Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: Warbreaker

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker is Sanderson's latest one-shot fantasy. Interestingly enough, he had a versi0n on his site for people to read for free. I don't think this printed copy is that different, so if you want to check it out for free, I suggest you do. I have to say, that Sanderson tends to get better and better as he writes. I think, as he has mentioned in his blog, that it has to do in part with helping to finish the Wheel of Time series. He has to manage a LOT of characters and storylines there, so I think it's helping him flesh out his own personal thoughts and ideas.

Once again, he has an interesting magic system--based on colors. Once again, he has more of a mystery at times, than a full-fledged standard fantasy, which I really like. And once again, he has sort of an ambiguous sort of setting to compare to something known. This story is mostly set in a seaside city, and I get a very Greco-Roman feel of the society and architecture, but ... that's just me! He also has some very strong femal characters, and ... as always, nothing is quite as it seems.

I love that finding out who the "bad guy" was took me some time, and frankly, took me by surprise. But see, Sanderson is fond of the "bad guy" who thinks he's doing things for the right reasons.

I really liked this book, and it sucked me in and got me reading very quickly (well, more than usual). The ONLY thing I wish is that I had a LITTLE bit more resolution at the end. But that's just a person thing, as I do wish it with a lot of books and movies, for that matter. Just a LITTLE bit more tidying up on little bits of info would be nice, authors and directors!!

Next up, I begin the massive re-reading of the Wheel of Time series in prep for the next installment due out this November (finally)! However, I will begin with the prequel, New Spring by Robert Jordan (instead of the actual Book 1). (I might read something in between, though. Never know!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Book Review: Chainfire

Chainfire by Terry Goodkind

Chainfire is the ninth book in the Sword of Truth series (and, if anyone happens to care, is also what the Legend of the Seeker TV series is loosely based on). It's been a little while since I read the last book, and I really have forgotten a lot, though there is a lot of reminding in the book.

This book was VERY slow for a long time. I get why it had to be. Basically, a main character has disappeared but no else, it except for one person, remembers. The last third is when it really picks up. But, I have to say, as a writer myself who loves dialogue, WOW, there was a lot of dialogue in this one. And long stretches of one person speaking. It was ... interesting. This book is also part 1 of a trilogy (yeah, figure that out!), so I wasn't sure how things were going to pan out for the rest of the books, but I see now. I will say I think, mostly the story is better than Book 8, and hopefully the next one proves to have more action and story.

Coming up, Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.

Monday, July 13, 2009

DigiScrap: Baby Shower Card

Baby Shower (Umbrella) Card

I went to a baby shower this past weekend, and the week prior I had such a hard time coming up with a card! I went through two designs before I went looking for inspiration. I found a Papyrus card that was adorable, so I lifted the idea. Here's my version of it. The mother-to-be really liked it. I think my favorite part is the wire with the alpha beads on it. So cute! ^_^

Friday, July 10, 2009

Picture: Asian Flip Flops

Asian Flip Flops

This was done for Peppermint Creative's Click-a-Pic Challenge #2 -- to take a pic of shoes and then do a B&W conversion. The results have already been posted, and I didn't win with this one, but seeing as I won with the vintage swings pic, I guess I can't complain. ^_^ I decided to create a little Asian vignette with my cherry blossom flip flops, a shoji lamp and a Asian tea set (there are actually three more cups, but I thought it was too much to include). They're a lot of fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Quick Book Reviews

I've decided that after this I'm just gonna review each book after I read it, because lately, with all my other projects, I've gotten a little behind on reviewing books.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
To me, this is what Edgar Sawtelle should have been. Raw and real. While the writing was somewhat simple, it got the point across. It was also interesting to see a completely different culture. Also interesting to make you think what you migt have done in the situation that the main character was in. The ONLY thing I really didn't care for, was the last tragic event. It almost seemed too much. Like it was forced. But overall, a thoughtful read.

Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
The last book in the Mistborn series. I love that Sanderson gives enough hints, but still has those fun twists at the end. Some people are upset at the ending, but I think it really fits. It's also a nice end to the series. I heard he has planned another possible series set in the Mistborn world, but possibly set years later. Should be interesting. Sanderson is quickly growing into another favorite fantasy author!

The Grand Tour by Wrede and Stevermer
This was another fun book after the Chocolate Pot, and it was really easy to get back into the flow of the writing style (set as letters) and the characters. Would still love to do this some time with someone!

The Mislaid Magician by by Wrede and Stevermer
The last book in the series. While this had some interesting little twists and turns, overall I was a little bored by this last book. I think it was because the authors introduced two new letter writers (the first two being the cousins, and the next being the husbands of the cousins). A lot of times you got double the information, which seemed like a little too much. I know why it was done, because at this point, not all the characters were together, but still. A little too, too much. Overall the series was fun, though.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I have a friend that's been wanting me to join a book club that she's part of. I thought it would be nice to branch out and meet new people, but not until this book did I feel like I would be able to join (because the last book I could not get a hold of). However, something more urgent came up on the night of the club meeting, and therefore, I shall have to wait. I have a hard time with 1st person POV. This was a little worse because each chapter was devoted to a different person's POV, from the little girl with cancer, to the sister, to the brother, even the lawyer. I do see how it was effective, though, in showing how each person was affected by the events in this book. The ending left me a little baffled as to "why." Since this is a book club version, it has a little interview with the author at the back and she explains why she did it. I understand what she did, but still don't get why. However, it did make me tear up.

Coming up, review of Chainfire by Terry Goodkind (ninth book in the Sword of Truth series).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

DigiScrap: Sunday in the Park

Sunday in the Park

Done for Peppermint Creative's Mixed-Bag Challenge #2 -- a blind scraplift. Basically, we were given a description of someone else's layout and then asked to make our own layout based on that description. I decided to use my favorite picture from the ones I had help choosing to submit to the photo challenge.

By the way, that photo won that challenge! Yay!

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Friday Fanfic: Dream Giver (Part 5)

Parts 1 & 2 Here, Part 3 Here, and Part 4 Here

(Author's Note: This fanfic takes place sometime during Season 7 of the show -- just in case anyone didn't want any spoilers. Not that they're huge. Well, maybe.... You've been warned. ^_^ As always, constructive criticism is welcome.)

Dream Giver
(a Stargate SG-1 FanFic)

“But the question is,” she continued, as she rose and approached the gate, flickers of candlelight catching the green in her eyes like fireflies, “who are you?”

Part 5

“I…don’t think I am what you believe me to be, Elpis.” Daniel paused. “If I may call you, Elpis?” He paused again. “But then, I don’t know what else I would call you.”

She smiled softly at him through the gate. “You never used my name before, though I always suspected you knew it. It sounds nice when you speak it.” Her smile widened. “Hope.” She looked away briefly, as if recalling a memory, her eyes drifting closed dreamily. “The few times you addressed me, you referred to me as ‘Hope.’ But the weight given was not just the meaning. It felt like it could carry the universe.” Her eyes opened, and the darkened orbs stared at Daniel.

He looked at her, tilting his head slightly. “Haven’t you ever heard of the origin?”

She shook her head slightly, a few stray strands of hair catching a dance on the night wind. “All anyone knows around here is the meaning. There have been rumors of there being a story of origin, but it has been lost these many years.” She opened the gate to him. “Would you tell it to me?”

“Uhm,” he looked back, as if wondering if he should return to his team, but knew they wouldn’t leave without him, and turned back to Elpis, curious to know more of this woman who had dreamt and given his likeness. “Sure.”

She led him to the gazebo, under more light, and they sat on the bench on which she had been earlier.

The story of Pandora’s Box was short and simple to tell, but, he couldn’t help himself in expanding on the usual tale, finding an apt audience in Elpis. He found himself going off on several tangents as Elpis asked about other gods and goddesses mentioned in the tale. She laughed melodically as she caught names that were those belonging to friends or family, interested to know if they knew who they had been named after.

She had drawn up her legs onto the bench, crossing them under each other, with her arms resting on them, as she leaned into him, caught up in the last part of his telling.

“The lid was shut before that which was at the bottom could get out. And while the evils of mankind ran rampant throughout the world, one thing remained,” Daniel’s voice dropped softly, entreating Elpis to the end of his tale.

Her eyes round and lips parted slightly, she breathed out, “Hope.”

He smiled gently and nodded, blue eyes twinkling softly in the candle’s light and from the enjoyment he had in sharing his knowledge of history and mythology with a willing listener. “Also known as ‘Elpis.”

Her mouth widened into a winsome smile and she laughed in joy. “Such a wonderful story, Dream Giver!”

Daniel’s smile faded slightly. “Elpis, you can just call me Daniel.”

She glanced down, smiling at his correction and gently catching her lower lip under a few teeth for a moment. Her eyes slid up to meet his. “And what does your name mean, Daniel?”

“God is my judge.”

She more fully looked at him, her back straightening and her head tilting slightly, brows lightly furrowed. “Which god?”

He shook his head slightly. “It comes from a religious book we have on my planet called the Bible. In that book, there is only one God. Daniel is in one of the stories.”

“And these stories are different than the ones you told me about, with Pandora?”

“Yes, quite! Actually, our planet is rich with stories, histories and mythologies.”

Her eyes lit up. “Oh, Daniel, I would love to hear them all!”

He laughed out loud. “It might take a lifetime.” He then looked around. “Besides, it’s getting late, and I’m sure my friends are probably wanting to go back home.”

Almost as if summoned, one of Elpis’ youngest sisters, whom Daniel had not met before, came running from the home into the garden. “Elpis! The visitors are wishing to leave, but they cannot find—” she stopped, eyes widening, in front of Elpis and Daniel. “The Dream Giver!”

Elpis unfolded herself from the bench and stood, her face calmly collected. “Cyrene, your manners?” she chided with a stern warmth, different from the child-like wonder she had exposed to Daniel earlier.

The girl’s eyes went wider, as she placed her hands over her lips and gave a deep, though unsteady, bow to Daniel.

“Daniel, this is my sister, Cyrene. And,” Elpis glanced at Daniel briefly, pursing her lips, and then looking back to her sister, “Cyrene, he wishes to be called Daniel.”

Daniel smiled warmly and held his hand out to the girl, which she took briefly, the barely-lit area showing her lightly-blushed cheeks. She then squeaked out, “Your friends are looking for you, Daniel.”

“Thank you,” he nodded as he stood. “I figured they would probably be looking for me, seeing as I didn’t let them know where I was going.”

“Cyrene, please let the visitors know that Daniel has been found and will be along shortly.”

The young girl gave a hasty bow and ran out of the garden, disappearing around a corner of the house.

“You seem almost like a mother to her, rather than a sister,” Daniel said cautiously.

Elpis sighed, her face softening. “The burden of being the eldest sister. Especially since our mother died shortly after Cyrene was born.”

“I’m sorry. I had thought perhaps that was the case, but didn’t want to ask.”

She turned to him, lips curved down, and spoke softly. “You thought because you already knew. In my dreams I told you much about this, only letting you share in the knowledge of the obligation I feel in caring for my brothers and sisters.”

“Elpis, I—”

“I know, Daniel. You do not think you are my Dream Giver.” She then smiled gently. “But over some time ago, you became part of my life. And until you stopped visiting, I believed it would always be that way. You, watching over me and the people of this planet. Do you at least acknowledge that I believe you are?”

His eyes narrowed at something she had said.

“Yo, Danny boy!” Jack’s calling out from the gate broke into Daniel’s thoughts. “Time to go home.”

Jack was waving him over, with a patient Sam and stoic Teal’c next to him, along with the Abaris. “Let’s go! I don’t wanna miss The Simpsons.”

“I believe, O’Neill, that it is a re-run tonight.”

Jack shrugged as Daniel and Elpis approached. “Eh. They’re still funny, though.”

Elpis whispered to Daniel. “Who are the Simpsons?”

Daniel laughed lightly and rolled his eyes. “It’s a story of sorts, with moving pictures.”

Her eyes widened in wonder. “Moving pictures?”

But before he could explain more, the Abaris had opened the gate to ease them out, and Jack quipped. “So, kids, what were you doing over there?” He arched an eyebrow, gesturing toward the gazebo.

“Jack, we were discussing some ancient Greek myths. Elpis wanted to know the origin of her name, and so I told her.”

“Ah,” Jack intoned sarcastically, turning to Sam, “a great way to a girl’s heart, discussing dusty, old stories.” Sam chuckled softly.

Daniel sighed in exasperation.

“Will you be returning soon?” Elpis asked softly, addressing the whole group, but her eyes focused on Daniel.

The Abaris turned to O’Neill, in questioning, as well.

“Yeah, I suppose. We still need to get this whole ‘Dream Giver’ thing cleared up.”

Saying casual goodbyes, the group turned to leave, when Elpis caught Daniel by calling out to him.

“Daniel, do you believe I believe?”

He nodded. “I do,” he said softly. And he truly did.

A beatific smile crossed her face, and she then placed her hands familiarly, not over her lips, but over her heart, and bowed.

They left her like that, walking some way toward the Stargate, accompanied by the Abaris, before Teal’c asked, “Abaris, your daughter’s farewell was different than what I have noticed your people to use. Does its use have a meaning?”

The Abaris nodded, but took a few moments to respond. “The normal greeting and farewell is the hands lightly over the lips, with a bow of the head, or even a deeper bow. It means that what your lips speak is truth. Or, that it is to be perceived as truth. You see, we value honesty most highly here.” He then paused, glancing toward Daniel. “But with the hands over the heart…it is only used between intimates and rarely seen in public. It means that the heart speaks truth.”

The last few words the Abaris had spoken stayed with Daniel for a long time, even when the Abaris left them to continue on alone to the Stargate and they had made their way through, back home. Even until he was finally able to drift off to sleep that night, wondering if and how he was connected to the one whose heart spoke truth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

DigiScrap: Then and Now Graduates

Then and Now Graduates

Done for Peppermint Creative's Mixed-Bag Challenge #1, to scrap around the theme "Then and Now." We had to take an old pic and recreate it and scrap them. I was lucky to have this recent pic of my niece graduating high school and the old one is of me and her at my college graduation. I tried to go really simple to see if I could pull off the elegance. I don't know if I managed it, but I still like it. ^_^

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