January 22, 2018

Character Breakdown: Lloyd from The Lego Ninjago Movie

Character Breakdown: Lloyd from The Lego Ninjago Movie

Interesting fact about me: I love the TV show Ninjago. I know it's a kids show about Lego ninjas, but it is actually really good, especially the later seasons. When they made a movie about it, I was excited to see it. It's great and a lot deeper than I thought it would be. Today for our character breakdown, we'll be taking a look at Lloyd Garmadon, the main character from The Lego Ninjago Movie.


• Cheerful. Lloyd has gone through a lot. His dad is constantly attacking the city and everyone hates him for it. Despite all that, he does his best to remain cheerful. He smiles even when he hurts and treats the kids who are mean to him nicely.

• Hard worker. Throughout the movie, Lloyd works hard to lead the other ninja and fight evil. Even though he doesn't want to, he goes to school every day and trains hard to be a good ninja.

• Sarcastic. To me, Lloyd is also mildly sarcastic. He has a tendency to do so when he's upset or angry, which felt realistic to me.


• Leader. Lloyd leads the secret ninja force, even though they don't always listen to him. He could be a more authoritative leader, but when the team needs him most, he's there to lead the way.

• Good son. His mom is a single mother (because being married to the dark lord doesn't work out well) and he does his best not to make her worry. Like all kids, he fails at that sometims, yet he tries his hardest.


• Insecure. This poor kid is so insecure. His whole life has been spent under his father's shadow, unless he's the Green Ninja. Everyone hates him and makes fun of him for things he can't control. Sometimes, those insecurities get in his way and prevent him from doing what he should.

• Anger problems. He's also, understandably, is quite mad at his father for ruining his life. But Lloyd doesn't always control his anger like he should. It leads him to making some bad decisions in the movie, such as unleashing the Ultimate Weapon.


• Ninja. Obviously, he's a ninja. His ninja team are his only friends. He's pretty good, although his blending in skills could use some work.

• Mech driver. In this movie, the ninja pilot mechs that help them fight Garmadon. He's an excellent mech driver and builder as he says at one point.

What Makes Him Interesting

• His father is evil. That's Lloyd's main struggle throughout the movie. How do you deal with an evil dad who's ruined your life? While this could have been cliche, they dealt with it in a way that is a lot more relevant than you would think.

• His choices. Lloyd has to make some difficult choices in the movie. Listen to his friends or his heart? Save his dad, or gain the love of the city? Trust the evil overlord or not? Sometimes he chooses wrong, but in the climax, when it really matters, he makes the best choice of all.

Also, quick note. I'll be working on some blog changes, so if you drop by and it looks weird, don't worry. I'm hard at work to update stuff.

Let's talk! Have you watched the Lego Ninjago Movie? Do you like it when people make a cliche fresh? Tell me in the comments.

January 18, 2018

Writing Short Stories: Lessons from Pixar

Writing Short Stories: Lessons from Pixar

Disney•Pixar is a master of storytelling. Each one of their films takes years to work on because they don't want to produce anything less than stellar. I love how much effort they use and could write a whole blog post just about that. But today we're looking at another aspect of their studios. Their short films.

Before Pixar ever made a feature length film, the first thing they produced was a short film called The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. It was to show the potential of the Pixar technology for film making. Thought it was only a few minutes long, it was the start of Pixar as we know it today.

Pixar uses short films to try new ideas and tell a story in way less time than a full movie. Most of the time they don't even use any words. They've made many by now including theatrical shorts, Cars shorts, and Toy Story shorts.  We can learn so much about writing short stories from their short films, which is exactly what we're going to do in today's post.

1. Give your character an obvious goal

The first rule of any short story is that you must give your character a goal they're trying to achieve. It could be as simple as getting breakfast or more complicated, like earning money to get their mom a gift. Give them a goal and you've got the start of a story.


• The Blue Umbrella. The Blue Umbrella wants to get together with the Red Umbrella, who he falls in love with. (This short is also the most adorable love story.)

• Presto. The little rabbit just wants a carrot. But the magician refuses him, even though the rabbit is an important part of his act. Bingo- getting the carrot is the goal.

2. Introduce things quickly

In a short story, you've only got a few thousand words to tell a whole story. You don't have time to tell the characters backstory and introduce the plot slowly. Things have to move quickly. Pick the elements that need to be included for readers to understand, and leave the rest out. If you're writing a character centered story, it's okay to go into more detail about them. But if you're writing an action filled short story, you'll probably just want to give us enough to like them. Focus on what really matters to help people understand your story.


• Riley's First Date? Because you've (most likely) already watched Inside Out, in this short, barely any time is given to explaining the stuff inside the heads of the characters. You already know this, so it's not use repeating it. A good thought to keep in mind when writing a short story accompanying your series.

• La Luna. This short is about the men who clear stars off the moon to change it's shape each night. Yet, despite that concept that could take a while to explain, they let you figure it out for yourself as the story goes. And you figure it out without a word from the characters.

3. Add the conflict

No story is complete without conflict. Especially a short story. No one wants to read a 5,000 word story where the character has a goal and gets it without any problems. Boring. Once you've decided the goal for your character, figure out how you can keep them from getting it. She want a new book from the store? Oh, they just sold their last one, and the only other copy is all the way across town. He want to go on a date with a girl he likes? The restaurant he wants is booked, it rains, and his car breaks down on the way over.


• Burn•E. All Burn•E wants is to fix a light on the outside of the spaceship. That's his job. But first he loses the light, the second one gets broken, and when he finally does fix it, he gets stuck outside the spaceship. All that keeps him from accomplishing his goal of turning the light back on.

• Lava. The volcano wants a girl volcano to be with and love. He waits for years and years, not knowing one is right beneath him. But by the time she rises from the water, he's sunk beneath and almost extinct. The conflict here is how nature seems to be against him.

4. Follow basic plot structure

Even a short story needs the basic elements of plot structure. They might go by quickly, but they need to be included. You need to find the acts in your story and give it a inciting incident, mid-point, and climax.


• Sanjay's Super Team. The inciting incident here is Sinjay's dad wanting him to come to prayer, when he just wants to play with his superhero toys. He's full thrown into the conflict when the Hindu gods suck him into their world to fight a bad god. There's even a dark night of the soul as the little boy is almost defeated by the bad guy.

• Toy Story of Terror! This one, as Mr. Pricklepants points out, follows horror movie structure. A spooky setting, characters disappear one by one, then the villain is revealed and stopped by the heroes.

5. Don't forget the lesson learned

As many people say, in a short story the character needs to learn something. It's kind of like giving them a mini character arc. To find the lesson, look at the goal they want and see what they can learn from trying to achieve it. Like in our dating example, maybe the boy learns that appearance isn't important.


• For the Birds. In this short, there are ten or so little birds on a wire. A big bird comes to join them and they make fun of him, eventually pushing him off the wire. Except he was so heavy, it sends them all flying and they lose their feathers. The lesson they learn is that making fun of others doesn't pay.

• Day and Night. This clever short deals with the personifications of day and night. They meet and start to fight, thinking they are so different. But then they come to realize, they aren't. In fact, as the sun goes down, they switch roles. The lesson they learn is that even though they might be different, they can still be friends.

6. A little humor always helps

It never hurts to add some laughs to your short stories. Not every one will need it, but I always like something that made me laugh or smile. Think of jokes or humorous situations you can put your character in during the story. There's always room for a light spot.


• Partly Cloudy. Cloud people making babies of all kinds for storks to carry away. Sounds adorable right? But this story deals with the cloud who makes babies of dangerous things, like crocodiles and porcupines, and his poor stork. Every time, the stork tries to prepare for the baby, only to be hurt another way. It's completely hilarious, and the ending is great.

• Lifted. If you need a laugh, watch Lifted. It's about a little alien trying to pass his abduction test. Only, he's horrible. The poor guy he's trying to abduct is banged all over the place. It's hilarious, and still relatable.

7. Put in a twist

Another good part of any story, but especially a short story, is adding a twist. Keep something hidden from the readers until the end, and then reveal it, changing everything that happened in the story. Or just put in an unexpected element to keep people on their toes.


• Geri's Game. In this short, an old man is playing chess with himself. They show you that at the beginning, but the way the tell it, you forget it's one guy by the end. Especially when he fakes a heart attack to beat himself. Surprise! (Also, this guy makes an appearance in Toy Story 2. Do you know where?)

• Knick Knack. All the little snowman wants is to get out of his snow globe and join the pretty girl at her party. But no matter how hard he tries, he can't get out. Finally he does, falling into the fish bowl with a beautiful mermaid, only to have the snow globe trap him again, putting him right back where he started.

There are so many more Pixar shorts I could use as examples, but we don't time for that. Instead, I highly suggest you find the collections of shorts and watch them all. You won't regret it. And see what you can pick up about short story writing from them.

Let's talk! Have you ever written a short story? Which of these points do you agree with? Have you ever seen any Pixar shorts? Tell me in the comments.

January 15, 2018

2018 Movies: Non-Disney Edition

2018 Movies: Non-Disney Edition

In this second part about 2018 movies, I'll be sharing some of my most anticipated movies that aren't Disney. I've got quite a variety in here- from kid's movies to musicals to sci-fi. Let's get right down to it.

Peter Rabbit- February 9

Story: A story about Peter Rabbit trying to get into Mr. McGregor's garden and the rivalry that ensues.

Cast: James Corden as Peter Rabbit, Domhnall Gleeson as Mr. McGregor, Rose Byrne as Bea, Daisy Ridley as Cottontail, and Margot Robbie as Flopsy.

My Thoughts: This certainly isn't sticking to the source material, but I'm willing to give it a try. James Corden will always make me laugh and I love Beatrix Potter books.

Sherlock Gnomes- March 23

Story: When all the garden gnomes disappear, Gnomeo and Juliet must turn to Sherlock Gnomes to find them.

Cast: James McAvoy as Gnomeo, Emily Blunt as Juliet, Johnny Depp as Sherlock, and Matt Lucas as Benny.

My Thoughts: Johnny Depp as Sherlock? Best casting ever. I love the first movie and I can't wait for this one. It already looks hilarious. Bring on the multiple Sherlock Holmes references.

Ready Player One- March 30

Story: It's 2045 and the world has gone to pot, and everyone has found relief in a virtual reality called Oasis. When the creator dies and leaves behind a fortune, the race is one to see who can claim it first. The story follows Wade as he competes for the prize.

Cast: Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts, Olivia Cooke as Samantha Cook, Mark Rylance as James Halliday, and Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow.

My Thoughts: My top two reasons for wanting to watch this movie- 1) It's full of nerd references. Mostly from the 80's, but I'm sure I'll pick up most of them. 2) It looks cool. Virtual reality? Sign me up. (But not in real life.) I have to read the book before I see it though.

Ocean's 8- June 8

Story: Debbie Ocean gathers a team of women to pull off a heist at the famous Met Gala.

Cast: Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean, Cate Blanchett as Lou, Anne Hathaway as Daphne, Helena Bonham Carter as Rose, and Richard Armitage as Claude.

My Thoughts: This movie is splitting at the seams with powerhouse Hollywood women. All the main eight are huge stars. I can't wait to see it just because it's Ocean's 11 with girls. It looks like it might be a bit of a repeat, but I'll watch it anyway.

Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom- June 22

Story: Owen and Claire return to the island four years after Jurassic World to save the dinosaurs from the volcano, which is about to erupt. They also find some super dinos and a conspiracy that could threaten the world.

Cast: Chris Pratt as Owen, Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire, Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm (one of the most sensible people in these movies), and B. D. Wong as Dr. Wu.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed Jurassic World a lot (it doesn't hurt Chris Pratt was in it) and I'm looking forward to this second movie. I like the new direction they're taking too. Not repeating themselves. And all those terrifying new dinosaurs? Just what I need to help me sleep at night.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation- July 13

Story: Drac and the pack are headed out for a vacation. But Drac falls in love with a mysterious monster that has a secret.

Cast: Adam Sandler as Dracula, Selena Gomez as Mavis, and Andy Samberg as Johnny.

My Thoughts: The first two movies were pretty funny, if not the deepest things, and this one promises to be as good. I can't wait to see more of the plot in the trailers to come.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again- July 20

Story: Sophie is in search of her mother's past while she figures out how to handle her own pregnancy.

Cast: Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, Meryl Streep as Donna, Lily James as young Donna, Colin Firth as Harry, Pierce Brosnan as Sam, and Stellan Skarsgard as Bill. 

My Thoughts: Mamma Mia! was a fun film with music that just makes you want to sing along. I hope number two will be as good, and that Lily James can live up to playing Meryl Streep's younger self. Also, please tell me they're going to tell use who Sophie's dad is, finally.

The Darkest Minds- September 14

Story: A mysterious virus makes many of children of gain superpowers. The government rounds them up and puts them in camps. The story follows Ruby as she escapes the camps and finds other kids to fight the government.

Cast: Amandla Stenberg as Ruby, Mandy Moore as Cate, Gwendoline Christie as Lady Jane, Harrison Dickinson as Liam, and Patrick Gibson as Clancy.

My Thoughts: The books were pretty good and I hope the movie is as well. I mean, none of the cast is what I think they should look like, but it might be better than I think. We'll see when the trailers come out.

I know, wrong movie, but there's no images for this one yet.

Mowgli- October 19

Story: In this story by Warner Bros. we follow Mowgli as he grows up in the jungle and learns the lessons of life.

Cast: Rohan Chand as Mowgli, Andy Serkis as Baloo, Christian Bale as Bagheera, Cate Blanchett as Kaa, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan.

My Thoughts: Disney already came out with their version of this, so it will be interesting to see how Warner Bros. does it. Maybe they'll follow the book more closely. My favorite part, however, is Benedict as Shere Khan.

The Grinch- November 9

Story: At this point, not a lot is known about the plot, but it looks like it might be another backstory for the Grinch, leading up the famous Doctor Seuss story.

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch as the Grinch.

My Thoughts: All I care about is who they cast as the Grinch. Doesn't that Grinch even look like him? I'll be interested in learning more about the story as the trailers come out.

The Current War- 2018

Story: A film about Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nicholas Tesla and their fight to use electric lights.

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch as Edison, Michael Shannon as Westinghouse, Nicholas Hoult as Tesla, and Tom Holland as Samuel Insull.

My Thoughts: Oh look, another Benedict movie. I'm not obsessed with him or anything. But besides him and Tom Holland, this looks like a pretty interesting movie. The trailer had some unique cuts that I hope will be in the movie as well.

Mortal Engines- December 19

Story: In the future, cities roll on wheels and eat one another. When a boy, Tom, who lives in London meets Hester Shaw, both their lives change forever.

Cast: Robert Sheehan as Tom Natsworthy, Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw, and Hugo Weaving as Thaddeous Valentine.

My Thoughts: I read the book before I ever learned there was going to be a movie. But when I saw Peter Jackson was going to direct, I knew it was probably going to be great. There's only been a teaser released so far, but it already looks good. A bit of a tragic ending, though.

*  *  *  *  *

Here are a few more movies I'm also interested in seeing and the quick reason why.

Aquaman- So far, the DC Universe films haven't been the best. Man of Steel and Wonder Woman have been my favorites so far, although I haven't seen Justice League. Still, it will be interesting to see Aquaman in his own movie.

First Man- A biopic about Neil Armstrong staring Ryan Gosling. Not the choice I would have gone with (he doesn't look like Armstrong to me), but I'm more interested in seeing it because of who's playing his wife. Claire Foy, one of my new favorite actresses.

Alita: Battle Angel- A movie based off of a manga comic. Looks kind of weird, but kind of cool. I'd be interested in watching it once.

Barbie- I'm a long time fan of Barbie, but I'm suspicious of their first live action film. It sounds a bit cliche, and they haven't even cast Barbie yet. We'll see.

Robin Hood- Robin Hood origin story. Could be interesting.

Goosebumps: Horrorland- Jack Black was one of the highlights of the first movie, so I won't mind watching the second one just for him.

Let's talk! Are you looking forward to any of these movies? What are you most looking forward to watching in 2018? Tell me in the comments.

January 11, 2018

A Simple Guide to Journaling

A Simple Guide to Journaling

I've been keeping a journal for a long time. My first entry in my first book is from April 9, 2007. But I have notebooks with attempted "diary keeping" from even a few years before that. And I've been writing in my diary/journal consistently since that day in 2007. Great snakes, I didn't realize I've been keeping a journal for so long.

You often hear people say that they'd love to a keep a journal, but they never do. I think that's because they don't realize how easy it is. In this post, I'll discuss the benefits of keeping a journal and how you can do it too. To me, journals and diaries are the same thing, but I'll use the word journal because it sounds more grown-up.

Why are you doing it?

If you're thinking of starting a journal, you need to know why you want to keep one. What do you plan to use it for? Record keeping? Remembering what happened in your life? To track things? Just to write your thoughts? You could even keep a fitness or health journal. Figure out your reason and devote your journal to it.

My reason is to both keep track of what happened in my life and to put down my thoughts. I'm the sort of person who has a hard time admitting my feelings to other people, even though I really want to. So writing them down in my journal helps me let them go and also makes it easier to talk about them to people. Sometimes I enjoy reading through my old journals or seeing what I was doing this time last year and see how things have changed.


Journaling requires very little materials. It all depends on what is easiest for you. You need two things- something to write in and something to write with. For me, it's a lined notebook with a bookmark and a mechanical pencil. For other people it might be something fancy, like a ballpoint pen, or something digital, like a document on a computer. Go with what you like.

How to do it

It's very easy. Sit down, pull out your journal, and write away on whatever your chosen topic is. Your entry can be long or short, messy or neat, plain or decorated. Just make sure to date each entry so you remember what day you wrote it.

When I was young, I loved diary books (I still do, actually), so I started all my entries with "Dear Diary". When I reached the end of my diary, I would write a super dramatic last entry. However, I don't do that anymore. I do still start each new journal with an entry describing me. I guess in case I ever become famous and my journals are discovered and used to write my biography.

There are two keys to keeping a journal. Time and consistency. First, time is important. If you want to do this, you need to be committed. Promise yourself you'll take the time to sit down and write. And really, if you do set aside that time (for me it's before bed), it will actually help you. I always feel better after writing everything down in my journal.

Second, consistency. There are times it is okay not to write a journal entry for a month, but most of the time it's not. I suggest trying one entry a week for starters. Once you get used to it, you can figure out what writing schedule works for you. Every day? Whenever you have something to note? On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays? I try to write twice a week, though sometimes I can't do that.

I know it can be scary writing all your feelings down. But we bottle up stuff a lot, afraid to admit how we really feel. That's why having a journal can help. Consider it a friend you can tell anything and that won't judge. It doesn't matter if you make spelling or grammar mistakes. Besides, we are writers, right? Writing this stuff down can help you in other ways, like discovering your voice.

Give journaling a try and see how it goes. You can always stop. But I think a journal has many benefits, especially for mental health.

Let's talk! Have you ever kept a journal? What kind did you do? Do you like diary format books? Tell me in the comments.

January 8, 2018

Movies 2018: Disney Edition

Movies 2018: Disney Edition

Today I have the first part of my annual upcoming movies post. Part one, if you didn't read the title, is about Disney movies. It looks like an exciting (and most likely profitable) year for Disney. And with the new Fox deal, who knows what might come in the future.

Black Panther- February 16

Story: Black Panther returns to his home of Wakanda only to find someone is challenging his throne. He must fight for his kingdom and the world.

Cast: Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa or Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakia, Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, and Andy Serkis Ulysses Klaue.

My Thoughts: I'm looking forward to seeing Black Panther at home and not trying to kill my sweet Bucky. The whole world of Wakanda looks amazing. It will be great to see a country based off of African culture. Also, Lupita Nyong'o's character looks completely kick butt. I want to see it all.

Avengers: Infinity War- March 4

Story: The MCU comes to a head as the Avengers must rejoin to face the biggest threat to the universe- Thanos. They must stop him from using the Infinity Stones before destroys everything. Everything has lead up to this.

Cast: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, and basically every other actor and character in the MCU so far. All your favorites are there.

My Thoughts: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! No, I'm not excited at all. I've only been looking forward to this film for years. I'm also terrified. I want to hold all the characters and keep them safe. Please don't kill Cap. Or Bucky. Or anyone. (Even though I have a terrible feeling they will.) But beyond exciting, it will also be interesting to see how they bring together everything from every film to create one monster movie.

A Wrinkle in Time- March 9

Story: When Meg's father goes missing, she must travel the universe to find him. With the help of her little brother and school friend, she is sent by three mysterious women to find him and stop the most evil force in the universe.

Cast: Storm Reid as Meg, Levi Miller as Calvin, Chris Pine as Dr. Murry, Reese Witherspoon as Mrs. Whatsit, Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, and Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who.

My Thoughts: I've loved the book for a long time. In fact, it was one of my first introductions to science fiction. So I'm looking forward to seeing how the movie is going to be. It looks pretty good so far and I love how they made Meg biracial.

Solo: A Star Wars Story- May 25

Story: Solo gives us a look at the background of the famous smuggler and pilot, Han Solo. Where he came from, how he got to the place he was, and (hopefully) how he acquired the Millennium Falcon.

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Emilia Clark as Kira, and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. (There are others, but their roles haven't been announced yet.)

My Thoughts: It's no secret that Han Solo is one of my favorite characters from Star Wars. I'm excited to see a whole movie centered around him. (But who came up with that name? Boring.) Like everyone else, I'm suspicious of their casting, but I'm willing to give him a chance. The whole movie sounds awesome, though I'd like to see a trailer soon.

The Incredibles 2: June 15

Story: An official summery hasn't been announced yet, but they said that it's going to be more focused on Elastagirl. It will also have to do with raising kids, especially Jack-Jack, who just got his powers. It also picks up right where the first film left off.

Cast: Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr, Helen Hunter as Helen Parr, Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone, and Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr.

My Thoughts: The Incredibles was one of Pixar's best to me. I love the family themes and values they have in it. Thus, when they announced a second one, I was over the moon. I can't wait to see where they take the story. I also appreciate how they didn't rush into a sequel, wanting a story as good as the first one before they made a second.

Antman and the Wasp- July 6

Story: Scott Lang has to balance fatherhood and superhero duties as he takes on a new mission with Wasp.

Cast: Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Evangeline Lily as Hope van Dyne, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, and Michael Pina as Luis.

My Thoughts: While Antman had its problems, I still enjoyed it. Mostly because Scott was just so normal. It'll be interesting to see how things are now, after the events of Civil War and maybe Infinity War. I'm also hoping Wasp has more of a personality in this movie, because I'm excited to see her. She's the first female to have her name in the movie in the MCU.

Christopher Robin- August 3

Story: Christopher Robin is now grown up and in need of Winnie the Pooh's help again to remember the joys of childhood.

Cast: Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin, Hayley Atwell as Evelyn, Mark Gatiss as Giles, and Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh.

My Thoughts: I'm not sure what to think at the moment. It sounds a bit cheesy to be honest, but this is also Disney, so it'll probably be better than I think. I'll wait until I see the first trailer to actually start forming opinions.

Nutcracker and the Four Realms- November 2

Story: Clara receives a gift from her godfather that leads her to a mysterious realm full of magic. She has to retrieve her gift from the world and return home, while trying to bring peace back to the land.

Cast: Mackenzie Foy as Clara, Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Morgan Freeman as Drosselmeyer, Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger, and Misty Copeland as the Ballerina.

My Thoughts: I'm intrigued. The first trailer came out recently and it looks magical, although I couldn't tell much of the plot. And I didn't see the Nutcracker. But it has a good cast (especially Misty Copeland!) so I'm looking forward to it.

Wreck-It Ralph Breaks the Internet- November 21

Story: Ralph and Vanellope go on an adventure into the internet to fix a game from the arcade.

Cast: John C. Reilly as Wreck-It Ralph, Sarah Silverman as Vanellope, and Jack McBrayer as Felix.

My Thoughts: Wreck-It Ralph was a surprise to me. I thought it would be dumb. But then I actually watched it and fell in love with the story of a villain who wants to be a good guy. The second movie, although I haven't seen any of it, already looks cool. It doesn't hurt they already said all the Disney princesses are going to make an appearance, voiced by most of the original actresses (except the dead ones). It'll be exciting to see where the movie takes us.

Mary Poppins Returns- December 25

Story: Mary Poppins is back, this time to visit the children of Michael after a personal loss. Along with the street lighter Jack, she shows the children the joy and wonder of life.

Cast: Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, Ben Wishaw as Michael, Emily Mortimer as Jane, Meryl Streep as Topsy, and Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr.

My Thoughts: Need I repeat? This film has Lin-Manuel Miranda and he's going to sing. I'm watching it, no matter how horrible it may be. But I don't think it will be. It sounds like they will be following the books even more closely than the first film. Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

Let's talk! Are you excited for any of these movies? Are there any actors you'll watch (almost) no matter what? Tell me in the comments.

January 4, 2018

Top Books of 2017 and 2018

Top Books of 2017 and 2018

For starters, there won't be one specific book review this month. Instead, you're getting a post on my favorite books from last year and the top books I'm looking forward to this year.

The one problem with looking forward to books is that you often end up disappointed. So many times I pick up a book I've been waiting for, only to be upset by the way it turned out or the characters in it. Especially with all the stupid gay/queer/bisexual/whatever crap that's being put in books anymore. It annoys me to death. Alright, I'll stop whining about that now. Let's move on to the actual post.

Top 2017 Books

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Yeah, I know I keep talking about this book, but I loved it so much. It's a mostly clean love story based off of one of my favorite musicals. It's perfect for people who like historical fiction and/or Hamilton nerds.

Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

I didn't read a lot of writing books this year, but this one was one of the best. I bought it and it has helped me a ton with writing better outlines. I feel much more confident when starting the first draft since I've started incorporating parts of her outlining process.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

A friend recommended this series to me, and I'm so glad she did. It's very fun and reminds me of Lemony Snicket. There are puzzles, smart kids with various talents, and lots of danger and excitement.

Darkstalker by Tui T. Sutherland

This was one of the most interesting children's books I've read this year, mostly due to the fact the titular character is the villain that shows up later. I've never read a kids book where you wanted someone become a villain, or at least not quite like this. A great companion to the rest of the series.

The Elements of Style by E. B. White

This was the second most helpful writing book I read this year. E B White presents grammar rules, thoughts on writing, and notes on style in a clear, easy to understand way. He gives examples that are actually useful. I normally never understand this stuff, but I did when he explained it.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A beautiful story about being different and being kind. I loved this book and I can't wait to see the movie. A great read for anyone of any age.

All the Wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket

This is technically a series, but who cares. This one is about Lemony himself and I liked how clever it was and how he showed the world is more than black and white. I think I even liked it the tiniest bit more than A Series of Unfortunate Events.

My Most Anticipated 2018 Reads

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton

I read My Lady Jane this year and liked it a lot. This is the second book in the series, all based on (because they are not the same as their real lives) different women named Jane. This one is about Jane Eyre (who is technically a fictional character), so I'll have to read that before I read the book.

The Traitor Prince by C. J. Redwine

I didn't like the first book in this series a lot, but I loved the second one, so I'm hoping the third one will be as good. It continues in her fantasy world, but once again in a different country. And it looks like it will have a boy protagonist for a change of pace.

The Defiant by Lesley Livingston

More girl gladiators! More fighting! More Fallon! (But hopefully not more romance.) I adored the first book in this series, so I can't wait to read number two.

Supergifted by Gordon Korman

If you want to read a super sweet MG novel, read Ungifted. I was over the moon when I learned there would be a sequel to it. It looks like this time the situation is reversed, placing one of the gifted children in normal school. Sounds interesting.

Love and War by Melissa de la Cruz

One of my top reads of 2017 is getting a sequel in 2018. I could not be more excited! Now she's covering the Revolutionary War part of their lives, so I hope to see more of Hamilton's buddies and just how their relationship evolves over the course of the war.

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

And here's another favorite series getting a third book. How will it end? Will Jamie and Charlotte remain together? Will they solve the mystery? Will everyone please leave Jamie alone because he is the sweetest?

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

I haven't even read the Wonder Woman book in this series yet, but that doesn't mean I can't be excited for the Batman one yet. I like Batman. And I heard the author talk about this book, so I'm interested in reading it.

Let's talk! What were your favorite reads in 2017? Any shiny books being published this year that have caught your eye? Tell me in the comments.