A Quest of Swords and Wizards: The Crown Conspiracy

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

Quest

So a quest? Which book to do? There are so, so many to choose from.

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I thought and thought and finally settled on:

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The Crown Conspiracy (The Riyria Revelations #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

I know I’ve talked about this before on here, but I wanted to bring it back as it was such a fantastic story.

Iloveit love

And I think more need to know about it.

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So four years ago I had just come back from class and after dropping off my bags and books I got on the computer to check my email. When I went on, I was notified by the school’s post office that I had received a package and needed to go pick it up as it was too big to put in my box.

ooh!

ooh!

I was surprised as I hadn’t ordered anything or was expecting anything from anyone, so I couldn’t wait to pick it up. When I got it, I didn’t recognize the sender’s label and had no clue who it was.

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When I got home I opened the package and saw Theft of Swords-Volume I of The Riyria Revelations containing The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan.

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I was completely puzzled. Who was this who sent this to me? How did I get it?

suspicious Hmm

Then I realized, I must have won it on GoodreadsGoodreads does drawings in which you win a free book, and all you have to do is give an honest review and post it on the site. I used to enter in every drawing for every book and the books I had won prior to this all had not been very good.

I don't like it 11

So when I received this book I wasn’t very thrilled to read it. In fact I put it off for a long time until my curiosity got the better of me. One day I decided to read a few pages and see what it was all about.

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Well one page turned into many as I just couldn’t put it down.

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After I consumed the novel I had to keep going, reading the second book and then trying to locate the rest. There weren’t any at the local or college library so I had to Inter Library Loan them and wait…

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Finally they came and I just devoured them, the rest of my life taking a back seat as I had to find out what happened next.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

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Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melbourn are two of the greatest thieves you could ever go against. Their duo goes by the name Riyria, that name being known throughout the land.

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At the beginning of the novel, the two are heading to work on a job when they are stopped by some thieves. All they have to do is say who they and they scare the others off like rabbits.

Run Away

They head off to try and rob Archie Ballentyne, the Earl of Chadwick, by breaking into his impenetrable tower.

Wecandoit

Meanwhile, Archie Ballentyne has been waiting for Marquis Victor Lanaklin. Archie has unsuccessfully been trying to woo his daughter, Alenda, as he is after the Lanaklin lands. He has managed to intercept some of her private love letters to the rebel Degan Gault, and wants to use them as leverage with the father. In order to keep them safe he has locked then in his study in the crown tower, a gigantic tower with only one entrance, the only one who can open it being Archie.

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But when he goes to show the letters, they are MISSING! They have been stolen, along with the Marquis’ carriage. Who could have done this? Riyria.

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They return back to their pub and deliver the goods to Alenda, receiving their payments.

Today life is great

Today life is great

But just as one job is finished, there appears there is another who wishes their services.

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Hadrian goes to meet with the man, Baron Delano DeWitt. He has a job that needs to be done tonight. Sadly, Baron DeWitt has committed the biggest mistake anyone in that region could, he looked upon the wife of the master swordsman, Colonel Pickering. Colonel Pickering will duel anyone who stares at his wife, and with his skill he is impossible to beat.

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His only weakness? His special rapier that he cannot fight without. Baron DeWitt has stolen the sword and hid it in the castle’s chapel and he wants Riyria to smuggle the sword out of the castle before they search and  find it.

suspicious Hmm

Now Riyria has a rule about accepting rush jobs, they don’t. But Hadrian isn’t really a thief, he has a warrior’s heart. He likes things to be fair or to fight for something “right”, justice, etc.

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He has felt a little disheartened at stealing things for royals, then notifying the party they stole from to get payment to steal it back. This is a job that will mean something. Plus the pay is really good.

Hmmm....

Hmmm….

Royce was raised on the streets and has been a thief as far back as he can remember. He has no qualms about what they do, and because of what he has been through he is also extremely suspicious. He does not want to take this job, but Hadrian convinces him it is worth it as they will get 200 gold tenets.

That's a lot of money

That’s a lot of money

That night they sneak into the castle and into its chapel. They go to search for the sword but find the king, dead.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

As their minds grasp the situation, a dwarf starts screaming out that they killed the king. Guards swarm on them and they end up locked up in the dungeon.

Not good

Not good

Yes, someone murdered the king and framed them. But who? And why?

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Alric Essendon wakes from a tumble with a maid to discover he is the new King. He is furious over the death and prepares a horrible punishment as his revenge.

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Alric is a little lost at what to do, but his Uncle Percy Braga is there to lend a hand and assist him. Meanwhile, Hadrian and Royce await their fate in the dungeon; Hadrian wishing he hadn’t tried to take the job and Royce wishing he had talked Hadrian out of it. To their surprise they receive a royal visit from princess Arista Essendon.

Whattheheck

Arista questions them, so Hardrian tells her the story, claiming they did not kill her father. And to their surprise, she believes them.

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Arista is not like other women. Her father sent her to University and she studied the lost art of magic. She had been given a warning about the threat upon her father’s life but unfortunately didn’t heed it. Now she wants to hire the two to kidnap her brother.

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Hadrian and Royce are surprised, but Arista explains that she thinks someone is after the Essendon line and wants to kill her brother as well. She wants them to smuggle him out of the castle and go to Gutaria Prison, the secret ecclesiastical jail. They they will meet the wizard, Esrahaddon, who will be able to guide her brother. They think it is odd, but faced with death, they take the job.

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Arista has a complete plan in place. She will send two monks in to administer the last rites and have the two unchained to pray. They will knock the monks out, switch clothes and meet her in the kitchen where she will have Alric.

perfect plan

Everything goes off without a hitch as they head off to the prison to find Esrahaddon, the wizard. As they continue their quest they run into a monk with a photographic memory that survived a massacre; a hidden prison that not only is built into a rock wall but once you enter cannot leave; the great wizard Esrahaddon who has been alive for eons; and secret church and government plot to answer the legend of the god Novron’s son and unite all the kingdoms under one rule!

keanu Whoa

Meanwhile, Arista tries to rule in her brother’s place but finds treachery very close to home. They try to brand her a witch and kill her.

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Will this ragtag group be able save the throne? Or will they be outwitted and destroyed by these agents of Novron.

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The book was so fantastic, that I won’t reveal the ending. You must read this book and rest in the series yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

May

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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For more on The Riyria Revelations, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more magic and wizards, go to The Unknown Princess Nevermore

For more on Jane Smiley, go to Is This Really Just the Same?: Daring Chloe

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Speaking of magic, there is just a magic of Christmas that cannot be beat. It is just an amazing time of the year. That thought leads us to today’s Christmas Carol, Christmas Needs Love to be Christmas. It was written and recorded in 1993 for Andy Williams’ Christmas Album. It was released in 1994 and marked his first appearance on Billboard 200 album chart in 20 years. That’s magical.

I like this song because it reminds you what the heart of Christmas is, love.

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For more Andy Williams, go to When I Get Into a Novel

For more Christmas Carols, go to The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

Day 8) H is for Happily Ever After: Choose a novel that is a retelling of a Fairy Tale

So you all know how I feel about fairy tales:

FairyTales

And besides fairy tales, I like to read retellings of them. So out of all the ones I read and have ever read I had to think, which is the best one. So I thought and thought and thought…

Thinking Hmm

And then it came to me…

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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

When I was younger I loved going to the library (still do).

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I used to go and look through the stacks for the next books I wanted to check out. I would go down the rows and pick whatever stood out to me, along with the book I would read all the time, The Phantom of the Opera. I was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera and would check it out, return it, then check it out again in an endless cycle.Fangirlfinishedreadingwhattodonow

 My mom didn’t like my obsession with The Phantom of the Opera as she is not a horror fan.

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So she also roamed the stacks and tried to find something, anything else, for me to read that wasn’t dark. I don’t know where or how she found it, but after I picked out as many books as I could take:

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I ran into her. She wanted me to leave The Phantom of the Opera behind as I had just read it, and wanted me to try out this book, Ella Enchanted. She had read it while waiting for me and thought I would like it. I didn’t want it as I wanted what I had picked out.

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We argued for a while and then reached a compromise, I would check out The Phantom of the Opera but had to check out and read Ella Enchanted. I agreed, but secretly thought I wouldn’t like it, even if it was based on a fairy tale; and I loved fairy tales (still do).

Oh well.

Oh well.

But then I read it!

And I had this reaction…

I love it

I thought it was absolutely amazing! I loved it so much I went on to read her other books: The Princesses of BamarreThe Fairy’s Mistake, Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, The Princess Test, Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, For Biddle’s Sake, The Fairy’s Return, and Fairest. Levine is amazing in how she rewrites fairy tales and breathes new life into them.

loveitSupernatural

This story is a retelling of Cinderella but not one of those average ones that film companies throw out year after year; this one has curses, ogres, elves, quests, fairies, obstacles, etc. It is amazing!

Wow

Wow

And then they made the film of it…

I don't like it 11

They ruined it! All the amazing things and hard work, and all the challenges she has to work through tossed out for a silly comedy?!!

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The book had heartbreak, real emotion, pain, suffering, while having comedy, and fun; and the film was a stupid facsimile.

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I mean they only had two things in common: Ella’s curse and the name of all the characters. Everything else was completely wrong. I was so mad I started yelling in the movie theater. That film is crap and deserves to be destroyed.

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But this book is AMAZING! And I think everyone should read it!

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If you recall from the original tale of Sleeping Beauty, or the film, fairies were invited to births and would bestow gifts on the new babies.

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Ella is visited by the fairy Lucinda and given the “gift” of obedience. Lucinda called it a gift, but it is really a curse as Ella must always find herself at the will of others, forced to do whatever she is told.

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Her mother and their cook, Mandy, tried to intercede for her but nothing could change Lucinda’s mind. Ella was stuck.

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Ella’s mother was a lady who married Sir Peter, a merchant. At first, to win her heart, he came off as kind but he really only cares about money and having his way. Luckily, at Ella’s birth he was not there but off trading, or else he would have seized upon the gift and used it to have his way always.

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When Ella was a young girl she told her friend about the curse when they were playing games. Her friend immediately seized upon it and commanded all kinds of things, only stopping when punched in the nose.

Scream-Punch

After that, Ella was commanded to never tell anyone about it, but that command didn’t matter. She knew not to trust anyone so easily again.

Trust

How the curse works is that if Ella is given any command she must follow it. Failure to comply makes her very ill, in pain, nauseous, and feeling as if she will shatter into pieces. As soon as she begins following the orders, she is okay again.

The problem with the curse is not only that she must follow any order given, such as kill yourself, is that the curse does not recognize sarcasm or jokes, and she must follow every letter of the command. Very dangerous indeed.

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But Ella is no one’s willing puppet.

Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way unnaturally.”

When given commands, even harmless ones that were just for her own good, Ella would do her best to fight back. Asked to bring something, she would only take part of it. Asked to do something, would only do half or find some loophole to work around it. Did all she could to fight back against it.

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When Ella was fifteen, she and her mother became extremely sick. Mandy gave the two unicorn soup, but instead of drinking it with the unicorn hairs in it, Ella’s mother removed them. Because of this Ella became well, but her mother died.

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The funeral comes and Ella is heartbroken. She makes a mess of herself and is told to go off until she can be calm. After crying her soul out, she notices that one person remains. The Prince.

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Prince Charmont introduces himself as Char and tells Ella how he enjoyed meeting her mother in the past. He tells her the stories his cook has heard from Mandy about Ella, and walks her back to her father.

Back at the house Ella meets Dame Olga and her two daughters; Hattie and Olive. Dame Olga is after her Sir Peter as he is extremely wealthy and she wants to increase her wealth and power. Hattie and Olive are annoying, boring, and just want to eat and talk about money.

Men?

Men?

Later that night, an upset Ella questions Mandy about her fairy godmother. Her mother was going to tell her when she was older, and Ella wants to see her to get her help. Mandy reveals she is the fairy godmother. She only does small magic, and her soup should have cured her mother but she removed the unicorn hair. After that, there was nothing else she could do. She can’t take her curse away either, but one day Ella will be able to break it herself.

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Ella’s family line are the friends of the fairies. They all have a drop of fairy blood in them, which doesn’t give them anything different except for unusually small feet.

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Sir Peter is not the fatherly type, as anything that doesn’t have a monetary ching doesn’t interest him. He wants to send Ella away somewhere, but she wants to stay. But nothing she can say will stop him.

Not good

Not good

Mandy has nothing she can do and promises that Ella will have fun meeting different school girls and making new friends. She gives her a fairy tale book that is magic! And a Gnomish necklace that belonged to Ella’s mother.

Before Ella leaves, she heads off to the zoo to visit all her favorite exotic animals: the dragons, birds, centaurs, etc. She runs into Char and the two spend a fun afternoon together. As they walk further toward the ogres, they come upon a baby gnome.

Ella tries to help the gnome, using the gnomish she imitates from the exotic birds. Char looks around for his parents, but the real danger lies in the ogres. Just by looking at you they know your secrets. As Ella holds the baby, the ogre commands her to come to him and give him the child.

Not good

Not good

Luckily Char commands her to stop and they find the gnome parents. Gnomes can see into the future, and one gives Ella a glimpse:

Gnomes do not see detail. What you wear tomorrow, what you will say, are mysteries. I see outlines only…Danger, a quest, three figures. They are close to you, but they are not your friends…Beware of them.”

Not good

Not good

They next day she is off to finishing school, going with Hattie and Olive. After being together for a few minuets, Hattie discovers that Ella must follow every order given. She doesn’t know why, but that doesn’t stop her from lording over Ella.

What jerks

What jerks

Hattie takes everything from Ella; her money, jewelry, and food. And when they get to school it gets no better. No matter how hard Ella tries, Hattie always has the power.

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The teachers make it no better as they are as bad as Miss Michin in A Little PrincessElla does all she can to fight back their commands, constantly trying to keep herself from becoming a puppet.

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Ella has only two bright spots in her day. One is the magic fairy book that not only presents a new tale every time you open it, but also gives letters from her friends and those she cares about. One night she reads a letter from Mandy that Char caught her a centaur and is training it for her. He is extremely upset that she was sent away as he thought Ella was perfect the way she was.

How sweet!

How sweet!

The other thing that goes better for her is that she befriends an Ayorthaian girl, Areida. None of the other girls like her because she is poor, but she and Ella become the best of friends. One night,  Hattie decides she doesn’t like this glimpse of happiness. She commands Ella to stop being her friend.

Jerk

Ella looks in her book as she contemplates what to do. In it is a note from Dame Olga to her daughters, one from Char about his ogre hunting, and then a letter from her father that he will be visiting a giant’s wedding in the hopes of seeing a fairy, and getting a fairy gift to trade. Ella sees this as the perfect opportunity and decides that she will run away from school and go to the wedding to try and get Lucinda to get rid of her curse. Before she goes she steals Hattie’s wig.

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Ella heads out to the giants, trading her wig with a baker for bread. She is told that the giants aren’t too far off, but as she travels the journey is longer and longer. She then comes upon elves with spears.

Not good

Not good

She tells them who she is, Sir Peter’s daughter, and they invite her to dinner. She shares her book with them and afterwards they show her their elfin products. Elfin made objects look as if they are alive, and are extremely valuable. They end up giving Ella one, as they like to give their gifts to those who love them.

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The net day she sets off with an Elfin pony and is told it is only four days to the giants. Unfortunately, her luck turns.

Reality Sucks

Ella is captured by Ogres. They have eaten her pony and want to eat her next, but luckily she vomits, making her too “sour” to eat. She hopes to leave, maybe if they bind her she can go, but the ogres know her story. They just command her and she is stuck.

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But Ella has one other option. She has been studying languages at school and learned how to speak ogreese. She tricks them into falling asleep, a small win but what to do next?

I don't know what to do

As she contemplates, she sees a vision of knights coming. But they aren’t a vision, they are real! It is Char. They try and capture the ogres, but are only able to when Ella charms them again and puts them back to sleep.

gossipgirlpowerfulWonderfulwoman

After a wonderful reunion, Char sends her on her way with one of her knights. He promises that he won’t be gone long and hopes to see her again soon.

How sweet!

How sweet!

They get there just in time for the wedding. The knight heads back to the ogres, and Ella sits watching for the fairies. They arrive, but before Ella can talk to Lucinda, she grants a horrible gift to the Giants and disappears.

Ugh great gatsby

She is upset, but at least there is food.

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As she is eating she goes to talk to the other two normal fairies, but then Lucinda reappears. Ella tries to talk to her about the fairy gift, but Lucinda just commands her to to be happy, and Ella runs off looking for Sir Peter to get more orders.

Sir Peter has sold land that didn’t belong to him and will have to pay for this with all his money and then some. He tries to marry Ella off to Edmond, Earl of Warwick. To make sure things flow right, he feeds her special mushrooms to make her extra attentive.

What jerks

What a jerk

It works as she fawns over him and he is interested in her hand in marriage.

That guy!

That guy!

The next day, Ella has a horrible hangover and feels stupid about what happened. But luckily, the Earl has lost a lot of his lands and is too poor for Sir Peter; no marriage. But what’s worse, Sir Peter is to marry Dame Olga.

Blackmail!

Uhhhhh!

Hattie and Olive will be her step sisters.

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The wedding happens in the old castle and Ella tries to hide from her family and the fairy Lucinda. Luckily it is a masquerade and she has a mask to hide her identity. She sits through the ceremony and takes off as soon as she can.

Run Away

She runs upstairs into a room, when she is come upon by Prince Char.

see cute guy look

They skip the ball and search the castle for secret passageways and rooms, having a reunion. They stop at a garden shed where they open a bench and find glass slippers. Char puts them on her.

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Then Char asks her to dance.

Cinderella

So romantic!

So romantic!

Afterwards, they decide to slide down the bannister. The second time the two run right into Ella’s confused parents.

clueless mybad oops

Afterwards, things go bad. Dame Olga finds out that Sir Peter is poor. She decides that Ella will be a servant in their house as soon as Sir Peter leaves.

hate her

Hattie is upset that the prince likes Ella and punishes her.

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Char is going away to the neighboring country and wiill be gone for a while. He stops to see Ella before he goes, but Hattie imprisons her in her room.

Jerk

After that Ella lives out every day a servant, doing the worst and most horrible tasks. She writes to Char, and the two develop a beautiful relationship. Char is a dream come true, although he does have his faults. When his opinion is lost it is lost forever.

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But we all have our faults, if the person was a perfect person with nothing wrong with him, then he’d be as bland as a saltine.

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As they write Ella falls in love with Char, and her dream comes true when Char asks her to marry him.

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Ella wants to say yes, but she can’t because of the curse. It would be too dangerous, so she writes as Hattie and refuses the prince; her heart breaking at every moment.

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There’s real love there. She cares more about Char’s happiness rather  than her own and would never risk his life.

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She tells Mandy, and Mandy decides that Lucinda really needs to be stopped. She calls her in and they make an agreement: Lucinda will be a squirrel for three months and then an obedient child for another three months.

She'll get what's coming to her.

She’ll get what’s coming to her.

Ella holds on to the hope that in six months Lucinda will take the curse away and she can marry Char.

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The night before Lucinda is to com,e Hattie tells Ella that the Prince is coming back and is holding a masked ball. The ball will last for three nights and the Prince is rumored to pick his wife there.

OMG gasp

Ella is ecstatic. She has hope again to win Char back! Lucinda comes that night and says that she regrets everything and would love to take everything back. But Lucinda won’t, as she is done with “big” magic.

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Ella is heartbroken, but she is planning to go to the balls. She won’t talk to him, she will just sit and watch.

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They take the dresses saved from her mother, refashion them, and all is ready except is rains, a pouring rain.

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Saddened at this, she wishes that Mandy would do magic, but Mandy refuses. She calls on Lucinda who gives her a pumpkin carriage, mice turned into footmen ands she is off to the ball.

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She sees Char and stays as far away as she can. But she ends up being unable to hold out and talks to him. She tells him she is Lela and they spend a lot of time together, so much that they fall all over again for each other.

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But Hattie, not to be undone, removes the mask she wears

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And it is Ella.

OMG gasp

She hurries home as fast as she can, and they try to leave, but the Prince and entourage arrive. Char asks Ella to marry him.

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Dame Olga says yes, as that will give her power and money; Olive says yes as that will give her money; Hattie says no as she wants him for herself. Char tells her to say yes. Ella wars within herself, what should she do!

I don't know what to do

She knows that saying yes would be death of them, she practically splits apart in two; but then she refuses! She refuses!

No thank youhowaboutno

After she let’s it all out, after she has finally broken the curse: she tells Char yes.

Double double yay

They get married and live happily ever after; with Ella finally being able to make choices: good and bad, she finally is in charge of her own life.

TheEnd_Title_2

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

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For more on Cinderella, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more books based on fairy tales, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

For more Audrey Hepburn quotes, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more J. Cole, go to A Cautionary Tale

For more John Green, go to The Fans and the Furious

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Since this is a fairy tale, I thought I should pick a fairy tale Christmas Carol. I settled on the Miniature Overture from The Nutcracker Suite.

Reminds me of Degas

The Nutcracker is based on the fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet was written by Ilyich Tchaikovsky and premiered in 1892.

I like this song a lot and it is my favorite in the entire suite.

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For more Christmas carols, go to Austenland

25 More Films of Christmas

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So two years ago I tried to do a Christmas countdown, the 12 Posts of Christmas, but I discovered that it is really difficult as you get involved in Christmas activities. So last year I decided to make it easier on myself and did a singular post listing 25 of my favorite films that were either classified as Christmas movies or had a Christmas scene in it. Since it worked so great last year, I decided why not do it again? So here are 25 more films of Christmas! (Once again these aren’t my my top favorite 25, but randomly picked and then rearranged them in the order of how I love them.

Holly

25) Holiday (1938)

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Holiday (1938) is a remake of the 1930 film. In it Johnny Case (Cary Grant), a self-made man, is heading to his fiancé Julia Seton’s house for the holidays. While on the surface the two appreared perfect for each other, as Johnny spends more time at the Seton household he finds himself having more in common with Julia’s younger sister, Linda (Katherine Hepburn). Johnny now finds himself in a dilemma, should he honor the commitment he made to Julia? Or should he try to find love with another?

Why it’s Great: Hepburn and Grant made four films together, and anytime you have these two paired up you have pure gold. Grant is his attractive, charming, and at times comical self. Hepburn is the silly, comedic, oddball, and modern woman that she always does great at. A fun film. Plus those scenes of Grant tumbling? Priceless.

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24) The Polar Express (2004)

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The Polar Express is based on the short book of the same name. In the 1950s, a little boy, no longer believes in Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, he hears something outside and goes aboard the Polar Express, the train that heads right up to the North Pole and Santa’s home. He makes new friends on the train, helps control the train, meets a ghost hobo who tries to teach him morals, and ends up in the North Pole coming face to face with Santa Claus.

Why it’s Great: This is a cute kid’s movie. Tom Hanks is pretty amazing at how he plays almost every character in the film. The kids are cute, especially the geeky, know-it-all tattletale. He makes me laugh. It has a good message of faith, believing, leading, etc. It also has a couple great songs: The Polar Express and When Christmas Comes to Town. It does have a few problems though. Mainly it suffers from the same issues all small picture book film adaptions face, extra content to fill the time block. There are a lot  of unnecessary songs, characters, and scenes; that if they had been culled would have resulted in a stronger film. But on the whole it is a cute, family, Christmas film.

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23) Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

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The sequel to Home Alone (see #2 on the list). Home Alone 2 has Kevin McCallister once again finding himself spending Christmas on his own, but this time he’s in New York! How did this happen? Well this year instead of going to France, the McCallister clan is heading to Florida. Once again they find themselves running late to the airport (but this time being sure they have Kevin) and have to run to catch their flight. Kevin stops for a moment to get batteries out of his dad’s bag and accidentally follows the wrong man onto a plane to New York City. He starts living it large at the Plaza and using all his dad’s credit cards and cash (as he has his bag). Everything goes well, until he runs into the two thieves he harassed the year before and sent to prison. They come after him, but luckily he has rigged his uncle’s townhouse into one giant trap.

Why it’s Great: I have to say how he gets alone again was done really clever. The scenes of him just spending the dough and buying pizza, ice-cream, going on huge toy shopping trips, etc is fantastic. That was all the things that kids wished they could be able to do. Tim Curry plays the hotel manager who notices the lack of an adult and is awesome in being evil and trying to trip Kevin up. Unfortunately, the second half the film falls a little flat. I mean what are the odds of the thieves running into Kevin in New York City? There are a gajillion people who live there. Also the traps aren’t as clever as in the original film. It wasn’t nearly as great as the original, but still one fun holiday film.

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22) Elf (2003)

Go here to see who you are

Go here to see who you are

One Christmas a baby boy accidentally gets on to Santa Claus’ sled and is transported to the North Pole. One of the elves adopts him and raises him as his own child, naming him Buddy. One day, Buddy overhears some elves mention he is a human. He goes to his elf father and discovers the story of his adoption. They tell him who is real father is, and Buddy travels to New York City to meet him. When he firsts meets his father Walter Hobbs (James Caan), Walter doesn’t believe Buddy’s story to be true. After a DNA test confirms it, Buddy is introduced to the family. Buddy befriends his stepmother, stepbrother, and makes new friends. However, he doesn’t fit in well with “humans” and after an argument with his dad, decides to return to the North Pole. On his way he runs into Santa who is having trouble using his sleigh and magic as people don’t believe in him anymore. Now Buddy has a bigger problem to solve. How can he save Santa?

Why it’s Great: Now let me say that I am not that big a fan of Will Ferrell. I only like a few of his films, and this is one of those. The story is silly, but the reason it works is that Ferrell goes all in to the character of Buddy. Unlike everyone I know, I do not watch it over and over, but I do think it is definitely worth checking out and viewing around the holidays. And I do have to agree that I am as crazy about Christmas as Buddy.

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21) Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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Dr. Seuss’ beloved book finds itself heading to the big screen with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Jim Carrey plays the Grinch, the beloved grump who hates the Whos and hates Christmas. He terrorizes Whoville, and all are afraid of him. Except one girl, Cindy Lou Who. Cindy Lou is eager to find out all she can about the Grinch and why he is the way he is. She discovers his sad childhood and decides making him the Holiday Cheermister will repair everything. When her idea has disastrous results, the Grinch decides to head down to Whoville and steal Christmas.

Why it’s Great: Jim Carrey really is the only reason why the film is great. Like The Polar Express, it suffers from being stuffed with extra scenes, characters, and things not needed in order to fill the time block. And I absolutely hate the song “Where Are You Christmas?” But as I said, Jim Carrey is a great Grinch. His makeup is amazing, I mean look at him! He’s looks just like the illustration. The backstory of why he is mean loses ground, but the film really picks up once he starts stealing Christmas. I love how they illustrate the song and copy the scenes from the original film. It’s worth watching the film to see that scene. It may not be as great as the Boris Karloff version, but it is still a fun Christmas film.

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20) The Santa Clause 2 (2002)

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This is the sequel to The Santa Clause (see below #6). Eight years has passed since the original film and Scott Calvin, AKA Santa Claus, has just discovered that if he is to remain being Santa Claus he has to have a Mrs. Claus. Scott also discovers that Charlie has been having a lot of problems and and acting up. So the elves create a robot Santa to fill in for him, and Scott heads back home. He stays with his ex-wife’s family, trying to reach Charlie, and becoming an uncle figure to Charlie’s sister Lucy. When talking to Charlie’s principal he finds himself falling for her, but will she believe him and go with him back to the North Pole? Also, while Scott has been gone, his robo-Santa has become and evil dictator. Will Scott be able to stop him in time to save Christmas?

Why it’s Great: I like how this film deals with real issues. Charlie is having problems as he misses his father, has the stress of having to lie about his dad’s job, etc. I loved how realistic it was as this are issues a boy who’s father has to be away for his job would actually deal with. I also enjoy the scenes of Scott and Principal Carol Newman. There were real dates and actually showed them falling in love over a period of time, it wasn’t instantaneous. And the Principal’s reaction to “I’m Santa” talk was completely real. Some scenes are definitely cheesy and silly, but I have to say this is one of the better Disney sequels and one great film to watch at Christmas.

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19) The Toy That Saved Christmas (1996)

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So this film is part of the Veggietales series. Veggietales was a series of Christian films that lasted 30 mins and told two stories that were either a retelling of a bible story or had a strong biblical message. And all the characters were fruits and veggies! The Toy That Saved Christmas was the first Christmas Veggietale video and starts with a green onion, Grandpa George, telling his granddaughter Annie a Christmas story. In the Veggietown (or wherever they live), December is here which means CHRISTMAS!!! All the kids are excited. They see a commercial on TV for a new toy Buzz Saw Louie and everyone wants them. Besides having a saw, Louie talks and tells people that the true meaning of Christmas is getting stuff. This was planned by the toy factory owner as he wants to sell more toys. When more Louies are being made, something happens to one, and it comes to life. It starts to wonder if getting stuff is the true meaning of Christmas. Louie escapes from the factory and gets stuck in the snow. The next day Bob the tomato, Larry the cucumber, and Junior the asparagus all go sledding and come upon the toy. They also run into Grandpa George who tells them the true meaning of Christmas. After the hear the message they want to tell the world the good news? But how? They get the idea to use the factory owner’s equipment and make a commercial. Will their plan work? Will everyone get to know the true meaning of Christmas?

Why it’s Great: It is an incredibly funny and adorable film. This is one that my family has to watch every year. Besides the comedy, adventure, and fun it also has a lot of great songs. One of my favorites is Can’t Believe It’s Christmas! as it truly captures being a kid excited about the holiday. And then there is the hilarious silly song Oh Santa!If you don’t watch the film at least check out that song.

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18) Lady and the Tramp (1955)

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The classic story of a rich girl who meets a boy from the wrong side of the tracks with one major difference-dogs! Lady is a cocker spaniel is a Christmas gift to “Darling” by her husband Jim “Dear”. She grows up in the household, becoming a real “Lady”. Everything changes when Darling gets pregnant. With a baby coming Lady is unsure of what her life will be like. The baby comes and Lady realizes that she loves him as much as her other masters. Things seem to be great until Darling and Jim Dear have to go away on business. Jim Dear’s Aunt Sarah comes to watch the baby, and brings along her two siamese cats that cause problems for Lady, and gets her a muzzle. Lady embarrassed, scared, and confused; runs away and straight into a mutt, Tramp, from the other side of town. He not only frees her, but the two have a romantic dinner, a moonlit walk in the park, etc. However, when the Tramp gets Lady to chase chickens, she winds up being sent to the dog pound. There she hears all about Tramp’s sordid past. She is freed from the pound but chained up outside by Aunt Sarah. The Tramp visits to apologize, but Lady won’t hear anything. Then a rat tries to get into the nursery. Will Lady be able to save the baby? Will Lady and the Tramp get back together?

Why it’s Great: It is an old story that has been done before, but the choice of dogs is great. I love how the dog thinks Jim Dear and Darling are their real names as that is only what she hears, and there are also some great dogisms. The We Are Siamese song is really catchy and the pasta scene is just adorable. This film actually has two Christmases in it; one when Lady is first introduced, and the second at the end of the film. Making this a great film to see round the holidays or any time of the year.

For more on Lady and the Tramp, go to Part IX: Adventures in Movie Lines

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17) Chasing Christmas (2005)

Chasing Christmas

This abcFamily film, part of the 25 Days ’til Christmas countdown, tells the story of A Christmas Carol in a completely new way. Jack Cameron is a modern day Scrooge. He caught his wife with another man at his daughter’s Christmas play. Not only is the marriage over, but so is his love for Christmas and Christmas spirit. At the Bureau of Yuletide Affairs (BYA) the company is reviewing which holiday grumps need a little Dickens spirit. He assigns Christmas Past (Leslie Jordan) and Present (Andrea Roth) to take care of him. Past has started to become disgruntled with life. Every year it is the same thing over and over again. So he decides to do something about it. After taking Jack to his childhood in the ’60s he knocks him out and takes off. Present is then sent back to catch Past and help Jack find his Christmas spirit. As they travel through time Jack discovers a lot about himself and his family. When they reach the ’70s, they accidentally break their time machine and are desperate to find Past in order to get back to the future. Will they ever catch up to Christmas Past? Or are they doomed to stay in the ’70s? And more importantly, will  they be able to save Jack’s love of Christmas?

Why it’s Great: The twist on the classic is extremely hilarious, fun, and adorable. In fact, the film is almost a parody of all the films and TV episodes that rip of Dickens’ work. The characters are lovable as you have the sarcastic, unhappy, stick-in-a-rut Past that wants to relive the good times instead of just visiting. Then there is Jack, the average guy who gets pulled into this adventure and really starts having a great time.  Then there is Present, who knows nothing about the past and has to educated by Jack. This is actually pretty adorable, as it awakens his love for different things as he explains why they are important or special. A truly great film, loosely based on one great book.

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16) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

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The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer started out as a short poem, then transformed into the hit song, and ultimately (like everything) found its way into film. Rudolph is the son of Santa’s flying Reindeer Donner. Everyone bullies him and doesn’t want him around because he has a blinking, red nose. Rudolph ends up not being able to deal with it and runs away, hoping to find a place for misfits. As he heads out, he runs into an elf named Hermy. Hermy is also a misfit as he doesn’t want to make toys, sing carols, or other elf-y things; he wants to be a dentist. As the two journey out they run into a miner named Yukon Cornelius, hunting for silver and gold, who joins up with them. They have to fight the Abominable Snow Monster, when running from him they hitch a ride on ice and end up on the Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph, conscious that his nose almost got them attacked by Abominable, he takes off on his own. He later returns home to find that his family has been captured by the Abominable Snow Monster while searching for him. It’s up to the team to save them from the monster. Everything seems like it is going to be a great Christmas until the fog rolls in and Santa won’t be able to see where he is flying. That is until Rudolph steps up to the plate.

Why it’s Great: My earliest memory of this cartoon was when I was three years old. My family was visiting my aunt’s house, and being kids, us cousins were running around everywhere. I ran smack into my cousin Sean, and began bawling. I was bruised, so I did have a reason to be sad, but I wouldn’t stop crying. I kept going and going, until my mom told me that I could watch Rudolph if I stopped crying. I stopped immediately. My favorite character as a kid actually wasn’t Rudolph. I loved Yukon as I thought he was hilarious and I loved Hermy as I too wanted to be a dentist (which everyone thought was weird). Watching it as an adult, I still love it. Happy Anniversary Rudolph! Here’s to another 50 years!

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15) Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too (1991)

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It’s Christmas time at the Hundred Acre Woods and Christopher Robin is writing a letter to Santa Claus. As he is finishing the letter, asking for a sled big enough for him and a friend, he asks each one of his friends what they want for Christmas. Rabbit needs a new fly swatter; Tigger a snowshoe for his tail; Eeyore an umbrella to keep snow off his house; and Piglet asks for whatever Santa wants to give him. Christopher Robin sends his letter off into the wind and to Santa. The next day, Christmas Eve, Winnie-the-Pooh is drawing his Christmas tree on the wall when Piglet comes in and tells him that Pooh forgot to ask Santa for something. They chase after the letter, find it, and take it to Rabbit’s house to add on Pooh’s request for honey. As they are doing that everyone asks for an upgraded present: Rabbit a super bug sprayer, Tigger a special bouncing boot, and Eeyore a mobile home. They send the letter out, but when Pooh gets home a southern wind has sent the letter the same way. Pooh and Piglet don’t want Christmas ruined so they set out to fix everything. They try to create the gifts asked, suit up, and head out. Will their homemade gifts work? Will Christmas be ruined? Or will everything turn out just right?

Why it’s Great: First of all it’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Secondly, the story is amazingly sweet. Once Pooh realizes that Christmas might be ruined, he tries to do everything in his power to make it right. A great story of friendship, love, and Christmas!

For more on Winnie the Pooh, go to Heartbreak Hotel

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14) Christmas Every Day (1996)

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Billy hates Christmas! For him it is always the worst day of the year and this one is no different. It starts off with him tripping, his uncle coming to visit and crashing into the garage, the pies burn, he misses his basketball shot, he loses the jellybean thousand dollar contest, messes up the Christmas pageant, and gets socked in the eye. To top it off, his uncle is bringing his monster conglomerate store, Value Mart to town, and will be putting all the smaller businesses, (including his dad’s store) out of business. Billy sarcastically wishes it was Christmas everyday, and gets his wish granted. At first he is in denial, then he makes it the most selfish Christmas, then tries to make it the most unselfish Christmas, but still remains stuck in the day. After he has been going through all those days, he finally stops thinking about himself, but tries to make it the best Christmas for his friends and family. Will it be the best? Will he finally get to December 26th? Will he be able to stop his uncle from bringing in his Value Mart?

Why it’s Great: My sister and I loved this movie so much. We would watch it every year on the 25 Days ’til Christmas until they stopped showing it. I just rewatched it a week ago and love it as much now as I did then. I thought Billy was pretty realistic in how he dealt with being stuck in Christmas, sort of the preteen version of Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day. He gets over his Christmas hate much quicker than in Groundhog’s Day, but he is a kid and hasn’t been jaded as long. The best part, of course, is the fact how Billy learns from his past mistakes, and ultimately does create the best Christmas for himself and everyone.

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13) Batman Returns (1992)

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The Joker may be gone, but Batman is back to the big screen in his film Batman Returns. It’s Christmas time in Gotham, but even though it is supposed to be a time of good cheer, crime still abounds in the city. Oswald Cobblepot (Danny DeVito), who as a baby was thrown down the sewers by his rich parents because of his deformity only to be saved and raised by penguins, has returned 33 years later as the Penguin and leader of the Red Triangle Circus Gang. He kidnaps businessman, Max Shreck (played by Christopher Walken) and blackmails him about his dirty business dealings into making the Penguin a citizen of Gotham. Shreck agrees and promises to do even better, promising to make the Penguin mayor. Shreck has some plans he wants to put in motion, but knows the current mayor would not approve. Unfortunately, Shreck’s secretary, meek Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) has discovered them. Shreck does the only thing he thinks he can do, he kills her by throwing her out the window. Unbeknownst to him, Selina is revived by nine cats and granted “9 lives.” She goes home having fully transformed in her personality, creating a black leather outfit, and becoming Catwoman. She returns to work for Shreck, planning on destroying him when he least expects it, and runs into Bruce Wayne. The two begin dating, while at night their alter egos begin fighting. The penguin and Catwoman team up to destroy Batman. They sully his reputation, but Batman is able to outwit the Penguin and disgrace him. Upset, the Penguin renounces humanity and kidnaps the first sons of all the wealthy families of Gotham during Shreck’s annual Christmas party. Bruce takes Selina as his date to the party and the two discover that they are Batman and Catwoman. What does this mean to their relationship? Will Batman be able to stop the Penguin? Will Catwoman get her revenge?

Why it’s Great: So Christmas does play a role in this film as a little more than a backdrop. There is a line about mistletoe that is the key in discovering each other’s identities. When Batman and Catwoman are fighting the first time Batman says, “You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.” In which Catwoman replies, “But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.” When Bruce and Selina are at the party, Selina tells Bruce ,“You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.” In which Bruce replies, “But a kiss can be even deadlier if you mean it.” But that’s not the reason why I like this film. First of all Michael Keaton has to be my favorite Batman, he just gets the stoic and serious, along with debonair and slightly fun side correct. I mean out of all the actors I think he captured the duality of Batman’s character the most. Then we have Michelle Pfeiffer who has been the best Catwoman to date. Morally ambiguous, vengeful, focused on her goals, but still having a heart of gold. No one could have played her better. Plus Christopher Walken as the bad guy? Perfect. The only thing I don’t like is that the Penguin was much sillier than I would have had him be. Danny DeVito did a great job and he looked great, but a lot of his lines and obsession with birds of all kinds were just a bit too silly. Otherwise, this is one great film to watch anytime.

For more on Batman Returns, go to Fanning All Over the Place

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12) The Year Without a Santa Claus (1975)

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Santa Claus is sick and tired, and has decided that he does not want to do Christmas anymore. After all, no one believes in him anymore. Mrs. Claus is determined to prove Santa wrong and sends out two elves, Jingle and Jangle. The two get into some scrapes and end up in Southtown, USA. Their mistakes cause Santa to come down and try and help out. The two elves and a small Southtown boy, Ignatius, end up getting the Mayor to agree to giving Santa a holiday, only if it snows in Southtown. The chance of that happening, -100%. The elves go to Snow Miser, but he it isn’t his territory and he can’t do it unless his stepbrother Heat Miser agrees. Heat Miser will only let them, IF he gets the North Pole. Something that Snow Miser will never give up. Will they be able to get the two to compromise? Will Santa get his holiday? Will we have a year without Santa Claus?

Why it’s Great: This is a cute film that tries to revitalize the Christmas spirit. It has some great numbers like the Miser Brothers’ SongI Believe in Santa Claus, I’ll Have a Blue Christmas, and Here Comes Santa Claus. A cute film that old and young will love.

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11) The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow (1975)

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In The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow, Lucas a shepherd boy is blinded by lightening. Nearby is the nunnery, who takes in the orphan boy. He befriends a girl Lisa, who helps him. Sister Theresa, one of the nuns, takes care of Lucas, even describing the snow that wishes would come. Lucas is chosen to be an angel in the play, and as it starts snowing, a Christmas miracle occurs. The snow falls in Lucas’ eyes and grant him back his sight. He remains with the nuns and the priest, finally having a family.

Why it’s Great: This is a cute and cuddly Christmas film with great songs. You’ll enjoy this half hour production, along with their version of White Christmas and The First White Christmas. It is a great addition to your Christmas lineup.

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10) Borrowed Hearts (1997)

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Sam Field is a millionaire who is trying to negotiate the biggest deal of his life with Javier Del Campo. The only problem, Del Campo only likes to do business with family-orientated people, and Sam is a confirmed bachelor. He hires a family to pretend to be his, but that doesn’t work out very well, and he is unsure of what to do. Enter Kathleen, single mother and worker at Sam’s plant. She is trying to save up money to buy a house, but so far does not have as much as she needs. A chance meeting, winds up with Kathleen and her daughter Zooey pretending to be his family for a few days, which expands into weeks as Del Campo wants to spend Christmas with the Fields. As they spend more time together; Sam, Kathleen, and Zooey all learn more about family and learning to love again.

Why it’s Great: I love this film sooooo much. It’s one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies. I will not go to far into it, as I have written a separate blog post on it that you should check out.

For more on Borrowed Hearts, go to On the 9th Day ‘Til Christmas: Borrowed Hearts (1997)

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9) Rise of the Guardians (2012)

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In Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost (played by Chris Pine), is created in the depths of a pond and suffers from amnesia. He doesn’t know how or why he was created, but just goes around having fun. One day Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) discovers that the Boogeyman Pitch, has returned and notifies the other Guardians: Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), Australian Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Sandman. They learn that their creator, the Man in the Moon, has chosen Jack Frost to join them as a Guardian of Children. Pitch goes about trying to destroy the children’s beliefs in these characters, and attacks the Tooth Fairy’s home, stealing her helpers. The other Guardians pitch in to help her out, doing the same for the Easter Bunny. Will they be able to defeat the Pitch? Will Jack finally learn who he is and why he was chosen? Will they secure the children’s belief in Jack Frost, Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman?

Why it’s Great: When the film first came out, I thought it would be really dumb, but then I saw it and loved it. It is funny, cute, sweet, everything you’d want in a family film. The characters are amazing and just perfect as they bring your childhood to life. I just love this film and could watch it over and over.

For more on Rise of the Guardians, go to Dreaming of the Sandman 

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8) Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

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It tells the story of the Robinson family, (they are Swiss), who are traveling to New Guniea but end up getting stuck in a storm, abandoned, and stranded on their broken ship. They pack up every bit of supplies they can and travel to the nearest place, a little island. The family consists of the father, mother, and three boys; Fritz (my fav the cute one), Ernst (the smart one), and Francis (the baby). The family creates a tree house and lives on the island going through many adventures; dealing with wild animals, saving a young teen, fighting pirates, etc.

Why it’s Great: This was a favorite of mine as a kid, although more beloved by my sister than me. It has everything you could want: action, adventure, pirates, etc. Plus, like Supernatural, you have your pick of which brother to chose from. Do you like a brawny man of action? Or are you more interested in a thinker and planner? And let’s not forget their amazing treehouse. I wanted one like it so bad growing up. It used to be in Disneyland, but they replaced it with Tarzan. And yes, this film does have Christmas in it. The Robinson family has sent out Ernst and Fritz to explore the island, and are sad that they won’t all be together for Christmas. The boys surprise them with a zebra for Francis, and a rescued hostage. It is classic Disney at its best, and a worthwhile checkout any time of the year.

For more on the Swiss Family Robinson, go to Snakes on a Post: Chinese New Year

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7) Jingle All the Way

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Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a workaholic. His wife and child are very upset with him, and the only way he can get back in their good graces is to pick up a Turbo-Man doll. Only problem is, EVERYONE wants one and EVERYONE is sold out. This causes him to go on one crazy adventure involving a faux toy factory, a postal postman, a mall doing a Hunger Games to sell off their remaining doll, battling a reindeer, storming a radio station, bombs, fistfights, etc. Howard even goes as far as replacing Turbo-Man in the Christmas parade in order to try to get a doll. Will he be able to do it? Will his family be reunited for Christmas?

Why it’s Great:  This movie is so freakin’ hilarious. I just love it so much. All the crazy things that happen to Howard as he tries to achieve success in his quest to get the doll. And that end fight scene is just great. A true holiday classic that I watch every year I can.

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6) The Santa Clause

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Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a self-absorbed and selfish toy designer. This Christmas Eve he gets to have his son spend the holiday with him, while his ex-wife and her husband celebrate elsewhere. Of course he is not only extremely late (too much partying at the office), but he burns their Christmas Eve dinner. Things are not going as planned. That night Charlie hears something, and the two go out to investigate, surprising Santa and causing him to fall off the roof! Scott puts on the suit, and the two go out to deliver the gifts. After the deed is done, Scott discovers that when he put on the suit he entered a clause, that is a decree, making him the new Santa. He doesn’t believe it, but as the year passes, his body starts to become more Santa-like. Will he have enough faith to become Santa? Will he be able to change his ways so he can be more like Santa?

Why it’s Great: Like Borrowed Hearts I have done a post on this, so I’m not going to talk too much aout it. It is a truly hilarious movie with some truly memorable lines and scenes. I love this movie so much that I don’t even always wait for Christmas to watch it. Defintely worth seeing again and again.

For more on The Santa Clause, go to On the 11 Day ‘Til Christmas: The Santa Clause (1994)

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4) Christmas With the Kranks (2004)

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Based on the John Grisham novel, Christmas with the Kranks shows how one can never truly skip Christmas. After Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora Krank (Jamie Lee Curtis) discover that their beloved daughter Blair won’t be coming home for Christmas, they decide to forget it entirely. No decorations, no Christmas cards, no Christmas party, no Christmas tree, zip. Instead, the two will go on a lovely cruise. It starts out a great plan, until they start getting upsetting calls from the neighbors who want to win the best decorated street contest; tickets from policemen who are used to them buying multiple calendars, charities who expect their yearly donation, etc. As they are getting ready to go on Christmas Eve, they get a call from Blair who is surprising them by flying home-with a fiancé. They have to rely on their neighbors for help in making this the greatest Christmas ever.

Why it’s Great: I just realized that this is the third Tim Allen movie on this list. Guess it was a good thing I decided to save Toy Story for another time, or else there would be four. Anyways this is just a hilarious film, from beginning to end. Grisham is a true master and the actors really bring his work to life. This is a truly great addition to you Christmas lineup as it is funny, heartwarming, and covers the true meaning of Christmas.

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3) Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas

A film based on the real life of gangster turned FBI witness, Henry Hill. Half-Italian, half-Irish; Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) has always wanted to be a gangster. He is taken under the wing of mob-boss Paul “Paulie” Cicero, to work under James “Jimmy the Gent” Conway (Robert De Niro) alongside Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). The trio hijack cars, commit insurance fraud, and the famous 1967 Air France Robbery. They spend most of their time at the Copacabana, hanging out with women. Hill meets Karen, Jewish and upper class, and the two eventually marry. At first Karen is alarmed at Hill’s lifestyle, but eventually becomes enamored with the perks. They continue to live the criminal lifestyle, ultimately having to serve a stint in prison. There Hill discovers how “real” money can be made in drugs, and his life starts to take some real twists and turns.

Why it’s Great: Now this film isn’t for everyone, but if you are a fan of the gangster genre then you need to check this out. It covers the life of Hill pretty accurately, and of course the actors they chose are just amazing-De Niro, Liotta, & Pesci. In fact if this wasn’t a Christmas list countdown, I probably would have it even higher. And for the Christmas part of the film, well this is no Christmas film but the holiday does play into a crucial part of the film. My friends and I used to have “gangster film and spaghetti” parties, with this one always being one of the main courses.

For more on Goodfellas, go to Sucky Sequels: Mean Girls 2 (2011)

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2) Home Alone (1990)

HomeAlone

Kevin McCallister’s whole family is getting ready to fly to Paris for Christmas, spending the holidays with his uncle and aunt. The night before they leave, Kevin is punished (unfairly) to sleep up in the attic by himself, where he makes a wish that his family would just disappear. When a tree limb crashes on the powerline, the McCallister’s find themselves waking up late and rushing out the door to the airport, in order to catch their plane. And…completely forgetting Kevin. At first being home alone is just fun and games, but when two robbers try to get into his house, Kevin finds himself defending it, in very imaginative ways.

Why it’s Great: This movie became so popular, almost every family pic after it tried to recreate it’s success. It is funny, memorable, and the scenes where Kevin is just wolfing down junk food was every kid’s dream. It is one fantastic movie, great for Christmas or anytime you want a laugh.

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1) Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)

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In Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, postman Special Delivery Klugman (Fred Astaire) is prepared to answer all questions about Santa Claus. In Sombertown, the Burgermeister Meisterburger discovers a baby on his doorstep, with a tag saying Claus. He sends one of his stooges to take the baby to the orphanage, but a wind blows the baby away. The forest creatures take the baby to the elf family Kringle, where he is raised as one of their own, Kris Kringle. The Kringles used to be toymakers for the King, but an evil man, the Winter Warlock, keeps them from continuing this tradition. Kris resolves that when he is old enough, he will brave the forest and Warlock, in order to give their toys to the children in the nearby town. He manages to slip the Warlock and heads to the town. Unbeknownst to Kris, toys are outlawed in Sombertown. He meets the school teacher, Jessica, and convinces them all to take toys. Kris almost gets arrested, but runs away, only to be captured by the Winter Warlock. When he gives the Warlock a gift, it melts his icy heart and removes his evil. Winter Warlock teaches Kris a few tricks, like magic snowballs that allow you to watch anyone. Kris keeps coming back and giving more toys, first handing them out to kids, then leaving them at night, lastly putting them in the children’s stockings. The Burgermeister Meisterburger lays a trap and catches Kris. In order to free him, Jessica gets the Winter Warlock to give reindeer his flying corn, and thus Kris’ eight flying reindeer were born. Jessica and Kris get married and move to the North Pole, Kris reverting to his given name of Claus.

Why it’s Great: This film is absolutely adorable and Christmas is never the same without at least one viewing of this film.

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Merry Christmas All!

ChristmasfromJaneAusten

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For more on Christmas, go to O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

For more on Christmas movies, go to 25 Films of Christmas

For more quizzes, go to Simply Fantastic

For more of my favorite quotes, go to Dreaming of the Sandman

The Two Witch Sisters: Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble (1993)

Double,_Double,_Toil_and_Trouble

Gravedigger: [Screams] You’re at two places at the same time. Lynn Farmer: We’re twins, silly. Gravedigger: Oh… ohh… twins! Oh, twins!

So way back in the day I used to watch this movie every time Halloween came around. I have to admit it I was a huge Olsen fan, I watched all their movies and TV shows.

So the film title is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the three sisters (witches) chant this. However, in this film there are only two sisters.

So we have the Farmers–Don, his wife Christine, and their twin daughters Kelly & Lynn. The older Farmers are worried about losing the house as they are deeply in debt. The younger farmers are having an identity crisis as they are tired of everyone getting them confused and want to be individuals.

In every movie they dress the same so I don't know how they will accomplish that.

In every movie they dress the same so I don’t know how they will accomplish that.

The Farmers decide to ask Christine’s Aunt Agatha, her father’s sister, for a loan, but don’t have very much hope. You see Aunt Agatha is a mean cruel old woman and promptly refuses to help them out in any way.

I'm mean and nasty Aunt Agatha

I’m mean and nasty Aunt Agatha

Aunt Agatha used to have a twin sister, Sophia, but she has disappered.

While they are visting Aunt Agatha the girls run into Mr. Grave Digger (Agatha’s employee). He tells them a story about how the house used to be owned by a powerful witch who had a moonstone that gave her magical powers. Before she was burned at the stake, she hid the stone somewhere in the house.

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Dude, do you really think that is a story you should be telling small children? Come on, let’s think about this.

When Agatha and Sophie were little girls they heard the story and searched all over the house in an attempt to find it.

Agatha & Sophia as children

Agatha & Sophia as children

The two hated being twins and thought the moonstone might be able to change this.  Agatha ended up being the one to find the stone and used it to make Sophia’s life miserable.

I'm EVIL!

I’m EVIL!

Years later, on one Halloween night, Sophia and her fiance , the butler, were planning on running away to elope. Agatha found out and cast a spell banishing her sister into the other realm and trapping her in a mirror (kind of like in Scooby-Doo & the Ghoul School when Shaggy gets trapped). The only way to see/talk to Sophia is through the mirror Agatha keeps hidden in the basement. The last chance to save Sophia from being trapped in the mirror forever, is if she is saved by midnight this very Halloween night.

The twins discover the only way to save their home and Aunt is if they get the moonstone. Only twins are able to wield its power. The girls meet a crazy cast of characters who help them on their quest; a clown named Oscar, Mr. Grave Digger, and Mr. N who would do anything for money.

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The girls also get a toy magic wand, which supposedly has real magical powers.

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Agatha does whatever she can to get rid of the twins. She tries to poison them with jealousy, and get Lynn to betray her sister. In the end, Lynn decides her sister is the most important person in her life.

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The twins get the moonstone, but the magic doesn’t work! It isn’t until the two proclaim their love for each other that Sophia is freed.

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Agatha is enraged and tries to put her sis back in the mirror. The two fight and Agatha ends up being pushed into the mirror instead. All her magic is undone and the mirror is shattered, leaving her trapped there forever.

Don & Christine go to the mansion to find the girls, and see Aunt Sophie. The three of them tell Don and Christine that Agatha decided she needed a vacation and went on a long trip far away. Sophia gives the Farmers the money they need and the home is saved.

Yay!

Yay!

When cleaning up the girls find out that Agatha is still able to talk through the shards of glass. She asks the girls to release her, but they say no way!

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Click here to check out the film. 😀

A Tale So Strange It Must Be True: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005)

The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariI must know everything. I must penetrate the heart of his secret! I must become Caligari!

So I checked out this movie from the library, thinking that it would be weird, but I was not prepared for how strangely horrtastic it was. This was an extremely well done horror film, that really does the original film justice.

So this is a remake of the 1920s silent film. It was revolutionary for its time, and inspired countless others. What David Lee Fisher wanted to do in his remake; is still have the orginal story, but redo it in a way that it would connect to a modern generation.

It was truly amazing. I recommend that all watch it; for multiple reasons:

This is one of the very, very few remakes that is as amazing as the original. They hardly changed anything, and took nothing away from the story.

The background is fantastic . Using a green screen they took the backgrounds from the original film, truly giving this film a uniquely demented and creepy space. It was seamlessly done, with the only times the fore and background being disconjointed is purposely, when you are at a point of the film that you are supposed to be unsure as to what is really happening. These out of sync scenes really help support the questioning of the characters’s sanity. 

The cinematography is beautiful. Almost every scene takes your breath away at how beautifully it is set up.

The actors are amazing! (Judson Pierce Jones & Neil Hopkins are very attractive! :D)

The end is magnificent. They just twist everything that you are not sure what is reality and what isn’t.

So the film starts off at the end. The main character, Francis, is speaking to an old man about his fiancé, and how she has been through such a strange event that she will never be the same again. She walks every night in a trance, and does not speak anymore. Francis starts to recount his story, warning the man that he probably won’t believe a tale so strange, it must be true.

We then go back in time to a city and place that we don’t know where it belongs. Is it past or present? All one can tell is that the buildings slant, everything is triangular, misshapen, and strange.

Strangely beautiful

A man comes to the main hall to get a permit for his carnival. He calls himself Dr. Caligari, and speaks of having a psychic who can reveal all who attend’s future. The clerk is rude to Dr. Caligari and forces him to pay an exuberant amount of money. Caligari does and walks away, but all does not seem to bode well for this clerk.

The next day he is dead. Murdered.

Then we are introduced to Alan, who is stopping by to visit his friend Francis and is begging him to partake in some kind of adventure. We learn that Alan has been combating depression and has been holing himself away these past months, even having to visit an asylum. He however, is feeling much better and convinces Francis to see the fair with him, “for old times sake”.

They go out and get drunk, and then stop to see the psychic Cesare. Cesare is a “living dead” man who can fortell all. He lives in a coffin, only being released every once in a while. Cesare has a truly creepy wake up scene. There is just something about how Doug Jones jerks and twists his body that frightens you.

Francis wants to leave, but Alan is rooted to the floor. When Dr. Caligari calls on him to ask a question, Alan is compelled to answer. He is physically incapable of leaving or turning away. He asks Cesare his question, but all does not go well.

Alan: How long shall I live?                                                                                  Cesare: The time is short. You die at dawn!”

Francis quickly grabs Alan out of the tent and fearing a relapse in his friend, reassures him that Cesare’s tricks are stupid and do not mean a thing.

On the way they meet up with Jane Stern, a girl they are both madly in love with. (It is a reoccuring theme in movies. Out of all the women in the world the best friends always fall for the same one). Both are eager to get an answer from her as to who her choice will be, but she manages to slip away and into the night. The friends say good-bye and go their seperate ways.

The next day Alan is dead. Murdered.

This horrible tragedy leads Francis on a path of reality so intermingled with insanity that one can hardly tell the fact from fiction. Francis is so sure that Dr Caligari killed his friend, that he becomes obsesed with finding proof. Will this quest for vengence and justice end well? That I cannot tell you as you must see it for yourself. The film is so good, that like The Bad Seed, I cannot tell you the ending. You must view it yourself.

This marks the seventh post of scary tales. More to follow.

Here’s a poster/cover page I made for my facebook page as a countdown to Halloween.

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To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World

To go to the previous post, go to Secrets are Great, Unless You Get Caught

To purchase a copy, click on the image below, I do get a small amount if purchased through this link: