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Sunday Scribble — “Adapted”

Adapted

While the manner in which the party was constructed was a bit odd – really, who thought it best to put up a scribbled sign in the village square to find companions for an adventure? – it at least provided me with an out. An out of the village, an out of the rut my life had become, an out to find somewhere in the world where I could grow.

It was a motley crew at best, a haphazard assortment just waiting to implode at worst. I stood in the threshold of the meeting room, the borrowed storage place of the village’s tavern, and glanced around. There were a trio of broad-shouldered men, somewhat on the shorter side, with brilliant beards and large hands holding onto axes and hammers. The dwarves were speaking amongst themselves, but not bothered by anyone else hearing if their volume was anything to judge by. I wondered why dwarves were so far from their cavern homes, sure that they usually lived in the north.

A man was in the corner, staying so silent and standing so far into the shadows that I nearly missed seeing him. His arms were crossed, the visible fingers fidgeting as much as the hat upon his head was twitching. I talked myself out of marching over and snatching the hat away to see what lay beneath, my curiosity wavering at the sight of the pointed daggers at the man’s waist. I was sure the blades were not just for show.

A red-orange light zipped by my ear on the way into the room, sparkles of the same color marking a trail as it flew along, until it settled atop of a bare spot on the shelf tacked to the western wall. Before my eyes, the light grew into a glow before shaping a child just sitting there with her legs swinging below her seat. Her skin was dark, a sharp contrast to the mass of hair and wide eyes that had matched her sparkles. She gazed around the room with an excited grin, unable to keep a giggle here or there from slipping out.

A slender figure, at least part elf with the point of the ears, the angled eyes, the lean arm muscles, lounged on the solitary chair in the room. The strap of a quiver crossed over the figure’s chest while a bow of curved metal leaned against the chair. Those eyes caught mine as they roamed around the room. Briefly, we gave each other a nod, seemingly understanding that we were two of the most sensible of the gathered lot.

“Are you responding to the ad from the square as well?”

I brought my attention to the young man in front of me, his face smooth, lightly tanned, barely looking as if he had ever been out of the village let alone the world. Still, he appeared to be taking this rather seriously, as there was no hint of mirth around him. No upward turns of the lip, no gleams of wanderlust in his dark eyes, no flush on his cheeks from anticipation.

I nodded in response and, when he asked for my name and skills, I flipped open to the appropriate page of my book of common phrases.

He frowned as he glanced at it long enough to comprehend the words that not only answered his question but also explained that I was born without a voice. “A Runekeeper? How can you be a Runekeeper if you cannot speak?”

He was blunt, I would give him that. He was also lucky I had been dealing with that kind of question all my life.

With years of practice, I snapped my common phrase book shut, slipped it into its sleeve hanging on the left side of my belt, and brought out the book of thin paper from my right holster. A stick of coal helped me write my rune on a strip of paper before I ripped the parchment from the book’s binding and smacked the paper, coal marks facedown, against the wooden frame of the door.

Slowly, ivy vines sprouted from the paper, much to the cooing delight of the fairy, encompassing the parchment until it was dissolved completely from the rune’s workings. Greenery sprouted around the frame until the wood was merely the flowerbed for the ivy.

When the young man pulled his gaze away from the ivy, it was to see my common phrase book opened once more to the page that told him, “I’ve adapted.”

He gave one chuckle, his lips settling into a crooked grin as he said, “Welcome to the team.”

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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Longest Bookshelf Resident

e6c32b9d7655dcdf706e40948ae33e01Which book or series has lived on your bookshelf the longest?

For me, it would probably be Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals series. I remember first seeing the books on the shelves just outside of the kids section at Barnes and Noble so many years ago. I can’t remember how old I was, but I was probably in middle school at some point, perhaps early teens.

The Immortals series are the books that I genuinely remember kick-starting my love of reading. I’ve read before, of course, but Pierce was my first introduction to the fantasy genre. Since those books, I’ve fallen in love with magic, whimsical places, and female characters who were both strong and feminine.

Wolf-Speaker was the second book of the series, but the first to catch my eye due to, well, wolves. Wolves have always been one of my favorite animals and, to a kid, that was all I really needed when it came to books. I picked up both Wolf-Speaker and Wild Magic, considering it was the first in the series, and since then I’ve read almost all of Pierce’s books. Not only do I adore her magic and the lands, but the relationships between her characters — romantic and platonic alike — always gave me warm and fuzzy feelings.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever pick up that particular series to reread considering the age group it was meant for. It opened up an entire genre for me, got me exploring more of the bookstore shelves rather than sticking to around the kids and teens section (both of which are wonderful), and showed me more worlds to visit.

That’s what books are meant to do, right?

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2017 in Home

 

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Switching Places

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If I could switch places with any book character, it’d be Bailey Clarke from Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

People read books to escape, to imagine themselves in another world or just to tune out the real one for a while. While some people wish that fictional characters were real, I wish that I could go into their worlds, to witness the imagery that I only see in my head with my own eyes, to meet these heroes and misunderstood characters in person.

Bailey Clarke is one of the main heroes of Morgenstern’s book. The timeline of his narrative crosses over the other heroes’ until they meet together in the climax. Bailey isn’t one of the main magicians or performers of the circus — instead, he’s a young man who just falls in love with the circus itself. Just like the readers, he becomes entranced with the magic and becomes pivotal in helping to rescue the circus. His journey to save the circus also saves himself, as he finds where he truly belongs in the world and what he is meant to do.

There are, of course, plenty of other literary characters that I would love to switch places with — Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, Aech from Ready Player One, Bilbo Baggins or Éowyn from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings — but I believe Bailey Clarke fits me best. To see the wonder of the Night Circus, to figure out the purpose of my life, to find and keep a beloved ring of family and friends…

I wouldn’t mind being Bailey Clarke in Morgenstern’s world.

What about you? Any certain characters that you wouldn’t mind trading places with?

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2017 in Home

 

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Sunday Scribble — “Toasty”

Toasty

“Alright, what’s the plan?” Simon asked. We were as dignified as we could be while hiding in the bushes that grew wildly along the path toward the dragon’s tower.

“We kill it,” Brom said. “Who needs a plan?”

“How are we just going to kill it?” I asked. “It’s a flying furnace!”

“Shhh.” Luella held a finger in front of her lips, but her eyes were trained on the dragon resting atop of the tower’s roof. “Perhaps someone can distract it, bring it down lower, then a couple of others can help slay it. The fourth can find a way into the tower and see if there is anyone in there who can be freed.”

“You mean if there’s anyone who is not a crispy corpse?” I asked dryly while holding back a sneeze.

Casually, Luella responded, “That’s right.”

“Well, you have the lock picks.” Simon nudged me. “I vote you do the tower climbing. Who wants to be the distraction?” The rest of us stared at him, and he rolled his eyes. “Seriously, why am I always the distraction?”

“You have the biggest mouth,” Brom said without missing a beat. “Lu and I will be your back-up. Get the dragon low enough so my axe can impale it and Lu’s spells can reach it.”

Simon grumbled even as he unhooked his harp from the back of his pack. “Think it likes folk music?”

“Since when can you play folk music on a harp?” Bard asked.

“Since always,” Simon retorted. “Your uncouth ears just can never tell the difference.”

“Be careful,” I said as Simon left our wayward hiding place. I didn’t take too much longer in leaving as well, taking a roundabout way to reach the base of the tower. Huddling in the shadows of the stone building, I carefully looked up, praying to whatever gods Luella calls on for her spells that the dragon wouldn’t notice me.

Judging by how quickly the reptile’s head spun around when I heard the first plinks of Simon’s harp, I wouldn’t have to worry. While Simon’s music wasn’t that bad, he was a much better distraction than a musician.

I paused long enough to allow the dragon’s wings to stretch out, catching the wind as it brought along snatches of Simon’s song. As soon as the dragon took off from the roof, I circled the tower to find the door by the base and got to work on the lock.

Three lock picks later, I was inside and face with a spiraling staircase. I took them two at a time until I started to get a stitch in my side, and any sense of urgency went out the very few windows I passed.

“This is punishment for not joining the others on Brom’s workout regimen at the last town, isn’t it?” I muttered to whatever god wished to listen.

There was a screech from outside the tower and the telltale sound of shattering ice. Luella must have used some sort of freezing spell, no doubt to counter any sort of fire that the dragon expelled. Brom’s explicit-filled voice shouted with battle cries and rage, accompanied by the occasional crash.

All while some cheery folk music was plucked from a harp.

“Finally.” I reached the landing at the top of the stairs only to face a heavy, black iron door. Jiggling the knob, I hoped that I had enough lock picks to break through the lock mechanisms.

“Who’s there?” asked a voice from inside.

“A rescue party,” I responded. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you out in a few minutes—”

“Rescue party?” The voice was utterly baffled. “I didn’t order a rescue party.”

“The village did,” I said, “and we always deliver. Sit tight, I’ll get the door open soon–!”

The door swung open from the inside and, after regaining my balance from almost pitching forward, I found myself staring at a skinny, dark-skinned man, his eyebrows furrowed as he scrutinized me.

I took a deep breath as realization dawned. “You don’t need rescuing.”

“I do not,” he said with a simple head shake. “If you excuse me, I need to see what is upsetting Toasty—”

“Toasty?!”

“Well, yes, one of the first things he burned was my bread when he was no bigger than us—”

“You have GOT to be kidding me!” I threw my hands up in the air. “The rest of my party was distracting the dragon so I could rescue whoever was stuck here in the tower.”

“I suggest you call them off,” the man said mildly, turning to the large window on the far side of the wall. “I would be very upset if they hurt Toasty, and I’m sure you would be upset if Toasty hurt them.”

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Scribbles

 

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Break the Tropes: Fantasy Edition

Back in April, I did a more general Break the Tropes post. This time around, I wanted to focus more on tropes that are found more in fantasy novels. Feel free to comment what you’d add to the list!

  • Instead of the Legendary Artifact being found safe and sound, have it be a dud.
  • You know that magical sword that will cleave through the darkness? Have it break on the first swing.
  • Have the wise old wizard be a laid-back young necromancer.
  • Heck, instead of having the necromancer be an intimidating character shrouded in darkness and death, have them use their powers to bring back to life their old pets.
  • Seriously, have the “Cat Lady” of the story be the “Cat Necromancer.”
  • Mistake who is actually the Long Lost Heir to the Throne.
  • Make the Chosen One actually be the antagonist of the story.
  • Make the elves buff instead of lean and limber. If they’re still in their natural forest habitat wielding bows, they should be some of the most muscular characters in the book. Climbing trees and using bows takes much more strength than swinging around a sword!
  • Imagine underground elves.
  • Imagine forest-dwelling or even seafaring dwarves. Get the bearded guys out of their caves and mines to see how they react.
  • Have the kingdom of the Dark Lord or Bad Guy be the place with the happiest citizens or the area of the land that gets the most sunlight.
  • Instead of having mages use elemental magic compatible with their personalities, give them magic that goes against their nature. Have the calmest mage use Fire abilities, making it difficult to stir up enough passion to start a flame, or the energetic Earth mage having a hard time settling down enough to persuade a plant to grow.
  • Those stories about characters being the Descendant One of a powerful, magical being that lived eons ago? Yeah, genetically speaking, there’s probably a good couple of dozen Descendant Ones now.
  • Let a princess rescue the prince.
  • Let a princess rescue the princess.
  • Or a prince rescue a prince.
  • Have the dragon rescue whoever is trapped in the tower.
  • Have the dragon be whoever was supposedly trapped in the tower after learning magic from the witch that had trapped them in the first place.
 
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Posted by on August 7, 2017 in Home

 

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Book to Movie Wish List

Alright, so the most if not all readers claim that the book is always better than the movie. However, there’s just something magical about seeing your favorite characters come to life on the big screen, about seeing the settings, hearing the lines, experiencing the story in an entirely new medium (if the movie is done well, of course).

Down below are a few books that I totally wouldn’t mind sitting in a dark theater for a few good hours to watch them on the big screen:

51gfkfjupcl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Night Circus

Is anyone surprised to see this on the list? With the special effects capabilities that we have nowadays, I would love to see the magic from this special circus light up the movie theaters. The timeline that’s portrayed in the book may be a little tricky to keep up with, especially if one hasn’t read the book, but I’m certain the past and future parts of the story can be pulled off somehow.

23437156Six of Crows

A story with unique magic thrown into a wild adventure with a diverse bunch of young adults… Sign me up. The impossible risks these characters take in order to achieve their goals just for the chance at better lives had kept me hooked until I turned the very last page. With the right cast and director, this book may be a fantastic adventure movie.

20727654The Paper Magician

This was one of the most recent books I read, and I enjoyed the story and characters. The different types of magic were whimsical and interesting, considering they initially didn’t seem to be strong enough to help the protagonist achieve her goals in saving her mentor. It’s the type of imaginative fantasy that will bring in anyone who wants to go on an adventure amid dreams, hopes, and even doubts that need to be overcome.

41cx8my2unl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Fahrenheit 451

This book was one of the better books on my summer reading list way back when I was still in school. Dealing with censorship and the need to protect free speech, thought, and imagination, it’s an important book dealing with an important and tough subject. It’d be strikingly visual with the burning scenes and could be an emotional roller coaster for those who like to bring tissues to the movie theaters. (Edit: Apparently this was already made into a movie! Thanks Jen!)

51y2zuflwwl-_sx346_bo1204203200_Tuesdays with Morrie

This movie would definitely be a tearjerker. A memoir for a beloved teacher that taught about life as he struggled with his terminal illness, this movie would have all the gorgeous string music to accompany the narrator’s memories of his teacher while the audience cries. It would be a thought-provoking story with the accompanying visuals to really hammer the lessons in the minds of the viewers.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Home

 

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Review: The Paper Magician

“Perhaps the man wasn’t so mad after all. Or maybe it’s a madness [she] can learn to appreciate.” — Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician

“The Paper Magician” Review

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This post may contain spoilers.

 

I picked up The Paper Magician because it was on some list that I found somewhere on the Internet that suggested other books that people might like if they enjoyed Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Charlie Holmberg has created a unique set of magical rules, wherein a magician is bond to only one manmade material, such as rubber, glass, or paper.

The novel opens up with the main character, Ceony Twill, arriving at the house of the magician she will apprentice under, Emery Thane. Thane is one of the few Paper Magicians in the area, as paper isn’t the most popular materials to spell. Ceony herself would have preferred to be bond to metal, to enchant cannons and bullets instead of scrapbook material.

Yet, as Ceony is apprenticed under the eccentric Magician Thane, she learns the intricate art and wonder of spelling paper as well as Excisioner, the forbidden magic of spelling human flesh. When an Excisioner storms into Thane’s and Ceony’s home to snatch Thane’s heart, it is Ceony who embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue the magician’s heart. She not only learns but experiences her teacher’s hopes, dreams, and darkest memories and doubts that created Thane’s spirit during this quest, all while trying to avoid becoming the Excisioner’s next victim.

I definitely enjoyed the unique magic system in this book. Being a reader and a writer, I appreciated the new magic that paper can bring the world. The descriptions of the special Folds that the papers need in order for the spells — animated, defense, attacking — to be completed were wonderful, as were the general setting descriptions. The narration succeeded in bringing the reader along with Ceony on her journey, and it kept me turning page after page.

That, and Thane had a skeleton butler named Jonto made out of paper and he had even created a paper dog for Ceony. Those little touches were adorable.

I wasn’t a fan of the main antagonist of the book, however. The Excisioner twist was definitely interesting in itself, but the battle between her and Ceony seemed to be more like two women fighting over the love of a man. The reason behind the fight reminded me of a couple of catty high schoolers, even if the settings and the fight itself was entertaining. The motive for the fight did not keep me invested.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the book enough to consider getting the sequel the next time I’m willing to lighten my wallet at the bookstore. If you enjoy magic, historical pieces, and eccentric characters, you may enjoy Holmberg’s The Paper Magician.

“The Paper Magician” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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