Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.
This month I decided I was tired of coloring everything in a symmetrical pattern, so I wanted to do the four Captain Rex clone trooper helmets all different colors.
For some reason, an inspiration immediately sprang to mind: my childhood heroes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Four helmets, four Ninja Turtles. The more I looked at the picture, the more I liked that idea. The circle in the center even kind of looks like a turtle shell.
Thematically, it works really well also. The Ninja Turtles may be an American creation, but they are inspired by the culture of Japan, just like Star Wars. The style of the helmets of Vader (and consequently the storm troopers) seem partly inspired by Japanese samurai helmets. Obi-Wan’s sojourn on Tatooine seems much like the life of a ronin. And most specifically, the Kurosawa’s movie The Hidden Fortress was a huge inspiration to George Lucas when making the movie that would come to be known as A New Hope.
This one was pretty quick and fun; maybe not one of my favorites, but I enjoyed it. And for the record, Michelangelo is the best Ninja Turtle. Cowabunga!
After I had my kid last year, I was kind of in a reading slump. A good 80% of my reading was being done only on my Kindle between the hours of 11pm-6am while feeding the little Jedi, and I was reading mostly Regency romance novels. There is nothing wrong with romance novels; it is simply a very uncharacteristic choice for me, a habitual reader of fantasy and sci-fi. In any case, I felt like I was missing something. I guess I was missing the way I used to read.
A Darker Shade of Magic was the book, and then the series, that released me from my slump. From the first chapters I knew it was going to be special, just as countless other bloggers and readers had told me.
Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. (Goodreads)
As an ambassador (and the adopted son) of the king of Red London, Kell is tasked with visiting both the brutal monarchs of White London (and their Antari Holland) as well as George III of Grey London. But he also runs an inter-world smuggling business on the side, and when a hand-off goes wrong he gets mixed up with Grey London street thief Lila Bard and a magical conspiracy that spans all four worlds.
This series has many strengths (world building and a neat magic system, an exciting and suspenseful plot), but to me its biggest asset is its characters. Kell and Lila are so well crafted they feel real, and the supporting cast has wonderful depth as well—particularly Holland, Kell’s brother Rhy, and the pirate Alucard.
Kell is probably my favorite character, and he reminded me strongly of another favorite character of mine: Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. Both Kell and Ed are completely dedicated to their brothers, willing to do anything to protect them. They both have serious personalities, their default expression generally being kinda frowny. They both do magic by drawing circles. And of course, they both have awesome red coats.
Lila is another fun one. Her dream in life is to have a ship and be a pirate, and she prefers wearing men’s clothes. I pictured her in my head looking a bit like Tilda from Into the Badlands because of her hair and knives, but her personality is really more like MK, impulsive and a bit immature.
I loved the pacing of the trilogy, because a lot of the plot structure remind me of the Star Wars original trilogy. Vitari and Osaron kind of reminded me of the first and second Death Stars. The Essen Tasch in the second book was like Lila’s version of Luke’s Dagobah training. And the cliffhanger ending of that same book, where Lila rushes off to help a captured friend, is straight out of The Empire Strikes Back. I loved that cliffhanger, which is such a weird thing to say when normally people hate them.
My only real complaints about the series are that I didn’t get a real “Regency” vibe from it, especially Lila who’s from our London but doesn’t use any thieves’ cant or anything, and also that perhaps the last bit of the third book was not quite as tight as the rest. But I felt satisfied with the ending. I’m already planning to buy the series so I can see those beautiful covers sitting on my shelf and relive the magic whenever I want.
I’m so sad to say goodbye to the Weekly Photo Challenges. I’ve been doing them since March 2014, and it’s been such a wonderful way to share my trips to the Galápagos Islands and Ireland. I had never thought about sharing my photography, or even really calling it “photography” as opposed to just some photos I took on vacation.
Until I saw some of the bloggers I follow posting weekly photos based on a theme, and I realized that I could do that, too. And do it in a nerdy way.
The Weekly Photo Challenge has helped me learn a lot about photography, and I’ve enjoyed doing research so I could explain a little about the photos. It also has given me an easy, regular source of popular blog posts. I always get a huge bump in views on days I post those photos. So, it’s been good for my blog, and it’s been good for me, too.
From Santa Cruz.
I’m sure I’ll still post some photos, maybe even weekly, but it won’t quite be the same. I’ve found so many cool blogs through the challenges, and I love seeing all the different takes on the theme.