Sunday, March 3, 2019

Subplots & Storylines - January & February 2019

Well hi there. Things have gone radio silent around here over the past seven weeks, huh? This final semester of college is a real doozy so far, and it's been such a frigid winter I think my brain froze. But . . . I got my first library card in January, so #priorities, yay!

In other good news, I'm done midterm exams, which means I'm that much closer to graduating, which means we'll be returning to a regular posting schedule soon. Thank heavens, you're all thinking! . . . Right? Right. You've all been wasting away here in my absence, I'm sure. *cough*
Speaking of which, the main life update to share with you is that I'll be starting a brand new job after college! It's exactly the sort of position I was hoping for. Having everything in place ahead of time is a huge relief and answer to prayer.
But now--on to the mini reviews of everything I watched and read during the first two months of 2019! Buckle up!

Screen Subplots

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(Looking at you, Miss Poofy Dress*)

Once Upon a Time // Season 7 (episodes 1-3)
Final opinions are, of course, suspended until I finish the season, but so far I'm having more fun making fun of Season 7 than I am actually watching it. Oops. Everything is different and they got rid of some favorite characters, replacing them with super bratty ones.* I'm also in the dark on most people's motives right now--hopefully they actually come to light and make sense!

January Films

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I WAS SURPRISED. Pleasantly surprised! Venom was never my favorite dude, and I'd heard this movie was gross and dark. But while it was darker than, say, Captain America . . I really liked it! So many laughs, so much suspense, and such a well-drawn villain.

For those wondering about content, most decapitations occurred off-screen, but I wouldn't recommend it for young or sensitive viewers.
February Films

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The Grinch (2018)
Eh. So Benedict Cumberbatch voiced the green guy himself. That's great. The rest of it was pretty ho-hum, like they took the original movie and doubled the length without adding anything significant. (But I'm guessing young kids would enjoy it anyway.)

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The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
I looooved The Lego Movie, and I'm happy to report that I liked the second instalment just as much! The only thing it's missing is some of the novelty of the first one, but that's hard to replicate in a sequel, so I forgive it. Aside from that, there were plenty of dazzling visuals, romping adventures, one-liners, and clever twists of old tropes (and twists of the twists, imagine that!).

Also . . .
"This song's gonna get stuck inside your he-e-ead!"

It did. It very much did.

Page Storylines

January Reads
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A Time to Die (reread) // Nadine Brandes
I reviewed this book back when I first read it in November 2017 (check it out on Goodreads here!) but it still deeply touched me the second time around. 5 stars!

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Mark of the Thief (audiobook) // Jennifer A. Nielsen
This wasn't as good as The False Prince, but still entertaining. I liked how Ancient Rome was fused with fantasy, incorporating mythology and even some history.
Where this book fell short for me was in character motivations. Our protagonist, Nicolas, seemed to care about his friends and family only when it was convenient to the plot. And when other interesting things were happening? Well, he completely forgot about them. (For the minor spoilers on this, check out my Goodreads review.)
Other characters: Auralia had an attitude that came across a bit more caustic than snarkily endearing, and Crispus, although nice enough, was kind of arrogant.
Anyway. I did like the “One Ring” vibes the magical bulla was giving, and Caela the griffin was cool (because GRIFFINS). The pacing of the plot was quick and enjoyable too, so 3.5 stars.

February Reads

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A Time to Speak // Nadine Brandes
Well, there goes my heart in a hundred pieces. Nadine Brandes did it again.
I can’t tell you how much Parvin’s journey is resonating with me. I wish I’d known her five years ago, but I’m glad to have met her now. She’s grown so much since the beginning of the first book—in purpose, in courage, and in tenderness.
And that shattered heart I mentioned? Every piece of it was stolen by Solomon Hawke, and I don’t think he plans to give it back. He and Parvin share one of the most solid and mature relationships I’ve ever read in YA!
I won’t even begin to flail over the plot, because there’s no way I want to spoil it for anyone! But I will say that . . .
a) Nothing is easy
b) Not everyone survives
c) Everything is vivid—the pain, the cold, the hunger, the hope
That’s what I love about this trilogy. It’s a gritty dystopian—like we’ve all seen before—except there’s hope burning brightly in the midst of darkness. And with that ending? Yeah, it’s way more meaningful than any other dystopian I’ve read. 5 stars!

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A Time to Rise // Nadine Brandes
I was terrified for everyone during the majority of this book, but I’m pleased to say that after shattering my heart in all three books of this trilogy, Nadine Brandes did in fact manage to put it back together again!
The hope and contentment at the end is something most dystopian stories don’t have. It took pages of pain and stumbling to reach it. But we made it. Parvin made it, and I’m so proud of her.
My only complaint is that there were a couple spots I felt antsy and removed from the action, but on the plus side, it was nice to have a young heroine who isn’t the sole person responsible for saving the world. So . . . I can’t complain much. 5 stars! Overall, this trilogy is a favorite!
P.S. I totally need a dogsled ride now!

P.P.S. Solomon is still one of the best love interests EVER.

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire // J.K. Rowling
I'm still reeling! Smack dab in the middle of the series, this book has the charm of the first three, but definitely takes a turn for the darker. Something I love about Rowling's writing is that she spends the first half of the book fooling you into thinking this is all fun and games and unrelated side quests--and then pulls everything together at the end. Everything is significant.
A few thoughts . . .
  • Harry is getting a backbone!
  • Ron is utterly clueless about girls.
  • Hermione is still a mini-me.
  • Snuffles!
  • It was fun getting a wider view of the wizarding world, what with the Quidditch World Cup, portkeys, and the Triwizard Tournament.
I didn't expect most of the plot twists!
That. Ending. Oh my goodness. *screeches* That was terrifyingly good and would've given me nightmares as a child!
I could ramble on if I let myself, but I shan't, because I want to keep this spoiler-free. (Side note: I went through this as a read-along with a few friends and 10/10 recommend the experience!) 5 stars!

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow // Mary Weber

That ending wrecked me. (And here I thought the Storm Siren trilogy cliffhangers were bad.)

But let me back up a bit. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow was exactly the cool, techy, futuristic sci-fi novel I wanted, but that’s not what made me love it.

What I loved were the characters. Broken, bruised characters with scarred pasts. Characters running from guilt. Characters clinging to the very few good things left in their lives.

What I loved was the gut-wrenching heart of the story. I knew that this book speaks on human trafficking, but I wasn’t prepared to flip the pages faster and faster, heart in my throat, as I witnessed the brokenness of humanity shouting from within the pages of a fictional world.

Rabbit trail: It’s books like these that are driving Christian fiction in the right direction. Some of you reading this review may not be comfortable with the light smattering of language, or mentions of sex, or references to characters sleeping around, or the depiction of the horrors of trafficking. It’s not pretty. But given the context, I think it was necessary. I think the grittiness was important, and wasn’t there for its own sake; it was there as a rolling up of the sleeves, a digging into the dirt to get to the root of deep pain. There are souls living the same pain that are crying out to be seen, accepted, and healed. They—we—need books like these.

(Rabbit trail over.)

After devouring book 1, I am so eager to dive into the sequel ASAP! Thank heavens it’s sitting ready on my shelf. (I'm currently reading the climax, actually!)

Written Subplots

Nothing to see here that you don't already know! But in case you missed it, Dead Magic appeared in Havok--and has since been selected for consideration in the printed anthology!!! I also guest posted on Realm Makers' blog in January.

No actual writing occurred these past two months, sadly. I took a peek at The Brightest Thread. Once. I sighed wistfully and then went back to homework.

Your turn, friend! What's 2019 looking like so far? What's the last series you binge-read? Have you seen any of those movies? Let's chat--I've missed you all!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Guest Post - How Realm Makers Impacted My Writing Journey

Earlier this week, I had the honor of guest posting for the Realm Makers blog! So in lieu of a new post here on Adventure Awaits, I'll just drop the link here: How Realm Makers Impacted My Writing Journey.

It's a particularly timely topic for those of you who might be considering attending this year's conference, because registration opens on February 1st! (Wink, wink.)

Tally ho! These days of me being an MIA blogger are numbered, friends. Thanks for bearing with me.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

DEAD MAGIC - I'm Published in Havok!

Hey, friends! Just popping in to say that if you haven't heard yet, my story called Dead Magic is published on Havok's website! You can go read it right HERE.

But remember, it's available today only unless you're a paid subscriber to Havok.

Hope you enjoy it! I'd love to interact with you in the comment section over there throughout the day. Tally ho!