Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Guardians of Childhood Dreamcast

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Salutations, my readers!  

Many of you have likely seen the Dreamworks movie Rise of the Guardians.  Some of you may have read the children's book series by William Joyce upon which the movie is based.  I happen to have done both, and am very fond of both.  However, my favorite of the two is definitely the book series.
While Rise of the Guardians was done beautifully, I could not help wondering what it would be like if a movie version of the books were to be made.  In particular, a live action film.  

As such, I created this dreamcast, my own personal take on what the characters of the Guardians of Childhood series would look like. Let me know what you think!

And if you have not read The Guardians of Childhood, I encourage you to do so. It may be a children's series, but it is well worth a read for anyone, even adults!  :D

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I recently watched Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy, and was suddenly struck by the resemblance Christian Bale  bears to the young Santa Claus from the Guardians Series.  Having seen him in a few other roles, I believe he could do the part quite well.


Since I don't know many child actresses, it took me a while to find the right one to play the young heroine of the Guardians Series.  After hunting around on IMDB, I found this lovely girl.  I've never seen her in any of her roles, but appearance-wise she was perfect.  I can see her working very well with Christian Bale as North.


At first I was at a loss as to who to cast for my absolute favorite character in the series; Nightlight, the Spectral Boy.  But then, suddenly, I thought of Ted Allpress.  I've only seen him in his brief role as young Loki in Thor.  Sure enough, he has that bright, clear, innocent look that Nightlight is famous for.  I believe he is perfect for the part.


Toothiana is described as a warrior with the heart of a mother.  After seeing Ginifer Goodwin in Once Upon a Time, she seemed a fine choice for the beautiful Tooth Fairy.

as the voice of

E. Aster Bunnymund is very different from the Bunny portrayed by Hugh Jackman in Rise of the Guardians.  While I found the latter very entertaining, I am also very fond of the Spock-like Pooka of the book series.  Jeremy Irons is one of my favorite actors.  I first saw him in Longitude, and have since been impressed by many more of his performances.  His voice, (also the voice of Scar from the Lion King), has that perfect mix of posh grandure and poetic majesty necessary for the voice of the mysterious Easter Bunny.


Sanderson Mansnoozie was perhaps the hardest Guardian to cast of all.  However, just when I was about to give up hope, I thought of Ian Holm  That warm, kindly, but eccentric character he played as Bilbo Baggins is similar to Sandy's character in the books, though perhaps the latter is much more quiet than Bilbo.
And besides, look at that hair!  It's perfect!


It was my mother who first pointed out the resemblance between Benedict Cumberbatch and the infamous Pitch Black.  After a closer look, I suddenly saw it!  Those same high cheek bones, piercing eyes, and tall frame are perfect to play the villain of the Guardians Series.  Not only is Cumberbatch an expert on playing villains, but he also has that warm, very human side to him that makes Pitch all the more tragic.  Just imagining this actor playing the terrifying Bogey Man, as well as the tragically heroic father Kozmotis Pitchine gives me the shivers.


Is there an actress more perfect for this role?  Lara Pulver, in her role as Isabella in BBC's Robin Hood showed that she can play a woman who is both fragile, pitiable, ambiguous, and deadly.  Will she help, or harm you?  No one knows.


His role in Ever After as Leonardo DaVinci convinced me that he could play the role of Ombric well.


While in the books, the Man in the Moon is said to be a little round man, and Patrick Stewart is most certainly not round, I thought that he could portray the character very nicely.  Patrick Stewart is famous for playing characters who are wise, compassionate, and devoted protectors of humankind.  That certainly describes the Man in the Moon, so I think Mr. Stewart would do perfectly.

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-Rayne Speryll

(DISCLAIMER:  This casting list is purely a fan-cast.  It is by no means official, or approved by the actors mentioned, nor by the creators of The Guardians.)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Client: Part II

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Here is the second half of the fanfiction begun yesterday.  Enjoy!

Once again, all credit goes to the copyright holders.  :)

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John Watson was coming. I could not very well cancel the appointment; not when it had gone so far. All I could do was rush about my office preparing myself as best I could.
Joddy must have been confused over my reaction, but I imagine he dismissed it as a fangirl's nerves. He knew that I read John's blog regularly, and doubtless he thought that I was flustered at the prospect of meeting someone who might as well be a celebrity.

Looking at myself in the mirror, I forced myself to take deep, calming breaths. I knew that I could play my part. Over six years of drama classes before I left home had given me some experience in becoming another person. Besides, I acted as Ivy Meshle so often that she had become a part of me.
“There now, Enola,” I said aloud to myself, quoting Mum's favorite piece of advice, “you shall do very well on your own”.
Enola. Alone. My name spelled backwards. I would indeed to very well on my own.
Or so I hoped.

At that moment, I heard the quaint bell sound as the door to Dr. Ragostin's receiving room opened.
I spun around and grabbed a pen and notebook, taking my seat near the fire place. I could hear Joddy greeting John and directing him to my office.
“...Miss Ivy Meshle, Dr. Ragostin's personal assistant, will receive you.” he was saying.
Oh goodness, this was it. My life was ended.
Of course I knew why John had come. By now he must surely know that Sherlock was searching for his younger sister, and why else would he come to a perditorian unless he intended to ask for Ragostin's assistance?
I could not very well search for myself, but how on earth could I turn John down without a good reason?

The door to my office opened, and the doctor himself walked in. He looked just as he had three days ago, when I saw him last. A dark shirt, leather jacket, a kind face. I rather liked him, and wished that my nerves would allow me to feel more comfortable than I did.
Still, I managed to remember my manners as he entered the room.
“Hello, er... Dr. Watson. Please, take a seat!” I welcomed him. I had glanced at my papers to make it appear as though I was reminding myself of his name. It was vital that I should behave as a perfect stranger.
John nodded his greeting and sat down. “Thanks.” he said, wringing his hands in a nervous manner.
“My name is Ivy Meshle, personal assistant to Dr. Ragostin. I handle all of his clients.” I explained. “Would you be so good as to fill me in on the details of your case?”
John was clearly unsure of himself. I wondered why he seemed so uncomfortable.
After a moment, John took a deep breath and nodded. “Right.” he cleared his throat. “I'm here on behalf of a friend of mine. Sherlock Holmes is his name.”
I nodded, pretending to scribble on my notepad.
John continued. “About three months ago, his young sister went missing. Her name is Enola Holmes, and she's about sixteen-and-a-half years old by now. We understand that she's been hiding in London, but neither Sherlock nor the authorities have been able to find a trace of her.”
“Oh?” I said. “Could you describe the circumstances surrounding her... flight?”
John complied, telling me his own version of the story I knew quite well. Sherlock had given him quite a detailed account, but of course it lacked the details that only I myself knew. The manner of my escape, the route I had taken, the source of my finances...
I realized, despite my precarious situation, that this was a useful visit. By hearing John's story, I was able to determine how much my brother knew about my situation. It seemed that despite his best efforts, I was still eluding him quite effectively.

At last, after John finished, I thought for a few moments.
“Forgive my asking, Dr. Watson,” I said, “but I have heard of Mr. Holmes, and I know his reputation. If he is as good as they say he is, why ever would he need- much less ask for- Dr. Ragostin's help?”
John shifted uncomfortably. “Well, that's just it, “ he said, “he wouldn't. Sherlock didn't ask me to come here... I came on my own.”
My heart skipped a beat. Sherlock had not sent him?
“I came because I'm getting worried about him. He's stuck on this case, and he can't find any clues to help him. I think it's too close to him, and that's why he's having such difficulty.”
John sat forward in his chair, leaning his elbows on his knees. “He's not eating, not sleeping... he's practically living on tea and coffee. He sits despondently in his chair all day. It's either that, or he's sprawled across the sofa in sort of a daze. I'm concerned for him as both his doctor and his friend. If he-”
John stopped suddenly, choking a little with emotion. “-If we don't find something on Enola soon, I hate to think what's gonna happen to him.”
I tried to mask my dismay. My brother? Wasting away on my account? It seemed impossible. Mother had told me... I'd seen his medical papers. The psychiatrists agreed that Sherlock exhibited sociopathic tendencies; emotion was either foreign to him, or severely repressed.
My heart felt dark, and heavy at the thought that he was... suffering, because of me. As much as necessity called for me to fear him, I dearly loved my brother. I looked up to him, and admired him so much. If circumstances had been different, I would have loved to get to know the brother who'd been out of the house before I was old enough to read.
Clearing my throat, I tried to keep my voice level. “Would you say that Mr. Holmes is in any... umm... physical danger?”
“Yes, I would say so,” John said grimly.
“I see.” I nodded I adjusted my glasses and took a deep breath. “Well, I shall take your case to Dr. Ragostin, and I am sure he will consider it very carefully. If he can help, I assure you that he will. Is there an address by which I can contact you?”
“Address..? Oh! Yes. Here it is.” John scribbled an email address onto a sheet of paper and handed it to me. I smiled graciously and rose, shaking his hand.
“Very good. I'll notify you should any progress be made.” I told him.
“Good. Great!” John said, smiling and nodding. “Ah... how much do I owe you for the visit?”
“No charge for consultation.” I replied. Opening the door, I escorted him out.
Once again, he thanked me and shook my hand. As he left the building, I felt myself sighing in relief.

My immediate danger was gone. And yet... I found that my heart was no lighter. What was I to do? I knew I could not help John or Sherlock... but... I could not let my brother continue to agonize over the case he could not solve.
I shut myself in my office and leaned against the door. Slumping to the floor, I crossed my arms over my knees and rested my chin on top.

Oh Sherlock... how can I help you?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Client: An Enola Holmes - Sherlock Fanfiction

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DISCLAIMER:  I do not own Enola Holmes, nor any of the characters found within this story.  All credit for Enola goes to Nancy Springer.  I do not own Sherlock, nor the Sherlock Holmes franchise.  Credit for the character goes to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Credit for the BBC television show goes to BBC.

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221b Baker Street

It was to John's pleasant surprise that he found the fridge completely uncontaminated by such gruesome things as severed heads and assorted criminal items. It was to his even greater pleasure that the fridge was actually well-stocked with normal, wholesome food.
Smacking his lips with an eager light in his eyes, John reached into the fridge and pulled out a jug of milk. After helping himself to a glass, and a stack of biscuits from his own secret stash, John settled himself down at the kitchen table and took a delicious bite. Gulping down the cool, refreshing milk, he sighed in satisfaction.
“Mmm! Sherlock, are you sure you aren't hungry?” he called into the living room.
Silence was the only answer he received.
“Oh, come on, even you must need food eventually.” John coaxed.
Still no answer.
Instantly, John's high spirits fell. It had been three days since Sherlock had confided to him the trouble of his missing sister, Enola. It had been three days since John had met that very sister, in this very flat, and let her slip away. It wasn't his fault, of course. At the time, he'd had no idea that Sherlock was looking for the girl, and therefore no reason to detain her.
John had seen Sherlock brood before. That was no uncommon thing. But Sherlock had been in a black mood ever since that day, and he showed no signs of improving. The man hardly slept, but instead stayed up through all hours of the night working obsessively through police records, security footage, bank records... anything that might give him a clue as to where his sister might be. John had not seen him take any food since the night he explained the matter of Enola. The detective had taken several cups of tea each day, but nothing more.
Now John was concerned for Sherlock both as his friend, and a doctor. Sherlock's naturally lean body was now bordering on skeletal. His pale, gaunt cheeks gave him a ghostly look, and there were deep shadows beneath his eyes.
John sighed and got up from the table, walking over to stand in front of his friend, who was curled up on the sofa with his fingertips together, his eyes closed, and his brows furrowed together.
“Sherlock,” John said, leaning over him, “this is madness. I know you're worried about your sister, but starving yourself to death won't bring her home any sooner. Now, I'm a medical man, and I know when a person's health is deteriorating. If you don't eat something, you're going to be so weak you wouldn't be able to stand up even if Enola were in the room, standing in front of you.”
For a moment, Sherlock remained as still as a statue, then he opened his eyes to peer at John from beneath his eyebrows. “How can I think about biscuits, and milk, when my sister- my sister- could be starving on the streets. Or worse. Do you have any idea what could happen to a girl of her age, running around the city alone like that? Good grief, John, she's only sixteen! She doesn't know a thing.”
John nodded, knowing Sherlock's full meaning. “I know,” he said, “I know.”
“Mrs. Hudson said she looked like a picture of misery, standing there on the steps.”
“I know. But I saw her myself a moment later, and She didn't look miserable then.”
“Do you think that means anything?” Sherlock demanded, getting up from his position and stalking across the floor to the windows. “By that time she'd probably second-guessed herself and decided to run before I came back.”
John didn't reply, but ran a hand across his mouth, trying to think of how to help his friend.
“What can I do?” he asked at last.
Sherlock just shook his head, and retreated into his room without giving John a second glance.

John had never felt so powerless to help the detective. He'd felt like an idiot plenty of times; he'd felt incompetent, to be sure; he'd even felt unwanted. But never powerless.
What now? he thought. Just then, his gaze fell on his laptop, sitting open on the table.
Hesitantly, he sat down and opened a tab. Maybe he wasn't an expert detective, but he could research as well as anyone. It was worth a try.

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As soon as I opened my email account, I was assaulted by thousands of new messages. Well, not thousands, but it might as well have been.
“30? What on earth...? What is this?” I exclaimed in disbelief. Scowling, I glanced at the titles and rolled my eyes. All of them were letters from my clients, with the exception of the last two, which were from my secretary Joddy.
Still, despite my displeasure at having so many emails to answer, I couldn't help but laugh at the titles.

The list went on and on. Having a career as a scientific perditorian- that is, seeker of the lost- led to some interesting situations and people. For instance, the email referring to a missing femur bone was from a former soldier who'd had his leg amputated, and the bone had been signed by the doctor who amputated it. Stranger still is the fact that someone had stolen the blasted thing. After some investigation, I managed to locate the relic, which was still leaning against my sofa. I'd yet to return it to its veteran owner. I kid you not; the story is as true as my name is Enola Holmes.
As for the letter addressed to “Dr. Ragostin”, it was meant for me. Leslie T. Ragostin is the alias I'd used ever since running away from home. Hiding behind an older male identity gave me a bit of security from my brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, both of whom had been searching for me relentlessly for months.
At least, I knew that Sherlock had been searching for me. I'd barely escaped some of the traps he'd set for me- which was no easy feat, considering that my brother is a genius. But as for Mycroft... well, I could not say for certain whether he was searching for me. I'd seen nothing, and heard nothing of him since I'd given him the slip when he tried to send me to boarding school.
Recently, I'd had a rather nerve-racking close call with my brother Sherlock. Granted, I hadn't actually seen him, but I'd been in his house. Yes, into the very depths of the spider's web. It had been a necessary risk; I had been determined to retrieve Mum's riddle book, which she'd left to me just before she disappeared from the face of the earth.
It was there, in that flat, that I had met Sherlock's best friend, and my favorite blogger, John Watson. At first I'd panicked, thinking that he'd know me and prevent my escape, but my mission was a success after all. Thank heavens the good doctor was oblivious to my... strained relationship with my brother.
Almost subconsciously, I moved my hand across my desk and placed over the little handmade riddle book, drawing comfort from it as best I could.

Now, to deal with these emails.
“JODDY?” I called, tilting my head back towards the door, “Would you bring me some coffee?”
A moment later, Joddy, my young secretary and errand-boy, poked his head through the door of my office. His wild blond curls were particularly disorderly today, and there were dark circles under his eyes.
“There is no coffee, Ivy.” he said.
“Ivy” was another alias of mine. Technically, my “Dr. Ragostin” character was never seen by anyone in person. Instead, his rather homely young assistant “Ivy Meshle” took care of most public relations, while the renowned doctor hid away in his study.
“What do you mean, there is no coffee?” I asked.
“We ran out about two days ago. I emailed you about it.” Joddy replied.
Raising my eyebrows, I looked down at the emails I'd received from him. “Ah. I see.” I said simply. Then I blinked. “Why didn't you say something to me?”
Joddy shrugged, searching for an answer. “Ah... you... seemed so... preoccupied. I didn't want to bother you with it. Besides, I checked the funds, and our coffee budget is tight.”
I slumped in my chair. “Oh.” Unfortunately, being a perditorian didn't seem to pay well. Not yet anyway.
“But, on the bright side, I finished designing the website for Ragostin!” Joddy added.
I sat up. “So soon? Let me see!” I hoped that with a website, I might manage to draw some clients in with more... serious cases than say, finding Fluffy the Cat.
Joddy smiled and disappeared back into the lobby for a moment, then reappeared with his laptop under his arm.
Opening it to the page, he proudly showed me his handiwork.
“It's accessible, easy to read, professional, but also engaging. I've documented some of his best cases and published them on blog section, so that any potential clients can see samples of Ragostin's work.”
“Good... very good!” I complimented him, admiring the website. It was very well done. Joddy had a talent for graphic design, and he had obviously put a lot of effort into it. I imagined he had probably been working on it all night, hence the circles beneath his eyes. Poor man.
“Mm. It gets better than that.” Joddy said, smiling. “We've had over one hundred hits in the time the site has been running.”
“What?” I exclaimed. This I had not expected.
“Mm-hm! And- keep listening- we have a client! I scheduled his appointment for today, and he should be here any minute.”
“What?” I said again, even more surprised. I was nowhere near prepared. “Who is it? What's his name?”
“His name is Doctor John Watson. He's that fellow who runs the blog about Sherlock Holmes.”

I'm afraid that I blanched quite as white as the frost on the windowsill. John Watson? Coming to see me? I mean, Dr. Ragostin? This was terrible! Surely he would recognize me!
Lest Joddy should note my panic, I tried to calm myself. There was a chance I would not be recognized. I wen to great lengths to disguise myself when I was being Ivy Meshle. I wore a straight blond wig, and a good one at that. I used wax molds inside my cheeks to change the shape of my jaw, colored contacts, glasses, and a great deal of makeup. A rather large beauty mark was glued to my right cheek. While in reality, I had a rather flat chest, I used subtle enhancements to give Ivy a full and beautiful figure.  When I spoke as Ivy, I used a Northern accent instead of my usual Estuary English.
Yes... there was a chance that John would not recognize me... oh, but if he did, my life was ended!
“Ivy... are you alright?” Joddy asked.
Giving a nervous laugh that I regretted immediately, I smiled and assured him that I was. “Of course! I just... didn't expect to have any clients so soon. Um, what time did you say he was coming?”
“Eleven AM. Like I said, he should be here any minute.”
Heaven help me. What was I to do?

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Tune in next for Part II !

-Rayne Speryll

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: The Princess Curse

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The Princess Curse

In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Sylvania, the prince offers a fabulous reward to anyone who cures the curse that forces the princesses to spend each night dancing to the point of exhaustion. Everyone who tries disappears or falls into an enchanted sleep.
 Thirteen-year-old Reveka, a smart, courageous herbalist’s apprentice, decides to attempt to break the curse despite the danger. Unravelling the mystery behind the curse leads Reveka to the Underworld, and to save the princesses, Reveka will have to risk her soul.

This tale was an intriguing combination of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Beauty and the Beast, and Hades and Persephone.  I'd never seen so many different classic tales combined so seamlessly.
The writing was engaging and fun.  Marrie Haskell did a wonderful job of building up the mystery of the story.  There was suspense as well.  Some parts in the book were downright eerie.  
The fictional country of Sylvania fits nicely into the fifteenth century.  The author builds her world well, and it was easy to envision the (somewhat) peaceful landscape that features in this tale.
The characters were likeable, and certainly not trite.  Their relationships with one another are interesting, if sometimes sad, to observe.  Particularly the main character Raveka's relationship with her father.  I was glad to see it unfold as the book progressed.

However, despite this promising beginning, I found myself disappointed by the end of the book.  
For one thing, I wished that Raveka was older.  The two main themes throughout the book followed Raveka as she solves the mystery of the twelve princesses, and as she finds herself falling in love with... well, without giving away any spoiers, A Certain Character.
However, in my humble opinion, thirteen years is far too young to be falling in love.  Even the character she falls in love with admits that he wishes she were older, and feels badly about suggesting the possibility of a relationship.  
The whole plot would have worked better had Raveka just been a few years older.  As it was, it felt uncomfortable.  
Granted, the romance never became intimate.  Fond thoughts, tense conversations, and romantic dances are about as far as it went.  I still would have prefered her to be older.

The second thing that disappointed me was the way the second half of the book went.  When I first started reading, I was very excited because I saw so much potential in the story.  However, after a certain line in the story if crossed, it felt the like the plot just... fell flat.  It was mostly repetitive dialogue between Raveka and her love interest, and even though I love dialogue, it quickly became boring.  It seemed to drag on forever, and even the new plot twists introduced didn't make it more interesting.
I'm a patient reader, and I look for the good in every story, so it is not often that a book completely loses me in the middle.  I felt badly, because I really wanted to like the book.  

Also, by the time the book ends, half the mysteries have yet to be solved.  There were so many unresolved subplots that it left wondering what on earth happened.  Now, this could be the first book in a series, especially since I've found that that this is the author's first book.  So if I see a sequel come out, I will read it and give the story another chance.  Perhaps a sequel could redeem it.  

Overall, I would give this book three stars.  I would recommend it to people who love twists on fairytales, especially combined fairy tales.  But romance-haters beware; for this is a romance story.  And if you are looking for a romance book in general, there are better stories than this.

Still, The Princess Curse was an interesting read for the most part, and as I said earlier, I am willing to give it another chance, should a sequel be released.  

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-Rayne Speryll