Retribution Rails: Bring Back the Western!

Retribution Rails_ Bring Back the Western!

Retribution Rails is a YA western by Erin Bowman. It’s not a sci-fi/western, it’s not a fantasy/western, it’s not a dystopian/western, it’s straight up, 1880s western. And it’s so much fun.

The western is not a popular genre, especially with the YA crowd. You may be able to find crossovers with other genres, such as Firefly or Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, but those are few. It’s even harder to find full-on westerns now. This should change.

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Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music: Christianity and Art

Why Should the Devil have All the Good Music_ Christianity and Art.png

I’m guessing many of you, including my Christian followers, have never heard of Larry Norman. He was a Christian musician from the sixties and seventies, the father of Jesus rock, and an influence on both Christian and non-Christian musicians alike.

Throughout his career, Norman struggled with balancing evangelizing and creating true art. He felt like most of Christian music was propaganda, only enjoyable by Christians. Unsurprisingly, he had a rocky relationship with the Christian community- at times they called him a backslider or a Satan-worshiper, and viewed him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, luring the Christian youth away from the Christ.

The biography Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock by Gregory Alan Thornbury captures this struggle extremely well. I would go so far as to say that it’s a must-read for any Christian artist, whether a musician or a writer or any other kind.

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The Raven Cycle: 3 Ways to Capture Life on the Page

The Raven Cycle 3 Ways to Capture Life on the Page

The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater, is a strange series. Technically, it’s about a hunt for an old Welsh king, but I think cars are described in more detail than the hunt itself. Technically, the characters are on a quest, but they spend more time street racing or working than searching. Technically, there’s romance, but the friendship struggles take up far more pages. Through these technicalities, Maggie Stiefvater captures real life on the pages of a fantasy series.

Spoilers ahead.

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Avengers Infinity War: Stalling Versus Setting Up

Avengers Infinity War_ Stalling Versus Setting Up

It’s all been leading to this. All the Marvel movies, all the hype, everything. Avengers Infinity War is finally here.

One of the largest recurring Marvel flaws has been its ‘filler’ movies. It’s clear when one just exists to stall, building excitement for next big crossover. But what’s bigger than Infinity War? Isn’t this the culmination of everything? Well, yes, but…

SPOILERS AHEAD.

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The Greatest Showman: Happiness in Fiction

Copy of Template- Make copy

I managed to catch The Greatest Showman in a cheap theater near my house, and I’m so glad I saw it on the big screen- one with great, surround sound speakers. It’s a wonderful, fun spectacle, and you should see it if you haven’t already.

I loved how happy of a movie it was. P.T. Barnum’s goal (when he was focused), was to make audiences smile. The movie itself never got too dark. And it wasn’t just a fluffy story, either. The point of it was that happiness can be meaningful- it’s not lesser than more serious works.

Spoilers ahead.

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Jessica Jones Season 2: Unlikable Characters

Jessica Jones Season 2_ Unlikable Characters

Finally, Jessica Jones season two arrived! If you think that I watched the whole season in a week and a half, you are absolutely right.

As you can see from previous posts, I loved season one. That gave season two a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite do that. Part of this was the villain, part of this was the filler episodes, but the biggest reason was the characters. Those that should have been unlikable were portrayed sympathetically, while those that should have been sympathetic weren’t super likable. The roles of the characters were off.

Take Jeri Hogarth. She was extremely unlikable in the first season, and it fit her role wonderfully. But in this season, she’s portrayed in a sympathetic light, which misses much of her draw. And then there’s Malcolm. I saw him as the most morally grounded in the show, but now his flaws are stacking up.

Spoilers ahead.

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Strange the Dreamer VS The Knife of Never Letting Go: Emphasizing Writing

Strange the Dreamer VS The Knife of Never Letting Go_ Highlighting Writing

There are many things to emphasize in storytelling. Some writers are great at creating unique, fleshed out characters, while their tone may seem uneven. Other writers start with an amazing premise, though their plots may wander.

Then there’s Laini Taylor and Patrick Ness, who wrote Strange the Dreamer and The Knife of Never Letting Go, respectively. Whatever other areas may be overlooked in their work, their writing takes center stage.

Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer is gorgeous. It’s almost like poetry with its descriptions and metaphors. It’s highly polished and absolutely beautiful, even when describing ugly things.

Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go, however, is anything but gorgeous. If Dreamer is polished, Knife is stripped down, raw. It’s the blood and meat of human emotions and perceptions.

But both books are excellent at what they do, and both styles fit their stories so well. Dreamer‘s polished language and Knife‘s raw writing show just what a range writers have to play with their language, and both are examples of how an emphasis on writing can involve the reader in a unique way.

No spoilers ahead.

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Black Panther: A Fresh Take on the ‘King Struggle’

Black Panther_ A Fresh Take on the 'King Struggle'

Black Panther is wonderful, from the cinematography to the character motivations to the plot development. It’s one of the few Marvel movies that keeps the balance between being a standalone movie and being relevant to the larger universe.

T’Challa is such an excellent character to add to the ever-expanding Marvel cast, and the country of Wakanda adds so much to that world. But Black Panther is a great movie by itself, too. It takes one of the classic struggles of a character assuming power and puts a fresh spin on it.

Spoilers ahead.

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Colors of Fear: Handling Magical Elements

Colors of Fear_ Handling Magical Elements (1)

Desert elves! Color schemes! Assassins! Memory scars! Kickass characters! Fear! Hallucinations! Determination! Evil sorcerers!

These are all things that make this reader very happy, as I discovered while reading the newest short story, Colors of Fear, by Hannah Heath. I’ve followed her awesome blog for a while now, and am thrilled that she published again.

Spoilers ahead.

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