Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tag Tip: Spider Webs Are Useful When You're 'It'

Initially, when I think of the game of tag, I think of animals. In elementary school, a few of my friends and I made up our own version of tag. We each picked animals whose "powers" we could use in the game. For example, we could use the spider's ability to weave webs to snare someone we were trying to tag. Once, we got so caught up in playing that everyone went inside and we didn't even notice!

What do you think of when you the hear the word tag?

Enough reminiscing (for me anyway, I really would like y'all to answer the above question). There is a more immediate matter at hand. Trisha, at W O R D + S T U F F, has tagged me with this set of questions.

Do you think you're hot?

I don't just think so, I know so. After all, it's over 100 degrees outside.

Upload a picture or wallpaper that you're using at the moment.

Madeline made this for me. I intended to put it on my YouTube page, but apparently you can't do that. As of such, I use it as a background.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

Today actually. Lizzie, her mom, Jess, and I were at the mall and I just couldn't resist eating the last few bites of Jess's chicken sandwich  from Chick-fil-A. It was probably the best thing I've smelled all day.

The song(s) you listened to recently.

I can't remember specifically. Country songs for sure as that was the station playing in the car. I know I sung to them, but sometimes, when it's a song I know, I sing to the lyrics without thinking about the words.

What were you thinking as you were doing this?

Why the hell does it keep telling me an error occurred while saving?

Do you have nicknames? What are they?

Basically just Brooke as my full name is Brooklynn. Some call me Brookie and my NaNa calls me Brookie Cookie (and my sister is Skye Pie). Oh, and my reading teacher has taken to calling me Brooklynn with an N ever since I complained to her how everyone misspells my name.

Tag 8 blogger friends...
  1. Madeline
  2. Izzy
  3. Angela Scott
  4. Michael Offutt
  5. Bess Weatherby
  6. Teralyn Ross Pilgrim
  7. Misha
  8. Michelle Merrill
Who's listed as No. 1?

Madeline. We've been friends for over a year now. I'm keeping where we met a secret. I bet you'll never guess.

Say something about No. 5

Something about No. 5.

XD Seriously, though, Bess's blog is a great, uplifting place to visit for laughs and a nanny's inside scoop on NYC. 

How did you get to know No. 3?

I met her through the Second Writers Platform Building Crusade. I consume her blog on a regular basis; it's like the perfect cake, light but filling.

How about No. 4.

I met Michael through the Crusade as well. I knew he must be awesomesauce. I mean, after all, his avatar is a Pokemon.

Leave a message for No. 6.

I'm waiting for the beep. I think you need a new answering machine, Teralyn, this one's broken. Be sure to find time for one amidst all your conference preparation. 

Leave a lovey dovey message for No. 2.

Dearest Izzy,

I do hope to find you in good health. I am writing to express my undying friendship. My heart might stop if you don't reply. So please, if you valuable my life at all, leave a comment.


Do No. 7 and No. 8 have any similarities?

Both their names start with M? Oh, and they're both female. Okay, here's a good one. They both have very unique blogging styles and both have a special feature on Fridays.

-shoots spider web- Tag, you're it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just Add a Little Sugar

I thought this was a creative way of getting past rejection blues. What do you think?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm On Fire!

But don't put me out! Thanks to Trisha for lighting the match in the first place. ^^

I couldn't find any instructions to receive this one, so I'm just going to pass it on and set a few others ablaze.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim
Bess Weatherby
Michael Offut
Angela Scott

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prompt #20: I find myself drawn to the shadow domain.

            All the lights are off but one. Shadows stretch and tangle across the room, the furniture I’ve moved creating dangerously beautiful creatures and horrific monsters. My eyes trail them as they creep across the floor and walls and ceiling. My hands twist together in my lap, mimicking their movements.
            I turn my head, my neck cracking, as a movement dances on the edge of my vision. It’s a different motion from the others, smooth, deliberate. It brings a stretched smile to my face.
            I rise to great him, my stiff body moaning. He steps, light as a feather, into my arms. His lips feel like air against my cheek. A sigh travels between us.
            The music starts out slow, building. Our hands gravitate to their positions. I hold my breath.
            The notes crash and my lungs release as he twirls me away, catching me on the end of his fingertips. The beat pounds through the soles of my feet and up through my body. I close my eyes and let it take me far away.
            Beings that were only shadow now stand wholly beside me. Their perfect and malformed bodies, whichever the case may be, gyrate to the valleys and ranges of the song. They move in a pure raw fashion, adding their own sounds to the mix.
            My hair flies out behind me, occasionally snagged by massive claws. My feet twist in impossible ways, never ceasing. I am just as mystical, if not more so, than the masses surrounding me.
            Silence slams down and the same expression hops from one face to the next. Hundreds of stares turn from each other to us, to me.
            A cool touch slips between my fingers and another gently grips my chin. His starry night eyes are above me and sinking down as he kneels. His words are so soft, they are almost nonexistent, “I will stay with you forever.”
            The pulse in my ear is clopping along like a horse. My lips part, a breath sneaking in. I force it out of the way, making a pathway for my words, “And I with you.”
            There is scattered applause, like light rain. Then he stands and it all starts again.
            We move delicately, sensing the need rising from each other. He rests his face in my hair. I can feel the rustling of his lips though I can’t hear what he says. I don’t need to.
            The song has changed and the quick twists and suggestive shimming has been replaced. The lazy twisting and swaying of matched-up couples gives the feel of a small rocking boat.
            I can feel my eyelids starting to slip but I can’t stop them. It feels like someone has stuffed cotton in my ears. I can still hear the music playing but it’s much too quiet.
            Distantly, I feel my feet release the ground and my body mold to his arms. My muscles stretch into a smile. He lays me down carefully.
            My sleep is deep, spiraling into an abyss, but I know he’s there. His presence pushes softly against me.
            Someone is saying my name.
            “Laura, what are you doing in the dark?”
            The flip of a switch. A gasp.
            “And what have you done to the furniture?”
            I peel my eyes open and my skin immediately bunches to block out the light. I force myself to look toward the voice anyway.
            Two people are framed in the large doorway. My pupils grow small as they adjust. The lines and curves of my parents are now recognizable.
            I glance around the room, dazed. I’m sitting in the old, tattered armchair. My dance floor is now just scratched, warped wood and my enchanted dance partners have taken the shape of the secondhand furniture once more.
            One particular shadow catches my eye. I can’t locate the piece of d├ęcor casting it and as I watch it seems to slip away. A whisper nearly extinct reaches my ear, “I’m not far.”

Thursday, May 19, 2011

When It Just Doesn't Click

I consider myself a plotter mixed with just a dash of pantser. I can't just write without direction, but I can't write out every little detail in a perfectly organized outline either. I need room to maneuver and a trail to follow, even if it's only a footpath.

The bare essentials include characters, a map (if needed), a little background for both the land and the people, and around ten plot points including the beginning, the climax, and the end. This is what I feel comfortable writing with. How does Royally Burned, the novel I plan to write in June, shape up?

-characters check
-map check
-background check
-plot points EEEEH! fail

You can see what I'm obviously working on. The thing is, my ideas come to me in sudden bursts and spurts, so forced ideas sometimes don't feel right. For instance, I have one that could really bring some conflict to the story and could carry it along but it just doesn't feel right. It doesn't click.

Imagine you're working on a puzzle and you've finally found the piece you're looking for, or so you think. It's the right color, the right shape, but you can tell it just doesn't fit, doesn't go in smooth. That's the best metaphor I can give you for this feeling.

It's possible that it's just my mood. It's also possible that the idea just won't work. We'll have to wait and see. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prompt #19

drip, drop, drip drop
they splatter from the arch in the wintry sky
iron and angelic and rotting toward nothing.]

            My vision has narrowed down to the open air between the top of the bridge and the rotting pile of- Squeeze my eyes shut, stop the thought. It’s better not to think anyways.
            I can hear the ticking of the clock that hangs on the wall of the room behind me as I count each breath, reaching ten before I open my eyes again. Just in time to watch another one fall, limbs and wings flying every direction, like a discarded doll.
When did it all go so wrong?
            Another horribly misused body flies down and I can’t help thinking, wondering who it is. What if it’s Kesha or mother or father or- I catch my breath, counting.
            What did we do?
            It’s just not possible to stop staring as three, four, five drop down, the first barely hitting the ground before the next is thrown. Each crunch, sickening thud pounds into my head:
            Why, why, why? There are too many of those to answer, too many to count.
            Blink, blink, and blink again before I realize that another one is not going to fall. It’s over.
            I turn from the balcony rail, return to the captivity of these four walls they say are mine. I don’t wish to see the burning.

            The smell of singed feathers comes behind him like a lost puppy. It fills up my whole nose, just a different kind of intruder.
            I rise from the bed, looking down on his head, a new experience. Straighten spine, flaunting this advantage, this false power.
            It seems to satisfy him. He leaves behind the stench and another why.
            Why did he come if he said not a word?

            The wet hair coils around my fingers as I stare down at my legs through the water. I bend one, letting the knee peak out, glistening with drops. The color stays dark, ten times more so than my usual tone.
            I hold up my hand to my face, twisting it, this way, that, this way, that. My talons are just as sharp, perhaps sharper, but one of my knuckles has been misplaced.
            What is happening to me?

            This time he brings with him a clean smell. I’m breathing it in before he even opens the door. The click of the lock bounces through my head.
            I’m already standing and his head tilts way back, surveying my eyes.
            “You are a success,” his voice is low, slow.
            Speak each word carefully, “Not understand.”
            His eyebrows duck down, “You do not understand.”
            I repeat it back to him, “I do not understand.”
            He nods, pleased, “What is there to understand?”
            I search for the words, frustrated with their hard sounds, “What success?”
            “What is your success,” he corrects automatically. “Your transformation. It was successful.”
            My hand settles on my hair. It is now smooth and straight, not tufted, nor as soft.
            It’s their doing.
            “Why?” the word jumps through my lips.
            “Why was it successful?” A tint of confusion. “You lived.”
            Shake my head back and forth, then his meaning clicks.
            If I was successful because I lived, then they died because they weren’t.
            But what was the point of this transformation?
            “Why transform?” I fumble over the sounds.
            “Why?” His expression is shocked, disbelief practically written across his unnaturally straight nose. “Why combine human and animal? It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine what we could do.”
            His lips are moving so fast and the words are running together. I replay the sounds again and again until I comprehend them.
            “I no animal.”
            “I’m not an animal,” he sighs. “And you’re right. But you’re DNA is still very close to that of a bird’s. We just replaced the genes that weren’t with human ones.”
            What is DNA? What are genes? Can’t locate them in my limited vocabulary.
            “I like a bird?” I point to my chest, searching for conformation.
            “I give up,” he mutters to himself, then louder, “Yes, you are like a bird and now, you are like one of us.”
            I sit down on the bed, the mattress sinking, sinking. I am no longer myself, no longer one of my own. But I am not one of them either.
            “What me?” I whisper, staring at my now unfamiliar hands.
            “You are a success,” he repeats, each syllable said smooth and pronounced.
            “What else?”
            He paces in front of me, muscles stiff, taunt, stressed. Nothing comes out of his mouth but air. Finally he pauses, faces me.
            “We don’t entirely know. We need to run more tests.”
            “Must think,” I tell him.
            “We don’t have time-” he starts, angry.
            “Must think,” my wings unfurl, curling over my head.
            He backs to the door, “Fine, fine. Call when you want to talk.”
            I don’t close my wings until he has been gone for a good five minutes.

            One, two, three. I count. Four, five, six. The numbers calm me. Seven, eight, nine.
            I truly have only one option. Obvious.
            Can’t go home. Can’t stay here. Unless I help.
            I start over, count to ten.
            Rise from my chair, approach the wall buzzer.
Beep, beep, beep. Three rings is all it takes to join the race that massacred my people.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Wild Girls

Note that this review may contain spoilers.

I picked this book up at the library when I saw its title, proclaiming it was perfect for my sister. The cover caught my eye so I read the inside, read the back, and I knew it was a book I had to read. After all, what better story for a teenager learning to write, then a story about teenagers learning to write?

Exposition: Upon exploring the area around her new home, Joan, our narrator, happens upon Fox. And such our two main characters are handed to us. What an interesting pair they are.

Fox, who believes her mother turned into such a creature, is large and in charge. When she's out in the woods. At school, she is Sarah, a quiet girl who everyone thinks is a freak. Joan, who was never really interested in boys and makeup, listens to the sounds of her parents' fights and wishes she could fly away.

Rising Action: Joan's adventures in the land of writing start when Fox's sci-fi author dad gives her a notebook. "...use it when you want to write down other stuff...Stuff that happens...Stuff that you're scared of. Stuff that you make up. Sometimes it helps to write stuff down." She falls deeper into writing when she and Fox decide to work together on an entry for a short-story contest. They write a story of two girls, the wild girls.

After seeing the stunning reading of their piece, a woman who calls herself Verla Volante offers them a spot in her exclusive summer creative writing class. Through this class, things are revealed to us about our heroines. The way Joan feels toward her dad, the way Fox longs for a mother. They also learn quite a few things themselves. "A good writer tells the truth by telling lies... Anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And later on you can use it in some story... Pay attention. Notice things and think about what you notice." But not all of it is about writing. Fox learns from her mother why she left. Joan learns that her dad is just like any other villain. "A villain doesn't think he's a villain... You might think he's a villain. But he thinks he's right."

Climax: We could argue over what the climax is though I think Joan may be the only one who really knows. Personally, I believe it is when Joan walks on the stilts with her dad by her side. It's a beautiful moment, one that could leave you feeling the world is a wondrous and awesome place.

Falling Action/Resolution: "I've written one book, and I'll write another. That, Verla says, is what writers do."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Prompt #18: I think you're my new favorite puzzle.

            “Maybe it goes there?” his assistant pointed.
            He surveyed the piece he held in his hand, “No, wrong color.”
            The assistant rubbed his eyes, “Maybe we should try a different piece.”
            His eyes swept over the tables one more time, then he nodded his consent. Pain shot through his forehead and he grimaced.
            His headache just grew worse with each hour. He couldn’t help watching the clock, its hands slowly, slowly moving around its smooth face. A bead of sweat dropped into his eye, and he turned back to his work.
            “I found it!” The sudden cry of joy seemed out of place. “I found the last piece of the finger.”
            He shuffled over and examined every crack, carefully matched up. The boy grinned as the old man patted him on the back, “Good work. Now start on the other side. The more pieces we get sorted out, the easier this will be.”
            And he was right. First one, two, three were completed in two lazy turns of the short hand. Excitement and apprehension clung to their clothes like a bad odor.
            But he found himself exchanging glances with the clock once more as their streak stuttered and died. “Maybe we should just stick with the finished ones for a while,” he muttered, rubbing his right temple.
            “Are you crazy?”
            He looked up to find his assistant staring at him with large eyes, wide as the clock. “Pardon?”
            “You’re just going to give up? Quit? You’re going to let him win?” The young man’s voice was layered with a hundred feelings, anger, betrayal, disbelief. Each one stabbed him like a knife.
            He looked down the row of tables, imagining these twisted jigsaw puzzles as the people they once were, living, breathing, He studied the remaining pieces and plucked one from the pile, laying it down next to the nearest body. “This one goes here.”
            They went back to work, the assistant with a hidden smile on his face.
            They were down to the last twenty pieces before anymore words were said.
            “He must be one sick bastard.”
            He glanced up from placing a knee. The assistant didn’t even look up, just kept talking.
            “I mean, who cuts a penis in two, or an eyeball?”
            He murmured his agreement.
            “But then, maybe there’s some twisted, fucked up reason. What do you think, doctor?”
            He shifted his feet, “I guess no villain ever thinks he’s a villain.”
            “Exactly, doctor, exactly.” He moved to pick another piece from the tray.
            “I mean, maybe his dad was a surgeon. Maybe he was forced to watch operations. Maybe he was scared of the scalpel.”
            “Yes, maybe,” the doctor’s words were barely a whisper.
            “And maybe, those images stayed in his mind, the subtle give of the skin, the few drops of blood, chained together. Maybe he thought about them so much, that that was all he ever saw. Maybe he had to do that, perform that cutting, so at least what he was seeing was real and not just memories.”
            “You’ve given this quite some thought.” But the assistant rushed over him.
            “Maybe he isn’t crazy. Maybe it isn’t his fault,” his tone changed, as if he was trying to convince himself. He no longer sounded speculative, though again and again he repeated the word ‘maybe’.
            “You’re starting to worry me, Jon. Are you okay?”
            The boy blinked and smiled, as if coming out of a trance, “Never better.”
            “Are you certain? Maybe you should sit down? Have you been smoking?” A deep, well-weathered frown line appeared between his eyebrows.
            “I haven’t been,” his smile grew wider as the doctor gave a soft cough, “but you certainly have. Thought the cardiologist told you to lay off?”
            The next cough built up deep in his lungs and uncoiled like a snake, nipping his airways, making them swell. He grasped the back of a chair with shaking hands. Again and again he gasped for air and none came.
            Jon sat by, waiting patiently.
            His old knees popped when they hit the floor. The top of his head pressed against the chair back. His coughs no longer echoed around the sterile room, but caught in his throat, coming out as the smallest of wheezes. He reached one hand toward his assistant, then slumped to the floor.
            The room was filled with a strange quiet, as if someone had muffled all the sound with a sheet. His shoes made loud unnatural clicks as he approached the doctor. He squatted to feel the man’s neck. All was still.
            He lifted the man’s body, surprisingly light, and placed him on the only empty table. He stared at him for quite some time; his eyes roving over the stretched skin and skinny curves. A scalpel seemed to magically appear in his hand. It was time, while the body was still warm.
            He started with the heart, cutting into the exact spot his father had so many times.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Forever, Frog is Nevermore

This month, as you may remember, I signed up for NEPMo (National Epic Poetry Month). I fully intended to do it, promise I did. I had a bit of a plot, a title, even a cover picked out (which I drew myself I might add). But it's just not going to happen.

I must admit, I should have known better than to book two month long challenges back to back like that (really three), but I figured they were just small poetry challenges. No big deal, right? Weeelll.... no. Poetry requires a lot of thought, about the right words, the perfect format. And it's mentally exhausting. I'm lucky only one or two of my NaPoWriMo poems were duds. It doesn't help that my stress levels are already high from everything else I have to do.

So. My NEPMo plans are cancelled (though WriDaNoJu is still on) and I'm planning to take a complete break from writing from the twenty-second of May to the thirty-first. Only planning will be allowed. Here's to hoping I have plenty of ideas and inspiration when June rolls around.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Prompt #17: This might not be the best time for getting philosophical.

            The gate closed behind me, a band all by itself. It was playing a new song, a softer one than usual. Trot Short-for-Foxtrot didn’t look up.
            I strode across the yard, grass slipping up between my bare toes. My feet were right by his head, but still he ignored me until I spoke, “Dad finally oil the hinges?”
            His eyes squinted up against the sun framing my profile, “Nah, Mom did. Got tired of waiting.”
            I nodded. Made sense to me. He went back to his former occupation, scribbling away at some new far-fetched idea. I nudged the notebook to grab his attention once more.
            “What are you working on now?”
            “A spaceship.”
            “What for?”
            “To go to the moon of course,” he gave me that look, a look he had given to me so often I had started calling it my look.
            “Hasn’t that already been accomplished? Like a million times?”
            “Don’t use that indignant tone with me,” he spoke as if ‘indignant’ was a word nine-year-olds used all the time.
            I waited for him to answer my question. He turned back to his work, concentrating on each detail of his plan, drawing precise lines and squeezing notes in the margins.
            “Of course, it’s been done before,” his words were slow and his eyes remained focused on his paper, “but never like this.”
            “Oh, so people just got to the moon using a very long rope is all,” a little smirk grew across my face.
            “No, they used a spaceship,” he growled, angry. Then he deflated, “You just don’t understand.”
            I rarely did when it came to Trot Short-for-Foxtrot.
            Their glass sliding-door opened, “Trot, time to come inside. Say good-bye to Pen.”
            He jumped up as if the ground was on fire, “Mom! How many times do I have to tell you? My name is Trot Short-for-Foxtrot.”
            His fits were usually large and awesome to watch but this particular one I had seen a million times. I slipped out of the gate, just as he was starting to use every cross word he knew to describe his mother.

            A ringing bounced through our house, from the kitchen, up the stairway, down the hall, to the bathroom I had just vacated. My head turned side to side, as if I was looking for someone else to answer it. The hallway remained empty and dark.
            The stairs felt hard under the worn-through carpet. My feet came down with my full weight, making some of them creak. The cold kitchen floor made my toes go numb and added a slapping sound to the telephone’s shrill shrieks.
            I paused, hoping whoever it was would hang up. No such luck.
            “Hello?” my voice was rough and sleepy.
            “You have to come over,” Trot Short-for-Foxtrot’s voice was breathless.
            A quick glance at the microwave’s glowing numbers, “It’s two in the morning.”
            “So?” His tone was impatient. “Science doesn’t stop so you can sleep.”
            “Does your mom know you’re up so late?”
            He was silent so long that I thought he’d hung up.
            “Trot Short-for-Foxtrot?”
            “I’m on my way.” Then I hung up quickly before he started giving me a detailed explanation of what he was calling ‘science’.
            His house was twenty-seven steps to my right. I had walked those twenty-seven steps so many times it’s amazing there wasn’t a trail of my footprints. But I found myself glancing over my shoulder after each step because never before had I walked those twenty-seven steps at night.
            A branch swaying was really a hand reaching out to grab me. The rumble of a distant car’s engine signaled the kidnapper that was surely coming for me. The squeaking that followed me couldn’t be my new sneakers. It had to be someone else.
            A front lawn had never looked so welcoming.
            I went straight to the backyard out of habit. The sensory lights were already flashing bright as Trot Short-for-Foxtrot paced from fence to fence. I stepped forward from the darkness, making him jump.
            “What took you so long?”
            “You could be a little nicer seeing as I just walked over here in the dark for you.”
            “Don’t be a baby.”
            I opened my mouth wide but made myself close it. When he was in such an antsy mood, fighting didn’t help. The cool, night air rushed through my nose to my lungs before I said anything more.
            “So what’s so important?”
            In way of answer, he turned and led me to his shed.
            I hated going in there. The ceiling sagged, giving the impression that a single twig would cave it in. Spiders spun their webs over everything, leaving sticky traps that didn’t just catch flies. Sharp points stuck out everywhere, rusty tools, corners of furniture, broken boards.
            Trot Short-for-Foxtrot clicked on a flashlight, making the shadow people dance around the small structure. Of course, he had to take me all the way to the back where his small work area lay.
            “Are you ready?” His tone was high with excitement as his hand rested atop the sheet covering his newest ‘invention’.
            I rolled my eyes, “Yes.”
            “Close your eyes.”
            “Then how am I supposed to see it?” I protested but I did what he said.
            I heard the rustling of the sheet as he threw it to the side. When I heard his soft “Ta-da” I knew it was okay to look.
            My eyes popped open but it took me a second to realize what I was looking at. I glanced from him to it and back again.
            “Aren’t spaceships supposed to be,” I took a deep breath, “well, bigger?”
            I ran my eyes over it. It was just big enough for a certain nine-year-old to fit inside.
            “How are you going to get all the way to the moon with that?”
            “I won’t.”
            I let the confusion seep across my face.
            “I don’t really want to go to the moon.”
            “That’s what you said.”
            “No, I said I was going to the moon, not that I wanted to.”
            “So why did you build the spaceship?”
            “I’m aiming for the moon but I’m going to miss and land among the stars.”
            I didn’t have the heart to tell Trot Short-for-Foxtrot, my best friend, what I had learned in third-grade science, that the stars were nowhere near the moon.

Bran Hambric: The Specter Key

Note that this review may contain spoilers.

After reading the first book in this series, how could I not read the second? Not only did I want to know what happened to the characters, but Kaleb Nation is one of my favorites, not just as an author but as a person. And who wouldn't be drawn in by that cover? Still not convinced? Let me tell you a little more...

Exposition: Right away, we are introduced to the Key and Elspeth's desire to find it. As with the first book, the opening leads to plenty of questions. Why does Elspeth want the Key? To what evil means can it be used? Who is this man who seems to know Bran's every move?

Not only is there the mystery of the Key, but there is also the safety deposit box Bran finds with his mother's name on it. The box carries only one clue on how to open it; the two words 'Nigel Ten'.

Rising Action: Bran starts the search for Nigel Ten right away; Astara there to help as always. When they are informed that Nigel Ten is not a person, but is in fact a room at a hotel, they set out to explore right away. There they discover Nim, a fairy, and evidence that someone is definitely watching Bran, possibly the same someone who had given him away to Joris in their previous adventure. Upon his next visit, Bran learns that that man is his own father, a man called T or Thomas. The former book mainly focuses on his mother, putting in place the mind set that makes this twist such a surprise.

On the back cover blurb, we are warned of what is to come next: "When Bran's best friend, Astara, is kidnapped..." Yet somehow, that is not enough preparation for Astara's death. But is it really a death, or just a kidnapping, as the book states? Bran is determined to find out, especially after he discovers the contents of the safety deposit box: a wand (his mother's) and the Specter Key.

After learning the location of the Specters themselves from Adi's brother, Gary, Bran enlists the help of his father. And I can't help but wonder if that's such a good idea.

Climax: Bran quickly reaches the center of the temple that holds the Specters, souls that his own mother stole. He has thrust the Key into the obvious keyhole, when Elspeth shows up, trailed by none other than Thomas. Cornered, Bran throws the Key at the great wall the Specters are held behind, finally releasing them, and with them, Astara.

And, as is want to happen in the middle of fight scenes, many surprises ensue. I will only say that someone totally unexpected shows up to help, someone decides to embrace his parental side if just for a moment, and the Key is destroyed.

Falling Action/Resolution: Bran and Astara come home to a welcoming party, thought it's not for them. And you'll be happy to know that Mr. Rat was released from the Dunce prison and is now cleaning subways.