Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book Reviews: The Princess Bride

Good Day, Friends!

Okay, so I'm assuming you have seen The Princess Bride and know what I'm talking about. If not, shame on you. Go watch it right now. In any case, for Christmas, I got the 30th Anniversary Edition of the book The Princess Bride was based on. (The book is also called The Princess Bride.) I just wanted to share my thoughts on it.

I gave this book 4.5 stars. I like the movie better, but there were definitely nice things about reading the book.

Pros:
  • We got to read Inigo's and Fezzick's backstories! It was so fun to see where they were coming from and what made them who they are.
  • Buttercup is sensible and practical! (Well, a little.) "Oh, the boys!. . . I do not care about 'the boys.' Horse loves me and that is quite sufficient, thank you."
  • Humperdinck's Zoo of Death
    • This adds another trial/layer to the story, and it adds a good amount of depth to Humperdinck's character. However, it is cruelty to animals, so if you're sensitive to that, beware. (I do not like that part.)

Cons:
  • The characters didn't have much more depth than they did in the movie. This doesn't seem like an issue, but usually, even though we don't realize it, book characters have more depth than movie characters, because we can't read movie characters' thoughts like we can in books, and movie characters have much less time to develop a well-rounded, not flat character. Therefore, the amount of depth a movie character has in order to seem realistic is much less than the amount of depth a book character has to have. So, it was kind of disappointing when the book characters in The Princess Bride were not more well-rounded and did not have more depth than the movie characters.
  • Fezzick was portrayed as quite dumb and childish, which I didn't like.

Another note: The author has some. . . interesting commentary. You'll have to read it and research it yourself to get what I mean.

That's all for today!

Monday, June 18, 2018

On My Mind: **Important Updates**

Hello, Friends!

Okay, today, I have two things to talk about. First, I am sorry about not having a normal Friday post. On that note, I am going to be a little looser about my blog schedule as of now. I am also getting rid of the Gardening and Recipes sections of my blog, as well as the "Topic of the Month" subsection. Although I like gardening and recipes, I find I much prefer doing those things instead of just writing about them. Both gardening and recipes are great, however, and I know plenty of other people love writing about them. Good for them! As for me, I'd prefer to stick to books, dragons, and writing. The "Topic of the Month" subsection of the Writing category was a little dull, because after a while, there are only so many genres, and so many topics. I am sure I could think of more, but it's easier not to have them. I will still have On My Mind posts, though, so I might share recipes or gardening or book-related topics in those sometimes.

As a result, my blog structure is changing. I used to post three times a week, but because I am deleting some of the categories, I will now be posting two times a week. Here is what my new schedule will look like:

Week 1:
Mon-Mental Library
Sat-Creative Complex

Week 2:
Mon-Fairy Tales
Sat-Creative Complex

Week 3:
Mon-Book Reviews
Sat-Creative Complex

Week 4:
Mon-Dragons/Mythical Creatures
Sat-On My Mind

Secondly, my blog is Copyrighted. This means you are not allowed to use, display, reference, etc. my work without my permission. If you would like to request to use my work, please email me. My email is available on my profile page. You can find the link to my profile on the left-hand side of my blog, under the "About Me" section. Thank you for making sure my posts, that I have spent lots of time, and energy on, and which I care about very much, are realized.

Thank you so much! I enjoy writing this blog immensely. :)

Spruce Nogard

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Writing: Rimewhittling

Hello, Friends!

Today, I am sharing a short story I wrote with you. This story is flash fiction, which is a genre of short story that is 1000 words or under. I learned this from Rosalie Valentine, at Penprints. Penprints has a yearly challenge to write a flash fiction based on a prompt in three weeks. I decided to enter. :) In any case, here is the link to the picture prompt. (I didn't actually put the picture on my blog because I wasn't sure if it was public domain.)

*Note: My work is copyrighted, so please don't use it without asking my permission first, and please properly cite me. (If you want to ask my permission to use my work, my email is sprucehnogard@gmail.com) Thank you! 

By the way, sorry the font is small and black. I copied this from other places I had been working on it, and Blogger is being difficult.

Prompt

Rimewhittling

Mimi started. The words “We should talk” were written in snow on her windshield. Nothing like this had happened in a long, long, time. She furtively glanced around, then brushed the still-falling snow off her car. The frost stayed stubbornly attached to her windshield, as if sneering at her misfortune. What did it mean? Why now, of all times? She thought she had left all that behind long ago. How did he even find her? She groaned.

When she got home, a heavenly smell greeted her. Did someone make cookies? But the smell wasn't quite right. . . someone had made a whole dinner. Great. Mimi was hoping she would have at least a full twenty-four hours to recuperate from the shock of Jack finding her. But alas.

What do you want?” Mimi crossed her arms. Jack looked the same as always, brown hair immaculately messy, and oddly pale blue eyes, which danced as if he held some hidden secret.

Oh, I just had a conundrum I needed help with,” Jack replied.

I left for a reason. Did you actually think I wanted to be involved in all your messes?”

Dear. No, I did not, but that doesn't change the fact that I need help. You have a gift. I have not found such talent in three hundred years.”

Mimi sighed. “Why now? I just want to spend time with my family.” She circumvented Jack, surveyed the mushroom-goat cheese ravioli, and tugged on her braid. “This year, I'll actually get to be with my sisters for Christmas.”

Jack sighed. “I didn't have a choice. “We both know that. And the king will be in a towering rage if it's not completed on time. Remember what happened the last time we missed a deadline?”

You missed a deadline? Yes, I remember,” Mimi looked up and closed her eyes as if she was in pain. Her heart twisted with guilt. “It can't happen again. Let me get my things.”

Let's eat first.” Jack smiled. He had to awkwardly twist past the door frame to sit at the table.

Mimi sat across from Jack, and they began their dinner. Mimi's mind started to drift. Despite all the craziness of traveling to and from Byrne, she had missed Jack. The king might be mad, but Ella, Joseph, Lars, were all so caring. Come to think of it, all the people were kind. Unlike here. Everyone was always in a rush, wanting their own way. But the quiet magic of Byrne provided a breathtaking cocoon, as wondrous and stunning as any child's dream, if one could forget the king's shadow tainting the land. His power unfolded like a storm at sea, obliterating everything in its path. And he knew how to make people pay, too. Mimi shuddered. The last time he had been impatient. . . the last time, he had channeled his fury through the Gateway, into Mimi's hometown. Buildings had collapsed, earthquakes had wreaked havoc, and when that was done, fires had ravaged the rest, until what was left was a skeleton of what was before. Mimi struggled to shake the thoughts, but the roaring voice in her head wouldn't stop screaming, it's all your fault! It's all your fault!

Hush. Hush. It's not your fault, Mimi. The king would have done something, to someone, eventually. Please come back.” Jack's eyes held a quiet sort of restless waiting.“The sculptures take me at least twice as long, sometimes longer, to get just right. The king is getting impatient; he wants something more magnificent than all his other sculptures. I'm scared, Mimi.”

Mimi took a few deep breaths. The sculptures she and Jack had created together were truly Mimi's favorite part of Byrne. Mimi had been blessed with the gift of Rimewhittling, or as Jack liked to call it, perfectionism. Many times, Mimi could somehow refine the statues in a way that didn't seem to alter the sculptures, but in reality caused a world of difference. Her work was much better than Jack's. Once Mimi's was done, Jack would breathe the spells to make the figurines come to life.

Jack grabbed the plates and put them in the sink while Mimi called her mom and left a message. She'd have to cancel tomorrow, but hopefully she would see them all on Christmas.

It'll be faster if we fly,” Jack grinned, his wild eyes portraying the night sky.

Mimi's heart felt as if it had wings. “I had forgotten so much.” She opened the tiny window, and Jack squeezed out. She took Jack's hand. Mimi was the happiest she'd been in a long, long time, despite the cruel night air, despite the guilt locked away in her heart, despite even the sudden upending of her Christmas.

Mimi and Jack swiftly climbed through the Gateway. Neither stopped to enjoy the view, instead traveling straight to Jack's workshop. A giant wolf sculpture as tall as Mimi stood waiting for them.

She's tricky for two reasons: One, she's a spirit wolf; two,” Jack dropped his voice to a whisper, “she can help us depose the king.”

Mimi sucked in her breath.

The ice isn't pleased, but I can't figure out what's wrong.” Jack ran a hand over the wolf's back.

More precision will help.” Without taking her eyes off the wolf, Mimi grabbed a carving knife. After an hour of cleaning up the statue, she stepped back. “There. She looks much better now.”

Jack shook his head. “I told you you were talented. I can't tell the difference.”

Mimi pursed her lips. Something was still wrong. “Her eyes!” Although the eyes were beautiful, they were not spirit eyes. Mimi started adjusting them. Mimi worked all day, and long into the night. By the time she was done, dawn was just waking the sky. She shook Jack. “Done.”

Jack's eyes fluttered open. He saw the wolf, and sat bolt upright. “Odin's ravens. She's beautiful.” Jack caressed the wolf's muzzle and whispered, “Breathe.”

The wolf shook itself awake.

Spruce Nogard

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Creative Complex: Five Senses

Hello, Friends!

Today, remember to use all five senses in your writing.

1) Sight

It's easiest to describe things using sight. Here's an example: The blue sweatshirt brushed against the girl's brown hair.

2) Smell

Example: The smell of freshly baked cookies wafted into the room.

3) Hearing

Example: The sound of rustling filled the air as the bats flurried into flight.

4) Taste

Example: The cake tasted too sweet, like over-ripened berries.

5) Touch

Example: The kitten curled up on his chest, its purr sending warm vibrations through his body.

The more aspects of touch you use, the better. Pressure, pain, movement, and aching are some of them.

Now, write a description of something, a person or a setting, and use all five senses. Good luck!

Spruce Nogard

Attributions:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Reviews: The Paper Magician

Hello, Friends!

Today, I'm going to review The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg. (P.S. I read it a while ago, so I might not remember all my pros and cons.) The Paper Magician is about Ceony, a student who has just graduated top of her class, but instead of working metal magic, the very reason she wanted to become a magician, is assigned to an apprenticeship in the dying art of paper magic. Ceony is crushed. However, as she begins to learn paper magic, she realizes it has much more to offer than she first assumed. One day, an Excisioner, someone who practices the forbidden art of blood magic, pays Ceony and her teacher, Emery, a visit. When the Excisioner leaves, she takes Emery's heart with her. Ceony must find Emery's heart and restore it to his body, before his body dies. However, whilst on her quest, she gets trapped in Emery's stolen heart. She must now not only figure out how to return Emery's heart to his body, but first must figure out a way to get out of it.

I gave this book four stars. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and it was different than the typical YA fantasy book in this day and age, so it proved quite nice.

Pros:
  • I really liked Ceony. She seemed like a very real, very nice person. Not the type like Cinder, who I always wish would be my friend, but would never actually be. I feel like I could be friends with Ceony.
  • The story was different from the YA fantasy stereotypical protagonist discovers he/she/they/etc. have special powers, go on adventure, have a love interest (or a couple), and discover they have to save their kingdom/country/world. Yes, the government had been trying to catch the bad people, but it wasn't like everyone anywhere knew who Ceony and Emery were, and knew what had happened to them.
  • The view of Emery's heart was really unique. I really liked how Holmberg relates the flesh-and-blood heart to the spiritual heart. Each of the four chambers of the heart has a specific emotion attached to it. It's kind of hard to explain. This provides uniqueness to the story, as well.
Cons:
  • I felt like we didn't get to see much of Ceony's family. She has a few siblings and loving parents, whom she seems close with, so it felt like she should have thought of them/mentioned them more, even if we didn't actually get to see them a ton.
  • SPOILER ALERT: The relationship (as in Ceony likes Emery, her teacher) is a little weird because he's so much older than her. This didn't bother me too much, though.
  • There were probably a few more small ones, but I read it a while ago, so I don't quite remember. If I can't remember them, they were probably quite minor. :)
Another note: The world was taken as granted. In other words, it was London, but with a magic twist. Magic was involved in the government as well. I can't say more than that, because I don't know. There wasn't much world-building; rather, things were brought up like someone would mention the two-party system in government here: like the reader already knew what Holmberg was talking about. This left a bit for the reader to imply, but I think that was nice, in some ways. The magic was what was important in the book, and because the book was one person's quest and two people's relationship, the government structure didn't really matter.

The Paper Magician had a really nice flavor. It's definitely magic, but there's a good bit of romance, too (and by that I mean not very much, just a very nice flavor of romance. I don't normally like the flavors of romance in YA fantasy books.) I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I have the second book, and I believe there are four. Also, thankfully, the series is done! Charlie N. Holmberg has other books too, though, which is nice.

Have you read The Paper Magician? What did you like about it? What didn't you like about it?

Farewell!

Spruce Nogard

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Fairy Tales: Thoughts on Disney's Beauty and the Beast



Hello, Mythical Creatures!

Today, I just wanted to share my thoughts on
Beauty and the Beast, the Disney movie. I know there is quite a bit of controversy over this, but these are just my views. You don't have to agree with me. :)

First of all, Beauty and the Beast is my absolute favorite Disney movie.

I want to share my thoughts on why this movie was revolutionary and brilliant for its time.

    I love that Belle doesn't fit in, is a reader, smart, and won't just marry some guy because he's cute.

Thankfully, this movie goes against many stereotypes, like women can't be smart, and can't or shouldn't read. Belle loves to read, and isn't a typical princess in need of rescuing. In fact, she does the rescuing: she rescues her father. That is brilliant, and upends so many stereotypes already.

Also, she's practical, and will stand up for herself. She will not marry Gaston, no matter what the town thinks of her, and no matter what he threatens. She wants to marry someone who is smart and caring, and she's not afraid to make that known. Gaston comes to propose to her, and she slyly throws him out.

Another thing that resonates with Belle for me is she doesn't quite fit in. She's not like the other girls in town, and no one really knows what to make of her. However, she doesn't give up her dreams, hobbies, or character in order to fit in. Despite all this, she is still a hero and celebrated as a Disney princess, which overturns stereotypes all over the place.

  • Gaston, who's supposed to be the hero, is the villain, and the Beast, who is supposed to be the villain, is the hero.

Although this storyline seems familiar or common, it went against the stereotype of the handsome prince coming and saving the day, by killing the hideous creature. Although this storyline is extremely old as well, for whatever reason, in American society, it is less prominent. If you are interested in different versions of and stories related to Beauty and the Beast, I posted a couple posts on it. Here are the links: Part One, and Part Two.

In any case, the amazing thing about Beauty and the Beast is the Beast did not start out as a good character. He treated Belle terribly, had a horrible temper, and although he wanted to find love, it could be argued his main reason for wanting to fall in love (at least, at the beginning) was so he could have his human body back, because he hated his beast form. However, slowly, he grew to care for Belle, partially because Belle was honest with him. For example, she refused to come to dinner, and yelled at him to control his temper. By the end of the movie, the Beast transformed, physically, but also emotionally. He was able to care for someone else, learned to work through his problems instead of run away from them, and learned what the Enchantress wanted him to learn. In short, his heart changed.
Beauty and the Beast teaches the Beast, but also the children/people watching, in the Enchantress's words, that “Beauty lies within.” Truly. Beauty and the Beast accomplishes this so well by making the handsome man be the villain, and the horrific Beast be the hero.

In any case, these are some of my thoughts on Beauty and the Beast. However, I just wanted to mention one more thing. The Beast did not treat Belle well at all when she first arrived at his castle. I love this movie because the Beast's heart changed, not because he treated her so terribly.

Those are just a few of my thoughts, and why I love Beauty and the Beast so much! What's your favorite Disney princess movie? Why?

Spruce Nogard

Attributions: