been pretty incredible in the meantime to send words into a corner of the world and (hopefully) fan a few flames.

Four Things I've Learned About Blogging

  • It's not about me. I mean, YES, obviously I talk about myself here. Quite a bit, in fact. But I am gradually learning that the purpose of my journey is not me. My highs and lows are, in fact, a means of connecting to others taking their own journeys. And so I try to structure my posts as a means of illustration and companionship to make your path a little better.

  • It's okay to talk about me. Doesn't that contradict the first point? No, because part of that companionship is me being me. Offering up a piece of myself, however silly and trivial or deep and heartfelt. We need each other. It's actually inspiring to hear someone ramble about what they're passionate about or share a story of what they're going through! I can recognize that in others, so it's about time I recognize that in myself.

  • We are lazy readers. Short paragraphs. Lots of images. Lots of white space. Easy to read fonts and light colored backgrounds. Please and thank you.

  • When the well runs dry, there's a good chance you've stopped adventuring. This applies to all of life, all of creativity. You can't write about new things if you're not experiencing new things. It's hard to produce good content if you're not living life, dreaming dreams, meeting people, getting things done, etc. Get out and go on an adventure. Live a life worth writing about!
I got You're free-spirited and adventurous.! The Color You Love Most Will Reveal A Deep Truth About You

Four Ways I'm Going to Improve as a Blogger

College is over in just one month! Which means I'll have time to sweep out the dust bunnies around here and start posting more often. I've learned a l o t in the past couple of years, and I'm excited to start executing on some of those things! So here are four ways I plan to improve as a blogger.

  • We are moving house! Yes sirree, if you missed the mentions in earlier posts, Adventure Awaits is going to pack up and move to a self-hosted website. Blogger has served me well, but I would like to step it up in terms of design and professionalism. Tentative moving date is the end of April/sometime in May! Don't worry, I'll keep you all in the loop and make sure that migrating to the new platform goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Post regularly. No explanation needed there!

  • Hone my focus. I'm going to zoom in on my niche (once I define what that is for me) so that I can offer you sharper, more valuable content on a consistent basis!

  • Launch my super secret project. Yeah, everyone and their pet dragon has a "super secret project," and yeah, you might've forgotten mine because it's been forever since I dropped a hint. But! It is stillll on the backburner! And I'm more excited than ever to get it going for real. (Note: the fact that this secret project is listed under improvements as a blogger might be a big hint in and of itself.)

Well, friends, let's pass out the chocolate cake and break out the balloons. Thanks for popping by for my fourth blogoversary! I'm looking forward to many more years with you!

Image result for divergent four gif
(I couldn't resist, Four.)