Monday, May 31, 2010

When Dreams Bleed by Robin Cain

Synopsis From Back Cover:

A software genius with a knack for business, Frank’s been living the dream his whole life. He’s amassed money, success, and is now accumulating women, but someone out there thinks he’s gone too far.

Who is seeking revenge and why? His wife? His mistress? Or the shadow who’s been following his every move?

Just when he thinks he has anticipated his opponent’s next move a tragic car accident leaves him paralyzed, his life’s work is being stolen and his wife has disappeared. Just how far will someone go to teach him the correlation between deception and despair?

WHEN DREAMS BLEED examines temptation and the ensuing consequences in a contemporary world. It’s no secret that dreams come at a price, but what happens WHEN DREAMS BLEED?
I've been sitting on this review for a while now trying to figure out what I want to say about it.  When I first started this book, I was already in a bad mindset because I had just finished reading two books I didn't really like, one of which I absolutely hated, plus a third book that I couldn't finish.  So needless to say I wasn't in the best mood when I started this book.  I was wanting this book to get me out of my slump and unfortunately it didn't.
I was wanting to like this one and the makings of a really good mystery were there.  I found the storyline, overall, to be well crafted and meticulously thought out.  The hard work that the author put into this is obvious on every page and I appreciate the author's abundance of talent.  The complex relationships between the characters was interesting to read, and I never felt that the characters were acting in such a way that went against who they were. 
Now comes the two aspects of the book I didn't care too much for and I'm afraid that it's tainted my overall impressions of the book.  I'm not one that normally minds a large body count, which this book has, but when the two most important ones are done off page, I feel that the deaths don't mean as much.  That there wasn't much thought put into the deaths themselves, which is a disappointment when you can read all the thought put into the rest of the story line.  I'm also not a big fan of "throwaway deaths" and the one that takes place in this book cements that for me.  One of the minor characters that I never really liked all that much anyway, dies in such a manner that you're left trying to figure out what the point of it was.  There was no reason to kill her, and to kill her in such a way, after she finally makes a serious decision about her life, is just puzzling.  Even the death of the murderer is done in such a way that I'm more confused than anything else.
The death of the killer is a nice way to bring up the second aspect of the book that I didn't quite get.  While the killer is dying at the end of the book, they are talking to a picture of what I assume is long dead family member.  You are supposed to understand the motivation of the killer through this conversation, but I was at more of a loss then I was before it.  The motive is fuzzy and unclear to me and I'm not sure why the killer did what they did.
After all that being said, I can't say I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone else.  While I may not have enjoyed it as much as I would have liked, I would feel confident that others would. The author is wonderfully talented and I will be on the lookout for her other novels.
This will qualify for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Mailbox Monday for 5/31/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

Just one book this week.  I purchsed a paperback of  The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie

Synopsis From Back Cover:

A conjurer of skill with an instinct for detection, Mr. Harly Quin has an almost magical flair for appearing at the scene of the most remarkable crimes.  But is it just a trick of light that haunts his shadow with a ghostly apparition?  Is if fate that invites him to a New Year's Eve murder?  And what forces are at work when his car breaks down outside Royston Hall, an isolated estate with a deadly history?

Well here I am finishing up another book on my Agatha Christie self challenge and I must say that I'm still not sure what I'm really thinking about this one.  This is a collection of 12 short stories that she wrote over a long period of time that while they are mysteries, there is a very strong supernatural element to them.

They all feature Mr. Satterthwaite, a older gentleman who has lived his life through the observation of others.   When he encounters Mr. Harly Quin for the first time, he knows he's met someone that will bring about the "dramas" he so craves. 

Without an exemption Mr. Harly Quin arrives on the scene or in some other fashion and Mr. Satterthwaite through his own skills of observation is able to discern the truth of the crime involved.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories and am most appreciative of the fact that Mr. Harly Quin is not quite human, which is obvious from almost the beginning.

Now whether he is a angel or some sort of spirit who speaks on behalf of the dead is left up to your own imagination.  Either way he is an enigma of a character and I wish that Agatha Christie would have wrote more about him. 

Now from a mystery standpoint I found the stories to be thrilling and captivating.  Each one presents a new set of circumstances and challenges for Mr. Satterthwaite to figure out and come out on top of it.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to read really well crafted mystery writing with a tinge of the supernatural.

This will qualify for both the Thriller & Suspense 2010 Reading Challenge and the Typically British Reading Challenge 2010, both of which are hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Ben from Grizzly Adams

When I'm sitting down to write these posts, my mind has been wandering back to some of my favorite childhood TV shows.  I seem to have had a fondness for shows that either took place in the Wild West or shows that featured animals.  So I figured why not talk about one of my favorite characters from a show that not only took place on the frontier but featured one of the coolest animals ever to grace a television screen.

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams was loosely based on the life of Capen "Grizzly" Adams, who was a frontier trapper.  Now I'm sure that most people who remember this show would consider Grizzly Adams to be the main character of the show.  Now while I agree that his character was interesting to watch and his kindness to animals was to be admired, the reason I watched was to see Ben, the orphaned Grizzly bear that he adopted when he was just a cub.

Growing up (at least part of my childhood) on the North shore of Lake Superior, I had some great opportunities to see bear cubs in action, so bears have always been a fascination of mine.  Ben was the kind of bear that every little boy and I'm sure quite a few girls, would have loved to have around.  He was gentle and kind and you could just imagine yourself curling up with him and falling asleep.  He was that love able family dog that you could fall asleep in front of the TV with, taken to the next level.  Ben taught me, at a young age, the importance of taking care of our environment and the animals that we share this planet with.  He will always have a special place in my heart, and I always think of him when I happen upon a really cute Teddy Bear.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 05/24/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

This was another small week for me.  I won two books from Terri at Alexia's Books and Such... Spiral Hunt and Wild Hunt both by Margaret Ronald are ARC paperbacks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Zorro

Now I'm not going to talk about any other version of Zorro other than the Walt Disney version which aired from 1957-1959. 

In this version Guy Williams played Don Diego de la Vega, a university student recalled from Spain back to Los Angeles by his father, who wanted his help in fighting the villainous Captain Enrique Sanchez Monastario.  For reasons of his own, and unknown to his disappointed father, Diego felt that the only way he could effectively do that was by posing as a timid intellectual who doesn't have a backbone to speak of at all.

At night though he would dress up as Zorro, the masked righter of wrongs who will stop at nothing to protect those who need it the most.  As Zorro he is fearless and oh so witty.  What always amazed me, as a kid, was the brilliant use of the sword.  He had such control and dexterity with it, that as a kid I wanted to take fencing lessons, but was never able to.  Every time I pass by the fencing academy in town, I remember watching every episode of this show and it brings me back.

Zorro stands in that class of characters, along with Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, and Davy Crockett, who were the TV heroes of my childhood.  They were men who fought for what they believed in and never let the bad guys win.  They were who I looked up to as a kid and who I wanted to be when I grew up.  I owe them all a thanks for helping me, even if in a minute way, become the man I am today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I borrowed this meme from Susan over at Well-Mannered Frivolity, one of my favorite blogs to read on a daily basis. I thought this meme was wonderful so I wanted to do it myself.

If I was...
a month I'd be December
a day of the week I'd be Sunday
a time of the day I'd be Dusk

If I was...
a sea animal I'd be a Manta Ray
a direction I'd be North
a piece of furniture I'd be a Overstuffed Couch
a liquid I'd be Hot Tea

If I was...
a gemstone I'd be Peridot
a tree I'd be a Birch
a tool I'd be a Hammer
a kind of weather I'd be a Thunder Storm

If I was...
a musical instrument I'd be a Violin
a color I'd be Blue
an emotion I'd be Happiness
a fruit I'd be a Orange

If I was...
a food I'd be Fresh Baked Bread
a material I'd be Corduroy
a scent I'd be Lime
a flavor I'd be Butterscotch

If I was...
a sound I'd be a Laugh
an element I'd be Fire
a mammal I'd be a Lion
a phase of the moon I'd be Full

If I was...
a berry I'd be a Blueberry
a bird I'd be a Common Loon
a book I'd be The Neverending Story
a place I'd be The Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Secret Keeper by Dorien Grey

Synopsis From The Back Cover:

What happens when you take a 90-year-old multi-millionaire, add his dysfunctional and greedy family, a garden, a private detective's good-natured partner, a questionable suicide, a missing will, and a secret passed on without the recipient's knowledge?  Why, book #13 in the popular Dick Hardesty Mystery series, of course.

When Clarence Bement's death is ruled a suicide, his grandson Mel doesn't believe it, and hires PI Dick Hardesty to prove it was murder.  There's no lack of suspects, given Bement's less-than-cordial relationship with most of his offspring, and when rumor arises he'd made a new will before his death it provides a reason why someone likely wanted him dead.

It's up to Hardesty to find out the truth, and unravel the tangled secrets that may be putting the ones he loves in deadly danger.

I've been dreading this review for a while because this was another book I really wanted to like, but I didn't.  I'm not even sure I could say I tolerated it.  It was actually painful to read, wincing occurred.  So this review will be rather short, because I really don't have much of anything nice to say about it.

Now maybe I was wanting to like this book for all the wrong reasons.  As a gay man and a mystery lover, it probably comes as no surprise that I enjoy mysteries where the protagonist is a good looking guy who happens to like other good looking guys.  I've been reading them since high school and when they are good, such as those written by Joseph Hansen, Mark Richard Zubro, Michael Nava, R.D. Zimmerman, and Richard Stevenson, they are fantastic.  They capture the imagination and pull you into the story, this book did not.

With a pen name like Dorien Grey and a main character with the name of Dick Hardesty, I would have assumed that I would love the book.  I was expecting wit and style that was sorely lacking, actually it was completely missing.  What hurt so much, was the missed opportunity this book displayed to me.  The plot, while not all that original, was well thought out and believable and characters are well conceived, but are so one dimensional, you really don't care about anything that happens to them.  The bare bones of a good story were there, unfortunately I have to chalk it up to bad writing.

Nothing about the writing felt like it was well planned out or even revised from a first draft.  There are these odd breaks in the story were one section end and another starts.  They read, especially the first part of the book, almost like journal entries.  I'm pretty sure they weren't supposed to be though.  It threw the pacing of the book off kilter and I was never really able to get into any sort of rhythm while reading it.

If anyone would like to explore what good gay mystery writing is, please check out some books by the authors I listed earlier.  Leave this book alone.

Mailbox Monday for 05/17/2010

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

This was a light week for me, but better than the week before when I got no new books.  It's actually nice not to add tons of books to my growing stacks every week.

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White and Psychic by Sylvia Browne are for upcoming TLC Book Tours. 

Try Darkness by James Scott Bell was a win from Jennifer at Crazy For Books.

Winner of Sex Gone Wrong Announced!

Sorry everyone, I'm really late announcing the winner of my bad sex song contest, so with no further ado:

The Winner Is.....VR Barkowski

She nominated "Squeeze Box" by The Who which was clearly everyones favorite bad sex song.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Jay Porter has long since made peace with not living the American Dream.  He runs his fledgling practice out of a dingy Houston strip mall-where his most promising client is a low-rent call girl-and he's determined to leave the sins of his past buried: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him.  That is, until the night he saves a woman from drowning and inadvertently opens a Pandora's box.  Her secrets reach into the upper echelons of Houston's corporate power brokers and ensnare Jay in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family...even his life.

Houston, TX in 1981 was a city built on oil, political corruption, and one festering with racial tension.  Jay is trying to live his life and provide for his coming family, but seems to be having a hard time doing it.  He doesn't have many paying clients and the few he does have aren't making him rich.  When the birthday celebration he planned for his pregnant takes a horrible turn, his life is thrown into chaos that threatens to bring his college indescretions back to his present.  Jay, because of his past, lives on a almost paranoid ledge that he never seems to be able to climb off of.  He sleeps with a gun under his pillow plus owns 2 others.  He's scared of the police and what could happen if he were to tell the police what happened the night of his wife's birthday.

The book is an account of what happens in his head and in his life when forces out of his control drag him into a conspiracy that he has no way of figuring out who all the players are.  This is where the book started to lose me.  There are a lot of secondary charcaters, that while you know they are neccesary to the storyline, don't seem to be fully fleshed out.  At times it's almost hard, at least for me, to keep track of who everyone is and where exactly they fit into the story.  The main bad guy of the book, is barely seen, and when he does make an occastional appearance, it's brief and fleeting.  I wanted more of the motivations from the man himself.  Without anything being told from his point of view, the premise didn't seem to be as real as it could have been.

My other problem was where the book ended.  The book ends at a place that is good for Jay.  His life seems to be claming down, his baby is newly born, and his career is starting to take on new aspect.  What the book is missing is the solution to the conspiracy that caused all the problems to being with.  What I wanted to see was the trial, and how Jay would handle such a large case.  Would the Bad Guy continue to use intimidation to fight back even with the civil suit going forward?  The book ended in such a way that if it was a TV show, I would expect a continuation message at the bottom of the screen.

Now I know I'm in the minority on this one, most of the reviews I read before I started reading the book were glowingly positive.  This was a book I had every intention of loving, and maybe my problem lies there.  I went into it thinking I was going to fall in love, and I just felt lukewarm like for it.  Everything that normally makes me love a book were there, including a setting that was perfectly chosen to frame a plot and a cast of characters that seemed to be at home amongst the events enfolding for the reader.  The author is a brilliant wordsmith who can describe a scene in such detail that I would feel like I was there.  She is truly talented and I would be more than happy to read her next novel, I just wish I would have liked this one more. 

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.

Please visit Attica Locke at her website to find out more about her.

Vist more stops on the tour to find out what other great bloggers thought.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Simon Sivelle

When I was thinking of my FFC today I was trying to figure out who to do until I poured some lemonade into my Simon glass from Hardees and I awas like "Eureka," I've done Brainy Smurf already, why not do my other "nerdy" hero.

Simon was always my favorite of the three Chipmunk boys.  Now I'm not that familiar with the earlier version of him or with the movies that came out a few years ago, but I'm in love with the character that appeared in the animated series that ran from 1983-1990.  Not only was he smarter than Einstein but he was way cool because he played in a band.  When I started having to wear glasses at a young age, Simon (and this is going to sound silly) was one of the things that made me feel better about having to wear them.  Wear glasses for the first time was ackward for me and since we were pretty poor my mom couldn't really afford what passed for stylish glasses in the early 80s.  Needless to say I ended up having to wear some pretty ugly ones, but seeing this really smart and cool character on TV, made me feel better about it.

While I liked all 3 of the boys, Simon just seemed to be the glue that held them together.  Without Simon, Alvin never would have been able to pull most of the schemes that he attempted.  Simon was the one who was smart enough to put Alvin's plans into action.  Theodore needs Simon's strength to keep him from always being pulled into mischief by Alvin.  Without Simon the other two would be lost.

Simon will always hold a special place in my heart, especially everytime I drink out of that glass.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let The Right One In

Synopsis From Backcover:

Lonely, 12 year-old Oskar is regulary bullied by his stronger classmates.  A new friendship develops when Eli, a pale, serious young girl who only comes out at night moves in next door.  Coinciding with her arrival is a series of inexplicable disapperances and murders.  As Oskar becomes more aware of Eli's tragic plight, he cannot forsake her.  However, Eli knows that to continue living, she must keep relocating.  But when Oskar faces his darkest hour, Eli returns to defend him the only way she can...

I don't think I can ever stress how much I really loved this movie.  It is so rare for me to truly love a vampire movie that was made post The Lost Boys.  I can probably count on one hand how many I've truly enjoyed since then.  John Carpenter's Vampires was a dissapointment, Dracula 200 was just OK, The Forsaken should have been forsaken, and don't even get me started on the Twilight movies.  I get really excited when a new one comes out and I'm almost always dissapointed.  So when I kept hearing great things about Let The Right One In, I took it with a grain of salt.  And since it never came to Wichita, I never had a chance to see for myself if reality live up to the hype.  So when I was at Barnes & Noble and saw it on sale for $9.99 I figured, what the hell.  Let's see if it's as good as I've heard.

Thank frickin goodness I went with my impulse buy.  There was nothing about this movie I didn't love.  Oskar is this lost, little boy who is horribly bullied by the other boys in his class, so when he meets the mysterious little girl who just moved into his building, he grabs at the chance for friendship with everything in him.  Little does he know that his new friend is a vampire trapped in a childs body for all eternity.  And little does either of them know of the dangerous and dark paths their friendship will take them down.  I'm going to leave my description of the storyline right there, I don't want to give too much away. 

The filiming of this was brillianty done, there is not one frame that was wasted.  Angles and shots were used to heighten the tension level and keep the audience on their toes. There was a level of tension throughout the movie that was balanced with the need to drive the storyline and make you care for the two main characters even when things are being done you probably wouldn't agree with. 

Now with all the praise I've heaped on this movie so far, I'm a little hesistant to say this next bit of information.  If I had to say that ther was anything wrong with the movie, and it would be under duress, it would be the fact that the ending seemed a little hurried and maybe a trifle bit forced.  I didn't mind what happened in the ending, I just had a slight issue with the pace of it.  However, it had no effect on my feelings towards the movie as a whole.  It was a brilliant masterpiece of suspense and horror.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne, 1917-2010

I was saddened to read about the death of one of my favorite performers.  Lean Horne, for me, personified beauty and grace under any condition.  The fact that she had a beautiful voice and was a captivating actress, didn't hurt.  Even during the Red Scare of the 1950s that left her blacklisted in Hollywood, she kept her head held high and came out on top.  She will be missed by the millions of her fans, of which I'm honored to say I'm one of.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

Synopsis From The Back Cover:

Inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener and his wife, this tender portrait of a marriage asks:  What do you do when someone you love wants to change?  It starts with a question, a simple favor asked of a husband by his wife on an afternoon chilled by the Baltic wind while both are painting in their studio.  Her portrait model has canceled, would he slip into a pair of women's shoes and stocking for a few moments so she can finish painting on time?  "Of course," he answers, "Anything at all."  With that, one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the twentieth century begins.

I had agreed to participate on this TLC Book Tour with a little trepidation.  As a gay man I have always been a little leery of becoming too involved in anything that even hints at transsexualism, mainly because of the questions that are normally asked by overly curious and naive straight people.  I can't even tell you how many times I've been asked if I wanted to be a woman.  For the most part the intentions behind the question aren't malicious, but either way it's just an annoying question.  It's just assumed, by some, that since I'm gay that somehow I want to be a woman, or I want the other guy to become a woman.  Needless to say neither is the case.

The reason I decided to read, review the book is because I wanted to explore my own feelings about the transsexual community, which to be honest, I don't always understand nor have I always wanted to understand.  Growing up gay was hard enough for me to deal with, I couldn't imagine what having to deal with gender identity issues would add on top of that.  Now I knew, reading one fictionalized account of a single individual wouldn't give me a broad understanding of the issue, but I was hoping that it would give me a nice base to start out with.

Now that I got my motivation out of the way, I must say that this book gave me what I wanted.  It allowed me to explore my own feelings by witnessing the transformation of Einar Wegener into Lili Elbe.  Einar was a respected Danish painter who specialized in landscapes ( I was only able to find one example of his works, Vue d'Italie, online though I found other mentions of his paintings).  He is a rather quiet man who doesn't communicate with others very well and seems to be slowly turning in on himself.  He seems uncomfortable in his skin, like he doesn't quite belong in his body.   Lili on the other hand is vibrant and alive.  She wants to experience everything life has to offer.  She is the butterfly to Einar's caterpillar.

The book opens when his wife Greta (Gerda in real life) asks him to help her finish a portrait.  Her model, opera singer Anna Fonsmark, had canceled on her and she needed someone to model the stockings and shoes so she could complete the portrait on time.  At first Einar is unsure of the situation, feeling a little apprehensive and excited all at the same time.  He agrees to help her, and the rest of the book chronicles the aftermath of that simple request.

Their relationship if central to this book, without the loving relationship they had between eachother, I'm not sure that Lili Elbe would have ever been born.  It was Greta's love and understanding that allowed Einar to become Lili.  The story is both a love story between Great and Einar, but also one between Great and Lili.  The book examines what happens in a marriage when one of the parties decides that they are in fact the opposite gender.  How does a marriage survive that?  How does the relationship change?  Which it has to do, these two individuals have to discover how to transition form a relationship built upon marriage to that of friends, maybe even sisters.

You can tell that Greta loves Einar, that she wants to protect, and shelter him from all that can harm him.  For me she was the hero of the book, she shunts her own feelings aside to make sure Einar can become the person he needs to be.  She is his backbone, encouraging him to become Lili.  She shows Lili how to dress, accompanies her on outings, and even introduces her to the general public where Lili starts to feel her growing attraction to men and her need to be loved.  When Einar starts to physically weaken, when the stress of constantly going back and forth between being Einar and Lili, starts to kill him, it's Greta that pushes him to go to the doctor.  It's Greta who finds the one doctor that takes what Einar and Lili are feeling seriously.  It's Greta that supports Einar's decision to undergo experimental surgery and to become Lili once and for all.  Greta is the catalyst that allows Lili to be born, but also allows Einar to pass away.

Now at the same time, she is benefiting from this transformation. It's her portraits of Lili that catapults her to success as a painter, the painting I found is called La Sophistiquette, and while I can't assume that it is of Lili, it's what I would think the portraits of her would have been like .  She is always wanting Einar to bring Lili out and pose for her.  So as a reader you are always wondering about her motivation a bit, plus you have the aspect of this not being a very sexual relationship.  Is Greta helping Einar down the path of becoming Lili based out of pure love?  I'm not really sure.  I think 99% of it was, but I think the other 1% was career aspiration and maybe even a little bit of wanting to see their marriage to end.  Maybe then she could find someone she does have that physical connection with, which she does by the end of the book.  I don't even think that 1% was intentional on her part, it felt more subconscious.

By the time the book came to a close, I wasn't ready for it to end.  I had become lost in this private struggle for identity and acceptance.  I had become enamored by the truly loving relationship that the three of them had together.  I have found a new admiration for transgender individuals who are simply wanting to be who they are outside to match who they are on the inside.  I will no longer be annoyed with misguided heterosexuals when they ask me if I want to be a woman.  I will simply answer the question truthfully and let it go from there.  I can only hope that I can show half the strength and courage that Lili and the millions like her show everyday by simply being who they are.  I'm glad I read this book, and while this review can't fully explain what a truly wonderful experience it was to read it, I hope that everyone who reads this review takes the time to discover it for themselves.

I would like to thank Lisa of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to participate on this tour.

You can visit David Ebershoff's website where you will find a description of the book that is more eloquent and makes a hell of a lot more sense than my rambling thoughts.  You will also find a audio download of Uma Thurman reading the first chapter of the book as well as info on the upcoming movie adaptation of The Danish Girl.

You can find other stops on the tour by clicking here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Venice Challenge

The last thing I need to do this late in the year is sign up for another challenge, but this one is all about a beautiful city in one of my favorite countries on Earth, so I had to sign up.  Tasha over at Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books came up with the brilliant idea, and I'm so glad she did.

The Challenge runs 05/01/2010 through 05/01/2011, which is plenty of time to read 6 books, which is required for the challenge.  The best part is that the book can be fiction or non-fiction, and since I have two non-fiction books hanging around here somewhere, this gives me the perfect excuse to read them finally.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Davy Crockett Two Movie Set

I have been a member of the Disney Movie Rewards for a while now, which is the wise thing to do since we buy so many Disney movies, and I finally traded in some points and got this wonderful two movie collection.  We finally finsihed watching it the other day and both Aidan and I loved it. 

For me it was a walk down memory lane, revisiting one of my childhood idols who could werestle an alligator and fight a bear with his bare hands.  Now do I really think he did that in real life, probably not, but half the fun of Davy Crockett is the legend that built up around him.  Not matter what Davy Crockett did, the story was always bigger than the truth.  Whether fighting in the Indian Wars or taking his last stand at the Alamo, Davy was an iconic image of what it meant to be not only an American but what it was to be a man as well.  I looked up to him and these two movies made me remember why I did in the first place.

I think Aidan mainly liked it for the fight scenes between the U.S. Army and the Indians and then between the heroes in the Alamo and the Mexican army.  I found myself having to explain certain things to him at the end of watching them, like he didn't understand that Davy died at the Alamo.  He thought the closing scene where Davy was the lone survior and he's fighting the Mexican army, then it fades to black, meant that Davy beat them all single handidly.  Now since we've watched the movie he has been looking up information on the Alamo, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie.  Now while I don't really think this movie was a accurate description of the history of what happened in the Alamo, at least it got Aidan intersted in knowing more about it. 

The first movie in the set was, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, which shows Davy as he is fighting in the Indian Wars as a scout and mediator to some of the Indian tribes.  It also accounts his rise in the U.S. Congress and how he ended up in the Alamo to begin with. 

The second movie, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates, takes place either before the first movie or somewhere in the middle of it.  I'm not really sure, and I don't think anyone else knows either.  It features Davy and his best friend George, played by Buddy Ebsn, heading down the Mississippie river to New Orleans in order to sell their furs.  Along the way they encounter river pirates, engage in a heated race, and become friends with the King of the River.  It's more light hearted and humourus then the first movie, and is just a lot of fun to watch.

I would highly suggest anyone who remembers these movies to watch them once again.  It will bring you back to your childhood, sitting on the floor in front of the TV, getting lost in adventures you could only dream of.  Share it with your kids, let them see for themselves, how good TV was back in the day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character --- Alex Logan

One of my favorite movies from the 80s is The Last Starfighter, which starred Lance Guest as Alex Logan, the intrepid video gamer who gets a chance to save the universe.

Alex is a young man who is living in a trailer park with his mother and youger brother.  He has a girlfriend, played by Catherine Mary Stewart, but life seems to be pretty boring for him.  When he isn't fullfulling his duties as the handyman for the residents, he spends his time playing Starfighter.

What Alex doesn't know is that the game is actually a testing device created to find those worthy of becoming Starfighters, the universes best chance of defeating the evil Ko-Dan empire which is trying to wipe out the Rylan Star League.  When Alex beats the highest score, he is recruited by the game inventor and brought out to space were he is enlisted and trained as a starfighter.  Needless to say he helps win the day and defeat the incursion, but some of the bad guys escape and Alex is face with a pretty tough choice.  Does he go back home and forget this ever happened or does he stay and help train a new generation of Starfighters to defend against future hostilitites?  He does what any true hero would do, he returns home, tells his family what happened, and takes his girlfriend back to outerspace to keep us all safe.

What I enjoy about Alex, and other heroes like him, is that he is just a regular guy who finds himself in a situation where he can make a difference and save the day.  What makes these heroes special, is that they don't run away, even when the are scared out of their minds.  They stick around and fight.  They do their best, hoping that in the end, it's enough.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Baked beans and boiled eggs.  That's what my houseguest, the Barvarian princess, will have to eat if I don't get help posthaste.  The Queen of England has requested I entertain said princess, placing her in the playboy prince's path, in hopes he might finally marry.

But queens never consider money, of which I have little.  And which is why I moonlight as a maid-in-disguise.  My plans:
  1. Clean house in manner of palace.
  2. Blackmail brother, Binky, into sending a few quid.
  3. Unteach Princess Hanni English from gangster movies-lest she address the queen as "old broad".
  4. Keep eye on princess at parties, where she drinks like a fish.
Then there's the matter of the body in the bookshop and Hanni's unwitting involvement with the communist party.  It's enough to drive a girl mad...

So says the heroine of the book, Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie of Glen Garry and Rannoch, know to her friends as Georgie.  This is the second book the Royal Spyness Mystery series, the first of which was Her Royal Spyness.  As is the first book, Georgie is a fun, engaging character that you can't help but like.  She is trying to deal with the fact that she is a broke member of the royal family, who has duties to perform for the crown but no way to pay for it.  Because she is in line for the throne, even though distantly, she isn't allowed to get a common job.  So she is forced to open her own buisness, cleaning the house of nobles who are coming to town and need their city home opened for them.

Even then she is livinig in her family home with no servants and only two of the rooms in liveable condition.  So when the queen summoned her to the palace and "suggests" the visiting princess stays with her, what can she do but nod her head and scramble to find a way to live up to her duty.  The vast majority of the book accounts the lengths and laughs (the readers) that Georgie goes to.  From keeping the princess from shoplifting and ordering jewels she can't afford to attending wonderful parties where young men plummet to their death over a railing, Georgie does it with wit and style.

Her best friend Belinda, the Irish rogue Mr. Darcy O'Mara, and Georgie's actress and commoner mother all make appearances in this book once again, though I wish they had been around a bit more.  They are all wonderful characters but for the most part they felt a little one dimensional in this installment.  I would like to see Georgie's relationship with her mother grow a little bit more and I would love for Darcy to become more of a focal point in a future book.  I did love that Georgie's grandfather on her mother's side, appears a great deal more in this one.  He is a fantastic character who adds that common sense and stability that Georgie needs.

The mystery is well planned out, with subtle clues spread throughout the book.  It is has a nice combination of political intrigue, german spies, murder, and hidden identities.  It is the perfect blend to keep the reader engaged and entertained.  Now there are a few twists and turns in the book that will keep you guessing to the end, but when the true identity of the killer is revealed, you will go that does make sense.  This was a brilliant addition to what I hope becomes a long lasting series. 

I would like to thank Deb of Bookmagic for introducing me to the series.  This book will qualify for the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 hosted by Carolyn of Book Chick City.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mailbox Monday for 5/3/10

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page

Our library had their annual sale so I stopped in the other day before I went to work and bought a few books.  The hardcovers were $1 and the paperbacks were $.50.  I haven't been reading plays lately so I bought two in hardcover, Veronica's Room and Death Trap both by Ira Levin.  I also picked up Belgarath The Sorcerer by David and Leigh Eddings in hardcover, a really old copy of Walden and "Civil Disobedieance " by Henry David Thoreau in paperback, Great Tales And Poems of Edgar Allan Poe in paperback, and a bookclub hardcover of Family Album by Danielle Steel, don't ask.

On a trip to Barnes & Noble to exchange some books I didn't want, I picked up a harcover of The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry off the bargain table, a paperback of The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Chrisite, a trade paperback of Daywatch by Sergei Lukyanenko, and the DVD of Let The Right One In.

Sex Gone Wrong...Songs Done Badly....Voting!

I've picked my 5 favorite songs, which wasn't hard to do since there was only 6 nominated, so the voting round is now open.  Voting will end on 05/08/10 at 11:59 pm.  If for some reason there is a tie, I will pick the winner. The winner will get a $15 itunes gift card.

The first song is "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard nominated by Stephanie of Misfit Salon.

Up next is "Cradle of Love" by Billy Idol which was nominated by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

Third is "Squeeze Box" by The Who, nominated by VR Barkowski who has A Writers Blog.

"Too Drunk..." by Buckcherry is the fourth song, nominated by T.J. Carson's on her Writing Endeavor.

The last song is "Little Red Corvette" by Prince, nominated by Lisa Gibson from Random Thoughts to String Together.

Good luck to all the nominated songs!