Movie Review: Avengers Infinity War

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The biggest Marvel film ever is finally here…


With ten years of experience and 19 films under it’s belt, Marvel Studios seems too big to fail. And while you might expect the quality of these high-powered action flicks to go down as they pump out more and more of them each year (and rake in the cash with every new release), the superhero juggernaut  has yet to stumble. Each new film seems bigger and better than the last, and their quality (both of production and of story) has gone up, if anything.

We knew this was coming: the crossover to end all crossovers. All the heroes in one big movie, facing off against a single villain with the power to snuff out half the life in the universe with a snap of his fingers.

Quite frankly, this movie could have been an enormous mess. There are about 40 speaking roles in this two-and-a-half-hour film, and if you don’t think that sounds like a lot, trust me, it is. Trying to work all these characters into a cohesive plot encompassing their motivations, past actions, and new revelations and plot twists is certainly a daunting task. Add in the fact that you’ve got rabid fans breathing down your neck, picking every trailer and press release to shreds and theorizing about everything, and it’s got to be quite a feat to formulate a unique and compelling film with plot twists to surprise even the most die-hard theorists.

Now, I’m not saying that Marvel was able to do that, at least not entirely. Just about everything has been done before in the comics at some point, so it would have been ridiculously difficult to come up with a totally new storyline for these characters. However, what the writers of Infinity War have done is to take a lot of storylines from the comics, weave them together, and then take the liberty to play fast and loose with fans’ expectations, the order of events, and with who they’ve killed off. I’m not going to totally spoil it here, but let’s just say that within the first five minutes of the film, two fan-favorite characters are already dead, and I actually really respect this choice. You want the stakes to be sky high in a film like this.

Thanos, the all-powerful main villain of the Marvel franchise, has been quite depowered from his godlike status in the comics. While he is more than a match for any one hero on their own, working together they are able to keep him at bay, at least for a little while. While Thanos grows more powerful throughout the course of the film, I don’t think that he is overpowered. There’s a really good give and take, a continual question of whether or not our heroes will be able to defeat him, and the stakes do feel very real. I didn’t think that anything in the film was played out just to make it longer, if that makes sense. Every fight happens for a reason. Every character dies for a reason. There are no superfluous moments bogging down what is already a massive storyline.

Another interesting thing about this film is that it’s Thanos who really steals the show. While you could try to pick a main character out of our legion of superheroes, Infinity War is really Thanos’s movie. I’ve heard people have called him a relateable character, but I don’t think that’s the correct term. He is sympathetic, even while he is terribly twisted and evil. He may be the most well-rounded villain Marvel has ever brought to the screen. It would have been very easy to make him a simple cardboard-cutout baddie for our heroes to battle against, but his depth of character and sympathetic nature are a huge factor in what made this film so good.

We never actually get all of the superheroes together in one big scene, which is fine, because that would have been completely overwhelming. Everyone gets kind of split into groups going after different objectives, and you’d think that might get confusing, but the each storyline balances very well with all the others, and it never feels like we’re getting too much of one group and not enough of the others. While most of the action scenes in Infinity War are absolutely cut the shreds (a complaint that I have with most Marvel films), the action, humor, and emotional moments of the film are perfectly balanced. It is neither overly humorous (like Thor: Ragnarok) nor overly dark and dismal.

I guess you could complain that in order to understand Infinity War you have to have seen all 18 of the previous films, but the story is so rich and so intricately and masterfully woven together throughout this franchise that, in my mind, it’s worth it. Unfortunately, at this point I haven’t seen either of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, so I did feel like I was missing out a bit on all the character dynamics and story from that group. But that’s totally on me, and not the film’s fault at all. If you are going to see Infinity War, I would definitely recommend watching (or re-watching) the other films first, just so you don’t miss out on any of the brilliance of the biggest (best?) Marvel film yet.

Now we’ve just got to wait for Part 2…


Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

“To infinity, and beyond!”


Content note: As with most Marvel films, there is quite a bit of fantasy/sci-fi action violence in this film, as well as some bad language, and a bit of crude humor. I would definitely recommend caution for younger children.


I hope you enjoyed my review of Avengers: Infinity War! Have you gotten to see the movie yet? Did they kill off your favorite character? (The pain is real…) Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon.

🙂

One Week In London: Part 1

England Part One


Arrival

We touched down in Heathrow airport sometime in the morning of the 27th of April, after a long, sleepless overnight flight. The plane had left Toronto Pearson at about 8:30 PM on the 26th and the flight was only seven hours, but what with our loss of five hours as we sped across the Atlantic, we arrived in England at 8:30 in the morning.

It was my first flight. I expected to be anxious. I expected to be airsick. I did not expect to enjoy the flight as much as I did, nor to spend the tense minutes of our arrival back on solid ground with my face glued to the window, watching the wing flex and jostle in alarming ways as hydraulics whirred and the horizon tipped and our heavy metal cylinder with its stubby, shaking wings swooped gently down through the clouds and landed with hardly a jolt.

My mom, unfortunately, had it a lot rougher.

We collected our belongings and shuffled down the narrow aisle and out into the airport. Although I had been able to see some of the green-and-yellow-and-brown patchwork of English country beneath us as we flew towards our destination, I don’t think it had really hit me yet that I was standing in a different country, thousands of miles away from the only continent I’d ever been on, in the land of castles and taxis and Doctor Who and chalk cliffs and royalty. This realization continued to not hit me for the rest of the trip. I don’t think it has hit me yet.

It took us more than twenty minutes, walking or riding escalators and moving sidewalks, to reach the security line (queue, sorry). There were big plastic signs with arrows pointing the way for ‘Arrivals’ and ‘Baggage Reclaim’ and we followed them and followed them until I was sure that we were being lead round in circles and that we would never find our suitcases again, but at last we reached the queue for security.

At Heathrow, it works like this: you’ve got lots of fast-moving lanes open for people with EU or UK passports. There are plenty of security people at the ends of these short lanes to help out the lucky holder of the EU or UK passport, and the queues never seemed to get very long while we were there. And we were there a long time, because everyone with a non-EU or UK passport was unceremoniously dumped into one massive, winding, slow-moving queue.

Tired and hungry and thirsty as we were (we’d been awake for more than 24 hours at that point, and the airline’s idea of breakfast/pre-arrival snack was a thick slice of suspicious-looking banana bread sealed inside a plastic package, which neither of us ended up eating) we remained in that queue for around an hour. It was the most frustrating and deceptive queue I’ve ever been in. Just when you thought you were getting close to the end, the line would turn again or double back on itself, carrying you even further from your destination: the row of security people behind their little desks, checking passports and asking serious questions.

However, my faith in humanity, as they say, was slightly restored when a great act of kindness was preformed by the weary, frustrated people of the queue. A very nice mom and her kids, who had sat in front of us on the flight and chatted with us a bit, was a fair way behind us in the queue when one of her children—who had been sleepless for the entire flight, but had fallen asleep just as we landed— awoke and began to wail mournfully at the top of his lungs. This went on for a little while, before some good Samaritan said, “Oh, it isn’t fair! Let them through, let them through!” and the people near the barriers unclipped them to make a path straight to the front of the line. The mom and her kids hurried through, the barriers were promptly reinstated, and the queue resumed its endless shuffling progress. But an act of great kindness had been preformed within its confines.

I never saw that mom again, and I probably never will, but I fervently hope that she had a wonderful trip, and that she never again has to face such a horrible queue.


Day 1: Friday (Homecoming, Hamlet, and Dinner at the Darwin)

When we finally reached the end of the non-EU passport queue, we breezed straight through security, picked up our suitcases —which had probably been waiting for us for at least an hour— bought some bottled water to refill our bone-dry thermoses, and took the elevator (sorry, lift) to the Heathrow Tube station.

I don’t think I’ve ever really ridden on public transport, except for Go Train in Toronto, which I took with my family one time to visit the CN Tower. I remember very little of that ride, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first journey on the Tube.

It started off rather badly, with an embarrassing mistake made before we even got on the train. My mom had acquired a normal Oyster card, but I had a paper Travelcard good for unlimited bus and tube journeys at off-peak times (after 9:30). With an Oyster, you simply tap the card on the yellow reader, and the gates open to let you through. When you leave, you tap out the same way, and your fare is deducted from the balance on your card. I, being an extremely smart person, assumed that the paper card would work the same way. My mother had already gone through the gates, and I followed close behind, confidently tapping my green paper card to the reader.

Nothing happened.

I tried again, multiple times. I tried tapping gently. I tried holding the card against the reader. There was no beep. The gates did not open. It appeared we were stuck on opposite sides of the gate, and I could not get through. I had previously observed a little slot on the machine below the card reader, which I assumed was for tickets, and, being completely desperate, I tried to feed my card through. I managed to shove it almost all the way inside, but the only thing that happened was that it became stuck in the machine.

At this point, I sought the help of an actual Tube employee, which is what I probably should have done in the first place, but alas my pride was too great and I was so eager to prove that I was not a ‘stupid American’ that I wound up looking like an even stupider American in the process. The man opened the machine and extracted my Travelcard, and kindly informed me that this particular machine did not accept paper cards and tickets, just Oysters. I had the right idea, just the wrong machine. I found another machine that did accept paper cards, fed my ticket in, grabbed it from the top slot as I hurried, embarrassed, through the open gate, and had no more troubles of that sort for the rest of the trip.

Mostly.

Things went a lot better when we actually got onto the train. We made sure to “mind the gap” as we hauled our suitcases and backpacks and selves over the small gap between the train and the platform, and staggered into our first London Tube carriage. There was just enough room for each of us to sit down on one of the blue fold-down seats with our suitcases held awkwardly in front of us. There was a series of quick warning beeps, and then the doors slid closed and the train began to move.

Imagine a train, small and round on the outside, with two rows of seats on the inside that face each other across a narrow isle. Imagine that this train moves very, very fast at times, and that it curves and loops and whips around corners like a writhing snake, very deep underground. Imagine that it jostles and bumps, up and down, left and right. Imagine that it can be quite crowded sometimes, especially when it is coming from a large international airport, and that, for some people, there is standing room only. Imagine that this particular train is not necessarily the highest priority on the maintenance schedule, and that when it jostles and bumps, sections of lights on the ceiling may go out, and may come back to life again at random moments before they go out again. Imagine that, sometimes, other trains scream past you in the darkness, making a shock wave and a sound like a small explosion — causing you to jump— before they vanish behind you. Imagine that you are underground.

But also imagine that you emerge, grinning with the fun and adventure of it all, into the daylight, and see ancient brick apartments and strong trees and green grass and glimpses of elaborate graffiti on every available concrete space, before you are plunged once more into a dark tunnel, in a jostling metal tube full of bored people and bouncing luggage and a pleasant accented voice announcing your next stop and asking you, repeatedly, to “please mind the gap!”

Imagine that you enjoy this immensely.


We had no more troubles with ticket machines, and emerged, still dragging our encumbering luggage behind us, into the dim sunlight just outside of Earl’s Court Station. Somebody had parked a life-size TARDIS just outside, and I, ever the tourist, had  my mom snap a quick photo of me with it. I suppose I should have tried the door, just to make sure, but I forgot.

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Neither of us had ever hailed a taxi before, but we managed somehow, even though we only did the halfhearted-introvert-wave while we ran awkwardly along the pavement as cabs passed by. A driver did see us, however (I have no idea how) and pulled over and stuck his head out of the window to ask where we wanted to go. We gave him the address of the flat where we were staying, scrambled into the back of the taxi with our  luggage, and we were off.

As a new driver who is getting better at noticing when the rules of the road are being observed (and when they are not) I found this journey exhilarating, and also terrifying. London is a big place. There are lots of cars and taxis and buses on the roads, and quite a large number of people on motorbikes and bicycles, and plenty of pedestrians. Of course, in a perfect world, everyone would do what they’re supposed to do and everything would go along fine.

But, as far as I could tell, no one did what they were supposed to do.

Pedestrians crossed the street in droves whenever (and wherever) they wanted to, regardless of actual crosswalks or signage. People on bikes wove in and out between massive double-decker buses as if they didn’t even know they were there. Cars would suddenly dart out into intersections. People would dart out in front of our taxi. But the taxi driver had no fear. He got us right where we needed to be, and he did it without driving over top of anyone or being smashed by a bus or becoming lost in the narrow, twisting streets that seemed to branch off at all angles from every intersection. I respect him very much for that.

Once we’d met the landlady and dropped off our luggage, it was time to venture forth once more, for we had tickets for the 2:00 showing of Hamlet at the Globe Theatre, and we were determined to get there in time for the play. We’d gotten in much later than we’d expected (what with the Security Queue of Death), and so there was no time to eat — even though we’d eaten nothing all day—  and no time to rest —even though we had been awake for over 24 hours—  and certainly no time to take a bus or the tube, so we freshened up as quickly as possible, and hurried out to get another taxi.

We couldn’t find a taxi at first. The street seemed utterly devoid of vehicles, even regular cars, and there was certainly no taxi to be seen. We were just entering the throes of despair, when we met one coming down Prince of Wales Drive (which, apparently, is a street with a house where G. K. Chesterton used to live, although we were never able to find this fabled house) and hailed it madly. The driver took us straight to the Globe — bobbing and weaving and stopping suddenly all the way, and somehow managing not to run over anyone— and we were there in plenty of time to show our tickets and head up to our seats in the balcony under the thatched roof.

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The Globe Theatre which we visited, of course, is not the original, which was burned down 1613, but an extremely accurate reproduction of the original building, down to the standing area in front of the stage, which is open to the sky above, whatever the weather. In true London fashion, it began to rain not long after we were seated, and continued to rain throughout the entire first half of the play. The people in the standing area merely pulled up their hoods and ignored it. I was very glad that we had gotten seats in the balcony, where there was an actual roof over our heads.

You would think with how much attention to detail was paid in the construction of the new Globe that the Shakespeare preformed there would be your normal, everyday, traditional Shakespeare.

This, however, was not the case.

At first, things seemed normal enough. If you know Hamlet at all, you probably know that it begins on the battlements of the castle, with Horatio, Marcellus, and one of the guards seeing the ghost of the dead king. Well, that’s how it went on the stage, except for one thing: Horatio and Marcellus were both being played by women. None of the names or pronouns were changed, and both actresses played their parts extremely well, but as soon as they came on stage, I knew we were in for an interesting modern take on Hamlet, and not the traditional fare I had been expecting.

The trend continued, with Hamlet and Laertes being played by a curly-haired blonde and a petite redhead, respectively. And to round it all out, Ophelia was played by a man. In a blue dress. It was actually extremely amusing. (I wish I had photos, but you weren’t allowed to take any.)

I wonder if this was done simply as a logical continuation of how things would have been done in Shakespeare’s day: women weren’t allowed to be actors, so men had to play all the parts, including the female roles. It kind of seems like an interesting idea to turn that on its head and have women play the leading male roles. And, of course, there might have been some feminist outrage involved, as there are only two female parts in the entire play. Or it could have been some kind of political statement. But whatever the motive, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the play anyway, even though I did start to nod off a few times (not because it was boring, but because we’d been awake for somewhere around 30 hours at that point.) The actors and actresses played their parts extremely well, and it was pretty awesome to get to see a Shakespeare play preformed in the actual Globe Theatre, even if there was some genderbending involved.

When the play was over, the crowd went crazy and wouldn’t stop clapping and cheering. The actors had to be called out for another bow. We finally filed out of our seats and down the stairs, as tired as ever and dreading the next leg of our journey. The last destination on Friday’s agenda was to visit the Sky Garden, a beautiful indoor garden and terrace complete with restaurants and live music, at the top of on of London’s weirdest-shaped glass buildings: the Walkie-Talkie.

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The Walkie-Talkie Building

London seems to have a thing for weirdly shaped glass buildings; you’ve probably at least heard of the Gherkin and the Shard, for example. You may have even heard of the Walkie-Talkie building. But we saw far more weird glass buildings while we were there. From a City Hall shaped kind of like the top half of an enormous thumb to an office building that looked like it was constructed out of giant blue Rubix cubes stuck together at random intervals, I found London’s more modern constructions to be just as interesting as its ancient churches, cathedrals, and Roman walls, although perhaps in a different way.

Tired as we were, we still planned to walk to the Sky Garden. This was basically our only option, short of trying to find yet another taxi, because we were without internet access, and so couldn’t look up any bus or Tube routes. This was yet another misfortune, which had befallen us before we even left for the trip. I thought we had added international talk, text, and data to our phone plan for the month, but unfortunately it turned out the company only provided international talk and text, and even those were unavailable unless you were connected to Wi-Fi. So we were basically stranded, with nothing but a couple of paper maps, a street address, and a general idea of our direction.

We were on the wrong side of the river, so we crossed the Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral, and turned right. The Walkie-Talkie, which had been easily visible from the other side of the river, had vanished now behind other buildings, and after walking a good way down Cannon Street and becoming slightly lost, we stopped to consult our maps. A very kind London woman must have seen our distress, for she came over and pointed us in the right direction. We thanked her profusely for her help, and went on our merry way.

And for some reason, I was a stupid enough tourist to get us completely lost all over again.

Somehow, I had gotten the idea stuck in my mind that the building was down closer to the river, and that we were too far to the north and needed to head in a southerly direction to reach it. We caught a couple glimpses of the building itself as we walked, enough to persuade me that I had got the right idea, and so we turned down the next street that went to the south and walked… and walked…

The building seemed to have completely vanished. We couldn’t see it anywhere. At last, we had to stop once more and consult the maps. I turned and twisted them, trying to figure out where we were and where we had gone wrong. And then, I realized it: I had had the map turned the wrong way. We had been travelling in the opposite direction of our destination. We should have gone up that street, not down it. Tired and footsore and jet-lagged and extremely hungry, we turned around and went back up the street, towards the north. And, sure enough, we soon caught sight of the Walkie-Talkie, gleaming in all its strangely shaped blue glass splendor.

It had been behind us the entire time.

There are some moments in life when you come to the uncomfortable realization that you are a colossal idiot masquerading as a smart person. As you can probably tell, this was one of them.

We finally made it to the Sky Garden, after going through a quick security check and riding an elevator all the way to the top, and were seated comfortably in the Darwin restaurant, with a nice view through the southern window (wall? The entire building’s made of windows…) Because of the strange way in which the building is shaped, looking out that window makes you feel as if the building is leaning or falling towards the ground, and as this was an unpleasant sensation, we decided to concentrate on our food instead.

We had eaten nothing since our dinner on the plane, which was somewhere around twelve hours before, and even though I was suffering from some kind of jet lag-induced stomach ache, the food was extremely welcome. We managed to finish a plate of very fancy Caesar salad between us, and to eat about three quarters of our fancy hamburgers, but whether it was the jet lag, or some other reason, we unfortunately could not finish all of the wonderful food.

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If you’re ever in London, I would highly recommend paying a visit to the Darwin, and trying their Caesar salad. Just… maybe not right after you get off the plane.


I hope you’ve enjoyed part one of my adventures (misadventures?) in London! I want to try to post one of these each week until I get through the whole trip, so part two should be coming out quite soon. Obviously, this won’t be a complete account of everything that happened to me, but because so many people are interested in hearing more about what happened on the trip, I thought it might be better to write up the main points and post them on here, instead of trying to tell the whole story to each individual. I hope I’ve been able to tell the story in an interesting manner so far, and I hope you’re as excited as I am for Part 2!

Another quick update for those of you who enjoy my film reviews: I saw Infinity War this past week, and I’m going to try to get a review up next Friday, so keep any eye out for that as well.

See you again soon.

🙂

Beautiful People: Favorites Edition

Hello, everyone! It’s been a long time since I did a Beautiful People post. This is actually going to be the last Beautiful People post of this year, as Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, who host the meme, are both super busy and unfortunately, they will be putting the meme on hiatus for the rest of this year. 😭

Fortunately, they will hopefully be able to pick it back up again sometime in the future, and they’ve put together a super special edition of the meme filled with favorite questions from past Beautiful People posts as a special farewell to this amazing blog meme! Let’s dive right in…


WHAT IS THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE MEME?

From the Beautiful People FAQ on Paper Fury:

Beautiful People is for writers. Every month, we post a list of 10 questions for you to answer about your characters. It’s designed to help you get to know your characters – their quirks, their personality, their flaws, and who they are.


DISCLAIMER: I cannot guarantee that everything here is or will be canon in the future. I have spent a fair amount of time developing these characters, but some stuff is still unclear in my own mind, so I will try to answer the questions as best I can.

Also, the character I’ll be using for today’s post is from a super-secret project that I have yet to officially announce or finish working on, so some details about the characters and plot will have to remain secret, for now…

Enjoy the post!


The Character

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Once again, I’m mostly going to use Mae from the untitled sci-fi duology I’m working on, but I will be mentioning some characters from my other books throughout the post as well. Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash


The Questions

1.Favourite genre to write in?

This might come as a surprise, but I actually really enjoy writing sci-fi! I’m not sure if it’s my favorite genre to write in, but I love being able to speculate about what the world might look like in the future and writing about real locations while still being able to take some liberties with technology and setting.

2. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?

Um, honestly… Mae would really benefit from reading the Bible. 😅

3. Favourite piece of dialogue you’ve written?

“What, exactly, did you do to me?”

“It’s a neural enhancer,” Marta tells the opposite wall, “Developed to enhance memory retention, focus, and awareness. It’s designed for use in the military, but we needed something that would ensure you’d be back on your feet and talking some kind of sense as soon as possible, so I authorized the use of a nonconsensual injection. I should mention that side effects include temporary insomnia for at least thirty-six hours, headaches, and a temporary increase in blood pressure. On the plus side, you are seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and thinking clearer than you ever have in your life. Enjoy it well it lasts. It’s got a nice kick to it, but I hear the hangover is pretty bad.”

“Awesome,” I say, pressing my freezing hands against my buzzing forehead.

4. What did your character want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

Mae has always wanted escape from her tedious life, and she found that escape in her online world, so I guess you could say that she became the hacker she always wanted to be…

5. Favourite character name(s)?

For girls, I’m really partial to Angel and Amber. For boys, my favorites are a tad esoteric: Jacamar and Marcel. (A jacamar is a kind of bird which was mentioned in The Mysterious Island, one of my favorite books, and I just love the word so much. I think it would make an awesome name!)

6. What makes your character feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

I think Mae needs someone to really take an interest in her and her problems. She’s been dealing with everything on her own for so long, hiding all her issues from everyone (and from her parents most of all, before they left) that having someone who would actually help her carry her burdens would certainly make her feel loved. When she was young, her parents served this role for her, but gradually she began to hide more and more things from them and draw further away, and their lives became harder as well, so that they didn’t necessarily have much time or energy to help her figure things out.

7. Favourite character you’ve ever written?

This is really, really hard, because I love all of my characters. But I think I might have to say Esmeralda from Behind Her Mask was Death and Empty Little Heart. She’s fairly complex and deals with a lot of issues, both in her past and her present, and she’s honestly just a ton of fun to write. I also love writing Marta and John from Shell (the first book in the sci-fi duology I’m working on).

8. If your character were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with? (Why?)

All Mae really needs is a laptop and/or phone, some clothes, and she’s good. Her entire life is online, and she can access money from any one of her many bank accounts at any moment, so she doesn’t really need (or care to have) anything else.

9. Favourite tropes to write!

  • emotional boys
  • characters who think they don’t care, but they actually care a lot
  • ‘good’ characters who find themselves becoming more and more like somebody that they really dislike
  • characters who randomly hate some universally loved thing, like pizza

10. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?

My sci-fi duology is very near and dear to my heart, but I think the story of the Lavender family (from Behind Her Mask was Death and the the prequel/sequels I’m working on) will always be my favorite.

11. Favourite relationship between characters you’ve written?

I would probably have to say Devon’s relationship with his mother. It’s heavily featured in my untitled Behind Her Mask was Death prequel, so I won’t say too much for fear of spoiling anyone before the  book is even finished, but it’s just such a pure and enjoyable relationship to write about. ❤

12. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

This is such a great question, because it actually ties directly in with my sci-fi duology. I started writing it kind of out of frustration, because all the ‘hacker’ books I saw were always about people hacking into video games and messing around with them, and I’ve always wanted to see a book about a hacker in the real world who messes with  actual governments and stuff.

13. Favourite Pinterest board / aesthetic for a book?

Here’s a little aesthetic for Shell that I made a while ago:

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14. Favourite time periods & settings to work with?

For time periods, I like writing in the near future (20-30 years ahead), and also in my semi-Victorian fantasy world (from Behind Her Mask was Death). For settings, I really enjoy writing about cities. There’s just so many different people and so many different layers of life to explore! I enjoy writing about lonely spots in the middle of nowhere as well.

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?

Ooh, this is another hard one… I’d like people to come away from Shell, and from my sci-fi duology as a whole, with some good ideas to think about and chew on: Is it really easier to forget the consequences of our actions when they are mediated through technology? Is it easier to manipulate people when we can pick and choose what parts of our lives they see and ‘edit’ our speech? Is technology, or are users of technology, manipulating us? Lots of heavy stuff to think about. 😛

Of course, I’d also like it to be an exciting, enjoyable experience. It’s all about finding a balance…


Thanks so much for reading this Beautiful People post! I’m a little sad that this is going to be the last one for a while, but, on the other hand, we’ve got Cait’s book to look forward to, and you can always check out Cait and Sky’s blogs in the mean time!

Be sure to check out Cait’s original post, where you’ll find links to other writers who have done this meme, as well as the list of questions and a place to link up your own Beautiful People post.

Once again, Beautiful People is hosted by the amazing Cait and Sky.

Beautiful People

Masters & Beginners Bookiversary Blog Tour + Giveaway!

Hello, everybody! Today I’m here with a post celebrating the bookiversary of Daley Downing’s amazing Masters and Beginners. I’m so excited to be a part of this blog tour and help celebrate the one-year anniversary of this fabulous indie fantasy book. Masters and Beginners is the first book in The Order of the Twelve Tribes series. The second book came out late last year, and a little bird tells me that we should be seeing Volume 3 sometime soon! 😉


What’s the story?

Toby Cover

When Sophie Driscoll’s grandmother dies, her parents take over running the Annex, a warehouse facility that stores magical artifacts and documents proving, and protecting, the existence of faeries. Sophie and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, happily adjust to a new house, new friends, and a new way of living, joining the ranks of generations who have kept the fey and mortal realms separate for centuries. Before the first month of their new life is over, they’ll encounter romance, elves, talking cats, ancient secrets, and potentially lethal danger. What could possibly go wrong…

 


The Order of the Twelve Tribes is an amazing YA fantasy series, perfect for fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or the Ashtown Burials books. Daley does a fantastic job of handling a large cast of characters, as well as deftly weaving Christian themes and messages into her fantastical story. I also love the healthy family relationships in these books! The sibling relationships and banter are on point, and I love the fact that the parents are super awesome and supportive. I don’t see nearly enough of that in many recent YA novels. Daley is also an #ActuallyAutistic author, and The Order of the Twelve Tribes contains some fantastic autistic rep as well.

If you want to check out my full review of Volume 1, you can find it over on Goodreads.


Giveaway!

For my part in this blog tour, I’m doing a super special bookiversary giveaway! Enter below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Masters and Beginners (with the original cover featuring Toby the cat), an awesome letter ‘from’ one of the Order of the Twelve Tribes characters, and three special gifts (bookmarks, coasters, that sort of thing). This collection of prizes is a special throwback to the original promotional boxes that Daley sent out when Masters and Beginners was first released, and there’s only one available, so make sure you enter the giveaway below!

Please note: This giveaway ends at 12:00 noon on Saturday the 21st. Make sure you enter before then!

Availability: This is a US and Canada-only giveaway. Unfortunately, we’re not able to ship internationally right now. If you win the giveaway, I’ll put you in contact with Daley, who will mail you your special prize!

Click here to go to the giveaway page!


Netflix Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2)

Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2

Things are about to get much, much worse… In a good way???


Before I say anything else, I should probably tell you that Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events may be one of the most faithful (and well done) book-to-film adaptations I have ever seen. The casting, the characters and costumes and settings… so much of this series seems to match perfectly with what I saw in my mind as I read the books. Netflix is doing an amazing job, and I really respect them for that.

Although it has been a while since I read the books, from what I remember the show seems to stick pretty close to them. I do like that the creators of this show decided to flesh out VFD a lot more than it was in the books. I am very intrigued to see how everything works out in the end, and especially how they handle the final installment of the series, which I personally thought was a bit of a let down.

However, the nature of the books which have been adapted means that this show continues to get darker and darker with each episode, as more and more terrible things happen to the Baudelaire orphans, more clueless or downright awful guardians take custody of them, and Count Olaf hatches yet more schemes to steal their fortune. The Baudilaires themselves are also faced with increasingly difficult moral choices as they descend further into the winding mystery around VFD and try to just keep themselves alive and safe… or as safe as they can be in vile villages, horrible hospitals, and carnivorous carnivals. The visual tone of the show gets darker and darker along with the story, with each episode’s color scheme a little drabber than the last, and each new, terrifying location a little more grimy and dingy.

This show seems to be a lot darker than the books, but maybe that’s just because the acting is so strong, the visuals so awful and compelling, the dark humor so on point, that it really just drives home the atmosphere that the books were originally getting at. While I did find it a little creepy, and slightly disturbing in parts, I was very impressed with this season, and I’m excited to see how Netflix will handle the third one, and finale of this series of unfortunate events.


Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Can things get even worse for the Baudilaires? Oh, yes the can.”


Content note: This show is rated PG. However, this season does introduce Esme Squalor, Count Olaf’s evil girlfriend, who wears ridiculous, supposedly fashionable —and often rather revealing— clothing, and also sometimes makes remarks which could be taken as innuendo, or not, depending on how you look at it. These off-color remarks were one rather annoying addition to the show that I noticed, as I don’t remember anything of the kind in the books. There were also references to same-sex couples included in the dialogue a few times (The Quagmire triplets refer to their guardian and ‘her wife’, at one point a character mentions his two moms, etc.), another thing I don’t remember seeing  in the books. This show, especially the current season, is also quite dark, and a little depressing, so I would recommend caution for younger children, even if they’ve already read the books.


I hope you enjoyed my review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 2! Have you read the books and/or seen the show? Do you prefer one over the other? What do you think about the show’s inclusion of more stuff about VFD? Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon.

🙂

March Wrap Up Post (2018)

Wow this post is late…

Hello, everyone! Sorry I haven’t been able to get last month’s wrap up post out until now. March just sort of bled right into April and I didn’t even realize it! But here’s a quick rundown on what I’ve been up to in the last month, and what’s coming up.


March Wrap Up


Highlights:

  • My next writing project is moving forward. It’s very tempting for me to say that I got nothing done in March, but now that I really think about it, I have done some work on what will hopefully be my next book. I’m really trying to get back into the habit of writing something everyday, even if I don’t feel like it (which it seems like I never do). I’ve been really out of the loop recently, which may be why this post is so late, and I’m still struggling with motivation and finding the will power to just sit down and write something. But I’ve made some progress, which is fantastic, so there was at least one thing I accomplished this March.
  • I watched The Greatest ShowmanAll of Twitter has been raving about this musical for the past few months, and I finally got around to watching it. The soundtrack is amazing, and I wrote a review of the film, which you can find in the ‘Posts from February’ section below.
  • I’m getting more comfortable behind the wheel. While I may never be entirely comfortable with piloting a large, heavy object through narrow streets and around sharp corners, I am definitely improving. I was actually able to drive all the way home from the parking lot where we practice a few days ago, and I didn’t almost drive into a ditch like I did the first time, so I’ll take that as a good sign…

Posts from March 2018:


Looking Forward:

There are a lot of things happening this month. First of all, you should be seeing my review of the new season of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Friday. It technically should have been posted last Friday, but procrastination and health problems happened, so… yeah. There’s my excuse.

I’m going to be away for the rest of this week, starting tomorrow, because I’m going to the Great Homeschool Convention with some friends. I may be posting some photos/updates to my Twitter and Instagram, so if you’re interested, please go check those out.

I’m helping my lovely friend Daley Downing with the bookiversary of her debut novel! I’m going to be hosting a super special giveaway, starting on the 16th, so make sure you subscribe to my blog if you want to hear about that and get a chance to win some cool stuff.

There’s also one other exciting thing happening this April/May, but unfortunately I’m going to have to keep that a secret for now… 😉


Thanks for reading my March wrap up post! How was your March? Did you get to see any cool movies or shows? Is there anything exciting coming up in April for you? Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon.

🙂

Movie Review: The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman

A stunning musical spectacle that definitely lives up to the hype.


For the past several months, people all over the internet have been raving about this feel-good musical based on the story of P. T. Barnum and his creation of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Even some of those who haven’t seen the film have been listening to (and loving) the soundtrack. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see this musical in theaters (I didn’t even know about it until it exploded online and a lot of my friends started talking about it) but I gave it a watch when it came out on Amazon, and I have a few thoughts to share.

There are so many things that The Greatest Showman gets absolutely right. The acting and singing are phenomenal, and the entire film is a feast for the eyes, with elaborate dance numbers, gorgeous costumes, and bright, saturated colors that feel so refreshing after the muted, grayish tones of the more ‘serious’ films I’ve seen so much of recently. The story is not completely historically accurate (and in fact I’ve read elsewhere that the film sort of glosses over the “darker side” of P. T. Barnum in order to tell a happier, more uplifting story). But the purpose of the film is not as a biography, but rather as a celebration of misfits and risk-takers, as proclaimed by the musical’s exultant anthem “This Is Me”.

This song is sung in the film by the so-called ‘freaks’ who preform in the circus shows, people shunned and despised by ‘regular’ society who have found a home for themselves in the circus. It’s a powerful song, and a powerful message, and it is well delivered by the movie.

Some people might be a little thrown off by the very modern-sounding music, especially in a musical set in the 1800s, but I actually really enjoyed the songs, and I think they worked well in the film. The music part of musicals are all about expressing character’s feelings through song and dance, and prim, proper classical-style music wouldn’t have allowed for the soaring choruses and thundering rhythms that just fit this film’s emotional beats so well.

Perhaps the one complaint I have about this film is that in a few places  the dialogue seems stilted, unnatural, perhaps it’s even a bit cheesy on some occasion. This problem doesn’t effect the entire film. It is mostly concentrated right at the beginning, and after those first ten minutes or so the writing evens out and becomes more natural.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed The Greatest Showman. The visuals and music are absolutely stunning, and the story has a warmth and heart to it that seems to be missing from many recent movies. I can totally see why all of Twitter’s been obsessed with this film for the past few months!


Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“They don’t call it the Greatest Show on Earth for nothing!


Content note: I am glad to say that I didn’t notice any bad language in this film. There is an lightly implied romantic affair between Barnum and Jenny Lind (Lind kisses Barnum on stage  in front of reporters to start a rumor that they are having an affair, which is not actually true) and personally I think a few of the female performers’ costumes are a tad revealing, but, depending on your personal views, this could certainly be seen as a family-friendly film.


Thanks so much for reading my review of The Greatest Showman! Have you seen the film yet? Did you like it? What’s your favorite song? (I’m torn between “The Greatest Show” and “The Other Side”, personally.) Let’s chat in the comments!

🙂

The Spring Cleaning Writer Tag

When it rains, it pours, apparently, because I’m back today with another blog tag! This one was created by Deborah O’Carroll, and I was tagged for it by my good friend Daley Downing @ The Invisible Moth. So let’s dive right in…


springcleaningwritertagchallenge


Rules:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Share the picture
3. Answer the questions (naturally…) or even pick and choose which ones you answer
3.5. Tag 3 other writers and inform them that you tagged them (via comment/message/email or hey, even carrier-pigeon or smoke signal; I’m not picky)


The Questions:

1. Dust-bunnies and Plot-bunnies: Reorganize Your Writing Goals (Or Make New Ones)

I laid out a few writing goals in my 2018 Goals post, but now that we’re three months into the year, I think it’s time to give them a good reevaluation.

  • My first goal for this year was to publish Esmeralda’s Story, and I was actually able to do so this February! The novelette is currently available only on Kindle, and you can find it here on Amazon. So, that’s one less thing to worry about this year.
  • My next writing goal is to write and revise at least one book. I’m a notoriously slow first drafter, even more so when I’m legitimately busy and also procrastinating at the same time, but even so I’ve been able to make some progress on my current WIP, and hopefully over the next few weeks or months I’ll be able to finish it up. But we’ll see…
  • My final writing goal for this year is to blog more consistently. I’ve been trying to write at least one post per week, and although there have been a few rough patches, I’ve mostly been able to stick to that goal.

Sometimes it feels like I’m accomplishing exactly zero things, so it was nice to take this little look at what I actually have done this year! Now, on to the next question…

2. Which Stage Are You At? Expound!

a. Remodeling layouts (planning the story)
b. Painting the walls in colorful hues (writing)
c. Polishing the windows and scrubbing the floors and putting flowers in vases (editing)
d. Blueprints (not to the cleaning or remodeling yet… just drawing up plans for the very beginning inklings of a story)
e. Some combination of those things (cleaning out a closet)

I love these neat metaphors! I would say that I’m at the ‘painting the walls in colorful hues’ stage, or slap-bang in the middle of writing my first draft of what I hope to be my next novel. I’m just over the half-way mark, at almost 30,000 words of what I hope to be at least a 50,000 word draft.

3. Treasure From the Back of the Closet (Share one to three snippets you love!)

His earliest memories were of her voice; sweet, mellow, rich and dark in tone, not like any other voice he heard around him. She used to sit beside his bed and sing him to sleep, her voice coloring his dreams long after he had sunk into slumber. In the blurs and shadows of his past, she was constant and clear, a rock in a sea of memories. He had hardly yet begun to appreciate his youth, but she made him wise beyond his years. She was everything.

He never wanted to be apart from her.

 

He realized after a few moments that they had stopped shouting. The silence of the twilit city, made up of a hundred thousand different sounds, pooled around them in the growing gloom. Chelsea’s heartbeat pounded against his shoulder, and every breath she took seemed to catch in her throat and shake her body like a trembling leaf. He couldn’t tell if she was crying or not. Her limp and dirty hair, which not so long ago had been neat and brushed and washed, hung in strings down her shoulders and back. He pristine white gown was gone, replaced by a shapeless gray dress which felt like it was made of potato sacks. She was gripping his hand, and her fingers were icy on his skin, but even in this state she felt like safety.

 

He pulled her through the garden gate into a blooming world carpeted with green; neatly trimmed hedges and soft moss and flowers fed by the rain, flourishing in color.

3.5. Bonus: Do Some Actual Spring Cleaning of Your Writer Self! (and share a picture!)

Eh, I’ve been cleaning up my room off and on over the past few months, but  it’s  still extremely messy  in some places, so I’ll spare you from any horrendous pictures… 😅


Thank you so much for this awesome tag, Daley! I would tag all my fabulous blogger friends, but I think they’ve already been tagged, so, if you haven’t yet been tagged, but would like to participate, consider yourself tagged and just head on over to Deborah’s original post to grab the questions for your own blog! ^_^

Thanks so much for reading! See you again soon.

🙂

Wednesday With Words: The Soul at Play

Hey, everyone! This week’s quote is from Emily Dickinson, just in time for World Poetry Day! I’ve been reading through an enormous book containing all of Emily Dickinson’s 1,500+ poems recently, and this really caught my eye:


Emily Dickenson


Thank you so much for reading today’s Wednesday With Words! Sorry it had to be a little shorter today. I hope you enjoyed today’s quote, and Lord willing I’ll have some exciting new posts up soon!

Bye for now!

🙂

The Bookish Q&A Tag

Heyo, everyone! I’m back with another Q&A tag! This one was created by Deborah Kelty, and I was tagged for it by S. M. Metzler @ Tea with Tumness. So let’s dive right in!


Bookish Tag


Q1: What books do you remember reading that kick-started your bookworm habit?

There are a couple of books that come to mind for this question. The first one is The HobbitI would get the audiobook out from the library and listen to it over and over, to the point that I can recite entire passages from memory to this day. I was also a very ‘horse crazy’ girl when I was younger, and there was a series of horse books that my mom got me for my birthday that really kickstarted my obsession with horse books and books in general. It was called the Sneaky Pony series and they were my favorite books when I was younger. I read them over and over again. I would definitely recommend them if you have any horse-crazy children in your life. 😛

Q2: What genre, or genres, would you normally choose? 

This is a little difficult to answer, because I would say fantasy, but then have to specify that I don’t usually like traditional (often cliche) sword-and-sorcery type fantasy. So I guess I’d have to say urban fantasy, sci-fi, and whatever genre Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon fall into. I’m also quite partial to memoirs and poetry.

Q3: Do you eat while you read and if yes, what exactly?

Every once in a while I will have a snack while I read. More often than not, it’ll be some kind of cracker (like Goldfish) or chips. Sometimes I’ll have some hot chocolate while I read, but only on mornings after I haven’t slept very well, because can’t really drink any other kind of caffeinated beverage.

Q4: Are there any scenes from your favorite novels that you remember vividly?

I tend to remember the emotional impression a book makes on me way more than specific scenes or moments (or even plot details!) You know a book is really good when it leaves a lingering emotional impression long after you’ve forgotten character names or specific events.

Q5: Were there any least favorites?

I’m honestly a tad confused about this question. I’m not sure whether it means “Are there any least favorite scenes from your favorite books that your remember?” or something else entirely! I’m going to go with that first interpretation and say, yes, there are scenes and moments from some of my favorite books that have made unfortunate impressions in my memory, and I can actually name some specifics this time! Often the scenes that make the deepest impressions on me are scenes where characters are put into awkward or embarrassing situations, or when characters I love are mistreated by mean authors 😛 I’m thinking of certain moments in the Emily books by L. M. Montgomery; specifically, the many times Emily is misunderstood or mistreated by her relatives, or the moment where she burns all her old stories and scribblings rather than let her relatives see them. I identify with Emily so much that these moments sort of ‘cut me to the heart’, as they say.

Q6: So, as you’re a bookworm, what are you reading currently today? (Optional)

I’m currently reading a couple of books for the Back to the Classics Challenge, specifically A Little Princess and Jane Eyre, as well as Emily Climbs, the second book in the Emily trilogy, which might be why poor Emily’s plights are so fresh in my mind…

Q7: How’s it getting along for you? (Optional)

I’m enjoying all three books thoroughly. Jane Eyre is a little hard to read, as I’m still in the first part of the book, and poor Jane is being abused and trodden on left and right. But still, I’m enjoying reading a classic for the first time, and rereading a couple of books I haven’t even touched in a few years!

Q8: Have you then got a large bookshelf, or do you plan to?

I would love to have more bookshelf space. Currently, my shelf is absolutely jam-packed, to the point where I can’t actually fit all the books I own on it. I’d like to get a little bookshelf specifically for indie books, as I appear to have acquired quite a few of those over the past couple of months, but we’ll see. I probably wouldn’t have anywhere to put another shelf even if I did get one… 😅

Q9: Do you have a liking to indie or traditional books?

For me, it doesn’t matter whether a book is traditional or small press or indie: what matters is whether or not it’s a good book. While I would love to support more indie authors, I’m not going to do it just because they’re indie. They’ve got to write a good book first. Same goes for traditional publishing. Personally, I try to judge all art on its own merits, and not by any external biases.

Q10: And lastly, do you plan to promote reading in some way, or already are?

I love promoting reading and books that I love! I do it on Twitter, on Instagram, over on my Goodreads (you can follow me there, if you’d like to see all of my book reviews) and on this blog as well. I love doing bookish tag posts like this, and I’m hoping to do a few book recommendation posts in the future, so stay tuned for that as well!


Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed my Bookish Q&A post. I had tons of fun writing it! Make sure you check out S. M. Metzler, who tagged me, and Deborah, the creator of this awesome tag.

Today I’m tagging:

Hannah Marie @ Plottinger Twist

Daley Downing @ The Invisible Moth


See you again very soon!

🙂