Friday, October 10, 2014

Maze Runner Movie Review

I have known James Dashner for six years now.  He blurbed my first book "Alvor" and it has been a thrill to watch his career take off over the last several years.  In honor of his newest film based on his book "Maze Runner" I give you a special guest post.  Please welcome Spencer Blohm with his movie review.

It today's film industry, dystopian settings that pit a teenager against seemingly unconquerable odds are as commonplace as cozy New England towns and awkward 20 somethings in rom-coms. Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy (out of theaters, but still available on demand and streaming online) started a fire that still burns brightly, though no film since then has been able to generate as much buzz, or manage to be as interesting as Katniss and her struggles in the arena. Except The Maze Runner. James Dashner's New York Times bestseller movie adaption hit theaters this past September, and it’s tackled the familiar subject of survival in an impossible society with flair.

The Maze Runner follows the story of Thomas, a boy who awakens in an elevator shaft with absolutely no memories of his identity or life until that point. He finds himself in a community of boys, all of whom also have no memories, and soon discovers that they are all in a maze, and must team up together for a chance to escape.

Like every book to film adaptation, there are some differences that the plot undergoes in the transition from page to screen. Often times, events from the novel are omitted in order to create more fluid story that incorporates the full plot in the average hour and a half run time. The Maze Runner was no exception to this, with Thomas remembering events from his past much earlier on in the film than in the novel. This was clearly done for the purpose of saving time. When we're able to read the thoughts going through his mind and experience the journey of remembering with him, it’s interesting, but watching Dylan O'Brien and other characters ponder about on screen while bits and pieces of their past return to them, accompanied by attacks from the movie's baddies, called grievers, wouldn't be as entertaining. Some character dynamics were also changed in the film, with Thomas falling under the mentor of another boy, Alby, with whom he had a tense relationship in the novel. This change enabled Thomas to ask questions and learn things that expedited the progression of the plot, and also took away some of the original terror of The Glade.

Although fans oftentimes lash out at an author when a film adaptation doesn't turn out as they envisioned, the truth of the matter is that while author may be consulted by screenwriters and directors, as well as pay some visits to set and give interviews with cast members, the writer doesn't control the logistics of film making. They can, however, give their approval and James Dashner seems quite pleased with how first book of The Maze Runner series has translated to the screen. He did have a conference call at the beginning of the filming process with the producers, and made several visits to watch the movie be shot. Overall, he says he's happy with all the changes that were made as he feels they were pivotal to the plot, and he "agrees and supports everything about this film."

Fans and critics seem to agree as well. Since its US release on September 19th, The Maze Runner has raked in over $192 million worldwide, and received rave reviews. So far it's been praised for its strong acting, solid plot, and dark take on the dystopian universe.

Fans who are waiting with bated breath need not worry - the film rights to The Maze Runner trilogy have been obtained by Fox. and the sequel, The Scorch Trials hits theaters September, 2015.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Follow me and win some cool stuff

Alright, I know you probably haven't read my newest book and you're kind of curious...

Here's your chance to win a free book.  I need some more followers on my blog.  So get out there and drag some random people over here.  For every 30 new followers I get I will be giving away a copy of "Dancing with Black".  So, you might want to leave a note telling me you are a new follower or that you brought all your BFFs over here to follow me to enter for the prize.

I will be doing some book reviews in the very near future.  I have been reading some incredible books and I would love to share them with you.

If this is your first time here, welcome.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

This is happening!

I feel like I have to jump into the book thing with both feet!  So, I updated my website, finally made an author page on facebook, and look.... I even posted.  Okay.  I need to get back to the old swing of things.  For the record, and just in case you were wondering, here's what I have been up to:

*I am smack dab in the middle of earning my Master's degree.  Which means I have been knee-deep in homework.  It will be worth it when it's done.

*I have a brand new book that is out on ebook and nearly out in paperback.  This book has been such a shift from the middle grade series that I hope you will be willing to take the ride with me.

*Yes, I am still finishing up that third book I keep promising.  It is the final installment of the Alvor series.

*I have written several other books that you don't know about yet.  Even though it might seem like I've been dormant for a while, I have been busy!

*I teach school full time.  I just got a job as a high school Biology and Ecology teacher and I am really excited about it.  Last year I taught Life Science and Physical Science.  I promised myself that this is my last summer teaching summer school- but I have another month of Physical Science class to teach this summer.

*I have five kids... I just thought I'd throw that one in there.  My oldest is going to be a senior and my youngest is going to be a 2nd grader.  I love being a mom.  And my rockin husband makes all of the above possible.

So, here is the big cover reveal!  I waited until now to show the world, but I am pretty excited about this book.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dragons of Lore Book Blast

I'm back!  I couldn't stay away from writing forever.  So, new news... I have a book coming out this summer.  You're going to love it.  It's my dark chocolate dancing book (dark chocolate because that's my favorite) called Dancing with Black.  But before all that, there was Alvor, then Wings of Light, and let's not forget the long awaited final installment that I will be wrapping up this summer.  I so totally will.  It's almost there, I am so close.

Come meet my friends and their awesome books.  I love dragons.  You must like them at least sometimes.  These authors are genius at word crafting.  Take a big bite out of the amazing selection.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Confessions of a Cereal Mother
A tale of real life.   This down-to-earth book will give you a sense of validity to go along with your smile.  Rachel McClellan takes parenting back to your living room and reminds mothers everywhere that it's okay to be normal, whatever that means.  Parenting is a process, not a destination.  Come take a look at this light-hearted book!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Where Are the Christians? by Eric Shuster

Ponder if you will the state of our world; and in particular the condition of America. Although one can easily argue the United States is still the greatest nation in the world and a country so many desire to come to—even risk their lives to enter into—there is no denying America’s social, moral and spiritual fabric continues to deteriorate at an accelerated pace. For many this is an alarming and discouraging trend.

Now consider the fact that 76% of Americans claim to be Christian, making the United States one of the highest per-capita Christian nations in the world. A nation full of Christians in a deteriorating society? If this indeed be the case then WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS? To solve this conundrum author Eric Shuster gives us a book that bears this question as its title with the promise of answers and a unique journey for readers.

Where are the Christians? uses the classic format of who, what, where and how to explore Christianity and the dynamics that unite and divide the religion into the unrealized potential it suffers from today (thus the subtitle of the book—the Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion). The book enlightens readers as to who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Where are the Christians? examines hundreds of Biblical and scholarly sources, analyzing data from a multitude of studies leading to unique perspectives and solutions to the challenges facing Christianity in the modern era.

Where are the Christians? contains 17 chapters arranged into four sections:

·         SECTION 1:  WHO ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a history:  4 chapters providing a concise history of Christianity spread across four distinct periods:  Evangelization and Formation, Legitimacy and Codification, Corruption and Division, and Reform and Denominational Proliferation.

·         SECTION 2:  WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?—a definition:  4 chapters examining the definition of a Christian from the perspectives of the world, the Bible, landmark religious studies, and what Shuster refers to as Modern Day Pharisees.  

·         SECTION 3:  WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a categorization:  5 chapters profiling the five types of modern Christians including a unique and enlightening exercise to help readers understand what type of Christian they are among the five. 

·         SECTION 4 – HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE?—a vision:  4 chapters describing the ways Christians in America can unite into a force for good by focusing on individuals, families, churches and communities. 

To watch the book trailer, take a survey to find out what type of Christian you are, and to pre-order the book go to

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book 3 Chapter 1

Okay, so here it is. The first chapter of the final book in the Alvor series.  I just wanted you to know for sure that I really am writing it.
Chapter 1 Black Cat
            Bain gripped the handles as the road flew beneath him.  Salty warm air rushed by his ears, but not fast enough.  If the road didn't twist at all, he'd go a hundred miles per hour just to feel the pressure of the air on his face.  He hated flying, but this?  He smiled knowing that he risked a bug smacking him in his teeth.  This had to be the best mode of transportation in the world.
            Erin hadn't said it out loud, but he suspected she didn't appreciate the beauty of the machine.  He'd call it a motorcycle, but this one was in a class of its own.  Nothing could quite match up the custom job he'd managed.  It was the one time when he almost felt guilty for using money from the Ālfheim castle.  Almost.  He never realized money could buy so much happiness.
            School was out, for good this time.  His training at the kingdom was done.  Agnar gave up on him a while ago and Aelflaed pronounced him botanically worthy.  It wasn't like there was a graduation ceremony, but as far as he could tell, he was done with älv school, if it could be called that.  They didn't require geometry, chemistry or a foreign language, but how many high schools required a mastery in magic, wand use and swordplay?
            And since he was done, it wasn't hard to convince his mom and sister that he needed some air.  Well, space was more like it.  Bain needed some real-time.  He felt like he had lost touch with the outside world in so many ways.  Living with his mom and sister in the castle while going to classes full time probably did it to him.  Sure, there was internet access, but even that started to feel more surreal than real. 
            There was nothing for it than to buy a bike and ride.  Even grandpa Jessie chuckled and told his mom that it was a guy thing.  Not to worry.  Carbonell had slapped him on the back and slipped a wad of cash in his pocket.  Uncle Carbonell.  He still couldn't bring himself to call him that even though he married Aunt Lyndera over a year ago.  Lyndy, as Carbonell always called her.  He had everyone calling her that.  Figured.
            Somewhere in his head, Bain told himself that he was actually looking for Xavene, but that inner voice was easy to dispel under certain circumstances.  Especially circumstances that required swimming with mermaids in the clearest water he'd ever seen.  The shark imp seemed to have moved on to deeper waters because Bain hadn't seen him in all the times he'd been here.  Kelura and he were practically dating, if you could count underwater time with dolphins and mermaids a date.  There would never be dinner and a movie. 
            That was okay, though.  That was a few months ago and he didn't need a serious relationship right now.  Erin and Joel had enough serious relationship to repel even the most romantic.  Maybe that was another part of why Bain left.  Without classes to keep him busy, he couldn't sit around doing nothing while Erin and Joel spent all their time being the castle sweethearts.  He was happy for her.  And Joel was great.  But really, there was only so much he could take of watching the two of them walk hand-in-hand.
            Eventually he stopped and put his motorcycle up for the night.  Thanks to Lyndy, he had his own version of an endless suitcase.  Okay, man-bag.  European shoulder bag.  No, really it was a purse.  But when he could pull a sofa out of it, a bed, or anything else, including the kitchen sink, it just couldn't matter enough if he was caught holding his aunt's purse.  At least he could store it in the saddlebags while he rode. 
            He set up camp and looked over the water as night settled in.  He learned a while ago that bugs had no interest in him, and wild predators left him alone too.  Even without a sword and a magic wand, he could outrun any animal if he wanted to.  When the night crept in, it wasn't the animals that worried him.  It was the people.  Tribes would often send scouts out to see who was on their territory.
            Had he not seen it for himself so many times, he wouldn't have believed it.  There were tribes still in this world that ran around with spears, sometimes completely naked, and most often untrusting.  It wasn't that he was afraid for himself; he just never wanted to have to hurt one of them, accidentally or otherwise. 
            First it was Africa, then South America.  He knew South America called to him the most and he tried not to think it was because of Xavene, but he couldn't be here and not remember. Xavene abandoned the last location.  He'd already checked.  Bain lost track of what country he was in.  It might have been Brazil.  If he really wanted to know, he could look.  These days he used his changing brooch as a translator, but he was getting more Spanish and Portuguese everyday. 
            A branch moved ever so slightly.  Bain looked past the firelight and his eyes met those of a black panther.  Animals seemed to have a natural sense to avoid him, but this one came right up to the fire.  Bain gripped the wand that was already in his hand.  The panther circled the fire and stopped in front of him. Its eyes never left Bain's.
            Maybe this one was hungry enough to consider him dinner.  Bain lifted his wand ever so slightly. 
The panther shook his head back and forth.  "You don't need to use that," it said.
Bain's mouth popped open at the panther's words.      
"Let's just say that not all of Xavene's ideas went as planned."
Bain stared back, unable to form words.  The panther was talking.   It was too perfectly sized and sleek to be an imp.  It should have looked like a mutated monster, but the black cat was nothing, if not beautiful. 
The panther settled on the ground at the foot of the sofa.  "If it's all the same to you, I think I'm going to call it a night.  Being nocturnal is overrated."
Bain pulled the blanket up higher and pulled his feet up on the end of the couch.  "Just don't try anything.  It would be a shame to have to kill a talking panther."
The panther lowered his head to his paws.  "It was shame that created me." 
Bain didn't respond, but watched the animal close its eyes.  Noises of the night filled the air once again.  The fire crackled as a log rolled off the pile, but as far as Bain could tell, the animal slept.  It shouldn't have been able to form words with a mouth like that.  It seemed like its long tongue and huge incisors would get in the way.  But here it was, sleeping like a house cat curled up in front of the fire.   
Erin was never going to believe this.