Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

When Milo finds an odd, “build it yourself” tollbooth in his home, he’s not entirely prepared for the adventure it takes him on (although he handles himself exceptionally well!), or the people he meets. Nor is he entirely prepared for the princess-saving quest he volunteers for.

The Phantom Tollbooth is the whimsy and nonsensical charm and color of Alice in Wonderland, but it has a plot and a direction. A lot of the time the adventures Milo has, or the people he meets, makes a total of zero sense. Sometimes you sit back and just go, “what did I just read?”

But it works. The color and charm of the story makes the nonsense make sense (now who’s not making sense??). Milo explores the world and begins to see that something is amiss, and he goes off on a quest to fix it, while seeing unique lands and people all over in the meanwhile.

All of the characters are different from each other, and they all have their own quirks and charms that may or may not make sense, but Milo (and readers) just kind of learn to go with it. It’s quite adorable to meet so many different characters. No two are really alike, so you get something new each time.

But my favorite part of the book was the play on words that filled the pages. Nearly everywhere the author played tricks with words and what they meant, and every time it was funny and made me grin. It’s exceptionally clever, and provides another layer of whimsy to the world Milo explores.


There was nothing major to note, really, that could be considered questionable. There may have been very minor instances of violence, but I don’t recall anything that would make readers uneasy. Demons do play a part in this book, as the villains, however (but even they aren’t written to be too twisted/evil).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Tethered to the Darkness

The TV show Once Upon a Time has recently(ish) begun its newest season. It’s been a bit chaotic, but I think things are settling into a specific focus in its plot.

But after one episode (there’ll be a few spoilers here) where Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) traps Belle on Hook’s ship, where Dr. Jekyll tries to kill her, I had a thought. It came after seeing Rumplestiltskin threaten Belle (if that wasn’t threatening, it came pretty dang close). I began to wonder why Regina has been able to cast off her darkness, or suppress it (never minding her pure evil double for the moment) while Rumplestiltskin continually fails to.

I realized it might be because he is tethered to the magic, whereas Regina is not. But that’s not meant to excuse Rumplestiltskin’s behavior. Regina is different. She has something she values more than power: Henry. She would rather lose power than lose him. That’s how she can fight her dark tendencies. It’s not easy, and sometimes it springs up, but she’s changing, if slowly.

Rumplestiltskin is another story. He is the Dark One, essentially possessed by dark magic. It clings to his heart and it’s not letting go, and that is where he stumbles. He loves Belle, and he wants her desperately. But the magic and its alluring promises of power pull him away from what he wants to value. It’s a tether, and while it might give him slack for a while, he’ll be drawn back sooner or later. He might try to use it to get Belle back, but it always backfires. As the Dark One, the power is too tempting. He’s made himself a host for it, and it desires him as much as he desires Belle. It’s greedy, and that leeches into Rumplestiltskin’s personality. He lusts for power, and it overpowers his need for love.

In contrast, Regina isn’t necessarily tethered. It’s hard for her to give it up. It’s hard to give up that power and control after years of having it. She probably feels vulnerable without it. But when she lets go, it leaves room for love, for redemption.

It’s going to be a lot harder for Rumplestiltskin, but that’s what his character needs to do. Let go and walk away. He has the tether. It’s a chain that drags him back again and again. But I think that gives him a huge amount of potential for an amazing redemption arc. I’m hoping the show will have a plot for this. Perhaps Belle leading the charge to rid Rumplestiltskin of the Dark One. But this time nobody gets it instead. He might resist at first, but it would be an interesting plotline.

It was an interesting contrast I saw in these two characters. One learns to let go, while the other still struggles to walk away. Both are powerful character arcs, really. One shows redemption, the other the fall into deeper darkness. Both can make excellent villains, and both have the capacity to be the hero.

It just depends on how long they use either role.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Beautful Book Linkup: The Lost Crown Updates!

Hallo, I am still alive! NaNo has been demanding writing time, but I’m currently ahead of schedule by about a week, so I thought I would give some time to the blog. ;)

Today is another linkup by Cait and Sky. Like last month’s, this one focuses on your NaNo projects (or, if you’re not doing NaNo, than just your current project :D). This is likely also to make sure people are still alive. Which is good. Don’t die, people!

So I’ll be giving you a rundown of how my NaNo WIP is going. :3 And lemme tell you now, I’m loving it. X3

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
My mental state is going strong! XD A little worried I'll finish the book before hitting 50k, but I have safeguards in place. B) I'll probably write beyond the official ending, because there will be adorable friendship feels that make me happy. :3

My novel is going beautifully. :3 I'm ahead of schedule, so it's really nice to have that wiggle room if I need it. I just hit 20k this week! ^_^

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
From the prologue: Farin shoved open the doors to the throne room.

From chapter 1: Tiryz’s knee jiggled anxiously.

My precious boys are having some difficulties. XD

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
Ooh… I'd have to say my MC/sidekick, Tiryz. He is a precious, precious boy. X3 He tries to be helpful, and he's learning not to be embarrassed by his own hobbies, even when others think he ought to be following in his father's footsteps.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?
So far, it's the brotherly bond Tiryz and Farin are developing. They started out formal, as royal and peasant should, but they're slowly becoming informal friends, and it's really cool to see them learn about each other and learn to rely on each other during the games.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
Not that I remember, no. XD

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
Usually, the middle-ish I think. I'm looking forward to the climax, though. :3 It's gonna have feels and it will likely kill me. Send help.

The why is usually just because that’s where things really pick up. My favorites scenes are usually the middle ones, so I look forward to getting there. ^_^

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
Mercy, that’s a lot of questions. Habits… I try to get up early in the morning to write. I find I can get some good writing in right away, so I don’t have to worry about fitting it in somewhere else in the day (which currently is never actually a problem on most days, but still!).

Snacks really just depend on what I’m in the mood for. I currently have my Halloween candy stash still going (though I’m trying to make it last until Christmas), so those are probably my go-tos. It really just depends.

I do listen to music. I listen to music a lot. The kind of music really depends, again, on what I’m in the mood for. Usually it’s one particular song I want, and it changes depending on what else I want. If none of the usuals are working, I’ll go for instrumentals that I’ve compiled into mood music for writing.

Time of day is, again, the morning. It’s when I write best, I think. Also the afternoons. I can power out a lot of words in the afternoon, because I have no job or school to attend to.

Also my writing space is currently a bit messy. XD But it is a nice writing space. :3 Wide desk space. :3 Which is actually really nice. XD

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
Mmm, it’s a bit of a toss-up, really. I don’t talk much about my novels, but usually just because I don’t know anyone who I could squeal at without worrying if they’re interested or if they want to move on. I can work by myself or with others (I went to my very first write-in at the start of NaNo! B) ). But at the same time, I do love talking about my novels. Only no one knows about them, so it’s hard to. XD

But I have found a really lovely writing community on Twitter. They’re really amazing people, and it’s been fun coming in among them and just chatting about writing. :3 It’s been very nice.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
Mmm… I think just the fact that I want to see this story written. That it’s important to me, and so I want to see it through. I’m also learning that yes, it’s hard now, but later the garbage that I spew on paper will be refined into brilliance later. Writing takes a ton of work. But the end result is worth the hard labor.

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
Oh, boy. Here goes:

1. Don’t worry too much if something in your novel doesn’t make sense. Write yourself a note for later, and move on. You can fix it in the revision drafts.

2. Know your characters well. It’s okay if you don’t know some things about them, but you should know many things, especially if they’re the hero. It’s even okay to know things that others won’t know. Like if they have a secret passion for pickles.

3. Be open to change. I know this is probably not quite applicable for first drafts, but later on, be open to big changes in your novel. If something just isn’t working any which way, maybe it needs to change. Be willing to explore options. A lot of my other fantasy novel had to change to get better. Something will come up. Just poke around the corners a bit. ;)

How are your projects going (NaNo or otherwise)? :D What is your favorite part of your projects so far?