Category Archives: challenges

Book Review(ish):Casino Royale (with a spoiler alert to be safe)

Has anyone else noticed that I never seem to read the books I say I’m going to? I mean, this isn’t new to me, but I was kind of hoping that telling people what I was planning on reading would help me stick to the plan. Since that doesn’t seem to be working I think I’ll just stop making any promises about what I’m going to read next, (I get around to everything eventually…).

So anyways I’m back home now, which mean a lot of boring travel time and I happened to have Casino Royale with me. I’ve never seen it as a movie, I’ve actually only seen a few James Bond movies, but this is the first of the Bond books and I like to start at the beginning of series. Also since I’ve never read anything by Ian Fleming this one counts as one of my New Author Challenge books, hooray!

Also did anyone else know that he also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? I didn’t even know that was a book, so now I have yet another on my list of books to track down.

I didn’t really have any expectations when I started reading this, like I said I’ve only seen a couple of the movies, and none of them recently, and the author’s also new to me. Still there were a few surprises. For one thing it was pretty short, though I was expecting it to end at one point, (after they escape from le Chiffre) only to realize there was still another forty pages left, (there’s only 212 to begin with). The other thing is that Bond gets tortured by le Chiffre at one point, and while it wasn’t hugely graphic or gory I still wasn’t expecting it since the book is from the 50s which apparently in my mind means it’s on par with the 1800s in how much of the gruesome details I expect to be included.

So while it wasn’t what I expected it was still a fun light read. It didn’t take me long to get through it, but I enjoyed it and was pretty engrossed while reading. I’ll probably hunt down the rest at the used bookstore at some point. Now it’s time to go unpack (ugh).


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Review: Welcome to the Jungle (or, Not The Dresden Book I Promised)

I felt bad for not reading Changes yet, and especially since I probably won’t get around to it until I’m done the Powers book that I’m on now, (though I did take a break from that to read Going Postal).  But comics don’t take nearly as long to read and since I had a few spare hours, and the first of the Dresden comics, I decided I might as well do a quick review for that.

Also I’m totally counting it as one of the Telling Tales challenge books, it has Greek mythology and Celtic folklore, and ok, it might be stretching the definition a bit, but the Telling Tales challenge is (I think) the only one that counts graphic novels. I also realized that I didn’t count Powers that Be as one of the New Author challenge books, even though one of the author’s is new to me. So totally adding it to the list. Anyways. Sorry this is so short, but I’m in England visiting my sister right now so I’m probably not going to have a lot of time for really long posts.

Welcome to the Jungle is set right before Storm Front, (so right before the book series starts) and is written by Jim Butcher and illustrated by Adrian Syaf. I was really excited when I first found it because I was expecting the graphic novels to just follow the books, (and the second graphic novel is called Storm Front as well) but instead I get a whole new story that I’ve never read before. Also it’s set at the Zoo! (I love the zoo, we went to the zoo for my birthday last year… when I turned 26. In my defense we went to African Lion Safari for my sister’s and she’s only a year younger than me, so I’m not the only one who misses doing cool stuff like that for my birthday). And sidetracked… So the story starts with a murder at the zoo *gasp!* and Dresden is called in to figure out what happened because so far their best guess is that the gorilla did it… then he went and locked himself back in his cage. There’s also the damsel in distress, because Dresden’s a sucker for a lady who needs his help, and bob makes an appearance, (hooray!) oh, and of course a deadline.

One of my favorite things about the novels is his interior monologues and snippy comments so I was pleased to find that they were worked into the graphic novels as well. Jim Butcher has a style of writing that is both entertaining and makes you feel like you could be part of the story too. I wouldn’t have thought that it would translate well into a graphic novel but was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it was because Butcher wrote it himself, or maybe because, as he explains in the forward, when he’s writing it in his he pictures the scenes as panels from a comic.

Either way I’m looking forward to reading the next ones.

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Long Boring Flight

Made it to England (hooray!) between a long boring wait at the airport, then a long boring wait while the plain flew (am I the only person who finds it almost impossible to sleep on a plane?) I got another challenge book out of the way: I read Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal. Moist is one of my favorite characters, he’s a conman! I still haven’t read Making Money which I know also has Moist in it, but that’s on my list too.

I’m keeping this short because I’m super tired, (I haven’t slept since heading for the airport) and also because I’m editing a review that I’ll hopefully post tomorrow or the next day.

Still no update on the other blog because I was busy getting ready for travel, but working on it.

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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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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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