Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Here we are, at the end of another year. I find it hard to comprehend that 2018 went so fast since I wasn't all that busy this year—but the year's gone!

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I have to admit that I don't have any outside of goals I know I can't forget about (like I usually do about resolutions). I have to get a job in the new year—I know I've been saying that for months, but there haven't been any jobs openings that I fit and when there were jobs I sent my resume in but never got a response back (either I still didn't fit or I was now terribly overqualified since that I graduated college...)

But 2019 holds many opportunities. The day after tomorrow I'm going to walk into a business that has been looking for employees for months with my resume and hand it in to the owner—I've already handed one in to him months ago, but it seems that it was lost because when a friend asked about it he said that he never got one from me. Understandable, because I handed the resume to an employee and not directly to the owner.

The year of 2018 held many opportunities and experiences for me, which I'm extremely grateful for. Among them are:

  • I read 23 books in total, from The Great and Terrible Quest by Margaret Lovett to Falling Kingdoms by Canadian Author Morgan Rhodes to The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and the first three Rangers Apprentice books by John Flanagan: The Ruins of Gorlan, The Burning Bridge, and The Icebound Land. Most of them were extremely long—The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks is 726 pages long, Quietus by Tristan Palmgren has 512 pages, and Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir has 480...
  • I got an awesome internship at my local county building that I wished I could have continued indefinitely.
  • I graduated from college, though it took two-thirds of the year from the graduation ceremony before I was officially deemed "graduated" thanks to how busy my program supervisor (*cough**cough*Ron Nickel*cough**cough*Bill and Frank Graham's photographer*COUGH*) was.
  • I got to explore a lot of my county thanks to my internship.
  • I got to level up one of my characters in Lord of the Rings Online to over Level 100 (so he's in Gondor now—in the city of Dol Amroth).
  • I learned to cross stitch properly.
  • And I got to switch my cat, Pebbles, over to healthier food so now I see her thriving in front of my very eyes, at a hale 7 years of age.
Looking at what I've listed, which feels like only a fraction of what I must have done, it makes me excited about what 2019 might bring. Will I get to further my experiences as a writer by attending a writers conference? Will I join a writer's guild? Will I manage to help my parents build their desired deck off the back of the house? Will we finally get on track with Trim Healthy Mama?

New Year's Eve marks the cliff over the precipice of a new year, in which so much could happen for us or to us. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time. For some we may end up gliding into the new year and barely notice the change outside of the 8 changing to a 9 on the calendar or the fact we're handing a new calendar after using up the last one (I'm going to miss my cat one, but the good news is that I have this year's Murdoch Mysteries one!). For others, it may feel like they're falling into the new year as they desperately wait for the next paycheck or the date when a loved one finally gets to come home (I'm praying for you guys).

Some are writing down or have written down their New Year's resolutions, and some aren't going to achieve what they set out to do. But that's okay. I'm not doing New Year's Resolutions.

Instead of resolutions, I'm going to say that I have a list of goals for 2019, a year in which seemed so far away when I was a kid and thought ahead to when I'm the age I am now.

My list is:

  • I want to publish at least one novel/novella/short story this year. I had told myself this last year but I got... distracted, lol.
  • I want to open an etsy and a craftsy store and sell cross stitch patterns. I have one pattern done already but I'm still working on transcribing it to a professional-looking sheet so it's more understandable.
  • I want to do more with the photography skills I learned in college. I don't have my Adobe subscription anymore, but the other day I got an Affinity Photo program that does the same things as Photoshop so I should be good to go.
What resolutions or goals do you guys have? I would love to hear them!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bookopoly Review

I guess this is coming a little late, but in all honesty, I forgot about the Bookopoly Contest because it got to a point that I realized that I wouldn't be able to finish the contest. I had just ended up reading too many long books, ha ha.

But, man, I read so many good books. I may not have reviewed them all, but they were good. They made me experience so many emotions and they inspired me to write (even though I don't have much to show for that at the moment).

A lot of things have happened in my life over the summer—I finished the practicum I needed to do in order to graduate from college (I'm still chasing after my teacher in order to go over what I did for the practicum because he's so busy—he's a photographer for Franklin Graham so he's always following him overseas—and he can't talk to me when he's busy); I have been job hunting but haven't heard anything back from any of the places I sent my resume to; I've grown addicted to Lord of the Rings Online, which is kinda dangerous; I went to the church camp out at the end of August; and I got into cross stitching again. When I talk about it, it makes my summer seem kinda lazy :P

But that didn't stop me from reading up to ten books! That's a record for me, I think. Tallying up what I read, it seems that I read 2 historical novels (1 being historical romance), 2 science fiction novels (1 being a graphic novel), 5 fantasy novels (1 being a historical fantasy), and 1 collection of one-page comics.

Some of the books I ended up reading this summer were books I never realized I would ever read. Or bring myself to read. But the point of the bookopoly was to go and read books you wouldn't normally read in order to accomplish all the categories of the contest.

Total Books Read for Contest: 10

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter
When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend's missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can't matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn't worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races.

Quietus by Tristan Palmgren
Niccolucio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe racked by plague, is overwhelmed by the suffering. Unable to maintain her observer neutrality, she saves Niccolucio from the brink of death.

Habidah discovers that neither her home's plague nor her assignment on Niccolucio's world are as she's been led to believe. Suddenly, the pair are drawn into a worlds-spanning conspiracy to topple an empire larger than the human imagination can contain.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

A Wrinkle in Time: the Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle, adapted by Hope Larson
Late one night, three otherworldly creatures appear and sweep Meg Murry, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe away on a mission to save Mr. Murry, who has gone missing while doing top-secret work for the government. They travel via tesseract — a wrinkle that transports one across space and time — to the planet Camazotz, where Mr. Murry is being held captive. There they discover a dark force that threatens not only Mr. Murry but the safety of the whole universe.

Mandie and the Medicine Man by Lois Gladys Leppard
A Cherokee superstition seems to have come back to haunt Mandie and her friends. The gold they discovered has been donated to build a new hospital, but something or someone is tearing down the walls as fast as they can be built. The guard posted to watch the site is knocked out, tied up and blindfolded.

Will Mandie be able to find her friend Joe? Will Mandie and Sallie be rescued from their kidnappers? Will Mandie learn her lesson about jumping to conclusions?

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free.

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. But when Laia's brother is arrest for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire's greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school's finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he's being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen
With characteristic wit and charm, Sarah Andersen's third collection of comics and illustrated personal essays offers a survival guide for frantic modern life: from the importance of avoiding morning people, to internet troll defense 101, to the not-so-life-changing futility of tidying up. But when all else fails and the world around you is collapsing, make a hot chocolate, count the days until Halloween, and snuggle up next to your furry beacon of hope.

The experience of devouring book after book this summer was envigorating, and I look forward to doing it again! ^^

Thursday, September 6, 2018

An Ember in the Ashes: a book review

An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir. 2015. Razorbill. Pages: 480. [Source: Bought]

• • •

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire's impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They've seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia's brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire's greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school's finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he's been trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

• • •

Rating: 5/5

I never knew that this book would become one of my absolute favourites, especially when I began to read it and found that it had been written in First Person Present. There aren't many novels written in First Person Present, and I often find it an annoying way to write because it presents the fact that, in logistics, when it's written that way, it kind of suggests that the book is being written as the events happen. And how can the main character be writing this when he's the middle of a battle or while she's being beaten by her master?

But this writing style didn't bother me while I read An Ember in the Ashes. Somehow, it actually helped.

The way Sabaa Tahir wrote her story drew me in and never let go. I couldn't put the book down! I actually felt regret every time I had to because I just had to know what happened next!

The characters were excellent. I felt I got to know Laia and Elias quite well. I grew to like them very much, and it got to the point that I was like "If you touch my son or daughter so help me—!" when it came to when Laia and Elias were punished for something. I'm not usually like that, lol.

I love the cover—I know it's not the original, which is just as stunning—but it was one of the things that drew me to the story to the point I ended up getting it and buying it. I've been aware of it for a few years, thanks to bookstagram and other book communities that I'm a part of, but I never really bothered to check it out until now. It kind of reminds me of something my photography teacher told me when I was in college: "People love faces", meaning people respond to images with faces or face-like shapes in them. It seems to be true because I was ten times more attracted to the copy with Laia and Elias on the cover than the first one with their silhouettes and the stone texture on it.

The range of characters in this book was amazing. The brutality is realistic, and even frightening. I swear I found myself holding my breath half the time, but somehow I managed to breathe or I wouldn't be writing this post, XD And despite the fact that the world of the story was based on the Roman Empire, it didn't jump out of me until after I read the synopsis on Goodreads while I marked the book as read. 

The world itself is rich and doesn't seem like a copy. It always felt like I was there, almost as if I was standing next to, fighting next to, spying next to, the characters as the plot progressed.

I love books like that.

The theme and the story were very well done. I could tell that the overall theme was about freedom and that bravery comes in more than one form. It makes me kinda a little jealous, because I fumble with themes and it's always been a mist-like concept for me and when my English teacher tried to teach me about it and have me find it in a short story he had me read I kept drawing a blank, ha ha. But that doesn't mean that Sabaa made the theme too aparent—I say that I was able to see it clearly now that I think back to it because she wove it into her story masterfully. It makes my heart beat harder because not all authors are able to that!

Unfortunately, despite all the good things I have to gush about An Ember in the Ashes, there are still some downsides to it. There was some swearing, b-words but no f-bombs (thankfully). Rape is mentioned but never happens in the story. It almost happens to Laia a couple of times, but Elias was there to keep it from happening. Laia gets beat up by one of the Masks, but that wasn't the only instance of violence in the story. A lot of people die. Sabaa has a body count to rival Tolkien in this story.

But I would read this story again, definitely. It will stay on my bookshelf forever. I'm definitely getting its sequel, A Torch Against the Night, when I get my next paycheck (I'm trying to save money, lol), and when I'm finished that I'll get the one after that...

I love it when I find a book that I like ^^

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Golem and the Jinni: a book review

The Golem and the Jinni. Helene Wecker. 2013. Harper Perennial. Pages: 486. [Source: Bought]

• • •

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their immigrant neighbours while masking their true selves. Meeting by chance, they become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

• • •

Rating: 4/5

I wish I could have rated this story as a 5 out of 5, but there were just a few things that knocked this story from favourite to merely a story I liked a lot.

I first learned of The Golem and the Jinni when I was looking through Goodreads for novels staring golems so I could find inspiration for a race of stone-like beings for one of my fantasy stories. The word "golem" had been bobbing around in my head for a while, so I looked it up. And when I saw it I thought I have to read this!

I'm so glad I did, because it opened my eyes to a time period in a part of the world I don't think about very often—or hardly at all.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it was delightfully void of any swearing. I didn't have to worry about any unexpected s-words, b-words, or f-bombs. There was some blaspheming, but there's only so much you can expect from a secular author. It's very rare for a book such as this, though, to possess no swearing.

The second thing I want to say is that the authoress was delightfully sensitive in her handling of the three respective religions she included in the book: Judaism, Christianity/Catholicism, and Islam. The main two were Judaism and Catholicism, because the Golem was taken care of by a rabbi and the jinni was found by a Syrian Catholic. Only one character was Muslim—or he was—but in his flashback he was and she handled it well as well. Reading this book didn't make me feel as if she was mocking the faiths she decided to put in the book (which is awesome since I'm a Protestant Christian so I always have an eye for details such as this).

One of the things I didn't like was the mention of sexual intercourse. There were several points where it was mentioned even though the author wasn't overly explicit, only saying enough to let you know what the characters were doing. There were at least four different scenes.

The story was a tiny bit slow, but it was also delightfully engrossing. There were times where I couldn't bring myself to put the book down, and the cliffhangers were put in all the right places. The settings and scenes were all so real that I always felt like I was there, an invisible spectator standing behind the characters, watching everything unfold before me. There were parts to Ahmed's personality that I liked, some that I did not; and Chava had a personality similar to my own that had me connecting to her from the beginning.

I didn't see who was the villain until the last quarter, which didn't bother me even though the book had me following him from the beginning. It left me feeling quite surprised, which I don't experience with stories very often. There were parts that left me feeling sad for certain characters, and I think I even gasped once or twice while reading. I like it when a story latches onto my emotions and doesn't let go.

There looks to be a sequel to the story planned to be published next year. If it follows through I look forward to snatching it up so I can see what happens to Chava and Ahmed.

Until then I'll have to distract myself, lol.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Just a Note:

If you insist that all cops are racist, you are also calling all non-white police officers – the Pakistani, the Indian, the black, the Asian, the Aboriginal/Native American, the Mexican, basically all non-white police officers, racist.

You're biting the hand that feeds you, tbh.

And don't try to defend yourself, and make up the excuse that you "just meant" that "white cops" are the only racist ones.

Because if you just meant WHITE COPS, you would say "ALL WHITE COPS ARE RACIST".

So stop.

Hardly any cops are racist.

Respect those who are basically the only ones who are trying to keep the streets safe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Sword of Shannara: a book review

The Sword of Shannara. Terry Brooks. 1977. Del Rey Books. Pages: 726. [Source: Library]


Long ago, the wars of the ancient Evil ruined the world. In peaceful Shady Vale, half-elfin Shea Ohmsford knows little of such troubles. But the supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy everything in his wake. The sole weapon against this Power of Darkness is the Sword of Shannara, which can be used only by a true heir of Shannara. On Shea, last of the bloodline, rests the hope of all the races.

Thus begins the enthralling Shannara epic, a spellbinding tale of adventure, magic, and myth...


Rating: 3/5

When the librarian at my library suggested this book for the "library staff recommendation" category of the Bookopoly Reading Challenge my library is hosting, I was happy because my Dad had read it once so there was a bit of a legacy going on with how he read it and then I read it...

Maybe I'll make one or all of my kids read it when they're around my age, just so they can learn to appreciate well-written novels. I'm not saying that The Sword of Shannara was well-written, but it is something I've grown to expect from a majority of the novels from the era that in which was published.

So, while I wait for the forecasted thunderstorm to come barreling over my home, I'll discuss the pros and cons, and the things I liked and disliked about the story.

As the title of the novel suggests, The Sword of Shannara is about the Sword of Shannara—to an extent. It's mostly about Shea Ohmsford, and the fact that he's the only one left who can properly use the thing.

At the beginning of the novel, we're introduced to Flick Ohmsford—Shea's adoptive brother. He's walking along, on his way home from helping some of his fellow Man who live on the outside of the Shady Vale, the quiet and quaint Shire-like sanctuary protected by the Duln Forests that surround it on all sides. Suddenly, he comes across a stranger who seems to leap from the shadows of the trees to ask him for directions to a place to stay in nearby after nearly giving poor Flick a heart attack.

This is how Allanon, mysterious historian of the Four Lands, came to stay in the Inn of Curzad Ohmsford, the father of Flick and the man who took in Shea when his mother died. And that is how Allanon found Shea, and ultimately sent Shea and Flick on the adventure of their lives.

Now, this is the kind of story that leaves me feeling a bit disappointed when I finished it. Yes, I made it all the way through this 726-page MONSTROSITY (I say that because of its length, not because it was so bad as it could be considered monstrous), and I couldn't be more happy because now I can finally read something else.

But I didn't hate this book as much as some of my fellow Goodreads users. No, I think I was okay with it, but I feel it could have been stretched out a bit. The Sword of Shannara itself could have been stretched into its own trilogy in my opinion, with more details and more attention to each event as they happened. Then, The Elfstones of Shannara, and The Wishsong of Shannara could have continued on afterwards as consecutive instalments in a series.

There was too much crammed into this one book, in my opinion. Scenes were too generalized and I noticed that several important, probably pivotal conversations were glazed over and only described. Secondary characters were hardly introduced before they were thrown into battle where they were slaughtered (though I was kinda sad that Sheelon was killed by his fellow man because he had survived so long that it seemed he should have been allowed to die of old age and not in battle).

The main characters, too, kinda felt half-baked. Shea appeared and we weren't given much of a background other than he was the last living descendant of Jerl Shannara and he's the only hope for the whole world and his father was an elf and his mother was a human from Shady Vale and that when he was a kid Curzad adopted him. There was no mention of what he liked to do in the day, or much describing of what he did in his day to day life. What was his job? How did he help Curzad and Flick run the Inn? What were his dreams? hopes? passions?

Who Is Shea Ohmsford?

Who Is Flick Ohmsford?

Who Is Menion Leah?

Who Is Balinor Buckhannah?




So many questions and no answers. That is one of the reasons why I'm disappointed about this book. I can only hope that The Elfstones of Shannara is better than The Sword of Shannara. I'm not holding out much hope though, and it will be a while before I pick up the next instalment of the trilogy.

I made the point of making a list of all the things that were similar between The Sword of Shannara and The Lord of the Rings because I wanted to know if the novel really was as bad as a lot of people on Goodreads proclaimed. Everyone's entitled to an opinion, but I like to stray from the pack that tends to follow and agree with those who rant and rave about how bad something is.

  • A wizened old man (Gandalf / Allanon) comes to the main character warning them of coming danger.
  • Two characters (Frodo and Sam / Shea and Flick) flee their home from ghostly bad guys out to get the main character.
  • They encounter an ally in the first town they come across (Strider in Bree / Menion Leah in Leah).
  • Unearthly monsters chase them through the wilderness.
  • They battle a tentacle monster in a swamp (at the door to the Mines of Moria / in the Mist Marsh).
  • There was an epic battle between wizard-figure and servant of the evil overlord over endless pit (Gandalf versus Balrog / Allanon verses Skull Bearer).
  • The evil overlord's land is shrouded with shadow (Moria / Skull Kingdom).
  • An evil advisor has control over the ruler of a strategic kingdom (Grima Wormtongue and King Theoden / Stenmin and Prince Palance Buckhannah).
  • The evil overlord's forces attack the last real defence of the lands of the Free People (Minas Tirith / Tyrsis).
  • The evil overlord is defeated by a magical object.
I also made it a point to jot down any differences that I noticed, because there is enough of a difference that The Sword of Shannara is just able to stand on it's own. Just.

  • While Gandalf returns 17 years after Bilbo's Birthday Party and sends Frodo and Sam off on their adventure, Allanon warns Shea the day after he arrives at the Ohmsford's Inn.
  • The two-character dynamic in The Lord of the Rings is friend with friend fleeing the Shire, while the two-character dynamic in The Sword of Shannara is brother–brother.
  • Frodo and Sam are quickly joined by Merry and Pippin, while Shea and Flick remain alone until they reach Leah.
  • Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are kind of ambushed by Aragorn while they were waiting for Gandalf at the Prancing Pony. Shea and Flick go to the town of Leah and seek out Menion on purpose. Allanon is nowhere to be seen, and the two don't expect to see him there.
  • Only nine Ringwraiths are chasing Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. An undeterminable amount of Skull Bearers are searching for Shea.
    • On that point, the Nazgûl are chasing Frodo because Frodo had the One Ring. They were chasing him for the ring and nothing else. The Skull Bearers were searching, not chasing, having no idea where Shea was, because Shea is the last of Shannara's descendants.
  • The battle in the swamp in LotRO happens near the door to the Mines of Moria, while the battle in the swamp in The Sword of Shannara happens in the middle of literal nowhere. The monster caught Shea, Flick, and Menion while they were on the way to a certain river that would lead them to the dwarves in the forest. They knew of a danger in the swamp, which they knew as the "Mist Wraith", but they had no idea if it was real or what it was.
  • Gandalf fights the Balrog in Khazad-dûm until he wins, then dies of exhaustion before being revived by the Valar as Gandalf the White. Allanon battles the Skull Bearer in the bowels of Paranor, over the deadly flames of the castle furnace. He defeats the Skull Bearer, but is dragged into the furnace and assumed dead by the sole witness of the fight, Flick. Fortunately, he manages to survive by catching himself before falling all the way in.
  • The Northland is a mixture of Mordor, that one shadowed island from The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and that poppy field from The Wizard of Oz.
Of course, there were too many similarities between The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara for my liking, though I wouldn't classify it as a "Retelling" of Tolkien's work. I find it bold, though, that Terry Brooks thought he could write a story so similar to Tolkiens so soon to its publication. The Lord of the Rings was published in the span of two years—1954 to 1955—while The Silmarillion was published in 1977, the same year as The Sword of Shannara. Nevertheless, LotR was still fresh on everyone's minds, and publishing such a story at that time would only be akin to setting yourself on fire as a writer.

I have no idea how Terry Brooks managed to pull it off—to make his book so popular that he was able to go on and expand the world of Shannara with nothing standing in his way.

Shea (portrayed by
Steve Moakler)
Frodo (portrayed by
Elijah Wood)

There are some things that I liked about the book. Shea's personality was nothing like that of Frodo's, and I liked how Brooks managed to make a point of making Shea see how flawed he was, since Shea had never seen himself as flawed or that he harboured any stereotypes (which he did, of the Trolls). Brooks managed to make the main character different from Frodo, as a human/elf hybrid is as far from a hobbit/halfling as you can get.

I managed to find a picture online of a man who kind of looks like how I pictured Shea in my head, so that was a plus. Thankfully, I liked the story enough that I was able to finish it, because if I hadn't liked it enough I wouldn't have finished it and I would have had to go back to the library and ask the librarian for another recommendation. My favourite aspect of the story would have to be, though, is the fact that it takes place thousands of years after a nuclear holocaust which brought the world as we know it (basically "the ancient Evil" in the synopsis) to an end. There are remnants of that world littered about the place—like in the Wolfsktaag Mountains, in a valley, there's the ruins of a city with an ancient guardian made of flesh and metal, obviously something mutated by the radiation from the nukes. And the Gnomes didn't dare to step in there, which obviously meant that in their culture there was a legend about the place which probably warned them not to go there because it might have been irradiated. The world's background in The Sword of Shannara was what fascinated me the most in this book.

The plot twists when they came were welcome and unexpected, placed in just the right places. I don't know when I will ever read The Sword of the Shannara again, but when I have money to burn I will buy a copy so I can have the chance to place it in chronological order like it is suggested on Goodreads. It'll be interesting to read Terry Brooks' books in chronological order because then maybe the story will make more sense.


Read in order to complete a category for Bookopoly Reading Challenge.
Qualifies as the book read for the year 1977 for a Century of Books Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Century of Books Quarterly Review

I have been stupidly, stupidly busy since I wrote the first Quarterly Review. I blame the fact that I poured all the attention I had into finish a leadership course that followed me out of college—thankfully I finished it! As of the 30th of June, I would have been officially been marked by the officials of my school as Graduated! I have to keep an eye out for my diploma, which should be arriving in my mail soon.

On top of that, I worked through my Digital Media Practicum at my county's Administration Building as a Communications Intern. Went and lost my swipe card twice, lol, but managed to find it before I had to say goodbye when I finished the 125 minimum hours that I needed to do in order to officially finish the Practicum.

I have done a lot since the last quarterly, wow.

Anyway, I've only read two books toward the Century of Books Challenge I'm doing since I last wrote about it. I'm hoping that I will have read more by the time I update again, so here's to hoping!

I'm currently reading a book that will fit nicely into the year 1977.


King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian by Marguerite Henry – He was named "Sham" for the sun, this golden-red stallion born in the Sultan of Morocco's stone stables. Upon his heel was a small white spot, the symbol of speed. But on his chest was the symbol of misfortune. Although he was swift as the desert winds, Sham's pedigree would be scorned all his life by cruel masters and owners.

This is the classic story of Sham and his friend, the stable boy Agba. Their adventures take them from the sands of the Sahara to the royal courts of France, and finally to the green pastures and stately homes of England. For Sham was the renowned "Godolphin Arabian" whose blood flows through the veins of almost every superior Thoroughbred. Sham's speed—like his story—has become legendary.


Thunder from the Sea by Joan Hiatt Harlow – It's 1929 and thirteen-year-old Tom Campbell has always wanted a real family with a real house and a dog of his very own. Since he was three years old, the only home he has ever known has been the Mission orphanage.

When he is sent to live and work with fisherman Enoch and his wife, Tom finally sees his dream within reach. And when he rescues a Newfoundland dog in the middle of a terrifying squall, Tom feels as if both he and the dog, which he names Thunder, have found a place to call home at last.

But when Enoch's wife becomes pregnant and it looks like Thunder's owner might be found, Tom's wonderful new world is turned upside down. Will the Murrays still want Tom? And will Tom be forced to give up his beloved Thunder?

Total Books Read for Challenge: 6
Months Left Until End of Challenge: 11

I'm slackin' XP

Happy New Year!

Here we are, at the end of another year. I find it hard to comprehend that 2018 went so fast since I wasn't all that busy this year—bu...