31 December, 2010

New Year's Eve

Today is New Year's Eve.


To all of you, I hope you have a happy, safe, wonderful New Year! All the best in 2011!

See you there.


-----The Golden Eagle

29 December, 2010

Some Things People Have Said

Here's a list:


"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."

{President and founder of Digital Equipment Kenneth Olsen, 1977.}

(Good heavens. You mean that I've been following a dying trend . . . ?)

"Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years."

{President of vacuum company Lewyt Alexander Lewyt, 1957.}

(I want a nuclear-powered vacuum cleaner, 'cause that sounds like the ultimate dust-attacker. Apparently, they're quite overdue.)

"With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market."

{Business Week magazine, 1968.}

(And Toyota, Subaru, Suzuki, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi are . . . what, Antarctic?)

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."

{French military strategist, future World War I Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch, 1911.}

(Too bad the rest of the world didn't think so . . .)

"[Man will never reach the moon] regardless of all future scientific advances."

{Inventor of the audion tube and father of radio Dr. Lee De Forest, 1967.}

(What about women?)

"[Television] won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."

{Head of 20th Century-Fox Darryl F. Zanuck, 1946.}

(Billions of people must be bored out of their minds, then.)

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."

{Western Union Internal Memo, 1876.}

(Email, right?)

"The Earth is the center of the universe."

{Ptolemy, 2nd Century.}

(And the USA is the center of the Earth.

Just kidding about that. Really. It's not. It's important, but not the center.)

"Nothing of importance happened today."

{King George III of England, July 4th 1776.}


(Nothing like, you know, the colonies declaring their independence from under good ol' George's rule?)

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

{U.S. Commissioner of Patents, Charles H. Duell, 1899.}

(Then where were all the patents for computers and whatnot? Don't tell me the U.S. Patent Office has been holding out on us since 1899 . . .)

"These Google guys, they want to be billionaires and rock stars and go to conferences and all that. Let us see if they still want to run the business in two to three years."

{CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates, 2003.}

(Rock stars? You can become a rock star by starting up an Internet search provider? I'm there.)


Got anything to add? Any stupid/funny quotes you know of?

-----The Golden Eagle

28 December, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (21)

Teaser Tuesday is a (rather fun) weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

The rules for participating are easy:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week, my teaser is from Reckless by Cornelia Funke. I do enjoy reading her novels, and I've read everything from Igraine The Brave to The Thief Lord to the Ink-Trilogy.


(I have to say, I like this cover. Apparently, all the illustrations inside are done by the author herself, which I find awesome--can you imagine illustrating your own full-length novel? Wow.)

Jacob already knew what he would find under the pointed roof before he started climbing the steep spiral stairs. He had to keep freeing his boots from the thorny tendrils, but finally he was standing in front of a room where, two hundred years earlier, a Fairy had delivered her birthday present.
-p. 103

If you have a teaser, please feel free to share it in the comments!


-----The Golden Eagle

27 December, 2010

Now That Those Days Are Over . . .

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone!

As for me, I had a great time with my mom; it was a nice and quiet holiday.

What was yours like? Do tell in the comments, because I'm curious. :)


-----The Golden Eagle

26 December, 2010

Book Review: Heroes of the Valley (Also, Happy Kwanzaa!)


Title: Heroes of the Valley
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 483
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 3.8 out of 5. Not bad, but not terrific, either; I like the drawing style, and it does depict a scene from the book without being spoiler-y.

Inside flap:
Halli Sveinsson has grown up in the House of Svein, hearing the legends of the heroes as all his forefathers did. Theirs is a peaceful society, where the violence of the past has been outlawed and disputes are settled by the Council.
   But young Halli has never quite seemed to fit in with the others. For starters, he is neither handsome nor tall, like his siblings. He's stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and an aptitude for getting into trouble. Bored with everyday chores and sheepherding, he can't help playing practical jokes on everyone, from Eyjolf, the old servant, to his brother and sister. But when he plays a trick on Ragnar of the House of Hakon, he goes too far, setting in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. Because of it, Halli will have to go on a hero's quest. Along the way, he will encounter highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may be as fearless as he is. in the end he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself.

My expectations: High. I enjoyed reading The Bartimaeus Trilogy, and I loved Jonathan Stroud's writing style.


My expectations were met.

About the book: This is a good Fantasy novel. The characters were strong, the setting was excellent, and it was well-written.


Jonathan Stroud's writing style wasn't as funny as The Bartimaeus Trilogy, due to the story being more serious overall, but it was still good.


  • Plot:

There were unexpected twists and turns in the plot, which I enjoyed (I love a good plot twist). The ending was very surprising as well, which is another plus for the plot--the events throughout were exciting and it didn't lag much at any point.


  • Characters:
Halli Sveinsson was an amusing character, at the beginning, always playing jokes and goofing off. He was great for the story, filled-out and 3-dimensional.

Aud is now one of my favorite female characters. She's strong, determined, and stubborn, and likes having her own way with things. She doesn't let tradition and custom get in her way, which stands out more in a society where people are expected to live by certain rules.

Hord was a good villain. He has the right motives, and the drive to make the villain part of him work for the  story and make it seem realistic.


  • Setting/Elements:
I love the world-building in this book. I could picture the land that Halli lives in well, with its traditions, customs, myths, stories, legends, and all the cultural differences that you'd expect in a real society.

I like the way that stories were incorporated into the book before chapters, the stories from Halli's world that he grew up learning. It gave the book another element, and while I was sometimes frustrated that they broke up scenes where I just wanted to know what happened next, they were interesting.

Other: Violence, such as murder and fighting.

Do I recommend this book? Yes!

-----The Golden Eagle
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25 December, 2010

Merry Christmas, All!

It's finally Christmas!

I hope you and your families all have a wonderful day. :)

And here's a Hallelujah video, just for some music (and a laugh):






-----The Golden Eagle

24 December, 2010

I Fish You A Hairy Chrismoose, A Hippo New Yearling, And All That Goat Stuff

(Translation: I Wish You A Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year, And All That Good Stuff)

*ahem* I just couldn't help but put that title up there.

On a more serious note, I really do hope you have a wonderful, memorable Christmas tomorrow, (if you celebrate--gosh, where has December gone?), a joyous New Year, and a Happy Holidays! :)

-----The Golden Eagle

22 December, 2010

Awards, Deck The Halls, Eclipse, Arctic Dinos, Congress, Christmas

Last week I received three awards, which I never passed on; I don't like not awarding people after I've been award because it makes me feel like I'm taking too much and not giving back to you wonderful bloggers.

So, in the Christmas spirit (and maybe a little of the I-have-trouble-deciding-who-to-award-when-faced-with-such-issues spirit) I'm awarding all of my followers. Feel free to browse through the Awards page and take any award you want. :)

****

I have to direct you to this video that Summer posted yesterday--it is hilarious!

Animals of YouTube Sing Deck The Halls

*****

(If you thought of Taylor Lautner when you saw my title, I'm afraid you're going to have to look elsewhere.)

Did any of you see the eclipse on Tuesday morning? I got up at 2:30 but it was all clouds and absolutely no sky. Darn. First time in 456 years that the total eclipse falls on the winter solstice, too, and it has to be cloudy.

Figures.


*****

Arctic dinosaurs (because who can resist carnivorous, herborivous, possibly-warm-blooded, big, and scaled, bones-that-got-stuck-in-permafrost creatures):



Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.




*****

The lame duck Congress is turning out to be non-lame.

Tax cuts for the middle class. (And the upper-class, but I don't see that as being particularly noteworthy.) Unemployment benefits. The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Food safety. And they say that the START treaty will pass with a "healthy margin"--yes!

(Personally, I don't see why people are so resistant to cutting back on the number of nuclear weapons we have. The USA and Russia could kill millions--billions, if they targeted the right place--of people; why would anyone want to support continuing that level of potential damage?)

*****



House decorated for Christmas. Jeffreys Bay, E...Image via Wikipedia

(Before you ask--no, that's not our cat. But I couldn't resist.)





3 DAYS 'TILL CHRISTMAS.

(Although I doubt it's like you didn't know that by now, what with all the excitement going around . . . LOL.)


-----The Golden Eagle
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21 December, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (20)

This is my 20th Teaser Tuesday post!

Wow. 20 weeks! I remember when it was still something like 7 . . . and a lot of you have been around for the entire duration!

But besides my own little milestone, this weekly meme is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Rules for participating:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

(Some of the other covers are so unappealing . . . I don't know why it's so hard to find a really good SF book cover.)

My teaser is from The Positronic Man by Isaac Asimov. I just finished it yesterday, but since I'm not sure what I will be reading next I decided to post from the book:

"Are you saying you don't want me to put the trousers on?" Andrew asked.
   "I didn't say that."
   "But you think it's a peculiar idea."
   "Well--"
   "You do."
-p.103

(Note: Andrew is the robot, the main character in The Positronic Man.)

If you have a teaser, please feel free to share it in the comments! :)


-----The Golden Eagle

19 December, 2010

Book and Movie Review: Howl's Moving Castle


Title: Howl's Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 329
Rating: 5 out of 5
Cover Rating: 3.2 out of 5. It's not that great--I would have preferred something a little more dynamic than an old woman and a scarecrow, although the castle in the background is good; the green and yellow face (which is supposed to be Calcifer) is strange, since they never said he had teeth in the book . . .

Inside flap:
Sophie lived in the town of Market Chipping, which was in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often did--especially when the Witch of the Waste got her dander up. Which was often.
   As her younger sisters set out to seek their fortunes, Sophie stayed in her father's hat shop. Which proved most unadventurous, until the Witch of the Waste came in to buy a bonnet, but was no pleased. Which is why she turned Sophie into an old lady. Which was spiteful witchery.
   Now Sophie must seek her own fortune. Which means striking a bargain with the lecherous Wizard Howl. Which means entering his ever-moving castle, taming a blue fire demon, and meeting the Witch of the Waste head on. Which was more than Sophie bargained for . . .

My expectations: High. I'd heard a lot of good things about this book (I seriously can't remember where, but oh well) and I enjoyed Castle In the Air, which is a loosely-tied sequel.

My expectations were exceeded.

About the book: First things first: I love this book. There's wonderful humor, (please see this post if you want to know my thoughts on humor), the characters are varied and Sophie was a great protagonist, and I enjoyed the setting. (I might mention that Sophie doesn't actually strike a bargain with Howl, as the blurb states; she makes the bargain with his fire-demon.)

I like Jones's writing style; it's wry throughout, and the dialogue is fun. There are a lot of adverbs (yes, those dreaded adverbs!) and she uses them with skill; despite a lot of the words ending in -ly or -ing, it felt natural. Nothing stuck out as being awkward or unnecessary.


  • Plot:
It isn't full of quests, or love triangles, or desperate lunges to save the world, which was a nice relief from the usual. It moved fast (I read this book in a matter of hours) and there were nice twists and turns along the way.


  • Characters:
I found Sophie to be one of my favorite female protagonists in a while. She's strong, and she has a level head, which is rare these days. Her attitude changes as she goes from the quiet, eldest-child to an older, snarkier old lady, and it was amusing to watch her "mouse" self become something more assertive and confident.

Howl is the wizard, of course; one of the interesting things about his character is that he knows he's a coward, and he's slapdash, and he's always going out on pointless missions to win the affections of the newest girl who's caught his fancy. The fact he was kind of a player irritated me, but at other times Howl was hilarious.

Calcifer was funny, and so was Michael, in his own way; both were good characters.


  • Setting/Elements:
Fire demons, moving castles, running scarecrows, witches turning girls into old ladies . . . what more could you want? AKA this was a fantastic setting. It was detailed, and I could picture the surroundings well.

Other: It's clean. The only thing I might mention is the fact Howl's always going after the girls.

Do I recommend this book? Yes! Absolutely.

*****Movie Review*****



Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've seen. I enjoyed the animation; part of the reason I watched this was because Kiki's Delivery Service is still a movie I like, and was directed by the same person.

One thing that I didn't like, though, is that Sophie is much more love-oriented than in the book. In the book, she's resistant to liking Howl and tries to avoid even thinking about the possibility she loves him; but in the movie, she says she does (to him, for that matter) much earlier, and is less of a strong character. That disappointed me.

In addition to Sophie's change of character, the movie seemed to be riding on the fact that the Magician Suliman, (who is a wizard, and a man, not a woman, in the book), the Witch of the Waste, Sophie, and Calcifer all have claims to Howl's heart. Which means, consequently, that there's a whole love aspect to the movie that is nonexistent in the book.

Another detail they changed is the fact there's a war going on in the movie, (there's no war in the book) and Howl's supposed to take part in it on the side of his country--but he refuses, and instead attacks and destroys many of the airships, and attempts to stop the bombs from falling on the towns/cities. He changes into a large, gray-blue bird while he's up in the air, and somehow his humanity begins to fade away the more often and the longer he changes.

Still, other details and elements were the same, and I loved the movie. There was still a lot of the light humor, and they made Calcifer much more amusing than he was in the book; it deviated, but it was effective for the movie.

Is this worth spending 119 minutes of your life on? Yes! In fact, this movie is online if you want to watch it, it's just the animation isn't in detail; I would recommend seeing the DVD instead (my library has it, which is why I got to see it yesterday . . .).

-----The Golden Eagle

18 December, 2010

Twisted Fairy Tale Blogfest: Skylar Brose

This post is part of Francine's Twisted Fairy Tale Blogfest!


(I went a little over the word count *ahem*)

My name is Skylar Brose.
   Never heard of me, right?
   Allow me to explain.
   During my coronation, a witch appeared. Think dangerous, and beautiful. She loomed over the event and cursed me, for she hadn’t been invited to the coronation, and that made rather furious.
   The curse was that I would prick my finger on a needle on my 26th birthday—the day that I can officially become heir to my father’s throne. Then I would fall into an everlasting sleep until the love of my life kissed me to wake me up.
   Romantic?
   I don’t think so.
   My dad—the King, I might add—was enraged. He ranted and railed, and ordered the Secret Service and the CIA and the FBI to all go after the witch and shoot her dead.
   They found her all right, and she killed all the special ops that were thrown her way.
   Before you ask about the security, let me tell you I live in a modern age. There are spaceships, computers, hyperspace drives, and other technology you can’t even think of.
   I don’t know what I would do if there weren’t computers, and if I had to wear a corset. That’s what those idiot princesses wore, wasn’t it, back in the old days?
   But to the present.
   It’s the day of my 26th birthday, and I’m standing in a foyer near the door to a balcony.
   There are guards all around, specially trained against magic, and if I can just walk outside at the right time—exactly 26 years after I was born—I’ll have avoided the curse and can claim victory over the witch.
   I’m nervous. Today is, after all, the day that I’m supposed to prick myself on a needle and yada yada yada. Please. Let’s not get into the issue that I have positively no say in who Mr. Skylar Brose is going to be.
   “You okay, Skylar?”
   I turn around and face my friend, Karl Novikov. He smiles at my expression.
   “Fine. Dandy. I’m only supposed to collapse dead.”
   “And find your true love—“
   I manage to resist punching him. He’s one of my best soldiers; calm under pressure, decisive, etc., etc. That means I have to tolerate his insubordinate behavior.
   “I don’t plan on that,” I growl.
   “It doesn’t seem like you planned for much of what’s happened to you.”
   Karl seems sympathetic. I shrug.
   “You look smart,” he says next.
   I look down at my clothes. They're the usual black-and-silver that represents the monarchy's family.
   “Um, thanks,” I say, glancing out the balcony. My dad’s giving his classic “Today is a momentous day” speech which people always watch with enraptured expressions.
   Maybe they’re trying to be polite.
   “There are only a few minutes left.”
   “I know.” Karl’s right; there are only—hang on, let me check my watch—2:31 left to go before it’s been exactly 26 years to the minute, and I can finally attempt to break this curse.
   He steps closer. “If you do break the curse, what are you going to do afterwards?” His voice is quiet—soft, even.
   “My dad will probably start searching for suitable husbands.”
   I am not looking forward to meeting all those princes and whatever just so I can be married to one of them. And if any push too hard, I swear I’ll kick their butt. I am a Space Corps Captain, after all.
   “Oh,” Karl says, and he sounds . . . well, disappointed.
   I look at him closely.
   He’s handsome, and the fact strikes me in one second.
   I shift and almost turn away, but for some reason part of my brain is busy taking in every detail, like the way his hair falls across his forehead, the way the light reflects off his—gosh, I never realized how just how green—eyes, and the way his nose is slightly crooked. (I bet he broke it during training.)
   “Skylar,” he says, even more softly.
   Look. I’m a princess. It’s NOT protocol to be kissing people right before it’s announced you’re the heir to the throne.
   But before Karl (or I, actually) can make a move, the speech ends. My dad is walking toward the door that leads to the balcony, so he can gesture me outside. And so I can finally break the curse.
   I really like Karl. Seriously. In fact, I wouldn’t refuse him if he proposed. But you know, there’s a little catch—I’m about to be pricked by a needle. And the rest—well, you have the rest of this story memorized, don’t you?
   I hate to do it, but time is ticking, so I slowly reach up like I’m going to touch him—
   —And I knock him out.
   Karl slumps to the ground and my dad starts to open the door to the balcony.
   I whip a needle—oh, the irony—out of my pocket and jam it into a stun gun. The needle goes flying and hits my dad’s arm. He collapses, and from the outside, there’s a cry of horror.
   The guards in the room move fast, but not toward me. They haul the King’s unconscious self over to a chair and bind him to it firmly.
   I look down at Karl. He’s still handsome, lying like that . . .
   Focus!
   I haul him over to a chair. I don’t bind him, though, I just prop him against the back and arrange him so it looks like he fell asleep.
   A cloud of black smoke appears behind me. I turn around, and look at the witch who cursed me.
   “Well done,” she says, and turns into a teenage girl.
   “Would you remove the curse now?”
   She waves a hand, and suddenly I feel lighter.
   I grin to myself.
   “Let’s take the crown for ourselves, shall we?”
   I reach over to my father, and pluck the crown off of his head. He doesn’t move. I hand the crown over to the witch, who smiles again and puts it onto her head.
   The guards move close around us, and we head for the balcony.
   I’m still the princess and heir to the throne, but now there’s a new monarch in power.

Footnote: In case you think her name is strange, say it next to Briar Rose. ;)

Second Footnote: If you are participating in this blogfest, tell me so I can check out your entry! Ignore the link ban, too, if you want.

-----The Golden Eagle

17 December, 2010

Humor In Writing

**First, don't forget to vote HERE for the best Midwinter Blogfest post! I'm one of the finalists, along with Rachel Morgan and Brenda Drake! Congrats to both of them!**

Few books make me laugh, but when they do, another kind of word-magic comes into play. Humor in books adds a different kind of release into the world and the characters--by seeing what the characters laugh at, it's also another way of getting a perspective on their personality.

There are three main ways a writer can put humor into a story:

1. By using characters that are funny in some way, either by appearance, speech, or action.

2. By not having funny characters, but creating it so the plot/events/etc. are amusing in relation to the story.

3. By using the language, outside of the plot and the characters.

Some examples of this:

1. Characters: Jace from The Mortal Instruments, and Billy from Sammy Keyes. Most of your probably haven't heard of the latter, but both characters are an example of character-based humor. Jace is sarcastic, fakes being ridiculously self-centered, and quick to make snarky remarks--he says some funny things as a consequence. Billy is the school clown, always goofing off and doing dares and acting crazy; a person you just can't help but laugh at.



2. Plot/events/etc.: The Hitchhiker's Trilogy. Douglas Adams does a fabulous job of putting the characters through some crazy, wild, and almost impossible situations; what's even more absurd is the fact that theoretically it could happen. It might not be hard SF, but it's possible enough to be SF and not Fantasy.

42, The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Lif...Image via Wikipedia

3. Language: Eoin Colfer. Colfer is one of my favorite writers. His writing style is sarcastic and there are often sentences outside of dialogue (which would mean characters) that relate to something that someone said or did that are like punchlines--they suddenly pop up, and have a certain dry and sarcastic element to them.

Eoin ColferCover of Eoin Colfer


Of course, not all people like the same kind of humor. What some people find funny others do not, which is why some books people call "funny" aren't as attractive to others. My kind of humor is Eoin Colfer-style; the Artemis Fowl Series cracked me up at least once in all of them. The jokes aren't funny funny, as in completely innocent jokes, since they deal with things like weapons and breaking into banks, taking hostages and talking with the Russian Mafiya. But I find that kind of humor laugh-worthy.

Some kinds of humor can be over-the-top, when the person's working too hard to seem funny. Then it's just overdrive, and can be too much without enough serious prose/dialogue to balance the humor.


Did you ever feel that a book's humor fell flat for you, or that the author went overboard? Do you think that humor is a plus, or that it's necessary for a book? Do you use it in your own writing, if you write, and if so, do you prefer it if it's the characters, events, or the language, when you're writing or reading? Do you read many books that have humor in them?


-----The Golden Eagle
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15 December, 2010

Awards and Miscellany

First, I have three awards to accept:

The Summer Blog Award from Carol Kilgore at Under the Tiki Hut:


It's such a summer-y picture, and a great award to receive--especially because it's cold outside! Thank you, Carol!

The Fearless Follower from Carolyn Abiad at Serendipity:


Thank you so much, Carolyn! (If you aren't following her blog, I highly suggest you do! Her posts are always fascinating.)

The Versatile Blogger Award from Misha at My First Book:


Thanks, Misha! I do love the look of this award, with the flower on the side and the words in the background. :)

I'd pass them on today, and I want to pass them on to you lovely bloggers, but I've got ground to cover and I don't have the time--nor will I have time later to visit the rest of your blogs. The rest of Life, you know.

*****

Speaking of life, we lost power on Monday. I was online, commenting on blogs, and suddenly it tells me I have no Internet connection. The power company got the electricity back on within two hours or so, but apparently it affected over a thousand people in the area.

(Of course, if houses were self-sufficient with solar, wind, and/or hydrogen, this wouldn't have been an issue. Thousands of people would not have lost power, and the power company would not have had to go out and mess with all that wiring.)

*****

Did you hear Richard Holbrooke died? He was the former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It's sad because a) it's sad when anyone dies, and he did a lot of work, in many different things. b) because this probably will affect the USA relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is not the best it could be right now. He helped it along.


*****

Fractal awesomeness:



Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.


*****

I just realized how ridiculous it is that in the 2007 Beowulf movie Beowulf is the dragon's dad. And that Hrothgar is Grendel's dad. All courtesy of the seductive, evil water-demon of course (AKA Angelina Jolie.)

Ha. Har. Hrm.

I usually like what Neil Gaiman does, (he co-wrote the screenplay) but the plot does not follow the book at all, except in the loosest sense. I don't think I'll be watching it--I prefer it when the movies stick to the books! (Unless they do a spectacular job of making a new plot, which does not often happen.)

*****

Excellent writing day on Tuesday. I managed over 5,000 words and I got through a tricky spot. One character isn't quite in the right place, but that can be fixed so that she is in the right place or that she doesn't go there at all.

I hope you all have great writing progress yourselves, and I hope that there isn't too much snow to be shoveled on your sidewalks . . .


-----The Golden Eagle
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14 December, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (19)

Today is Tuesday, so it's time for the weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading!

Rules for participating:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Now, I've actually finished this book--but I wanted to share a teaser from it anyway.



(I don't like the cover. I know a lot of people do, for me it's Nah.)

That's the part I still don't get, after I've knocked on my folks' door to say good night and changed into my pajamas and said my prayers and gone to bed. Because if I'd done like those Italian nuns had asked, if I'd gone off with them, I'd have trained to be a unicorn hunter.

-p. 190. From: "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn"

So, after you've shared a teaser in the comments--if you have one--I just have to know: are you Team Unicorn or Team Zombie?



Me, I'm Team Unicorn. Sorry, Zombie folks. ;)


-----The Golden Eagle

13 December, 2010

Crazy Holiday Blogfest

This post is part of Christine Danek's Crazy Holiday Blogfest!



Here's some information from her blog:

It could take place in Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. It could be a scene from a WiP, a new piece you may have started, something totally random, but it should include a holiday (any one holiday, remember).


This is my (short--I managed to keep it only 264 words) entry:

Someone giggled.
   I frowned and turned to look behind me, but no one was there.
   They giggled again—this time I was fairly certain those giggles were female.
   “Kylie!” I said loudly.
   She squealed and ran out from behind the door. “Taylor!” she cried, jumping up and down. I scooped her up with a roll of the eyes and a sigh—but hey, what was a guy to do when an adorable little monster begged to be picked up?
   “Do you think I’ll get valentines?”
   “Of course,” I said, tweaking her nose. She squealed again. “You’ll be the one who gets them all.”
   “Will you get any?”
   “I’m a guy. Guys don’t do things like that.”
   She pouted.
   I half-smiled. “Let’s go see what Mom’s up to, ‘kay?”
   “’Kay!” she cried, and jiggled in my arms. I wished she wouldn’t do that.
   “Taylor? Kylie?” Mom said from her bedroom.
   “MOMMY!” Kylie shrieked, and I put her down. Mom’s sickness was getting better these days—I smiled as she embraced Kylie and ruffled her curls. Then she gestured to me. I stepped onto the soft rug and went over to her bedside.
   “Breakfast, sweetheart,” Dad said from the doorway. He held a fancy tray in his hands, with cards from all of us next to the food.
   “All this?” Mom looked surprised. Dad nodded and kissed the top of her head. We’d all missed her while she’d been at the hospital—now that she was home, everyone wanted to be around her all the time.
   “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Kylie said happily.

-----The Golden Eagle

12 December, 2010

Book Review: Nomansland


Title: Nomansland
Author: Lesley Hauge
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company LLC
Genre: Dystopian/Speculative Fiction
Page Count: 243
Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover Rating: 4.5 out of 5. I really like this cover--the horse, girl, and bow/arrow all fit the book.

Inside flap:
Sometime in the future, after wars and fires have devastated the earth, a lonely, windswept island is populated solely by women. The women have survived against all odds by working hard in the fields. Their lives are tough.
   Among these women is a group of teenage Trackers--expert equestrians and archers--who are in training to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they've been told, is men.
   When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects--high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, makeup--found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and the rules must be obeyed--at all costs?

My expectations: I'm all for strong women and independence with regards to the female gender--so I was intrigued by the blurb, although I wasn't sure what to make of the "high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, makeup" part of it.


I found this an interesting book, meeting my expectations.

About the book: This book is a view of feminism taken to the extremes--with no men in the society at all, and the women are isolated and worked hard to support the community. They all have their different areas--the main character, Keller, is a Tracker trained to protect the borders of Foundland.


It wasn't really a book about women being strong/independent--it was dark and occasionally disturbing, and some the thoughts presented surprised me. For example, Ms. Windsor ***Minor spoilers here, nothing really serious*** believes that the Bible is all about subduing and presenting women as evil and seducing men--and that women were abused and treated badly when they tried to please men by dressing up/using makeup/etc.


To keep the society going, "Committee" members force the girls and women into artificial insemination. The "Seed" is described as being a painful and gruesome experience. The male children are taken away; it never explains what happens to them.


As for the the writing, it was strong. I liked the narrative, and I could picture the bleak world they lived in well.


  • Plot:

I could predict some things that happened, but that doesn't mean it was weak. The plot was very good overall, and there were some surprises. The ending was satisfying enough, and lived up to the rest of the novel.


  • Characters:
I didn't know what to make of Keller. Sometimes she seemed like a determined person, and other times she was dragged along with the rest of the crowd, not really thinking for herself--I did not like her generally, but she was an interesting character to read about.

Laing wasn't sensible. She was desperate for attention, and popularity, and I much preferred Keller over her--however, she was an interesting representation of a kind of person from modern society.

Ms. Windsor was a scary person, and complex. She wasn't evil, precisely, just blinded by her opinions. And her opinions were extreme, going to the farthest end of feminism and women that you can go. I didn't like her, either, but she was a terrifying person to read about.


There are no characters that I really enjoyed--they all have their sides, some ugly, some dark, some noble, some twisted. But despite that I couldn't really like any of them, each has their own personality, which I appreciated.


  • Setting/Elements:

There are aspects to it that are thought-provoking (I know, overused phrase, but it's true) and it brought some interesting ideas on society and women.

The world was intriguing--I wanted to know more about it. It seemed like a rough environment, and I wonder where it was corresponding to current locations/countries; there were remnants of a "Time Before" that was clearly like the modern era.

Other: The descriptions of the "Seed" were disturbing; there's also violence, some language, cruelty, and references. It's not a very light read.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, if you want an interesting read on another perspective of women, and what it might be like in an all-female society.

-----The Golden Eagle

11 December, 2010

Midwinter Blogfest: Winter Celebrations

This post is part of Marieke's Midwinter Blogfest!



Here's some information from her blog:

What does your MC do for Midwinter? Any special celebrations? Yule, Christmas? Celebrations for a midwinter solstice? A Festival of Light? A Wild Hunt? Perhaps something else completely? Christmas on the beach or winter in June? Maybe your MC has good memories of a winter’s day past when life was easier before the story you as Evil Writer wrote?
You’ve plenty of time to think about it, because the blogfest will take place in, you guessed it, December. Specifically Saturday, the 11th. The blogfest will remain open for three days when everybody has a chance to read the entries and comment. The more you comment, the better the response will be on your own entry!
During that time the judges will select a the top entries and the following week everybody will have a chance to vote on their favorite. The only requirement is that you link back to the blogfest and keep your entry under under 500 words.
So of course there’s also a special prize… A special Midwinter themed How To interview on my blog on December 21st. A chance to tell us about your story, your blog and everything it takes to write a great seasonal scene!

My story--as many of you know--is Science Fiction. I also have a lot of characters, and the ones I focus on the most are either not the celebratory type, or there is no room for celebrating in their world (it can get pretty rough, and many are focused on just surviving). But some of my characters do engage in the Winter Celebrations, and here is a piece on what some of my characters who live in the city might find during this part of the season:


The government might be oppressive. They might confine their citizens to saying only what they want them to say. They might be the strictest regime in the history of the galaxy, but that doesn’t stop the people from having a good time when the cold weather rolls in and the snow begins to fall.
   Each planet hosts their winter celebrations at a different time, since all have their winter weather at different moments in planet orbits and tilts. There are a variety of holidays—religious days, days to honor people, days just for fun. Cultures merge into a mishmash of all kinds of ways of celebrating the season, from elaborate food to elegant rituals.
   All of the planets have one thing in common, though—a white tree.
   Not green, not red, not any other color—it’s always a brilliant snowy white. Sparkling lights and snowflakes dance on the tree in every capital when the winter celebrations come around; usually the tree is tall, over 50 feet high, and there are often events held beneath its branches. In the cities, it almost rivals the skyscrapers and corporate offices in height and grandeur. It glows in the night, all white and gleaming, like a spire of what the time of year means to everyone.
   For the buildings in the cities and the towns, it’s tradition for them to light up in the winter, their storefronts decorated in twinkly tinsel, red and blue lights, and snowflakes. Snowmen to spring up on street corners, and reindeer and other symbols of the season appear on billboards. The houses deck themselves out in lights and figurines, and some of the parks and public places turn into a shining dance of lights and snow.
   One year, one of the regimes even decided to decorate their buildings. It was an uncommonly festive move for them—and when the large ribbons appeared, criss-crossing the windows to make it look like one giant present, the people temporarily forgot their troubles with the regime and laughed.
   Laughter is everyone’s favorite part of the season. Jokes, gift-giving, visiting families, and surprises abound in this time of year, like a massive April Fools’ Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and  Thanksgiving rolled into a span of time of only two months. It’s a time of goodwill and hope—and not just a little craziness—for there are few other holiday times.
   And there’s the music. It ranges from the heavy metal to the classical, but it all follows the same tunes, all over the galaxy—if you enter a subway station during the celebrations, they’ll be playing Snow Is Falling. If you go into a department store, a singer is singing Peace Be With You. If you walk into a park, chances are they’ve got their speakers up and the lyrics to White Is My Dream seem to dance around through the lights.
   It’s a glorious time of the year, when people can put away their troubles and have some fun, even for just a little while. The cheerful mood is infectious. Everyone smiles—at least once.


If you are participating in this blogfest, do leave a comment and tell me! I'd love to visit and read your entry.


-----The Golden Eagle