Showing posts from March, 2017

Monday Musings: O'Brien Read/Watch: The Silver Crown

The Silver Crown  is O'Brien's first novel, published three years before Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH . It follows ten-year-old Ellen as she seeks to discover the origins of the silver crown that mysteriously appears on her pillow the morning of her birthday. After her home burns down and she is left an orphan, Ellen attempts to reach her Aunt Sarah in Kentucky, encountering many strangers and a few new friends along the way. While my edition of the book was put out by Aladdin Fantasy and is compared to The Lord of the Rings  in one of the back cover blurbs, I have to say that I found the book more reminiscent of science fiction novels like C.S. Lewis' Ransom books and L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time . (By the way, Wrinkle  preceded The Silver Crown  by five years.) The book also shares some similar philosophical musings with the show Person of Interest  (especially the show's last three seasons). Although the book opens with a fairy-tale-like tone with

Saturday Snippets: March Edition

It's time for more snippets from Albion Apparent ! “You are not like my other children, Bryn Skuldsdóttir. You have the heart of a Midgardian, but the spirit and drive of Asgard. I would more of our people felt as you do, that Midgard is a place to know and to love, not just to act.” He pushed back my hair and smiled, an action that reached even behind the eye patch. *** Harry opened his eyes again. “Someone mention me?” “No, dude,” said Merlin. “We were talking about that kid Larry down the street.” *** “Hey, Merl,” Harry said as we came in sight. “Don’t go freeing any more dragons while I’m gone, okay?” “I think we’re fresh out of dragons,” Merlin said, his smile stronger for Harry’s good humor. *** “Do you think one day we’ll die while color coding?” asked Dénsmore. The other two stopped and stared at her for a moment, Darity’s white tresses going straighter than usual, if it was possible. “I’m just saying,” Dénsmore continued. “Of all the things to be

Monday Musings: Why I Love (and Hate) A Series of Unfortunate Events

I recently finished listening to the final book in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the appropriately titled  The End . I've been reading this series off and on for the last two years, largely due to the praise and fandom over the series expressed by several of my online friends. I enjoyed the Jim Carrey film when it came out, but my first attempt to read the series failed because I didn't quite have a taste for dark humor when I was a teen. Turns out I enjoyed the tone of the books more as an adult than when I was in the series' target audience. And with the first season of the Netflix series available and the second one on the way, I'm taking a moment to look at my feelings on the series. Why I Love the Books The dark humor: the books are told with a dry, somewhat morbid tone that edges toward black comedy at times. I love good wit and sarcasm, especially in narration, and these books take that style to the best level. The larger mystery: t

ThrowBook Thursday: The Secret Garden

In last week's Watercolor Wednesday , I shared a piece inspired by one of the enduring quotations from my childhood, which I mentioned in a previous Top 10 . The quote was "If there's a key, there must be a door" from The Secret Garden . I've actually been thinking about this book a good bit lately, not only because of the watercolor piece, but because I finally tracked down a DVD copy of the Hallmark film from the 1980s. This is one of two film versions I remember watching as a child (the other being MGM's classic adaptation) and it is by far my favorite adaptation to date. (I will add that I also enjoy the musical adaptation, if for no other reason than that Mandy Patinkin can sing like nobody's business.) My appreciation of this book has grown over the years. While I'm more skeptical of the whole "positive thinking" aspect of the story, I still think having a positive environment and attitude can contribute to a person's health.

Monday Musings: We are All Orcs

When it comes to the various races of Tolkien's Middle-earth stories, most people usually have a favorite -- the one they'd most like to be. For many, it's the Elves -- beautiful, wise, and pretty darn close to immortal. Others may prefer the Dwarves, who are rowdy but skilled craftsmen. Or the Ainur -- angelic spirits who include the Istari (wizards like Gandalf), the Valar (archangels, guardians of the world), and the fallen spirits like Melkor, Sauron, and the Balrogs. There is one race that no one I've met has ever wanted to be part of -- the orcs. While orcs and similar races are often given a more nuanced role in some post-Tolkien fantasy, in the myth-maker's world orcs are corrupt by their very nature. They are servants of the dark, bound to the wills of fallen angels like Melkor and Sauron, but also given to their own bouts of greed and lust. But the thing is that -- although this is true of the orcs in most of the stories -- Tolkien doesn't start ou

Watercolor Wednesday: Postcards and the Secret Garden

It's time again for Watercolor Wednesday. I painted a couple more postcards this month as well as a quote piece for one of the quotes that didn't make it onto the larger quote collage last month. First up, the Cheshire Cat postcard. I loved how the Cheshire Cat turned out in last month's quote collage around the "c" in "Chance and careful planning" and wanted to try painting him on a larger scale. I'm pleased with the mixture of the colors this time around, though I had some trouble keeping the purple consistent. The grin remained pretty well defined too, considering I don't have any masking fluid to keep the space clear of paint. I didn't even attempt to paint the legs and paws because 1) I would have botched them terribly and 2) he's the Cheshire Cat, so he might just be phasing his limbs out of focus. We'll go with that. Next, my attempt to paint a sunset we observed on one of our drives home in the last few months.

Top 10(-ish) Books that weren't Better than the Movie

This list is going to be a bit unorthodox for two reasons. One, as the title suggests, there are films out there that I think are equal to or better than the books which inspired them (sacrilege, I know). Two, it's actually a top 11. Quest for Camelot This is not high on many people's list of fantastic films, but it was one of the first Arthurian movies I saw as a child (after Disney's Sword in the Stone ) and it holds a special place in my heart. It's based on Vera Chapman's short novel The Queen's Damosel , and the two have almost nothing in common. The reason I say the movie is better is this: the movie doesn't advocate adultery. Yep. This book excuses the main character's adultery because her marriage is a political one and her love for the blind man is . . . true love? The worst part of this is that one of the spiritual leaders in this young woman's life tells her God won't hold this against her for these reasons. It's baffling.

Monday Musings: O'Brien Read/Watch: Book vs. Movie and What I Want in the NIMH Remake

Since I didn't talk much about the film in my review of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH , and my post about The Secret of NIMH focused primarily on my reactions to the film after so many years, I thought I would take the time to talk about the differences between the two and my hopes for the new film (or film series). There are three major differences right off the bat. The first change is this: the title has been changed from the book to a more generic (and boy-friendly?) one for the film. This might have been due in part to the second major change: Mrs. Frisby is now Mrs. Brisby. I understand that the name change was prompted by copyright concerns with Frisbee, but honestly it caused my younger self a great deal of confusion as I wasn't always certain whether the characters in the film were saying Brisby or Frisby. When I found the book, I still wasn't sure which was correct. In any event, I hope the new film (or series of films) keeps the original title -- or at the