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Charlie and the… Beauty Pageant?

I’ll not get into all the details, but this is apparently the newest cover for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a beloved children’s classic written by Roald Dahl, now put into Penguin’s modern classics.

Charlie's new cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not really sure what they were thinking when they approved this one. Sure, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had some spoiled brats included, but should the cover really have one of them on it? And why does she look so much like a doll? And so frightened? It seems like such a strange cover. And why is this book included in the modern classics anyway? It’s a children’s book.

There’s been much controversy about this particular cover online these past few days. For my own opinion, I think if they absolutely had to include this book in their adult classics, they should’ve at least stuck to the theme of the book. Maybe at least made the cover with a boy on it? Since Charlie is in fact the main character of the story. But no. Not quite. It’s this strange image we’re given.

I like the idea of silhouettes–of simplistic covers–and I’ve noticed there have been some of those in Penguin’s past. I decided to make one, to counter the weirdness of this cover, just for fun. I would’ve liked to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at least have taken a turn towards the actual child aspects of the story and not this. Because you’re not just pushing it away from children–you’re pushing it away from the older audience who grew up reading this story. This cover doesn’t remind me of anything I loved about the story as a child, and that’s all there is to it.

~ Sandra

CharlieChocolateFactory

TV Show Spotlight–Once Upon A Time

Let’s just start this off by saying I am a huge Oncer. This is my favourite show on TV right now and this season’s finale was fan-tas-tic. I’ve probably watched it seven times already a few times by now and I still love it. Everything I expected from the show’s ending this season happened–even the arrival of the new “villain” at the end. Well, there was one thing that went wrong that I didn’t catch soon enough because I was so absorbed by the back-in-time adventure, but more on that later!

Once

Also, WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

With less than two months left until the return of Once (two months is a long time, btw) I’ve decided to re-watch the entire series again, just to catch up on everything. It always surprises me how changed some characters are in season 3 when compared to season 1. The character arcs are probably my favourite part of the show; character development is my weakness, and I love how far the writers have brought these characters. And I expect the next season to be no different.

In the first season, Emma Swan (the hero and saviour of the story) was a guarded, cautious, don’t-get-involved kind of character, but by the end of season 3, we see all of that change. It’s the slow progression that makes it so good. And every major character has a complicated arc like this to get through. Every villain gets their own backstory. Every hero has to earn their title. The stories brought to life on Once Upon a Time are amazing and so well thought out, and they put such a spin on the original tales. For example, in Once, Peter Pan is the villain and Captain Hook the hero.

The writers really like bringing in “villains” that are misunderstood, as well. The end of the third season revealed that Elsa from Frozen would be part of the next season’s arc. I’m pretty sure Elsa isn’t going to be the villain, but there might be a misunderstanding before that becomes clear. My guess is that whoever Elizabeth Mitchell (from Lost; aren’t they all?) is playing–the original Snow Queen or Elsa and Anna’s mother–will be the real Big Bad this season. I feel like Elsa might get blamed for things going wrong that isn’t entirely her fault–but she might want revenge on Rumplestiltskin for locking her up in his vault. Who knows?

I’m curious to know what’s going to happen between Regina, Robin, and (spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler; if you look past this don’t say I didn’t warn you) Marion. This is the thing I was talking about earlier, the thing I missed because I wasn’t paying much attention to who she was (and probably because the last time I saw her she was with a completely different Robin because the actor was replaced). Regina and Robin are soul mates, but Marion is Robin’s wife. Complicated situation. But I’m sure the writers have it figured out–and hopefully won’t kill her off, because that’s the easy way out of it. (And you know Regina is going to end up with Robin, so you’re all just wondering how, right?)

But here’s the real mystery of the show: when is Hook getting real clothes? I mean I heard he is, but who knows when that’ll be. All I’ll be thinking is finally, because he’s the only character attached to his Enchanted Forest garb. But maybe that’s the point: he doesn’t want to let go of being a pirate just yet. Amongst the other spoilers was the hint that he may be getting his hand back, and I have a feeling–now that Henry will be working at Mr. Gold’s pawn shop–that the kid will be the one to find it. Maybe? Possibly? Yes?

And hopefully Emma is given more backstory episodes this season. I really want to see some of her bounty-hunting days, where she just catches bad guys, and explore that part of her life. We’ve seen the rough parts of her life (betrayed by Neal, giving up Henry, not having a home) but now I want to see her in action, doing her job, which we only saw a glimpse of in the first episode of the show. That scene is just awesome–and still is, no matter how many times you watch it.

Anyway, more than a little excited for next month to roll around. I’m hoping the writers throw out a promotional video for the new season soon, though that’s probably just going to make me more excited about it all.

On another note, the third Throne of Glass novel is out–Heir of Fire. Can’t wait to pick it up!!

Happy reading, guys!

~ Sandra

Quill Pens, My Newest Love

So I purchased a quill pen not long ago. I’ll post a picture of it.

quill pen

I just LOVE it! I’ve always wanted one. It has an owl feather, which is not what I originally had in mind. I was aiming for a black raven’s feather from London but they sold out. :( But I decided this one looked just as nice. I read online that it was difficult to use but I didn’t find it so bad. Now it just feels natural to write with, and I think I’ll use this pen as an excuse to write an entire book in my notebooks instead of on computer. I’m aiming for a stand-alone novel, but all of my ideas revolve around having multiple books. Trying to think up something new or to condense some of my other ideas but it’s difficult. :/

Does anyone have any great brainstorming techniques when it comes to creating new stories? I’d love to hear them!

~ Sandra

The Secret World of Truth–Released Today!!

Hey guys! Today is a BIG day for me. Finally, after hours of reading and rereading and editing, I have published The Secret World of Truth, the third and final book in The Secret World trilogy. If you’ve read the other two, you can find the third book here on Amazon Kindle. The print copy will be a while until release–probably a month at the most.

Finishing the final book to a series is rough stuff. I’m sure I doubted myself a hundred times during the writing process (and many times afterwards), trying to come up with a suitable ending. And you have to make sure you tie all points together and complete every story arc. It’s a rough ride but it’s finally over.

I’m hoping to eventually release a prequel to the series but that might not happen until I finish The Myth of Kalvartr, my high-fantasy novel (which is coming along quite nicely). I’ve probably said this in past posts, but I’d like to thank everyone over at Smashwords who’ve downloaded and read Kalvartr. You guys are great!

To celebrate the release of my new book, I’ve permanently dropped the prices on The Secret World of Dragons and The Secret World of Magic. (Prices might not change until sometime tomorrow, though!)

Anyway, I have to get started on formatting the printed copy. Still a lot of work left to do. I’ll probably be back later this week to blog about some of the TV finales that aired this month (Once Upon a Time, anyone??) and to post a few book reviews.

Later days,

~ Sandra

Book Review: The Maze Runner

First off, I’d like to apologize for abandoning my blog for such a long time. Won’t happen again, I swear. I’ve been doing some reading while away and have a few reviews lined up over the next few weeks. I have a few movie and show reviews, as well, but we’ll save that for another day.

I’m reviewing “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner in this post. Here is the blurb from the Amazon page:

“If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
 
Remember. Survive. Run.”

The Maze Runner is the story of a boy who wakes up in a lift with no memories, save for his name: Thomas. Throughout the story you learn about “the Glade”, the maze, the boys and lone girl, and why they were all sent there. Every day Runners go into the maze surrounding the Glade and search for a way out, but to no avail.

It’s a fast paced book with a ton of mystery surrounding it. I had fun reading it, trying to figure out the puzzles presented. There were some sad moments that I personally didn’t feel moved by, but the suspense of the story kept me interested. Thomas is a character you either want to kick or feel sorry for most of the time, but he pulls off some heroic plays that make you like him by the end of the book. The story is being developed into a movie, which I’m looking forward to watching. I’ll post a screenshot below.

On Goodreads, I gave The Maze Runner 4/5 stars. 4 because it was compelling and a good thriller.

mazerunnerpic

Book Review: Throne of Glass

frontcover throne glass

So my boyfriend bought me a new fantasy (more like YA) book two days ago called “Throne of Glass” by author Sarah J. Maas. I read it in a day, kind of devoured it a little greedily, to be honest, and I loved it! At the corner it says, “For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games”. I’m thinking “those two books have nothing in common”. But Throne of Glass was a LOT like The Hunger Games. Love triangle, competition, crazy leader, lots of blood, mentors, beautifying the competitors, etc, etc.

Let’s move away from there, though, before I really start comparing the two.

Here is the Amazon blurb for Throne of Glass:

“After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.”

Throne of Glass had characters that felt very real to me, and it’s been a while since I’ve read about characters like that. The last few books I’ve read had very bland characters that I didn’t care about and didn’t care what happened to them at the end. The characters in ToG were witty, fun, and basically forced you to care about them. Celaena was a fun character to read about, and although sometimes she acted rather innocent and weak, you knew she wasn’t and could easily kill anyone in the room. Throughout the course of the book, she becomes less hostile to those around her and warms up to them, even considering them friends. She grows as a person, leaving behind her hatred (though not entirely), and adapts to life in the castle.

Honestly, I didn’t like Prince Dorian. I’m sure many others did, but I certainly didn’t. He was supposed to be charming and sweet, though I just found him annoying. His relationship with Celaena felt kind of flat to me. I liked him a little bit towards the end when he started to change, but I still didn’t entirely like him. I think I would like him, however, if he started bonding with Princess Nehemiah. I’m interested in seeing where their story could lead.

Chaol Westfall, the guard captain, was by far my favourite character in the book. I don’t think I’ve ever read of (or can think of right now, at least) a character so well put together as Chaol. His moments with Celaena were my favourite, as they always made me laugh. I like the way he slowly began to trust her and how Celaena slowly realized that she may have feelings towards him. There were a few scenes near the end that really stuck with me (the chalk line scene during the fight, for one). I feel that the relationship between Chaol and Celaena would make a much better ending to the series than Celaena and Dorian, mainly because Chaol feels much more real than Dorian and he seems to care far more, too.

Princess Nehemiah was a great character. She felt very mysterious and at times you wonder if she’s actually good or evil, caring or just looking out for herself. I want to see more scenes between her and the prince, though I’m not sure if the author is going to even go in that direction (but I hope she does!)

The other characters were all memorable, including Nox and the crafty Katlain. Sometimes I felt like the King wasn’t a big enough threat, that he simply hid beyond the shadows too much, but I guess it made sense in a way. Celaena wouldn’t exactly be speaking with the King much. Though, he was a little childish, I felt.

The world of ToG is very big, yet we don’t get to see any of it except for the castle and the route there from the salt mines. We are briefly told that Fae inhabit the woods along the way, but we don’t get to see the woods again. I’m thinking that in the next book, the characters will be out of the castle and into the world quite frequently. Wyrdmarks (mystical symbols that are important about halfway through the book) will no doubt return and be even more important than before, and we’ll possibly see the woods with the Fae people. The author tells us that magic is no longer in the world of ToG, but I think it may return in the sequel.

Story-wise it was very entertaining. I felt the story revolved more around the love triangle of Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol (even though for the most part Chaol doesn’t show off feelings) instead of the competition to become the King’s Champion. Some of the challenges were left out of writing and only briefly mentioned by Celaena, which was a little disappointing at times. The challenge involving climbing the castle was fun to read and I hoped to read more like it. You also get the scenes where Celaena explores on her own underneath the castle, which reveals quite a bit about the story’s plot.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read the sequel that’s coming out next month (August 15th) called “Crown of Midnight”. I’m really hoping that Celaena ends up with the guard captain, but I feel like the author is pushing the other way, which is unfortunate. And I hope everything about the Wyrdmarks and the Fae is explained, because both are really interesting.

4.5 stars out of 5 for Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

~ Sandra

Hard to Say

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.”

- Stephen King

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