Thursday, September 21, 2017

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Childhood is a wonderful, imaginative, all-too-brief time of life.

"Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep through rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, which meant that I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive."


Sometimes, a child can be thrust into very adult worlds. These worlds are often foreign and scary, and this novel explores exactly that: the frightening nature of certain experiences a child has.

When our unnamed male protagonist has to give up his room to a strange opal miner, the miner steals their car and commits suicide. The boy finds a coin in the car and pockets it. And it is there that the trouble begins....

The way this book was going confused me, at first. But we see, as the boy gets familiar with his nearby neighbors and becomes close to their young girl, Lettie, what exactly is at stake. Lettie, as a character was wonderful, and so sweet to the young boy. What I ended up loving was that we don't get the answers to everything about Lettie and her family.

(view spoiler)

Usually, the leaving questions open in a story tactic annoys me. It did, at first, with this book, too. But, as I started to realize how the world of the story worked, I found that I liked Gaiman keeping the questions unanswered.

"How can you be happy in this world? You have a hole in your heart. You have a gateway inside you to lands beyond the world you know. They will call you, as you grow. There can never be a time when you forget them, when you are not, in your heart, questing after something you cannot have, something you cannot even properly imagine, the lack of which will spoil your sleep and your day and your life, until you close your eyes for the final time, until your loved ones give you poison and sell you to anatomy, and even then you will die with a hole inside you, and you will wail and curse at a life ill-lived."


Just little bits of the story held so much more meaning than I expected. I like how Gaiman pondered on these questions with the story in an attempt to answer them, even if the answer couldn't always be found right away, or not at all.

“Small children believe themselves to be gods, or some of them do, and they can only be satisfied when the rest of the world goes along with their way of seeing things.”


I like how, as a child, the main protagonist learns that you cannot necessarily know everything. Not everything in this world can be known. But what knowledge there can be, can be cherished like a new book or toy, for knowledge is a powerful strength, even if sometimes it may seem like a weakness.

All in all, a fantastic story. Highly recommended!



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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So quick story before I dive into this review.

I was going into ninth grade, about five years ago now, and this was on my Summer Reading List. I picked it up, but the story wasn't grabbing me right away (I was very impatient back then, what can I say!) so I ended up putting it down and selecting another book.
Needless to say, school has once again demanded I read this book, and I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at having been so captivated by it. I mean, it didn't take me long to read it, and the burning questions I had kept me hooked. This is a wonderfully magical tale of murder, revenge, and what it means to live and die, and I really loved the atmosphere of the book, how it still managed to be lighthearted while delivering an important message regarding life, what a family can be, and the importance of having people who care about you.
I particularly loved the main antagonist of this novel. The man Jack really stunned me. I'll explain why. When I was a kid (around 13-14, maybe a little older) I used to write manuscripts and for a trilogy I was writing I dreamed up a man very similar to Jack. I was struck by how similar their goals were, why they were after what they were after, and what each character ended up being in the end. My character didn't kill the boy's entire family, but I digress.
Despite the similarities between the two, however, I have absolutely no doubt that Gaiman did it 1,000% better than I did. I was blown away by the atmosphere of it all, how it all really seemed so frightening!
The interlude that was added was a nice touch. As much as I loved seeing Bod explore the world of the graveyard and eventually the world around him, I like how Gaiman put Jack in there as if to say, "I haven't forgotten about him - he'll be back."
I remember reading about Scarlett interacting with the man in the graveyard, and the way it was handled, the way you could sense that something was wrong. My heart was in my mouth throughout the entire scene, and it was easily the most powerful part of the book (and probably my favorite part, to be honest).
As far as other characters, I think my favorite would have to be Silas. He was just so kind and caring to Bod, even though they both had their character flaws. I did enjoy how both Bod and Silas actually talked things out after an accident they went through. It showed that they were both willing to learn from their mistakes and grow from the experience.

I know I've been singing the book praises so far, but I do need to point out the few (very few!) shortcomings I saw.
First of all, and this nagged at me the entire book, what is Bod's real first name? It was nice to learn his last name and a little about his family before the graveyard, but I wish Bod had found that out. It just left things a little too vague for me in terms of Bod's character, even if there wasn't much to know anyway.
Second, I didn't love the way Scarlett handled the whole situation after the fact. I understand she was probably traumatized to a degree, but I don't think it was right of her to completely take it all out on Bod. And her negative response led to their friendship being over, and it just didn't seem right to me. I feel like she needed better closure. Maybe seeing Bod at some point in the future and there being some semblance of forgiveness or healing from the situation. I feel like it was just scrubbed, and I would rather have seen her work through how she felt about everything.

But, in the end, I was pleasantly surprised with this story. It showed heart, darkness, and hope in this spooky but still hopeful little book that I'm sure I'll want to revisit.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review: Night

Night Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A short read.... but who ever said short couldn't be powerful?

My God.... this was on the summer reading list for my senior year of high school and I see why now. Looking back on it, I probably would have related to this more than the book I chose. At least I've read it now, ironically for school, although I'm at university level now. There's no "good" moment in this book, but given the subject matter that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. And, even when the story moved at breakneck speed, I was still looking for some semblance of a happy ending for the author. This must have been so hard to write, because that search for a happy ending was a wild goose chase for me.
I'm happy that Wiesel lived to tell his story, but I feel horrible that he went through all that he describes in the book. I could see the ending coming and I imagine he saw how his story would end, too, what the personal climax of this terrible time would be for him.
This story, like The Terrorist's Son by Zak Ebrahim, shows how religion can be used as a weapon if twisted and perverted enough. In the right hands, religion can be a beautiful diamond; in the wrong hands, it may as well be the burning ember that sets the forest around it ablaze. I say this because even today there are people who use religion as a way to achieve their own selfish or destructive ends instead of using it to better themselves, as I believe it could best be used.
Overall, a very short story with an extremely powerful punch. It well deserves to be taught in the schools and its message should never be forgotten!



May Elie Wiesel rest in peace....

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: The Crossover

The Crossover The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So.... I will admit that I have a love/hate relationship with this book.
I've never been into sports, mainly because most of them I'm not able to play, and I never got into watching them or reading about them. I just couldn't relate.
That said, this book had a message to convey that was so much more important than just the joy of playing basketball. Life, the main character Josh learns, doesn't come with a playbook and sometimes things change suddenly, they come out of left field (pun totally intended here).
I saw the climax of the book coming a mile away, and I just remember thinking, "Okay, when is (view spoiler) going to die, already?"
I know this sounds insensitive of me, but the truth is is that because of the verse narrative, I found it difficult to really form any attachment to any of the characters. Unfortunately, I wasn't fazed by what happened to the others. The only character I really felt much sympathy for was Josh, mainly because he lamented about how things were changing and he felt miles away from his own family. He's human, and he's made mistakes out of fear of things changing, something every adolescent can relate to.
Because of the way the book was written, things just moved too damn quickly, and while it meant that the story was a relatively quick read, there wasn't that much emotional payoff.
That being said, what little emotional payoff there was was very well done. It was fulfilling to see Josh ultimately reconnect with everyone after everything the family went through. The book's final scene was touching, moving, and left things on a hopeful note.
No matter how bad things get, there is always hope, and I enjoyed seeing that message.
Despite the book not being entirely to my taste, it conveys a very great message, so I'm awarding it 2.5 stars, rounded up to three.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska Looking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I woke up sick, so I apologize if this review is a little disorganized....

Well, this book was not what I expected. I expected a romance story with both Alaska and the main character Pudge. The first half of the story was long and, quite frankly, not holding my interest. I did wonder what the "Before" and "After" stuff was about, and it was handled nicely. In the back of my mind, I knew what was going to happen, but I was still shocked when (view spoiler) but, after all she'd been through, I didn't blame her. I liked the Colonel, he was a pleasant surprise - I honestly expected him to be the stereotypical bully!
And, also to my surprise, the novel raised important points about Alaska's actions and what drove them. That was nice to see, but it bothered me at the time, because I know what it's like to lose someone and it was reminding me of the person I lost.
I didn't love the way the book was written. Like I fear with most YA novels, the writing felt somewhat dry, although, as I said, it did pick up in the second half.
Although it wasn't perfect, it was honestly better than I expected.... you just have to be patient with it.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I was fourteen years old, I was nominated by my school district to receive an award known as the Raoul Wallenberg award. This honor was given to one kid from each school district in the state, and less than twenty kids per school are nominated to be considered for the honors program. The award was given to those whom school officials believed to emulate the spirit of Raoul Wallenberg, who selflessly saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from Nazi death camps in Budapest.
Fast-forward five, six years later, and I've picked up this book for Yearning for YA. The writing just felt okay to me, and the first few chapters are by no means the most thrilling, but once this story got going it really began to click with me.
I honestly felt genuine fear and frustration throughout the story, and that tells me that the author did a really nice job capturing the fear and uncertainty for the people in the death camps. I liked how both present and past came together in this story to show the main protagonist the true significance of the persecution of the Jews in the WWII period, so she better understood why her family in the present came together and gave thanks for the life they live in the present.
After all, the people in power during that time, toward the end of the war, tried to clean up their mess, but it still remains a stain on world history, and there is a reason we will never forget it. And the author illustrated that perfectly.
There is one small thing that bothers me, though. As I said, present and past connect in this story. The main character gets transported to the 1940s by opening a door in the present day and suddenly the present day is gone and she lives in the WWII era and it's as if the present hadn't occurred yet. This bothered me because it is never explained how she ended up in the 1940s, not to mention how she returned to her present family. I wanted a solid explanation for that, and I felt cheated.
Otherwise, though, it was a pretty nice little story with a very profound message to give.
Honestly, back when I received the Wallenberg award, I didn't understand what the big deal was about what he'd done. But with this little peek into the history for the Jewish people, I feel like I finally understand why people like him are so honored and remembered.
Heroes don't just exist in storybooks, after all....





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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: Hoot

Hoot Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is listed under Project: Yearning for YA. To learn more about this project, click here.

I've had a love/hate relationship with YA literature in recent years. Depending on the hand writing the story, YA can be good, great, just okay, bad, or absolutely atrocious. I read Hiaasen under Project: Yearning for YA and I'm no expert on the subject, but I think this little story was interesting. The writing wasn't terrible and the story kept me coming back to find out what would happen next. Like most YA novels that I've read, I was thinking the story would end up not telling me everything I wanted to know. Some YA novels have this crutch where they refuse to tell the main protagonist (and therefore the reader) anything specific about the world in which the book is set or certain situations the main character may get tangled up in. I was afraid the story would go that route, but I was pleasantly surprised when we were given answers (even if I didn't understand some of those answers upon first glance).
What Hiaasen has done here is woven a weird little story that did not seem all that big of a deal at the start. But sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to gain the reward the book offers. I found what this book wanted to say touching, deep, and beautiful in its own little way.
Sometimes, YA can be just as profound as the adult novels and classics it rivals.





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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Project: Yearning for YA

So it's been a while since I've posted a review of a novel (besides Journal 3 Special Edition) but I just got Hoot by Carl Hiaasen today and I just finished it a few minutes ago. I should have a review posted either tomorrow or Friday for it.
Anyway, I'm scheduled to take a YA literature course this semester, so I figured why not have a little fun with it? Project: Yearning for YA will cover all of the YA novels I read and how I feel about them, what I like about them, dislike about them, and as the course progresses I'll talk about trends in YA and why there are trends and what they entail. Details to come! 

Thought this was interesting....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Review of Journal 3 Special Edition

"Against all odds,"

"I'm Back...."

So it took me some time, but I can finally say that I received my copy of the Gravity Falls Journal 3 Special Edition and read it in full. And all I can say is, "Wow!"

It was so much fun to read, even more fun than the regular edition. The same beautiful story is there, of course, but the additions that were put in made this book even more special than the first edition. Like I've heard many people say, the special edition is really a much higher quality product. I won't go into the story (as I already covered that in my Journal 3 Review), but I will say that I loved how the blacklight messages added a spookier, more melancholy tone to the story than we saw previously. I just felt more of a sense of darkness to the story, especially with how the Author was the only person to use the invisible ink, adding to the paranoia and fear he showcases through the pages. 
And I just have to say that the blacklight illustrations are gorgeous. They really added this invisible beauty to the overall book that was just amazing to see. 
And I loved the edition number idea. Since there were only 10,000 copies of this book available, it was kind of fun to see what number you got out of the overall batch of books. I personally don't care about the number itself, but I think putting the numbers on the books really helped to showcase how special each copy was. 
I really adored how each book came with a letter signed by the creator of Gravity Falls and how the photos in the book were removable. I think it really helped to foster in me, and perhaps others, a sense that being a nerd is okay. I like that message, that it's nothing to be ashamed of and knowing the edition numbers and seeing the creator's signature reminded me that I'm not the only one who enjoys this show. 
Children's show or not, I honestly couldn't care less. It was a fantastic show that more than deserved to receive all the attention it did. The Journal, to me, was a wonderful way to remind people of one of the show's main messages: that it's okay to be who you are, it's okay to be a nerd about things and geek out over whatever you feel is worth geeking out over. That's what makes it so special. 

Oh, and before I forget, I did take some blacklight photos. Let me apologize in advance for the poor quality of some of them (I'm not very good at taking photos to begin with, but being in the dark made it even harder), but I wanted to take some of my own instead of stealing someone else's. 


                       
                   The package the Journal came in. Mine was #21




                                        The cover of the Journal moments after opening it. I can't even begin to explain how I felt!


                                           
                                         
             One of my favorite illustrations. This photo doesn't even do it justice - it is so pretty!
                                               



                                                   
                  I just like how badass this illustration is. Brings me right back to that exact moment in Not What He Seems. 



                                   
                  Probably the best photo I took. As horrible as the situation the illustration depicts is, there's a beauty to this illustration that I was somehow able to capture. 


                             
                      
                     Heard about this one - honestly thought it was a joke until I saw it for myself. I think it was perfect, given that it's one of the last things seen on the show, so it's the last thing seen in the Journal. 



 
                                 
                        The best thing in this image is the winding staircase. I just wish the tree had invisible ink so it would have shown up on camera. 




                                          
                      I just like that the skeleton of the Author's hand glows like that. It looks really cool. 


                            

                         The Author's hand under the "Property Of" piece. I didn't want to remove the entire thing, because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get it back on right. The "SIXER" underneath the hand is my favorite part of the illustration. 


So, that's my review of Journal 3 Special Edition. And, as pricey as it was, it was so worth buying. It's something that I think I'll treasure for a very long time, just as I will the show that started it all: Gravity Falls 




Saturday, June 17, 2017

I Got Something Special Recently....

So I know it's been a while, but I'm finally out of school for the summer and I was waiting for something I ordered (because I didn't want to say anything until I got it) and it finally came in yesterday. I think some people might be able to guess what I have, but until I figure out how I want to show it to you guys (I might do a video, but that's iffy) I won't be writing about it. I don't have a good video camera, so I might just take pictures of it when I have the chance. 
I also want to say right now that the item I will be showing you is limited edition (only 10,000 of these things were made) and it may or may not be related to Gravity Falls (hint, hint!)
Updates to come, along with a full review (maybe my first video review if I can figure out how it'll be done!)


Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Stories in Media

I seriously need a new book, but I don't have the time these days to read in full sittings like I used to. Thanks, college. 
So I'm wondering about media forms (surprise, surprise) and why we can get sucked into some while others cannot grab us. That, I know, happens often for a variety of reasons, but I want to explore what makes a particular piece of media great. 

I know I talked about this the other day, but I'm going to expand upon it a bit, because I feel like there are several points regarding all different types of media that may affect us when we don't even realize it. 
To use as an example, let's take a look at my favorite cartoon TV series Gravity Falls. I'll be honest, it's the kind of show whose advertising (at least in the beginning) was not very convincing at all to me. I only finally watched it at my sister's urging to watch it with her. She eventually lost interest in the show, however, while I was hooked. I think what makes Gravity Falls really shine is the story the show tells. Of course there are certain stories for certain episodes, but a pattern that the show took on was one of an overarching storyline that extended throughout most of the series. You'd think that, once that was resolved, the overarching would stop. But this show was different, mainly in that it was completely planned out and the writers had an endgame in mind. Once the first overarching story was wrapped up, we immediately see the show transition to another, even more complex story. 
Now, of course, there is a crucial word that I've mentioned several times that plays across all forms of media: story. A certain book, show, or piece of music tells a story. Of course, whether or not the story is good is up to individual taste, but it really can give a media form a purpose and that's what makes it great. The only reason someone may not like a show or a movie or even a book mainly can boil down to the story they think it tells. If the concept doesn't appeal to them, they move on and find something else. 
I read recently that the creator of Gravity Falls worked on the show Fish Hooks, and in all honesty, I hated that show with a passion. The main reason that I found I didn't like it was that the story wasn't interesting to me, and there didn't seem to be an endgame in mind, a plan for where the series would go. As a result, I felt there to be little to no story and it irked me that it was that way. 
I feel like all the shows I like have overarching stories, barring the game shows I enjoy. Sherlock followed a similar format to Gravity Falls in that it had an overarching story in each season, which ultimately built up to the biggest one in season 4. Granted, it wasn't carried out in the best way it could have been, but I do give props to the show's creators for keeping the overarching story in mind along with the individual stories of each episode. 
Ultimately, my point here is that stories are a part of life, and if we can't find a story in a book, movie, or TV show that grabs us, we are much more likely to give up on it. TV shows may have a hard time keeping a viewer's attention if the story it tells doesn't keep them anxious to see the next episode. Likewise, with book series, you need to know where you're taking your story and try to make the clearest path possible to achieving the goal of completing the series and delivering the message you want to deliver. 
But the bottom line is, where do you stand with book genres, movie plots, TV shows and music? Because personal taste will tell you what is most likely to click with you, so that you're willing to take the plunge and see the story that is laid out in the media form you're consuming. 





Sunday, April 30, 2017

What Draws Us to Media?

It's funny how time flies, isn't it? I can't believe I'm actually nearing the end of my freshman year of college. I'm sitting here listening to the Rick and Morty theme just because. I don't watch the show myself, but the theme grew on me very quickly. 
Anyway, the music is making me think about what the term epic means in terms of TV shows, novels, music, and so on. Is merely what we associate with the music the thing that's epic, or would the music alone still be seen as epic without the media form we associate it with? For example, when I hear the theme I'm listening to now, I think of epic intergalactic adventures. Struggles against the forces of darkness and evil. A sort of apocalyptic feeling is in there, too. 
I say this as someone who has not seen one episode of Rick and Morty. Is the show epic in the way I've described above? In other words, does the song encompass the overall theme of the show? Could the show work with another theme, or does the song enforce the atmosphere of the show? 

Honestly, I don't know. 

And this can be applied to novels as well, I think. When I look at a book cover, I believe it is the cover artist's job to show off something about the novel, whether it be the atmosphere or plot or just a main theme. 
Watership Down, for example, has a very peaceful-looking cover, but it does not show the epic nature of the story within. Instead, it takes one aspect (the atmosphere) and shows it off, rather than showing something of the story ahead of time. I feel that that may be the main difference between books and shows/films. Books can't encompass the main message in one image. At least, not with the books I've read. Rather, it draws you to the atmosphere so you are either compelled to open it or decide it's not something appealing, at least in terms of aesthetic appeal. 

I think I'm going to chew on this for a while... 

This has me thinking. Maybe I'll look into the art of cover art and see what really goes into it. 

And to think, I started musing over this all because of an Adult Swim cartoon.... 


Friday, April 7, 2017

Waiting

Waiting hurts. Waiting is hard. I know this because my patience has really been tested for the past four months and there's still two and a half more to go before I can finally say that I have what I want.
Okay, I know I'm being cryptic. I'll explain.
So as you may be aware, Gravity Falls is one of my favorite shows and I read the real-life version of the show's Journal 3 back in, I think, November. There was one major thing this journal was missing that the journal on the show had, and it's the one thing I want to see so badly: invisible ink. I preordered the special edition (which has the invisible ink, a monocle, and a leather cover) back in December and I'm 99.9% sure I'm guaranteed a copy. They sold out in late October, early November, so they expanded the number of books just as I placed an order through Barnes and Noble. I heard Amazon oversold the books, so I'm really relieved I didn't order from them. But now the creator of the show is releasing photos and videos of some of the pages of the journal and it looks awesome. I don't think I've ever been this antsy waiting for something. Then again, I haven't really ever had to preorder a book, so this type of waiting is new to me....
I know: I'm a totally spoiled book geek. But I just can't help it. It cost me $150 and I'm pretty sure I need to go out and buy my own black light for it before it gets here, adding to the price, yet I seriously doubt I'm going to regret spending all this money on something that may seem so trivial. It's still a book, so I really don't mind the price. I just mind the wait.
The series 4 premiere of Sherlock in January kept me distracted from this for a while, but now that the release date is as close as it is and series 4 of Sherlock is over, I have nothing to keep me busy until it comes! That's what's really frustrating me.
I've heard it said that patience is a virtue. And I'm pretty lucky that I even got an order in for one shortly after the number of books was increased. That's why I'm fairly certain I'll get one at all. 



Found this on Tumblr and promptly died laughing. 
Just two and a half more months.... please don't make it feel like too much longer.....

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Taking Risks in Writing

So I know I haven't posted in a while. College is kicking my butt. Anyway, I'm rereading The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (#2 on Project: Sherlock rankings) and I'm remembering why it was so high on the list and one of my favorite books. The funny thing is, it was all set to win until a last-minute change occurred. The book is that great. Let me explain why.
I'm a little afraid to talk about the main message it sends (it's very sensitive and I don't want to upset anyone) so I won't focus on that. You'll see what I mean if you read the book.
The one major thing that's sticking out to me on this reread is how dark the story is. I remember when I first read it and the convoluted mystery confused me a bit, but this second reading is really showing me where all the little pieces of the puzzle fit together. And that's fascinating to me!
And the subject matter is something I have not seen any author of any book touch upon. I believe that it's sensitive enough so that no one dared to. Yet Horowitz did, and did so masterfully. Why is this the case? How are some authors able to take such huge risks in writing yet others cannot? Sometimes the risk doesn't pay off.
I remember after I read Divergent (which I hated with a passion) and the final book came out, and people were furious because the author had taken a certain risk - a risk that's practically unheard of, unless done correctly. My guess (I haven't read the book myself) is that she did not.
I read another book under Project: Sherlock that took the biggest risk I've seen any of the pastiches take.... but it failed, because the author was using a character that wasn't his and he damaged that character.
So what? What does that mean?
My point is, it's okay to take certain risks in writing, but for the risk to pay off you have to know what you're doing. You also need to think of your audience when writing, at least put them in the back of your mind. I know it's her book, but the author of the final book of the Divergent trilogy was not thinking about how her audience would react to what she did. I mean, people were so upset that they swore off her books and sent her death threats....
I'm sure Horowitz knew what he was doing when he wrote The House of Silk. I think what he did in the preface of the book was a way of protecting himself, because the narrator lampshades how the events in the book were of an extremely sensitive nature. I think Horowitz was saying to his audience, "This mystery will shock you and perhaps upset you, but I'm writing this book the way I feel it needs to be told. So get ready."
The ultimate thing here is that taking risks in writing is something that a lot of authors do. Whether they do it right or not depends on the book they are writing and how they approach the subject. But I believe that Horowitz rose to the occasion and did it right.


This guy did it right and his book is a masterpiece as a result. I recommend The House of Silk to anyone looking for a great mystery. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Objectivity versus Subjectivity

I often wonder what makes writing for TV shows and movies different from writing stories or poems. Obviously of course there's something called a screenplay involved, but I'll be totally honest and admit I don't understand what that is exactly. You can often tell how good a show or movie's writing is depending on the quality of said show or movie and you can do the same with novels. Perhaps that's what connects them all. But then what about plays?
I often feel this is different because the quality of how the written words are carried out carries the show. Now that I think about it, it's the same for TV shows and movies. I guess, overall then, that you have to have a good writer behind almost any and every media form. Often, that's why I'm shocked when songs that I consider absolutely terrible become popular. But again there's no objectivity, only subjectivity there.
When I was in high school, I took a journalism class freshman year and it is the only media form I know of that, with the exception of opinion pieces, relies entirely on objectivity. It's often why I hate seeing a certain politician mock the media or step on them when they try to do their job. But I won't get any more political.
It's just amazing how much writing is used today, even if we don't realize it. I think I'll chew on this for a while.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Fire


The night is calm, but my mind is a racing engine. It is raining fire all around me. You watch me from above, long to take me in your arms and protect me forever, yet the sky is your prison, and you can only watch as I begin this journey. Every step, every footprint feels like a burning coal beneath my boot. You cry out, and I long to look up to where you dwell and join you. But the fires are still lit in the night, the wind whipping them up to tremendous heights, brighter and extremely dangerous.
Yet somehow in my angst, somehow as you watch me from above, the fire speaks to me, tells me things I knew once but may never know again. You are holding your breath as the fire extends toward me and I long to back away from the heat.
But I can't. I look up at you one last time before this transforming rendezvous. I tell you I love you and touch the fire as you are released from the prison of the sky. You fall to the earth as the fire continues to dance in the night wind. It is an eternity that the fire spends dancing with me, but just as a single tear falls down your cheek in this realization, I walk forth from the flames. I am burned in many places, my hair is singed, my clothes black with burns. Yet I am alive.
I smile and rush into your arms and plant a hot kiss on your cold lips. A clock strikes eleven somewhere nearby.
I don't remember what happened in there; I don't know how I made it through alive. But I did.

I kiss you one final time in joy and love, and we are ever so gently lifted up into the night in the celebration of our reunion. Our loyalty, though scarred by fire and the memory of your prison cell, is impenetrable. And as we stand here together, the night wraps it in golden lace of the stars as the fire below slowly dies.





Monday, January 16, 2017

Review of "The Final Problem"

Wow.... wow. Before I get too carried away, the drill is the same: this review will contain spoilers for the season 4 finale of Sherlock. 

Spoilers below!

Jeez. I didn't realize that Sherlock's secret sister could be so psychotic, so evil, so scary. Let's start from the beginning again.
Mycroft is watching a tape in this old building when the video he's watching says ominously, "I'm back." Mycroft gets up and walks around the building, seeing shadows of someone. He had his umbrella with him and, to my surprise, pulled that umbrella apart to reveal a sword. It's funny how something that sounds so simple actually appears so awesome, so badass, when you see it on the screen. He walks forward and asks the person he knows is in the shadows to come out. Unbeknownst to the elder Holmes brother, Sherlock set the trick up only to berate Mycroft about not telling him about Eurus. Speaking of which, the last episode left us on a cliffhanger with her shooting John. Well, it turns out, he's okay, because it was a tranquilizer dart. I will admit that I wish they had at least told us where he was shot before he recovered.
Anyway, moving on!
Mycroft, John, and Sherlock go back to Baker Street and Sherlock asks Mycroft about Eurus and why he can't remember her. Well, it turns out she was psychopathic from a very young age and Sherlock's mind buried his memories of her and altered them to protect him. Remember Sherlock's dog, Redbeard? It turns out it's not a dog; Sherlock never had a dog! It turns out Sherlock imagined Redbeard to cope with the dark truth: Redbeard was really called Nemo Holmes, the third brother. And Eurus killed him!
I will say that this particular twist cemented everything for me: Sherlock being a man of logic rather than emotion, Mycroft keeping up the story of the dog to protect Sherlock, and Eurus being the most dangerous genius Sherlock ever faced.
While they are discussing Eurus and what to do, an explosive drone flies into the room and the three just make it out as the drone explodes. I'm honestly glad that that's what the explosion from the trailer was - at least they made it!
They then travel to Sherrinford to find out how Eurus escaped. I love what Sherrinford turned out to be. I love how Gatiss and Moffatt had everyone assuming Sherrinford was the brother and not a place. Smart move.
Once they get there, things get ramped up to an eleven. Eurus is in control of the entire ward. At this point, I was so afraid of her that I didn't even know what to think. We then go back five years where we meet Jim Moriarty once again, who visits Eurus without supervision by the staff. The sudden appearance of Moriarty scared the living crap out of me.... then I found out it was a flashback. Moffatt and Gatiss are way too good at scaring viewers.
We then watch as Eurus and Moriarty formulate a plan to end Sherlock.... at this point, I was absolutely terrified. Darker and edgier, indeed! Eurus, back in the modern day, forces Sherlock to play a dangerous game where he must shoot one of the ward's employees, tell Molly Hooper he loves her, and kill either John or Mycroft in order to move on. The game was the most terrifying thing to sit through, and if Sherlock didn't do as told she would blow up a plane with an innocent little girl inside. I was convinced at this point: Eurus is the most dangerous villain Sherlock has faced to date. Sian Brooke was brilliant playing her.
Sherlock refuses to shoot his brother and friend, so Eurus knocks him out and puts him in a holding cell, Mycroft in another room, and John in a well somewhere on site. She then forces her brother to solve the case of the Musgrave ritual.... Sherlock finds out that the little girl on the plane and Eurus are the same person. A child warped by fear of the world with no one there to help her since she got locked up. Sherlock finding her and comforting her was a perfect way to end the game, even if it was a little cheesy. But I like the idea of Eurus and Sherlock just being human in the end. She helps Sherlock to find the well (in which John is drowning at this point) and they rescue him just in time.
Eurus gets locked up again for all she did, but this time Sherlock is allowed to visit her. I found that to be perfect, because it fulfills both characters and they are both better people in the end. The episode ends with Sherlock and John back at the Baker Street flat, which has begun to be repaired from the blast and a video clip of Mary signing season 4 off.

Overall, even if it did get a little cheesy in spots, I feel like we needed to see that from Sherlock, not just the cold, calculating machine. Brooke was fantastic in her role and Martin Freeman delivered yet another amazing performance as John Watson. Mark Gatiss was on point as the foil to Sherlock. I'm glad we didn't see him exhibit any emotion, though, because it wouldn't have shown how Sherlock, though the younger, is the one who has grown. I hope Moffatt and Gatiss continue with Sherlock's story sometime in the future, because I feel there is a lot more that could be said. I hope to see Sherlock again soon.