Monday, June 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Classic Books

It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week's topic is Top Ten Classic Books.  I have been trying to get classics into my reading list every now and then.  I really love classics to be honest.  I keep meaning to join the Classic's Club which is a great online community but just haven't made the time.  Alas!

I really want to get better at creating graphics for the blog. On Top Ten Tuesday I see a lot of blogs do neat graphics to display the books they pick.  So I am going to start practicing and figuring out Picmonkey.  I wish there were a few more tutorials out there about the website but I haven't found very many. That's OK though.. it's a lot of fun to try new things.  So whenever the topic interests me for Top Ten I am going to try to do something fun!

Well off to my list:

1.  Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
2.  Dracule by Bram Stoker
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
4. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
5. I Capture the Castle by Dottie Smith
6. The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse
7. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alex Dumas

What about you??  Do you have a great classic you love ???  Also.. any tips on Picmonkey?  Or have you found any great tutorials for it?

Max the Curse of Brotherhood Video Game Review

I have been really enjoying playing Max The Curse of Brotherhood lately. The art work is great... this is only the second game (other then Titanfall) that I have played on the Xbox One.  The graphics are great.  The story is really fun .. where Max's brother Felix gets captured by an unknown evil villain.  So basically you go through these magical worlds playing as Max trying to save Felix. While traveling along you gain access to new powers (like making vines, branches, water).  In order to control these powers you use a pencil (see picture below). 

There are a lot of good puzzles in the game... some that frustrated me so much I would go and google the walkthrough to get through the part. Luckily... there are a lot of check points in the game, so when I failed it was easy to not get discouraged having to have to start off way back in the game.  This game is currently free with Gold for Xbox One and is free through July 2014.  I was a little disappointed that it is the free game for both June and July.  Really there couldn't be a new game for July?  Surely there are plenty of Indie games out there wanting to be accessed by Xbox One players. 

The enemies in the game you don't actually ever kill.  You just have to figure out how to avoid them.  Also, there are a couple of side quests.  One that involves running around and pulling some spy eyeballs out of the ground where the villain is watching.  You gather like 75 of them .. I am not a side quest person all the time so I just would grab them if they were easy.   The game is also a decent time length.  I didn't feel like it was too long or too short.

I think this is a game that is pretty fun and exciting.  I have been frustrated at some levels but that has made the game even more challenging and not too hard. The music is a fun too.  I love that there is a great story going on while you are playing. Be sure to give this game a shot... it is really engaging.  I give this game 8 out of 10. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Book of Three by Llyod Alexander- Review

I recently picked up the Book of Three which is the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain series by Llyod Alexander.  I am reading this series for my Project Disney The Black Cauldron movie.  Which is a swear one of the least favorite Disney movies.  I have of course heard of this series before but never took the time to read.  Here is the goodreads description:

Taran dreams of adventure, but nothing exciting ever happens to an Assistant Pig-Keeper--until his pig runs away. A chase through the woods leads Taran far from home and into great danger, for evil prowls the land of Prydain. With a collection of strange and wonderful friends whom he meets on his journey, Taran finds himself fighting so that good may triumph over evil--and so that his beloved home will not fall to a diabolical fiend 


I am conflicted about this book.  While it is good it also drags at some parts. Let's just say what this book is... Lord of the Rings (LOTR).  Yes, it is different.  But a lot of it parallels LOTR. But I still think it's a great high fantasy for middle school readers.  The villain in the book is truly a great villain, the Horned King. He wears human skulls and his arms are covered in blood. The book is full of fun magical creatures.  Witches, Dwarves, zombies, princesses... everything you could want in a fantasy.  I also liked the description of the world.  World building is important in fantasy books, this one even includes a map at the front.  Which I think all high fantasy books should have. 
I did enjoy the characters in this book which is one of the reasons I think I enjoyed it.  Taran the main character and our hero is not your typical hero.  He doubts himself and really just succeeds by luck and help from others. He even knows this.  Our princess is Eilonwy who is a great strong character in the book... very snarky and I love it. She is trying to be a sorceress but not having much luck. I wish I had read this book as a kid.  Most of the reviews I've read have people loving this book from when they were younger. 

The book cover confuses me and I can't get it off my mind.  I took a picture of it to show it here.  There is a scene on it of people riding horses.  On the backside of the book there is a horse with a big black blob on it and I just can't figure out for the life of me what it is!!  It looks like the horse is dead and there is a person laying next to it.. and then a big black blob!

If you are looking for a great fantasy series that isn't too hard to read this is perfect.  Short and sweet.  Though it does compare a little too much to LOTR it still does make a fun read.

The crystal ball says:

Fog is coming.....  in the middle of the road on this book!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunday Post

Let's chat about what's going on this week... on my blog.. on other blogs... on the internet... and just everywhere!    I link up my post to Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves.

This past two weeks I have been so sick with pneumonia.  It was bad.  So sick.  Soooo I was a little behind on blogging and what not.  But I am back.  For those of you who have been patiently waiting for my new blog look it should be very soon now.    I have seen it and posted a sneak peak on my instagram account (if you follow there).  We are just working out the last kinks and then it should be up!!  I am really really really hoping for this week.

On the blog:
-I attend the  Denver Comic Con - 2014 and geekyness explodes!
-I participate in the Summer Library Challenge and chat about libraries.
-A New Comic Adventures this week...  Issue #13 (Wonder Woman, Jack of Fables, Aquaman, Batman).
-I chat with all of you about Being sick and blogging: THE HORROR...seriously.. it's awful. 
-I review Scarlet by Marissa Meyer- Review
- A new Project Disney- The Black Cauldron have you actually seen this movie?  Most haven't even heard of this Disney film. 

In the blogospere:
-I love this post about making an audiobook by Annie Jackson.  I just think .. someone sits down at a mic and read the book.  But there is so much more to it.
- The Pegster Reads has a great series on her blog right now about working at the Coroner's Office.  I find this facinating.  I love to learn about new things... especially jobs I am not familiar with.
- A wonderful post about depression ... perfect for this month since it is Mental Health Awareness month by Oh the Books. 
- You guys!  There is going to be a New Balance line of shoes based on authors!!!!!

Jimmy Fallon has been pretty funny on the Tonight Show... I have really loved him on there.  This video is hilarious!

Books Books Books
I am currently reading Cress by Marissa Meyer.  I am really enjoying it.  I didn't pick up anything from the library this week.  I was actually supposed to be on vacation visiting my parents and then got sick so I stayed home.  So my account was on a vacation hold.  Next week I am sure I will have loads to pick up.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Project Disney- The Black Cauldron

Project Disney: The plan is to tackle all of the Disney films, re-reading the classic stories and tales that inspired many of them and to look at how the changes the filmmakers made, the new elements they introduced and the essential elements they kept. We will, of course, be talking about the films as movies as well, saying why we enjoy them and what some of our favorite moments are, but our focus will be on looking at them as adaptations. For the films that are not drawn from any one work we’ll be looking at some of the possible literary influences that we see in the stories. I am participating in Project Disney inspired by Picture Me Reading!  

The Black Cauldron is surprisingly a Disney movie I may not have seen recently. In fact... I don't even remember it though I am sure I watched it as a child. It came out in 1985 and I for sure saw all the movie back then. The movie is based off the first two books in the Chronicles of Prydain series by Llyod Alexander.  The first is called the Book of Three and the second is called The Black Cauldron written in 1964.

I didn't love this movie.  I don't know what it is... this is a darker Disney film.  More for adults I think then kids.  There are no songs in this film.  Really this is a big fantasy novel series for young adults so I give Disney props for attempting to make this a film. This is like Disney's Lord of the Rings. Lloyd Alexander's reaction was this: "First, I have to say, there is no resemblance between the movie and the book. Having said that, the movie in itself, purely as a movie, I found to be very enjoyable." You usually don't get an author who is alive to be able to talk about the Disney movie based off their book.

I have a feeling most of you, like me haven't really seen this film.  So let's talk about what the movie is about. The movie follows a young man named Taran who is an Assistant Pig Keeper at a farm.  The pig is named Hen Wen and she can tell the future.  Hen Wen tells Taran that the Horned King is looking for the Black Cauldron so that he can unleash it's power. The Horned King is also after Hen Wen since he knows of her powers.  So Taran and the pig head to a cottage to hide.  While they are on their way to the cottage Taran daydreams about being a big hero and loses Hen Wen. Now we get introduced to one of the worst characters in Disney film, Gurgi.  Ughh... in the movie this creature is presented as a dog, the book he is a cross between a human and a beast.  In the movie.. this dog is more like Jar-Jar Binks (Star Wars character).. or really Gollum.  Seriously he sounds just like Gollum.  In the book.. he is a much more agreeable character.

Next up in the movie we see Hen Wen being attacked and sent to Mordor oh wait.. umm the Horned King's castle. So of course Taran follows.  Hen Wen is forced to tell the King where the Black Cauldron is.  Taran falls in through the ceiling and is captured. Next we see him in the dungeons. While in the dungeon he meets Princess Eiloney (who by the way is the one of the only Disney princesses who is a princess by birth not marriage). They go to escape the dungeon and find a tomb of a king where Taran takes the King's sword.  They also meet Fflewddue Fflam who is bard in the dungeon.  They escape from the castle where Taran discovers the sword is magic.

Do you seen Tinker Bell in this screen shot??

So they leave and run into Gurgi again.  While traveling they end up in a storm which takes them down to a cave where fairies live. The fairies reveal that the Black Cauldron is safe and hidden.  Taran declares he will destroy it. So they travel there where there are three witches guarding it.  The witches agree to trade the Black Cauldron for the sword that Taran found. The group is told that you can't destroy the cauldron but you can stop the evilness if a living being jumps into it willingly.  The Horned King shows up and takes the cauldron and the group back to his castle.  He uses the cauldron to bring back to life a group of zombie soldiers.  Taran decides he wants to jump into the cauldron to save everyone but Gurgi won't let him and jumps in himself. This destroys the army and sucks the Horned King into the cauldron and destroys him too.

They escape and the witches come back to get the cauldron.  The witches say they will give back the sword in place of the cauldron but the group demands Gurgi back.  So now he is back to life. They all go back to the farm.  Let's be honest... this film is so not typical of Disney. This is the first Disney movie to be rated PG and had to be cut down to not be rated PG-13. Disney does make a scary villain in this film though.. and I love that!

The book of course starts out much differently. It does begin with Hen Wen running off from the cottage.  Taran tries to hurry and go find him but instead runs into a great warrior Gwydion who is also looking for the pig. Gwydion is the person who gives Taran the name Assistant Pig Keeper.  They end up being captured in a totally different castle, though Taran does meet Princess Elioney there and Fflam.  It is actually Elioney that gets the sword and later in the first book gives it to Gwydion. Gwydion isn't in the story after the castle scene till the end of the story.

In the book Taran actually meets Fflam by accident.  Elioney decides to help Taran escape the castle for a little fun since she lives there with her evil aunt.  He tells her his friend (Gwydion) is in there somewhere and she knows someone is in the next cell.  So she helps that guy escape and then when Taran goes outside expecting to meet his friend he meets the bard instead. Who is just as surprised as everyone else.  They end up teaming up together.  Gurgi ends up with them because he kows Gwydion and then comes back to find him (he is missing) and he also ends up with the group.  The Horned King actually dies in this book and never has anything to actually do with the Black Cauldron.

The books are quite good.  A neat fantasy series that includes all the elements a fantasy would have.  I really enjoyed it.  The movie is one I have to watch again now that I have read the books.  Sometimes I find that watching a movie after reading a book can make for a better experience.  The film did so poorly at the box office that it didn't get released on home video for an entire decade!!  That is crazy to me. There are so many rumors about what was cut from this film to make it PG.  Honestly I don't think it's a terrible film but it just isn't my style.  I really do enjoy the books though.  Disney tried to make a great fantasy film but fell a little short with this one.

Be sure to check out my other Project Disney:
Snow White
Peter Pan
Treasure Planet
Sleeping Beauty
The Great Mouse Detective 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
Beauty and the Beast
Lady and the Tramp
Alice in Wonderland
The Rescuers
The Rescuers Down Under
Oliver and Company
The Little Mermaid
101 Dalmatians
Fantasia 2000
The Jungle Book
The Emperor's New Groove
The Sword in the Stone
The Aristocats
The Lion King
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Winnie the Pooh (2011)
Robin Hood
Mary Poppins
Lilo and Stitch  
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Make Mine Music
Fox and the Hound
Melody Time 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Follow Friday - Coffee Mugs

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

This is the day of the week where we get to know each other better by answering a question devised by our lovely hostesses Parajunkee & Alisoncanread   And now for this week's question....

Follow on Bloglovin

Q. Show us a picture of your favorite coffee mugs.

A.  I don't drink coffee.. yes I know.  I just don't like the stuff.  But of course I drink tea and hot chocolate and I have guests come by who do drink coffee so I do have some mugs hanging around.  Plus I have been sick with pneumonia this week so lots of hot drinks are just what I need.  If you follow me on instagram then I am sure you have seen some of my cool mugs:

Tonight since I am up making myself some good drink for this cough I thought I would take a picture of another mug for you guys. It's a moose that looks like Batman. We got that mug from Yellowstone. I love that one so much! And the art on those tea boxes are so fabulous!!!

What about you?? Any mugs you want to share.. link up to your Follow Friday or leave a picture of your favorite mug in the comments!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Being sick and blogging: THE HORROR

Ughh.. well I got sick.  It just was this little cough and then boom.. pneumonia.  So let's all take time now to be honest and think about being sick and blogging. If you have been blogging a long time you have probably been there.  Bad cold, bad day even.  You pull up your blog and get excited, then:

1. I have thought about the blog.. yes.  But then when I start to think of something to write about I'm like:

 2. The next day comes... I think gee I am going to just lay here in bed all day, this would be a great time to catch up on all these books from the library!

3. Ok... let's try visiting some of the blogs I follow and get a lot of commenting done! I am up all night coughing....

4. Eventually I just give up and lay here in bed wondering:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer- Review

There was no way I could wait much longer to read this book... which is the second in the series of the Lunar Chronicles.  Plus Cress the third book just finally came into the library so I had to really hurry. Here is the goodreads description

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.  

I love this series so much.  One of the better series I have read in a long time.  Could be that I love fairy tales so much???  I had no idea if I would like this book or not.  I mean... how many times has a second book in a series been awful?  Or just doesn't really move the series along? This is an excellent second book.  A few new characters are introduced and I think that is what really keeps this one going.  Plus we get to see Cinder (from book 1) and Scarlet's stories merge together into one... so while you are reading the book you are anticipating for this to happen.

These books also have a great cast of men.  And not those normal guys you read about in Young Adult books.  We have Kai, Thorne, and Wolf.  All enjoyable strong characters who are all completely different from one another.  My favorite so far is Thorne who has a great sense of humor.  His chemistry with Cinder is great. What I also liked about this book is there is a lot of back story going on here.  We are learning about the characters and this makes us feel connected.  I still like Cinder's story better then Scarlet.  Probably because since she is the first character we get to know.

I thought when I picked up this series that the whole series was out... well turns out there is a fourth book Winter still to come.  Sooo... I'll have to wait around for that one.  It was announced though that there will be a 5th book called Fairest that will be a prequel to the series.  What!!  It comes out in January so the good news is that it will hold me till November 2015 when Winter comes out. I just adore the cover!

The one thing about this series is we are never left guessing what is going to happen and who is who.  I remember discovering who Cinder was early on in her book and then in this book I guessed the connection between Cinder and Scarlet early on.  I suppose this is to make us want to just yell at the characters and tell them what is going to happen.  I love this series.  Well written plots and characters!

The crystal ball says:

Sun is shinning!!!  Great day to go outside and read this book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Winter by Marissa Meyer
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer