Archive for January, 2011

The Ring of Solomon

The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH;(November 2, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1423123727


From Booklist

*Starred Review* Called a Bartimaeus Novel, Stroud’s latest opens in a time and place (950 BCE Jerusalem) so far removed from the nineteenth-century British setting of the self-contained Bartimaeus trilogy that even the word prequel overstates the connection. Still, one unforgettable character from the trilogy energizes the current book as well. After outwitting and slaying his master in the opening chapters here, the mouthy, sardonic djinni named Bartimaeus is summoned to the service of yet another magician from King Solomon’s court. Meanwhile, across the desert in Sheba, a young royal guard called Asmira embarks on a dangerous quest, hoping to save the queen and their land by stealing King Solomon’s ring. Although Stroud’s writing is never less than inventive and entertaining, the first 100-page section feels like a prelude to the rest of the novel, which takes off when idealistic Asmira encounters jaded Bartimaeus and they begin to make their way toward Solomon and his ring of power. The climactic scenes hold surprises for the reader as well as the characters. As in the trilogy, some chapters are related in third person, while others are narrated by Bartimaeus, and the latter chapters often include informative and amusing footnotes in his distinctive voice. A riveting adventure for Bartimaeus fans, old and new

When I had found that Jonathan Stroud had written another book using the conceited djinni with a very off beat sense of humor I immediately sent for the book, because I had so loved his trilogy where I first met Bartimaeus and found myself laughing out loud at a demon!

…then as the book arrived and I was setting it atop my horrendous tbr pile I began to wonder…

Could Stroud really capture the essence of Bartimaeus once again?  Could he find the same insulting humor in the djinni as he once had?

I feared I’d be disappointed so I read a few other books before I finally picked up The Ring of Solomon.

I didn’t have to read too long before I knew without a doubt that Bartimaeus was back in all his glory!   I smiled and chuckled and even laughed at times while reading this book… Jonathan Stroud had done it again! He had successfully given me yet another fun book to read!

I loved it.

I will keep it with the trilogy and read it again one day.

If you read the first trilogy let me put your mind to rest and tell you that I promise you will like this book too!

No, it does not take place in England as the trilogy did.  But that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is Bartimaeus has returned once again, and if Jonathan Stroud is smart (and I think he is) ..he won’t “release” Bartimaeus, but keep him as his slave for more books to come!

Any book he writes that has Bartimaeus in it, is a book I will buy, devour and totally enjoy!

Thanks Mr. Stroud ! I hope I haven’t seen the last of that particular djinni !!

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I took my camera and did a walkabout the pond.. the winter is sparse with birds even though it’s not that cold out.

The Moorhens, naturally, never leave.. so we have quite a few of them around.  Keeping with them is the Coot (or Grebe no one is sure!)


.. there were 2 lone ducks out on the pond but not close enough for a good shot with the two of them together so you get one.

.. a lone Cormorant stopped by and graciously posed for me.

.. and the big Blue Heron took his own walk around the pond and did some fishing.. he got lucky at least once!

..but the trees are bare, there’s a cool breeze out and so it was sweatshirt weather!  I love sweats so this is a good day!

Otherwise the pond is quiet…  I keep wishing the Bald Eagle would return but that’s doubtful.

So, as we say:  all is quiet on the southern front!

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The other day I looked outside and saw the female Anhinga drying her wings.  You’d think when she was done she’d fly away but nooooo, she waddles back into the water and dives under to go fishing again!



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The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber.

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: William Morrow;(March 27, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0060874465


From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this ingenious literary thriller from Gruber (The Witch’s Boy), the lives of two men are changed forever by William Shakespeare and the letters of Richard Bracegirdle, a 16th-century English spy and soldier. Jake Mishkin, a Manhattan intellectual property attorney and a bit of a rake, goes on the run from Russian gangsters. Albert Crosetti, an aspiring filmmaker working for an antiquarian bookstore, finds that life is more exciting than movies—perhaps too exciting. Together, Mishkin and Crosetti travel to England in search of a previously unknown Shakespeare manuscript mentioned by Bracegirdle. Though the pace sometimes slows to allow Mishkin, Crosetti and Bracegirdle to divulge interesting aspects of their personal lives, these digressions only make the story more engaging. The suspense created around the double-crosses and triple-crosses works because of the close connection readers forge with Crosetti in particular. The mysterious murder of a Shakespearean scholar, shootouts in the streets of Queens and an unlikely romance all combine to make for a gripping, satisfying read.

I was beginning to wonder if I would ever finish this book!  As you can read, the review above made this book sound pretty good and when I found it on sale for like about 5 dollars I figured I’d give it a shot.

Most of the book confused the heck out of me.. too many people to keep straight, sometimes using first names and other times last names, that doubled the problem for me.

I felt as if I kept loosing who was being talked about and where did this one come from etc.. but I persisted!  The book was broken up a bit with ciphered letters at the end of most of the chapters. In the beginning, reading them can be quite a challenge, but after a bit I could read them without a problem. (except they were italic and I hate reading pages of italic.)

And I will say I liked the idea of this story even if it isn’t a new one and  as many mysteries do, the last 1/4 of the book came alive with action and I was pleased with the ending.

I think others who don’t have the difficulty I seem to have with too many names will find this quite a decent read, so I don’t want to leave you all thinking it’s a “stinker”.. it’s not.  But I do feel I kept loosing touch with the book, putting it down and not rushing to pick it up again. (that and finishing making the afghan probably had something to do with it..heh)

My reading is about as fast a molasses flowing  in winter!  I can’t believe this is only my second book in January! Needless to say I won’t be posting a “what I read in January” post!

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Art I Appreciate..

Carl, Carl, Carl… sometimes you drive me crazy!… or is that “crazier”?

h well, either one works.

Carl posted a beautiful article on Michael Whelan and his fantastic art work, little knowing (or not) I am and have been a huge fan of Michael Whelan for many years. As a matter of fact, I too own one of his books..it’s the first Wonderworks book. (see cover below)


Now, most of you know me by now, and for those few who might stumble upon this post who don’t know me I will tell you… I am the biggest Anne McCaffrey “Pern” fan there is! I have all the Pern books, and I’ve read them more than once!

Even his sketches were fantastic!

Therefore, it’s easy for me to say that when I saw the Pern covers that Michael Whelan made for Anne McCaffrey, he also won my heart! Where the Dragonflight cover is Carl’s favorite, mine happens to by this cover that he did for Ruth “The White Dragon” with Jaxon upon his back. The moment I laid eyes on this picture it was like it all came to life for me… Pern was REAL! Jaxom was REAL and mostly Ruth and the other dragons were REAL!!!

I never could have the vision that Michael Whelan had…but I am oh sooooo happy he had such great insight!! But I guess I have to stop gushing over his Pern works and let you see a few of the other paintings in this book: First up is the cover of a book called Stormbringer


…and next the cover of a book called Swords and Ice Magic…(Fritz Leiber was the author)

…and one more for good measure, and the reason I read A Spell for Chameleon! (Piers Anthony is the author)


So… you get the idea?! Michael Whelan is a great artist!.. and if you find the need to see more of his paintings check out Carls Blog, Stainless Steel Droppings, and of course Micheal’s Web site.


Published art collections

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Harry’s Law

Gawd, I love Kathy Bates!

Remember Kathy Bates?

Remember: Dolores Claiborne? or Fried Green Tomatoes (two of my all time favorite movies!)

or Misery or Titanic ….

or About Schmidt? 

Then maybe I need to know why such a fantastic Actress would turn to TV after  all her successful years as a movie actress?

I’d really like to think it’s NOT about age.

But, this non-betting person, would actually bet on the fact that it is.  I mean, it almost has to be because she is just way too good an actress not to be used.

So, I was shocked when the very first episode of Harry’s Law came on Saturday night at 8 pm!  “oh my gawd! Something decent to watch on Saturday!!!!!! How did this happen?!”

Ah well.. I am sure it’s short lived as they keep announcing the “debut” as Monday night at 10 pm..a perfect time for me to fall asleep in the middle of the show *groan*   Therefore I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will also keep airing on Saturday night!  Oh how nice it would be to have something decent to watch on the weekend!!!

Did I mention that I love Kathy Bates?  Well I do.  I have enjoyed her performances in everything I’ve ever seen her in, be it a lead part or a small part…she brings something special to whatever she does. ..and this new TV series is no different.

There she was.  Kathy Bates!  On a television series!  I will be able to see her more than once every few years when she’s in a movie!  I like this!  I know it will be a lot of work for her but I hope the show makes good and she’s on for a long time to come.

Harry’s Law…

Premise: An irascible attorney is fired and sets up her own practice in an abandoned shoe store and builds a team of unlikely colleagues.

I have to tell anyone who didn’t see this that she’s really very believable.. it’s a strange group that they’ve casted together, but I think it’s going to work.  I’m no critic.. lord knows when I like an actor they can do no wrong lol..but in this case, let’s face it.. it’s Kathy Bates!.. she can do no wrong! 

Ok I’ll shut up now… I just wanted to mention the fact that her show will air tomorrow night for those of you who may be interested in watching it…Kathy Bates is always worth your time.

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Today is DeForest Kelley’s Birthday….

De’s passing was nearly 12 yrs ago…but it seems like only yesterday that I could hear his laughter and see the wonderful person he was. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss De and Carolyn, they were such a special part of my life.

I chose the picture above to show you on purpose. One might wonder what you buy a person on their Birthday when they can afford to get anything they want or need. Well.. it is a dilemma! So generally in De and Carolyn’s cases they would be a nice card and some sort of silly thing. (but always flowers for Carolyn) The poster behind De is one of the silly things I sent him.. I wanted him to know that I loved his cowboy movies every bit as much as his Star Trek part.

I couldn’t believe it when only a short time after his birthday this photo was in my mail. Carolyn had dug out his old cowboy hat and had him pose by the poster, holding their dog, Fancy. (also behind him on the desk is a photo I took of them on stage at some convention.. kissing!)

I think what I miss most about De and Carolyn is that during the 10 yrs I knew them my mind was always set on trying to make them laugh.  What could I do or say to make them laugh?  I felt alive inside always thinking, thinking and when I could make myself smile or laugh.. then by golly I said it or did it, no matter how silly it might be…and I was never sorry, for I always got that smile or chuckle and many times a guffaw!  I don’t think I have ever felt that good since.  But I do still smile at the memories.

After all… if you think I’d do something like this….

…for just *anyone* you’re crazier then I am!

Recently I have met a young fan of De’s on line.  What a shock!  I haven’t met a fan such as she since the “old days” when I’d be at De’s conventions and I literally saw young ladies *swooning* and nearly passing out! 

Now some may think that’s an exaggeration, since De was not very young when I knew him personally… but trust me on this one… it’s not an exaggeration!  I can particularly remember some young ladies from Germany turning all red at the sight of De on stage and hyperventilating or crying happy tears!   All I could think of was:  there’s no one that deserves it more.   

And now I meet yet another fan ..ok, so she’s not fainting but then again, she will never have the opportunity to meet De like other fans did…and yet I still get that old feeling that no one deserves it more than De…and at the same time I feel sad that she can never meet this actor that she admires so much.

Meeting her has made me feel old feelings and be sad that I can’t do for her what I did for other fans.  Maybe get an autographed photo for her.. or even..if she were very lucky and his fan club was having an auction at his convention, give her the chance to actually meet De and Carolyn!!

They were happy times.

So, here on his Birthday, I choose to remember the smiles, the laughs and to recall what a special, special man DeForest was.

Happy Birthday De.  I miss you more then I could ever put into words.

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Day of the ‘Gull

I know I haven’t posted near the amount of bird pictures as I had been but then “winter” seems to have less around to photograph. 

Today while out around the pond some Seagulls came around.. it seems the do that in the winter now and then… (none at the beach but we have them here at the pond!)

I didn’t get many good shots as they are in constant motion.

Often one will *hover* but I didn’t get any today.. so this is it for the pond… I’m almost surprised at how seldom they come around considering we are so close to the beach.

They stayed about 15 minutes or so.. scooped up some bread and then went on their way…

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Beach in Winter..

I dropped by the beach with my girlfriend last week.. the first thing I noticed was that the Coconut Palm had Coconuts!… can you see them?

If not here’s a close up!

This is my first sight of the ocean …

Then I saw the erosion!  it had to be a 6 foot drop to the water!

But the ocean was gorgeous.  Look at all the shades of blue and green.

It was very clean (for a change) no seaweed around and magnificent colors.

See how clean everything is..  in the photo below (barely seen) is the jetty.

The waves were quite calm.  I don’t know when the huge erosion happened.. it wasn’t this way the last time I saw the beach, which was last year.

There were maybe 3 other people walking around, otherwise not a soul on the beach…not even a Seagull or Pelican!

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Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books(September 14, 2010)
ISBN-10: 031605609X

From School Library Journal

Funke takes readers on a new adventure into a magical place where the dark side of fairy tales holds sway. Jacob Reckless, like his father before him, escapes into the Mirrorworld, and all is well until his younger brother, Will, follows him in and falls under the enchantment of the Dark Fairy. Through an injury, she turns him slowly into a Goyl, a person made of stone. Jacob is determined to rescue his brother and restore him to himself. Accompanied by his companion, a shape-shifter girl/vixen named Fox, and Will’s girlfriend, Clara, Jacob journeys with Will to find the antidote to the spell. With a large cast, including a dwarf, powerful fairies born from water, deadly moths, man-eating sirens, unicorns, and the terrifying Tailor with fingers ending in blades and needles, the story includes multiple fairy-tale motifs as the characters grapple with fear and despair while on their seemingly hopeless quest. The action picks up midway through the book and races to an exciting climax. Despite some loose plotting and broadly drawn characters, readers are pulled into the thrill of the story. The themes of guilt, responsibility, abandonment, and love, in the context of the many dangers in the Mirrorworld, contribute to a serious tone. Ultimately the characters keep faith with what matters most to each of them.

Cornelia Funke has to go down as one of the best story tellers there are.  She is fantastic.

This book is a young persons book but she still has ways of making her story interesting to even old folks like me.

Now, I’m not saying that I love, love, love this book.  I am afraid she spoiled me on the Inkheart series and this doesn’t come close to that. But it still was enjoyable.  I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone, but as a YA book it’s very very good. (in my opinion that is)

What I found a nice touch was that every so often a “fairy tale” is mentioned, such as Snow White and Rapunzel, I thought it was quite clever how she did it.

I am sorry I took so long to finish reading this book.. I was being torn between the book and crocheting (still crocheting ) and even television, which i generally share with reading and it’s not a problem.

In all honest here I have to say that this read for a younger person quite a bit more then Inkheart did.  So if you liked Inkheart and you think you might like this book.. well.. you might but I don’t think it’s up to Inkheart standards. 

But I’m still glad I read it.  I’m glad to remember what a really excellent story teller Cornelia Funke is.

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