Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Serpent's Shadow Book Review!

Surprise! A second birthday gift from Ashley!
To celebrate my 18th birthday, I've finished a book and I can't help but write a book review! IT'S A MUST READ!

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan! It's the third book in his Kane Chronicles using Egyptian mythology to craft an enjoyable read that never fails his readers!

After all Sadie and Carter Kane have been through, sending Rick Riordan audio recordings to explain to the world what they've been up to, losing best friends left and right, and given immense responsibilities for 14 and 15 year olds – not to mention their dramatic love lives driving them crazy, it's all come down to this. The final battle with Apophis, the evil god working to destroy all of civilization, will either cost the Kanes lives or live to see the end of the world. In this epic show down of friendship, loyalty, brother and sister love, crazy mythology thrown left and's a book you can't put down.

The most exciting part for us readers (or maybe just me) but you finally get to see what happens with Carter Kane and Zia Rashid! Questions swirling around Zia answered! And an ending hopefully leading us on to even more books.

My favorite characters in this book are Sadie Kane, Walt Stone, and Anubis the god of death. These guys are seriously the best trio/couple to exist in Egypt!

Not only is the story a must read but I encourage parents to nudge their kids about reading ANY book by Rick Riordan. Kids absolutely love reading these books and teenagers all over the world. What I've seriously noticed at book signings and movie crazies for Riordan's books is how much kids want to read thanks to these awesome books and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the books for you parents to sheild your childrens eyes. These books are a learning experience about mythology in Greece, Italy, and now Egypt!

Honestly I couldn't have asked for more from Rick Riordan once again. He never fails the world with his awesomeness and his story telling is beyond brilliant.

If you are interested in reading this series or any series by Rick Riordan keep in mind when he wrote his books! The Percy Jackson and the Olympians (6 book series) is the starting point. After that is the sequel series Heroes of Olympus but he started writing the Kane Chronicles as well. I only mention this because he continues to mention Greek mythology in the Percy Jackson world in the Kane Chronicles and I SERIOUSLY am starting to wonder if Riordan is planning to combine these three series into one eventually.

Read The Kane Chronicles if you want to see what I see!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Describing a Scene When Your Character is Running for their Lives

Ashley's birthday special!
After reading The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan, I couldn't help but notice a common reappearance: describing a room when the main character is running for his/her life and you're using first person.
I'm sorry did I miss something? If I was running for my life I would not be describing the room I had ran into. More like I would be freaking out and as the author I would be writing about the emotions running through my body in the heat of the moment.
In The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan there's a scene with main character, Carter Kane, who is being chased by a crazy bull with lazer beams (don't ask). He's running through a maze and the poor 15 year old character is freaking out, having no plan or idea of how to get out of this mad situation. A character running next to him, Zia Rashid, pulls him down a side entrance with her and they enter a great room. Now Carter Kane is describing the room in the heat of the battle with the crazy bull on his tail.
It's awkward!
I know some of you may disagree here but it doesn't add up.
Honestly, if you really want to describe that room than please wait until after your character has defeated the crazy bull shooting lazer beams at him/her.
The only exception is this common writing mistake is during the fight. When your character is desperate for something to help them out, then your character will be quickly scanning the room in desperation.
I'm not entirely criticizing Riordan's move in this particular scene but maybe you could have stationed that one paragraph into another scene.
Also in this different situation with Rick Riordan's novels, his previous series (Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson and the Olympians) the main characters have ADHD and dyslexia. Those characters are going to be running into a room chased by some ungodly creature and yes they are going to be scanning that room as quickly as they can because of their condition/ ability.
In the Kane Chronicles, the characters are normal kids with the blood of the pharaohs (ok not so normal as they may appear) but when did they have ADHD? They don't but the only excuse here is the character was on adrenaline in the near death experience.
If YOU are going to be writing a scene similar to this situation with Carter Kane in The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan, than please choose wisely with where you put your descriptions of a room or anything else in your scenes!
Someone like me may come along and ask, why did you describe that when your character is about to be blown to a trillion particles? 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Stereotypical Freaks" Book Review!

"Stereotypical Freaks" by Howard Shapiro, author of 4 children's books including the critically acclaimed Hockey Days and it's sequel Hockey Player for Life was a truly spot on graphic novel for a nearly 18 year old senior in high schooler such as myself.

I don't usually read graphic novels but this book really appealed to my age group where I couldn't help but see amazing parallels to my life. Shapiro did a fantastic job of tackling such a difficult topic to write where I loved every minute of the story.

Stereotypical Freaks is about 4 high school seniors who all come together in a band where they share the same kind of music yet they are all different kinds of people; labeled smart kid, geek, star player, and quiet weirdo by their classmates. Naming the band describes them as stereotyped by their peers yet they are incredibly unique and amazing together. Together they join the Battle of the Bands even through a difficult time when one of the band members shares some troubling news and suddenly the Battle means everything to each and every one of them than they could have possibly imagined before.

I truly enjoyed this book down to the very last page! As a writer myself I really enjoyed how we get to see into the minds of teenage boys in reality. None of it was mythological or was all real and as a teenage girl myself, it was nice to read inside a boy's head! The characters really grow in this book and you couldn't help but feel all the emotions that they face.

What I REALLY ENJOYED in this book was the chapters!
There's recommendations for music to listen to while you read the chapters and it's very unique yet enticing. I really enjoy music and listening to music that Shapiro recommends was incredibly new and fantastic!

Great job Howard Shapiro!

P.S.: Heads up...don't listen to the Hunger Games movie score song called "Rue's Farewell" during the intense scene at the end of the book...because I did and I cried even more because that scene in the movie was literally JUST AS INTENSE!

Check out Howard Shapiro and his other books here:

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Truth About BOOKS and their MOVIES

With movie franchises you constantly hear things like "the movie wasn't good enough...nothing like the book." But when it comes to books made into movies there's a lot to consider and even a new mindset going into that movie theater.
Franchises including The Hunger Games, Eragon, Twilight, and even Percy Jackson-fans have never truly been happy about these movies and there is only so much the movie industry can do to make us "happy." The closest fans have ever become "happy" about the movie adaption was The Hunger Games but it took a community to create those feelings among the fans.  
As an old Hunger Games fan myself I saw the fan community grow into a network of leaders and family. The vibe some of these websites introduced to the Internet early on was how people started reacting to the series: Retweets on Twitter constantly of fans enjoying the Hunger Games and their own personal info to share with the rest of the community, Blogs posting of Hunger Games events for the holidays where they encourage YOU to get involved...
There was so many sites like ; ; ; ; that have really created the fans to grow and prosper positively way before news that the series was becoming a movie.
For even more examples of their unity with the fans are people like Sam Cushion, a music writer who does unofficial music for the Hunger Games and the Matched trilogy on iTunes. On Facebook you have pages like District 9 3/4 to unite Hunger Games fans and Harry Potter fans. Even a page called The Hunger Games Army so fans can get together and go crazy with spoiler alerts together.
But what really got me was the Facebook page called: Let's not make Hunger Games a twilight thing with "team Peeta" or "team Gale". This is actually a brilliant idea because what really got people rolling was the disaster over the Twilight series franchise.
When I was in the 8th grade (2008-2009), I remember finishing the whole series in one week then I noticed literally every student in the hallways carrying a Twilight book in hand. For a while that was "the Trend", everyone read the books-everyone talked about the series...then the movie came out.
Now the difference here between myself and everyone else around me was my reaction to the first Twilight movie. EVERYONE all of a sudden hated the series, saying the movie was TERRIBLE. That really made a dent into the Twilight community and the series has never been the same among people today.
What happened here was the community of Twilight. Before this uproar of hatred the community was very obsessive over the series with some amazing podcasts on Zune Marketplace, some who even went to the place where they were filming the movie in Oregon; MANY websites all about the series, bands formed from inspiration for the series, the books themselves even changed the location of Forks, Washington FOREVER.
Honestly the Twilight community is great but the people didn't find that very appealing on the outside. Even worse Twilight has become a franchise that the future has learned mistakes for so they don't mess up.
Franchises are a constant issue today because of the PEOPLE. But the most ironic thing about the Twilight series was when The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out and the true fans emerged out of the crowds of hatred and showed that they still love the series. Kids at school wore clothing for Twilight to go see the movie in their clothing...just like they had in the fall of 2008.
For teens around my age today (14-18 wars old) have gone through this Twilight boom around middle school time (5th-9th grades) where teens are constantly pressured and bullied. Twilight became something among middle school students as something terribly stupid. We fans had to hide our fandom out of fear and walls built by kids at school and even on the Internet.
What the Hunger Games did right was a change in the community. They created unity, passion, leadership, and trust among the fans. What was even more amazing was the casts reacting to that 100%, telling the media they're Team Katniss, wearing Mockingjay pins at the premier.
For the amazing Eragon series, there IS NO Eragon community but they do have a HUGE FAN BASE but no community online really. The series is a huge hit but there isn't much of a way for fans to connect. The movie is discussed constantly as a terribly bad adaption to the book where there wasn't enough want for another movie (Eldest) to hit the big screen. There WAS talk of remaking Eragon the movie but that was the end of it-more like a moot point. With the last book, Inheritance, out the fandom has silenced. There was SO MUCH POTENTIAL in this series but there was no ball moving to back it up.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan is an interesting case... When the first movie came out there were lines going out the door at my movie theater for DAYS. But the issue here was the movie ended up being a huge disappointment in a million ways, even I gave in on this one but I still loved the series to death!
Rick Riordan's book signing last fall for Heroes of Olympus book 2 came to Olympia, Washington where I drove down to meet the mastermind. A kid asked him a very important question where Riordan's answer has never left my head since. The kid asked if he was proud of The Lightning Thief movie and he told over 1,000 kids and parents that day that he has NEVER seen the movie because he's got the best version of the movie in his head.
Even though Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson and Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series we can do exactly what he says to heart.
What disappointed fans will complain most about with movies are sentences like: "the character isn't like how I imagined", "they took out a bunch of info", "Why did they change it?"
But what we must keep in mind is the fact that books can describe beautiful scenes in detail for pages but that's horror for movies. Movies can't explain what's on those 3 pages because it's a visual film and they have a time frame of under 3 hours of movie where a book (if you made it into a movie down to every single word in the book) would be an 8 hour movie.
It's literally impossible to make a movie  exact to fan's likings. But all our perceptions of the books are completely different from the kid next to you in math.
But it's exactly like what Rick Riordan said in Olympia less than a year ago where we can do the same no matter who we are or what we do: "I have the best version of the book in my head."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Character Development with J. K. Rowling

Wondering about inspiration for your writing or how to create some character development for your books? This blog post is just for you!

I just involved myself with a Harry Potter marathon and couldn't help noticing how well Prisoner of Azkaban was well done in every aspect to the viewer.

As a writer we can learn a lot from movies such as this series. Screen writing and script writers are a huge spot in movie making where they are vitally important to how well movies turn out.

In Prisoner of Azkaban of the Harry Potter series you can see how well the transitions and flow of the movie is truly well done.

When you write you can be really inspired to write your own transitions by watching this movie's.

Finding inspiration is truly remarkable and something writers on instinct search for constantly.

I recommend rewatching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban again for your own gain here. Look for inspiration- anything that might seem remarkable to you.

Go for it!

Better yet, have your own Harry Potter marathon! And NO I am NOT JOKING!

Inspiration fires up us all! And to have fun with it...Harry Potter is literally the greatest excuse! The series is over and what better time than now?! None!

For character development, the story is truly memorable for readers. It's vitally important in other words!

I'm sure you know this but to really help you improve your character development skills is to STUDY it.

In the Harry Potter series you really get to see our favorite characters grow up, make mistakes, go through some truly tuff stuff.

This is character development.

I usually wouldn't recommend writing a huge series where you watch some kids grow up, have the story drone on through many years... But Harry Potter is different.

To use this style you have to have a purpose, and give the readers something good to read. (not making us bored too much)

But as Harry got older, people were changing all around him, even himself. Things were naturally being put in motion and so it required many years, especially when the real-in person-battle was to come when Harry was ready, older, more mature, wiser...

J. K. Rowling did a fabulous job with her remarkable skills with character development, recognized all over the world with admirability.

What made this style work, again, was her use of magic trailed into a story of a world unknown to the common human. She created a non mundane subject in our reality that was NEW. Humans crave NEW and UNKNOWN.

To unravel a language "dead" to us now and use it to her advantage on the world...was BRILLIANT.

Again, Latin was used where we became fascinated with it's subject, opening a large base for others to come.

If you find inspiration in any way shape or form in the world, Harry Potter is one that can really help, and you can really enjoy yourself doing this "study."

The best part is: it won't even feel like studying!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Good Way to Find Latin FUN!?

The City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare is the 5th installment of the Mortal Instruments series. Clare crafts a truly amazing story of her characters in modern day New York City; but this is urban fantasy and nothing is normal.

Humans are called mundanes, (notice this is a Latin root: mundus meaning mankind or pure among many other similar translations) where our story revolves around Shadowhunters who are half human and half nephilim (angel). Shadowhunters protect this earth from demons to keep mundanes mundane, werewolves roam around turning on the full moon every month, vampires that burn in the sun and drink blood and can’t say God, and the fair folk who are faeries that are pure evil and always tell you the truth. It’s an interesting world and there are definitely oddities that are truly appalling.

For awesome Latin searching to read and for you guys to see Latin “in action” then this is actually an amazing series for you to read. This series has an INCREDIBLY LARGE FAN BASE and a million reasons for anyone to read them.

Particularly in this book you get some interesting Latin quotes, vocabulary, and jokes that really make learning Latin fun. For example a character, Simon, is late to a meeting with the other Shadowhunters because there’s this Latin password to get into the place. He was told by the jokester that the password is Basica coquum . Then a shadow replies:

“’It’s ‘Descensus Averno facilis est.’ ‘The desent into hell is easy.’” said Alec. “You just said ‘Kiss the cook.”” By using all this Latin in these few sentences, you’ve made a comical excuse to use Latin AND make it all funny!

Latin was also used when the characters mention adamas meaning diamond. Just this casual use of Latin can make a story really appealing AND you use Latin. All this Latin truly makes Latin learning FUN!

“Quod tumeraris: per Jehovam, Gehennam, et consecratam aquam quam nunc spargo, signumque crucis quod nunc facio, et per vota nostra, ipse nunc surgat nobis dicatus Azazel!” This meaning: "What swells: By Jehovah, Gehenna, and this water which I now sprinkle, and the sign of the cross which I now make, and through our prayers, he dedicated to Azazel now arises in us!" is used in the story to affectively use Latin in a ritual. Again makes Latin appealing because we don’t know what this all means.

Now the grand slam of all Latin in this book! Clare uses Acheronta movebo in this book where this particular bracelet has this inscribed on it. The owner falsely translates it to ‘Thus always to tyrants.’ But if you know Latin quotes, such as ‘Thus always to tyrants,’ then you know the character is lying because the REAL translation of his English is ‘Sic semper tyrannis.’ With your awesome Latin knowledge you just found a gigantic clue to what will later happen! Deception!

So for those of you learning Latin, the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare is for you. It affectively uses Latin to make it interesting and fun to learn!

I truly loved this book and a true highlight in the series in my opinion and 100% want everyone to experience this awesomeness. SERIOUSLY! Plus Clare is a very talented writer and is a force to be reckoned with!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Latin Can Benefit YOU!

Are you looking for ways to improve your vocabulary, increase your knowledge and or skills like your SAT scores? Taking Latin will help you reach all those points and more!

Did you know that a little over 55% of the English language is Latin?

The words you speak everyday didn't just come out of someone's head to randomly become the English language! English was developed over time from all kinds of languages. 55% IS LATIN!

Remember that reading section on the SAT?

You really need to know English words and sentence structure to even possibly get a good score.


English words like Cornucopia may come up (let's say that you don't know this word) and you are completely stumped on the meaning of the word. If you know Latin it can really help you pick out the Latin with in the word. In Cornucopia, the Latin root is Cornu meaning horn!
Do you understand the word better now? With the help of Latin knowledge you now have an idea that Cornucopia means horn!
A cornucopia!

With Latin you learn roots and prefixes all the time that really correlate with our English grammar! Let's face it though; Latin can do more than enhance vocabulary. Your math scores can also improve from just taking Latin!

The Latin language trains your brain to work in different ways so it really complements your brain's abilites in math to enhance your math skills.

Latin can be quite useful if you want to sound smart and know knowledge that you never knew possibly existed!

Have you see abbreviations for titles or times of day like P.S., P.M., P.Ch.N., or Ph.D.?

These are all Latin abbreviations in our everyday lives!

P.S. is Post Scriptum in Latin meaning after the text. You see people use this everyday when they want to add a side note at the end of their letter.


  Can't wait to see you this summer!
Love Ashley
P.S. I'm bringing Latin to your summer! Beware!

With your knowledge of the meaning of P.S., you can use it correctly!

You hear people receiving Ph.D.'s all the time. What does this mean?

In Latin this is an abbreviation for Philosophiae Doctor meaning Doctor of Philosophy. Titles like this can help you understand them with your superior knowledge!

In your history books, maybe even in holy scripture, have you seen P.Ch.N.? In Latin this stands for Post Christum Natum meaning after Christ was born. THIS CAN EVEN HELP YOU IN YOUR HISTORY CLASSES!

P.M. we see as the end of the day. This is actually another Latin abbreviation! In Latin this means Post Meridiem meaning after noon.

There are a ton of abbreviations the average person doesn't know and they are literally in our EVERY DAY LIVES!

With taking a Latin class you can improve your English vocabulary/ understand big words. This can lead to better test scores on your SAT and improve your math skills. With your awesome Latin knowledge you can really get an understanding of abbreviaiton in our everyday lives that you can apply to life, and even make you sound intelligent!

Keep in mind that Latin can help you in many different languages of European countries. Latin is the base of all romance languages including Spanish, French, German, etc! Knowing Latin gives you the upper hand to learn any of these languages a lot quicker.

There is still more to discover!

If you live in Marysville, Washington going into the ISC or even if your local schools are offering Latin, TAKE THE CLASS!!!


To get a visual and amazing representation why Latin is so great and just the language for you, check out this video made by one of ISC's Latin students:

LATIN 2012