Exclusive Interview with “Halayda” author, Sarah Delena White!!!

Exclusive Interview with “Halayda” author, Sarah Delena White!!!

OK, first, again, apologies to you guys for not touching base as much as I should’ve… But then, I might not have been able to surprise you with something truly wonderful!

This summer, as I’ve previously mentioned, I read and got addicted to indie author Sarah Delena White’s first book of her Star Fae Trilogy, Halayda. (I will include a blurb at the bottom, for all those interested. I will say this, though: Fae meets alchemy meets steampunk. Meets the classic, “good vs. evil”. Hehehe.) I’ve actually had the pleasure to get to know Sarah personally via Facebook, and bonded a great deal, amidst several good-natured, and sometimes comical, conversations. She informed me that book 2 is coming out soon, this spring, in fact. I asked if, to help build hype and satisfy some of our curiosity, she’d be so kind as to agree to an interview– and she agreed!!!

I AM SO FREAKING PUMPED, GUYS!!!

Anyways… Ahem *clears throat* Let’s get this show on the road!

 

L4G: Thanks soooo much for joining us today, Sarah! It’s really quite the honor to be having this interview; it seems super surreal….I know a lot of readers and Bookstagrammers are rather unfamiliar with you and your writing, so we’ll start off there. First off, how did you get started in your writing business?

SDW: I never intended to be a writer, believe it or not. I’ve always enjoyed creating stories and worlds, but I didn’t prioritize writing until I was in my mid-twenties. I started writing while living and working overseas as a way of processing my experiences. I came to realize the profound power of storytelling and spent the next few years honing my craft and working on various projects. I always wrote fantasy, though. I love the power of speculative fiction to put the real world in a new perspective.

L4G: That’s awesome! I have to agree, I love how fantasy puts a novel (see what I did there?) spin on reality, and am a big fantasy reader and writer, myself. Speaking of which, I know a lot of people who are interested in writing, particularly fiction (and not just myself!). What pro tips can you give for future, aspiring authors?

SDW: 1. Always keep writing, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Before Halayda, I left a trail of half-finished stories in a range of genres. I had to keep trying different ideas and creating different worlds before I hit on something that deeply resonated with me and that I loved enough to commit to for the long run. 2. Don’t be boring! This piece of advice was given to me by one of my editors, Janeen Ippolito, and it changed my whole perspective on storytelling. I used to think I had to plow through the “boring parts” of a story so I could eventually get to the “interesting parts.” The result was some very uninteresting stories! When I started writing Halayda, I chose to make every scene an “interesting part,” realizing that if I wasn’t interested in writing something, people probably wouldn’t be interested in reading it.

L4G: Those are definitely words to live by… All you writers out there, take notes! 😉 I know I’m personally guilty of leaving stories half-finished, sometimes due to duller parts, until recently… But that’s another tale for another day. 🙂 Since, going by your Facebook and Instagram, we already know you love ballads and fae stuff, but… What SPECIFICALLY inspired you to create the world and characters of  Halayda and the Star-Fae Trilogy

SDW: Halayda was sparked by a dream in which I got dragonfly wings thanks to a crazy scientist’s experiment. The dream lingered in my mind after I woke up, and within a few hours Sylvie and Taylan came to life and started to tell me their story. I originally intended the book to be a superhero story, but I quickly realized that the concept wasn’t unique enough and needed other elements to make it sparkle. Since I love genre mashups, I combined fae mythology and steampunk with some of my favorite superhero tropes, and the world of Kyure was born.

L4G: What?! No way, I had a story world that was invented via a dream, too! OK, this is CRAZY *high-fives* OK, OK, Livia, stay focused… stay focused… In Halayda, there are a few things that are very symbolic, the Dragonfly wings and Dragonfly abilities being one of them. Maybe the Humanities and my English-y classes are getting to me with symbols and themes, but I need to ask: What made you choose the specific image of not just WINGS, but DRAGONFLY wings to symbolize and mark out Faerie’s Savior? 

SDW: While most of the symbolism in Halayda was deliberate, the dragonfly wings started as an unintentional symbol (or perhaps a subconscious one). I originally chose them because they were an element of the original dream and I liked the aesthetic. As I delved deeper into Sylvie’s significance and role while drafting the book, I realized that dragonfly wings were a perfect fit for many reasons. Dragonflies often symbolize renewal, as well as change leading to deeper maturity and self-realization, and this is perfect for Sylvie’s journey in Halayda.

L4G: Well, I guess that makes sense. I mean, sometimes dreams just have so much powerful imagery, you can’t help but include some of it… And the fact that it turned out to be something so much more… THAT’S what I call a “God-incidence”! Alright, since I promised my good friend Jarrett I’d ask a question or two regarding specific characters in your story, the Wild Hunt… (Sorry, Casimir– I PROMISE you’ll get a WHOLE interview to express your glorious self next time!!) He wants to know, how do the leaders of the Wild Hunt get chosen (by age, seniority, family/clan, descent, etc.)?

SDW: The leaders of the Wild Hunt claim their positions through a combination of seniority and fighting ability. The older, more powerful members of the Hunt will often fight to assert their dominance and try to claim a higher rank in the pack. Iberek became the chief hound shifter about two hundred years before Halayda takes place, winning a fight against multiple challengers. He is the oldest living member of the Wild Hunt, and very few Hunters are bold enough to question his authority.

L4G: I’m sure Jarrett’ll be pleased to know that fascinating tidbit about his fave character. He also wants to know, just how animal ARE the Wild Hunt– as in, are they mainly human/fae with animalistic traits, or is it vice versa?

SDW: Good question! It’s always interesting to see how authors handle this aspect of their Shifter characters. In this case, the hound and cat shifters of the Wild Hunt are primarily fae, but they prefer a more primitive life than the elemental faeries. While certain aspects of their culture resemble a wolf pack, they don’t view themselves as animals at all.

L4G: That’s very interesting! I thought that way myself, but Jarrett asks a lot of intriguing questions I never would’ve thought of, myself… I gotta hand it to him. Anyways, let’s wrap this up! 🙂 So happy we could get together to do this! Hopefully we can get together to do this again sometime in the future! Just one more question: Any clues as to what book 2’s going to have in store for us– a blurb, or even title-wise? Because there were noticeable changes on your Pinterest, hahaha….

SDW: I don’t have a blurb or a final title yet, but keep an eye out for that this winter, along with the official cover reveal! Here are a few clues about book 2, though:

-It is partly inspired by the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone.
-You’ll get to see more of the mortal (steampunk) world).
-Everyone has a secret, and nothing is quite as it seems. 😉
 
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Olivia!

 

Thank YOU, Sarah!!! This was a lot of fun, and hopefully we can do it again in anticipation for book 3!!!

 

Interested in the Star Fae Trilogy? Here’s more!

Halayda blurb:

“Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.

King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.

Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.

Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.”

Find out more in this dramatic clash of fates and destinies in her first book of the trilogy, now!

https://uncommonuniverses.com/books/halayda/

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About the Author:

Sarah Delena White

Sarah is a vagabond on a never-ending quest for truth, beauty, and really good lattes. She has degrees in Intercultural Studies and Teaching English as a Second Language, and loves to explore the connections between fantastic stories – both modern and ancient – and the cultures that invent them. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, and working a variety of odd jobs. She occasionally remembers to eat and sleep, because those things are apparently important. She also loves chickens.

SarahDWhite

Image Creds: Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram 

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The Boss-y Baby

The Boss-y Baby

We think we know everything about babies, don’t we? Where they come from, how uneducated, messy and smelly they are…

Well, according to the movie, The Boss Baby, you should think again on that matter.

*WARNING: SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT*

Apparently, it says, babies come from a magical heavenly realm where they are either sorted into families with no knowledge or real memory of being in Babyland, OR be sorted into a administration with a much bigger goal: To always keep the babies’ cuteness factor as number one in society. All you-know-what breaks loose when it turns out that puppies are beating them in that race for numero uno, so the boss babies take matters into their own hands; one of their own infiltrates a seemingly ordinary home, with seemingly ordinary parents, and an only child, an older boy aged seven, Timothy Templeton. Tim gets a taste of all the negative things that come with being an older brother with the new baby, and instantly takes a disliking to him, but also grows suspicious at the baby’s fairly obvious intelligence, and initially tries to prove this to his parents. However, the boss baby catches him, and later on they form a reluctant truce: If Tim helps the boss baby with his top secret mission, then the boss baby will return to Babyland, and Tim will have his parents all to himself again. Of course, to do so, they have to pretend they’re loving siblings so that their parents will take them to Puppy Co., their workplace, on account of “Take your Kid to Work Day”, but in the process actually bond a little, becoming fonder of each other, despite the misgivings. They defeat the “evil” CEO, cutting the company short of some of its breeding profits, and save the day. The boss baby is transported back to Babyland and is heralded as a hero, and Tim’s parents get their memories wiped (Tim doesn’t), so he has them all to himself. However, when he keeps one of the baby’s toys as a memento, and the boss baby, while given a new office with a golden potty to boot, reminisces about the time where he and Tim played pirate together on the plane to save Tim’s parents. Eventually, Tim invites the boss baby to come back and live with them again, permanently this time, and the baby rejoices, runs to the sorting machine, fixes it so that he’s given to Tim’s family, and they happily re-accept him, naming him Theodore.

Years later, we see the two boys, now adults (Theo has yet to shed the business suit), and Tim’s daughter complains to her dad and uncle how she wanted a pony, not a little sister. Amused, Theo hands her several bills, and tells her to go and buy one. The girl looks through the hospital window at the newest member of her family, when the small, blonde pig-tailed girl in a mini business suit looks up and winks mischievously at her bewildered older sister.

What was done well:

  1. The dynamic between the two “sibs”. Kept playful and yet believable. I like.
  2. Undercover mission… with babies. Their team even has an artist, henchmen, and a muscle man baby. Call me impressed.
  3. Story was fairly interesting. I found that Tim’s scheme to expose b.b. was more interesting than b.b.’s actual mission, though. Really? A simple contest of cuteness?

What needed work:

Much of the story was confusing, and sometimes contradictory. For instance, Tim’s mom is shown visibly pregnant at the beginning, and not when the boss baby first arrives. When boss baby takes Tim on a tour of Babyland, and inquires where Tim used to think babies came from, Tim whispers in his ear presumably what most parents tell their kids when they talk about reproduction; the boss baby looks revolted at this, and shakes his head dismissively.

Another contradiction I found to be odd was the Youth Formula the babies were given, keeping them forever, well, babies. The issue with this is, then they will never mature, never learn language, etc. The babies who were first created in the administration would be as immature and as little learned as the newbies coming in.Very contradictory, and a bit confusing.

 

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Cute, but needs to clean up the contradictory stuff first.

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Image Credit:

https://www.movieinsider.com/m12763/boss-baby

 

 

“Ugly” and the Beast: A Snek’s “Tail”

“Ugly” and the Beast: A Snek’s “Tail”

See what I did there???

Also, yes, I misspelled “snake,” on purpose. But don’t worry, I’ll get to that later.

Lately, I’ve been doing a good bit of reading. And not just popular reads, either (Six of Crows and Heartless have been tempting me yet again… This time, I may have to give in to the latter.). I’ve seen some pretty good stuff from the indie author side of the spectrum lately, too– from Halayda to my latest finished read, the novella by H.L. Burke, Coiled. 

WARNING! YOU ARE ABOUT TO, YET AGAIN, PASS THROUGH INTO SPOILER CITY. PROCEED NO FURTHER IF YOU WISH TO REMAIN UNSPOILED. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Overall, a good read. A fairly short, and somewhat predictable read, but a good one nonetheless. While it was advertised as a take on the mythological Eros’s and Psyche’s tale, it personally reminded me of more of… Beauty and the Beast. Only, this version was more like UGLY and the Beast.

But then, perhaps not. You see, the main character, a girl called Princess Laidra, is outright hideous in every single way imaginable, but has a beautiful, caring, moral heart. She has the gift to heal others physically, whether it be animal or person, but at the cost of further damaging her appearance; she often does so anyways, but has to hide when she heals, because her mother, who in actuality does not care about her whatsoever, forbids her from growing uglier. Laidra must wear a hooded cloak, and sometimes a veil, to hide her appearance in public. In stark contrast, her vain, arrogant and cruel twin, Princess Ellea, is immensely outwardly stunning, a pure model, but has the heart and sympathy of a freaking boulder. Yeah, you heard me. A. Boulder. A stone-cold one, at that (yep, feeling punny today, hehehe…).

Welp, right across the ocean so blue, we have our lovely neighboring kingdom with their own troublesome royal twins, Kalen and Volen, who are likewise under a twin-curse- thingy, via a demi-god’s wrath. If Kalen is looked upon, he turns into a huge, vicious serpent, and his mind instantly becomes bestial, inhuman. So naturally, not wanting to harm anyone, he lives out in a cave that interconnects to a special castle just for him, where he can be alone (but he is very lonely. Trust me on that.), save for his demi-goddess mother’s occasional visits (she visits him blindfolded). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Volen, who is more callous, cannot at all be left alone, lest HE be serpentine, as well. Their father obviously favors Volen for the throne, so, to break the curse on Volen but to seal Calen as a serpent forever, he plans to ally with previous said kingdom, marry Volen to Ellea, thus breaking both of their curses, and forcefully change Calen into a serpent and feed Laidra to him. But things go awry when Laidra ends up escaping, and she and Calen meet (it’s dark enough that she can’t see him, and thus his curse is not activated). What happens next through a series of events is epic, beautiful, and powerful. Here’s my take on the story:

What was done well:

  1. The character building. The characters were realistic and easy to empathize with, if somewhat predictable. I mean, you easily knew that the two sets of twins were going to end up with each other. Still, kudos for character growth. Especially for Laidra’s character growth. And I love Calen’s character! Very sensitive, strong guy, for all his weakness.
  2. The overall plot. Even if somewhat predictable, it was still enjoyable. I mean, for starters, it didn’t take me long to figure out that Calen was a gigantic serpent, and Laidra was supposedly going to be fed to a monstrosity (I mean, two and two, really…)… so… But the overall plot was good. I like the theme of looking past outward appearances to the heart and soul’s beauty– classic Beauty and the Beast stuff.
  3. How Laidra’s gift showed her true character and inner beauty. Each time she heals, she gets uglier. She continues to heal despite this, despite being unwanted and shunned due to her appearance, and her mother’s threats. That not only takes guts, but compassion and selflessness. She obviously thinks little of herself in this sense, and more of others, which I deeply admire.

Mixed Feels on:

  1. The whole “gods” vs God thing. While there are pagan gods, these are portrayed as the “lesser” gods at one point, and God is shown as the only One True Divine Being. However, this was not always shown to be the case, until the second half of the book, save for Laidra hoping for and hopefully praying to that God of love. This was a bit confusing, because I didn’t know which direction the author was really taking the story, with this idea– mythology, or GENUINE theology? If you’re going to blend the two, at least be careful in being theologically sound.
  2. Volen’s transformation. I thought it a cool and ironic idea… But it was confusingly executed. If he alone transforms when he’s ALONE, with no one watching, wouldn’t he turn back into a human upon his brother– and Laidra– seeing him, when he attacked them on the beach? It’s slightly contradictory, just slightly.

Things that needed work:

  1. I felt like things sometimes progressed a little bit quickly. Granted, not always the case, and I really appreciated how she spread out the days so Laidra and Calen got one-on-one quality time with each other, BUT something about most other things felt a little… rushed, every now and then. I don’t know why, maybe that’s just me. It wasn’t all the time though, and just occasionally.
  2. Slightly lacking in scenery description. Great at describing people, but then, I think that that’s what the story was about, that and love. But needs work in describing a *little* more of the scenery. Not too much more, but a little. Teleport us there!
  3. The disembodied voice of Calen’s invisible servant pal. Honestly, I want to know more. More, I tell you! I feel like we don’t know enough about him (?). Who is he? How did he end up working for Calen? Why is he invisible to begin with? Is he human or mythological?Sooooo many questions!

My rating: 3.5 stars. (Hey, like I said, I’m a tough rater, so this is actually pretty good.) Needs a bit of tweaking, but definitely LOADS of potential. Idea is very intriguing, but mostly needs to be made less obvious in some areas. Let the reader do some detective work, except when it comes to Mr. Disembodied Floating Voice. That, we need the beans spilled on!!

Oh, and P.S. ….. The author likes affectionately referring to them as, “sneks”. Because reasons. 😉

 

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Image Credit:

http://www.hlburkeblog.com/2016/12/

 

The Beastliness and the Beautiful

The Beastliness and the Beautiful

(Yeah, you knew. You knew I was going to watch it and review. Eventually.)

Sooooo…. Between all the majorly controversial hype about this movie, and the fact that I love Disney for going and making classic films into live actions, I finally decided to cave and rent the live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” from my local Family Video store.

*SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!*

I had mixed feelings about it, some serious misgivings, and some not as serious, while watching. I do want to say that some controversial things are more subtle than others, but, if you were told ahead of time it was there, you definitely would’ve been on the lookout for/noticed a few things. But, ALLLLLL that aside…

It was pretty good. Hate to give that to Mr. Condon, who is known to be a rabidly leftist agenda advocate, but controversial stuff aside, he did well. Here are some of those things:

  1. Belle’s mom. Disney is pretty notorious for leaving more than one official Disney princess either entirely orphaned (Snow White, Cinderella) or one-parent-less (Tiana, Ariel, Jasmine, Belle). I did like how they, as of late, are just now including more explanations of why that is. (It’s usually a mysterious, unexplained illness) I do wish they would get a little more creative, though, instead of just relying on illness. It’s a too easy thing to fall back on.
  2. The return to French roots. Loved, loved, loved this. It’s originally a French tale, so it only makes sense to include more French references, including more detail of the selfish, spoiled little Prince’s party at the beginning.B&B2
  3. The casting choices. I think they did fabulously on the casting choices, they really did. The CGI was also great, and THAT CASTLE!!! O.O My only problem was, as one of my former roommates and major B&B fan said, Emma didn’t portray Belle as kindly as she had been in the original movie. But, I like how she portrayed Belle’s intellect, her bravery. Belle is a TRUE Divergent!
  4. Ethnically diverse. I did not mind this in the least, and thought it a good edition to the movie.
  5. They changed the bookstore into a CHURCH. Yes, this is from the SAME director who wants to rush headlong into hotels that he’s staying in to rip out the pages of Bibles placed on bedside tables in each room, because they don’t condone homosexuality (God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He? So far, Mr. Condon hasn’t been able to find ANY Bibles to rip pages out of!). The reasoning? Apparently, it doesn’t make much sense for a town that for some unknown reason hates reading (or at least, WOMEN reading) to have a bookstore in it. The clergyman in it is portrayed in a more positive light, surprisingly; he talks kindly to Belle as she borrows a book, but she kind of just brushes him off with a, “Thanks, bye,” kind of attitude, which did irritate me a bit… Said clergyman was also one of the few who looked genuinely bewildered and perplexed when Gaston wanted to rush in headlong and kill the Beast with all the villagers in tow, like he was reluctant to take any sort of violent action against someone he didn’t even know. For someone who hates Christianity and Christians as much as Condon does, that pleasantly surprised me, even if it was pretty brief.

Mixed feels about:

  1. LeFou. Good casting choice on one hand, but acting… subtly “sensual” towards Gaston… ehhhh, no thanks. Also, fun fact: The original character himself was NOT “gay,” as he was making ga-ga eyes over the Bimbettes, those three triplets who’re constantly fawning over Gaston (while in this movie, he meanly says to them, “Not a chance, ladies.”about their odds with Gaston). But, my small consolation in this is, that, if this version really is a so-called “gay” character, then it will perfectly suit his character, since his name is literally, “The fool” in French!
  2. The Story. I didn’t know what to make of it; there were TONS, and I mean TONS of alterations from the originals. Gaston did not set up an actual wedding; he played along with Maurice, then his temper gets the best of him, and he leaves the man out in the wilderness to die, and when Maurice confronts him, Gaston then claims the man’s lunacy; the enchantress disguises herself as a beggar townsperson in Belle’s town; the baker’s wife is evidently Mrs. Potts (in the original, he calls for his wife, Maria; in the live action, he confesses he seems to be missing something, but can’t recall what… or who); Beast and Belle use a magical book to travel to Paris to discover the truth behind Belle’s mother; Belle holds a deeper fascination about her mother; she actually does get to say good bye to Maurice in the live action and deceives him so she can take his place; Belle actually attempts to escape the castle more than once; lastly, the story returned to the original roots of Maurice’s trespass on the Beast’s property to stealing a rose (it wasn’t THE rose, don’t worry). Some I liked, some I felt iffy towards, like it was too… I don’t know… strained. I think the magical book thing was more of a fan thing, and a bit unnecessary to the major plot, as interesting as it was.

What I didn’t care for:

  1. The over-dramaticness, and politically correctness, of Madame Guard de Robe–Yes, she was a BIT dramatic in the original, but did not have that over-silliness, dress Belle strangely, or imply political correctness in the sense of cross-dressing/transgenderism. Mind, in the original, she DID attack ONE man by dressing him foolishly in women’s clothing, but it was to freak him out and scare him off, which worked marvelously– it was mere silliness. This has gone from silly to strange and bizarre: She dresses up three intimidating men, two of which running off screaming in horror, while the third gets a funny, delighted little grin on his mug, and prances off in his new outfit, while the human turned wardrobe shrilly sings out, “Be FREE!” A subtle, yet disturbing, message. I found it, at the very least, unnerving and very weird. I can hardly imagine WHAT Disney is going to be doing to their rendition of the live-action Mulan….audra_mcdonald_as_garderobe_in_beauty_and_the_beast_9kgc640
  2. The lack of Chip’s role. In the original, Chip had an important role to play– accidentally smuggled in by Belle, he helps Belle and Maurice escaped being locked up and sent to the loony bin via one of Maurice’s inventions. In this version, it’s Belle’s own individualistic spirit and wit that saves the day. Nope, no room for bumbling– or, in this case, humbling– sidekicks.
  3. And, of course, the pervasiveness of homosexuality. Even if you don’t really look for it, you’re sure to notice some things askew, and this kept me from truly enjoying the movie. Even though Gad himself said that Le Fou being “gay” wasn’t actually IN the script, that does not mean he couldn’t have been told to do certain things a certain way, or to ACT “gay.”

My rating: 3 out of 5. Sorry, Condon, but stick to your other films. Hands off Disney.

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Image Credits:

https://www.moviefone.com/movie/beauty-and-the-beast/20065886/trailers/

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/BeautyAndTheBeast2017

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/the-highs-and-lows-beauty-and-the-beast

 

 

“Halayda”– Fae a la YEAH!

“Halayda”– Fae a la YEAH!

 

Hey, y’all!

Sorry that it’s been AGES; work and stuff’s been driving me up the ROOF. But anyways, enough excuses– time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

Today I’m going to be reviewing a new fave book of mine, a book called, “Halayda,” the first in a series called the “Star-Fae Trilogy,” by Ms. Sarah D. White. (Who I would love to interview on here for you guys, but we’ll see what happens! 😉 She is really nice; we’re FB pals, and I’ve already asked her a good bit about the characters!) Long story short, I won the chance to get a free book from Uncommon Universes Press, an indie publishing company, and, after much contemplation, settled on this book (it was between that, the “World Building” book, and “Coiled”. Which I still may buy and review later.). This series is going to be my very clean sub for the “a lot less than clean,” Sarah J. Maas series, “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” which I have no to little desire to read namely because of aforementioned reason. But “Halayda’s” pretty clean– some cursing, here and there, but nothing super vile. For the most part, I was pretty satisfied and overall really liked the plot, the characters. But it distresses me, however, that, since it’s published by an indie publishing company, the hype is considerably less… so I’m going to be giving her a little boost in the marketing department… 😉

It was so good, but so under-hyped, that I was genuinely shocked that there was NO REAL ART OF HER CHARACTERS!!! (This is a book that’s good enough to be made into a movie that we’re talking about here.) I mean, aside from two portraits from Julia Busko of Taylan and Sylvie respectively (which were NOT how certainly pictured either of them– she forgot Sylvie’s waviness in her hair, and Taylan looks like a red-haired Legolas…), there was nothing, zip, nada. Which is why I’m eventually going to dedicate an entire post on here, my blog, to nothing BUT “Star Fae Trilogy” characters. I may not be as experienced an artist as Busko, and my phone may take extremely shoddy pictures, but it’s worth a shot at doing them justice! (Already did Casimir, since no one else did. I wanted him done the MOST, and man alive, did he turn out great! Sarah herself was very pleased 🙂 So that made my day! Taylan and Sylvie are up next– debating on whether to draw Syl with or without her wings– then Diza, then Zad.)

It also helped that a lot of the characters would often say, “Stars,” in amazement, reminding me immensely of The Lunar Chronicles.

(early apologies for formatting; my “insert,” tab is NOT favoring me today…)

Anyways, here’s my take on her, “Halayda” (I’ll do my best to limit major spoilers!):

Story Summary:

A mortal alchemist and a faerie king align and join forces to protect both their realms, but specifically the cruel, manipulative Star-Fae Casimir, who purposely endangers Faerie in order to draw out the Faerie Savior, known as the Dragonfly. Along the way, the protags are aided by sass masters, as well as hubby and wife, Zad and Diza, two other faeries (Pooka and Dulahna, respectively), some members of the Faerie Royal Court, and also– eventually– the Wild Hunt (consisting of pookas, kellishes, and cuanns 😉 Look ’em up!) in the task of stopping Casimir and restoring the realm.

What was Done Well:

  1. The Characterization. The characters were played off beautifully, so realistically. The sass could’ve been upped a tad for my taste, but I did enjoy the playful banter she had between Zad and Taylan, Sylvie sassing Casimir, and Diza sassing Velene. There’s no better verbal play against villainy than sassiness! 🙂 The romance was also subtle at times, not too mushy. That aside, I did like how she didn’t try to make her characters too perfect; Taylan had a HUGE skeleton in his closet and was very secretive, whereas Sylvie not only had the burden of saving the whole world shoved onto her shoulders all of a sudden, but she also was very insecure about herself, about her abilities. Her wanting to hide under her blankets and snuggle up when things got bad reminded me heavily of, well, me (Yes, I have a comfort pillow that I hug. A lot. Sue me.). She also reminded me greatly of Alina Starkov, in that aspect– both are very down about themselves and their abilities, and both have villains who kinda sorta take credit for giving said female protags power, and shame them when they don’t use it.insecuritygif
  2. The Detail. Some of it was more detailed than others, but I loved how she described the Wellspring, her characters’ appearances, the shifting mountain where all the past, present, and futures are connected and can be seen. AND THE FATE THREADS!!! She did herself very well in the world-building department. wellspring3. Suspense-Building. The tension was already there at the equinox party thingy, but it exploded into immediate chaos after Caylus and Cronies Co. decided to crash the party with tons of alchemical poisons, dousing Taylan’s realm and affecting everyone in it. Needlesstosay, some (OK, probably most) members of his Court were NOT too happy about it, and this builds up until we eventually reach… TREACHERY!!! (And the “lesser of two evils” kind of logic. Go figure.)treasongif4. The Faerie Groups. If you know me, I like categorization. I’d say order too, but then I’d be at risk of some nutjob like Casimir trying to butter up to me. But annnyyyywwwhhhoooo… I love categorization, like the factions in Divergent, like the Grisha orders in The Grisha Trilogy, etc. So naturally, I liked all the orders of Faerie put into the book for your convenience, so you weren’t totally lost.
  3. 5. Finally, I LOVED how she blended alchemy with magic– two worlds collide!! Literally. Enough said.

What Needed a Bit of Work:

  1. Plot talky– more tell than show. This was one of the few things that someone else pointed out that made me think, “They have a good point…” As much as I loved the book, the story, the characters, something was a little off. Something that was preventing it from FULLY achieving ULTIMATE GREATNESS, and being up there with the rest of the fabulous, really great books. That something was, primarily, not so much showing as telling. If it’s any consolation to Sarah, though, I’m probably equally guilty of this vice, and struggle with it quite often. I like to talk, to explain, when I NEED to learn to IMPLY. You can say just as much, if not more, than the average explanation by just implying or even STRONGLY implying something. She does sometimes, just not most of the time. And that’s OK– just something to remember and work on, in the future.
  2. The glossary at the front of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the glossary, it was really, really helpful. BUT I feel like when you put it at the FRONT, right in FRONT OF the story you’ve written, it’s like you expect readers to memorize every little thing– and I know that’s not true, that it’s there to help clarify, and for their benefit. As a reader, I’d much rather look BACK, towards a glossary that’s in the same place as an index. Keep-Calm-and-Write-On
  3. Lastly, the cursing. Granted, I know, it’s a part of everyday speech. This comment is probably more of a personal preference, more than anything. I was a little surprised to find it in a believer-authored book, and although SUPER strong language isn’t used, it was still frequent enough to bother me a hair (I think it was actually more frequent in this book than in, “Shadow and Bone” O.O). For me, when I write, I’d much rather say, “So-and-so swore…” and get on with the rest of the sentence; I noticed Ted Dekker does that a good bit, as well. But maybe that’s just me. 🙂

Overall, great book from a great author. Am looking forward to reading book two of the trilogy when it hits the market early 2018, seeing the Diza-Casimir confrontation, and stopping whatever Casi’s up to next!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (like I said– I’m a hard rater, but anything 3 and up is really good, by my standards!).

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Image Credits:

http://jmhackman.com/2017/04/04/guest-post-by-sarah-delena-white-author-of-halayda/

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34210549-halayda

https://tenor.com/view/palpatine-treason-star-wars-emperor-gif-8547403

http://www.hippoquotes.com/davina-joy-quotes-tumblr

“How Far I’ll Let It Go”: A Reviewing Contrast of Both “Frozen” and “Moana”

“How Far I’ll Let It Go”: A Reviewing Contrast of Both “Frozen” and “Moana”

What do “Frozen” and “Moana” have in common, you might say? They’re about almost completely different things, in literally ENTIRELY different settings!

Well, there is one MAJOR element they DO share: They are both INCREDIBLY hyped. As in, hyped beyond the imagination, so much that it can be immensely annoying to non-fans. Which is why I’m here to do a little comparison-contrast today. Let’s see how the two teams, “Team Frozen,” and “Team Moana” respectively, line up when it comes to:

Story

Culture

Sidekicks

Music

Villains

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS! ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

First, let’s begin with story:

“Frozen”: A girl with magical ice powers is locked away from society, and is terrified of showing everyone what she can do. Meanwhile, her lonely kid sis longs to reconnect with her, but due to her being consistently shut out, makes her easy prey for the true bad guy of the movie, who proposes to her on the spot. Later, things go horribly wrong as said older sis with magical ice powers reveals said powers under stressful pressure and in refusing said younger sis’s request to marry said bad guy (who they don’t realize is a bad guy until the very end). So, long story short, older sis runs off to the wilderness to live alone so she can’t hurt anyone anymore, but in the process accidentally lets off her powers on FULL steam ahead, effectively freezing over EVERYTHING in the land. Younger sis treks off to find her sis and bring her back, accompanied by eccentric guy, a fairly intelligent reindeer, and an obnoxiously goofy snowman that everyone but me seems to adore (for the record, I was on Christoph’s side when he said he was gonna tell said obnoxious snowman that he would melt in summer time). They succeed in bringing the older sis back after a few mishaps, unveil and defeat said bad guy, and have a typical, la-de-da happy ending. My story rating: 6 out of 10. A bit predictable, fairly unoriginal, and probably would’ve been better had they stuck closer to the original “Snow Queen” script (bonus in going with the latter idea: No Olaughs.).

elsagif

“Moana”: A young island girl turned village chieftaness feels called to the ocean, but never really knows why. Her eccentric grandmother shows her that her islander people were once voyagers, but that all changed when a “demigod,” Maui, stole this ancient heart artifact thingy, which destroyed their main goddess thingy, and a terrible volcano demon monster started to terrorize the ocean, destroying islands and vegetation in its wake. In fact, it is this need for her people’s survival, along with the fact that the ocean chose her specifically to restore the heart thingy, that sets her on her own journey to hunt out Maui himself– the latter who, as it turns out, can’t do diddly squat without his precious hook. They have a run-in with a treasure collecting giant crab to find said hook, then set off to defeat the volcano beast of death– which actually turns out to be the aforementioned goddess of greenery and vegetation, only without her heart. With it restored, she in turn restores all life lost, from vegetation to Maui’s hook (which got totally fried in their fight). Moana then shows her people that there’s no need to be afraid of the ocean any longer, and they all return to their voyager roots, with her at the command. My story rating: 5.5 out of ten. I don’t know what exactly, but this story lacked something in the plotline, SEVERELY. Although, in fairness, I think that happens when you’re on a raft thingy for days with little provisions, a grumpy “demigod,” and essentially nothing going on. I did like Moana’s character, spunk and gumption though– brownie points for that.

moanagif

Culture:

“Frozen”: According to numerous sources, the setting of “Frozen” was heavily inspired by Scandinavia. It mimics their clothing, their building structures and even maypoles. My culture rating: 7 out of 10. 

“Moana”: Based on the Polynesian islands in Oceania, the film also hit some New Zealander spots– specifically with the tattoos both islanders and Maui receive. The filmmakers did some research on islanders, as well as Polynesian and even New Zealander mythology and history. Additionally, Maui is briefly seen performing a very short-lived haka, or intimidating New Zealander war dance (that I fully appreciated, seeing as I’ve a New Zealander friend from college who actually did his one presentation on Maori language and culture, including the haka, briefly even mentioning this film as he did so.), during the face-off with the volcano demon thingy. My culture rating: 7 out of 10. 

mauihaka

Sidekicks:

“Frozen”: In both movies, there are two sidekicks. In “Frozen,” those sidekicks are Sven and Olaugh… oh, sorry, meant Olaf. Personally, I like Sven much better (he’s cuter and more intelligent, for one thing), but hey, if people want to super hype Olaf, go for it– just be aware that make people like me like him even less than we already do. Anywho, Sven proves pivotal in getting our heroes to the right place at the right time, whereas Olaf, who supposedly is normally “comic relief,” aids a badly in-need-of-aid Anna. I may not like Olaf, but at least he does something important. My sidekick rating: 5 out of 10. 

olafgif

(If only. If only.)

“Moana”: Two main sidekicks here are Hei hei the rooster and the porkchop (OK, OK, the piggy. You PETA people, sheesh.). They’re both essentially just Moana’s pets, and, I’ll be honest– they don’t do a whole lot for the story, sadly. The piggy, Mua, encourages Moana to go into the ocean, but is even more discouraged and frightened than she when that turns into an epic fail, and almost gets them both killed.  Hei hei, on the other hand, seems even less intelligent than Odie from Garfield (which is saying something), and only really reacts if it thinks it can eat something (even if it’s not edible– like a rock or the ancient artifact) or if its out in the middle of the ocean, practically alone. Annnnddd…. cue panic mode:

heiheiscream

Not saying it’s not funny, I am saying the rooster’s eyeballs probably take up like 90% of his lil noggin, and thus leave very, very little room for brains. Brains to help them out even remotely on their quest. Kudos for trying to be funny, though (was more successful than Olaugh, that’s for sure). My sidekick rating: 3.5 out of 10. 

Music:

“Frozen”: I personally think that “For the First Time in Forever,” is the even remotely decent song in the whole film. Just me, personally. Don’t even TALK to me about… you know… THAT song…. *runs off gagging* My music rating: 1.5 out of 10. 

“Moana”: “You’re Welcome” was majorly cliche (not to mention extremely narcissistic); even the giant, treasure-hoarding crab’s song was better than that. But Moana’s “How Far I’ll Go,” was terrific and beautiful, full of determination and inspiration. And, OK, I’ll admit that I’m biased– Alessia Cara did a FABULOUS remake job on it. My music rating: 6 out of 10. 

moanagif2

Villains:

“Frozen”: OK, OK, “Frozen” may have won this one. May. Namely because there was an actual villain-villain to deal with, a classic Machiavellian. BUT they did need to work on make him a LITTLE more subtle. Yes, he was pretty subtle, and I would say that caught most off guard (to be fair to the franchise overall, I was warned in advance by a then kindergartner, a first-grader, and a second-grader, BEFORE I saw it. But that’s besides the point. I think I still would’ve at least been suspicious; no one goes THAT far into a movie without at least an indicator of who the bad guy is.) But for a total surprise, cue out motives. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but hear me out. If they did that, no one would suspect, because he SEEMINGLY has no motives for doing what he does– just a gallant, gentlemanly figure trying to help out. Of course, NOT playing the “I’m the youngest out of several brothers,” card might make it slightly harder to win over the ladies. But on the other hand… maybe NOT.

Hanspunch

(That was a haymaker hook punch, BTW… a punch only really thrown on either street fights or boxing matches. Not really a proper punch.)

My villain rating is… 6 out of 10.

“Moana”: Saddens me to say this, but “Moana” actually fell a bit short in this department, considering the only real threats were a giant packrat of a crab, animated coconuts, and a humongous lava beast– the latter, the main  antagonist known as Te Ka, turning out to be the earth “goddess” from earlier. Shaaammmmeee, beating up on someone who isn’t really a bad guy but just is missing her heart and wants to make things right again. Shaaammmmee. That for the most part means we’re basically villain-less. For the most part.

transformationgif

My villain rating: 2 out of 10. Namely because of the coconut guys. 

Annnndddd our totals are “Frozen” with 25.5 points, and “Moana” with 23 points. Ooooo, so close, but sadly, “Frozen” heads a bit with slightly better concepts in both the villainy and story departments than “Moana.” However, “Frozen” still falls flat on its face for lack of originality in some areas, and coming up short in the music department.

svengif

On the the other hand, had they made “Moana’s” plot more thrilling and engaging, given Hua the porker and Hei Hei more to do than just be adorably funny, and given us a TRUE villain, it DEFINITELY would have beaten “Frozen,” hands down. I mean, let’s be honest– the animation in and of itself already outdoes “Frozen’s”. Off to a good start.

Moanahighfive

Have you watched “Moana” and “Frozen”? What did you think?

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Image Credits:

https://www.tumblr.com/search/oc:%20te%20fiti

https://www.tumblr.com/search/anna%20punches%20hans

Moana GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

https://ohmy.disney.com/news/2013/11/20/our-favorite-gifs-from-the-frozen-clips/

Moana GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Moana GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

https://www.tumblr.com/search/artist:haka

https://tenor.com/view/frozen-olaf-impaled-hurt-oh-gif-4693646

https://www.tumblr.com/search/heihei.

http://screenrant.com/moana-frozen-box-office-prediction/

 

 

Over The Moon with”The Lunar Chronicles”

Over The Moon with”The Lunar Chronicles”

 

I’ve been meaning to post on here (eventually) about my newest love for a newer, non-Grisha-Trilogy book series, but haven’t really had the time… until now.

Enter the Lunar Chronicles. Dun dun dun duuuuunnnnn….

For those not in the know, “The Lunar Chronicles” is the series you want to delve into if you like fairy tales, “Once Upon A Time,” “Star Wars,” or just fantasy. Think SW meets the Grimm Brothers a la Terminator.

Now, while the idea of crime-fighting cyborgs GENERALLY doesn’t appeal to someone like yours truly, I will say I made the exception. Just this once, for this FANTASTIC series (besides, it’s portrayed in a manner very similar to extremely handy prosthetics.  I think I’ll live.). Not too long ago, I finished the series with hungry bravado, before finals even started, but unfortunately, have not begun to write said review until afterwards (Because busyness. I apologize profusely.). That being said, the read was worth it. And reviewing it tonight will be worth me forgoing and sacrificing the Taekwondo forms I was going to practice for exercise tonight(because, let’s be honest, I haven’t been practicing consistently for a week… :/ oh well, guess there’s always tomorrow… I have the whole danged week, after all…).

So anyways, enough chit chat; let’s get to the nitty gritty!

Pros/ What was done well:

  1. The Characters and Characterization. I seriously love what Marissa Meyer does here; she basically takes a classic fairy tale, puts her own spin on it, AND still has elements that causes it to remain true to the original stories. And if you look for the character parallels, you WILL find them. (i.e., Aimery Park= Queen’s Mirror; Jacin the royal guard= the huntsman in “Snow White,” etc.) If you look for storyline parallels, they are usually there, in some way, shape or form. But I also love what she did with all the characters. Cinderella= Cinder, the spunky, sassy cyborg mechanic who is (spoiler alert) the long-lost Lunar princess. The Big, Bad Wolf= semi-mutated human-wolf hybrid former soldier who went rogue, for the sake of his love, who happens to be Little Red’s counterpart. Rapunzel= expert and extra adorable hacker shell girl who has spent too much time in her satellite hovering around Earth, and little actual time in the real world. Her crush, Thorne, literally pilots a ship called the Rampion (another name for the plant called, “rapunzel”.). Snow White= an extremely kind princess, who is kind to the point that it literally costs her her sanity. Literally. In fact, the last one reminds me a LOT of Luna Lovegood, in a good, charming way. 🙂rampioncrew
  2. The SHIPS. Oh GOSH. THE FREAKING, FLIPPING SHIPS. Sooooooo many freaking ships, and while ordinarily this would bother me, Meyer pulls it off pretty well. They don’t obstruct the plot all that much; they contribute to it. Almost everyone is paired with SOMEONE suited for them and their story/situation, and none of the ships bother me (unless you count the possibly shipping Sir Hayle with Levana in Fairest. 😛 ). My fave ship is probably Kainder (Prince Kai + Cinder); they’re both royalties with the weight of nations upon their shoulders– I love it how they can connect and easily relate to each other, how Cinder doesn’t have to manipulate him to get him to like her, like some Lunars would. It’s adorable, almost as adorable as Cress. cress1
  3. I find the amount of “Star Wars” references almost… disturbing. Disturbingly GOOD, that is. Meyer herself admitted that Thorne and his beloved ship are (obviously) based off of Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon, Iko is kind of inspired by R2-D2, plus, we have some intergalatic political matters, and glamours (her own version of a “Jedi Mind Trick”) underway. So instead of “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” it becomes, “these aren’t the wanted criminals who are trying to take down the Lunar Queen that you’re looking for”. Add a touch of Panem fashion to some of the aristocratic Lunars’ fashion statements, and BAM! Brilliance. (OK, OK, I’m geek-biased… sue me. LOL)
  4. The sympathy for Levana does NOT ECLIPSE HER VILLAINY!!! First off, BRAVO. This is a very, very difficult thing to pull off, even for talented authors. I cannot honestly express this enough: give a little too much in the “sympathy” department, and people are going to feel sorry for them to the point of perhaps even defending the villain’s cruel actions, which you do not want. On the other hand, a boring, “mwa-ha-ha” villain often dulls the plot; complexity adds interest. Meyer does this pretty well; Levana is given something of a sympathetic backstory, having neglectful parents who were assassinated when she was young, along with an abusive older sister. BUT she chooses, from then on out, to make bad choices, purposely– and, with each bad choice, transforms her into a crueler person. From murdering her beloved so she could form a political alliance, to trying to kill her own niece to keep her throne, Levana has a beautiful glamour, and is vicious, with the right amount of an interesting story to keep the pages turning. I rarely hear voices of sympathy or defense of her actions from fans, it’s done so well. You, Ms. Meyer, get the medal of the evening. *applause*levana
  5. Research. Meyer obviously did extensive research on certain things in her books, whether it was mechanics, survival-based, etc. Not every author does this, and does it well; some people make stuff up without really looking into anything. But yeah, it goes to show you, a lot of research really pays off in the end.

Cons/ What could have been done better:

Honestly, not a whole lot, so I’m not even really going to make a list on this one. There were maybe one or two minor things in the storyline that either bothered me a tiny bit, or weren’t super believable. One such thing, for instance, was Winter and Scarlet winning the mutant soldiers to their side so quickly. I get that they were on a time crunch, Meyer was on a time crunch/deadline, but it felt slightly rushed at the least. At least give it more time to develop, like Wolf and Scarlet’s relationship, which started to blossom after at least several days, not just a few hours. I also never really got why the whole “Peony chip” thing held so much significance, since it was just tossed away in the Benoit field later and kind of forgotten. (I mean, I got WHY they showed what Peony meant to Cinder, and the fact of what the chips were being used for, but since both are so important, I would assume it wouldn’t be tossed aside so meaninglessly like that, without much thought afterwards.)

Overall, my rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars. I’m a tough rater, so kudos to whoever makes it to 4+ stars. 🙂 These books and series are usually ones that have earned it, and “The Lunar Chronicles definitely has.

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Image Credits:

http://maybeicantbesaved.tumblr.com/Books