fiction

How Magic Shapes My Characters

What is fantasy without magic? My “Magical Missions” does not differ from that.

However, the magic laws and culture do stand out from other fantasy books. One is that they are set in modern-day America, and the other is that wizards have their own enchanted technology far more advanced than the regular kind. 

How does this shape my characters? The protagonist, Alyssa, has grown up not believing in magic… until the start of book 1, “The Frights of Fiji.” Of course, she reacts with surprise as do the other characters. Or they don’t believe her. Those that do witness wizardry are either amazed or scared.

In the sequel, “A Curse of Mayhem,” Alyssa has already gotten used to magic, even though it hasn’t interfered with her life for the past 6 months. Unlike then, though, she is performing it against her will and longs to remove it. Of course, it involves lots of complications.

While Alyssa’s friends stand by her as does her guardian, most of the characters fear and misunderstand her, especially her school principal. He sees her sorcery as threatening and dangerous. Therefore, he gives her detention several times. Alyssa also ends up at risk for expulsion. Of course, I won’t spoil anything.

Wizards and non-magical people (there is no specific term for them) share the same world, although magicians hide their supernatural culture and skills differently. They will either blend their buildings in with security charms, put invisibility shields around them, or disguise things around ordinary people.

I do explain on my website how wizards hide their secret world. But this is how magic shapes my characters.

You can also buy Book 2 here and Book 1 here.

TV show

Let’s Get Digital with This Evaluation of “The Fairly OddParents” Special, “Channel Chasers”

Warning: Contains spoilers***

In the past, I didn’t usually review or evaluate individual TV show specials. However, that has changed since I have watched that “Fairly OddParents” TV movie, “Channel Chasers,” earlier this year. So, let me get reviewing.

The premise begins 20 years into the future, where Dimsdale has been destroyed. The mysterious guy in the black outfit chases two adults, Chester and AJ. He has to go back in time to stop the evil dictator, Vicky, from ruling the world.

The scene switches to modern-day Dimsdale, where Vicky is her usual self. The news plays and discusses children imitating violent television. Timmy is one of them. He unintentionally bounces into his parents’ offices and gets grounded for it, thus being forbidden to watch TV. So, he comes up with a loophole and has Cosmo and Wanda create for him a remote that takes him into the TV channels. Things go smoothly, and then get crazy, as well as intense at times.

I have to admit how re-watching this reminded me of “Avengers: Endgame”. If you’re an MCU fan or have seen “The Endgame”, you would likely know what I mean. This also teaches the importance of respecting the boundaries of what’s acceptable in real life and what stays on the screen. I used to have a bad habit of imitating television as a child, too.

The TV programs Timmy goes on are all parodies of real ones, including those like, Rugrats, Peanuts, Sesame Street, and even The Simpsons. While I admired that as a kid, as an adult, I feel that it was kind of lazy and the creators could have come up with more original ideas. But maybe they intended that—I don’t know.

Another pitfall is the toilet humor and the amount of defecation jokes used, even in that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special. Also, when Timmy discovers how much longer he can have fairy godparents, he skips ages 13 and 14. He can have fairies until age 18, although I personally feel 13 or 14 would be more appropriate, as you’re not a little kid anymore. Therefore, you need to learn to deal with your own problems more maturely. Plus, most bigger kids want more freedom and independence, so having fairies follow them around might not please them.

Timmy does eventually acknowledge that he needs to grow up and will one day lose Cosmo and Wanda as his fairy godparents. He spends most of the episode not wanting to age.

Speaking of which, it was a good twist for that mysterious guy in the black suit turning out to be adult Timmy. I also appreciate how Timmy grows and changes where he starts off resistant to his grown-up self to missing him when he doesn’t make it past the end credits of “Karate Cows.”

I would rate this special 5 out of 5 stars.

TV show

“The PowerPuff Girls” Theory: Is King Morbucks Afraid of His Daughter, Princess?

This focuses on the original series of “The PowerPuff Girls”, starting in the 90’s and until 2009. Other adaptations won’t be included since I am not familiar with them, nor do I really want to be.

Anyway, for those who’ve watched a big portion or all of the show, we know that Princess Morbucks is not only one of the villains, but a huge spoiled little girl. She brags when things go her way and throws tantrums when they don’t. Her dad plays a big role in giving her whatever she wants and whenever she desires them. He even bought her the mayor’s office in the episode where she legalized crime, probably because Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup would not let her be a PowerPuff girl.

In another scene, Princess screams for a glass of water, and her father holds her hand and walks with her as she thanks him. However, if anything happens to his stuff, he will ground Princess for a long time.

In the Christmas special, when Princess and the PowerPuff girls are at the North Pole with Santa, Princess throws a tantrum about how her daddy says she gets whatever she wants and whenever she wants. But I am wondering if he really chooses to spoil her.

Except for that brief parade of villains in a certain episode that I don’t recall the name or plot of, King Morbucks’s face is never shown. I also don’t think he gets any spoken lines. However, I can get a glimpse of his personality where he isn’t too enthusiastic, but rather the opposite. Of course, I could be wrong.

Yet, from what I notice, he doesn’t seem anything like Rancid (an uncle who has a spoiled niece) in “Very CatDog Christmas” or Mr. or Mrs. Salt in either “Willy Wonka” film adaptation. Although the audience doesn’t get much of King Morbucks’s traits, he seems exhausted and likely stressed. That is why I wonder if he gives Princess what she wishes for because he fears her, kind of like how Vicky’s parents are afraid of her in “The Fairly OddParents.”

I will confess, though, that while I did see a lot of episodes of “The PowerPuff Girls”, I didn’t see too many post-2004 ones. So, the reason King Morbucks spoils his child could be explained in a later episode. But I am not sure.

Do you support this theory?

fiction

Review of Book, “Cooking with Caroline” by Katharina Marcus

Sixteen-year-old Kirsty Matthews attends an assembly with her school, where a celebrity chef named Caroline Connelly announces a healthy cooking class for students. She learns more about the program as students ask Caroline different questions related to it. She unintentionally signs up for it as well as gets in a little drama with a boy named Jake Deacon. How will things progress? Read the book to find out.

This novel had a lot of unique aspects. One thing that stood out to me was the protagonist being overweight. It is not too common for main characters to have heavy figures—at least not in the ones I have read.

Another part that I found surprising was that every other chapter switched from third-person to first-person and focused merely on Kirsty’s thoughts. While that did displease me a bit, it did not distract me too much nor did it bother me a lot.

The food Caroline made the kids prepare sounded interesting, such as healthy soup and even pasta dishes. Sometimes, my mouth watered just from reading this fictional story. Lol.

From the teen life to the cooking lessons, this book brought lots of different feelings to me. I would rate this 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to both kids and adults.

TV show

Review of “Very CatDog Christmas” (1999)

Warning: Contains spoilers***

Cat and Dog are preparing for Christmas and go to the mall, where various animal children stand in line to sit on Santa’s lap. Santa is also the only human in that universe. Not long after, a VIP’s spoiled daughter, Rancine, whines about how she wants the CatDog. Dog convinces Cat to take the offer, but he doesn’t agree with it. So, Rancine cries while on Santa’s lap.

Shortly after, Santa is furious and cancels Christmas, where his sleigh erases every holiday element and decoration. Even CatDog’s Christmas tree is gone, so they get creative and try making their own. Then they realize that spending time with loved ones matters more for Christmas than the stuff.

This special interested me a bit when one of my friends wanted to play it at my 24th birthday party a few years ago. Like my guests, I found it odd that Santa was the only person in an animal world. I also found Rancine unlikable, not to mention that her dress is so short and her underwear shows. That’s not exactly age-appropriate for someone as old as her.

But the strengths include the morals and the engaging element of a childhood show. I think it’s a great special that everyone can enjoy. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Review of the Book, “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman

Warning: contains spoilers***

I don’t usually review picture books. But since I watched a video of my friend reading “Are You My Mother” and really enjoyed it, both the clip and the story, I will review the content. This book was actually a favorite of mine when I was little. Anyway, let me start.

A mother bird is sitting on her egg and figures that her baby will need food. So, she flies away to fetch something for her young. Then the baby bird hatches and leaves the nest to find his mom. He asks different creatures and even a boat and construction machine, which he calls a snort due to its sound, if they are his mother. Eventually, he finds his real mom and shares a bonding moment with her.

The story was nice and fun. I especially found it cute when the baby bird called that construction machine a snort. I told that to my friend and he found that funny. I also agree with him about how the baby bird doesn’t seem to understand genetics. Lol.

That being said, one flaw that stands out to me is that the mother bird wears a bonnet, even though she’s a wild animal. Unless she was released into the wild by a human and already had the bonnet on, it’s quite odd and unbelievable. Even if she found it, how would she put it on when she doesn’t have apposable thumbs?

Although this is the main purpose of the plot, I found it irresponsible for the mother bird to leave the nest and her baby alone. He even passed his mother when looking for her and didn’t know that was her. But maybe it is scientifically accurate for a mother bird to leave the nest and young to find it food before it hatches.

The story was still great. I think pretty much everyone has read it in his or her childhood. I would rate “Are You My Mother” 5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Review of “A Horse to Love” by Marsha Hubler

I haven’t read this book in years. However, I do remember enough to review it. I must also admit that I loved horses as a child and still do. In fact, I used to ride regularly from ages 8 to about 14.

Anyway, let me get to the review.

Thirteen-year-old Skye Nicholson is in court for something. She is assigned to a foster mother named Mrs. Chambers, who makes Skye do farm work, go to church, and has many rules about her home facilities. On the bright side, Skye develops a passion for this horse called Champ.

This book has a lot of memorable moments. Aside from the strong and engaging writing, many scenes stand out to me, such as when Mrs. Chambers comforts Skye and when Skye and Morgan, a physically disabled girl, ride horses together. Another moment that I have strong feelings about is when Skye hurt another girl at school, ran away, and got punished by her foster parents, where she couldn’t use any of the facilities or see Champ the horse. This was obviously wrong for Skye to do.

There are also some parts that I felt were flawed. One is how Mrs. Chambers only allows Christian music and makes Skye go to church. What if Skye were another religion? I considered that insensitive of Mrs. Chambers. It would have been better if the music allowed was something else, such as clean music with no explicit lyrics. 

Another moment that stood out to me was when when Mrs. Chambers first met Skye and said, “You can call me Mrs. Chambers or Mrs. C, but never Eileen.” The third part felt unnecessary to me, especially when an adult talks to a thirteen-year-old. 

Speaking of which, Skye won’t join a teen club Morgan offers her since she still thinks she’s only a kid. But thirteen is a teenager. Plus, most thirteen-year-olds are excited to finally be teens and not younger children anymore.

Other than those issues, I really enjoyed the story and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars. 

movie

I’m Spelling Out This Evaluation of “Hocus Pocus” (1993)

Warning: contains spoilers***

There are so many aspects of this film that stand out to me. It begins where a boy named Thackary is looking for his younger sister, Emily. He finds her being cursed by three witches, Winifred, Mary, and Sarah. They turn Thackary into an immortal black cat, but are then executed by the community shortly after. Three hundred years have passed (which surprised me) and the focus is now on a teenage boy, named Max, in his history class at school. The Halloween adventure begins.

I found Max to be very believable, especially since he moved to a new town from Los Angeles and really missed his old home. The bullies who picked on him made me feel even more sorry for him. However, at some point, the bullies were in danger, and Max wouldn’t save them, which was irresponsible. Just because someone is not nice to you, that doesn’t mean you can leave them in peril.

That being said, Max was a good guy. Although he resisted taking his eight-year-old sister, Dani, out to trick-or-treat at first, and she even screamed about it at some point (which was also irresponsible and could have misled her parents into thinking she was getting hurt), he did it and showed loving care with her as the movie progressed. He also dressed as a “rapper.”

Speaking of loving care, it was so sweet how Dani developed strong feelings for Thackary in his cat form. She even held him while sleeping and fed him cat food. During the part where the curse got broken and the witches perished, unfortunately, Thackary passed on, too, and his last sound was a meow. However, he returned to Dani in his human form as a ghost and comforted her until he was reunited with his sister, who also came back as a spirit. This happened at the very end, and I was expecting Max, Dani, and Max’s love interest, Allison, to get in trouble with their parents eventually. Instead, the adults are partying somewhere, unaware of what the kids did to save the day.

Earlier, though, after the witches have been revived and are performing at the Halloween bash Max and Dani’s parents attend, Max, Allison, and Dani try to tell them that the witches have been resurrected and are dangerous. But the mom and dad won’t believe them, which I didn’t expect. In fact, everybody found the children crazy when they attempted to warn them about the witches. Even a bus driver acted casually with the sorceresses when encountering them.

Even though this is just a movie, I found it odd that the witches were able to function okay in modern times after being dead for centuries. They should have been confused like crazy. Another flaw is how they broke into Max’s school and no one caught them. Yes, it was 1993, when school security was likely more relaxed. But shouldn’t there have been surveillance cameras or even a guard?

When Max, Allison, and Dani celebrated the witches’ “deaths”, I figured that it was the midpoint and knew that they hadn’t really been defeated. This was based on how I studied story structure for years and past movie-viewing experiences.

A couple of moments that also shocked me were when Max was willing to sacrifice himself for Dani when the witches tried to jinx her with a potion and a clueless zombie who had no idea what to do. I have to admit, the zombie who didn’t know much felt more credible to me. It also satisfied me since it was a way to stray away from the traditional approach for zombies, where they’re scary and try to eat peoples’ brains.

I would rate “Hocus Pocus” 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Today is Where My First Book Review Begins: And it’s Called “Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Up until this point, despite being a writer, I haven’t read a lot. However, I am reading more these days and am trying to get myself back into it. So, now I am going to post book reviews here. Let the thoughts come out.

“Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie longs to know about her life before living in the real, typical world. She and her mom left it when Gracie was a baby. However, her mother refuses to share information about it. And she strictly forbids her to see the author, Gertrude Winters. Regardless of her mom’s demand, Gracie sneaks out to the bookstore. She not only meets Gertrude Winters, but also tries to receive more information about the book she wrote where Gracie came from. Gertrude Winters disappears, and it makes it to the news. From then on, things don’t go well.

I enjoyed this book as well as the characters. I didn’t like when Gracie’s mom was unfair to her in the beginning, though, as I don’t like adults treating children that way. But the writing kept me engaged and wanting to know what happened next.

That being said, there were some passive writing moments at times. But that didn’t keep me from giving up. I still would recommend this book.

I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Harry Potter Mystery: How Has Not One Muggle Felt Sorry for Harry When Growing Up with Abuse from The Dursleys?

For 10 years, from right after his parents’ deaths and until his 11th birthday, apparently nobody was nice to Harry, not even outside his home. His abuse was looked over at school and he was always bullied. Even the teachers didn’t seem to do a thing about it. I know Harry was born in 1980, so much of his childhood before Hogwarts was in the 80’s. Still, I have trouble finding something like this believable.

Yet, there were no new students or staff at Harry’s primary school who were horrified. No teacher wanted to help him with his stress or stand up for him when others bullied him. No student wanted to do the same.

Also, most people, especially in an area where Harry lived, don’t see the same people every single day. There would have been lots of visitors, new residents, deliverers, vendors, and many other people not native to Little Whinging or Privet Drive. And it seems that nobody has been appalled by how the Dursleys treated Harry. Not one individual has reacted with, “Oh, that’s terrible! Aw, that poor kid. I wish I could help him. I feel so bad for him.”

Unless there are charms that keep muggles from feeling sorry for Harry, I don’t find something like this too credible. There has to be kinder, empathetic, and even highly-sensitive people in the “Harry Potter” universe. Many muggles would have been upset to hear about how the Dursleys mistreated Harry. They would have felt sorry for him and even disgusted with how Dudley got spoiled. Even if that type of treatment wouldn’t have gotten the Dursleys in trouble with authorities at the time (not just because Dumbledore might have used magic to prevent that since Harry needed to be with a blood relative to stay safe from Voldemort, but also that the laws about child safety were different then, according to my research), Harry would have encountered at least a few muggles who said that they felt terrible for him and showed their sympathy to him. More would have said how sorry they felt for Harry in front of him, whether directly at him or to somebody else. A lot more would have said it out loud, but either not in Harry’s sight or would have thought it in their heads. At least a couple of muggles would have gone to the Dursleys and asked if everything was okay, and if they found out the truth, they would have felt horrible for Harry and showed it.

Lots and lots of people would have also ruminated and obsessed over how Harry got treated by his relatives, day in and day out. They might have even been down about it to others, talked about it a lot, and tried to do something about it, even if they couldn’t.

If the series were truly believable, Harry would have met or heard countless amounts of people who didn’t like how his relatives treated him and said how terrible it must’ve been for him, and how bad they felt for him. Maybe Harry would have even had a kind mentor nearby who wanted to check on him and be nice to him. Even in the 1980’s, before the Internet, the fact that Harry was abused would have made it to others, and a good number of them would have been horrified.