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Archive for June, 2013

The Second Siege

The Second Siege by Henry Neff.

Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers;(September 23, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0375838961

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From Booklist

It’s Max McDaniels’ second year at Rowan Academy, a contemporary American boarding school where students are trained to fight against supernatural foes. He and his sorcerer roommate, David, along with several others, human and non, are embroiled in a quest to stop the demon Astaroth from finding the Book of Thoth, which holds the key to all creation. As governments fall to Astaroth, Max and David travel across Europe and beyond in search of the book’s location. Proud, emotional Max and frail, calculating David suffer realistic setbacks and humbling experiences that change them, while Astaroth is delightful in his sly, polite wickedness. Neff’s writing is infused with history and myth, and a sense of adventure: add well-rounded characters, and this makes for a captivating read. New readers should start with the first book, The Hound of Rowan (2007) as this one doesn’t look back, but the dark conclusion and its potential consequences will ensure an eager readership for the third. Although Neff will not escape Harry Potter comparisons, in this volume he moves into his own distinctive voice.

This series (which has 4 books out so far) is really quite a good read!  If you have young adults at your home that read Harry Potter or something similar, then I would say for sure they would enjoy these books.

The author is quite good in letting you really get to know your characters and that to me is the strongest point in a book! (storyline comes second !)  Very well written books, excellent story for the characters involved, and the books even have some illustrations along the way. 

So I highly recommend this for young adults and for adults that need a break from their normal books!  I found I was captured very early into the first book and remained interested during the entire two books that I have read so far.

I think the Amazon review gives a very good synopsis of the story, so I won’t give away any more.  But I will say I like certain Ogres and witches now! lol..

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Old is New

As one has come to expect from me… more books have entered the apartment.  All of them are “used” books.. however I have to say that I doubt that the book First Man (Neil Armstrong) has ever been read and yet I found it for 2.50 ! (normally: 30.00)

A Cast Of Killers was found at a “new” thrift store, and Dust and Shadows used from Amazon and The Real Wizard of Oz from Friends of the Library.

 

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…and then I went to Goodwill and found 2 more! 

I don’t have any of the Robin  Hobb’s books but now that I found this one I will watch for others in the series.

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I’ve got to learn to stay home!

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Once Upon a Time Wrap

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It’s hard to believe that Once Upon a Time VII has come and gone already!

Once again Carl hosted this great challenge so that we might all give more focus to Fantasy/ Mythology maybe a little more than we might normally do.  And once again he brought many readers together to read and review some great Fantasy books!

This year I managed to read 14 books (admitting one was really small).

For me it all began with Seraphina…

 

1.  Seraphina……………………Rachel Hartman (512 pgs)

2.  Cats of Tanglewood Forest……..Charles DeLint (285 pgs)

3.  Natural History of Dragons…….M. Brennan     (334 pgs)

4.  Watership Down……………….Adams/Dotrice  (audio)

5. A Spell for Chameleon…………Piers Anthony  (352 pgs)

6.  His Majesties Dragon………….Naomi Novik    (253 pgs)

7.  Throne of Jade……………….Naomi Novik    (258 pgs)

8.   Runner of Pern……………….Anne McCaffrey (60  pgs)

9.  The Apothecary……………….Maile Meloy    (384 pgs)

10.  Jarka Ruus…………………..Terry Brooks   (416 pgs)

11.  The Tanequil…………………Terry Brooks   (357 pgs)

12.  Straken……………………..Terry Brooks   (368 pgs)

13. The Tapestry…………………Henry Neff     (414 pgs)

14. Mystic Warrior …………….Tracy Hickman (448 pgs)

(4,441 pages)  one “book” was an Audio.  I also reviewed The Hobbit Movie. (which I saw 3 times) and one was a short story.

I think my favorite of this group was actually a trilogy by Terry Brooks: Jarka Ruus, The Tanequil and Straken.  Normally I would say my favorite was Anne McCaffrey but to be honest.. it was a short story and so I was left wanting more! And I couldn’t choose Watership Down because that was an audio…but I adore Roy Dotrice so much I’ll be listening to it again one day.

My least favorite was maybe Mystic Warrior.  However, I can’t say I disliked any of the books. But this book didn’t capture me as many of Tracy Hickman’s have.

I am pleased with my list… how about you? How many did you read? What was your favorite?

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(Book 13 for Once Upon a Time)

The Tapestry : The Hound of Rowan: by Henry Neff.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Yearling; September 23, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0375838953

 

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From Booklist

In a hidden alcove within Chicago’s Art Institute, Max McDaniels discovers a faded tapestry. As he watches, the tapestry begins to glow; soon after, he receives an invitation to attend a private boarding school in New England. When he arrives at Rowan Academy, where young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy, he and the other apprentices are housed in magically morphing rooms and assigned animal charges. Max is paired with the last lymrill in the world, a nocturnal creature with metallic quills. They train on the Course, where they experience different scenarios as they try to achieve a goal and move up levels as they progress. Meanwhile, apprentices and even some full-fledged agents are disappearing all over the world. This novel’s sprawling, quirky boarding school has obvious parallels to Hogwarts, but Neff’s storytelling boasts charms of its own, and  readers may appreciate that this magical adventure, the first installment in the planned Tapestry series, takes place here rather than abroad.

As the above preview mentions:  this book (along with others that follow) are a set up similar to Harry Potter in that Max goes off to a school that is indicated will take 6 yrs to get thru.  There are magical powers involved and a good against evil story to be told. (and even a witch and an ogre)

So far I have found that the author is very good at flushing out and giving the protagonist and other characters well defined personalities which allows one to begin to feel they actually know the characters.  This is a good thing!  I always enjoy books where I feel I really know the characters involved.

This is a YA series of books written for 9 yrs and above but I don’t feel the author “writes down” to the young.  It is a little young feeling for me to read this but at the same time it’s a welcome relief  to not have to think so much while reading! I am enjoying the story and have had 2 of the 4 books that were released  here for longer than I care to think about and so I dug them out for Once Upon a Time thinking this was a trilogy (obviously I was wrong! But in my defense it’s because I hadn’t read the first book until now, that lets me realize it is a longer series.)

I plan to read book 2 even though Once Upon a Time will be over, and if it reads as well as book one I will most likely send for the other two installments.

I just want to Thank Carl for being so nice to have Once Upon a Time each year!  And needless to say I look forward to RIP for yet another  year also!!!  Start stacking up those Gothic Mysteries now!!

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Elsa Lanchester Herself by Elsa Lanchester.

Publisher: Olympic Marketing Corporation (April 1984)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312243774

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I found the following review online and it really sums up the entire book…

KIRKUS REVIEW

Only a half-accurate title for this quiet, generally engaging memoir–because, once she’s married to Charles Laughton, Lanchester concentrates almost entirely on his story (a sad one), with surprisingly little about her own work or feelings. The first chapters, however, are disarming and distinctive: Elsa’s one-of-a-kind childhood as the illegitimate daughter of unlovable Biddy, a notorious liberated-woman who lived in sin with diehard socialist Shamus (a common-law marriage as confining as any legal one), turning her back on her family’s pride and property. (Biddy’s father and brother once had her committed to an insane asylum–a celebrated ease.) Thus, Elsa grew up in the thick of WW I-era British bohemianism, with vegetarianism, political talk, and dance classes from Isadora in Paris. (""I soon learned that all lsadora could do was teach us to run away from or toward an enemy or to become an autumn leaf. . . ."") She became a dance teacher herself, a Children’s Theatre innovator, a performer/manager on the fresh 1920s-cabaret scene, a soon-famous London presence (odd clothes, wild hair, that unusual face), and a hit in small theater-roles. But in 1929 Elsa married rising ""genius""-actor Charles Laughton; thereafter (despite Bride of Frankenstein celebrity), her career would always take second place–with producers slimily using Elsa to get to recalcitrant Charles, then casting her off. Even more of a shadow over the marriage: Laughton’s guilt-ridden homosexuality, which Elsa tolerated (""Perhaps it was unkind of me not to show disapproval"")–though she raged when Laughton’s young, handsome lovers took advantage of him. . . or when Laughton sold or gave away her favorite art acquisitions. (""Selling the mask was part of a killer thing in Charles, and it killed my taste and initiative."") Still, she doted on his talent, helping him to overcome his massive neuroses and achieve stage success (in Galileo and Lear); meanwhile, as they settled in Hollywood, she became the resident toast of a local cabaret-theater, singing satiric and whimsical songs. (Oddly, though detailing almost all of Charles’ roles, Lanchester barely mentions their acclaimed work together in Witness for the Prosecution.) And when Laughton became ill with bone cancer, she nursed him until his death–a long ordeal, thoroughly reconstructed here. But, with only fleeting references to her own love-life, or to the 20 years since Laughton’s death, Elsa herself remains somewhat elusive; and this unflashily well-written memoir, while effectively depressing (if not, at this stage, surprising) as a Laughton study, is only intermittently involving as a self-portrait.

A few mentions of my own…

In the beginning of the book she talks about Woman’s Suffrage in England and of her mother knowing Karl Marx.  So because of when and where she was born we get a little insight to history at that time.

We also learn of living poor (nothing new to me) constantly moving around and how poorly educated Elsa was.

Although we learn early on (if you didn’t already know) that Charles Laughton was gay, we also find a strong bond between Elsa and Charles that lasts right up until he dies.  The marriage helps protect Charles from being gay in a time when it was well  hidden, and allows Elsa freedom to search out her own career while having the protection of a home with Charles.  In one portion of the book when Charles is about to leave on a reading tour: Charles and I did not like being together all the time, but we  hated parting and loved our reunions.

When I neared the end of the book Elsa made me smile when she mentioned an actor and his family that I have met.  She says they met the Dotrices, Roy and his family and “taught them about how to BBQ” .. it made me smile.

The book was very interesting, but I will say Elsa spoke more of Charles then of herself.  They had a strange life together what with Charles always telling her how ugly he was and Elsa mostly singing apposed to acting.  But I think I came away from this book with more regard and a touch of sadness for the life she had.    Yes, she found fame and fortune, and that makes life easier.. but not always happier.

It was a good book I am glad I read it.  (took me long because of smaller print !)

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Thanks to Carl who went to the Spectrum show in Kansas and then posted a photo of Michael Whelan’s display… I frantically emailed him and told him to ask “how much” the White Dragon Print was……….

He didn’t answer my email until the show was over so I thought.. “it was too much”.

Then I get this email from Carl saying.. he had a surprise for me..

Ahh yes!  As you will see.. the Print was not beyond my means and Carl was nice enough to purchase a “package” from Michael with each and every thing autographed!

In the mail yesterday came my “surprise”!  Not one print.. not two prints but THREE Michael Whelan prints all with Dragons from Pern!

Today I managed to frame and hang two of the three….

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(sorry for the reflection)

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This second print is in my bedroom… it’s named: A Dragon Aboard. (in the lower right corner you can barely see Michael’s autograph on the print)

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The Third Print is as big as the first on called Weyworld.  I just don’t have wall space in my tiny apartment to hang this one… so it remain protected at the moment and the photo of it is from the web.

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As anyone who knows me knows how much I love Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books.  I loved them so much and for so long that more then 30 yrs ago I attempted to copy Ruth and Jaxom on to a piece of cloth and then fill it all in with embroidery thread… it took the better part of a year to complete it…

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And so… 30 years after i fell in love with Pern, all of the Weyrs, Jaxom and Ruth..and the artist who first painted the book cover… I now own a print signed by Michael Whelan.  It doesn’t get much better!       O.k.  so “better” would have been ME meeting Michael and getting the prints, but seeing as that was impossible.. Carl stepped in to complete the task.  (And “task” it was to find a way to mail these very large prints!)  I am thrilled to own these prints!

And if you scroll back up and look closely at Dragon Aboard.. you will see that Michael drew Anne herself to be in space with her dragon!

There are but a few stories that when I re-read them I actually feel as if I am there.  That the characters are real and the stories reach in and grab my heart.  Pern is one of them. 

So, now as I sit in my reading chair,  I can look up and see the magnificent Ruth watching me and know the dragons are close by.

I can’t thank Carl enough for going thru the trouble of getting them and mailing them to me.  I am very happy that Carl has found the Spectrum show and that such fantastic Artists such as Michael gives their time to be there for the public.

Now the Pern dragons will never be out of my sight or my mind!

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I Am Spock

I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Hyperion;(October 26, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0786861827

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From Publishers Weekly

Few actors are as inextricably associated with one role as Leonard Nimoy is with Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. In 1975, when he was embarking on a post-Star Trek career, Nimoy published an autobiography with the tongue-in-cheek title I Am Not Spock. Twenty years later, despite a fruitful career as a film director (Three Men and a Baby, The Good Mother) and theatrical actor, he here remembrances his legendary half-Vulcan alter ego. Star Trek fans will find this a, well, fascinating history of the "birth" and evolution of Spock?Nimoy explains the original conception of the character and describes his own contributions to the development of Spock’s persona. He also provides an insider’s account of the production of the TV show and the highly successful series of Star Trek movies, and offers his insights into why the Star Trek phenomenon has maintained such a grip on our cultural imagination. Nimoy’s admirers may find this fairly impersonal memoir disappointing; it touches only tangentially on the author’s private life. But this is an intelligent and entertaining look at an actor’s engagement with a character who "seemed to take on an existence of his own."

Staying with my Star Trek obsession of having seen the new movie 4 times and then seeing 2 of the original movies and then reading Walter Koenig’s book “Chekov’s Enterprise”, I decided to go on and read “I Am Spock” by Leonard Nimoy.

I wasn’t sure what it would be all about but I hadn’t read any books by Leonard so I thought this would be a good one… and it was!

Normally, I can’t say that I like books that do nothing but list movies by any one celebrity and talks about nothing else concerning the person.   I was surprised that this virtually took that route.   But I was glad it included theater that Leonard did and not “only” the movies in which he portrays Spock.

Having said that.. I found Leonard’s writing very amicable and enjoyed everything he wrote.  I learned some things I never knew and got to relive the Star Trek Movies through “Spock’s” eyes. (and through Leonard’s eyes as both an actor and director)

I felt as if I was back in time reading Leonard’s book.  It felt good.  And I have to say I am glad that Leonard liked his roll as Spock well enough to reprise him for J.J. Abrams. 

I still find it so hard to believe how many years have gone by since the beginning of Star Trek.  How young they were back then.  How young I was back then!  It’s not easy watching life go by so very fast.  But I do cherish every single memory I have of the Original cast.  Of course I wish they were all still with us.. and happy for as many of them as we still have.  We should all be so lucky as to have something so wonderful to happen to us as to be known as a character that effected so many lives..

May you all:  Live Long and Prosper.

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