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Archive for March, 2008

    
 Quest the First…

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

Dragon of Winter Night by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (July 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0786930675

Book 2: (I had to leave the photo of the book cover large so you could see the great artwork by Matt Stawicki)

Amazon’s description:  

 The second volume in Dragonlance‘s seminal trilogy stokes the action with a big ol‘ blast of dragon breath. The War of the Lance has begun in earnest, and the Companions–Tanis, Flint, the twins Raistlin and Sturm, Flint Fireforge, Goldmoon, et al.–find themselves separated across Ansalon. Everyone’s figured out that Takhisis’s dragon minions aren’t just scary bedtime stories, and the desperate search for the Dragon Orbs and the mythical Dragonlance is on. Lots of great combat, some humor and romance sprinkled in, and more solid character development for this complex band (especially Tanis and Laurana)

Though the companions are separated into two main groups, each group goes after and finds a dragon orb.  The orbs are said to be able to control dragons… if the one using the orb is strong enough.

One of the Orbs was discovered to be hidden with Lorac, who is a magic user and leader of the Silvanesti elves.  When they find Lorac the Orb has had him in a hellish dream that he believes to be real.  In essence.. the orb owns Lorac.

The other Orb is found in the icey north country.  Under the care of Raistlin, Caramon, Tika and Tanis, they head out to bring it to Sancrist.

The third Orb is found by Tas at the High Clerics Tower. 

*spoiler alert*

During all of this Sturm falls in love, and finally becomes a Knight, Theros Ironfeld learns how to forge a Dragonlance, and a Knight falls. 

 Tanis finds his human love, Laurana becomes a Leader and Raistlin begins to understand the Orb.

Well, I can safely say I’m not sorry I am rereading this series of books!  They move right along!   In this second book love is found and lost, and another love found.  The war with the Queen of Darkness moves along.  And just so it doesn’t get too dark  there’s Tasselhoff and the old mage Fizban for smiles along the way.   I am reminded each time I pick up one of these books just why they have survived the test of time!

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This ‘n’ That

Nymeth is celebrating her one year blogging anniversary.. and she is doing a book (actually 5 books) giveaway to celebrate!  She’s giving away some really great books so you should go check it out. (if you haven’t already!)

Nymeth took the time to discuss how book blogging has changed her life in just one short year. ( I can’t imagine where she got an idea like that! heh, Just because her to be read pile has gone from 6 or 7 books to 80?.. ya think?  I hate to say it, but I can relate! ) 

I have to agree with her 100% that somehow this thing with books  has turned into an obsession and I can’t quite put my finger on when or how that happened either!  I, personally, dont know how long I can continue buying and saving my books.  But I do know, (like Nymeth) it’s a heck of a ride while it’s happening!!

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At yet another book site: A Dribble of Ink, has posted a cute thing called:  Pile O’Shame.

Pile o’ Shame   Everyone’s got one.

That secret pile of novels, so very well regarded by the literary world, sitting in a dark corner of their house, sadly neglected despite assurances by so many others that “you’ve got to read them!” It’s a secret Pile ‘o Shame that haunts readers, always calling out longingly to be conquered but always growing bigger.

Like, Gee… could this really be?? 

Duh.  Like, do bearsummm, live in the woods?

Of course! heh. Most of it is called a TBR pile.  But you have to admit, there are a few that seem to stay at the bottom of that pile and never move up the list!! 

In my case I will name two books that haven’t moved up the list in the past year.  One seems pretty popular and is called Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suzanna Clarke.  Though I will admit I did read the first 250 some odd pages before setting it down and promising myself I’d go back to it … it hasn’t happened yet.  But then that book is huge (800 pages)!!

                         

The second one I haven’t even started and is bigger than Jonathan Strange (and with smaller print, which adds to the fact I haven’t started it)  It’s a biography on the movie maker, John Ford called Searching for John Ford by Joseph McBride.  (838 pages)  He made so many great movies that I’ve loved, such as: John Wayne in: The Quiet Man, that I know I will get to it one day.. maybe after I purchase a large magnifying glass!

So… what’s in your Pile O’Shame??? huh? huh? come on, fess up!

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Favorite Movie (and/ or) TV couples

Some of my favorite movie / tv couples in no particular  order.

1.     Luke and Laura (General Hospital- tv) They were a “couple” when I was still in High School and I’m now 64, and they still are mentioned asa “couple” on the show!  They lasted longer than many marriages!!

2.      Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy (Batteries not Included/ Cocoon/ Foxfire/ 
 To Dance With the White Dog)    I could watch these two forever, both in real    life and in movies!
 

3.       Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn    (Woman of the year/ Pat and Mike/ Adam’s Rib/ Desk Set)

4.        William Powell & Myrna Loy    (the Thin Man series)

5.        Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz    (movies and television)

6.        Laurel and Hardy  (Sons of the Desert/The Music Box/Another Fine Mess/Busy Bodies/County Hospital)

7.       Abbott and Costello (Abbott & Costello in the Foreign Legion/  Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man

8.       Hepburn and Fonda (On Golden Pond)

9.       Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (Cleopatra etal)

10.        Alan Rickman and Kate Winslett (Sense & Sensibility)

11.       Bogart and Bacall ( Key Largo/ To Have and Have Not)

12         John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (The Quiet Man/ McLintock/ Rio Grande)

Ok.. now it’s your turn!  Who are some of  YOUR favorite movie couples??

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While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. soft cover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have, at least, picked up a book and checked out what was on the back cover, only because it had a great piece of cover art!  So.. yes!.. cover art can make a big difference!  The cover art is the first introduction to the book. It alone, even if the title were not on the cover will give you a good idea of what you will find in the book..

a good example:

I think Rogers painting, that became the book cover, pretty much lets you know what sort of book you are looking at!  “Jaws” anyone?? heh.  When you see a cover like this you will either say, “ohhh, this looks like something I’d like.”.. or just the opposite, but either way it tells the first story of the book.

It‘s not a given that I would buy the book just because of it’s cover, but without the cover that attracts me to the book I may never have picked the book up at all.  A good cover leads to my picking it up and reading the back, hoping to find out that it might read as well as the cover indicates.

I also enjoy illustrations in the books.  It‘s rare that they are in a book, but when they are I like it a lot.  To me it adds to all the creativity of the story… and overall just makes it that much better.   Aside from YA books though, there are really VERY FEW adult books that contain art work along the way, it seems they don’t want to spend the extra money it costs… but oh how much nicer it makes a book!

As for the fonts.. well.. will eyes that are failing the older I get I can say small fonts are not up there high on the list of things I like.  Font’s don’t have to be LARGE, but even spacing of the sentences can make a big difference. Therefore I do like trade paperback books!

Since my eyes are getting worse and since, over MANY years, I have found that my beloved mass paperback books have all turned brown and brittle, I tend now to buy hardback books, hoping they hold up longer and better.  Like other people, I’d rather be reading a paperback, just for the weight of having to handle them, but we all do what we must do in order to keep reading!

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Richard Widmark

December 26, 1914  –  March 24, 2008

This is not a post I am happy to do.  I’ve adored Richard Widmark, it seems forever. I just heard on the news that he passed away.. on my birthday.  I could never forget his birthday because it was the day after Christmas.. and now I will never forget his passing on my birthday.

I’ve collected his movies (mostly vhs taping off of AMC or TCM over the years) and just in general never missed watching any of his movie when they’d appear on tv.  Over many years as I collected his movies I would write to Mr Widmark. (I’d call him Mr. W) I think I wrote him once a month or every other month for nearly 10 yrs.  I knew before I began writing to him that he never wrote or did autographs if someone wrote to him, but I wrote anyway.  I never asked for his signature, but I would tell him about which of his movies came on television and which ones I now had in my collection.

Then I moved to California.  While living there, and since I was taking care of DeForests Star on Hollywood Blvd.. and because it was only a block away, I also took care of Richard’s star!

One year for his Birthday (which was the day after Christmas) I took the following photo.. plus one was taken of me cleaning the star.  I sent them to him along with a Birthday card. ( I sent a card each year, this was the only year I sent photo’s)

Sometime after I received this note..

We won’t go into how shocked I was… but I did call his agent because I couldn’t believe it was real!

Once while in Hollywood I went to see his hand prints

I think I would find it hard to not believe that, at some time, everyone has  seen something on television that Richard Widmark did. 

His career took off when he had a small part in a movie called The Kiss of Death where he played a really horrible guy who ties an old lady up in her wheelchair and then pushes her down the stairs while he give a villainous laugh.  The Laugh would get him an Oscar nomination for his very first movie.

(he was a real sweetheart… not!)  (below are some of the photo’s I’ve collected of Richard. … not all of them, but a few!)

Oh, and I do have to tell you this one thing.. the evil laugh that Richard had.. was real!  My friend DeForest worked on a few westerns with Richard and he said one day when they were having a break doing a movie he heard this laughter behind him and a chill went up his back.. when he turned to see who was laughing… it was Richard!

There wasn’t much in the way of movies that Richard didn’t do. 

He did gangster and war movies..

He played detectives and a sailor..

He did quite a few westerns!…..

 

(yes, that’s DeForest with Richard Widmark)

I will miss Mr. W.  I know I can watch him anytime I want by slipping a tape into the machine…but I know it will be a while before I can enjoy his movies again… It’s strange how someone you never met personally can effect you so when they are no longer there.  As they say.. life goes on.  It’s just not quite the same. 

Credit List:….  (The ones with the asterisk are movies I have of his on vhs, mostly just taped from the television …see for yourself if you have seen him in a movie!)

Lincoln (1992) (TV) (voice)
*True Colors (1991)
*Cold Sassy Tree (1989) (TV)
*Once Upon a Texas Train (1988) (TV)
*A Gathering of Old Men (1987) (TV)
*Blackout (1985) (TV)
*Against All Odds (1984)
*Who Dares Wins (1982)
*Hanky Panky (1982)
National Lampoon Goes to the Movies (1982)
*A Whale for the Killing (1981) (TV)
All God’s Children (1980) (TV)
*Bear Island (1979)
*The Swarm (1978)
*Coma (1978)
*Rollercoaster (1977)
The Domino Principle (1977)
*Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977)
*The Sell-Out (1976)
*To the Devil a Daughter (1976)
*The Last Day (1975) (TV)
*Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
“Benjamin Franklin” (1974) (mini) TV mini-series …. Benjamin Franklin
Brock’s Last Case (1973) (TV)

Madigan” …. Sgt. Dan Madigan (6 episodes, 1972-1973)
    – The Park Avenue Beat (1973) TV episode …. Sgt. Dan Madigan
    – The Naples Beat (1973) TV episode …. Sgt. Dan Madigan
    – The Lisbon Beat (1973) TV episode …. Sgt. Dan Madigan
    – The London Beat (1972) TV episode …. Sgt. Dan Madigan
    – The Midtown Beat (1972) TV episode …. Sgt. Dan Madigan
*When the Legends Die (1972)
*Vanished (1971) (TV)
The Moonshine War (1970)
*Death of a Gunfighter (1969)
*A Talent for Loving (1969)
*Madigan (1968)
*The Way West (1967)
*Alvarez Kelly (1966)
*The Bedford Incident (1965)
*Cheyenne Autumn (1964)
*Flight from Ashiya (1964)
*The Long Ships (1964)
*How the West Was Won (1962)
*Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
*Two Rode Together (1961)
*The Secret Ways (1961)
*The Alamo (1960)
*Warlock (1959)
*The Trap (1959)
*The Tunnel of Love (1958)
*The Law and Jake Wade (1958)
Time Limit (1957)
Saint Joan (1957)
*The Last Wagon (1956)
*Run for the Sun (1956)
*Backlash (1956)
*The Cobweb (1955)
*A Prize of Gold (1955)
*Broken Lance (1954)
*Garden of Evil (1954)
*Hell and High Water (1954)
*Take the High Ground! (1953)
*Pickup on South Street (1953)
*Destination Gobi (1953)
*My Pal Gus (1952)
*O. Henry’s Full House (1952)
*Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Night Life (1952)
*Red Skies of Montana (1952)
Screen Snapshots: Hopalong in Hoppy Land (1951)
*The Frogmen (1951)
*Halls of Montezuma (1950)
*No Way Out (1950)
*Panic in the Streets (1950)
*Night and the City (1950)
*Slattery’s Hurricane (1949)
*Down to the Sea in Ships (1949)
*Yellow Sky (1948)
*Road House (1948)
*The Street with No Name (1948)
*Kiss of Death (1947)

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     Quest the First…Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

Book 1:  Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast (April 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0786930640

(I had to leave the photo of the book cover large so you could see the great artwork by Matt Stawicki)

Amazon’s description:  Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.         
No one expects them to be heroes.

Wow.

It’s been waaaaaay toooooo looooong since I read this series!!  I feel like I’m supposed to stand on the sofa and yell: They’re Baaaaaaack !!

What a group of characters this group of books offers!!  The book opens at the Inn of the Last Home in Solace where these wonderful characters meet up after 5 years of separation.. 

There’s Tika, tending bar, a firey young redhead who grew up around the companions..

Tanis half-elf, in conflict with his own being.  The elves see him as half human, and the humans see him as half elf.

 Flint Fireforge, the old dwarf who is beginning to feel his age.

Tasslehoff Burrfoot, the kender.  Knowing no fear and loyal friend.

the twins: Caramon and Raistlin. Caramon, big and brave brother of Raistlin, small and weak of body but becoming a very strong mage.

and Sturm of the Solamnic Knights. Wearing his fathers suit of armor, sullen and withdrawn, but a friend to the end.

 Add in the strangers who quickly become part of the group of leading characters, Goldmoon and Riverwind and you have the companions for the first book from Dragonlance!

They aren’t long at the Inn of the Last Home when trouble starts and the companions grab Goldmoon and Riverwind and escape, going to hide at Tika’s home. When they are discovered they head out to help Goldmoon find out about the blue crystal staff Riverwind had brought to her.

With the help of new friends along the way the companions get to Xak Tsaroth where they are attacked by a black dragon who is guarding a very big secret concerning Goldmoons staff.  He they also find lizard-like men called draconians. (they be some of the bad guys)

Tanis fell silent. The dragon.  It call came down to the dragon. The creature loomed large in everyone’s thoughts.  And how feeble the small group seemed against a monster who had sprung full grown fromKrynn’s darkest legends.  Why us?  Tanis though bitterly.  Was there ever a more unlikely group of heroes… bickering, grumbling, arguing… half of us not trusting the other half.  “We were Chosen”  That thought brought little comfortTanis remembered Raistlin‘s words:  “Who chose us… and why!”  The half-elf was beginning to wonder.

While searching for the disks of the healing gods they come across gully dwarfs, below ground, that are being used as slaves.  After Raistlin enchants them, one named Bupu helps them find the dragons lair.

Upon returning to Solace, they find the town has been burned down by dragons and draconians and hobgoblins have taken over what little wasn’t burned.  The companions are captured and on their way to be given to Verminaard (isn’t that a great evil name?!  Vermin… aard.. gotta love it haha) for his army, when  elves save them.

The cruelest form of torture one can inflict on a kender is to lock him up.  Of course, it is also widely believed that the cruelest form of torture one can inflict on any other species is to lock them up with a kender.  After three days of Tasslehoff‘s incessant chatter, pranks and practical jokes, the companions would have willingly traded the kender for a peaceful hour of being stretched on the rack… at least that’s what Flint said.

On their own (sorta) they go to where Verminaard and his army is waiting to try to free human slaves and give time to the Elves to leave their homeland that Verminaard plans to burn down.  They meet with a cleric named Elistan, who Goldmoon saves from death, and upon their escape Elistan the cleric, more or less leads the freed prisoners, and marries Goldmoon and Riverwind

So ends book one …

It’s been much, much, much too long since I reread these books!!  They are filled with memorable characters that you can’t get enough of!  Weis and Hickman make use of all of them, so that no one character is left behind. 

This book is filled with adventure, good and evil (naturally) a new land, Krynn, and loyal friends.  It’s a win- win situation for a great read!

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Bunnies and Bilbo

First things firstHappy Easter!!

And for a repeat of my very own “memory” Easter Story.. click here.

After that… I got to thinking yesterday (no easy when I still can’t breath!)   and wrote a little something below.

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In the beginning.. there was Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit.

Of course, way back when (in the beginning) Bilbo didn’t look like Ian Holm..

He didn’t look like the cartoon version either.  Because back then there was only, ….the book!

To the best of my recollection (which I will admit isn’t the greatest) the first Fantasy Fiction book that I read (that I recall)  was : The Hobbit. 

So it is safe for me to say that JRR Tolkien did me a really huge favor, because: due to his fabulous writing I was swept up and taken on a journey that would last the rest of my life!

So, my introduction, as it were, was not just into fantasy fiction but into what they call “high fantasy”.  The olgood against evil, with wars beyond the imagination.  The good were very very good, and the bad were horrid. (gee, I’ve heard that saying before haven’t I?)

For much of my life the reading I’ve enjoyed the most was all fairly similar.  Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickmans Dragonlance series,  Terry Brooks Shannara series, Stephen R Donaldsons Thomas Covenant series & David Eddings Belgariad series.  All high fantasy. (all wonderful reads that hold up even today)

Recently, maybe because I had my temporary fill of high fantasy (or rather I felt I had the best of the best and to keep reading the same over and over by other authors:  although they are probably every bit as good as who I had read)  I found myself buying more and more YA books.

I’ve pondered this fact a number of times. 

Why have I gone to young adult books? 

Is it because I find no other high fantasy authors that I like?  

Is it because I missed out on these sort of authors when I was young?? 

Or are these authors actually better than the newer adult authors?? 

Or is it that there are more story lines available to the YA authors??

I am still contemplating these questions… along with others.

I do know I’ve been enjoying a number of YA authors of late.

  Cornelia Funke

  Jonathan Stroud

    James A Owen

   Angie Sage

   Brandon Mull

  Obert Skye

And this is just the tip of the iceberg! 

It’s not as if there weren’t good writers for young folks when I was young (even if they did have to carve them in stone!).. but they must have been far and few between because I sure don’t remember authors like these when I was a kid… or so many!!

There may be some things in the future that won’t be all that good… but I do believe that the youth of today is surely not without great YA writers!!

So.. I was wondering…

Why do you think adults seem to be reading so many YA books??? 

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Igraine the Brave

 

For my first book in the Once Upon A Time II Challenge I give you, The Journey, in the form of a Fairytale:

Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: The Chicken House (September 24, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0439903793

Since I don’t want to give any book Cornelia Funke writes it’s just due.. here is a professional review:

Princess Igraine dreams of becoming a famous knight just like her great grandfather, but the truth is, life at the family castle is rather boring. Until the nephew of the baroness-next-door shows up. He’s got a dastardly plan to capture the castle and claim as his own the wonderful singing spell books that belong to Igraine’s magician parents. To make matters worse, at the very moment of the siege, her mom and dad botch a spell, turning themselves into pigs! Aided by a Gentle Giant and a Sorrowful Knight, it’s up to Igraine to be brave and save the day–and the books!

A great little book to read to young kids.  I have found Cornelia Funke to be one of the best storytellers for the younger (and not so young) lovers of books.

Igraine is a young girl who wants to grow up to be a Knight like her great, great, grandfather was.  Her brother, on the other hand wants to learn magic and be a magician like their parents are.

At a very inconvient time, while doing some magic, Igraine’s parents accidently turn their selves into pigs.  Not the best thing to happen, since they need giant hairs to be able to turn them back, and they are out of giant hairs!

All of this while someone is about to storm their small castle to get a hold of the singing spell books.  Igraine gets a chance to prove herself in her quest to get the giant hairs and help a knight along the way, while helping her parents get back to normal.

This was a cute book.. but I have come to expect nothing less from Cornelia Funke.  She seems to be able to write for the very young and also those about to become adults, such as her Inkheart series.  (which, by the way, reads very well to us elderly too!)

This would be a book I’d get to read to my young children… if I had any.  As for my 12 yr old grandson … well he is right at the age he may or may not like a “fairytale” type story.

The Journey Quest… completed! 

Now on to:   Quest the First
(Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time II criteria.  This one will take a little longer… heh.)

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