Archive for August, 2009

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; Later printing edition (September 30, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0060530928



 From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Somewhere in contemporary Britain, “the man Jack” uses his razor-sharp knife to murder a family, but the youngest, a toddler, slips away. The boy ends up in a graveyard, where the ghostly inhabitants adopt him to keep him safe. Nobody Owens, so named because he “looks like nobody but himself,” grows up among a multigenerational cast of characters from different historical periods that includes matronly Mistress Owens; ancient Roman Caius Pompeius; an opinionated young witch; a melodramatic hack poet; and Bod’s beloved mentor and guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead and has secrets of his own. As he grows up, Bod has a series of adventures, both in and out of the graveyard, and the threat of the man Jack who continues to hunt for him is ever present. Bod’s love for his graveyard family and vice versa provide the emotional center, amid suspense, spot-on humor, and delightful scene-setting. The child Bod’s behavior is occasionally too precocious to be believed, and a series of puns on the name Jack render the villain a bit less frightening than he should be, though only momentarily. Aside from these small flaws, however, Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family

Actually, that’s a pretty good review from Amazon!

Indeed it begins with a murder and a very young child wandering off into a graveyard where the “inhabitants” find him, and with his mother’s blessing, decide to care for him.

Among the many graveyard people Sirus is the one who became his Guardian.  Silus was neither dead nor alive.  Sirus could leave the graveyard and bring food and clothing back for Bod.  Sirus was  his constant.. his protector.. his teacher.  Sirus was a really good character.

Then there was the witch Liza Hempstock.  LIza was buried on unholy ground and had no  headstone to mark where she was buried.  Bod thought she deserved a headstone and went about trying to get her one..  Liza was another one of those really good characters. She kinda made me think of looking for her the next time I go into a graveyard.

Our villain “Jack” was always there in the background, always a constant and always looking to kill Bod. 

I have only read two Gaiman books.  This one and Stardust, and weird as it may seem.. I think I like this one better than Stardust!  :o)

Should you ask if I would recommend this book, I have to say yes!

Thus concludes my first book for Carl’s RIP challenge!!



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To The Stars

To the Stars by George Takei

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Star Trek (June 25, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0671890093

From Publishers Weekly
Asian-American actor Takei attributes his success to his role as Mr. Sulu on the Star Trek TV series and in six full-length motion pictures (1966-1991). Starting with his Japanese-American family’s internment in a WWII high-security camp in northern California, this lively memoir reveals the author’s upbeat but pragmatic nature. The boy’s early fascination with the theater, abetted by supportive parents and a B.A. and M.A. in theater from UCLA, led to his discovery when he was 27 by Gene Roddenberry, creator/producer of Star Trek. While Takei’s film credits include Ice Palace, Green Berets and [Return from the River Kwai], most of the book, of major interest to Star Trek fans, deals with behind-the-scenes accounts of the series’ filming and production.

A friend of mine, who doesn’t normally suggests books for me to read, had told me that although she doesn’t read a lot of autobiographies, that she found George Takei’s book really good.

When I was able to find a used hardback copy for fairly cheap I sent for it, figuring “one day I’ll read it”, but I was in no hurry.

Then came Nicholas Meyers book “A View from the Bridge” and I devoured the book so fast I felt I wanted more.. and so I decided to read George’s book.


That’s it.. just wow.

I thought it would be like other autobiographies with emphases on his Star Trek years.  And I guess that’s exactly what it was.. but..


This book was very surprising to me.  No, George did not surprise me by “coming out” in this book (not that it would have been a surprise to me anyway) George was silent on his love life, but he certainly didn’t gloss over anything he did talk about.

I am ashamed to say I never thought real hard on the before lives of the Star Trek People, and George.. well George and his family were Japanese.   George was but a few years old when the war broke out and all the Japanese people living in America were sent to internment camps, where George and his family lived for a number of years.

I never realized that.  So it follows that I never really looked at things through George’s eyes. 

At some point George went from a kid growing up in an internment camp, to getting deeply involved in politics.  I think I can safely say that George never forgot his early years and how he and his family were treated.. and I don’t blame him in the least.

But George and his family continually pushed forward, and eventually George got to live his dream of becoming an actor.

I did love his recollections of becoming Sulu and working with the cast from Star Trek.  He doesn’t go so deep into the everyday thing that you ever feel George was obsessed to write this book and “tell all”.. but instead he really did have a story to tell.

This book was very interesting.  I don’t know if George had a ghost writer helping him or not but it was beautifully written, and kept your attention at all times.   Simply said, I remember thinking many times as I was reading the book, “gosh, this book is well written”… and it is!

Although I have held an interest in all the people who did Star Trek, I can’t say that something I ever wanted to do was to read all their autobiographies and memories of Star Trek.. I don’t know why, maybe because I felt each one would be repetitious when it came to the memories of working on Star Trek.. but even there I was wrong.

I can say I appreciate George Takei much more having read this book, and for anyone who even thinks they might want to read it.. do it, you won’t be disappointed.

And so, I leave you with a quote from George’s book that I found profound …

quote: pg 187..  ( George says:)

I gained friends and insights that led me to a deeper understanding of this ever-changing,  ever-developing new breed of humans called Americans.  As a people, we may have varied histories tracing back to the Mayflower or to slave ships, to split-rail corrals or to barbed wire fences.  But, whatever our histories, however tortured and adversarial they may have been, our destinies are bound inextricably together.  We have a common future.  Our challenge lies not in carrying the weight of our pasts like anchors, but in working in concert to build the common tomorrow.

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The View From The Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood by Nicholas Meyer.

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (August 20, 2009)
ISBN-10: 067002130X

Product Description
The critically acclaimed director and writer shares his account of the making of the three classic Star Trek films
The View from the Bridge is Nicholas Meyer’s enormously entertaining account of his involvement with the Star Trek films: STII: The Wrath of Khan, STIV: The Voyage Home, and STVI: The Undiscovered Country, as well as his illustrious career in the movie business. The man best known for bringing together Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud in The Seven Per-Cent Solution had ironically never been interested in Star Trek until he was brought on board to save the film series.
Meyer shares how he created the script for The Wrath of Khan, the most revered Star Trek film of all, in twelve days—only to have William Shatner proclaim he hated it. He reveals the death threats he received when word got out that Spock would be killed, and finally answers the long-pondered question of whether Khan’s chiseled chest is truly that of Ricardo Montalban. Meyer’s reminiscences on everyone from Gene Roddenberry to Laurence Olivier will appeal not only to the countless legions of Trekkies, but to anyone fascinated by the inner workings of Hollywood.

For the hard core Trek people I will tell you right off the bat that Nick Meyer doesn’t only talk about  the 3 Trek movies he did but also talks about how his career began and other movies and writings that he did.  However, this is a memoir NOT a biography and he doesn’t go into his beginnings nearly as much as others would.

So the first mention of Star Trek isn’t until page 72. This you will have to live with.

In the beginning of the book Nicholas talks about his beginnings and when he was writing The Seven Percent Solution, which later was turned into a movie.  The Seven Percent Solution was a story of Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud solving a mystery together.

When he discussed this story he mentions his father who was a psychoanalysist…when he asked his father if he was a “Freudian” his father responded with something that made me think of Chris (since his work is similar…)    “…… When a patient comes to see me, I listen to what they say, I listen to how they say it, I am especially interested in what they do not say.  In addition, I look at their body language, how the dress, whether they show up on time.  I am in short, searching for clues from them as to why they are not happy.  Very like  detective work.” and at that instant I realized who my childhood “hero” Sherlock Holmes, had always reminded me of…my father.

So, naturally after he talked enough about the old Holmes books he wrote I searched amazon for used copies and found I could afford to order 2 of them for the large sum of 8.00 ! (plus 3.99 each shipping, so total of 16.00)

On page 72 he begins to talk about The Wrath of Khan and science fiction.

“We try to blur the point at which the truth blends into a lie.  If done correctly, the audience fails to notice the moment when they slip the bonds of reality and embark on the fantastic voyage.  If done well, they are so involved that they miss the moment when they willingly agree to suspend disbeliefs.”

At one point in the book I had to forgive Nicholas.  He spoke of De briefly and spelled his name as “Dee”, but quickly I remembered a talk with De when he spoke of misspelling his last name.  He mentioned how many years he worked for Paramount and yet many of his checks were spelled “Kelly” instead of “Kelley”.  “Thankfully,” he added, the bank still cashed his checks! So I forgave Nicholas his misspelling.

During his memories of when he make the Star Trek movies, there were a few things he said that I was surprised about.  Things that might not make him so “loving” in the eyes of some hard-core Trek people.  But I wondered after I got past those things if he was not being hard on himself.  But maybe that was because DeForest couldn’t say enough good things about working with Nicholas Meyer.

Needless to say, I devoured this book!  I can’t remember when I read a book so fast!  Well, I guess it wasn’t really read “fast” so much as I couldn’t put it down and read many more hours than I normally do in one day!

Although this book was mostly about Nicholas’s experience making the Trek movies it was more about Nicholas and his career.  Of the Trek people who might think they want to read this book, I’d say that unless you have interest in this particular writer/ director and want to know something about him, that the book may not be for you…. but as for myself… I found it Fascinating!  And of course I couldn’t read a moment of this book without remembering the brief few moments I got to meet Mr Meyer while he was directing DeForest and the Others in Undiscovered Country… I only wish I could have seen him in his glory directing more than the brief scene we were allowed to watch.

I will leave you with a quote from page 138 of the book:

“I, who never watched the show (Trek) when it first aired, now always pause when flicking around the dial at home or in hotel rooms on the road, I behold again those familiar , cherished faces.  I stay with them,… as they have remained with me.”

If you are not interested in Meyers memories of working on Star Trek you might be interested his other books on  Sherlock Holmes:

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution: Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D.

The Canary Trainer: From the Memoir of John H Watson

The West End Horror: A Posthumous Memoir of John H. Watson, M.D.

Some other movies of Nicholas Meyer which I totally enjoyed:

Time After Time (1979) (writer)

Sommersby (1993) (screenplay) (story)

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) (novel)

The Day After (1983) (TV) (director)

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“What time is it kids?”  (Buffalo Bob Smith, of Howdy Doody fame, is probably rolling in his grave because I used that)

Why, it’s time for…. Carl’s RIP IV Challenge!

Surprise, surprise, surprise! (said in my most convincing Gomer Pyle voice)..  who’da thunk it’d come again so quickly?!!

Yes, year number 4 for the RIP Challenge has officially begun, and once again Carl has set a number of challenges for everyone to choose from…. and here they are:


Peril the First:

Read Four books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.

Peril the Second:

Read Two books of any length, from any subgenre of scary stories that you choose.

Peril the Third:

Read One book of any length, from any of the subgenres listed earlier in the post.

This is an option that I always hope will hook those of you who are thinking, “I’m just not sure this kind of reading is my cup of tea”.

More than any other time of the year, R.I.P. season brings out my desire to explore the short story genre. We will again do Short Story Sundays, for those of you who read R.I.P. related short stories any time during the week and want to write about them. I know I have Lovecraft, Poe, and Angela Carter waiting in the wings for my short story reading.

The R.I.P. IV Challenge does not require you to commit to a pre-selected list of books, but in the past many of us have enjoyed posting Reading Pools that include books that we are considering reading during the challenge. The fun thing about this, besides just talking about books (which is always a thrill) is that it gives the rest of the participants ideas about what they might want to read. I have a very broad definition of what qualifies as a book for this challenge. If you think it fits the definition, then that is good enough for me.


So, there you have it in a nutshell !! 

I do have to tell y’all  that it just won’t be the same for me for several reasons, most of which I do not want to get into, but one big one is that there is no “FALL SEASON” in Florida!!


No falling leaves..

No sounds of dried crunchy leaves under your feet..

No Fall smells…

No wearing “warmer clothing”..

…gads this already sucks!   I had truly forgotten how I felt at certain times of the year the first time I ever lived in Florida!  I once loved to bake.. but baking in 85 degree temps “in the FALL” does NOT compute! grrrrr.. ok so.. I am still determined to try this !  I just have to keep telling myself that it’s cool outside.  Yeah.. that’s the ticket!  It’s cool outside, it’s cool outside , it’s cool outside…yeahrightsure it is!

Ok enough of this ranting and feeling sorry for myself..  but I am afraid it will emerge now and then.    You know, like when y’all are wearing sweats and jackets and I’m still gettin’ eatin’ by mosquitoes.. yeah, like then.

Other than that I will not complain too much when everyone is having snow and I am not…  just like you don’t complain when we have a hurricane and YOU do not.

This isn’t going well.. let’s get back to business here!…

First off I’ve made a pool of books I will be choosing from. (I hear cheering in the background)  But.. (there its is.. always a “but”) I am only going to commit to Peril the Second, which is to read two books.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows I will read numerous amounts of books.. well.. unless I pick Drood first.. in that case it could well take me the entire challenge to read that chunkster!  But I won’t do that.. I already know that the first book that I will commit to is Neil Gaimen’s Graveyard book.  I read the short story version some time ago and know I will enjoy it so that’s my commitment.

After that I am torn..  I want to read them all!.. but I am realistic and know I won’t.  I am leaning towards the fact that I want to reread the Thirteenth Tale when Cath reads it so we can chitchat about it.  I love that book!  And the same with Gils All Fright Diner, I would like to read it when Chris is reading it to see if he thinks the book is enjoyable too.. though both may not like the books as I did.  It’s a chance we all take when reading books we’ve heard of but not yet read.

Anyway.. drum roll please… my pool of books:

Wow.. I have never had so many choices for the RIP challenge!! I have 11 books to choose from (and probably more since I don’t always consider some books to ‘fit in” but in some cases they do).  Anyway the pool of books are:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Woman in White by Wilke Collins

A Monsters Notes by Laurie Sheck

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L Howell

The House of Lost Souls by F G Cottam

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

Drood by Dan Simmons

…and two rereads

The Thirteenth Tale (read twice already & love it) by Diane Setterfield

Gil’s All Fright Diner by A Lee Martinez

… and of course this pool means “nothing” if I read a good review of something different I’d like to read  !

So, …

Are you joining in the RIP IV Challenge?  What sort of books have you chosen to read??


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The Moorhen Video

Ok.. well I learned a bunch trying to video the Moorhens!!  First off I learned I need to grow another hand!

Trying to hold the camera in one hand and start the video and trying to hold bread (both whole slices and a Piece broken off for the Moorhen) and trying to video a fast moving little bird and trying to keep the bigger Ibis away from her …well… it doesn’t work well.

But for what little it’s worth here is Mama Moorhen and Family. 

By the way the reason she runs so fast when she grabs the bread is because all those dang Ibis start running after her and trying to take the bread away from her!!

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The Lightening Key

The Lightning Key: The Wednesday Tales No. 3 by Jon Berkeley and Brandon Dorman Illustrations.

Hardcover: 416 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (January 27, 2009)

ISBN-10: 006075513X

Product Description

Now that Miles Wednesday has discovered his link to a magical Tiger’s Egg, he’s suddenly at the wheel of a great voyage. Determined to recover the stolen stone and free the trapped soul within, Miles sets off with Little, a Song Angel, and the wisecracking blind explorer Baltinglass of Araby. Their destination points far across sea and desert to the home of Miles’s aunt Nura, who may be their only hope in releasing the Egg’s true power.

But along the way, their travels are quickly riddled with thrills and near catastrophes—from soaring across the sky in an airborne schooner to run-ins with the twisted circus ringmaster, the Great Cortado, and his bumbling sidekick, Doctor Tau-Tau. Most threatening is a dark Sleep Angel who’s descended from the Realm to seize the Egg and forfeit Miles’s life. Will Miles crack the secrets of the Egg and stand up to the Realm in the face of grave danger? And above all, will he ever be able to bring back his father?

Jon Berkeley’s masterful, witty finale to The Wednesday Tales completes the spectacular adventure of Miles Wednesday and his remarkable search to uncover the secrets of his own identity.

Book 3 of the Wednesday Tales… this is the conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy that I began some time ago when the first book came out.  I have to admit part of what made me send for the first book was the cover art. (these artists are just getting too good!)

Brandon Doorman is the artist.. among many books that he’s done the cover for he did the Fablehaven books and FarWorld.

I think this is a really good trilogy for young adults and can be enjoyed by adults also.  It’s a “little bit” more on the young side, but the story is cute enough that when you want some “lite” reading this series would fit the bill.  This book is not a rush along excitement, but it does have it’s moments.  The book keeps working towards that happy ending that you expect to happen.  The question is:  does it?   :o)

I’ve already given the first two books to my grandson and now this one will follow along so he has the full trilogy.

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Vero Beach

My first trip to Vero BEACH!.. (well.. about 15 minute visit..but enough to snap off a few  photos.  There were quite a few people on the beach and I didn’t want them to think I was taking their photo’s so you won’t see any “sand” shots.

first is the long path to the beach…

On SouthBeach where my other photo’s are from (Fort Pierce) there are not life guard stations like this.  I was surprised to see it… note the sign and the color flag flying.

I had to take one picture of my oldest son, George, squinting because he forgot his sunglasses.  The t-shirt he is wearing is the business he is fighting to get going called Liberty Sports.  He designed and makes skate plates for inline skating.  When he isn’t doing that he’s a machinist.

I saw but one bird on the beach and he sure was tiny!  Had to zoom big time to get this shot.  Not sure what it is but it’s way too small for a sand piper!  I need to search the bird book!

Here are some shots of the Atlantic Ocean…

Actually the ocean is churned up a bit due to the hurricane out there.


The last two shots I took as we were leaving the beach…

So that’s what 15 minutes at the beach looks  like !

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More Bread Please.

When mama darn near came to my glass sliding doors when she spotted me INSIDE watching, I figured I’d better get some bread and visit them!

Mama grabs bread and runs back to the babies..

“hey, what’s that moving in the water?”

“I wonder if hair will ever cover my bald spot?”

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Ready for a Change

Ok.. so … I know this happens to me every so often.  I call it YA overload!

There comes a point, when all of a sudden, I no longer want to read the words, “16 year old John stepped into…” 

For whatever reason (and I really can’t say why, because I will go back to YA  books and enjoy them every bit as much as always) I just need to step up to “adults” .  I think part of my problem of not having more adult books to mix in with the YA books is that  YA books have better and more varied stories!  I wonder why that is?

Anyway, despite the fact that I did just read a Dragonlance book.. I still find myself not wanting a young child or teenager the lead  protagonist in every book I read…. and so… as soon as I am finished with the YA book I am reading now.. and as soon as  my new Nicholas Meyer book arrives (Amazon said it was shipped), I am going to jump on this book like there’s no tomorrow!

From there I am not sure where I will go but it will remain something more than a YA book for now.

It may be harder than I think due to the fact that I don’t want to get involved in a “chunkster” because it can’t be tooooooo long until Carl is ready for his RIP challenge. (the only other challenge I do other than his Once Upon a Time challenge)

Heck .. last year when Carl was running his RIP challenge it found me reading the Historian in the Cemetery!

I know his new RIP will be starting soon and I’m looking forward to that.. but in the meantime I need to find something in my tbr pile that I can read rather quickly, until it’s time for Carl’s challenge. 

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Pond Happenings

At times pictures are better than words..

(below) A picture postcard don’tcha think?

The gathering.

Hmm and where did YOU come from?

I haven’t seen all of the Moorhen family in  2 days but I did see enough to get this one pic.

Ahhh Woody returns.

I wonder what he eats as he churns up the mud below?

ok so before I could post this I did see the Moorhens!  I am always glad when the whole family is out because then I can do a head count!

Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Groucho are all growing like weeds! 

One of the other tenants was feeding the birds some bread.. this is what I captured ..

..  the “piggies” (Ibis) fly from across the pond to steal bread from the Moorhens..

But note that Mama and Pop each have bread that they hang on to…

and all four of the Marx brothers are doing well!!

Short story about the Moorhens.  The adults are quite small..maybe Cornish hen size, yet fierce when it comes to  trying to run off the bigger birds like the ones above.. they just come charging at them so fast that the big bird will jump back and get out of the way..

Well.. for the first time, yesterday one of the babies raised it’s neck to get as tall as he could and chased one of the white birds!   And it ran!  I wish I had a movie camera to catch this little ball of fluff chasing the big Ibis! lol lol

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