Monthly Archives: January 2012

Review: Powers That Be

I know I know, this isn’t the review I promised. I got sidetracked from Changes when I realized that it was almost the end of the month and I hadn’t read any sci-fi yet. The sci-fi challenge is really the only one with deadlines, since it specifically said one each month for a year, rather than just twelve in a year.

Anyways when I was home for Christmas my mom had a pile of books that were to go back to the used bookstore because she had doubles of them. One was Power Play the third in the trilogy, which I grabbed because hey, free books. Then I stole the other two, (she’ll probably get them back if only because I don’t have room on my shelves for books that aren’t mine) and decided that it would make a good start to the sci-fi challenge.

Powers That Be is the first in this trilogy by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, I’ve never read anything by the latter and I wasn’t really a big fan of the former before, but then I hadn’t read anything by her since grade school. That summer I decided to read all the Dragon Riders of Pern books, my mom is a huge fan of hers she had whatever was out then. I think I was too young and didn’t get a lot of what was going on since usually I like the same books as my mom and there have also been a lot of times when I went back to books I read as a kid and was surprised at how different my take on them is now.

The book takes place on the planet Petaybee and is mainly from the point of view of Yanaba Maddock, a newcomer who’s sort of retired for medical reasons and sort of charged with spying on the locals to figure out all the weird stuff that’s been going on. Yanna works for The Company, and has pretty much her whole life so even though she got put on disability she doesn’t have bad feelings towards them, though she doesn’t always think much of her superiors. The Company basically owns the planet, they terraformed it and settled people on it, but now generations later they’re finding these people less than cooperative. From space they’ve taken readings that indicate there’s minerals they’d love to get their hands on, but every time they go look for them their people go missing, or die, or go crazy or end up far older than they went out there. There have also been sightings of a bunch of weird animals. Since everything on Petaybee should have been put there by the Company they want to know who’s been messing around.

The guy in charge of the base there is pretty suspicious of the people of Petaybee, but Yanna doesn’t really think much of him anyways, and the locals are all nice and welcoming so she remains pretty neutral when she goes in. That doesn’t last long though. She tries to stay suspicious, or at least keep an eye out for suspicious stuff, but the locals quickly start winning her over, especially Sean who’s the love interest.

Yanna’s relationship with Sean is actually the thing that annoys me the most about this book. It’s not even that I don’t like Sean’s character, I do. But whenever she’s around him she’s so out of character, and all mushy and annoying. But that might just be a pet peeve of mine rather than a problem with the story. I don’t mind romance in books, but the kind of love almost at first sight thing that she has going irks me. I like to see it develop more than just have them hit it off right away with no real obstacles.

Otherwise I liked the book, it’s not often that books have an arctic setting so it was fun to see how she dealt with obstacles that don’t usually come up in stories. The people of Petaybee are very much a part of their world; because the planet isn’t really used for much, and the space base doesn’t care much about the locals, they’ve had to manage on their own. They live off the land and only end up buying bare necessities like pots and such from the Company store. They also care a lot about their roots. The Company took people from earth who they believed would do well in the planet’s harsh climate, so they grabbed people of Irish and Inuit descent. The current generation is a hodge-podge of those two cultures, which you can really see in their songs. I really enjoyed how much thought she put into developing the people on Petaybee.

In contrast we learn very little about Yanna. Besides the incident which left her lungs barely functioning and put her on disability, (which was a big turning point in her life) all we really know is that she’s a Company employee and has been most of her life. Despite that it wasn’t like she didn’t have any personality or was unlikeable, and a couple times I ended up laughing at her attempts to figure out life in the town which was so much different from on a ship. I also liked that she didn’t just blindly follow orders or try and reason away everything that she was seeing, like her superiors. Most of the ‘bad guys’ in this book are really just people so set in their ways that they can’t accept what’s going on.

All in all I’m looking forward to reading the next one Power Lines, and it will fit nicely into February for the sci-fi challenge. I’ll probably read the third one in February too, so I’ll have to find something else for March.

I’m hoping to get a start on some of the other challenges too in February. I’m going to visit my sister in England, (my starting point is Canada) and I usually get a lot of reading done on long flights since the seats aren’t really comfortable for sleeping. Also I really will get around to Changes again!

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Daily Prompts

This week’s daily writing prompts are:
1. The chains were loose enough to allow some freedom of movement…
2. The stranger came early in February, one wintry day, though biting wind and
3. write about a small package that is delivered to someone, with explicit instructions to…
4. Crunching through fallen leaves
5. My head hurt like hell…
6. They waited…
7. The spines of old books.

And the art ones are:
1. aquatic vehicle
2. stars
3. China town
4. where the wild things are
5. tattoo
6. flower show
7. something sweet

Have fun with these, and I really am going to try and post a book review tonight or tomorrow!

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Story Starter Saterday etc

I didn’t forget! Just a quick post with this week’s weekly challenges, I hope everyone had fun with last weeks. For the story starter I’m using a setting from Seventh Sanctum, the Lost Civilizations one, because it intrigued me:  This intelligent woodland country was noted for its advanced pharmacology. It was destroyed by political coruption, leaving behind only maps and artifacts.

And for the continuing art project, remember you’re using the same inanimate object, this time your trying to express timidness.

Good luck!

 

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Daily Art and Writing Prompts

Yes! Didn’t forget!

Alright, so writing prompts first, I don’t remember where I got these from, I’ve been in the habit of randomly grabbing them off the internet and keeping them all in one document, so I can’t give you a link, (if you see one you came up with tell me and I’ll link it). Anyways:

1. Reaching forward to break his fall…
2. Sitting outside at night
3. He paced along the…
4. Slipping away for a walk
5. Several years had elapsed since I had found…
6. Trees rose up on either side of the road, turning it into a dark canyon, but the coach barely slowed…
7. A glance at the clock showed…

Art challenges are again from all over the place, mostly these are just going to be one word inspirations, and you can do whatever you want with them.

1. Memories
2. Window
3. Ghosts of the Sea
4. Fairy Tale
5. Where Wisps lead you
6. Shadows
7. Mother

Hope every one has fun with these!

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Story Starter Saturday… On Sunday

Story Starter Saturday didn’t start off very well. I have no excuse. Well, really I have lots of excuses, but that doesn’t really make it better so instead Story Starter Saturday is brought to you on Sunday, by Seventh Sanctum (aaah so much alliteration).

In case you’ve forgotten the challenge is to write a short story, (7000 words minimum) by the end of the week from the prompt given. Today’s is a character, (from the quick character generator) write about: The educated, infamous gambler who suffers from a chronic medical condition.

I suppose I might as well do the art challenge at the same time, save me from having to make another post. Again to refresh your memory, this is another week long one, you’re going to find an inanimate object, preferably one you can keep around or have a reference picture of. This week we’re actually going to draw it twice. The first time just draw it as it is, just like you see it. For the second part we’re going to try and express excitement using just the object no words or anything like that. If anyone’s interested I think I’m going to be drawing my hammer. It’s my favorite tool, (I’m kind of a girly girl so I don’t have many) in the place you’re supposed to use to pull up there’s a bottle opener instead. I’m not really sure what sort of rationalization they had in mind when they developed it, but someone decided that yes, a hammer with a bottle opener on the end is exactly what Adriane needs.

Anyways have fun with these, and hopefully tomorrow I’ll remember to post the weeks worth of daily writing prompts and art inspirations.

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Not Really Challenges

…But I don’t know what else to call them. I’m not going to keep track of who’s doing what, so people can pretty much jump in and do whatever ones they want as often as they want, I probably won’t even do all of them every week. But I will try to at least consistently post them.

On Mondays I’ll post a week’s worth of daily writing prompts, probably first line story starters and things like that, and a week’s worth of art prompts, just for quick projects or doodles for fun, they’ll probably just be one word inspirations rather than explicit instructions so that artists of any medium can do them.

I’m also going to do Story Starter Saturday, (I like alliteration) where I’ll give a character, setting, or culture to write about, (most of them will probably come from Seventh Sanctum so if you don’t like the ones I give you you can get other ones) they’ll probably be sci-fi or fantasy, (whereas the daily prompts will probably be things that can be used for most genres). These starters will be for slightly bigger projects, a weekly short story. If people aren’t into sci-fi or fantasy they can always keep going from one of the daily prompts.

My suggestion is to write Nanowrimo style (quantity over quality) though that could be because that’s how I write pretty much everything, (you no matter how much you work at it you’re always going to have to go back and edit your first draft). I figure minimum length for a short story is 7000 words, and I can write at least 1000 words in half an hour so I can get a short story done in a week of writing half an hour a day. But you can always write more or less. Another suggestion from Nanowrimo, don’t reread your work for at least a week or two after it’s done so you can get some distance. You’ll probably like it better then.

For a bigger weekly art project I was actually thinking of doing something that we did in my high school art class. We took an inanimate object (the same one every time so it’s best if you either have the object itself or a reference picture) and each week you had to make it express something different. At the time we were doing textures or something like that, (I remember melting and furry I think). This time I’m thinking of trying to express emotion through the object. I think it should be a fun challenge, especially for people interested in comic art since they’d have to know body language really well.

For people who don’t like the inanimate object project could use the story starters from Seventh Sanctum as an alternative for ideas. But again, you’d have to be into sci-fi and fantasy, (though I suppose it’s fair to assume most people reading this blog would be).

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2nd and 3rd Book Challenge Books: Small Favor and Turn Coat

Two more down for the Horror and Urban Fantasy challenge! These two are the last of my rereads for the series, I have Changes, which is the next one, and I know Ghost Story is out but last I checked it was still in hardcover and I always get paper back, (I keep enough junk in my purse/bag/tote as it is, I don’t need a hardcover book weighing me down).

I’m not going to bother reviewing these two since it would probably just end up as more gushing like I did about White Night. I will probably do a proper review for Changes because I’ll remember my first impressions and all that.

I seem to be getting through this one challenge pretty fast. I have a lot of free time. Well, it’s more that reading’s all I’m doing with my free time because I live in Canada and it’s cold outside. Though to be fair it’s been a ridiculously mild winter so far (it rained the other day!) but that just means that the -15 weather we’ve got now seems colder in comparison. Or I’m a wimp. (pretty sure it was down to -20s and 30s last winter this time).

Anyways after Changes I’ll try working on some of the other challenges. I didn’t really mean to focus on only this one, it’s just that Dresden fits into it nicely. I suppose most of them do have fairies, and he is a detective, so I could count them towards the Telling Tales and Mystery challenges, but that kind of seems like cheating so I probably won’t. I’ll also try to do some real reviews, not just ‘OMG i love this book <3<3<3’ (ok, maybe I’m not that bad, but I’ve never really written reviews… I did find a chapter in one of my English text books though so I’ll do research and everything).

Also still planning on starting some art and writing challenges, though I’m not sure I’d actually label them challenges… maybe just fun little helpers for if you get stuck in a creative rut. I always find it easier to work on things that don’t really matter and I’m not planning on doing anything with, as soon as something needs to get done or becomes important to me I worry more about how it’s going to turn out. I over think and all of a sudden something that was really easy the day before is now really hard.

But more about that later this week. Now I have to go read Changes (yes, have to).

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