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{challenge} once upon a time vii

once7mainbannerWith the first days of Spring, not only do we have the pleasure of a snowy weekend, but the Once Upon a Time Challenge returns for its annual meeting of Readers of Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Folklore and Mythology. Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting a 7th year. As Carl writes:

The Once Upon a Time VI Challenge has a few rules:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: HAVE FUN.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.

While this event retains the word “challenge” from its earliest days, the entire goal is to read good books, watch good television shows and movies, and most importantly, visit old friends and make new ones. There are several ways to participate, and I hope you can find at least one to your liking.


School has absented me in so many ways, but how lovely that John Milton’s Paradise Lost will do double the work.

I have a new middle-grade fiction and debut author to share, and a review of Marissa Meyers’ Cinder to write.

Braving a heavy snow fall, I have a small, neat stack of Library books to balance coursework over Spring Break:

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Path of Beasts by Lian Tanner

The Girl who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Cathrynne M. Valente

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Like all of Carl’s “challenges,” this is not one to be missed, the pleasure of the reads, the reviews, the community… I know many of you are already signed up or considering your level of participation. If this announcement or “Once Upon a Time” is new to you, do come along with us.

“We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices, and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamed that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever, somewhere south of Oz, and north of Shangri-La.” – George R.R. Martin

{images for the banners graciously provided by Melissa Nucera}

{challenge} & that’s a RIP

{The Evil Snowman by Zeeksie (aka Serj)}

Before we move onto Winter cheer, R.eader’s I.mbibing P.eril VII has come to a close.

Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings is an awesome host—thanks for putting it all together, friend—and I look forward to The Sci-Fi Experience coming up next. If you can only manage a few Challenges a year, keep Stainless Steel Droppings in mind because they are fun and attract the best people.

I hope next year to indulge myself much more than I managed this year. But I did enjoy myself and found many a great reading recommendation or screen suggestion these past two months. Plenty that will not wait for next year’s RIP.

So what did I manage this year?

books, noticeably all Juvenile or Young Adult. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (& Siobhan Dowd); Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley; Skary Childrin and the Carousel of Sorrowwritten & illustrated by Katy Towell; Chime by Franny Billingsley;  Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough (review pending); I did read some Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but those would be less “review” than usual.

picture books Dillweed’s Revenge by Florence Parry Heide/Carson Ellis; Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex;  Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean

comics Young Lovecraft (vol. 2) by Jose Oliver  Bartolo Torres (review pending).

screen meant to watch more but we didn’t. It was enough to keep up w/ television—which does include Bones and some episodes of Grimm.  North by Northwest (1959), dir. Alfred Hitchcock;  Wallander, series 3 (2012), w/ Kenneth Branagh, BBC;  Prometheus (2012), dir. Ridley Scott, review pending but it was creepy even if it didn’t have that awesome soundtrack from the trailers.

participated in the “A Grave Tale” activity

Sean and Natalya watched and read. Natalya watched some Doctor Who as well as North by Northwest, and some Grimm. Sean watched Cabin in the Woods (2012) dir. Joss Whedon at least once along with all the afforementioned.

Sean read Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore (a lot of hilarity, but mystery and distress as well). Natalya enjoyed Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (which I started but it had to be returned), In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz, Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven”…not sure what else because she moves through things so quickly—even that massive tome Susanna Clarke wrote called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell with which she is nearly finished.

So that is it for this year’s RIP! Hope you experienced some good reads and found more than a few books to try.

with anticipation…

Carl V. at “Stainless Steel Droppings” is hosting his annual Science Fiction Experience: January 1-February 29.

A few years back I decided I would like to invite other readers to spend time together to:

a) Continue their love affair with science fiction
b) Return to science fiction after an absence, or
c) Experience for the first time just how exhilarating science fiction can be.

This event was not to be a challenge. It was not a dare nor was it a contest. It was meant to be anexperience, a word I did not choose at random. The very best connections with books are more than just a detached reading, they are an experience–an immersive, engaging interaction between the reader and the characters and events between the covers.

Science Fiction is a genre I dip my toes in once in a while, last year was fun so I was happily anticipating the Experience’s return. This is a great opportunity to take notes from other Reader’s reviews and comments on the books they’ve chosen to experience and find something new or interesting in this vast genre. Borrow some enthusiasm if you would like some as a reluctant Sci-Fi reader, geek out with your fellow genre fans if you are not reluctant in the least.

The Daughter said she would join me this year. She harbors an ever growing love Science Fiction. So while I will be picking up John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, [at Carl’s recommendation] N can try Zoe’s Tale. We kinda talked about reading further into the Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series, as N has read Ender’s Game several times now. We’ll see. Am betting we can find a video game or two to toss into the experience.

Check out Carl’s post, keep updated on reviews posted, and join in the fun!

Septembers Eve and R.I.P. VI

Happy September’s Eve!

It’s that lovely time of year that is not only about back-to-school, exhaustive heat-waves, and the inundation of DIY Halloween food/craft projects–Oh, Pinterest, you, too?!  It is that lovely time of year when Carl V. over at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting his Reader’s Imbibing Peril Challenge.

As Carl writes,

“it is once again time to revel in things ghostly and ghastly, in stories of things that go bump in the night. It is time to trail our favorite detectives as they relentlessly chase down their prey, to go down that dark path into the woods, to follow flights of fantasy and fairy tale that have a darker heart than their spring time brethren. To confront gothic, creepy, horror stories in all their chilling delight.”

From September 1st through October 31st Readers will indulge in reads of these flavors:

Mystery. Suspense. Thriller. Dark Fantasy. Gothic. Horror. Supernatural.

You can visit participating blog sites to read reviews and to partake in great conversations; no blog required. Enjoy a wonderful community of readers, make some new friends, find some delicious new reads.

There are different reading challenges aka Perils; and even one for Screen. [And I do think Logan (at Rememorandum) makes a brilliant suggestion of perhaps adding a Peril for Picture books/Graphic novels]. The RIP Challenge is fun and easy.

Again, you may participate in one or all of the various Perils. My one demand: enjoy yourself! ~Carl

Last year I read:

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Stitches: A Memoir by David Small (graphic novel).

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (ya)

Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Fragile Things (a collection of Short Stories) by Neil Gaiman.

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories by Tim Burton.

Half-Minute Horrors edited by Susan Rich.*

and watched:

Monster House (2006) dir. Gil Kenan*

The Corpse Bride (2005) dir. Tim Burton*

Coraline (2009) dir. Henry Selick*

Sleepy Hollow (1999) dir. Tim Burton

Der Krieger und die Kaiserin (The Princess and the Warrior, 2000) dir. Tom Tykwer…It was creepier and more mysterious the first time I watched it; is still odd. w/ subtitles.

El Libertino del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006) dir. Guillermo del Toro. w/ subtitles.

Legion (2010) dir. Scott Charles Stewart.

On the Television: Doctor Who (those weeping angels are terrifying)*,Torchwood (esp. season 3)

Even the daughter participated, the above asterisks being shared, and claiming these two as well:

School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari and 43 Cemetery Road: Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise (though “its not scary,” she reminds)

What will I read/watch this year?

I think I can manage Peril the First, the 4 book challenge. And I really hope to actually read some Poe this year.

Last year I said I would read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, so there is that. I’m sure I’ve littered notes here and there in anticipation–I just have to find them. And then there are those great lists by fellow bloggers of suggestions, past reads, and their own to-be-read. I will post a list soon, will of course take recommendations, and may have a few suggestions of my own that would make for a wonderfully atmospheric RIP read.

I’m ready (nearly) are you?


Melissa Nucera allowed Carl to use her Artwork for this year’s banners. I think they are brilliant. Carl finds the best work to set the tone. I mean, anyone who has seen the “Don’t Blink” episode can never look away from a Weeping Angel the same way again.

the challenge to organize (self)

There are excellent lists to browse for the Once Upon a Time Challenge on fellow book blogger sites, you can use Carl V’s post for the challenge to follow participating bloggers. Natalya and I are still creating our pool from which to work.

For various holidays (christmas and birthdays) N has been given some great books on myth, lore, and fairy tales; even a encyclopedic tome on symbols and signs. Between this and her rock collecting… Here are few of her books I will likely borrow:

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales (WW Norton & Co) edited by Maria Tatar.

The Annotated Hans Christian Anderson (WW Norton & Co) edited by Maria Tatar; which has a Part II: Tales for Adults.

Myths & Legends: An Illustrated Guide to their Origins and Meanings (DK) edited by Philip Wilkinson

Myths of the World:The Illustrated Treasury of the World’s Greatest Stories (Duncan Baird) edited by Tony Allan.

Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales (WW Norton & Co) edited by Marguerite Gordon

Irish Stories for Children (Mercier Press) selected by Tom Mullins

Swedish Fairy Tales (Skyhorse Publishing) translated by Holger Lundbergh, Illustrated by John Bauer

Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World (WW Norton & Co) by Kathleen Ragan w/ foreword by Jane Yolen.

From my own library: I’ve Italo Calvino’s The Cloven Viscount, and will re-read some others of his. Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle. Angela Carter The Company of Wolves. There is this wonderful folktale I read in Sandra Cisneros’ work and Ana Castillo’s work I plan to hunt down, as well as a lovely creation myth that Ana Castillo shares in So Far from God–which I do not yet own.

From the Library we already have:

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (nearly finished)

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman (which I picked up for N, she read, and now it is my turn)

The Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss (reading w/ Sean)

We will browse there for more. Shannon Hale seems to be on several lists; may p/u Book of a Thousand Days). There are a lot of Ella Enchanted reads but I would challenge readers to try Fairest or Ever or any of Gail Carson Levine’s other tales, she has a series of re-imagined short Princess Tales that are wonderful! I think a few grown-ups books will have to be chosen for myself.


We are fairly confident, judging by the usual course of our reading choices that Quest the 1st should be attainable, 5 books from any of the four genres (or some combination thereof). Quest the 2nd would be a little trickier though, because it is a challenge to read one book from each, which would require an exploration of definitions. We looked up the definitions yesterday and discussed what the differences of folk tale and fairy tale might be, and how magical realism is a useful term. I suppose if we are going to challenge ourselves…we will do Quest the 2nd. Of course, the non-fiction oriented challenge, Quest the 4th, might be the more appropriate one for me.

Besides book reviews, there may be musings on the experience.

It looks like there is really good company on this challenge, and the length of the challenge lends itself to some leisure. Hope you will join us if you haven’t yet.

an experience

Carl V. over at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting The Sci Fi Experience 2011.

Carl V. writes:

I want to provide, here at Stainless Steel Droppings, an environment in which science fiction connoisseurs and science fiction layman can come together and discuss books in a non-judgmental, non-threatening manner.

Again, this is about an experience. More than anything I want to encourage people to have fun experiencing just how exhilarating science fiction can be.

Unlike the challenges I host other times during the year, there are no specific number of books to shoot for. This is simply an opportunity to get together as a community and share a love of science fiction…and to hopefully spark a love of science fiction in those who have yet to be bit by the sci fi love bug! I will, however, have the Short Story Weekend option for those who want to read science fiction short stories in addition to or instead of science fiction novels.

The Sci Fi Experience 2011 takes place from January 1st, 2011 through February 28th, 2011. There is a review site for those who want to post links to any science fiction novel/short story/film/television reviews that take place during the Experience.

This non-challenge sounds like an exciting thing. I will probably view Sci Fi more than read it, but I am browsing my shelves and Library pile for books just the same.

Are you participating? What do you think you might read or watch? I am already thinking at least one of Philip K. Dick’s work–as if one should have an excuse. I may dig around for a few past reads in juvenile/middle-grade fiction to share. Otherwise, I shall just go with the flow: enjoying the posted reviews by other bloggers, share a few of my own and participate in a few conversations here and there. Sound good?  Blogger or no, join The Sci Fi Experience 2011.

Check out Carl V.’s site, he has a sidebar where links to reviews will be kept so we can read and comment at leisure.


I am willing to take recommendations. Is there a seminal text or film I should be experiencing? Or one you are curious as to what I might think about it? I would love to consider your suggestions.

the Art for the banner is Les Edwards' Cygnus. Fantastic, isnt' it?


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