Weekend Binge! The Umbrella Academy-A Review.

The Umbrella Academy click to open IMDB.comThe Umbrella Academy is a new series on Netflix based on the comic book series of the same name created by My Chemical Romance lead vocalist Gerard Way, released by Dark Horse Comics, one of the leading publishers in the business who has been responsible for such books as Hellboy and Sin City. Some films released based on Dark Horse Comics books are The Rocketeer, The Mask, 300, Alien vs. Predator, Hellboy, and the recent Netflix release Polar, which I enjoyed a lot.

I’ve been a comic book fan since I was in single digits, and I’m not telling you my age now, but I’ve been collecting for decades. I’ve even been to a few conventions and met some great creative minds. I haven’t read The Umbrella Academy but have read the Wikipedia detailed descriptions of the first two limited series, as well as a few other fan sites. Elements of both series are included in this 10-episode season of The Umbrella Academy, and I will leave it at that for now.

I couldn’t wait once I first heard this series was coming out. I did my reading up so I would have some idea of what was going on, what good that did me. It did at least give me a basic idea of the characters and how they came to be.

For those who like comic books, you’ll enjoy this. If you can take or leave comics, you will still enjoy this because there really isn’t much that will take away from reality so much.

(A quick edit here. You MUST check out the soundtrack to this series. By clicking here you will go to a BuzzFeed article that has the Spotify soundtrack Netflix created but also a list BuzzFeed put together of the videos of the songs so you can enjoy.)

The character casting is perfect as far as I am concerned for this series. The visual casting, of course as with any superhero project has been given some creative freedom, although most are perfect. In the Cast section I give each a grade on their performance. All were good, just some were exceptional.

What is it? Think, The Brady Bunch meets Time Cop meets Sixth Sense meets The Terminator, maybe even with a touch of the John Hughes angsty Brat Pack films of the 1980s thrown in for good measure. All scaled down in tone to blend together. That’s what comic books accomplish that a lot of other medium can’t, but this live action series is doing a pretty good job accomplishing. After all, you have seven siblings with separate lives.

The Background: Reginald Hargreeves, billionaire inventor and businessman, adopts or purchases seven of 43 children born on the exact same day. One thing for sure makes all 43 unique, their mothers were not pregnant that morning. As for the seven in the series, they all have superpowers. Hargreeves names them 1-7. I haven’t seen a specific reason why certain numbers were applied. They are given the numbers at birth, apparently, but it seems awfully convenient how the numbers ended up being so appropriate. There is one hint during a scene, but that could just be my imagination. Regardless, Hargreeves, also known as The Monocle, does not give them names as it was too much to remember, and I imagine would have meant too much of a potential for emotional attachment, as he was very much a task master to the children as he trained them to be superheroes.

City: No specific city is given, but the show is shot in Ontario, Canada. I get the vibe of a New York or some other East Coast major city with history to it. There is a scene that gives me the NYC idea that is related to Hargreeves himself.

Year: The kids are born in 1989 and they are in their mid to late 20s in the first season, although they don’t have cellphones, which I find a bit odd. But, it’s all kind of cool in a way.

The Show: Hargreeves trains 1-6 as superheroes and sends them on missions in their younger years until they become old enough to leave, which they all do, except for #1. The series picks up when Hargreeves dies and the siblings come together for the funeral. The seven siblings are everywhere from one being based alone on the moon to another a Hollywood star and from another being a vigilante to another a junkie.

There is somewhat of a mystery surrounding the death of Hargreeves, as well as a potential apocalypse they need to stop. That’s if they can get over their family issues.

I think people will enjoy seeing #5, The Kid, still as a perhaps 13-year-old, driving, drinking, and generally being an adult because he time jumped to the future and lived to a mature age before being able to return to the present to help save the world, only to end up being 13 again, the age he was when he went to the future. Oh, and he’s a seriously kick-butt assassin, just ask Dolores.

Mary J. Blige as a time traveling hitman is something to see. She is perfect in the role. Just call her Cha-Cha. She was born to unload rounds on a 13-year-old boy.

The action is often enough to keep you interested.

The emotional advancement through the series is enough to keep you hoping about love and family connections, and you of course have the inevitable frustrating moments that are just part of siblings being siblings, and especially siblings in this family.

There are humorous moments that are sometimes light and sometimes dark, but you can’t help but laugh. I love #4, Klaus.

#7 is the outcast of the group, not because she’s bad, but because she wasn’t trained as a superhero and being raised just like any other ordinary girl, except with superhero siblings.

As far as the season ending? It promises a season two but one that will be its very own and with some fresh twists to it.

I give this season an overall 7.5. It accomplishes a lot in just 10 episodes. When you sit back at the end, it surprises you just all that happens.

More Background: Something to know, this is an alternate reality book where JFK is not assassinated. It is surprising how that one event can change history. Although that information is from the comic book series history you are given a hint of it from a scene in one of the episodes as well.

The Cast:

Tom Hopper Tom Hopper as #1, Luther Hargreeves, Spaceboy, the team leader, thus being #1. You might recognize him from Game of Thrones as Dickon Tarly, Black Sails as Billy Bones, or Merlin as Sir Percival. He has great strength and has lived on the moon for four years doing research for their father, Reginald Hargreeves, which we find out the purpose for during the series. Visually he is probably a good fit. He is the most loyal of the siblings to their father as he is the only one that never left, until sent to the moon. At first, I thought his acting was not that good but once I considered he spent years alone with his father in a big mansion and then four years alone on the moon, I understood why Luther is the way he is, a bit quiet and somewhat socially awkward. (B-)

David CastanedaDavid Castañeda as #2, Diego Hargreeves, The Kraken. I would say that you most likely would know David from Jane the Virgin as Nicholas, and Switched at Birth as Jorge Castillo, Daphne’s ex-boyfriend. He can hit whatever he throws a knife at, and excellent fighting skills. He is the only one that currently works as a crime fighter, or vigilante as the police would say. He got kicked out of the police academy. Another great casting regarding playing the of the part, but in this case, the physical aspect is pretty much a 180° but I think David fits better for the show. Diego has an attitude because he is #2 and not #1. I am waiting to see how things work out as the series continues because I would like to see a certain aspect of the book come to fruition in the series, and it would it explain something as well. (B-)

Emmy Raver-LampanEmmy Raver-Lampman as #3, Allison Hargreeves, The Rumor. If you are a theater fanatic you may have seen her in Wicked or as Angelica Schuyler, in the first US tour of Hamilton. The visual doesn’t match the comic, but it works. The Rumor’s ability it to tell a lie that then becomes reality. We quickly find out she is an actress, divorced and her husband has custody of the child. There are a couple of interesting things for her this season, and at first, she, long with Luther were my least favorites because of how I perceived their acting, but their acting does reflect their situations. (B-)

Robert SheehanRobert Sheehan as #4, Klaus Hargreeves, The Séance. Robert probably has one of the longest careers as far as those of the siblings goes dating back to 2003. He’s Irish, acts with an American accent, as does all the siblings, he was King Louis XIV in the series Young Blades, Addison Teller in Rock Rivals, and more recently, if you are a Netflix fan, he played Luba in Mute, starring Alexander Skarsgard and Paul Rudd. The movie may have not received the best reviews, buy I enjoyed it for the movie it was, not the movie that people may have expected it to be and Sheehan’s part was entertaining and well played. Incredible casting in this series. Perhaps the best of the series as well as being the most entertaining. The Séance can see and communicate with dead people, which is less than what he can do in the books, but this is not unusual for filmed adaptations of comic book characters. He self-medicates to keep from going insane. Klaus is the loveable sibling that the others just can’t stay mad at. (A+)

Aidan GallagherAidan Gallagher as #5, The Boy. The best I can come up with for Aidan is the series Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn in which he plays Nicky Harper. He’s only been on film acting since 2013. #5 or The Boy either has no given name or no one uses it. I kind of think the fact no one uses a name hints at when the other siblings get their names. Watch the series to see if you can pick up when it might have happened. His original powers are spatial jumps, disappearing from one place and appearing somewhere else, but this leads to time travel, which he does so well into the future and gets stuck. I’ll leave it there for you to learn more. He’s a bit of a brat in my opinion when he and his siblings are younger. What else he can do other than his time and spatial jumps is a bit surprising, but you’ll kind of enjoy the surprise of it, but only because its television. His relationship with his siblings is a bit strained, when he has them at all, but the more you learn during the series, the more you understand why. He might be a bit difficult to like for some, but he has his reasons for being the way he is. The visual and character casting are great for #5. An entertaining character at times, with some humorous moments that are sad at the same time. (A+)Justin H. Min

Justin H. Min as #6, Ben Hargreeves, The Horror. Justin is an actor and model. The Horror was able to summon horrible creatures through portals under his skin, usually in the form of tentacles. He’s been dead, reason not given, sense even before the comic book series began. Ben still appears in the Netflix series to The Séance, #4, who can see dead people. Ben acts as Klaus’ better half, supporter, and almost like a sponsor trying to keep him clean from drugs and alcohol, although not in a nagging sort of way. Great casting here. (B)

Ellen PageEllen Page as #7, Vanya Hargreeves, The White Violin. (A+) Some of you will know Ellen Page from her role as Kitty Pryde in the X-Men movie franchise or as Tallulah in Tallulah co-starring with Academy Award winner Allison Janney. She plays the part perfectly for the history of the character as shown in the Netflix series. If you’ve read the books, don’t expect exact plot elements for her or any of the other characters. Vanya lives alone, teaches violin, plays in an orchestra, and has written a tell-all book about her life as a member of The Umbrella Academy. The character is subdued which I think is ideal for what I know of the comic book version. Vanya is not part of the superhero team that Reginald Hargreeves, The Monocle, forms with the other 6. The reason I will leave for you to find out by watching the series. This has a big impact on her life. (A)Jordan Claire Robbins

Jordan Claire Robbins as Grace (Hargreeves), Mom. Another fresh face to the screen, I think you might know her from the Clive Owens film Anon, one I enjoyed a lot. She plays Elaine Selak. See the movie if you haven’t, it’s on Netflix as of this writing. Jordan is a great fit for this character as far as looks go. She has that perfect mom look. I think she probably gives the robot character the occasional moment of humanity that helped raise the children. When I say robot, I do mean she is a robot. I chose to mention her here more in depth rather than Pogo or Reginald because I think she is a more influential part of the life of the children as far their ability to even think of what a family is as far as the Netflix series is concerned. (B)

 

The Bad Guys:

Mary J. BligeMary J. Blige is Cha-Cha. Do I really need to tell you who she is? In the series she is a sugar loving, time traveling, cartoon mask wearing, assassin who takes assignments to kill people that might change the time line. Incredible job. Cha-Cha is a man in the comics, but it doesn’t really matter, and I think this version does a lot for the series. You’ll see what I mean by the end. (A)

 

Cameron BrittonCameron Britton is Hazel. You might know him from Stitchers as Tim or Mindhunter as Edmund Kemper. IMDB shows him screen acting only since 2014. Hazel is just like Cha-Cha except a little less blood-thirsty and seems to have more of a heart. They have been partners for a long time. Hazel has a good story line in the show that puts him at odds with Cha-Cha. (B)

 

 

The Umbrella Academy umbrella promo photo

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A Family Update.

for a long time I enjoyed sharing tales of my son who I called My Boy B, B standing for boy, because someone didn’t want his name to show up in a goobingle search and people hunt him down. Yeah, he was an amazing cute little guy, the kind that strangers would come up to and want to touch or try to take pictures of wherever we went.

B is now 14, 5’9″, strong as a bull, and can punch like a truck. And his name is Zach. Please don’t spread that around, especially if you are reading this and know my family. I want to wake up in the morning with all my parts.

Zach was fodder for a few posts here on Ronovan Writes, plus a great photo of me with a black-eye after trying to catch a baseball he threw with my eye. The vision still hasn’t cleared from that.

I thought I would give an update for those who remember those days and a jumping on point for the new readers.

He made the school baseball team and is now over that desire. He just wanted to make a team once so people would leave him alone, plus he loves baseball, but he injured his shoulder so a career is out of the question without surgery and that’s not happening. So what is his focus? The trumpet.

Yes, my son is a band geek. But not that movie stereotype. He knows everything about cars, video games, and apparently everything that’s ever been invented ever. Just ask him, he’ll tell you. Why is his main focus the trumpet? He’s in the 8th grade and first chair in the school jazz band. That includes high school students. He recently made District Honor Band. The Band Director depends on him as one of the leaders of the band as well. Whenever there is a competition, everyone else is told to pick up an application if they want to participate, but Zach is told to come up and is handed one.

He’s still in the gifted Duke Tip Program and scored very well on the SAT which included Math and Verbal without Essay. And is also in the National Junior Honor Society.

He just had his very first high school advisory meeting and his advisor loves him. She already looked at his academic and class history and had him down on the Diploma with Distinction College Prep path. If you read my post from yesterday this is him making a decision at his Point B on his Route of Life that deviates from the majority of people his age in this area who will simply go with the flow. She went all fan girl when she learned about his Honor Band concerts over the years and his wanting to be an Engineer. I’m not sure why he wants to drive a train. Maybe too much Thomas when he was a kid.

A piece of advice for new parents out there. I am a strong proponent of holding a child back a year at the Pre-K level. When Zach was tested at his school for Kindergarten he scored for First Grade, but his age was actually just a few weeks under the limit to fit in to Kindergarten and not Pre-K. The principal suggested that due to his age that we hold him back. It was a difficult decision but it has worked out so well. Teachers always comment on how he is a calming influence on his classmates and is so mature. Plus, studies show that those who are held back are 30% more likely to end up making it all the way through Graduate School.

Now for an idea of what Zach is like. Recently his Math teacher, who is new to the school this year, asked for the answer to a problem. No one raised their hand so as usual in all of the classes Zach was asked to give the answer. She smiled and said he was wrong. They went on with the class and the same type of problem came up toward the end of the teaching portion of class and she smiled and asked Zach to answer. He gave the same answer. She laughed a little and asked why do you think that is the answer. “Because that’s the answer,” he said. At this point a few of his friends were covering their mouths trying to hide their smiles and not to laugh.

You see, Zach has reputation with his classmates that his teachers never seem to pick up on. He doesn’t speak unless he knows the answer. And if he continues to give the same answer then he is positive the answer is right.

The teacher kept at him about it and she said this is the correct answer and he said okay. She asked him what he meant by okay and he said that she was the teacher and if that is what she wanted the answer to be then that’s what the answer would be. You can imagine she wasn’t pleased. So she asked him why he continued to insist on giving his answer. The truth finally was revealed. He had already completed the homework for the next two days and the answer he gave was checked as correct by the online homework assignment.

The students started their classwork and toward the end of class the teacher made an announcement that both answers, hers and his, could be correct and neither would be counted wrong. She had to state this because she had already taught 3 other classes the wrong way to do the problem. That night she disabled the ability to work ahead. She had asked him why he worked ahead and he said it was because he could understand things better by working ahead and by himself. She asked him, “Then what do you need me for?” And yes, he said what you would expect by this point. “I don’t know.”

Zach was identified early on as some kind of Math genius. He could do Math in his head during Kindergarten. One of his teachers, the lead teachers for all of Elementary school suggested he work with a Math expert over the summer to continue to further what he was already doing. But what parent would do that to their little kid?

I’m proud of the boy. He’s made a decision, chosen a path, and is set to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. One of which is to get a music scholarship and play in the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band, and while getting his music degree he will double major in engineering and get that degree in a fifth year that’s not covered by that music scholarship. Yep, the boy has it all planned out. Nerd.

For all of my blog family, meet 14 year-old Zach. Everyone says he looks like me, just without the red hair of mine. I think they are just being nice to me.

A Void to Fill.

Usually when I begin writing a post I open my trusty Word Document with a grain of an idea and begin typing. This time I am sitting here waiting for something witty to discuss. Okay, so maybe witty is pushing it a little. Sometimes I am inspired by social media, not to write about a topic discussed but by how that makes me feel about an underlying problem or feeling I observe.

It’s been several minutes now, and something keeps coming to mind, a daughter. I don’t have one but through the years I seem to borrow daughters of other people. As a teacher and youth director at my church it was bad, as in every girl from the age of 16 and under was my child.

I’ve done well in my later years, being a good father figure to children out there that didn’t have a father or didn’t have one that was emotionally present even though in the house. It’s a painful thing.

After I lost my memory I also lost some daughters. It seems things just weren’t the same for them. I get it and I don’t blame them. It’s a painful thing.

But now I’ve borrowed another one and it’s been a good thing for me. She’s a good one. Somehow, I always fall into these wonderful young ladies who are smart and talented. Of course, it’s still not real. I don’t know, I just feel like there is this void inside that needs filling and I keep grabbing on to these wonderful people to support and encourage. That’s what I really love to do. That encouraging and supporting feels so good to do for someone. But, of course it’s not real, is it? It’s a painful thing.

Of course, some people are going to say I need to just be happy with what I have, and believe me, I love my son, B. For those of you that don’t know about B, I call him that because he’s my (B)oy. Yep, not putting his name out there, not even on Facebook with people who already know about him, not even a picture of him.

B is super smart, always on the equivalent of Dean’s List at his private college prep school. He has amazing promise on the trumpet, according to his band director, and even the director at an event including all the local schools’ best musicians performing together took time to point him out specifically. I just wish he would practice at home, but he doesn’t because he worries he’ll bother my migraines. I have them 24/7 since the concussion.

So yes, I have a great son. And I am perfectly fine with that and happy with that. The thing is that it just feels like something is missing. I have a feeling that one day that void will no longer be a problem, but for now, I’m borrowing a brilliant (G)irl who is the exact female version of B.

Well, that’s a little more personal stuff about me and how all that internal stuff works for me. A lot more than I planned but once I start writing I usually don’t back down. I go with it and share it. Fearless to a point. Honest to a fault. (Oh yeah, I don’t lie in my writing, just so you all know. If you read it here, it’s Truth.)

Catch y’all next time.

PS

Of course I came up with a topic as I finished this.

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes Prompt #8 Entries: THE LINKS

The order appearing is the order in which the entry was received.

GL below stands for the reading Grade Level. Harry Potter is a GL of around 5. Tolkien is around GL 6.5.

The Writers with The Links

The Prompt for the Challenge was this famous Boab tree in Western Australia. The various takes on the prompt were surprising and there are some great ones in there. Some are begging for a series to continue the stories and I so hope the authors do decide to pick up the stories with the next prompt.

Boab tree
The Tree of Life
Kim Russell (Writing in Northfolk)
A story of a girl, her mother, and a twist of an ending. 249 Words and GL of 1.5 @kim88110

Recovery From Birth
by Teresa Smeigh (Writing is my Life)
This week Teresa has more excitement going on and drama as well. 880 Words and GL of 2.9. @TeresaSmeigh

Talitha Emerging
Natalia Erehnah (Weaving Gold)
Natalia used the prompt to write a passage for her work in progress, Spinning Stardust. I’d say it worked out quiet well. 230 words and GL of 6.3. @weavinggold

Curled Within
Lady Joyful (The Joyful Soul Creates)
The first installment of a possible series. A great start. Make sure to comment on what you think. I believe she gave just enough, and actually plenty in the 200 words limit she set for herself. 200 Words and GL of 3.3.

The Wish Eating Tree
by Ritu (But I Smile Anyway…)
Hmm, well that was an interesting read. Ritu has one serious imagination. 1848 Words, 4.4 GL. @PhantomGiggler

Melancholy Through a Looking Glass
Nandini Bharadwaj (Pages That Rustle)
Very nice first time entry. I very much want to see where this one might lead. Hoping there is a part two with the next prompt. 641 Words and 5.8 GL.

Larrkardiy
TJ Paris (La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin)
Good story of fiction based on traditional history of the particular tree used in the prompt. I knew when I saw TJ pop up and knowing the tree is located in Western Australia, I figured I might get a good retelling of facts. He also shares some history, myths, and facts following the story itself. 608 Words and 6.0 GL. @Roccoco_a_GoGo

A Night Shift Dreamtime Story
by Kat Myrman (like mercury colliding…)
Another great story. And another one that needs to keep going. Don’t believe me? Check the comments out. 664 Words. 5.3 GL.

Feverish-Part Two
by Melissa Barker-Simpson (Author Blog)
Melissa, or Mel, has jumped into this series of challenges. A two parter has turned into three. Check out the action, mystery, and fantasy now. 1036 words and a 4.0 GL.

Of Finding Oneself
Solveig Werner (Solveig Werner~eclectic, multilingual…)
Oh, what a wishful story this one is. One I believe we all would like to live. Another excellent first entry to the challenge community we’re growing here. (You all need to go check out her awesome glasses.) 548 Words and 5.5 GL.

Under the baobab tree.
Geetha Balvannanathan (Geetha Balvannanthan’s Blog)
An interesting story. I see a good social commentary on a time gone by, and in some parts of the world, still exists. 382 Words and 5.4 GL. @geethap2007

Promises
anghulinghugotero (anghulinghugotero)
A myth, folklore, fantasy, and a feel of scifi all rolled into one. At least it all seems that way to me. A great story. 1885 Words and 5.4 GL.



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out Valentine’s Day of 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge, a new Friday Fiction Writing Prompt Challenge, and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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@RonovanWrites

 © Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2016

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes Prompt #7 Entries: THE LINKS

The order appearing is the order in which the entry was received.

GL below stands for the reading Grade Level. Harry Potter is a GL of around 5. Tolkien is around GL 6.5.

The Writers with The Links

The Newborn
by Teresa Smeigh (Writing is my Life)
Tessa makes a mad dash to the hospital with a newborn a lot less stressful in a lot of stressful ways. Humor was the goal this week and she accomplished that, even though it wasn’t where she originally intended to go with the 7th installment of her series. 281 words. GL of 5.6.

How not to start the New Year
by KL Caley (New2Writing)
A great start for our new to the challenge member. I have a bad feeling this was based on fact rather than fiction. Isn’t that where the best humor comes from? At least she can laugh about it, or maybe this was a cathartic endeavor. 283 words and 7.3 GL.

Purple Haze
by Kat Myrman (like mercury colliding…)
Hooch for the pooch brings about an intoxicating smooch. Kat pulls out all the stops in her Humor piece this week. 255 words. 6.8 GL.

Caring For Your Schnauzer by Ima Le’Amature
by Meredith Haynes (Meredith’s Musings)
This week Meredith shares a chapter from a book that’s helped her with Nick all this time. Um, sort of. Chuckles and squeaker toys abound. You know that combination can’t be good … for the owner, not the Schnauzer. 487 words and 5.3 GL.

Stag Don’t
by Ritu (But I Smile Anyway…)
Where does her mind go for these things. The next prompt might be for her to explain what happened in this one. 142 words, 3.2 GL.

Feverish-Part One
by Melissa Barker-Simpson (Author Blog)
Talk about Cats and Dogs. Melissa gives us a sci-fi/fantasy type trip here. And it’s only part one. 1003 words and a 4.6 GL.

Cat’s Rule
by R. Todd (A Flash of Fiction)
Seeing inside the minds of Cats and Dogs. This is evil. And I somehow think it just may be true. 338 words and a 2.8 GL.

The Right and the Wrong Umbrella
by Alka Girdhar (Magnanimous Word)
Alka thought there wasn’t much humor here, but she was only being modest. Her style gives a subtle touch to humor and you begin to chuckle because you see what’s coming before she tells you. Very nice. 324 words at a GL of 4.8.

Fluffy, the Matchmaking Cat
by Michelle ‘Nato’ Lunato (Chasing Life and Finding Dreams)
Seduction, romance, humor, and a cat toy? I enjoyed this one a lot. She’s got some promise. 845 words. GL of 2.4.



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out Valentine’s Day of 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge, a new Friday Fiction Writing Prompt Challenge, and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

@RonovanWrites

 © Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2016