The Emperor’s Edge

 

No more waiting for MANEROS!

 

I’m going to write two short stories (very short stories), and I want you to finish them as quickly as possible. Finish them how you think most people (movie script writers, authors, etc) would finish stories like these. Here they are:
Story 1
Doyin starting running even before she heard the beast roar. She had to get to the entrance where Anya, the Eagle, was waiting to carry her, Kaleb, and the other people to the Vale. Doyin was moving as fast as her legs could carry her, but she could hear the beast gaining on her. She tripped and fell, her heart also dropping as well as her body. The beast was upon her. Doyin let out a shriek as deafening as the beast’s roar……………………………………………………….. (please finish the story) .

Story 2

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Tola walked hurriedly down the street. There was something ominous in the air; she could feel it. She shivered as she looked around. She hadn’t meant to stay this late, but Helen had come late again, and they had to finish their project tonight. So they had stayed at the library till 10 pm. It hadn’t bothered Tola so much because the streets were usually crowded at this time. However, tonight was different. The shops, cafes, and restaurants were closed, and only a few cars were on the road. She looked around again, this time behind her, and saw someone walking some meters back. Where had this person come from? It looked like a man. She quickened her pace and crossed the road. A few seconds later she looked back again; the man had also crossed the street and he was much closer now. Tola lost all pretense and started running, not caring where she was going. She heard pounding footsteps behind her before she felt hands grab her from behind………………………………………………………….(please finish the story).

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A lot of books/films that have scenes like the ones I have just written would have finished these stories by having a man come to the rescue of these women.woman-156934_960_720

Or, if these women were to save themselves, they would have been introduced as kick-butt, Nikta, or kung-fu type women, not the average Doyin or Tola.

 

 

The average Doyin needs a Manero (Man hero). Here is a good question: Why can’t these women save themselves?
The Emperor’s edge, the first book in the series by Lindsay Buroker, is different. Amaranthe Lokdon, our main character,  can’t kick a lot of butt. Early on in the book, Amaranthe gets herself in a very tight spot. In my opinion there was no way out, and a part of me was waiting for a Manero to come save her. Amaranthe shed a few tears herself. Then something happened that you don’t see in a lot stories: Amaranthe wiped her tears away, and she started to plan her escape! And escape she did, without any Manero to the rescue.
Why I like this book(series)– Fantastic and funny characters. The main character Amaranthe is an inspiration on how to lead, how to not feel sorry for yourself, and how to love.
What I don’t like–  Dialogue can be funny without sexual innuendo.

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The Curse of Chalion

 The path to a great story

The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold, starts with a former soldier returning to his childhood home. Where is he coming from?  We don’t know. Why is he in this unfortunate state? We don’t know. Nevertheless, just follow him. Follow him back to his childhood home; follow him as he becomes a tutor to a princess; follow him into the palace; and before you know it, you will find that you have followed him into your heart.
Why I like this book- This is a very intricately woven story. It’s heartwarming. It takes the finger of God to be able to write stories where everything falls into place. This story does just that.
What I don’t like– I have no criticisms.

Zahrah the Windseeker and living in fear

 

In Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor (Mbachu), Zahrah, the main character, was born with vines growing in her hair. In the Ooni kingdom where she lives, people born liked this are called “dada”, and they are mistrusted. So as you can imagine, Zahrah has no real friends at school except Dari, a boy who dared to be her friend.

Growing inside of Zahrah is a talent she doesn’t know how to handle. So she and Dari decide to learn more about her gift by entering the Forbidden Jungle. These excursions lead to misfortune, and Zahrah must now overcome her fear in order to fix the situation.

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I believe that I must have read many books about characters overcoming fear, but I never really applied them to my life. Growing up,  I lived in fear. I was cheerful, quick to smile, loved to debate, but I was also fearful. fear2I see and understand this fear now as an adult. I was afraid because I was ashamed and ignorant. I didn’t know how to express or defend myself properly. I didn’t know how to tell people why something was wrong or right. I found that getting angry sometimes helped, but I was also afraid of getting angry, and afraid of showing my feelings or my displeasure on personal issues. For some time now, I’ve thought this experience particular to me, but Zahrah’s tale opened my eyes to the fact that many authors write stories that actually deal with my experience with fear. This means that many people can understand me, and knowing that you can be understood is a good feeling.

Sex, intimacy and Romance

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Boy and girl…….. sitting in a tree…….. K-I-S-S-E-X?

Around last year, I started reading books by the author Maria V. Snyder. I’ve read her Study series :Poison study, Magic study, and Fire study, and  her Healer series: Touch of Power and Scent of Magic. While I quite like  these books, the characters, and the romance (especially the romance), I have a particular issue with the romance.

The problem I have with Snyder’s romance is that right after the love interests declare their love for one another, they have sex. Where is the getting to know one another? The communication? The spending real quality time together? The bonding? I don’t feel like the characters are intimate (or married) enough to start having sex. I feel like the characters could just kiss. There really is no need for sex at that point. It feels so …….rushed. And I don’t feel like anything meaningful can be built on that.

On the other hand, what I like about Snyder’s romance are the small moments of intimacy. For example, in the Study series, there is a particular character who cannot do any magic. However, when his love interest is in danger, all of a sudden he can make a magical connection with her. In the Healer series, there are characters who can share power through touching. There is a delicious foreshadowing of who will fall in love with each other by how  frequently they need to share power, in order words:  hold hands and hug.

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Hill Harper, the actor who played Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: New York,  articulately explains what I’m trying to say in his book The conversation. In an interview with Essence Magazine, he talks about the difference between intimacy and sex, saying,

You can have intimacy without sex. Intimacy can be about holding someone’s hand. It could be about stroking their hair. There are ways to be intimate with someone intimately that don’t involve sex. Often times people confuse the two and often times what people want deep down is intimacy, but in their minds, they use sex as a way to try to get that and then in some cases feel unfulfilled because the sex isn’t really intimate. It’s important to be clear about the difference. Then you’re able to ask, “Well what am I getting? Am I being intimate with this person or is it just sex?” Obviously you’d like to have a relationship with all of those elements, meaning you have intimacy, you have sex, and you also have sex with intimacy. “

 
I think Mr. Harper explains the problem I have with Snyder’s type of romance perfectly. Her love interests have sex, but how can that sex be fulfilling if they don’t know the different expressions on each other’s face, and what those expressions mean? They don’t know each other’s desires, goals, dislikes, or love language.

So while I like her romance, I’m not a big fan of the sex.

Sushi for one by Camy Tang

Sushi for one

by Camy Tang

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There are four books in this series and I’ve read all of them. The first book is about Jenny, sports lover, and fantastic volleyball player. She has an issue with people touching her. She is also, according to her rich, manipulative, and powerful grandma, the next person in line who should be married otherwise say goodbye to Grandma’s funding of your volleyball team.

 Grandma demands a boyfriend, and Jenny quickly tries to find another donor to no avail. So the search for a boyfriend begins.

Meet Aiken, masseur,  sees Jenny from afar and knows that she’s the woman for him. Then he finds out that she’s cousins with and close to a woman he dislikes. At first he is wary, but he finally decides to try to get close to Jenny and comes to play volleyball at Jenny’s Gym. The story moves on from there, with humor, pain, and romance.

I liked this story because it was interesting and had its funny moments. It’s a romance story, but it has more to it than just romance. The  characters are vivid, realistic, and the story touches on issues like sport, family, relatives, work, sisterhood, dating, and food. This series touches on food a lot.

When you reach me by Rebecca stead

When you reach me by Rebecca stead

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This book was the winner of the Newbery Medal award in 2010 and I agree that it deserves it. It is really good, really good. I can’t really explain much about it because you see, a lot of things seem random in this book, but they’re really not, and if I were to tell you some of these ‘events’, you may think I’m giving you unnecessary information.

The story is set in New York in 1978-1979, the era of a popular game show called $20,000 Pyramid. The narrator, Miranda, who is also the main character, narrates to someone (we don’t know who) that she received their letter. Now, this letter and the subsequent ones are bizarre not only because they are prophetic, but also because they demand something from her. It is this suspense of who is writing her these letters that makes the reader want to finish the book. There are other minor suspense issues like why her guy best friend stopped talking to her etc.

All I can say is read the book, it’s good. I can’t go into too much detail because like I said before, what appears to be unimportant is not at all. This book also deals with Madeleigne L’Engle’s book, A wrinkle in time. You don’t have to have read Ms. L’Engle’s book to understand this book though. In fact, after you read When you reach me, you might decide to read A wrinkle in time. I’ll say that this book is slightly sad, but then again, not really.

The characters are well defined; the writer shows their personalities, she doesn’t state them. Even now I can conjure up an image of them in my mind. The story itself is also good. It is simple to read and heartwarming. Don’t get turned off by the fact it’s about kids in middle school, set in the 1970s or its randomness, remember it won the Newbery medal award.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Ella Enchanted was read to my sixth grade class by our Language arts teacher, Mr. Boticelli. He added different voices to each character and so made the story more exciting. I was transported to this fantasy world through the eyes of Ella of Frell. If  you’ve watched the “movie” ….. all I can say is forget about it and just READ the book. The movie has no real connection with the book. And if you’ve read the book and just now found out that there is a movie about the book my advice is: Steer clear.

Ella is the daughter of a noble born woman and a rich merchant. When she is born, a certain fairy named Lucinda, who has a habit of appearing uninvited at births and weddings to give a “blessing”, appears. Her “blessing” to Ella is that Ella will always be obedient. Now, I can hear some parents saying “what’s wrong with that?”. Read the “blessing” again; did Lucinda specify who Ella would be obedient to and for how long?  No, all she said was that Ella would be obedient. So Ella has to obey ANYONE who gives her an order and if she refuses, she gets instantly sick. Do you realize how many orders we give every day? Sometimes we say things like, “forget I said anything”, or “stay clear away from the movie Ella Enchanted”, and guess what? Ella would have to do so.  For her own safety, Ella’s mother orders her to never tell anyone about this “blessing” of hers.

At the burial of her mother (yes, she dies), Ella meets the prince of the land who tells her that he knows a lot about her due to servant gossip and this is where their friendship starts. Ella is then sent to finishing school by her father and unfortunately meets someone who figures out that Ella has this peculiar ability to always obey orders. So this person takes devilish delight in making Ella her personal servant. This finally pushes Ella on the journey to break her “blessing” .

The characters in this book are easy to like and to hate. However , don’t expect all of them to be one-sided, especially not the prince. The protagonist Ella is not a spoiled rich brat, but a strong, funny, and caring character that I came to like. A minor criticism could be that the antagonists are portrayed as unattractive, but then again, if they were portrayed as beautiful, it would be annoying because writers also like to make beautiful people the bad guys. The story is funny and interesting, no boring or slow bits either.

The Twinkie squad by Gordon Korman

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Okay, you’re going to see a lot of Gordon Korman books in this blog because I read him when I was a teenager and I still read him. He wrote his first book in 7th (This can’t be happening at Macdonald Hall). It wasn’t because he was this ” genius”, but because he had to hand in an assignment at the end of the year. This book was his assignment. Now, let me warn you, Gordon Korman’s early books are hilarious. I haven’t had the chance to read much of his newer adventure and mystery books, so I don’t know how funny they are. This book is an “early Korman”, so be prepared to burst out laughing a lot when you read it.

The Twinkie Squad is set in Washington DC at a middle school. Armando Rivera, aka Commando, 6th grader, popular basketball star, political activist, and anti-bullying vigilante meets Douglas Fairchild, “misunderstood” 6th grader and child of a world renowned politician. And that is the end of Commando’s cool status. Due to an unfortunate incident with Douglas, Armando is forced to join the Special Discussion group, aka the Twinkie squad.

The Twinkie squad is made up of kids who have some real social problems. For example, one member Yolanda, lives for movies. she rarely attends school, goes to the cinema instead, and impersonates movie characters. Another member hates everyone and almost everything, and lets everyone know it. The whole school generally knows who the “Twinkies” are and view them as “wackos”. Being a Twinkie is social suicide. Douglas Fairchild is also a member of the Special Discussion group (remember his ‘problem’ is: misunderstood). While Doug is “the Twinkie of all Twinkies”, his joining of the Twinkie Squad will make the whole school rue the day they made fun of the Twinkies.

This book is very funny and the characters are likable. It’s the type of book that just the memory of it can make you burst out laughing, so I wouldn’t advice that you think about it when you’re in a serious meeting. There are no boring bits in this book. Don’t be turned off by the fact that it’s about kids in middle school; the story itself is not childish, nor is the comedy. Children and adults both can read and enjoy.