Magical March Challenge book review– Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Graceling

Loved this book.  Love, love, loved this book.

The characters were complex, rich and sympathetic, with unique gifts called “graces” that can be both helpful and harmful.  Not magic in a sense, but a unique ability that can seem almost magical.  The world is detailed enough to give you a strong sense of place, but not so much that you feel like you are in a geography lesson.

The main character, Katsa, is strong and tough and her relationship with Prince Po will wrench your heart a good bit.

The w riting style manages to be both lush and spare at the same time.  I had the second book in this series already and the only thing that kept me from diving right in was the fact that it wasn’t on my challenge list. ;(

I will likely reread Graceling in the near future and recommend it highly to all lovers of YA fantasy.  THIS is the kind of book I want to write.

Have a great day everyone!

Magical March Challenge book review — A Gift of Magic by Lynn Kurland

Magical March Challenge

Magical March!

I read this book at the beginning of the month, but my schedule has been so eratic this month, I just now am getting around to posting about it.  Sorry!

Gift of Magic by Lynn Kurland is the third book in the second trilogy in the Nine Kingdoms series.  Yes, that’s a lot of math and yes, that will be the last math I’ll subject you to.

Gift of Magic

Gift of Magic is a sweet romance, and the characters are definitely enjoyable. I think the plot was not quite as strong as the first trilogy, there didn’t seem to be quite as much conflict.  But hey, it didn’t promise to be Game of Thrones, did it now? ;o)

Honestly though, I did enjoy the book.  It was a great light read.  Kurland has created a detailed fantasy world, with complex backstory and several systems of magic.  Her story bible for the Nine Kingdoms must weigh a ton!  Hardcore fantasy fans will likely be disappointed because she doesn’t go into as much depgh with the magic as a true fantasy, but romance fans will enjoy emensely. I recommend it for a great, light romantic read, but you should definietly check out the first series too!

Have a great day, everyone!

Full Metal Jousting Pt. 2 — Back in Black!

So, anyone who tuned in last week will fondly remember what will always be known as “The Testicle Episode”.

Two guys got carted off in ambulances with injuries to…well, down there, ya know, that spot guys are a little overprotective of.

But, I guess a little blood reminds us that this is for real, and not for show.  And they should both still be able to pass on their genes.

Anyway, last week I shared a couple of picks for the red team, and today, I want to give some love to the black team.

The black team has had it’s share of drama, two weeks ago a comptetitor got sent home for committing the unpardonable sin of punching a horse. For stepping on his foot.  No, really. Pay attention.  You can see your feet, the horse can’t.

(I thought he was a little too pretty anyway)

Anyway, my faves for the black team:

Hopefully nice guys finish first...or don't get broken bones.

Rope Meyers.

Rope is a former world champion steer wrestler.  Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with steer wrestling, a bit about that sport:  Picture yourself diving headfirst off of a perfectly good horse running at about 35 miles an hour, onto the back of a 500 lb steer (with horns for an added challenge), grabbing it about the head and neck, planting your feet in the dirt, flipping the steer over and giving it a good noogie, and leaving both you and the steer able to walk away.  Not for wussies.  I personally prefer to stay aboard my galloping horses thank you very much.  Dirt is not tasty.

Rope is just one of those genuinely nice cowboys, who had the good fortune to be born in that era when cowboy moms and dads named their kids evocative western names like Rope, Quirt, Colt and Hoof.  He probably takes his hat off every time he enters a room, goes to church every Sunday and says Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am.  More importantly, his kids probably say Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am.  The affection and respect the other jousters have for him is obvious.

Yep, I’m crushing on ol’ Rope a bit.

Whadaya mean, I'm over the top?!

Josh Knowles.

Talk about larger than life, on several levels.  This guy is big, and has a bigger personality.  Another professional theatrical jouster, you just can’t wait to see what he does next.  Complete opposite of Rope.  But too much fun to watch.

The Rules

Jousting, believe it or not, is a bit more sophisticated than just a couple of guys bashing each other with 2X4’s.

There is a scoring system, and a very specific set of rules.  You get 1 point for striking your opponent, 5 points for breaking your lance on your opponent, and 10 points for knocking your opponent off his horse.

The catch?  You have to strike your opponent in the Grand Guard, which is a metal plate not much larger than a liscence plate.  Nothing else counts, and if you hit your oponent in the head or too far below the Grand Guard, you lose 5 points.

You also get deductions for not dropping the reins when you are about to hit (this protects the horses mouth from being jerked on should you lose your seat) or failing to control the horse. Yes, this is challenging when you have to drop the reins.

At then end of eight passes, the competitor with the most points wins.  Unless one of you can’t get up, and then it’s last man standing.

So, did any of you check out “the testicle episode”?  Do you have a fave for the black team?

Next week starts the final round of jousts, so check back then, and as a bonus, we’ll talk a bit about the history of jousting!

Charge on!

Row 80 Round 1 Final Check in

Well.

This wasn’t exactly the greatest 80 days for me, for a variety of reasons.  But, coming up soon is another challenge, another round, and another chance to set goals and get back on that horse.

Only those that never ride, never fall.

Falling sucks, but it does teach you a bit of respect and gives you a chance to re-evaluate things and pick a different strategy.

Oops.

Ouch.

Mommy!

After you get the dirt out of your teeth.

I’ll see you all in the next Round of Row 80.

Back in the saddle again!

Full Metal Jousting

Okay, so I’m the first to admit that I didn’t think we needed another reality show.

I mean, we have Top Shot, Pawn Stars, Gold Rush Alaska, Auction Hunters,Real Housewives of Pick a City and at least 14 shows featuring people chasing down alligators in the swamp.  Enough be enough, all right?  I usually maintain an air of sophisticated ennui when faced with any of them, tisk tisking and all, because oh, can you believe the display people make of themselves?  Give me the remote, please dear.

So imagine the plate full of crow I’m working on now, to find myself totally hooked on History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting.

In my defense, it features horses, which I’ve yet to see on any episode of Swamp Rush Auction Houswives.  Big, sexy horses with feet like platters, and enough mane and tail that I pity their grooms. Been there, done that, got the calluses.

Anyway.

The show features a cast of 16 horsemen from various disciplines, competing in an elimination tournament for a pretty nice chunk of change.

And it better be a large chunk of change, considering these guys are wearing full metal armor (hence the title!) which weighs upwards of 80 lbs.  This is kind of what it feels like.  Just to wear it.

All of these guys have some sort of equestrian experience, and I give kudos to the History Channel for the breadth of talent they came up with. They have everything from a polo player to a steer wrestler to a show jumper, so it’s impossible to pick someone who has an advantage in the horse area.

Now, me picking any sports team, individual competitor, or lottery numbers is the kiss of death for winning, so I hesitate to curse any of these guys with my favoritism.

But, for the red team, a couple of picks come to mind:

James Fairclough. 

James is a professional show jumper, who has ridden at the Olympic level, and that for sure ain’t nuthin.  If the horses they are using for the jousts have a modicum of training, James ought to be able to thread a needle with the animal without batting an eye, saying “look ma, no hands!” the whole way. One of the smaller competitors, he apparently has an iron clad seat and can hit like a Mack truck.

And he looks a bit like Hugh Dancy, which is always a nice thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My other current red team favorite is Josh Avery.

Josh is a professional theatrical jouster (who knew that was a real job?!)  He won one of the best matches of the FMJ (that’s what we hard-core fans call it) season to date by just a few points.  A double unhorsing! Dude, that was nailbiting!  Whew!

And for my writer peeps:  Anyone but me feel like casting him as the hero in a steamy medieval romance?  No? That’s just me?  Cool!  (Tucks that away in her special happy place)

Anyway.

This show is one of my weekly highlights.  There haven’t been many shows I will actually recall the time they air and actively wrestle the remote from my hubster to watch.

I can vouch for the fact that falling off a horse is not fun.  Falling off a galloping horse wearing that 80 lbs after being hit in the chest with a baseball bat seems as if it would even be less fun.

I wouldn’t do it.

Oh, hell, who am I kidding?!  Is there a geriatric version?  Sign me up.

Next week I’ll be back with a few picks for the black team, and a little 411 on the sport.

Have any of you seen Full Metal Jousting?  Do you have a fave?  Tune in with me this Sunday at 9 central and…

Charge on!

ROW 80 check in

My goals for the  check in period between March 1 and March 7:  Updates in bold

1.  Complete outline for workshop book.

Newp, didn’t happen.  But I have a lot of notes, and it should not be too difficult to doIf I get the freaking thing started.  But the other stuff is so shiney!!  Squirrel!!

2. Read two of the easier reads on my Magical March list.  (I’m saving Game of Thrones for later in case I decide I can’t live without knowing What Happens Next.)

Got one down and started on the second.

3.  Get a jump on the writing class homework so I don’t get left behind and play catch up.  Complete any assignments within 3 days.

Currently up to date on all assignments, which did include introductions, and was easy because I do know my name.  Most days.

4. Continue to stretch my daily word count to between 800 and 1200.  Any form of writing except emails and blog replies counts.  Blog posts, homework, book outline, all are on the good list.

Didn’t keep good track here, but I did write daily.

5.  Finish synopsis of my novel and figure out what the next step is there.

Just finished it five minutes ago and sent it off to my crit team.

6.  Make it back around the blog o sphere and check in with my peeps, who hopefully haven’t forgotten me!  Comment on three blogs every day for the next week.

Again, I lost count, but I did make it around and check in with my peeps and I’m pretty sure I got more than three in daily.

 

For the next check in period, I’m going to keep Rowing in the same boat (hahaha it’s 12:49 a.m. and I can’t sleep and apparently think I’m freaking hilarious).

1.  Write the damn outline. Get that monkey off my back and bury it!

2. Two of the easier reads on my list.

3. Continue to rock it on my class assignments.

4.  Keep a bit better track of my wordcount, but bottom line to do something writerly every day.

5.  Won’t do much more on the synopsis until I get feedback from the team.

6.  Continue with the visit/comment 3 blogs daily.

How did you all do this week?  It kind of felt really awesome to be back in the groove again.  I’m headed for bed to try to salvage a couple hours before the 4:30 alarm calls. shrieks.  Hang in there, peeps!