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The Night Circus (Guest Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 28 April 2013 00:00

Another Dad-review. If you were wondering where I got my voracious appetite for books, now you know. Why he has forsaken beloved paper for that glowing screen of electrons, I can't say.

Imagine, if you will, one day the field is empty, the next the circus is there.  A cluster of black and white striped tents surrounded by a tall iron fence.  You go to the main entrance where a sign states simply “Gate opens at Nightfall, closes at Dawn.”  Over the entrance in Baroque letters is “Le Cirque des Reves. You wait impatiently for sundown when the gate opens and tickets are sold.  You enter a magical world.  Each tent contains a surprise.  Some of the acts are magic, some more mundane, but all are the best you have ever seen.  The circus stays for several days, then without warning it is gone, only to appear at a distant city without notice.

The circus is the venue, the stage for a contest between two powerful magicians.  Each must select and train one apprentice and may only duel through that person.  Neither apprentice knows who the other is or what he is doing.  Naturally one apprentice is male, one female and they fall in love before they discover who their counterpart is.  Both are bound magically to the circus and to the contest until a winner is determined.  The rules are totally unclear as to how the struggle will end.

This book is a fantasy of magic, a love story, and the story of the people who imagined, planned, and created the circus.  This book has joined that short shelf of books that I enjoy reading over and over.  I also wish the circus really existed so I could hope it would come someday to a town near me.

>>>MAGIC MAKES THINGS EASY. CHECK OUT HOW MASON TRELLIS, MY HERO, DOES THINGS IN ANCIENT TIMES WITH JUST HIS WITS (AND A LITTLE PROTO-TECHNOLOGY)<<<

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 April 2013 20:59
 
A Clash of Kings (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 21 April 2013 00:00

It's easy to hate House Lannister.

After all, they murdered the rightful King. They throw kids off roofs. They behead main characters. They are mercenary and cunning and bad to the bone.

And now Queen Cersei has planted her slightly bastardinous (if not incestuously-created) son Joffrey on the throne.

Judging from the number of self-crowned kings that spring up (four, at least, not counting Daenerys lurking off in the east with her three dragons), I'm not alone in hating them.

Oh, we have battles galore, small skirmishes, sieges, and expeditions beyond the northern wall. We've got politics. We've got intrigue. And we've got so many characters that there are dozens and dozens of pages outlining who's who in the back. All this in a brisk 728 pages.

That explains why I'm calling in guest reviewers.

Anyway, Martin continues his usual format, a chapter for each of the half-dozen or so major characters we'll track, following displaced little princesses hiding in the scullery to short dwarfish connivers riding into battle. Usually I'll become so locked on a character that I'll groan at the end of a chapter, not wanting to leave them. But then it's on to the next, and soon I'm viewing life through a different set of eyeballs.

Gotta say I really like this, even through the book is big enough to prop a wheel if you ever need to change a tire.

>>>IF YOU LIKE YOUR FANTASIES SHORTER AND WITH A SINGULAR MAIN CHARACTER, CHECK OUT MY WORKS, HERE<<<

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 19:30
 
The Scarlet Pimpernel (Guest Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 14 April 2013 00:00

On my first day as a rocket scientist at Nasa, they jammed me into a pod with a fireball of a secretary, a wiry blonde with  a winning smile and a very sharp personality. After she marked her turf (and scared me silly), it came out that we were both writers. Lynn Perry and I have been friends ever since. So here is her take on Baroness Emmuska Orczy's classic.

I am a reader….my bulging book shelves, decades old library card and financially abused Kindle account reflect my love of books.  Most recently, I reached into history and re-read The Scarlet Pimpernel.

When I initially read the book, I was reading through the eyes of a young woman.  Although I was immediately swept into the intriguing history of France and England and the bold and beautiful characters, it was the love between the characters that my interest focused on.

Now, as an adult reading the book once again; I am reading with a broader more mature view.  Having experienced more of life’s offerings; some wonderful, others sorrowful, I enjoyed the writing of Baroness Orczy that much more. The Scarlet Pimpernel is part romance, part adventure, part spy thriller and part super-hero fiction. The book offers a combination of history lesson, a glimpse into the grandeur of the aristocracy as well as the severe restrictions and brutality of the time, but mostly the pages emphasize the depth of understand and trust.

I highly recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel to anyone that enjoys the pull of an enchanting account of how a few strongly dedicated individuals rose above corruption to make a difference and in doing so find themselves as well.

>>>AND IF YOU LIKE HISTORICAL FICTION, HAVE A LOOK AT MINE. I'VE GOT A BOATLOAD FOR SALE!<<<

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 19:12
 
Guns, Germs, and Steel (Review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 00:00

Jared Diamond got a lot of flak for Collapse, and I got a Dale Carnegie pen for it. That's the way the world works.

For Guns, Germs, and Steel, he got a Pulitzer.

So, the basics of the book: mankind spreads outwards from Africa. One wave goes east, along the coasts of India, up the long Russian coast, over the Bering Strait and spilling over the Americas (like Sherwin Williams covers the earth). The other wave moves north and west, settling Europe (as if religious wars, strife and a crushing feudal system can be termed "settling"). In the process, we actually evolve different appearances, our color and features changing. And then, in Central America with the Spanish landings, the waves crash together.

So why did the Spanish have the guns, the germs, and the steel? Why did their Toledo blades and smallpox and crude firearms sweep away the natives with seemingly God-granted grace (and they received nothing save syphilis (probably through rapine) in return)? How come one side came to the proverbial gunfight with guns?

Diamond does a good job dispelling any racial superiority claims, looking closer at the spread of grains, the scattering of domesticatable animals, the climate, and even the positioning and layout of the continents. And in doing so, the reader hits a number of points where they are forced to nod, true I see moments.

Granted, the book is slow in a number of places where he stretches a point to seemingly fill pages. However, overall, the reader should come away from this with a better understanding of how our world was formed, in terms of its people and histories.

And, truthfully, when you're standing at the watercooler and someone (who doesn't read and can hardly follow Friends) makes a slightly simplistic statement about race, well, this book will allow you to be forewarned and forearmed. Worth a read for those history buffs out there, as well as anyone else who wants to know the 'why' of things.

>>>AND IF YOU WANT TO SEE A SMALLER CHUNK OF ANCIENT HISTORY, LOOK NO FURTHER THAN 330BC ALONG THE PERSIAN COAST IN "EARLY RETYREMENT"<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 09:29
 
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