Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Remembrance For "Raiders"

Taking a quick break from the Book Challenge, I'd like to mention a particularly auspicious movie anniversary.

Thirty years ago today saw the theatrical release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, by most metrics one of the best films ever made. It's certainly one that had a measurable impact on me, even though I didn't actually see it until I was in my teens.

Once I did, however, it quickly became one of my favorite films*. A large part of this, I think is my appreciation for Indiana Jones as a character - he's a much more intellectual character than many similar heroes, and as many encounters with characters played by Pat Roach shows, isn't always (or even often) able to win a fight simply by overpowering his opponent.

Raiders is also a fairly tightly-plotted movie, moving along from scene to scene with just enough explanation to be understandable, without losing momentum.

And boy is there a lot of momentum.

Despite a few mis-steps (in particular, Brody's recounting of the Ark's appearances in the Bible has always seemed a bit exaggerated to me), it's easy to see why this movie is so highly regarded - and I'm sure that thirty more years won't change that at all.

*Although, to be truthful, I slightly prefer Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But only slightly.

Friday, June 10, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge - Days 3 & 4

Hmph - two posts in and already there's schedule slippage. Nothing to do but carry on, I suppose.

Day 3 – Your Favorite Series

Not surprisingly, there are quite a few different sets of books that could qualify for today's first category. The Chronicles of Narnia would be an obvious answer, if I weren't saving them for an upcoming day; as would the Dirk Pitt novels by Clive Cussler, and Terry Pratchet's Discworld series, both also favorites of mine. I ended up basing my decision on a number of factors - what series (I asked myself) am I most likely to recommend for someone looking for something new to read? What series do I buy new installments to immediately upon release? Most relevantly, what series jumped immediately to mind when I read the question? When I thought about it that way, one answer came readily to mind - The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.

Another reason to like the series is the great, if not always accurate, cover art by Chris McGrath.

Although it took a few installments to really settle in, the books telling the story of modern-day wizard Harry Dresden have been consistently high-quality in storytelling and world- and character building. Although we only learn about it in bits and pieces, there definitely seems to be a consistent backstory to the Files, and lots of things going on the background that Harry (our first-person narrator) doesn't seem to be aware of. It takes a skillful writer to pull this off properly, and so far I for one haven't been disappointed.

As the series has progressed, the characterization has also only improved, not that it was ever bad to begin with. This not only applies to the main characters, Harry and Karrin Murphy and the rest of the cast that appears in pretty much every book, but to just about everyone that appears - even characters who start out as one-note obstacles to Harry (I'm thinking of Morgan specifically here, who starts out in a fairly stereotypical unreasonable-lawman mode, but by the later books is considerably more sympathetic. And then - but I won't go into that). The books also deserve special mention for Michael Carpenter, easily one of the best Christian characters to be found in a secular novel of recent years.

Most importantly, The Dresden Files is fun to read, figuring out the whodunnit-and-why plots along with Harry, piecing together the backstory as Jim lets it out, and making guesses and deductions about where the series will ultimitely end up.

Day 4 – Favorite Book Of Your Favorite Series

Sunday, June 05, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge - Days 1 And 2

Recently I've been reading a blog called the Egotist's Club, which is just finishing up a month-long book-themed blogging challenge - it looks like it could be a fun idea, so I think I'm going to give it a try. There are 30 different topics to cover - conveniently, one for each day in June:

Day 1 – The best book you read last year
Day 2 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Day 3 – Your favorite series
Day 4 – Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 5 – A book that makes you happy
Day 6 – A book that makes you sad
Day 7 – Most underrated book
Day 8 – Most overrated book
Day 9 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 10 – Favorite classic book
Day 11 – A book you hated
Day 12 – A book you used to love but don’t anymore
Day 13 – Your favorite writer
Day 14 – Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 – Favorite male character
Day 16 – Favorite female character
Day 17 – Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Day 19 – Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 – Favorite romance book
Day 21 – Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 – Favorite book you own
Day 23 – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t
Day 24 – A book that you wish more people would’ve read
Day 25 – A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 – A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 – The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 – Favorite title
Day 29 – A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 – Your favorite book of all time

Of course, we're already a few days into the month, so I'll have to double up on the first few. In addition, I'm going to set a couple of other boundaries - no using the same book for two different days (although no promises about using different books by the same author, or from the same series), for example. Also, I might tweak the topics a bit as I write them up - but only a little.

So, having said that, let's get started, shall we?