Where do I sign up for my golden kefta?

*Disclaimer: This review includes major spoilers. And, of course, you should take my opinions with a grain of salt. I don’t pretend to be the end all, be all for YA books. This is just what I thought of the book.

I promised a review for the series that has been hailed for years to be “the next Harry Potter.”

This is not because it resembles the Harry Potter series. True, I did see several similar themes and archetypes between the two. The tone of this series is very similar to the tone in the last three Harry Potter books, after Voldemort’s return. I could write down an analysis of all of the similarities between these two series, from the self-sacrificing hero to the battle between light and darkness, but I don’t really want to do that. The similarities I see between these two series are just what I said earlier – themes, base archetypes. If you are looking for a series that has those basic similarities to J.K. Rowling’s books, fine, you’ve found one. But they are just as present in many other series.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I really dislike calling anything “the next Harry Potter” or the next “Lord of the Rings” or the next whatever. An author’s work should have a chance to stand on its own. Therefore, this review will only feature the Grisha Trilogy.

I really enjoyed this series. I didn’t know what I was walking into, but I’m pretty happy with this series. That’s why I’m giving it 9 stars.

First of all, I just really want to be able to stand in a crowd of YA book lovers and start a slow clap for this amazing author who took fantasy and dystopia, two genres which have been mixed together before, and then created something that feels truly unique.

How did she do this? It’s mind-blowingly simple, and yet I didn’t even see it coming.

Her setting was ancient Russia. I’ve never read a YA dystopian book that is based in Russia, and based off of other people’s reactions to this series, neither has anyone else. That opened the door to so many possibilities.

A unique setting might have been enough to carry the first book in the trilogy all the way to the top of the New York Best Seller’s List. Bardugo took it the extra mile, and I love her for that. She didn’t just place her characters in Russia. She created her own fantasy world on top of that. I am very impressed with her world building abilities. I don’t know where Russia ends and her world begins, but I don’t really care. The language, the people, the buildings, the clothes, the food, the weapons – all amazing and all entirely her own. It was seamless. Anyone trying to recreate her complex world on screen will have their work cut out for them.

***Here is where I would have placed a condensed summary of all three books, but that would have meant tying all three books together and giving away spoilers. In light of that, I will only provide a summary of the first book in the trilogy, Shadow and Bone:

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Orphan Alina Starkov is raised with a group of other orphaned children in Keramzin. When she is old enough, she is conscripted into the First Army with her best friend, Mal Oretsev. When their regiment is attacked out on the Fold, the supernatural darkness that cuts Ravka in two, she calls forth a power that she didn’t even know she had. The Darkling, the leader of the Grisha, people who wield the Small Science, soon learns of her skills. Alina is separated from Mal and sent to train with the other Grisha. As her power grows, she has to decide who she can and cannot trust. Will she let the Darkling use his power for his own schemes or will she rise up and claim her own place as the Sun Summoner?

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The characters and their stories were all amazing. Alina is a teenage girl, so you know her emotions were constantly creating whirlwinds that affected her decisions and her attitude…and yet I found myself going along with everything that was happening. That means not only were the characters real to me, but I truly cared for them.

I would like to say that I am torn between the three men in Alina’s life. I enjoy a little romance in books, and I really like the fact that Bardugo decided to not go with a love triangle, but three love interests in the same room kind of got a little stifling for me. This was a really complicated love rectangle where each love interest could offer something different to Alina.

I just didn’t know whereto turn my head, but I got the feeling that Alina’s love life really wasn’t the big focus in the story. It was certainly there and, especially in the last book, it affected a great deal of Alina’s fight, but other themes were allowed to take center stage. I think that was masterfully done.  I really didn’t know what was going to happen with the love interests until the series ended. I won’t tell you the final outcome, just that I approve where Bardugo leaves each of them.

I know I wasn’t going to talk about other books, but I do want to interject that I loved the way Bardugo showed light versus dark in this series. Most dystopian novels feature a metaphorical battle between good and evil, but I’ve always been fascinated with books that aren’t afraid to show a very literal and physical battle. I mean, come on, The Darkling vs. the Sun Summoner – what could get more literal than that? (That’s not a rhetorical question. Please point me towards more books that feature that.) Bardugo took a risk when she showed the bringer of Light being drawn to the bringer of Darkness. I shook my head at first, but there was realistic edge to the way that Alina found herself constantly drawn to darkness. The fact that I got to see this in her mind, her heart, and her hands at the same time was ammmmazing!

The last thing I would like to bring up is that I truly didn’t know what was going to happen in the end. There were multiple bad guys, multiple love interests, multiple plans for Ravka’s salvation…Bardugo kept dangling one path in front of me and just when I reached out my hand to grasp it…the page would turn and it’d be gone. All of these things combined with the new, exotic setting created an amazing story. Alina and Nikolai stole my heart and…oops did I say Nikolai, I meant Mal…I mean Aleksander!

(Anyway 🙂 I really do like the romance.)

******Beware spoilers below!!!******

I find that I wouldn’t have minded terribly if Alina didn’t make it to the end. I had a fit when another well-known YA dystopian author turned her main character into a martyr (bonus points if you know the author and series I’m talking about), but I’ve grown a lot since then. It’s not that I don’t love Bardugo’s characters. I love them a little too much and I wanted what was best for them at the end. I’m super happy about who was left standing at the end of the series, but a martyr’s death would have been fine, too.

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I’m already anxious to see what else Leigh Bardugo has planned for her characters. I hear that she is working on a sequel trilogy. In the meantime, I’m going to try to find the collection of her short stories set in Ravka. I suggest you do the same!

Just promise me one thing…Give the Grisha trilogy a try if you haven’t read it yet, but please don’t compare it to Harry Potter or anything else. Trust me, you’ll like it a whole lot better that way 🙂 . After all, can anything truly beat Harry Potter?

Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it. Is my analysis well-earned? I have a long reading and writing list, but I’m super open to book suggestions. Let me know if you’ve ever come across anything like this series before.

Goodreads link to all of Leigh Bardugo’s work: https://www.goodreads.com/series/69714-the-grisha

Round 1: A Journey Through Time

Summary: A slightly dimwitted boy is accidentally sent on a journey through time and space and has to be rescued by his grandmother, who just happens to be a witch.

Dice: Voyages and Prehistoric

Final Order: 20160706_212731.jpg

Gold Star: TheBlueTurtle, for the fight at the end and the witch’s backstory, which he just pulled out of thin air

We will start with a 12 dice game, so the same player doesn’t have to start and finish the story. TheGoldenDragon has elected to go first.

1. Bubbling Cauldron: There was an old witch, and one day she was messing with her cauldron. She was doing something, she had a plan, then suddenly she heard someone knocking at the front door. So she went to answer it.

Well, her really foolish grandson was staying with her at the time. He also heard the door knock, but his path took him through the kitchen where the witch had left her cauldron. And he thought, That’s just really not safe leaving all of these unstopped vials open next to this cauldron. I’d just better clean up after her. 

So he picked up all the vials and threw them into the cauldron. It started to bubble really fast and different colored bubbles started rising out of it.

2. Porridge: It started putting off an unexpected aroma. It smelled pretty good. It smelled edible. So he decided that he was going to sit down and try some. The first time he tried it, he put it into a bowl and it was just too hot. So he thought, Um, I’ll go drink some water. Maybe it’ll cool off. 

He goes and gets a drink of water, comes back, and says, “Oh, that’s just too cold!” 

And then he goes and gets another drink of water. By the time he’s come back the stuff in the cauldron has cooled down by itself and he’s like, “That is sooo right! Just right! It’s so good!”

He’s sitting there munching, completely obvious to the altercation in the other room.

GD: Can he hear her?

BT: I guess not.

The altercation at the front door that was happening between his grandmother and…her visitor. But it was just so good. Maybe something in there was warping his mind, making him oblivious to his surroundings.

3. Pterodactyl: The visitor was old Mister Grumpyfuss…just fussing at her like he always did. “Is my potion ready yet? Well is it ready yet? Is it ready?”

Every day he would come knocking on her door. The problem was that what she was working with was a very very complicated potion. No one had ever tried to make before. It needed very specific ingredients.

She told him, “You can come in and watch me. I have one more ingredient to put in, and it is going to tell you where you’re going.”

And he went, “Shhhhh, don’t speak so loudly! I don’t want anyone to know what’s going on…what this is for! It’s very secret!”

She said, “Okay, well come in. I’ve got to put in one more ingredient.”

So she led Mister Grumpyfuss…

BT: Is that based off of me?

GD: It’s based off of who? No!

…to the kitchen where her grandson was eating his porridge.

BT: He was eating what was in the cauldron…maybe she doesn’t know what he’s done yet?

She saw immediately that something was wrong. And she rushed in and said, “Wait! Ned! Ned, how much have you eaten?”

“Only one bowl, Grandma.”

“No! Oh, no! Wait, okay, I didn’t add the last ingredient.”

“Yeah, I saw you left some vials open. Don’t worry, I cleaned up for you! It’s tasting pretty good. Do you want some?”

“You added what?!”

*DunDunDun*…And just at that moment, when Mister Grumpyfuss is just staring in the doorway and the grandma is running around trying to figure out what to do, Ned disappears. His eyes are open one moment. He sees his grandma running around. His eyes close. The next moment they pop open and he sees…a pterodactyl.

BT: Grrr, I was going to use the gun, and then you made him all warped.

GD: That’s right I should make some kind of Star Trek sound…*I attempt a Star Trek sound, or a slow motion chu chu train*…and then he opens his eyes…

4. Laser Gun: So he sees a pterodactyl and he screams, because, you know, it’s right there in his face. So he doesn’t know what to do. He freezes.

The pterodactyl is approaching, kinda in a pterodactyl manner–

GD: Flying?

BT: No, no, it’s on the ground

Wobbling *pantomimes wobbling and makes a wobbling sound*, because it’s probably not used to being on the ground. And it comes up and stars peering at him, kinda like a hawk does. It has these piercing eyes. He’s just thinking, Oh, it looks like some of those cave creatures. They’re tasty.

So, meanwhile, Ned’s starting to limber up a little. He realizes he needs to do something, either run or, you know, get eaten, probably. His first instinct was, I’m going to pull out my ray gun and see if I can take care of this thing! 

The ray gun is pretty powerful, but it is a pterodactyl. It has thick skin…so he singed the pterodactyl. It shrieked and it flew off. It was wounded. It had a smoking hole in one of its wings. It wasn’t flying very well, but it was getting away.

Ned felt that it wasn’t quite a victory and the pterodactyl would be back.

BT: He has a nemesis!

GD: For now…

5. Waves: So…Ned realizes that he needs to find shelter to avoid the pterodactyl when it comes back. He starts running, running, running, and he sees this cave. There’s smoke coming out of it. He’s like, “Oh, civilization!”

Because, remember, Ned is a little slow. He’s like, Maybe they know where the nearest train station is or a plane or like maybe a phone so that I can call Grandma and tell her about that weird creature thing. 

So he runs toward the cave, he goes inside, and he sees a group of men. He thinks, I hope they speak English. They look a little strange.

But, you know, he’s not one to judge by appearances. He walks into the cave, extends his hand, and he’s like, “Hi, my name is Ned. I’m trying to find my grandmother. She looks kind of—“

And then one of the men stands up from the campfire and grabs his big club and he’s like, “Uuugggh!”

“No, no, I think there’s a misunderstanding.” He’s going for his ray gun…and accidentally drops it on the floor and thinks, Oh no. What am I going to do?

So he starts running out of the cave, and just at that moment, he feels kinda light headed. Hmm, that’s kind of odd, because he remembers feeling that way one other time this day. And he closes his eyes and opens them and, suddenly, he’s underwater.

BT: *Exasperated sign*

GD: What? He’s time traveling.

BT: Actually, he could have just location traveled. 

GD: That’s true. He could still be in the prehistoric era.

BT: And the pterodactyl could still be out there. This is going to be a monster of the week story.

6. Crab: So he obviously can’t breathe underwater…or at least, so he thinks. You know, because he can’t breathe underwater, but he can. He doesn’t know how he’s doing it. 

But then he remembers: the potion! By the way granny was acting, it must not have been porridge. 

So he’s like, I guess I can breathe underwater. 

The problem is, he’s a little on the chubby side. He can’t, like, stay under the water. He’s trying, because he wants to explore. I mean, he’s underwater! But he’s fighting, you know, his blubber.

He struggles and he’s able to stay along the bottom, but he’s getting tired. He doesn’t know that he can breathe above water, but he gets to a shallow area. There’s some sand at the bottom. He’s swimming along and he doesn’t notice the giant prehistoric crab that has camouflaged itself in the seabed.

As Ned swims past and keeps goes, the crab starts to shamble after him slowwwwly. Ned’s oblivious to this. He’s been swimming slower, because he’s having to work hard to stay under the water. He doesn’t want to go to the surface. It’s just so cool. 

Meanwhile, the crab is getting closer and closer and closer…almost close enough to nip the foot… *nips at GoldenDragon’s foot and gets a polite squeak*

But not quite. It bids it’s time. It can see that Ned is trying out, so it waits. It’s in no particular hurry, you know, since it’s already eaten a little bit that day. It’s not like hungry hungry, but it thinks, Well, I’m not going to pass on this. I don’t know if I’ll find anything later.

Ned is just swimming along, oblivious to the danger. 

7. Backpack: Well…Ned is starting to get a little hungry himself and he thinks about his gun…Why did I have that gun on me? It’s because granny packed this bag for me and said to always keep it with me.

It had a gun and some dried food in it and a card with some contact information in case he got lost, which I guess, you know, he could have given to those cave people…but they didn’t seem that friendly.

Maybe I’ll just check the pack. I’m so hungry! It’s dehydrated, so maybe the water has made it better. 

So he goes in there and he—

BT: While he’s swimming?

GD: No, he stopped swimming to look into his pack.

BT: Do you know how close the crab was?

GD: Yes, I do.

So he stops, opens his pack, and he pulls out—

BT: A crab cake?

GD: I don’t know. What would a crab like?

BT: Beef jerky.

GD: Yes! 

And, um, all of the sudden he feels something grab his leg. He’s like “No! No!” and he drops the jerky.

Thankfully, the crab flings his head around and thinks, You know, actually, that looks kind of better. He lets Ned go.

Ned is able to safely swim away with his pack intact, and now he’s knows what’s in there. But, of course, he’s still hungry. Maybe that’s why he feels lightheaded.

Or maybe it’s something else…

BT: Wait, the crab didn’t snip his leg off?

GD: No, it wanted to grab him and pull him in so that he could eat him with his mouth.

BT: Haha, oh okay… 

8. Dragonfly: Eventually, he swims along and he was already in the shallows because of the crab, so he knows that he can handle the pressure. Just because he can breathe underwater, doesn’t mean he can handle the pressure.

So, he comes up in this swamp-ish, estuary kind of area and he sees these odd flying critters. He’s never seen anything like them before. They seem to be just hovering without trying. But then he sees one land and it had four wings. He thinks, Four wings-that’s so weird. 

Unfortunately for him, these dragonflies, or these strange insects,  have acquired the taste for human blood…somehow. They’re carnivorous dragonflies.

One lands on him and kind of nips at him. He’s like, “Ow!”

GD: He knows what’s going on?

BT: No…I don’t know…

GD: Well remember, he’s a little slow.

BT: You’re right.

He was like: “Ow, that thang bit me! I gotta get out of here! So I just ran!” *Forrest Gump accent, apparently*

So he runs. He doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know where to go. He realizes there’s a more clear concentration where he is, so he should be running away. He runs into the swamp until, finally, he gets to the end of it.

He’s trying to nurse his wounds, but there’s still a few straggler dragonflies still after him. He figures if he goes far enough, he’ll be able to get away from them.

9. Tent: Ned’s wounded, so of course he’s light headed, right?

And of course he’s hungry, so of course he’s light headed, right?

Or is he?

*Star Trek sound*

As he sees a dragonfly coming straight for him. Two inches…one inch away from him. It’s going to get him! 

All of a sudden, he blinks and finds himself outside of a large tent. He looks around and says, “Ah, Thank goodness! Maybe this place has some kind of food or something. At least there’s none of those weird creatures!”

He sees a person…actually there’s a lot of people around, and they actually look like people. He’s like, “Cool! They’re not those weird guys with clubs!…Although they are kind of shiny.”

So he walks up to one of those guys and says, “Um, hi, I’m hungry and I’m looking for my granny. She kind of looks like–“

And this other guy brushes his long hair out of his face, puts his hand on his side near his shiny pointy thing and says, “You, squire, what be thy title?”

“Um, my what?”

“Yes, what knight do you belong to? For this tent, you see, is the jousting tenting and you are not a knight. And you are too dirty to be a mere commoner. Who do you serve?”

GD: I told you it was time travel.

BT: Not…not necessarily.

GD: So he was just in a place were humans didn’t exist and animals ruled the world?

BT: No, that was still prehistoric times. He didn’t time travel. You didn’t say he had to.

GD: Oh…I know what’s happening. I’m not going to tell you though.

BT: Okay…well…I still don’t know what this one is. *Holds up next dice*

GD: Try turning it upside down. Does it look any different?

BT: It does look like a little bit like an eye in the middle of a bush.

GD: Stealth mode…go with it.

10. Stealth Mode: So he still doesn’t know what to say, but…this area is a little familiar to him, because he…

BT: Oh, I know, he started here. He didn’t time travel here.

GD: Um…yes he did.

BT: *laughs*

So he thinks this area seems kind of familiar. He recognizes these people as knights, because this guy’s wearing the armor and he’s familiar with that. His granny lives at the edge of this area. She’s a witch, so, she’s not, you know, considered clean.

GD: So Ned just decided to call him “shiny dude?” *arguing back and forth*

BT: Well, he is a little slow.

GD: There you go. That’s the the correct answer to everything: he’s a little slow. We can really do anything here.

So, he’s like, “Wait, he’s a knight.” He recognized the word “knight” and he thinks, I’ve heard tell of knights. I’ve never seen one. 

And…I guess he’s in an area where he’s not supposed to be…

He says, “Y’all are knights? I’ve never seen a knight!”

By this time, the knight realizes he’s kind of simple and treats him like he’s dirty. “Get away from me you foul, cursed creature!” He tells Ned to go away or he’ll be smited. “Leave here or I shall smiteth you!”

Ned still doesn’t know where he is, just that it’s familiar to him – the culture, the buildings, and everything…he sees in the distance. And he decides it’d be best to leave. 

He runs in fear of the knight and hides some place, peering out at the passerby and wondering what to do next.

GD: *picks up the next dice*

BT: The Sheriff of Nottingham!

GD: Duh!

11. Sheriff Badge: When he sees a man ride by on a four-legged beast his nanny had told him was a horse but which he’d never gotten to touch, he was so excited that he forgot he was hiding. He runs out and he’s like, “Oooh, pretty horsey. Can I pet the horsey?”

The guy on top is really spick and span and he has this little badge on his chest. He looks pretty important. He, I guess, recognizes right away that Ned isn’t really…

GD: What’s the medieval term?

BT: Not really all there?

GD: No…

BT: Okay, say it in Old English.

*English accent* He’s a jester.

But the man decides to take more pity on him, because…he can. So he jumps down and he says, “Well hello, good sir, are you here to see the joust? Where is thy mother and thy father?”

And Ned says, “Right.” And he reaches into his pack, pulls out his identification card, and says, “My name is Ned. I’m looking for my granny. She kind of looks like…an old woman.”

Now that he’s gotten to finish his sentence, it’s not that helpful.

The sheriff takes one look at the card and says, “Ah yes, I’ve…I’ve heard of the Lady Greenthumb. You said you were her…stable boy?”

“I’m her grandson.”

“Ah, well then I’m afraid, son, I’m going to have to take you into custody.”

“You mean I get to ride the pretty horsey?”

“Yes, come jump on the pretty horsey.”

So the sheriff of that land, who may or may not have worn a badge depending on the time period, finally, after thirty minutes, got Ned up on the horse correctly and rode off to his castle.

GD: *Dramatic drum roll* Alright, one more dice! Gotta finish the story! Gotta get Ned-y home! Or, you know, not…depending on the story. I’m actually  quite fond of Ned now.

12. Frightened or Confused Expression: The sheriff takes him to the castle and he’s like, “Oh, castle! This is so cool! I’ve only heard of these!”

And the other guys says, “Yes, yes, it’s a castle. And of course, young boy, because of…I don’t know what…we have to lock you up, because your your grandmother’s. You’re just going to have to stay here for awhile.”

He puts Ned…not, you know, in a dungeon…but in a little bit nicer place, like a dark guard house or something, and he sends word to the grandmother that they have her grandson.

The note said: We have your grandson. If you don’t turn yourself in for the atrocities committed three years ago, then…*shrugs*

After a while, Ned realizes that something isn’t quite right. He gets kind of sad and pouty. He says, “Why can’t I leave? I just want my granny!”

So anyway, Granny gets the word and she makes a big batch of some of her most powerful potions and suits up into her leather armor and–

GD: She’s a granny!

BT: She’s a young granny. She’s like in her fifties.

GD: Didn’t see that coming…leather armor. So Ned’s description of her was so off!

BT: Well, to him she looks old. You know, since people got pregnant young then and died young. Fifty would be pretty old…

So she conjures a horse, the fiercest horse that’s ever been seen. It stands twenty hands tall (Long pause while we look up info to see if twenty hands would be an accurate measurement–We decided that twenty hands (about 8 feet?) would be a pretty big, but realistically sized, horse.) Anyway, it’s a black horse, with steam coming out of its nostrils, and glowing reading eyes.

It‘s her demon horse. She did something wrong; she’s gotta be powerful. Since then, she’s come into custody of her grandson and she’s decided to end her evil ways. But once they have her grandson, she lets loose.

So she gets on this horse and rides off cackling: “They shall pay!” 

She’s saying in her head, I tried to change my ways, but these people won’t let the past be the past!

She rides off and goes to the castle and unleashes hell onto the walls.

GD: Wow, hell itself?

BT: Hell hath no fury like a grandmother who’s…grandson has been captured. Haha, maybe that was too much.

GD: No, no, that’s good!

She unleashes the fires of…

GD: Mordor!

BT: No…

As she approaches the castle she starts this mantra of sorts…gathering energy and whatnot, and she throws a shout of such force at the wall that it’s almost…backed by… the powers of hell. She blasts a hole in the wall. The blast is so hot that the moat evaporates.

And she walks into the courtyard and she’s like, “Where’s my grandson?!” She shouted in a booming voice for all to hear. They don’t know what’s happening.

As she came into the courtyard, she was surrounded by flames. She let the flames die down so that they could see who she was.

The sheriff is watching through a window, rallying his troops for an attack. She’s in a courtyard. Why would she come in there? She’s surrounded.

He shouts through the window, “You will pay  for what you did to my father three years ago, and all the other people that you killed!”

She remembers well that day, because something had gone completely wrong. She hadn’t intended to hurt so many people. She shouts, “I told you before, that was not my intent! It was an accident!”

“Lies! You shall pay, witch!”

And she says, in a cockney accent, “Very well. You shall all die.” (This was the best accent used so far.) “But give me my grandson and I will leave peacefully.”

The sheriff says in response, “It matters not.”

He sends his troops in. When they approach, they make to capture her, but, immediately, she releases a blast of fire that cooks them all. However, that was not all the troops he had. He was sending in cannon fodder. He wanted to see what she could do.

The next thing he tries is archers. She sees the archers above them and hears them, so she holds up her shield above her head and a magic, glowing aura descends from it, encasing her.

But it wasn’t quite quick enough.

One arrow got through and hit her in the leg. It went through right at the last second. It found a chink in her armour, because it was light armour. She is a magic user so she doesn’t have heavy armour. She needs to move around. It finds one little chink and gets her in the leg.

So she survived this, but came out wounded, and her shield faltered a little because of the pain. In response, she holds out her hand in response and shoots a ball of energy from her fingertips that seeks the archers. It shoots out and gets them all. It takes one guy’s head clean off. One guy is knocked off the parapet and falls to his death on the other side…because the moat is gone, so he just fell right down and he’s gone.

That was the last of the forces, except for the elite guard. The sheriff kept them around him at all times. So he called forth the royal guard, the most elite of all his fighters.

The witch was also armed with a small battle ax. 

He tells the troops, “Finish her off. Be done with it.” He should have done that first. No one has ever stopped them.

So they come for her and they’re not taking prisoners…they’re out to kill. As they’re approaching, she holds out her ax and spouts energy from it. The first one comes up and kind of dodges the first hit, but she goes like this–(as he demonstrates) she goes across and then brings it back–and gets him with the energy that’s surrounding the blade.

Many other people tried similar attacks, but in the end, it was just her and the sheriff. She says, “Now are you willing to listen to my side of the story?

“That day three years ago was horrible for me, too. My husband died in that blast. I was just trying to make a simple invisibility potion and something just happened and it turned out completely wrong and blasted this whole half of the kingdom.”

And he says, “Still, your carelessness has led to this.”

And…

BT: I don’t know? Should she kill him or should she not? I’m not any good at telling fight stories…you know, where they’re evenly matched.

GD: Um, I beg to differ. You’ve done amazingly well! But you are a D&D wizard, so that makes sense.

BT: Thanks…that’s not really helpful…

He says, “Very well, I cannot best you. You can have your grandson. I will not make a tragedy into a massacre.”

He points in the direction of where Ned’s been hidden. She looks and Ned’s been watching this whole thing.

GD: But can he hear?

BT: He can see. He saw the bloodshed. He saw the destruction that she was capable of. 

GD: He cries, “Granny! No, no Granny! Why?”

BT: No, no…

She comes to him. He’s shivering and scared.

Apparently his view has been somewhat skewed during this entire exchange. When she comes up, he says to her, “Did you see that scary battle?”

She says, “I did that for you, my grandson. They were…

BT: Well, I don’t want him to be scared of her.

GD: Forgetful potion!

BT: What, like a Men in Black laser?

GD: Yeah! She created a laser gun, she could do that…Wait, I’m not supposed to be helping you!

“I did that for you, my grandson. I did that to save you. They were trying to use you against me and I won. They pushed me.”

“But…but you were scary. I thought you were just an old lady. What are you?”

“Somebody who caused an accident years ago that will never be forgiven by the survivors.”

GD: Cue the credits! That was spine tingling.

So yeah they leave and the sheriff is just kind of standing there.

GD: Just standing there?

BT: Yep, he has lost his honor.

GD: And if I may…

BT: But I just ended it…Fine, go ahead.

Ned turns around as they start to leave and says, “Bye bye, mister. Thanks for letting me ride your horsey!”

BT: Haha. Why?

GD: You know, I never said how old he was. Perhaps he’s rather advanced for his age…

*This story took over an hour to think up, but it kept us talking for an entire weekend. This was a perfect story building exercise.

Get ready for Round 2 next week! Let me know if you think I made the right call on who received the gold star and why.

 

Story Cubes

aka A Couple of Nerds Playing the Most Awesomest Game Ever

I know that’s a rather bold statement, but you’re about to thank me for introducing you to these beauties:

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They’re called Rory’s Story Cubes. My husband and I sort of collect them 🙂 .

There are various ways to play with them. The traditional way involves 9 dice – 6 from a base pack and 3 from an expansion pack. You roll all of the dice together and then each player picks one dice at a time and takes turns adding something to the story. As long as you tell a compelling and complete story, everybody wins. However, some people can get gold stars for being awesome storytellers!

It’s a lot more exciting than it sounds on paper–I promise!

My husband and I recently decided to have a story dice marathon. It took 2 hours and 20 minutes to play three rounds of dice.

Why would we do that?

We were having fun! Plus, I know that people like different kinds of stories and I wanted to try to turn some of y’all over to the fun side.

I really can’t decide which story is the best, so…I’m just going to go to town and post them all with limited commentary/asides so that y’all can get a feel for how amazing and intense this game can really be!

I recorded everything. I’ll correct some grammar and leave out the less important or off topic asides, but I will try to write down the stories just as we created them. In order to give myself time to transcribe them, and not to overwhelm you with stories, I’ll post a new one each week. It’ll be like story time here at the GoldenDragon’s library.

If one of the stories interest you, please help us decide if we gave the gold star to the right person. We could use some impartial judges.

Before we begin, I’d like to introduce y’all to the players:

TheGoldenDragon is a big English nerd who enjoys weekend reading marathons. She is a freelance writer and editor. She also interns at a small publishing house.

TheBlueTurtle is a Mechanical Engineer. He works at a company that builds commercial refrigeration units. He lets off his creative steam by playing video games and D&D.

All right…let’s get started! See you in the next post!

Sentimental Connections

I recently began attending a weekly bible study at my church. Before I showed up that first day, I didn’t know that I was going to be the youngest person there by at least 20-30 years.

I also recently got to spend a wonderful evening eating dinner and playing games with my grandparents. I hadn’t seen them in awhile, so this was a big treat.

What do bible studies and game nights have in common?

First of all, I plan on participating in them a lot more.

Secondly, I’m going to try to say this as respectful as I can while still being blunt: old people.

Like almost everything in my life, whether contentiously or not, I relate to the things going on around me through books. I didn’t even know it was possible to make this type of connection before…until I did. I was sitting at my grandparent’s table. There was a lull in the conversation and I was thinking about an old book on my shelf that had caught my attention earlier that day. I was contemplating whether I wanted to drop my current reading pile and list and re-read this book, and then I started relating that to spending time with my grandparents…

And that’s how #1 popped into my mind. I’m just going to jump right into it…

Like our favorite books, the older people in our lives are often our most treasured family members. They are a constant. They are familiar, comforting, loving, warm, helpful…All of these things make me think of the books that I have carried with me through the years because I couldn’t let them go. You might not think of the older people in your life in this light, but can you see the connection that I’m making? The love of a grandparent and the comfort of a favorite book is like nothing else in the world.

Wisdom can often be found in older books. I strongly believe that today’s literature has its own wisdom. However, it cannot hold a candlestick to the literature of the past. When was the last time you sought wisdom from someone who has lived longer than you? I enjoy my bible study, but I’m not much of a talker. My new friends have taken advantage of my willing ear, and what they have to say is far more than I could ever say. It gives me an itch to ask what my parents and grandparents would have to say on similar matters. Like we might seek wisdom from the writers of the past, I think we should seek the advice from the older generations more often.

These older books, and sometimes our favorite books, are not afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked. This is why I love books that feature dystopian societies. Authors who ask tough questions and seek answers automatically draw, in my opinion, one step closer to wisdom. I’m sure you’re aware that boundaries tend to lower the older you get. That means that the older people in our lives are not afraid to ask tough or controversial questions…questions that need to be asked. This might be slightly uncomfortable at times, (like when they ask a thousand questions about your personal life) but it might also be necessary.

They are lovely in a different sort of way. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Think of the glossy hardbacks of today, or the colorful paperbacks. Modern, flashy, meant to catch the eye. Now think of leather bound books. Sturdy, classic, beautiful. How can you not get excited when you walk into a library of old leather bound classics? We are not living in the best of times, but I think we forget sometimes that older generations survived far tougher times than these. I can’t even imagine…This alone gives them a beauty that many of us will never know. It’s so different from today’s idea of beauty, and many people don’t see it. Nevertheless, it’s there.

And I do have to say, in my own case at least, there’s is nothing like the smell of my grandparents’ house. So many memories… 🙂 . It’s like taking a good whiff of an old book, or a library full of books. Although I don’t think that applies to anyone outside of my family. I really don’t think I’ll be sniffing any of my new friends at church. I thought I’d just add this one for fun.

You create lasting memories with them. You keep a piece of them in your heart, always. These memories can never be tainted. Like an old book that has a few smudges or stains on it, whose cover is ripped, and yet you keep it on your shelf. Or that one book that you remember your mother reading to you at bedtime that you search every store for. You didn’t contentiously leave a part of yourself in that book, just like you don’t walk around every day thinking that the time you spend with your grandparents, or other older people that you have in your life, is making another memory. If we had that mindset, I’m sure we would all live life differently. Every moment will someday be a memory and if you love someone (more than you love your favorite books), they will last forever…even after that book or that someone is gone (*pause here to find a tissue*).

They are universally loved and respected. Here’s what I mean by that: You might not have read a particular book, but if your friend loves it, it will be hard not to smile when they talk about it. This is especially true for old childhood books. The joy of them is universally understood and appreciated. When you hear someone talk lovingly about their grandparents, you will usually feel an instant connection to those memories.

Also, if you are in a group of people who visit the elderly that reside in nursing homes or who are at the hospital, you will have likely felt strong feelings toward them. Listening to them speak, hearing them smile and laugh, giving them a warm hug…I know from experience that it can be a very emotional, almost familiar, experience. A loving, respectful relationship with the elderly in our society is something that bonds all of us together, like our love for Dr. Seuss or Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Writing these thoughts down has left me more emotional than I expected. It makes me think about…well, a lot of things I haven’t thought about in a long time.

Thank you for taking this journey through the inner workings of my mind. I hope you didn’t get too lost. If you have any thoughts, please post them in the comment section. I’d like to hear what emotions or thoughts this post brought up for you.

For my non-blogger friends, remember that you can leave comments, too. All you have to do is click the comment button.

The Ilusive Reading Nook

My husband and I moved into a new apartment almost four months ago and I’m still searching for the perfect reading nook. I’ve tried reading in every room: the bedroom, the guest room/library, the living room, the kitchen…and, yes, even the bathroom.

I just can’t stop thinking about the reading nook that I had set up in my college apartment. It was a papasan chair with a soft, blue cushion. I remember jokingly saying that, since the rest of my apartment was decorated in greens and browns, it was like a still, blue lake in the middle of a forest.

It came to be a peaceful place for me, the one area of the apartment where homework was not allowed. I could often be found curled up on it, in the middle of a pile of cushions, with a cup of coffee and a book. It wasn’t the only chair I read in, of course. But even today, I remember it as my favorite place to read.

My husband says he plans on taking all of our extra pillows and fashioning a reading nook for me on the spare bed. I have no doubt that he’ll build me a comfy space, but I’m afraid that I’ll still sigh sadly when I think of my little papasan chair.

Do you have a special reading nook that you like to curl up in? Where is it? How did you make it?

Please tell me. I need some advice before I create my new reading nook.

 

Quotes for the Book Readers Heart #2

It’s time for another round of Inspirational Quotes.

What is the topic this time? Let me roll my wheel here: Classic Literature.

The wheel has spoken. Here are some quotes from Classic Literature that have touched my heart. I hope they touch your heart, too. As always, feel free to comment. I want to know if one of these is your favorite quote, if I’ve missed something, if you want to see a list on a particular topic, etc.

  1. Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it — namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. –The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  2. “Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”                  “You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.” –Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  3. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” –To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. “Anything worth dying for,” said Nately, “is certainly worth living for.” –Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  5. All grown-ups were once children…but only few of them remember it. –The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  6. It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone. –The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
  7. “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” –A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  8. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step on to the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” –The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
  9. And so with the sunshine and the great burst of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer. –The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. “Beware of the man who works hard to learning something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.” –Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  11. I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. –Dune by Frank Herbert
  12. Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. –1984 by George Orwell
  13. This hill, though high, I cover to ascend;                       The difficult will not me offend.                                        For I perceive the way to life lies here.                            Come, pluck up, heart; let’s neither faint nor fear.    Better, though difficult, the right way to go,                Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe.                   –The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  14. We did everything adults would do. What went wrong?” –Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  15. Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. –The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Quick Thought for my Fellow Bloggers

I have a lot of article and review ideas, and I’m sure a lot of y’all have a list of topics or a queue of posts to schedule. That being said, I’d also like to widen my circle of followers.

Would anyone be interested in exchanging guests posts? I would be open to a one time exchange or some kind of a longer deal. If you already know of someone else who sets up things like this, please let me know.

Another idea, I really want to have more conversations through my posts. Would anyone like to set up a “Conversation Friday” or something like that? Someone can propose a topic and other can all agree to pitch in or answer each other through links?

I don’t know. I just want to find more people and really became a part of the blogging community. Is anyone interested in anything like that?