The Silver Sickle by Ellie Anne – Review

EllieAnn:

A great review of The Silver Sickle. Thank you, Holly!

Originally posted on Rhythempoets:

Blurb:

The end of humanity will come through the Silver Sickle . . .

Farissa lives every moment with reckless abandon, for it may be her last. Any day now, the alien goddesses will harvest her and take her to the mysterious Silver Sickle, never to return. She’s accepted that. What she can’t accept is this new idea of freedom Zel has planted in her head. She’d give almost anything to be with Zel, but how can she run from her destiny if it means putting the whole kingdom in danger?

Everyone in the desert kingdom believes the goddesses are immortal, but Zel has invented a way to kill them. Now all he has to do is convince Farissa to run away with him and plant a seed of hope in her heart that she’s not destined to die. Little does he know that one seed of hope could change…

View original 94 more words

New Site!

New Site!

Head on over to http://ellieann.net for all updates and blog posts. It’s my new home.

The Silver Sickle, Hot of tha Press!

Welp, fairy folk…and you humans listening in.

It’s time to move sites.

The amazing wizard of websites, Logan Greer, made me a shiny new site to call my own.

So mosey on over there and check it out. Just DO NOT CLICK on that one tab…

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Choose Your Apocalypse

Choose Your Apocalypse

By Ellie Ann

Apocalypse. You know it’s gonna come one of these days. But I’m not all about doom and gloom. That’s why I want to give you options to choose from in regards to your own apocalyptic demise.

Choice #1: Solar/Asteroid Apocalypse

(Examples: Book of Eli, Night of the Comet)

Unknown

Bad: One day the sun will spaz out and solar bursts and radiation will burn the crust of the earth like an overdone cherry pie. Most people will be fried to a crisp.

Good: You won’t have to battle monsters, except the human variety.

Bad: If the solar flares don’t getcha, a comet party might get out of hand and will swerve and hit our planet, and that probably won’t turn out too well for us (just ask the dinosaurs.) No one can outrun a comet. Except perhaps John Cusack.

Good: There’ll still be a paltry existence left for the survivors.

Bad: More than half the survivors will be blind.

Good: Being blind might be a blessing because there’d be no beauty left to see on earth anyway.

What you’d give a thousand dollars for: sunglasses, chap stick, and sun block.

 

Choice #2: Machine Apocalypse

(Examples: Terminator, The Matrix)

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Bad: Super creepy to fight sentient machines.

Good: This might be the most pleasant apocalypse, considering that the machines could hook us up to virtual reality. Then we’d get to pretend we live in a nice little world. It might not be so bad.

Bad: The machines might not hook us up to virtual reality, they might want our utter, total termination.

Good: You might get to hang out with Trinity or Sarah Connor, two of the coolest action heroines who ever wore tight pants.

What you’d give a thousand dollars for: an effective computer virus

 

Choice #3: Alien Apocalypse

(Examples: War of the Worlds, Signs, Battle L.A., Cloverfield, Independence Day, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, The Day the Earth Stood Still.)

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Good: It would be quite interesting to see another species.

Bad: That species might have no interest in getting to know us.

Good: This might be just the thing we need to discover efficient space travel.

Bad: We might get probed and our minds mapped . . . or worse!

Good: This is the easiest apocalypse to beat. You just have to find and kill their mother brain, or wait for a bacteria to destroy them. But first, try throwing water on them. This often works.

Bad: Motherbrains, bacteria, or water might not cut it. And you’ll be caught between an alien’s jowls or fed to their ugly babies or be made slaves to their every whim. Miserable.

What you’d give a thousand dollars for: a tin foil hat and Officer Warden Ripley’s gun.

 

Option #4: Unknown Apocalypse

(example: The Hunger Games)

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Good: no one to blame.

Bad: no one to blame.

Good: At least some people will eat. You’d better hope you’re born in the Capitol.

Bad: You’d better hope you’re not born in the districts.

Good: You’ll lose all those extra pounds you’ve been trying to shed.

Bad: You’ll be hungry enough to steal bread or eat a possum.

What you’d give a thousand dollars for: seeds for your village

 

Option #5: Big Business Apocalypse

(examples: Wall-E, Mad Max)

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Good: You’ll be proved right in suspecting that big corporations will bring about the death of us all.

Bad: There’ll be no gas to take anyone out on dates. You’ll have to revert to the bicycle, like you had to in 5th grade.

Good: Buy-n-Large probably has discounted funeral costs.

Bad: You’ll have to bury your loved ones under a garbage pile.

Good: Buy-n-Large can afford to get everyone off the planet that they desiccated.

Bad: You’ll be trapped in a spaceship with . . . everyone.

What you’d give one thousand dollars for: some privacy

 

Option #6: Zombie Apocalypse

(Omega Man, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, I Am Legend, Zombieland, World War Z)

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Good: Once you die, you won’t feel a thing.

Bad: Once you die, you might eat your family.

Good: Zombies are slow and stupid.

Bad: Zombies are slow and stupid and there are a freakin’ 6 billion of them!

Good: Zombies can be killed.

Bad: Zombies make more zombies faster than you can kill them.

Good: They won’t eat all your food supply.

Bad: They’ll eat you.

What you’d give a thousand dollars for: an endless supply of shotgun ammunition.

 

If you can’t get enough of apocalypses (or worse, it can’t get enough of you,) then you’ll most likely be interested in my super bestest writer-friend’s new novel, Firelands.

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My review:

Archer and her community are outcasts. Ever since the volcanic apocalypse, the cultish leaders, Josephites, have ruled the people with an iron fist–doling out food to those who believe and follow them, and leaving the rest to starve. When Archer finds a Josephite runaway with important information, she must decide whether to continue just getting by…or stand against the Josephites and save her people.
You know how some books are full of action and explosions, yet you never really feel on the edge of your seat because the characters don’t matter to you? Well, this isn’t like that. Piper is a genius with characters. They are all completely real and fleshed out–from Archer and Quinn, to the barkeeper and Spooge. When they were even in the slightest danger, I was sweating.
The plot is full and interesting. I enjoyed the journey each character went on, especially Archer. Her character arc is cool to see, and has a satisfying conclusion.
The themes are also very real–it asks hard questions and doesn’t give easy answers. Archer has to decide what’s really the best thing for the community, not just for her. And she has to decide what to do when she promises something almost impossible to do, and she must complete it no matter how heartbreaking it is.
This is a gritty, exciting dystopian thriller. It’s also full of hope and promises of new life in a crumbling world.

So step right up! Pick up a copy of Firelands by Piper Bayard! And pick your favorite apocalypse! How would you like our world to end?

10 reasons why you should read Fables: Animal Farm

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1.) The illustrations are phenomenal. You can enjoy them as art on their own, besides what they add to the story.

2.) I’ve done several studies on Animal Farm by Orwell, and this is a wonderful companion to the classic book. I was somewhat disappointed in Fable’s lack of development over WHY the animals revolted (there was only one line regarding it), but I can understand it because comics just don’t have the word count to justify a long backstory.

3.) Talking animals.

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4.) It’s more than just a story about talking animals. I loved the smart way in which they handled Snow White and Rose Red’s relationship. These sisters had to overcome the past, and it was always on the fence whether they would move on or not. This relationship made the story less preachy (which Animal Farm always ends up being), and more poignant.

5.) Snow White refuses to accept what’s happening until she’s bowled over by it. This is a brave and marvelous decision on the writer’s part, it made everything so real.

6.) Rose Red gets significant character development in this story. Her arc is very well written! She also finds her place in the world, which gives the story a satisfying conclusion.

7.) The comic doesn’t shy away from the hard questions, and it doesn’t give easy answers. It makes the characters face their bad decisions, makes them face the consequences. No one is left unchanged.

8.) There are two stand-out side characters: Reynard the Fox (good) and Goldilocks (bad). They steal every scene they’re in. Reynard is especially funny and witty.

9.) There’s a scene at Old Mother Hubbard’s house you’ll never forget.

10.)  The pacing is so well done, the pages fly by. I read it in one sitting, and instantly wished I had bought Fables #3. Time for another trip to the comic store!

Here my little video review of the comic:

First Review of The Silver Sickle

Lookee here! The first review of The Silver Sickle is up over at Life is Story, a cool review site. Many thanks to the awesome Jeremy McNabb for writing such a great review for it. He’s a fellow steampunk writer, you should check out his short stories, Snowball’s Chance, Gravesight, Joy & Carnage, and others.

He says, “Ann gives her audience a depth of emotion and intrigue that the Western world tends to miss in ancient stories from the East.

Ellie Ann rips up your expectations and hands you back characters who possess such single-minded ambition that you’ll be afraid to stop reading lest they come after you, too.”

Click here to check out the review….

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10 Reasons Why You Should Read World War Z

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#1: It’s not really a book about zombies, it’s a book about society and how people respond in crisis.

#2: It’s a badass book about badass people doing badass things.

#3: Max Brooks takes you on a journey, he gives you an experience. And his most generous act–he’s invisible. He only writes what the character would say, not what he wants to say.

#4: So much fact and history is woven into this book it’s hard to tell where fact ends and fiction begins. You’ll probably start to embarrass yourself in conversations by giving bits of history and fact that are from WWZ, not an actual war.

#5: “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” -Albert Camus – A lot of truth about our species is told in this book.

#6: Scenes in this will make you proud to be human.

#7: Scenes in this will make you ashamed to be human.

#8: It has a Japanese ninja warrior zombie slayer. A blind Japanese ninja warrior zombie slayer.

#9: It holds a mirror in front of you. It makes you ask important questions such as:

-who am I without my family?

-who am I without my job?

-who am I without my society?

-what offering do I bring in a crisis?

In Arthur Sinclair Junior’s chapter, he says, “We needed carpenters, masons, machinist, gunsmiths. We had those people to be sure, but not nearly as many as were necessary. The first labor survey stated clearly that over 65 percent of the present civilian workforce were classified F-6, possessing no valued vocation.”

#10: It’s practical.

There may never be a zombie war, but there are world crisis’. This book shows the before/during/after effects of our world in crisis. How prepared are you?

What did you think about World War Z?

Note: I read Cemetery Dance’s fantastic new edition of the novel. It enhanced the story, as it looked more like an report than a novel. The details, like ink splotches and clean typography and lots of whitespace on each page, were so well done. I highly recommend it.

Sherlock Holmes: Bending the Canon

Holmes

I have the honor of getting speaking at Sherlock Holmes: Past and Present conference at the Institute of English Studies in the University of London.

Now, one of the only things better than gabbing about Sherlock, is gabbing about Sherlock while in London. I swear, Sherlock Holmes fans are the smartest and most attractive of any kinds of fans. Since I don’t have the joy of getting to be there, I’ve put up my notes from my presentation here in hopes that you’ll give me an opinion or two regarding them.

I’m speaking on Bending the Canon.

Which led me to meditate night after night, as I sat on pillows and smoked an ounce of shag, “What makes Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes?”

First of all, I must demand that no judgements be made. Judgements separate souls, and judgements are haughty (as we learn from Sherlock), and since Sherlock Holmes is not our intellectual property, we don’t have the right to say which adaption is right and which adaption is wrong.
You can’t say with your nose in the air, “Oh, I think that adaption is rubbish and you’re cracked for thinking it’s a good, has your  mind been melted?”
You may, however, say, “Oh, I think that adaption is rubbish,” because you are entitled to your opinion. You just shouldn’t call anyone names if they disagree with you.
Got it? Okay. Good. No judgements, unless Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ghost presents itself and announces which characteristics MUST be thrown out…we’ll refrain from doing it ourselves
So, what makes Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes? We’ll break his characteristics down into three catagories:

1. Essential Sherlock Holmes
2. Recommended Sherlock Holmes
3. Bending Sherlock Holmes
So let’s begin. What traits must he absolutely possess? Here’s the essential Sherlock Holmes:
- Male
I don’t think you can change his gender without changing an innate part of who he is. Change anyone else’s gender in the canon, but don’t change his.
- Ideal Reasoner
He must be able to deduce a chain of events from a single fact.
He must be “the most perfect and observing machine that the world has seen.” (A Scandal in Bohemia)
- He needs a location
I don’t care if it’s London, LA, or Latvia, I think he must have a location that he knows far better than any other. He studies it. He knows the streets, knows the mud on the streets, has memorized the shops and shop owners, he knows its culture and myths, its news and criminals. Sure, he can travel and take cases in other towns, but he absolutely must have a turf.
- Softer Passions
 “As a lover, he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.” (A Scandal in Bohemia)
I don’t think he can fall in love with a woman or a man.
For the ideal reasoner, love is grit in a sensitive instrument, a crack in a lens. Let’s not bend him away from that.
Instead (and here is where so many adaptions drop it), let his passions run free through music…
-Violin
Enthusiastic musician, partial to German rather than Italian or French.
Capable Performer.
Composer of no ordinary merit.
That’s where he found true happiness.
Red-Headed League: “We’ve done our work, so it’s time we had some play. A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony.”
- Information
“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.” (Blue Carbuncle)
Sherlock is a gatherer of information, a collector of data. You cannot lose this without losing him.
In the Five Orange Pips he claims to possess all knowledge which is useful for him in his work.
Watson defined his limits in the Five Orange Pips. Here are his main points of analysis: “Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud-stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin-player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco.”
- ABSOLUTELY NO COMMONPLACE CASES
I don’t care if it was a hat accidentally dropped in the street or a King in trouble, Sherlock only takes strange cases.
“He refused to associate himself with any investigation which did not tend towards the unusual, and even the fantastic.” (The Speckled Band)
Suggested Sherlock Holmes:
- Watson
Although important, Watson is not essential to Sherlock’s character. It’s possible to create an adaption without Watson, without breaking Sherlock’s character.
Though of course, Watson is very important. After all, he and Holmes are two halves of the same broken soul.
“It makes a considerable difference to me, having someone with me on whom I can thoroughly rely.” (The Boscombe Valley Mystery)
“Oh, a trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still more so.” (The Man With a Twisted Lip)
- Smoking and meditating.
Sherlock is a thinking man, so he must take time to think.
Smoking can be bent, however. Adaptions can replace it with something else (exercising, throwing a ball, cooking, eating, painting a wall, etc.) but this pattern of meditating on a problem is important to include.
“It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.” (Red-Headed League)
 “I reached this one by sitting upon five pillows and consuming an ounce of shag.” (The Man with the Twisted Lip)
- Humor
Watson and Holmes are glib speakers, and the canon is witty and sharp. Even during the darkest cases, they exchange jests. You can’t take away humor from them without taking away one of their most endearing and sympathetic qualities.
-Proof
Sherlock needs proof before deciding anything.
“Explanations founded rather upon conjecture and surmise than on that absolute logical proof which was so dear to him.” (The Five Orange Pips)
 “Circumstantial Evidence is a very tricky thing, it may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift…you mind find it pointing to something entirely different.” (The Boscombe Valley Mystery)
Bending Sherlock Holmes:
These are some traits that can and should be bent:
- Race
Sherlock doesn’t have to be white. He can be another color without it ruining his character.
- Time
Sir Doyle wrote the canon with a tone of immediacy. Anyone reading it during that time could believe that Sherlock was just around the corner, solving crimes. I think the best adaptions keep that tone of immediacy, as if you could hire Sherlock Holmes yourself if you really needed him.
Adaptions don’t have to keep Victorian England in order to keep Sherlock. In fact, I think it’s closer to the canon if they stay current, just as Sir Doyle wrote it.
- Action/Mastery
Sherlock loves to be a part of the action. He wants to be at the scene. He smells, hears, tastes, touches, and sees details.
However, this is not necessary. Sherlock would still be Sherlock even if he were solving cases as an invalid. It would be neat to see adaptions bend this part of him.
“Holmes was transformed when he was hot upon such a scene as this…his nostrils seemed to dilate with a purely animal lust for the chase, and his mind was so absolutely concentrated upon the matter before him that a question or remark fell unheeded upon his ears.” (The Boscome Valley Mystery)
-Solitude
Sherlock does not encourage visitors, and has only one friend. I think you could bend this character trait, and give him more people he associates with.
-Success
Sherlock is a raging success. People on the street know his name, he’s sought after, and he’s only been beaten four times. He is very successful.
Could you take that away from him? Could there be an adaption in which he is a failure, derided, and disrespected as a detective? I believe you could.
Some other traits that can be bent and changed:
-Ability to Read People
-Penchant for Disguises
- Compassion. (some adaption should turn him into a villain)
“I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul.”
- No care for money
How has Sherlock Holmes been bent in the major three adaptions that have come out lately? They each did so many things right. Each adaption is creative and innovative. However, they have also bent his character…
Guy Ritchie’s Holmes
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In a sentence, the trait that Ritchie broke in Sherlock Holmes was that he relied on action rather than dialogue.
Elementary
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Two charges against Elementary, in which I believe they bent his character near the breaking point:
1. Their cases are commonplace
2. Sherlock Holmes is in love with Irene Adler
BBC’s Sherlock
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They did so many things right, but I believe they bent Sherlock too far when they made him such a rude bastard to almost everyone he met. In the canon, he was respectful.
What traits do you think are essential to Sherlock Holmes?
What traits are suggested?
What traits can and should be bent?

What Do SuperHeroines Look Like?

I really don’t care what a superheroine looks like. She can be as scantily clothed as Starfire at a nude beach, or as well covered as Persepolis in a snowstorm…

I really don’t care if the superheroine saves the superhero, or visee versee…

I really don’t care if she’s a working girl on the streets, a CEO, a housewife, or a trapeze artist…

I really don’t care if she’s intellectual smart, street smart, people smart, or as dull as a drunk tortoise…

I really don’t care if she’s skinny, fat, buxom, leggy, mouthy, tattooed, gothith, school girlish, nursish, nunnish, or Yiddish civil rights servant working in the Amazons…

Just please, puleeeaze give me a character.

Give her a name, give her a friend or a reason she has none, give her a reason men like being around her besides her boobs, give her a purpose besides decoration, give her something interesting that she does, give her interests, give her a backstory, give her great lines.

Basically, don’t make this:

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Make this:

Not this:

But this:

Not this:

But this:

And certainly, please not this:

or this:

More like:

Or this:

A little character development goes a long way. Trust me. If you want to use a woman for decoration you might as well just stick a lamp shade on her head:

I’m desperately in need of a good super heroine movie. Totally starving for one. I can’t wait until one of the biggies like Wonder Woman or Miss Marvel or Catwoman or Black Widow has a film of her own.

But until then, I’ll just comfort myself with watching Firefly again.

Read a Book, Smoke a Pipe – The lit at 221B

Read a Book, Smoke a Pipe

Sometimes I think about perfectly normal things, like how to escape a room if a ghost attacked, or how much butter to add in my butterbeer,

but other times I think about weird things, like what my favorite literary characters would read.

Jane Eyre would love Walt Whitman and Tolkien

Bree from The Horse and His Boy would, of course, love Marguerite Henry and The Carrot Seed.

Shadow from American Gods would love Tom Clancy.

Ender Wiggin would love G.K. Chesteron.

Harry Potter would eat up Scott Westerfield’s work, and Sport’s Illustrated.

And Aragorn would be deep into Jack London and J.D. Salinger.

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I’m pretty sure that title is, “catcher in the rye.”

And Sherlock Holmes would be reading…

well, actually, the illustrious and animated Baker St Babes have already compiled a list of what’s in 221B. It’s a great article. Check it out.

Side note: What happens when I study copious amounts of Sherlock Holmes and On The Road by Kerouac all in one week? Pipe smoking, that’s what.

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