Monsters Present…Rapid Reviews! (November 2014)

Jenna selfie

I thought it was hard coming up with ten books to read in October; however, it could not be as hard as deciding what to write about for my Rapid Reviews post for today. In fact, I had been wracking my brain for several days trying to come up with a few things to review for you.

I mean, I don’t have many toys to review, and I don’t really get out and see movies anymore, so that didn’t leave me with too many things. I hit conventions a few times during the year, and I do a lot of marathons on Netflix while I’m writing or on the treadmill, but that’s about as exciting as my life is right now thanks to work and paying off student loans by the time I’m 30.

But I got to thinking, why not review that stuff anyway? I know conventions, I know books, and I can certainly do a mean marathon on Netflix. So, without further ado, here is my Rapid Reviews for November.

Fanboy Expo Convention

Photo: Florida Geek Scene
            Photo: Florida Geek Scene

It was made abundantly clear during my recent getaway weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee (Go Vols!) that I am spoiled for any future conventions I attend thanks to Dragon Con. I truly am.

And it is nothing against Fanboy itself, it’s just that I have been attending an über large – almost national level – convention for the past several years, and I just compare everything to Dragon Con.

Where Dragon Con spans multiple hotels, shopping venues, and all of downtown Atlanta, Fanboy is firmly enclosed in the Knoxville Convention Center in one large convention area. That’s right, one area for artist’s tables, vendor booths, the walk of fame, and the panel stage. One room. I don’t know how Fanboy makes one room work for all the things they have available for attendees, but they’ve been able to make it work successfully, and I fully give them props for that

While I do not regret my first Fanboy Expo experience – I mean I got some really cool art (think Baby Groot and a three piece Game of Thrones set), and I met some really cool authors and crafters – I’m glad I only paid $15 to attend on Sunday instead of paying $50 for the full weekend pass. The weekend pass would have been a great investment if I’d been intent on seeing all of the panels, and spending a lot of down time wandering the vendors, but I got my fill within 2 hours that day.

I also forewent seeing any celebrity guests at this convention because the price to meet and greet wasn’t so great for a lot of guests. While several were only $10 each, the bigger named individuals – like Henry Winkler, Peter Mayhew, and John Rhys-Davies, the three I initially went to Fanboy to meet – were charging $50 each for an autograph and a picture may not have been included.

Ultimately, I did have fun at Fanboy. I really enjoyed meeting the vendors, and I got to spend some quality time with some friends I don’t get to see much. However, if I attend in the future, it will probably be because an actor/actress that I really want to meet will be attending.

Ernst Rister Order of Star Wars

Photo: Wall Cheat Sheet
              Photo: Wall Cheat Sheet

If you are reading this – and are my friend on Facebook – then you may know of my current venture of re-watching Star Wars. It’s something I’ve not done in a long time, and I’ve definitely not done since the release of Episodes I-III.

This particular re-watch isn’t something I’d considered before as it’s not a straight shot chronologically from Episodes I to VI, but it’s actually an order that jumps around in the series and breaks up the older movies with the newer before going back to the older. This order is something I briefly heard about on the CBS series The Big Bang Theory, and it’s something not to take lightly: it’s called the Ernst Rister Order, and I find it absolutely brilliant!

With the Ernst Rister Order, the viewer is to watch Episodes VI and V – or the way they were meant to be originally, then move to Episodes I through III – as flashbacks and backstory, then move forward in time to finish with Episode VI to end the war and bring in everyone’s favorites: The Ewoks.

Now, the only issue I’ve had with this order, so far, is that I had never seen Episodes II or III before this week. I mean, I knew Anakin– SPOILER ALERT – became Darth Vader, but after watching Episode I in high school, I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth that actually made me dislike the Star Wars franchise for quite a while afterwards. Today, I have moved on and forgiven – actually, forgotten – a lot of the worst qualities of the film, and am back to sporting my Star Wars shirts and quoting Yoda like tomorrow there is no.

I don’t recommend this order to anyone who has never seen the series before. Having grown up with Episode IV to VI, I knew enough of the plots to try this venture. It’s a very intriguing process because one gets the upfront story of the rebellion, then flashbacks to how the Empire was formed, and then goes back to where the Empire is defeated once and for all. The way it works out really fits, and I suggest anyone try this particular re-watch order, especially for Intergalactic Star Wars Day.

Now, I wish I’d had just know about the so-called Machete Order before having to relive the pain that is Jar Jar Binks.

Ever After High Book Series (Shannon Hale)


When I was little, I was always enthralled by tales of the fantastical and mystical; something that has actually carried over to my adulthood. But, I mean, who can honestly say they haven’t been enraptured by the thought of magical worlds with princesses in distresses and handsome princes on their way to rescue them. Or the thought of mystical beings like elves, fairies, talking animals, good – and bad – witches across this otherworldly land that I’d never see? I couldn’t resist those types of stories when I was younger, and I can’t really resist those types of stories as a 28-year old either.

Naturally, when I come upon a cartoon on Netflix that tells of my favorite story characters children and how they are to take over reliving their parents’ stories, you can imagine just how quickly I passed on re-watching The Guild for the 7th – or 8th – time for this epic new show. However, it turns out that this show isn’t just a show; it’s also a young adult book series by author Shannon Hale (who also wrote the amazing Austenland,) and it chronicles the life at this Ever After High School and how one student, Raven Queen – daughter of the Evil Queen from the “Snow White” fairy tale – doesn’t want to be evil, and her refusing to sign on to being the next big, bad evil villain.

Well, after watching the show, forgetting about it for a little bit, and then re-watching it during the weekend of Fanboy in Knoxville, I knew I had to find the books. Currently, I am in the middle of reading book 2, The Unfairest of Them All, and I definitely side with the “Rebels” who want to form their own destiny instead of having to replay their parents’ fate.

My favorite character so far? That’s easy to answer, Madeline Hatter, the Mad Hatter’s daughter. Oddly enough she’s very wise and knowledgeable, and she can interact with the, otherwise, stationary narrator. I want to be Maddie when I grow up.

This may not be the right cup of tea for a lot of people ( One, It is young adult fiction. Two, it revolves around fairy tales. And three, it has come to my attention that I’m not “normal” when it comes to liking different things), but I do think that this series has a bit of something for everyone if it’s just given a chance. When reading it, we get to see a look at our favorite fairy tales that we’d never get to see otherwise, which I find pretty cool, and unlike that of all the Disney sequels that float around on Netflix, I find these pretty interesting.

National Novel Writing Month

Participant-2014-Web-BannerAt the time of this posting, it is November 20, and I have spent the past 20 days doing one of the hardest things I have ever done: writing a novel.

That’s right, this November – just like every November since 2011 – I have been Participating in National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo for short. (NaNo for even shorter.) NaNoWriMo is pretty simple to explain to people: a writer, me, spends 30 days writing a novel of at least 50,000 words. Eep! (For those at home playing along, that’s an average of 1,667 words per day that I have to write to make 50K words in a month.)

For any author it is a very grueling and hateful process for writing a novel because there is so much more to it than just sitting down and typing it out from Chapter 1 to The End. There is so much planning that goes into writing a novel, I don’t just see how a true first draft can be cranked out in 30 days. I mean there are characters to create, develop, and give personality; there are scenes that need to be plotted out; character dynamics to discover; the conflict of the novel to strategize. So, there’s way more stuff that needs to be done that should be done.

At this very moment, I am supposed to have 33,833 words to be on track to having my 50K in 30 days. I have maybe 5,000 right now. But there are so many things also going on in my life that I didn’t account for when I signed on to participate: I have a 8-5 job that I have to be at, I’m planning a baby shower for my cousin and his wife that will be happening the first weekend in December, I apparently start new novels to read, and I decide to re-watch Star Wars. I also may be a bit ADHD and can’t keep my concentration on one subject for too long without needing a distraction.

But you know what I’ve come to realize about NaNoWriMo? I don’t need to complete 50,000 words to know I am a writer, or even be able to complete a novel. I’m writing right now just in a different form. And I have a plethora of stories, I just need to put the pen to paper and get them out in my own time.

After spending many days writing, planning, and plotting I do not believe that winning at NaNoWriMo is possible without strict planning and plotting ahead of time. Even then, I truly believe that someone who has a great deal of time to use, with no distractions of outside forces, will be able to successfully complete a novel within the timeframe given. I applaud those who do, and I empathize with those like me who do not finish on time.

Eventually I will get my mystery novel series written. It may take some additional time than I had hoped, however, I know that with my determination it will happen one day.

That’s it, folks. Jenna’s Rapid(ish) Reviews for November. (I say Rapid-ish because I kind of got long winded there, and for that I apologize.) If you have any comments, please leave them below, I love reading everyone’s views and opinions on different subjects. Adversely, if you have something to say and don’t want to make it public, you can always shoot me an email at

2 thoughts on “Monsters Present…Rapid Reviews! (November 2014)

  1. I’m curious why you wouldn’t recommend it for first time viewers. I have viewed them in full Rister or Machete order but in my head I feel like it would give good flow. You get the cliff hanger of Vader being Luke’s father and that flashback to learn how he became Vader. I also like the idea of starting g and ending with the great films and sandwiching the less great films in the middle.

    1. The reason I don’t suggest the Rister order for those new to Star Wars is basically the way the movies were filmed. Not necessarily due to the order – because you’re right, if they can keep up with the fact that after finding out Darth Vader is Luke’s father, finding out how he became a Sith Lord is very intriguing. However, to me, it’s the fact that these are filmed as current events thus make them flow better in chronological sequence, and are easier to follow having never seen them before. To chop the order up, without any prior knowledge, seems more of a hassle and headache to a new viewer – especially after the switch from the end of Empire Strikes Back to these all new characters, new actors, new CGI, etc. in Phantom Menace. That’s just my opinion though.

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