Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review - The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl

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The Story

“Anidori Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildrenree, was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue. She spent the early years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of swans. Then a colt was born with a word on his tongue--- his name, Falada--- and when Ani spoke it, she found the key to his language, too. But as Ani’s gift grew, so did others’ mistrust of it, and soon her mother felt she had no choice but to send her away to be the queen of a foreign land.”

A retelling of the Brothers’ Grimm Fairytale.

Recommended Age 14 and up.

My Thoughts

I love the feel of Shannon Hale’s prose. Warm, earthy, and rich. She builds the worlds of Kildenree and Bayern carefully and lovingly, in such a way that I felt homesick when I was finished with the book. If an author is able to accomplish such a feat, it’s a big mark in her favour.

Ani is a heroine that I latched on to from the beginning. Her great fear of failure, knowing that she doesn’t measure up to the standards of her mother or the people she’s destined one day to rule, her desperate need for the love of those around her, make her lovably flawed and human. She’s born with the gift of animal-speaking, but that only estranges her from the people in her life. She has to learn to both trust and be trustworthy. Her character arc takes her from timid and aloof, to someone who fiercely loves her home and is fiercely loved in return, even after she’s been uprooted and thrust aside.

Every single character is many-layered, from our poison-tongued villain and her band of mutineers, to the outcast Forest-born, loyal to the core. Enna, Razo, and dear old Talone were some of my favourites.

I think the first time I read The Goose Girl, I finished it in under three hours. The plot is tight and moving, yet takes time to delve into the world of Bayern and taught me to love it as much as Ani came to. It is fantasy, but echoes reality in such a way that I almost expected to be able to hear the language of wind, fire, and water when I stepped outside.

Some violence and blood, but not gory. Some romantic elements. Mostly clean, brilliant storytelling. Not really any magical elements.

The spirituality is this book is somewhat lacking. They adhere to a basic moral code and believe in a creator god, but he doesn’t have much of a place in this world. That, unfortunately, is what keeps me from giving it a full five stars. I love the story-world and the complex characters and the earthy prose, so all in all I give it four stars.

Have you read The Goose Girl? Comment with your thoughts below. 

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

River Rising

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Just over month ago, I started working on a short story for a fanfiction contest hosted by one of my favorite authors, Anne Elisabeth Stengl. You can check out that story, and the myriad of other entrants, HERE

The contest is still ongoing, though voting is limited to fans of the Goldstone Wood series only.

It certainly isn't my best work, but I finished it in a rush and am happy enough with the result. That's the key to writing: keep pumping it out.

I started out writing some horrific rubbish, and now I write slightly less-terrible rubbish with some gems in the mix. Some days I can't churn out more than a paragraph, and it seems like I'll need to eradicate all of it the next day.

Real writers keep trudging forward. I know that I'm better than last year, and last year was a brilliant improvement from the years before that.

Never quit, and that is the mark of a true writer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Bookish Tag

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Launch Week, day two. In order to introduce myself to the blogging world, I will be answering Annie Hawthorne's tag questions for her launch party. Off we go!

The Bookish Tag, as started by fellow blogger Curious Wren

1. What was the last book you read, and would you recommend it?

   Ah. The Warden and the Wolf King, by Andrew Peterson. I definitely recommend this book! It's the last of a quartet, The Wingfeather Saga, that I gave my siblings for Christmas. We still haven't finished reading it aloud. Peterson wrote a beautiful fantasy series with a surprising depth of theology and spirituality for children. I hope to be reviewing all the books soon.
2. Describe the perfect reading spot.
 Somewhere quiet and warm and clean, preferably with chocolate near at hand, and simple, unenroaching music in the background. This place is definitely not at my house. 
3. Favorite book beverage? Tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate? Tears of your readers?
  Water, thank you. I have a migraine disorder, and am always sipping to keep myself hydrated and headache-free. I prefer tea if it's cold outside (black mint, or lemon ginger), or hot chocolate if I have sweet tooth; I love the smell and flavor of coffee, but my body reacts terribly in the presence of caffine. 
4. Share favorite quotes from four books.
   I'm going to bend the rules just a tiny bit here, and share quotes from four authors.
      "Long ago I yearned to be a hero without knowing, in truth, what a hero was. Now, perhaps, I understand it a little better. A grower of turnips or a shaper of clay, a Commot farmer or a king --- every man is a hero if he strives more for others than for himself alone. Once you told me that the seeking counts more than the finding. So, too, must the striving count more than the gain." ~ The High King, Lloyd  Alexander
      "When you grow up to be an author and write books, you'll think you're making the books up, but they'll all really be true, somewhere." ~Diana Wynne Jones
   "Tantrums are seldom about the thing that they appear to be about." ~Howl's Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
       "All power corrupts, but we need electricity." ~Diana Wynne Jones
  "A safe faerieland is untrue to all worlds." ~J.R.R. Tolkien
      "Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world; small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere." ~The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him." ~The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
     "Someone else always has to carry the story." ~The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
 "Roads go ever on and on,
   Under cloud and under star
   Yet feet that wandering have gone
   Turn at last to home afar." ~The Lord of the Rings, J.R.RTolkien
"There is nothing like looking if you want to find something." ~The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
      "When you run out of hope, everything is backwards. Your heart wants the opposite of what it needs." ~The Warden and the Wolf King, Andrew Peterson
5. What is your most loved fantasy read? Dystopia? Contemporary? Sci-fi? Classic?
   For fantasy, I'm going to reach down in my roots and pull out the novel that set me on my first adventure in the wild, untamed lands: The Hobbit. It will always hold a special place in my heart.
For dystopia, it'll have to be The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Everything else in this genre is slightly horrifying (yes, even lookin' at you, Hunger Games) and cannot compare to the emotional genius that she touches on in her series.
Sci-fi...I honestly haven't read much in the way of solid Science Fiction. At least, that was palatable. Marissa Meyer's Cinder is beautifully written, with such fantastic world-building...though I will admit, it's a little mushier than most books I would review here.
Classic? Just one? Oh, dear. We could go with Henty, or Alcott, or Austen; but I suppose it has to be a Dickens, and A Tale of Two Cities is the one that tugged on my soul the most. 
6. List three authors you’ve collected the most books from.
   Hmm. From a quick look at my shelf, they would seem to be:
    Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Bryan Davis, and C.S. Lewis. Tolkien, Dickens, and Edith Nesbit are close behind.
7. What are your thoughts on magic in literature?
    I don't mind it, as long as it's clean, straightforward, and has a distinction between good and evil. Consorting with the dead and demonic forces is something that is actually very real and clearly condemned in Scripture, so I like to avoid that, thank you very much. Most magic doesn't bother me.
8. What types of book covers capture your imagination most strongly? Feel free to include images.
  I tend to gravitate toward the detailed, fancy-smancy covers, usually with something that will give me an inkling as to what the book is about. Whatever people say, we do judge books by their covers. 

9. Mention the first book character that comes to mind. Elaborate on this.
  Eanrin, from Stengl's Goldstone Wood Series. Augh. He's always slinking there, that sly cat-man. He's arrogant and savvy and awful and probably not someone I could stand to be around in real life, but he is a favorite. Despite his faults, he is loyal to his Master, and brave and true.
10. Do you lend out your books? Or is that the equivalent to giving away your babies?
  Oh. Well, it depends on whom I am lending them to. Some stories are just so wonderful that I can't stand that my friends haven't read them, and so I scribble my name inside the covers and send them off with my heart a-rattling in my chest, hopeful that they will return to me safe one day. But I wouldn't lend them out to any old body. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Beginnings of a Grand Adventure

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This blog is dedicated to the literary exploits of the author.

It is my hope that these words with be able to edify and challenge the minds that wander into this place, and fill hearts with a love for Truth and story.

Book reviews, snippits of works in progress, general writerly life, thoughts from the wellspring of the author, and other such things along that line can be expected to surface on Scribbler.

Stay tuned for tales from the wayfaring Scribe.