Monday, April 30, 2018

Gurren Lagann

A giant mech an anime with cool action sequences and occasional humor in twists. Not the best I've ever seen, but certainly not the worst.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Commission by MrsRarity

The Measure of the Magic

The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks
In the second and final entry of author Terry Brooks’ Legends of Shannara duology, an individual known as the ragpicker wanders, while Prue Liss’ life is saved by the sacrifice of another, Prue rescued from Taureq Siq and his Trolls as a favor to Sider Ament. The ragpicker serves as something as an observer during subsections of many chapters, and there’s more to him than meets the eye. Panterra Qu in the meantime goes after Arik Siq and keeps him as a reluctant prisoner, hoping to see the Seraphic, although the holder of that title, Skeal Eile, wants his servant Bonnasaint to off Pan.

Prue meets the King of the Silver River and learns that she is to be a helper in maintaining the balance between the Word and the Void, and soon finds herself colorblind except for a wandering scarlet dove. Princess Phryne Amarantyne is under house arrest due to her alleged hand in her father the King’s murder, and gets a note promising her emancipation, with many believing that she, and not her stepmother Isoeld Severine, should be the next Elven monarch. Both Pan and Phryne eventually find themselves in a void where a long-deceased Queen communicates with them.

Some twists about involving the ragpicker and the Seraphic that culminate in the climax of the novel, which ultimately ends satisfactorily, although a dictionary defining the various terms native to the Shannara franchise would have definitely been welcome. One can also find it difficult at times as to remember the particular races of certain characters, with regular reminders within the text being welcome, although this fantasy tale is definitely more than readable, and recommended to those who enjoyed its predecessor.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Super Famicom Edition Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite

This Dragon Quest Symphonic Suite by revered composer Koichi Sugiyama opens with the familiar overture of the series that played in the Roto / Loto / Erdrick trilogy (the first three entries in the franchise and their respective remakes), following which is the prologue theme to the dream sequence that occurs in remakes of the third installment. Then comes the regal castle theme, along with a medley of town themes and ethnic pieces, such as that played in Jipang, the Japanese-themed town within the game, and the Pyramid theme, the town themes having day and night variations.

The overworld theme follows, bearing resemblance to the award ceremony theme by John Williams that plays at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope, afterward a medley of the dungeon, tower, and phantom ship themes. Then comes the game over and shrine themes, after which is one of the highlights of the Symphonic Suite, the Blue Danube-esque sailing theme. “Heavenly Flight” is just as grand, having calm and exhilarating portions, and “Grueling Fight,” which plays during battles against major bosses, having a sweeping epic feel reflecting the challenge of said antagonists.

Afterward is “Zoma’s Castle,” which is essentially a remix of the subterranean dungeon theme, although it gives a memorability to the track. “Fighting Spirits” is a medley of the normal battle theme, the second overworld theme, and the final boss theme, with the world map track in the middle somewhat clashing with the opening and ending parts of the piece, although it’s not bad. The final piece is “Into the Legend,” which gives a fitting conclusion to the Erdrick trilogy, and accounts overall for an excellent soundtrack that fans of classical music and videogames will likely enjoy.

Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack

As was the case with his soundtrack for the seventh mainline entry of the fabled Final Fantasy franchise, Nobuo Uematsu’s score for the second PlayStation entry of the series was vastly different than those for prior entries, given the series’ abandonment of hard fantasy settings in favor of those that bore more science-fiction elements and lesser fantastical aspects. There are several vocal tracks on the soundtrack, among them being the song “Eyes on Me,” which surprisingly was in English even in the Japanese version of the game, serving as something of a central theme.

One of the earlier tracks, that for Balamb Garden, also has several remixes throughout the soundtrack, and there are plenty other standout pieces such as “Silence and Motion,” which sounds distinctly alien and futuristic, given the offbeat choice of instruments for the track. There are a select few tracks longtime fans of the franchise are sure to recognize, such as a few remixes of the chocobo music and part of the ending themes that appears in prior entries, regardless of genre. Overall, this soundtrack is definitely worth a listen, and is on par with the composer’s other work.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.jpg
The third installment of author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series opens with the eponymous protagonist doing his summer homework from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the middle of the night due to his bigoted relatives, the Dursleys, who have a very medieval attitude towards sorcery. He receives owl post that includes a permission slip necessary to visit Hogsmeade, the Scottish village adjacent to Hogwarts, which a guardian must sign, and needless to say, the Dursley patriarch and matriarch certainly aren’t happy to oblige, although they cut a deal that if Harry acts “normal” in front of the former’s sister, Aunt Marge, he might sign it.

Things, however, don’t go as planned, and Harry finds himself on the run from his relatives, taking a magical form of transportation known as the Knight Bus to Diagon Alley in London, where he spends the rest of his holiday, having a better time than with his puritanical relations, and given that he has and had had similar superior accommodations (having spent part of the holidays before his second year at Hogwarts with the wizarding Weasley family), this begs the question of why Harry just completely forewent the Dursleys, unless he has some form of Stockholm Syndrome.

Harry gets his shopping done for the following term at Hogwarts and reunites with his best friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, and go on the train headed for the academy, where dark-cloaked entities known as the dementors are present for security reasons, on account of a criminal with ties to Harry’s past named Sirius Black, wanted by both the Muggle (non-magical) and wizarding worlds, having escaped the wizard prison Azkaban, with one causing the Boy Who Lived to go unconscious, after which he awakes in the school infirmary.

Some new classes Harry and friends take include Divination with the enigmatic Professor Trelawney, where arises the omen of a black dog known as a Grim, and Magical Creatures with Hogwarts gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid, who introduces the hippogriff Buckbeak, Harry having a good flight with the hybrid but Harry’s nemesis Draco Malfoy getting attacked due to his rudeness, causing him to complain to his father Lucius and result in the beast getting treated as pariah, with an appeal and death sentence ultimately coming for the creature, at least for the time.

Harry and company also have a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the equally-enigmatic R.J. Lupin, whom they, except for the Slytherins, regard as the best instructor in the allegedly-cursed position they’ve ever had, and gives hands-on lessons with entities such as the shapeshifting boggarts, which Harry uses as practice, since dementors cause him to faint and his Quidditch team to lose a match due to his incapacitation, for Patronus Charms, helpful in repelling the dark creatures, and at one point giving Draco and his cronies a scare at another Quidditch match where they dress black like the beings and are foiled.

As Harry’s initial broomstick broke during the unsuccessful Quidditch match, he’s elated to get a replacement from a person later identified, although it’s checked for jinxes for a few chapters, due to fear of Sirius Black infiltrating the school, and allegedly slashing the Fat Lady’s portrait serving as the entrance to the Gryffindor dormitories. He also receives the helpful Marauder’s Map, authored by a group of four also eventually revealed, which, along with his father’s Invisibility Cloak, allows him some time in secret with his friends in Hogsmeade.

The tertiary entry ultimately climaxes with a confrontation against Sirius Black, who might have had a hand in the death of Harry’s parents, with several twists abounding that result in another satisfying book in the series, although the introduction of a time-travel element somewhat creates plot holes in future entries where tragedies make themselves known. Even so, Rowling’s books are definitely more than readable and memorable, and, given the introduction of some mature content such as somewhat-coarse language, definitely grew with their readers.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

"Spinning Toy"

I wrote this in my local writers guild:

O spinning toy that revolves to and fro,

Made more illuminating through bright hues,

I cannot tell how endless you will go,

But for entertainment, you give your dues.

One can call you revolutionary

Given your ceaseless rotating delight

And absence of being stationary,

Not to mention lack of terrible fright.

I adore how you rotate all around

And go on infinitely for a while,

Spinning with tumult and a whizzing sound

In a certain indescribable style.

How you reflect the windmills of the mind

And are playful, joyful, colorful, kind.

Art of the Day, 26 April 2018

Doughboy Jordan Fox
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Penny Lost

Protagonist Penelope “Penny” Grace narrates this time-travel adventure, with her ability to read energies around her in tow, and her father’s electronic tablet being lost. Her twin sister Dinah picks her up, suggesting she recites lines from Shakespeare to distract from the negative energies Penny senses. Regardless, they drive towards the force, finding someone in distress in a house’s basement, with a vacuum sucking Penny and an amnesiac boy who ultimately receives the questionable moniker of “Stranger” away. Penny and Stranger find themselves aboard the doomed vessel Lusitania, whose sinking marks the entry by the Americans into the First World War.

After a series of events, Penny and Strangers find themselves board another vessel, specifically an English prison ship incarcerating felons and rebels from the American Revolution. Here, the two meet another time traveler, Richard “Ricky” Noble, who knows Penny is an empath, and eventually incites an insurrection aboard the boat, taking control over it. The next period towards which Penny makes a jump is when William Shakespeare was a fledgling playwright in the early seventeenth century, with a visit to the Globe Theater and recruitment of a young actor.

The final period is the twenty-third century, which is in desolation following the Second American Civil War, and water is a precious resource. The story concludes after some turf strife, culminating in an incomplete story that just creates more questions at the end, and doesn’t delve into Stranger’s backstory at all. While time travel is definitely plot hole fodder, this was nonetheless an enjoyable story, one of few involving temporal vacation that this reviewer has read thus far, and is, given his inexperience with the genre, certainly one of the strongest in spite of its flaws.

Book Details:

Book Title: A Penny Lost by Aspen Bassett
Category: YA Fiction, 232 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Release date: Jan 13, 2018
Tour dates: April 23 to May 4, 2018
Content Rating: PG (There's a kiss and some mild violence)

Book Description:

Penelope Grace, usually forgotten under the shadow of her twin sister's perfection, tries her hardest to hide her freakish ability to see into anyone's soul.

Until she senses an unusual energy like a human-shaped void in the universe. When Penny investigates the source, she gets tossed through a crack in time along with the cute boy next door. The Void follows them through history, increasing the dangers as if testing Penny. But what is it testing for? And why does it claim to know her better than even she knows herself? Even as Penny searches for answers, she must fight to survive the tragedies of both the past and future in order to get back home.

To read reviews, please visit Aspen Bassett's page on iRead Book Tours.

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Meet the Author:

Aspen Bassett works at a library, telling stories and suggesting books. When she's not working, she's usually sipping hot cocoa and wondering what would happen if she had superpowers. She's been published in multiple anthologies including Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way and Inaccurate Realities.

Aspen grew up learning about chakras and auras and the true power of imagination which slips into her writing whether she intends it to or not. In college, when she wasn't busy working on her degree in Creative Writing, Aspen also got her certificate in Women's Meditation (basically general energy work). Now, she's working toward a diploma in Integrated Healing Arts with a certificate in Hypnotherapy.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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