Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Flavia, Weed and Puppets

"Flavia de Luce, a dangerously smart eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders, thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop's Lacey are over–until beloved puppeteer Rupert Porson has his own strings sizzled in an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity.  But who'd do such a thing and why?  Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she's letting on?  What about Porson's charming but erratic assistant?  All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can't solve–without Flavia's help.  But in getting so close to who's secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?"

It took me way too long to read The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. Just way, way too long. A big chunk of March stood lazily strolling through its pages. I've thought about why over a thousand times and came up with the conclusion that I was distracted, without fuss, by outside influences pulling my attention. Now I don't want to call the second book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mystery series boring. No, I won't proclaim that. I wouldn't even dare, as I adore Flavia enough as it is.  However, I suppose I just wasn't as invested in the mystery's unfolding–or the mystery itself.  Toward the end I found it mostly unbelievable, or rather a stretch to believe.  (Of course I can't give any details without spoiling it.)  However, I also though The Weed was more heart wrenching than its predecessor, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Nevertheless, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag wasn't exactly thrilling, and yet these are not thrillers. Like the previous books, it's told with a near lethargic, old English style of mystery telling; reminisce something Agatha Christie if you will. The juice, however, is the first-person narrative provided by Flavia (let‘s pun this and say the “flavor“). She’s the juice and the disparity; the life, heart and spirit of the book. So should Bradley throw out the mystery elements, I would probably find satisfaction in Flavia spinning around her English village snooping in residents' business. Or sprinting up to her deceased great-uncle’s chemistry lab to concoct an astringent used to lace her older sisters’ chocolates. Incidentally, this is what took place as the book revved up.  You see, the actual murder and investigation elements switch into gear 150 pages deep. That’s right, 150 pages.  Therefore, between the first and 150th page, Flavia was more or less moving about without motive.  Yet at the end, she had everything nailed down to share with the Inspector.  Everything just seemed to come about... right on time for her.

So to speak.  I'm trying to be vague and throw shade at the same time.

Nonetheless, I definitely look forward to the third book.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

~4. Back to High School - Towel Style~

The next clutch.  The next batch of five pages from this comic I put together my junior year of high school!  Or was it my senior year?  Upon recollection, I think it was senior year.  Okay.  Anyway...

Last time we left off, Towel's classmates ran out of school under the influence of the new girl, who took it upon herself to attack their teacher.  Considering Towel is somehow immune to the new girl's influence, she somehow convinces herself that it's her mission to make matters right.

Naturally, Towel's investigation leads her to the local bookstore where her best friend, Cornbread, works.  She needs help finding the students.  Unfortunately, Cornbread's sister works at the bookstore also.  And she annoys Towel to no end.  She's one of those kids that talks and talks and talks and talks.

Now the story switch gears.  I have a problem separating ideas sometimes.

For just one introduction page, we meet up with Minno, the strange new girl Towel is chasing.  She's roaming the streets, hypnotizing more and more people (boys mostly).  Meanwhile, two new characters are introduced who are going to expand everything.

Back to Towel's story.  We meet her mother and brother.  She doesn't look like either.  I really love drawing busy pages, and it's obvious I couldn't contain myself back then.  Just about every blank space needed something.

Anyway, continuing forward...!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Little March Housekeeping

I had this great story about transferring to another store within this company I work for (girl, please), and procrastinating finding a suit for my cousin’s wedding in two weeks. It was fun relaying the small knot of anxiety each gives me, and how I can’t wait to dive into these books to dissipate the feeling. Then I got tired of writing it and decided to simply show my recent acquisitions.

It’s an interesting sort. Two books feature black women writing paranormal and fantasy through the lenses of characters of the same likeness (though I think there’s some variation in both). Those would be Daughter of Gods and Shadows by Jayden Brooks and The Moon Tells Secrets by Savanna Welles (told y’all I was gunning hard for these two books). Then I finally decided to move forward in Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski series with book five, Blood Shot. I was craving some detective fiction. It’s a craving that remains right below the surface–as many know.  So that’s nothing new. And last, an interesting book called Icy Sparks about a ten-year-old with Tourette’s syndrome. I found this one at the public library’s used bookstore and just thought "what the hell."

Lovely. All of it.

Here’s to escaping reality and praying some of these new authors deliver. Either way, I can’t wait to share what I thought of them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode 2 Gameplay

A friend told me I should be promoting my newly gaming channel a little bit more.  So here goes.

So far, so good.  The teams and partnerships are set between Claire and Moria; Barry and Natalia.  After escaping the prison, Claire and Moria find themselves in the midst of other survivors on the island, survivors who were also victims during the raid on the Terra Save function.  Therefore, these are familiar faces to Claire.  

Nonetheless, the survivors are now trapped in a fishing village, one that houses an incapacitated helicopter in need of both fuel and a sound battery.  It’s up to Claire, Moria and a drill saw carrying Pedro to spread out through the village and find these missing parts so they can all escape the hell that makes up Resident Evil Revelations 2.  Now, it’s never as easy as it sounds.  More iron-clad monsters and other Afflicted howl their way throughout the village.  And let's not forget the later encounter with a fire-barreling, fat Inca baby.  (No really, that's what it looks like.)  Nevertheless, all monsters stunt the survivor’s progress, so much so that some of them don't make it out alive…

Watch me curse my way through this travesty–in totally enjoyment of course.  Personally, despite a slew of flawed gameplay mechanics, I do think Resident Evil Revelations 2 is superior to even Resident Evil 6.  I also find it loads–and I mean loads–less tedious than the original Revelations.  I could be bias, though.  You know, considering Claire is my absolute favorite Resident Evil character.  But who's counting?

Enjoy RE fans!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Books I'm Looking Forward To Releasing In 2015

Today I shall share my break-the-wallet-on-release-day books.  Or simply put: BOOKS I CAN'T WAIT TO RELEASE THIS YEAR!  I just had to share this to keep myself accountable for my reading needs as 2015 unfolds.  Yes, yes.  I must be ready for each of these titles.  So let's go!

1. X is for… [Unannounced] by Sue Grafton

This was a breeze to conjure up.  Book number 24 in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series is due out in August. I scream inside; as we all know I idolize Grafton and her smart-mouthed P. I., Kinsey. The series releases bi-yearly, so it’s right on time after 2013's W is for Wasted hit shelves that September. I just wonder what in the hell could the “X” in this title stand for, besides “Xylophone” or “Xenophile”?  And besides the full title, I haven't a clue what this one is about.  What's Kinsey's next case?  Where's Kinsey going to go next in her trapped-in-the-80s narrative.  I kind of like it that way, though.  The uncertainty, while having the utmost faith that it's going to be something incredibly sweet and fulfilling because Grafton and her protagonist is just that damn close to me now. I’m waiting desperately for you Mrs. Grafton!  And while I don't re-read books, I suddenly want to take this series down again.  From start to finish!  A to X.  One Kinsey Millhone one-liner after another.  I bask...

2. Devoted in Death by J. D. Robb

Well, it’s obvious at this point that I've stopped denying my need for J. D. Robb books. Yep. That’s over with. So I wait anxiously for September 8th when book number 41 in Robb’s Eve Dallas In Death series releases. Apparently, Devoted has a sort of Bonnie and Clyde setup. Two committed lovers on a cross-country killing spree. Sign me up for it!

3. The Moon Tells Secrets by Savanna Welles

Yes, yes, yes. Mrs. Welles is another pen name for author Valerie Wilson Wesley. And yes, sometimes I desire a little more out of her writing. Nonetheless, I somewhat enjoyed Welles’ first Gothic thriller, When the Night Whispers. Therefore, I'm willing to follow Wesl–err–Welles into The Moon Tells Secrets. It’s coming out on March 24, and that’s right around the corner. Apparently, The Moon Tells Secrets is about a woman raising her adopted son, a son with the ability to shift into animals. In turn, he’s hunted down by something called “skinwalker." Crazy, right? Well, the thrill to this–for me anyway–is that the cast is Black. I’m always, always there for Black characters featured in stories outside of contemporary fiction.  As well as the Black writers who take the dive to tell these unique stories. As far as I'm concerned, Black authors can do crime fiction and paranormal just as well. Needless to say, Tuesday, I'll be at Barnes and Nobles for this one. Support.

4. Disciple of the Wind by Steve Bein

I've waited an entire year for book number 3 in Steve Bein’s Fated Blades series, one of the remaining remnants of urban fantasy series I find worth reading. And I’m less than a month away from its April 7th release. Color me all kinds of happy!  I can’t wait to go back to Tokyo with Bein's Detective Sergeant, Mariko Oshiro, and her infamous Inazuma blade. I just adore this series; from its protagonist to the way Bein jumps the reader back and forth through time via stories surrounding ancient Japanese blades. However, I'm hoping Bein offers Mariko a lot more spotlight this go-round. I enjoyed the last book, Year of the Demon, tremendously.  Nevertheless, I thought Mariko’s story got diluted by the time hopes to ancient Japan.  And believe me when I say that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.  If you're into stories that tap into realms like legends, superstitions and Edo period Japanese tales, Bein delivers.

5. Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

Gladstone and Bein go hand-in-hand with me now, as both authors are my ports into the urban fantasy genre. Anyway, Last First Snow is book number 4 in Gladstone’s Craft Sequence series. It'll be out in July. I don’t have too much information on the story; quite honestly, the big brute man on the cover has me worried. Nonetheless, as more details come about, I’m sure my excitement for this book will rise until I rush through the bookstore to grab it with little hesitation.

6. God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

God Help the Child releases April 21. Now here’s the thing: I love Toni Morrison. I really do. However, as I mentioned before, I love her work pre-90s. Afterward, I found it difficult to get through her material. It almost feels like all the accolades and whatnot that Beloved garnered had shifted something in her writing. And while I managed through a few of her works then forward, it’s books like A Mercy that just makes me scratch my head in wonder. I never managed to finish that book, but hold on to it for the next attempt. I just never quite understood who and where that book took a claim to. And apparently I’m not the only one. Nonetheless, I do have hopes for God Help the Child. So much so that maybe I can go back and read Morrison’s Home, her 2012 release.  I suppose I'm hoping God Help the Child get me back on track with her.  It looks promising.

7. Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

All right, despite a few problems, I did enjoy the first book in Harris’ new series, Midnight Crossroad. I enjoyed the dust town and small-town cast of unique characters, and do intend to return to it all this May in Day Shift. I'm excited to see what these crazy-ass people (among other things) do next. Unfortunately, as Amazon is my only source at the immediate moment, I don’t have much information on what Day Shift is about. However, I'm still excited. As I said before, Harris is just ruthless with her characters. You never know what they'll do in her books.  She surprises me time and time again, and I like that.

8. Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Gerritsen just announced her October release on her blog, and it’s called Playing with Fire. In the same vein as her book, The Bone Garden, Playing with Fire jumps back and forth through time. It’s the story about a violinist, and how her 3-year-old daughter turns violent at the sound of a particularly piece the violinist plays. It's a piece of music she traces back to 1940’s Venice. So no, this is not a Rizzoli and Isle entry. Which is okay with me because its sounds just as Gerritsen and just as nuts.

9.  China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

I almost forgot this one!  Somebody beat me in the head because I don't understand how this one slipped me.  Well, I'm sure many more 2015 releases have already slipped around me.  Nonetheless, on to China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan.  China Rich Girlfriend is the sequel to Kwan's breakout debut, Crazy Rich Asians.  I thoroughly enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians when I finally got my hands on it the winter before last.  Evidently, China Rich Girlfriend picks up on Chinese-Singaporean, Nicholas Young (heir to a magnificent fortune), and his relationship with ABC (American Born Chinese) girlfriend Rachel Chu.  After all of the gossiping, family coups, and destructive intentions to break the two apart, it appears the two are continuing forth with their wedding.  This, of course, only invites more drama.  Needless to say, I can't wait to get my hands on it in June.  For anyone who indulges in the melodrama that makes up Asian soaps, this is the author to get into!

Okay. Off the top of my head, that’s it for now. I got a few fence-riders I’ll like to mention next.

10. Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell

This is book number 23 in Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta forensic thriller series. After last year’s awfulness of Flesh and Blood, I'm not sure (that’s a lie because Depraved Heart will be sought) how this one will go. I think I just want to hear myself say lie to myself, but I am worried about whether this book is going to be as awful as Flesh and Blood. Will I have to abandon it, just as I did Flesh and Blood?  Well, we'll see in November when this book releases.

11. One Night by Eric Jerome Dickey

I used to be totally in love with this guy. Then he didn't release a book for an entire year, came back, and broke my heart. The book that threw me over was An Accidental Affair (2012); this torrent story about some guy finding his girlfriend (or was it his wife?) was having an affair. So what does he do, run out and sleep with just about every woman who takes an interest in him. I didn't make it through that book before I, to be perfectly honest, returned it. The following year I bought Decadence. This featured the return of Dickey's sex-crazed protagonist Nia Simon Bijou. Needless to say, I never even cracked it. I gave the book to my mom, as I just didn't care to read about Nia and her orgies again.  I think those two books just weren't written for me, or maybe I just grew tired of this sudden slip of sex over plot. However, last year’s A Wanted Woman looked promising, but by then I was already too hurt to try. I just didn’t feel like another erotic action thriller. Which is odd because it’s a book about a hit-woman, and y‘all know I love books featuring women with guns. Nonetheless, the idea is that I'll go back to A Wanted Woman before I return to what seems like classic Dickey in One Night. Who knows?  Here's to One Night's April 21th release.

Drum, But No Drum

12. The Drafter by Kim Harrison 

The Drafter is first in Kim Harrison’s new series, and seeing I've somewhat abandoned her Rachel Morgan series, I don't see The Drafter happening. Nonetheless, it’s on my radar. How’s that for September possibilities?

13. Dead Ice by Laurell K Hamilton

My ultimate guilty pleasure. The series that I love to hate. And hate more than I love, yet find myself bewitched after Hamilton waved her wand over readers from book 1-9. I’m locked into Anita Blake and her story. Even as I want to throw up at the ridiculousness of it along the way.  Here's to gathering my pail in June.

Off Subject, But Not

Why do I want to read Nora Roberts’ Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy? Is it the covers? I don’t know, but for some reason, I really want to read these books. Help me, Jesus.

So what new releases are you guys looking for this year? 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Girl Who Wanted Illumination

Here we are with "The Girl Who Wanted Illumination."  Character named, Shi Shi.  Last weekend I came across another bundle of scrapbook paper and bejeweled stickers that I wanted to use.  And here we go with my first shot...

Sketched.  A touch difficult at first.  However, the basis was "something cute."

Filling in her eyelids, the heel of my hand came in contact with some drying spots.  So by accident, I splotched her face a little.  My immediate reaction was to take the drawing and crumble it all up.  But I kept going.  There's always ways around these things, right?  Nonetheless, I left the drawing alone for the night after that situation.

Minimal watercolor in use.  Though I began to think what exactly was I going to do for her backdrop.  Should I paint it?  Paint around her?

In the spirit of my last drawing, I took another slice of bristol board and painted it a soft black.  All materials gathered, I knifed out her clothes.  Or the potential areas for clothes.

Seeing that I would glue her onto the black-painted board, I used tape to keep her "clothes" together.  Too much glue everywhere is messy.  Anyway, stenciling out the pieces were a breeze.  Not complicated this time around.

Lovely.  Chalk pastels are all colored and in place.  Soft blue for the hair and a peach tone for skin.  Layers.

I do not like the way I streaked her hair.  It was so wavy and wild that I lost control of its movement.  Also, I think I should've called it a night at this point.  I was ready to lay down.

I can't say this will be the final look.  I had troubles losing its scale with my tiny scanner.  So I used lighting and my phone's camera to get a larger scale.  So I'm not sure yet.  I work with what I have.  Nonetheless, I revived her coloring which gave her this inner illuminating appeal.  Extra sparkle to her eyes, etc.  I'm still on the fence about this one.  Small things I maybe didn't do as well as I hoped earlier in the process seems to show.  But then I look back and think she's too damn cute!  She reminds me of Aja from Jem and the Holograms.

Well?  Thoughts?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Himalayan Salt Lamps

Salt lamps. I've always wanted one, but didn't exactly want to pay $30-something dollars for one. Until now, sort of.  Instead, I bought two that operate as candle holders; buy one get one half off was hard to resist. And I love them, and hope I receive some of their curious benefits. 

If you're not familiar with salt lamps, they're lamps (or candle holders in my case) made from natural salt crystals. My understanding is there are fake ones, however the authentic ones come from the Himalayas.  Give or take any location differences I'm not aware of.  Now the benefits of salt lamps come from their ability to emanate negative ions into the atmosphere, something that you would find in nature. Negative ions sort of counteracts positive ions, or ions released from electronically equipment such as computers and televisions. Or man-made items–to be specific. Nonetheless, the negative ions given by the salt lamps are said to cleanse the ionic air. This, in turn, allegedly relieves people from headaches and respiratory problems caused by prolonged interaction with positive ions. Not that I have any of these health issues (haven’t had an asthma attack in years), but I can only imagine some of the possible, unspoken benefits of owning a salt lamp.

I suppose I'll try to keep things posted on their effects. However, I can say that after leaving them burning all night (which I don't suggest), I did wake up feeling pretty refreshed after some good sleep.  Even as I write this, with a good twenty minutes left before I have to get ready to go to work (I'll refrain from calling it a hellhole), I'm not moved to take one of those sluggishly sour naps.  I'm, in essence, okay.  Which is what I want.  Which is also why I like to try different metaphysical items such as salt lamps, smudge sticks, and stones.  I just want to feel good.  To feel okay.

*Off tangent sidenote: I actually dropped my vial of moldavite oil at work a few days ago.  I hadn't used it in a while, and here I was bringing it in to counteract some of the psychic poison in the area and I dropped it.  It smashed and the entire register area smelled like the oil.  I gathered the moldavite fragments to place in a replacement vial as soon as I get one.*

The video below is the infamous Hibiscus Moon sharing her knowledge on salt lamps.  Carry one, people.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Your Standard Meow

"The annual steeplechase races are the high point in the social calendar of the horse-mad Virginians of cozy Crozet.  But when one of the jockeys is found murdered in the main barn, Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen finds herself in a desperate race of her own–to trap the killer.  Luckily for her, she has an experienced ally; her sage tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy.  Utilizing her feline genius to plumb the depths of human depravity, Mrs. Murphy finds herself on a trail that leads to the shocking truth behind the murder.  But will her human companion catch on in time to beat the killer to the gruesome finish line?"

Ugh! I’m here again, trying to write my thoughts on a Rita Mae Brown Mrs. Murphy book. I don’t say “ugh” in a negative way–especially not concerning the book. I say “ugh” because it gets harder and harder to come up with something to say about the books.  Because, like many on-going series, you're either in on the bewitchery or you're not.  And considering Murder, She Meowed is book five, I'm in. 

They're stories revolving around a cat and a dog helping their human companion (they call her “mother”) solve cozy murder mysteries in small-town Crozet, Virginia. They're not the most astounding, intelligent, and thoroughly mind-bending mystery reads; but still they're simply great. What they are are fun, interesting, comfortable, and charming. Either you're lulled into the animalistic perspective of Murphy and Tucker, or you're not.  Or maybe I like them because I love animals, but will pass at having pets.

Regardless of all that, they have that something. I mentioned before how I love Brown’s “creamy” way with words. And how I love her drive in painting small-town citizens and their various nuances and dynamics with one another. Those components of her storytelling remains strong in Murder, She Meowed.  (Actually, I was kind of baffled that the male model character wasn't around this time.) And yes, some of the mystery elements can sometimes come across as a little contrived. Then there’s the sometimes problematic situation of multiply players and perspectives biting into the mystery, meanwhile the trading of information between characters slips from my reading experience.  In other words, sometimes I'm left trying to recall how such-in-such character gathered information privy to only those present at its delivery.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, it’s all about the character of Crozet and its cast, both human and animal alike. It’s that hook of the series that makes this happen.  It's that hook that allows me to slip into a robe and just escape to Crozet as the sun goes down over my window. And arriving and finishing book number five only makes me squeal for the comfort, familiar and animal motivations inside book six.

I just adore the damn series!  THERE!  (^_^)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Comfort Readings

My job makes me sick. No, really. It makes me sick. Clock in. Clock out. Misery. Draining. Being pounded by energy that infects my own. Not living, but slowly dying. Like Spike said to Buffy while she worked at the Double Meat Palace, “This place will kill you.” It’s a phrase that comes to mind as I beg God not to let me die in “this place.”

These past two weeks have been filled with bad weather; snow, icy roads, frozen cars on slushy streets with a manager willing to spin his truck through it all to collect his employees to fill shifts. A manager who just wouldn't give up. My Sundays were filled with running a store alone, while the assistant manager clocks out at 9am or comes in for an hour and a half at 11am to do paperwork and leave as a line brews before my register. I often wonder what‘s the point of her even coming. And when she’s gone, I'm picking up the business phone to calling my general manager (who’s at home with his kids) to tell him that I have a line and he has vendors, complaints, equipment failures, and a dirty store that is cheap and irresponsible of him to give to one employee alone with any expectations.

Last Saturday I told him I wasn't coming the next day.  He would have to find somebody else to manage his store alone Sunday.  And I didn't come.  So I came to work Tuesdays with rumors of my suspension floating around, which I'd gladly take considering the job already snatched me from taking a vacation since last June.

So I have to smudge myself to get rid of psychic garbage, as I wonder when this will end. When will this chaos finally dissipate?

However, there's always books!  So in the meantime, I've gathered comfort. Only two this time, though I browsed Barnes & Nobles for a few more that I placed on my TBR. Nonetheless, emphasizing "comfort," I decided on Rita Mae Brown’s Murdered, She Meowed (book #5 in her Mrs. Murphy series) and The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, book #2 in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. One involves pets solving crimes; the other an eleven-year-old English girl doing the same.  I haven't cracked open a book all of March, so I have to defibrillate myself with some faves and familiars.

Nevertheless, the two interesting books that I had passed in favor of comfort are the newly encountered Gods and Shadows by Jayde Brooks and Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang.  Two in which I can't wait to check out on my next visit.

So here's to not letting people, places or situations steal our joy!   

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The OSI Gone Bye-Bye-Bye

I forgot to mention Jes Battis back when I made posts related to urban fantasy authors whose series I've loved but are no longer in operation. So besides the lovely Lynn Benedict, Battis is definitely up there. Battis wrote a five-book series surrounding a young Canadian Occult Special Investigator named Tess Corday. I know. I know. First, you'd like to know exactly what an Occult Special Investigator or OSI is. Well, it’s an investigative unit that specializes in the occult, or occult rattled cases. It’s like an alternative division to the whole CSI mechanic and how it pertains to law enforcement. Therefore, Tess’s job usually has her castigated by unruly vampires, necromancers and other nightly fiends. Well, opposed to murderous humans and the occasional blue-collar criminal. So it‘s all about the world she lives in, and one that Battis painted quite nicely (until it sort of fell apart in the last book).

Despite his set-up, Battis's protagonist is very much human. Although later her father’s genetic truths come to light. This becomes an overarching plot, unfolding next to the case-by-case format spanning the five books. And while all that is tugging and momentum-filled, Tess isn't alone in her journey.  There are secondary characters with their own stories to tell. Her best friend, Derrick, is gay and telepathic.  He also works for the OSI. Additionally, his boyfriend is a hearing-impaired profiler of sorts. Nonetheless, the two (gradually more) share an apartment with a teenage pseudo-vampire named Mia.  Mia bears a striking personality resemblance to Buffy’s sister Dawn, although Mia isn't nowhere near as insufferable.  Tess and her best friend become Mia's guardians after the first book, Night Child. I was always confused about Mia's circumstances, but there’s something about her breaking out into vampire mode and ruling the underworld one day. It’s hazy, but somewhat of the gist of her story. Nonetheless, while these three jump-start the series, there is also Tess’s boyfriend and local chief necromancer, Lucian Agrado.

So the cast is wide and diverse, and generally different. Especially with the tie of the hearing-impaired character. You don't see these characters too often in urban fantasy, or I can't recall a time. Furthermore, while Lucian gave great body and sex appeal, he wasn't like other male characters in this genre where their bod and sex appeal becomes the focal point of the protagonist’s obsession. No. Lucian very much kept Tess in check, and her likewise. Together the cast got into plenty of trouble. Each with a sort of ability and charm that compliments the next, leading to the resolutions behind many of Tess’s cases. 

I truly miss and enjoy the series, even though the last book was just this long, morbid monologue/meditation provided by Tess regarding her values and that of her father. Though sadly, I think the series really started to pick up with the third book (that’s when I solidified my love of Battis work), but didn't get the chance to really shine.

All that aside, you can tell Battis watches a lot of Buffy, my personal favorite TV show.  So if you like Buffy, you may love this charming and humorous treat.  Interesting investigations, a slice of love, friendship-driven, and mysterious family secrets abound.

Friday, March 6, 2015

~3. Back 2 High School - Towel Style ~

All right, guys!  Here we are with the next five panels of my old high school comic featuring my Towel character.  It's slowly, slowly moving out of the slice-of-life shoujo style and into the action, magical girl realm.

Ah, in the last post I couldn't figure out this guy's name.  Akiru, huh?  Anyway, apparently he has always noticed Towel around school.  So when he asks is her best friend, Cornbread, her boyfriend, she freaks out and hits him.  While the attack wasn't necessary, she freaked out for good reason.

How inpatient of her.  Here Akiru is trying to ask her out and Towel's like, "hurry up."  I have to laugh, though.  That's very much like myself.  Get to the point.

Here's the new girl again.  She's giving her teachers' hell per usual.  What's her deal?

Yep.  Curse the teacher out.  Snap the ruler in half.  Then kick the teacher in the face while proclaiming how things are about to "change" in the classroom.  Sounds about right with something I would think of back when I was 17.

Now all of the students are flying out of the classroom under her influence–with the exception of Towel who seems unaffected by her sway.  Even Clip sticks out her tongue and splits for the door.  So is this new girl human?  I more or less took this scene from an incident that happened to me while in the tenth grade.  The lights went out in the entire school, and when the substitute we had for English left to check everything out, the entire class got up and left.  I'll never understand why I got into that, seeing as I didn't have anywhere to go.  However, I have to admit that that week of in-house suspension was great.  I spent that whole week writing a story until I finished it.

See you guys in the next 5!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Anand's Calling...

Anand Giridharadas’s India Calling is sort of my first foray into readings based on Indian culture, and the country in general. It’s an “intimate portrait” written by Giridharadas regarding his experience as an American-born Indian returning to the country his parents immigrated from before his birth (as well as his sister‘s). He exams the many influences as to why his parents left India, between a somewhat stifling culture and a tumbling economy. And then he relays how many of those grounds for fleeing have evolved and changed over the years. For better or worse is often the question. Nevertheless, it’s at a consequence that some Indians find themselves culturally deprived and economically disadvantaged compared to the transfixed success of others.

So what could be the catalysis to this change within the country? Here’s where Giridharadas also assesses the cultural influences outside of, say, the caste system that once held a cord over India‘s public. Women and men of India are beginning to take control of their lives–their circumstances. And it’s complicated to do so, as the people of India give away many of their old cultural standards for something new, adventurous, and maybe even considered sinfully enticing. Giridharadas explores these changes through seven chapters where individuals he‘s spoken with, concerning the conceptualization of India Calling, share their stories. From fundamentalist, entrepreneurs, spiritual, and love-lost citizens, he categorizes his chapters between Dreams, Ambition, Pride, Anger, Love, and Freedom. And it’s here that I’m going to share quotes and pieces of each chapter to give you guys and idea as to how revealing I found India Calling.

"India was changing when I arrived, and it continued to change dramatically, viscerally, improbably.  The freeze I had sensed as a child seemed to be thawing.  It was partly the enormous physical churn: the quantities of earth being moved, the malls and office towers and gated communities being built, the restaurants opening, the factories pumping out cars, the blue jeans being sewn.  It was the new verticality of the big cities, the slum dwellers in Bombay moving into towering apartments financed by New York investors, the mushrooming of village backwaters into congested satellite cities such as Gurgaon and Navi Mumbai and Electronics City.  It was the villagers who have been moved off their land so that Tata Motors, the once-stagnant company where my father worked, whose lifeless culture had pushed him toward America, could built the world's cheapest car, priced at a little more than $2,000."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Resident Evil Revelations 2 Gameplay ~ Claire

Video games have always been a stress reliever for me. Just about every suppressed aggravation comes out (usually through a stream of Southern dripped curse words) during moments of blasting zombies’ heads all over the damn place. Likewise, a simple rumination on my day with a quiet puzzle game is just as an effective reliever. When I think about it, one genre of gaming educe screaming release, whereas another allows me to play scenarios in my head pertaining to life and how I have to deal with some aspects of it.  Furthermore, video games energize and engage me. They toil around with my imagination, feeding my creative ideas for writing, drawing and conceptualizing character scenes. 

For a moment–a microscopic, tiny moment–I'm transported somewhere else in an existence that is dangerous but never my own. It’s a vicarious way of living, with a slew of possible situations to explore. And while games are not always as mentally stimulating as reading (perhaps it‘s worth the debate); they do generate just enough to often times keep me from reading.  (If you catch my drift.)

So I've always wanted to share my gaming hobby, however casual it actually is. It’s a thrilling, wonderful tool to bring people with shared interest together. Okay. I mean if you love gaming and consider it a hobby. Nonetheless, as I start my gaming channel (or restart, really), I'd like to introduce my first videos encompassing Resident Evil Revelations 2. My favorite character in the series, Claire Redfield, is finally back! She finds herself locked up (once again) in a mysterious and creepy prison–one in which I've decided is a killing jar experiment…. Here’s what I think as I commentary my way through Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode One: Penal Colony…

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