"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplaces of existence." ― Sir Arthur Conan Doylen, Sherlock Holmes
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February 27, 2017

Book Geek: Book Series

I love/hate book series. When a series is good, don't we all want more? When a series is so-so, don't we wish they would just end it early? There are some book series people loved but when I read it, I hated it, so it really is not only whether the story is good but also personal preference. Here is my very short list of favorite book series:

hardcovers of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
01/ The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede
This is a four-book series that is told in four perspectives and the last one took place years later which surprised me a little. I have wished the author had stayed with Princess Cimorene because her character is my favorite but it does make sense for the other character's perspective plus the last book did have to set years later and Cimorene's perspective would not really work there.

This series is easy to get into and on starting the first book, I immediately wanted to know more about Princess Cimorene. Cimorene isn't like other princesses - she have black hair instead of gold, she prefers fencing and magic instead of embroidery and etiquette. What I really like about her is that, she isn't waiting for some prince to sweep her off her feet. She simply took up to working for a dragon with very little fear. Plus she is intelligent and has a no nonsense attitude. When Cimorene meets the Enchanted Forest's king, Mendanbar, it did not deter her nor is she impressed with his magic, although a man who can fix a drain using a magic sword is a little impressive.

Favorite Quote: "Mendanbar stared at her in utter bafflement. If this was a princess, she was like no princess he had ever seen, and he had seen dozens. True, she had a small gold crown pinned into her hair, and she was very pretty - beauitful, in fact - but she was wearing a blue-and-white checked apron with large pockets. Mendanbar had never seen a princess in an apron before. The dress under the apron was rust-colored and practical-looking, and she had the sleeves rolled up above her elbows. He had never seen a princess with her sleeves rolled up, either. Her jet black hair hung in plain braids almost to her knees, instead of making a cloud of curls around her face. Her eyes were black, too, and she was as tall as Mendanbar."
― from Searching for Dragons

paperbacks of Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
02/ The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I read this series in one week and of course, I immediately adore it. Luna Lovegood is my favorite character after Harry. Luna is a bit odd but she understood things and she's honest. I still do not like that Harry does not end up with Luna. Ginny is great and all but I just think she is too much like Harry. I'm not really into the romances. I like the friendships more and also the magic.

The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the series. I like that Sirius Black is a little unhinged and he just seems like a fun person to hang out with. But that could be because of the movie actor. I did see the movies first before reading the books but I don't favor the movie more though. And I still think Quidditch is too cruel a sport for kids but that's just me.

Favorite Quote: “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
― from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

hardcovers of Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp and Illustrator Barbara Cantini
 03/ Anyone but Ivy Pocket series by Caleb Krisp and Illustrator Barbara Cantini
Ivy Pocket is quite charming in her own, vain way. I like her strong belief in herself and her confidence that whatever she does, is right. It is as if she purposely pretended not to understand certain things. Even when people try to kill her, she somehow escapes it and seemingly not know what actually happened. She's not all carefree and careless because she does care what happens to the people around her. The third book is not yet released but so far, it has been fun reading about Ivy Pocket.

Maybe it's not fair to judge the series since it's incomplete but I like the author's writing and humor. You should read his afterwards. They're quite hilarious plus who doesn't like an author with this bio: "Caleb Krisp's childhood was cut tragically short after he sold his great-aunt Mabel for a handful of perfectly ordinary pumpkin seeds." Or his dedication: For my housekeeper Mrs. Cuttlefish, who I buried in my garden.

Favorite Quote: "I am remarkably good in a crisis - for I have all the natural instincts of a five-star general - so in no time at all, I had formed a plan. I picked up my carpetbag and headed down to the lobby, replacing my anxiety with the flickering flame of hope. The streets of Paris were sure to lead to adventure and opportunity. No doubt I would stumble upon something utterly thrilling. Or I might end up a beggar, friendless and starving. Which would be terribly inconvenient. But on the bright side - how wonderfully tragic!"
– from Anyone But Ivy Pocket

Do you have a favorite book series?

February 23, 2017

Top Ten Thursday: Motivation

I'm not lazy, I'm just highly motivated to do nothing.
This week's top ten is things to help us get motivated to do whatever it takes in order to achieve our goals. I don't really do anything to motivate myself but here's a few things that might be considered motivating:

01/ Eat something — you know what they say, you can't worry/panic on an empty stomach and you certainly can't do anything when your mind is on food

02/ Listen to music — it's not much as for motivation as to clear your head and fill it with fluffy/cheesy/silly songs so you would not think about how unproductive you are right now

03/ Read a book — perhaps reading other people actually doing something will make you want to do something?

04/ Watch television — watching tv can be a bit lazy and you will probably end up watching more tv, but sometimes watching tv can motivate you to think on your problems/tasks that you have to do

05/ Do anything other than what you should be doing — Often I seem to do things other than what I should be doing. I guess my brain just don't quite have the motivation yet and so, it makes me want to do non-productive things which I think it helps a little because you can't just sit around waiting for motivation to hit you

So it's not ten. Frankly, I would be just listing more things that mostly just allow your laziness to thrive instead of stopping it.

What about you? What do you do to motivate yourself?

February 22, 2017

Scribble Picnic

Today I'm joining Michael for his new art co-op or rather a Scribble Picnic. Go here for more information about Scribble Picnic and how you can participate, plus, there is a giveaway for this week's kickoff. Today's theme is Octopus.
Bonny & Kat
Bonny & Kat - the complete, though uncolored, piece (click on the image for a larger view)
closeup 1 (click on the image for a larger view)
closeup 2 (click on the image for a larger view)
Actually, I wasn't going to do anything but then you know, I start drawing and here is this piece - incomplete as you can see. I spent a lot time drawing so no time for coloring. This would be like my very organized, very full of stuff, mostly fake artist studio with a floor covered in paint litter. And of course, a tree house studio for the little octopus artist. Why not, he's an artist. I've named these two Bonny and Kat. Guess which one is Kat? The octopus, of course. Kat is a fictional creation so he doesn't need to be in the water, that's the way I see him. For more takes on the theme of Octopus, go here.

February 20, 2017

Book Geek: Book Covers

I think book covers should reflect the book but also look good. These days, covers are actually better looking but there are still things I dislike but I won't mention here. Here are some books and my thoughts on their covers. (As always, I only talk about books I would recommend reading.)
01/ The Lioness and the Spellspinners by Cheryl Mahoney (Beyond the Tales series)
Nineteen year old Forrest knows how to knits magic scarves, blankets and even binds his sister's hair while Karina, who is a few years younger, is a strong-headed girl with a slightly rough manner and who keeps resisting the kindness bestow upon her. But this isn't a romance and it doesn't try to be. They are mostly trying to not get on each other's nerve which results in some fun banters. I've always dislike the whole hate-turns-to-love type of storyline and even though there is some of it going on here, it's not really like that at all. Even toward the end, something may have developed between Karina and Forrest but it isn't forced which I thought was wise. Plus there are wizards, witches and fairies to deal with, they really do not have time for romance. This was an easy read and I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Favorite Quote: "Clearly she was from somewhere very different from his small island. Maybe some place where jumping out a window to get away from a stranger who didn't mean any harm made sense, as unimaginable as that seemed."
the resigned cover - click on the image for a larger view
Cover thoughts: I'm not sure but this is probably self published and perhaps the author created the cover herself. The photo of the girl with the hood is just perfect for the book. It's only the type/fonts that needs a little bit of tweaking. I sort of did a redesign. (Don't tell the author!) Take a look above. I moved the title below because I find the title distracts from her face. And the two L's in Spellspinners are suppose to be knitting needles and the colorful lines are yarns.

02/ Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
The main character has no name and is known simply as 'the lass.' She does get a name of course, but don't expect anything extraordinary. The book started out slow, well, not slow but feels slows compare to the second half which sort of speeds up maybe a little too quickly. I really wanted to know more about Hans Peter's adventure. I don't know why we're not telling his story instead as it really is awfully similar to the lass' story. Is it a spoiler if I say Hans Peter got his happy ending which is not really a surprise to me but it's not his story so... The end was satisfying but I think the relationship between the lass and the bear was not quite there. There was no moment where I thought the lass and the bear have any kind of connection other than pity or gratefulness. Not to say I don't believe there was nothing, just that, we never really see the pair connect but I could be wrong. I'll have to read again, perhaps my opinion on that will change slightly. Overall I did enjoyed the book.

Favorite Quote: "And then they came closer, and closer, the north wind, the wolf, and the young woman. The sun and moon parted ways, like a curtain being pulled back. The sun moved to their left, the moon to the right. The north wind roared as it charged toward the speck that lay between them. The speck grew, reaching out taller and wider as they approached. It was a palace, made entirely of gold, sitting on an island of silver snow at the very top of the world."

Cover thoughts: I really do not like these YA covers showing a photo of a girl/boy looking like some glamorous model. This cover says very little about the story aside from the snow and the girl. At least, they should have a bear somewhere there or something like an ice castle in the distance maybe?

03/ Dreamless by Jenniffer Wardell
This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from two perspectives - the cursed princess Elena and her bodyguard Cam with some back story about how the curse came about. As much as I like this retelling, I think too much time is spent on the curse but I suppose it is necessary to get to the root of the problem. I adore Cam's family here, all seven of them - they're the sort of family that I would love to belong to - sort of sarcastic (probably not the right word to use, perhaps snarky?) but caring, totally supportive and genuinely love each other, a bit odd maybe but oh so much fun to hang out with. I actually kind of think their appearances are too brief. The road to end the curse is filled with interesting characters and laugh-out-loud hijinks and some from a certain, cowardly Prince, but it's not all fun, there are bits of seriousness that are sobering but doesn't stop the story one bit.

Favorite Quote: "If I have to turn her into a frog, I promise it will be purely in self-defense."

Cover thoughts: From a distance, it's okay but up close, the toenails disturbs me a bit. I know it's possible for toes to bend like that but I just had an odd feeling whenever I look at it. But the cover does reflect the book with the stars and the sleep theme. If you can ignore the toes, it's actually a pretty good cover.

Do you have any books that you love but hate the covers?

February 16, 2017

Top Ten Thursday: Thoughts on Valentine's Day

Just some random things about Valentine's day:

01/ 'Valentine's Day' is now 'Eat Chocolate Day.'

02/ V.A.L.E.N.T.I.N.E.S. D.A.Y. = Vague Antiquated Lyrics that Everyone Nervously Try to Invoke with Nonsensical Expressions for the Same Damm Awful Yearnings

03/ Where can I get more chocolate?

04/ A good day to eat one whole box of chocolate or two or three.

05/ I ran out of chocolate so I brought another box.

06/ Why is cupid fat? Did he eat a lot of chocolate? What does he do exactly?

07/ Eat chocolate and cry because you're single.

08/ Eat chocolate and laugh because you're single.

09/ Be thankful you don't have to buy a valentines gift that your partner is sure to hate.

10/ It's just another 'do what you want' day.

February 13, 2017

Book Geek: Favorite 'Beauty & The Beast' Retellings

I've read many, many retellings of Beauty & The Beast since it is my favorite fairytale. Some of them are okay and some of them are not at all like the fairytale and some are simply wonderful. There will be others that I'm sure I'll like but for now these (listed in no particular order) are my absolute favorites.
01/ Rose Daughter / Beauty by Robin McKinley
Beauty is a mostly true to the original story while Rose Daughter is slightly different. I think I like Rose Daughter more because of the rooftop scenes and talk of stars and there is a story within a story. But sometimes I think Beauty is slightly better for its direct storyline and sometimes not.

Favorite Quotes: 
"The Beast was a darkness the starlight could not leaven."
- from Rose Daughter

"There was something about the way he stood there without looking at me: Resignation born of long silent hopeless years sat heavily on him, and I found myself involuntarily anxious to comfort him."
- from Beauty

Beast Charming by Jenniffer Wardell
02/ Beast Charming by Jenniffer Wardell
Beast Charming is actually very charming as the author didn't try to make the characters likable, rather, she makes them real characters in a somewhat real world. I like the banters between all the characters and the fact that in this world, everyone treats magic and curses like everyday, normal things that just happens and even dragons are treated like any normal beings. Beast Charming is the most fun of any retelling I had read.

Favorite Quote: "I'm a huge, hulking monster with anger management issues. I'm contractually obligated to encourage violence and anarchy on principle."

Of beast and beauty by Stacey Jay
04/ Of beast and beauty by Stacey Jay
It seems like the settling is futuristic but there is this strange sense that nothing here is futuristic, rather, they are a bit archaic but I like that. I kind of wish the author had chosen one perspectives instead of three or even omnipresent considering one of the perspective didn't really do much for the story. Other than that, it's a pretty decent retelling plus it didn't have that teenage angst that I just hate reading.

Favorite Quote: "Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have imagined that finding out I've been wrong feel like this. That I would want to pull my beautiful face off the wall and hurl the mirror to the floor, stomp on the pieces until my feet bleed, scream until I lose my voice. That I would wish with every fiber of my being to go back to the way life was before, when I believed myself ugly, when the world and my place in it were perfectly clear."

Barefoot on the wind by Zoë Marriott

05/ Barefoot on the wind by Zoë Marriott
The writing is oh-so lovely and the Japan settling is just perfect. My only complaint is that the end seems rather short. I kind of wish the author had written more about the ending, that is, more details, more explanations, I want to know everything but that's not a real complaint. This is definitely a new (it was released in 2016) favorite book.

Favorite Quote: "His silence and stillness felt like a chasm yawning between us now. And I found that I was sorry - and I wanted somehow to bridge the silence. Not to ask all the questions that burned inside me, to discover just what he meant - how could anyone forget their own name? - or where this strange home of his was, or what had happened to bring me here. Not even to attempt to placate him for my own safety. I had hurt him and I wanted to soothe the wound."

Do you have a favorite Beauty & The Beast retelling?

February 9, 2017

Top Ten Thursday: Sleepless in Seattle

This week's Top Ten Thursday is to choose one of these movies: Rainman; The Wedding Planner; Pretty Woman; Ocean's Eleven; When Harry met Sally; Sleepless in Seattle; Analyse this/that; Forrest Gump; Breakfast at Tiffany's; Any James Bond movie starring Sean Connery; and choose ten scenes and talk about them.

Sleepless in Seattle is one of my favorite Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie aside from You've got mail. These are some of my favorite moments in the movie:

"Destiny is something we've invented because we can't stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental."

01/ Sam drops off someone at the airport and spotted Annie from a distance and then sort of chased after her but she was gone too soon  - I sort of have a love-hate relationships with these almost-meet moments, drives me crazy sometimes but this one was sweet and you kind of wish Sam did catch up withe Annie but then the movie would be over...

02/ Sam saw Annie from across the road with the cars passing between them - another not-quite chance meeting but they did said 'Hello,' so that's something, right?

03/ Sam and his friends Suzy and Greg discuss crying over certain movie scenes - totally hilarious!

04/ Annie walks into her brother Dennis' office and sort of confessed about Sam and Seattle & Dennis responded that it rains nine months out of the year in Seattle - I thought this was quite funny but the part about the rain in Seattle is probably not true, I searched the web but the answer various a bit

05/ Annie and Becky watches An Affair to Remember which is a movie that Sleepless in Seattle is based on - An Affair to Remember is mentioned a couple of times, it's a nice homage to the movie

"That's your problem, you don't want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie."

06/ Annie takes the radio inside a closet along with the phone with her friend Becky on the other side and her fiancé Walter founds her there - I seem to remember this scene a lot and I like how Annie seems to subconsiously hiding what she is doing from Walter

Jay: “Well, this is fate! She's divorced,  we don't want to redo the cabinets,  and you need a wife. What do they call it when everything intersects?” Sam: “The Bermuda Triangle.”

07/ Sam asked his friend Rob, "So, how's my butt?" - pretty silly but strangely it seems to stay in my memory for no good reason

08/ Annie is peeling an apple and listening to the radio where Sam talked about how great his late wife was and they both said 'magic' - Come on, who doesn't like this scene?

09/ Annie goes to Becky's office and she makes excuses to look into the story of Sleepless in Seattle - like they were doing something for work but really, we know it's personal, well, it's becoming personal

“Annie, when you're attracted to someone,   it just means that your subconscious is   attracted to their subconscious,   subconsciously. So what we think of   as fate is just two neuroses knowing   that they are a perfect match.”

10/ Sam finally meets Annie at the top of the Empire State Building - this was the last scene of the movie and I sort of half hate it because the kid Jonah was there, I mean, he sort of kills the mood a bit doesn't he or is that just me?

Have you seen Sleepless in Seattle? What's your favorite scene in the movie? 

February 7, 2017

A mermaid's dream: letters from the world

'A mermaid's dream: letters from the world'
'A mermaid's dream: letters from the world'
'original version'
'a mermaid's treasures' - original version
This week's Creative Tuesdays' theme is 'Bubble Gum Machine'. I think I like the cropped version without the gum machine part, not even sure why a mermaid would be inside one, maybe she is collecting treasures and then giving them away? Who knows. For more Creative Tuesdays creations, just hop on over here.

February 5, 2017

Sunday Sketch: mermaid sketch

sketches (click on the image for a larger view)
almost finished drawing
I don't have a title for this piece but I've been calling it 'mermaid post'. This is for the Creative Tuesday's theme 'bubble gum machine' but I don't think that fits it now. For more Sunday Sketches, go here.

February 1, 2017

Book Geek Wednesday

book geek art
This is not a book blog but sometimes I want to make it a book blog but then I remember I don't like to write reviews. But I love books so here's Book Geek Wednesday to talk about books. As I often said, I only talk about books I recommend reading. I won't write synopsis as I'm sure if you're interested in a book, you can always search the net.

01/ Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
The is actually quite a unique book as it is told in two ways - words and illustrations. There are two stories in two different time period with Ben in the present and Rose in the past. The drawings are wonderfully detailed and the book is designed beautifully. The connection at the end is not surprising to me because I already believe Ben and Rose is connected somehow simply because if there is no connection then why tell them together? This book is over 600 pages but still a quick read and it's quite nice to pause in between words to study the images.

Favorite Quote: "Ben wished the world was organized by the Dewey decimal system. That way you'd be able to find whatever you were looking for, like the meaning of your dreams, or your dad."

02/ Matilda by Roald Dahl with illustrations by Quentin Blake
I saw the movie first before reading this so I'm a bit biased toward the movie. We see more of Matilda's abilities in the movie than in the book. Miss Honey's sorry state is a bit too much unlike the movie where she is less pitiful and with slightly more guts. This is why I like Matilda, she totally understands Miss Honey. In a way, Matilda is the grown-up and Miss Honey is the child but they are good together. Matilda needs the knowledge that she hasn't learned and Miss Honey needs someone to help her be a little braver. Matlida is written so quirkly and wonderful and so much fun!  Why haven't I read this book earlier?

Favorite Quote: "Being very small and very young, the only power Matilda had over anyone in her family was brainpower. For sheer cleverness she could run rings around them all."

03/ Oddly Normal Book #1, 2, & 3 by Otis Frampton
I don't read a lot of comics, okay, this my first comic actually. The story is simple - a girl named Oddly Normal who is a half witch half human. After a wish she made on her birthday, Oddly is transported to another world that is imagined but somehow real. It's easy to understand and get into the story though it is rather slow compare to books (the story takes a while to move) because each panel is really like a couple of sentences but I read fast so it wasn't slow.
my take on 'Oddly Normal'

I got interested in Oddly Normal because I read this wonderful blog post about Frampton's drawing process (it's all digital) and thought I should check it out for the drawing/design itself. If I would to create a comic, this is the style and quality I would like. There is still book #4 to come but I'm sure I'll read that when it comes out.

Favorite Quote: "I do apologize for being tardy to your party, my peach. I was shifting between the plane of glee and the realm of inversion - which required transmogrifying into an amorphous mist so I could pass through a super-spatial sieve. So I completely lost track of it - time, that is."
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