Archive for Fantasy

Potatoes, Come Forth by H. Jonas Rhynedahl

Posted in Books, Hobbies, Hobby, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2016 by urbannight

Book Cover PotatoesThis was actually intended to keep track of my notes on this book as I was reading it.  But I think I will share it anyway.

I was hesitant to purchase this book but it did sound like it could be amusing. So I got it. Thus far my feelings for this book is ‘meh’. A noble woman who is summoned from her bathtub and transported, totally naked, half way across a continent shouldn’t be that calm and collected. Even in a world where everyone has a few, various, completely random, magical spells. She also comes off a bit to pragmatic when she puts on the filthy, shirt from someone who had been lugging a wheelbarrow of 200 lbs of potatoes around all day, having spent a portion of that day in a railroad engine car helping the engineer out. I just don’t find anything about this character, Sarah, believable.

I’m now halfway into the book and it is absurd.  The problem is, it doesn’t feel like it is absurd on purpose.  But it doesn’t feel like it was on purpose.  Yes, it feels like the author is trying to be funny and amusing but not that he was deliberately trying to write Fantasy Humor.  It ends up seeming absurd in a bad way rather than absurd in an amusing way.

I finished the book on Saturday.  The ending pulled the questionable quality of the book out of the water.  It ended better than expected.  Other than the fact the author didn’t do a very good job of showing the main character’s becoming emotionally entangled so that they end up getting married at the end.  It was rather abrupt and sudden.  Sarah seemed to have very platonic feelings until she crawls into bed with him.  He was clearly attracted to her and had twinges of jealousy but then suddenly he is in love with her.  It was abrupt and awkward.

Other than some of the characteristics mentioned above, I did find myself wanting to know what would happen next.  At the start it had that feeling of a first book, but by the end I no longer had that feeling.  The book didn’t have the editing errors I normally see when a person’s first book is only published in an electronic format.  The writing was actually pretty strong and in the end, I think the only real complaint is the author having trouble showing a growing relationship and it didn’t pull off deliberate Fantasy Humor very well.

It did end well enough that I ordered the next book the very next morning.

 

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS, yep, I like books.

Posted in Books, Entertainment with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2013 by urbannight

I read almost every day.  But I do not spend ALL my free time reading.  I watch t.v. and stitch.  I spend a lot of time on computer games.  I cook sometimes.  And I go to movies.   Which means the number of books I’ve read in the First 18 days of 2013 seems amazing.  Some were re-reads.  So they went quickly.  And I often have more than one book going on at a time.  So I might read one book at lunch, one book at home, and one book in the bathroom.  I like a good long soak in the tub.

So here is what I’ve read in no particular order.

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The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle. Historical  Romance.  Part of a series that I have not otherwise read.  Pleasant read.  Half-English/Half-Indian woman, some slight supernaturalish elements, not too complex.   I liked it.

The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens.  Historical Romance.  The back of the book gives little away but it is very good if a bit to straight forward as well.  I quite liked it.

Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett.  Reread.  Fantasy Humorist.  I ALWAYS recommend Terry Pratchett.  Introduces the Guards books.  A young, idealistic new copper who happens to be a six-foot tall dwarf.  A dragon.  A very rich virgin.  Colorful characters and very petty people who cause bad things to happen.

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks.  Historical Romance.  Entertaining.  Amusing.  I normally don’t recommend romance novels to anyone other than people who only read romances.  But this was interesting enough to say sure, why not, give it a try.

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James. Historical Romance.  Cute.  Simple.  Clear Cut.  A charming little read.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett.  Second Guards book.  The Watch is getting bigger with the addition of Trolls, Dwarves, and even a werewolf.  Oh, lets not forget the talking doggy.  It doesn’t pay to spend too much time sleeping around the Unseen University.  Ambient magic can do strange things to animals around there.

Corbin’s Fancy by Linda Lael Miller.  Historical Romance.  Okay book.  The Corbin family had a bunch of interesting titles in this series but they are all really simple and straight forward stories.  Obvious with no surprises along the way.  Linda Lael Miller’s books seem to get less and less interesting as she continues to write.  She comes up with really interesting characters but boring plots.

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett.  Another Guards book.  The feminist movement hits the dwarven population, starting with one female dwarf who really doesn’t fit in, ends up in the watch, and starts wearing skirts and make up.  Of course other things happen, and a mystery is solved, and amusement is had.

Apocalypse to Go by Katharine Kerr.  Book four in a supernatural mystery series.  The main characters have gotten engaged in order to keep Nola O’Grady’s very religious family happy.  Ari, her Israeli boyfriend/bodyguard wants to get married.  Each book seems to move them a little closer to that eventuality.  Nola is technically in charge and that bothers him as he is used to being in control.  On top of it, he still isn’t totally comfortable with her psychic abilities.  They solve crimes across alternative universes.  The entire series is a good read.  Go now and buy it.

Jingo by Terry Pratchett.  Also another Guards book and also a reread.  How often does a Watch Commander get to start a war and arrest two armies?

The Key by Lynsay Sands.  Historical Romance.  You have to marry someone the king picks out, in order to save your mother, but you can control what happens next by wearing a chastity belt and keeping the key hidden.  Especially when your husband refuses to bath and only lets his people have one new plaid a year in order to save money and keeps a slovenly home.  While there is nothing terribly complex in this novel, and I wish there was, it is very funny and worth reading on humor value alone.

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett.  A very good book of Mr. Pratchett’s.  Again, a Guards book.  Yep, I pulled them all from the shelf and started rereading through them.

Okay, I’m getting really sleepy now.

Threadbare

Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath.  Historical Romance.  Middle book of a set of three. Only one I read.  I liked it.  It was good.  Made we want to go and read the first and third ones now.

Threadbare by Monica Ferris. Mystery  Monica Ferris is a great mystery writer and this series is about a woman who owns a needlework shop.  At the end of every book is a pattern in one form of needle craft or another.  This is a good book and well worth the read but there is only one thing bothering me about it.  She spends too much time plugging designers and mentioning specific patterns.  Sometimes this worked in the past books because it had a bearing on the story and the solution to the crime.  Now it is getting tedious.  It felt like to many product placements in a movie.

Thud by Terry Pratchett.  Okay, yet another Guards book.  Reread.  Highly enjoyable.  Somewhat darker.  I highly recommend it.

Snuff by Terry Pratchett.  The latest guards book out in paperback.  I finished it a couple days ago.  Really good.  Go now and buy a copy.  But you have to make sure you have read all the ones I’ve already mentioned for it to really make sense.  Or Thud at the very least.  And Jingo or else Willikins won’t make as much sense.

I have also read three romance novels on the Kindle.  Really fast, really short, and really simple romance novels that I won’t bother to name, even if they were good enough.  They were more like novellas.

The last is Time Traders by Andre Norton.  I didn’t realize she wrote science fiction.  I always thought of her as a fantasy novelist.  This was a very early book of hers.  There is some awkwardness in her writing that I’m not used to seeing because I was more familiar with some of her later work.  Even with this early work, you can never go wrong reading Norton.

That is 19 books completed since the start of the year.  I did not count any in progress books.  Just ones I’ve finished.  19 books in 18 days with a few days where I didn’t read and I never had any solid days of reading.  This is why I keep books.  I have to reread books.  Otherwise I can’t afford my reading habit.

Now I will put these away and reorganize my book shelves, finding a few other books to pull for rereading purposes.

Sweeny Todd, The Original Urban Myth

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by urbannight

I came across an OLD post of mine from when I decided I needed to start writing again. It was an effort to dust the cobwebs off my decaying skills. I re-read it and was horrified. I decided it was time to rewrite this and do a much better job. I will not being doing this to all my old posts. But since this is one that people occasionally still pull up, I thought I had better do a better job of it.

When the movie came out I was pleased; although, some of Johnny Depp’s notes were painful to hear. He shouldn’t sing.

I highly recommended it to everyone. I was pleased with the show as a whole. Some people were disinclined to view it as they were not Burton fan’s or Depp fans.

I informed them that I was not recommending it as a Burton or Depp film. I like some of their work and dislike some of their work. I am a big Sweeney Todd fan. In college we had to watch the Angela Lansbury version of it. Sweeney Todd was played by Len Cariou. It is an excellent version with outstanding performances.

People don’t realize that the story of Sweeney Todd has been around for a long time. The earliest print stories are from the mid 1840’s and it may be one of the earliest known examples of Urban Myths as bits and pieces of the story may have been around since the 1700’s. In the oldest stories, Todd is not a tragic figure who was framed and deported because someone wanted his wife. He is literally a murderous barber killing people for their possessions. The silent film version is one of the earliest horror movies and reflects the original story. It evolved over the years into the musical we know now.

Many of the characters in the modern version existed in the original story ‘The String of Pearls’ but have transformed into different roles. Tobias Ragg was originally Todd’s assistant who gets sent to a madhouse. Johanna goes undercover as a boy to work for Todd in order to find out what happened to a Lieutenant who was bringing her a pearl necklace from her lover who was lost at sea. It turns out her lover was imprisoned and put to work in a pie shop as a cook.

Prior to A String of Pearls being released, Dickens made a reference to preparers of cannibalic pastry in one of his novels. And even earlier story (1824) refers to a barber’s victims being made into meat pies. So that part of the story had been around since the earliest part of the 19th century at the very least and maybe longer.

I nearly purchased a dvd of the 1928 silent film version but passed on it. I went back a week or two later and there were no copies left and I’ve not been able to find it anywhere again. Someone was releasing very old black and white talkies and silent films in very cheap cardboard cases with two movies on one dvd. They were being sold in Walgreen’s.

Now back to the most current adaptation. I think it was well done, although listening to the two leads sing was a bit annoying. Having purchased the cd and listened to it often I’ve come to the conclusion that even their less than ideal singing voices actually work in favor for their parts. Carter’s voice does something odd at the highest notes. Almost like her voice catches but not exactly. But it works well with the accent and with the socioeconomic strata she is representing. Depp actually goes off-key which was more painful to hear at first. Made me wonder, if that was the best take of his singing, what did the others sound like?

The movie is true to the tragic love story that evolved out of the basic horror story. It is as if the story spent several decades being codified into a final version. Burton’s interpretation of this version was visually very beautiful. Depp singing to his razors was very creepy. The costuming was almost like a fantasy version of the clothing of the time period. This gave a fairy tale like quality to the film. I enjoyed it immensely.

Afterwards, I went to a local eatery and was surprised to discover that the movie’s release corresponded to a food special campaign of meat pies. We all opted to pass on that and just had desert.

In Honor of the Passing of Ray Bradbury, 91

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Movies and Theatre, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2012 by urbannight

RIP Ray Bradbury.

Half the people I read are probably doing the same thing right now but that won’t stop me from doing so as well.

The first full book I can remember reading was a chapter book that had a picture on each page and only a few lines. It was a long book but done a bit in the style of a child’s book. It was about a little potato shaped man who went to the moon. So the first ‘real’ book I can remember reading was science fiction. (PS no one seems to have any idea what this book might have been, if anyone who sees this knows, let me know.)

I’ve read The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and Dandelion Wine. I have read some of his anthologies and many of his short stories in various other anthologies.

It’s possible I’ve read other items and just don’t remember them. Actually, with the way I read, it is more than likely. Seeing as 35 features, shorts, and TV movies were based on his stories or screen plays, I’ve probably seen many things that I didn’t realize were Bradbury’s.

While he was less influential on shaping my growing mind than Heinlein, he was still significant to my view of science fiction, science, sociology, and the future in general.

Some random interesting facts about Bradbury are that he was related to a woman who was convicted and hung for a witch in Salem, Mass. He was influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, HG Wells, and Jules Vern. But his favorite was Edgar Rice Burroughs and he even wrote a sequel to Warlord of Mars at the tender age of 12.

You have to like a child whose favorite hangout it the local library. I was the same way and had the same early love of Edgar Alan Poe. He also loved to perform magic. I liked to go to magic shows.

Even though most readers and most cataloguers view Bradbury as a Science Fiction writer, he felt that the only work of SF he wrote was Fahrenheit 451 and that he was, in fact, a fantasy writer.

I would love to find a “Collected Works of Ray Bradbury” but looking at how much he actually wrote, it might be longer than my rather large “Collected Works of Shakespeare”. It might have to be a multi-volume book.

You will be missed, Mr. Bradbury. I feel the need to start rereading his material now.

Mirror Mirror, A Romp Through Fantasy Land

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by urbannight

This movie has received some intense criticism. It isn’t as edgy as the other Snow White movie coming out. The costuming goes too far. Performances are contrived, wooden, or just bad. The movie is just terrible.

I disagree on all accounts.

It is true that the movie isn’t as edgy as the upcoming version. It was never supposed to be. It was clearly advertised as a comedy. It was always meant to be a comedy.

The costuming is a delightful riot of colors and outrageous extremes as it mixes elements from various times into a hodge-podge of color, fabrics, laces, and exaggerated make-up. It creates a dramatic contrast to the villagers who all in dull brown and dingy grey rags. The point is that the court is so dissipated and narcissistic that they don’t even realize how foolish they all look to the people on the outside, the Prince and his servant. Even his valet, who seems to be a vain peacock himself, realizes that something isn’t right there.

The performances didn’t seem contrived at all. It looked like the actors were told to have fun with it and did just that.

I thought the movie was very enjoyable. The opening animation sequence was absolutely beautiful and reminded me of some old fashioned doll stop-motion animations I saw growing up, only so much smoother. I loved how the back story was told and the look of the porcelain dolls, even if it was CGI.

The cast of little people is absolutley fantastic and most viewers should recognize most of them. It’s like a whose who of some of the most underated but excellent acting talent out there. Good talent deserves good parts, not just parts where someone needs a little person. If you don’t recognize them all, you should at least recognize Danny Woodburn and Martin Klebba.

People complain that the story didn’t really add any depth to the classic tale. Of course it did not. The tale has been told and retold in a multitude of versions. And variants of it can be found in other cultures. He wanted to give a bit more precedence and depth to the Evil Queen. He did but I will agree that I still felt like we didn’t know enough. Where did she come from? How did she end up with the mirror? How long has she been doing this?

The rumor is that the upcoming one, Snow White and the Huntsman, will add that depth. But I don’t really see how. It looks like it could be a good action movie, but it looks like a totally different story. It will be interesting to see how much of the story had to change in order to fit that vision of it.

A young girl who sat behind me in the theater told her parents, “That’s two hours of my life I will never get back.” Her dad asked her if it was really that bad. She nodded yes. I walked out shaking my head. It was a very good movie if you view it for what it was and what it was intended to be. If she wants to know what a bad movie is, what losing two hours of your life that you can never recover is REALLY like, she should watch The Room by Tommy Wiseau. I wanted to take a brillo pad to my eyes and my brain to try to remove the memory of it.

Books, Books, and More Books

Posted in Art, Books, Entertainment, Life, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2012 by urbannight

Yesterday I spent hours rating books on Goodreads.  I found books I know I read and can’t really remember anything about.  I did not find books I read but can’t remember titles.  Memory is a very strange thing.

There are two young adult books I would love to find again.  The first is about 4 kids how are sent off on a mission that is to be an end to their formal education if they succeed.  They don’t waste space on candy bars.  Their instructors get really annoyed and make them take the candy bars.  Things go sideways on the mission, they are stuck out there longer than their supply of candy bars so they run out.  Then their friendships start going pear-shaped.  Turned out the candy bars had something in them to help suppress some of their hormones and they start going though the emotional side of puberty will stuck on a dangerous planet in the middle of a mission that turned out to be far more dangerous than they expected.  I also think that they might have wanted to do something for their final mission project that they were told they could not do, so they filed a totally different mission but went on to do the one they wanted instead.  Which was why they didn’t have the right amount of the candy and when they didn’t show up on time the school wouldn’t know where they really were to come rescue them.

The other book was similar in a few ways.  It was also young adult science fiction.  I think darkness might have been in the title somewhere.  It’s about several older teens from different planets.  I’m not sure if it was a comparable to a specialty high school are a bunch of young people who had just finished the equivalent to high school and were now starting some think of military or spacer program.  The main character is a young man who is a small giant.  He was a farmer from a colony planet with different gravitational forces.  People eventually ended up taller and more massive and very strong when on more standard human gravity planets.  It also dealt with a mission that didn’t go as expected and had these young adults dealing with romantic issues they never really faced before.

Both were excellent books and I read them over and over and over again.  So why can’t I remember titles or authors I don’t know.  On the second, I can picture the cover.  But after over 20 years, if it is still in print anywhere, cover art would have changed.  But it probably is not in print anymore.

As it is, I think I’m going to order some Teresa Edgerton books have been out of print for a long time.  I can get a new copy of the first for 3 dollars or a used copy for one penny and then shipping.  Funny when the shipping is more than the cost of the book.  I had both the first and second trilogy.  But when we moved into that house and the hot tub went in, a pipe had been damaged and the storage room had flooded.  We hadn’t even finished unpacking yet.

This was a great series heavily influenced by the historical peoples of the UK.  Welsh, Scottish, Pictish and so on.  But a highly mythical version of those people.  I spent years trying to find copies in used book stores before I eventually just gave up.  I gave up before Amazon.  I’ve only recently started to replace missing and lost and damaged books that I miss.

In order to try to save some of the damaged books, I remember laying out all the damaged books in the bath tub and spending a lot of time with a blow dryer trying to salvage books.  I don’t remember all the books I lost, but I lost the 6 books in the Green Lion and Celydonn trilogies and the 3 books in the Midori Snyder Queen’s Quarter series.  I’ve discovered they have been reprinted as young adult fantasy instead of adult fantasy and the series name has changed to the Oran Trilogy.

I may contemplate ordering those as well.  Only Books one and two.  I still have book three.  I wonder if some of those books I vaguely remember reading were also in that one box on the bottom.  I know there were more books I was not able to salvage.

Random Lunch-Time Update

Posted in Books, Entertainment, Food, Life, Politics, Tea, Uncategorized, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by urbannight

I shall have to clock back in from lunch soon so I shall type a few sentences to share.

Due to a technical difficulty, I can’t post pictures for an update on the TARDIS project, the pumpkin project, the yarn projects, and various other projects. (I left the cord in another bag)

I did use most of lunch to try to catch up with all the blogs I follow.  I’ve gotten a bit behind.

News articles left me feeling more misanthropic and politically annoyed than usual and I may rant about it at another time.  If I remember.

Half a dose of Pain Killer PM is enough to make you drowsy enough to sleep through alarms but is not enough pain killer to make a pulled muscle and headache go away quickly.  I’m pretty sure it was the cat’s fault.

Coffee taste never lives up to smell and it takes 14 creamers and 10 sugars to make it at least drinkable.

Why do people think their claims can be handled within three hours of being turned in?  In an age when 3 minutes in a microwave is too long to wait everything must get done instantly.  Right?

I’m rereading too many of my Terry Pratchett books.  I found myself writing about ‘punnes’, you know, plays on words.

I have a large stack of fantasy, mystery, sci-fi novels to read and I keep buying more, but they just seem to dark and I’m not in the mood for dark.  So I keep rereading the lighter, amusing stuff I already own.

Time may be up now.