Tag Archives: Fantasy

2017 Favorites

The year flew by. I tried and failed at many things this year, but this last day of the year, I’m going to share the positive things, and my favorites.

The photo above is a dish I made trying out roasted purple cauliflower.  It’s hard to see but to the right of the salmon is purple cauliflower rice, which I made too. The fish is salmon sprinkled with fresh dill, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper, and topped with slices of limes.  I’ve never cooked with cauliflower before but I think this will be my new favorite thing because I really like the flavor and how easy it is to cook cauliflower.

I’m very proud to say that I accomplished two of my five goals this year.  One of them was to start school again…actually, to resume my master’s program from 2010.  So far, I’ve completed three classes and have four to go.  I’m going to try and load up on classes so that I finish by end of Spring 2018.  The other goal was to read 12 books.  I ended up reading 34 books.  A lot of it was due to freelancing as a book reviewer.  I was doing about three to four books a month starting in July.  I still read for leisure and still enjoy it

Here are my favorite books of the year:

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This was such a lovely and fun story with romance, magic, and suspense.

2. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.  This was a beautiful story told through the eyes of a young boy growing up in the 60’s.  The world building was fabulous.  I felt like I was right there with the boy.  The characters were well thought out and vivid.  McCammon really knows how to tug at your heart.

3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.  This was a well written classic about a man upset about the way his cousin died.  He was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery but somehow he becomes completely mesmerized by Rachel.  I saw the movie after reading the book and didn’t think it was as good.  If anything, read the book.


Can’t live without music.  For a sci-fi story I’ve been writing, I’ve got a few songs that go along with certain scenes.  Initially, I was going to submit the story to an anthology but I missed the deadline.  Okay, I have to remember I’m not going to focus on my failures (lol).  Anyway, here’s the cover for the book, and yes, that’s my pen name because I write different genres.

If you want to know a little about the story (the background story), you can check out my writing blog at, The Writing Sparrow.  It’s a new blog and I don’t have much there yet, but come 2018, there will be.

These are the songs that go with a few scenes in my story, but they are also favorites:

1. Immortal by Missing in Action

2. Last Hope by Antoine Heid (it’s just coincidence that my title has these two words in it).

3. Love on the Brain by Rhianna.

4. Elastic Heart by Sia

5. Wings (acoustic) by Birdy


I’ve been somewhat of a movie junkie this year.  I could barely count how many movies I’ve watched at the theater and at home.  It feels great to be able to watch all these movies.  When I had my two kids, I went into a strange zone where I couldn’t watch movies or even TV shows and not think everyone was pretending.  For some reason that bothered me to no ends.  Now, I’m relieved to say that even if they were acting, it’s no problem.  It doesn’t bother me one bit.  My favorite movies this year are:

1. Passengers

2. King Arthur – Legend of the Sword

3. Blade Runner

4. Star Wars – The Last Jedi

I didn’t do as much drawing and painted as I had wanted.  There’s just isn’t enough time to do everything so I’ve had to just focus on what mattered to me.  And, what mattered this year was getting my stories out.  I submitted a fantasy to an anthology earlier in the year but they are backed up so they haven’t gotten to telling the submitters who made it or not.  I also sent the same fantasy story to my professor who enjoyed it and gave me an “A.”

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the new year!

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Book Review: Blood Song

Blood Song
Author: Anthony Ryan
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

This story is basically about a boy whose father puts him in fighting school where he becomes a master at fighting.

There is more to that though and this is where the story gets interesting. The story follows the boy into adulthood where he learns more than just fighting. He forms a tight knight friendship with his “brothers” and learns who his mother was. He becomes a Lord for the king, he wins battles, and he falls in love. Through it all, he learns that there is an internal battle within himself. There is something or someone whispering to him, wanting to help him, or destroy him.

I enjoyed the writing and the flow of the story. I found it slightly on the fast side. A lot of information was provided in a telling kind of way to move the story to the main points. I found that I could easily skim over certain parts and I wouldn’t be missing much but skim too much and you’ll find yourself having to backtrack. Having said that, it was a fun read with great character development and world building.

January 2017 Book Reviews

A goal this year is to only read about 12 books.  One book per month or around there.  I’ve really reduced it because I want to focus more on writing than reading.  I know I’ll probably end up reading more than 12 books but if I do, that’s okay.  I don’t want to stress out over trying to hit my numbers.  So far, I’ve read two books this month.  It wasn’t expected but once I learned Veronica Roth’s book, “Carve the Mark,” was out, I had to buy and read it.  Below are the reviews for the books I’ve read this month.

Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller

behindcloseddoors_350This story is about a couple whom everyone thinks has the perfect relationship but deep down there are secrets.

Although the pacing is fast, the story starts out a bit slow.  There is a tenseness in the beginning especially when one of the supporting characters, Esther, questions their “perfect” marriage.

The characters were well developed and stayed true to themselves. The back stories to the main characters really helped in shaping them. The setting was clear and done well. The story line was interesting and kept me in suspense and intrigue, which was what kept me reading.

What bothered me most about the story was the protagonist and the main antagonist. Grace didn’t seem very smart or wise and Jack wasn’t as evil as he could be. I felt that Grace could have easily gotten away from Jack and even reported him but she let it go on for too long, doubting herself all the time, and not trusting her own intuition. She was so strong and determined at taking care of her little sister, I didn’t get why she suddenly gave in to Jack and put her sister on the sideline. As for Jack, I wanted him to be even more evil than he was but he seemed to also give in. There was no explanation why he gave in to Grace so much since his back story made him to be this person who enjoyed torture/pain, etc. If it was because he was afraid he’d get caught, then that fear should have somehow made it into the story or the back story.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The suspense stretched out further than I had anticipated which almost led me to stop reading because it got to the point where I almost just didn’t care what happened (because as mentioned, Grace wasn’t very smart) but Esther got me hooked. She was the person who made the story interesting. I was annoyed by her at first but I was also curious as to why she was always prying. I was surprised by her at the end, and have to admit, I cried. She was amazing.

Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: Fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Young Adult

carvethemark_350This story is about…I’m not even sure exactly what it’s about, to be honest, but I’ll do my best to describe it.  I believe it’s about two families who are enemies, where the evil family gains rulership and tortures the other family in hopes to continue ruling.

The story was interesting and the powers the characters had were unique. I liked the idea that it took place in outer space and other planets.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I had expected. It was pretty fast paced. Too many characters were introduced so I couldn’t feel for the main characters. Some characters were introduced and then only had small, almost irrelevant, parts. I tried to visualized the world they lived in and found it difficult because I felt as though there were pieces of Dune by Frank Herbert and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Every time I came across the word “Benesit, ” (the name/title of one of the families) I kept wanting to say “Bene Gesserit” from Dune.

As for the relationship between the two main characters, I felt very little for them. As mentioned, because it was so fast paced and so much information was being thrown in, I really couldn’t relate to the relationship or to their situation.

What was very obvious was the pain the protagonist felt and how she learned to deal with it. I think if the focus was solely on this as the story, how she was chosen to have this type of power that would cause herself pain, and how she learned to control or manage it, would have been a great story on its own.

I really wanted to like this story. I love sci-fi and fantasy combined and I love Veronica Roth’s style. The scenes merge seamlessly and the transition from first to third person was well done.  I’m just a bit bummed that there was so much thrown into it and it felt rushed.

Throne of Glass Book Review

Title: Throne of Glass
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, YA

This story is about an assassin who was captured and made into a slave whom was rescued by the prince and his captain of the guard.  They took her to win the champion fighting for the prince’s father.  Turns out the prince and the captain of the guard both fall in love with her.  She falls for the prince first but then eventually falls for the captain.

This book wasn’t so bad.  It was enjoyable.  The writing was good.  Easy to read and paced well.  Character development was okay.  There was a bit of childhood back story to the protagonist, Celanea, which was helpful.  The storyline was a bit silly, cliche, and unbelievable though.  Celaena couldn’t see that the captain liked her but it was very obvious.  Same with the prince.  Every night he came to her room to listen to her read and she never put two and two together.  It got annoying.  But then again, I totally get it because the author said she wrote the story when she was in high school and college so I can see how she chose not to reveal Celaena’s feelings for the boys.  I think that’s how most teenagers and young adult deal with how they feel for someone, they pretend they don’t know.  The ending was good.  I enjoyed the fight scenes and how much the captain tried to keep Celaena going.  You can totally see that he cares deeply for her.  I wasn’t a big fan of Celaena but what I did like about her was that she wasn’t perfect.  She’s not good with poisons and that’s the one thing that could have led to her demise.

I won’t be reading the trilogy or series.  Although I enjoyed this book there were things that didn’t make any sense that made me almost give up on it.  For instance, Celaena’s an assassin but she did not come across like an assassin at all.  There was no where in the story that talked about what her duties were as an assassin.  No back story to her training and how she trained and what led her to being captured.  There was no oath or creed to hold her accountable. Her characteristics did not have any assassin-ness to it.  She was portrayed more like a princess in despair.  Weak.  Clueless.  Locked up until the competition.  She practiced her fighting with the captain but I would assume an assassin already knows how to sword fight and fight with other weapons as well.  I would also assume an assassin is much better at fighting then a captain of the guard.  So, I was disappointed by this.  If you enjoy a YA fantasy about an “assassin,” in a fairytale like story then this book is for you.

Book Review: Heir to the Sundered Crown (The Sundered Crown Saga Book 1)

I love reading.  My genre of interest is sci-fi and fantasy but I will also read other genres if they are interesting.  Last year, I did a marathon and read 101 books with most being sci-fi and fantasy.  This year, I’ve lowered my goal to 25 books.  I wanted to read without any pressure of deadlines but somehow I found myself just 5 books away from my goal.  I don’t tend to do thorough reviews unless they are just totally beyond my expectation or I’m asked by the author but I will always rate them.  I rate on Goodreads.com and sometimes on Amazon.  Here is the most recent book I finished.  This book was given to me to read and review by the author.  Thank you for allowing me the pleasure to read and review, Mr. Olney.

HTHSC_Book

After I read the book, I had to sit back and let it soak in. It was very fast pace with a lot going on. Lots of action and gore. Lots of characters and interactions. The storyline was great. The characters and the world they lived in were clearly thought out and well created. The dialogue moved the story forward and explained a lot of what was going on. A lot of the history of that world came out in the dialogue but the author also put the history in an appendix at the end of book, which was very helpful. Overall, I enjoyed it.

One thing I felt the story lacked was character buildup. There wasn’t enough substance in the main characters. They felt one-dimensional. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around why they want to rule so badly. What do they gain besides being a ruler and having all the power? There has to be something much deeper. Wanting power is usually driven by something very personal that one can’t seem to let go of that can manifest in the form of revenge. I did not sense that if that was meant to be part of character buildup. The characters had too much trust in everyone they came across. They seem to all be unintelligent and gullible.  Another thing was that I also found myself wondering why, after Luxon fainted a couple of times, he would continue to use his magic. I would think he would be afraid to even feel his magic knowing it would make him weak afterward.

I read this book on a Kindle and should mention that there were lots of grammatical errors and typos. Also, the word, “whilst” was overused (but this may be just a personal thing).  If these things don’t bother you too much and you simply love the pure enjoyment of reading, or if the fantasy genre is up your alley, I definitely recommend this book.

In Disguise Batgirl Rework

Last year I created this concept for a challenge and didn’t really use anything to smooth out my skin.  There was a process I used to use (using blur, noise, dust/stratch, etc.) but it was too time consuming so I skipped it and just cleaned up a few spots.  I learned a better way to smooth out skin by using what’s called frequency separation.  Learned this method through PHLEARN on YouTube.

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I love the creamy-ness of the reworked image.  Let me know what you think.

 

 

Two Books I’m Awaiting to Read

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon was a book I read based on good reviews on Goodreads.com.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into because it was my first sci-fi dystopian fantasy with paranormal, but I ended up loving it.  There’s something about Samantha’s writing that draws me to the characters and everything else.  I’m also really thrilled that this book will be turned into a movie and will be out sometime in 2018 (got this info from Ms. Shannon’s blog).  I learned of the next book, The Mime Order, through an e-mail from Barnes & Noble.  I knew it was in the works but didn’t know when it would be out so you can just imagine my excitement to learn that it’s this year!  I cannot wait to read it!  It will be available October 21st.

TheMimeOrder_350

Another book I’m awaiting is the third book in the Lightbringer series, The Broken Eye, by Brent Weeks.  The first book of the series, The Black Prism, started out a bit slow and I debated whether I should read the second book, The Blinding Knife, but I’m glad I did because now I’m beyond intrigued and have to read the third book.  This book will be out August 26th.

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