May 22, 2017

How to Use Music to Write

How to Use Music to Write

Music is a beautiful thing. It has the ability to create emotion in us, simply using sound, which is astonishing. As writers, we can use this to our advantage.

Writing requires emotion to work. One of the best ways to help us create that is to use music to help us write. Don't know how to do that? In this post, I'll show you how to use music to improve your writing.

Create a novel playlist

You've probably heard about this before. I would certainly recommend it for any writer. All it is is a playlist of all the songs that pertain to your novel. You can come up with a song for every chapter, a song for each major part of the story, a song for main characters, and more.

There are so many ways to do this, all you have to do is put something together that works for you. The hard part will be finding the songs. These need to be songs that fit the mood and feel you want for your novel, which is easy to say, hard to find. I suggest starting by thinking of a part in a movie that's similar to what you're writing, then finding the track for that part.

I personally have tried both coming up with a song for every chapter and a song for each portion of my novel. Both work well, though if you're writing a longer novel with lots of chapters, the second might work better for you. I also always come up with songs for my hero and villain.

Listen to music while writing

If you're one of those people who can listen to something while writing, I suggest trying music. It can help you get in the right mood for whatever you're working on today.

It's best if you can listen to something with a similar feel to what you're writing that day. Like if you're writing a romantic part, find some soft, romantic sounding music. If you're writing a battle scene, find some epic music, or something angry sounding.

Everyone is different about what they like to listen to. Some people can only do classical, some prefer pop. I can't listen to anything with words that I haven't heard before while I'm writing. And I can't listen to musicals, no matter how much Hamilton is calling my name. I'd rather sing with it than just listen. Find what works for you and use it.

Suggestions

If you need some inspiration of where to start, here's a list of some of my favorite soundtracks and other places to listen to.

Places to Find Music

Amazon Prime. If you have Prime, you've got to try their stations. There are classical music stations, soundtrack stations, and studying stations. It's like Pandora, but without the ads and personalized content.
Pandora. Pandora is one of my favorite music apps. It's completely personalized, and you can listen and create stations off of what you like. It works best on a phone or tablet, though you can put it on your computer.
YouTube playlists. You can find whole playlists or 2 hour long videos of soundtracks or epic music or whatever you want on YouTube. And it's all free.

Top Soundtracks

How to Train Your Dragon by John Powell.
Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The BFG by John Williams. Or anything else he writes. His music is the best.
Doctor Who soundtracks by Murray Gold. One of my favorite pieces is I Am the Doctor from Series 5.
Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit by Howard Shore.
Man of Steel and Pirates of the Caribbean by Hans Zimmer.
Sherlock soundtracks by David Arnold, Michael Price, and Hans Zimmer. Yeah, I mean both the movies and the TV series.
The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride by Danny Elfman. His music is perfect any time you need something creepy.
Any Disney movie soundtrack by whoever wrote it. They're all great.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Harry Gregson-Williams.

Let's talk! How do you use music to inspire your writing? Do you make novel playlists? What are your favorite soundtracks? Tell me in the comments.

May 18, 2017

Underrated Disney Movies: Part 1

Underrated Disney Movies: Part 1

Everyone knows Disney. You'd have to live under a rock to not know about it. But like any prolific creator, they have good movies and bad movies, and movies that get overlooked. The last one is what this post is about.

When I say underrated, what I mean is those movies that don't get enough attention, or are often overlooked for the more popular movies. I came up with so many, this is going to be a two part post, with the next part going up next month. If you've been looking for movies to add to your summer watch list, look no farther.


The Emperor's New Groove

What it's about: A selfish teenage South American king named Kuzco is turned into a llama by his adviser Yzma when he fires her. He gets stranded in the jungle and must rely on the help of a friendly villager named Pacha to get back. Kuzco and Pacha have to get back to the palace and reclaim the throne before Yzma does.


Why you should watch it: For starters, it takes place in an Incan kingdom. How many movies do you know that takes place there? The humor is spot on, and the casting is great. You will probably be falling off your seat with laughter the whole time. I also like the character arc that Kuzko goes through.



Treasure Planet

What it's about: In this space re-telling of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins finds a map that will lead to the treasure of a space pirate. He sets off across the stars to find the treasure and learns to be a stronger person on the way.

Why you should watch it: Treasure Island in space. It is amazing. It's both a funny and touching coming of age story with some pirates and space galleons thrown in. It also has a great cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, and Martin Short. And Jim's mom is the best. Plus there's this adorable creature named Morph.

I promise he's not as gross as he looks




Bolt

What it's about: Bolt is a dog who grew up thinking he has superpowers due to the special magic of a TV show. When he get's lost in New York City, he discovers he's perfectly normal. He sets off to be reunited with his owner, Penny, with the help of a cat and a hamster.

Why you should watch it: This movie is so sweet, with themes of family and belonging. It also talks about people not abandoning their pets. It's a fun adventure that people of all ages can enjoy. Even if Miley Cyrus plays Penny, Bolt's owner.



The Reluctant Dragon

What it's about: A small boy is quite excited when he learns that a dragon has moved in nearby and a knight is going to kill it. He goes to see the dragon only to learn that the dragon is a pacifist and doesn't want to fight anyone. Neither does the knight. The three of them must find a way to get around killing each other.

Why you should watch it: Though it's only a half hour film, it's cute and funny. The dragon loves to compose poetry and is so prissy. And the way they get around the fight is great. You'll have to watch it to see what happens.



The Adventures of Ichbod and Mr. Toad

What it's about: This is actually two different stories. The first is "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and is narrated by Bing Crosby. The second is a shortened version of "The Wind in the Willows".

Why you should watch it: Bing Crosby narrating and singing. That alone is great. Plus, both stories are fun versions of the original, full of songs and humor. This is a great one if you need something to lift your mood.



The Three Musketeers

What it's about: Mickey, Donald, and Goofy want to join the Musketeers, but are rejected because of their bumbling. Pete concocts an evil plot to take the throne, and hires them to guard the princess so he can take her. However, they learn of his plot and have to stop him.

Why you should watch it: Well, it's classic Disney for starters. For another thing, it only uses classical music for their songs. Once you've watched it, you'll never hear songs like Beethoven's 5th Symphony (This Is the End), the Can Can (All For One and One for All), or In the Hall of the Mountain King (Petey's King of France) the same.



Hercules

What it's about: A young god named Hercules is turned mostly mortal and left on Earth so Hades can take over Mount Olympus. When Hercules reaches teenagehood, he sets out to find who he truly is a prove himself worthy of Mount Olympus. But Hades' plan and a pretty girl named Meg get in the way.

Why you should watch it: Lots of humor and sarcasm, mixed with Greek myths. Hades especially is a riot. It also has some beautiful music, including songs from the Muses, who sing gospel music.



Atlantis: The Lost Empire

What it's about: Milo is a linguist who gets recruited to help in an expedition to find Atlantis. He and his team find the city, only for him to be betrayed by one of the team. He must protect the city and the princess from being extinguished.

Why you should watch it: It's got this amazing steampunk vibe for one thing. It's also a cool speculative piece with a touch of magic. It's got a gorgeous look. And I like how Milo isn't your normal hero. He's skinny and nerdy, yet he has the biggest heart.



The Sword and the Stone

What it's about: A young boy named Arthur stumbles across a cabin in the woods while out with his brother Kay. It turns out to belong to Merlin, who takes him under his wing. When Arthur goes to London, he discovers he is the king by pulling the sword from a stone.

Why you should watch it: Mostly for Merlin. He's the best character in this movie. He can pack his whole house into one bag. Furniture and everything. There's also some great music.



Oliver and Company

What it's about: Oliver is a young kitten that nobody wants. He falls in with a pack of dogs and their soft-hearted owner. The dogs are thieves, trying to help their owner who owes a crime boss. While on a job, Oliver gets adopted by a rich little girl. This leads to a lot of trouble for both the girl and the dog's owner.

Why you should watch it: For one thing, this is an Oliver Twist retelling set in New York City. It's nicely done, and has some fun music. And Jenny, the little girl is super adorable.


Babes in Toyland

What it's about: Mary Contrary and Tom Piper are about to marry, when he is kidnapped by the villain Barnaby so that Mary will marry him. Tom escapes and comes back for Mary, only to have the children she watches disappear. They go after them and find a toymaker in the woods, who becomes a pawn in Barnaby's next scheme. (This sounds confusing, but it makes sense if you watch it.)

Why you should watch it: This movie came out in the 60's, and it contains some classic actors like Ed Wynn and Annette Funicello. The music is quite fun, as are the sets. We're talking classic Disney here. And you can't forget the classic bumbling villain sidekicks.

I hope this list gave you some ideas for new movies to try. Don't forget to watch out for part two next month.

Let's talk! What Disney movies do you think are underrated? Have you seen any of these? Tell me in the comments.

May 15, 2017

Organizing Your Writing

Organizing Your Writing

As a writer, things accumulate. Papers, files, drawings, books, and more. The next thing you know you're buried in a mound of writing-related papers and you can't find anything.

That is why organizing your things is so important. If you keep things neat, then you'll be able to find what you need, when you need it. (That's the important part.) In this post we'll be looking at how you can organize your writing things whether they're physical or digital.

Sorting first

Before you can get started organizing anything, the first step is to sort it and get rid of what you don't need. Don't freak out, though. Notice I only said to get rid of what you Don't Need.

It's not that hard. Get all of whatever you're sorting together, then look through it. If you no longer need a paper, have irrelevant information, or are not likely to use something again, get rid of it. See, it's not that hard. But make sure you don't hold on to everything in case you need it again. Most of it you probably won't. Make your choices wisely.

Organizing papers

First you'll need to find all your papers. Grab it all and get it in one place. Then, using the above guide, sort through it.

Now that you have it all, and have it sorted through, it's time to get it organized. Start by dividing papers up by category. Each novel and any related papers (outline, worldbuilding, character profiles, etc.) should go together. Put them in a folder or something similar so they stay together.

When everything is organized, you need to find a place to put it all. A shelf or somewhere in your desk is best. Anywhere you can get to it easily is great. After you've picked a spot, the rest is up to you. You can organize it alphabetically, shove on the shelf in no order, or whatever else you might decide.

I keep my writing in folders under my desk in these organizers. To the right, you can also see my writing books.

Organizing books

If you're a writer, you've probably also collected a lot of books. Some for reference, some for research, and others that have just accumulated. To organize them, start again by sorting through them. There are ones you probably no longer need and can get rid of.

Then you'll want to find an easy to get at place for them. I recently moved all my reference books- dictionary, thesaurus, stylebook, etc.- to my desk so I could access them better. You may want to do the same. Other books that you don't need as frequently can go on your normal bookcase.

Organizing files

Computer files can really add up over time. They take up space on your laptop and can easily get lost. Try to find them all and get them in one folder labeled "writing" before you start. Then you'll want to, you guessed it, sort them. Plenty of them you'll find you no longer need. Delete any that you can get rid of.

My writing folder. Click on it to see it full sized.

Organizing on the computer can be more tricky than organizing physical papers. What I do is put all writing under the folder by that label. I then have them divided up into folders by novel or resource, which I've labeled with the appropriate label. "NaNoWriMo 2016" or "Return to Wonderland" for example.

My writing resources.

I also have a large sub-folder full of more sub-folders with writing resources. Workbooks, e-books, character profiles, and so on. You don't have to do this, but I like things to be super organized.


*  *  *  *

Those are my tips for organizing your writing. Even if you don't think of yourself as a tidy person, I encourage you to try it anyway. It will help you a lot, and if you work hard to always put things away, you won't have to reorganize for a long time.

Let's talk! How do you organize your writing? Are you a neat freak like me? Tell me in the comments.

May 11, 2017

8 Places to Read Books

8 Places to Read Books

With our ever-growing TBRs threatening to crush us at any second, everyone needs ways to read faster and more frequently. I understand not everyone has time to read a lot, but I believe that people could get more books done if they took the everyday opportunities that come up to read.

In this post I will show you eight places that you might not think of to read books. Warning: Humorous suggestions ahead. Some of these ideas may cause harm to books. Or yourself.

1. In the bath

When you're taking that relaxing hot bath you reward yourself, why not bring a book along for company? There's nothing better than some hot water, lavender bath salts, and a good book. Caution here, though. Water and books don't mix well. Try to avoid getting it wet. Or dropping it in the tub.

2. Waiting for the movie to start

The fifteen minutes before a movie starts playing is golden for reading time. All they're playing right now is sponsored ads anyway. Make the most of those few minutes and get a chapter or two done.

3. Metro/bus/car

If you're not driving the vehicle you're in, it's the perfect time to read. (As long as you don't get motion sick.) I've gotten through lots of books by reading in the car. Just remember to keep half an ear out if you're riding the bus or metro. You wouldn't want to miss your stop.


4. While walking

Reading while walking is an advanced skill and should only be attempted with a spotter. And don't bet on your sibling doing that. They'll let you walk into a wall or a light pole just so they can laugh. (I hope they wouldn't but we all know the likelihood of that.) But if you can learn to do this, just think how much reading you can accomplish.

5. In bed

Were you one of those kids who read under the covers with a flashlight? Now that you're older, you can stay up as long as you want reading in bed. So you won't get any actual sleeping done, but sacrifices must be made if you want to ever get your TBR down to a manageable height.

6. Before events

People always get to events early so they can get good seats. But what do you do when you have twenty minutes until what you're waiting for starts? You could scroll Instagram aimlessly. . . or you could read a few more chapters of your current read. I would hope you would choose the more intellectually stimulating. (Hint: not Instagram.)

7. When you need a break

This is one that needs to be used carefully and with tact. If you're an introvert like me, you'll be at a party or having family over, and eventually you'll just need to take a break. This is a good time to find a quiet corner and take a few minutes to read. After about fifteen minutes, you should be ready to rejoin society again.


8. Waiting for food

Once you've ordered your food at a restaurant, there isn't a lot to do until it comes. Which means it's the perfect opportunity to pull out the book you have in your purse. Because I know it's in there. Of course, if you're with someone else, don't you dare touch it unless you know it would be okay. Make some polite conversation, even if it's just talking about the book you're reading.

Let's talk! Do you read in any of these places? What other places can you add? Tell me in the comments.

May 8, 2017

Fantasy Map-making for the Artistically Challenged

Fantasy Map-making for the Artistically Challenged

I'm a fairly good artist, but I know not everyone is like me. Even I'm not that good at one of the most important parts of writing any novel that takes place in a made-up place or occasionally a real one. Drawing a map.

Please don't run away screaming. The whole point of this post is to make map-making manageable. I said this is for the artistically challenged, didn't I?

In this post, I'll show you how to make a simple map for your novel. Will it be Tolkien worthy? No. Will it be good? Maybe. But that's not the point. Let's get to it.

This is my first map. Compare it to the map I drew for this post and you'll see how a little practice helped me.

Step 1: Accept that your map will not be a work of art

The whole point is of this is not to create a beautiful piece of artwork. Though if you can do that, it's a plus. The point is to make a map you can use with your novel. No else ever has to see this.

Map-making is a skill that takes time and practice. Real cartographers spend years learning their art. You obviously don't have to do that. But you will need to practice drawing maps to get better at it.

If you don't accept that it won't be great, you'll only be disappointed with what you create. Instead you need to do the best you can and be content with that. Practice makes perfect.


Step 2: Get together your supplies

There are two ways to make maps. By hand or on a computer. Neither is better than the other. It just depends on what you feel more comfortable with.

For a paper map, you'll need paper (obviously), a good pencil, and an eraser. I don't suggest using pen because you never know if you might want to change something on your map later. Also, the bigger the piece of paper, the better for your map. It will give you lots of room to work. However, if that feels intimidating, just go with a normal 8 1/2 by 11.

I personally have never made a map using a computer program. There can be quite a learning curve involved in using computers. If you decided to do it that way, you'll have to do some research on what programs work best. You can probably use any drawing program. Or you can try out this cool map creator from Fantasy Name Generator.

Step 3: Know your country

It's important to know lots about your country before starting your map. In fact, you should leave map-making until after completing your world building. You'll need to know those facts to create a map. How will you know you need mountains unless you know that your country has lots of stone? Or need a large inland lake for your freshwater mermaids?

Step 4: Basic shape

Now we get to the fun part. Actually starting to draw the map. You'll start with the basic shape. You may already have a shape in mind, or you can do what I often do, which is just let your hand wander around the paper until you have a shape you like. Don't forget to add any major peninsulas, islands, coves, or bays to the outline.


Also think about the surrounding countries at this point. How does your country connect to the other ones? It's highly unlike that your country is just floating alone in the middle of nothing, so you need to think about what's around it. More lands? Ocean? Space? Even if that other stuff never comes in, it's important for you to know and add it to your map.


Once you've got a shape you like, including the surrounding countries or whatever, start making the edges more detailed. If you look at a real map, you'll see all our borders wiggle all over the place. Add some realism to your map by doing the same. But don't go overboard. Try to find a happy middle ground.

Step 5: Filling it in

This is where it starts to get tricky. But don't panic, even if that's tempting. I promise you can do this.

The next step is to add in all the little details. Terrain, cities, capitals, rivers, lakes, and all that stuff. You probably already know some of these things from outlining and world building. You just have to decided where to put them.

This is my second map. Just using tips from the book I mention at the end of this post, look how much better it is.

For each thing (city, mountain, river, etc.) you'll need a way to represent it. These can be simple upside down v's for mountain to actually drawing in a mountain range. What you draw depends on your skill level and what you feel comfortable doing. However, I do suggest you try for a more professional look, since it will make you happier with your map.

I've included some ideas for these items for you to reference. As you can see, I have both easy and harder ones for you to try. Do what works best for you, and you'll be fine. As you see, even I'm not that good. My trees look like wobbly pears. This is an area I want to improve at.


Step 6: Add the details

Label your cities using some fun script. Add monsters, shading, and whatever else it takes until your map looks complete.

And you're done creating your map! Congratulate yourself. If you think that your map looks really awful, try holding it about ten feet away. I find drawings always look better at that distance.

Step 7: Use your map

The map's purpose is to help you write your story. Now that you have completed it, that's exactly what you can do. Keep it at hand as you write to reference and add on. This is why I say not to ink your map. You never know when something might change, like realizing they're going east, but the city they're trying to get to is to the west.

Later, when your story is done, you can ink and color your map. It will look quite professional if you do that. Even if you never let anyone see your map, you'll always get a thrill to look at it. You created a world and drew it too, no matter how horrible. Everyone is an artist. Never forget that.

Resources

If you need more help with map-making, here are some various places you can look.

• YouTube. You can always search for "how to make a fantasy map" or "drawing a fantasy map" on here. There are many videos, so you're sure to find something.

Worldbuilding School. There are some pretty good articles on here, and if you're willing to sign up for their email, you can get access to their library.

• Google it. Whatever think you need help with, just try a Google search. Something's bound to come up.


• How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps: Step by Step Cartography for Gamers and Fans. My family just got this book and it is so amazing. The ideas are easy and he shows you how to create a map from concept to completion. I recommend getting this book immediately.

There you have it. How to make a map, no matter your art skill level. Go forth and create.

Let's talk! Have you ever made a map before? What's your favorite part? Tell me in the comments.

May 4, 2017

Writing Lessons from Star Wars

Writing Lessons from Star Wars

May the 4th be with you!

You had to see this coming, didn't you? It's Star Wars day, so I obviously had to do a Star Wars post for today. After much thought, I decided to do one on writing lessons that we can learn from the Star Wars movies.

This month, Star Wars celebrates its 4oth anniversary. Can you believe it's been forty years since A New Hope came out? Forty years of inspiration and innovation. I've loved these movies since I first saw them, like so many others. If you're curious, Episode V is my favorite movie, and I can't pick just one favorite character.

Star Wars has many things we can learn from it, some good, some bad. I could probably go on forever, but no one has time for that. We have to go have a Star Wars movie marathon! So I'll try to hit only the major ones. If there are any I miss, feel free to add them in the comments. Let's go to a galaxy far, far away. . .



Lesson 1: Don't make your planets the same all over

I'm sure this started because in 1977 it was difficult to make planets at all, much less ones that were anything more than a desert or a forest or giant snow storm. But no one has really tried harder than that since then.

When you create a planet, try to make it something like ours. Just think about how many cultures, races, and types of ecosystems there are. I know it can be hard to create something that gigantic, much less several of them if it's a space story, but give it a shot. Readers will appreciate it. Hopefully.



Lesson 2: Even good guys can be wrong

The Jedi council is a prime example of this. They are the peacekeepers of the galaxy, but they are still mortals. They make mistakes and wrong choices. I've always wondered who put them in charge in the first place and why they get to decided which is the right side. Their trying to keep the peace, and refusing people attachments, is what ultimately leads to their destruction.

If you have a good organization, why not see if you can add ways they can be wrong? In my last NaNoWriMo novel, I had a peacekeeping organization that protected England from threats. But because of fear, they let one of the biggest threats grow right under their noses.



Lesson 3: People will do anything if they want it bad enough

The whole reason Anakin became a sith lord at all is because of his love for Padme. All he wanted was to keep her safe, and it led him down a dark path. I've always found him one of the most interesting characters from Episodes 1-3. His negative character arc makes him fascinating to watch.

The lesson here is people are willing to go through a lot for things that want deep down. And some characters are willing to go too far. How far are your characters willing to go for the thing they want? And will that take them to dark places?



Lesson 4: Environment can be both a help and a hindrance to your characters

I've always liked how the environments in Star Wars came into play during their battles. Space is the obvious one, but also think about Hoth with it's snow and ice. Or Kamino with the constant rain, making fighting difficult. Or how that moon of Endor gave the rebels an advantage over the stormtroopers.


Think about where you can set your fight scene to help or hinder your hero. Changing up the environment can be fun and add an extra layer to your writing.



Lesson 5: Clothes are important

The costumes in Star Wars movies are fantastic. Plain or fancy, you can tell the designers put lots of work and thought into them. Clothes in Star Wars play a big part in characters. Think about Luke's Tatooine clothes. They protect him from the sand while also keeping him cool. Or Padme's many outfits that she wears for her role as ambassador and queen. (I counted and in Episode II alone, she wore 13 outfits.)

When you're building a culture, don't forget to work out how clothes tie in. Do they wear lots or little? Plain or fancy? Light colors or dark? And why to all of those? Clothes can really add to your world building.



Lesson 6: Consider both sides of the story

Often in Star Wars, when characters are at odds, they're both right in some way. This makes it hard for us to pick a side. Consider the tension between Obi Wan and Anakin because of their differing points of view. Or between Jyn Erso and Cassian.

When creating a story, try to see it from both sides, especially from the villain's point of view. This will add depth to your story as you can see things better if you understand how your characters think.



Lesson 7: Humor always adds

Star Wars has always had the best one liners in just the right spots. Han Solo has some of the funniest lines, which combined with his roguish good looks and daredevil attitude, makes him one of the most popular characters in Star Wars. Humor can lighten the darkest or most serious scenes.

If you can add humor to your novel without making it cheesy or forced, then do it. It's always appreciated. That's one of the reasons that Marvel has surpassed DC movies. Even though it's dark, their characters keep the attitude light. DC fails at that. So try to be like Marvel.



Lesson 8: Politics= tension

Much of the tension and conflict in the Star Wars comes from politics. The Rebel Alliance was formed to fight the ruler of the galaxy. Even the politics aboard the Empire's ships had an air of tension as the officers fight to be noticed, but not too noticed.

How can your government system or even ranks add tension to your story? Are there splits and divisions? Is either side right, or are they both wrong?



Lesson 9: Your female characters can wear beautiful clothes and still blast people to death

Both Padme and Princess Leia wear lots of lovely dresses. And they both don't hesitate to use their blaster when necessary. Sometimes they do both at once.

It's been said before but I'll repeat it. Your female characters can be tough, kick butt, and love pretty clothes all at the same time. That's why I love Kestral from The Winner's Curse so much. She enjoys a pretty dress as much as the next girl.



Lesson 10: Talking before violence

The Jedi often try to negotiate peace between sides before bringing out the lightsabers. Padme and Leia try to talk to the other side before shooting them up. In Star Wars, they often try to talk it out first. It doesn't often succeed, but at least they try.

So don't just have your characters shoot first, ask questions later. It makes them more likable if they don't try to solve everything with violence. But also remember, there is a time to fight as well.

This post came out really long, but I had lots of fun writing it. So all I have to say now is- May the force be with you.



Let's talk! What lessons have you learned from Star Wars? Which character(s) and movie is your favorite? Tell me in the comments.

May 1, 2017

Book of the Month: The Sword of Summer

Book of the Month: The Sword of Summer

The Sword of Summer
by Rick Riordan

Blurb: Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .
 


Cover Review: This cover is immediately intriguing, and well laid out. I love the color scheme especially. The way the top and bottom are cool colors with the swath of warmth in the middle. Plus, a book with a sword, a wolf, and a giant tree must be interesting.

My Thoughts

Plot: Like many quest novels, the protagonists get sidetracked a lot while trying to accomplish their goal. Which in this is case is to keep Fenris the wolf from escaping his bonds. But other than that, it's high paced and fun. Rick Riordan's trademark humor makes this book.

Characters: Magnus is a homeless kid, and brings a more world-wise point of view than Percy Jackson ever did. He's just as snarky, and he's Annabelle's cousin. (Don't think about the logistics too much. You'll hurt your head.) And he's not that great of a fighter, which is nice.

Then there is the rest of his group. Sam, an Arabic girl who wears a hijab while killing you. She's also a Valkyrie. Then there's Blitz and Hearth, a funny twosome. They're a dwarf and elf respectively. Hearthstone is my favorite. He's deaf, and he signs. His character isn't totally accurate, since he can read lips without a problem and no one signs back to him, but I still like him.

The rest of the cast is mostly Norse gods. Like Riordan's other books, they are true to the myths, but with a modern spin and attitude. Like Thor using Mjolnir to watch TV. (And yes, I totally I had to look up how to spell that.) But the best one is Loki, obvi. He eats Pop Tarts and every time he comes in, all I can see is Tom Hiddleston. Please tell me I'm not the only one.


World: Like in his other books, Riordan cleverly combines the real world and the mythical world. In this case, it's the world tree being in Boston. It's well done, and I enjoy all the references to stories from Norse mythology.

Other: Can we talk about Jack for a moment? Not only is he amazing, and can do awesome stuff, he's so sarcastic. Especially when he is asked to turn into a pen. Ha. Inside writer joke there. Jack also likes pop music. 

Or what about his chapter titles? They are the best. "Make Way for Ducklings or They Will Smack You Upside the Head". "Let's Play Frisbee with Bladed Weapons!". "We Are Subjected to the Power Point of Doom". See what I mean?

My Rating: 4 stars







Recommended For: Fans of Percy Jackson, Norse mythology, and epic friendships.

Let's talk! Have you read The Sword of Summer? What did you like best about it? Tell me in the comments.

April 27, 2017

April Creative Corner

April Creative Corner

Welcome to the April Creative Corner. Before we start, I want you to know that this post will be moving to an every other month slot. I don't know what will replace it on the months when I don't do it, but I just wanted to let you know. All right, on to the creating.

First, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes out next month, and in honor of that, I drew Baby Groot. Didn't he come out so cute?


The next one is a pair of earrings that I made for my mom. We found these super cute charms at Michaels a few months ago and I finally got around to using them. The cups and plates are real porcelain.


Earlier this month we went to the National Art Gallery to see a new exhibit on an impressionist painter. Afterwards we went to the roof to see Hanh/Cock, a giant blue chicken sculpture.

Here's a picture of me with Hanh/Cock, just so you can get a feel for how big he is.

While we were up there, I made a quick sketch of the Capitol dome in my art travel journal. Sometimes it's nice to not make a perfect picture, and instead just try and capture what you see quickly. It was a fun day, and a great way to remember my grandmother, who passed away the day before. She was my art teacher for many years.


And here's a quick preview of a drawing I'm currently working on. Wonder Woman! I can't wait for the movie, so in the meantime, I'm drawing her.


Let's talk! How have you been creative this month? Do you enjoy trips to art galleries? Tell me in the comments.