watching, reading, and writing stories

John Flanagan or Rick Riordan

Image result

Image Source

Image result for rick riordan

Image 2 Source

I was thinking about what my favorite book series are and that got me thinking about two authors that I have enjoyed a lot in the past few years: John Flanagan and Rick Riordan. I was introduced to Riordan’s books first by a 6th grader who was reading The Lightning Thief. It was an awesome book with lots of humor, very good descriptions, an intriguing story and great characters. I read the whole Percy Jackson series that summer and loved it. Then I eagerly awaited each new book in his Heroes of Olympus series. So when someone has asked me who my favorite author is in the past, I’ve often said Rick Riordan.

But more recently I’ve started reading John Flanagan’s Brotherband Series. I got into his Ranger’s Apprentice books several years ago but I was always hesitant to try this new series. Often with authors, I find that I like stories with certain characters but once they bridge off to new stories with new characters, I don’t like them as much. But I was surprised as I started reading Brotherband. Even though I had seen none of these characters before, except for brief mentions of Erak, I fell in love with the characters. Each book has been interesting and has an intriguing plot. It made me wonder why I hadn’t tried this series sooner.

Then I had a realization. Even though I love the Percy Jackson series by Riordan, I haven’t loved his other series. I never could get into the Egyptian one, the Norse one sounded interesting, but I never started and even though I’ve been trying to read the one about Apollo I’ve found it hard to get into. It’s like I’m forcing myself to read it, instead of getting sucked in. There are still some good characters and plenty of humor and references to modern culture, but it’s missing something. And I think that something is a connection to the characters and a desire to see them succeed. In Apollo’s series, his character is so full of himself that it’s hard for me to care if he complete’s his mission or not. Plus Riordan’s thing is to write all about other gods and that is sometimes hard for me to read as a Christian. He has also started adding more and more non-traditional relationships in his stories and that just make it harder for me to enjoy.

John Flanagan on the other hand, has a way of creating an intriguing story with diverse characters that you can still relate to. Even though I love Halt and Will from the Ranger’s Apprentice Series, I’ve found that I love Hal and his friends just as much in this new series. There’s even a girl character with my name so that makes it even better.

So even though I’ve said Rick Riordan was my favorite author in the past, I don’t think I can say that anymore. I’ve definitely enjoyed some of his books, but I can’t say that for everything he’s written. But from all that I’ve read from John Flanagan, I can say that.

So anyway, if you’re looking for a good book series to read this summer, I’d suggest Ranger’s Apprentice, Brotherband, or Percy Jackson if you’ve never read it.

Happy Reading!

Leave a comment »

Eragon and Superpowers


Image Source

So I’ve been reading the Inheritance Cycle series recently. I finished book two, Eldest this past week and began reading the third book, Brisingr. Usually I’m not too fond of reading about magic in books but as I was reading these books it came up over and over. And it got me thinking about how common it is to have some kind of special powers in books and movies as well. It seems that we all have a desire to be special and kind of wish we had superpowers. Whether it’s Percy Jackson being able to control water, or Eragon healing a wound with magic, or a superhero being able to fly or read minds, we enjoy the possibility of people being superhuman. And I think we all kind of wish we were able to do these things for ourselves; that we had a secret power that helped us overcome obstacles, face our enemies and do heroic things.

Unfortunately, it’s all make believe. Or is it?

I was reading a passage in Romans and something stuck out to me as I read Chapter 5. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Verse 5 NIV). God has poured out His love into our hearts and given us the Holy Spirit. If we are alive in Christ then we have access to the greatest power in the universe.

It reminds me of this song by Jeremy Camp called “Same Power” specifically the chorus:

“The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us”

Lyrics Source

So even though I can’t use magic, or manipulate water, or any of those crazy things in books and movies, I am able to confront my circumstances with the greatest superpower ever; God’s love. No matter what I face, I can turn to the One who loves me and seek His help. For with Him, nothing is impossible. And it’s not make believe, or imaginary. He is very much real and His power is limitless.

So anyway, I was thinking about that this past week and thought I’d share it with y’all.

Leave a comment »

My Top 5 Inspiring Book Series Authors

So I’ve enjoyed a lot of good books in my life that have influenced me and inspired me. Some were novels; one good book that I really enjoyed, but often I’ve found myself engrossed in a series of books. Which is fine with me because I get to read more about the characters I’ve already connected with and see an author expand on their universe. There are several authors who have written a series that has a special place in my heart and impacted my own writing. I could read them again and again. So, here we go with a count down for My Top 5 Inspiring Book Series Authors.

Number 5 is C.S. Lewis for his Chronicles of Narnia series.

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis

Image 1 Source

I’ve grown up with these books and enjoyed rereading them on several occasions. I love the characters, especially Lucy and Eustice. But all of the characters are so wonderful. And I enjoy the British accent I can easily slip into if I read it out loud. But I also just love the way these books connect to my life as a Christian and getting to see the themes of Christianity woven throughout the seven books. I especially love the way Lewis describes what heaven is like in the last book. In any case, I could reread this series at the drop of a hat and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. And I hope that in my own work my beliefs will come through just as they did for Lewis.

Number 4 is Brian Jacques for his Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series.

Image 2 Source

I didn’t discover this series until I was older, in high school I believe. I had read one or two of Jacques’s other books about the mice. But I never got caught up into that series. However, with Castaways I couldn’t help myself, these books were full of adventure, excitement, a boy and dog going on amazing adventures and joking with each other along the way. I’ve reread them, especially my favorite parts over and over and it has influenced my own writing as well. It’ll always have a place on my bookshelf and I hope that my own writing is just as full of adventure.

Number 3 is Rick Riordan for his Percy Jackson series.

Image 3 Source

I didn’t hear about this series till I was in college, but as I saw the kids I helped with at a middle school reading them, I was intrigued. Riordan has a comedic style of writing that keeps his audience giggling, yet he also comes up with the most fantastic adventures. He’s continued his writing with several other series, though I haven’t read them all. Percy will be a classic for me and I hope to reread the series sometime soon and perhaps learn something new from Riordan’s style of writing and incorporate it into my own.

Number 2 is John Flanagan for his Rangers Apprentice series.

Image 4 Source

Another great series that I was not aware of till after college, I quickly became a fan and read all twelve books in one summer. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting the author and it was a great experience. In any case, all of these books are enjoyable to me and the characters’ development are so well done. Though I may have written them a bit differently if I was the author, I cannot help but be impressed and hope that my own writing and character development may eventually be just as good.

And finally number 1 is Michael and Jeff Shaara for their Civil War series.

Image 5 Source

Image 6 Source

In contrast to all of the other books I’ve mentioned these are meant for adults and would not be categorized as youth fiction. All of Shaara’s books are historical fiction. But boy can these guys bring the past to life. History books have nothing on these fantastic novels. I started with Michael’s “The Killer Angels” and soon got wrapped up in the prequel and sequel that Jeff wrote. And since then I’ve read every single book that Jeff Shaara has written. I’m currently reading “The Fateful Lightning” and it’s just as good. Though the style may not be what I’m going for in my own writing, I hope to become better at researching for my own books and bring some realism to my own work.

Looking back at this list of authors gives me much encouragement. Many of these authors have inspired movies and although the quality of the movies may not compare to the original writing, it is still impressive to me. I hope one day my own books will inspire other authors just as these ones have inspired me to write.

Leave a comment »

The Hobbit and Movie Adaptations

The Hobbit text

I’ve been rereading the Hobbit recently. As you might recall, right before I took my trip to Haiti I watched the movie and got all excited about going on my own adventure. Well now that I’m back, I’ve decided to read the book again. I haven’t read it in years and there are many parts that I had completely forgotten about. Reading it is getting me excited for the next movie in Peter Jackson’s trilogy.

Speaking of movies based on books, I’ve always been interested in film adaptations. It’s an interesting process for whoever is writing the screenplay, because you can’t take the actual book and make it a movie, you have to take out parts, change things and make it flow as a movie. No audience would sit through a ten hour movie, so changes have to be made. However, the changes made are very noticeable to an audience that loves the original story. I think it takes a brave person to turn a book into a movie; you could get a lot of praise or a ton of criticism.

I find it odd that some filmmakers choose to add in some scenes that are not based on the book. It seems more logical to me to use the book’s material first and only cut out what is not necessary, not create new scenes that have no basis in the book. However, I can’t complain too much, because there are times that I really enjoy what the filmmakers have changed. For example in the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, a scene is added with Aragorn getting separated from his friends. This scene has no basis in the book, but I love it. It adds suspense and drama to the story and honestly it’s one of my favorite scenes to watch.

But most of the time when filmmakers do this I am angry. One of the best examples of this comes from the first Percy Jackson movie. I had read the book before I saw the movie, so I knew all about the crazy adventure that had happened in the book. And there were a lot of things wrong with the movie, but one thing that seemed worse than the rest was adding a pointless battle scene at the Parthenon in Nashville. It had no basis in the book whatsoever and took time away so that other more interesting plot points had to be left out.

Although there is some fault to a filmmakers decisions, I’ve also found that I am partly to blame for my reaction to a movie that is based on a book. I’ve found that depending on how recently I’ve read a book, I will either enjoy or not enjoy the movie adaptation. It seems that if I either have no clue what the storyline is supposed to be, or have read the book so long ago that I can’t remember details, that I thoroughly enjoy the movie adaptation. However, if I read the book right before seeing the movie, all I can see is all the changes that were made and feel upset at the “good” parts that were left out, or the things that were changed.

A perfect example of this comes from my experience watching the Chronicles of Narnia movies. I can’t remember exactly when I read each book, but I have read them all now, and seen all of the movies that have recently come out. However my responses to the second and third movies were extremely different based largely on the fact of when I had read the book it was based on.

When I saw Prince Caspian, the second movie, I had recently read the book and was upset by even little things like the hair color of characters that I had pictured differently. I noticed every little thing that was changed, like added battle scenes, and was left upset that the movie didn’t live up to my expectations.

However, when the Voyage of the Dawn Treader came out a few years later, I watched it without rereading the book. I could only remember a few relevant parts from the book, all of which were included in the movie. So I ended up loving the movie, the message, and found the whole experience very enjoyable. In fact I felt at the time that this third movie was the best of the three. However, when I discussed the movie with a friend, I found that she had not enjoyed it. She kept pointing out little changes that I hadn’t noticed and complaining that it wasn’t like the book so she didn’t like it.

In light of this, my new plan for seeing movie adaptations is to either watch the movie before I read the book, so I can enjoy both, or wait to reread the book until after I’ve seen the movie. That way the storyline isn’t too fresh in my head. I guess I should have waited to reread the Hobbit until all three movies have been released, but I couldn’t wait. Oh well, hopefully I’ll still enjoy the movie and not be too critical of the filmmaker’s decisions.

So what’s your favorite movie adaptation and why? Or what book would you like to see turned into a movie? Leave a comment below.