Friday, August 28, 2015

Celebrating a New Blog with a Tag!

Hello lovelies! A couple days ago a charming blog called Curious Wren has begun, where Miss Annie Hawthorne now resides. I've enjoyed reading Annie's Twitter for a while, and now I get to see what bookish and writerly posts she does on her blog. :3 She's got a week of celebration ahead of her for her blog's launch, including a giveaway and a tag! I thought it might be fun to do the tag and let you all know about this lovely young lady's new blog. Even though I only know Annie a little bit on Twitter, she's a fun girl. So go say hi to Annie on her new blog! Don't be shy. :3

And now, the tag. B)

1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?
A: I just finished Peter and the Starcatchers, by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. I would recommend it. It's a charming book about how Peter Pan came to be the character many of us know. :3 And the villain pirate is frighteningly clever and ruthless. B)

2. Describe the perfect reading spot.

A: A quiet room and a really comfy sofa to lie back on, with a pillow and maybe a blanket.

3. Favorite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?
A: Ooh… probably coffee or hot chocolate. I will go for the tears of my readers too, once I've published. >:)

4. Share favorite quotes from four books.
"You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family."
The Mysterious Benedict Society (Trenton Lee Stewart)

"If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained."
The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman)

"In every herd, many stampede, while only a few turn to face the lions. Cowards live for the sake of living, but for heroes, life is a weapon, a thing to be spent, a gift to be given to the weak and the lost and the weary, even to the foolish and the cowardly… When mothers lay down their lives for children, when brothers die for sisters and sisters for brothers, when fathers die for wives and children, when heroes die for strangers on the street, they do not pour out their blood because the one they save deserves such a sacrifice. Nah, lad. Love burns hotter than justice, and its roar is thunder. Beside love, even wrath whispers. Not one of us snatching breath with mortal lungs deserves such a gift, and yet every day such a gift is given… To love is to be selfless. To be selfless is to be fearless. To be fearless is to strip your enemies of their greatest weapon. Even if they break our bodies and drain our blood, we are unvanquished. Our goal was never to live; our goal is to love. It is a goal of all truly noble men and women. Give all that can be given. Give even your life itself."
Ashtown Burials: Empire of Bones (N.D. Wilson)

"Ain't nothing in the world's rulebook that says stuff's got to come easy. And complaining makes things worse."
Dandelion Fire (N.D. Wilson)

5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?
A: For fantasy, probably N.D. Wilson's Ashtown Burials series or 100 Cupboards trilogy. They are awesomeness.

I don't know if I have a most loved dystopia… the one I've enjoyed from what I have read was James Dashner's Maze Runner. I've only read book one, but I enjoyed it.

Contemporary… I don't remember the last contemporary I read. o.O I tried the audiobook of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, but I stopped when I spoiled myself for a big plot event. >_>

Sci-fi… probably J. Grace Pennington's Firmament series. :3 I have enjoyed reading that. Machiavellian was intense. O.O I fangirl over Eagle Crash. He is mein. Mein. <_< >_>

Classic would be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. :3 I greatly enjoyed reading that. Huck is a darling. :3

6. List three authors you've collected the most books from.
A: Martha Finley, Chuck Black, and C.S. Lewis.

7. What are your thoughts in magic in literature?
A: I like magic in literature. I've read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, I've read Eragon and Narnia. Magic fairly saturates those books. But it should be well-developed. It should make sense in the world it's placed in. I like seeing how magic systems work in books. It's always fun to see the different magic methods and things that flow through the world and the stories. So I enjoy magic in books, but for me it needs to be properly-developed and interesting.

8. What types of book covers capture you imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.
A: Ooh, I don't know… maybe covers that look like they have scenes on them, like Dragonborn. Or covers that look intricate and complex, like the Rithmatist. It teased me with what adventure it might hold. O_O Both of these were impulse buys because of the covers.







9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.
Dustfinger, from Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy. Sooo, I have a thing for side characters of the more or less loner variety. Faramir and Aragorn? Yes. Eagle Crash? Mhmm yes please (I can't quite think of anymore at the moment, but usually they're the ones I love). Dustfinger also fits there, made even better in the movie (because I get a nice visual of the character). And in some ways he and my own loner darling, an assassin, are similar. No, he wasn't ripped from his book and family, but he has dealings against his will with the villain, and he has secrets. He also doesn't breathe fire like Dustfinger does. Dustfinger wins there. Dustfinger is just a fun character overall, and how he kind of takes Farid under the barest edges of his wing.

10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?
A: I have a few times, but it's often been my favorites so I get nervous. Other than that, I think I'd be okay in lending them out. Just don't muss up the favorites and no one has to die, yes? ;)

So there you go! Far as I know, the tag is open to all, so do it and let Annie know, or if you don't have a blog, comment here or over at her blog. ^_^ Have you said hi to her on her there? Goooo. I don't think she bites. ;)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark (Ridley Pearson)

 
 
Five kids are chosen to become DHIs, or Disney Hosts Interactive. Their hologrammed selves are used to tour guests around Walt Disney World and provide information. Finn is one of those five, but he soon realizes this DHI business is a lot more complex than he originally thought. He and the other four kids are able to enter the park at night, after closing hours, in their DHI forms. They need to stop the Overtakers from, essentially, taking over the park and the world beyond it.

The plot was interesting, but something about this book left me feeling a little dissatisfied. I'm not really sure what it was, but the story was still an entertaining read. It has some puzzles to be solved, but it's a little confusing at first to understand what the protagonists are expected to do, and Wayne – their and our main source of information about the villains and the plot – seems unhelpful more often than he is helpful. He has information that could be really useful to the kids to saving this park, but he withholds it while insisting over and over that Finn and the others are the only ones who can save the park.

The main protagonist, Finn, is a fun guy. He and the others seem believable, despite moments when things felt unrealistic for them to be doing, and they're nicely characterized and unique from each other. While we see the adventure through Finn's eyes, we jump to other POVs for a short time, but usually don't return to them again. The main villain of this book isn't developed a lot, but she is still a creepy villain, producing cold wherever she goes, has abilities revealed later on, and is a character almost anyone would recognize.

****
(Note: I did not keep up with this section as I should have, so it may be lacking a few minor details. Overall the book was clean, however.)

Violence/gore: Finn is burned with a laser (minor), and Finn lasers down mechanical pirates. The characters are attacked by and receive minor injuries from dolls in an attraction, which might get a little scary. Any other violence isn't described in great detail at all.

Other: Finn lies about sneaking into Disney World without permission. The kids sneak into areas they probably shouldn't be.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Characters Are People Too - a guest post by J. Grace Pennington

I am excited to welcome Miss Pennington here to Inkspots with a guest post! Her newest book, Implant, is available now at Amazon and Createspace. Some may remember the cover reveal for Implant, so you all know how snazzy and sleek this book looks, so the inside should be just as, right? Grace has been visiting other blogs on her blog tour to celebrate and announce this new book, and you can find links to those on her blog. Today I get to have her here, and so do you lovely people. You can also find Grace on Facebook and Twitter.

***

Characters are my favorite part of stories. When I love a book or a show, it’s usually because of the characters. They become my friends. The more real they are to me, the more they become a part of my heart and the more they influence the kind of person I am.

It’s no surprise, then, that I am a character-driven writer. And my new book Implant is no exception. The very first idea I had for the story was the concept of two men who had a mutual respect even though they hated everything about each other. My favorite things to write are deep and complex relationships--bonds between people who know each other inside and out, and all the ups and downs and hurts and helps that come with things like that. The intimate knowledge of another human being is an adventure with more twists and turns than the wildest roller coaster.

But such relationships don’t spring up overnight or out of nowhere. If you’re going to dabble in relationships, you have to dive headfirst into motivation. Why do these people know each other so well? And why do they react that way? And you have to delve into history. How long have they known each other? How did it start?

There’s always a simple answer to the motivation question, because the core of every motivation can be boiled down to need. The person needs something. They need help, expertise, validation, sex, company, a certain feeling. At best, perhaps they only need to know they’re helping someone else. But they need something from the relationship. So I looked at this relationship and asked “What do these two need from each other?” It turned out, for all the complexities of the relationship itself, the need was simple: help. They both needed help. One of a practical nature, one of a more emotional.

The historical question, on the other hand, has no one answer. It’s always different. Soldiers who have served together in the trenches for a few weeks can know each other better than siblings who have known each other for their whole lives. People who survived a traumatic event together for a few hours may know each other even better. External events, individual personalities, circumstances, and much more goes into this particular equation. Again, in the case of the relationship in Implant, there had been a chance meeting connected with the influence of the Implants, and the two men had known each other for over twenty years. Though they hadn’t worked together or known each other very well at all for most of that time.

Most of these kinds of questions will never be answered outright in the story itself. But it’s always good to explore them for my own sake, to help the characters pop off the page and become real people. People that the reader can walk with, listen to, and get to know.

Once that happens then maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a part of the reader’s heart, just as they have for my own.


About the lovely Miss Pennington:
J. Grace Pennington has been reading stories as long as she can remember, and writing them almost as long. She is also a prolific medical transcriptionist, amateur musician, chocolate eater, daughter, sister, friend, and laundry folder. She lives in Texas, and if she was part of the Implant society, her role in the rebellion would probably be monitoring current events and correspondence in the computer center.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone (Tony Abbot)

 
 
When Wade's "Uncle Henry" (his father's old college professor) dies suddenly, seemingly right after sending his father a mysterious coded message, Wade, his step-brother Darrell, cousin Lily, and friend Becca are swept up in a race against an ancient Order to figure out what exactly Copernicus – the Copernicus – was up to many long years ago. They follow clue after clue, but a mysterious young woman is hot on their heels…

This first book of Tony Abbott's Copernicus series (one of six, I believe) is filled with mystery and riddles and puzzles. Stars and constellations play a large part in the book, and naturally in the puzzles too. The action keeps you on your toes, urging the main cast of characters to keep going when the villains seem to be right behind.

Some parts of the story didn't seem very realistic, but the characters did. Wade, Becca, Lily, and Darrell all seemed to have their own personalities that could have been easily stereotyped, but Mr. Abbott makes them all unique. Lily seems at first to be the kind of girl who focused solely on her tablet, but she's smart and willingly uses her technology to help solve riddles. Dr. Kaplan, Wade's father, is with the kids for much of the trip, not leaving them by themselves except when he has to, so there is some form of adult supervision, making it a little more realistic.

There were a couple aspects that seemed almost unusual for a story, things not often seen in characters, which make them interesting. Wade and Darrell, step-brothers, get along quite well. There seems to be little strain on any relationship between step-(insert relation here), too. The villain has an unusual characteristic of heterochromia, two different eye colors. These unique twists on personality and appearance made me hooked within the first two chapters.

The antagonist, Galina Krause, is an interesting villain. She is intent on her purposes, and is quite willing to commit murder to achieve her ends, or to keep people silent. Her assistant desires to please her, but she is often hard to truly please, caring little for her employees and only for the objective at hand. Wade, as more or less the main protagonist of the four, is a star-smart boy, and he is affected, I felt, appropriately when bad things happened. He feels overwhelmed and discouraged. But when things start looking up again, I liked seeing the relief in him. Everything would be just fine now.

****

Violence/gore: A character is strangled to death, another is struck on the head, which bleeds, and a third is hit by a crossbow bolt. There are sounds of fighting, and a few fighting scenes, but it's very mild.

Profanity: Lily says "oh my gosh," and Dr. Kaplan starts to take God's name in vain.

Sexual content: Wade and Becca have to get up cheek to cheek to blow into an instrument to play notes.