“The Spiderwick Chronicles” by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

This series was fun to read. I started it last year but stopped when I realized that it’s broken up over several books. It was annoying to finish one book and have to wait until I purchased the other to continue. Of course, I could have read the e-books but since I began with a physical book, I wanted to continue with that trend.

Quick summary (some spoilers):

The Field Guide
The Field Guide

Book 1: The Field Guide

When the Grace children move to their great aunt Lucinda’s abandoned Victorian house shortly after their parents’ divorce, they are introduced to a world of strange creatures. In this book they meet the house brownie Thimbletack, who seems to have gone slightly mad from living alone in the old house for so long. When they arrive at the Spiderwick estate, their Mom orders them to begin cleaning to make the house livable. While doing so the children discover Thimbletack’s home in the wall. However, they didn’t know it was someone’s, or rather something’s, home so Simon and Mallory destroy it throwing most of the contents in the garbage. Thimbletack takes offense to this and assaults Simon and Mallory. Since Jared always got into trouble at the old house, his Mom automatically assumes that he is abusing his siblings. After discovering Arthur Spiderwick’s field guide of extraordinary creatures, Jared becomes convinced that they had upset a brownie. With advice from the field guide, the Grace children are able to appease Thimbletack.

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Snowed In with a Red Eye

by Anais St.
Red Eye

Not an actual red eye, just the one I drew above; but I was snowed in. The Maryland/D.C. area was swathed in snow this weekend. I don’t know how much fell but it seemed close to a foot. Granted there are other places further north that has gotten more but for me a foot of snow is enough for me to consider myself snowed in. I hate winter!

After shoveling the driveway thrice between Saturday and Sunday, I sat down to some much needed art therapy. I spent my Sunday afternoon and evening watching art videos on YouTube and drawing the mandala above after watching Tiffany Lovering’s tutorial on drawing a “hypnotic eye” (see video below). It helped soothe my sore muscles for the time though when I got up from my chair my back, side, elbows, and arms began hurting simultaneously. Snow is so heavy!

I tried to follow Lovering’s video as closely as possible but, as you can see, I made a few mistakes in my sphere/hypnotic eye, but I was proud of what resulted from my effort. Since she referred to it as a hypnotic eye, I decided to color it to resemble an eye. And because I was watching Avatar: The Last Airbender while coloring, I decided to make it red and orange—thinking of the fire nation. My original plan was to add several additional circles around this central one, similar to Lovering’s video, but I changed my mind and thought it best to simply add the two triangles of lines to hint at the small space around the eyeball. I guess the finished product is an abstract eye.

Hope you like it and visit Lovering’s YouTube channel for additional videos.

“The Fires of Heaven” by Robert Jordan

Original cover of The Fires of Heaven
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One more Wheel of Time book read and nine more to go. My reading relationship with this series has become bitter-sweet: I love the story but sometimes hate the execution (more on that later).

Quick summary:

This installment of the series places us in the Aiel Waste with Rand, Mat, Egwene, Moiraine, and Lan; and in the southern countries, where Elayne and Nynaeve are located with Thom and Juilin in tow. Sometimes we pop in on Min, Siuan, and Leane as they race across the land in search of a safe haven after their escape from the White Tower; or we visit Morgase in Camelyn to observe as she unwittingly abdicates her throne to a Forsaken.

Min, Siuan, Leane, and Logain

After a prologue in which we see Elaida Sedai, current Amrylin Seat, succumb to her ego and control issues and watch the Forsakens plot to take down Rand, the story begins with Min, Siuan, and Leane on the run with Logain. They had escaped from the White Tower—right under Elaida’s nose— after Siuan and Leane had been stilled. Now that the Power is gone, Siuan and Leane grab at the promise of revenge to prevent themselves from going mad and losing their will to live due to the Powers’ absence. They promise the same for Logain.

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thoughts on writing from Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami quote

“Writing is similar to trying to seduce a woman. A lot has to do with practice, but mostly it’s innate. Anyway, good luck.”

“….You have to be mindful when you’re writing something. I keep in mind to ‘not have the pen get too mighty’ when I write. I choose my words so the least amount of people get hurt, but that’s also hard to achieve. No matter what is written, there is a chance of someone getting hurt or offending someone. Keeping all that in mind, I try as much as I can to write something that will not hurt anyone. This is a moral every writer should follow.

But at the same time, when you need to fight a battle, you also need to reserve energy to be able to fight. Something like what you use to tighten your stomach. But that’s only when you really need to. If you recklessly make the pen mightier than the sword, you’re putting yourself in danger. That’s my personal opinion. Some may think otherwise.”

Haruki Murakami, from Vulture’s collection of the best advice Murakami posted in response to reader-submitted questions. The interaction took place on the author’s website, Mr. Murakami’s Place (Murakami-san no tokoro), most of which is in Japanese, but Vulture translated the ones included in its column. Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer. His most recent novels are Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and IQ84.

Click here for more quotes.

Book News: Harper Lee’s new novel to Madame Bovary new trailer

Lots of interesting bookish news was released last week. Here’s a round up:

Harper Lee’s new novel

Early last week it was announced that Harper Lee, author of the classic best seller, To Kill a Mockingbird, will release a sequel, Go Set a Watchman. The new novel is slated to be published on July 14 in both the U.S. and the U.K., but it’s already a best seller on Amazon.

The novel features an adult Scout who returns to Maycomb from New York City to visit her father, Atticus. There, she is “forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.” Apparently the novel was thought lost until it was discovered by Tonja Carter, Lee’s lawyer and friend, in 2014.

According to Lee, she completed the novel in the mid-1950s but set it aside since her editor was more interested in the flashbacks of Scout’s childhood. Her editor convinced her to write a novel from the point of view of young Scout, which became To Kill a Mockingbird.

Despite the suspicions surrounding this announcement (here’s another on Jezebel), I do look forward to reading it. The suspicions, though, make me think back to the controversy surrounding the release of Harper Lee’s biography last year.

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Wishes for My TBR Pile: 6 Books Added

Ahh…books. I can’t help my attraction to books, especially new titles with tantalizing covers. So far my new year is going well but financially, it’s a bit shaky so there’s no telling if I’ll be able to afford those listed here when they’re released. Of course, I could just go to the library but I’m a horrible library patron. I tend to highlight passages and forget to return what I borrow; or I’ll borrow a book and forget to read it. For me, it’s best I purchase my own reads since my library fee will probably be the same amount. So here are the books I’ll simply add to my Goodreads TBR list:

In Search of Lost Dragons

In Search of Lost Dragons by illustrators Elian Black’Mor and Carine-M (Dynamite Entertainment, February 2, 2015)

“On the trail of dragons forgotten, an intrepid illustrator and reporter journeys from Europe through the Middle East and finally to Saigon in search of the dark caverns and mountaintop perches where the elusive winged serpents dwell. With the gift of seeing the invisible, our explorer friend records each encounter in a journal of gorgeous, fully painted artwork, capturing every majestic and fearsome visual detail of the scaly behemoths, and accompanies his findings with snippets of local lore as evidence that these hidden beasts continue to shape the world in ways we may never expect!”

Okay, so this one I have to purchase somehow because—dragons! That’s all that was needed to draw me to this book but the trailer sold me. It’s awesome! I considered preordering a copy but whenever I preorder a book, my copy doesn’t arrive at the store until the day (or couple days) after the release. 😦 So I decided to wait instead. Two days to go!

Related YouTube video:

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