Check

“You can run king… but be careful of a checkmate.”

      Check is a piece I had created a couple of years back and never finished. I rediscovered the piece of paper and decided to redesign it digitally instead. Check is about the victory for the red side after removing their most powerful enemy, the queen, resulting in the isolation of the enemy king. I couldn’t decide the motivation of the red queen’s action so I tried to make the drawing and quote as vague as possible for open interpretation.

For the drawing, I used FireAlpaca for most of the drawing and Photos near the end for color changes. For this piece I really wanted to focus on the lighting to make it look more ominous or evil. I did this by using a dim candlelight, dark contrasting shadows and almost black backgrounds. I used Photos as a last-minute edit to quickly make my shadows slightly darker to fit my needs. I also added a vignette and selective focus to further emphasize the candle and the queen. Overall, the drawing took longer than I had expected since I wanted to make this drawing’s colors neater than my previous attempts, but I am quite happy with the end result. Maybe I’ll make a short cliched story with this in the future.

The Limit by: Kristen Landon

Matt and his family live in a world, almost like ours. In it, there is something called the limit, or the amount of debt a family has. There is a limit on how much debt a family can have, and if they go over the limit, the government comes to take their oldest kid away.

Matt has complete faith that his family won’t go over the limit, but after a turn of events, Matt finds himself taken away to a facility by Honey Lady, or Miss Smoot. He’s taken to the top floor where all the smart kids live, but little do they know, the building and the people in it, are hiding secrets.

After Neela gets headaches and is told she has left for her family, Matt goes down to the third floor to see Lauren, and sees Neela. He gets suspicious and little by little, his friends Paige, Jeffrey, and Coop, gather evidence to show everyone that this facility is intended to hurt. But will they be able to escape and show the world that maybe taking kids away isn’t the best solution after all?

This book is a fairly short book, but it does have action and suspense. I think it was beautifully written, but this book wasn’t the best book I have ever read. For anyone who wants a short but exciting book, this book will not disappoint. Enjoy!

Behind the Paper: Part Twenty-Two

“Is this a bakery?” I asked Jacob in confusion. Its been thirty minutes since we left the soccer field and Jacob wanted to show me something.

Before Jacob could answer me, the door of the bakery opened and an old woman appeared before us. I could assume that this was the owner of the bakery, just by the way she looked. Her face quickly changed as she took a closer look at us.

“Jacky?” She smiled at Jacob as if today was the best day of her life. Jacob, on the other-hand, kept a straight and emotionless face as he replied back with a short and simple yes. Wait- could this woman be his mother? She called him a nickname which means that he was someone she adores and is super close with, but from this short casual conversation, it seemed like he barely knew her.

She laughed at his reply and as if she didn’t see me before, she looked at me in awe and then sighed, “Why didn’t you invite me to your wedding. Your wife is beautiful!”

“Oh we aren-” I was going to say that we aren’t a couple but Jacob cut me off.

He spoke, “We aren’t married yet but we are in engaged.” Like her worries just lifted, she smiled and sighed again, but this time in relief.

“Yay! I didn’t miss your wedding. I thought you purposely didn’t invite your parents,” she said in a cheerful tone and then added, “I should tell your best friend, Quinn, about this joyful event! You wouldn’t mind would you? She told me she hasn’t talked to you since you left and she has been very worried.”

“Its fine. You could tell her but we would want this wedding to be a small event so less people the better please,” he stated. Hearing wedding coming from Jacob made be spring with happiness but I knew it was only fake and a few months this would all end. This is when I realized I don’t know what I would do without Jacob. Now to think about it, I would miss his sarcastic and mean comments.

Jacob’s mother said, “Oh actually she is in the bakery right now, why don’t you both come in and I could get to know my daughter-in-law? By the way- my name is Kimberly, what is yours?”

“My name is Molly Graff, ma’am.” I replied in the best possible tone I could.

She seemed like she liked what she heard and invited me to come into the Rod Bakery. I quickly peeked through the window of the bakery before heading in. It was a nice and quaint isolated place, even the scent of the bread filled the street. It was a clean, slightly sweet, creative aroma that somehow smelled warm and welcomed. When I went inside, my mouth began to water as I looked around. Every inch was filled with many delectable pastries of all sorts. As I walked in, my jaw began to drop as I laid eyes on the bakery’s most expensive piece. It was a 5-layered cake. Every one of the 5 layers was filled with intricate designs and patterns.

Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

See the source image

Illuminae, written by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, is a science fiction book following detailed reports gathered from the tragic events into what they call the illuminae files. There are two main characters, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, who are stuck on two separate ships in space.

This book doesn’t follow the usual narrative seen in other science fiction and fantasy books. Each page is a copy of a diary entry, artwork, interview, security footage report, or other classified documents. They are organized in order of the events and use a lot of documents from Kady and Ezra, as they had pivotal roles in the outcome of the story.

At first, I almost put the book down, never to pick it up again. The book started out unbelievably boring. Once you get around 100 pages in, you finally began to care a bit about the characters and their journeys. I believe this is due to the unorthodox format the book is written in. It’s more of a plot-driven book than a character one, but I do believe you begin to care about the characters, particularly Kady, towards the end.
During the action scenes, the graphics were visually stunning. It blew me away and made me wish more books involved beautiful and thoughtful art inside them. It was the best way to convey action with minimal words and arguably hit me harder than a narrative format does.

The romance in the book wasn’t my favorite. It felt boring and didn’t add anything to the plot other than a connection between the two ships. I also didn’t enjoy the text messages between the characters, because they took me out of the story and made the characters seem childish. Despite this, there were some moments that made me giggle. Ezra was a rather funny character and it helped keep me interested in the story, which was already so tense.

There was an AI character that is reminiscent of Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was a cool comparison. It also brought about questions about artificial intelligence and its dangers, which is a prevalent topic heading into the future.

The end of the book upset me because something is revealed that I felt would have been better placed in another book. I can’t go into detail without spoiling it, but the book did something that really annoys me in other creative storytelling forms.

There are two other books in the series, and I know the second one follows some new characters in the same document format. Although I loved the artistic parts of the book, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Overall, I would rate Illuminae 5/10 dragons for its artistic layout and an intriguing plot. I would recommend reading if you appreciate plot-driven books and cringe romance.

The Adventure Zone revisited

A little while ago I wrote a review for the “Balance” Arch for the adventure zone- so if you haven’t read that I would go check it out because it is super cool and explains the minor details of the podcast.

This review is for the most recent Arch called “Amnesty”. We are now nearing it’s conclusion after its inception in January 2018.

Summary:

The McElroy’s weave their new story by playing a “monster-of-the-week” role play game. Griffin once again is DM-ing, Travis plays as a magical Aubrey Little, Clint plays the character Ned Chicane, and Justin plays the chosen one Duck Newton.

The story takes place in Kepler, West Virginia. Each week the trio fights a monster from another magical world call Sylvain, while exploring a bigger mystery along the way. Griffin weaves secrets and plot twists into this action packed, hilarious adventure. They first face “the beast” a creature made with a combination of organic matter from many creatures.

Details:

There are currently 34 episodes and a few more on the way (as of 8/25/19), all over one hour long.

There is adult humor and is not recommended for anyone under 15.

You can find them on iTunes or at Maximum Fun.

https://www.maximumfun.org/adventure-zone/adventure-zone-amnesty-episode-1

Review:

I haven’t listened to a McElroy product that I didn’t love, and Amnesty is no exception. It’s funny and emotional, and an incredibly immersive experience. I highly recommend it (but listen to balance first!) and I’m sure you’ll like it.

Best enjoyed on long bike rides or while making art.

8.5/10

Midnight, August 24

Today, it rained.

Tonight, the song Saturn by Sleeping At Last came on. I went downstairs to take my pill and give my sleeping dog a hug, listening to the beautiful half of the song that’s pure instrumentals, from the mourning violin to the fragile heartbeat of the drums. I rose from the couch and the warmth of my dog and traveled to the kitchen. Looking out the window, I saw nothing, and figured the dark sky was covered in a cloud. I opened the back door with a creak and stepped out onto the porch, the wet mat soaking my sock and chilling my body.

From there I knew there was no turning back.

My foot landed on the deck, and as I looked out, I was amazed. The rolling hills and distant forest were colored blue and hazed in fog, one warm, white house light illuminating it all. But the best was yet to come. I travelled out further on the deck and looked up, and starlight filled my gaze as soon as the singer began:

You taught me the courage of stars, before you left

Many nights had I wandered out onto this same deck, and looked at this same sky, these same hills, these same houses, and these same stars. But never before had they looked quite like this.

How light carries on endlessly, even after death

The heavens gazed down on me, numerous and growing. I could point out the main constellations, but behind them more stars seemed to grow. At the edge of my vision was a field of lights, but when I focused on one spot, I could only see a few. Still, I knew they were all there.

With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite

The words of countless people talking about how small they felt compared to the endless universe rebounded inside of me, their voices echo of another world. I had thought I understood what they meant, but I’d been wrong. In that moment I felt as much as the universe as a human possibly ever could.

How rare and beautiful it is to even exist

And that was how I greeted the new day, unnamed emotions and tears in my eyes.

Watch Us Rise by: Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” – Frida Kahlo

Jasmine and Chelsea are feminists at heart, and they both love the creative arts. Jasmine does short stories, and Chelsea is a lover for poetry. They sign up for their clubs, but in the classes, the unthinkable happens. Catcalling, racist and sexist comments, are what happens in those classrooms. Devastated, the girls quit their clubs and start a new club, Write Like A Girl. Along with their friends Issac and Nadine (and James), they know the fight isn’t over yet.

Write Like A Girl is a club that posts poetry and short stories about feminism. They highlight that girls should love who they are. They even make posts that spotlight important women in history and in the present! The club spread from school to school, but the principal was not happy. He suspends the club saying that it was inappropriate and whatnot. However, Chelsea, Jasmine, Issac, and Nadine all risk everything to make their voices heard.

When Write Like A Girl becomes a sensation with people loving it and hating it, what happens next? What’s the next step?

Masterfully written, it’s a spellbinding book that I couldn’t put down.