Friday, February 27, 2015

Movie Review: Ida

Recently, I've been trying to read more 'good' literature. I don't want to settle for only reading average works, but I want to read stuff that is widely considered great. This drive to read better has drifted over into my watching patterns as well. Therefore, when I saw that the winner of Best Foreign Film was on Netflix, I decided to watch it.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pop the Bubble

   Well, I'm back. On the 5th of February, I left on a missions trip to Costa Rica. I remained there until the 15th; praying, working, playing, and fellowshipping with people from Costa Rica and with people from the States.
   The interesting thing about this trip was that everyone in the group which traveled down there was from my area. And we had been having meetings for months beforehand, so I vaguely knew them (or, at least, recognized them) by the time we arrived in Costa Rica. Funnily, what struck me the most about all of them was that even though we lived in such close proximity, our ideologies were so different. This wasn't a small bit of theology like baptizing forward or backward, this was vast differences in theology. This was differences in how we looked at the world. Sure, the basis was same, we were all Christians, but when we got to the finer points of theology our views differed.
   For me, a homeschooler that's used to only interacting with different people over the internet, this was quite disorienting. And I was having a difficult enough time as it was (I don't like traveling to begin with) but when I had to face having my bubble broken, it was near terrifying.
   Yet, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.
   See, it is easy to be theologically and emotionally firm when there are no conflicts that I must face. As long as everyone agrees with me, I have no inner conflict of whether I am right or not. Yet, without conflict there is no growth. My comfort zone must be breached, my bubble must be popped in order for me to truly develop as a person. I hate it (oh, I hate it), but it is a necessary part of growing up.
   How does this relate to writing (as a writer, everything eventually comes back to writing)? A writer should be a traveler. Why? In order to understand how the world works. A good writer should not just create escapist fantasy, but should reveal truths about the world to the reader. In order to reveal those truths, I must learn them myself. In order to reveal them to a reader, I must write a compelling story in which to encapsulate the truths. And in order to write a compelling story, I must understand other people in order to create proper characters, settings, and plots.
   So travel is important. Whether it is leaving the continent, the country, or just walking out my front door: meeting other people is important. Experiencing other places is important. Forming relationships is important. But none of that can be done, if my personal bubble pushes them away. In order to experience life, I must pop the bubble.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Review: King's Warrior by Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

   A few years ago, (sometimes in 2013, I think) I downloaded a free kindle book. It was my first kindle book, because I only had a kindle because it came free on my new computer. As such, the only time I actually read the book was when I had my computer and there was no internet. Basically, it took me a really long time to read. Read it I did, however, and now I'm going to write a review of it! (I'd put in a plot synopsis, but it is really long. Go here if you want to know what it's about.)
   A reviewer of this book likened it to Tolkien in its scope and plot. I agree. The world is grand with lots of history and characters and creatures. The world is also big, which means there's lots of walking time. It's not as bad as Tolkien, where he spends pages getting them from one place to another, but there is still a good deal of walking. However, walking allows time for characters and that's a good thing about this book. The characters are fairly well mapped out. None of the characters seem wooden or just thrown in as plot devices. They are fully fledged characters, full of pain and stupidity and moments of brilliance.
   What about the plot? The plot is pretty simple, yet complex. There's a lot of stuff going and from multiple points of view. We have the main characters off on their quest (and then they get separated a few times) as well as having the King keeping lookout for attack and the villains attacking. This isn't really spoilery, this is epic fantasy. There's always going to be a group being attacked and a group on a quest and a group of villains attacking. There are certain things about Epic Fantasy that don't change, and this book has all those things.
   And that's part of my problem with this book. There's nothing overly wrong with the book in itself (save for a little bad dialogue and some blatant exposition). As far as books go, I've definitely read (and written) worse. The thing is that this book just feels like it has been done before. There's so much stuff so very similar that it almost feels like a rehash. Maybe as the series goes on it will feel a little bit fresher, but I finished this one and just felt like, "Okay, that was an epic fantasy novel". I don't think that's a good thing.
   So: would I recommend this book? If you like the genre, go for it. If your a bit tired of the same old, same old... there's not much new here.