“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. 😉

 

______________________

Image Credit:

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

 

Updates/ Things to Look Out for!

Updates/ Things to Look Out for!

Hey, everyone! *waves* It’s me, Eikon! I’m back… Miss me much? 😉

OK, OK, owwwww, quit pulling, Ginger, yes, I’m writing!

Things have gone a bit more active around here, since Livva quit work a couple weeks ago (because “ugh” people), from a stupid blood clot in her leg, to inviting people left and right, and left and right… from all over… to come and visit before school starts for her. Sheesh, you’d think she’d have enough to deal with, already…

Anyways, in other news, Livva has started writing again, but told me and Ginger we’re still in charge of keeping you guys up-to-date with what’s going on, soooo…. >.>

Aside from alllll that, Livva’s starting school the week after next. We all havta go back early because SOMEONE (looking at you, Isaac James) HAS to be there for “Welcome Week”. But I guess that’s chill at the same time; Ging and I get re-adjusted to the new pad and make ourselves at home with Hayley and Abbey too, while Livva talks with Dr. Martel and Dr. Williams about important school and work stuff (BOR-ING).

Two things make me perk up about fall, Halloween and pranking people aside, though… More “Rebels” and “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations”!! I miss watching the action with Livva on Sundays, when it was just us, food, and “Rebels”. I can’t wait for the finale this fall, I know it’s gonna be fantastic!!! (Ging usually naps on through it… Her loss. You snooze, you literally lose. Hehehe…) I recently got hooked on “Naruto” then “Boruto,” too, thanks to Livva. But, I’m so glad she did! They’re about bad-guy beating NINJAS, and it is EPIC! Also, sometimes Naruto or Boruto like pulling pranks on others, so I can relate… >:) I like Boruto and sometimes Mitsuki the best in the newest series. I sometimes think Sasuke’s a bit TOO serious and all, and Sakura… man, dat GIRL POWUH, though!! O.O Neji’s kinda cool, if a bit too strict, Lee’s weird, I could go on but you get my point. OH AND KIBA!!!! I SHIP MYSELF WITH HIM SOOOOOO BADLY!!! ❤ AND I LOVE AKUMARU!

Livva also wants me to tell you, that she’s also pretty pumped for more “Pokemon Adventures,” manga, particularly from something she calls the “B2W2 Chapter”…. I wonder why…

This December, we will also be camping in with several of Livva’s (human) besties to see, “The Last Jedi,” and later on, we’re booking it to The Promised Land! Soooooo excited, never really been out of country before, except as an eggy, and I don’t really remember that, just muffled noise. Lots of that. Huh? What now, Livva? Oh yeah, Livva says she’ll post pics of our Israel trip on her Instagram, said to tell you guys her username is “livgirl63”. WE’RE STAYING IN INNER CITY JERUSALEM, BABY!!! YAHOOO!!!

In other news, we’re all planning on watching that epic eclipse sometime soon. Since greedy bozos hogged all the glasses, Livva says we’ll havta settle for making one of those thingies that lets you see it without hurting your eyeballs. Of course we’re all psyched about seeing it; it’s the Darkling’s symbol and only comes to the US once every 50 years or something. Duh.

Livva’s excited and anxious about a couple other things, too, but I’m not allowed to say what, or I’d be in even bigger trouble than I already am… Karisse is watching me as I type…. Send… Help… Please…

Welp, gotta go!

Til next time,

Eikon

P.S., Oh, and here’s a pic of “him,” just because….

Darkling1

*drools* OK, OK, Karisse, I’m getting off, I’m getting off!!!

 

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Image Credit: https://pugfu.tumblr.com/post/148215980160

https://www.tumblr.com/search/grisha%20fan%20art

 

Alert: HACKER ON WORDPRESS

I am not a hacker, but the person aside from Doran Creations who liked that particular post is. Stay away from them, and, if you can, report them!

Doran Creations

Hello! This will be a short article because I’m trying to figure out WORDPRESS on my tablet. Why am I on my tablet?

I was looking at the blog of my friend LivGirl and on her article Jesus Loves…Me?

There was one profile which liked it. I clicked on the gravatar, then on the “Official Website”.

It was a virus.

I watched as it downloaded and my screen froze, a message saying my computer had been hacked flashed in front of me. I tried to move the mouse. I could not.

Do NOT go anywhere near it. Is there a way this profile can be reported? PLEASEREPORT IT if there is a way to do so.

(This also means that I will be posting a lot less soon.) It is truly amazing how clever these hackers are. Be VERY careful.

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The Water Wolves

The Water Wolves

Author’s Note: This story, while still in the realm of “fantasy,” is a bit different than what I usually do, like in the “Junk Collectors,” stories, or otherwise. This story (or rather, short story– which I typically dislike writing, as I have the brain of a novelist and usually can’t just “stop”) is more in the category of “traditional fantasy,” but meets the modern world. I do hope you guys like it. It kind of formulated itself into my brain over the past few days out of sheer boredom, until it was practically begging to be written. So, here we are. Again. 

While not related to the “Junk Collector” realm in any way, shape, or form, I did not enjoy writing this any less than my second “baby” (my first trilogy, which is in the works, in my first baby. “Junk Collector,” is second.). It actually has a very, very old daydream idea of mine interwoven into it, as you’ll soon see…But really, I hope you guys enjoy it.

******

Kierra Callot stared at the edge of her resort house bed, trying to figure out what to do. It had all started a few days ago, shortly after she and her family had gone to the beach for vacay. After all her duties, more than what her parents were even aware of, the vacay had been much needed, and extremely deserved.

She’d been lying under their umbrella, reading in the shade after nearly getting scorched alive trying to tan– it was, after all, the middle of July– she heard a soft, “Hey.” Looking up, peering over her shades, she saw before her probably the hottest surfer dude on the whole beach. His short, strawberry blonde locks were spiked upwards, somehow oddly complementing deep sapphire eyes. He was shirtless, as most men are when swimming, but had the six pack to flaunt, which many men did not. He wore black and white swim trunks, and had some kind of tooth necklace around his throat– she knew it wasn’t a shark tooth, it was longer and the point was not as accented, but…

He’d interrupted her thoughts with a little chuckle. “I know, I know… I’m a fine specimen, aren’t I?” Those sapphire eyes seemed to dance. Her heart almost leapt, before her common sense dragged it back down to planet earth. “How do you even know that was what I was even thinking?”

“You’re ogling.” A sunny little smile lit those eyes up again. “People usually do when they think those thoughts.”

“What? Like you’re some kind of museum artifact, begging to be looked at?” She tried to roll her eyes, and draw her focus downward, back to her book. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have much needed vacation time to catch up o–”

“Even more important,” he said softly, suddenly right behind her, “than taking care of… Area 61 matters?” She’d jumped out of her beach chair in fright and shock– partly due to his unexpected proximity, but also due to his unquestionable knowledge of–

“What did you say?” she stammered, trying to force herself to stay calm, “I don’t know what you’re… what you’re talking about.”

He studied her for a few moments, eyes grazing on her whole being, then halting and hovering at her own. He leaned against their umbrella stand casually, arms folded. “Well, then, I suppose it WOULDN’T interest you in the least that some… rogues… are attempting to portal jump?”

She didn’t have to say anything this time; her eyes widened, and that seemed to be good enough for him. “Tell you what,” he said, voice again like silk, “Why don’t we have ourselves a nice little chat about it over dinner? I can easily provide you with all the details. The Seafood Ship, 113 Main Avenue. My treat. Oh, and they prefer it if you’d wear the nicest clothes you have with you. See you then.” Completely ignoring her sputtering protests, he’d calmly sauntered off, but not without the gazes of at least two dozen giggling or jealous females watching. Kierra had sunk down to her chair again, feeling flustered, confused, suspicious and concerned all at once.

Just as she was feeling now.

She sighed, twirling in her teal ombre sundress, gazing at herself in the mirror. Her family, especially her younger brother, wanted to know why she was getting all dolled up, but she didn’t disclose any of the real details. She didn’t know what had moved her to even THINK about doing this. Maybe it was duty, an actively subconscious response to aid someone during a GENUINE “Area 61” call. But, in this case, she had no clue as to if this call was a genuine one, or a trap. How did he know, anyways?

She would, one way or the other, learn that in a hour’s time.

She set off to the Seafood house with a disconcerted feeling that she would in no way be eating during their conversation.

*****

He’d picked out a booth before meeting her at the door; apparently, this guy was a real regular here. Every other server they passed seemed to greet him with a smile and a nod, or, in male servers’ cases with Kierra, a sly little wink. Kierra felt like she’d swallowed a stone, and that stone had punched a hole through her gut; she wasn’t here to go on a date. She was here for answers.

She decided before they were seated not to order anything, even under pressure, in case anything was spiked. Probably paranoia, but in her profession, it never hurt to be too careful. After they sat, she said, “OK, talk. Who are you, and how do you know about…”
“Area 61?” He leaned back, almost as casual as before, only in nice jeans, a white shirt, black leather jacket. Only the tooth necklace remained the same, out in plain view. “Dear, I’ve known for quite some time that you’re a Portal Hunter. But you’re right,” he added, seeing her jaw drop and eyes narrow at his audacity, “It’s not very fair that I know all of that about you, and you not to know a a whale’s tail swish about me…. Fair game. My name, dearest, is Micah. Micah Greenwater. And I happen to be one of the administrators for MARINO.” He paused to thank the server for his lemon-water, and to take a sip.

“Wait a minute… MARINO…. Why does that sound–”

“Familiar?” he finished, after a long gulp. “Stands for “Merish Aquatic Rescue International Networking Organization”. Surely you’ve heard of us?”

“MERISH?” Her eyebrows had never shot up so fast. “You’re MERISH? On human land? I don’t believe you. You don’t even have a tail, or gills, and there’s a severe penalty for any Mermian to go out wandering on human–”

“I see you’re under the influence of several very prominent misconceptions about my people,” he cut her off again, coolly eyeing her once more. “I suppose you also believe the little myth that we are half human, half fish, do you?”

“Well…”

“Tut, tut… such prejudices…” He downed the last of his water faster than she could bat an eye. “If you were to know our actual past, you would be fully aware that my people were originally Atlanteans, some of whom survived the Great Flood by breeding with the likes of porpoises, whales, manatees, dolphins, and sharks. Do fish, after all, have such beautiful song voices? I think not. And not every Mermian does, either. Usually only about two-thirds of us, actually.”

“What?” She stare at him, trying to digest all this information, thrust at her all at once. “You’re saying… that you’re a product of… Bestiality?” His lobster platter had arrived, and though it had grill marks, it did not look very well done. She was beginning to feel ill. “You’re not going to be ordering anything, dear? What’s the matter? You look a little… green around the gills.” He chuckled quietly at his own joke, sawing into his meat like an ordinary gentleman. “Don’t worry, mine’s lightly grilled. Only lightly. Living in the human world for so long causes you to adapt to some of their ways, after all. Most Mermians would eat theirs completely raw.” He closed his eyes and chewed, savoring the flavor,as a million questions flooded Kierra’s mind. Then at last she blurted,

“You’re… you’re not planning on… on seducing me and taking me into the ocean to drown then eat me, are you?”

His eyes instantly flitted open, and he started coughing. She almost felt worried that he was choking because he was angry and surprised, but suddenly a laugh barked out past his lips. “Seduce you… drown, then eat… good Neptune, what movies have you been watching, dearest?” He wiped his mouth, settling down again. “If you’re referring to our methods of mate selection, mesmerism and conversion, then let me assure you, they’re very different from those… rumors. The stories you’ve been told have been obviously exaggerated. But it’s alright that you asked, because that will bring us to the point of our little meeting, anyway.” He set his utensils down, steepled his fingers together, gazing at her for the longest time over them. Then spoke,

“You see, after my people were officially born into existence, we were quite numerous. For several hundred years, we flourished, built homes underwater, had cities similar to your own– ones with technology and architecture that you wouldn’t believe. Then multiple plagues struck. First the elderly, then the young. Soon, we were perishing in great numbers. It became vital to preserve our numbers, so young mermen and mermaids began a special kind of adaptive training. They could spend days on land, spending time with, and, as you call it, “seducing,” many humans. Usually by means of persuasion and mesmerism. We often have had harems, to help increase our numbers with them. But we could only do so after they themselves had been converted, had become Merish. Which brings me to my main point,” he said quickly, noticing her agitated expression, “Some of those things, I admit, were a little… desperate and barbaric. You must understand, we did what we had to, to save our society and keep it from dying out. It was not exactly… a proud past that we had.” He broke his gaze at her to stare down at his nearly-empty plate. “But times have changed, and we, with them. Conversions must follow specific regulations, such as age limit– no younger than sixteen– and certain, specialized circumstances, such as if the human was in an abusive household, or the like. Very specific situations… And we never, ever condone forced, nonconsensual conversions, least of all child conversions. The unfortunate news is, sometimes these conversions still occur. These… These Merish rogues, as we call them, mostly mermen… They are not like the rest of us. Our understanding is that most of them are half the most predatory aquatic mammals– sharks. Understandable, given their ways.” His tone turned angry, vicious. “They are very old-fashioned, some of them, and believe we ought to return to the old ways, of kidnapping, having harems of pretty young human girls, not caring about age… Others, they are worse. They call themselves, “The Water Wolves,” they’re much like your mafia, only specific in their dealings. You know about human trafficking in your own world, I take it?”

She nodded, speechless.

“Well, they are avid partakers in it. Sometimes, they are so lazy that they let humans do the kidnapping for them, without disclosing that they are Merish, and when they get their victims… Well, I’m sure you can easily fill in the rest.”

“But… That’s awful! Can’t we do anything to stop them?”

“That’s why MARINO was founded, dear. We work side-by-side with multiple anti-trafficking organizations, including that human one that helps to locate and return missing and exploited children. Our job is to rescue as many human children, and yes, even teenagers like yourself, before it is too late. We’ve had enough negative dealings with things like this in the past. That’s why I would like you to help us.”He leaned forward, looking eager.

“What can I do? I’m just a Portal Hunter, like you said. I only monitor the portals open to other worlds, and help shut down illegal portals that others try to open. I’m not law enforcement, by any means.”
“Perhaps, but I know you’re legally REQUIRED to ACT as law enforcement, particularly in Area 61 matters like this, until proper authority arrives, if you see and find something suspicious. You have a right to investigate, arrest, and to protect the innocent.”

“You DO do your research well, don’t you,” murmured Kierra. “All right, then. No promises, but I’ll do what I can to ensure no new portals get activated in specific locations. Just tell me where to keep my eyes peeled. Oh, and two more, unrelated, questions…”

A smile curved those perfect lips. “Yes?”

“You said your people bred with… certain marine animals, right? And you seemed to imply that your people were long lived–”

“Oh, you’re wondering what I’M part of, and how old I am?” Amusement was in his tone. “My great-great grandmother was an Orca whale. I’m actually wearing one of her teeth.” He stroked the tooth affectionately. “That way, I know part of her’s with me, wherever I go. As for how old I am…” He stood to leave, “Well… Let’s just say I look a lot younger than I actually am. A lot, by far.” He took her hand, delicately kissing her fingertips, one by one. “It was wonderful meeting with you today, my dear. Can I expect a follow-up report in, say, the next week or so?”

“I’ll do my best,” said a flustered and crimson faced Kierra.

___________________________

Image Credit: 

https://www.etsy.com/listing/120860115/paperd-antique-orca-whale-tooth-necklace

Jesus Loves… Me?

Jesus Loves… Me?

Broken

Beyond repair

Shattered

Without a care–

E

m

o

t

i

o

n

a

l

l

y

Volatile

And selfish; who

Or what

Could ever love

A beast?

*****

Jesus loves me;

This I know,

For His Abba’s

Holy Word

Tells me so,

Through His Son’s

Sacrifice

I remain

Strong,

And to Him,

Him only–

I do belong.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

 

__________________________

Image Credit:

https://art-soulworks.com/pages/jesus-pictures

God Heal America

God Heal America

God, heal America

Land that I love,

Stand beside her,

Guide her,

So that she may no

Longer sin,

Fight the temptation

Within

And then finally

Finish

The work our Founders

Hath started

To begin.

Be her light from above,

Cherish her with

Your everlasting, perfect

Love

But, do not

Bless her;

Instead, heal her

Light her ways and err

On the side

Of caution, and

Cleanse all

Unrighteousness

From her wounds; open

Her eyes

That she might yet

See Your Face

Staring lovingly into

Hers.

 

Christ awaits the American part

Of His Holy Bride

To have a change of heart

Deep,

Deep

Down inside.

 

Amen.

Amen.

 

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Image Credit: http://religionnews.com/2015/07/07/flying-christian-flag-above-u-s-flag-isnt-a-federal-crime/

 

Genre Friction: What is Tsarpunk? by Leigh Bardugo

Amazing interview with Leigh Bardugo. Had to share! 🙂

STEAMED!

Today we welcome Leigh Barduo who’s going to tell us all about Tsarpunk, because Tsarpunk is awesome.

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist. She lives in Hollywood and can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone, is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy and will be published by Holt Children’s/Macmillan in June 2012.

Genre Friction: What is Tsarpunk?

by Leigh Bardugo

We can be frank with one another, yes? We’ve known each other, lo, these many seconds, shared a few vowels. All right then, I’ll give it to you straight: The term “Tsarpunk” started off as a bit of a joke. When I wrote my debut novel, Shadow and Bone, people kept asking me…

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