Book Reviews

A Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

I’ve read a few of Melanie’s books and have enjoyed them. The following is a review of A Noble Servant, which is a retelling of the Brother’s Grimm fairy tale, The Goose Girl.

 

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From the back of the book:

The impossible was happening. She, Magdalen of Mallin, was to marry the Duke of Wolfberg. Magdalen had dreamed about receiving a proposal ever since she met the duke two years ago. Such a marriage was the only way she could save her people from starvation. But why would a handsome, wealthy duke want to marry her, a poor baron’s daughter? It seemed too good to be true.

On the journey to Wolfberg Castle, Magdalen’s servant forces her to trade places and become her servant, threatening not only Magdalen’s life, but the lives of those she holds dear. Stripped of her identity and title in Wolfberg, where no one knows her, Magdalen is sentenced to tend geese while she watches her former handmaiden gain all Magdalen had ever dreamed of.

When a handsome shepherd befriends her, Magdalen begins to suspect he carries secrets of his own. Together, Magdalen and the shepherd uncover a sinister plot against Wolfberg and the duke. But with no resources, will they be able to find the answers, the hiding places, and the forces they need in time to save both Mallin and Wolfberg?

 

~ Review ~

Characters ~ The characters felt flat and lacked depth or realness to me. Magdalen came across to me as a bit whiny and “woe is me.”

Plot ~ The plot felt slow and dull — it dragged in places where action was needed.

Writing/Dialogue ~ The conversations did not feel realistic and a lot of it was repeated several times. Private thoughts of the characters were also repeated. I would skim some sections because I was tired of reading what I already knew.

Bad Language: ~ None

Inappropriate Content: ~ None

Overall rating: 2/5 

Fairy Tale, Movie Reviews

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

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Beauty and the Beast.

My favorite fairy tale.

A story that has been near and dear to my heart since I was a young girl. The dance, the Beast saving her from the wolves, letting her go in the end. A movie that always spoke to my heart showing what true love is, that it looks beyond the scars and flaws to the person underneath. A movie that made little five- year-old me cry because it was beautiful, it was heart-rending, and my little self just couldn’t comprehend.

 

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I saw the new live-action remake Saturday with my mom and it was beautiful. It was enchanting. It was gorgeous. The singing, the acting, everything was perfect. Emma Watson was superb as Belle and Dan Stevens was prefect for the Beast.  

I have fallen in love with the remake (I am cautious with remakes, because they are not always as good as the original) , and thought I would give y’all my honest take on it.

~ At the wedding dance, LeFou dances for all of two seconds with a man. He doesn’t seek the guy out, it was one of those spontaneous things that happens at dances.

~ LeFou sings in the tavern about how “nobody bites in a wrestling match like Gaston.” This lyric is in the animated version, and men are bitten in wrestling matches in real life. I have brothers. Professional wrestlers have done it. It happens.

~ When Gaston talks about his intention to marry Belle and LeFou asks, “What about us?” he is talking about their friendship.

~ Gaston is talking to himself in a mirror and says, “I’m not done with you yet,” and LeFou says “me neither.” Though it isn’t clear what he is talking about.

~ LeFou does hug Gaston is the tavern, but Gaston is not pleased.

~ There is a guy at the end who gets dressed like a lady and he is happy about it. I didn’t care for this part, but it lasts for only a few seconds.

My rating: 4.5 stars.

 

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In closing, Belle didn’t fall in love with a creature, she fell in love with the person underneath. Because looks aren’t everything. And that is the beautiful story that lies underneath.

Beauty and the Beast is a Tale as old as Time. But more so is what it represents. “That a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” –G.K. Chesterton

 

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Uncategorized

News & An Update

Hey guys. How’s everyone in the writing world? I’ve come out my Hobbit-hole of studying Psychology (a subject I would dearly love to throw into Mount Doom) to give some exciting news.

About two months ago, I filled out an application to be a board member for Illuminate YA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). I have found out that I was accepted! I am so excited. 🙂 I’ll read and evaluate YA books that are in the process of publication, vote on potential book covers, and contribute marketing ideas, among other things.

My position will only be for a year, but I’m so excited for the opportunity and experience this will bring. A double bonus is that Tessa Emily Hall is involved in this, and I admire her and her writing a lot. You can read my review on her book Unwritten Melody here.

Tomorrow I’ll be going to see the Beauty and the Beast movie with my mom, so I’ll definitive give you a review on it.

I went shopping Tuesday, and bought….

More

Books

Even

Though

I

Really

Don’t

Have

Anymore

Room.

 

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My Little Mermaid retelling is at 44,057 words. I’m making plans to start cooking with Caribbean style food to get a taste of the culture. Marissa Meyer inspired me to do this, as it is what she did while writing Scarlet.

I’m also working on a short story to submit to Splickety which I’ve sent into the hands of friends. *cringes* Such a hard thing to do, but it’s also a good feeling, because I trust and love my friends and want to hear their opinion. I know I put my baby into good hands. 😊

I’m also getting my writing polished for the OYAN Summer Workshop, and for my appointment with Steve Laube *cringes again.* So I’m one busy girl whose head is near to bursting with many things to do.

Currently Reading (in my few spare minutes): Winter and Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets. I’m re-reading the first two Harry Potter books just to see Jim Kay’s illustrations (which by the way, are gorgeous). Who else likes to read books just to take in the pictures?

So what’s up in your neck of the woods? I love to hear from my readers!

Book Reviews

Book Review ~ Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Somehow, I never reviewed Cinder. No idea how THAT happened. So without further to-do, here is the review of the second book in The Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet. I really don’t know how it took me so long to actually read these books. I saw Cinder on Amazon often enough, but the cover sort of scared me out of reading it. Never judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes. It was Nadine speaking about it at the OYAN Winter Workshop that finally caused me to decide to bite the bullet and purchase a copy. Hats off to you Nadine. Thank you. 😊

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From the back of the book:

Cinder is back and trying to break out of prison―even though she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive if she does―in this second installment from Marissa Meyer.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother, or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana.

Quick Summary: The Lunar chronicles is Sci-fi, but earthy. Everything (so far) takes place on the Earth or Moon. And unlike Star Wars there are no galactic empires/weird planet names/alien planets to remember. Everything is down to earth (no pun intended!) and real. Marissa puts interesting twists on the fairy tales that are so familiar to us, but we can still see the original among her world—which is pretty cool.

Characters 5/5 ~ We see quite a few new characters, including Throne, Scarlet and Wolf. I loved how the new characters became interacted with the old (this is always super cool) While I liked getting to know and follow Scarlet, Cinder is by far my favorite. Even the most minor of characters feels like they belong, and are not flat. And even with their little page time, you feel like you know them, that’s how well they are written.

Plot 5/5 ~ Amazing plot structure, though it did feel a little slow towards the middle of the book, then picked up about the last hundred pages.  Marissa did a good job of tying things together with what we learned in Cinder. The amount of world building that went into this series is amazing. I can’t imagine how much thought and care went into it.

Writing/Dialogue ~ Oh, goodness. There is no good way to express Marissa Meyer’s writing. It’s so good. You will have to read it yourself. Don’t let the cover scare you. As for dialogue, Carswell Thorne’s humor and Cinder’s sarcasm add some much-needed comic relief to a tense time.

Bad Language: ~ None

Inappropriate Content: ~ There are some descriptive scenes involving wolves that might be uncomfortable for some people to read.

Overall rating: 5/5 

 

Have any of y’all read Scarlet? What did you think?

 

Writing

When You Feel Discouraged.

Several years ago, when I had braces, I would see my orthodontist four or five times a year. Dr. T knew that I liked to write, and he would always ask me how it was going. He would always excitedly tell his nurses that I would be the next J.R.R. Tolkien.

Hold it.

Hold it.

Rein those horses back in.

That’s a little much.

Don’t get me wrong, part of me liked his praise, but the other part cowered in fear, because I didn’t think I could ever be that good.

So the beast that is discouragement took hold, and anything I wrote seemed awful to my eyes.

If Dr. T thought I would be the next J.R.R. Tolkien, he was sadly mistaken.

I think all of us as writers have discouragement at one time or another. It can be hard when family asks, “so how’s the writing coming along?”

Um. It isn’t coming at all.

We’ve all been there, when writing doesn’t seem worth it. When we want to throw everything away and never pick up a pen again. Because how can anything we have to say be worth hearing, with all the voices clamoring for attention?

One thing I’ve tried to tell myself (I don’t always, I am human) when that question of doom is asked is this:

It’s okay.

Yes, you read that right. It’s okay.

Tell your family where you are in your writing (if you aren’t an introvert like me and dread telling your family how you’re killing off your characters because it’s better than having to deal with them).

God has a plan for my writing (and yours!) that is greater than what Dr. T can imagine.

When his words from so long ago ring in my ears, I take it as a challenge. I can do great things; Dr. T. thinks I can, too. And you know what? I can do those great things with Christ, who lives in me.

Here are some verses that help me when I feel discouraged. I hope you can find encouragement from them too.

 

1 Peter 5:7 ESV Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Proverbs 13:12 ESV Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.

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So how about you? What do you do when you feel discouraged? I would love to hear from you.

 

OYAN, ~ Wordcount Wednesday ~

Wordcount Wednesday

Hey friends. What’s up in your neck of the woods? My blog now has a Facebook page, which you can find here if you are interested.

I started taking Mr. Schwabauer’s curriculum, Other Worlds, Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been sitting in my desk drawer for a year, and it’s high time I started it. I am also really excited for his new curriculum, Byline, that’s releasing in July.

Retelling The Little Mermaid – This is at 39,721 words. Last night, I had left some of my work unsaved, and then my computer did a restart update. Needless to say, I was very panicked when I came back in my room and noticed this.

 

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I was thankful that after an hour I was able to save most of my work from the auto recovery.  Always save your work, always. Never leave your computer unattended even for thirty minutes. Save it. Always.

 

Sources:  1 2

Movie Reviews

In Which I Talk Brave

Ever heard about a movie that you really wanted to see, but never got the chance? Well, that was me with Tangled, Frozen, and Brave up until last year. I’ve managed to watch Frozen and Tangled (Tangled is better than Frozen by the way 🙂 ) so Brave was next on my list to see.

I had the opportunity Wednesday when I stayed home from church sick.  I rented the movie from Amazon.

I want to talk about it, but I’m horrible at movie reviews. But I still want to talk about it.

So what’s Brave?

 

 

BRAVE

Merida has been trained by her mother her whole life to be a princess–something that Merida dosen’t like. She’d rather be out on her horse riding through the bonny glen, firing her bow and arrows.

Something her mother doesn’t like. Because Merida is a princess, and it’s high time she started acting like one.

Merida thinks her mother doesn’t understand her, and maybe even doesn’t like her.

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And then one day, the last straw falls.

Merida’s mother, Elinor, is going to marry Merida off to one of the kingdom’s lords. Whoever wins the archery contest, also wins Merida’s hand. 

Merida is having none of it.

She offends the other lords by sneeking onto the green, and competing in the games herself. When her mother confronts her in anger, throwing her bow into the fireplace, Merida slashes threw a tapestry depicting her family, yelling, “”You’re a beast! I’d rather die than be like you!”

She leaves in the castle in tears, and stumbles across will o’ the wisps, who lead her to a witch. In exchange for a spell, Merida gives the witch her necklace. “Change my mom,” Merida says. “That will change my fate.”

And when movie characters decide to take their fate in their own hands, things usually go wrong. And they do go wrong. The spell doesn’t do exactly what Merida was hoping for, she regrets what she did, and during the course of the movie, she tries to undo what she did.  With the usually danger, giggles, and tear-filled scenes that make a movie.

Negative elements: At one point in the movie, some men have to take off their pants, and we see their backsides. Another was the witch that Merida asks for a potion to help change her fate. There is no chanting, just the witch throwing everything together in a cauldron.  One of the female servants has some cleavage.

Merida has three younger brothers who run about unchecked and are not punished in anyway for misbehavior. At one point, one of her brothers takes a key from said lady’s cleavage. It is not shown, but it is implied.

Merida seems to be growing up in pre-Christian Scotland, where druidic influence is strong. A Stonehenge like circle is a present in the movie, though no incantations go on in the circle.

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Positive elements: Scottish accents, Scottish accents, and more Scottish accents.The animation is beautiful, and Scotland looks as real as it can be. Both Elinor and Merida change through the course of the movie. The movie shows that when you take away the hurt and differences, the mother-daughter relationship is a magic all it’s own. And it’s a beautiful story.

 

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Rating:  4/5

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And yes, I cried.

 

Sources:  1 2 3 4