Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: Rogue Knight makes you expect the unexpected

Hi everyone. Time for another review.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Cole, Mira, Twitch, and Jace travel to the kingdom of Elloweer to find Mira's sister Honor, whose star has appeared in the knight sky. Along the way they encounter enforcers of the High King, determined to capture and bring them before the evil monarch. Just before they arrive in Elloweer they hear of a mysterious monster that's causing problems in the kingdom, and the mysterious Rogue Knight has been unseating knights from power, much to the government's disdain. As they travel through Elloweer the friends will meet old and new friends, encounter powerful enemies, and learn secrets that will leave none of them unscathed.
When I was reading Sky Raiders the kingdom of Sambria really took imagination to the extreme. In Elloweer, enchantments and illusion reign supreme. Nothing is what it seems and surprises lurk around every corner. Just when you think you've got something figured out an unexpected twist occurs. The Five Kingdoms series is definitely not your average fantasy series, and a ride you do not want to miss. If you enjoyed the Beyonders series then you'll want to read this book because it shows although on different worlds the two series are part of the same universe.
Characters are in peril. A kid gets abducted. Animals appear to devour a man, but turns up fine. Knights fight and kill people. In a dreamscape characters get chased by monsters. A witch-like beast takes possession of people.
Don't rush to judgement. Things are not always as they appear. Be cautious with what information you share with others, because you never know who you're talking to. Nobility and honor comes in all shapes and sizes. Always remember who you are. Never give up on those you love or yourself. We all have hidden talents and gifts that can benefit everyone.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Birthday update

Hi everyone. I thought I should take the time to change course from my traditional book reviewing and blog about how my birthday went. I'm sure all of you deserve a change on this blog.
This year I turned twenty-four. I had a hope as to what I would find that day, and I was not disappointed. My brothers got me a double-feature of How to Train Your Dragon 2 with the bonus short Dawn of the Dragon Racers. I was really happy to see that. I also got a new watch since my old one broke. I did buy myself some DVDs from the bookstore too: Quest for Camelot and Brave. I thought it would be best to find stories revolving around my English-Scottish heritage. Of course that doesn't mean I can't enjoy other stories based on other nationalities as well.
Anyway, back to my birthday for fun we went to the Museum of Ancient Life. I wanted to show my brothers how it was designed. We had fun while we were there. There was a place where we could put together our own dinosaur. We ended up making a six-legged, four-headed (three at the front, one where the tail should've been) dinosaur. Josh dubbed the creature a Chimerasaurus. We all enjoyed the interactive exhibits.
For dinner we ate at a restaurant called Golden Corral. We hadn't been there for a while, and we always enjoyed the buffet. I have to admit I was embarrassed when people came and sung Happy Birthday to me. I don't know how kids can handle it. If anyone finds out please let me know. I would love to know.
Well that's it for now. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I'll try to make sure I have a way to transfer pictures from my phone onto my blog in the future. Maybe I can try to figure that out this week and post some of the videos and photos on here.

Review: Tanar of Pellucidar is a swashbuckling romantic adventure

Hi everyone. I was able to finish another story, which means I can give you yet another review. This continues one of my favorite series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
While talking to a fan on the surface, Edgar Rice Burroughs receives a message from Perry in Pellucidar. The empire he and David Innes helped set up has been attacked by pirate-like Korsars, vicious men who kill for the sake of it. They've taken several Pellucidarians captive, including Tanar, Prince of Sari. While Tanar is among the Korsars he encounters the beautiful Stellara. Along the way the two of them will face Korsars, prehistoric beasts, even the undead, but nothing can prepare them for the greatest foe they will encounter on their adventures: their feelings for each other.
I enjoy the adventures in the primordial world of Pellucidar, and this adventure was interesting. I enjoyed seeing more of the seas and islands of Pellucidar, and here Burroughs takes the opportunity to create a swashbuckling tale in a prehistoric world. How often do you get to read about that? For romantics out there the story has plenty of elements for a romantic story, but those who don't care it doesn't get carried away. The only problem I really had was the pacing. Burroughs could've taken the time to expound on the story. The adventures of Tanar could've been expounded to another book, especially at the end. It seems that he probably planned to write about those exploits at a later time, but never did. Maybe someday someone will be asked to expound on those adventures, but for now we can use our imaginations to decide what happened, and enjoy the stories he's given us.
Korsars threaten the characters. Swashbuckling action abound. Characters encounter zombies that try to eat them.
When dating we should learn to understand each other's feelings. The greatest form of love is to be willing to give our lives for another.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: Drums of Desolation raises the stakes

Hi everyone. Time for another of those reviews I meant to do. This book I've been waiting for a while to read, and I was not disappointed.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The story continues with the Hawkins/Plimpton family scattered across time and space, some being in ancient Israel, the rest being at different parts of ancient America, and neither side of the world is safe from harm. While Josh and Marcos pursue the sorcerer Akish the majority of the family is preparing to witness the battle that will close the chapter on one of America's civilizations. Danger abounds everywhere, as darkness encircles the family many will find their faith tested like nothing they've faced before.
If you haven't read the first books in the series this won't make a lot of sense. What really got me excited was now this series ties in with the books Passage to Zarahemla and Escape from Zarahemla. Chris Heimerdinger combines elements of fantasy and science fiction into the stories while doing extensive research to create the ancient worlds. The stories do tend to get dark at times, but it shows how devastating evil can be upon a people.
A sword tries to lead someone astray. Ancient American warriors threaten the characters, and may appear intimidating at times. A jaguar kills men. A man is hanged. People drown and are threatened by a mammoth. Warriors fight and kill each other. Sorcerers use dark powers to try and kill the characters and monsters are seen.
Parents might want to use this book to show how secret combinations can destroy civilizations. We may not understand why things happen to us, but we can trust that it will work out in the end. Through faith in the Lord our weaknesses can become our strengths. The Lord will not desert us in our time of need.

Review: King's Ride is an entertaining uplifting adventure

Hi everyone. I know I haven't been blogging a lot. I hadn't had a lot to blog about. I did have a birthday this week. Maybe I'll tell you about it later, but for now I've got some reviews to do. First up is Legends of Astarkand: King's Ride.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Picking up where A Shadow on the Land left off, Bjorn Horsa finds himself needing to become the king that Astarkand needs. However not everyone is pleased with the changes. The evil elf Vodan, or Woden as the people of Astarkand call him, knows that if Bjorn is crowned king he will lose all power over the land, and he's determined to not let that happen. There are people in the court who also don't want to see Bjorn become their king, and seek to try to get Olaf's heir Weinolf to take the throne. Will Bjorn be able to unite the people during his ride to Hearthing or will Vodan succeed to keep Astarkand in fear of himself?
This book covers important problems that most people ignore when writing of kings ascending the throne. Not everyone will be thrilled of some stranger from another land becoming their new ruler. Krystine Kercher not only captures the reality of opposition in this novel, but she also shows the power of goodness against the forces of darkness. Also if you enjoy reading about mythical creatures you're in for a treat because here we get to see creatures like elves and mermaids.
An elf casts spells which may frighten some people. People gather peasants into an army which frighten people.
Prayer can be a powerful weapon to ward off the influences of evil. We can find peaceful solutions to problems. We should love our family.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book review: Spirit Animals: Tales of the Great Beasts builds the world and history of Erdas

Well Halloween has come and gone and I wasn't able to do any related blog posts. For that I am sorry. I meant to get this up yesterday but got distracted playing Skyrim. Anyway, here's my review of the latest book in the Spirit Animals series:
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Tales of the Great Beasts gives us stories revolving around the Great Beasts that if you've been reading the series are referred to as the Four Fallen: Jhi the Panda, Briggan the Wolf, Essix the Falcon, and Uraza the Leopard. The book spans the first war against the Devourer/the Reptile King and the forces of the Conquerors, from how it started all the way to the end. We see ordinary kids rise up to the challenge of helping their families, friends, and their homes against the darkness and how the Great Beasts got involved in the war. Everyone has their own problems, human and Great Beast alike, but both work to overcome their challenges to save Erdas at great sacrifice.
I like how the series encourages friendship and teamwork, and the layout of this book was clever. Five authors, including the author who started the series, each contribute a story involving one of the Great Beasts and each have found a way to make the stories unique while fitting together perfectly. The views switch from first person to third person depending on which story you're reading, but that helps to build the story by giving opinions and showing how this war affects everyone.
Animals and people fight and do get hurt. A snake possesses people. A woman adjusts her teeth to match those of her Spirit Animal, which may be disturbing to some. A leopard threatens to eat people, and injures some. Wolves attack people, though nothing graphic is described. A snake and a gorilla get really violent. A boy is sick and sometimes coughs up blood.
We can overcome our differences and learn to work together. There is no greater act of love than to give your life for another. We must not let personal ambition lead us down the wrong path. Parents might want to use the Bile as a comparison to the dangers of taking drugs when reading with their children.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book review: Spirit Animals 5 pulls you like a current

Hi everyone. Today was one of those days where I got a new book and read through it entirely. Today is a review for the fifth book in the Spirit Animals series, Against the Tide:
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In this adventure we find Conor, Abeke, Rollan, and Meilin with the Greencloaks heading towards Oceanus, which consists of the Hundred Isles. There they plan to find the Great Beast that actually wants to meet them, Mulop the Octopus. However the journey is not going to be easy as the Conquerors have already seized control of the Hundred Isles and the mysterious mole that is giving them secrets. Will they be able to find Mulop and claim his talisman, or will the Conquerors get one step closer in freeing Kovo the Ape? As the stakes continue to rise no one will be able to leave without great sacrifice.
The stories, being geared for a younger audience, might appear fast paced for older audiences. However I still found myself highly entertained by the way so much can be conveyed without overdoing the details. I found myself seeing the Hundred Isles as based off locations like Polynesia and the Philippines. As we get closer to the series end we see that the story is getting a slightly darker tone, both for the characters and the locations. This may seem kind of ironic or counterintuitive as the Hundred Isles are essentially a tropical paradise that you'd would want to vacation at. These changes are definitely going to be useful for having the characters develop and grow as they continue to strive to save Erdas. All I'll say is that the ending left me shocked and scarred as the characters. There is no way I'm missing books six and seven.
A boy burns to death after standing on a magic rock for too long. Sharks attack whales and blood is mentioned. There are battles between people and animals, and it might be intense for some. A boy mentions forcing an animal to do his will and we see the animal with a broken leg. A girl has a dream where she sees a ruined garden and her dead father, which might scare younger readers. A snake takes control of people.
The choices we make today can have an effect on future generations, for good or evil. It is wrong to force our wills and desires upon others. People with Christian backgrounds might want to use Gerathon and Kovo as examples of how the Devil can manipulate people. When we use harmful substances we only hurt ourselves and those around us.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Remembering my Grandma

As some of you have probably heard on Facebook my Grandma passed away this week. To remember her I'm doing a special blog post for her.

Pauline Ira Higginbotham was born on the eighteenth of September in the year of 1923 in Edom, Van Zandt County, Texas. She was the first child of Captain McKinley Higginbotham and Martha Lou Norris. She had three brothers and two sisters who she loved very much.
            She went to 1st grade through 9th grade in Beckville, Texas. She went to high school in Carthage where she was a student with Jim Reeves. Her mother died September 5, 1933 and her father passed away November 14, 1939. She graduated from high school after her father passed away and worked in Walgreens Drug Store in Marshall, Texas. She worked at another store before leaving to work in a shipyard in Orange, Texas. She worked there throughout World War II in that shipyard.
            After the war she went to San Antonio, Texas, where she worked at Joskes Department Store and at the Elks Club as a secretary. She visited the Circle B night club/dance club where she met the man who would become her future husband: Jack C Glenn.
            On February 23, 1951 she was married to Jack C Glenn in Watkins Glen, Schuyler, New York. Together they had Linda Palmer Glenn, Gerald Wayne Glenn, and Kenneth Lee Glenn. She had a fear of tall trees falling down on the houses where they lived, and so were careful about where they stayed.
            When her husband got discharged from the air force they moved back to San Diego, California, where they established their home. They lived in San Diego and the surrounding area for 30 years before they both retired and moved back to Texas.
            Like her husband, Pauline had a deep interest in genealogy and family history. The two of them had difficulty tracking down the ancestors of her mother and grandmothers. I tried to help while serving as a missionary in the Family and Church History Headquarters mission without success. Eventually they found a death certificate for her father’s mother listing the name of her and her father. Their joy was great that day.
            I remember during one visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Henderson, Texas that I saw a little toy Triceratops on one of their bookshelves. I hadn’t seen any like that since I was a kid. They reminded me that I gave that toy to them when I was young. I was glad that they still had it with them.
            Pauline had auburn hair for most of her life, and her third grandson through Kenneth’s line, who would be me, was very surprised when they came to visit one year and it had gone white. She stood at about her husband’s shoulder in height. In her old age Pauline had several trips to the hospital during which her children and grandchildren came and visited her. She was grateful for the company.
           I learned she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an adult. She and her husband Jack were raising their children when she felt they needed to raise them in a church environment. However she wanted to join a church she felt was truly interested in their welfare. Jack was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but had fallen into inactivity. A bishop from the church kept visiting them regularly, and Pauline started going to church. She was always accompanied by her children. Eventually she joined and got her husband to attend as well. 

            She passed away on the sixth of October, 2014 in Celina, Texas. May she rest in peace.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stories for English Heritage

Hi everyone. I've been wanting to do this post for a while now, and I figured now's the time to get it done. For a while I've been wanting to do more to honor my English/Scottish heritage, and I was thinking one way to do that was to familiarize myself with the traditional legends and stories of the countries. Below is a list of the stories I think would be good for anyone who would like to fill their libraries and/or minds with to honor their English heritage.
Starting off on this list is the tales of the legendary King Arthur. Everyone knows the name of this famous monarch and the deeds of his Knights of the Round Table. For generations people have written about King Arthur, his knights, the wizard Merlin, and the legendary city of Camelot. Authors never seem to get tired of writing books that focus on or involve these legendary heroes, and the legends have gone on to inspire countless fantasies throughout the years. Speaking of legendary heroes...
It would also be good for those wanting stories for their English heritage to become familiar with the exploits of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood. The Earl of Locksley as some tales have him became an outlaw due the laws made and enforced by Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham while King Richard was on one of his many crusades. Robin Hood and his Merry Men gave hope to the people by robbing from the rich to give to the poor, showing that sometimes doing what is right means going against what is popular or accepted by those around us.
Another well-known English figure is Sherlock Holmes. First created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this tale has become known as the greatest detective who ever lived. Sherlock Holmes has set the standard for all detective novels with his knowledge of chemistry, ability to disguise himself, and extensive know-how of forensic science. While we're on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle let's look at another of his famous works.
One of my personal favorites, The Lost World was one of those novels that set the standard for later works of fiction. The story follows the adventures of Professor Challenger and his team as they explore a remote plateau in South America where dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals survived extinction. Since it's release countless authors and filmmakers have been inspired to create some remote corner of the planet where dinosaurs didn't go extinct. Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Gurney, and Michael Crichton have written something that can be seen as inspired by this novel. Michael Crichton admitted he loved the story so much he gave the sequel to Jurassic Park the same name as a way to honor the story.
We should not overlook these works when talking about English literature. J.R.R. Tolkein's stories of Middle-Earth have become increasingly popular over the years, but when they came out they set the standard for all future high fantasy stories. Wizards, dragons, evil seeking to take over the world...what's not to like about the series? Tolkein sometimes viewed what he was doing as making a mythology for England. Guess the tales of King Arthur and Robin Hood weren't good enough for him.
There's no way I'm including J.R.R. Tolkein's works on this post and ignoring the works of his friend C.S. Lewis. Everyone knows Lewis for his series The Chronicles of Narnia, which follows the adventures of children who often make their way from Earth to a realm of fantasy where they must work with an all-powerful lion to defeat the forces of evil and restore peace to this world. The series is loved by children and adults all around the world, and the combination of theology with fantasy makes it truly memorable.
This is more recent, but you can't ignore the huge popularity of the stories revolving around the boy wizard. Since it's initial release the stories have gained an incredible popularity around the world. I enjoy the stories about someone who's learning to use magic, and encountering a wide variety of magical creatures from folklore and mythology, and J.K. Rowling has created many fantastic characters, locations, and beasts in the course of seven books.
We may as well move on to stories that were written for younger audiences now. FYI I still enjoy these stories even though I'm an adult. Lewis Carroll's classic novel was one of the first in modern fiction to have someone travel from one world to another. Originally called Underland, the location in this fairy tale fantasy has over the years been renamed to Wonderland. Though the story lacks in a solid plot the locations and characters Alice meets on her adventures are amusing enough, and if anyone is familiar with the old nursery rhymes will see that Lewis Carroll was poking fun with them as well as at the British government. Oh look, the Cheshire Cat is behind you. Just kidding. Out of curiosity have any of you figured out why a raven is like a writing desk?
Another classic English story that has fallen under the category of fairy tales like Alice in Wonderland is J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. The story follows the adventures of Wendy Darling and her brothers John and Michael as they are taken by Peter Pan, the Boy Who Never Grew Up, to a magical place called Neverland. There they must join with the Lost Boys as they fight against Captain Hook and his band of pirates. People have continued to love this story for generations, and more adventures set on the island of Neverland are still being written, including the popular Peter and the Starcatchers series by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. I've now got this song in my head so I'm sharing this clip with you (FYI some people consider this film the definitive version of J.M. Barrie's story):
Possibly my favorite song from the film. Now where was I? Oh yes. I was about to tell you about another famous island that comes from English literature.
The classic novel was written by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published May 23, 1883, and follows the adventures of young Jim Hawkins as he and others embark on a voyage to the legendary Treasure Island to find the lost loot of the infamous Captain Flint. However the crew turns out to be a band of pirates led by Long John Silver. I won't say any more in case you haven't read the book, but I imagine you all have seen at least one adaptation in film. This book is one of the classic examples of an adventure novel.
This story is a classic children's novel in England, so it is making it's way onto this list. Made famous by the works of Walt Disney Animation Studios, the books follow the adventures of Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred-Acre Woods. I never got to read the books, but one of my professors has and really enjoys it because it is full of great philosophy.
The last story I'll talk about on this post is The Wind in the Willows, another famous children's book. This follows the adventures of a group of animals as they try to help Mr. Toad with his money-spending problems. Again this is a novel I need to put on my to read list.
I know this isn't a definitive list of every novel from England, but these are stories that I think would be good for a person to be familiar with to honor their English heritage. If there are any that I missed that you think should be on this list please say so in the comments and if there's enough I'll do another post for those books. I'll also see if I can find any Scottish stories to do a blog post on.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Late review: Spirit Animals: Fire and Ice is extreme fun

I know I've been bad about varying blog topics. As many of you know college life is very demanding and schoolwork takes a great deal of anyone's time. However I just got through a midterm and I'm taking the time to do this blog post reviewing this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The world of Erdas is in trouble. The Conquerors have freed the serpent Gerathon from her prison, and she is causing mischief in many parts of the world. Meanwhile Rollan, Conor, Meilin, Abeke, the Greencloaks, and their Spirit Animals are traveling to the cold lands of Artica to find the great polar bear Suka and retrieve her talisman. Unfortunately it's been ages since anyone has seen the great beast, and the legends that exist suggest she could be trapped. Not only has Suka's absence been noticed by so many, but the people seem interested in keeping the bear missing. Everyone will have to work with their spirit animals like never before, but will Rollan be able to face a surprise from his past and help his friends?
The series always gives you a wild ride with unexpected twists and turns. I like how the different lands of Erdas capture different parts of the world, and the ability to bond with animals helps too. You can tell the connection between the characters is strongly developing, and each of them grows closer to their animals as well. The story is fast paced, but is well worth the read.
A snake eats someone and possesses people. People are in peril. Fighting between the Conquerors and Greencloaks gets serious, and the action might get intense for some. A giant polar bear goes on a rampage.
Our adoptive relationships can be just as real and true as our biological relationships. We can overcome the past to move to a better future.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book review: The Cave Girl is fun, but misleading

Hi everyone. I finished this book earlier this week and that means it's time for another review. Today's lucky story is The Cave Girl by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones is swept off the ship he was traveling on and washes ashore on an uncharted island. Due to the fact that he is a bookworm and was helicoptered-parented by his mother all his life Waldo is a coward. He soon finds out that the inhabitants of the island are Paleolithic-era people who are intent on killing him. He meets and befriends a beautiful cave girl named Nadara who teaches him her language and how to survive in the wild. She names him Thandar, which translates as "The Brave One." She clings to him in the hopes that he will rid her village of two antagonistic cavemen who are making life hard for everyone. However he flees the first chance he get. As time goes by Waldo gets stronger and braver, and starts to fit into a better role on this island. Will Waldo be able to face his fears and his many enemies and get back home?
I have enjoyed the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs because I enjoy the places he comes up with and the loyalties the characters develop for each other. When I learned of this title I was hoping for more prehistoric-themed stuff. The story is still fun even if it goes with a lot of Mr. Burroughs story stereotypes. I was disappointed when I was reading that there weren't other Paleolithic inhabitants on this island. Also the story seemed a little fast paced. When it comes down to some of Waldo's health problems I'm not sure that living out in the wild and becoming another Tarzan would cure them. Also I was disappointed with the abrupt ending of the story. Still, I think Mr. Burroughs managed to recreate a nice little paleozoic community in the pages of this book.
Many characters, male and female, wear only a loincloth (no further detail is given), though this is probably to recreate the authenticity of the prehistoric people. A woman takes a bath in a stream but nothing is seen. Some blood is mentioned during fights with cavemen and panthers, but nothing graphic. Two people kiss.
Our weaknesses can be made into strengths. Men and women are supposed to come together as husband and wife.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two Book reviews: Gods of Mars is out of this world and Magic of Oz is magical

I guys. I got two books that I'm reviewing today. They're a little older than what you might be used to, but if you enjoy reading you won't care. The first is the second book chronicling adventures on Barsoom, The Gods of Mars:
Rating: Four out of Five stars
John Carter finds himself back on Barsoom/Mars, except he's come to a heavily forested area. He meets up with the Green Martian Tars Tarkas while fighting off plant men and white apes. John learns he is in the valley Dor, which lies at the end of the river Iss, which all Barsoomians make a trip down when they are ready to die. While fighting his way through John learns of the mysterious but dangerous Therns, while encountering their enemies the Black Martians. Along the way John learns the truth surrounding the religion and superstitions of Barsoom and must expose it before it takes away everything from him.
Edgar Rice Burroughs is always creative with his adventures and his stories. I like how he used religion as a theme in this book and the warning of how people can use ideas and beliefs to manipulate others. It is not meant to demote religion, but to warn that people will try to use it to hide evil intentions. Racism is used as a tool to show the pride of various Martian races. Readers will find themselves with John Carter on a while roller coaster ride.
It is mentioned that Barsoomians don't wear clothes, but that is not focused on. Characters are in constant peril. Some Martian races are described as being cannibals. Monsters attack several people, which may scare some readers.
We should not esteem ourselves as better than others. If we give in to pride, it will prove to be our ruin. We shouldn't be close-minded to new ideas. People may claim to have good intentions when they are hiding sinister purposes.

The next book to be reviewed today is The Magic of Oz:
Rating: Five out of Five stars
Excitement is in the Land of Oz as Dorothy and her many friends are getting ready to celebrate Ozma's birthday. However unknown to them in a corner of Munchkinland a Hyup boy named Kiki Aru has discovered a magic word that allows him to change his form as well as the forms of others. While flying around the countries that surround the Deadly Desert Kiki encounters Rugeddo, the former Nome King, who makes a deal with him for help to conquer Oz. Meanwhile Dorothy and the Wizard are making plans for a special cake for Ozma while her friends Trot and Cap'n Bill seek another gift. Along the way all parties will encounter unexpected magic and one will be wondering if this will all be fixed before Ozma's birthday.
While not as action packed as most stories, L. Frank Baum has certainly not lost his creativity when dealing with the magical land of Oz. Around the corners are characters and places you wouldn't expect. The magic used in this book is fun, but it is also dangerous as well. Truly reminiscing of the wonders and perils of the classic fairy tales, The Magic of Oz is definitely one for fantasy fans.
Characters are transformed into animals, but this is more humorous than scary. A couple of characters are trapped on a magic island.
Wickedness never was happiness. We find greater joy when we help others instead of using them for our selfish gain.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Late Review: Air Keep literally blows you away.

Hi Everyone. Sorry for the lack of blogging, but school has started and I've been trying to make sure I do a good job in my classes. Anyway, I decided to do a review for a book I read last week in one day, Farworld: Air Keep.
Rating: Five out of Five Stars
It's been six months since Marcus and Kyja have stopped the Keepers of the Balance and gone their separate ways. Both have hoped that the wizard Master Therapass would've found a way to allow Marcus to safely pass through the mysterious Realm of Shadows into Farworld by now. When an unexpected chain of events send Marcus into a place where the four aspects of time are shown to him, he unwittingly sets off a chain of events that could prove devastating. Kyja, against Master Therapass's orders, senses Marcus is in danger and pulls him into Farworld. However things are not well for the magical world. Blizzards, droughts, and floods are wrecking havoc, and no one has seen the water or land elementals for months. Could they be behind these disasters? Could the unthinkable have happened and they've joined with the Dark Circle? In order to find the answers Marcus and Kyja must find the elusive Air Keep and gain the help of the Air Elementals, but can they do it in time? And will what Marcus set off come to pass? Could this be the end of Farworld?
J. Scott Savage never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and imagination. The world of Farworld is always impressive and magical. He always manages to find some way to make the adventures to find each elemental fun and dangerous at the same time, and the elementals are not always what you'd expect them to be. His characters feel realistic, and sometimes do or act in a way you don't expect. His stories can take really unexpected turns, and when you think all is well something unexpected occurs. If you have not read the Farworld series yet I highly recommend you do.
Children are in peril constantly. A monster summons an undead army. Bloodless action against an invading army. Puns are used a lot, though some might be inappropriate.
We should not keep secrets from those we love. It's good to have a healthy sense of humor. There are events in life that we cannot control or change, no matter how hard we want to. Prejudice can lead to terrible consequences.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review: The McCory Chronicles is more than worth the read

Hi everyone. I just got through reading this amazing book and I wanted to share my thoughts with you. It's called The McCory Chronicles: Katie McCory and the Dagger of Truth.
Rating: Five out of Five Stars
Katie McCory loves reading about fairies. While she and her brother Billy are visiting their Grandma for Halloween Katie discovers a mysterious chest. Later she, her brother, and their friends are taken to the magical world of Fey, home to all sorts of fairies. The fairy queen tells them that an evil fairy has gotten a hold of a powerful weapon and is turning it evil. Katie, Billy, and their friends must work together to recover the dagger and save the fairies from evil.
I've always loved fantasy and this book is a masterpiece. The story is well written and the plot is paced out nicely. Some might say there are too many fairies in one book, but this is hardly the surface of the world of fairies. There are a few punctuation errors but it's nothing to worry about. If you wanted to find a land as magical as Oz or Narnia, you will find it in Fey. C.L. Collar's knowledge of fairies, combined with her excellent storytelling, engaging characters, Christian parallels, and wonderful imagination, is giving rise to a new generation of fairy tales.
Some fairies and demons may be scary for young readers. Characters are in peril from evil fairies and dark magic.
We can overcome problems by putting aside our differences and working together. We can be kept safe from evil by listening to the Spirit and warnings from our parents. No matter who we are or what we've done, we can change and become better. The powers of darkness are no match against the things that are good. Good will always prevail over evil.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Zombies: How they've changed and what I think about them

Hi everyone. For those of you who are into gaming you'll know that this week was the release of the final episode of the second season of The Walking Dead video game from TellTale Games. As part of the event I decided to share with you what I know about zombies, from their history to my personal opinions.

From what I've learned about creatures of myth, legend, and folklore zombies have essentially remained unchanged throughout history, a human corpse that had been brought back to life. However the purpose behind their reanimation and how it is accomplished has changed. In the original tales from Haitian culture a person of great magical powers, like a witch or necromancer, could use their powers to bring a person who has died back to life. The corpse would then be used as a slave with the bonus of being tireless and having no need for food. Essentially the zombie was a source of labor.
What then has changed? Most of the early media stuck with the original legends of zombies as servants created through dark magic to serve the forces of evil. The answer: Night of the Living Dead.

George A. Romero's classic horror film forever changed the way the public viewed zombies. Instead of being reanimated by magic, the cause of the horror is completely unknown, though radiation is theorized. It also gave that the dead have a taste for things that are still living. It was one of the films, if not the film, that changed the way people viewed the horror genera. Children who saw the film actually got scared.
Ever since the stories that feature zombies have changed. No more are the undead servants of powerful witches and warlocks, but are now predators that eat anything and anyone they can find. It also no longer matters how old or rotten the bodies are. If the person is dead, they are guaranteed to come back to life.
What exactly causes the person to come back from the dead? Well there have been many causes used throughout the years. Like in Romero's film exposure to radiation has the power to get the dead back on their feet. One common factor used more recently is the idea that a virus of unknown origin could cause a person to die, and then come back with a taste for the living. I've seen one TV show and read one book where the cause of the zombie revival was the use of parasites which infest a person, kill them, and then take control of the functions of the body. Whatever the cause, the effect is still the same. The majority of the population gets wiped out and being bitten by a zombie causes you to become a zombie, much like in the legends of the vampire.
George A. Romero may not deserve all the credit. In the Epic of Gilgamesh there was a moment where the goddess Ishtar vowed that there would come a time where the gates of the Underworld would open and the dead would eat the living. As far as I know there hasn't been a film, game, book or TV show that has used the threat of Ishtar as the cause for the zombie apocalypse, but it would be interesting to see that used.
Before anyone asks, no I do not plan to use zombies or any related type of undead creature. I'm not a fan of horror and there's a lot I still don't get about zombies. First off, if they are supposed to be reanimated bodies, why do they only have a taste for that which is living? Shouldn't they still have the same body functions as when they were alive? Last time I checked we don't have a basic instinct that tells us to go around eating everyone we know, especially raw. Second, I still don't get why people insist that the undead problem is irreversible. If it is caused by a disease, it should be curable. Granted there are diseases that cures aren't known for. That doesn't mean they don't exist. We just haven't found them yet. Third, I don't see how a body that is deteriorating and rotting away would still be able to function so well. Surely the muscles would not be able to last and endure the stress so well. The organs must surely be tearing themselves apart all the time.
My last reason deals more with the matters of religion. I do not mean to offend anyone here. These are my personal thoughts. I believe very strongly in the Resurrection, and when I think about it I see bodies becoming zombies as a mockery of the idea that the dead would return to life. It makes it seem like we should fear seeing those who leave us come back from the dead because they'd be interested in eating our brains (and the rest of us for that matter). Also to me the zombie apocalypse idea always makes me depressed and sad because it makes it seem like there would be no hope for humanity. All we would've accomplished would be lost. Every day would be lived in fear, scavenging around for enough food and worrying that you could get attacked by something that should be dead. I do not mean to offend anyone who enjoys stories of zombies. If you like them that's your personal choice. I was just sharing my opinion of why zombie stories are generally not my favorite.
To be fair, it was because of the game The Walking Dead from TellTale Games that kind of made me see this scenario in a different light. I was watching one of my brothers watch a walkthrough for the sequel and I saw the games didn't focus on gore and hopelessness. Rather, after watching the walkthroughs for both games online, it seemed the games found more purpose in telling stories of people who are surviving the epidemic and trying to hold on to hope that things will get better. True the choices of the players help to shape both the characters and the stories, but I think that's to help us in deciding who they are. Anyway, as I was watching my brother watch the game actually accomplished something I didn't expect: I felt concerned for the characters, especially the main character of The Walking Dead Season Two, Clementine. What I saw was a little girl whose childhood was being spent growing up learning to stay alive in a world where Survival of the Fittest had become the only law in existence. To see someone in that situation made me sad, and concerned for her future. I found myself hoping that she would stay alive, and worrying that something bad would happen to her. According to what I know of storytelling if a story can make you feel actual emotions for a character, good or bad, it means the story has been well written, or at least the character has been. Also from what I've seen despite all that has happened to the characters (all of them) in the games, it's hope that keeps them going. Hope that there's a place of safety for them. Hope that they can survive this horrible time. Hope that there will be a better tomorrow. This doesn't mean I'm going to start reading zombie books and watching zombie films. I am willing to concede that scenarios with zombies can be used for good purposes just as they can be used for bad.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Prince of Alasia is a Great Read

Hi everyone. Sorry about the hiatus in blogging. I got distracted with the internet and school. Anyway I got a book to review here. It's the first of the Annals of Alasia series, Prince of Alasia.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Prince of Alasia is about Prince Jaymin, whose life is turned upside down when soldiers from the neighboring kingdom of Malorn invade and kill his parents. Jaymin, with his best friend/bodyguard Erik, is forced into hiding. While living as a peasant, Jaymin learns how hard life is for his subjects, and witnesses first hand the cruelty and injustice the Malornian soldiers inflict upon the people. Prince Jaymin has to learn not only how to survive, but how to become the king Alasia needs him to be.
Even though I read the third book first I still found this story enjoyable. Annie Douglass Lima doesn't waste time in her fantasies coming up with a bunch of mystical races. Her stories focus on the people themselves and the lives they live. Jaymin's struggle to believe in himself and the loyalty of Erik make this story a must read. The life of peasantry is well written here, and the emotions of the people oppressed by their conquerors are accurately written. There were times where I was thinking in a similar fashion to the Alasians even though I knew there was more at work. Don't leave this book sitting on a shelf.
A woman drinks alcohol. Some people might get angry at the cruelty of the Malornian soldiers. A boy mentions being beaten cruelly by a soldier. Two boys get into a fight, and some blood is mentioned. A boy fights off two soldiers. Two armies fight, but it is non-graphic.
When the rights of the people are oppressed by their leaders, it is the duty of the citizen to protect their freedoms. We should not be angry at those who wrong us because we don't always have the facts. Don't be afraid to stand up for your rights and freedoms. We should seek to learn as much as we can. The greatest act of love is to lay down your life for another. We may not always feel qualified to do the things we are called to do in life, but if we have faith we can do anything.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Finding hope

Hi everyone. I haven't been good with blogging, but I've been thinking about something that I thought I should share with all of you. For a while I've been struggling with writing and doing well in school. I was really struggling with the math related courses and the major I was in seemed only to be encouraged to go into a field I have no interest in. I've also felt like no matter what I did my book was not going to be the success I hoped it would. In essence I kind of lost hope.
The things I thought and felt were terrible. During the time when this was going on I felt as if this world didn't care about dreams coming true. I thought things like life only wanted us to find a niche to fill and be satisfied regardless of whether or not we liked it. It felt as if the things we liked were irrelevant and we were only supposed to flow with the current life puts us in.
I've voiced some of my concerns in the past, and you've responded in encouraging me to keep going. All of you helped me to see that the depression dragon can be slain, and we all can rise above our shortcomings. Yesterday my mom told me this: Follow your heart. I will try to live up to her words of advice.
I think the problem that came up is something many people fall into: we look at what we've failed to do and overlook what we succeeded at. I was saddened by my struggles with passing a math class that I didn't think about how well I was doing elsewhere. Just because my book didn't become the next New York bestseller doesn't mean I failed as an author. The persistence and determination to actually write a book makes it successful enough. I know we all have our problems, but they aren't as big as they may seem. They exist but for a small moment.
My mom's kind words reminded me of the love Heavenly Father has for all of us. He does want us to succeed, but sometimes we think we know better. Just because something doesn't go the way we want them to doesn't mean that something better isn't waiting for us further down the road. I'll keep going and I'll have the faith and the hope that there is something better coming my way.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Reviews: Orenda is a fast-paced fun adventure and Beyond the Wardrobe is very informative.

Hi everyone. I wanted to say thank you for your support with the Myths of Dymos. Today I've got a new book to review, Orenda.
Rating: Five out of Five stars
Orenda is about a girl named Willow, or Lil as she prefers to be called. She has a strange dream and starts seeing people from her dream around town. Eventually she goes with one of them and learns a parallel world exists. It's similar to ours except for the presence of magic. Lil learns that a demonic sorceress is destroying this world and is seeking to do the same to our world. Lil has to work with her new friends to find a spell book before the evil sorceress does or Earth is doomed.
The story is very fast paced, but it is well written. The story combines elements of high fantasy with fairy tales. I wasn't expecting to see someone from Arthurian legend appear in the story. I've also read about the groups of fairies known as the Unseelie Court and the Seelie Court, which are either mentioned or appear in the story. This is something fantasy lovers will want to read.
The h-word is used a few times. The sorceress is mentioned to eat people, though we never see her do it.
We should use our gifts and talents to help others. If we spend our time seeking worldly fame and glory we may lose the things that are far more precious. We should be willing to help those in need.

I also have another book to review. This pertains more to Narnia and C.S. Lewis:
Rating: Five out of five stars
There isn't any fictional story here. However the book talks a great deal about the life of C.S. Lewis and the life he breathed into The Chronicles of Narnia. I learned a great deal about the cultures that had an influence on the creation of Narnia. I enjoyed learning how much C.S. Lewis loved stories and the influence that they had on his writing career. Definitely worth getting if you want to learn more about C.S. Lewis and Narnia.
Nothing to worry about.
Books and stories can have a powerful influence for good.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book review: Prince of Malorn does not disappoint. An instant classic.

Hi everyone. If you're aware this week is the 4th year anniversary for the release of my book so I'll be sure to do some blog posts when I can to celebrate. There's also going to be a party on Facebook. In the meantime I have another book to review:
Rating: Five out of Five stars
Prince of Malorn is a great coming of age story. Prince Korram is approaching the age where he will be old enough to take the throne of Malorn. There's just one problem: An evil regent is out to take the throne for himself, and Korram believes the regent has practically all the politicians and military on his side. He heads to the Impassable Mountains to recruit the Mountain Folk for help. When he finds himself stranded in the mountains he is taken in by a family of Mountain Folk and learns to survive and be one of them. Prince Korram must work to make peace between his people and the Mountain Folk, survive the dangers of the mountains, and recruit an army if he is to become Malorn's next king, but is he up to the task?
Annie Douglas Lima is a storytelling enchantress. She builds an incredibly realistic world of fantasy and adventure. She doesn't waste time including a bunch of various magical races, and she makes the mundane seem just as impressive and dangerous. The culture of the Mountain Folk and the Malornians really resounds with you and you can feel the tension, distrust, and pain. The horses of her world are incredibly loyal and smarter than a lot of people would give credit for. If you love fantasy or good literature you should definitely pick up Prince of Malorn and the rest of the Annals of Alasia series.
Nothing really to worry about here. Some blood is mentioned when facing wild animals but nothing serious. A girl is killed on accident. There is a battle scene and the fighting does get intense, but there is no excessive or needless gore.
We should take the time to get to know the people around us. Our world is filled with a rich diversity of cultures and we should take the time to learn about them. Love and forgiveness are more powerful than hate. Adoptive families can be just as loving and caring as biological families. We should have the courage to stand up for our rights and freedoms when evil people seek to take them away.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 is better than the first!

Hi again. I have another movie review here. This one is definitely a must see.
Rating: Five out of Five Stars
How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years after the events of the first film and Berk has changed for the better. Vikings now get along with dragons and the entire island seems like a utopia. However while Hiccup and Toothless are out exploring they learn of a man named Drago Bludvist is creating a dragon army. While trying to find a peaceful solution and avoid war Hiccup and Toothless encounter another dragon rider who rides a Stormcutter dragon. As secrets reveal themselves Hiccup, Toothless, and all their friends will have to make a stand or risk losing everything they hold dear.
I loved everything about this movie. I loved how the island and people of berg have adjusted to having dragons live among them and how this movie takes everything from its predecessor to the next level. The settings are visually stunning and the characters are also well developed. The film does have more seriousness to it than the first, but it helps to show how our favorite vikings and their dragons have grown up. This is a movie that has earned the status of a worthy sequel and more.
The villain might scare little children. Dragons fight each other but it's all bloodless. One dragon might terrify but if the kids weren't scared by the Red Death (the big dragon in the first film) then they should be fine.
If your home and your family is in danger you should fight to protect them. Friends never give up on each other. We should try to find peaceful solutions and only resort to violence if there's no other choice in protecting our values and families.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review: Maleficent is a new classic

Hi everyone. This review is a couple of weeks late, but that's better than never. Some of you have said you haven't seen this yet so I'll try my best to avoid spoilers.
Rating: Five out of Five stars
This film adds on to the tale of Disney's Sleeping Beauty, but with some twists. Maleficent tells the story from the view of the world famous fairy, and we actually get a back story for the Mistress of All Evil. Turns out Maleficent started out good and kind, caring for her home and protecting it from people seeking to exploit it. However a person she thought was her friend betrays her for the riches of the kingdom and, well, to say she becomes bitter about it would be an understatement. This leads to the moment where Walt Disney's sixteenth full-length animated film begins. Maleficent crashes the christening of the princess Aurora and curses her with the curse we all know. However as the years progress a twist of fate leads Maleficent to finding a second chance to find happiness in life.
I really loved the story and I loved the actors who helped with this movie. Angelie Jolie looks and acts like Maleficent as if she walked out of the world of animation into the live-action world. Sharlto Copley gives new life to the king of one of Disney's famous princesses, and he does not hold back. Elle Fanning does a very nice job as Princess Aurora, and I enjoyed seeing Vivienne Jolie-Pitt and Eleanor Worthington-Cox show us younger versions of Aurora. They've got great futures ahead of them as do Ella Purnell and Isobelle Molloy who both acted as Maleficent in her youth. The story does deviate a great deal from Walt Disney's classic, but it actually makes the story better. There was also a lot more humor in here than I expected. However if you want to know what you have to see the film yourself.
Some of the action scenes may be a little intense for younger audiences. Some of the inhabitants of the fairy kingdom may be scary for little kids.
Love is more powerful than hate. We find happiness in loving others instead of hurting them. Love between a parent and a child is one of the purest. Everyone can change who they are.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: Daughter of Vengeance breaks several clich├ęs

Hi everyone. I'm sorry I haven't been blogging for over a week. My laptop crashed and I only got it fixed last week. I do have a new book review here for David Temrick's Daughter of Vengeance.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Daughter of Vengeance is a coming of age story about a girl named Michelle who was orphaned at birth and raised by her grandparents. However because she has magic she is abducted by a mage who makes her a concubine. However she is rescued by an assassin named Samantha and spends years training to serve the king of the land. However as the story progresses dark forces from the past arise and Michelle will have to learn about her family's history in order to save the kingdom's future. 
David Temrick takes the elements of high fantasy and steampunk, and merges them into one in this story. Yes there are dark moments but there are also light moments too so it kind of works like a roller coaster ride with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. The book is well written with no grammatical errors. A fun plot, well written politics, and fun characters all help to make this a wonderful story.
The main character is taken to be a concubine, but it works to show the evil nature of the kidnapper. It doesn't go into detail. Due to the presence of assassins there is plenty of violence throughout the story, and blood is mentioned a lot. Characters do swear. There is a scene where the main character fights topless (though she doesn't realize this until after the battle and she covers up quickly). Two people kiss and sex is implied (I skipped over that area), but doesn't go into detail. The villains constantly tie her up and it is mentioned that they removed her clothes. Again, this is only done to show that they're evil, it doesn't go into detail, and the character does clothe herself as soon as possible.
Our ancestors care about our well being and watch over us. They are happy when we are happy and sad when we are sad. To prepare ourselves for the future we must learn from the past. People are supposed to come together as husband and wife. Fighting is only justified when we are fighting to protect our freedom and our families. Those who do evil will answer for their crimes, whether in this life or the next.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: Troublesome Neighbors is an interesting read

I got done with another story, so that means it's time to review. The story I finished reading is a young adult fantasy titled Troublesome Neighbors by M.K. Theodoratus.
5 out of 5 stars
M.K. Theodoratus has managed to capture an entire world in less than forty pages. The beginning starts out a little slow to medium pace, but it helps set the stage so we can see who's friend and who's foe. I like the strong independence of the main character Renna. She is far from the damsel in distress. The villain also has a way of doing things that people have an idea of but don't know how far it goes.
World building
We have a new system of magic that seems to be available to many if not all. There are elves in this world, but they have some differences to them that I didn't expect. It's good to see a new adjustment to a classic race. M.K. has also shown that a war has happened in the past that caused certain laws to arise which some people are not interested in obeying. Lords and rangers abound as well, establishing the atmosphere of a high fantasy.
An elf is described with a low-cut shirt.
If our leaders are not obeying the laws set to protect the people, it's the people's responsibility to take action.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Shadow on the Land excellent book

Hi everyone. I meant to finish reading this book earlier this week, but I had family visiting so I spent time with them. Now it's time to do a review for A Shadow on the Land.
5 out of 5 stars
A Shadow on the Land is well written and creatively done. The pacing may seem a bit slow in some areas, but Krystine Kercher does a very good job at exploring the different perspectives of the characters. I also enjoy the world building she has placed in this book. The towns and settlements feel very European and there are even clashing religions. In case you are wondering there are fantasy creatures in the story, including the traditional dragon.
The overall story is about Bjorn Horsa, the heir to the throne of Astarkand. However the current king of Astarkand, Olaf, refuses to give up the throne and tries to have Bjorn killed. Bjorn must flee and travel the land evading the king and trying to find some way to convince Olaf to do his duty.
Some scenes of violence do get a little descriptive, but not extreme.
All things will come to pass in the Lord's time and in His way. People who are Christians would probably do well to use this story to help readers look into the life of David, particularly 1 Samuel 18-2 Samuel 1. When wicked men enter positions of power, they will exercise unrighteous dominion. We must be wise in who we choose as our leaders.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Movie Review: The Monster King has returned!

Hi everyone. It's time for a new post, and today I'm going to share with you my thoughts on Godzilla.
I'm going to be doing something new with movie reviews today as part of an experiment to try and make these reviews better. I'm going to be not just the story, but the effects and design as well.
Rating: Five out of Five stars
The story seemed to be well paced, though some might find the first hour a bit slow. For me, it wasn't too slow, but it wasn't too fast either. They did a good job of introducing and developing characters in a timely fashion, and the problems arose in a timely manner as well. I also enjoyed how they alluded to the events that led to the creation of the original Godzilla, and used the year 1954 as an allusion to the year that Godzilla was first released.
As is expected in these days, the effects used were really cool. The use of 3D in the movie helps to bring depth to the fights between the monsters, and the collateral damage done to their surroundings as well. Sometimes it's easy to forget that you're sitting in a theater.
I enjoyed the design given to the cities throughout the movie. The use of shading and darkness gives the message of how bad the evil kaiju in this movie are, while things seem to light up on Godzilla. Speaking of which Godzilla was really well designed in this movie. It's easy to see the homage to the original style of design for the creature, while still giving him some minor modifications. The other kaiju were also well done. Their movements seem to be a bit of a homage to the puppetry that some old monsters had done on them while they still moved about and behaved in a way that seemed natural.
I loved this movie and thought it was well done. This is Godzilla. I would highly recommend seeing this movie in theaters if you're interested in old fashioned monsters, or just want to see some really cool action.