Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chosen Alternate Cover

I don't know that I've ever seen this cover in a store, but I found it online. The font that is used for the title is the font for the chapter numbers. Isn't it awesome looking? Really cool. Sharp and swirly at the same time.


YAHOO!!!! GOOGLE!!!!!!!!!! Our internet is working again! I am so excited. I called and talked to the Windstream people, and they were very helpful and patient and helped me get our internet working. Hopefully it will stay up now. So now I can bombard the few faithful readers that I have with posts. Actually, just a few. :D I started another Ted Dekker book yesterday that I bought several months ago with Saint. Mardel has great deals on Ted Dekker books. If you must buy them in a store, Mardel is the place to go. I started Chosen yesterday, and finished it today. I was nearly halfway through the book when I quit last night, and this afternoon I read the last sixteen chapters. It was simple and easy to read. The plot was good and kept me reading. I was actually surprised at how quickly I was drawn in...and then stuck. I stayed up a little later than I intended last night to read more until sleep was more appealing.... Anyway. Chosen is about a sixteen year old boy named Johnis. Thomas Hunter, the commander of the Forest Guard (yes, the Lost Books series takes place in the same world as The Circle Trilogy. The Lost Books takes place in the fifteen years between Black and Red.) has pushed the age limit on joining the Forest Guard from eighteen to sixteen. Johnis was one of the first in line to join, but was turned away because he was too small, too weak. While watching some of the new recruits of the Forest Guard play 'football,' a game that Thomas Hunter says come from his dreams, Johnis suddenly finds himself hiding the ball (made of Horde hair) from the players, the four that will very likely be chosen to be Thomas Hunter's new commanders. Johnis suddenly finds himself one of the chosen four, and is sent on a quest to retrive four catalina cacti and bring them back, all in one piece. The other three don't like him, call him names, and taunt him, even before he begins to see the Shataiki bats in the trees. Johnis is thrown into a world that many call legend or myth when he meets two Roush, white bats that are the enemies of the Shataiki and followers of Elyon, the YHWH figure in Ted Dekker's world of colorful forests, bats, and green water. Michal and Gibal, the two Roush, tell Johnis that he must find the seven lost Books of History, and he is to tell only his three comrades, all of which seem to think him crazy, accept perhaps for Sylvie, who seems to be more open to him than the other too. I love Roush! And especially Gibal. You have to read the books....but the fuzzy white bats with their glowing green orbs for eyes are sort of like angels in Ted Dekker's fantasy world. Chosen was excellent, much better than Showdown and Saint, although not quite up to par with The Circle Trilogy. Chosen references both Skin and Showdown. I haven't read Skin yet, but it only referenced it a little. You only have to read the back of Skin to understand what Dekker was talking about. Seven stars! Also book of the month over at Sock Monkeys! Definitely worth reading, but you MUST read The Circle Trilogy first, and you'll understand it better if you have read Showdown, but it isn't entirely necessary. The Lost Books series is targeted at younger readers, one of the reasons it was such an easy read, and so fast. Can't wait to read Infidel!

Hello, Happy Thanksgiving, and...hmm

Hey everybody!

I know I haven't posted in a looong time, but there is a reason.

Windstream internet service is having problems. We're having problems. In other words, we've been without properly working internet for over a week. I'm at my Dad's office, using his computer, since mine at home are currently unusuable. I don't think unusuable is a word, but who cares? It is now. I made it up. Unusuable. You should start using it! :D

So, when and if I ever get internet back, I will post about movies, Christmas Shopping, and book reviews, and book and movie of the month and all that. Thanks for commenting on Rescue Dawn everyone! Keep it up.

Also, don't forget to check out Sock Monkeys. Mikaela and I work hard to keep it updated.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rescue Dawn

I have seen Rescue Dawn twice now. I don't remember exactly what I thought of it the first time, but I can tell you now that it has got to be one of the greatest hero movies ever made.

Rescue Dawn tells the true story of Dieter Dangler, a Navy pilot. His plane crashes on his first mission, and he then becomes a POW.

I'm not going to try to give a plot summary here. I hate writing those...but I am going to explain what I thought of the movie.

Dieter and his friends react to their imprisonment and torture the way a normal person would. That's why the movie is so fantastic, and that's why Dieter Dangler is a hero. Because he did fall, he did hurt, and he nearly went crazy. Comic Book Heroes wouldn't do that.

What's so great about the characters is their weaknesses, and how the few strengths that they have help them through their imprisonment and escape.

This has got to be the ultimate trial for any human being. I can't imagine how terrible it would be to go through what POW's go through and have gone through. In Rescue Dawn, the jungle that I always admire in other stories and dream about for my own (pythons, tigers, dark leaves, etc.) becomes menacing and frightening. The jungle that Dieter and Duane travel through is incredibly green and dense at the same time...something that always seemed beautiful. It might take awhile for me to see the mysterious beauty that I admired before. What I saw in Rescue Dawn was harsh brutality in the immense green leaves.

What else can I say? I thought this was a really good movie. Steve Zahn and Christian Bale star in it, so it has to be good right? We do have TV Guardian, and I'm warning against the graphic violence, another part that made the movie so harshly realistic. It was a great story. Because it had a happy ending after all that Dangler went through. Christian Bale is an amazing actor and gave an awesome performance. I was practically astounded. Just watch him when he explains to Duane why he became a pilot. You could just about see the story he was telling.

So, ten out of ten. I'm glad I watched it again. Also November Movie of the Month. :D

Oh, and here's a trailer so you can kind of see the jist of it. Looks pretty amazing doesn't it? The movie is better than the trailer. I had forgotten how good it was.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cool Spanish Cover of Brisingr

I thought this was interesting. I found it when I was looking for a pic for the Brisingr review. I like the original better, but this one is still neat looking. Also the cover of the original self-published version of Eragon. I would like to read it sometime to see how much of a difference there is between it and the Knopf Edition. You can see it's Barnes and Noble Page here. I think you can purchase it.

Brisingr, or The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular

Well, I did it. I finished Brisingr.
All I can really say is that I am in awe at Paolini's success at writing three books of such enormous size. I don't care what anybody says: yes, some of the plot elements are similar to Star Wars, and yes, there are ways in which the book could be better edited.
But so what?
Brisingr was a joy to read. He has a pretty solid plot, and pretty good characters, and pretty original ideas. All in all, Brisingr was incredible for somebody so young. No matter which way you look at it, Paolini is incredibly talented. Just think what amazing books he is going to write in the future! He made a few mistakes, but all writers do. Even J.K. Rowling has flaws, although hers are few.
However, I don't want to talk about Paolini's faults. He has a lot of talent, and I'm not interested in wasting my energy on criticism on the things he did wrong when they didn't really bother me. I love details. Details are great. Details give me a vivid picture of what I'm trying to see.
I didn't really bother reading the first chapter very closely, because it wasn't all that interesting to me. The second chapter was very interesting, and I read that in a book store. So finally, when I got the book from the library, and I began reading, it took me a day or two to realize how much I was enjoying it. Reading Brisingr was an ordeal, because its so long! But I love long books, so that's okay.
I don't like Roran's plot. I just don't like Roran. Maybe I'm not supposed to like him, but there is this arrogance and almost ridiculous air about him that just...I don't know. I just don't like Roran and Katrina. I'm partial to Eragon. I think that Paolini does a good job with the subtle romance between Eragon and Arya, which is still very undeveloped, but I like that. I loved the chapter when Eragon and Arya were around the campfire, and I also loved the scene where Eragon and Saphira were reunited. I felt their joy when they ran to each other and embraced! I realized how much pain they suffered being apart. Another highlight of the book was Saphira's perspective for the first time! She cracks me up, because she is soooo vain. I suppose I might be vain if I were a dragon, but Saphira is almost as bad as the beauty queen at school. I think that's part of her personality though. Saphira is so proud and even full or herself that I wonder if there might be something that's going to happen to her in book four? Just a thought. I can just see her downfall. Maybe she'll lose a leg like Glaedr, or just made me wonder when I was reading her chapters. I did enjoy the Roran chapter where he had to fight the Urgal. That was pretty cool.
And then....Spoilers again, I warn you......

The whole Star Wars plot thing is washed away! Morzan is NOT Eragon's father, Murtagh is only his half brother. I was so excited to find out. Mikaela spoiled it for me, but it was still fun to read it. I like Brom. I like Brom a lot. Jeremy Irons did an excellent job portraying him, I thought, and that was the best part of the movie...which was kind of sorry compared to the book. The book was really ten times better than the movie, but anyway....

Brom is Eragon's Father!!!! I was so excited! I always hoped that Eragon would eventually think of Brom as his dad, not Garrow (come on. Nobody likes Uncle Garrow.) and the chapter where Saphira shares the memory where Brom talks to Eragon as a father was really cool and neat. That was awesome.

The chapter where Eragon and....Rhunon forge the sword Brisingr was really amazing. I read with a hunger, and I am awed at how well Paolini describes the importance of a good weapon, of a sword, of the romance of it! Eragon named the sword Brisingr, which is the first magic word he uttered, the first magic word he heard uttered. Brisingr! The chapter Mind over Metal was probably just about my favorite.

The rest of the book was very good, and Paolini reveals how Galbatorix has risen to such great power, and also how Murtagh and Thorn are so powerful, but I'm not going to talk about it here. Despite the many faults of the Inheritance Cycle, Paolini gave me several hours of delight as I read about Eragon and Saphira's adventures in Book Three, and if I enjoyed it even for a moment (which I did) and if I am eager to find out what happens (which I am) then Paolini has done is job as a fiction writer. And he did his job very well. Brisingr was a joy to read, and it inspired me to add a layer to my book which I think is going to make it better and more enjoyable to write. So, Mr. Paolini, thanks for that. Haha, that would be awesome if he posted a comment. Authors do that a lot on my blog, seems like. I hope that someday I can complete a novel with as much depth behind its world as the Inheritance Cycle.
Finish it Mike! It was worth it. And those of you who haven't started the Inheritance Cycle, I think you should give Eragon, the first book, a try. I own the first book, and I want to add Eldest and Brisingr to my collection. I think they're worth the time it takes to read them.
As another thought, an afterthought, a post review thought, I think I've decided that I like the idea of Arya and Eragon being together. I hope they'll make it work for Eragon's sake! :D
Oh yeah, I enjoyed and appreciated Brisingr so much, it's November Book of the Month.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Of Reading and Writing

Hello everyone!

I felt like writing a blog post devoted to writing techniques and reading, but just a short one, because I began Brisingr two days ago, and I have had to relearn one of the my most important rules for writers/readers.

That is that you can never have too many different kinds of books in your book bag. As a writer, I can't stress this enough, because nearly every book I read and enjoy influences me one way or another. I had forgotten how much Christopher Paolini influenced me. I really admire him for writing such a detailed and complicated series at such a young age....something that I am striving to do, but it is not as easy as it sounds to write a good novel, let alone a series of novels.

I don't want to talk too much about Christopher Paolini this post because in a few days I will post my review of Brisingr and discuss his technique then, but reading Brisingr has inspired me to start over....or at least add a completely different my book. I just started over recently, for.....don't ask me I've lost count. I don't know how many times I"ve started over, but I've done about three or four drafts that would ever even possibly be worth finishing, but as I am no longer interested in completing those, the effort would be worthless.

For one thing, the way I have been writing has been very 'spacy' my cousin's favorite way to describe it. Meaning that I don't give the proper details where they are due, or conversations or character introductions are too short (although I have begun to notice how short some of these things are in novels like Harry Potter!) or I skip an important event or such as that.

It is mostly details. I used to think details were easy, but I've realized that they are NOT. They may be the hardest part. Details are fairly easy to make sound good, but when you are trying to describe something, or more than one thing, or more than one thing about a certain thing, it gets very confusing and a little bit confusing and awkward.

I recently read in a Ted Dekker blog post that he had heard writing a novel compared to rowing a bathtub across the ocean, and he also said that he knew how it felt. He has completed an enormous amount of novels for such a young author...I mean, he's only in his forties.

I think I almost agree. Rowing a bathtub across the ocean sounds impossible, but writing a novel doesn't sound impossible, but it is SOOOO much harder than it sounds. Movies make it sound so easy...authors make it sound so easy. LIARS!!! Just kidding. I'm sure that once I finally finish a book it will be easier for me as well, but I want that now, not later!

Oh well. You see, reading J.R.R. Tolkien makes me feel like my book is AWFUL. And impossible to live up to standards. Tolkien is sort of my set standard. If Tolkien did something, then it is acceptable. :D Christopher Paolini's writing makes mine look awful too, but it also gives me hope, because I can see how I could make my book as detailed as his, or at least it doesn't seem as hopeless as when I open the vast world of Middle-Earth. I don't strive to copy either of them, but I do strive to write a book that lives up to certain standards, MY standards, and my standards demand that my book is as fun to read as something like Harry Potter, as magical to read as The Lord of the Rings. Middle-Earth and Alagaesia are very real to me because of all the history behind each of them...all the details. Some people get bored with details, and I do see the importance of not putting your readers to sleep with them.

But I'm not writing a book to please anybody else. I'm writing a book to please me. That sounds like a self-centered way to put it, but if you want to write something worth while, you don't write what other people will like, you write what you like.
ARgh, sorry. I think I'm just venting frustration. More on all this writing/reading stuff in a few days when I post my review of Brisingr, which I am planning to be November Book of the Month.
Sorry if I bored you to tears....:D
Oh, sure that was short. :D