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Scott Kennedy "Reading Addict" RSS Feed (Chicago, IL)

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Dragon Outcast (Age of Fire, Book 3)
Dragon Outcast (Age of Fire, Book 3)
by E. E. Knight
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.50
145 used & new from $0.01

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dragon Rashomon, March 3, 2008
Like so many great stories, E.E. Knight's Age of Fire series is about a family and what happens when that family is torn apart. Admittedly, this family has claws and wings and the ability to breathe fire, but the emotional core underneath resonates, even as the books oscillate between tragedy and playfulness, thoughtfulness and pulp action. If Ursula K. Le Guin and Edgar Rice Burroughs had collaborated on a series of dragon books, the result might have been something like Age of Fire.

Whereas other dragon books tend to either regurgitate fantasy clichés or use dragons as really neat horses, E.E. Knight's dragons are something else entirely. Anyone with an interest in the behaviors of birds, reptiles, or dinosaurs will find the instincts of Knight's dragons refreshing. They behave like top predators from the moment they hatch, and watching them evolve from ravenous beasts to thinking beasts is worth the price of admission.

Knight's plots speed along, as addictive and rich as really good coffee. I have trouble setting his books down. That he manages to confront troubling issues (racism, slavery, and genocide) within the format of a page-turner makes these books a stimulating read for both teenagers and adults.

This is one of the most under-rated fantasy series currently being published. Plus, the first three books (Champion, Avenger, Outcast) can actually be read in any order. Plus, it's like Rashomon with dragons. Do yourself a favor and buy them. They're a treat.

Play Dirty
Play Dirty
DVD ~ Michael Caine
Offered by cds_dvds_guaranteed
Price: $21.57
26 used & new from $8.91

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite war movie, December 21, 2007
This review is from: Play Dirty (DVD)
I first came to love this movie as a child, watching it late at night, cropped and in black and white, on an old Zenith. I was curious to see it after 30 years, and finally resorted to getting an import copy from Japan a few months before this re-release. I'm happy to say the movie holds up wonderfully, and seeing it in the proper aspect ratio is real pleasure.

This has to be one of the most cynical war movies ever made, and those who devalue this movie as a knock-off of The Dirty Dozen overlook the way that movie still romanticizes heroism while Play Dirty will have none of it. From the opening scene of Play Dirty, where an officer's corpse is returned likely shot by the man returning it, there's no sentimentality here, no acts of stunning bravery, just a bunch of schmoes who don't even much like one another trying to stay alive. This movie presents war as a sort of lazy grand incompetence that occasionally awakens to explosion, warfare, murder, and rape. While the supporting cast of outlaws seem very B-movie (like those guys who talk in dub in a Sergio Leone western), Caine and Davenport more than make up for it. The desert photography and scenery is outstanding -- not Lawrence of Arabia pretty but rather the third enemy that threatens to sandblast them right off the screen throughout the film. Some find desert scenes slow; I find them the mesmerizing. And Play Dirty remains my favorite war film of all time. It's the only war movie I know that never lies even once.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2011 5:30 PM PST

The Master of Verona
The Master of Verona
by David Blixt
Edition: Hardcover
61 used & new from $0.01

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite Beach Book of Summer 2007, September 5, 2007
This review is from: The Master of Verona (Hardcover)
When I started The Master of Verona, I had no intention of reading a 560 page book in three days. I had other things to do.

I read the book instead.

The book's scope of topics is as broad and intricate as a medieval tapestry; just when you think you've seen it all, Blixt draws your eye to a new detail as compelling as the last. There's Pietro, son of Dante, learning to become a knight under the shadow of his famous father. There's medieval Italian politics as vicious as anything you see on The Sopranos. There's great female characters like Antonia Alighieri and Katerina Della Scala using words as devastatingly as the men use swords. There's the historical figure of Cangrande attacking a neighboring city in a battle sequence as vivid as those you find in Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books. There's a horse race that makes a NASCAR crash look tepid and a duel that only a writer who's also a fight choreographer and swordsman himself could write. Blixt also throws in a mysterious child, assassination attempts, oracular prophecies, and a villain as curiously loathsome as one from Dickens or Dumas. All of this should collapse into an unreadable mess, but Blixt's well-honed prose, characters, and narrative line turned it instead into my favorite beach book of summer 2007. Oh, and if that weren't good enough, throughout the book, you come to empathize with the fathers of both Romeo and Juliet and watch as their friendship turns to hate. I can't wait for his next book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2012 7:23 AM PST

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