Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review | Eerie Cuties




This is my third web comic. They are a most recent development, spring 2009. I got caught up on this comic in approximately 2 hours. It isn’t very far in the story line and still heavily in world building mode, however still very entertaining.

As per the graphics: the color is vibrant and the graphics are good bordering on anime, yet with their own twist.

This story takes a whole bunch of supernatural elements tosses them in a pot (special school) and sets them to boil. The idea is for some great comic relief. The characters seem a little shallow, still I like their idiocy. I find it amusing and entertaining. They have Vampires, Secubi, Werewolves, Ghost Pirates and more. With so many different elements it borders on cheese but manages to pull it off.

They first started with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule but have since adjusted to a Monday, Wednesday schedule. I am very interested in seeing how things develop and if this project has enough wind in it sails to propel it onwards.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review | Questionable Content

This is my second web comic.  It is not in the fantasy stream what so ever and I can’t remember how I got to them.  Yet here I am. 

I would click on it every now and then and read a comic and felt lost, like a plethora of inside jokes were streaming over my head.  This frustrated me.  However, I am stubborn.  I looked at their archives; over 1500 comics.  Gulp.  I can do this. This means that this will last me awhile. 

Ha…. I finished this during NaNoWriMo.  I wrote over 50 000 words towards my novel and read all of Questionable Content

This one fit with my graphic needs for comics.  I liked the realistic style.  But going back to the beginning left my skin crawling.  The beginning is very rough artistically. Yet it was interesting to see the artist grow.  How his style and technique developed as he progressed.  It was a great experience, as the characters grew so did the artist. 

As for the story, it deals with real life.  Shit happens, we get through it.  I kind of like that it deals with mundane issues in a funny way.  If this were on TV it would be a sitcom slightly on the dramatic side.  Plus it is filled with geeky content, mostly pertaining to music.  I really like that quirk even though I don’t know much about any of the bands they blather on about.  The characters are also very quirky with raise your eyebrow back stories that are utterly entertaining. 

The only catch is that I advise against reading the blurb posts he puts at the end of the comics.  They are usually fairly uninteresting, or very whiny.  I know that life sucks and it has got you down sometimes, and I too get the urge to unload on my blog as well.  I am sure I have broken that golden rule a few times too.  And I forgive him for doing it.  But you can avoid that hassle if you so desire by not reading the blurbs. 

They post daily, Monday to Friday.  This pleases me to no end.  Yet if they wanted to post more I could handle that too.  They also sell T-shirts with content from the comics – more inside jokes.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review | Girl Genius

My first web comic….



As mentioned previously I primarily avoid comics. Their medium for story telling eludes me.  I get focused on the words and forget that the story is also told through pictures.  Needless to say I miss a lot skipping from one dialogue bubble to the next barely looking at the graphics. Yet when the Hugo finals came up and Patrick Rothfuss linked to the winner for web comic a small part of me couldn’t resist seeing what the fuss was about. I was more than pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Girl Genius.

First off, I loved the graphics and their use of color. As this is a visual story telling means, this is the first thing I consider. If it is in black and white I raise a questionable eyebrow. Next it’s the style of the drawings. If it is done a la Noire, I leave.  Noire, at this point is not my thing.  I hope that someday I will be able to appreciate it, but currently I don't, so no point in forcing it.  Not only do they have superior color (so vivid), they have an amazingly talented artist who draws women with curves that don’t look like anime characters.

Secondly their idea and premise is very compelling. I love the idea of Sparks in a steampunk/Gaslamp fantasy.  Sparks are people who are inventors, but they kind of go mad scientist when they are in focus mode.  Definitely creates some pretty funny and dramatic scenes.

Their plot is fast moving covering a lot of interesting ground. Agatha doesn't know she is a Spark.  She is studying at the university and gets these wicked headaches every time she tries to invent something.  I really don't want to give anything away, so what you are going to have to do is go and read it.  It is well worth your time.  I ate through their archives as fast as I could manage although it was an addiction that could only be quenched online so it took me a little longer.

This comic finishes out as one of my best reads of 2009. This is what made me decide to give other web comics a try.

They post on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, however, in my opinion once an hour couldn’t be enough. They also sell their comics in yearly editions if you are the type who wants it nicely collected on your shelf.  I am.  *Cough*present*Cough*

Next Review:  Questionable Content - another web comic but in a different vein.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review | Julie & Julia

Movie and Book Review

Okay so the reason I got caught up in this book and movie was due to the name. My name is Julia. Not sure if I ever mentioned that. The movie trailers looked funny enough, but it was the name that tipped the scales. The fact that it was based on a book was a no brainer for me. On the to read list it must go.

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The Book
This book talked about food. Specifically French Cooking. It is the story of a girl who rescued herself from a downward spiral of nothingness through the challenge of cooking her way through Julia Child's cook book
Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I cook and I need to be rescued from that same spiral of hopeless nothingness. I could relate. I chose my rescue in the form of writing mind you, but on the primitive save me level, I got it. I got the struggle, and why she needed the project.

The project started off as
a blog. However at the end of it, she was offered a book deal. The details on that are vague in the book, but kudos to her.

The books voice was unique. It was funny and witty and it did a lot to carry the novel forward. The topic and plot itself could have been desperate but the way in which it was presented and written was highly enjoyable, like a fluffy desert that is healthy for you.

The Movie
There was a pause of time between reading the book and watching the movie. The book wasn’t as fresh in my mind, and this is usually a good thing. It allows me to enjoy the movie more and criticize that it is not the book less.

Overall I liked. Sure there were differences from book to movie, but in general I really enjoyed it. I liked that we got to see more of Julia Child in the movie. Perhaps this isn’t an accurate rendition of her, but it really helped to flesh out the story more. However, Meril Streep could do with less of the shrill drunkenness joy de vivre.

Overall the book to movie was a fairly solid adaptation with no obvious missing parts, with areas of improvement and areas that needed improvement.

Both the movie and book are highly entertaining and you could explore either without needing the other and still get a good taste for the project.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Movie Review | Sherlock Holmes

I have never read any of the Sherlock Holmes books. In fact in discussing them with a friend I was told that The Beekeeper's Apprentice by: Laurie R King does it better. Perhaps when I am ready I will start there, maybe do a little compare and contrast to the original inspiration.

However, despite not having read it, it still looked like an amazing movie. So on New Years Day greatly hung over and lacking energy, when friends said lets go do this, I said yes. I should also mention that I love costumes. Any period piece will draw me in with costumes alone. Needless to say the movie delivered tenfold on that front. It was a feast to look at all of the little details.

The movie was amazing. The setting was very well done, the attention to detail was astonishing. I felt that we got a good sense for what London was like then. And even if it wasn’t like that, I still really admired what they did.

The actors also did a splendid job. I believed their characters and wasn’t viewing them for previous parts, or stereotyping them. And the script was very well written. I would have loved to be the scriptwriter on that project. And kudos to the director who pulled it together as well as the rest of the team that made this film possible.

When Sherlock was looking for clues, we saw him do it. We saw what he touched what he looked at. When the final moments came and he pieced things together, we knew where he was grabbing his information. It astounded me though how much he knew. In this day and age we are very dependant on the Internet for looking up information. To not have the same resources, and solve those problems, is a commendable task.

Also when Sherlock would attack someone he had a mental calculation of exactly what he would do, and you would see it, and then he would do it and you would see it again. How he could assess people so well was astonishing, however, for one moment I would have liked had he been wrong. It just seamed too arrogant for him to be right all the time.

I also found the London Police force was comical in their incompetency, however I also really liked how genuine they were too. I liked how they treated Sherlock, with respect instead of resentment. It could have easily gone the other way.

I was genuinely drawn in by the story and how it developed. The conclusion left room for a sequel, but now that we know the world, it may not be so spectacular to visit it again. Each time Sherlock will look for clues and pick up a rock we’ll just file that away and wonder how he will connect it. The same awe and wonder would be lost in a sequel. However, I would still be interested in seeing how they would manage it.

P.S. They had a bulldog instead of a basset hound. I was a wee bit disappointed by that of course because I have basset hounds, however I also understand how hard they are to train, so can see why the change in dog was made.

Movie Review | Avatar




And my second movie review.

There were a few things I expected when going to see this movie. Amazing special effects and a storyline that took backseat to the special effects. As mentioned before, I feel this is a trend in block buster movies. Often times we are given superior special effects as a distraction from the fact that they have no clue where their plot is going.

Avatar bordered on what I expected yet primarily managed to pleasantly surprise me.

The story was recycled. It had very vivid echoes of the founding of the new world. The Spanish, British and French pushing the natives out of their territory and land. The natives having a culture that respects mother earth. The movie took its own slant on it but the tale has been told, we are familiar with it. However this familiarity was not a bad thing. Within the first fifteen minutes you new where the story was going, what the plausible outcomes would be. The foreshadowing was obvious. Yet I still enjoyed myself.

The world building was superb. That was where I was truly won over. I was in complete awe of the world building and the setup. The science fiction and magical elements to it were amazing. A world at peace and harmony with itself. A people who respect the land. A world that glowed in the dark and moss that lit up when you touched it. The flying birds. The tails that let you link in. The glow in the dark freckles and blue skin and cat-like features. The floating mountains. How everything was linked to each other. All of this left me in complete awe and wonder as an author. I would love to get my hands on a world like that, work a story with such a vivid atmosphere and wonder. Some may call them savages, yet I wanted to be a savage.

Furthermore, I felt that special effects were not distractions yet a boost to discovering this amazing world. I didn’t feel like they were waiving special effects in my face to distract me from a lack of plot. They had a plot and they followed it through, with not obvious plot holes. Sure it was recycled and predictable, but there was comfort in that too, as they were already throwing us into a world so absolutely different and amazing. Some of the characters were clichés, and some of the dialogue a bit flat. Yet I can live with that.

Overall I think this is a must see. I was only able to see it in 2D as the 3D was sold out. I can only imagine how much more superb it would have been in 3D. Don’t cheep out. Go and see it. Also allow yourself the ability to get lost in the world, like a child discovering it for the first time. They really did an amazing job.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Review | Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by: Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith



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Really I should have known better. Simply putting Zombies in a Jane Austin book does not make a Jane Austin book any less a Jane Austin book.

For some reason I have it stuck in my head that given the right amount of time and the right frame of mind Jane Austin is an author for me. However, I can’t seam to find the time nor the right frame of mind. Truly it is not Jane’s fault.

This book took my awhile to plod through. I couldn’t seam to find the driving force necessary to pull me through this at full speed. Some complaints are that Seth Grahame-Smith disrespects the classic tale by inserting zombies and ninjas. I on the other hand think that it is a solid change and adds better motivation as per why the characters behave the way they do. Class restrictions be dammed, Zombies are far better motivation.

The book is still filled with the archaic turns of fraises that boggle the mind that people actually spoke like that. And that is perhaps what made it the most dragging. I was never truly able to associate with the characters as they were always held at arms distance by a narrative voice. We shall blame this on the original subject material.

Overall the Zombies and Ninjas livened up the novel and added a dash of humor and ridicule, however I still wouldn’t waste my time with this whether or not you like Jane Austin. If you don’t like her then you will be bored by the style, and if you do like her then you will be outraged by the differences.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Review | The Way of Shadows By: Brent Weeks


The Way of Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy)


The book started off cold and dirty. Like a guild rat on the street. Precisely who the main characters was. Short little scenes from various characters, little climaxes ending on cliffhangers and then the next scene. A set up for a world and the characters within it. Focused, and yet not.

It meandered and there was a hint to the point of where things were going, but finally I reached a scene were Weeks had just upped the anti by 1000% and it felt like I was reading a runaway train. It was dark before and hinted at the shadows. And I was being taken for a rollercoaster ride of a lifetime through the pits of hell.

Seriously though. Weeks sets things up, by giving us a guild rat who is training to be more than an assassin, he is training to be a wetboy (sorry that still makes me giggle..wetboy). A wetboy is an assassin with an edge, he has magic. Except while Azoth has the ability for magic he can’t reach out and use it. The link isn’t there. And me and my traditional fantasy thinking mind assume that he is giving us the key, the impervious character with the flaw who will overcome great odds and get us through all off hell without a scratch. But Brent knows what he is doing. He gives us more than just scratches. He breaks bones.

The bad guys finally get to the city, as had been foreshadowed, but of course the monarch wasn’t prepared as the government is in shambles. And it is absolute mayhem. And I was left gulping, screaming NOOOOO!!!!! They can’t die.

Weeks really does an amazing job of finishing up his book. He lets the mayhem rein and for that I applaud him. It takes a lot to put your prized possession into the fire and let them burn. He leaves us with nothing but shreds, and perhaps a little hope. But that hope is only for escape with no chance of redemption.

These books were garnered through the library, and unfortunately I only read the first one before they became overdo and needed to be returned as someone else wanted them. Luckily I got the book box set for Christmas.

Update | One and a Half Giant Leaps Forward

Alright since I was such a slacker last night you my dears will be getting two posts. This one will be a catch up kind of post/update on my writing. The other one will be a book review. No it is not The Gathering Storm. I wish I were done, because man is it ever a compelling read. However due to time constraints and me actually wanting to keep my day job (need to pay the bills) I haven’t been sinking into it as deeply or as often as I would like. I hope to rectify that over this weekend.

The later part of 2009 led to a significant decrease in me posting actually book reviews. Don’t fear, while I was indeed in a slump I did not stop reading. So from now until I do finally post about the Gathering Storm review I will be posting the last of my 2009 reviews.

And now for my monumental update. Drum roll please……

I have been asked to join the Underground Writers. They are a writing group in my area. They were originally the Hypergraphic Society – a writing spinoff from NaNoWriMo 2008. However their were some differences in opinions as per why the group was formed and those that felt it was formed in order to write made yet another spinoff and formed the Underground Writers. Since then, I am their first new member. I met a lot of their members during NaNoWriMo 2009 and I am absolutely flattered and thrilled to the tips of my hair down to my toenails to be joining this group.

See last summer I decided that if writing is really what I wanted to do with my life it was time to start getting to it and stop talking about it. I started looking for communities where I could associate with like minded individuals. It is easier to jump off a ridiculously high bridge with a group of people than by yourself. Parents would strongly advise against it, but some things are best done in supportive groups.

There were a few gems I hit on in that search. That is where I discovered NaNoWriMo, the Three Day Novel contest, and the Hypergraphic Society. Now I decided that the Three Day Novel contest was a bit out of my league for a beginner like me, and that I wanted to ease my way in a bit more. I also didn’t want to approach a local writing group without knowing them first and with nothing but ambition under my belt. So I jumped on board the NaNoWriMo train. Of course it being only August I was left patiently waiting.

The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it is filtered by regions. The regions get their own message boards. Also there are plenty of local events led by the ML. NaNoWriMo worked out marvelously for me, as it gave me the opportunity to meet the local writers, and get some street cred.

However, soon it became obvious that what I really wanted was the Underground Writers not the Hypergraphic Society. I was more interested in writing than promoting writing. Not that promoting it is not also a very viable endeavor, but for what I was looking for personally was the opportunity for critic. When joining NaNoWriMo I tried to make my intentions clear, I wanted to meet like minded individuals and continue to write after NaNoWriMo hopefully leading to critic. I was also trying to be honest, but didn’t want to come off as pushy either, just enthusiastic. Before NaNoWriMo finished I started talks regarding Monday night write nights. Not long after, I had an unofficial invite to the UW to be confirmed come January. January is here, and yesterday was my first meeting.

Guys I just want to say you rock. I am so incredibly happy to be a part of this team.

Which brings me to our next topic…..

Yesterday at the meeting Ad-Astra was brought up. It is a Science Fiction Convention held in Toronto – a few hours drive from here. Last year the UW went, and there are talks of getting a group together to go this year again. I’m afraid I came off as hesitant. Which I was, but it wasn’t due to lack of interest, it was more due to lack of funds. On the ride home, Cowboy and I discussed it. Things are tight, but things will also be getting better. This is important to me so we are going to make it work.

Last year WorldCon was held in Montreal, and due to various reasons I did not attend. I should have, but I was also scared too. I didn’t want to be networking and talking about my novel, when I hadn’t yet completed it. It would have made me feel like a poser. When I approach people I want them to take me seriously. Therefore, before attending Ad-Astra I want to finish and polish at least one of my manuscripts, currently leaning towards the 2009 NaNoWriMo project.

TADA!!! Those are my one and a half giant leaps forward in attaining my writing goals. This year is going to be a big year – I can feel it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Article | Reading Goals for 2010

It has occurred to me with the coming of the New Year and setting resolutions that I had overlooked my reading habits. The fact is I read as much as I could last year. Sure there is room for some improvement, but I am not terribly disappointed in myself. So rather than make it a resolution, I am going to reaffirm my reading goals.

Reading Goals for 2010 – I would like to read 52 books this year. Why 52? Because there are 52 weeks in a year. Sometimes I can get through a book in a day or two, other times it takes me weeks if I really loath the material. I try not to ever quit on a book in hopes that it will redeem itself so I do push myself through the ones that drag. It will be awesome if I can reach more than that, but at the same time I don’t want to cut into my writing either.

I have a lot of high fantasy that I want to catch up on. There are also some new authors in the Romance genre I want to explore, and some young adult books that have caught my eye. I will also be reading books on writing this year, as I am trying to complete and edit my own manuscript.

For the beginning of 2010 though it is safe to say I will be attacking high fantasy with a vigor, as that is what I have collected on my bookshelf right now. When the books I have requested from the library start to pour in (romance and writing with a side helping of fantasy) we’ll switch on over.

Also, this year will be the year of books gifted to me rather than me purchasing my own books. It is not that I don’t think that buying books isn’t a worthwhile cause. Oh contraire. It is that I am on a severe budget. Also I have logicked it out as follows. Some of the books I want to read this year my library does not have. I could buy a copy of the book but then only I get to read it. Or I could get the library to buy it and multiple people could read it. Often times the library will buy several copies for various branches, so really I am helping the industry by recommending that the library buy it and helping myself by staying on budget. Also the more people who are exposed to an author the better. I love sharing the love when it comes to reading and the library is a masterful way of doing so. Plus if I really love the book, it gets added to my wish list and eventually ends up on my shelf. A win win all around.

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And for those of you who come for the pictures...

The above is New Years. The theme was the future... I chose to go 1920's on edge. Black sequined dress with gold winged eye makeup and a bold cleopatra haircut died red. Lots of compliments for the night.

And this is two days after. Back home on January 3rd and cashing in some snoogle coupons. I read to them the opening of The Gathering Storm. Yup... Robert Jordan's famous opening shared with the snooglers.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Article | The Year in Review and the Future Yet to Come

2009


The Negatives
This past year had been a trying year in many areas. There were financial difficulties and layoffs in my nuclear family and extended. But those challenges have simply taught us how to buckle down, pull together and get through this. I believe that we are all better stronger people for our trials, yet I sincerely hope that the new year doesn’t bring any new financial difficulties, as we are just about maxed out in that area.

The Positives
However their have also been some great big huge successes. I was cast in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as a wife. The production was a huge hit and great fun – reuniting with old friends and making new ones.

During some unexpected time off this summer we took a trip out west. Financially I regret this a little, as we spent money we didn’t really have, but the experience far outweighs the regret. I can now say I have been to both coasts. And honestly I think I like the east coast best.

I also got a rather huge jump start on my writing career by participating in NaNoWriMo. I simply can’t say enough wonderful things about the event, and sense of community it creates. Also, I got to meet an amazing bunch of local writers. Consequently I don’t feel like the only one paddling up river. It’s a good feeling.

And there is my blog… this blog and my old blog that was laid to rest. Through NaNoWriMo and Twitter I was able to garner four followers for my blog. While that may not seam like a lot to some, it’s a beginning for me, and I am very pleased with my tiny readership. They make me smile.

We managed to pull off Christmas even while tightening our belts. And I really enjoyed the downsizing. It was nice to not be overwhelmed and just receive a few items I could really enjoy, rather than be confused by shear mass. I loved everything I got this year, weather it be presents, money or your time. It all means a great deal to me.

Last but certainly not least, we adopted a new dog, Rosco. While sure this adds a few complications – babysitters, food costs, vet costs – I think he is well worth the hassle. It is sunshine times two at our house now.

Overall
See the positive far outweighs the negatives. Also I really don’t like getting too far into details with the negatives. Shit happens, move on. No sense in dwelling. Come up with a plan, follow through. Find your sunshine.

2010

Goals

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Writing
  3. Knitting
  4. Financial Stability
Weight Loss
I would like to lose about 30 pounds. Truth is if I hit 20 I will be satisfied. I am aiming to be on the lower side of my BMI as opposed to the high side I currently occupy. This will be achieved one little baby step at a time – walking dogs, going to the gym and healthy eating. To help achieve this goal I am setting a 3 pound a week weight loss goal, this way it isn’t overwhelming.

Writing
This is huge for me. What I am aiming for this year is to finish and edit my NaNoWriMo 2009 novel. Start and finish 2 other novels. Finish a Novella I have had brewing for awhile. Learn how to write a script by participating in Script Frenzy. And participating in NaNoWriMo again.

In order to achieve all of this I am setting myself a daily writing goal of 1000 words. I have also put up progress bars on my blog for the projects I am working on, which I will be updating on Sundays.

Fingers crossed – I would like to get some pieces out their. Start sending them out to publishers and agents and gathering my portfolio of rejections slips and hopefully that miraculous acceptance too.

Knitting
This is just a wee small tiny distraction. I don’t plan on becoming a huge successful knitting guru; I just want to be able to proficiently knit a pair of socks. I am going to tackle this by participating in the Knitting Winter Olympics this February (same time as the regular Olympics). Go check out the Yarn Harlots Blog for further information regarding this.

Financial Stability
This is a group effort and one that will be hardest to achieve. It depends on a great many things that are potentially out of my control. First I do not want to accumulate any more debt. So debt is going on a freeze. Secondly I want to chip away and get rid of approximately $2000 worth of debt (including interest) this year. That’s not all of it, but that is some of it, and some of it is better than nothing. I also want to manage to put aside $1000 into my emergency savings fund. The fact is there is only so much money coming in and I can only stretch it so far. So pending no major disasters this year, that is what I am aiming for.

Overall
I feel great things for 2010. Like this is my year. I can really rock this and go far. I have learnt a great deal over the past year, of what is possible given a little bit of ingenuity. My goals are achievable, and I honestly can’t wait to knock something off of my list. To feel the sense of victory that will push me onwards to achieving all of my goals.

It’s more than just luck, its effort. May you have the energy, ambition, and drive to apply the effort needed to your goals to achieve success in 2010.